LUNA music essentials...

for the week of 29 APRIL 2016
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>Brian Eno – The Ship CD/2xLP+MP3 (Warp)
The Ship is Brian Eno's first solo record since 2012's Grammy-nominated Lux. Originally conceived from experiments with three dimensional recording techniques and formed in two, interconnected parts, The Ship is almost as much musical novel as traditional album. Eno brings together beautiful songs, minimalist ambience, physical electronics, omniscient narratives and technical innovation into a single, cinematic suite. [Both CD and vinyl are available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe CD is packaged in a cloth bound case with a spot gloss cover and four art cards, while the Deluxe vinyl is a limited transparent edition.]
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>The Jayhawks – Paging Mr. Proust CD/LP (Sham)
Paging Mr. Proust features the long-time core of the Jayhawks: Gary Louris (lead vox/guitars), Marc Perlman (bass), Tim O’Reagan (drums/vox), and Karen Grotberg (keyboards/vox). The album was co-produced by Louris, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket) and recorded at Martine’s Flora Recording & Playback in Portland, OR. From the jangle of album opener “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces” to the trademark harmonies of “Isabel’s Daughter” to the more pensive “Lover Of The Sun”, it is clear that The Jayhawks’ power remains undiminished from their initial national impact, 1992’s Hollywood Town Hall. Other tracks such as the sludgy rocker “Lost The Summer”, the kraut-rock groove of “Ace” and the taut minimalism of “Comeback Kids” bring new sounds to the palette. “Leaving The Monsters Behind” features a trademark vocal turn special guest Mike Mills. “We worked harder in pre-production than any previous Jayhawks record,” says Louris, having demoed most of the songs in his home studio before extensive workshopping with the band, and eventually recording in the hospitable confines of Martine’s studio.
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>King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity CD/LP+MP3 (ATO)
Coming only six months after the softer, folksy
Paper Mache Dream Balloon, Nonagon Infinity finds King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard returning to form on this relentless psychedelic shred fest. “King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard have released four albums in less than two years; that lack of downtime might have resulted in an absence of transformative, life-altering experiences to insert into their lyrics, but these Australian psych-rock kooks have always been more about melody, frenzy and impact rather than compelling storytelling. There is a sense of urgency to this latest offering, as if last year’s fey and breezy LP Paper Mâché Dream Balloon acted as a process of blissed-out creative rehab. The rusty screech of ‘Robot Stop’ kickstarts the record before ‘Gamma Knife’ careens down a midnight motorway on a flame-streaked motorbike. ‘People Vultures’ is a satanic summoning, ‘Invisible Face’ indulges a gorgeously groovy wig-out, and a gnarly guitar rains down on the metal-spirited ‘Road Train,’ crashing this tight-knit chaos wagon of sound for good. Until somewhere around mid-August, anyway” – The Guardian. [Limited marble black/green vinyl also available.]
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>Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid CD/2xLP+MP3 (Rhymesayers)
On his first new album since 2012’s
Skelethon, Aesop continues finding new ways to improve on the skills that have made him one of the kings of indie hip-hop. His creative process now includes a newfound willingness to open up about his personal life, going deep on topics like depression, his sometimes rocky relationship with his family, and the turbulent handful of years that culminated in Aesop leaving his adopted home of San Francisco to live in a barn out in the woods, where he recorded the foundations of The Impossible Kid. There’s also moments of levity though, as he taps into the funny side of his persona that he suppressed during the period where being taken as a serious lyricist was more of a priority. [Limited pink/green neon vinyl in custom die cut jacket also available.]
