LUNA music essentials...
for the week of 28 august 2015
Fifth album from the Baltimore, MD duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. "If you view a band as a long-term artistic project, then Beach House have always been perfect. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have done everything right: They’ve found the ideal balance of dim, lush tones; their sound progresses at a graceful, even clip; they leave just the right amount of time between albums. Even their name is perfect: Beach houses are rickety, inviting spaces that, by nature of their existence, live outside of time. If a beach house were to change noticeably—if that paperback you left there last May isn’t still sitting upside-down and open to the same page, gathering dust on the same shelf you left it—you'd be upset." [BNM/8.4] -- Pitchfork
Poison Season opens with Vancouver native Dan Bejar swathed in Hunky Dory strings. He’s a dashboard Bowie surveying four wracked characters—Jesus, Jacob, Judy, Jack—simultaneously Biblical and musical theatre. This bittersweet, Times Square-set fanfare is reprised twice more on the record—first as swaying, saxophone-stoked "street-rock" and then finally as a curtain-closing reverie. Mr. Bejar has long displayed a chameleonic instinct for change while maintaining a unified aesthetic (rather than just pinballing between reference points). No two records sound the same, but they’re always uniquely Destroyer. His latest incarnation often appears to take sonic cues from a distinctly British (usually Scottish, to be precise) strain of sophisti-pop: you might hear traces of Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, or The Blow Monkeys. These songs merge a casual literary brilliance with intense melodic verve, nimble arrangements, and a certain blue-eyed soul sadness.
All of the truly transformative and era-defining albums have grappled with questions that are a world away from the bland bleatings of homogenized pop. Permanence and impermanence, life and death, solitude, vulnerability, intimacy, passion, rage, humanity - weighty issues that make demands of the people creating that music, and of all those who listen to it, too. What Went Down confronts these issues head-on. "The band have characterized What Went Down as their heaviest album yet, and it certainly rages with a fresh fire: the title track’s descending chord-sequence is the closest they’ll get to 'I Want To Be Your Dog.’ But by the same token, the nibbly little guitar and hi-hat of 'Birch Tree’ is the closest they’ll come to disco, an indication of their ambitions" – The Independent. Available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds a four track DVD featuring the making-of-the-album documentary entitled "Crème Anglaise," the video for title track "What Went Down," and two Poolside Sessions.
This 14 song collection of covers (The Cure, Hank Williams, The Lovin’ Spoonful and more), originals and reworking(s) happens to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Yo La Tengo’s landmark 1990 album, Fakebook. Recorded with Gene Holder (The Feelies), Stuff Like That There, the trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew is augmented by guitarist and former Yo La Tengo member Dave Schramm, with James negotiating the wonders of the upright bass for the first time.
In bowling’s hallowed alleys, a strike is the minor miracle of all ten pins falling at once. Back-to-back strikes make a double. Do it a third time and you’ve got yourself a turkey. History will decide which sports metaphor to apply to Mike Krol’s first two records, I Hate Jazz (2011) and Trust Fund (2013). But as needle meets groove on Turkey—Krol’s first record for Merge—there is no ambiguity. A shiny black ball tumbles past the suburban strip malls of a polyestered Wisconsin and veers precariously close to an East Coast gutter before gathering momentum in a physics-defying sprint for the Pacific. California is where the headpin falls—the right velocity, the perfect geometry, the bowler’s intent beautifully realized in a noisy moment of awesome destruction. Mike Krol got his bike stolen and his heart broken. He bailed on graphic-design-as-career. He kept playing drums and guitars, and he kept writing songs about the stuff he hated and the stuff he loved. Plug the vocal mic into a guitar amp. Plug the guitar into an overheating box of vacuum tubes. Put the computer in the closet. Roll the tape.
With Cranekiss, Tamaryn emerges from her past efforts in a way that’s inviting, warm-blooded, and shockingly direct. She’s made a big record, loaded with samples, synth triggers and processing that was missing from her previous efforts, pressed into service of a post-adolescent love letter to all the music that she and her collaborators (Jorge Elbrecht of Violens and Lansing-Dreiden, Shaun Durkan of Weekend) hold dear.
Produced by Atlas Genius and Frederik Thaae, Inanimate Objects is the follow-up to the band's 2013 full-length debut, When It Was Now, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as a "spritely, melodic debut album."
