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Jacqueline Humbert & David Rosenboom: J. Jasmine: My New Music

Privately pressed to LP in 1978 under the name "J. Jasmine" and made especially for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, with artistic collaboration from the festival's founder and Once Group artist, George Manupelli, My New Music is the debut album by Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom. Featuring a cast of Mills College personalities like David Behrman and Sam Ashley on backup vocal duties, this song cycle is at every turn boundary pushing and intent upon gender-busting, yet still hilarious, sweet, and genuine, all delivered in a post-genre, art-song, cabaret musical style that happens to boast some serious avant-garde chops, courtesy of Rosenboom. If it weren't so spot on, you'd swear it was a guilty pleasure. As J. Jasmine writes, My New Music is a collection of personal stories and private desires, exposed, articulated, performed and dedicated to the hope that one person's fantasies can contribute to another person's freedom. Get lost in J. Jasmine's world for a little long while.

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2018-02-23
Jason Sharp: Stand Above The Streams

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2018-02-23
Joey Dosik: Game Winner

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.

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2018-02-23
Lionlimb: Tape Recorder

'Tape Recorder' is the second album from Nashville's Lionlimb, the project of Stewart Bronaugh and Joshua Jaeger. The record is a collection of six tracks written by Bronaugh after their second European tour in the fall of 2016, primarily on piano in Columbia University practice rooms. After having collaborated with a friend who played cello, the Bronaugh and Jaeger began expanding into scoring music for violins and bass clarinet. Having been the first time he scored music by hand, Bronaugh looked to 70's minimalist composers for research. After recording the entire album live, the resulting six tracks of 'Tape Recorder' are reflective, soulful, and based around the themes of love, loss, heartache, friends, and family. Bronaugh recalls an incident that inspired the album's title track, 'Tape Recorder,' from his youth when a friend of his collapsed during gym class and went into a 2 week-long coma due to a heart condition. His teacher told everyone to make cassette tapes of themselves singing songs to help him wake up. This ended up being one of the experiences that inspired Bronaugh to continue writing music as a means of connecting, healing, and having hope. On the flip side, songs like 'Clover' on the album also deal with some of the struggles that come with writing music, such as experiencing self-doubt, isolation, obsession, and competition. The minimal, bare-bones live recording of the album and collaborative orchestration of the music give 'Tape Recorder' a deeply personal and tangible beauty.

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2018-02-23
Mark Renner: Few Traces

Few Traces surveys Mark Renner's scarcely released and unreleased material recorded from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking wordless translations of the individual's musical experience, and the poetic expression of being here. Something of a rust-belt Brian Eno, Few Traces places the Baltimore artist's ambient explorations, composed as soundtracks to guide his visual work, alongside his guitar-centric, vocal driven songs traversing terrains similar to Cocteau Twins or The Durutti Column.

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2018-02-23
Martin Newell: Greatest Living Englishman

Martin Newell spent the '80s being compared to Robyn Hitchcock, XTC, and other lesser-known '60s-influenced pop maestros, so it was poetic that XTC's Andy Partridge would produce this Newell solo album. The result isn't a stretch from Martin's days as The Cleaners from Venus or The Brotherhood of Lizards. The production is cleaner than on Newell's home recordings, but the songs are as melodic and adventurous as ever. If one's naturally attracted to the charms of "We'll Build a House" (which sounds like what Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard has spent his career emulating), then there's plenty more from where this came from. Newell is devoutly English, writing his songs much in the way Ray Davies sculpted his observations of British life, past and present, with The Kinks. There's a Davies-like shuffle to "Tribute to the Greatest Living Englishman," a barrage of guitars to "She Rings the Changes," and an "all the lonely people" feel to "A Street Called Prospect" and "The Green-Gold Girl of Summer." The only drawback to being seduced by Mr. Newell? It's a full-time job to get up to speed!

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2018-02-23
Olden Yolk: Olden Yolk

Olden Yolk is a New York-based group led by songwriters, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler (Quilt) and Caity Shaffer whose penchant for dystopian folk, abstract poeticism, and motorik rhythms have enveloped them in a sound uniquely of-the-moment yet simultaneously time-tested. The band's debut ruminates on questions surrounding love, self-doubt, and locating autonomy amidst burgeoning unrest. Wrought with hazy melancholy and halcyon joy, these songs are ecstatic odes to the life of the city; to the subway platforms, kiosks, and monuments which enliven and encompass our collectivity, elevating into an urban-psychedelia.