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>Kyle Craft – Dolls Of Highland CD/2xLP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
Kyle Craft grew up in a tiny Louisiana town on the banks of the Mississippi, where he spent most of his time catching alligators and rattlesnakes instead of playing football or picking up the guitar. He’s not the product of a musical family, and bands never came through town. It was only a chance trip to K-Mart that gave him his first album, a David Bowie hits compilation that helped inspire him eventually to channel his innate feral energy into songwriting and rock and roll. That self-made talent drives every note of
Dolls Of Highland, Craft’s exhilarating, fearless solo debut. “Like many artists from the South, Craft has a conflicted relationship with the region's cultural duality, a topic he tackles on [Dolls Of Highland’s] ‘Lady Of The Ark.’ Shrouded in guitars and organ, he caustically wails, ‘Swing low, low sweet heathen / Swing for the wretch and the rock and roll kid,’ a line he says he wrote in response to the ‘shame, shame thing that 'church folk' tend to do so often,’ and which doesn't sit well with Craft. ‘Roam this earth repeat it / All this sin until this wicked world makes sense in time,’ he defiantly growls near the song's end. Craft's roaming days may be done for now, but ‘Lady Of The Ark’ shows his music as wild-eyed and restless.” – NPR
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>Rogue Wave – Delusions Of Grand Fur CD (Easy Sound)
Delusions Of Grand Fur marks the sixth album from Rogue Wave and is their first since 2013’s Nightingale Floors. Longtime bandmates Zach Rogue & Pat Spurgeon recorded and produced the album on their own at their home studio. Instead of recording demo versions that would evolve into a song, the band wrote and recorded these demo’s as the songs. The album is easily Rogue Wave’s least predictable, where ambient synth tones, mottled textures, and electronic beats stand in for the breezy, acoustic gems fans have long come to expect. Vinyl edition due May 13.
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>Egyptian Lover – 1983-1988 CD/4xLP (Stones Throw)
Los Angeles native Egyptian Lover (Greg Broussard) is recognized as a pioneer of West Coast hip-hop, helping bring electro rap to the masses in the early '80s and influencing DJs and MCs the world over in his wake. The first West Coast rapper/producer to achieve international success, Egyptian Lover paved the way for early West Coast hip-hop pioneers like Dr. Dre and the World Class Wrecking Crew, N.W.A., Ice T, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, King Tee & DJ Pooh among others. In the mid '80s, L.A. was becoming the electro rap capital and Egyptian Lover was at the forefront of this new West Coast rap sound, inventing the innovative sound of combining up-tempo, synth-heavy electro beats with rap vocals. His influence cannot be overstated – not only did he change the face of West Coast hip-hop, but also greatly influenced electronic, techno, R&B and pop music to this day.
for the week of 08 APRIL 2016
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>BEN WATT - FEVER DREAM CD/LP+MP3 (Unmade Road, Ltd.)
In 2014 Ben Watt returned to his roots as a solo singer and songwriter with 'Hendra,' his second solo album – after sixteen years and nine albums as songwriter-performer-producer with Tracey Thorn in best-selling duo Everything But The Girl, and a further ten years at the helm of his award-winning electronic label Buzzin’ Fly.
Ben's new, self-produced solo album, 'Fever Dream,' takes 'Hendra'’s sonic template of open-tuned folk-jazz, distorted string-bent rock, and soulful rumination, and adds a fresh grainy intensity - along with the the calibre of lyrics we've come to expect from Watt; direct, detailed, unflinching, and honest.
Working, again, with Bernard Butler and a veritable Wrecking Crew of a rhythm section: Martin Ditcham and Rex Horan - 'Fever Dream,' also features guest vocal cameos from Boston’s gothic-dream-folkie Marissa Nadler and Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor.
M.C. Taylor had this to say about 'Fever Dream': "I am honored to play a small part on the new album by Ben Watt. It's a truly gorgeous record - badass and moving at a time when people are starving for something real."
