LUNA music essentials...
for the week of 27 MAY 2016
Harley Edward Streten, also known by his stage name Flume, is an Australian electronic music producer/beatmaker who released his first self-titled debut album in 2012, having previously remixed songs by Lorde, Sam Smith, Disclosure and Arcade Fire. His second album, Skin, features guest appearances from Beck, Raekwon, Vince Staples, Vic Mensa, Little Dragon, AlunaGeorge, Allan Kingdom, and others. The 16-track album has a broader spectrum of sound than his self-titled debut record released almost four years ago. “There's some really chilled out, ambient stuff, and there's some really high energy, festival moments. There's also some more poppy moments and there's some really weird, dark moments, too.” [Limited purple colored vinyl LP pressing with custom artwork inserts also available.]
Gold Panda’s new album is as kaleidoscopic as ever with its warm electronic anthems, warped beats, straight bangers and musical explorations.
Good Times! by The Monkees is the band's first new album in 20 years and tied to their 50th anniversary. The album finds all three surviving band members (Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork) taking turns on lead vocals, playing a wide range of instruments, and sharing new compositions. The unmistakable voice of the late Davy Jones is also included with a vintage vocal on the Neil Diamond-penned “Love To Love.” Much like The Monkees' early albums, Good Times! features tracks written specifically for the band by some of the music world's most gifted songwriters, including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (“She Makes Me Laugh”), Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie (“Me & Magdalena”), Andy Partridge of XTC (“You Bring The Summer”), as well as a song co-written by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller (“Birth Of An Accidental Hipster”). [Vinyl version due August 12.]
Mark Kozelek sings a few of his favorite songs, plus favorites of friends and loved ones. Accompanied by piano, Mark sings songs by 10CC, David Bowie, Modest Mouse, Bob Seger, Waylon Jennings, and others. Guest singers include Mike Patton and Low’s Mimi Parker. Stream Mark's version of “Win” featuring Mike Patton on back-up vocals.
Beth Orton has been one of the most unique and beguiling voices in music for the past two decades. Her folktronica sound, mixing elements of folk and electronica, has re-emerged as she began experimenting with a series of electronic loops that would eventually come together in this career-redefining new album, Kidsticks. Co-produced by Beth and Andrew Hung (F**k Buttons), Kidsticks reframes Beth's unmistakable voice inside ten pure, audacious, playful and kinetic songs. A resolutely focused album, it represents a rare chance to hear an established artist get plugged in and completely rework the songwriting process with wide-eyed, open-minded glee.
The psychedelic Toronto quartet return with their first album in six years. “Working in a proper recording studio with a streamlined array of equipment has led them to create their most cogent release to date, forming driving, rhythmic tracks that chug along in a perfectly groovable fashion, all the while keeping the anarchic flavor that warrants the use of the expletive in their name. For fans of Ratatat and Animal Collective.” -- KCRW
“Scottish four-piece Travis have spent a lifetime trying to live with the ‘safe’ tag – they are the boys every mom wants their daughter to date; they’re vanilla ice-cream; they’re, well, ‘pleasant’. It’s a shame that this is used as a taunt, for on Everything At Once, their eighth studio album, they continue to produce breezy melodies with confident aplomb. Singer Fran Healy had previous spoken about this record being more short and succinct, and it’s true the record’s ten songs come and go in quick fashion, none outstaying their welcome. Take ‘Magnificent Time,’ which meshes a saccharine, but satisfying, R.E.M.-style jangle with deceptively melancholic lyrics. The title track, where bassist Dougie Payne takes centre stage on the chorus, is a garbled, gleeful rocker, while ‘Animals’ shimmers and glows. Everything At Once serves as a neat compendium for all of Travis’ plus points, and while ‘pleasance’ is surely on there, that’s certainly no bad thing” – Louder Than War. [CD is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds a DVD containing a film directed by band leader Fran Healy.]
for the week of 20 MAY 2016
On Casino Drone, his third solo album, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight emerges as both a Hoosier power-pop auteur and a poet of the Indiana everyday. He crafts supremely catchy melodies and fashions ingenious arrangements that thrum with synthpop sparkle, shoegaze drone, classic rock fervor, and sonic textures that draw from easy listening as well as avant garde experiments.
This 59-track, six-hour long Grateful Dead tribute album was created and curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, and features over 60 artists from varied musical backgrounds. All profits will help fight for AIDS/HIV and related health issues around the world through the Red Hot Organization. Some of the big names included here: Jim James, The War On Drugs, The National, Kurt Vile, Mumford & Sons, Wilco with Bob Weir, The Tallest Man On Earth, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, The Walkmen, The Flaming Lips, and so many more.