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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.

The Low Anthem: The Salt Doll Went to Measure the Depths of the Sea

The Low Anthem would beckon you into the salty sea. Formed in 2007 by Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, The Low Anthem grew from DIY ethos to semiaccidental success. Having originally self-released "What The Crow Brings" and "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin" , the group signed with Nonesuch, toured the world, and were reluctantly lumped in with the so-called "folk revival". But night after night of performing their early material was not ultimately where they wanted to land: "The moment was losing its mystery. We were scared of becoming robots." In the winter of 2012, the group returned to their hometown of Providence, RI, with an eye toward re-exploring their musical understanding. In a newly restored vaudeville theater-studio, The Low Anthem found their direction. The band began recording in increasingly experimental and meticulous ways, resulting in the complexly experimental Eyeland . The album's release was tragically cut short after four shows due to a crippling car accident, leaving the band hospitalized and the tour cancelled. Through this journey, The Low Anthem have boiled down their musical ideals and found their true voice. The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea is 12 short songs, at once fragile, nuanced, honest, and delicately purposeful.

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2018-02-23
Totally Mild: Her

Her is the second album by Melbourne lush pop quartet Totally Mild. Following on from their acclaimed 2015 debut Down Time, Her is a shining jewel of an album. Elizabeth Mitchell's voice soars and swoops in shiver-inducing ways, while her songs address desires and dreams with affecting frankness. "Her is a record of failure and victory, new desire, stale romance, queer domesticity and what comes when the party is over," says Mitchell. First single Today Tonight is kinetic, dynamic guitar pop at its finest, while Lucky Stars showcases Mitchell's love for piano balladry, and From One Another is an eulogy for a toxic relationship given the most graceful pop setting. Totally Mild toured UK/Europe in 2015 and the US in 2017, playing SXSW and a string of LA/NYC shows. In Australia they have shared stages with the likes of Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Best Coast, DIIV and The Chills. Across their powerful, delicate, luminous second album Her, Totally Mild move through light and shade with silky finesse. "A shining talisman for the heartbroken" - Pitchfork "Engorged, engaged, empowered bedroom sulk music" - The Guardian

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2018-02-16
Jim White: Waffles, Triangles & Jesus

Jim White gets around. When he's not releasing his own critically acclaimed solo albums he splits his time producing records for other songwriters, exhibiting his visual art in galleries and museums across the USA & Europe and publishing award winning fiction. His sixth solo studio album, the bizarrely titled Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, is a mind-bending joy ride of sonic influences featuring a bevy of his hometown Athens' roots musicians, plus west coast indie darlings Dead Rock West, and rock and roll maverick Holly Golightly. Prior to Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, White released five eclectic, totally uncatagorisable albums plus another six even stranger side projects. Numerous songs from his back catalog have appeared both in film and television, with his Primus-esque "Word-Mule" being featured in Breaking Bad, and more recently his cautionary rocker "Crash Into The Sun" appearing Ray McKinnon's highly praised Sundance Channel series Rectify. UK fans may recognize White as the narrator and defacto tour guide for the award winning BBC documentary, Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus, a road movie set in the rural South, which the LA Times described as "Decidedly strange, delightfully demented." Prior to becoming a musician White led an aimless, diverse life, working countless menial labor jobs: dishwasher, landscaper, lifeguard, cook, surfboard laminator, road builder, culminating with thirteen long years driving a taxi cab in New York City. White is presently at work completing a memoir, Incidental Contact, based on a series of uncanny coincidences that befell him during his days driving that taxi in New York City. Two chapters of Incidental Contact, The Bottom and Superwhite, have been published in the literary music journal Radio Silence, with Superwhite being awarded a Pushcart Prize for short fiction. White was a pro surfer. He served as literary commentator for the National Endowment of the Arts. He was a European fashion model. Samuel Beckett once played a practical joke on him. There’s lots more non linear information that doesn’t really fit the usual bio format. But that’s Jim - he gets around.

