Currently & Upcoming V3

hannielkhatib      Hanni El Khatib – Head In The Dirt

Its been a long time coming, but nobody cuts to the chase quite like Hanni El Khatib. The San Francisco native of Palestinian descent unveils his second album with the assistance of Dan Auerbach’s production.  On El Khatib’s previous release, he promptly made a name for himself; as the retro garage rock go to, back alley knife fight soundtrack for a punk with a broken heart.  The album entitled Will The Guns Come Out rolls over you like a freight train and leaves you like a right handed jab covered in broken glass.

Songs like “Come Alive”, “Fuck It, You Win” and the blues driven cover of the Fats Waller original “You Rascal You” all prove that Hanni clearly is the real deal and no hipster bullshit poser ‘wannabe’.  So for the doubters and the haters out there … wake up and do yourselves a solid favour and purchase on vinyl, Head In The Dirt.  

This new album of Khatib’s goes to prove he has and is able to stretch out his sound. Bringing in a second guitar player, sometimes even a third. No over dubbing wanker bullshit here. Solidified a drummer and followed his heart and allowed his new found kinship with Auerbach to lead this album in the direction it needed to go. Given Hanni El Khatib’s bluesy garage sound, it was only a matter of time before El Khatib and Dan Auerbach met.

They did so at a bar in Paris. A couple of whiskey drinks later and the two decided to collaborate. El Khatib says he wants to create the music that would be playing if you were stuck in the desert with $5, a knife, and a muscle car. In the album he succeeds in leaving you to the vultures, snakes, oil, fires, pick-up trucks, desert sand, revenge, and heartbreak. All and all, Hanni El Katib designed a pretty good album, and a damn near perfect one for those (insert your town name here) summer nights at your favorite dive bar, with a beer in your hand, and a fire in your heart.

shivas                  The Shivas – WhiteOut

So, even though garage rock has seen a massive resurgence in recent months and years, it may be easy to over look The Shivas and dispel them as just another loose knit psyche band.  But when a dear friend of mine, whose taste in music and the finer things in life I trust inexplicably recommended The Shivas, I discover Whiteout would offer some intriguing stylistic approaches that set the album apart from recent similar efforts by other bands.

Whiteout boasts lo-fi indie-rock and garage pop not unlike a good number of bands such as Tamaryn, DIIV, or Night Beats, all of which performed at Austin Psyche Fest alongside The Shivas. However, The Shivas provide greater dexterity in balancing their arrangements, delivering plenty of buzzing guitars and gritty vocals while integrating undeniably infectious early 60s pop influences.

It’s that pop that makes them feel right at home on Krecords, and their fun-loving guitar tones and tom-centered drums even recall early K band Beat Happening, especially on “Gun In My Pocket” and “Living and Dying Like Horatio Alger.” After some meandering beachy vibes in the record’s middle, late album cuts unfurl more blistering and jammy psychedelic swirls of instrumentation on “Kissed in the Face” and “Manimal.” Whiteout concludes with the swaying pop of “Paradise,” a perfect soundtrack to drifting to sleep near a Northwestern beach bonfire. Sometimes aggressively immediate and at others drifting by in gentle waves, Whiteout is a record that’s easy to play from start to finish, offering variety and depth that not present in like-minded records out at the moment. By creating a solid album that’s bolstered by an amazing live show, The Shivas are a band that has the raw materials for the making of something magical.

junip1-300x300                             Junip – s/t

Jose Gonzalez’ three-piece rock band Junip, since forming 15 years ago the trio finally release their second album. You read that correctly; The band were somewhat forced to take a indefinite hiatus due to Jose’s solo success in the mid 2000’s. They were only ever able to squeeze out two EP’s before offering up 2010 full length debut Fields. 

The progress of Junip is tedious and finally comes to a head on this current self titled release. A gorgeous exercise in teamwork and restraint: In the album’s strongest moments, Junip treat their songs like jenga, not to be built too fast or aggressively lest one over-eager misstep ruin the whole thing. As musicians, Gonzalez, Elias Araya, and Tobias Winkerton have a limitless arsenal, but Junip mainly flexes three things throughout: Krautrock-derived rhythms, pitch-perfect harmonies, and Gonzalez’ mumble, never at odds with the sonic feel of any moment. Gonzalez offers much more as lead instrument here than as lyricist. On “Your Life Your Call”, he directs a rousing, bass- and handclap-driven call to arms, even when chanting a hook that reads more or less like a failed draft of “Get Up Stand Up” (“It’s your life, it’s your call / Stand up or enjoy your fall / Pull yourself together and draw the line”). Later, on centerpiece “Walking Lightly”, his voice briefly mimics a didgeridoo as the song maintains one groove for six minutes, not so much intensifying along the way as expanding, continuously growing wider and brighter as its details patiently accumulate.

Junip is a band that excels by focusing on one tone at a time, injecting each with a level of attention worthy of a mural. Gonzalez is too zoned-in here to let his lyrics distract, but more often than not, Junip can essentially be heard as an instrumental pop album with the music feeding and building off itself. After seeing parts of three separate decades together, Junip have finally worked up to what they can be at their best.

Part 1

Part 2

iron-and-wine-ghost-on-ghost-e1359647157153           Iron & Wine – Ghost On Ghost

Sam Beam, the man behind the name Iron & Wine is an artist who comes fully equipped with hushed vocals, gorgeous finger picking and guitar arrangements and an imitation worthy beard. The early albums from I&W were stripped down primarily acoustic offerings with accentuating percussion and lush backing vocals. But after a couple of albums, Beam began to show his hand and started experimenting with arrangements and styles pushing him well past the acoustic troubadour trappings.

From the pure sentiments whispered intimately on 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days to the Mediterranean sprawl and psychedelic tension of 2007’s follow up The Shepherd’s Dog, Beam seems inherently Nordic in style and sound. 2011 indicated a further shift in direction for Beam, the pop-focused Kiss Each Other Clean – a record that emanates Beach Boys harmony and carefreeness and most closely resembles Beam’s latest offering Ghost on Ghost . From album opener ‘Caught in the Briars’, it seems a weight has been lifted from Beam’s shoulders.

The tension found on The Shephard’s Dog seems to be a thing of the past. Relaxed and whimsical, the tune recalls a very effervescent  Cat Stevens.   A vast array of instrumentation adding to the merriment. Woodwind and brass sections flank Beam’s acoustic riffs, providing the backbone for what sounds like a holiday-revived Beam – an optimistic Iron & Wine sound we may not be very accustomed to as of yet, but enjoyable nonetheless. After a brief, double time jazz outro, the good vibes continue on following track ‘The Desert Babbler’ in which Beam shows off his smooth falsetto in a mid-tempo, almost disco-esque ballad. Backed by a layered bed of oohs and ahhs, the track winds back the clocks and resonates 70’s heartthrobs Bread. It’s a far cry from the intimacy of early Iron and Wine LPs but the direction is fully embraced and realised with genuine flair. If you were drawn in by Iron and Wine’s first albums, you find yourself taking the time to find your footing with Beam’s pop-driven direction. It’s almost as though Beam has spent too long in the city after leaving a humble country life. While Ghost on Ghost is a wonderfully produced album, cohesive and very listenable.

In saying that, itchy feet are an admirable trait in any musician and Beam has definitely dipped his toes in more genres than many, proving his versatility more than once and with bated breath, I will eagerly await his next journey.

tunng                    Tunng – Turbines

It’s never to surprising when a band almost ten years into their career mellow out a little. Even hardcore punk bands can recall owning acoustic guitars. But with Tunng, the freak – folk/folktronica outfit, how much could they really mellow ? There is a touch less energy here and the solemnity is made apparent by the lack of percussion in the arrangements and overall mixes. With Turbines being their fifth full length release, this may be when the band has come across a collective shift in mood.

There’s a deceptive warmth to Tunng’s Turbines, exemplified both by the description, in “Trip Trap”, of a woman as “sweet and sour, a poisonous flower”, and musically by the blend of wispy analogue synth and tingling acoustic guitar in “Heavy Rock Warning”. Cyclical guitar figures set up a delicate momentum, only to be washed away by waves of synth noise and simple acoustic arrangements expand into folk-rockers. It’s Tunng’s most direct effort yet, eschewing the “folktronic” bricolage of albums like Good Arrows; but there’s plenty happening beneath the surface. The first two releases by Tunng, Mothers Daughters and Other Songs along with Comments of the Inner Chorus delivered the original experimentation the band was working through. Samples of found sounds and electronic add ons danced between the three acoustic guitars and multi vocal harmonies.

As much as Turbines is a touch mellower than any previous effort, the sense of experimentation is definitely abound again. Perhaps due to the electronic flourishes and theremin,  feeling truly integral to the song. Tunng’s notion of folk is built around song structures rather than just the use of acoustic instruments. It’s why steel drum sounds make perfect sense in a song that is in no way meant to invoke images of the Caribbean. It’s the kind of authenticity that so many bearded boys in shabby clothes wish they could achieve.

The-National-Trouble-Will-Find-Me-300x300     The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It comes without question that The National‘s escalating popularity can be attributed to their reliability. With songs written about real pressures, existential dread and the weight of others expectations of you to have your shit together. Striving seems to be a strong main theme throughout the majority of their collective catalog. On their sixth and easily most aerodynamic album to date, Trouble Will Find Me is an easily accessible and self-assured work, largely because it focuses on the visceral power of Berninger’s vocals and Bryan Devendorf’s inventive drumming. It’s a sign of trust that they can convey all of their ornate and rich melancholy without every sad note being underlined by a bassoon.

The National has a little secret on Trouble… that for all of the Dressner brothers’ orchestral ambitions, these songs are much more simple things. Instantly memorable melodies and minimal chord progressions become familiar after one listen, and then there’s a pivot, usually undetectable the first time around, that takes the National towards one of their proprietary grand finales. The greatness lies in when the listener connects the two and realizes they’re part of the same song.

There most definitely is a symmetry between Trouble and the band’s previous effort, the highly acclaimed High Violet. Both albums open with the same sort of salvo. At this point, it’s an established tenet for any National album to make a proper introduction before any listener is free to roam in its ensuing universe. On the surface it’s no secret, you know what you’re going to get with a new National album. Sad lyrics, dark humour, shimmering guitars, pensive string arrangements, an incredibly sneaky rhythm section that maintains the pulse of everything and allows for all the beautiful harmonies to exist.

This may be the only band on the planet where predictability is desired. When they do what they do so well … why change ? No bother, but somehow they seem to dig just a little bit deeper and become a little bit stronger and find all the right ways to make you love them a little bit longer. Until the next time Matt Berringer and his gang leave with your tears, a puddle of light in the palms of your hands.

Mad-Season-Above-Front-300x300                  Mad Season – Above

If you were a product of the early nineties music scene then this clearly is an exciting reissue to get your hands on. Completely remastered, with bonus songs featuring Mark Lanegan, the voice of a thousand cigarettes. Along with a full concert from the historical April 29 1995 gig at the Moore Theatre and a full book/essay written by the remaining band memebers telling the story of Mad Season.

The time period of the early 90’s brought out a slew of bands that fought against the grain of the cock rock heavy metal glam Fabio hair scene the preceded. In fact, the ‘grunge’ scene kicked them all right in the teeth in true punk fashion yet without the intent to do so. At the top of the ranks you had Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, Candlebox, Green River, Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog.

Now, most of these bands hand one thing in common aside from the flannel, ripped jeans and doc martins. Side projects. Sadly for others it became dead frontman, which is where some of the side projects would be born. But for the case of Mad Season the darker truth comes much later, 7 years to be exact. 7 Year Bitch anyone ? Bueller ?

During the production of Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, guitarist Mike McCready went into rehabilitation in Minneapolis, where he met John Baker Saunders, bassist for The Lamont Cranston Band. In 1994, when the two returned to Seattle, they formed a side band with Screeming Trees drummer Barrett Martin. Immediately the trio set up rehearsal time together and began writing material. McCready then brought in friend and Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley to round out the line-up. McCready had hoped that being around sober musicians would push Staley to get himself sober.

Recorded in 1994 at Bad Animal Studios, released in March of ’95 Above is a tremendous and legendary album. Even garnering a radio hit with brutally honest and the addiction inflicted lyrics of ‘River of Deceit’. With a powerhouse line-up, dark morose lyrics and gritty blues trampled by raw grunge progressions Above  stands to be one of the greatest of the Seattle side project releases. Charting higher than Temple of the Dog, Brad or Three Fish.

Deeply focused on Staley’s pains with addiction and other troubles, possibly his strongest lyrical accomplishment. Songs like ‘Wake Up’, ‘Long Gone Day’ & ‘River of Deceit’ all give a clear look into what Layne was conveying in AIC. McCready is able to delve deep into his bluesy SRV style and apply the swamp dirge tone for a platform Layne can deliver his heartfelt poetry from a broken soul.

Easily for many one of the most quintessential albums from that era and still a gem to this long gone day.

eluvium2           Eluvium – Nightmare Ending

Eluvium‘s music is geared to fill the space in our attention we’re not actively using for anything else. There’s plenty of ambient and drone music that exists and aims to disorient the listener into alien terrain. Matthew Cooper’s Eluvium project has always valued comfort over estrangement. His 10 year catalog plays like nerve balm for the anxious. These records serve to work, sleep or act as companions for long stretches of boredom.

Nightmare Ending gives longtime followers of Cooper’s work familiar ground, gilded drone, hints of guitar, patient piano and warm organ from just over the horizon. The sounds feel detached from their sources and keep rhythm with repeated mechanical glitches and pulses. Like some sleeping giant organism. Rather than working within deliberate constraints, Cooper creates something that feels almost like two albums have been spliced together, Nightmare Ending doesn’t travel a straight path but meanders through Eluvium’s many modes of space and spectral beauty.

Nightmare Ending may be too big of an introduction to Cooper’s work as Eluvium but is a summit for anyone who has been traveling within his fog through the years.  That being said, earlier work, either Talk Amongst The Trees, Lambent Material or Copia would be the perfect proposed first steps into Cooper’s work and would only make Nightmare Ending much more impressive and wonderful.

Boards-Of-Canada-Tomorrows-Harvest-300x300Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

Boards of Canada‘s fourth full length release is their darkest, moodiest and most anticipated output of the career. There may not have ever been such mystery surrounding any groups upcoming release. The 8 year wait felt much like an Easter egg hunt. First there were unmarked vinyl records whose number combined with other clues to direct fans to the announcement of the new album. Then there was a broadcast of a grainy video accompanied with by hazy impending ambient music at a busy Tokyo intersection which was later revealed as the second track on Tomorrow’s Harvest, Reach For The Dead. Finally there was a playback in an abandoned leisure park in the California Desert, a locale aptly suited for BOC‘s guiding principles; nostalgia, remoteness, unease and the prospect of a dystopian future.

Whatever it all meant, Tomorrow’s Harvest does reward the 8 year wait and the Easter egg hunt. BOC maintain all their sonic signatures of old. Their out of fashion breakbeats and arpeggiating synths, redolent of 70’s film soundtracks and crackly transmissions that alternate between washes of amniotic analog sound.

Tomorrow’s Harvest is another intriguing release from a splendidly arcane group and guaranteed, it’s best left for you to reflect on your own interpretation.

Mnt Kim

Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

With knotted beats akin to Four Tet, detuned smears reminiscent of Prefuse 73 and even chilly star maps parallel to Boards of Canada, Mount Kimbie share much in common with their IDM ancestors. On Cold Spring Fault Less Youth the duo focus on how genres intersect and what can be created from their collision.

Featuring vocals from 19 year old rapper King Krule, it gives the tunes a different feeling and direction but may not be the album’s strongest.  Recording the vocals with live drums in the room likely gave Krule’s delivery something more than benign but the live drum takes didn’t make final recording. Both Dominic Maker and Kai Campos also make vocal cuts on CSFLY to pleasant effect. It reminds of shape note singing in its pacing and expression. It’s not pop music but it makes those tracks balance on the edges of the arrangements.