For more than 12 years, Marissa Nadler has perfected her own take on the exquisitely sculpted gothic American songform. On her seventh full-length, Strangers, she has shed any self-imposed restrictions her earlier albums adhered to, stepped through a looking glass, and created a truly monumental work. Once again partnered with July producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Black Mountain) Nadler has created a new album equal in sonic quality to the apocalyptic lyrical tone that covers its 44 minutes. In places her voice and guitar play off subsonic synths, while elsewhere, as in “Katie I Know,” a pulsing drumbeat launches the song off into an intense, confrontational place. “Janie In Love” is another full-band highlight, marrying the album's most allegorically primal lyrics to the melodic hooks that makes Nadler one of the best songwriters working today. [Limited color vinyl pressing including slipmat also available.]
Fallen Angels is the 37th studio album from Bob Dylan, and as with last year’s Shadows In The Night, features his take on classic tunes from The Great American Songbook. “On Fallen Angels, Dylan sings as though he's deep within a reverie — seized by the memory of some ‘pug-nosed dream’ from 30 years ago, unable to fully bring himself into the present. He evokes heartbreak, or recollections of heartbreak, with a convincingly unsteady tremble. He sings lighter love songs with a vaudevillian's panache. And even when he's rendering something that requires a more philosophical tone, like ‘Young At Heart,’ he invests the lines with some personal meaning, some trace awareness of his own fragile state. In this way, he's turned advanced age, with its endless backward glances, into an advantage: These are old songs sung by an old guy who is fully owning the oldness, the melancholy, the spontaneous outbreaks of gushy sentimentality” – NPR. [Includes lithograph with purchase – while supplies last.]
Mudcrutch, Tom Petty‘s pre-Heartbreakers Southern rock band, return with their second album, Mudcrutch 2, released eight years after their 2008 debut. Songwriting for Mudcrutch 2 was a shared responsibility, with Petty (who plays bass in the group) penning seven of the record’s cuts and the remainder of the track listing coming courtesy of solo compositions from Mike Campbell, Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh and Benmont Tench. “The lead single, ‘Trailer’ is a quintessential Tom Petty song full of yearning and nostalgia over the twangiest of guitars, soulful harmonica, and subdued drums. Petty sings, ‘I coulda had the Army / I coulda had the Navy / But no I had to go for a mobile home / I gave it all to you baby.’ But Petty pines over the wouldas, couldas, and shouldas like none other, and you can feel his palpable regret from giving everything he had to make love work. Just when it feels his emotions are at their rawest, the energy ramps up before a cooling close. It’s a bit depressing, but man does it hit that spot if you need to go there.” -- Stereogum
The German techno auteur releases his first proper studio album since his 2010’s Black Noise, and 2013’s collaboration with The Bell Laboratory, Elements Of Light. On the new album’s conceptual framework Hendrik Weber says, “Black Noise was very much about me being alone in a small room in Berlin and composing. The Triad opens the structure to more human ways of interacting, not digitized ways of interacting. It's not about Facebook; it's about meeting up and jamming. I wanted to cut through the digital dust that surrounds us.”
Eric Clapton has reunited with Glyn Johns for his 23rd studio album, I Still Do. Clapton and Johns -- who has also produced albums for The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who -- most famously worked together on Clapton's iconic Slowhand album. I Still Do features a combination of new material written by Clapton as well as cover versions of classic songs, contemporary tunes and influences interpreted in his own style. [Double 180gm vinyl pressing was mastered for 45 RPM.]
“Richard Ashcroft’s brilliant new album These People, a slice of classic Verve song craft with modernist electronic touches, was pieced together in his home basement studio in bursts over the past six years, in between ‘being a dad and living a standard-ish kind of life with dogs and school runs.’ Having discarded the distraction of his mobile phone, he tinkered at length with ‘new old keyboards,’ learning new crafts and trying reinvent the looping melodicism of Urban Hymns. ‘With all the studios closing down, record sales hit massively, the whole industry changing, I had to re-evaluate how I could still create these super records,’ he explains. “So [album track] ‘Out Of My Body’ is in the mould of ‘A Song For The Lovers’, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, going right back. It’s a proper old-school record made with modern technology and old stuff to create something you’ve never heard before.’” – NME
Methyl Ethel is the latest addition to the 4AD roster. Hailing from the remote fringes of Perth, Western Australia, linchpin Jake Webb started Methyl Ethel in 2013 as a way of getting his bedroom recordings out in the public domain. The assonant moniker takes its name from the chemical compound Webb’s father uses to make fibre-glass – methyl ethyl ketone peroxide. Like 4AD peers Grimes, Bradford Cox, and Tune-Yards, Webb wrote, played and recorded everything on Oh Inhuman Spectacle.
