Richard Swift's duo debuts, The Novelist and Walking Without Effort, are fraternal twins wrestling with same Big Questions in opposite ways - one toiling in a cinderblock basement slugging typewriter coffee; one lost on the Pacific Coast Highway, looking again and again for something in a sunset that just ain't there. One's wheezing through a crusty gramophone in some Artie Shaw air-conditioned nightmare; one's gliding on the soft tape of an 8-Track, fat tears welling up behind those outlandish 70s sunglasses. Taken together, they speak to Swift's wild, preternatural shapeshifting ability, an auteur's understanding of mood and place. Yet, you always know you're seeing these new places through Swift's translucent, wolven eyes. These two recordings are his 8Â˝, both the portal and the Rosetta Stone to Swift's singular musical universe and language.
Richard Swift believed in and sought real beauty. And so, even at its most caustic and sardonic, his masterpiece swan song The Hex is beautiful. Conceived in pieces over the last several years and completed just the month before his passing, The Hex is the grand statement Swift acolytes have been a-wishin-and-a-hopin' for all these years. After a career of sticking some of his finest songs on EPs and 45s, here are all his powers coalescing into a single, long-player statement. At its core, The Hex is an aching call out into the void for Swift's mother ("Wendy") and his sister ("Sister Song") whom he lost in back-to-back years. You hear a man at his lowest and spiritually on his heels. The pain fueling Swift's cries of "She's never comin' back" on the absolutely gutting standout "Nancy" is some sort of dark catharsis for anyone who's ever lost a loved one to the cold abstraction of Death. Over a slow, Wall of Sound kick and a warbling synth, Swift's cries climb higher-n-higher-n-higher into what may be his most devastating vocal performance on record. A cry of pain so real and so raw Swift had to treat the performance with just a little studio effect, without which the recorded grieving might be too much to bear. The Hex is presented here as "The Hex For Family and Friends." An obsessive fan of Wall of Sound doo-wop, early Funkadelic, Bo Diddley, Beefheart and Link Wray, Swift gives them all a moment with the flashlight around The Hex campfire, one moment to make a strange shadow-cast face for us, his family and friends.
OUT OF STOCK - REPRESS DUE IN MID-FEBRUARY
The Lioness is the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers - Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avant-garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina's songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.
We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love - an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.
And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album's worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they're also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina's well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn "Wondrous Love." While he may have had his new love in mind, one can't help but think of Molina's legacy as he softly warbles "Into eternity I will sing/Into eternity I will sing." You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.
Goshen Electric Co. happened both all at once and gradually: an electrifying culmination of Tim Showalter's nearly two decades-long love affair with Jason Molina's craft, and just one half-day in the recording studio with the members of Magnolia Electric Co.Better known as Strand of Oaks, Showalter's turn at the helm of Magnolia Electric Co. (Mike Benner, Jason Evans Groth, Mikey Kapinus, Mark Rice, Peter Schreiner) comes ahead of the Goshen, In. native's Memorial Electric Co. European tour. The resulting 7-in. shows a sweeping range: "The Gray Tower," a 2002 single, and "Ring the Bell," which appeared on both Songs: Ohia's Didn’t It Rain (2002) and Magnolia Electric Co.'s Trials & Errors (2005). "Ring the Bell," recorded in one take, roars in with a twinge of psychedelia, thrumming with vibe; Showalter's wail recalls Molina's somber, choir-boy croon, but roughened with sandpaper. The prophetic, dystopian darkness of "The Gray Tower" captures the original soaring chorus and delicate melody with the power of a full band. Decades later, the intense, unflinching urgency of Molina's songwriting endures.
Where Neon Goes to Die explores a complex relationship full of highs and lows. From sultry pop to heart aching ballads, the album retells Clark's travels through the city's nocturnal fantasy land through hooky, R&B-infused synth pop-file it alongside Prince and Frank Ocean - that (maybe ironically) could fill the floors at the same clubs he's singing about.
But of course when Clark writes about his city he's really writing about himself. Where Neon Goes to Die retells Clark's travels through the Miami's nocturnal fantasy land. At its core, it is the story of a musician casting aside the distractions of his youth and discovering not only a new level of maturity, but a new level to his talents. After a string of mixtapes and EPs, and his 2015 debut LP The Lonely Roller, Clark's making music more confidently than he ever has before, sliding effortlessly between effervescent future disco on "Feel This Way” to purple-tinged slow-burn soul on "Easy Fall," a duet with Gavin Turek.
