LUNA music essentials...

for the week of 25 MARCH 2016
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>Bob Mould – Patch The Sky CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
Patch The Sky follows Bob Mould's 2014 LP, Beauty And Ruin, and marks his 12th solo effort overall. Mould recorded the album with bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, both of whom played on Beauty And Ruin and 2012's Silver Age. Lead single “Voices In My Head” “finds the former Husker Dü and Sugar frontman flying through familiar fuzz-drenched territory. Though the track has an undeniable pop sheen, Mould balances it with sharp, introspective lyrics, ragged glory vocals and a decidedly fiery guitar solo.” – Rolling Stone
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>Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter CD/LP+MP3 (Third Man)
First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you’re hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. “Hands Of Time,” the opener on
Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer’s life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, “When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein’ broke . . .” From the honky tonk comeuppance of “About To Find Out,” to the rockabilly-charged “This Town Gets Around” to the weekend twang of “Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)”, Price adds fresh twists to classic Nashville country, with a sound that could’ve made hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of “Four Years Of Chances” and “Tennessee Song” push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio).
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>Open Mike Eagle + Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival CD/LP (Mello Music)
Open Mike Eagle dominated End of Year Lists with his last album
Dark Comedy -- making USA Today, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork's “Best Of” lists. He's back with producer Paul White -- who you may know from his work with Danny Brown, Homeboy Sandman, or Yasiin Bey (Mos Def). With their new album, Hella Personal Film Festival, features are sparse and pointed, one from the legendary Aesop Rock and the other from Future Islands frontman Helmock Ernst. “The rapper's collaborative album with British producer Paul White finds them both in fine form, with Eagle's peculiar sense of storytelling fitting perfectly with White's ’70s-inspired beats.” -- Pitchfork
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>White Denim – Stiff CD/LP (Downtown)
Three years on from their critically acclaimed “barbeque” record
Corsicana Lemonade, White Denim are back with their sixth record, Stiff. The album is a return to the Austin quartet's frenetic rock band roots, and is both a jubilant thrill-ride and joyous celebration of their past ten years.
For the most part, Stiff is an album crammed with adrenaline-fueled sing-alongs that show off the band's staple technical abilities. But it's also one that sees some new shades that they've developed along the way, too. Citing new wave and the razor-sharp pop punk of Buzzcocks as influences this time round, there's an addictive Elvis Costello circa
This Year's Model quality to “Real Deal Momma,” a tune that highlights the band's love for hummable synthesizers and curious, affecting oddities. Then there's the cow bell calm and backing vocals laden brilliance of “I'm The One (Big Big Fun),” that along with “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)” (a song guitarist/vocalist James Petralli says “wants to be on a collection of doo wop songs written in 2016”) shows a softer and more intricate side to the band while fully emphasizing Petralli's vocal excellence. (Limited HQ-180gm vinyl pressing in embossed jacket also available.)
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>Eric Bachmann – Eric Bachmann CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
Twenty-five years after Archers Of Loaf broke onto Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s vital indie scene, frontman Eric Bachmann is recording the rawest, most honest work of his career under his own name. The release of
Eric Bachmann marks the end of his post-Archers solo project Crooked Fingers, and the beginning of a candid new sound. “To me, the ’90s were for the Archers… The 2000s were for Crooked Fingers,” says Bachmann. “I feel like now—in 2015, 2016—it’s time to metamorphose. When you do this for a long time, you feel a strong pull to reinvent things from time to time, or at least to reconfigure them. There is resistance, of course, from many places to remain the same. But after a while the dam breaks, and the compulsion to change becomes overwhelming. You just have to do it or you sort of feel like you’re not being true to yourself.”
