DRIFT 2014 records of the year
alt-J This Is All Yours
Aphex Twin Syro
Jack White Lazaretto
Kate Tempest Everybody Down
Mac DeMarco Salad Days
Melanie De Biasio No Deal
Mogwai Rave Tapes
Pixies Indie Cindy
Real Estate Atlas
14 REASONS to WAX LYRICAL
The Finest Sounds Of 2014 A Sunny Day In Glasgow Wytches Annabel Dream Reader Sea When Absent
2014 Just as we were finishing this magazine off for print, we were sent a nice press pack about the official charts company and “The Official Biggest Selling Artist Albums of 2014 so far”. It seemed pertinent to have a browse through and rather predictably not one our own top 100 albums had entered the chart race. I think it’s fair to assume that if you took all of the releases we have put together and combined them, they’d still likely be out-sold by one lone Ed Sheeran album. Don’t get depressed (yes, it is depressing…) there is a subtle narrative happening here. This list is about more than sales, radio play and budgets. It’s about counter-culture and discovering new music that will make you feel something and you’ll want to tell all your friends about. As (all be it self-appointed) ‘cultural curators’ we do love a good list and we spend a lot of time and invest a lot of effort in compiling these ‘End of
Year’ magazines. To arrive at our top 100 albums of 2014 we wrote down a provisional six hundred strong list on which to vote. We then employed a ridiculous algorithm to calculate Drift staff comments and feedback; ultimately arriving at the top 100, a bunch of compilations and reissues plus that definitive ‘Record of the Year’. As with previous years there are albums we’ve spent months talking up, some late additions and some odd avenues that we’re damn glad that we revisited. All were released between January and late October of this year so there are some inevitable notable missing additions. It seems a real shame not to mention the Bo Ningen and Savages collaboration, the Mogwai EP or new albums from Ariel Pink, Cooley G, Bryan Ferry, Jonathan Wilson, Deptford Goth or Paul Smith & Peter Brewis just because of their respective release dates; but you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere right?
That’s our underlying point. It’s salad days folks, every week independent shops like ourselves carefully stock the racks with amazing new and old music. Whilst we’re patting backs, we’ve not awarded a ‘Label of the Year’ before but the first recipient of this new annual title has to be the magnificent Brainfeeder roster. Without spoiling the polls, there are at least five albums in the top 100 - pretty much everything they’ve released this year in fact. The new sound of the LA underground. So, back to those charts. We’re not necessarily saying that the top forty best selling albums of the year are shit, they’re just not really comparable with the genuine artistry you’ll find herein. You’re through the door and you’re reading this; you’re already winning. Find yourself something new and have a good listen, you’ll feel better.
Written, interviewed and voted for by the staff at The Drift Record Shop. Illustrations by Hannah Megee. Scott Walker was interviewed by John Doran for The Quietus. Thanks to our hard-working friends at the indie record labels, thankless work of the highest calibre. Also to our colleagues in distribution who look out for us and get the boxes where they’re supposed to be on time.
100 Timber Timbre Hot Dreams Hot Dreams coalesced throughout 2013 with long-time collaborator Simon Trottier stepping forward to join Taylor Kirk as co-composer/ co-producer on this album. Timber Timbre’s third studio album for Full Time Hobby sees the return of collaborator Mika Posen on all string arrangements, with vintage contributions from Olivier Fairfield on drums and Mathieu Charbonneau on keys. Returning guest Colin Stetson lends atypically velvet saxophone, while the backing vocals of Romy Lightman (Tasseomancy, Austra) and words by Simone Schmidt (Fiver, One Hundred Dollars) round out the guest appearances on Hot Dreams. Scary, sexy, smooth and weird. It all plays out like a soundtrack to the seedy underbelly of the old, weird America. And who would direct that film? David Lynch... naturally.
99 YOB Clearing The Path To Ascend Two years after leveling the expectations of critics and listeners alike with ‘Atma’, doom trio powerhouse Yob unleashes ‘Clearing The Path To Ascend’, an aptly titled album for what will undoubtedly be the crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears two decades of creating music as commanding as it is cathartic. Yob immediately set out to define a sound wholly singular and utterly devastating in its cathartic enormity, incomparable to any other music being created at the time. These songs demand the tandem attention of mind, body, and soul - etching a mark across a sound that finds Yob as formidable and unequaled as they’ve ever been.
98 White Lung Deep Fantasy On ‘Deep Fantasy’, resilient and hard hitting rock ‘n’ roll outfit White Lung are every bit as confrontational as before, but they’ve managed to open their sound up just enough to draw listeners in before kicking them in the face (in a good way). Just about every aspect of White Lung’s music is aggressive but to leave impressions on the first listen would be a terrible mistake. Vocalist Mish Way is more provocative and melodic than ever but the messages require your attention.
96 Oso Leone Mokragora Born as a duo, Oso Leone soon developed into a solid five man band in their eager search for a true rich sound of their own. ‘Mokragora’ is the consolidation of two years of work, recorded at Cosmic Blend Studios (Mallorca) and co-produced by Oso Leone and Antoni Noguera. It successfully balances between being sparse and minimal, but panoramic in it’s concepts and soundscapes. Beautifully measured, it is an album that rouses and swells without ever breaking. It requires attention but even as it whispers you’ll not be able to stop listening. The future kings of Spain we guess.
97 Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Give The People What They Want Sharon Jones is unstoppable. The band have created their strongest record yet. From the relentless stomping entrance of Retreat!, the bounce of the anthemic We Get Along, and the irresistible syncopations of Stranger to My Happiness, straight through to the intoxicating groove of Slow Down, Love. It is also arguably the most impressive studio work to date from Grammy-winning engineer and Daptone co-owner Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann) all written and recorded at Daptone’s analogue “House Of Soul” studio / headquarters in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn where Sharon herself wired the electrical outlets. It wasn’t like she had a point to prove, but Sharon has stood firmly in the middle of the stage as a modern soul icon.
95 Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds In Country Music This Kentucky-bred, Nashville-based honky-tonk hero makes country music rooted in the lean, mean traditions of Merle and Waylon, but follows his own muse. The title of ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ bows to Ray Charles, while the lyrics to lead track ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ nods to psychedelic drug chronicler Rick Strassman. It’s a Country record, but the song writing is much more diverse, pulling in wide influences and leaning hard on the traditional country disciplines.
