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2017-10-20
Destroyer: ken

Of his 12th studio album and its enigmatic title, Destroyer's Dan Bejar offers the following:

Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for "The Wild Ones" (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was "Ken." I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It's unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe "The Wild Ones" speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think "ken" also means "to know."

ken was produced by Josh Wells of Black Mountain, who has been the drummer in Destroyer since 2012. The album was recorded in its entirety in the jam space/studio space that the group calls The Balloon Factory. However, unlike Poison Season, ken was not recorded as a "band" record, though everyone in the band does make an appearance.

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2017-10-20
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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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2017-09-22
Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger In The Alps

Phoebe Bridgers wrote her first song at age 11, spent her adolescence at open mic nights, and busked through her teenage years at farmers markets in her native Los Angeles. By age 20, she'd caught the ear of Ryan Adams, who listened to her perform her song "Killer" in his L.A. studio, inviting her to come back and record it there the next day. The session blossomed into the three-song "Killer" EP, released to much acclaim on Adams's Pax-Am label in 2015. In the two short years since, Bridgers has toured or played with Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, City and Colour, Violent Femmes, Mitski, Television and Blake Babies among others.

On September 22nd, Phoebe Bridgers will release her debut full-length, Stranger In The Alps. From the weeping strings and Twin Peaks twangs of opening track Smoke Signals, to the simple heartbreak of Funeral and melancholic crescendo of Scott Street, Stranger in the Alps is a swooningly beautiful record with a gothic heart.

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2017-06-30
Kane Strang: Two Hearts and No Brain

A winning blend of careful precision and mercurial abandon, Kane Strang's new album 'Two Hearts and No Brain' is constantly surprising. With a penchant for melodic earworms to rival those of the world's best pop songwriters, the New Zealand artist's glittering hooks twist and turn in perfect synch with meticulous band arrangements. Hints of 60s pop (NB: Zombies, Stooges) and early 00's alt-rock (Interpol, Elliott Smith) shine through; but there's a contemporary crunch, sheen and bald lyrical tone to Strang's sound that places him firmly in the here and now.

"Strang has a gift for pulling diamonds from the rough", says Pitchfork, "[his] songs have a way of making modest acts seem heroic." Strang's proclivity for writing smart, anthemic guitar pop shines brightest now that he has moved away from the bedroom and into the studio. Showcasing his new collaborative approach to recording and writing with his band, the four-piece twists Strang's melodies upside down and pushes his hooks inside out. 'Two Hearts and No Brain' proves emotive and playfully laced with a tongue-in-cheek nostalgia - timelessly old and new in the same breath.

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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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2017-06-16
Kevin Morby: City Music

City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where greats cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mould. It is a collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. "Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener," explains Morby. City Music sees Morby joined once again by cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were recorded at night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys). Here the album gives voice to the all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture.

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2017-05-05
Slowdive: Slowdive

The world has finally caught up with Slowdive. A band whose reach goes far beyond just influencing music is back, with their first new album in 22 years. The album is called Slowdive-- self-titled in an echo of their debut EP from 1990-- and is remarkably direct. "We were always ambitious," says frontman Neil Halstead. "Not in terms of trying to sell records, but in terms of making interesting records. Maybe, if you try and make interesting records, they're still interesting in a few years’ time." Now, in 2017, the record is ready and first single from which, "Star Roving," shot to the top of the Billboard Trending 140 Chart. "There’s a different energy about it," says drummer Simon Scott. "It took ages to get back together and write songs and for it to click in the studio, but this album doesn't feel like a bolt-on -- it's got an energy that's as vibrant as Souvlaki and Just for a Day. It feels very relevant to now."

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2017-03-17
Califone: Quicksand / Cradlesnakes (Deluxe Reissue)

In the summer of 2002, Tim Rutili and the rest of Califone had just come out of a busy year that included touring with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco and collaborating with Issac Brock's alter-ego project, Ugly Casanova. With new creative energy unlocked, the band began work on the follow-up to their breakout full-length debut, Roomsound. The result, the much celebrated Quicksand / Cradlesnakes, brims with earned confidence.

Here, Califone began to master the mix of blues, country and technical glitchery so oft-referenced today, all the while creating something timeless. Quicksand / Cradlesnakes is rugged and elegant, dark and optimistic, familiar and entirely new. In a word it is beautiful.

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2017-03-03
Bleached: Can You Deal?

Los Angeles-based sister duo Jennifer and Jessie Clavin knew things were going to be different for their band Bleached's sophomore LP Welcome The Worms. Not only had they managed to charm world renowned producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes, Elton John) to join them and their bassist Micayla Grace in the studio, but the sisters had been crawling out of their own personal dramas. While emotionally spinning, they dove head first into music.

In the studio, Chiccarelli and co-producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, YACHT) helped the band perfect their fervent songs into fearlessly big pop melodies. They drew inspiration from the iconic hits of everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Heart to Roy Ayers. The result is an ambitious rock record with a new found pop refinement that somehow still feels like the Shangri-Las on speed, driven forward in a wind of pot and petals, a wall of guitars in the back seat.

After touring extensively worldwide and finding success with their hit single "Wednesday Night Melody" Bleached is back with four new blazing tracks on their Can You Deal? EP. Fueled by the experiences they've had as women in their calling for music, Can You Deal? takes on the complexities of issues female musicians encounter in an industry dominated by men. With this fire in their bellies, they connected with Alex Newport (Bloc Party, Mars Volta) to produce the EP. With their singularly triumphant mix of sunny melodies, thrashing guitars and lyrics highlighting the darker sides of life, Bleached continues to demand your attention.

