LUNA music essentials...

for the week of 17 FEBRUARY 2017
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>Ryan Adams – Prisoner CD/LP (Pax Am/Blue Note)
Ryan Adams mined an unexpected influence – hard rock icons AC/DC – for the sonic design of his 16th LP,
Prisoner. “When I run, I listen to [an iPod] Nano that I have,” the singer/songwriter told Entertainment Weekly. “I put all the AC/DC records on from back to front, or I'll listen to the best of stuff from the '80s: Springsteen, or Hornsby, and I'll listen to what is going on there. I was listening to AC/DC's Fly On The Wall, and that's when I realized what I had to do for the record.” Last fall, Adams told EW his next album would feature material inspired by Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town and the Smith's Meat Is Murder. But he's since added several disparate influences into the mix – including classic rock act Bachman-Turner Overdrive (“Takin' Care Of Business,” “You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet”) and pop hit-makers Electric Light Orchestra, both of whom helped expand his guitar production expertise. “I was like, ‘Wow!’ I understand the multicolored guitar tone moments now,” he said. “You can layer stuff. I really just learned a lot.” “How do I make a real distinct record where anybody listens to it and says, ‘That's the truth from beginning to end?’” he said. “So it's like exercise. It sucks in the beginning. But then you get into it.”
LUNA has plenty of the Limited RED vinyl pressing also available!]
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>Bing And Ruth – No Home Of The Mind CD/LP (4AD)
On their third album,
No Home Of The Mind, the New York ensemble continues with the deft minimalism that has marked them out in critical circles in recent years. Established in 2006, Bing And Ruth is an ever-evolving collective steered by composer David Moore. A pianist from Kansas and graduate of New York’s school of Jazz and Contemporary Music at the New School, Moore’s work follows in the great tradition of fellow alumni John Cage and Steve Reich, albeit looking past the more studied repetition of the style’s forerunners toward a meditative form built on feeling.
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>JENS LEKMAN - Life Will See You Now (Orange Vinyl Edition) LP (SCD)
Jens Lekman describes his new record, Life Will See You Now, playfully, but also honestly, as "a midlife-crisis disco album; it's an existentialist record, about seeing the consequences of your choices". It's a typical Lekman album in several ways: sly humour is key to its heartfelt nature; it inverts pop's writing norm by making songs with sad concerns sound happy and songs with a happy subject sound sad; and it plays with notions of identity and the self. It's the more expansive, upbeat sound of a revitalised Lekman, who is just one of many characters in his new stories about the magic and messiness of different kinds of relationships.
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>Hanni El Khatib – Savage Times CD/3x10”+MP3 (Innovative Leisure)
Hanni El Khatib should be the next garage rock god. It doesn’t take much of a leap to see him headlining hockey arenas on the back of nothing but his scuzzy guitar and his monster hooks. His new release
Savage Times is a compilation of a boatload of singles he released over 2016. His first idea for the Savage Times project was to do something he'd never done before. Instead, he ended up doing … well, everything he'd never done before. He'd be playing new instruments, writing in unfamiliar new ways, opening himself up to an unrelenting stream of ideas and dedicating himself totally to pure musical instinct—and then releasing songs instantly to the public, without waiting to tour or assemble an album or anything. At the end of 2015, he'd walked into the studio with his guitar and a few lines of lyrics, hoping to sketch out a track or two just to stay busy, but that very first day he walked out with two finished songs and the inspiration to create something raw in real time, recording and releasing songs direct to the public as soon as tape stopped rolling: “Everything was really as I did it,” he says. “It was meant to be an experiment in how I could write and record and release something as quickly as possible. I didn't wanna make an album—I wanted to put songs out every week. It's personal for me.”
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>Tim Darcy – Saturday Night CD/LP+MP3 (Jagjaguwar)
Saturday Night, the first proper solo album from Tim Darcy (Ought), comes from one of those crossroads-type moments in life where one has to walk to the edge before knowing which way to proceed. Each track is woven to the next in a winding, complex journey through a charged, continuous present. There are love/love lost songs like the standout, almost-new wave “Still Waking Up” in which a Smiths-esque melody builds upon an underbrush that recalls ‘60s AM pop and country. Darcy's unmistakable, commanding voice and lyrical phrasing are, as they are in Ought, an instrument here: vital to the entire affair.