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2018-02-16
Marlon Williams: Make Way For Love

New Zealand's Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation-a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows. An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it's a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.

But it's the art of songwriting that has bedeviled the artist, and into which he has grown exponentially on his second album, Make Way For Love, out in February of 2018. It's Marlon Williams like you’ve never heard him before-exploring new musical terrain and revealing himself in an unprecedented way, in the wake of a fractured relationship.

In early December, Williams and his longtime girlfriend, musician Aldous (Hannah) Harding, broke up. While personally wrenching, the split seemed to open the floodgates for Williams as a writer. "…I wrote about fifteen songs in a month," he recalls. Sure enough, while Make Way For Love draws on Williams' own story, in remarkably universal terms it captures the vagaries of relationships that we’ve all been through: he bliss (opener "Come To Me"); ache ("Love Is a Terrible Thing"); nagging questions ("Can I Call You"); and bitterness ("The Fire Of Love", whose lyrics Williams says he "agonized over" more than any).

And there’s "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore", a duet with Harding, recorded after the two broke up, with Williams directing Harding's recording via a late-night long distance phone call. "We finally got to talk it out," he adds. "We still love each other very much."

If "breakup record" is a trope-and certainly it is-then Marlon Williams has done it proud. Like the best of the lot, Make Way For Love doesn’t shy away from heartbreak, but rather stares it in the face, and mines beauty from it.

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2018-02-16
Ought: Room Inside the World

On Room Inside the World-Ought's third album and their first for Merge-growing up doesn't mean mellowing out so much as it means learning to pay attention, listening carefully and openly, staying somewhere long enough to really understand where you are. Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Silver Jews), Room Inside the World explores themes that have always concerned the band-identity, connection, survival in a precarious world-but with a bolder, more nuanced sound palette. Vibraphone, justly intonated synthesizers, drum machines, and a 70-piece choir suffuse the precise post-punk breakdowns that spangled Ought's first two albums, giving rise to an emotional complexity that pushes their characteristically taut sound to greater depths. It makes for a different kind of catharsis: the quiet satisfaction of a job well done, the glow of seeing someone as they are, the soft simmer of real love. It's like finding a space inside the world where you can sit down for a bit, a room where there's room enough for everyone. The record ends on a comma, a quick fade, a sharp intake of breath, and you find yourself right back where you began.

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2018-02-16
Ought: Room Inside the World

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2018-02-16
Robert Earl Thomas: Another Age

There are a million songs dressed in white t-shirts and American denim, songs that drift through open spaces in some busted sedan, over lost highways that become tributaries to eventual static, crawling traffic and stifling density. There are a million more songs about being wild and green in the cities and outside them: a song about love for every person on this earth. Another Age, the debut album from Robert Earl Thomas, avoids inhabiting these cliches even as it embraces their personal influence: this is an album about small moments with big emotional footprints, told humbly and honestly. Thomas is not new to making records. A founding member of Brooklyn-based indie outfit ‪Widowspeak‬, he's previously lent his talents as a lead guitarist to that band as well as the experimental pop group Vensaire. He began writing and home-recording songs two years ago, gradually and purposefully in moments of solitude between tours, between stints working in a Seattle woodshop and at a hotel in the Catskills, and during weeks couch-surfing back and forth across Brooklyn. For Another Age, Thomas combined these intricately layered demos with tracks from a two-week studio session in the winter of 2016 at Marcata Recording in New Paltz, NY with producer Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate, Widowspeak). ‬ It's a debut that plays the part without succumbing to it, more pastel romantic comedy than sepia historic drama. There are stylistic nods to Springsteen and ‪Dire Straits‬, ‪Arthur Russell‬'s more folk-leaning output, the various collaborations of ‪Tom Petty‬ & ‪Jeff Lynne‬. But Thomas seems intent on conveying his specific take on these things over emulating them; you get the impression that he's just as inspired by karaoke renditions of "I'm On Fire" or "Romeo and Juliet" as he is by the originals. And the stories he tells are full of intimate moments and observations: a walk home from a lover's apartment, a long night drive back upstate, a quiet ‪Wednesday morning‬ existential crisis; musings as to the significance of a Winona Ryder portrait on the wall of a stranger's bedroom; the sense of discovery that comes with being young in a city with a new person, and the sense of loss when that novelty is gone. Another Age is indoor music at its most expansive, rock and roll held at arm's length. ‬‬‬‬‬

