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2017-03-31
Coco Hames: Coco Hames

There's an old saying about how "you have your whole life to write your first record." For Coco Hames, the songs on her stunning self-titled debut poured from her pen over a sustained burst of inspiration... but they took more than a decade to live out. A deeply personal record filled with poignant ruminations on love lost and found, dreams dashed then rediscovered, these ten songs manage to pinpoint exquisite light amid life’s darkness. As the frontwoman and indomitable force behind beloved garage-pop combo The Ettes, Hames blazed a memorable trail across the '00s underground. Last summer, she began work on her solo album at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville. "It was this massive leap of faith for me," she admits. "After being in a band for so long, this time I was on my own - no gang to hide behind or fall back on." Playing guitar, piano, and electric harpsichord, Hames was aided in her effort by bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), drummer Julian Dorio (The Whigs), and lead guitarist Adam Meisterhans (The Weight). Other contributors include veteran keyboard/organ wizard Dave Amels of Reigning Sound and vocalists Carey Kotsionis (Bobby Bare, Jr.) and Lillie Mae Rische (Jack White).

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2017-03-31
David Chesworth: 50 Synthesizer Greats

Chapter Music presents a vinyl reissue of Melbourne, Australia post-punk icon David Chesworth’s pioneering 1979 debut 50 Synthesizer Greats. The naively misspelled 50 Synthesizer Greats is actually 37 tracks of minimal synth investigations, full of inquisitive humour and experimental spirit. The album was recorded in late 1978 in David’s parents’ lounge room, on a Mini Korg 700 borrowed from post-punk icons Tch Tch Tch. David was only 21 in 1979, but his energy and accomplishments were prodigious. That year he formed the much-loved Essendon Airport with Robert Goodge, coordinated experimental music venue the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, and founded the Innocent Records label with Tch Tch Tch leader Philip Brophy. Chesworth’s late 70s/early 80s records and productions have become sought after collectors’ items and DJ holy grails, across projects such as Essendon Airport, Whadya Want, Chocolate Grinders and others. He has since become a renowned contemporary classical composer and sound artist, represented in the 2015 Venice Biennale. 50 Synthesizer Greats is where it all began for David Chesworth, and remains one of his most engaging and remarkable works. The remastered album is reissued with liner new notes and photos, plus two digital bonus tracks.

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2017-03-31
Geotic: Abysma

Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias, and you'll get a simple response: Baths is active listening; Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.

Don't mistake "passive listening" for anything remotely resembling apathy: Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it's replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.

"So much of dance music is about partying and going out and having a really hardcore social experience," Wiesenfeld says. "Dance music has never been that for me. So much of my experience listening to music is being by myself - at home or in my car."

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2017-03-31
Hauschka: What If

Since 2004, Volker Bertelmann - aka Hauschka - has, steadily earned a remarkable reputation as a purveyor of imaginative, distinctive, prepared piano music. On What If - which finds him adding player pianos (also known as pianolas) to his arsenal - Bertelmann expands his range even further, defying expectations and delivering what is without a doubt his most ingenious album yet. While engaging with his trademark technique of utilizing unusual objects - art erasers, for example - to treat (or 'prepare') the piano, Hauschka also programmed parts for player pianos, exploiting the speed at which they could play, manipulating the resulting sounds, and building layers to emphasize a composition's meter. What If aims to provoke reflection beyond the musical sphere with the titles of the both the album and its individual tracks. Overflowing with haunting melodies, mysterious sounds, and complex patterns, What If crowns an extraordinary couple of years for Hauschka. Likely to prove one of 2017's most original albums, What If redefines the very notion of piano music in dramatic and exceptional fashion. It stands as a rebuttal to those who lazily shoehorn Hauschka's work into the so-called, uncomfortably broad 'new classical' category, and instead underlines his status as a unique and invaluable artist.

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2017-03-31
Jake Xerxes Fussell: What In The Natural World

Entrancing guitarist and singer Jake Xerxes Fussell follows his celebrated self-titled debut (produced by William Tyler) with a moving new album of Natural Questions in the form of transmogrified folk/blues koans. This time these radiant ancient tunes tone several shades darker while amplifying their absurdist humor, illuminating our national, and psychic, predicaments. Featuring art by iconic painter Roger Brown and contributions from three notable Nathans - Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn), Nathan Salsburg (Alan Lomax Archive), and Nathan Golub (Mountain Goats) - as well as Joan Shelley and Casey Toll (Mt. Moriah).