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>Strand Of Oaks – Hard Love CD/LP (Dead Oceans)
Tim Showalter's latest release as Strand Of Oaks,
Hard Love, emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. “For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that's constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that's naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It's about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated.” Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane's Addiction, and informed by a particularly wild time at Australia's Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. These influences coupled with an uninhibited and collaborative studio experience moved an initial concept for a singularly feel-good record to something more complex and real. As much as Showalter wants this record to seem like a party, it's more than that. It feels like living. [Limited green color vinyl pressing also available.]
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>Molly Burch – Please Be Mine CD/LP+MP3 (Captured Tracks)
Molly Burch was exposed to the arts at an early age. Growing up in L.A. with a writer/producer father and a casting director mother, Burch's childhood was filled with old Hollywood musicals and the sounds of Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. After finding her voice in adolescence, Burch packed up for the UNC in Asheville to study Jazz Vocal Performance. “I was always really interested in singing before songwriting. I didn't always have the confidence to write,” Molly says, “Initially it was more about finding the right songs to complement my voice.” And that voice is the first thing you'll notice on Burch's debut album.
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>Son Volt – Notes Of Blue CD/LP (Transmit Sound)
The 10 songs on
Notes Of Blue are inspired by the spirit of the blues, but not the standard blues as most know it. The unique and haunting tunings of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James and Nick Drake were all points of exploration for Son Volt’s Jay Farrar for the new collection. The album opens with the country soul of “Promise The World,” followed by “Back Against The Wall,” a song that could stand alongside the great Son Volt songs of their early albums. However, Notes Of Blue reflects the blues as it resides in the folk tradition, but heavily amplified. The primal stomp of Cherokee St, the frenetic guitar on “Static” and the raw slide in “Sinking Down” exude grit and attitude. Conversely, tracks such as “The Storm” and “Cairo And Southern” seamlessly meld blues with hypnotic melodies that add a unique balance to the album.
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>Nikki Lane – Highway Queen CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (New West)
Nikki Lane’s third album
Highway Queen sees the young Nashville rebel emerge as one of country and rock’s most gifted songwriters. Produced by Lane and fellow singer/songwriter Jonathan Tyler, and recorded in Denton, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee, Highway Queen is an emotional tour-de-force. Blending potent lyrics, unbridled blues guitars and vintage ‘60s country-pop swagger, Lane’s new music will resonate as easily with Black Keys and Lana Del Rey fans as those of Neil Young and Tom Petty. Highway Queen starts with the whiskey-soaked restlessness of “700,000 Rednecks,” a rowdy call to action, and ends on the profoundly raw “Forever Lasts Forever,” where Lane belts freely, mourning a failed marriage – the “lighter shade of skin” left behind from her wedding ring. Lane’s journey to heartbreak takes exquisite turns. “Companion” is pure Everly Brothers’ dreaminess (“I would spend a lifetime/ Playing catch you if I can”). Elsewhere, she goes on a Vegas bender on the rollicking “Jackpot,” fights last-call blues (“Foolish Heart”) and tosses off brazen one-liners at a backroom piano (“Big Mouth”). [Limited vinyl picture disc edition also available.]
for the week of 10 FEBRUARY 2017
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>Thievery Corporation – The Temple Of I & I CD/2xLP+MP3 (Eighteenth Street Lounge)
Temple Of I & I is the tenth studio album from the Washington DC duo. The 15 tracks, recorded on location in Port Antonio JA, finds Thievery Corporation deftly blending their signature style with the classic dub, dance hall, and roots vibes that have inspired them over an illustrious 20-year career. Includes guest vocal contributions from Mr Lif, Racquel Jones, Lou Lou Ghelichkhani, Shana Halligan, Puma and others.
