LUNA music essentials...
for the week of 17 JUNE 2016
“With their ninth studio album, Radiohead move beyond the existential angst that made them music’s preeminent doomsayers, pursuing a more personal—and eternal—form of enlightenment” [9.1] – Pitchfork. [Limited opaque white vinyl edition also available.]
Billed by Michael Gira as “the final recording from this configuration of Swans,” The Glowing Man completes a period that began with the band’s revival in 2009 and has seen the release of four albums including 2012’s epic The Seer. “Whatever the force is that has led us through this extended excursion, it’s been worthwhile for many of us, and I’m grateful for what has been the most consistently challenging and fulfilling period of my musical life,” Gira writes. “Going forward, post the touring associated with The Glowing Man, I’ll continue to make music under the name Swans, with a revolving cast of collaborators. I have little idea what shape the sound will take, which is a good thing.” [CD is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds a DVD of a Swans live performance from 2015.]
“It’s been a long wait, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers are finally back with their first album in five years, The Getaway. The album is the band’s second with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and first with Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton producing. “Title track ‘The Getaway’ is a good indicator of the album’s experimental sound. Kiedis’ melodies and lyrics are familiar, but the arrangements and instrumental textures push the Red Hot Chili Peppers into uncharted territory. The harmonies on ‘The Getaway’ at a highlight. John Frusciante’s harmonies were an integral part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ success in the ‘90s and 2000s, and Anna Waronker’s backing vocals here add a new vocal element to the band.” – Alternative Nation
case/lang/veirs = Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs. Full of stunning harmonies and spellbinding rhythms, case/lang/veirs travels through aches and eras, torch songs and tributes to the undersung.
Atomic is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousins' acclaimed documentary Atomic: Living In Dread And Promise, which first aired on BBC Four last summer. Constructed entirely of archive film, Atomic is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times -- protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima -- but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives. Mogwai's soundtrack encapsulates the nightmare of the nuclear age, but its dreamlike qualities too. It is the latest in the band's series of impressive soundtracks and scores, following acclaimed albums Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite says: “The Atomic soundtrack is one of the most intense and fulfilling projects we've taken on as a band. Ever since we went to Hiroshima to play and visited the peace park this has been a subject very close to us. The end results, both the film score and the record are pieces I'm extremely proud of.”
for the week of 03 JUNE 2016 & 10 JUNE 2016
“Rock 'n' roll is no longer the frontier of music, no longer the source of subversive power or bleeding-edge experimentation that it seemed to be for decades. But The Everymen, a squad of six energetic bandits split between North Carolina and New Jersey, don't care. On the band's second album, the new These Mad Dogs Need Heroes, they simultaneously summon the spirit of hardcore and the sound of Springsteen, the feeling of a gospel revival and the power of The Clash.” – Indy Week
Fifth album from the alt-roots-rock band, produced by Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. [Limited ‘region specific’ lithograph included with purchase, while supplies last.]
“Pittsburgh punk DIY-ers The Gotobeds have been climbing out of the basement for a little while now: In a recent interview with SPIN, frontman Eli Kasan described an unexpected but welcome write-up on NPR’s website upon the release of their debut, 2014’s Poor People Are Revolting. On its follow-up, the Red Hot Chili Peppers-needling Blood//Sugar//Secs//Traffic, the four-piece collaborate with Protomartyr leader Joe Casey (who also wrote their band bio) on the half-screamed ‘Why’d You.’ It’s hard not to be drawn in by the album’s hooky post-punk song structures, which showcase wiry guitar lines and bombastic, free-for-all shouts. Yet beneath the good times is pure punk nihilism, whether they’re dissing the US on ‘Cold Gold (LA’s Alright)’ (‘We’re from America, where we don’t move on we just move’) or ‘Rolling Stone, that trash rag’ on the siren-sounding ‘Crisis Time.’” – SPIN
Fitz and The Tantrums' natural exuberance permeates their new self-titled album, which celebrates walking to the beat of your own drum. Lead singer, Michael Fitzpatrick, says of the new record, “We've always tried to push ourselves at every turn. For our third album, we continued to challenge ourselves, taking care not to write the same record again.” “Turn It Up,” Fitz exhorts at the top of album opener and first single “HandClap.” The horn-and-beats fueled track captures the exhilarating sense of promise -- and danger -- that a night out and a new romance hold. The staccato “Complicated” paints a relationship that's packed with both chemistry and conflict and bursts into an unexpected cheer. Echo and otherworldly keyboards make “Tricky” an intoxicating dance-floor anthem and a warning to any future lover, while “A Place For Us,” the album closer, encapsulates the band's belief that there is a place in the world for each of us to belong, regardless of our differences. “Overall, this is an album about desire -- the desire for intimacy, for sex, for acceptance on your own terms and the struggle not to compromise,” explains Fitz.
