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2012-06-26
A Place To Bury Strangers: Worship

Guitars as jet engines; guitars as haunted electronics; guitars as filling-melting white heat: A Place To Bury Strangers' new album Worship is explosive, visceral, and dark. APTBS' DIY-braintrust of Death By Audio wizard Oliver Ackerman and bassist Dion Lunadon continue the evolution of songwriting that began with Onwards to the Wall, the band's 2011 EP. Now on Worship, they interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and 80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Standout "You Are The One" is a coldwave white squall, with Ackerman coming through like an austere and menacing Damo Suzuki. Later on "Dissolved," the band methodically builds an atmospheric battle charge only to take a hard left mid-song into pure, shimmering Cure territory. There are ambitious, trend-bucking choices at every turn.

"This album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered by A Place To Bury Strangers. It is our vision of what our music should sound like in 2012, not someone else's interpretation," says Lunadon. "Every sound on the album is made by us and our tools; tools created by us, used on no other recordings, and purposefully built for this project. This is real. Some of it is the band being in complete control — bending, shaping and building the songs and the sounds. Other parts are the band relinquishing control and letting the songs and sounds take over and produce themselves. We are not trying to reinvent ourselves, but simply push ourselves further in all aspects of our music."

"We made this, we recorded this, we did everything," adds Ackerman. "Yes, we chose to do this and no, we didn't have to but we think it is pretty cool. No producer made us. We didn't go to school for any of this and we don't have time for tutorials. We invented this and now we are sharing it with you."

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2015-02-17
A Place To Bury Strangers: Transfixiation

"That's the most intense fear and feeling - when you go to a show and you're actually scared," says Oliver Ackermann, guitarist and frontman of Brooklyn trio A Place To Bury Strangers.

"Or you can palpably feel the danger in the music," adds bassist Dion Lunadon, "Like it's going to fall apart at any moment and the players doing it are so in the moment they don't give a shit about anything else. They're just going for it. It's a gutter kinda vibe; everything about it is icky and evil and dangerous."

The same could be said the band's fourth album, Transfixiation. Rather than fixate on the minute details like they may have done in the past, the group, rounded out by drummer Robi Gonzalez, trust their instincts and try to keep things as pure as possible. Music is much more exhilarating when it's unpredictable even on repeat plays, and this is very much an unpredictable record. Gonzalez makes his recording debut with the band here, and it's obvious that he's helped pushed the band's recordings closer to the level of their infamous live shows.

"The one thing we have in common is this fire when we're playing," adds Gonzalez. "I don't know; it's real intense."

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2018-04-13
A Place To Bury Strangers: Pinned (Deluxe)

A couple of years ago, A Place to Bury Strangers were in search of a new drummer. Lia Simone Braswell, an L.A. native, had recently moved to New York, and was playing drums in shows around Brooklyn "just to keep her chops up." As it turned out, APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon caught one of those shows and, after seeing her play, was moved to ask her if she'd want to come to a band practice sometime.

For well over a decade now, A Place to Bury Strangers-Lunadon, founding guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann, and, officially, Lia Braswell-have become well known for their unwavering commitment to unpredictable, often bewildering live shows, and total, some might say dangerous volume.

This April marks the release of Pinned, their fifth full-length and an album that finds them converting difficult moments into some of their most urgent work to date. It's their first since the 2016 election, and their first since the 2014 closing of Death By Audio, the beloved Brooklyn DIY space where Ackermann lived, worked, and created with complete freedom.

There are searing meditations on truth and government-led conspiracies ("Execution"), as well as haunting, harmonized responses to the tensions of our current political climate ("There's Only One of Us"). It all opens with "Never Coming Back," a frightening crescendo of group vocals, vertiginous guitar work, and Lunadon's unrelenting bass. It's a clear and honest statement of intent, not just for everything that follows, but for this band as a whole.