This 17-song collection comprises the complete studio recordings (including five unreleased tracks) of the Jay “Reatard” Lindsey and Alix Brown project that came together shortly after the mid- ‘05 demise of the former's long-running primary endeavor, The Lost Sounds. The sheer immensity of Lindsey's musical discography relative Reatard’s artist's death in January of 2010 at the age of 29 is an undeniably impressive attribute of his legacy. But unlike other artists with massively prolific output, his militantly self-imposed standard of quality control assured this project was not simply a prolonged demo or practice session for what came next-his landmark solo debut Blood Visions. [Vinyl version includes a download of the album plus a board recording of a full set of the band in its prime at Gonerfest 3 (September, 2006).]
for the week of 13 MAY 2016
OJ drops his follow-up to 'Betty,' with superb results; box-fresh beats (esp. 'Wide Brim Hat" and "Sufficient Funds"), lyrics ranging from FS life to the artist grind to 17th century Italian painters—'Cash For Gold' also finds the rare success in enlisting several collaborators and moods, but feels consistent—no doubt due to Jones' everythingbutthekitchensink delivery and his brilliant/blinding storytelling.
Canada’s Jessy Lanza stormed the electropop scene in 2013 with her debut album, the Polaris Music Prize-nominated Pull My Hair Back. She'll def. replicate that success with her follow-up, Oh No. The LP was recorded in Hamilton, Ontario with Junior Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan, who also had a hand in co-producing Pull My Hair Back and it is superb!
Eric D. Johnson is Fruit Bats. And Fruit Bats is back. Johnson has picked up the name again for a sixth album, Absolute Loser. Though he made music, scoring films like Our Idiot Brother, and built up his own Hulchica Music Festival in Sonoma, Fruit Bats was on hold following a family tragedy. His 2014 solo record, EDJ, dealt with that head on and it led him to realize that it was time to head back to the “punk rock” name he'd slapped on his music years earlier.
Whilst Eagulls’ self-titled debut album was a juggernaut of a record, often moving at breakneck speed and intensity, it was also a deeply melodic one, one that underneath the heady fuzz and gushing charge of the guitars laid a band with just as many pop leanings as they had punk. It’s these moments that have been brought to the surface on the new record: dense, deeply textured explorations that recall the shimmering opulence of the Cocteau Twins and the ominous gloom of Disintegration/Pornography-era The Cure. On opening track “Heads Or Tails” one might be temporarily fooled into thinking Smiths-era Johnny Marr had resurfaced to lend his melodic touch to the track but the song, much like the guts of the rest of the album, has a faint whiff of such timeless song structure but takes a new shape, unmistakably becoming the band’s own. On “My Life In Rewind” the group allow ruminating bass-lines to power the underbelly of the song as luminous guitar lines dance afloat on top and powerful but restrained drums color the background. Whilst thunderous drums and heavy hammering bass may lead the opening to “Lemontrees,” it’s songs such as these that display the group’s natural propensity for plucking out a melody as beautiful as it is gutsy from seemingly nowhere -- it’s a trait that can be found peppered throughout the entire record. [Limited green color vinyl edition also available.]
Irish singer/songwriter Foy Vance’s new album The Wild Swan (recorded in Nashville and executive-produced by Elton John) opens with “Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution,” a rock 'n' blues celebration of a roll-call of musical, philosophical, literary and polemical insurrectionists. It ends with a dash of uilleann pipes pipes and “The Wild Swans On The Lake,” a stop-you-in-your-tracks breath of Celtic balladry inspired by WB Yeats' The Wild Swans At Coole. Vance's rich voice also gets up close and personal on the hymnal “Burden,” then digs deep for “She Burns,” a song and a performance evocative of Bruce Springsteen's “Tunnel Of Love.” On the ancient-but-modern “Be Like You Belong,” Vance's soulful rasp weaves through pedal-steel and simple piano chords. “Ziggy Looked Me In The Eye” is a piano-based, strings-buoyed soul-stirrer, a dignified tribute to, says Vance, “various people who I think have been part of a revolution. I'm not talking about Che Guevara or Ghandi or even Russell Brand for that matter -- I'm talking about personal revolution. I like that idea constantly revolting against your own parameters.”