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>The Lumineers – Cleopatra CD/LP (Dualtone)
“It’s been a lingering 4 years, but Denver natives The Lumineers have finally resurfaced with new material, their highly anticipated sophomore release,
Cleopatra. And it’s the home of 11 striking tracks, from delicate narratives, to haunting poems of songs; you’re truly in for a touching ride. Aptly named title track ‘Cleopatra’ is the perfect taste of the material that makes up this new LP, with it’s slow building beat, infectious chorus and an intriguing tale, each of its elements plays a role in tracks to come. Take the incredibly smooth, and even catchier, ‘Ophelia,’ crooning, ‘Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood. / Ophelia, heaven help a food who falls in love.’ And then, stripping back the padding, ‘Gun Song,’ ‘Angela’ and ‘Sick In The Head’ feature a poem-like quality to them, with nothing but a simplistic combination of melody and beat as the backing for the vocals. While these don’t necessarily make an immediate impact like some of the higher tempo tunes, their lyrical quality more than makes up for it once you delve deeper. The entire album is truly a stunning journey.” – Renowned For Sound
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>M83 – Junk CD/2xLP (Mute)
Junk, M83 has succeeded in making what Anthony Gonzalez called “an organized mess -- a collection of songs that aren’t made to live with each other, yet somehow work together. From album opener “Do It Try It,” a fractured yet catchy mélange of old-school house music pianos and pop-art bubblegum hooks worthy of ABBA, to “Moon Crystal,” an instrumental whose mutant retro-futurist grooves evoke Genesis doing a prog-disco remix of The Love Boat theme, to the smooth new wave-meets-electro funk workout “Time Wind” (featuring vocals by Beck) to “Go!,” an exultant synth-pop charmer featuring vocals from new M83 collaborator Mai Lan and guitar solo from legendary shredder, Steve Vai, one thing is perfectly clear: “Every time I make a M83 album, I’m trying to do it on my own terms – and it’s the same for this one,” Gonzalez says. “Whatever I do, whatever influences I have, it ends up sounding like me. As a musician, I’m just trying to take you somewhere else, beyond your world.”
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>Parquet Courts – Human Performance CD/LP (Rough Trade)
“New York jitter-rock kings Parquet Courts have been teasing a new album called
Human Performance with a Brooklyn mural, and they’ve been playing new songs live. They took a year recording it, and according to singer/guitarist Austin Brown, it tackles circa-now anxieties: ‘The unavoidable noise of NYC that can be maddening, the kind of the impossible struggle against clutter, whether it’s physical or mental or social.’ First single ‘Dust’ is a fierce, propulsive rocker, a sort of garage-punk take on krautrock.” -- Stereogum
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>Tim Hecker – Love Streams CD/2xLP (4AD)
Love Streams takes its cues from the avant-classical orchestration and extreme electronic processing of his previous full-length, 2013’s Virgins, but shaped into more melancholic, ultraviolet hues. Inspired by notions of 15th century choral scores (particularly those by Josquin des Prez), transposed to an artificial intelligence-era language of digital resonance and bright synths, the album was assembled gradually, with layers of studio-tracked keyboards, choir and woodwinds being woven into the mix, then molded and disfigured through complex programming. Like hearing some ancient strain of sacred music corrupted by encryption, Hecker admits to thinking about ideas like “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” and the “transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune,” during its creation.
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>Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals – Call It What It Is CD/LP+MP3 (Stax/Concord Music Group)
“On his new album, Ben Harper reflects on police brutality, ageing, and a pink balloon.
Call It What It Is is unpredictable, lacking much cohesion, weird—and brilliant. It was recorded over the course of a year, with sessions sometimes happening months apart. I theorized to Harper that the record’s melodic, lyrical, and thematic inconsistency was related to the intervals between sessions, and he didn’t disagree. “Oftentimes what you are doing and what you think you are doing aren’t the same thing,” he said. He needed time in between sessions to let the recordings settle, to give himself some critical distance. He ended up with an album that tacks between the dark—images of the literal end of the world—and the light, with a girl carried aloft by a pink balloon. Call It What It Is is an exercise in getting jerked around; it’s an 11-track tilt-a-whirl.” – The Atlantic
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>Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack CD/LP (Atlantic)
Painting Of A Panic Attack is certainly more polished than Frightened Rabbit’s first album, but it’s remarkable how many variables remain constant. Despite the line-up changes, shifts in location and personal life traumas that have been played out on successive records over the past decade, the core and essence of the band remain the same, and it’s still as brilliant as it has ever been.
