Secretly Distributon

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2019-05-24
Black Mountain: Destroyer

Destroyer is structured around that first time behind the wheel of a hot rod. The fat, charging “Living After Midnight” riffs of opener “Future Shade” is, according to McBean, “Straight outta the gates. FM radio cranked.” He ain’t kidding. The song, and all of Destroyer for that matter, seems to exist at that crucial nexus of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles when a war between punk and hair metal was waged. Black Flag’s My War tried and failed to keep the peace. But in the trenches, some hybrid ghoul was beginning to form in bands like Jane’s Addiction and White Zombie. The heavy extended player “Horns Arising,” with its Night Rider vocals and golden, climbing Blade Runner synths, is a fill-up at a desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa. Other songs, like the serpentine “Boogie Lover,” are a cruise down the Sunset Strip. You pull into The Rainbow Bar & Grill to take the edge off - doesn’t matter what year it is, Lemmy’s there in flesh or spirit. To continue the teenage theme, there’s also a sense of youthful discovery to these cuts — “High Rise” is a foray into Japanese psych, rounding the bend to a careening, while “Closer to the Edge” feels like falling in love with Yes (Remember how good they were for a minute there in your youth?). “Licensed to Drive” would easily be the most exhilarating and dangerous ripper on a titular film’s soundtrack, a dose of heavy right before the muscle car’s wheels fly off going 100 mph on the freeway.

Shacked up in his rehearsal space, McBean found an old chair in an alley, spray painted Producer on the back and pressed record. Friends from the endless rock’n’roll highway were invited over and 22 songs were brought to life. While some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later date, the remaining skeletons were left above ground — given organs, skin, eyes, and the opportunity to grow their hair real long and greasy. Some of these zombie hesher jams were sent on a journey to Canada where longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt, slipping on the Official Collaborator satin jacket, had at them with his legendary synth arsenal. As he added long flowing robes, sunglasses, driving gloves and medallions, the undead songs began to transform into the new breathing creatures that make up Destroyer. Schmidt’s work with these songs turned out to be the transformative glue for this new era of Black Mountain.

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2019-05-10
Jamila Woods: LEGACY! LEGACY!

Jamila Woods has a voice and lyrical sensibility that transcends generations, and so it makes sense to have this lush and layered album that bounces seamlessly from one sonic aesthetic to another. This was the case on 2016's HEAVN, which found Woods hopeful and exploratory, looking along the edges resilience and exhaustion for some measures of joy. Her new album, Legacy! Legacy! is the logical conclusion to that looking. From the airy boom-bap of "Giovanni" to the psychedelic flourishes of "Sonia," the instrument which ties the musical threads together is the ability of Woods to find her pockets in the waves of instrumentation, stretching syllables and vowels over the harmony of noise until each puzzle piece has a home. The whimsical and malleable nature of sonic delights also grants a path for collaborators to flourish: the sparkling flows of Nitty Scott on "Sonia" and Saba on "Basquiat," or the bloom of Nico Segal's horns on "Baldwin." More than just giving the song titles the names of historical black and brown icons of literature, art, and music, Jamila Woods builds a sonic and lyrical monument to the various modes of how these icons tried to push beyond the margins a country had assigned to them. On "Sun Ra," Woods sings "I just gotta get away from this earth, man / this marble was doomed from the start" and that type of dreaming and vision honors not only the legacy of Sun Ra, but the idea that there is a better future, and in it, there will still be black people. Soul music did not just appear in America, and soul does not just mean music. Rather, soul is what gold can be dug from the depths of ruin, and refashioned by those who have true vision. True soul lives in the pages of a worn novel that no one talks about anymore, or a painting that sits in a gallery for a while but then in an attic forever. Soul is all the things a country tries to force itself into forgetting. Soul is all of those things come back to claim what is theirs. Jamila Woods is a singular soul singer who, in voice, holds the rhetorical demand. The knowing that there is no compromise for someone with vision this endless. That the revolution must take many forms, and it sometimes starts with songs like these. Songs that feel like the sun on your face and the wind pushing flowers against your back while you kick your head to the heavens and laugh at how foolish the world seems.

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2019-04-26
Foxygen: Seeing Other People

Seeing Other People is curiously positioned as Foxygen's most recent last-ever album. With every album the band dies; with every album the band is reborn. But unlike the last-ever Foxygen albums before it, this one seems to have a self-effacing bittersweetness to it that signifies some sort of passing; some sort of white flag. But it SOUNDS in no way like a band giving up. It has experiments in tone and genre the likes of which we've not heard on a Foxygen record since….Starpower?; since 21st Century?; since Take the Kids??? You don't need our hot take on this thing.

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2019-04-26
Foxygen: Seeing Other People

Seeing Other People limited deluxe 2xLP on pink vinyl. It includes the full album and demos LPs in a gatefold jacket with alternate artwork.

