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2017-11-10
Angel Olsen: Phases

How do you best describe Angel Olsen? From the lo-fi, sparse folk-melancholy of her 2010 EP, Strange Cacti, to the electrified, polished rock 'n' roll bursting from 2016's beloved and acclaimed MY WOMAN, Olsen has refused to succumb to a single genre, expectation, or vision. Impossible to pin down, Olsen navigates the world with her remarkable, symphonic voice and a propensity for narrative, her music growing into whatever shape best fits to tell the story. Phases is a collection of Olsen's work culled from the past several years, including a number of never-before-released tracks. "Fly On Your Wall," previously contributed to the Bandcamp-only, anti-Trump fundraiser Our First 100 Days, opens Phases, before seamlessly slipping into "Special," a brand new song from the MY WOMAN recording sessions. Both "How Many Disasters" and "Sans" are first-time listens: home-recorded demos that have never been released, leaning heavily on Olsen's arresting croon and lonesome guitar. The b-sides compilation is both a testament to Olsen's enormous musical range and a tidy compilation of tracks that have previously been elusive in one way or another. Balancing tenacity and tenderness, Phases acts as a deep-dive for longtime fans, as well as a fitting introduction to Olsen's sprawling sonics for the uninitiated.

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2017-11-10
Autobahn: The Moral Crossing

A sliver of strings, a squeal of feedback, pulsing drums, sheets of steely guitar and sonorous bass, and a rough, declamatory voice - from these primary components, Leeds, UK quintet AUTOBAHN unfurl their second album, The Moral Crossing, which adds more finesse, dynamic color to the commitment and energy shown on their 2014 debut, Dissemble. To capture the new sonic details of the band, lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton decided to give up their practice room that doubled as a hardcore/punk venue and build their own studio space (in Holbeck, Leeds' red light district) and record it themselves with Craig leading that charge. It took a year to finish from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album which was then mixed by Ben Greenberg (Uniform, The Men). Johnson's lyrics on The Moral Crossing combine to form a whole: the theme of a birth, "but that person had no choice in the decision. And then it's about the different outcomes that could happen. Which could be glorious or torturous."

AUTOBAHN have checked their own moral compass, and chosen the hard way, but their music is infused with the joy of exorcising the darkness: to be there, and rise on through.

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2017-11-10
Dawn People: The Star Is Your Future

Dawn People's "The Star Is Your Future" is a studio collaboration between New York musicians Nick Forte and Peter Negroponte. The pair's mutual disregard for musical categorization results in a genre-bending ride on the nine-track LP, which portrays their diverse backgrounds while maintaining a sense of accessibility, continuity, and purpose.

Both veterans of the underground experimental scene, the duo entered into the project preparing to make a serious racket. In time, their mutual appreciation for breezy 70's jazz fusion, kraut rock, and library funk became apparent, setting the course for the sessions. In the summer of 2016, they started tracking live jams with drums and electronics at the Outlier Inn studio in upstate New York with engineer Josh Druckman. As the tracks took shape, Forte and Druckman arranged the material and Negroponte overdubbed guitar, synthesizer, bass, and percussion. Finally, the tracks were handed to Abe Seiferth for mixing and post production.

The sound of this LP harkens back to a time not too long ago, in the early - mid 90's, with groups like Air, Cornelius, Stereolab, Tortoise, and Cibo Matto. All these artists combined a love of Krautrock & David Axelrod records into a lushly produced jigsaw puzzle of live instrumentation, editing, sampling, and immaculate production. It is a genre that Pitchfork's Eric Harvey recently described as "recombinant pop", which is applied to "adventurous, sample-driven and style-copping music".

"The Star Is Your Future" shifts aesthetically and dramatically between sections and phrases, woozy in the best way and never unfocused. Together, Forte and Negroponte have cobbled together a dazzling scope of sonic elements to create something cohesive and mesmerizing - put on the record and get lost in the haze.

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2017-11-10
Exploded View: Summer Came Early

Exploded View is: Annika Henderson, Martin Thulin, Hugo Quezada and Amon Melgarejo.

After finishing the songs that became their self-titled debut LP for Sacred Bones, Exploded View decided to go back into the studio and record some more. Mixed in with some of the outtakes of the first record, such as "Mirror of the Madman," the songs on Summer Came Early signal a step forward for the band, revealing more clarity and focus than the first, yet retaining a certain messy experimentalism that gives them the freedom they crave.

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2017-11-10
Gun Outfit: Out of Range

Like a stone eroded by years in the arroyo, Gun Outfit's enveloping "Western expanse" aesthetic of guitar levitations and honky-tonk hexes has become gradually smoother over time. Their fifth LP ranks as their most brutally beautiful statement yet. Drawing from mythologies both classical and postmodern, Out of Range builds a world in which Brueghel the Elder, St. Augustine, and the ancient goddess Cybele ride with John Ford, Samuel Beckett, and Wallace Stevens on a Orphic-Gnostic suicide drive towards the hallucinatory vanishing points of the Southwestern desert, debating the denouement of the decaying American dream.