Joey Dosik honed his craft as part of a burgeoning Los Angeles scene that reinvents classic popular music to thrive in the present tense. With Inside Voice, Dosik delivers a level of depth rarely achieved in a debut, and the result is an instant classic by any standard. It's brimming with emotions that linger and hum. It's catchy as hell and can haunt you for days. You can take a casual listen or spend hours on repeat. Either way, Inside Voice will get you, because Joey Dosik writes human music for human beings. And boy does he write the hell out of it.
Title track "Inside Voice" builds gradually into 1970s-style soul, as Dosik's remarkable vocal range hovers over a sparse arrangement. It's quiet but - in keeping with the song’s concept, which Dosik describes as "deep, sexual, but also kind of silly" - it's also a thrilling, intimate moment. "Take Mine" plays with negative space and a repetitive, gut-punching melody; what feels like a love song is actually a plea for unity against the turbulent backdrop of present-day politics. Throughout, Dosik does a remarkable job of honoring and evolving classic sounds, letting his uncanny gift for song-writing guide the way.
Stella Donnelly is a young songwriter with a knack for wrapping unapologetic, brutally honest lyrics with a soaring lullaby to mesmeric effect. With just one EP release to boot, last year's lauded Thrush Metal, she has already garnered worldwide critical acclaim and has an undeniably bright future ahead.
Full of sharp lyrical punchlines, Stella's standout songwriting on Thrush Metal is an empowering and relatable guidebook to life as a young woman in our age of Trump, Tinder and Third-Wave feminism. First single, "Boys Will Be Boys" has been described by New York Times as "A delicate waltz [that] carries a bitter reproach to blaming the victims of sexual assault. 'Why was she all alone/Wearing her shirt that low? she sings, and then her voice rises and roughens." Written in late 2016, the track tackles society's tendency to blame the victims of sexual assault and rape and making excuses for the perpetrators.
Yet this insightful account isn’t limited to "Boys Will Be Boys". Take new bonus track, "Talking", which explores the ever-so-common feeling that you're in a one-sided relationship from a distinctly millennial perspective and new single, "Mechanical Bull", a pithy but potent track that addresses the male tendency to persist unwanted sexual advances.
Secretly Canadian is proud to release Thrush Metal on vinyl for the first time on June 22, 2018. The first pressing will be limited white color vinyl and includes new bonus track "Talking".
serpentwithfeet is an avant-garde vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in dueling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting - key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. His forthcoming debut full-length album soil is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of soil the chameleonic serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.
With this album I gave myself permission to let the leaves grow, let the flowers bloom, let myself be hairy and let my sound be hairy. I'm excited about the way things naturally come out of my body. I am always going to embrace discipline and streamlining. But I’m in a space at the moment where I don't need or desire the corset. It's time for expansiveness.
Like previous albums, 'The Horizon Just Laughed' started with a dream. Though, that's where things change, as they often do. It is Damien Jurado's first self-produced album, more personal and more rooted than even his 'Maraqopa' trilogy, as though after so much time on the road he's stumbled upon his home.
It's the contrasts that stand out in Makeness' (aka Kyle Molleson) music. Crafting tracks which make a virtue of disparate influences, Kyle manages to pull off something difficult: making tirelessly-crafted songs which sound loose-limbed and to-the-point.
His debut album, Loud Patterns, is the fullest example of this yet. On the one hand, it's noticeably indebted to house and techno; there are 4/4 rhythms, and a no-nonsense directness which nods to the likes of Omar-S and Theo Parrish. On the other hand, those dance floor structures are a vehicle for a wider spectrum of sounds. Channeling avant-garde experimentalism and an outsider's interest in pop, he embraces the distance between those two poles.
The music on the album manages to deftly flit between his different interests. Coarse, discordant squeels repeatedly pierce the opening title track, softened by the chorus' sweetly-sung vocals. Elsewhere, 'Who Am I To Follow Love' sketches a goofy-pop aesthetic - with wobbly synth-notes and clattering percussion - as backdrop for endearing vocal harmonies. And in 'Rough Moss', there’s a proper, face-melting club banger. With driving, non-stop drums and a squirming bassline, it's the bedrock for cacophonies of noise: distorted, strummed guitar chords, laser-beam synths and blasts of hiss.
The album is set to come via Secretly Canadian, a longstanding giant of independent music. Their genre-spanning output is the perfect home for Kyle's difficult-to-define approach.