Seeing Other People is curiously positioned as Foxygen's most recent last-ever album. With every album the band dies; with every album the band is reborn. But unlike the last-ever Foxygen albums before it, this one seems to have a self-effacing bittersweetness to it that signifies some sort of passing; some sort of white flag. But it SOUNDS in no way like a band giving up. It has experiments in tone and genre the likes of which we've not heard on a Foxygen record since….Starpower?; since 21st Century?; since Take the Kids??? You don't need our hot take on this thing.

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2019-01-18
Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow

Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time. In the four years since Are We There, Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, performed in David Lynch's Twin Peaks revival, and wrote her first film score and song for TV - for Kathering Dieckmann's Strange Weather Tig Notaro's show Tig, respectively. Van Etten also had a child, and began studying psychology. In the scraps of hours between these endeavors, Remind Me Tomorrow was born.

Working with producer John Congleton, Remind Me Tomorrow reveals piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. Originally a piano ballad, "Comeback Kid" evolved into a dark, menacing anthem. "Seventeen" began as a Lucinda Williams-esque dirge, but winds up a star-spangled nod to Springsteen, exploring gentrification and generational patience.

The breadth of Van Etten's new passions have inflected Remind Me Tomorrow with a wise, warped-time perspective. She explains, "I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress, go to school, but yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair. I feel like a mess, but I'm here. Doing it. This record is about pursuing your passions." This is Remind Me Tomorrow, fusing a pained attentive realism and radiant lightness about new loves.

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2018-09-21
Lonnie Holley: MITH

The expansive American experience Lonnie Holley quilts together across his astounding new album, MITH, is both multitudinous and finely detailed. Holley's self-taught piano improvisations and stream-of-consciousness lyrical approach have only gained purpose and power since he introduced the musical side of his art in 2012 with Just Before Music, followed by 2013's Keeping a Record of It. But whereas his previous material seemed to dwell in the Eternal-Internal, MITH lives very much in our world - the one of concrete and tears; of dirt and blood; of injustice and hope.

Across these songs, in an impressionistic poetry all his own, Holley touches on Black Lives Matter ("I'm a Suspect"), Standing Rock ("Copying the Rock") and contemporary American politics ("I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America"). A storyteller of the highest order, he commands a personal and universal mythology in his songs of which few songwriters are capable - names like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom and Gil Scott-Heron come to mind.

MITH was recorded over five years in locations such as Porto, Portugal; Cottage Grove, Oregon; New York City and Holley's adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. These 10 songs feature contributions from fellow cosmic musician Laraaji, jazz duo Nelson Patton, visionary producer Richard Swift, saxophonist Sam Gendel and producer/musician Shahzad Ismaily.

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2018-09-07
Oneida: Each One Teach One (Reissue)

In 2000-2001, when this album was written, recorded, and conceptualized, Oneida was a pretty hectic organization, committed to confrontation and tragipsych and Wu-Tang and electro relentlessness. The record was made by the original quartet lineup of the band, founded in 1997; and the tour that followed the completion of the album in late 2001 was the final 35-date hurrah of this lineup. When the record finally saw the light of day in early 2002, the band hadn’t broken up but was in a process of irrevocable transformation.

Oneida began as a project, then became a gang. Come On Everybody Let's Rock (2000) and Anthem of the Moon (2001) were absolutely gang work, and Each One Teach One was a logical final blow. We had been through some intimate dances on the road with the medical and legal professions by this point, and we'd left some blood in most US states - and not always on purpose. So in some respects this record is a baring of scars. Our original label, Turnbuckle Records, had closed its doors with no warning in 1999, giving rise to the oldest tune on the album, "No Label"; and both extended pieces on the record, "Sheets of Easter" and "Antibiotics", conjoin pain and possibility in some more metaphysical or metaphorical ways that absolutely reflect our collective state of disorientation at the time.

The music on Each One Teach One was recorded in several different locations, under different circumstances, and using different compositional techniques. Some of the songs were built piece by piece through the recording and editing process; some were conceptualized ahead of time and approached with some science; and some were pure instinct. All four members of the band worked on composing – like I said, this was a gang doing gang work – and the final result, this album, is an accurate document of Oneida following the turn of the century.

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2018-05-25
Julie Doiron: Desormais / Heart and Crime (Reissue)

Julie Doiron's stunning album Désormais, originally released via Jagjaguwar in 2001, marked a departure from the Canadian artist's grunge pop releases in the 1990s. Like its title might suggest, the intimate record is sung almost entirely in French. Across Désormais' ten tracks, Doiron builds a disarming and warm atmosphere - through minimally-composed fingerpicking, Doiron's soft voice steers a wounded sound. Even for the English-speaking listener, the cohesion of the LP's subdued, immersive atmosphere looms. Désormais clearly communicates a close, unflinching look at self-doubt submerged in melancholy.

