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2017-07-14
Art Feynman: Blast Off Through The Wicker

Blast Off Through the Wicker documents Art Feynman looking for life in the lifeless, questioning what it means to be living. There is a calm, disciplined pocket to be felt in everything Feynman does; krautrock slink, staccato bounce, and pentatonic bursts of Nigerian Highlife fuzz pour on the temporal canvas with unquestionable ease, never falling in the wrong place. Even more admirable is, that his "canvas" is a four-track tape recorder, and that Blast Off features no loops or drum machines despite its aesthetically faithful motorik and afrobeat underpinnings. Nowhere is this fact more surprising than on album standout "Slow Down" which pulses along infectiously with a crunchy backbeat, and deftly arpeggiating bass lines that are so locked-in that it would be hard to fault an unknowing ear for assuming the whole thing is tediously programmed.

There are gentler sides to Blast Off that conjure the spacey tenderness of Arthur Russell inventively and respectfully, without adopting their muse's palette wholesale. In this regard Blast Off is an endearing collection of songs that capture the ear with warm-yet-clear cassette aesthetics and spot-on musicianship, both of which form an angle that points lovingly to Feynman's deep and varied influences. Make no mistake-- this one truly is alive.

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2017-07-14
Dasher: Sodium

After a string of well-received 7" releases on labels like Suicide Squeeze and Die Slaughterhaus, Dasher songs new and old have finally been smelted down into their debut album, Sodium. Dasher knifes out the chop-crunch guitar of latterday post-punk with a seething screech echoing the hardest horizons of the early 90's underground.

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2017-07-14
Psychic Temple: IV

Records like Psychic Temple IV aren't made anymore. Maybe they never were. There is a magic present that some mistake for "tubes" or "tape" but it's no more complicated than putting the right musicians together with the right songs.

Produced and composed by band/cult leader Chris Schlarb, Psychic Temple IV was recorded in Los Angeles over a series of eight large scale sessions. In the spirit of the classic Wrecking Crew sessions for Phil Spector and the Beach Boys, the band was often tasked with recording four songs per session. Vocals were added as soon as the rhythm section tracks were cut with British rock legend Terry Reid, Arlene Deradoorian, and Nedelle Torrisi joining Chris in the studio to work out harmony parts and sing live together.

Schlarb's melodies are soulful yet unpredictable, and yet the exploratory spirit of the first Psychic Temple album still abides. The music has been poured over with both care and abandon. There is magic in Psychic Temple IV. It's no more complicated than that.

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2017-07-14
Psychic TV: Allegory & Self

Beginning in 1982, the conceptual audiovisual troupe labeled Psychic TV set out on a multimedia journey filled with subversion, liberation and rebellion. While the members' previous works took root in the counterculture zeitgeist of late '70s UK punk and conceptual art, it was no longer a question of how to rebel against authority, but rather how to carefully subvert it through collective infiltration. Parallel to Psychic TV, its members formed the anti-cult faction Thee Temple of Psychick Youth, further propagating the Psychic TV message and vision.

While the ensuing years saw Psychic TV's major label infection and record breaking live album release binge, it wasn't until 1988 that the band started to ready itself for a chart-friendly pop endeavor in the form of "Allegory & Self". This would be the band's most notable and successful endeavor but tragically, it would be the final songwriting collaboration between P-Orridge and Fergusson. "Allegory and Self" was a perfect storm of catchy pop melody along with subversive counter-culture reference and occult leanings, packaged in a perfect bundle of underground hits.

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2017-07-14
Psychic TV: Pagan Day

Shortly before Christmas 1984, the core songwriters, Genesis P-Orridge and Alex Fergusson, of underground arts collective Psychic TV quietly released a limited edition record containing sketches and ideas for songs. Some songs would become later fully-realized arrangements, some abandoned and others were just covered in praise of their creator. The record, in recognition of its seasonal release, was simply titled "A Pagan Day" and would capture the intimate songwriting sessions that were prevalent during crucial time in the band's career.

In classic Psychic TV fashion, rumors and myths surround the album's creation. Most have suggested that it was recorded in a single session over a cup of coffee on a lone 4-track cassette recorder above an old YMCA building in London, though later revealed that the recordings were from various sessions over the course of a couple years prior to the record’s release. After quickly pressing the songs to vinyl, the record was originally only available through Rough Trade for a few hours on December 23, 1984 and pressed on picture discs, which adorned a photo of P-Orridge's first born, Caresse, in exactly 999 copies.

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2017-07-14
Sextile: Albeit Living

As a stable fixture in the Los Angeles underground, Sextile has been gaining a devout following since its creation in 2015. The four-piece creates a revolutionary sound — boldly throwing convention out the window to create an entirely original, genre-bending imprint that combines the raw energy of 70's punk with the intricate, sophisticated structural elements of 80’s post-punk and synthwave.

Sextile's first release, A Thousand Hands, had a signature sound that was a dark and primitive form of rock n' roll, a blend of surf punk, early industrial, and post-punk marked by heavy use of distorted guitar feedback and primal drum beats against a backdrop of violent energy.

Sextile is back with their sophomore LP, Albeit Living. The album is a testament to the band's growth in the songwriting department and effort spent fine-tuning their burgeoning compositional skills. Despite its more sophisticated sound, the album manages to match and even intensify the seductive energy of their live shows and debut album. The album is a strong statement that re-defines Sextile's sound, but the real impact the album has is the way it decisively breaks the rules and guidelines set out by conventional genres and strives to create something truly unique and genre-altering.