94 Fucked Up Glass Boys Fucked Up are a punk band. They were a punk band when they started in Toronto more than a decade ago and they’ve remained a punk band even as they’ve ascended to career heights that their younger selves never could’ve imagined. But how do you remain a punk band when you’re on magazine covers, or sharing stadium stages with the Foo Fighters? How do you stay true to your 15-year-old self when you’ve got a career to maintain and families to support? Those are the questions that Fucked Up asks on ‘Glass Boys’ and they ask those questions in the form of a blazing, titanic, ultimately triumphant rock album. Musically, ‘Glass Boys’ carries echoes of some of the more ragged and adventurous bands from America’s punk past (Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr.) but it also has some of the anthemic charge of The Who and the guttural intensity of Negative Approach.
92 Cloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ sees Cloud Nothings retain the power and intensity of their highly acclaimed previous album, ‘Attack On Memory’, whilst also bringing back more of the tunefulness familiar from their earlier work. It is the band refined: impossibly melodic, white knuckle noise rock that shimmers with sumptuous detail, from the lone, corkscrewing guitar to piledriving basslines and volcanic drum fills.
91 NehruvianDOOM ‘NehruvianDOOM’
NehruvianDOOM is Bishop Nehru’s debut album. Produced by Metal Fingers and featuring MF DOOM vocals on several tracks, it’s a compact nine track, 30 minute long player. King of the Mountains Bishop Nehru’s breakthrough mixtapes, released from the age of Zoetrope 15 saw him rhyming over DOOM produced instrumentals. DOOM If the scattershot ideas of Melodic joined the line of MCs who coRecords’ schizophrenically brilliant signed the young rapper including Manchester experimentalists Working heavyweight lyricists Kendrick Lamar From A Nuclear City seemed to be aural and Nas, who introduced him on stage metaphors for a galactic explosion, during his set at SXSW as “The future then King Of The Mountains, the new of music”. The production is dead on project of their songwriter, keyboardist point and lyrically and thematically and producer Phil Kay, hones in on a Bishop Nehru is funny, wry and lacks singular galaxy hurtling away from the any aspect of naivety. With some more blast’s initial impact into the cosmos. life experience to draw on he really Broadly it explores contemporary might well end up being the future, it’s house music but very much from easy to forget he is only 17. an experimental origin. It feels like movement, wide eyed from speeding trains or late night motorways. Good nights on good drugs.
90 Spoon They Want My Soul Shortly after their previous album, Spoon were awarded “Artist of the Decade” by the Metacritic website. The review aggregating website calculated that the Austin, Texas-based quintet’s catalogue had emerged as the most widely and consistently critically acclaimed of the noughties, they are a band who focus on what they are doing. Production on “They Want My Soul” is superb, each instrument and mix carefully delivered for maximum impact. It’s an immediate grabber (with an explosive start) on a par with the group’s best work to date.
89 Thee Oh Sees Drop Drop was recorded in a bananaripening warehouse (seriously). It features Chris Woodhouse playing drums and is also graced with the presence of talented gurus Mikal Cronin, Greer McGettrick and Casafis adding horns and vocals. The result pushes the familiar polarities of the group farther outward than ever before. In places heavier then perhaps they have ever ventured and the fuzz is in abundance. There are ballads and rich organ and harpsichord enthused bangers that are far-out pop with delicacy and grace. Restless energy harnessed into exquisitely crafted jams, with an emphasis on the pensive and the paranoid. Schizzy gold.
88 Samaris Silkidrangar Samaris are a 3-piece from Iceland and this is thier second album. Combining disparate elements of electronics, clarinet and Jofriaur Akadottir’s haunting voice, Samaris mix glacial electronica and bold, percussive beats with haunting chant-like vocals. It’s pretty dreamy stuff. The lyrics culled from nineteenth century Icelandic poems, so chances are very few of you will get what they are saying, but this lack of common language doesn’t stop us getting utterly swept away. The effect is simultaneously ancient and modern - an ethereal sound filled with dark spaces and alien atmosphere.
84 86 Hurray for the Riff Raff
Small Town Heroes Produced by frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra and engineered by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes), ‘Small Town Heroes’ features twelve new, original songs all written by Segarra with support from a vivid cast of Crescent City musicians. The Bronx-bred Segarra is a troubadour like few others, fewer from our times. Steeped in the folk and roots traditions, she is a story teller in the most classical sense, making utterly modern Country music.
87 Ryan Adams Ryan Adams Ryan Adams is a guy we’re always interested in listening to. From his earliest Country roots on ‘Heartbreaker’ and with his Whiskeytown band, through to the sparse, indulgent ‘Love is Hell’ EP’s and all the odd steps in between. These last few years he’s hit another purple patch and his fourteenth album under his own name is perhaps his most straight down the line. With more than a little E-Street hanging over the room, it’s a close as he’s come to a stadium rocker. The details are all in the delivery, whenever he sings ‘heart’ or ‘love’ (as he does quite frequently) there’s a shake and a quaver to his voice, a stark contrast to the bullish delivery of the rest of the lines. It was only when we heard this all acoustic that the songs really resonated. He’s still one hell of a song writer, even if he is a nightmare to deal with.
Samantha Crain Kid Face ‘Kid Face’ is a wildly original album that stands out as a definitive statement (thus far) from an uncommonly insightful and fearlessly honest young singer songwriter. Based in Shawnee, Oklahoma and of Choctaw heritage she is a brilliant central character to the record. Produced by John Vanderslice, (The Mountain Goats and Spoon), Samantha Crain has delivered an instantly accessible gem, enabling her to explore the full range of her achingly vulnerable voice, with lyric and song, in which she is the narrator throughout.
