Entrancing guitarist and singer Jake Xerxes Fussell follows his celebrated self-titled debut (produced by William Tyler) with a moving new album of Natural Questions in the form of transmogrified folk/blues koans. This time these radiant ancient tunes tone several shades darker while amplifying their absurdist humor, illuminating our national, and psychic, predicaments. Featuring art by iconic painter Roger Brown and contributions from three notable Nathans - Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn), Nathan Salsburg (Alan Lomax Archive), and Nathan Golub (Mountain Goats) - as well as Joan Shelley and Casey Toll (Mt. Moriah).
RIYL: Michael Hurley, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Dave Van Ronk, Jim Dickinson, Raccoon Records, Joan Shelley, Nathan Bowles, Nathan Salsburg, William Tyler, Daniel Bachman, Wilco.
"The professor you always wished you had, the human jukebox, the guitar player and singer who makes any band that he's in better. He's a southern scholar and gentleman in the tradition of Jim Dickinson, George Mitchell, & Les Blank. He's a Dave Van Ronk for SEC country." - William Tyler
"A singular combination of pedigree, experience, education, and talent." - The Oxford American
"Beautifully loose arrangements of playful, resilient songs." - Uncut
"Music that takes us to a deep place in the American spirit." - Art Rosenbaum
MichaÅ‚ Jacaszek is an absolute master of melancholy: the Polish composer who's spun dramatic shades of darkness and light into gold for more than a decade now, from the trickle-down electronics of Treny and artful gloom of Glimmer to the vapor-trailed verses of their looming spiritual cousin KWIATY.
KWIATY - which was inspired by An English anthology of metaphysical poetry from the 17th century - is the most vocal-driven material Jacaszek's ever written, melding his stormy melodies with a breakout performance by Hania Malarowska (of the Warsaw-based rock band Hanimal) and the robust supporting roles of Joasia Sobowiec-JamioÅ‚ and Natalia GrzebaÅ‚a, with lyrics adapted from poems from Virgil and Robert Herrick.
Jens Lekman describes his new record, Life Will See You Now, playfully, but also honestly, as "a midlife-crisis disco album; it's an existentialist record, about seeing the consequences of your choices". It's a typical Lekman album in several ways: sly humour is key to its heartfelt nature; it inverts pop's writing norm by making songs with sad concerns sound happy and songs with a happy subject sound sad; and it plays with notions of identity and the self. But, as the title suggests, it also represents a significant move forward, as if across a threshold. It's the more expansive, upbeat sound of a revitalised Lekman, who is just one of many characters in his new stories about the magic and messiness of different kinds of relationships.
Fresh off his tours supporting Mogwai and S U R V I V E, Majeure returns with a blistering EP of seemingly limitless synth textures and seemingly endless drum fills. Majeure - the solo moniker of Zombi and Contact cofounder, A.E. Paterra - has built a reputation as one of North America's most interesting purveyors of synth-based rock music. Often overlooked is the fact that Paterra is also one of the world's premiere prog-rock drummers, a fact that is emphatically obvious on Apex. Over the course of three songs stretching nearly a half hour in length, Apex is an audacious, exhilarating exercise in maximum minimalism - a disorienting journey between dystopian reality and vintage video game illusion. The LP format is limited to 1,000 copies, pressed onto audiophile-quality 100% virgin vinyl, and includes a high-quality MP3 download coupon.
Nobody - and I do mean nobody - has a funkier band than Syl Johnson! His famous Chicago outfit cooks up such powerful rhythms that there isn't an R&B band in all the land that can come close to touching them. When Syl's out front in the spotlight, delivering his dynamic vocals while his funky, funky band lets loose with their unstoppable rhythms, I defy anybody with two working ears not to head straight to the dancefloor.