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>O’Brother – Endless Light CD/LP (Triple Crown)
“Though there are moments that
Endless Light, the third full-length from noise revelers O'Brother, plays out like a plodding lullaby (see the very Thrice-esque ‘Bloodlines’), it possesses the ability to be downright menacing (‘I Am (Become Death’). At its core, Endless Light is a sprawling landscape rife with many peaks and valleys, replete with jangly guitars and jilted harmonies; it’s hazy, subdued and mountainous (‘Your Move,’ ‘Time Is A Length Of Rope’), substantial, sparse and dissonant (‘Deconstruct,’ ‘Burn’). O’Brother channels Muse on ‘Complicated End Times,’ complete with frontman Tanner Merritt playing the role of Matt Bellamy fairly well, while the near 8-minute closing entry ‘Realm Of The Physical’ fittingly devolves into nothing more than ambient waves of atmospheric sound, finishing out Endless Light much in the same as your sleep sound machine lulls you to sleep at night.” – Examiner
for the week of 11 MARCH 2016
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>Liz Janes - Slow City CASSETTE w/DL (Flannelgraph)
Liz is back with a new full-length (her first in nearly six years) and it features local stalwarts/super players Burd Phillips, Clinton Hughey, and Dan Fahrner and a clutch of killer songs! See her live, 11 March—at The Hi Fi!
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>Kendrick Lamar – untitled. unmastered. CD (Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Records)
Kendrick Lamar’s surprise new release features studio versions of the untitled songs he performed on
The Colbert Report, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the most recent performance at the 58th annual Grammy Awards show. (Vinyl edition TBA.) “Back when he was just dropping these untitled songs on TV performances, one narrative held that Kendrick Lamar reigned so supremely that he could just let these sublime tracks lift into the ether without putting them on an album. But while that perspective honored his genius, it ignored King Kendrick’s intentionality. Elsewhere, there have been some takes connecting the surprise release of untitled unmastered. to The Life Of Pablo, but again, there’s a significant difference between Kanye’s tinkering and K-Dot’s surprise bit of context. Even a patch of unfinished demos gives extra clarity to Lamar’s masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly and his career as a whole. Only King Kendrick's demos could sound this intentional and powerful.” – Consequence Of Sound
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>Lucius – Good-Grief CD/LP (Mom + Pop)
“Indie folk pop outfit Lucius have parlayed the success of their 2013 album
Wildewoman into some wildly impressive opportunities. From collaborating with the likes of Tweedy and David Byrne, to becoming such a part of the Newport Folk Festival family that they were asked to back up Roger Waters during this year’s incredible headlining performance, the last two years have been the best in the group’s career. [New album] Good Grief sees the singer-songwriter duo of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig exploring the emotions of ‘loneliness, sadness and exhaustion alongside excitement, fulfillment and some of the most joyful moments in our lives’ that they experienced while touring behind their last record.” – Consequence Of Sound
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>The Wild Feathers – Lonely Is A Lifetime CD/LP (WB)
“Nashville-based band The Wild Feathers is rolling out all the punches with their sophomore album,
Lonely Is A Lifetime. Half-written in the legendary Muscle Shoals style and half in a vibrant Barcelona style, this multi-faceted record ranges from the spacey to the fun, the slow, and the race-y. Starting off with an extra-terrestrial sounding screech, the opening track ‘Overnight’ booms into a catchy and vibrant riff with a relatable chorus that anyone would love. Similar tracks like ‘Happy Again,’ and ‘On My Way,’ echo that uplifting and vivacious attitude.” – The Mass Media [UMass]
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>Brian Fallon – Painkillers CD/LP (Island)
Debut solo album from The Gaslight Anthem frontman. Produced by studio superstar Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Frank Turner, Keith Urban), richly textured songs like “Long Drives” and the addictive title track encompass the great rush and flow of American music, fusing sonic hits of heartland country and folk with hardcore punk energy and classic rock ‘n’ roll swagger.
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>Pete Yorn – ArrangingTime CD/LP+MP3 (Capitol)
Six years after his last full length, New Jersey singer/songwriter Pete Yorn returns with his sixth album,
ArrangingTime. In a lengthy Facebook post about the record, Yorn, who’s collaborated with the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Frank Black in recent years, explained how he wanted to get back to his “original style of creating and recording”. “…. After branching out creatively for a few projects, I felt I had come full circle and once again found myself really excited to work in my original style of creating and recording. This led me back to my old friend R. Walt Vincent who I had made my first two records with. It was powerful to reconnect with Walt and record on the fly, just coming up with parts and ideas as inspiration hit, and I found that we were creating fresh new material that felt like a furthering of the conversation we had started back in 2001.”
