Facing the sort of obstacles that might, understandably, derail a fledgling band's career, MOURN instead forged ahead, and in typical fashion managed to harness their swirling anger, frustration, and passion from the past 2 years into new music. Now, only just recently freed from their legal binds, MOURN is back in full force to share their 3rd full-length album, Sorpresa Familia.Ironically, the obstacles and injustice MOURN have faced in recent years has provided a fertile foundation for new songs that display a palpable maturity and evolution, while retaining every bit of the fiery angst and attitude that has shaped their sound from the start. Chock full of tension and pent up frustration, Sorpresa Familia feels tonally right at home within MOURN's catalog. But it also feels distinctly separate - more refined, more intentional. Railing against greedy businesses, exploitation, fake friends, dishonest figures of authority, and ever complicated global politics, it's an album of decidedly higher stakes than their past outputs, delivered with the newfound poetic grace of a band rising up out of the ashes of those who stood in their way.
Guitarless Guitar Music, the self-imposed description chosen by New Zealand's Wax Chattels. The trio doesn't have a guitar player, but their overwhelming sound and energy create an atmosphere akin to a traditional power trio - though their music is anything but. They create hypnotic, frenetic music that's rhythmically complex and sinister. There's heavily treated keyboards, unrestrained bass lines and punishing drums. And, it's loud.
The band met while studying Jazz Performance at the University of Auckland and, after living abroad, completing Law School and/or performing in a myriad of other projects, they started Wax Chattels, working up material for a year prior to recording. "We tracked the songs as a live band to capture the energy of the live show, restricting ourselves to instruments which we play live and keeping production to a minimum."
Live, they are not to be missed. It was after a particularly insane performance that both Captured Tracks and Flying Nun signed them on the spot. The opening of the one-chord tour de force "Concrete" begins in a downright jarring place, ending in a Krautrock-via-Suicide crescendo. Recalling the other side of Kiwi underground rock history - one that's less sunny, less jangly - this new act demands your attention.
Martin Newell spent the '80s being compared to Robyn Hitchcock, XTC, and other lesser-known '60s-influenced pop maestros, so it was poetic that XTC's Andy Partridge would produce this Newell solo album. The result isn't a stretch from Martin's days as The Cleaners from Venus or The Brotherhood of Lizards. The production is cleaner than on Newell's home recordings, but the songs are as melodic and adventurous as ever. If one's naturally attracted to the charms of "We'll Build a House" (which sounds like what Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard has spent his career emulating), then there's plenty more from where this came from. Newell is devoutly English, writing his songs much in the way Ray Davies sculpted his observations of British life, past and present, with The Kinks. There's a Davies-like shuffle to "Tribute to the Greatest Living Englishman," a barrage of guitars to "She Rings the Changes," and an "all the lonely people" feel to "A Street Called Prospect" and "The Green-Gold Girl of Summer." The only drawback to being seduced by Mr. Newell? It's a full-time job to get up to speed!
There are a million songs dressed in white t-shirts and American denim, songs that drift through open spaces in some busted sedan, over lost highways that become tributaries to eventual static, crawling traffic and stifling density. There are a million more songs about being wild and green in the cities and outside them: a song about love for every person on this earth. Another Age, the debut album from Robert Earl Thomas, avoids inhabiting these cliches even as it embraces their personal influence: this is an album about small moments with big emotional footprints, told humbly and honestly. Thomas is not new to making records. A founding member of Brooklyn-based indie outfit â€ªWidowspeakâ€¬, he's previously lent his talents as a lead guitarist to that band as well as the experimental pop group Vensaire. He began writing and home-recording songs two years ago, gradually and purposefully in moments of solitude between tours, between stints working in a Seattle woodshop and at a hotel in the Catskills, and during weeks couch-surfing back and forth across Brooklyn. For Another Age, Thomas combined these intricately layered demos with tracks from a two-week studio session in the winter of 2016 at Marcata Recording in New Paltz, NY with producer Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate, Widowspeak). â€¬ It's a debut that plays the part without succumbing to it, more pastel romantic comedy than sepia historic drama. There are stylistic nods to Springsteen and â€ªDire Straitsâ€¬, â€ªArthur Russellâ€¬'s more folk-leaning output, the various collaborations of â€ªTom Pettyâ€¬ & â€ªJeff Lynneâ€¬. But Thomas seems intent on conveying his specific take on these things over emulating them; you get the impression that he's just as inspired by karaoke renditions of "I'm On Fire" or "Romeo and Juliet" as he is by the originals. And the stories he tells are full of intimate moments and observations: a walk home from a lover's apartment, a long night drive back upstate, a quiet â€ªWednesday morningâ€¬ existential crisis; musings as to the significance of a Winona Ryder portrait on the wall of a stranger's bedroom; the sense of discovery that comes with being young in a city with a new person, and the sense of loss when that novelty is gone. Another Age is indoor music at its most expansive, rock and roll held at arm's length. â€¬â€¬â€¬â€¬â€¬
Channeling the feeling of youth on the fringe, Chastity focuses on the earnest connections found amongst the pent up suburban blue-collar. Living in Whitby Ontario, Brandon Williams creates music in a space of urgency, melody and chaos - an artifact of youth culture that bridges isolation and collectivity. Chastity is a protean temperament in punk, in recent history sharing the stage with Priests and Fucked Up, the project carries in the ethic of solidarity, antagonistic to the status quo.