There are those in our ranks who are touting this new triumphant collection from Montreal's art-rock heroes SUUNS as the most outright grooved record they've made. But hold it right there. Not so fast. SUUNS have always had that deep groove on fucking lock, albeit oft-slithering within an austere and/or sneering veneer. Consider, if you will, how Kraftwerk had far more funk flowing through their wires and cables than most of we flesh bodies. Same goes for the necromancers of SUUNS. And their world class drummer Liam O'Neill has heroically accepted the challenge of playing in and around programmed beats like a diabolical, sentient metronome. O'Neill's kit is a bit more out front than it’s been in a hot minute and he’s as patient and ferocious as ever. Meanwhile, Singer/guitarist Ben Shemie's sourmilk deliver is as frightening and enchanting as ever, but now coming from some deep area that feels like a human heart. And as alluded to by its title and neon-warm album art, SUUNS' Felt is gonna make you feel things. You’re gonna learn something about your body listening to cuts like on DJ Shadow-leaning, head-bobber "Look No Further" or "Make It Real," which could be a radio signal of a lost Silver Apples cut - that is, before it becomes a doomsday siren breakup song. These four gentlemen could be making beats for 21 Savage or Migos. But for now, lucky for you, they’re ruthlessly set on being one of the planet's finest, bravest bands.
Joey Dosik didn't set out to make a conceptual EP about basketball. It was his first love before music, and some of his earliest memories are of attending Lakers games, but he'd never thought to look to the sport for inspiration. But when Joey blew out his knee during his regular pick-up game and had to undergo reconstructive ACL surgery, he found himself confined to the couch, watching a lot of television and waiting to resume his normal life. He gravitated toward basketball, and when he started recording again, he found it seeping into his writing. The result is Game Winner, a brisk, emotive collection of songs loosely inspired by the language and lore of the game. Joey is an inveterate collaborator who has worked extensively with the likes of Vulfpeck, Nikka Costa and Miguel Atwood Ferguson, and who is a vital part of an LA scene that updates vintage sounds into a more contemporary context. But Game Winner was a different project with a different process; the lion's share of the EP was recorded solo in Joey's home studio. The common thread in the EP's six songs - as well as the four bonus tracks - is musicality and song craft: the two pillars of Joey's sound. "The most important thing is the song," explains Joey. "Songwriting won't go out of style." It's that approach, one that thinks beyond style, that gives the EP's title track its magic. Minimal and almost languid, "Game Winner" has a confidence that’s hard to place in time, an ease that meets a buzzer-beater just as well as it meets a Sunday morning. Basketball may have been Joey's first love, but the sport is also the perfect metaphor for where he's ended up musically, always striving to stay timely and timeless, to bring deep, foundational elements in sync with innovation and imagination.
Light Upon The Lake, the debut from Whitney, was born from early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the most brutal winters in Chicago's history. Vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek began writing unflinching, honest songs about everything from breakups to the passing of Ehrlich's grandfather. The pair leaned on one another for both honest critique and a sounding board for working through their newly-discovered truths. The brief, intense period of creativity for the band yielded Light Upon The Lake's exceptional, unfussy combination of soul, breezy Sixties/Seventies rock, and somber heartbreak woven together by hopeful, golden threads. After critical acclaim and nearly nonstop touring since thealbum's 2016 release, Ehrlich and Kakacek are going back to their roots - for the first time, the full demos from Light Upon The Lake will be made available. After a whirlwind year following the debut, the demos offer a way for listeners to get a glimpse into the very beginning ofWhitney's sound. "After almost two years of non-stop touring, we decided we wanted to close the chapter on Light Upon The Lake by releasing the songs in their earliest incarnations alongside a cover of a band favorite by Alan Toussaint, and an unreleased track called 'You and Me.' We're looking towards LP2 as we finish out the year on the road." - Love, Max and Julien
Native Memphian William Eggleston, 77, is widely regarded to be the most important photographer of the late 20th Century, but there is another side to him that took root in his Sumner, Mississippi childhood, where he discovered the piano in the parlor that ignited in him a lifelong passion for music.
In the 1980's, Eggleston, who disdained digital cameras and modernity in general, became surprisingly fascinated with a synthesizer, the Korg O1/W FD, which had 88 piano-like keys, and in addition to being able to emulate the sound of any instrument, also contained a four-track sequencer that allowed him to expand the palette of his music, letting him create improvised symphonic pieces, stored on 49 floppy discs, encompassing some 60 hours of music from which this 13 track recording was assembled.
The music, which he refers to as "Musik", adopting the German spelling of his hero, JS Bach, is highly emotional, whether he's improvising a Bach-like organ fanfare out of whole cloth, using a Korg patch titled "guitar feedback" to create a dirge, or playing Lerner and Lowe's "On The Street Where You Live" as a dramatic overture.