RIYL: Michael Hurley, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Dave Van Ronk, Jim Dickinson, Raccoon Records, Joan Shelley, Nathan Bowles, Nathan Salsburg, William Tyler, Daniel Bachman, Wilco.

"The professor you always wished you had, the human jukebox, the guitar player and singer who makes any band that he's in better. He's a southern scholar and gentleman in the tradition of Jim Dickinson, George Mitchell, & Les Blank. He's a Dave Van Ronk for SEC country." - William Tyler

"A singular combination of pedigree, experience, education, and talent." - The Oxford American

"Beautifully loose arrangements of playful, resilient songs." - Uncut

"Music that takes us to a deep place in the American spirit." - Art Rosenbaum

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2017-03-31
Lydia Ainsworth: Darling Of The Afterglow

"Jimi Hendrix said you need fantasy", says Toronto's Lydia Ainsworth," to see reality more clearly." On her sublime second album, Darling of the Afterglow, Ainsworth upholds Hendrix's wisdom in the best way. Vividly imagined and richly felt, the follow-up to Ainsworth's Juno-nominated Right from Real (2014) is an album of intimate emotions projected in heightened widescreen, where yearning pop classicism and classical smarts merge with other-worldly synthetic sounds and weird-gothic R&B infuences. For Ainsworth, it represents a great leap of confdence from her prodigious debut, whether she's conjuring the crystalline harmonies and deaths-head rhythms of The Road, the lush earworm pop of Ricochet or the small-hours reverie of WLCM. Blessed with an extraordinarily supple voice, Ainsworth commits herself fully on all fronts, honouring the words of Afterglow: To play it safe is not to play at all. The album title itself came to her while she was out of her element, explains Ainsworth, living near LAs Echo Park - home to the Art Deco statue ‘Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels). "Walking around the lake just after sunset at a time when I was desperate for human connection, I found comfort in this statue. She gave me the inspiration for the lyrics to the song. It was as if she was singing them to me." Pass the message on: Darling of the Afterglow is a bold, beautiful album from a voice ready to be heard. Darling Of The Afterglow Available March 31st, 2017 via Arbutus Records.

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2017-03-31
Olivier Alary: Fiction / Non-Fiction

Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier Alary is a highly talented composer, who has previously collaborated with Bjork and released albums on FatCat and Aphex Twin's Rephlex label under the name Ensemble, Over the past five or six years Olivier has moved away from that song-based project to focus on composing material for a stream of films and artistic collaborations. In 2007, Olivier's director friend Yung Chang asked him to score his feature-length debut, 'Up the Yangtze' which premiered at Sundance. The film was critically acclaimed and became a reference in the field, opening up a natural transition into film music for Olivier.

Since then he has soundtracked more than twenty feature-length fiction films and documentaries, several of which have received prestigious awards and screenings worldwide (Cannes, Berlinale, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno). As the album title alludes, 'Fiction / Non-Fiction' is a compilation of this film music, dating from from the past five years, none of which has been previously released. Olivier's material here might sit somewhere among the likes of Johann Johannsson, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid, and Set Fire To Flames, while having the same masterly ear for sonic detail as Oneohtrix Point Never or Tim Hecker, but throughout the tracks are imprinted with Olivier's own, signature sound.

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2017-03-31
Pharmakon: Contact

Bestial Burden, the previous album by Margaret Chardiet's Pharmakon project, focused on the disconnect between mind and body, looking at the human as an isolated consciousness stuck inside of a rotting vessel. For Contact, she wanted to look at the other side of the spectrum - the moments when our mind can come outside of and transcend our bodies.

In trance states, music and the body are used to transcend the physical form and make contact with some outside force. Chardiet decided to structure the compositions of each side of Contact after the stages of trance: preparation, onset, climax, and resolution.