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.
Portland, Oregon's Reptaliens is the husband and wife team of Cole and Bambi Browning. Named in reverence for their interests in cult mentality, transhumanism, and conspiracy theories, Reptaliens quickly evolved from a bedroom-recording project to a full-fledged band that explores fringe pop culture through analog synthesizers, electric guitars, melodic bass lines, and Bambi's lulling vocals. Inspired by all things science fiction, writers like Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, and music ranging from Paul McCartney/ Wings to African artists Francis Bebey and Nahawa Doumbia, the band creates psychedelic, chameleonic dreamscapes that fall sonically and visually somewhere between abstract expressionism and surrealism. These ideas and influences all coalesce on FM-2030 - named after the renowned transhumanist writer and philosopher - the band's debut album on Captured Tracks. Full of dreamy melodies and catchy hooks, the feel-good vibe often belie something a bit more sinister.
Lina Tullgren is from Southern Maine just over the border of the northernmost seacoast of New Hampshire. It's an unexpected location for artistic incubation, but osmosis is bound to occur when you grow up surrounded by family, friends, and weirdos interacting at all times with their own interpretations of creative output. Shifting in trainings and traditions, the 23 year old eventually found herself a voice with the electric guitar, uniquely flavored and shaped from the many years of fiddle lessons and classical technique. The shifts in genre and instrumentation are stark, but important for her growth as a songwriter. Lina's morphing interaction with music has mirrored a growing determination to harness her ability to melodically and lyrically express complex emotions - a rare gift at such a young age.With 2016's Wishlist EP - recorded to tape at the home of band mate Ty Ueda - Lina proved an ability to craft simple, introspective and succinct songs, each one a pulsing glow leaving you both hollow and whole, alone but never lonely. It is on Lina's debut album Won that we reap the full rewards of this newfound confidence in expression and rejection of internal hesitation. "The writing doesn't necessarily get easier, but I feel more comfortable tapping into emotions and going to those places that need to be written about. Won, as it turned out, is the product that I have been hearing and picturing in my head as I write and listen to music." It is the product of what happens when you push past the fear of what it means to think out loud - to become accountable for your internal struggles by way of manifesting your ideas into songs that are then free to grow apart from you, to exist on their own while always remaining specifically implicative of you. Now backed by a full band, each track manages to remain piercingly intimate, sometimes brief, and always honest, while gaining a wholly new sense of gestation both sonically and lyrically.
Dinner is Danish producer and singer Anders Rhedin. Following the release of his EP collection and last year’s debut LP Psychic Lovers, the now LA-based artist presents New Work on Captured Tracks.
Enlisted Josh da Costa (Regal Degal, Ducktails) to produce the album with him, Dinner and Josh worked in the nighttime at off-hours at a studio in an industrial part of downtown LA. The album's songs were recorded on the spot with no preparation time. In-between studio sessions, Dinner recorded and overdubbed material in his apartment on an early 80's 4-track recorder. New Work features performances by Andy White (Tonstartssbandht), Charlie Hilton (Blouse), Rori McCarthy (Infinite Bisous, Connan Moccasin), Staz Lindes (Paranoyds), and a duet with Sean Nicholas Savage.
Asked to describe the sound of New Work after the first listen, Captured Tracks owner Mike Sniper texted: "Julian Cope, 60's Baroque Pop, early 70's Canterbury Sound, Japan, Ryuichi Sakamato, 'Raspberry Beret'-era Prince... Need to listen a few more times before anything concrete comes!"
New Work is out on Captured Tracks on September 8th. Dinner plans to tour the US and Europe in the fall.
Seven years in, Widowspeak remain purveyors of mood. Existing in a sonic overlap of indie rock, dream pop, downtrodden shoegaze, slow-core and invented "cowboy grunge", Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask, "How did we get here?" Expect the Best, their fourth for Brooklyn's Captured Tracks, sees Widowspeak finding balance between opposing forces: darkness / light, quiet / loud, tension / calm. Moving around -- specifically the move back to the place where Hamilton grew up -- was the catalyst for a record concerned with self-examination and the sense of dread that comes from feeling adrift ("Dog"). Whether navigating anxieties in the digital age ("Expect the Best"), struggling for motivation ("When I Tried") or critiquing wanderlust and aspiration ("The Dream"), the songs here recognize you can't go back in time. The band navigates dynamic changes with subtlety and restraint; the nine tracks brim with both wide-eyed optimism and resigned melancholy. Their usual palette of dusty guitars and angular twang are still front and center, but now with a 90s homage, even if abstractly. It's perhaps their heaviest record to date, but never loses the sense of intimacy Widowspeak is known for.