“Ramona Gonzalez operates in the fringe space between pop and everything else. Avoiding the confines of the former led her to leave Secretly Canadian, the label that put out her 2012 album, One Second Of Love, and build a modest recording space in her Los Angeles home. Without the influence of corporate demand, she felt free to explore music in a way that better suited her identity. The “pop” tag that her label and the media had assigned her had proven too limiting for Gonzalez, who's always performed her Nite Jewel alias as an equalizer between herself and the listener rather than a salable object of desire. The songs that make up Gonzalez's latest, self-released effort, Liquid Cool, are streamlined to captivate the ears without concessions to a formula. They're fascinating, headspace-oriented compositions with poptimist touch tones for hooks, and the freedom Gonzalez found to mix and record as she saw fit permeates the songs' breezy production.” – NPR
Steve Gunn’s solo ventures, emerging over the past decade and culminating most recently the highly-acclaimed Way Out Weather, have been pastoral, evocative affairs. Here he embraces his urban surroundings through a series of songs that fully showcase his extraordinary ability to match hooks to deftly constructed melodies. These are songs you can take in quickly, but spend all the time in the world devouring. The very large and the very small are present in equal measure. The inability to categorize them within the avalanche of impotent diatribes that pass for categorization is a testament to their power.
Modern Country is the fourth full-length album by guitarist and composer William Tyler and his first recorded outside of his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. It features an ensemble backing group consisting of multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Hiss Golden Messenger, Blind Boys of Alabama), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, Jim O’Rourke), and percussionist Glenn Kotche (Wilco). While there is never a comfort zone in instrumental music, Tyler attempts to leave any perceived one behind on his new album. Modern Country finds Tyler exploring more focused melodic themes rather than ethereal wanderings. These aren’t pop songs, per se, but they are closer in spirit to Neu!, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and Bill Frisell. Primarily written while Tyler was on sabbatical in Oxford, Mississippi, where he stayed at the cabin of a family friend within a stone’s throw of William Faulkner’s house, the album is a collection of songs about the vanishing America that still exists on back roads, in small towns, on AM radio stations.
Faraway Reach casts the duo's young-but-nostalgic melodies and sublime chords in a more mature, restrained light, albeit no less lively and bright. Establishing themselves as producers of note on their debut LP (Pitchfork called them “great songwriters, too”), Faraway Reach delivers powerfully smooth and soulful jewels that are still decidedly their own - the Classixx signature is one that can’t be traced. Their love of plaintive voices and disco-inspired grooves is as evident as ever, but this time around everything is a bit bolder, the cast is bigger, the melodies distilled into a higher potency -- it’s all just as good, but better.
This is Where I Live is the legendary Stax artist’s first Stax album in over 40 years. William Bell is probably best known for 1961's “You Don't Miss Your Water” (his debut single); 1968's “Private Number” (a duet with Judy Clay, and a top 10 hit in the UK); and 1976's “Tryin' To Love Two,” Bell's only US top 40 hit, which also hit No. 1 on the R&B charts. As a songwriter, Bell co-authored the Chuck Jackson hit “Any Other Way” (itself a cover, since Bell issued it first, as a follow-up to “You Don't Miss Your Water”), Billy Idol's 1986 hit “To Be a Lover” (originally a hit for Bell under its original title “I Forgot to Be Your Lover”), and the blues classic “Born Under A Bad Sign,” popularized by both Albert King and Cream.
Ash & Ice is the follow up to 2011’s critically lauded Blood Pressures and was five years in the making in part due to Jamie Hince’s five hand surgeries, which resulted in him having to re-learn how to play guitar with a permanently damaged finger. It was during Hince’s recuperation from surgery that he first started sketching out what would become the songs for the album. To shake up the writing process, Hince booked a solo trip on the infamous Trans-Siberian Express for inspiration while Alison Mosshart, now residing in Nashville, TN, wrote some of the most affecting, poetically candid lyrics that she ever has, painting word pictures that mine the dangerous terrain between romantic obsession, prophecy and tough love. Where previous albums had an air of detachment and emotional austerity, underpinned by an uneasy self-awareness and unexpressed anger, the 13 songs on Ash & Ice are more understated, less tempestuous and more affecting because of that, exposing the kind of push-pull you feel when you find yourself in a complicated but all-consuming relationship. [Limited red/blue swirl color vinyl also available.]
Tegan and Sara are pop purveyors now — there’s no debating that. Not only did the Sisters Quin prove their remarkable chops on 2013’s synth glitterbomb Heartthrob, but one could theorize that they’ve been practicing for the Big Game on every previous record in some shape or form, whether that’s 2004’s mostly acoustic breakout So Jealous (2004), the more experimental and piano-based pop of The Con (2007), or the touch of Paramore-punk rush on Sainthood (2009). Heartthrob reached the sugar-coated apex of one of the many Everests they’ve conquered, but the sublime new Love You To Death manages to stay there. Even as Love You To Death is the shiniest record the ladies have released yet (largely thanks to Sia/Adele co-conspirator Greg Kurstin), its lyrics are substantially rawer and dig further under the skin than ever before. Heartthrob painted an emotional spectrum with a broad brush, but the language on Love You To Death is tenderly nuanced” – SPIN. [Limited color vinyl copies also available.]