Wye Oak Shriek
Following extensive touring in support of their critically acclaimed 2011 Perfume Genius release ‘Civilian’, Wye Oak members Jenn and Andy found themselves Too Bright apart for the first time. The freedom of writing together but remotely of Over the course of two astonishing one another allowed for a new found albums, Perfume Genius, aka Seattle emotional immediacy and in spite of, native Mike Hadreas, cemented his or perhaps because of the distance, place as a singer-songwriter of rare Wye Oak have recorded their most frankness, creating songs that, while personal album yet. ‘Shriek’ was a achingly emotional, offered empathy co-production between Wye Oak and and hope, rather than any judgment Nicolas Vernhes of the Rare Book or handwringing. Sparse, gorgeous Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. and with Hadreas’ quavering vocals often only accompanied by piano.,‘Too Vernhes also engineered and mixed Bright’ was recorded with Adrian Utley the album. His inventive production of Portishead and featuring John Parish work complimented the band’s new direction, helping them to create their on several tracks. It is a stunning immensely layered and emotive new about-face. Less self-conscious, and sound. less concerned with storytelling and easily-digested melodies, it is brave and very bold.
82 Jenny Lewis The Voyager The former Rilo Kiley front woman’s third solo album and first in six years. The Voyager is Lewis’s most deeply personal album to date, documenting her struggle to cope following the death of her estranged father in 2010 and the subsequent break-up of Rilo Kiley. The Voyager’s rootsy, golden glow comes courtesy of Lewis and the artists she chose to produce various tracks, including Ryan Adams (who, alongside Mike Viola, produced all but three of the tracks), Beck, and Lewis’ longtime collaborator Johnathan Rice. The Voyager finds the always relatable songwriter at her sharp-witted best, singing about her recent experiences with honesty and incisiveness. She’s never sounded better.
81 Sohn Tremors ‘Tremors’ is the way in which past traumas, as much as past successes, linger like the aftershocks of an earthquake. Even in the calmest moments its effects continue to reverberate and inform who we become. Throughout the eleven songs that form ‘Tremors’ runs a sense of the nocturnal - a sensitivity to the darkness and its inhibitions - with London-born SOHN adopting a night-time schedule for an intense period of long nights writing and recording in his Vienna studio. Brilliant vocal delivery and deft production throughout, there are very few wasted gestures.
78 80 S. Carey Range of Light Sean Carey is the drummer of Bon Iver and an acclaimed solo musician in his own right. ‘Range Of Light’ is the follow up to his well received ‘All We Grow’. Like its predecessor, ‘Range Of Light’ deals in hugely beatific, restorative panoramas of beauty. An array of musical light and shade, drawn from Carey’s love of jazz, modern classical and Americana. He recently posted a series of pictures to his Instagram that correspond to each of the songs on his new album, but even without the visual aid you can practically see these images while listening.
79 Neneh Cherry Blank Project Neneh Cherry’s first solo album in 16 years – a collaboration with RocketNumberNine, produced by Four Tet, and featuring a guest appearance by Robyn. While her energy and demeanor may not have changed since the days of Rip Rig + Panic, musically, Blank Project is a departure from anything Neneh has previously done, initially written as a means of working through personal tragedy. What stands out upon first listen is the album’s sparseness: loose drums and a few synthesizers are the only accompaniment to Neneh’s wildly poetic, sometimes-spoken, sometimesscreeching, soul-flooded and raw vocals. Experimental and driving.
The Horrors Luminous Tasking themselves with, as ever, moving onwards, The Horrors determined to make an album that was brighter, more positive, more electronic. Recorded over 15 months in the band’s east London studiolaboratory-bunker, ‘We’ve refined our sound,” affirms lead singer Faris Badwan, “and in terms of songwriting it is the record I’m happiest with.” Or, in the words of bass player Rhys Webb, “it’s not so much about heavier guitars as a heavier potency… We want to make music you can dance to, music that elevates…” Luminous by name, luminous by nature: this is an album radiating light and energy.
77 Marissa Nadler July Marissa Nadler lays the listener - and herself - on the line with ‘July’, her sixth full-length album in nearly a decade. Recorded at Seattle’s Avast Studio, the album pairs Nadler for the first time with producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room). Dunn matches Nadler’s darkness by creating a multicoloured sonic palette that infuses new dimensions into her songs. Eyvand Kang’s strings, Steve Moore’s synths and Phil Wandscher’s guitar lines escalate the whole affair to a panoramic level of beautiful, eerie wonder. The results are astonishing and occasionally reminiscent of David Lynch.
BELLA UNION www.bellaunion.com
I BREAK HORSES Chiaroscuro
THE FLAMING LIPS
P H I L I P S E LWAY
With A Little Help From
We a t h e r h o u s e
The Other I
Queen of Demark
Pale Green Ghosts
featuring the voice of John Grant
76 Honeyblood Honeyblood The two-piece started from humble DIY beginnings, organising their own guerrilla show at The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow to commemorate the release of a raucous two-track cassette entitled, ‘Thrift Shop’. Honeyblood quickly ingrained themselves into the bustling Glaswegian scene. Recorded at legendary producer Peter Katis’ Tarquin Studios (The National, Interpol) in just ten days last November, ‘Honeyblood’ is an accomplished and delightfully fierce record of two minute pop gems.
75 The Acid Liminal The Acid are Californian polymath and producer Steve Nalepa, British world-renowned DJ and Grammynominated producer Adam Freeland and producer-singer-songwriter RY X. Imaginative and really inventive with a rich array of timbres and field recordings, it seemlessly sits somewhere between indie, electronic and bass music without ever feeling like it is trying to cross boundaries.
74 Olga Bell Krai Inspired by the lesser- known corners of Bell’s homeland and written entirely in her native Russian, ‘Krai’ is Bell’s second album and first large scale composition. Krai’ is the Russian word for edge, limit, frontier or hinterland. Present-day Russia is divided into
73 A Winged Victory For The Sullen Atomos Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid member) and Dustin O’Halloran return with their second studio album inspired by contemporary dance and new instrumentation. Besides familiar piano, string and drone sounds it also sees the duo introduce flurries of electronics, harp and modular synthesisers. It was created in part as a score for the Random Dance Company and this provided them with the inspiration to expand their sound palette into more electronic territory, whilst keeping their signature chamber sound. A very unique record.