Dreamers wielding slide guitars. A tradition-warping band, with a punk aesthetic deep at the center and double-guitar desert-rock psychedelia at the surface. - The New York Times

With its echoing grooves, drifting landscapes, and new textures - bits of bluegrass banjo, homemade electric sitars - it has the blue-sky sensibility of a soul-searching road trip. You want to get lost inside of it, to turn it up on a road trip that lasts for weeks. - Pitchfork

Peyote for the ears... Expansive, arid, and dusty. - Uncut

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2017-11-10
Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Experience the punishing sonic origins of a punk icon. Collected here for the first time, and skillfully remastered from original board tapes, demos, and session masters, this collection is an authoritative chronicling of the wellspring and maturation of Grant Hart, Greg Norton and Bob Mould - three Minneapolis teenagers who'd go on to become the most heralded trio of the American punk underground. Follow the Hüskers to their earliest gigs in 1979, through extensive road dog touring, and to the start of their partnership with West Coast tastemaker SST in 1983.

This primitive stage in the fabled career of Hüsker Dü is presented as a deluxe box set and packaged with a hardbound book crammed full of never before seen photos, flyers, and a sprawling essay with participation from the band. Spread across four LPs or three CDs, 47 of the 69 songs compiled here are previously unissued. Also included are Statues/Amusement, In A Free Land, Everything Falls Apart, and an alternate recording of the Land Speed Record set.

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2017-11-10
Howard Hello: Election Year

After more than ten years apart, multi-instrumentalist songwriters Marty Anderson (Dilute, Okay) and Kenseth Thibideau (Tarentel, Sleeping People) have reconnected to resurrect Howard Hello. Originally founded to craft music inspired by the American Zeitgeist, Election Year finds Howard Hello returning to familiar themes: The dichotomies of reality and illusion; organic and synthetic; sincerity and irony; faith and fact. These themes, however familiar, are perhaps no more confusing and confounding than right now in present-day United States (hence the album's title). Musically Anderson and Thibideau use music as an analogy, fusing abstract and traditional instrumental textures with angelic, distorted layers of vocal accompaniment. Their collaborative connection is extraordinary and rare, symbiotic craftsmen of profound meditations that are as fascinatingly weird as they are irrefutably wonderful.

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2017-11-10
Pauline Anna Strom: Trans-Millenia Music

Otherworldly and anomalous, hushed and hallucinatory, Pauline Anna Strom's unique style of inner space music reaches across time to futures and pasts far from our own. Trans-Millenia Music compiles 80 minutes of Strom's most evocative work, composed and recorded between 1982 and 1988 across seven albums released in minimal vinyl and cassette editions. Strom's heightened sensitivity to sound and spirited sensibility with the primal synthesizer tools of her trade elevates this music beyond the catch-all containers of New Age and ambient music into a realm of its own. RVNG's double LP and CD collections feature original artwork by visionary Karma Moffett, printed inner sleeves and booklet with extensive liner notes scribed by Britt Brown.

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2017-11-10
Peter Oren: Anthropocene

Indiana-born, everywhere-based singer-songwriter Peter Oren possesses a remarkable singing voice, low and deep and richly textured: as solid as a glacier, as big as a mountain. It rumbles in your conscience, a righteous sound that marks him as an artist for our tumultuous times, when sanity seems absent from popular discussions. The songs on Anthropocene are direct and poetic, outraged and measured, taking in the entire fucked-up world from his fixed point of view.

Oren attracted the attention of Ken Coomer, the former drummer for Wilco and a producer in Nashville. Together, the duo assembled a backing band featuring some of the city's finest session musicians, including keyboard player Michael Webb (John Fogerty), singer Maureen Murphy (Zac Brown Band), and guitarists Sam Wilson (Sons of Bill) and Laur Jaomets (Sturgill Simpson). On Anthropocene they provide stately backing for Oren's songs, with drips of pedal steel and quivers of strings subtly reinforcing his observations about the state of the world. "Throw Down" bristles with energy and resolve, penned for "the people on the far, far left," Oren says, "the anarchists and the rioters. There's not often a voice that's trying to understand those people or defend those positions."

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2017-11-10
The 6th's: Wasps' Nest (Reissue)

Originally released in 1995, Wasps' Nests is the acclaimed, tongue twisting debut from the 6th's - the side project of The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt featuring guest vocal appearances by a who's who of 90's indie rock royalty including Dean Wareham (Luna), Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo), Mark Robinson (Unrest), Lou Barlow (Sebadoh), Mary Timony, Amelia Fletcher (Heavenly/ Talulah Gosh), Robert Scott (The Bats), Chris Knox, and more.

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2017-11-10
Whitney: Light Upon The Lake: Demo Recordings

Light Upon The Lake, the debut from Whitney, was born from early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the most brutal winters in Chicago's history. Vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek began writing unflinching, honest songs about everything from breakups to the passing of Ehrlich's grandfather. The pair leaned on one another for both honest critique and a sounding board for working through their newly-discovered truths. The brief, intense period of creativity for the band yielded Light Upon The Lake's exceptional, unfussy combination of soul, breezy Sixties/Seventies rock, and somber heartbreak woven together by hopeful, golden threads. After critical acclaim and nearly nonstop touring since the album's 2016 release, Ehrlich and Kakacek are going back to their roots - for the first time, the full demos from Light Upon The Lake will be made available. After a whirlwind year following the debut, the demos offer a way for listeners to get a glimpse into the very beginning of Whitney's sound. "After almost two years of non-stop touring, we decided we wanted to close the chapter on Light Upon The Lake by releasing the songs in their earliest incarnations alongside a cover of a band favorite by Alan Toussaint, and an unreleased track called 'You and Me.' We're looking towards LP2 as we finish out the year on the road." - Love, Max and Julien