The instrumental tracks have an almost post rock feel, with their erratic splendor. CSFLY is comfortable with it’s imbalance and is a triumph in its own right. A more ambitious effort than Crooks & Lovers. Telling something true whether or not the outside worlds notices.

hopkins              Jon Hopkins – Immunity

As a music fan there are few feelings that do more to validate wading and searching through the muck than a genuine breakthrough. With his fourth effort,  Jon Hopkins‘ Immunity is a solid addition to an otherwise wonderful resume. Yet another release by Hopkins proving he his hell bent on creating his own luck. Has he ever, Immunity is a culmination of his earlier achievements and a progression beyond them.

Fragile and kinetic, even abrasive all the while creating an awe existing in a realm few other techno records occupy. Demanding to be listened to in its entirety thanks to its pacing, a broad sonic palette and a confident command of rhythm. Beats are being built out of everyday noises, from distant trains to the flipping of pages in a book and doors closing. Uncountable layers of slithering stutter stepping over each other while playing roulette and transitioning into the contrast between grace and snarl. Even still, finding the perfect point for meshing diaphanous piano with bubbling basslines. Immunity is an intricate engine.

All in all the road map of Immunity is splendidly plotted by Hopkins. Taking the right amount of time to show you the destinations you didn’t even know you wanted to see.

sigur ros                  Sigur Ros – Kveikur

Following the release of 2012’s slow burning ambient affair Valtari, 2013 finds Sigur Ros shedding their long time keyboardist and returning to the studio for their seventh lp and deliver it in the shortest gestation period between Sigur ros albums ever. Did Kveiker develop as a companion piece to Valtari or is it a reactionary piece to the criticisms that have been buzzing since the 2012 release… that they’ve swapped their musical muscle for vapour ?

Kveiker punches at Valtari’s languor. The album bones up and jumps out of the murk, a bold stroke that turned heads even among those that had shelved the band as mere mood music past it expiration date. However for the long time Sigur Ros fan, it’s undeniable, they are still filling their own mold. Kveiker is unmistakably a Sigur Ros record.

It may be plated in new texture and snaps the band out of their sleepwalk but something new is born on Kveiker. A lack of patience. Each song plunges toward the next climax stepping through familiar rhythms at a newly brisk pace. Don’t expect to lose your way in the haunted tundra or deep in the thickets. This is dark, warm, safe space for Sigur Ros devotees.

Kveiker unsettles with new creative use of textures. Chains rattle around like ghostly prisoners, pummeling post-rock, hauntology and its concentrated heavy metal symbolism and metaphorical aspects. Possibly signifying Sigur Ros’ transformation and finally acknowledging their impact by beating all of their acolytes at their own game. It’s one thing for a complete sonic overhaul but what stands out is how natural this feels.

high wolf                  High Wolf – Kairos: Chronos

French drone wizard High Wolf has racked up a sizable discography, including everything from cassettes, CDs, CD-Rs, LPs and 7″s.  Kairos: Chronos is only his second LP but already has made an incredible amount of progress since his early tapes.  The ‘High Wolf sound’ has been concentrated into it’s essence now.

There’s much more dubwise production; the basslines are fatter, the beats thump louder and it’s easier to dance to. Yet it’s still hazy and psychedelic. “Kulti” opens the album, with some mellow guitars trickling in, along with echoed electronic percussion and fluid bass synthesizer. A big dub reggae bass guitar line and an echo-covered 4/4 beat surface, as well as softly rattling percussion and cosmic guitars. After a bit of a break from the 4/4 beat, the guitars stop to breathe while the other percussion plays, before the guitar swells back up and switches to some more distorted effects. The track seems like it’s going to end around 6 minutes, but the bassline and beat resume and there’s some shadowy, dubbed-out vocals lurking in the fog, while the guitars chance shade again.

Kairos: Chronos is a grand statement from an artist worth keeping your eye on and even worth the chance to dig into some of his back catalogue. Surely you’ll discover some gems.

braids-flourishperish-2013                  Braids – Flourish/Perish

Braids‘ 2011 effort ‘Native Speaker’ not only stood out as a cerebral, iventive and syncopated take on their peers but it also landed them a short list name drop on the Polaris Prize. The Montreal groups follow up finds them crystallizing their influences and thought processes into yet another accomplished collection of tracks.

Flourish//Perish is entirely doused in interplay between voice and percussive melody. Rapaelle Standell Preston has gained a striking amount of confidence in her vocal delivery, which is a defining element of the trio’s over all sound.  Woven neatly into the bands ambience is the obsession with loops. Masquerading as a grounding constant, each layer is coated with dynamic and structure that creates the DNA and draws the elements of each song together.

While ‘Native Speaker’ relied primarily on live guitar and keyboards, Flourish/Perish has a clean crisp electronic overtone. A large step forward for the groups overall dynamic. Possibly even something Preston was drawn to after working with her partner/boyfriend on their Blue Hawaii project. But the peaks and drops on this current release from Braids unveil a sonic tapestry in full detail that becomes gorgeously granular on subsequent listens while never being obscure or academic.

bluehawaii             Blue Hawaii – Untogether

Blue Hawaii are an interesting case for the creeping influence on electronic music. The Montreal duo consisting of couple Andrew Cowan and Raphaelle Standell Preston (of Braids) have crafted a bewitchingly wispy and sensually stark album.  One of the albums strongest attributes: looped, wordless vocals creating brand new melodies. It’s a tactic borrowed from bass music and reused here to surprisingly good effect. At its most evocative, Untogether creates the eerie feeling of being the only person in a cavernous, strobe-lit club. Take the awesome two-part highlight “In Two”– where the atmosphere’s so diffuse and desolate that even a sudden intrusion of handclaps doesn’t  feel like a moment of collectivity or unity. Instead, it only emphasizes the feeling of isolation: the claps sound distant, drifted in, and possibly made by ghosts.

Volcano-Choir-Repave1-300x300              Volcano Choir – Repave

Volcano Choir‘s second album, Repave, is filled with memorable hooks, hummable melodies and arena sized choruses . The album is beyond cohesive, splitting the difference between the refinement of Bon Iver and rounding of the edges of the 2009 VC effort, Unmap. Repave isn’t just an album cultivated in the interim of Bon Iver releases, it’s something that has existed and evolved all along. An album that weaves something unfettered and cinematic. A genuine record that lies sonically and lyrically somewhere between the obscure and deeply personal.

The line between poetry and hard won reality is what Repave demonstrates best. The songs swell with possibilities of love and hope. However, Vernon and company genuinely bring to light different perspectives on how to deal with loss, redemption and forgiveness. Whether it be decoded in the reverb soaked vocals or the layers of pristine instrumentation, Volcano Choir have made clear that this is not just a post rock affair of Collection of Colonies of Bees featuring Justin Vernon… this is much more. A force to be reckoned with. A top contender for album of the year, right out the gates.

The upgrade over ‘Unmap’ is obvious, these songs have been poured over, without deadline. Tightly wound with mechanical precision, nothing is wasted and absolutely nothing is misplaced. Perhaps part in parcel, Unmap was sketches of songs emailed amongst its creators, where as Repave had the attention of every member in the room at the same time. A gesture and a labour of love that was able to create a masterpiece.

shigeto        Shigeto – No Better Time Than Now

Artists take on pseudonyms for a multitude of reasons, but in Zach Saginaw’s case, those reasons run deeper than most. Zach records under the name Shigeto. It’s his middle name; it’s also his grandfather’s name, a tribute to the Japanese branch of Zach’s family tree. Shigeto also means “to grow bigger”.

No Better Time Than Now may sound a bit cliche for an album title but given what Saginaw went through to get here, it’s aptly named. Amidst hectic touring schedules, moving or rather returning home (Detroit) and the end of a long term relationship, the sentiment of the album’s title tells of restless character ready to dig deep into his craft. As a whole the album feels like ‘change’. The rhythms are more assertive and, crucially, more drawn out. Rather than looping a single hip-hop beat and making a song around it, these tracks luxuriate in the space they have to resonate and grow.

It should also be mentioned that Saginaw is a drummer. He does all his drums, live. He’ll be standing behind a laptop one minute punctuating the perfect loops and sequences until it’s time for the beat to kick in. He simply walks over to his kit and proceeds to deliver. This is a more interesting method of composition for Saginaw. Throughout the album his drums are beautifully mixed with their surroundings. Surely Saginaw’s most confident work yet, No Better Time Than Now shows a young artist maturing with the grace of a seasoned musician.

olafur   Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter

Icelandic multi – instrumentalist neo classicist composer Olafur Arnalds delivers once more, the solitude and the sublime. Much a kin to Valgeir Sigurdsson’s Architecture Of Loss, For Now I Am Winter is stooped with bitterly romantic strings, morose impressive beauty full of shadowy wistful chamber music. Olafur handles the laptop and keyboard instrumentation but brings in members of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra to tackle the strings, woodwinds and brass arrangements. The orchestral direction is cautiously steered by Nico Muhly and are giving the overall pieces their mobility. The porcelain voice you hear at times is that of Anor Dan. The vocals heard on four of the tracks by Anor are so pristine it’s numbing.

For Now I Am Winter is an album to be felt more so than heard. Especially upon first listen. It’s the sort of album fit for a meandering stroll through crisp autumn air, perhaps through the woods, as the junipers bend to welcome you in. You’ll notice how the sun makes the dew drops sparkle over the ground cover while the cello keeps a warm body behind the piano notes that are floating into your ears. The elements you normally hear crunching or snapping under foot are now replaced by phasing drum parts that are lush just as much as they are gritty. It’s the sounds the soul needs once in a while.

We all need something more boisterously messy once in a while, a blaster or a groover even. I don’t blame any of you, as I am much the same. That after all is just another sonic gateway to heaven as anything else. But when all of that has died done and you’re looking to get lost for a time (as we all do) in your house of mirrors, now you know which album to turn to.

V                       Barn Owl – V

Kudos and much respect to any artist who change their game when they’re on top of it. The urge to keep doing something you know people like, and that you know you’ve done well must be hard to resist. But San Francisco duo Barn Owl consisting of Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras have not only refused to refill their glass with their favoured libation, they’ve come up with a fine new brew. follows their previous effort, Ancestral Star, a collection of heavily toasted road tested material that blew up Barn Owl’s cosmic Americana to epic proportions. Even a hatfull of solo records by both members have extended their guitar based sound into more ambient tape loop processed and amp blown directions.

For their fifth album (V) they have set aside the big guitar sound in favour of layers of synthesizers, which provide pulsing rhythms, cirrus cloud flourishes and a stream of well upholstered melodies. The tunes insinuate themselves with confidence so that before you know it, the church organ monolith on “The Long Shadow” and the scudding puffs of sonic wool that blow through “Against The Night”. The titles may sound nocturnal but the music is even more so. These looming pieces could score a film where the sun never rises and the people never come out. The emphasis on atmosphere and the absence of lyrics maintain an unbroken tether tot he old Barn Owl, but the heavily electronic instrumentation free form dust bowl signifiers make V a very strong fresh start.

Glacial-On-Jones-Beach-album-cover               Glacial – On Jones Beach

Glacial is a power trio of Lee Ranaldo (guitar) David Watson (bagpipes) and Tony Buck (drums). All have significant prior form in their chosen field, looslely put, modern approaches to experimental improvisational music. You may think you’d know what to expect from the trio – you would be right, but only to a point.

What startles initially about On Jones Beach is how hard nosed yet articulate the playing is. Ranaldo drills the guitar into submission from the get go immediately announcing a player on heightened form. Indeed the first section of the opus that makes up the entirety of the lp (and download) is positively hallucinatory, a deep murky pool of excoriating guitar buzzes and scowls. When we hit the fifteen minute mark Buck brings out the ham-fisted rock drums, this illuminates the performance to a point but not as much as the advanced manner they’ve been propelling. Less than ten minutes we are back on terra firma, Buck turns it all into a stalactite of rainfall metals,the leap is skin tingling, shocking (in a wonderful way) and welcome.

From here the trio plays out various modes of interacting, juxtaposition, droe along, by now Ranaldo’s guitar is scalding and Watson’s bagpipes are channeling a 22nd century snake charmers. The whole 48 minutes is a fairly thrilling ride and the download that comes with the lp gives three miniatures from concerts in New York and Paris. The imposing edifice of On Jones Beach, feels just right.

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RSD 2013 & My Vinyl Alibi

The joys of Record Store Day. It’s my other Christmas. Just a little over a week away and the excitement is mounting. Will I gather all the gems on my wishlist ? All I know for sure is I’ll be heading over to my favourite indie record shop, Vinyl Alibi. Its like my home away from home. I’ll pop in a few times a week, sometimes just to say hi.

This local independent record shop has grown substantially in the last 2 years. Since its inception, I am proud to say I’ve been a customer and privileged enough to be a friend of Matt Crawford (owner & operator) and Brian Rutherford‘s (employee and web guru extraordinaire). These fellas have always had sublime selection in stock and have made such an effort to make special orders not only for myself but for any of their customers.

The early days of Vinyl Alibi found Matt and his stock packed away into a hole in the wall in the small town of Bowmanville. He poured everything he had into his vision of being a reputable record store and did a damn fine job even then for his first crack at it. As the business began to pick up some steam and customers were becoming regulars it came time to go on line. This not being Matt’s area of skill, he found exactly what he was looking for in Brian. A young, reasonably handsome chap who could man his way around a website like nobody’s business. Together the two begin to shape the store and with their impeccable music tastes, combined with a shared vision of the business’ direction Vinyl Alibi become something of a haven for all the local musicians and music fanatics. 

A year later the big decision to expand came and found Vinyl Alibi just a little closer to Matt’s home. Still in town but merely steps away from the coffee pot in his kitchen. Where he always has “fresh pots” on the go. The change was welcomed by all and it brought a larger selection of new and used stock. Matt spending countless hours crate digging through peoples collections that they want to sell. Scouring for the old classics and gems to bring into his shop. Ordering the newest titles constantly and setting up shop at every record show possible. Brian and his website for the store blossomed into an online ordering site which finds the guys shipping vinyl all over the world on a regular basis. Even a bi monthly shipment to some guy in France ! 

This once hole in the wall shop has even grown into a live venue of sorts. Hosting bands on a semi regular basis and go so far as to do promo for local acts, musicians and touring bands that roll on through the region. There love of the scene, music and vinyl is the heart they wear on their sleeves every day.

I’ve shopped at many a record store across this country and even a few globally but truth be told, there’s a sense of comfort here at Vinyl Alibi. A welcoming vibe, a community of music lovers and a sense of excitement that exists every time you walk through the doors. So whether you’re local or from another town, I’m sure each of you have an independent record store near you and close to your heart that is worth supporting on a regular basis. Go show some love Saturday April 20th 2013 to those local indie record peddlers we’ve all grown to love.

To Vinyl Alibi, Thanks for feeding our addictions, keep on keeping on & viva la vinyl.