72 Benjamin Booker Benjamin Booker Citing his influences as The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex, it’s a well-mixed musical cocktail of punk, folk, and New Orleans blues. The young singer-songwriter plays as a two-piece with drummer Max Norton, both of whom are based in New Orleans. It’s a raw brand of modern blues music, furious and played with utter sincerity at one hell of a pace.
myriad ‘federal subjects’, including nine krais. In this capacity the term is a political designation, like ‘territory’ but for the earliest Russians these places represented both the promise and terror of the vast unknown. Born in Moscow and raised in Alaska, Olga Bell is an American composer, producer and performer based in Brooklyn. It’s an ornate exploration into her own history and is rousing, otherworldy and thrilling.
71 Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks Wig Out At Jagbags New album from ex-Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus and his band The Jicks. Pavement was all about wildly disregarding the rules, where as his solo work (with the Jicks) has become about creating increasingly more and more intricate sets of rules and playing against them for there own amusement. “Wig Out at Jagbags is inspired by Cologne, Germany, Mark Von Schlegell, Rosemarie Trockel, Von Spar and Jan Lankisch, Can and Gas; Stephen-Malkmus-imagined Weezer/ Chili Peppers, Sic Alps, UVA in the late 80’s, NYRB, Aroma Charlottenburg, inactivity, Jamming, Indie guys tring to sound Memphis, Flipper, Pete Townshend, Pavement, The Joggers, The NBA and home life in the 2010’s…” - Stephen Malkmus
70 Avi Buffalo At Best Cuckold Produced by bandleader Avi- ZahnerIsenberg and recorded at various locales in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Clocking in at a little over 30 minutes, it’s a concise record of melancholic pop and sublime melodies. Always the biggest pull with Avi Buffalo’s hugely accomplished work is that from a far it seems like a sunny, rolling pop gem. It’s only when you get closer to the music you realise that it is a document of his spiralling and maudlin life. The meloncholy is closer to the surface than ever before and there is a sence that some of the darker moments are black jokes for his own amusement. It sounds beuatiful, that’s perhaps the biggest danger.
69 Sun Kil Moon Benji Mark Kozelek is back with a new Sun Kil Moon album. Guest musicians include Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Jen Wood (who has worked with the Postal Service) and Will Oldham. As Pitchfork pointed out; There are 11 songs on Sun Kil Moon’s astonishing sixth LP Benji, and in nearly all of them, somebody dies. And that’s not including the ones where someone’s on the verge of death or seriously headed towards it. It is dark stuff, heavy, bleak, realistic and very naturally funny. Musically each track locks into a groove and his voice (or voices in some case) hypnotises like a preacher. He has the capacity to be an unparalleled storyteller.
68 Adult Jazz Gist Is A single-note drone fills the air, joined by a lilting, pitch-shifted vocal. The mercurial melody falls between folk, plainsong, pop and jazz. The words trigger equally beguiling images and the voice has an uninhibited, freestyle timbre. At seven minutes and twentynine seconds, ‘Hum’ is as audacious as it is a brilliant an introduction to a record. Through nine tracks and 51 minutes, their debut album Gist Is, released on the band’s own label Spare Thought, is a voyage that’s startling, mesmerising and magical from start to finish.
67 Strand of Oaks Heal From the first bars of ‘Heal’, the exhilarating melodic stomp of ‘Goshen ‘97’ puts you right into Tim Showalter’s fervent teenage mindset. We find him in his family’s basement den in Goshen, IN, feeling alienated, but even at 15 years old believing in the alchemy and power of music to heal your troubles. “The record is called ‘Heal’ but it’s not a soft, gentle healing, it’s like scream therapy, a command, because I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.” ‘Heal’ embodies that feeling of catharsis and rebirth, desperation and euphoria, confusion and clarity. It is deeply personal and unwittingly anthemic.
66 Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty ‘Lese Majesty’ is the new sonic action from Shabazz Palaces. Honed and primal, chromed and primo. A unique and glorified offering into our everuniforming musical soundscape. It is not a launching pad for the group’s fanbase-increasing propaganda. It is a series of astral suites - shared recorded happenings. The Seattle duo are former Digable Planets member Ishmael Butler and resident producer Tendai Maraire. Intricate, dreamy soundscapes always with a darkness brooding in the background. Contemporary, experimental, left-field hip-hop.
65 Ought More Than Any Other Day Debut album from one of Montreal’s most talked-about indie-rock bands. New studio recordings supplant the band’s 2012 Bandcamp release, one of Weird Canada’s “Albums we wished were released physically”, praised by HeroHill, Said The Gramophone; “Top 15 Emerging Bands” on ArtInfo. Ought has been burning with a strong and steady flame since flickering to life in Montreal just before the inspired months of the Quebec student general strike in 2012. Then band’s earnest, stately and exuberant post-punk is dextrous, deliberate, unfussy and fluid, with debts to Cap’n Jazz, The Feelies, Lungfish, Gang Of Four and early Talking Heads, among others. They shift from sharp angles and stuttering counterpoint to softer edges and chiming flow, with an economy of elements and fidelity to their basic 4-piece constitution. The instrumental interplay is consistently whipsmart, supple and deceptively simple.
64 Mutual Benefit Love’s Crushing Diamond Jordan Lee has spent the last few years bouncing around the indie underground, from Ohio, to Texas, to Boston, and Brooklyn, running the wonderful Kassette Klub label, touring with his friends’ bands, and leading an amorphous project called Mutual Benefit, a one man band or a sprawling collective, depending on where he is and who is around that day. The songs are heartfelt and emotional, with Lee’s fragile and beautiful voice as the centerpiece to a set of powerful and woozy love songs. Think early Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart and even Sparklehorse; he really has captured unbelivable ‘swoon’ here.
63 Damon Albarn Everyday Robots If you think back over the last 15 years or so, without ever really being criticised, second guessed or questioned, post-Blur Damon Albarn has undertaken wide and disparate musical projects – from Gorillaz’ hip-hop inspired pop to Afrobeat to operas written in the pentatonic scale of Chinese folk. His first ‘proper’ solo album is a set of songs about his life and travels, thematically pretty downbeat aside from “Mr. Tembo”, a sweet, upbeat song Albarn originally sang for a baby elephant he met in Tanzania. It’s a very grown up album from a man who has refined melancholia over the last two decades in one of this countries best ever bands.