Just as it was impossible not to be seduced by the lyrics Scott Hutchison penned ten years ago, so it remains… the decision to democratize the songwriting process with their last record has opened up new channels of melody to explore: the celestial chorus lines of ‘Woke Up Hurting’ and ‘Little Drum’ on this new LP are among those moments of pure magic an artist might hope to unearth once in a lifetime. Without fail, Frightened Rabbit dig a few out for every new release.” – The Skinny
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>Soundtrack – Everybody Wants Some! Music From The Motion Picture CD/Cassette (WB)
The official soundtrack curated by the film's director Richard Linklater, featuring classic songs from Van Halen, The Cars, The Knack, and many more. Quote from Linklater: “The
Everybody Wants Some soundtrack tries to capture the amazing diversity of what was on the table musically at that time. So many artists were at the top of their game, and it seemed like a lot of popular genres were viable. Metal and R&B were as big as ever, disco was still hanging in there (although it would be ‘dead' within a year or so), and, thanks to the movie Urban Cowboy, country was suddenly cool in places it hadn't been before. Even more exciting was the immediacy of punk and new wave, and the first examples of this thing you'd eventually know as hip-hop. Over the years some of this has been parodied and made to look ridiculous, but this movie is asking you to experience it as if for the first time -- from those opening drum beats of ‘My Sharona' to the utter newness of ‘Rapper's Delight.’”
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>Deftones – Gore CD/2xLP (Reprise/WB)
“The road to the release of Deftones’ eighth full-length album
Gore has been a rocky one as far as the press is concerned. There were missed release dates thanks to issues with mixing. And of course, there was the elephant in the room: the negative comments guitarist Stephen Carpenter made about his initial lack of interest in taking part in the writing sessions. A solid listen to Gore is all it takes to assure you that Carpenter did indeed show up on the effort. His crushing input populates a number of the included songs, and not just here and there. He may be somewhat underutilized to a small degree, but he certainly makes his presence felt. What stands out most about Gore though isn’t his aggression or frontman Chino Moreno‘s melancholic shades of new wave and sparkling alt rock. No, it’s the spacious room to breathe and fine attention paid to the smaller details in each song. As with any Deftones release, Gore isn’t an album that you’ll easily digest. It’s something you’ll likely be dissecting and finding new puzzle pieces for with each listen for weeks to come. A brave display of just how far this band have come since their nu metal days and definitive proof that the creative flame they share is still burning bright” – The PRP. [Limited copies pressed on 140gm white vinyl with two-pocket gatefold jacket and lyric sheet insert.]
for the week of 01 APRIL 2016
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>EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY - The Wilderness (Black Vinyl OR Transparent Red and Opaque White Vinyl) 2-LP Set
Out 01 April 2016...
'The Wilderness' is Explosions In The Sky's sixth album, and first non-soundtrack release since 2011's 'Take Care, Take Care, Take Care'. True to its title, 'The Wilderness' explores the infinite unknown, utilizing several of the band's own definitions of "space" (outer space, mental space, physical geography of space) as compositional tools. The band uses their gift for dynamics and texture in new and unique ways - rather than intuitively fill those empty spaces, they shine a light into them to illuminate all the colors of the dark. From the electronic textures of the opening track to the ambient dissolve of closer "Landing Cliffs," 'The Wilderness' is an aggressively modern and forward-thinking work—one that wouldn't seem the slightest bit out of place on a shelf between original pressings of 'Meddle' and 'Obscured By Clouds'.
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>Weezer – Weezer (White Album) CD/LP+MP3 (Crush Music)
Rivers Cuomo described Weezer’s tenth album as a “beach album,” based on his experiences “hanging around the Westside of Los Angeles, with people in Venice and Santa Monica, the beach, the Hare Krishnas, the Sikh on roller blades with the guitar,
girls on Tinder within a 4-mile radius, seeing other bands, the kids from La Sera.” Sonically, Cuomo credited The Beach Boys as a major influence. The album's producer, Jake Sinclair, was also “determined to return Weezer to their '90s glory,” combining the “brashness and unpredictability of Pinkerton with the summer Beach Boys grunge pop of the Blue Album.”