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>Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
Jesca Hoop’s new album
Memories Are Now wastes no time in making clear its confidence, confrontation, and craftsmanship. The stark and reverberant title track opens the album with “a fighting spirit,” says Hoop, serving as an anthem to push through any obstacle and put forth your very best work. And she has unequivocally done that here, with an album of stunningly original songs -- minimalist yet brimming with energy, emerging from a wealth of life experience, great emotional depth, and years of honing the craft of singing. As riveting as it is reflective, the album, produced by Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes), is a fresh debut of sorts for Hoop, as the first of her solo records made outside of Tony Berg’s Zeitgeist Studios where she and Mills were mentored. Memories Are Now covers a great deal of ground, showcasing every edge and curve of Hoop’s captivating voice, with sounds and themes ranging from the mythic to the deeply intimate. She sings of the religion that weighs heavily on her past and the world, of the imagination of myth, of the cruel nature of life and love.
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>Tinariwen – Elwan CD/2xLP+MP3 (ANTI-)
For the last five years, Tinariwen have been busy crisscrossing the globe bringing their triumphant tours to all five continents and expanding their audience. During this time their beloved homeland in the Adrar des Ifoghas, a Saharan mountain range that straddles the border between northeastern Mali and southern Algeria has, in effect, been transformed into a conflict zone, a place where nobody can venture without putting themselves in danger. These conflicts have forced the band into exile to record their eighth album,
Elwan. Elwan means “the elephants” -- an animal metaphor to describe those “beasts,” whether militias or multinational consortiums, who have trampled everything in their path: in the desert, where both the human and ecological equilibriums are extremely fragile. The album was recorded in several locations around the world, and features guest contributions from Kurt Vile (electric guitar), Mark Lanegan (vocals on “Nànnuflày”), Matt Sweeney (electric guitar) and producer/guitarist, Alain Johannes (cigarbox guitar).
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>Tosca – Going Going Going CD/2xLP+CD (!K7)
Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber return to the kind of instrumental tracks full of deep beats and dubbed out textures that made Tosca’s name. Hitting the ground running, opening track “Import Export” sounds like a Lee Scratch Perry version of a Ennio Morricone soundtrack, a motif reoccurs throughout the album, most notably on “Dr. Dings,” their reinterpretation of America’s classic “Horse With No Name.”
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>Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS Light (1st & 15th Prod.)
“After recently declaring his retirement from music, Lupe Fiasco has announced a new album
DROGAS Light. Last year, Lupe announced plans to release a trilogy of albums in 2016 (including one titled Drogas) which he later retracted, due to ‘clearance and mixing issues.’ He later released a track called ‘Made in America,’ reportedly from an album called Drogas Light slated to be released ‘at the top of 2017.’ His plans seemed to come to a halt when a lyric in a new song ‘N.E.R.D.’ sparked anti-semitism claims among listeners. After defending the track vigorously on Twitter, Lupe announced his decision to retire from music: ‘Yo Lupe fans it’s been fun and I hope you’ve had fun,’ he wrote, ‘I’m officially not releasing anymore music. Albums cancelled.’ Following his remarks, he briefly set his Twitter to private before engaging in debates with the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. His recently declared retirement ends February 10.” – Pitchfork. [Vinyl edition due February 24.]
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>Sinkane – Life & Livin’ It CD/LP+MP3 (City Slang)
Produced by founder and frontman Ahmed Gallab,
Life & Livin’ It draws from the best elements of Sinkane's previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. Life & Livin' It is true to its name: it's an album about all kinds of experiences, an uplifting album about a universal feeling of soul. “My family emigrated to the United States from Sudan,’ Ahmed explains, “and I grew up around a lot of folks who weren't like me, as an outsider. That's influenced me and my music immensely, and ultimately, this entire project is my way of connecting with all kinds of people - what better way to start a conversation with someone than by telling them a story about yourself that they can relate to?’ [Limited edition yellow color vinyl pressing also available.]