Heart and Crime, released less than a year later in 2002, traverses much of the same territory. Written within the same time as Désormais, Heart and Crime is a companion to its predecessor, similarly vulnerable and scarce compositionally, save for flickers of brass or a piano line flitting in or out. Again, its weight comes from its somber simplicity, in Doiron's wistful voice and lyricism.

Désormais and Heart and Crime serve as visceral time capsules for Doiron's own personal history. It’s fitting, then that the records are also distinct placeholders within the Jagjaguwar canon. Désormais and Heart and Crime came at a time just as the label began to widen its scope. Doiron's work was amongst the first in a new era of Jagjaguwar artists that expanded the label’s roster and aesthetic, ushering in new and diverse definitions of Jagjaguwar's early dedication to emotional dissonance.

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2018-05-04
Cut Worms: Hollow Ground

Max Clarke has a knack for conjuring up warmth in his music, like endless summer or ageless youth. The 27-year-old's debut LP, Hollow Ground, crackles with the heat of a love-struck nostalgia, woven together with a palpable Everly Brothers' influence and retro sound. It reaches back into decades of plainspoken, unfussy, and squarely American storytelling and pulls it forth into 2018.

Some of Hollow Ground bloomed from that same period of driven creativity that yielded EP Alien Sunset; both "Like Going Down Sideways" and "Don’t Want To Say Good-Bye" find new life on the LP.

The rest is new. There's "Till Tomorrow Goes Away," a sheepish love song, thrumming with twangy guitar and a two-step rhythm. "Cash For Gold" channels buoyancy; a doo-wop effect on the sleepy backing vocals build out the dreaminess of Clarke's own affecting croon.

Hollow Ground strikes the balance between cerebral and simplicity in his storytelling. His lyrics explore the raw realm of youth, its weightlessness and possibilities, but channeled through a lens of restraint. Someone who's old enough to know better but still gets drawn back in to the romanticism of teenage feelings - and knows how to take the listener along, too.

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2018-04-06
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Sex & Food

Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson's fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex & Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Neilson and his band visited pitching in throughout.

Sex & Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of "Hunnybee" to the stomping flange of "Major League Chemicals." "If You’re Going to Break Yourself" and "Not in Love We're Just High" chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics "Ministry of Alienation" drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the song's structure.

The modern world, and all the thorny complications that come with living in it, loomed large on Ruban's mind while making Sex & Food. Though he's not afraid to get topical throughout, as evidenced on the surprisingly boisterous "American Guilt" or the roomy-disco medication-meditation "Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays".

A statement of selflessness, to be sure-but make no mistake: Sex & Food reaffirms the vitality of Ruban's voice in today’s musical landscape.

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2018-03-23
Preoccupations: New Material

Preoccupations' songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they've always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been expertly explored, it's not quite the same as having been fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is 'New Material', Preoccupations' deepest and most fully realized record to date. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.

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2018-03-09
Nap Eyes: I'm Bad Now

Nap Eyes are all Nova Scotians by raising and temperament, acclimated to life on an Atlantic peninsula linked narrowly to the rest of North America. I'm Bad Now, which follows enigmatic frontman Nigel Chapman's quest for self-understanding, is their most transparent and personal to date and constitutes the third chapter of an implicit, informal trilogy that includes Whine of the Mystic (2015) and Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016). While Nigel composes songs in their inchoate form at home in Halifax, Brad Loughead (lead guitar), Josh Salter (bass), and Seamus Dalton (drums), who live a twelve-hour drive away in Montreal, augment and arrange them, transubstantiating his skeletal, ruminative wafers into discourses that transcend. The band provides ballast and bowspirit to Nigel's cosmical mind, this album lending itself to a new sonic clarity, depth and range to match his effortless melodies and extraordinary writing.

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2018-02-23
S. Carey: Hundred Acres

At its heart, Hundred Acres - the third full-length from Wisconsin singer/songwriter S. Carey - finds him grounded and confident, writing the strongest songs of his career. More direct than ever, there is a wellspring of confidence in this new batch of songs that allow for ideas to remain uncomplicated while laying bare the intricacies of life. Written in between touring schedules and the growth of his family, Carey produced Hundred Acres at April Base in Fall Creek, WI with support from his regular crew and contributions from the likes of Rob Moose (yMusic), Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens) and Sophie Payten (Gordi). He employed a smaller, more focused scale of instrumentation than on his previous albums while writing mostly on guitar instead of his go-to piano. Using more traditional song structures instead of the Steve Reich-ian repetitions of his past work, a new balance is struck that creates something unique. The result is a collection of poetic yet clear-eyed songs that both stand brightly on their own and tightly weave together to create a powerful album.