ARTIST'S STATEMENT: Man is a rabid dog, straining at its leash of mortality with bared teeth. Snarling and clawing over each other, we aim to reach a higher ground to claim as our own. There are those who will attempt to exert power over others to attain it. They will sniff you out; lay claim over your body, your actions, your thoughts, your time. (How starkly human, so desperate for the sense of vantage over all versions of its own reflection!) Their aims are empty, because their power is a construct they created and gave back to themselves. They too are small and inconsequential. All people are only human and humans are only animals. The nature of existence and our sentience is chance, owing nothing to anything. Humankind is of no special significance to the universe. (Despite all our scrambling rejections, we cannot transcend all of our instincts - just animals, lost in a confused dream, where mankind is real and at the center of everything). We are each nothing but a single, short-lived cell in a vast organism which itself will one day die. If we accept that the only true claim sentience gives us is our tiny sliver of time, it opens us to revel in it, to make CONTACT. When we pick up on transmissions between the private rooms inside our heads and the flesh of our vessels, when thought escapes its isolation and is seen, heard and understood. When our mind uses the body in order to transcend and escape it! The moments of connection/communion/CONTACT, when the veil is for a brief but glorious moment lifted, and we are free. Empathy! EMPATHY, NOW!

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2017-03-31
RAYS: RAYS

On RAYS' debut album the band spins eleven tunes of wiry, urgent post-punk, one foot planted firmly in the nihilistic apathy of 70 & 80's punk (Wire, Electric Eels, Pere Ubu, Eno, Television The Fall), Australian punk past & present (UV Race, Terry, Victims, Babeez), and the addictive strum of 80's & 90's New Zealand/Flying Nun pop; all of whom have found their own way to meld the ferocity & thuggery of punk with a singular melodic voice. RAYS are no different; the swirling jangle of "Attic" starts the album off, sardonically extolling the joy of 'attic life' with Hannan's monotone conveying an underlying sense of dread & isolation. "Dead Man's Curve", with it's hook-filled, organ-laden chorus plays like a lost teenage tragedy song, celebrating the desperation & angst of reckless youth.

Elsewhere, tunes like "Theatre of Lunacy", "Made of Shadows" & "Drop Dead" rage with a desperate fire, speaking to the absurdities of everyday life, but with a wry smile. Shit is fucked, but the members of RAYS seem intent on finding humor within the world's everyday desperation, because sometimes that's the only way to stay sane. "Pain & Sorrow", "Back Downtown" all speak to these truths. The album ends with Hannon's "Over and Over", it's sweet melody belying a derisive outlook on the necessity of modern life & the repetition it requires. Throughout it all, RAYS' debut never feels angry, Recorded by Bay-area stalwart Kelley Stoltz & mastered by Australian tone-genius Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring) RAYS is a joyous album packed with weird new-wave swirls and sugar-sticky hooks.

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2017-03-31
Reptaliens: Prequel / Olive Boy

Debut single on Captured Tracks from Portland's dream pop stalwarts Reptaliens

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2017-03-31
Richard Buckner: Impasse (Reissue)

The words are entrancingly cryptic, as if their simplicity conceals unfathomable depths. The music is sparse, almost whispered at times, like a secret. The title gives everything away, though. During the gestation of his 2002 album Impasse, which will receive a new vinyl pressing from Merge Records on March 31, 2017, Richard Buckner was stuck. But, with perseverance, what began as one of his most troubled recording attempts ended as one of his best and most pivotal - a capstone for his wayfaring early period before he planted roots with Merge.

"You don't really know what you're writing at the time," Buckner says. "Writing seems to be kind of prophetic and it makes much more sense looking back on it. But I think mystery is good. If you ever think you know what you're doing, then you're probably in bad shape."

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2017-03-31
Richard Edwards: Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset

In 2014, Richard Edwards (then frontman of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's) was diagnosed with a potentially fatal stomach ailment, lost 50 pounds, was to forced to abandoned a sold out tour, and spent the next couple years recovering and writing a record about absence. With his marriage also ending he moved into a basement, underwent surgery on his abdomen, and re-wrote the record about absence. The result is Edwards' first effort post-Margot "Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset". Produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Cass McCombs, Beck) the album brings together friends, both old and new, for a sound that may be familiar to some fans of his former band, but more rightly a step into new territory. "I hope it sounds like being lost in an ocean", says Edwards.

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2017-03-31
Saltland: A Common Truth

The second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran Montréal cellist and composer Rebecca Foon (Esmerine, Thee Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames). With A Common Truth, Foon presents a new song cycle that takes climate change as its theme (Foon is co-founder of Pathway to Paris, among other organizing and activist roles in the decarbonization movement) and features her cello as the primary source for all sounds on the record. The one notable exception: Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, The Dirty Three) is the sole invited guest player, contributing his inimitable violin (and pump organ) to the album's four instrumental tracks. A Common Truth is an album of gorgeous integrity, restraint, and meditative intensity that alternates between wordless instrumentals and lyric-driven pieces, balancing austere, organic intimacy and lush, multi-layered expansiveness. The naturalistic rock production of Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) anchors Saltland's juxtaposition of dry and processed strings, with Foon's voice very much within the mix but never veiled or concealed; a voice described as "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" (Mojo). Electronic music strategies, via signal processing and re-sampling, are deployed minimally and judiciously - and all the more powerfully as such.