62 Teebs Estara Estar (the Spanish for ‘to be’) refers to where someone is at – physically or mentally - at a specific moment. In truth, ‘E s t a r a’ (the spaces are intentional) takes its name from the house where much of the record was created, so it’s the perfect title for the second full-length album from Mtendere Mandowa, better known as Los Angeles-based producer Teebs, as he is right now. It is a coherent collection of meandering thoughts, ideas and dreams. You can get so lost, it’s like you’re remembering someone else’s thoughts in sepia with sun kisses. Really beautiful stuff.
59 Mark Lanegan Band Phantom Radio
The ninth full-length studio release from the ex-Screaming Trees singer. Lanegan’s chief compositional tool Ryan Kennedy has been making music on Phantom Radio was his phone – specifically an app called Funk Box. ever since he was a young teenager. “I didn’t bother to hook up my 909 and 808 Now in his early 20’s, his dreams and this time,” he says, “because the app had desires have finally been distilled into ’em. I’d write drum parts with it then add this, his debut album. Written over music with the synthesizer or the guitar.” the space of a year, but recorded in a The album grew organically from fortnight, straight to tape, in Ryan’s central Manchester flat, ‘Horsebeach’ is these synthetic roots, taking in Mark’s a gorgeous journey through Northern, ongoing love of Krautrock and also an ’80s new wave show on Sirius satellite jangly, dreamy guitar pop. From as radio, his favoured aural companion as far back as The Wake, through the he drives around Los Angeles. “They now de rigueur C86, this is bedroom have a few good shows but the ‘80s one in introspection gone widescreen. Total particular I like,” he says. “That’s the Real Estate/Ducktails vibes going on, music that was happening when I started but so distinctly British, specifically Mancunian with an inescapable debt to making music. And although the Trees drew on Nuggets psychedelia, 13th Floor Elevators The Smiths. Superb melancholy jams. and Love, we were actually listening to Echo And The Bunnymen, Rain Parade, the Gun Club. A lot of British post-punk. We loved that stuff. I just waited until I was in my late forties before I started ripping it off.”
First Aid Kit Stay Gold With Stay Gold, First Aid Kit sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg – have honed their musical skills and blossomed as vivid storytellers in creating an ambitious 10-song collection. Recorded at ARC studios in Omaha and produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk), the duo also enlisted The Omaha Symphony Orchestra to play on the record, with arrangements by Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes, Broken Bells, Rilo Kiley). They say of the recording process, “We took new directions and turns with the arrangements, building them up and creating more dynamics, yet always following where the songs wanted to go.”
58 The Wytches Annabel Dream Reader Recorded at Toe Rag Studios and coproduced by the band’s Kristian Bell and former The Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones. The self-described ‘surfdoom’ three-peice have produced a debut album of swagger, threat and more than a little menace. Plenty of ‘Bleach’ era influences with a lot of space amongst the screaming and wailing. A really impressive debut and it feels like they could pretty much end up going anywhere as they develop. They called past Drift early autumn, for a brilliant window-shaking instore.
ERASED TAPES NEW RELEASES
NILS FRAHM SPACES
DOUGLAS DARE WHELM
RIVAL CONSOLES SONNE
GREG GIVES PETER SPACE GREG GIVES PETER SPACE
A WINGED VICTORY FOR THE SULLEN ATOMOS
Soft Walls Brighton’s Dan Reeves is a busy guy. In addition to running his own label, Faux Discx Records & playing in the band Cold Pumas, he also records under the moniker “Soft Walls”. We took up more of his valuable time to talk about the last twelve months.
Which records have inspired you this year? What have you been buying? Where? I actually haven’t bought a vast amount of records this year, but have accumulated some stuff and have also seen some really great bands play live. I’d say my favourite release that I’ve bought is the Viet Cong Cassette 12” that came out on Mexican Summer - I love the songs, production and people involved with it, the first side is all killer, I play it a lot. I also really enjoyed the Germ House LP – Showing Symptoms which came out on Trouble in Mind, again I love the production and it’s full of really great skewed punk songs. My favourite live band of the year has to go to Golden Teacher, they are absolutely mind-blowing. I’ve also dug in to some ‘classic’ discographies by the likes of Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Ramones and Jefferson Airplane so I’ve been looking back as well as around me. I like to buy records online from Norman Records, as they’ve always been so supportive of my bands and label and if I’m buying in Brighton where I live, of course I’ll head to Resident. Does the city still have a supportive musical scene? How about the record shops?
There’s not as many record shops selling new stuff as there used to be unfortunately, but Resident seems to still be doing well and there’s plenty of second-hand shops to go digging in. I’d say that much like any city there are pockets of ‘scenes’ so there are a bunch of bands and people that I feel an affinity with and am lucky enough to call friends. There’s some great bands in Brighton too, namely Royal Limp, Sealings, Teardrop Factory, The Sticks, Men Oh Pause, Occult Hand, Slum of Legs, Soph Nathan and I’m sure tons more I’ve forgotten about. My friend Tobi is having an absolutely amazing streak putting show on under the names of Riots Not Diets and Dictionary Pudding too so there’s plenty going on. I’d like to see a rise in available D.I.Y. spaces in Brighton though, and I do think that the city suffers from a bunch of bigger promoters carpet-bombing the venues with touring bands and disregarding the value of ‘local’ supports. ‘No Time’, although quite vast in it’s production, is a pretty intimate listen. Do you feel like you’re fully let people in?
“I guess it’s a good thing that it has connected with you in some way, although I never set out to wreck anybody!”
I’d say that the record is pretty intimate in the way that it was recorded by one person, at home. So there’s definitely a certain sound or homespun ‘vibe’ to it. I tried to be a little more direct with my lyrics also, but am still hiding behind reverb and distortion so I certainly wouldn’t say that it falls in to heart-on-sleeve territory! Reviews have made a lot about fears of growing older. Are they themes that run through the record for you? Do you feel like you conveyed what you intended to? Yeah, that is something that has been picked up a lot, and I’m sure that I’m to blame by mentioning it in the press release, and also calling the record No Time! It’s a very simple concept but I think it’s one that resonates with people as everybody is experiencing it, time moves on. I certainly went through a phase where it was on my mind a lot, and that all contributed to the mood of the record and the lyrical content. Although the concept can be perceived as being negative or depressing, the record actually starts out on a downer and ends up with some kind of resolution at the end, with an acceptance of your lot, so to speak. For me personally the lyrics and tone really bum me out, and the production and drive really hype me up. It wrecks me. Is that a good thing? Ha ha, well I guess it’s a good thing that it has connected with you in some way, although I never set out to wreck anybody! I do love that type of contrast though, like a dance song with a very sad melody. Or a perfect pop song that is disrupted with noise.