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2018-04-13
A Place To Bury Strangers: Pinned

A couple of years ago, A Place to Bury Strangers were in search of a new drummer. Lia Simone Braswell, an L.A. native, had recently moved to New York, and was playing drums in shows around Brooklyn "just to keep her chops up." As it turned out, APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon caught one of those shows and, after seeing her play, was moved to ask her if she'd want to come to a band practice sometime.

For well over a decade now, A Place to Bury Strangers-Lunadon, founding guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann, and, officially, Lia Braswell-have become well known for their unwavering commitment to unpredictable, often bewildering live shows, and total, some might say dangerous volume.

This April marks the release of Pinned, their fifth full-length and an album that finds them converting difficult moments into some of their most urgent work to date. It's their first since the 2016 election, and their first since the 2014 closing of Death By Audio, the beloved Brooklyn DIY space where Ackermann lived, worked, and created with complete freedom.

There are searing meditations on truth and government-led conspiracies ("Execution"), as well as haunting, harmonized responses to the tensions of our current political climate ("There's Only One of Us"). It all opens with "Never Coming Back," a frightening crescendo of group vocals, vertiginous guitar work, and Lunadon's unrelenting bass. It's a clear and honest statement of intent, not just for everything that follows, but for this band as a whole.

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2012-02-07
A Place To Bury Strangers: Onwards to the Wall

Onwards to the Wall packs every bit of the searing sonic maelstrom listeners have come to expect (nay, demand!) from Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers. Yet, the adroit songcraft that's always been there is brought more the fore, pop hooks are repurposed and more instantly recognizable. Now joined by bassist Dion Lunadon, formerly of The D4, Ackerman has found a crucial companion in pulling timeless melodies from their jet engine textures. Standout "So Far Away" takes all the pure pop perfection of The Box Tops' "The Letter" and shoots it through with a barely-harnessed dark energy and snarling propulsion. The title track carries a similar balance of classic, 60s-pop hooks and doomed-out vibes, employing a boy-girl vocal tradeoff that's at once both sexy and menacing. A handful of contemporary bands are currently exploring the new limits of loud. And here, APTBS proves that they have not only been leading that charge for some time now, but that they are also evolving and maturing on those front lines. Onwards to the Wall is a fresh, complete artistic statement from APTBS. It’s a new chapter, a prelude for what awaits us on the horizon. It is a taste of greatness to come.

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2012-10-16
A Place To Bury Strangers: And I'm Up

A Place To Bury Strangers interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and 80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Here "And I'm Up," a highlight from the band's 2012 intense Worship, is paired with unreleased "Don't Stop."

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2013-04-30
Akron/Family: Sub Verses

The album started with visions of large monumental sounds inspired by Heizer and Turrell; American works on a grand scale, monuments, dirty hands and an epic American masculinity. Dust, Stone, Sky, Earth.

These broad, bold strokes would come to pass but not quite as expected.

A Sci Fi aesthetic narrative emerged. Tackling distant pasts and future humanism, the pain and idiocy of our contemporary culture. How to deal with it open heartedly? The boredom, the sadness and speed. The plots within plots of Dune mirrored in many layers of sound. Creating 3D sonic atmospheres that our songs and singers inhabit.

Our story, a story, all stories. Told in verses, in underground language, in sub frequencies. Not audible, only felt, intuited, imagined in some deepest psychic space that you are yet to know. A strange story. Of the future, of yourself. Of everyone. We are all we are, only this and yet we move forward. Along some line to somewhere. And who knows?