Will Syl Johnson ever run out of soul? No way, baby. He's got a bottomless supply! Syl's inspiring voice and his mighty band, the Pieces of Peace, are a match made in soul heaven. Hit songs "One Way Ticket To Nowhere" and "Get Ready" are just two of the highlights from this LP, adding to his sky high stash of smashes. They're joined by a super-funky "Annie Got Hot Pants Power," the uplifting "We Do It Together," and "Thank You Baby," and revivals of Jackie Wilson's "That's Why," and the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do," transformed so completely that you'd swear they were written specifically for Syl.
Twenty years now there's been this thing, our band, Joan of Arc. Sometimes we forget about it and let it fizzle out for a year while we tend to our lives. Sometimes we cling to it for a year and wake up surprised and exhausted every day for months on end, given walking tours of old Italian towns, browsing dreary British pedestrian malls or barefooted organic grocers on the Pacific coast. We know how lucky we are.
The less we feel like a band - the more we can continue to be a band, but escape that feeling of doing all those shitty, corny things expected of bands - the truer to ourselves we feel. And you all know it, everyone knows it even if everyone has to bury it to get on with their day-to-day: the truer to ourselves we feel, the better everything gets.
We have shifted shapes and modified our approaches quite a number of times in the course of twenty years. And we've done so always aiming to stay true to ourselves at that moment, by instinct and with conscious intent. This time, it took us a long time to figure out how to start back up. We threw away a lot of songs and started over, over and over.
But here's the thing: We are getting better at being ourselves. So many of the postures of youth just fall away with time. Most bands break up by that point, or become caricatures of their younger selves. Because money is tricky, or I should say, it comes to be that energy is tricky to muster after all of it goes into the basics of sustaining yourself.
Every day, at some point, it occurs to me that Richard Brautigan killed himself at the age that I am now. But I've got this community of weirdo collaborators to lean on that he never had.
We've never had an audience that gets any validation of its coolness through liking us. We've mangled, juxtaposed, and collaged too many elements for that social contract. But we trust each other.
This time, finally, we trusted each other enough to throw all the songs away, to even throw away every preconceived idea about which one of us should take position at which instrument. We hit Record and played, and our collective tastes emerged. And they, our tastes in the moment, were the only standards in all the expanse of the stupefying and beautiful unknown universe, that we regarded as relevant in the least.
Over the weekend of August 21-22, 2010, not long after Damien Jurado and Richard Swift first collaborated to produce Damien's 2010 record, Saint Bartlett, the pair hunkered down with a 4-track recorder and one Coles 4038 ribbon microphone to record a collection of cover songs that run the gamut from John Denver to Chubby Checker to Kraftwerk.
The timing was perfect. On Other People's Songs Vol 1, we can see the scaffolding of what would become a creative turning point for the pair - later seen with the release of Damien Jurado's Maraqopa, the first record in his Maraqopa trilogy - less than 2 years later. The opening drum hits of "Be Not So Fearful", the falsetto vocals of "Sweetness", and the Spaghetti-Western swing of "Radioactivity" are, by now, hallmarks of the Jurado/Swift sound, but Other People's Songs Vol 1 is a transitional fossil, a marking of the pair's collaborative evolution.
Joseph Washington Jr.'s 1983 holiday LP puts a soulful, funky, suave ribbon on nine frosty Christmas cuts. In that season of music's traditional descent into threadbare schmaltz, Merry Christmas to You restores joy and wonder to a blizzard of bland. Under this tree, find undiscovered classics for our cynical age: the buoyant "Jesus’ Birthday," the hot and bothered soul of "Merry Christmas," the ridiculously catchy wallet-opener "Shopping." The world of records produces just a precious few yuletide keepers: Spector's A Christmas Gift for You; Fahey's The New Possibility; Guaraldi's indelible Charlie Brown Christmas. Down another nog and file Joseph Washington Jr. comfortably next to those.
Every side of every 45 from Syl Johnson's formative years on the Federal Label. Recorded between 1959 and 1962, My Gift is an exemplary collection of early R&B that blends Chicago blues with fiery soul. Cut from the original master tapes, these early recordings are presented pristine fidelity.