(for more info on Vinyl Alibi and to check out their stock visit):

Here’s a run down of what to expect for RSD next Saturday:

§ Kill Rock Stars The Compilations (limited 3 cassette box set) (400 copies)

TRACKLISTING (thank you Music Saves!  Cleveland’s best music store!)
Tape 1, Side a:
Girl Germs 1:45 Bratmobile
Loch Ness 2:17 Some Velvet Sidewalk
Don’t Mix The Colors 1:48 Courtney Love
N.O.U. Cooking With Gas! 3:57 The Nation Of Ulysses
You Speak Jealously 3:14 Unwound
Narrow 3:09 Mecca Normal
Beeswax 2:47 Nirvana
My Red Self 3:48 Heavens To Betsy
Strong, Warm, And In Command 5:01 Steve Fisk

Tape 1, Side B:
Feels Blind 3:36 Bikini Kill
Reaper Song 1:41 Witchypoo
Ever Since My Accident 0:50 Melvins
Immediate Impound Zone 5:54 Infamous Menagerie
Make You Come 1:11 Kicking Giant
Everybody And Their Dog 1:32 Fitz of Depression
Red Dress 2:52 Jad Fair
8-Ball Deluxe 2:45 7 Year Bitch
I.O.U. 2:22 Kreviss
Don’t Look At Me 3:29 Anonymous

Tape 2, Side A:
Supreme Nothing 2:17 Tiger Trap
Nutritious Treat 2:28 God Head Silo
Cheap Tragedies 2:56 Jack Acid
Speed Fortress 3:59 Tribe 8
Another Face 3:32 Versus
Nights X 9 1:38 Slant 6
Gauze 5:26 Karp
Camden Town Rain 3:20 Mary Lou Lord

Tape 2, Side B:
Come On 3:13 Calamity Jane
Hasbeen 2:23 Heroin
Hair 3:17 Adickdid
Sony Radio 2:49 Getaway Car
Only Straight Girls Wear Dresses 4:44 C-Wa
Whiteout 0:51 Bumblescrump
Mother’s Little Helper 2:40 the cheesecakes
Bunnies 2:02 Pansy Division
Omnivore 1:19 Nikki McClure

Tape 3, Side a:
Horse Girl 0:51 Tourettes
M.P. Skulkers 2:53 Cupid Car Club
Megablot 4:01 Star Power
Pukulee & Rikulee 4:36 Boredoms
Puffin Stars 2:13 Helium w/The Bird Of Paradise
Stupid Crazy 2:35 The Spinanes
Seven 1:47 Team Dresch
We Are Not Your Entertainers 0:38 Mukilteo Fairies
Anatomically Correct 1:19 God Is My Co-Pilot
Rev 2:36 Severed Lethargy
Brixton 3:05 Rancid
Feed The Tree 1:54 Free Kitten

Tape 3, Side B:
Painfully Obvious 2:20 Universal Order Of Armageddon
Patty Coahuila 2:52 Teh Pee Chees
Roche Limit 4:00 Star Pimp
Don The Beachcomber 3:33 Pell Mell
Smog- 37 Pushups 2:18 Smog
Eskinaut 1:14 Star Sign Scorpio
North Pole 1:24 Hattifatteners
Pretty Polly 2:38 Grouse Mountain Skyride
Detox Killer (Erotic Thriller) 1:55 Fifth Column
Pusdog – Fleabag 4:32 Fleabag
I Wish I Was Him – Kathleen Hanna 2:59

§ MGMT Alien Days (limited cassette single with download card)
§ Various Artists Burger Mixtape Volume 1 (Burger Records compilation) (250 copies)

§ Ani DiFranco Buffalo 4/22/12 OFFICIAL BOOTLEG 2CD with 3 new tracks (3000 copies only)
§ Built to Spill LIVE CD
§ Codeine What About the Lonely CD (1000 copies only–CONFIRMED)
§ Gaslight Anthem Handwritten Deluxe  CD/DVD combo–(DVD of live concert footage and a book of photos of the group and the Handwritten CD (800 copies)
§ Grateful Dead are Cuts & Oddities 1966
§ Half Japanese Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts 3xCD box with 32 page booklet and new tracks (2000 copies)
§ Imagine Dragons Live at Independent Records RSD CD (2000 copies)
§ King Crimson Going Schizoid with King Crimson Set (features CD, Graphic Novel, T-Shirt, sticker and poster)
§ Mumford & Sons Live at Bull Moose
§ R.E.M. Live in Greensboro CD (5 track EP, limited to 2500 copies) 
§ Scanner Hypertrace (1000 copies only–remastered with bonus track)
§ Scanner Terminal Earth CD (1000 copies only—remastered with bonus track)
§ White Mystery Telepathic CD


§ Adrian Lloyd Lorna b/w Got a Little Woman Gold Vinyl (Sundazed)
§ Alfred Hitchcock Presents b/w The Munsters (TV Theme Songs Death Waltz 7″–might be UK only)
§ Atmosphere (as Demosexual) Demos (purple vinyl 7″, hand-numbered out of 2000 copies)
§ Avett Brothers and Randy Travis Music from CMT Crossroads–February Seven (featuring Randy Travis) b/w Three Wooden Crosses (Featuring Avett Brothers)
§ Best Coast Fear of My Identity b/w Who Have I Become 7”
§ Biffy Clyro Black Chandelier (LIVE from Switzerland–1/19/13 b/w City of Dreadful Night 7″ (2000 copies)
§ Billy Bragg No One Knows Anything Anymore b/w Song of the Iceburg 7″
§ Black Keys / Iggy & The Stooges No Fun Side by Side Split colored vinyl 7″ (7500 copies)
§ Black Lips/Icky Blossoms split—Black Lips Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys (Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings cover) b/w Icky Blossoms Arabian Knights (Siouxsie & The Banshees cover) 7″–1000 copies only 
§ Blu Thelonius King 7″
§ Bob Dylan Wigwam b/w Thirsty Boots from the forthcoming Bootleg Series Volume 10, features the demo version of Wigwam and the unreleased track from the Self Portrait sessions)
§ Boy Sets Fire Bled Dry 7″ (1000 copies only, clear/colored vinyl)
§ Brendon Benson Diamond b/w Good to Me (1997 Demo) 7″
§ Cake Sheep Go to Heaven (live) b/w Jesus Wrote A Blank Check (Live) 7″ Colored Vinyl (2000 copies only)
§ Cheech & Chong  Earache My Eye b/w Turn that Thing Down(limited Green vinyl 7”)
§ Chet Atkins Black Jack EP (Midnight, Boo Boo Stick Beat, Blackjack, Blue Moon of Kentucky) Red Vinyl (Sundazed)
§ Cooper I Wanna Love You b/w Baby I Love You
§ Dan Deacon Konono Ripoff No 1 individually numbered 7″ (500 copies only)
§ David Bowie Drive-In Saturday b/w Drive-In Saturday (Russel Harty Plus Pop Version) Picture Disc 7″  (3000 copies)
§ David Bowie The Stars Are Out Tonight b/w Where Are We Now?  First vinyl single off new album on white vinyl!
§ Deep Purple/Type O Negative Highway Star Side By Side 7″ on purple/clear vinyl.
§ Dio/Killswitch Engage Holy Diver Side by Side 7″ on oxblood red vinyl.
§ Donny Hathaway Never My Love b/w Memories of My Love 2500 copies
§ Doors / X Soul Kitchen (Side by Side Release) Split milky clear colored 7″ 
§ Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Live at Eddie’s Attic 7″
§ Duran Duran Is There Something I Should Know? b/w Faith In this Colour  Blue Vinyl 7″ (UK only?? maybe)
§ Earth Crisis Firestorm 7″ 900 copies on red vinyl
§ Eli Paperboy Reed WooHoo b/w Call Your Boyfriend  7″ (3000 copies)
§ Elliot Smith Alternate Versions from Either/Or 7″  (features 4 unreleased outtakes from the Either/Or sessions) (3500 copies)
§ Frank Turner Recovery b/w We Shall Not Overcome 7″ (500 copies)
§ Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention I’m the Slime b/w Montana remastered from original analog source, Montana is a 2013 single edit with an additional 25 seconds of music) on Green Slime colored vinyl (3000 copies)
§ Free Energy Girls Want Rock b/w Wild Life 7″
§ FUR, FAWN, The Hounds Below and Lightning Love split single
§ Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson The Bottle b/w Your Daddy Loves You Green Vinyl 7″
§ Golden Void Rise To The Out of Reach b/w Smiling Raven 7″ limited to 700 copies worldwide (500 for U.S.A.)
§ Husker Du 2×7″ (featuring Amusement, Statues, Writer’s Cramp and Let’s Go Die (Blackberry Way Studio tracks)  4000 copies
§ Ides of Gemini Hexagram 7″ (450 copies on clear vinyl)
§ Ilsa The IVth Crusade/Seven Sisters of Sleep Messiah split 7″ (Limited to 666 copies on blood red vinyl with 24×36″ “horror movie” style poster)
§ Iron & Wine Next to Paradise b/w Dirty Ocean 7″ (3300 copies)
§ Jason Isbell Pancho & Lefty b/w Elizabeth Cook Tecumseh Valley split 7″
§ JD McPherson Fire Bug b/w A Gentle Awakening Red Vinyl 7″ (1000 copies)
§ Jethro Tull Living in the Past EP (will be UK only)
§ Jimi Hendrix Hey Joe b/w Stone Free numbered 7″ with mono mixes
§ JIMMY EAT WORLD Damage b/w Stop Whispering (Radiohead cover) 7″ featuring new track off their forthcoming album (1500 copies in US, 300 overseas)
§ Josh Rouse Julie (Come Out of the Rain) 7” – First 7” of career; B-side is new unreleased song
§ Katatonia Buildings Limited Edition transparent colored 7″
§ Kate Nash Free My Pussy Heart Shaped Red Vinyl 7″ (1000 copies)
§ Like Rats Like Rats 7″ colored vinyl
§ Los Straitjackets and Freddy Cannon The Sox Are Rockin’ b/w Red Sox Nation Limited 7″
§ Low & Dirty Three In the Fishtank Volume 7  Gold vinyl 7″ limited to 500 copies
§ Luther How Can We Rest? b/w Astronomy in Color (Limited edition colored 7″)
§ Mike Cooley To Pretty to Work 7″
§ Mike Watt & The Black Gang Rebel Girl b/w 30 Days in the Hole (2000 only)
§ Misfits/Lemonheads Skulls Side by Side 7″ Picture Disc of various skulls.
§ Moby featuring Mark Lanegan The Lonely Night b/w Lonely Night (Photek Remix) 7″ (500 copies)
§ MYSTERY SIDE BY SIDE RELEASE—7″ SIDE BY SIDE sealed 7″ with artists kept a mystery to be a surprise to the buyer/listener….7″ is on Blue & Red splatter vinyl.
§ Neal Casal Mountains of the Moon b/w Grimes’ Surf Story 7″
§ Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Animal X 7″ Picture Disc
§ Non Phixion I shot Reagan b/w Refuse to Lose
§ O&S  Flowers Turn to Fire  colored vinyl 7″–1000 copies only
§ Old 97s & Waylon Jennings Iron Road  2×7″ featuring unreleased tracks–Iron Road b/w The Other Shoe along with Visiting Hours (Old 97s 1996 demo) b/w Fireflies (Old 97’s 1996 demo, take 2) (1000 copies)
§ Patty Griffin Ohio
§ Phoenix Bankrupt Grey vinyl 7″ with patch
§ Pink Floyd See Emily Play (Pink VInyl) 7″ (5000 copies)
§ Pornography  7 Minutes in Heaven 7″ featuring RYAN ADAMS, LEAH HENNESSEY and JOHNNY T YERINGTON (1500 copies in US, 300 overseas)–Remember this pic of them in the studio??  (
§ Pretty & Nice Q _Q b/w On & On
§ Public Image Ltd  Public Image b/w The Cowboy Song (4000 copies, each hand-numbered)
§ Pujol Deep Cuts colored vinyl 7″–1000 copies only
§ Richard Thompson Salford Sunday
§ Rifle Diet Abuse Begets Abuse b/w Inebriated 7″ (Part 4 of the Profane Existence Single Series on limited colored vinyl (either black, bruise violet, golden brew or opaque yellow)
§ Ringo Starr Singles Box (3×7″ lift-top lid box featuring Photograph b/w Down and Out; It Don’t Come Easy b/w Early 1970; and (It’s All Down To) Goodnight Vienna b/w Oo-wee and a poster & RSD 45 adapter) (5000 copies)
§ Ringworm 1991 Demos 7″ (black vinyl and colored vinyl versions)
§ Roky Erickson  Mine Mine Mind b/w Bloody Hammer (4000 copies, each hand-numbered on psychedelic swirl colored vinyl)
§ Rolling Stones 5×5 EP…reissue of the 1964 Decca release. (4500 copies)
§ Say Anything/Eisley Try To Remember, Forget (Acoustic) b/w Lost and Found (acoustic) 7″ clear vinyl (CANCELLED–will now only be available on TOUR)
§ Sean Rowe To Leave Something Behind 7″
§ Section 25 My Outrage Limited 7″ with exclusive b-side, 500 copies only (may be UK only…but did show up on one US distribution list I was sent)
§ Sharon Van Etten We are Fine 7″
§ Shearwater & Sharon Van Etten Stop Draggin My Heart Around b/w A Wake for the Minotaur 7″ 3000 copies only
§ Silverstein/August Burns Red Four Minutes Being Cool7″ (features Silverstein covering “Coming Clean” by the Get Up Kids and August Burns Red covering “You Vanda” by Saves the Day) (500 copies only)
§ Sir Douglas Quintent Interpreta En Espanol 2×7″ (Sundazed)
§ Small Faces Green Circles 7″ (Green vinyl 7″ with Mono and Stereo versions of title track)
§ Small Faces Here Comes the Nice b/w Talk to You (7″ reissue of 1967 debut US single)
§ Snapcase Steps   900 copies on white vinyl
§ Songs for Slim Volume 3–featuring the Minus 5 with Curtiss A performing “Rockin Here Tonight” and Tim O’Reagan & Jim Boquist performing “Cozy”
§ Sonny & The Sunsets Imagine (John Lennon cover) b/w Surfer Girl (Beach Boys cover)
§ Sophia Knapp Times Square b/w Sweet May 7″
§ SOUTH PARK  San Diego b/w Gay Fish 7′ picture disc featuring 2 songs from the TV show (2000 copies)
§ Star Trek b/w Lost in Space (TV Theme Songs Death Waltz 7″–might be UK only)
§ Surfer Blood Demon Dance b/w Slow Six Tri-colored vinyl release (5000 copies)
§ Superchunk Void b/w Faith Hand numbered 7″, limited to 1000 copies
§ Svarte Greiner/Lakes of Grass and Gold Landscape of Open Eyes 7″
§ T.S.O.L. You Don’t Have to Die (1980 Demo–Previously Unreleased) b/w Property is Theft and Dance With Me (both b-sides are Live tracks from the Cuckoo’s Nest from 1981!) 7″ 1000 copies only 
§ Testament Animal Magnetism (Scorpions cover) b/w Powerslave (Iron Maiden cover) 7″ 1000 copies only Picture Disc
§ The Atlas Moth Black Trees /Wolvhammer Burn split 7” (500 copies only, colored vinyl)
§ The Hold Steady The Bear and the Maiden Fair b/w Criminal Fingers 7″ (1500 copies only (1000 for US))
§ The Lonely Island (featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar)  YOLO b/w YOLO (Sam F Remix) Yellow vinyl 7″ (3000 copies)
§ The Seeds Bad Part of Town & Wish Me Up b/w Love in a Summer Basket & Did He Die 2×7″ (Sundazed)
§ The Shangri-Las EP features Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand) and Out in the Streets b/w I Can Never Go Home Anymore and Past, Present and Future
§ The Strokes All The Time 7” (will be UK only)
§ The Trashmen Mean Woman Blues b/w Big Boss Man Gold Vinyl (Sundazed)
§ Thermals  Desperate Ground Demos 7″ EP 1000 copies only
§ Toadies Down by the Water (PJ Harvey cover featuring Sarah Jaffe) b/w Rattler’s Revivial 7″
§ Touche Amore and Title Fight split 7″  Crescent Shaped Depression b/w Faceghost  7″ single (1000 copies)
§ Trey Anastasio Blue Ash & Other Suburbs 7″ Picture Disc (features 3 unreleased tracks from the Traveler Sessions—tracklisting: Blue Ash & Other Suburbs and  Gone b/w Tree and Can You See It?)
§ Trouble In Mind 4 Way Split featuring Jacco Gardner–(Always on My Mind:  Billy Nicholls), The Resonars (It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Witchcraft: Fairpoint Convention), MMOSS (Cathy’s Clown:  Everly Brothers) and Maston (I Go to Sleep:  The Kinks)
§ Twilight Zone b/w Outer Limits (TV Theme Songs Death Waltz 7″–might be UK only)
§ Uncluded, The Delicate Cycle b/w Earthquake (Green vinyl 7″, limited to 1000 hand-numbered copies)
§ Whirr  Part Time Punks Sessions 500 copies only on “Black on Electric Blue” colored vinyl (originally released digitally to help fix the band’s van, features 4 tracks:  Blue, Flashback, Junebouvier and Twist)
§ Willie Nelson Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die 7″ (features Snoop Dogg, Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson) on numbered green vinyl.
§ ZZ Ward Grinnin’ In Your Face b/w Everybody Wants to Be Famous 7″