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2009-05-05
Akron/Family: Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free

Opening with a groove unlike anything Akron/Family have ever laid to tape, the first track on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free kicks off a new chapter for the band. The percussive thunder and anthemic electric guitars of “Everyone is Guilty” make a bold statement, touching on everything from Fela Kuti to Sly and the Family Stone in under six psychedelic minutes. This is not the Akron/Family you think you know. As “Everyone is Guilty” fades into “River” the band returns to something they have always been known for: writing a timeless hook. “River” delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody. As the album unfolds, Akron/Family’s musical explorations are virtually without limits. Whether it’s the celebratory sing-along gospel of “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon,” the lush folk sounds of “Sun Will Shine (Warmth of the Sunship Version),” or “MBF,” which lies at the intersection of primal punk rock and heavy free jazz, Akron/Family are a band boiling over with ideas. Their musical vocabulary runs deep – it’s not just Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead that inform Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. Akron/Family feel at home on this album, confident and self-assured. Following a year of making things bigger and wilder live, the band returns to something simpler on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. With limited outside assistance, this trio has made a focused, powerful and unified work. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free maintains the communal spirit of the big band that won audiences over throughout the world, but it showcases Akron/Family at its core – three musicians, equals, creating music from deep within. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is something undeniably special and immensely powerful. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is the new psychedelic rock.

Akron/Family: S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT

Finally, after over a month of unanswered emails and text messages, blown deadlines, and pleas to finish and turn in their new album, last week, a large brown cardboard box showed up at the Dead Oceans doorstep. It had “SHINJU TNT” scrawled across the bottom of the box in black magic marker, and the return address read only "AK, Detroit." Opening it revealed a sincere but poorly made diorama of futurist swirling spaces filled with toy astronauts and dinosaurs, four blown out song fragments on a TDK CDR in a ziplock bag, three pictures, and a typewritten note from Akron/Family. A post-it on the bag declared the band refused to send the full album to anyone but the vinyl pressing plant, for fear of leaking and possible lost revenues.

Akron/Family spent the end of 2009 and half of 2010 exploring the future of sound through Bent Acid Punk Diamond fuzz and Underground Japanese noise cassettes, lower case micro tone poems and emotional Cagean field recordings, rebuilding electronic drums from the 70's and playing them with sticks they carved themselves. Upon miraculous resuscitation of the original AKAK hard drive, the album layers thousands of minute imperceptible samples of their first recordings with fuzzed-out representations of their present beings to induce pleasant emotional feeling states and many momentary transcendent inspirations. This album is titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. We have no idea what that means.

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2009-10-20
Akron/Family: River

“River” is the second single from Akron/Family’s 2009 release, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. Following the thundering and anthemic “Everyone is Guilty,” “River” returns to something they have always been known for: a timeless hook. “River” delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody.

Like the “Everyone is Guilty” 7-inch, “River” features an exclusive non-album b-side, the lovely “Morning on Michigan Avenue (Thinking of Old Friends).” Strictly limited edition, we advise scoring one of these slabs of vinyl now.

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2011-04-16
Akron/Family:

Shinju TNT

Over the 25 songs composing this Record Store Day exclusive 2xLP, Akron/Family enlist collaborators, kindred spirits, and extended family to re-imagine/reinterpret/re-illuminate S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.

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2017-10-06
Alex Lahey: I Love You Like A Brother

Alex Lahey's debut full-length, I Love You Like A Brother, comes fresh off the back of her breakout in 2016 when her "You Don't Think You Like People Like Me" single was inescapable, landing her a spot in Australian radio network triple j's prestigious Hottest 100 of 2016, a Best New Track nod from Pitchfork, and helping her to earn "Artist ToWatch" status from Stereogum. The song's universal tale of rejection took Lahey global - its message, she says, is the flipside of the usual break-up scenario: "Yeah, you're right. It's not me. It IS you." And that no-shit-taken attitude is the backbone of I Love You Like A Brother. From the stomping title track "I Love You Like A Brother" to the gently moving "Money," Lahey's debut long-player tells it like it is.

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2017-06-16
Alex Lahey: B-Grade University

Alex Lahey originally released B-Grade University on her own label in summer 2016, shortly before playing iconic Australian festival Splendour in the Grass. Immediately after its release, 'B-Grade University' went onto heavy rotation on Australia's TripleJ radio, along with the single "You Don't Think You Like People Like Me" earning a Best New Track tag on Pitchfork. Lahey closed 2016 being the most played artist on Triple J Unearthed, as well as being voted Best Female Artist at Australia's Age Music Awards. Her fuzzed-out, catchy-as-hell indie rock is stacked with emotion, weighing the sound of youthful anxiety against cutting, sophisticated wordplay.