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>Charles Bradley – Changes CD/LP (Dunham/Daptone)
Soul singer Charles Bradleys star has been on the rise since the release of his widely praised 2011 debut album
No Time For Dreaming, and his ascent has continued long after the release of his triumphant second album, 2013s Victim Of Love. Dubbed ‘The Screaming Eagle Of Soul,’ the singer is proud to present his third album Changes, which is named for his popular, “smoldering” (SPIN) cover of the Black Sabbath track. “Bradley's third album, Changes, continues in the general path of his previous work, with some key alterations. The rhythms inch closer to modernity, and the material suggests Bradley and his songwriting partners in the Menahan Street Band recognize there's a limit to how many visits he can make to the well of autobiographical woe. The lyrics are a touch more upbeat — there are songs celebrating the redeeming power of love alongside ones that chronicle devastation. The music pulses with 2016 energy, achieving an appropriate, and conceptually clever, balance of vintage and modern. It's the perfect platform for a singer determined to make up for lost time, and Bradley seizes it, transforming the trappings of classic soul into music that's thrillingly, undeniably alive.” – NPR
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>Andrew Bird – Are You Serious CD/LP+7”+MP3/LP+7”+10”+MP3 (Loma Vista)
“American singer-songwriter, violinist and professional whistler, Andrew Bird, has released his 10th studio album,
Are You Serious. [The album] features collaborations from singer/songwriter and classical pianist, Fiona Apple, and Blake Mills on guitar who has previously collaborated with the likes of Conor Oberst and Lana Del Rey. Are You Serious gets off to a steady start: the first track, ‘Capsized’, is a slightly more ‘indie-rock’ than the usual ‘indie-folk’ songs of Bird that sums up just how experimental Andrew Bird can be with his instruments. ‘Capsized’ is a perfect example of him ‘manipulating’ the violin to get a metallic sound that’s similar to an electric guitar. Overall, Are You Serious is an album of opposites that somehow seem to attract, this creates a strong mix of different songs that fit together flawlessly, although it feels like they shouldn’t” – Hit The Floor. [Available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe edition includes “Shoulder Mountain” and “Pulaski,” two tracks that don't appear on the standard version (Deluxe color vinyl edition adds these tracks as a bonus 7”). Additionally, a Deluxe Box Set is available, containing the LP, 7”, and the exclusive Are We Not Burning? The Devolution Of Capsized 10”, which features four previously-unheard tracks (plus a “Sound City version” of “Capsized”). The box set also includes a 64-page book with artwork for each song on the album.]
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>The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect CD/LP+MP3/LP+7”+MP3 (Domino)
Everything You’ve Come To Expect finds The Last Shadow Puppets’ Alex Turner and Miles Kane reunited with James Ford (production and drums) and Owen Pallett (string arrangements) and joined by Zachary Dawes (Mini Mansions) on bass. The album is a more open and expansive work than its predecessor, wearing its influences less obviously on its sleeve – by turns the album is soaring, snarling and breathlessly seductive. “Unlike their debut, Everything You’ve Come To Expect isn’t fixated on the ’60s baroque-pop of Scott Walker and David Axelrod, although a different vibe and era – ’70s soft-rock and blue-eyed soul – does prevail in places. The standout moments tend to be the softer, sweeter ones, with Turner putting that sardonic croon to good use on ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ and the surreal ‘The Dream Synopsis’, while the honeyed soul-pop of ‘Miracle Aligner’ and ‘The Element Of Surprise’ sound custom-made for sunset cruises along the Pacific Coast Highway” – NME. [CD and vinyl both available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe CD features hard-book-style packaging with a 40-page booklet, while the Deluxe vinyl edition is HQ-180gm, packaged in a board-mounted gatefold sleeve with a 32-page booklet and a translucent yellow 7” featuring the bonus track “The Bourne Identity.”]