§ *NEW*  The Repos Rejoice in Ruin b/w Haunted Piece 7″ (400 copies only)
§ *NEW*  Street Dogs Crooked Drunken Sons b/w We Fall Apart and I Got Drunk (Uncle Tupelo cover) 7″ (500 copies only on bone colored vinyl)
§ *NEW*  Poison Idea Filthkick EP 7″ (1000 copies worldwide–500 for U.S. on black vinyl)
§ *NEW*  Slipknot S/T EP 7″ (Band from New Haven, CT on Revelation Records, 1000 copies on Orange vinyl) 
§ *NEW* Ty Segall Ty Rex 2 7″ sequel featuring new T.Rex covers (1500 copies)
§ *NEW* The Wedding Present Two Chansons 7″ featuring two songs from Valentina performed in French (400 copies only)
§ *NEW* Tommy Keene Back to Zero Now 7″ (500 copies)
§ *NEW* Invisible Hands (Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls) Insect Dilemma b/w Disallowed 7″ 
§ *NEW* Night Marchers/Mrs. Magician split 7″ 


§ Alejandro Escovedo It’s A Sin (Eddy Arnold Cover) b/wChris Scruggs Just A Little Lovin’ (Will Go a Long Way) (Eddy Arnold Cover) 78RPM 10″  (CANCELLED)
§ Bombino Azamane Tiliade/Si Chilan 10″ single (3000 copies)
§ Dave Brubeck Trio Distinctive Rhythm Instrumentals Red Vinyl 10″ (2000 copies)
§ Face to Face The Other Half 10″ (500 copies only colored vinyl)
§ GARBAGE Because the Night (featuring Screaming Females) b/w Love Like Suicide and Automatic Systematic Habit Costa Cadeu Remix (5000 copies)
§ Ghoul Intermediate Level Hard-Core – A Clearview Records Music Primer Featuring Ghoul (Contains covers of GWAR, Dayglo Abortions, N.O.T.A., Willful Neglect, etc) Red Vinyl 10″ on 190g vinyl
§ Herman Dune Monument Park EP 10″ featuring title track with 4 exclusive unreleased tracks (500 copies only)
§ Joe Bussard Guitar Rag b/w Screwdriver Slide 78RPM 10″
§ Josephine Foster Little Life (1st time on vinyl, originally released as a CD-R in 2001, comes with CD inside) 500 copies
§ Justin Townes Earle Yuma 10″ EP (debut EP, previously only available on CD, Opaque Gold vinyl–1000 copies only)
§ Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters Chapter 1 (3×10″ on Red, Green and Gold colored vinyl)
§ Little John’s Clark Booty 10″ Picture Disc featuring Little John and Scorcher
§ Marshall Crenshaw Stranger and Stranger EP2 (1st was released on Black Friday 2012)
§ Mumford & Sons Live at Bull Moose
§ Placebo B3 EP 10″ (5 track EP, previously only available digitally) (3000 copies)
§ Punch Brothers Ahoy EP (features tracks by Josh Ritter, Mclusky, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and more) 
§ Ra Ra Riot Binary Mind 10″ (1000 copies only)
§ Rob Zombie Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown b/w Teenage Nosferatu Pussy 10″ 45RPM single (4000 copies)
§ Scientist Scientific Dub 3×10″ box, limited to 2000 copies on Red, Green and Gold colored vinyl.
§ Sly & The Family Stone I Want to Take You Higher 10” (features EXCLUSIVE b-side that will NOT be available in the upcoming boxset, only on this 10″)
§ Soundgarden King Animal Demos Pink Vinyl 10” (6 tracks) (2500 copies)
§ The Animals The Animals are Back 10″ cut at 45RPM (2700 copies for US)
§ The Animals The Animals is Here 10″ cut at 45RPM (2700 copies for US)
§ The Cal Tjader Trio s/t Orange Vinyl 10″

§ *NEW*  OMD  Night Cafe 10″


§ A Place to Bury Strangers Strange Moon EP 12″ featuring covers of Portland’s Dead Moon’s songs
§ Austra + Gina X Mayan Drums 12″  (500 copies only)
§ Avenged Sevenfold Carry On Call of Duty Picture Disc limited to 5000 copies
§ Bardo Pond Rise Above It All (features covers of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” and Pharoah Sanders “the Creator has a Master Plan”) 500 copies
§ Beta Band Champion Versions 12″ (UK RSD)
§ Beta Band The Patty Patty Sound 12″ (UK RSD)
§ Beta Band Los Amigos Del Beta Bandados 12″ (UK RSD)
§ Bon Jovi Live EP 12″ 4 track Picture Disc single (2000 copies)
§ Brian Eno x Nicolas Jaar x Grizzly Bear 12″ (features Nicolas Jaar remixing a track from Brian Eno and Grizzy Bear’s latest albums) (4500 copies)
§ BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE Fist Full of Bees b/w Food for Clouds Colored vinyl 12″, numbered out of 2000 copies with 2 HIDDEN TRACKS
§ Brendon Benson & Willy Mason Upstairs at United Volume 7 12”
§ Buffalo Killers Ohio Grass 6 song 12″ on Herb Green vinyl with pot leaf sticker
§ Chica Libre Quatra Tigres EP 4 track 12″ featuring the theme the band did for the Simpsons features a jacket designed by a famous South American artist.
§ Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Patterns 12″ limited to 3000 copies
§ El Michels Affair Enter the 37th Chamber 12″ Picture Disc single 
§ Fela & Africa 70 Sorrow, Tears & Blood (original extended version–previously unreleased) b/w Perambulator
§ Fitz & The Tantrums Out of My League 12″
§ G Love & Special Sauce Bloodshot & Blue Acoustic EP (produced by Jack Johnson) 1500 copies
§ Gary Clark Jr. Presents HWUL Raw Cuts Volume 2 colored vinyl 12” (1000 copies) 
§ Giant Giant Sand Return to Tucson (revised versions of 2012’s Tucson) 1000 copies, with 100 having a screenprinted sleeve
§ Goat Run to Your Mama Remixes Volume 2 12″ (Blue Vinyl, limited to 2000 copies) (UK ONLY)
§ Grouplove/Frightened Rabbit/Manchester OrchestraMake It To Me (Grouplove & Manchester Orchestra) b/w Architect (Frightened Rabbit & Manchester Orchestra) limited 12″ with TWO DIFFERENT COVERS
§ Joy Formidable A Minute’s Silence b/w Badlands (Live from Sirius Radio)
§ Junior Boys  Even Truer Remix EP (500 copies only)
§ Moon Duo Circles Remixes 12″ single (1100 copies)
§ New Found Glory Mania (Ramones Covers) 12″ EP 1000 copies only (FEATURES THE FOLLOWING TRACKS COPIED FROM
1) I Wanna Be Sedated 
2) Rockaway Beach 
3) Rock N Roll High School 
4) Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio?
5) Judy is a Punk
6) The KKK Took My Baby Away 
§ Owen Seaside EP 700 copies on Blue vinyl
§ OWLSA Various Artists 12” (Skrillex, etc.) (Postponed?)
§ Paul McCartney & Wings Maybe I’m Amazed (live 12″) (3500 copies)
§ Pulp After You 12” (4000 copies) 
§ Pussy Galore Groovy Hate Fuck EP reissue of the 1986 2nd release by Pussy Galore.
§ R15 Yep Roc Heresy/They Call It Rock 12” and DVD – First 300 include screen printed cover; All hand-numbered; DVD documentary of Yep Roc 15 artist recording session; Digital download of two additional bonus remixes
§ Refused  Everlasting EP (3000 copies with new artwork)
§ Rhye Open 12″ (features previously unreleased live version of title track) (1500 copies)
§ Robyn Hitchcock There Goes the Ice 12”– 8 songs from his popular Digital Phantom 45 series, previously only available online; 2 new unreleased songs
§ Smoke Fairies Upstairs At United Volume 6 (recorded at URP on 10/17/11).
§ Steven Wilson Luminol (Demo Version) b/w The Watchmaker (Demo Version) 12″ featuring 2 unreleased demo tracks from the “Raven that Refused to Sing” sessions.
§ Tame Impala Tame Impala  EP (5000 copies)
§ Tegan & Sara Closer Remixes 12” (5000 copies)
§ The Fauns Fragile b/w Sun is Cruising Remixes 12″ (1000 copies only)
§ The XX Jamie XX Edits  12” (4000 copies)
§ Their/They’re/There Debut EP (featuring Evan Weiss, Mike Kinsella and Matthew Frank) 1000 copies on clear seafoam colored vinyl
§ Three Hits Pressure Dome 12″ Colored vinyl EP (features 3 previously unreleased tracks)
§ Thurston Moore and Loren Conners The Only Way to Go is Straight Through 12″  (2000 copies)
§ Tift Merritt 12” – Acoustic version of title track from new album Traveling Alone, along with three unreleased songs; Handmade and numbered covers
§ Titus Andronicus Record Store Day EP 12”  (3 song EP, featuring the album track “Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter” and features 2 unreleased tracks–“(I’ve Got a) Date Tonight” and “The Dog”…limited to 2500 copies)
§ Tour only split EP featuring Kadavar, Blckwvs, The Tidal Sleep and Messer on colored vinyl limited to only 300 copies (previously only available in Europe before shows or through This Charming Man’s webstore afterwards, first time available in US) 
§ Turning Shrines Face of Another 12′ EP w/bonus 7″ (600 copies only)  
§ Walk the Moon Tightrope EP features 6 tracks including an acoustic version of Tightrope and a cover of the Talking Heads ‘Burning Down the House’

§ *NEW* Thee Oh Sees  Moon Sick 12″ EP 
§ *NEW* Mugstar Centralla 12″ (2 track 12″ on blue vinyl, limited to 300 copies) 
§ *NEW* Tunabunny Form A Line 12″ (limited to 200 copies) 
§ *NEW* The Asphodells Remix 12″ (limited to 1000 copies) 


§ A. Vuolo / E. Grande Desert 
§ Across Tundras / Lark’s Tongue Split LP 
§ Aerosmith Aerosmith 180g LP, individually numbered
§ Aerosmith Get Your Wings 180g LP, individually numbered
§ Aerosmith Toys in the Attic 180g LP, individually numbered
§ Akimbo Live to Crush (limited, hand-numbered LP)
§ All That Remains Fall of Ideals LP (1st time on vinyl)
§ Aloha Here Comes Everyone limited Green vinyl LP
§ Antonio Maiovvi Yellow–Music from the Short Film(Death Waltz LP on Yellow/Blood splatter vinyl)
§ Arawak  Accad (de A
§ Art Blakey & the Jazz Messingers Munich ’59 LP (unreleased concert, 1st time on vinyl)
§ At the Drive-In Relationship of Command (Limited Colored RSD version) (4000 copies)
§ Avenged Sevenfold Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough (LP w/DVD–limited to 3500 copies)
§ Barrington Levy’s Reggae Anthology:  Sweet Reggae Music (1979-84) LP
§ Bayside Live at the Bayside Social Club 2LP reissue  900 copies on white vinyl (1st time on vinyl, also includes acoustic tracks recorded at Looney Tunes Record Store)
§ Ben Harper By My Side LP
§ Between the Buried and Me Anatomy Of 2LP 900 copies on orange vinyl (1st time on vinyl)
§ Big Star Nothing Can Hurt Me (Special Pressing 2LP)180g Gatefold featuring demos, outtakes and new mixes of tracks taken from the Nothing Can Hurt Me Documentary. (1000 copies only)
§ Black Swans Occasion for Song Deluxe Gatefold 2LP reissue limited to 500 copies
§ Blitzen Trapper Blitzen Trapper 180g LP with digital download and 5 unreleased tracks
§ Big Mamma Thornton Jail
§ Black Milk  Synth or Soul LP
§ Blind Melon Blind Melon + Sippin Time Sessions EP 2LP (2000 copies only)
§ Botch American Nervoso  Remastered LP with bonus tracks never before on vinyl  (1500 copies)
§ Braid Frame and Canvas Limited, Numbered LP on colored vinyl with poster and download card.
§ Brother Ali Shadows on the Sun (Double picture disc LP, hand-numbered out of 2000 copies)
§ Buddy Guy Hold That Plane
§ Built to Spill LIVE 2LP w/CD (2500 copies)
§ Calexico Spirtoso (LP + CD, Live tracks, previously only available on tour on vinyl)
§ Captain Beefheart Frank Freeman’s Dance Club180g Purple vinyl Gatefold LP
§ Casket Girls The Casket Girls (Beer & Mustard colored vinyl LP)
§ Cave In Until Your Heart Stops Remastered LP (750 copies)
§ Codeine 1993 Live LP—What About the Lonely 150g LP (2000 copies)
§ Coheed & Cambria The Afterman: Descension (Big Beige Demos)  LP (2500 copies)
§ Corn on Macabre Discographic Violence LP (400 copies)
§ Country Joe & the Fish  I Feel Like I”m Fixin to Die Remastered LP from the original tapes. (1500 copies)
§ Coupler Sunless LP
§ Cream Live at the Royal Albert Hall 3LP Deluxe Set on “Cream” colored vinyl
§ CSC Funk Band Funkincense LP
§ Cure Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me Individually Numbered, Red Vinyl LP
§ Cut Copy Bright Like Neon Love Gatefold LP w/3 art inserts (1st time on vinyl–4000 copies)
§ Cypress Hill Black Sunday 180g 2LP, individually numbered
§ Damon & Naomi The Wonderous World of Damon & Naomi (Bootleg Edition) LP
§ Daniel Johnston Fun (2000 copies only–originally supposed to be released for Black Friday RSD and cancelled, it will now officially come out!)
§ Davenport Cabinet Our Machine LP (solo project from Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria) (500 copies only)
§ Deftones Live Volume 1–Selections from Adrenaline LP (tracks are Minus Blindfold and Teething b/w Nosebleed and Engine No.9 all live from Buffalo, NY on 10/13/96)
§ Destroyer  This Night (Remastered LP, 1st time available in US, limited to 2000 copies)
§ Dio Magika Limited Picture Disc LP 500 copies only (features Japanese Bonus Track “Annica”)
§ Double Dagger 333 LP + “If We Shoult Loud Enough DVD (1000 copies worldwide)
§ Durutti Column A Paean to Wilson 2LP Deluxe (may be UK/EU only)
§ Dust S/T and Hard Attack Remastered Gatefold 2LP, individually numbered (both albums are packaged together and will *NOT* be sold separately)
§ Empty Mansions (Interpol’s Sam Fogarino’s band)  Snakes/Vultures/Sulfate (1st 500 LPs on Gold colored 160g vinyl)
§ Eric Church Caught in the Act:  Live (RSD version with 4 extra tracks and bonus 7″) (3000 copies)
§ Evian Christ Duga-3 LP
§ Flaming Lips Zaireeka 4LP (random colored vinyl–7500 copies)
§ Foals Holy Fire LP w/bonus 7″ (5000 copies)
§ Frightened Rabbit Midnight Organ Fight (Special RSD edition reissue) LP
§ Genius/GZA Liquid Swords—the Chess Vinyl Edition (Contains the entire Liquid Swords album and complete instrumentals as well as a in-depth, full color linear notes with contributions from GZA himself and a full-sized chess set) 
§ Ghoul  Maniaxe (1st time on vinyl, this Colored LP features a 16 page comic book detailing the story of the album)
§ Giant Henry Big Baby (Pre-Unwound Members in High School) Limited Edition hand-screened LP with 3 different covers.
§ Glove  Blue Sunshine Individually Numbered, Blue colored LP
§ Golden Gunn LP (Collaboration between Hiss Golden Messenger and Steve Gunn—140g LP with 900 copies only)
§ Grateful Dead Rare Cuts & Oddities 1966 180g 2LP, individually numbered.
§ Grey Area Fanbelt Algebra 900 copies on white vinyl 
§ Grizzly Bear Horn of Plenty (vinyl reissue on Kanine Records)
§ Headless Dogs 1-5 (Various Colors, 450 copies only) 
§ Ilsa The Maggots Are Hungry (remastered) LP (250 copies only)
§ ISAN Beautronics 2LP remastered (1st time on vinyl)
§ Jerry Goldsmith Poltergeist Original Soundtrack (Glow in the Dark vinyl–500 copies only)
§ Joan Jett & The Blackhearts  s/t   180g LP with CD featuring live footage and bonus tracks, individually numbered
§ John Coltrane Newport 61 LP (Previously unreleased July 1st recording at the Newport Music Festival)
§ Junip S/T Colored vinyl RSD LP (500 copies)
§ King Tubby Meets the Upsetter at the Grass Roots of Dub (features Lee Scratch Perry) LP
§ Komeda The Genius Of 180g LP (1st time on vinyl)
§ Lamb of God New American Gospel  (500 copies only)
§ Linkin Park Hybrid Theory  Colored Vinyl LP with poster and bonus 10″ of the “One Step Closer” single—3000 copies)
§ Liquid Tension Experiment 2  180g Colored Vinyl 2LP in Gatefold sleeve (1st time on vinyl)
§ LP Into the Wild–Live at EastWest Studios (2000 copies)
§ Mad Season Above Deluxe 2LP
§ Mamas & The Papas if You can Believe Your Eyes and Ears LP (UK RSD)
§ Marco Benevento Invisible Baby  Blue vinyl LP (1st time on vinyl)
§ Mercury Rev Deserted Songs (White/Clear Colored LP featuring outtakes from the 1998 Deserter’s Song sessions)
§ Miles Davis Milestones 180g Mono LP, individually numbered
§ Miles Davis ‘Round about Midnight 180g Mono LP, individually numbered
§ Miles Davis Someday My Prince Will Come 180g Mono LP, individually numbered
§ Miles Davis The Kinda Blue Sessions ’59  LP
§ Nick Drake   Nick Drake  Limited Edition gatefold heavyweight LP w/poster, remastered at Abbey Road. (4000 copies)
§ Now Now Neighbors (Deluxe)  Mint Green Vinyl LP with bonus Remixes album included (500 copies)
§ Orange Juice Rip It Up LP
§ Orange Juice You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever LP
§ Orange Texas Fever LP
§ Orange Juice Self-Titled LP
§ OST–The Girl From UNCLE (Music from the TV Series The Girl From UNCLE) Remastered LP.
§ Oval Systemisch Clear Vinyl 2LP (1500 copies worldwide)
§ Oval 94diskont Orange Vinyl 2LP (1500 copies worldwide)
§ Page McConnell (Phish Keyboardist) Unsung Cities and Movies Never Made (1000 copies, each numbered on 180g Red vinyl)
§ PHISH LAWN BOY (Individually numbered pressing, out of 7500 copies, with 2 180g LPs with an etched D side….includes download card)  
§ Phosphorescent Aw Come Aw Wry LP reissue with tweaked cover and bonus download card that includes never before released live tracks
§ Porno for Pyros S/T 20th Anniversary 180g Tie-Dye Colored Vinyl (1000 copies)
§ Public Enemy Planet Earth-Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Greatest Rap Hits  (Picture Disc LP)
§ Rainer Ptackek Barefoot Rock (with Das Combo) (Originally released only in Germany, now remastered with bonus tracks) 1000 copies
§ Replikas Biz Burada Yok Iken LP (1st time available in US)
§ Rockabye Baby songs of the White Stripes LP
§ Rocket From the Crypt Group Sounds  180g Gatefold LP (500 copies only)
§ Rocket From the Crypt Live from Camp X-Ray  180g Gatefold LP (500 copies only)
§ Samiam Clumsy Red Vinyl LP, each individually numbered  (First time with US pressing..original was released in Germany) (1500 copies)
§ Shuggie Otis Introducing Shuggie Otis 180g LP, individually numbered
§ Sigur Ros Agaetis Byrjun (1000 copies only)
§ Small Faces There Are But Four Small Faces  Remastered LP
§ Sonny & The Sunsets Tomorrow is Alright Colored Vinyl LP with new silk-screened cover. 
§ Spacemen 3 Perfect Prescription 180g Baby Blue Vinyl LP (2000 copies) 
§ Spacemen 3 Performance 180g Orange Vinyl LP (2000 copies)
§ Spacemen 3 Sound of Confusion 180g White Vinyl LP (2000 copies)
§ Stephen Malkmus & Friends Ege Bamyasi (Covering the classic CAN LP) Limited to 3500 copies, with Green vinyl in the US and Red Vinyl for the UK/EU.
§ Steve Moore Horror Business (Death Waltz LP on colored vinyl)
§ Straylight Run Prepare to be Wrong LP reissue 900 copies on red vinyl (1st time on vinyl)
§ Swedish House Mafia The Singles  LP (500 copies)
§ Taj Mahal Hidden Treasures 180g 2LP, individually numbered
§ Taj Mahal Natch’l Blues 180g LP, individually numbered
§ The Band The Last Waltz 3LP 180g deluxe version with 12 page booklet, individually numbered.
§ The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die Individually Numbered LP on White Vinyl
§ The Prize Fighter Inferno Half Measures Glow in the Dark LP (solo project from Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria) (500 copies only)
§ The Roots Things Fall Apart 180g 2LP (features “Riot” cover and was the debut of Eve) (4000 copies)
§ Van Dyke Parks Song Cycle 180g Mono LP, individually numbered
§ Van Dyke Parks Super Chief (unreleased LP)§ Von Grey Live & Criminal Records LP
§ Wake A Light Far Out  500 copies only, New LP.  (may be UK only…but did show up on one US distribution list I was sent)
§ White Mystery Telepathic  Colored vinyl LP.
§ White Stripes Elephant re-issue on colored vinyl
§ Willie Nelson  Crazy:  The Demo Sessions (2000 copies)
§ Winston Edwards’ Natty Locks Dub Reissue LP
§ Wire Change Becomes Us RSD 180g LP (1000 copies, each hand numbered)
§ Zombies Zombies LP