Beauty Behind The Madness is the second studio album by The Weeknd, and features guest appearances from Labrinth, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey. "Beauty Behind The Madness is the moment Tesfaye takes all the free-floating anxiety and fear and cold, clammy darkness that’s been in his music since day one and turns it into pure big-tent pop gold. I never would’ve imagined that the guy singing vaporous sex jams over Beach House samples a few years ago would become one of the world’s biggest and greatest pop stars in a very short time, but here we are. BBTM is a total and unabashed sellout move, and that’s one of the best things about it. It shows what happens when an artist gives in to his commercial instincts and, in the process, finds his voice." – Stereogum
"Enigmatic experimenter Willis Earl Beal has had a bit of a rough lead-up to his album Noctunes, as he recently spent a couple of weeks in jail on charges of criminal mischief and harassment. Now, he's putting that behind him by streaming his album in full. The album makes good on the nocturnal implications of its title, as it begins with the ambient sprawl of the softly crooned opener 'Under You.’ From there, the synth textures throughout the LP are pillowy and Beal's crooning is warm and soothing, while a few electronic beats slightly spice up the soundscape from time to time." – Exclaim
About 100 miles south of Atlanta, next to a field just outside the town of Byron, there stands a plaque erected by the Georgia Historical Society marking the location of the Second Atlanta International Pop Festival, where from July 3-5, 1970, "Over thirty musical acts performed, including rock icon Jimi Hendrix playing to the largest American audience of his career." Despite the overwhelming attendance (estimated to be 300,000-400,000), the festival and Hendrix's performance in particular, has not received it's due in terms of historic importance and impact until now. This is the soundtrack to that performance, which also serves as a companion to the Electric Church DVD release (due October 30th).
You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything (1970-1975) includes: The First Step (1970), Long Player (1971), A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse (1971), and Ooh La La (1973), and a bonus disc Stray Singles & B-Sides, which features rare tracks associated with each album. Despite their hard-partying reputation, the band was a formidable powerhouse and could play it all-blues, soul, funk, country and boogie.
for the week of 21 august 2015
Wilco's ninth studio album and it's first since 2011's The Whole Love. "Because Wilco sounds about 85% committed to a truly new idea, Star Wars is their strongest record in a decade; and if Wilco have another truly great one in them, history strongly suggests it'll be devoted to sounding nothing like Star Wars." – Pitchfork. Vinyl version due November 27.
For the first time since the Analord series released through 2003-2005 on his own Rephlex Records imprint, Richard D. James revises his legendary AFX guise with a collection of tracks for the alien dancefloor. "Appearing under the AFX sobriquet, last active a decade ago, the eight-track EP belies James's reputation for fearsome abstruseness with almost 30 minutes of concise and entertaining music. It sets off at a gallop with an upfront series of techno tracks, all squiggly acid bleeps and fast bass; ghostly textures, like the horror-film keyboard effects in 'serge fenix Rendered 2,' add depth to the adrenalin rush. The pace slows in the latter stages, with James at one point coaxing from his computers a sound like rusty signs swinging in the wind, as though advertising (or satirizing) his status as the enigmatic hermit of electronic music." – Financial Times Limited
"Gardens & Villa are a tumbling torrent of creativity. The Santa Barbara group move effortlessly from indie rock to psych, from folk-inflections to electronic bliss, retaining a certain essence at every juncture" – Clash Music. "Moments on Music For Dogs feel distinctly and deliberately uncomfortable. 'Maximise Results,' for instance, is a blur of manic piano, oscillating synths, strained vocals and unhinged whistling. It's a critique of a goal-orientated society which demands "results" from both artistic production and emotional life. 'Fixations' wears its late '60s/early '70s psych-pop influences on its sleeve, complemented by its kitschy video (with a surreal twist). 'Everybody' sounds like a lost track by The Zombies, but one which speaks to the pressures life in the social media age, with our constant need for novelty and re-invention." – The Line Of Best Fit
Meliora (Latin for "the pursuit of something better") is the third full-length album by the Swedish occult heavy metal band. "Unlike the previous two Ghost records, Meliora doesn't take its time to kick in. After 30 seconds of a pulsating organ, distant choir, theremin and glockenspiel playing what sounds like the intro passage to a 1980s horror flick, the band comes in full force with a headbanger of a riff and Papa Emeritus III's familiarly eerie voice on 'Spirit.' One thing that's immediately noticeable about the track is the strong keyboard presence and heavily layered vocals in the chorus. It's a song that grows in instrumentation as it goes on, yet keeps all the different components of it easily discernible." – Metal Injection
"Over the 12 years since their formation, The Sword have been compared to stoner rockers from Black Sabbath to Kyuss to Corrosion Of Conformity to, well, Black Sabbath a whole lot. Meanwhile, possibly their biggest fan, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has likened them to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands that he grew up on. But judging from the songs released so far from the Austin quartet's forthcoming fifth album, High Country – the record's title track and new cut, 'Empty Temples' – the group has moved in a classic-rock direction closer to Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top than anything wearing a bullet belt or brandishing an inverted cross." – Rolling Stone
"Musically, the album is a reminder that Dre's palette and appetite for sound has always been eclectic, and rather than retread, we hear him pushing into new territory. At one moment, he's sampling an obscure modern funk band from Italy (for 'One Shot One Kill') and the next, lifting a guitar riff from a random Turkish psychedelic burner. Throughout, session musicians polish out the edges, and Dre continues to lean on live keys and bass to fill out chunky bottom ends." [BNM/8.8] – Pitchfork
10th Anniversary reissue of The Mouse and the Mask in original custom frosted plastic packaging. Guest features from Talib Kweli, Cee Lo Green, Ghostface Killah. "Insanely inspired...this stellar collaboration threatens to give underground synergy a good name." – A.V. Club
Reissue of the second mixtape by The Weeknd. Thursday follows his critically-acclaimed, Polaris Music Prize-nominated debut mixtape House Of Balloons (2011). Its music incorporates downtempo, dubstep, dream pop, hip hop, rock and reggae styles. As with his previous works, Canadian producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo were responsible for production of the mixtape. Young Money artist Drake contributes guest vocals to the track "The Zone."