That type of juxtaposition in music is what interests me the most. When people draw comparisons to other artists, do you appreciate the connection? Can anyone find their own sound without it being linked to something else? I appreciate the connection if it’s something that I like or can relate to, but quite often that type of comparison, particularly in publications is pretty lazy and can be frustrating. Although when they are way off the mark they can be hilarious. I released a tape on Faux Discx by a band called Housewives and they had a review which compared them to Primus, which I found very amusing. I think bands and artists do settle in to their own sound with the more that they do but at this point in the ‘timeline of music’ it’s probably gonna be pretty hard to come up with something that is totally without comparison. I think that Soft Walls has settled a bit more in to a
or give them some direction, but the songs then seem to take on a life of their own and evolve over time. When we started playing live I wanted it to be way closer to the recorded versions but MJ gets around doesn’t he, how was working now I accept them as different beasts. with him on your mixes? Do you enjoy the How about the rest of the Cold Pumas, did recording process? How about playing live? you feel like you were holding ideas back? Are they different for you? ‘sound’ but I can still pick bits out that sound a lot like my influences to me, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing as I like that stuff.
The record was recorded all by myself, at home and I really enjoyed the whole process. Writing and recording blurred in to one and it feels good to just try stuff and if it works it’s on the tape and stays, becoming a part of the song. I like that way of working. MJ is a friend and I totally trust his sonic judgement so taking the LP to him to mix was a pleasure, he made everything sound better. We hung out for two days, ate falafel and I sat on his sofa whilst he just got to work. It was great. As for live, Soft Walls is much more of a ‘rock band’ than on the LP. There’s 4 of us and I show the guys what to play,
56 Moiré Shelter
Debut album from Londoner Moiré Nikki Nack on Actress’ Werkdiscs label. The title ‘Shelter’ describes the listener’s Where the second album saw her perception and subsequent emotional stepping in to a studio proper for the response to a collection of sounds first time, her third album Nikki Nack and motifs. If Moire’s past releases sees her enlist producers to help her provided fragments of his overall achieve new heights on some tracks. concept, ‘Shelter’ highlights his vision Experimentation is still key for tUnEin its entirety, bringing themes from yArDs. Where the loop pedal and the his earlier productions together with saxophone were main components of newer elements to form a complete the first and second record respectively, concept. It finds Moire experimenting it’s the drum that takes centre stage outside traditional patterns to create here, augmented by greater use of something unexpected and raw, synth and Nate’s growing prowess as dynamic yet immediate. Inciting us a bassist. With it’s jump-rope-chant to engage in the experience both on a title, the brilliantly playful N i k k i N musical and physical level. He’s on the a c k continues the tUnE-yArDs story techno landscape, but the moments of gloriously. avant make it unpredictable and very creative.
Ummm, I hope not! We all play in other bands and have other projects so I think we all know that there’s enough ideas to go round. With Cold Pumas the writing process is very collaborative so it’s primarily the result of us playing in a room together. We’ve just finished a European tour and started recording our second LP, which should come out next year. What is the best piece of advice that has been given to your Faux Discx label? Don’t be a dick.
55 Esben and the Witch A New Nature Recorded by the well-worn, expert hands of Steve Albini no less, at his Chicago studio Electrical Audio - A New Nature is the sound of band looking to craft an album they want to hear. It sees the band stripping back their sound and taking out a lot of the electronic matter, instead forging even more expansive songs (the album’s centrepiece is the near-15-minute ‘The Jungle’) in raw, more live-feeling sonics. ‘Blood Teachings’ is a good case in point, with its Swans-esque heaving repetition providing a soundbed over which Rachel Davies unfurls a mesmeric vocal, not dissimilar to former Albini collaborator PJ Harvey, building to a raging, fuzzed crescendo. They do quiet, they do loud but most of all they do heartfelt.
FAUX 035 / 12” LP / CD
Thrash In The Heart
FAUX 034 / 12” DIE-CUT SLEEVE LP
FAUX 033 / 7” SINGLE
TV Wheels / The Bench
Melodic pop songs drenched in fuzz by a band that has more hooks and melodies than anybody else in the universe.
Scrappy, delay-soaked psychedelia with a pop heart and a motorik perversion. 9/10 DrownedinSound 8/10 NME
Concise garage-y punk stripped of any fat featuring members of Male Bonding and Sauna Youth / Monotony / Cold Pumas.
FAUX 032 / NS002 / 12” LP
FAUX 031 / 12” LP
FAUX 030 / TAPE
Manchester’s Sex Hands are not a garage pop band, they have never practiced in a garage. They never practice.
FAUX 029 / NS001 / 12” LP
A frenetic, fuzz-tinged pop headrush of barely-restrained jangle punk outbursts. “An excellent record.” 8/10 DrownedinSound
Rough-around-the-edges slacker pop, conveying the blurry-eyed realisation of the boredom of everyday life.
Canada’s young heirs to the guitar-pop throne. Cascading Television-esque melodies delivered with a ramshackle urgency.
FAUX 028 / 12” MINI-LP
FAUX 025 / 12” COMPILATION
Where Dull Care Is Forgotten by
Taught and paranoid, metronomic, no wave-y repeater-punk featuring members of Cold Pumas, Sauna Youth & Omi Palone.
Limited to only 200 copies for Record Store Day, includes 15 unreleased tracks from Faux Discx artists and friends.
54 Ben Frost AURORA Ben Frost’s new album is markedly different from his previous records. Instead of the studio setup he’s used to, Frost wrote most of A U R O R A on a laptop while on assignment in the Democratic Republic Of The Congo. Performed by Ben Frost with Greg Fox, Shahzad Ismaily and Thor Harris, the result is the darkest and most powerful recording of his career. Electronic music doesn’t get much heavier, a sonic assault of decimating force. It is terrifying and through it all, a bit beautiful.