§            *NEW*   Elliott Songs in a Transit World RSD LP (700 copies on clear vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Integrity Systems Overload (Original Mix) LP (Black Vinyl, limited to 350 hand numbered copies)
§            *NEW*   Comeback Kid Turn It Around LP (600 copies on blue vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Sense Field S/T LP (700 copies on red vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Nerve Agents Days of the White Owl LP (700 copies on white vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Carlton Melton Europe Live 2012  2LP (500 copies on clear/splatter vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Scientists S/T LP (Reissue of 1979 debut, 500 copies on pink vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Bong Untitled 180g LP (300 copies on purple vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound/Current 93) Murgatroyd the Monster (A Northern Noir) 180g LP (300 copies on clear vinyl)
§            *NEW*   Cuntz Aloha LP (200 copies only)
§            *NEW*   Watchout! Flashbacker LP (200 copies only)


§  ASTRALWERKS 20/20 (20th Anniversary 7×7″ box set with 20 Colored Flexi discs featuring rare/unreleased tracks by FSOL, Beta Band, Fatboy Slim, Royksopp, Basement Jaxx, Doves, Cassius, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Hot Chip, Kraftwerk, Air, Chemical Bros. and more!) (1000 Copies only)
§ Blues at Newport 1963
§ Newport Folk Festival 1965
§  ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK–DAZED AND CONFUSED (1st time on vinyl–features artists such as Black Sabbath, Kiss, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Foghat and more)  LP is individually numbered on GREEN vinyl
§ Reason to Believe–The Songs of Tim Hardin (features Mark Lanegan, Smoke Fairies, Okkervill River, Magnetic North and more) 1000 copies
§ Sub Pop 1000 (V/A LP) 5000 copies
§ Various Artists Factory Records: Communications 1978-1992 (Limited Edition 10″, limited to 3000 copies worldwide featuring She’s Lost Control by Joy Division, 1963 (12″ Remastered Version) by New Order, Otis by the Durutti Column and Loose Fit (12″ version by Happy Mondays)
§ Various Artists No Alternative 180g 2LP, individually numbered (1st time on VINYL featuring tracks by Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Beastie Boys and more!!)
§ Various Artists Drive Original Soundtrack  LP PICTURE DISC featuring new artwork by Tyler Stout (different than LP cover)
§ Windup Records 15th Anniversary 10″ (Red vinyl 10″ featuring acoustic/rare tracks from Seether, Creed, Finger Eleven, The Darkness, the VirginMarys and more)

§ Between the Buried and Me Parallax I & II Colored vinyl box set (Blue/Pink/White Splatter vinyl) 1000 copies only

§ Cotillion Records (1968-1970) 10×7″ BOX SET (limited to 2500 copies worldwide, box features artists such as The Dynamics, Otis Clay, Lou Johnson, Walter Jackson and more!)
§ Doctor Ross The Sensational Harmonica Boss (3 x 7″ box set)
§ Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) The First Five–Picture Disc Collection–The first 5 ELP albums, as Picture Discs, in a individually numbered box (1250 copies total)
§ Half Japanese Half Gentlemen / Not Beasts 4LP Box with 32 page booklet, fold out poster, download card and badge, featuring new exclusive tracks (1000 copies)
§ Jandeck  Jandeck vinyl box set  LP

§ NoBunny Love Visions  6×7″ Box Set
§ Paul Weller Sonic Kicks 5×7” Box Set.  Colored Vinyl Box with autographed poster features 2 unreleased tracks (600 copies)

Posted in Welcome to Aural Tethers | 3 Comments

Currently & Upcoming: 2013 v2

pick-a-piper_cover_2                   Pick A Piper – s/t

I’ve always felt and believed that music should allow you to see sounds and hear colours. It’s not always the case but it’s a good goal to strive towards. Once in a while you’ll stumble across something, a work of art that will achieve this sentiment. Our friends in Toronto’s Pick A Piper capture and rein in all the sounds and colours imaginable on their first and self titled full length release.

After producing two previous ep’s PIP return with 8 dizzying tracks of percussion heavy electronic dance music, fused with a wide palette of evocative world rhythms and organic sounds vs synthetic.

The self titled release features an array of guest vocalists and the band itself has a line up consisting of some raw Toronto talent, Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts and Brad Weber.  Brad is easily recognizable as the live drummer for Caribou’s touring band. Just a few months back, they got off the road as the opening act for Radiohead and Weber jumped head first into his Pick A Piper project. Wasting no time in creating an album full of hypnotic and dance-able structures guaranteed to glide you through the hazy summer.

dr-john-4_albums              Dr. John – Locked Down

To be fair, this album went right under my radar when it was released. I don’t know how, it involves two of my favourite musicians.  A classic soul brother and man known for his blues revival.  Dr. John produced by Dan Auerbach, this can only lead to greatness. A soul funk journey guaranteed to leave you like a monster truck to the face.

Too much is often made of collaborations and the meeting of young and old. More often than not, they result in transient pieces of flotsam that smack of a clueless label being unable to handle a classic artist in the modern age. Locked Down however, could not be further from such facile ‘reinventions’. It admirably manages to maximize the drive and skills of both Rebennack and Auerbach (as well as the musicians on display who may be young, but lack nothing in soul, flair and intelligence) towards the creation of something profound and memorable. A lean, bare-chested and sweat-bathed beast of an album; it rattles along with energy, mystery, swirling swamp-mist and a delectable gumbo of cultural influences and razor-sliced spice. Most impressively of all, it comfortably lives up to the promise that Auerbach apparently made to the Doctor that he would help him craft ‘the best record you’ve made in a long time’.

Unburdened by the stamp of time or geography results in an album that could have easily come from other Mississippi River stops where horns and funk pump through the bloodstreams-Chicago, Memphis or St. Louis. Auerbach pulls out a musical tool belt to guide the 71-year-old to new areas: The song “Ice Age” draws on percussive African guitar lines and synthesizer fills; “Eleggua” overlaps Curtis Mayfield, gris-gris funk and a sweet soul hook; and “You Lie” offers a taste of what Dr. John would sound like if the Black Keys and Morphine joined forces to back him. The last time Dr. John attempted to update his sound was 14 years ago with Anutha Zone that featured Paul Weller and other Brits keen on his early voodoo funk albums. Auerbach is more of a kindred spirit with an affinity for making horn sections sound simultaneously retro and modern.

(This is just the first of a handful of albums Auerbach will be producing in 2013)

atoms 4 peace  Atoms for Peace – Amok     Re:02/26/13

The project came together in 2009 when Yorke, in hopes of performing his solo album, The Eraser, with live instrumentation, brought together Nigel Godrich (longtime Radiohead producer), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.), and Mauro Refosco (David Byrne).  Atoms For Peace is not Radiohead and it should be treated as its own project; as such, it’s an often captivating listen that forges fidgety beats with a beautifully sinister atmosphere.  A gorgeous celebration of counter intuitive beat patterns, subtle organics and digital manipulation.

According to Yorke and Godrich, Amok was recorded over 3 days in the studio, later being pieced together by the pair.  Amok is not much of a guitar album while not entirely free of guitar, it is a laptop album through and through, a collection of digitized schizophrenic beat designs one might listen to while preparing to impersonate someone with advanced Parkinson’s on the dancefloor.

This is an album overflowing with subtle details, best consumed and captured with headphones. Refosco’s percussion work, with countless beat treats trickled into the menacing apathy vortex of “Unless”. “Judge, Jury and Executioner” builds on ghostly vocal backdrops, sharp hand claps and minimal click-hits, while the drip-beats and wet percussion of “Ingenue” bring an alley shine to the Yorke’s ethereal falsetto and Flea’s heartbeat bass.

It’s as good as you imagined it would be, an interpretive soundtrack to 21st century minimalism with heavy replay power.


How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion       Re: 03/05/13

How To Destroy Angels features Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Mariqueen Maandig (Reznor’s wife), Rob Sheridan (the art director of NIN), and Atticus Ross (who co produced the last few NIN albums).

HTDA create a detached atmosphere engulfed in melancholy. Their almost robotic approach provides enough style and aplomb to separate itself from NIN, regardless of having the same production team as the members. The bulk of the album is created with laid back digital beats, relying very little if at all on guitars.  Choosing to focus instead on various synthesizers, keyboard bass and drum machines. The key ingredient is Reznor’s spouse Mariqueen Maandig. Her vocal versatility, ranging from the soft whispers of “Keep It Together”, beautiful melodic singing on “Strings And Attractors” or “Ice Age”, to powerful outbursts, such as found on the title track. Trent does make some appearances too, usually for sing-alongs, but he focuses mainly on the songwriting.

HTDA present an often tensed and brooding atmosphere, one that will please long time NIN fans and garner themselves some newcomers in their post apocalyptic soundscapes.

devendra-banhart-mala-lp-450Devendra Banhart – Mala     Re:03/12/13

Devendra Banhart is an artist that has long been somewhat type-casted. Perpetually the whimsical, hippie folk troubadour singing about psychedelic critters, many fail to notice his new haircut, dress sense, and (above all) his movement away from warbling falsetto and acoustic tomfoolery. Now on his eighth full length, entitled ‘Mala’, Banhart continues down a more experimental, mature path to explore darker themes, strange manipulated sounds and other aspects of the macabre. Including allusions to sacrificial bulls…

At times, Mala expands Banhart’s sonic template in less organic ways, adding pinches of electronic spice here, recording on an old-school hip-hop tape machine there. It’s not an uncomplicated listen (Banhart’s records never are), but Mala breezes through its 14 songs with relative unfussiness. Many of Banhart’s past mannerisms—like his vocal tics and the occasional Manson Family campfire sing-along vibe—still crop up from time to time, but his music has never been so easy to digest.

After touring his 2009 album ‘What Will Be’ he was leaning towards not pursuing music and or touring anymore. Banhart simply wanted to focus on his painting and spend his free time being creative in other ways. Sometimes it’s hard not to pick up a guitar and write a few freak folk Americana gems.


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast      Re: 03/19/13

American rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have their follow up to 2010’s Beat the Devil’s Tattoo. This being their 7th studio album continues to bring the darkness and mystery that envelop almost all of their previous catalogue. However Specter … has much more of a funeral march dirge to its underbelly.