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>Shooter Jennings – Countach (For Giorgio) CD/LP (Black Country Rock)
Shooter Jennings returns with his seventh studio album. In 2014 Shooter released
Don't Wait Up (For George), an EP paying tribute to George Jones, and at the same time announced Countach, his album comprised of songs composed or inspired by production pioneer Giorgio Moroder. But this is no tribute album. Countach is a sound-collage-style journey through the ‘80s and ‘90s culture, innovative songwriting, genre bending, fiddle-meets-synthesizer soundscapes and a shrine to pioneers of books, bytes and beats. The album features guest appearances from modern folk songstress Brandi Carlile, Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson, country-rock pioneer Steve Young and even Lord British himself, computer game leviathan Richard Garriott. (Limited pink vinyl edition was released February 26.
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>Little Green Cars – Ephemera CD (Glassnote)
Ephemera was completed in 2015, its theme became clear. A dozen exquisitely-crafted, exceptionally-sung, sumptuously-produced songs shimmered with the myriad of emotions the band had been through – restlessness, regret, love, heartbreak, hope and acceptance among them. Vivid lines of lyrics began to stand out. You won't have your heart tugged harder this year than when Stevie depicts the disintegration of his relationship on “You Vs Me.” The death of Adam's dad inspired the almost unbearably beautiful “Brother” – written by Adam, sung sensationally by Faye. The death of Stevie's grandmother gave birth to “The Garden Of Death,” a number with breathtaking harmonies in which the singer seeks beauty in the afterlife. Vinyl version due April 15
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>Jeff Buckley – You And I CD/2xLP (Sony Legacy)
Jeff Buckley’s first recording sessions in 1993 in NYC were largely an informal exercise to acclimate the 27-year-old with a recording studio. Recently discovered in the Sony Music archives during the research for the 20th anniversary edition of Buckley's
Grace album, the performances on You And I are an intimate portrait of the artist performing a variety of cover songs and original music expressing a range of emotion channeled through his singular sensibility.
for the week of 04 MARCH 2016
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>M. Ward - More Rain (Translucent Red Vinyl) LP/CD
M. Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five LPs with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters of Folk. In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster as well as his own musical projects.
More Rain, Ward’s eighth solo affair, finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012’s A Wasteland Companion. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, More Rain finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ. The result is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Ward’s reach and satisfy longtime fans.
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>Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros CD/LP (RCA)
“Ray LaMontagne scored a Grammy for 2010’s
God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise while his follow-up, 2014’s Supernova, topped Billboard’s rock charts. But the soft-spoken singer-songwriter isn’t feeling any pressure for his sixth LP. ‘I don’t write in any intentional way,’ he says. ‘I just let things happen. I don’t force anything.’ A lot happened last February when LaMontagne joined My Morning Jacket’s mastermind frontman Jim James at La La Land studio in Louisville, Ky. ‘It was probably the best experience I’ve had in the studio, ever,’ LaMontagne says of collaborating with his longtime friend. ‘It was such a generous, kind, creative, playful atmosphere.’ Those sessions resulted in the eight sprawling meditations make up the rocker’s new album. Says LaMontagne: ‘It was about creating a record that I’d want to listen to if I were in the record store discovering albums. I don’t write singles. I don’t write pop songs. I never have. I’m not that kind of songwriter, and I don’t aspire to be. I let whatever creative force just tell me what to do.’” – Entertainment Weekly
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>Loretta Lynn – Full Circle CD/LP (Sony Legacy)
Full Circle is the first new studio album in over ten years from Loretta Lynn. Produced by Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash, and recorded at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN, Full Circle takes listeners on a journey through Loretta's musical story, from the Appalachian folk songs and gospel music she learned as a child, to new interpretations of her classic hits and country standards, to songs newly-written for the project. Highlights include “Lay Me Down,” a duet with Willie Nelson; “Everything It Takes,” featuring guest vocals from Elvis Costello; “Whispering Sea,” a new version of the first song Loretta ever wrote; and soulful new renditions of some of Lynn's classic tunes, including a rousing renditions of “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” and “Fist City.”
