Last Fall The Twilight Sad released their much-lauded return to form Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. The album was a bracing, widescreen encapsulation of everything that fans have come to love and expect from the band. And while the album was a dense and dark aural journey, the songs at the heart of the album were as raw and honest as ever, buoyed by James Graham's audacious burr and his equally brittle and cutting lyrics.
It's those lyrics and songwriting that come to the forefront on The Oran Mor Sessions. Captured live at Glasgow's infamous Oran Mor, a converted 19th century church, by the band's longtime live engineer Andrew Bush, these versions strip away the sonic fury to leave the songs vulnerable in acoustic arrangements that highlight the quiet beauty that lies beneath Twilight Sad records. The result is a new look at the songs that made up Nobody Wants To Be Here... paired with an emotional cover of Arthur Russell's classic "I Couldn't Say It To Your Face". The session becomes an invaluable companion piece to their latest album and an essential entry to the catalog in its own right.
Shopping's debut album Consumer Complaints drew a flurry of press for their spot on divining of post-punk's driving force, dubbing them as a "band you need to hear" by NME and "Artist To Watch" by SPIN. The band evokes revered touchstones The Slits, Delta 5, Gang of Four and ESG, though as Pitchfork reminds, "they never sound particularly dated or like a carbon-copy, a testament to the group's songwriting abilities." Rather, they embody the spirit of experimentation, social upheaval, (without becoming didactic) clashing gender politics and ethical change that defined their 70's counterparts and still ring true today.
The band teams up again with Jamie Grier, who mixed and mastered their first LP, this time placing Grier in the recording chair at Glasgow's Green Door Studios, while mastering duties fall to Alan Douches. The album is full of the same timeless spark that drove the debut, propelled by Billy Easter's toothsome bass lines and Rachel Aggs' jagged yet rubbery guitar. All three band members lend their voices to Why Choose, pushing and pulling between Aggs' knife hilt yelps and drummer Andrew Milk's steadied responses, giving heft to the anxious energy of tracks like "Straight Lines" and brevity to the detached cool of "Passing Through" and "Private Party."
Animal Collective's 'Prospect Hummer' EP, previously only available on CD and digitally, is making its way to vinyl almost exactly ten years since its original release on FatCat. 'Prospect Hummer' was the last release to see Animal Collective operating in a largely acoustic singer-songwriter / freak-folk mode, and three of the EP's four tracks feature the sweet, distinctive vocals of cult singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan.
The idea for this EP germinated during a 2003 tour, which saw Animal Collective (playing as an Avey Tare / Panda Bear duo) supporting Four Tet across the UK. Having long been huge fans of her sole album at that time (the rediscovered 1970 gem, 'Just Another Diamond Day'), Animal Collective happened to meet Vashti when the tour passed through Edinburgh. Following this meeting, ideas were hatched and conversations began, culminating in the group selecting these three beautiful songs for Vashti to make a home in.
Shopping are propulsive basslines, primitive disco-not-disco drums and guitar lines sharp as broken glass. The band was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), who've all done time in a plethora of notable UK DIY bands including Trash Kit and Wet Dog. They pull from a well of 70's post-punk with a voraciousness seldom seen these days, bringing to mind the jagged aggression of Gang of Four, the voracious yelp of The Slits and the dance inducing thrust of Delta 5 and ESG.
The band released a 7-inch single shortly after forming, which sold out within a week. The band's self-released debut LP, put out via their own MILK records in the UK has received whole-hearted acclaim, selling out their 1000 piece run in just a few months by hand delivering them to top-tier UK shops, who couldn't seem to get enough of their groove riding, tough talking, life-loving post-punk funk. Now the band have signed on to FatCat, with a new LP on the way later in 2015 and to introduce the band stateside we're making their self-released album available here for the first time.