Since before he was even able to play an instrument, Martin Newell was messing around with home-recordings. Having grown up in the Far East, Newell returned to his home of England at age 13 with just a little three-inch spool tape-recorder and his first guitar. At age 14 he wrote his first song, not even knowing any chords. His songwriting continued through is teens and into his 20s, when he purchased a Sony reel-to-reel recorder and 12 string guitar. It is this early songwriting that led him working with a wide variety of musicians, recording in beautiful studios and forming his many projects such as Cleaners From Venus and Brotherhood Of Lizards. But it was this early songwriting and recording that led him to find that he was happiest when recording by himself, with minimal equipment. As Newell often says, "Actually, I preferred the demos."
– The Modern Dance [Reissue/1978] CD/LP (Fire)
– Dub Housing [Reissue/1978] CD/LP (Fire)
Exploding onto the scene with a handful of releases behind them, Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance stunned the music world and quickly began appearing on 'Most Influential' album lists. Pere Ubu originally formed as a studio project drawing on a body of musicians who were involved in the Cleveland underground music scene that had, by August 1975, seemingly run its course. The main objective of the band at that time was to document their work and then disappear. Luckily for us they were on the cusp of changing the face of rock forever. New high-resolution transfers from from the original two-track analogue mix tapes.
for the week of 14 august 2015
Closely associated w/the founders of ZE Records (home to Was (Not Was) and Kid Creole & The Coconuts), Descloux released her debut album, Press Color, in 1979, revealing a punk-funk sound that positioned her as the French answer to The Slits or NY's own ESG. This reissue is presented in an extended 18-track edition, collecting much of her work, including "Morning High," which was recorded with Patti Smith. "Compared to 1979's major punk releases, it's not hard to see why Press Color didn't make much of a dent in the US, UK, or even France. Next to the likes of Fear Of Music, Entertainment!, The B-52s, Tom Verlaine, The Raincoats, This Heat, Broken English, Metal Box, London Calling, Cut, and Y, it's a vivid curio and cool personality splatter rather than a cultural landmark. Descloux would make those later (even if their recognition remains overdue). What Press Color does is distill our collective excitement and unceasing wonder at a scene that's almost four decades old." – [Best New Reissue] Pitchfork
"Baxter is the son of moderately-famous slide guitar player Bucky Baxter, who jammed with Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams and R.E.M., and it's easy to imagine son eagerly listening and internalizing each of these artists while his father was off recording or touring. Raised in Nashville, Baxter eventually struck out as a musician in 2012 with Feathers & Fishhooks. Three years later he's left such explicit signifiers in the past, and emerged with an impeccable sophomore break-out. And it's immediately clear why he's escaped the country/roots pigeonhole: his voice has the same pliant dreaminess as Marcus Mumford. Arguably, Mumford's gorgeous tenor is a huge part of the reason his folksy band shot to fame, he's that compelling a vocalist — but Imaginary Man doesn't go anywhere near the blender-bluegrass and always-soaring heights of Sigh No More or Babel. Instead, it's all about balance." – Stereogum
HEALTH formed in Los Angeles in 2006, playing their first shows at now-legendary DIY club The Smell. They have gone on to release four critically acclaimed albums, including two remix projects that featured diverse artists from Crystal Castles to Pictureplane, Tobacco to Nosaj Thing, reflecting the band's wide taste and reach between the rock, electronic and experimental music worlds. Their new album epitomizes their idiosyncratic blend of electronic, rock and pop styles. Having worked with outside producers and engineers for the first time, the final result is somehow bombastic yet accessible, heartbreaking and head-banging, all steeped in classic album sensibilities of songwriting and production.