51 Brian Jonestown Massacre
53 Matthewdavid In My World Brainfeeder’s de facto New Age guru and all-around production wizard, Matthewdavid, returns with a sophomore full-length for the label, an all-inclusive Mindflight entitled In My World. Unlike prior LP Outmind, which was a largely ambient and inward journey, In My World expands exponentially to a multitude of lavish sound worlds ranging from the lush, vaporous pop dub of the title track to ethereal love jams and even uncharacteristic IDM breakbeats. Matthewdavid’s work revolves around diverse and compelling combinations. Rapping or singing, his vocals are pushed forward as the centerpiece of this album and lead a hugely creative sonic dreamscape.
52 Mono/Poly Golden Skies It speaks volumes for how long we’ve been waiting for the debut Brainfeeder album from Mono/Poly that when Flying Lotus first got in touch with him about doing something for the label, it was via Myspace. The wait, though, has been worth it. Specializing in a kind of beat-driven cosmic soundscape which he describes as “electronic-classical-alchemy music” Mono/Poly aka Charles Dickerson has drawn on the lessons he’s learned from collaborating on last year’s Thundercat album as well as the Flash Bang Grenada hip hop project with Busdriver and Nocando, and made a beautifully realized, endlessly expansive record. Quite possibly the best ‘beat maker’ record this year.
“Brainfeeder. It started in 2005 … we’d gather around our cars, bring out our boomboxes and start playing each other the beats we’d just made in the week” – Flying Lotus
Revelation Revelation is the first album that was fully recorded and produced at Anton’s recording studio in Berlin. It is the 14th full-length release from the Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded from late 2012 to early 2014. With Anton Newcombe refining the 13 tracks that appear on the album and featuring Ricky Maymi an original member of the band playing on this album, it
also features Joachim Alhund (Les Big Byrds), Constatine Karlis (Dimmer), & Ryan Van Kriedt (Asteroid #4), plus vocal performance in Swedish by Joachim Alhund (Les Big Byrds) on the opening track. This album brings the traditional Brian Jonestown Massacre sound mixed with Eastern influences and coming bang up to date with the benefit of all the additional weirdness
that’s been discovered in the past 40 years. Two dozen band members later and numerous “ups and downs”? (some have been famously sensationalized in the media), the one thing that has always remained consistent for this psychedelic collective, is front man Mr. Anton Alfred Newcombe.
Reissues In no small part due to the furious appetite displayed for deluxe reissues on Record Store Day, the last few years - and in particular 12 months - have seen a great vat of seminal and long undiscovered material reappraised, remastered and rereleased. One of the most prominent catalogues to be looked into this year is the Led Zeppelin vaults, with I, II, III, IV and Houses Of The Holy, all receiving superb issues on a multitude of formats. Fela Kuti’s catalogue is being reissued via New York’s Knitting Factory, ‘Expensive Shit’ and ‘... With Ginger Baker Live!’ being two of our particular favourites. Awesome Tapes from Africa continue their awesome work with two releases we really dug. Senegalese griot Aby Ngana Diop (famous for her ‘taasu’, a form of oral poetry spoken to the rhythmic accompaniment of sabar and tama drums) and ‘Tche Belew’, another highly sort after LP from Drift hero Hailu Mergia and his Walias. Last year Warp issued the majority of the Boards of Canada catalogue, the SKAM label have now issued the long missing ‘Hi Scores’ which still sounds amazing. We had stand-alone versions of American avant-garde composer William Basinski’s four ‘The Disintegration Loops’ albums, all of which are just mind blowing. This year marked the twentieth anniversary of Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’ that received a deluxe reissue alongside the proceeding ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ album. Sure their powers dwindled and became ever more filtered, but at the time both LP’s felt like they might just take over the World. Another twentieth anniversary release was Underworld’s ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman’, arguably the album that took club culture out of the club. Mogwai presented a deluxe version of their ‘Come On Die Young’ album that remains a hugely accomplished, elegant and important. Lastly on the anniversary front was a very happy tenth birthday to the Full Time Hobby label who revisited their catalog for reissues from White Denim, The Leisure Society, Timber Timbre, School of Seven Bells, Tunng and Micah P Hinson.
Donnie & Joe Emerson Still Dreamin’ Wild The Lost Recordings
Ned Doheny Separate Oceans
With no less than a mansion, a state beach, and a three-mile stretch of road Some people have to wait for fame; bearing his fabled family’s name, Ned some people wait even longer than Doheny easy-glided into the 1970s most. Donnie and Joe Emerson are on a crest of wealth and privilege. in a league of their own. As teenagers Signposting Ned’s sojourn through the in Fruitland, Washington in the late LA recording industry were Jackson ‘70s, the farming brothers dreamed Browne, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, of being heard. The synthesizers Chaka Khan, Graham Nash, “Mama” were sometimes crude and the 8-track Cass Elliot, Bonnie Raitt, and David recorder had its limitations, but the Geffen - each a household name brothers aimed at nothing short of both inside and far from southern perfection in their home studio on California. And while no bust of Ned the farm. They titled their 1979 debut Doheny appears alongside those of “Dreamin’ Wild”, and, as multihis Laurel Canyon brethren in the instrumentalist Donnie later admitted, pantheon of classic rock, it’s due to “Joe and I basically lived the dream of the no lack of songwriting or recording title of the album.” . The album has only chops. Over the last three decades, found fame in the last decade or so Doheny’s albums have slid in and and after a brillaint re-issue on Light out of print on LP and CD, budget in the Attic, the label and the brothers jobs without any involvement from have looked back through the archives the self-described “avatar for casual and “Still Dreamin’ Wild” proves that vulgarity.” ‘Separate Oceans’ examines the album wasn’t a fluke. Donnie’s Ned Doheny’s first ten years adrift in polymath musical skills are on full song, pulling together choice album display, from drums to poly-Moog cuts and 11 previously unissued demos. synth, and his ability to mimic the more An 8000 word essay is illustrated by popular hits on the radio of the day images from the archives of noted rock remains uncanny. All this time later, we photographers Henry Diltz, Moshe finally have the pleasure of hearing the Brahka, Clive Arrowsmith, and Gary brothers’ music. And the good news? Heery, creating the first ever overview They’ve still got the jumpsuits. of this unheralded marina rocker.