The self-proclaimed "most sampled artist ever," Syl finally gets his due on this 4CD box covering his most productive period, 1959 through 1972. Collected for the first time are all of Syl's Federal, Twinight, Zachron, Special Agent, Cha Cha, and TMP-Ting 45s, plus period cuts from his Japan-only LP Goodie Goodie Good Times, and a murderer's grip of previously unreleased and little-heard out-takes. Lovingly remastered from the original source tapes, these 81 songs never sounded sharper, clearer, or funkier. And historian Bill Dahl's comprehensive track-by-track annotations bring deep-research backstory to every one. Our handsomely detailed and artfully crafted 40 page, 12" x 12" booklet also features a 13,000-word biography, scores of unpublished photos, a must-read index covering the history of every Syl-sampling artist (paid-up or otherwise), and the most complete and accurate discography you're likely to find in this universe.
Turns out the very sound of falling in love is just as abstract, subjective and loopy as the concept itself. Yoko Ono and John Lennon are two of history's greatest lovers, and Two Virgins is the document of the pair falling in love in real time. The album is a curious and amazing suite recorded over one weekend in Spring 1968 at Lennon's Kenwood home: Distant conversations; comedic role playing and footsteps; laughter, birdcalls and plunking piano lines; silly songs and space; tape delay stretching shrieks, bass rumbles and moans to the moon and back again.
The now-iconic cover (featuring Ono and Lennon standing nude together) notwithstanding, nothing about Two Virgins is safe. It would be a risky move today for artists in the larger, pop-culture conversation just as it was a risky move in 1969. But this is an uncomfortably private, two-person dialogue about - and celebration of - experimentation, inspiration and play. And these two souls bravely let us look through the keyhole.
Life with the Lions is the sound of Ono and Lennon validating their love as something impenetrable and timeless. It's when we, the listener, begin to fully understand that the scope of their recording efforts was much more than a recording collaboration, and something closer to a performative documentary, a declaration of "Our life and our love is our art - every nitty, gritty part of it."
Both Will Escape is the debut full-length between electric guitarist Tashi Dorji and percussionist Tyler Damon. In the long tradition of string/drum duets -- from Bailey & Bennink to Haino & Yoshida -- these two cleave out their own unmapped continent of sound. Across four pieces they connect lashes of ecstatic intensity and outer reaches of texture and timbre. At times Dorji's brutal electric torrents meld into Damon's metal and tonal abstractions.
These two developed in parallel for years before forging an ongoing duo in 2015. Dorji has released a string of startling acoustic albums that've rescrambled six-string notions of jazz/improv/Flamenco. Damon's rethink of overtone and rhythm is enraptured as it's stupefying in solo exhibitions or with Mars Williams, Darin Gray and Thee Open Sex. Edition of 500 LPs with download coupon.
Jason Sharp has been a fixture of MontrĂ©al's experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring drone and durational music, while also collaborating in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. His work as a composer, conductor and band leader in his own right is now featured on A Boat Upon Its Blood, the first album-length recording to be released under his own name: a bracingly meditative multi-movement instrumental work that charts a highly compelling arc of shifting energies and intensities.
Using custom-built equipment to translate breath and heart rate into variegated sonic triggers, along with other modes of signal processing and in tandem with traditional instrumentation, the album features Sharp's own reed playing with contributions from a few guest musicians on pedal steel guitar, violin and various percussion.
Recorded by Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt) at the Hotel2Tango in MontrĂ©al and mixed and mastered by Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Drip Audio Records), A Boat Upon Its Blood is a genre-defying album with a highly immersive and satisfying sound palette that impels deep listening and demands to be taken in as a whole. Constellation is thrilled to present Jason Sharp as a unique and invigorating new voice in modern-contemporary music.