This is definitely brought on by the passing of Robert Levon Been’s father back in 2010 on a stop in Belgium. He passed backstage of a heart attack before the bands festival performance. Been’s father was a crucial part to what BRMC are and sound like. Having been the bands sound engineer and acquiring production credits. Not to mention his own musical fame as a founding member of The Call. Which brings us to the first single from the new release, ‘Let The Day Begin’ a razor shape scorching cover of The Call.  More or less the only moment we hear Robert with any sense of joyous reflection in his vocal.

B.R.M.C in the first year after Robert’s father passed were a band lost and unsure. Contemplation of calling it quits and packing it in were imminent. If you have seen any of the short films they were leaking leading up to the release of Specter, you would have heard Peter and Robert both mention they were considering the end.  Luckily, the trio dug deep and persevered.

So, it’s no surprise we hear Robert’s vocal saturated in reverb on tracks like ‘Lose Yourself’ opener ‘Fire Walker’ and ‘Returning’.  Evoking the sound and emotion of someone lost, yearning, searching and finding solace in the songs. Peter sticks to the classic beaten, bruised and bloody vocal we love from him on tracks like ‘Hate The Taste’, ‘Rival’ and ‘Teenage Disease’.

Specter At The Feast is the moment where our beloved BRMC find themselves after being knocked down and having the rug pulled out from under them. Triumphant and commanding, a ‘brint it on, we’ll take it on’ attitude that delivers and defines them as a trio of rock and roll superheros that deserve our love and respect.

87921727      The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

In the past handful of years psychedelic rock has seen a strong resurgence. Especially with the heavily dedicated Austin Psych Fest being an annual destination for the fuzz to exist and for those in love with fever dream haze and oil projections to congregate en mass. A staple in the scene and on their fourth album now, The Black angels, Austin hometown heroes, return with Indigo Meadow.

Indigo Meadow begins with the title track where a siren-like organ groove creates a sense of urgency and impending catastrophe. The rest of the album follows suit as pounding, trance-like rhythms are the dogma for a cultish atmosphere, and dark, drowsy vocals and fuzzed out guitars take you deep into a heart of darkness where hooded drones perform twisted rituals.

More prominent on Indigo Meadow than on previous albums are The Black Angels’ influences. Providing the most fuel to the psychedelic fire is what sounds like a heavy Doors influence. “The Day” follows the whimsical rhythm patterns that The Doors often used, and on “Broken Soldier” frontman Alex Maas sings with a spoken word, nonchalant style that immediately reflects Jim Morrison. “Holland” features simplified “Light My Fire” era organ grooves, and much of the organ work throughout Indigo Meadow tips its hat to Ray Manzarek.

Even though they have become a four piece band after loosing rhythm guitarist Nate Ryan. It doesn’t hinder or slow down Alex Maas, Christian Bland, Kyle Hunt or Stephanie Baily from continuing to be a top the pack on fuzz mountain.


The Besnard Lakes -Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes have well-established their approach of shaping gigantic crests from a variety of sustainment effects, ranging from classic shoegaze to synth drones that might as well be sampled from actual flying saucer engines. The hikes to the summits are long, but the views from the top are always worth it.

It’s not an easy feat to be able to create individual songs the climb to such heights yet alone have the album as a whole climb a separate mountain unto itself. It’s not until the third track ‘People of The Sticks’ that …UFO comes to life and reveals the ascension you’re embarking upon.

UFO’s second half keeps it coming with similar swells until the penultimate track, “Color Yr Lights In”, when it all bursts apart into the album’s kaleidescopic peak: a flooring supernova of swirling guitars punctuated with massive cymbal crashes.

Until In Excess is another Besnard Lakes album that demands to be adsorbed all at once, from beginning to end. The individual tracks haven’t been designed to stick out from the whole; the deliberate pace makes the entirety of Until in Excess feel like one long, woozy track. The groups co-auteurs (husband & wife) Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas aren’t your typical mere songwriters. They are composers of space and sound.

the_terror_cover-6876          The Flaming Lips – The Terror

The Flaming Lips are a band that, over the past few years, has entered the most fiercely experimental, stridently anti-pop phase of its long and storied career. Besides 2011 and 2012’s ‘Heady Fweinds’ and ‘Heady Nuggs’ the last full length from the Lips was 2009’s ‘Embryonic’, which offered much in the way of thunderous rock catharsis. Tracks like ‘Worm Mountain’ and ‘See The Leaves’ began this level of hard hitting psych rock that left us wanting more.  Even when presented live in a circus like spectacle that tantalizes every possible sensory one could expect.

The Terror burst the proverbial bubble for the Lips. It’s bleak weighty mood, claustrophobic tension and a smoggy haze of melancholy has images of a not so distant future. Here’s a band that whether you like it or not have always been on the forefront of something they aren’t even aware of. Tonally, the album creates the mood and aesthetic of someone strapped to a hospital bed wearing a gas mask left alone in a field of run down life support machines.

Maybe this is due to Wayne Coyne separating from his partner of over 25 years, or perhaps the temporary relapse that Steven Drozd went through. Elements of loneliness, depression and anxiety likely were the fundamentals for the creation of The Terror. Face it, most good music comes from there.

But even if it doesn’t consistently exhilarate to the same extent as the band’s most totemic works, The Terror is nonetheless a significant work in their voluminous canon: By matching their ever-evolving, exploratory musical ethos with less eager-to-please, more confrontational modes of performance, the album marks the moment when the Flaming Lips become whole again.

yo-la-tengo-fade-album-cover-art                   Yo La Tengo – Fade

A band with an impressive body of work to say the least, with 13 full length albums and 14 ep’s, Yo La Tengo is a indie force to be reckoned with. The newest release being this years Fade. (I’m definitely a little late on the review for this one)

Fade is a process of refinement, revisiting the brief, breezy-listening forms of Popular Songs‘ first two sides, but lopping off the backloaded free-form excursions entirely. And at a tight 10 songs and 46 minutes, it’s the band’s shortest album since 1990’s Fakebook. (There’s a great social pun/joke with that title that has yet to be made)  Produced by John McEntire, Fade lets you appreciate the complexity of its simplicity. It may trod over some familiar turf– Georgia Hubley’s fuzz-pop standout “Paddle Forward” squeezes another drop of blood from “Sugarcube”– but the relaxed pacing and pleasing melodies belie just how much action is really going on beneath the serene surfaces.

Whatever their intentions may have been going in, Yo La Tengo has undeniably come out this time with an effort greater than the sum of its parts – and that’s not to say that any of its 10 tracks fails to live up to or exceed their lofty standards individually. Fade is the band’s most thematically unified album in at least 10 years, and almost certainly their most direct ever.

low-invisible-way-cover-art               Low – The Invisible Way

Much of Low’s work draws power from the tension between sound and content, and the strongest songs on Invisible Way are no exception. Production credit goes to none other than Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who adds just a smidgen of country flare to the arrangements.

The rules have always been different for Low.  Twenty years in and ten gorgeous albums, husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker along with revolving bass players (the latest being multi-instrumentalist Steve Garrington) continue to create these ‘slowcore’ masterpieces that have always coursed towards an aching patient beauty. Even when it stumbles, though not often and hard to notice, The Invisible Way gives the impression of a band on the run.

While past albums have tended to feature Sparhawk carrying the majority of the lead vocals, The Invisible Way has Sparhawk and Parker trading off leads, and hearing more from Parker is a good thing, as the album’s strongest tracks have her at the forefront. The standout track, “So Blue”, showcases Parker’s strong, sweet voice, somewhat reminiscent of Aimee Mann, as she considers the sadness, pain and necessity of relationship. Accompanied by a soaring, pounding piano and bass, the anthem-like tune builds to a powerful, goose-bump inducing crescendo.

The Invisible Way stands as a good, if not great album, both powerful and moving. It’s a solid piece of work from a group who know their strengths and know how to put them to very effective use.

KurtVile      Kurt Vile – Walkin On A Pretty Daze

Wakin On A Pretty Daze continues on a path that Vile embarked on with his first Matador release, 2009’s Childish Prodigy. Vile’s sound has gradually become smoothed out from strung out stoner rock and psychedelia to the lovely folksy melodies and rich melodic flourishes that characterised his last album, 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo. Throughout this development, Vile has lost none of his idiosyncrasies. The 11 songs collected here are all among the very best of his career, enlivened with a vividness and warmth that offers something new with every repeated listen.

Hints of Lou Reed (the phrasing) and Neil Young (the guitar solos) pepper songs that Vile invests with his slacker drawl, endearing quiet charm and wry self-mockery. Only the upbeat psychedelic pop of ‘Never Run Away’ ups the tempo from wonderfully hazy, psychedelic strums. “You’d think I was stoned,” he chuckles at one point, “but I never touch the stuff.”

The way this album flits from childlike wonder to considered reflection stops the album from ever becoming too one paced. It’s a testament to Vile’s songwriting ability that, despite clocking in at over an hour, your attention never once wavers. As is always the case with Kurt Vile his lyrics are littered with quotable lines and witty quips that stop even his most introspective songs from becoming dour or dreary.

akron-family-sub-verses-album-cover-press            Akron/Family – Sub Verses

Akron/Family have been honing a sparkling, swooning, hyper-ceremonial space-folk for nearly a decade now. Think of them as the weirder, more zealously-Buddhist-inclined, mystical-magical cousins of Grizzly Bear and Yeasayer.

Droning riffs, lulled and throttled by these swirling vocals hazily thrumming into dazzling harmonies…the drums, the rhythms. Sub Verses takes that freak folk jam band vibe of their previous efforts and gives it a strong dose of primo lsd.  Akron/Family constantly dig deeper and deeper every performance to find their truth as a band, it’s their experience and you’re welcome to join them.

Michael Gira from Swans was quoted saying “Grizzled Beach Boys, fully bearded and flea infested willfully surrendering to the lysergic gas attack. Hold your shriveled ego and watch it unfold like a purple meat-flower in your grubby hand.” after just one listen to Sub Verses.

Muchacho             Phosphorescent – Muchacho

The sixth release for Matthew Houck as Phosphorescent was written in Brooklyn and Mexico after his 18-month tour for 2010’s Here’s To Taking It Easy. With the new Muchacho, we find him as exploratory with his craft as ever, and the result does more than enough to distinguish him from his usual reference points.

There’s a wide tapestry of sounds on Muchacho, getting more mileage out of effects pedals than pedal steel, not to mention the bonus arrangements that flex and add hefty muscle to the album. Boundless burst of horns, airborne harmonies and sutures of violins and piano make this a brilliantly recorded album. John Agnello, known for his engineering on Kurt Vile’s ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’, gets the credit here.

The first and foremost layer of this album is the glory of its sound. Listening to Muchacho often feels like being warmed by afternoon sun as it floods your window. Every sound is lovingly recorded and given a cradle of space. Recorded mostly alone by Houck himself, inviting the key players only when needed but still crafting the final meticulous outcome in isolation.

In interviews, Houck is often unafraid to admit his personal life works its way into the strife of his tunes, but he also leaves it open-ended as to exactly how much of the subject matter is fact or fiction. Whether his heartache songs are entirely personal choice or crafted from a sense of resignation, Houck lives up to his word and weaves Muchacho’s tapestries into priceless, hardened gold.


Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Blood Pudding

Mark Lanegan, the voice of a thousand cigarettes. A voice that would not be trivial even if reading a grocery list decided to team up with multi-instrumentalist and long time friend Duke Garwood. The outcome, Black Pudding, an album of acoustic blues tormented and tormenting.  Sophisticated finger picking, hypnotic blues riffs that take you on ride on a barge ride down the muddy Mississippi Delta.

At times the album brings in some keys, minimal electronic flourishes and some textured guitar effects. All in all, Lanegan & Garwood have comprised a strong 12 song collection and this could makes it way into some year end lists.

I’m still in awe of the strength of this minimal record so, I’ll just leave it here and recommend you dim the lights, find a candle, smoke some hash and let be.

Here’s a brief list of upcoming releases:

April 9th
Dawes – Stories Don’t End (Sony)
Don Cavalli – Temperamental (Because)
James Blake – Overgrown (Republic)
Kavinsky – Outrun LP (Record Makers)
Knife – Shaking The Habitual (Mute)
Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
Postal Service – Give Up 10th Ann. Deluxe Edition (Sub Pop)

April 16th
Born Ruffians – Birthmarks (Paper Bag)
Brains – Monster Within (Stomp)
Folly & The Hunter – Tragic Care (Outside)
Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam (Republic)
Ghostface Killah – 12 Reasons To Die (Soul Temple)
Hum – You’d Prefer An Astronaut LP Reissue (Shop Radio Cast)
Iron & Wine – Ghost On Ghost (Nonesuch)
Kate Nash – Girl Talk (Dine Alone)
Marquis De Tren & Bonny Billy – Solemns 12inch (Drag City)
O.M.D. – English Electric (BMG)
Shouting Matches (Bon Iver) – Grownass Man (Burnside)
Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love 2CD Reissue (Sony)
Steve Earle and the Dukes – The Low Highway (New West)
Thermals – Desperate Ground (Saddle Creek)
Urinals – 7inch EP Reissues (Superior Viaduct)
V/A – Arts & Crafts 2003-2013 (Arts&Crafts)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito (Interscope)

April 20th – RECORD STORE DAY 2013
All titles not guaranteed. First come first served.

April 23rd
Lilacs & Champagne – Danish & Blue (Mexican Summer)
No Joy – Wait To Pleasure (Mexican Summer)
Phoenix – Bankrupt! (Glass Note)
Snoop Lion – Reincarnated (RCA)
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine (Paper Bag)

April 30th
Guided By Voices – English Little League (GBV)
Haino/O’Rourke/Ambarchi – Now While It’s Still Warm… (Black Truffle)
Hanni El Khatib – Head In The Dirt (Inertia)

May 7th
Breeders – Last Splash XX (4AD)
Come – Eleven : Eleven (Reissue) (Matador)
Deerhunter – Monomania (4AD)
Savages – Silence Yourself (Matador)
Tomorrows World – S/T (Naïve)
Vampire Weekend – Vampires Of The Modern City (XL)

May 14th
Boredoms – Pop Tatari 2LP Reissue (1972)
Orch Poly-Rythmo – Vol. 3: The Skeletal Essences of Voodoo Funk (Analog Africa)

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Currently & Upcoming: 2013


Jim James – Regions of Light & Sound of God

Isolation can often lead to indulgence, but not for Jim James. In less confident hands, creative solitude could easily result in an unwieldy conceptual opus. Regions is the opposite: a svelte, sweet collection clocking in at under 40 minutes, the shortest album of his career. While addressing the same themes he’s been singing about with My Morning Jacket for more than a decade now. James adds a new trick to his ever-expanding repertoire: transforming the boundless possibilities of solo creativity into a cohesive one-man show.

From the opening track ‘State of the Art (A,E,I,O,U)’ you get the sense that James is going to build a journey, which ends up being one hell of a trip.  With its sinuous piano figure and layered instrumental, gradually building into a groove that is helplessly infectious. The album swings through different moods and soundscapes like a pendulum, tackling feelings of solitude and isolation with one stroke, wonder and whimsy with the next.

The albums single and second track ‘Know Till Now’, sounds like a VHS recording of an old 16mm reel of a clipped sample of a long-unheard soul revue, “Know” took more than a few James fans aback as the album’s first single. But the smooth glam feel on Regions doesn’t alienate the James or MMJ fans. This could very well be up for album of the year already, at the very least it will top many year end lists.

hayden         Hayden – Us Alone

For so many Hayden fans the four year wait has felt like a lifetime.  Since his last album ‘The Place Where We Lived’ which had no press or touring, the wait has been excruciating. The dark vale has been lifted, the undeniable mystique still intact. Hayden lets us in on where he has been and where he is now on ‘Us Alone’.

The record is a beautiful collection of stories, bare bones and autobiographical. As many Hayden songs have always been.  Written by a man who can’t mask the broken heart on his sleeve.  ‘Us Alone’ shares the musings of adult life and parenthood.      Where actions have consequences, and things rarely turn out the way one would wish – is at last, and inescapably, upon you.