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2017-07-14
SQÜRL: EP #260

SQÜRL is: Carter Logan and Jim Jarmusch.

An enthusiastically marginal rock band from New York City who like big drums & distorted guitars, cassette recorders, loops, feedback, sad country songs, molten stoner core, chopped & screwed hip-hop, and imaginary movie scores.

SQÜRL began in 2009 when Jim Jarmusch and his producer Carter Logan teamed with producer/engineer Shane Stoneback to record some original music for the film THE LIMITS OF CONTROL. Echoing the varied Spanish landscapes captured in the film, the three emerged with a set of slow-motion psychedelic rock instrumentals (releasing them as Bad Rabbit). Following these scoring sessions Jim, Shane, and Carter continued to record new originals while also exploring the back-alleys of American country, noise, and psychedelia. SQÜRL released a series of 3 EPs of these songs, recorded over a 3 year period by Shane at Treefort Recording in Brooklyn, NY.

In 2012, Jim collaborated with baroque lutist Jozef Van Wissem and released an LP on Sacred Bones entitled The Mystery of Heaven. In 2013 they began to compose and perform the score for the film ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE with Van Nuisance. Bridging ancient and modern sounds, the score serves as a reflection of the distinct textures of Detroit and Tangier. The film and soundtrack, the latter which also features Zola Jesus, were released worldwide in 2014, and quickly earned the group the Cannes Soundtrack Award.

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2017-07-14
The Stevens: Good

Melbourne scratchy pop favourites the Stevens return with their second album Good. 18 short songs, alternately frenetic or laconic, packed with twists and hooks that merge lo-fi outsider songcraft with 70s prog wizardry and classic rock swagger. The Stevens formed in 2011 around guitarists Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, Tyrannamen) and Travis MacDonald, and were soon joined by bassist Gus Lord (Twerps, Boomgates, Tyrannamen) and drummer Matt Harkin. Chapter released their debut album A History Of Hygiene in late 2014. The album was written up by Pitchfork and The Guardian, reviewed by Austin Brown of Parquet Courts and played on BBC6. The Stevens toured the US in 2015, playing Gonerfest on the back of killer single Thirsty Eye. In Australia they have played with Wire, Parquet Courts, Real Estate and others. The Stevens recorded Good in Melbourne bedrooms/jam rooms throughout 2016, and once again employed the services of New Zealand mastering engineer Tex Houston, veteran of a thousand Flying Nun releases. Alex and Gus from The Stevens have spent the last couple of years as the newest members of Twerps, with Alex drumming on their 2015 album Range Anxiety, and Gus joining on bass a short time later.

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2017-07-14
Yoko Ono: Fly

What you hear on Fly is Yoko Ono's disarming combination of opacity and visceral, personal transparency in full bloom. It's one of the most unbridled, most captivating soul albums ever made.

And that's right where she wants you: vulnerable, wide open to any-and-everything, ready to have your world tipped onto its head. She's a master of spinning your head around. First, you get the Bar Band from Hell of "Midsummer New York" to kick things off. It's about the last thing you'd expect from Ono coming off Plastic Ono Band. But here you are, listening to Ono channeling Elvis. Why am I all of a sudden bopping along to it?

At 16-minute-plus, the tranced-out, motorik-inspired boogie "Mind Train" is rough-and-ready for your next basement get down. Movement and perspiration required. Then, we have the absolutely gutting blues of “Don’t Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand in The Snow)." Full of ache and raw emotion, the song is a love note, a plea for forgiveness, to her estranged daughter Kyoko shot across the universe on a flaming arrow.

Ono follows this stampede of emotion with the self-referential torch song "Mrs. Lennon," a wounded song that gets right into the Universal Loneliness. And so here you are. You're devastated. You're exhausted. You're exhilarated. And you're only 1/4 of the way up the mountain that is Fly. Dig deep, traveler, it’s worth the climb.

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2017-07-14
Yoko Ono: Feeling The Space

If you've listened to Feeling the Space, Yoko Ono's personal-is-political 1973 album, it should come as no surprise that the once-reviled artist is inspiring a new generation of activists in 2017. On such songs as the righteous chant "Woman Power," the empathetic ballad "Angry Young Woman," the hilarious proto-grrrl "Potbelly Rocker," and the satirical "Men Men Men," Yoko sings in surprisingly straightforward fashion about the burdens carried by women and the mandate for feminism. Supported by such skilled studio vets as guitarist David Spinozza, sax player Michael Brecker, and drummer Jim Keltner, this is perhaps Yoko's most accessible album, and her most intimate. Feeling the Space was recorded during the time when the avant-garde visionary artist became estranged from her rock-star husband John Lennon. He plays only briefly on the album (billed as Johnny O'cean); she produced and wrote all the songs.

The result is a definitive soundtrack/document of the era of consciousness raising and of radical critique of the family structure. Yoko and company deliver this hard message soft rock style, or as soft as Yoko could get. Yoko was on the front lines of the women's liberation movement. Dedicated "to the sisters who died in pain and sorrow and those who are now in prisons and in mental hospitals for being unable to survive in the male society," it's an emotional exploration of the psychological toll of oppression.