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>Sounds Of Ceres - Nostalgia For Infinity CD/LP (Joyful Noise)
“Sound Of Ceres is a collaboration between Karen and Ryan Hover of Candy Claws, Apples In Stereo members Robert Schneider, Ben Phelan, and John Ferguson, and The Drums member Jacob Graham. This collaboration resulted in a concise, well balanced, and refreshing adaptation of many of the Hovers’ previous ideas. Combining Candy Claws’ dream pop elements with the vintage psychedelic motifs utilized by the Apples In Stereo,
Nostalgia For Infinity introduces an extraterrestrial element to this supergroup’s sound through spacey synths like those in ‘Dagger Only Run.’ Still, the incorporation of components like the bossa nova-esque beats on ‘Ember Age’ and vinyl-distorted wind instrument samples used throughout the album allow Nostalgia For Infinity to maintain its distinct sense of humanity.” – Stereogum
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>Poliça – United Crushers CD/LP (Mom + Pop Music)
“The Minneapolis trio Poliça make cavernous, atmospheric synthpop…
United Crushers, their third album, has a dark and sleek palette, both musically and lyrically, and it sometimes turns political.” -- Stereogum
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>Heron Oblivion – Heron Oblivion CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
Members of this new San Francisco combo have put in time in both raging and relatively tranquil psychedelic sound units—this is the premise and the synergy behind this unique album. On the West Coast side, Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmonson were together in Comets On Fire, who spent a large chunk of the mid-2000s playing unbridled, blistering rock worldwide, fueled by a steady diet of amphetaminized Crazy Horse, High Rise, MC5, Chrome, and Fushitsusha. Noel did time afterwards with Sic Alps and Six Organs of Admittance, while Miller settled into Howlin' Rain and Feral Ohms. Charlie Saufley resided at the psychedelic pop fringes with his band Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound (kindred spirits to Comets to be sure). He was joined in California by Meg Baird, a leading light in the modern psych-folk canon thanks to her work in Philadelphia’s Espers and as a solo artist (she is also the original drummer for Philly post-hardcore degenerates Watery Love). Three shades of light run through Heron Oblivion: Baird's rich, beautiful vocal approach, the locked-horns bass and drums of her and Miller's streamlined-but-motorik rhythm section, and a twin guitar tapestry that both aligns with the dreaminess of the songs and crackles out of containment to froth over the rim, punctuating Opal/Fairport moves with dramatic, explosive fuzz solos.
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>Låpsley – Long Way Home CD/LP (XL)
Over the course of 2015, fast-emerging 19-year-old singer, songwriter and producer Holly ‘Låpsley’ Fletcher has become one of the most hotly tipped new UK artists around the globe with Complex calling her “one of the most promising new artists out there” and Stereogum describing her as “Adele crossed with the xx.” Through beautifully crafted songs such as “Hurt Me,” “Station” and “Falling Short,” the Liverpool, England-raised artist has created a unique sonic identity, mixing sparse, minimal electronic production with gorgeous, emotive songwriting.
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>La Sera – Music For Listening To Music To CD/LP+MP3 (Polyvinyl)
La Sera’s – fronted by former Vivian Girl Katy Goodman -- fourth album was
produced by Ryan Adams and recorded at his Pax-Am studios in Los Angeles. According to Adams, his work with Goodman and company in the studio eventually inspired his Taylor Swift cover album 1989. “If it wasn't for [Music For Listening To Music To], the 1989 record would have never happened,” he told Rolling Stone. “The parallels between the melancholy guitar work on Adams’ 1989 and Music For Listening are easily apparent, but La Sera intertwines the downcast tones with bright, twangy guitars reminiscent of ’60s pop-rock. Katy Goodman’s vocals are melodic and catchy, gently cutting through the layers of guitar and subdued drums. Consider it the joyous flip side to Adams’ gloomy Swift covers” – Stereogum. (Limited white vinyl pressing also available.)