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>Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye CD/LP+MP3 (Mute)
Amen & Goodbye is the fourth album by Brooklyn’s Yeasayer. It follows up their 2012 album Fragrant World but eschews its penchant for all things digital. The lead single, I am Chemistry features vocals from Suzzy Roche of legendary folkies, The Roches. The band recorded the album to tape, it was then given some studio sparkle by Beck drummer Joey Waronker. Amen & Goodbye is unlike any of their previous work but still retains the sounds the band are known for. Album track “Gerson's Whistle” “flows so well that the time that passes doesn't affect you. The driving beat behind the melodic over- and undertones will have you zoning out and bouncing your head. It's catchy too. You really get a sense that Yeasayer has plenty of crossover potential, but they're probably past that point of their career. ‘Gerson's Whistle’ is one of the most enjoyable songs I've heard in 2016, and it could hold that place in my mind for the remainder of the year.” – Music Times
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>Pet Shop Boys – Super CD/LP (x2)
“The Pet Shop Boys, one of the most prolific acts in electronic pop, return yet again with their Stuart Price-helmed 13th studio album
Super. (Fun fact: The duo’s very first record, Please, came out in March of 1986 — almost exactly 30 years ago.) The new album, according to PSB, is meant to evoke the ‘London club scene of the early ’90s,’ which makes lead single ‘The Pop Kids’ a suitably nostalgic way to formally kick off the campaign. ‘Remember those days, the early ’90s?’ Neil declares above a dreamy throwback ’90s club pulsations while wistfully reminiscing about those halcyon days at university. ‘They called us the pop kids ’cause we loved the pop hits / And quoted the best bits, so we were the pop kids / I loved you…’ PSB have always championed an unapologetic love of disco music and pop hits, and this thumping tune is no exception: ‘We were young, but imagined we were so sophisticated / Telling everyone we knew that rock was overrated,’ Neil sings. It’s like a lyrical nod to ‘Paninaro’ (‘I don’t like rockabilly or rock ‘n’ roll particularly’) and ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ (‘She’s made you some kind of laughing stock / Because you dance to disco and you don’t like rock.’) Hey, some themes are forever.” – Pop Crush
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>The Heavy – Hurt & The Merciless CD/LP+MP3 (Bad Son)
Hurt & The Merciless marks a musical culmination for The Heavy, a mesmerizing blend of their trademark rock ‘n’ roll classicism and funk and soul grooves, with added sonic experimentation. Self-produced, the band's main aim when recording was to capture the powerful energy of their live show—that life-affirming spark of rock ‘n’ roll when anything feels possible. The 12 track album features lead single “Since You Been Gone,” with its lolloping groove, plus the spiky garage-rock anthem “What Happened To The Love?”
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>Bleached – Welcome The Worms CD/LP+MP3 (Dead Oceans)
L.A.-based sister duo Jennifer and Jessie Clavin knew things were going to be different for their band Bleached sophomore LP
Welcome The Worms. Not only had they managed to charm world renowned producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes, Elton John) to join the sisters and their bassist Micayla Grace in the studio, but Jen and Jessie had been crawling out of their own personal dramas. While emotionally spinning, they dove head first into music. The three girls spent time writing the 10-song LP at a remote house in Joshua Tree, away from the distractions of the city. Other times Jen and Jessie worked alone, just like when they were teenaged punk brats playing in their parents’ garage, imitating their heroes The Slits, Black Flag and Minor Threat. In the studio, Chiccarelli and co-producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, YACHT) helped the band perfect their fervent songs into fearlessly big pop melodies. They drew inspiration from the iconic hits of everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Heart to Roy Ayers. The result is an ambitious rock record with a new found pop refinement that somehow still feels like the Shangri-Las on speed, driven forward in a wind of pot and petals, a wall of guitars in the back seat.