Following a triumphant 2014 and ahead of a month of US touring, fast¬≠rising Scottish duo Honeyblood have premiered an all¬≠new recording with, 'No Big Deal'. "We had a couple of songs that I really loved, but I didn't think were quite right for the next album," explains frontwoman Stina Tweeddale. "A double¬≠A side single felt the perfect way to get them out there." The first recordings with new drummer Cat Myers, the special standalone single release comes ahead of a packed touring schedule for 2015, which sees the band spending over a month in the US, taking in co¬≠headline stints with 2:54, as well as SXSW and a support tour with legendary fellow Scots Belle And Sebastian. With details of the physical release and 'No Big Deal' to arrive soon and an epic live schedule taking them into the autumn, 2015 looks to be another action¬≠packed year for one of the most talked-about new bands around.
When the NY Times placed Tal National's Kaani on their year-end Top 10 list, the Culture Minister of Niger organized a televised ceremony to honor the band. But it didn't stop there. The Guardian, The Independent, Mojo, Vice, The Wire, The Financial Times, Chicago Reader and others all sang exuberant praises. NPR, KEXP and WBEZ hosted live sessions. What they all recognized was the band's entirely new approach to West African music - that Tal National is a rock band.
Well, sort of.
The songs on Zoy Zoy are a mix of traditionals and originals, and they are intense. They are extraordinarily sophisticated. The band speak French, but use the expression "very rock and roll" quite seriously, implying their awareness that the loud guitars and bewildering rhythmic complexity separates them from their peers. They are proud that their members represent the different cultural groups of Niger, some of which haven't always been on the best of terms (the group includes Tuareg, Hausa, Fulani, and Zarma). Still, they are aware that Western ears may not fully grasp their self-proclaimed "rock" label, and we sure don't know many rock bands that keep folks dancing in a trance-like state for 5 hours at a time.
By now the two young heavyweights from the LA Skate / Art / Punk underworld, No Age, are a well-known and established part of the indie pantheon. But back in 2007 Dean Spunt and Randy Randall were just building quite a bit of noise in the wake of the demise of their previous band Wives.
After working out their sound in the LA scene revolving around the now fabled venue The Smell (pictured on the cover of Weirdo Rippers) they decided to release five ltd. vinyl only releases on a variety of DIY indie labels across the globe on the same day (namely UTR, Deleted Art, Teardrops, Youth Attack, and Dean's own PPM label). Their debut LP release for FatCat, 'Weirdo Rippers', was a collection of recorded highlights taken from the aforementioned releases. At the time it was readily available on CD and has since found a home digitally but it's not found its way back to the vinyl format that first gave many of these tracks life. Now we're presenting the first domestically available version of 'Weirdo Rippers' pressed to vinyl; an utterly essential piece of No Age's past.
A hugely exciting new talent, Katie Gately is a Brooklyn-born, LA-based artist with an academic background in film sound production and editing. Having only recently stepped out from her regular job as a sound designer in the film industry, Katie has crafted a set of brilliantly intricate and ambitious sound pieces that exist in a borderzone between electroacoustic composition, field recording and deconstructed pop bringing to mind the widescreen scope of Scott Walker or Julia Holter and the precise playful abstraction of Matmos and Holly Herndon.
Tlaotlon is the solo alias of Melbourne-based New Zealander Jeremy Coughbrough, who has released a clutch of records in the past few years on labels like Dungeon Taxis, Epic Sweep, Trensmat and 1080p. Messy, maximalist and psychedelic, Tlaotlon proffers a kind of squelchy, hyper-colourful, dislocated modern electronica that might find roots in older models like Phthalocyanine or Autechre but sharing commonalities with current producers like Patten, Sculpture, Dalglish, Astral Social Club and others.
Completed in just two weeks between the sub-zero conditions of commuter town Cornwall, New York and the heart of Brooklyn, Wooden Aquarium marks the apex at which Mazes' music to date meets. While debut album A Thousand Heys was recorded on a boat and recent album Ores and Minerals was recorded across numerous takes in the back room of Dalston's Shacklewell Arms and Jack's bedroom, Wooden Aquarium has brought Cooper, drummer Neil Robinson and bassist Conan Roberts together in a studio again. Recorded completely live and laid down entirely onto beautifully thick two-inch tape, the trio also had company in enlisting the skills of Parquet Courts' producer Jonathan Schenke.