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2017-03-31
Sneaks: It's A Myth

It's a Myth, Sneaks' second album is due March 31, 2017, on Merge Records.

With little more than a bass, drum machine, and deadpan vocals, Sneaks, a.k.a. Eva Moolchan, makes minimalist music that takes up space - something she herself has made a point of doing in the male-heavy Washington, D.C., DIY punk scene that has been her home. Moolchan's compelling songwriting, along with the fervid energy of her shows, prompted breakout D.C. label Sister Polygon to release her 2015 debut Gymnastics, which Merge reissued in September 2016.

It's a Myth builds on Sneaks' playfully stark approach to post-punk, which, as her hometown City Paper described it, causes listeners to go "from curious to provoked to hungry." Hungry, in part, because the new album clocks in at just 18 minutes of 10 taut, captivating tracks (but still a feast compared to Gymnastics' 14 minutes). It also adds Jonah Takagi and Ex Hex/Helium frontwoman Mary Timony, who recorded the album at Timony's D.C. studio. "She's got art in her brain," Timony has said of Moolchan. "Her brain is making beautiful stuff."

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2017-03-31
Tall Ships: Impressions

Following the release of their acclaimed 2012 debut, Everything Touching, Tall Ships were championed by both the BBC and NME, selling out shows across the UK and headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds Festival. Their debut earned a wealth of critical praise, with Pitchfork citing its penchant for "the more swashbuckling strains of Okkervil River and Modest Mouse, M83's downcast glimmer, and Sigur Ros' misty yawn," and BBC Music claiming, "the trio's debut displays dizzying craftsmanship."

After a patch of personal turmoil and a falling out with their record label, the band found themselves at a crossroads. Where lesser band's might have crumbled under the weight of expectation and adversity, Tall Ships regrouped and retreated to keyboardist Jamie Field's country home to re-adopt a similarly DIY recording process to that which birthed Everything Touching years earlier. As such Impressions bristles with a fresh intensity: it's a set that feels constantly on a knife edge of unpredictability, capable within a single song of being both disconcertingly tender and universal - easily the most ambitious and anthemic music the band has ever written, marking them out as one of the UK's most promising rock bands but one worn with the battle scars of doubt, fragility and lessons learned the hard way.

This Will Destroy You: The Puritan (Brown & Black Splatter Vinyl)

Continuing her journey into uncharted waters, Julianna Barwick's remix of This Will Destroy You's serene composition The Puritan is an exercise in both refinement and intensification. Taken from TWDY's viscerally cinematic full-length studio LP Another Language (out now on Suicide Squeeze), the Brooklyn-based songstress elicits an invisible structure from the track's warbling textures and oceanic vastness, distilling and reconstituting the band's reflective soundscape into a rarefied elemental form. The resulting single is pristine and subtle; a fully immersive pairing of melodic piano with layers of decaying tape textures, anchored and paradoxically tethered to submersed bassline programming and distant, hyperborean 4/4 kick drum. By once again shifting shapes and adding emphasis with the beats she does and doesn't drop, Barwick is able to forge a totally new path for both herself and instrumental-stalwarts This Will Destroy You. A feat not easily accomplished on either count. Like so much of Barwick's work, The Puritan remix sounds as if it is both sinking, and, floating. The Puritan 7" is limited to 1000 copies on brown and black splatter color vinyl and includes a download card.

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2017-03-17
ANOHNI: Paradise EP

The revelry of 2016's Hopelessness helped reinvent Anohni (f/k/a Antony and The Johnsons) in the mold of staunch political agitator. Self-aware and self-flagellating, Anohni speaks of deep concern for our very livelihood, as a species and as a civil society. With critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, FADER and many more, Hopelessness came to represent a new and necessary musical language.

Anohni's Paradise EP is the extension, into 2017, of a language of protest and distress. The songs on here - already featured in her arresting live performances - were made during the same sessions as Hopelessness, but rather than trimmings or bonus material, they are, instead, unique touch points for old problems and newly minted geo-political crises writ macabre.