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2018-02-16
Songs: Ohia: Travels In Constants

Sometime in 2001 - sandwiched between the release of Ghost Tropic and its follow-up, the cryptic classic, Didn't It Rain - Songs: Ohia recorded an EP for Temporary Residence's distance-themed subscription series, Travels In Constants. The untitled EP consisted of a single 18-minute song - performed live by Jason Molina in his living room, recorded directly to 4-track cassette as the sounds of a typical Chicago night bled through the air. Built solely from an acoustic guitar and Molina's familiar melancholy croon, it's a hauntingly intimate track. Molina once remarked that it was "probably too out there" for a proper Songs: Ohia album, which is perhaps why is felt right at home in this context. Scarcely available in its original CD-only edition of 1,000 copies, Travels In Constants has finally been remastered and reissued for vinyl and digital formats. Completing this reissue is "Howler," another unusually lengthy Songs: Ohia track that, like Travels In Constants, was recorded and released in 2001 in an edition of only 1,000. These tracks are amongst the most abstractly beautiful and alarmingly delicate music that Molina ever committed to tape. It's an honor to finally make it properly available for the world.

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2018-02-16
Superchunk: What A Time To Be Alive

After the shocking, and for many, demoralizing result of the 2016 election, "I didn’t buy the silver lining some were promoting that 'well, at least art and music will be great now!'," says Superchunk co-founder and frontman Mac McCaughan. "Obviously, any sane person would gladly trade four to eight years of terrible music for not having our country dismantled to satisfy the whims of a vengeful child and his enablers." Written almost entirely between November 2016 and February 2017, What a Time to Be Alive was recorded and mixed by Beau Sorenson, who also worked on I Hate Music. "He's possibly the first engineer we’ve worked with that I had to ask to turn down the guitars," says Mac. "Not too much, though." The record also features more guest backing vocalists than any previous Superchunk album, including Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit), Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Skylar Gudasz, and David Bazan. "Part of that was wanting a feeling of community," says Mac. "I think that’s important to not be completely bummed out about everything all the time."

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2018-02-16
Superchunk: What A TIme To Be Alive

After the shocking, and for many, demoralizing result of the 2016 election, "I didn’t buy the silver lining some were promoting that 'well, at least art and music will be great now!'," says Superchunk co-founder and frontman Mac McCaughan. "Obviously, any sane person would gladly trade four to eight years of terrible music for not having our country dismantled to satisfy the whims of a vengeful child and his enablers." Written almost entirely between November 2016 and February 2017, What a Time to Be Alive was recorded and mixed by Beau Sorenson, who also worked on I Hate Music. "He's possibly the first engineer we’ve worked with that I had to ask to turn down the guitars," says Mac. "Not too much, though." The record also features more guest backing vocalists than any previous Superchunk album, including Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit), Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Skylar Gudasz, and David Bazan. "Part of that was wanting a feeling of community," says Mac. "I think that’s important to not be completely bummed out about everything all the time."

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2018-02-16
Tal National: Tantabara

Gearing up for their third album for FatCat, Tal National look back on a fertile period spent further honing their sound and touring the US several times - leaving audiences sweaty and stunned time after time. They've laid down incredible sets at WOMAD and Roskilde, bringing the same intensity and jubilance to the festival set as they would a crammed club, converting the staunchest wallflower into a dancer for the night. At their core, that’s Tal National's intent, to make the people dance. Performances at their Niamey nightclub (yes they operate their own nightclub) are regularly raucous 5-hour non-stop dance parties for 300 people a night. With Tantabara the band continues their ongoing quest to translate that energy to tape, bottling the party for personal use.

The grooves are the backbone of the album, and the intent is to create a trance-state that overwhelms conscious thought and lets the listener be surrounded by the energy and emotion of Tal National. Brimming with the band’s complex, intense spirit, the album is a continuation of the balance of tradition and innovation that have driven their previous albums. It’s a joyous celebration and euphoric epiphany all in one complex package. We'd expect nothing less at this point from Tal National.