Akin to Field Music's articulate songwriting prowess and the punky guitar rhythms of The Feelies or Television, and see-sawing between extreme confidence and self doubt the record is packed with hypnotic lo-fi pop melodies and motorik rhythms bolstered by spiky hooks and Cooper's distinctively carefree vocals.
Following their stark nod to the heroes of an industrial past, No One Can Ever Know, The Twilight Sad has dug into their own past to form an album that's bracing, biting and as widescreen as anything in their canon. The band, ever ambassadors of Scottish gloom, have harnessed their dark muse once again and drawn on their prowess in the live arena to track a record that proves they can translate the power of their stage show to tape.
"We spent a lot of time at home when writing this new record, we got to hang out with old friends and get back to some sort of normality, which I think really helped me clear my mind and focus in on writing these new songs," Graham says. "I had a lot I wanted to get off my chest and I've done that with this new record." A first listen to the album confirms everything the band has said - noisy, densely layered, and deeply melodic, it wouldn't be out of line to say this may be their best yet. One thing's for sure - the Twilight Sad have still got a lot of life left in them.
We Were Promised Jetpacks release their highly anticipated third album Unravelling, recorded in Glasgow at the infamous Chem19 Studios with Paul Savage (The Twilight Sad, Franz Ferdinand and Mogwai). The impending album release also sees the addition of a new member to the band in the form of multi-instrumentalist Stuart McGachan. The results of the sessions with Savage have made for the band's most accomplished and powerful album yet, taking their already legendary prowess with dynamic rock and injecting a bit of pop sheen to the mix. Songs like the yearning "Safety in Numbers," and the dark, growling "I Keep It Composed" will no doubt appeal to their ravenous fanbase while opening arms to those who take their guitar rock with a healthy dose of moody melodicism. Live favorites from the past tour and SXSW, "Peace Sign" and "Night Terrors" also surface here in refined studio form, but with no less heart-racing, voice shredding power than their stage counterparts.
FINALLY! Available again on 2xLP - Animal Collective’s 2004 critical breakthrough, Sung Tongs, vinyl heretofore available only sporadically on import.
The first-ever domestic pressing of Avey Tare and Panda Bear’s classic pop-inflected wild-childmasterpiece is DMM remastered and comes with a 320kbps digital download of the album.
More than any previous release, Sung Tongs hinted at the melodic sensibility and melding of widely disparate influences that would lead the group through subsequent crossover success with their 2005 effort Feels, on into their massive surge in popularity with 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Gregory And The Hawk is the project of Meredith Godreau, a native New Yorker with a captivating voice that hovers between windchimes and churchbells, and an undeniable gift for gently insistent melodies and earnest metaphor.
Godreau’s self-released efforts have received much attention from a passionate online following: hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, millions of MySpace visits, and an endearing tendency of her fans to post their own cover versions of her poignant, memorable songs.
With a gift for emotive acoustic pop that places her squarely within the tradition upheld by artists like Susan Christie, Elliott Smith, and Regina Spektor, Gregory And The Hawk will undoubtedly meet new legions of devotees with her most accomplished group of songs yet.
Dusseldorf-based pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann has taken a brilliant step forward with his fourth full-length release as Hauschka. Where his previous album comprised primarily solo recordings of Bertelmann and his “prepared” piano (with a few electronic and instrumental overdubs), Ferndorf is a more expansive and fully-realized effort. At once nostalgic, optimistic, and weighty, with deft melody sparkling among percussion and drive, Ferndorf carries an evocative richness and depth throughout its quick-paced, often light-hearted compositions.
Glasgow trio Frightened Rabbit combine sharp with with a gift for nailing the perfect guitar-pop hook. Having received well-deserved attention for their limited-release debut, Sing The Greys (reissued by FatCat last year), the band recorded their follow-up, The Midnight Organ Fight, with Peter Katis (Interpol, Spoon), in order to achieve the grandeur suited to thefervent ambition of their new songs. The result is a huge step forward for the band sonically, while they retain the acerbic, quirky lyrics they’re becoming known for. As singer Scott Hutchison puts it, “I feel the general FR weirdness is still apparent in the lyrics and this makes for an interesting sort of juxtaposition. It sounds kind of clean, but it’s actually pretty fucking dirty once you get listening.