Yak have channeled their ferocious live experience into their debut album Alas Salvation. Recorded with Pulp's Steve Mackey, it's a wired and ambitious affair. “Opening track 'Victorious (National Anthem)' emerges as a quick yet powerful blow to the head, as if you were walking alone through a dodgy area at night and out of nowhere something struck you. Which is a great explanation for what happens next, since the visceral violence of the opener is but a gate for a restless 13-track journey during which everything -- but boredom – happens. Single 'Hungry Heart' and Iggy and Lou's love child 'Use Somebody' follow, the latter flowing through the brief demi-monde of 'Wilting Away' and into 'Roll Another' - in a sequence similar to what La Femme did with 'La Femme'/'Interlude'/'Hypsoline' on their 2013 debut Psycho Tropical Berlin. As we're thrown directly and unmercifully into 'Curtain Twitcher', we're already heavily bruised from the first half of the album, and will have to wait until 'Take It' to finally take a breath. Vaguely reminiscent of late '90s Radiohead for its uptempo melancholy, this is the first track that somehow distances itself from the raw glam-punk that has been beating us up since the beginning of the record. 'Take It' embraces a more chaotic/hypnotic vibe as it comes to a halt, probably to better establish a bridge to its successor 'Harbour The Feeling', one of my personal favorites.” – The Four Oh Five
Following countless seminal releases that have seen Mark Pritchard through his various groups and pseudonyms, constantly propel himself forward into new areas of experimentation, Under The Sun marks his return to the production limelight by weaving traces from his vast array of previous projects together to produce a record that pushes his sound forward, in to something that sounds quite unlike anything he has put his name (or alias) to before. His Harmonic 313 beats, Link acid, Global Communication ambience, and Africa HiTech rhythms all glimmer throughout, but the overall direction of this record is rooted in the realms of modern composition, traditional folk and soundtrack-heavy incidental music. Guests include: Bibio, Thom Yorke, Linda Perhacs, and underrated and criminally overlooked rapper Beans.
“You’d think that, with David Lynch bringing back the Twin Peaks TV show, maybe Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks would change their name. Nope! The 2014-vintage Band To Watch is coming back this spring, following up their sophomore album Wild Onion with a new one called Down In Heaven, and they’re keeping the name intact. The band has added a member, becoming a five-piece, and they recorded the album live to reel-to-reel tape at a friend’s house in Western Massachusetts. Dinosaur Jr. producer John Agnello mixed the album. First single and album opener ‘Walk To The One You Love’ is a confident and relatively restrained choogler” – Stereogum. “If you’re going to borrow that name, you’ve got to live up to it. Thankfully Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks do a decent job. On Down In Heaven their sound is less scuzzy and more indebted to 1960s pop like the Mamas and Papas. Groovy and dense guitars keep the pace over bright and memorable melodies” – Norman Records UK. [Limited vinyl pressing with bonus 7” also available.]
Blanco is made up of songs that were previously available in a very limited edition 7" vinyl series called Bazan Monthly, Volume 1 and Volume 2. David picked ten of those songs to update, remix and flesh out into a cohesive album format. “Former Pedro The Lion leader David Bazan is back with a new solo album called Blanco. Recorded with Crystal Skulls co-founder Yuuki Matthews, it features a heavy dose of keyboards and drum machines alongside the mournful acoustic strums that have long been Bazan’s calling card, transforming tracks that were previously available through the Bazan Monthly 7” series.” – Stereogum
for the week of 06 MAY 2016
As If Apart, the sequel to Chris Cohen’s 2012 soft psych garden of unearthly alter-pop earworms and studio-sonic delights Overgrown Path, follows on its predecessor with another bittersweet ensemble of dreamy, complex songs. Pushing the idiosyncrasies of Cohen’s melodic and rhythmic approach into even more fractured, shifting spaces, As if Apart unsettles lazy pop conventions, upending jaded heads and hearts with an expansive, moody psychedelia.