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2014-08-05
Bear In Heaven: Time Is Over One Day Old

Bear In Heaven's new album is aptly titled Time is Over One Day Old. It's a record with a visceral relationship to time and its processes. Where invulnerability and ambition can support you as you grow, at some point they become dead weight, and being true to yourself means casting them off, starting anew. This plays out as a powerful analogy for the band across the arc of it's career. They've always made intriguing records, here especially. It's easy to see why musicians fall hard for this band. They entice and envelop you. Any Bear In Heaven song will most likely greet you with a provocative beat, textural synthesizers and unassuming but adeptly supportive bass and guitar, all exquisitely arranged and glistening. Jon Philpot's high, smooth, strong voice is so tightly wound into the music that it can be easy to overlook the lyrics, Bear In Heaven's capacious third dimension. Philpot is a center-seeking, contemplative writer who captures the fleeting thoughts that underscore our emotional lives, the interactions with the world that are both difficult to express and anathema in daily conversation. While all of this can be said of any Bear In Heaven album, each varies wildly in tone and approach. 2007's Red Bloom of the Boom is ambitious and experimental. Beast Rest Forth Mouth (2009) was a pivotal record that still feels important, seductive and intense. On their 2012 LP I Love You, It's Cool the structural and musical ideas are challenging, and masterfully developed. For Time is Over One Day Old, we witness the band once again turning their gaze inward and prioritizing their evocative abilities in line with or even slightly ahead of technical skills. It feels very much in the tradition of BRFM in that way. It's beautiful; it's moving. Here Philpot and Adam Wills are more deeply collaborative than ever. This album is darker at times, louder than their others; it feels personal and direct. "If I Were To Lie" places Wills' bass groove front and center, "Demon" is riveting and propulsive in spite of its dark pointed lyric, and "They Dream" dissolves into three and a half minutes of deeply satisfying ambient synth work in its second half. Wills has always been the bands anchor, providing rock solid, rhythmic bass lines and guitars that blur the boundaries of Philpot's synth. Though in moments such as the final track, "You Don't Need The World," Wills cuts through with an audacious, biting guitar hook. It's a great culmination of the album's sense of release. This album isn't about being dark, it's about releasing darkness and frustration. When bands age well, their vitality takes shape. They wear, but with intention. They trim excesses. Throughout this album you'll hear a band at peace with themselves. They've learned to cut back on that which is merely impressive and to concentrate on simply what is crucial. For Philpot this is about making something lasting. "A lot of shedding, getting rid of layers and preconceptions… breaking up with old ways of thinking, old ways of being, starting to look at this thing in a new way and finding something positive." The result is a record that will stay with you.

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2012-04-03
Bear In Heaven: I Love You, It's Cool

I Love You, It's Cool is the first time Bear in Heaven has sounded so unapologetic and so evolved, so risky and so redeeming, so focused and so finessed. After years of restless exploration, this feels like a definitive arrival. I Love You, It’s Cool is music written in the present tense but ready to speak to the future. The work is its own rarified reward.

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2015-04-28
Bill Fay: Who Is The Sender?

Ask Bill Fay about his relationship with his instrument and he says something revealing, not "Ever since I learnt to play the piano," but "Ever since the piano taught me..." What the piano taught him was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. "Music gives," he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, "Who is the sender?" Fay - who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art - asserts that songs aren't actually written but found. He recorded two phenomenal but largely overlooked albums for Decca offshoot Nova in 1970 and 1971. After 27 years of neglect, people like Nick Cave, Jim O' Rourke, and Jeff Tweedy were praising those records in glowing terms. Recorded in Ray Davies' Konk Studios, North London, Who Is The Sender? sees Bill expanding upon themes he has touched on from the beginning, spiritual and philosophical questions, observations about the natural world and the people in the city he has lived in all his life.