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>Chuck Prophet – Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins CD/LP (Yep Roc)
Chuck Prophet describes his new disc
Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins as California noir. The state has always represented the Golden Dream, and it's the tension between romance and reality that lurks underneath the surface in all noir films and paperbacks, and that connects these songs. Doomed love, inconsolable loneliness, rags to riches to rags again, and fast-paced violence are always on the menu on the Left Coast. [Vinyl LP pressing housed in a gatefold sleeve with die-cut cover and collectible button.]
for the week of 03 FEBRUARY 2017
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>Surfer Blood – Snowdonia CD/LP+MP3 (Joyful Noise)
Surfer Blood is one of the best young indie-rock bands around, and their fourth album,
Snowdonia, is one of their most ambitious efforts. Overcoming adversity, the band has artistically grown and thrived. Following the departure of bassist Kevin Williams and guitarist Thomas Fekete (tragically lost to cancer in May), singer/guitarist John Paul Pitts and drummer Tyler Schwarz have rebuilt a talented lineup with guitarist Michael McCleary and bassist Lindsey Mills, all four alumni of the same high school in West Palm Beach, Florida. Pitts wrote specifically with the new band's talents in mind: “When I was writing I was thinking more about background vocals and harmonies. Lindsey and Michael are great singers, and I really wanted that to show in the songs. There are layers of vocals on almost every track, and the call-and-response parts between Lindsey and I are something totally new.” [Limited white color vinyl pressing also available.]
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>Sampha – Process CD/LP (Young Turks)
Sampha hails from Morden, south London and has spent the last six years generously dividing his musical talents across solo and collaborative work. Equally in demand as a songwriter, singer, producer and player, Sampha has been sampled by and produced for Drake (“The Motion” and “Too Much ft Sampha”), Kanye West (“Saint Pablo ft Sampha”), Beyonce (“Mine ft Drake”), Katy B (“Play ft Sampha”) and FKA twigs (
LP1 standout “Numbers”). He also remains a frequent collaborator in the Young Turks family and beyond; from remixing The xx and Chairlift to experimenting in sonics and structure as half of production duo Short Stories (alongside Koreless).
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>Homeshake – Fresh Air CD/LP+MP3 (Sinderlyn/Captured Tracks)
Homeshake is the pseudonym and solo project of Edmonton-born, Montreal-based musician Peter Sagar. “Former Mac DeMarco bandmate Peter Sagar introduced us to his Homeshake project with
In the Shower, then took us to the kitchen for a Midnight Snack. For his next offering, though, he's taking things outside with a new album titled Fresh Air. The 14-track finds Sagar taking his breezy R&B-infused sound in a ‘slightly funkier direction.’ A press release notes that the new record aims to evaporate negativity in the minds of listeners with its collection of ‘smokey, laid-back love songs and airy productions.’” -- Exclaim
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>Elbow – Little Fictions CD/LP+MP3 (Concord)
Little Fictions was recorded in Scotland and Manchester and sees the band collaborate with the string players of The Hallé Orchestra, the Hallé Ancoats Community Choir, members of London Contemporary Voices and session drummer Alex Reeves. “This album, according to Elbow’s guitarist Mark Potter, is ‘the sound of four people who love what they do, and each other’. If that seems a little too bromantic to be true, the proof is in the playing. Elbow are sometimes pigeonholed as prog-rockers, but the special ingredient in their recipe is something you won’t find in early Genesis: blokey warmth. It’s there in Garvey’s big-hearted lyrics, his beer-stained vocals, and the layers of music behind him, which tend to be intricate but emotional. When it all falls into place, an Elbow song is a thing of beauty, built to make arms sway. The producer, the band’s keyboard player Craig Potter, maintains their tunefulness while nudging it into the world of 2017, where rhythm is king. These ten songs require some patience. Only the opener, the stirring ‘Magnificent (She Said),’ grabs you right away, and the title track is a full eight minutes long. But, as so often, the effort is rewarded.” – Daily Mail [Limited color vinyl copies also available, along with standard black 180gm pressing.]
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