From the album opener “Motel’ to the final closer ‘Instructions’ Hayden keeps the instrumental formula simple. Relying mainly on piano and organ, trustworthy guitar tones and chords. ‘Us Alone’ has Hayden starting the conversation with us about where life has taken us since those days long ago, sitting cross legged on the floor at the Moon Room in Oshawa. There’s a feeling of sharing provided by Hayden’s lyrics but also offering reflection for the listener.

Us Alone’ is as dense and subtle a record as you’ll find, its meaning unfolding endlessly as you listen again and again. We’ll likely see Hayden on the best of list for the year. What? It’s not too early for that sort of prophesying, is it?

mystical-e1358218731778        Mystical Weapons – S/T

The name Sean Lennon isn’t exactly unknown, Son of John Lennon and known for his pop ballads throughout the nineties.  In his newest outfit Mystical Weapons, he teams up with old pal Greg Saunier, drummer for Deerhoof. Fusing noise rock, psychedelia, and avant-garde elements into an album that aspires to be abstract rather than immediately appealing- Yoko Ono would be proud.

Mystical Weapons focuses on primarily one agenda throughout its entirety, and that is to merely expand the boundaries of imagination. Think of this album as an elongated jam session, in which both musicians simply improvise with whatever ideas came to mind, and then try to sculpt them into something that stimulates the mind. Of course, within this open-minded environment, it’s rather inevitable to expect that all concepts of logic and harmonic appeal will often be ignored over innovative aspirations. It’s certainly an ambitious route to embark on, especially as an aspiring musician in today’s world, but this proves to be a rather grey area for Sean Lennon and Greg Saunier because their willingness to experiment proves to be both a strength as well as their most evident flaw. Mystical Weapons embodies a spectrum of musical concepts and artistic aspirations that at times seem to be unionized in a fashion that makes them appear underwhelming rather than magnetizing.

Mogwai-Les-Revenants         Mogwai – Les Revenants

Mogwai have always had the ability to create a genuinely frightening or uncomfortable sound, but not all of Les Revenants is scary. While “Hungry Face” opens the album with a frighteningly severe lullaby reminiscent of some kind of paranormal child; “Special N” bursts with longing and ambition, fuel for a cinematic climax, the sound of feet moving across the world.

Composing a soundtrack might be the biggest accomplishment for a post-rock band, a genre defined by its ability to create an atmosphere, to craft a mood, to tell stories with sounds and nothing more.  Originally released as an Ep, Mogwai follow it up with the full length album of the same name ‘Les Revenants’ the complete soundtrack to the French zombie drama.  It is classic Mogwai in many ways, yet it does show signs of growth, or perhaps an ability to shape their natural talents based on subject matter.

These factors remain important as Mogwai reel from the flaccid response to ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’. There was a certain amount of experimentation and abandonment of the traditional Mogwai sound that occurred on the former album and the related ‘Earth division’ EP that did not succeed in creating a new Mogwai sound or album. With Les Revenants, the constraints of a soundtrack seem to aid Mogwai in getting back to the simple, complacent, elegance that enchanted their earlier releases.

indians_somewhere_else       Indians – Somewhere Else

Copenhagen’s Soren Lokke Juul is the man behind Indians. Back in 2012 he released a single titled ‘Magic Kids’.  It quickly propelled him into the beginnings of an established musical career.  In just under a year he has garnered enough interest to tour, signed to the 4AD label and has put together a live band.

Juul uses a combination of keyboard, piano, synthesizer and guitar to create great sonic depths, bringing to mind imagery of deep oceans and stretching skylines. Teamed with his unique vocals, which are sometimes mistaken for mournful, but are really glazed and reminiscent, always retaining a staggered yet melodic gentle quality, Indians achieves an alien yet intriguing sound, the use of the organic acoustic guitar with electronic effects, covered by melancholy vocals brings a sometimes psychedelic, but often a calming dreamy effect, like waves washing over you.


Ben Harper w Charlie Musslewhite – Get Up

It’s unlikey that Ben Harper ever gets tired. He’s like a hippy Elvis Costello. With nearly 20 years of travelling and communal road behind him, shared with the likes of The Innocent Criminals, The Relentless 7, The Blind Boys of Alabama and even a one-off project with Dhani Harrison. Harper returns to the stage with one of the most gifted harmonica players of all time, Charlie Musselwhite. The result, Get Up!, is a rowdy 10-track set that is as moody as it is delicate, as invigorating as it is subtle. And while Harper has made an art out of getting the best from his collaborators in the past, it’s here that fans can finally feel as though the guitarist and his guest are taking the notion of teamwork to heart, trading off solos like midnight confessionals.

Harper has never been darker and Musselwhite’s harmonica lends itself like a  counselor to Ben’s vulnerable slide guitar. It’s like listening to a man bare his soul to someone who never even asked for details. With each track, Harper seems more and more like he was bursting at the seams to find someone who could give him the proper platform to confront these ugly emotions. With each track, Musslewhite’s harp proves to be the perfect sofa on which Harper could confide.

This is without question and will be one of the true great blues albums of all time.

images                     My Bloody Valentine – MBV

Kevin Shields is undeniably one of the most influential and iconic musicians of the last 25 years. Releasing 2 albums and a string of ep’s between ’88 and ’91, My Bloody Valentine changed the concept of what rock music could sound like.  Incredibly expansive guitar tones.  The multi overdubs of washy reverb soaked guitars melting like waves over the propulsive drums, whispy vocals, subdued like special secrets. A sound that changed the face of rock, shoegaze and many other genres, forever.

After 22 years, nothing has been lost.  Aural curiosity and innate musical genius, still fully intact.  The 9 songs on ‘mbv’ feel like they come in 3 stages. The first tackles the sonic structures and tonal capacity that Shields helped to establish. That dream like tidal wave of distortion that was executed so gorgeously on ‘Loveless’. These first 3 songs are so densely arranged but maintain a breezy airiness.  The second territory of ‘mbv’ moves into more playful and pop regions. There’s more combinations of swirling organs as opposed to guitar work. There exists a sense of journey in this segment of the album, but the listener never quite gets there, left with this alluring emotional mystique. The final third of the album is engulfed in the monstrous noise arrangements that MBV has always had a penchant for.  It hits you like the stinging air of a winters night, that first breathe that punches you frozen. Cyclical drums, haunting combinations of distortion and woozy ethereal synth lines.

The album builds, relentlessly. Zero intent to hold back. A melodic road map through a windstorm of sonic bliss.

apples           Applescal – Dreaming In Key

Pascal Terstappen is the dutch electronic producer under the moniker Applescal. A man of many strengths and talents. Any of which could build a solid aural tether. In the electronic genre, listeners often have to tussle their way through heaps of beats to find the gems. Applescal has positioned himself and his style as a safe bet.

‘Dreaming In Key’ has a slippery momentum, graceful curves and slants, supple rhythms, layered all in a humid over all tone.   At the top of a long, warming rise, you’re as likely to find a frosty plateau or a side-winding shift as a sheer drop. This is the electronic tastiness for fans of Four Tet, Boards of Canada, Pantha Du Prince or almost anything off of James Holden’s Border Community label.


Townes Van Zandt -Sunshine Boy: Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971 – 1972

Music’s history is littered with the corpses of so many that left us before their time. Whether that be by way of drug and alcohol, accidents or by the hand of another. Most of which have passed in a time where they should have been in their prime. One of those folks, who slipped through the cracks of this world without making the deserving impression he should have was Townes Van Zandt. As a child Townes was designated with a genius IQ but was stricken with manic depressive disorder. Which later would find him institutionalized  and receiving insulin shock therapy, erasing most of his long term memory. During his life most of his acclaim and success came from other popular musicians covering his songs. The likes of Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan all the way to Norah Jones. Steve Earle (close friend to Van Zandt) recorded an album in 2009 of Townes’ covers.

Townes’ creativity peaked between ’68 – ’72. Six beautifully crafted albums, full of stunning imagery and timeless poetry. Townes Van Zandt claimed songs literally fell from the sky. Words rushed through his body. They burned his hands. But like many artists struggling with dark inner demons, he baited them too closely. Substance abuse and his manic behaviour basically put a halt on his creative output.

The ‘Sunshine Boy’ collection shows one of America’s greatest ever songwriters at the peak of his creativity. A collection full of alternate takes, covers, outtakes and demos. Reminding us of the true gift and greatness that was one of the shaping gurus of Americana music.

Cave Push the Sky Away

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

Leave it to Nick Cave to actually bring something new to this well-worn artistic conversation. Some listeners want to desire Nick Cave on Grinderman terms, the psycho-sexual beast man, spitting fire into the mic. While others may prefer the ballad piano crooner. Neither of the aforementioned versions of the poet will be found on ‘Push The Sky Away’. The Bad Seeds have created a nearly beat-less , synth drone album with just a touch of guitar, buried alive in the mix with just enough soft loam to push back out for a breath. Nick Cave’s lyrical quality is subtle, working with less, yet achieving the grand gesture that he and The Bad Seeds are capable of, without ever considering conforming on any of their previous incarnations.

Working with the theme of memory stasis vs memory loss, while not being to heavy on the morality aspect, at first listen it bleeds through softly, but the album’s  transgressions reveal themselves, calmly without being thrust upon the listener. The character narratives that Cave uses in the songs feel like they can’t seem to remember but they remember the same thing, ceaselessly. *Is this not how we generally might become? Delusional enlightened beings in the 21st century, the offhand knowledge ready to be recalled whenever we need it, yet never there for us to think upon in a combined selfish and selfless mind, living in our own fictions and simulated rainy seasons,” crying with dolphins that don’t exist, left to float in a pool of our own mythologies?

Some upcoming releases to be excited about as well

February 19th
Dawn McCarthy/Bonnie Prince Billy – What the Brothers Sang (Drag City)
Dead C vs. Rangda – S/T (Ba Da Bing)
Godflesh – Hymns (Reissue) (The End)
Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars – S/T LP Reissue (Jagjaguwar)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away (Sony)
Tune-Yards – As Yoko 10inch (Chimera)

February 26th
Doldrums – Lesser Evil (Arbutus)
Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon (Nonesuch)
Hollerado – White Paint (Universal)
Johnny Marr – Messenger (ADA)
Syl Johnson – Dresses Too Short & Is It Because I’m Black LP Reissues (Numero)
Title Fight – Floral Green LP (Side One Dummy)

March 5th
How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion (Columbia)
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced & Axis 200gram LP Reissues (Legacy)
Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell and Angels: Unreleased (Legacy)
Olof Arnalds – Sudden Elevation (Red)
Suuns – Images Du Futur (Secret City)

AND !!!!

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – The Specter At The Feast – March 18

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Live Reflections

Do Make Say Think  December 7,2012, Opera House, Toronto

The night finds me rolling into Union Station as the night begins to take it’s cover over the city of Toronto. With 80 gigs of music shuffling through my ears I decide to take foot. On the streets, instantly overcome with nostalgia. Making my way east from the core. Just a few blocks of faces as the streetlights glow. Once on Queen street I become more emotionally balanced and excitement seems to fuel the step.

Pull it all back to a saunter, rhythms in my ears now do the walking. My environment  the cinema and my recollections of living here a few years ago expose. It’s always amazed me how things you see can have a sound in your mind, even memories.  Looking at crumbled brick on the side of building may evoke the sound of a cello in your mind. This city holds much of this magic and reflection for me. Memories of love lost and love adorned, reminders of many nights akin to how this night may become. It may be sensical to mention that the neighbourhood I was padding towards is that of my former abode.

A block now from the Opera House I wait with baited breath. In the old pub where I use to socialize amongst friends. I wait with a Guinness (or 2) for my partner. The night feels like a homecoming, even if just for one night.  It has been so long since I’ve felt a love for this place, it’s nice to be back in that emotional space. In love with the atmosphere of the night.

Inside the Opera House the vibe is much the same. Pleasingly so. With DMST having a homecoming gig after returning from a European tour with Constellation label mates Sandro Perri, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, A Silver Mountain Zion and Colin Stetson.  In support of the Constellation anniversary tour. Also DMST’s first Toronto show since their performance at the TIFF Lightbox for their reworking of the film score for Greed. A golden evening of blissful sounds.

Tonight likely marks a lot of things for many people in attendance here at the Opera House.  There is a sense of family in the air, it doesn’t quit feel like just another concert.  There is a sense of celebration.  I don’t often experience this at many live events but Do Make Say Think, for all the times I’ve seen them, maintain this celebratory experience.

The house lights dim and the glow of the stage reveals our heroes for the evening. Justin Small (guitar) Ohad Benchetrit (guitar) Charles Spearin (Bass) James Payment (drums) David Mitchell (drums).  The boys dive right into their bag of sonic blissfulness and shower the crowd with favourites.  These folks know how to paint with sound, with long brush strokes, textural layering is their forte.  You’re pulled to the outer limits and  snapped back into place, standing amidst another hypnotic rhythm. I along with so many others have longed for such an experience, together again, in the same room, sharing in the magic of one of Toronto’s finest groups of musicians.

It isn’t even all that relevant what particular songs they played.  It’s more how they were played. With the utmost of passion and visceral dedication to delivering their very best. This will forever be one of the greatest bands to ever exist. I will never be able to do them justice with mere words or dribbled description. They are an experience.


Sigur Ros August 1,2012 Echo Beach Toronto

A full moon. A gentle summer night’s breeze. A beach and the city’s skyline twinkling in the distance. My lovely wife wrapped up in my branches. This was and always will be a magical evening to remember. With the days sun setting behind us orchestral ambient rockers Sigur Ros began to provide us with the evenings soundtrack.

Sigur Ros is a band that plays a pivotal roll in the inception of my relationship with my lady. As I’m sure it does with many of the other couples in attendance of 4,000 at the sold out Echo Beach venue.  Complete with real sand trickling it’s way between our toes.  The atmosphere was so dreamy, it was almost impossible to take it all in. The anticipation was high for the group’s return.  After a four year hiatus, this was their first time back on our shores and with a new album (Valtari) in tow.  With this being just the fourth show of the tour everyone in attendance (including the band) was ecstatic, for the moment that was about to become our night together under the full moon.

Singer-guitarist Jon Thor “Jonsi” Birgisson, bassist Georg Holm, guitarist Kjartan Sveinsson, and drummer Orri Pall Dyrason, augmented by trios of string and horn players and a three sided backdrop of projected film and images, cast a slow, seductive spell over the audience – performing their emotional, atmospheric music in either Icelandic or their made up language Hopelandic.

Surprisingly, Sigus Ros kept the material from Valtari to a minimum, preferring instead to perform earlier songs and fan favourites like mellow slow builders that often ended in exciting climaxes – Ny Batteri, Vaka, Sfven-g-englar, Hoppipolla, and Popplagio (Untitled #8) to name a few.

Romantic, mysterious and even sedating at times, the beautiful sounds pouring from the Echo Beach stage carried such a joy into the air.  Certainly, Jonsi’s stellar voice was no worse for wear, pitch perfect, and insanely ethereal at all times – at one point he even sang into the pickup of his guitar – as if he was calling out to space for an answer, and getting cheers and applause from an enthralled earthbound audience instead.

As the show roars to it’s final hum after an hour and 50 minutes, the blasts of white stage light shine out over the make shift beach and onto all of our 4,000 blissed out faces.  Sending us in to the night feeling calmed, meditated and more tranquil than any other live experience could ever leave you.

Ekki Múkk
Ný Batterí
Í Gær
Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása
Með Blóðnasir
Olsen Olsen


Lost In The Trees w Poor Moon   April 6, 2012  @ The Drake

In my opinion there is no better gift than the gift of music.  So imagine my excitement and elation when for valentines day this year my wife presents me with a fresh piece of vinyl (Hanni El Khatib) and a pair of concert tickets to see one of our folk/classical favourites Lost In The Trees.  After a little bit of research I discover the name of the opener Poor Moon.  Though it wasn’t until the night of the show while having dinner that my wife decides to look up on the band.  Just to see what they’re all about.

To our surprise we discover this is some of the members of Seattle’s Fleet Foxes.  This peaks our interest and after listening to a brief sample on the iphone we were on our way to catch the opener and secure ourselves with a good sight line at the Drake.

For those that haven’t seen a show at Toronto’s legendary Drake Hotel I highly recommend it. It’s an intimate setting and room with great sound.  The vantage points are great too, especially for the vertically challenged.