So Jealous X boasts the original album and a 22-track bonus audio CD that includes covers from The White Stripes, Bianca Russelburg and the Cancer Bats; nine demos of released songs; five previously unreleased B-side demos; and five remixes from producers like Matoma and FM Attack. The deluxe edition also includes the DVD It's Not Fun, Don't Do It.
for the week of 07 august 2015
Like the days of Steely Dan or Harry Nilsson releasing a classic album every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco's Another One, a mini-LP announced one year after the release of the meteorically successful Salad Days. Written and recorded during the downtime between a relentless touring schedule, Another One is an eight-track release that expands the arsenal of Mac's already impressive catalog, showing the maturity of Mac's progression as songwriter: it's a bit more refined, a bit more sophisticated, but nonetheless retains the guts and soul of classic Mac.
Taking cues from Oh Mercy/Time Out Of Mind era Dylan and Nick Cave's work with The Bad Seeds, Duskland evokes a restless spirit, one that is informed by American myths and tall tales. Aquarium Drunkard have said of Cale's music "[it] casts a captivating spell" while the Village Voice recently named him "the best songwriter in New York City."
Weirdo Shrine is a natural evolution of the band's self-styled "surf noir" sound—a rawer, turbo-charged sequel that charts themes of loneliness, infatuation, obsession and death across eleven tracks, from the opening credits siren song of "Sleep Till They Die" to the widescreen, receding-skyline send-off of "Oranges" and its bittersweet epilogue, "True Love Knows." In describing Weirdo Shrine, producer/engineer Ty Segall remarked that it gave him a vision of a "world…burning with colors [he'd] never seen, like mauve that is living." In "Oranges," the Brautigan poem which inspired the aforementioned track of the same name, the poet writes of a surreal "orange wind / that glows from your footsteps." These hue-based allusions are apt: the sound of La Luz is (appropriately) vibrant, and alive with a kaleidoscopic passion. Weirdo Shrine finds them at their most saturated and cinematic.
Abyss opens with the disorienting lurch of "Carrion Flowers," where Wolfe weaves a hypnotic vocal melody over monotonic industrial thuds, much as an Indian raga is constructed around a lone note or swara. On "Iron Moon," the band pushes for extremes in its loud-quiet-loud strategy, alternating between hushed balladry and gargantuan doom. On "Dragged Out," glacial-paced fuzz riffs underscore Wolfe's sultry verses, until a howling wail of distortion dominates the chorus. But there are certainly moments when the brutish elements are reigned in ''Maw'' could serve as a lullaby and ''Crazy Love'' harkens back to the humble acoustic compositions of her Unknown Rooms album. But between them we have ''After the Fall'', the centerpiece of the album, where the abrupt tonal shifts, descending chord progressions, and climactic vocals illustrate Wolfe's fascination with Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung.
Pain is a miraculously dissonant, wonderfully immediate display of Deaf Wish at their mightiest, alive with the same wild chemistry and sense of possibility that made their first recordings so vital. With more time together than they've ever had before, they're found themselves confronted with ideal (yet foreign) conditions. Two-minute freakouts like "Eyes Closed" share airspace with the meditate squall of "On" and the guitar-born majesty of "Calypso." Everything was captured in three takes or less, in a bleak, nondescript studio on the lifeless outskirts of Melbourne. Pain was mastered by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control). "It's a simple thing," guitarist Jensen Tjhung says of their approach. "Simple takes the worry out of it. If we try to step it up and go sideways, it just doesn't seem to work. But we've grown up and been through some shit. To get to this point you have to bust through a few walls. It's easy to be new, and I think, in the end, this is what it is. When you put these people in the room, it's Deaf Wish."
Body Complex at first seems like an odd title for an album that feels very divorced from the inner environment of the human body. Of course, the term "body" can mean a number of things, and what is most exciting about Jakub Alexander's latest offering as Heathered Pearls is the way it uses electronic music, especially techno, to weave in and out of the nuances of humankind's physical interactions with the world around it. From the unidentifiable and minimalist object on the cover to the track titles referencing interior design and architecture, via the very makeup of each track, Body Complex feels like a journey through a space both public and internalized. Moving away from pure ambient music into the realms of techno was key in this regard, and in keeping with the artwork, Alexander carves smooth rounded edges around harsher outlines, his loops and drum patterns imbued with much of the minimalist sensuality of artists like The Field and Porter Ricks." – The Quietus
The Spirit Moves is a raw and relatable album about transition, growth and life and one that should appeal to anyone who's lived a little. Brutal honesty, passionate, soulful vocals, and inspired rock 'n' roll, that's Langhorne Slim.
Captured at the venerable Grand Opera House in the town where the Allmans got their start, Gregg performs 16 fan favorites with the help of his eight-piece band and special guest Devon Allman. Includes: "Whipping Post," "Melissa," and "Midnight Rider." Also available on stand-alone DVD and Blu-ray.