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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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2017-03-17
Cherry Glazerr: Haxel Princess (Translucent Red Vinyl)

Society would deem a prodigious girl can't be in a progressive rock band while also being in complete control of its creative vision, business plan and social messaging. Society is wrong. Clementine Creevy, a 19 year old teen Queen, dreamed up Cherry Glazerr in her LA bedroom alone and is perhaps more capable of figuring a music career out than anyone who attempts this treacherous life path.

Back in 2014, much-loved Cali imprint Burger Records released Cherry Glazerr's intoxicating debut Haxel Princess. The New York Times called "Grilled Cheese" one of their Top Songs of 2014 alongside heavy hitters such as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Future. The band toured across the country and abroad, between Clementine's acting responsibilities on the award-winning show Transparent, and gained fans everywhere with their wild lives shows. On their upcoming sophomore album, Apocalipstick, the band worked with "rock'n'roll wizard" Joe Chicarelli (White Stripes, The Shins, The Strokes) and Carlos de la Garza (Bleached, M83, Tegan and Sara). With their help and the band's newfound self-discipline and motivation, Cherry Glazerr has evolved into a wildly complex, hugely guitar heavy, and unapologetically loud machine.

Grails: Black Tar Prophecies Vol's 1, 2, & 3 (Reissue)

At the start of 2005 Grails returned to the US from a month-long European tour. Stepping off the plane, most of the band walked in one direction and the violinist strayed off into another. It ended up being the last time most anyone would see or talk to him. A bandmate for three albums in five years had vanished only to exist in the form of vague rumors. As the varied reports of brief encounters and sightings grew stranger and darker, the band began a series of recordings called Black Tar Prophecies. With newly liberated instrumental roles came new possibilities for the band's sound. In this way the collected Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 ends up being a more idiosyncratic mission statement for future Grails recordings, revealing their fondness for the '60s and '70s experimental artists that saw music as a process of discovery. A parallel was now forming between Grails and pioneering experimental bands like Faust who, rejecting their past, started over from the beginning to build new languages in music.

Remastered for vinyl and reissued for the first time in over a decade, Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 is a massive evolutionary step in the established Grails sound and is shrouded in change and pain. The somewhat clinical studio sound and recording style with which they had established a tremendous following has been replaced with a much more free and conceptual recording style. This method liberated the group in the studio and these recordings feel much more open, heavy, and psychedelic. This sound has always existed within Grails, but it was here that it became their identity.

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2017-03-17
Grails: Take Refuge In Clean Living (Reissue)

Remastered for vinyl and reissued for the first time in nearly a decade, Take Refuge In Clean Living sees Grails pulling back their already wide lens on multiple sonic horizons. Opening with a nod to Syd Barret's Pink Floyd (Piper at the Gates of Dawn) Take Refuge In Clean Living begins with morse code and drops into one of the heaviest slowburn grooves in the Grails canon. Sounding something like Hawkwind and Ravi Shankar scoring Blade Runner, it's lysergic and earthy for Grails in a new way. The rest of the record moves from blissful Eno-inspired ambience, to epic Morricone rock hymns, to an unexpected take on a Ventures tune that returns the listener to the very beginnings of instrumental rock music. The touring incarnation of Grails in 2006 and 2007 included good friend and drummer Ben Nugent, allowing Emil Amos to switch to 3rd guitar for the band's live instrumentation. The DNA of this guitar-heavy line-up allowed for new kinds of arrangements and bigger melodies. In early 2007, the then-5-piece entered Steven Lobdell's (Faust) Audible Alchemy studio to document the new songs written with this augmented ensemble. The band is defined by exploration and they've created a template for themselves where any style or method can be ingested to reap legitimate rewards. Take Refuge In Clean Living rightly suggested that Grails wouldn't run out of ideas.

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2017-03-17
Jacaszek: KWIATY

MichaÅ Jacaszek is an absolute master of melancholy: the Polish composer who's spun dramatic shades of darkness and light into gold for more than a decade now, from the trickle-down electronics of Treny and artful gloom of Glimmer to the vapor-trailed verses of their looming spiritual cousin KWIATY.

KWIATY - which was inspired by An English anthology of metaphysical poetry from the 17th century - is the most vocal-driven material Jacaszek's ever written, melding his stormy melodies with a breakout performance by Hania Malarowska (of the Warsaw-based rock band Hanimal) and the robust supporting roles of Joasia Sobowiec-JamioÅ and Natalia GrzebaÅa, with lyrics adapted from poems from Virgil and Robert Herrick.