After the final adjustments are made on stage, Poor Moon get right down to business.  Beginning with a light airy vocal harmony the six piece open the tune out into rolling drums and shimmering golden hued melodies.  It’s easy to see these guys will become favourites of many soon.  As their set ploughs along  the similarities to Fleet Foxes are apparent but what Poor Moon has as an advantage is their material doesn’t get redundant and boring.    With an ep titled ‘Illusions’ and a self-titled full length under their belt Poor Moon are embarking upon a big North American tour.  One which will win themselves  a plethora of new and dedicated fans.

For Lost In The Trees, emotional buttons is what they touch on best.  Their unique blend of folk and baroque classical stirs up many emotions in their listener.  A curious, seven piece musical outfit from Chapel Hill NC – pen the kind of heart-gushing narratives that newcomers might be surprised to learn stem from the biographical lineage of the band’s principle songwriter, Ari Picker.  It’s a place of distraction, a place to rummage through a wide range of complex emotions, a place to ultimately get lost in a beautiful and natural world of expression.

Here at The Drake the band showcases a dynamic range of style and instrumentation. At times strumming through simple folk foundations, at others bringing more dramatic accompaniment (tubas, strings, drums, accordions, and so much more) to the fore. This being one of my favourite concerts of the year, this is proof of the restorative and reaffirming roles of music…a stirring set I suggest in which you let yourself loose. Who knows, like the band’s namesake, you might never find your way out of the orchestral, folkie thicket at hand.

As Lost In The Trees work through a fair amount of material from their current album ‘A Church That Best Fits Our Needs’ they were able to still sprinkle their set generously with gems from their previous albums (2007’s Time Taunts Me ep & 2010’s All Alone In An Empty House).

To close off their set they tear into ‘Fireplace’. A song that is their only four on the floor, but it’s a barn burner. By the end of it the crowd is waiting and calling for one more … the full band step off stage and stand in the middle of the room with adoring fans circling around them as they begin to play a fan favourite  ‘All Alone In An Empty House’.  A beautiful way to close off the night before spending the next hour talking to fans and signing merch.

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Record Store Day 2012

If you’re like me then you know that the real Christmas arrives the third Saturday in April.  That’s right, Record Store Day.  2012 brought us a second RSD as well, to coincide with Black Friday.  I’m not complaining.  I seem to get inanely giddy as the day approaches.  I’ve squirreled away money, made my list of albums and singles I’d love to add to my collection.  I’ll run around town to my local record peddlers (Vinyl Alibi) and gather my findings like a prospector panning for his riches.  I know I’m not alone on this as silly as it may seem.   By noon hour I’ll be on my way to the big city (Toronto) and snag up whatever else I can or couldn’t get my hands on in my small town of Bowmanville.  For the music lover, RSD is like when you were a kid at recess and one of your fellow classmates yells out “scrambles” at the marble pit and hurls a slew of the round coveted treasures out into the school yard.  You become frenzied with anticipation as to which, if any of the rare finds you will be lucky enough to take home.

This year’s RSD had over 500 titles released. Reissues, 7″, 10″ lp’s, double lp’s, ltd colour pressings, almost every release part of a limited numbered run never to be seen again.  It’s enough to make every record collector lose sleep for days leading up to the moment the stores doors open.  

For my first RSD entry for Aural Tethers I’d like to share with you some of my favourite limited RSD scores from the year.


The Black Angels – Lonely/Watch Out Boy 7″

Gravenhurst – The Prize 10″

Mad Season – River Of Deceit/I Don’t Know Anything 10″

Jay Farrar + Yim Yames – New Multitudes 12″ lp

Lee Hazelwood – The LHI Years: singles, nudes & backsides ’68-’71 2lp gatefold

Love – Forever Changes 12″lp

Mississippi John Hurt – The Last Sessions 12″lp

Grateful Dead – Europe ’72: Dark Star 12″lp

Grateful Dead – Live @ The Winterland (5/30/71) 2lp gatefold

Sigur Ros – Hvarf/Heim 2lp gatefold

Nirvana – 20th Anniversary Incesticide 12″lp

The Flaming Lips – Heady Fwends 2lp gatefold

Joe Strummer – Live at Action Hall (15/11/2002) 2 lp 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl Sessions 12″lp

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The 2012 Yearview Mirror

There hasn’t been as much anticipation for new releases as there has been in 2012.  The year has produced some of the strongest and best albums some of the artists have created to date.  While some return to form from hiatus with adventurous efforts others drop their most jaw dropping albums yet.  There is definitely a wide range of styles to peruse through and in no particular order either.  Just some more aural tethers to lead your ears astray.

ImageDamien Jurado, consistent, calm, able, thoughtful and clearly immune to the critical tides.  He delivers Maraqopa, a diverse and intricately layered song book full of introspective spirituality and soulfulness.  The tracks on Maraqopa breath in and out of one another from the psychedelic opener ‘Nothing is the News’ to the children choir backing him up on ‘Life Away From the Garden’ with a call and response revealing a very reminiscing Jurado.  The title track brings to mind the soft vocal styling of a  Stephen Stills CSNY era.  ‘This Time Next Year’ has a faded glockenspiel track and backing vocals from producer Richard Swift whom Jurado has worked with on his previous effort Saint Bartlett.  Soul mates are hard to come by but Jurado and Swift have found it in each other. Now I won’t give it all away and take anything from those who missed out on this masterpiece of an album but I will say this, this is a record that could find you with a slightly adjusted altitude strewn across the floor lost in wonderment as you tour through Jurado’s made up world of Maraqopa.


ImageHere We Go Magic is most definitely not a new band but have become a well honed one to say the least.  Especially when the sixth member of Radiohead approached them about producing their next album.  ‘A Different Ship’ sees HWGM discovering the sounds and layers they’ve been striving for on their past effort ‘Pigeons’.  Previous to that the material was more or less some experimental folk songs written by band leader Luke Temple.  The lead off single ‘Make Up Your Mind’ is a tune that  screams Talking Heads with its jangled and jittery guitar lines and wall of sound synth.  If you’re looking for more kick in the window sort of riffs you won’t find them on ‘A Different Ship’, rather you’ll discover a band discovering themselves which is always exciting.  With Godrich at the helm of production it’s no wonder some of these gems sound as if they could have been Hail To The Thief outtakes.


ImageAfter 10 years together and seven albums the Walkmen return in 2012 with their strongest album yet.  Just when we thought they couldn’t top the emotional maturity of their last release 2010’s ‘Lisbon’ Hamilton Leithauser and his band of dapper musicians from Brooklyn NY return with ‘Heaven’.  Here’s a band that have one of the most unique tones going today, guitar tones reminiscent of a.m radio pouring through a large tin can and a rhythm section that will find you uncontrollably dancing.  This is the indie rock band of Sinatra, songs of falling in love and breaking up and all of it romanticized just the way young lovers do.  ‘Heaven’ shows us a band with a decade of growing up and creating together, members getting married and having children. As its title implies, ‘Heaven’ is an album acting as a kind of destination for the band. Having survived the foibles of rock youth, they turn to young rock adulthood, and the product is good: 13 songs as pretty as a roses.


ImageThis fourth album from Patrick Watson overflows with sentiment without ever being sentimental.  This is an album slow enough to be a funeral yet full of joy.  Watson’s trademark is lush, melodic and charming.  ‘Adventures In Your Own Backyard’ evokes a still autumn morning fit for Bon Iver and serenades us like a Jeff Buckley over a still misty lake at dawn.  The entire album has a beautiful richness to it. It’s mind-boggling to discover it was all recorded in the singer’s Montreal apartment.  You can hear the creaking of floorboards and chairs throughout, which only adds to the album’s charm and comfort.  These subtleties in the mix would drive most producers crazy but adds to magic of the album.  From gentle piano parts to mariachi horn sections, all the instrumentation finds its fair chance at the melody.  With a pair of headphones, ‘Adventures In Your Own Backyard’ will find you on the bedroom floor.


ImageMood music with melody, orchestral pop without the pomp, mid-west Americana and a hint of Euro classical for good measure.  Andrew Bird’s 2012 ‘Break It Yourself’  presents itself in a slightly different view from his previous work.  For the first time he has an ensemble cast of musicians who were giving the freedom to create their own parts.  Recorded over a week intended for the rehearsals with the new found band it quickly turned into an inspiring recording session, with most of the material being captured in just 2 or 3 takes.  Bird delivers his usual guitar, violin, famous whistling all tied up with his tongue twister vocabulary  but the depth of the band’s presence delivers one of not only Bird’s best albums to date but also one of the top albums of the year.


ImageGrizzly Bear’s previous efforts, Yellow House and Vecketamist sound gorgeous and are easily palatable.  Creating mind ultering and easily digestible music is what these fellas do best.  After a handful of years on every critics top 10 list and being hand selected by the likes of Radiohead to fill their opening slot for a tour, Grizzly Bear have deserved the right to ask more from their audience.  On ‘Shields’ we are  expected to pay closer attention to the subtleties of their sound.  With each member playing integral roles in their output.  Whether it be Daniel Rossen’s cresting chords like waves crashing in or Chris Bear’s thunderous drumming.  Ed Droste’s confidence is at the height of his career as a song writer and vocalist, while Chris Taylor’s penchant for haunting effects, beautiful harmonies and buoyant grooves  are what propel ‘Shields’ to the top of every year end list yet again.  Clearly Grizzly Bear have mastered their craft with glorious tension and layers of bliss that keep us coming back.


ImageChan Marshall, aka Cat Power has never been known for a ‘feel good’ album but with her self produced release this year ‘Sun’ shows us a new version of the lady we all love.  Recorded over an almost 3 year span, completely self funded and done on her own terms ‘Sun’ is big step forward for Marshall.  This album is full of big hooks, pristine production, drum machines, multi-layered harmonies, washes of evocative guitar and a general electronic feel throughout.  The latter not being anything we’re used to from Cat Power’s previous output but on ‘Sun’ Chan pulls it all off with deft skill.  Her first album in 6 years since 2006’s ‘The Greatest’.  She’s learned to channel her energy (whether it be negative, depressed or otherwise) forward and in an upbeat way.  One of the albums later tracks ‘Nothin’ But Time’ reveals a guest vocal half way through from none other than Iggy Pop.  If this song isn’t a feel good song I don’t know what is.


ImageThere are those moments in life when comfort is sought or craved, for whatever the reason.  Sometimes there is only one way to achieve this yearning.  Being steamrolled by emotion has never felt so good as it does when that emotion is propelled by Sigur Ros.  ‘Valtari’ is the Icelandic groups seventh studio release and comes after a long four year hiatus they return to form with a more ambient sounding album.  Still full of their signature fairy tale sound yet fleeting and ephemeral.  These are carefully crafted and meticulously calculated songs.  Each note holding it’s own weight serving in the overall outcome and arc of ‘Valtari’.  To be fair this is not the typical Sigur Ros most are used to but the simple elegance of this album will be that comfort we sometimes can’t find anywhere else.


ImageSometimes it takes removing yourself from a situation to discovery what you’re really capable of.  Then to top it off by revealing the reinvented version of yourself to critical acclaim, that never hurts. Especially when it’s received with open arms and a couple of good belly laughs.  That’s exactly what J. Tillman aka Father John Misty has done with his solo effort ‘Fear Fun’.  Tillman clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously which is revealed in his autobiographical lyrics.  Lines such as ” I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming please come and help me, that Canadian Shaman gave a little too much to me”.  Formerly known as the drummer for Fleet Foxes, Tillman has been known to put out solo records before but nothing comes close to what he’s created here on ‘Fear Fun’.  With it’s psychedelic cover art and late 60’s to 70’s guitar riffs bringing to mind the popular sounds of Laurel Canyon (which coincidentally is where he resides) his album is sure to put smiles on your face and laughter in your belly.  There is nothing to fear here on ‘Fear Fun’ it’s just a fantastic record that deserves repeat spins until Tillman comes out with another album.


ImageWaterhouse is in his mid-twenties, and he owes almost everything to music that was created before he was born. But unlike the period-piece posturing of some of his retro-soul peers, Waterhouse isn’t interested in precise replications on his debut, ‘Time’s All Gone’. Instead he aims to channel their volatility; what he likes about those scratchy 45 rpm singles is how unstable they sound.  He’s not a persuasive enough crooner to pull off a ballad such as “Raina.” But when he embraces the implied threat behind “(If) You Want Trouble,” raves on about “Some Place,” and laments that “Time’s All Gone,” he sounds deadly.


Image‘Lonesome Dreams’ is an album that paints grainy sepia toned pictures of shorelines, landscapes, romance left behind.  For Lord Huron this is his first recorded outing with a full band. Otherwise known as Ben Schneider, these are traveler’s tales.  Lord Huron have a sound all their own, avant-garde Old Western meets folk (with an underlying sprinkle of rock-a-billy). Layers of guitars, bric-a-brac percussion, harmonicas, wind chimes, tambourines, strings and vocal harmonies produce a rich texture in ‘Lonesome Dreams’. It’s especially impressive considering it’s the group’s first full-length album.  It’s a safe to bet to expect more stellar music from these fellas in the future.


ImagePeaking Lights duo consisiting of husband and wife Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis have brought to the table what they call their first proper release, ‘Lucifer’. In their liner notes they reveal the translation of lucifer as “bearer of light”.  Bearing light is just what the duo does once more, as they refine their trademark lo-fi dub-cum-krautrock-cum-electro pop with studio precision. They even enlist the help of another vocalist in the shape of their new baby, Mikko, (their bearer of light) on the track ‘Lo-Hi.’  The lead off single is titled ‘Beautiful Son’ and is a slow-burning, sweepingly epic avowal of love. ‘Lucifer’ is chalk full of hazed out psychedelic guitar, piano loops, and glitchy digital percussion all wrapped up in dub bliss.  The album is a very personal journey into the lives of two intimate and very much in love people as they discuss, as well as their new-born child, their seemingly blissful relationship. Stupid fuckin cute story, awesome album and did I mention the lp comes with a 7″ square piece of paper etched out to play the single on your turntable ?


ImageSinger-songwriter Jessie Merchant, JBM understands atmosphere.  Some albums have best suited listening times and/or environments. JBM’s ‘Stray Ashes’ belongs after midnight.  With it’s mesmerizing rhythms and open spaces that lull the semiconscious into a contemplation of the cosmos.  Hazy and quasi-mystical, Merchant brings to mind the vocal styling of Jim James while fading his vocal back and forth between the vagueness of his reverberating guitar and the crisp percussion work.  ‘Stray Ashes’ invites the listener to step into a dark and beautiful world of well decorated spaces, full of drone, texture and tone.  An album that had a spring release that was able to carry us through the summer and gentle handle us over the winter blues.


ImageAt 24 years old, Etobicoke resident Al Spx drops one of the years most jaw dropping albums of the year without question.  She titled this masterpiece ‘I Predict A Graceful Expulsion’.  The 11 tracks that make up this album are full of bleak cynicism and dread cloaked in comfort.  Spx wears this theme like a badge of honor.  Al’s voice is something we haven’t heard the likes of since Nina Simone or Etta James, rich, dark and full of soul.  Her voice is warm smolder in the cold desolate themes she recites to herself in the songs.  She sites Alan Lomax field recordings, Tom waits and Bill Callaghan as influence and blends her own genre of song and calmly refers to it as “doom soul”.  This has been an album that time and time again will bring me to my knees.


ImageThe year has shown many bands ‘reuniting’ and let’s face it, it’s been going on for a while now.  Usually pretty lackluster at best but in the case Dinosaur Jr it’s been the best of the best.  ‘I Bet On Sky’ is the third full length the band has released since the original line up of J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph. They’ve been at their best ever and the albums and tours are the proof.  They’re still bringing the ear bleeding solos, thumping bass and pounding drums.  Their penchant for writing great hooks and melodies isn’t gone either, if anything these boys have been at the top of their game.  This is by far the loudest album I’m reviewing but it comes with the territory of Dinosaur Jr.  They’re not doing camp fire sing-a-longs with Fred Penner people.


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