Hopelessness is the debut solo album from Anohni (aka Antony, the lead singer of Antony and The Johnsons), and was coproduced by Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke. It is a dance record with soulful vocals and lyrics addressing surveillance, drone warfare, and ecocide. A radical departure from the singer’s symphonic collaborations, the album seeks to disrupt assumptions about popular music through the collision of electronic sound and highly politicized lyrics. In a Q&A with fans (via Pitchfork), Antony discussed the inspiration for album single “4 Degrees,” saying: “I have grown tired of grieving for humanity, and I also thought I was not being entirely honest by pretending that I am not a part of the problem. ‘4 Degrees’ is kind of a brutal attempt to hold myself accountable, not just valorize my intentions but also reflect on the true impact of my behaviors.”
Julianna Barwick’s revelatory third full-length, Will, is a surprising left turn for the Brooklyn experimental artist. Conceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the electric Will departs from the weighty lightness of 2013’s Nepenthe. If Nepenthe conjured images of gentle fog rolling over desolate mountains, then Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds ominous and restorative all at once. Guest contributors include Thomas Arsenault, aka Mas Ysa, Dutch cellist Maarten Vos, and percussionist Jamie Ingalls (Chairlift, Tanlines). “True to form, [album single] ‘Nebula’ incorporates spiraling synthesizers and more loops of the Louisiana native’s vocals than there are layers in a doberge cake.” -- SPIN
Serving up a combination of Southern musicality and garage rock ferocity, Shreveport, Louisiana natives Seratones have released their debut album, Get Gone. Led by powerhouse frontwoman A.J. Haynes, whose thunderous vocals recall the grit of Janis Joplin and gospel of Mavis Staples, Seratones make a strong case with Get Gone to be your new favorite alt-rock band of 2016.
Recorded at Dial Back Sound studios in Mississippi, the album is all live takes, a portrait of Seratones in their element. “Don't Need It,” which opens with a muscular swing and tight guitar lines, builds into a monster finish with a nasty corkscrew of a guitar line. “Sun,” a brawny thrasher, courses with huge, raw voltage riffs. “Chandelier,” a mid-tempo burner and vocal workout by Haynes, goes from croon to a crescendo that would shake any crystals hanging from the rafters. As a whole, Get Gone is unexpected and unbowed, a head-snapping showcase of the twin pillars of Southern music: restlessness and resourcefulness.
Testarossa is an eclectic collaboration between indie rock prodigy Yoni Wolf, and multidimensional hip-hop artist Serengeti. The songs weave together creating an often dark, sometimes humorous tale of love, and life peppered with human conflict. The versatility of both Yoni & Geti creates an unconventional album that is rooted in both hip-hop, and indie rock.
When Laurel Sprengelmeyer began performing as Little Scream in 2008, she played her first shows in Montreal using only a battered Stratotone guitar, a cigarette amp, and a mic on the floor so her feet could serve as percussion. “That’s why I always wore high heels. They made the best stomping sounds.” She would wail and coo, imitating the sounds of missing instruments that ended up as siren calls on her 2011 debut The Golden Record, which Pitchfork called “a perfectly mixed bag of graceful folk, coiled pop, and expansive art rock,” and NPR dubbed “absolutely captivating.” If that album was Little Scream’s searching, enchanting first step into the world, then Cult Following is the badass landmark cementing her place there. Little Scream says she began conceiving of Cult Following while visiting a friend in a small intentional community in northern Brazil that was on the verge of becoming a cult. That experience laid the groundwork for this lush, expansive, retro-leaning gem that straddles intimate fragility with bombastic dancefloor-ready songs. Listening to it is like reading an epic novella—part fairy tale, part ecstasy, and part human folly.
Forging their friendships in the crucible of their Houston, TX, high school, Sabrina Ellis (vocals), Andrew Cashen (vocals, guitar), and Orville Neeley (drums) first got their start covering AC/DC, The Ramones, Joan Jett, and the finer points of the Back To The Future soundtrack at school dances under the name Youth In Asia. Reuniting in Austin in 2008, they enlisted their pals Andy Bauer (guitar) and Graham Low (bass) and christened the act A Giant Dog. AGD is raucous ear candy culled from the hook-driven melodies of Slade, the glammy swagger of Marc Bolan, the morbid fantasy of Killer-era Alice Cooper, and the unpredictable wit of Sparks. Sabrina and Andrew’s lyrics, equal parts brutally honest, clever, and debased, have a knack for taking their idiosyncratic depravities and making them feel universal. These songs are by, for, and about the losers, freaks, and outcasts. The lonely. The terminally horny. Boozehounds and party animals. Pile deals with divorce, getting older, dying, frustration, and futility, ultimately transcending those earthly headaches through the power of rock ‘n’ roll.