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2017-02-17
Strand of Oaks: Hard Love

Tim Showalter's latest release as Strand of Oaks, Hard Love, emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. "For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that's constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that's naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It's about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated."

Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane's Addiction, and informe by a particularly wild time at Australia's Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. These influences coupled with an uninhibited and collaborative studio experience moved an initial concept for a singularly feel-good record to something more complex and real. As much as Showalter wants this record to seem like a party, it's more than that. It feels like living. "You went away...you went searching...came back tired of looking" is how Showalter begins the title track, a sentiment that epitomizes Showalter's own mentality in beginning Hard Love. As the record progresses, so do the themes of dissatisfaction and frustration with love, family, success, and aging, both in personal experience and songwriting

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2016-10-14
Califone: Roomsound (Deluxe Reissue)

Califone's debut album Roomsound - Originally self released in April of 2001. Roomsound covers the same rustic, slightly ramshackle back forty that Tim Rutili has been ploughing through since his previous band Red Red Meat. Only this time the tilled bedrock unveils the most vividly colored, luring crop of songs Rutili has ever harvested. The sleepy, country-blues picking and autumnal backwoods melodies are accented with striking splashes of electronic tone color, obsolete keyboards and off-kilter percussion. Lyrically, Roomsound penetrates the breath of pirates, poison apples at a tango contest and the waiting room between death and canonization where missionaries have quit and 19th-century prostitutes have been rescued for all the wrong reasons. Masterfully produced by Brian Deck, the album is vaulted far beyond the sum of its parts.

Roomsound is a hauntingly unique and distinctive record of crafted and sculpted beauty.

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2016-08-19
Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

The preceding years have been extraordinary for Ryley Walker. In March, his second album, Primrose Green, emerged to critical hosannas from the likes of NPR, Village Voice, Uncut, and Mojo - in the process, earning admiration of musicians who had chalked up no shortage of turntable miles in Walker's life. Robert Plant declared himself a fan - as did double-bass legend Danny Thompson, with whom Ryley would later embark on a British tour. A sprawling tour of the USA around Primrose Green presented a perfect chance to workshop ideas for what would eventually become his third studio album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung.

On the album, "The Roundabout" represents a symbolic return to Chicago, while other songs are directly wedded to Ryley's actual return there. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the somnambulant sun-dappled intimacies of opening track "The Halfwit In Me" most audibly bear the imprint of Ryley's improvisational sessions with Wilco multi-instrumentalist, Chicagoan and producer Leroy Bach, while "Funny Thing She Said" is an unflinching study of separation set to a shimmeringly supple ensemble performance.

Soft, slo-mo explosions of melody intermittently burst through the distant thunder of the verses on "A Choir Apart". Intriguing, surreal images are meted out by "I Will Ask You Twice", like a malfunctioning slide projector; and, perhaps best of all, the stunning finale, "Age Old Tale", which spiders out from an Alice Coltrane-inspired reverie into a sustained rapture that very few artists have managed to achieve.

Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (Deep Cuts Edition)

The preceding years have been extraordinary for Ryley Walker. In March, his second album, Primrose Green, emerged to critical hosannas from the likes of NPR, Village Voice, Uncut, and Mojo - in the process, earning admiration of musicians who had chalked up no shortage of turntable miles in Walker's life. Robert Plant declared himself a fan - as did double-bass legend Danny Thompson, with whom Ryley would later embark on a British tour. A sprawling tour of the USA around Primrose Green presented a perfect chance to workshop ideas for what would eventually become his third studio album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung.

On the album, "The Roundabout" represents a symbolic return to Chicago, while other songs are directly wedded to Ryley's actual return there. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the somnambulant sun-dappled intimacies of opening track "The Halfwit In Me" most audibly bear the imprint of Ryley's improvisational sessions with Wilco multi-instrumentalist, Chicagoan and producer Leroy Bach, while "Funny Thing She Said" is an unflinching study of separation set to a shimmeringly supple ensemble performance.

Soft, slo-mo explosions of melody intermittently burst through the distant thunder of the verses on "A Choir Apart". Intriguing, surreal images are meted out by "I Will Ask You Twice", like a malfunctioning slide projector; and, perhaps best of all, the stunning finale, "Age Old Tale", which spiders out from an Alice Coltrane-inspired reverie into a sustained rapture that very few artists have managed to achieve.

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2016-06-17
Mitski: Puberty 2

Ask Mitski Miyawaki about happiness and she'll warn you: "Happiness fucks you." It's a lesson that's been writ large into the New Yorker's gritty, outsider-indie for years, but never so powerfully as on her newest album, 'Puberty 2'. "Happiness is up, sadness is down, but one's almost more destructive than the other," she says. "When you realise you can't have one without the other, it's possible to spend periods of happiness just waiting for that other wave." On 'Puberty 2', that tension is palpable: a both beautiful and brutal romantic hinterland, in which one of America's new voices hits a brave new stride.

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2016-05-06
Destroyer: My Mystery

We recorded a song called "My Mystery" a year and a half ago. Kind of a light number, vaguely danceable. Wistful, looking back not unfondly on time spent and dull misadventures had within the dead-as-a-doornail music industry. And the feeling of where it leaves you, like a rat in the middle of the ocean, though not as harsh as that; as if rats could swim an ocean's length. Anyway, the song was not in keeping with the shadow spirit of Poison Season, and so it got shelved.

Then one day DJjohnedwardcollins@gmail.com called me up and said, "You got any shit for me?"...