Mr. Eggleston often says that he feels that music is his first calling, as much a part of him, at least, as his photography.
Up until 2014 I was an investigator's assistant in a public law office. I can't tell you exactly what my job was on account of I signed a shut your mouth agreement around the time I quit for stress related reasons. But what I can say is that I dealt with corruption and badness perpetrated at the highest levels of authority, daily. I clocked all these leads and I made a file. Because these aren't things you keep in the dark. You shine a light on the badness and you strive to understand it.
From a dossier on all things delicate and beautiful and sadly human. crimes of passion and victims of love. All contained in 10 hot songs. Who's the culprit? I've got my inklings and you can get your own. But first you need to listen to the thing, take it all in, stick photos to your walls and connect them with string, measure footprints in the yard, wear a suit made of reeds, track the migration patterns of birds, intercept whispered transmissions, learn to eat spiders with a hunting knife, sleep in air ducts, make the case.
Here it is, my album: Forced Witness.
'Spear in the City' is the fourth album from Los Angeles' Bodies of Water, and their first release since 2011. Since then, they've played with different friends in different guises (Music Go Music, Physical Jerks, The Confessions, The Coast), and recorded a trove of mostly unreleased music. "Before we dove into putting out another record," says singer David Metcalf, "we wanted to make sure we had a set of songs that felt like they needed an audience, which took a while to happen."
'Spear in the City' is an album of expansive and apocalyptic gospel music, pulsing baritone-led chansons Ăˇ la Jacques Brel and Scott Walker, but with the rhythmic groove and vocal polyphony that's been the group's signature since its beginnings. Metcalf elaborates: "When I tell people that it's a gospel record, what I mean is that the songs are about the world and work of the Spirit. It's not worship music. Since I've never felt the need to connect with religious culture or institutions, songs are a way to keep my eyes trained on the world inside the world, and the movement of the supernatural dimension into ours.
The songs on 'Spear in the City' are a continuation of a narrative that Bodies of Water began writing long ago. Songs of experience informed by lives entwined with faith. Songs that revel in the unknown, and the mysteries at the heart of that faith. 'Spear in the City' is not dogma, it is a reckoning.
What you hear on Fly is Yoko Ono's disarming combination of opacity and visceral, personal transparency in full bloom. It's one of the most unbridled, most captivating soul albums ever made.
And that's right where she wants you: vulnerable, wide open to any-and-everything, ready to have your world tipped onto its head. She's a master of spinning your head around. First, you get the Bar Band from Hell of "Midsummer New York" to kick things off. It's about the last thing you'd expect from Ono coming off Plastic Ono Band. But here you are, listening to Ono channeling Elvis. Why am I all of a sudden bopping along to it?
At 16-minute-plus, the tranced-out, motorik-inspired boogie "Mind Train" is rough-and-ready for your next basement get down. Movement and perspiration required. Then, we have the absolutely gutting blues of “Don’t Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand in The Snow)." Full of ache and raw emotion, the song is a love note, a plea for forgiveness, to her estranged daughter Kyoko shot across the universe on a flaming arrow.
Ono follows this stampede of emotion with the self-referential torch song "Mrs. Lennon," a wounded song that gets right into the Universal Loneliness. And so here you are. You're devastated. You're exhausted. You're exhilarated. And you're only 1/4 of the way up the mountain that is Fly. Dig deep, traveler, it’s worth the climb.
If you've listened to Feeling the Space, Yoko Ono's personal-is-political 1973 album, it should come as no surprise that the once-reviled artist is inspiring a new generation of activists in 2017. On such songs as the righteous chant "Woman Power," the empathetic ballad "Angry Young Woman," the hilarious proto-grrrl "Potbelly Rocker," and the satirical "Men Men Men," Yoko sings in surprisingly straightforward fashion about the burdens carried by women and the mandate for feminism. Supported by such skilled studio vets as guitarist David Spinozza, sax player Michael Brecker, and drummer Jim Keltner, this is perhaps Yoko's most accessible album, and her most intimate. Feeling the Space was recorded during the time when the avant-garde visionary artist became estranged from her rock-star husband John Lennon. He plays only briefly on the album (billed as Johnny O'cean); she produced and wrote all the songs.
The result is a definitive soundtrack/document of the era of consciousness raising and of radical critique of the family structure. Yoko and company deliver this hard message soft rock style, or as soft as Yoko could get. Yoko was on the front lines of the women's liberation movement. Dedicated "to the sisters who died in pain and sorrow and those who are now in prisons and in mental hospitals for being unable to survive in the male society," it's an emotional exploration of the psychological toll of oppression.