"I don't remember when I first heard of this mysterious album Yellow, but it must have been some time ago, because for the last few years, whenever I would meet Travis, Neil and Nick, the first words from my lips would be "when's Yellow drop?" It was at the Showbox in Seattle were I first heard songs that were going to be on Yellow. I was watching their set with my brother, and after a few songs we glanced at each other knowing that we were finally passing into the Yellow era. Wherever Naomi Punk had been going this whole time, they had just arrived. When I'm listening to the sound of Olympia and America and planet Earth and 2017 and suddenly it doesn't feel so gloomy, and I feel so lucky to have met these boys and to have been touched by their music and to call them friends. And I just hope the world realizes how lucky it is to have them." - Andrew Savage (Parquet Courts)
Dada - conceived first as a dream, then manifested into reality as instruments and voices recorded onto magnetic tape - is the newest sonic artifact by the group known as B Boys. Over the course of the album, the 13 songs explore connections between language, self-awareness, introspection and unconventional serenity. A nod to the collective unconscious by way of personal reflection. Experiential wisdom filtered through a tin of mints and a fresh pair of chinos.
Before you ancients out there turn your heads and scoff at the premise of a twenty-something rock-and-roll goofball calling himself an old-anything, consider this: said perpetrator, he who answers to the name Mac DeMarco, has spent the better part of his time thus far writing, recording, and releasing an album of his own music pretty much every calendar flip, and pretty much on his own. This Old Dog makes for his fifth in just over half a decade - bringing the total to 3 LPs and 2 EPs. According to the DMV, MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco is 26. But in working-dog years, ol' Mac here could easily qualify for social security. To stay gold, turns out all he needed was some new tricks.
Debut single on Captured Tracks from Portland's dream pop stalwarts Reptaliens
Melbourne artist Gabriella Cohen's first solo full-length is the product of ten days and two microphones. Co-produced alongside close friend, bandmate, and engineer Kate 'Babyshakes' Dillon, the record is the result of what Cohen describes as the "ceremony" of reflecting on a relationship. The album's raw, personal side could be traced back to its place of birth at Dillon's parents' place in the country, or to the Brisbane streets the songs were composed in. The songs are soaked in the kind of aching nostalgia that is tinged with equal measures of sadness and triumph. On "I Don't Feel So Alive", Cohen warns: "This could be the last time we get together", and on one hand it's melancholy, but it's in the spirit of endings that are also beginnings.
There are two sides to Cohen's coin though - for every moment of raw, cutting emotion, there's one of otherworldly ethereality. It's what makes the record feel timeless, which doesn't mean old-fashioned - it means that the vocoder on "Feelin' Fine" and the fuzzy, frenzied drums of "Alien Anthem" don't feel at odds with the dreamy, ambling melodies and old-school ethos at the heart of Cohen's songwriting.
Molly Burch was exposed to the arts at an early age. Growing up in LA with a writer/producer father and a casting director mother, Burch's childhood was filled with old Hollywood musicals and the sounds of Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. After finding her voice in adolescence, Burch packed up for the UNC in Asheville to study Jazz Vocal Performance.
"I was always really interested in singing before songwriting. I didn't always have the confidence to write," Molly says, "Initially it was more about finding the right songs to complement my voice." And that voice is the first thing you'll notice on Burch's debut album. It's smoky, with an incredible range, evocative of her influences.
Searching for a bigger pond, Burch moved to Austin, Texas. There, she began to write her own music in earnest, with the lovelorn Everly Brothers and Sam Cooke as her guides. Motivated by an hourly studio rate, Burch recorded all basic tracks and vocals live in one room and in one day, with minimal overdubs happening later. A difficult task for any talented musician, it becomes more mind-blowing when you hear her belt it on tracks like "Downhearted" and "I Love You Still."
Matteo Vallicelli is an Italian drummer and composer, best known as the live drummer of The Soft Moon, Death Index, and as a founding member of many renowned Italian punk bands. This winter he debuts his first solo project, Primo, on Captured Tracks.
Chastity (Brandon Williams) hails from Whitby, Ontario, a suburb well removed - both physically and emblematically - from the stirring city of Toronto. Chastity channels the angst of small town isolation, but focuses most on the bursting, earnest connections formed among suburban, blue-collar youth. The genre bending music of Chastity hovers in a space of oscillating urgency, both melodic and noisey, juxtaposing themes of collectivity and isolation. It is, in short, a perpetual ode to youth culture that winds in and out of the darkest and lightest edges of the self, and ultimately celebrates all it has to offer.
Before there was The Cleaners from Venus, prolific singer-songwriter and national treasure of Wivenhoe, England, Martin Newell was in a band called The Stray Trolleys. In 1980, he and a few youngish unknowns got together in a little home-built country studio and recorded a handful of songs for an album that eventually emerged on a DIY cassette, Barricades and Angels. They weren't perfect, but there is something very special about this collection. The music captures a time. Just listen.
The Luna Long Players Box Set gathers the band's five albums from the 90's as well as a compilation of demos and B-sides recorded contemporaneously. They are all housed in a beautiful textured canvas box. Accompanying the records is a 12" x 12" book featuring archival imagery, an interview with Dean Wareham conducted by Noah Baumbach, and an oral history with the band and their producers. As the majority of these records were never released on vinyl outside of limited pressings, this is a boon to longtime fans and new listeners alike.