Norwegian artist and writer Jenny Hval has developed her distinct take on intimate sound since the release of her debut album in 2006. For her last two solo albums, 2013's Innocence Is Kinky and 2015'sâ€ŻApocalypse, girl, Hval'sâ€Żdebut for Sacred Bones, she has received thoughtful and widespread international acclaim for her fascinating voice, singular delivery and markedly non-traditional arrangements which incorporate elements of poetry, prose writing, performance art, and film. Hval has eloquently brought to light issues of both male and female gaze, which for years had been swept under the rug and/or denied all together.
"This is my most fictional and most personal album. It's also the first album where I've started reconnecting with the goth and metal scene I started out playing in many years ago, by remembering the drony qualities of Norwegian Black Metal. It's an album of vampires, lunar cycles, sticky choruses, and the smell of warm leaves and winter." â€“ Jenny Hval
For just more than two years starting in 1979, Dow Jones and the Industrials created roaring art-punk that collided with the confusion and celebration of technology. Their left field approach turned gnarled guitar riffs into unshakable melodies battered by synths and propelled with sharp lyrics. The songs railed against the boredom and cultural blandness of the Midwest and mirrored the paranoia of the era.
As maverick studio producers and ace songwriters, the Industrials realized a vision and sound not only on par with contemporaries Devo and Pere Ubu, but still relevant and cutting today.
Outside of bootleg compilation appearances and the overpriced collectors' market, the music of DJI has been unavailable for 35 years until now. "Can't Stand The Midwest 1979-1981" includes 29 songs remastered from the original tapes: The Industrials' side from "Hoosier Hysteria," the rare 1980 split LP with the Gizmos; 1981 7-inch EP; 9 unreleased studio tracks; live versions of unrecorded songs and more. A 12-page booklet features liner notes by the Gizmos' Dale Lawrence and Keith Smith's never before seen Indiana punk scene photos. The 2xLP also comes with a 70-minute DVD of a September 1980 club performance and download coupon. CD version has one less song.
Joan Shelley follows up her massively successful LP Over and Even with 2 new songs recorded in Chicago. Shelley will enter the studio in late 2016 to record a new LP, but until then she'll be on tour with Wilco and Patty Griffin with headlining dates in between.
A shimmering ambient tone, an electronic underlay to the lulling chatter of crickets, makes way for the unmistakable voice of Patti Smith, quietly intoning, ominously, "The killer road is waiting for you / like a finger, pointing in the night."
Behind the music and concept of Killer Road is international trio Soundwalk Collective - Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi - who, alongside Patti Smith's daughter, Jesse Paris, conceived an immersive exploration of the tragic death of Christa PĂ¤ffgen. Better known as Nico, the Velvet Underground chanteuse and solo pioneer, PĂ¤ffgen died while riding her bike on the island of Ibiza in the summer of 1988. Killer Road is an ambient soundscape and spoken word tribute to Nico - eight interpretations of her lyrics, predominantly taken from classic albums such as Desertshore and Drama of Exile, arranged by fellow poet and kindred spirit Patti Smith. Originally executed as a live performance piece with Jesse Paris Smith and Soundwalk Collective, Killer Road sees the light of day in album format for the first time.
Let's face facts - in 2016 it is remarkable that there's a new Dinosuar Jr album to go ape over. After all, the original line-up of the band (J Mascis, Lou Barlow & Murph) only recorded three full albums during their initial run in the 1980s. Everyone was gob-smacked when they reunited in 2005. Even more so when they opted to stay together, as they have for 11 years now (on and off). And with the release of Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, this trio redivisus has released more albums in the 21st Century than they did in the 20th. It's enough to make a man take a long, thoughtful slug of maple-flavored bourbon and count some lucky stars.
In 1974 Jad and David Fair teamed up to form a band called Half Japanese. The route was simple, at first. If one pounded on drums the other could squeeze sounds from an electric guitar. There were no other band members to stay in tune with, so there was no particular reason for them to worry about tuning the guitar in a traditional manner or learning traditional chords. They were free from the start to express their music in their own way. They traded off the guitar and drumming rolls. Whichever one sang the words also played the guitar and the other one drummed. For a couple of years they wrote, recorded and performed this way, without the convention of more members. When they did decide to expand they went big. They first thought of recruiting an outside drummer, so that both could play guitars at the same time
In 2014 Jad and David stripped things back to the roots. They went back to recording as a duo. One sang and played guitar, the other one drummed. 40 years had passed, but they slipped right back into the original roles and churned out a number of breath-stealing songs. 40 years later; 40 years better. One pick, two sticks and heart-warming vocals...... That's all they needed; two brothers, still rockin' the same damn deal!