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>Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive CD/LP+MP3 (Ribbon Music)
A Man Alive is Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s fourth album. It is another amazing sonic next step for the band following up on the success of We The Common (2013), which was largely inspired by Thao’s volunteer work with the California Coalition for Women’s Prisoners, and marks an evolution in both subject matter and sound. Thao says: “I wanted A Man Alive to be beat- and bass-driven – rather than guitar-based – expanding upon the hip-hop influences of the previous record. A Man Alive is more instrumental, more riff- and loop-centric, and has more manipulated sounds.” The Get Down Stay Down are at their best on this record, and Thao herself experimented with programming beats for several tracks complementing the live drums played on every song.
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>Prince Rama – Xtreme Now CD/LP+MP3 (Paw Tracks)
“The story behind Prince Rama’s latest album reads like a Stefan skit on
Saturday Night Live. You can almost hear him giving the recap, ‘This new Prince Rama album has everything. Near death experiences, Viking ruins, extreme sports, and parachutes that open up to reveal a picture of the Mona Lisa.’ Yet this isn’t Stefan’s faux-underground New York; these are Prince Rama’s real-life visions. The story starts while the two sisters were living on a remote island in Estonia. While exploring an ancient viking ruin, Taraka Larson had a near death experience that left her with time-schizophrenia. This condition gave her the sensation of existing in multiple timelines simultaneously, feeling like she was in both the medieval ages and 2067. What she saw was a future filled with energy drink sponsored museums and extreme sports being upheld as art. Recognizing the divide between modern music and these death-defying feats, it was then that she and her sister Nimai began work on their world’s first extreme sports genre album, Xtreme Now.” – Consequence Of Sound
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>Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – The Rarity Of Experience 2xCD (No Quarter)
After a year of touring, The Solar Motel Band returned to the studio last spring with Jeff Ziegler (War On Drugs, Kurt Vile) to put to tape the massive and immense
The Rarity of Experience. This double album (officially The Rarity Of Experience Part I & II) sees Forsyth and his band stretching out their sound beyond anywhere they've gone before, touching on all corners of progressive, psychedelic and post-rock.
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>Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are CD/LP (Barsuk)
Nada Surf's eighth record,
You Know Who You Are, marks the band's first as an official quartet with the core unit -- singer/ songwriter/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot -- joined by indie rock gunslinger Doug Gillard on second guitar. “‘Don't get me started about how hard it is to start or stay on track,’ Matthew Caws, singer-guitarist of Nada Surf, sings in ‘Cold To See Clear’ — one of the many anthems that grace the group's eighth album, You Know Who You Are. Not that Caws and crew seem to have any problem staying on track themselves. The stalwart power-pop band has weathered the stormy fortunes of the music industry since making a splash with its 1996 hit ‘Popular.’ Twenty years later, Nada Surf is a one-hit wonder to some and a cult act to others. Wearing the band's hard-earned survival like a merit badge, Caws infuses ‘Victory's Yours’ with a jangly, Tom Petty-esque sense of euphoria. [This is also] Nada Surf's first album with new guitarist and former Guided By Voices member Doug Gillard, and the new, four-piece lineup fits the band beautifully.” – NPR
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>Violent Femmes – We Can Do Anything CD/LP+MP3 (PIAS America)
“After 16 years, Violent Femmes' singer and guitarist Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie have put aside their creative differences and made a full-length album,
We Can Do Anything. It features the influential Milwaukee-born folk punk band in its finest form since — well, the beginning. he album was produced by Jeff Hamilton, a Milwaukee native and touring multi-instrumentalist with the band. Despite reportedly having hundreds of songs to pull from Gano's archives, Hamilton smartly kept the album to 10 tracks, totaling 31 minutes of music. It was largely recorded with the full band performing together and with minimal post-production touches. The result is a livewire listen that doesn't lag for a second. It's reminiscent of the scruffy sound from its breakthrough self-titled album three decades back. On this long overdue album at least, the Femmes do give it their all” – The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Limited translucent gold color vinyl with bonus track also available.)