Beef Jerk's debut LP "Tragic" was self-released in a small run by the band in 2015 & has now been re-released for a deservedly wider audience by Trouble In Mind in 2016. The band often get lumped in with the Australian "dolewave" scene - a joke title referring to bands of the jangling pop variety whose lyrics often touch on the more mundane aspects of modern life in Australia. Beef Jerk's principal songwriters' Jack Lee & Mikey Branson certainly write tunes that seem to fit that mold, but upon further investigation & attention, reveal an intelligent, deeper & poetic understanding of working class culture in Australia. "Tragic" is re-released by Trouble In Mind with all-new artwork, and includes a download code.
There's no other producer in West Africa like DJ Katapila. His album Trotro, reissued in March on Awesome Tapes From Africa, demonstrates a wild combination of breakneck rhythms steeped in his native Ga traditional dances. But the spiritual affinity his music share with the minimal sounds of early house and techno have not gone unnoticed by listeners worldwide. Ghana's tireless producer and DJ, aka Ishmael Abbey, singularly consolidates flavors. As new sounds wind their way from West African neighbors into urban Ghana - particularly the hectic and humid metropolis Accra - Katapila has absorbed and analyzed their insidious influence on local dancers and filtered them into his own works. The result is astonishing.
Two of the tracks here haven't been on wax before. This 12" single made specially for DJs and collectors adds to the lore of Katapila's days-long DJ sets and intensely original and (slightly bananas) FruityLoops-crafted minimalist productions. The two previously-unreleased tracks build on Katapila's international oeuvre significantly, painting a broader picture of what the iconoclastic road warrior dj-producer has been doing the past few years: making his own kind of electronic music that's both deeply personal and wildly international.
From Los Angeles-based artist Lucas Nathan, Jerry Paper is a highly caricatured, stranger, and less-categorizable representation of his Self - fulfilling his need for a subversive outlet and catharsis, in general. Jerry's songs thematically deal with matters of loneliness, transcendence, war mongering and existential contemplations, all delivered with subtle humor.
The latest full-length from Jerry Paper is Toon Time Raw! sees itself as a a continuation of Nathan's of amoebic mission. Whereas his previous seven albums featured him alone - with his synthesizer, drum machine, and the occasional guitar - this new record features backing instrumentation from Easy Feeling Unlimited, a jazz band who have asked to remain anonymous. Though the synth sax has been traded for real brass, it's still the same Jerry songwriting.
Toon Time Raw! is a metamorphosis of Jerry's style that nonetheless retains his characteristic wit and sentimentality. Musically, the album fills the space somewhere between jazz-rock, sophisti-pop, and psychedelia. Lyrically, the album follows a cast of anthropomorphic animals navigating their cartoon reality, facing "the quotidian aches and pains of being a Being." Can you imagine if Martin Heidegger created Looney Tunes? Jerry already did.
Much of the power of the best films by the cult director John Carpenter can be attributed to their use of music - music that, more often than not, was composed and performed by Carpenter himself. What began as a necessity for the low-budget productions by Carpenter became a major part of his aesthetic, and established him as a pioneering figure in genre-film score work as well as electronic music in general. Now, flanked by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, and with two albums (Lost Themes and Lost Themes II) of non-soundtrack material under his belt, Carpenter has decided to revisit some of his most beloved themes.
This 12" release includes the themes to Halloween and Escape from New York, newly rerecorded by Carpenter and his Lost Themes bandmates. May it serve as a bridge between the Horror Master's legendary, still relevant past and his remarkable present.