Jackson C. Frank Jackson C. Frank Jackson C Frank’s original 1965 album is a lost classic now proudly resurrected by Earth Recordings. Frank’s eponymous 1965 album was produced by Paul Simon after he was impressed with seeing Frank play at folk clubs in England. It is said Frank was so shy during the recording that he asked to be shielded by screens so that those present; Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel and Al Stewart could not see him, he declared, “I can’t play, you’re looking at me.” Frank is a true original. His music comes from a blues and folk background but it is the sincere individual style that he developed which resulted in such a unique record. At once tender, moving and haunting, ‘Jackson C Frank’ is steeped in emotional honesty whilst riding a wave of deep melancholy. His virtuoso playing is disguised in a manner of simplicity, owed much to his relaxed nature. Franks lyrics further the experience as he expounds upon the existential nature of relationships, the passing of the seasons and other honest and often painful moments of a world drifting by. This self-titled debut LP is a singular work of art, a personal statement from a man that faced an uphill battle with life, one of the sadest we’ve heard in fact.
STEPHEN STEINBRINK ‘ARRANGED WAVES’
EARTH ‘PRIMITIVE AND DEADLY’
“It’s an enthralling return. The soft, syrupsweet guitar line hints at a country background, while Steinbrink’s lyrics have a novelist’s eye.” – CLASH
“A presence as forceful as Lanegan could distract, but his growl merges with the whole – Qazi’s declamation is otherworldly. An Earth reborn, then.” – 4/5 REVIEW in MOJO
(SOUTHERN LORD) 2LP/CD
WILDBIRDS & PEACEDRUMS ‘RHYTHM’
VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘NATIVE NORTH AMERICA (VOL 1): ABORIGINAL FOLK, ROCK AND COUNTRY 1966–1985’
(THE LEAF LABEL) LP/CD
“The Swedish vocal-percussion duo take gospel beyond the stratosphere on fourth album.” – 4/5 REVIEW IN MOJO
(LIGHT IN THE ATTIC) 3LP/2CD
“Mind-blowing, heartfelt music.” – THE WIRE
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS ‘ZOETROPE’
THE MELVINS ‘HOLD IT IN’
“Swirling soundscapes, sonic experiments and a wide swath of the electronic avantgarde” – 8/10 LINE OF BEST FIT
“Fuck the old dogs/new tricks narrative: this is exhilarating – Butthole Melvins forever!” – 4/5 REVIEW IN THE SKINNY
POLAR BEAR ‘IN EACH AND EVERY ONE’
BOARDS OF CANADA ‘HI SCORES’
“Rochford’s creative mix makes the album seem like an integrated, large-scale work, and the overall eﬀect is eerily beautiful.” – 5/5 REVIEW IN THE GUARDIAN
Re-cut onto heavyweight collector’s edition vinyl with a double-sided 12” poster. CD in digipak.
(THE LEAF LABEL) 2LP/CD
(SKAM) 6-TRACK EP/CD
DREXCIYA ‘NEPTUNE’S LAIR’
BRUCE LACEY ‘THE SPACEY BRUCE LACEY’
“What makes it stand the test of time is its irreducible sense of individuality.” – 8.7 IN PITCHFORK
This is the ﬁrst time his extraordinary music has been released. 5-page feature in Wire.
PAULINE MURRAY ‘PAULINE MURRAY AND THE INVISIBLE GIRLS’ (LES DISQUES DU CREPESCULE) 2LP/2CD
“Sparkling pop-tronica. Hannett’s production wizardry echoes his work for Magazine rather than Joy Division, big on treble and clarity.” – 4/5 MOJO
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS ‘GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT’ (DAPTONE) LP/CD
“What the people patently want from Jones is soul music grounded in the past, but addressing the here and now.” – 4/5 LEAD REVIEW IN MOJO
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Craig Leon Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos / Visiting Issued respectively by John Fahey’s Takoma record label in 1980 and Leon’s Arbitor private press in 1982, ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visiting’ were the twin brainchildren of studio wizard Craig Leon. Leon’s production was pivotal in realising the debut recordings by Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell and Suicide. While those albums broke ground in new worlds of sound, Leon’s own debut album was arguably, if not literally, more alien. In 1973, the Brooklyn Museum hosted a comprehensive collection of sculptures by the Dogon of the Republic of Mali, a tribe whose religion is based in reveries and recollections of a visit from an extraterrestrial species they named Nommos. Years after experiencing the exhibit, Leon remained fascinated by the idea of alien visitors sharing not just stories of their home-planet, but musical traditions as well. For the classically trained Leon, a puzzle was presented and a challenge in place: what would music sound like if handed down from an ancient alien species? And how best to imagine it? Issued by Fahey with zero expectation of the same radio airplay Leon had accomplished with his pop productions, ‘Nommos’ now stands as an innovative example of cosmic-synth composition that wasn’t made for its time or any other.
Modest Mouse This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About /The Lonesome Crowded West Modest Mouse’s 1996 debut album expands upon the themes of emotional and geographic isolation found in the band’s early recordings and finds the band mixing slow, brooding numbers with thrashing guitar workouts Follow-up ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ stands as the defacto Northwest indie-rock record. Originally released in 1997, it not only helped shape the
sound that came to be associated with the American Pacific Northwest but across these sprawling, wide-open 15 songs, Modest Mouse helped redefine what was possible for guitar music. “The end of the ‘90s were packed with epochal last gasps of pre-Internet indie rock that came out just as Radiohead’s OK Computer was becoming the avatar of the next, more mainstream phase. Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Pavement’s Brighten the Corners, Elliott Smith’s Either/Or—all exhausted blazes of glory, like light bulbs flaring brightest as they burn out. The Lonesome Crowded West stands tall and defiantly weird among them.” - Pitchfork
The Brothers & Sisters Dylan’s Gospel Of all the great back catalogues in the history of rock, Bob Dylan’s is among the most covered, his acolytes ranging from The Byrds to Adele via Manfred Mann and Guns N’ Roses. But something tells us you won’t have heard anything quite like ‘Dylan’s Gospel’ by The Brothers and Sisters, a choir of Los Angeles session singers brought gloriously to the fore for a very special, one-off record. Originally released in 1969 on Ode Records, this rare and sought-after album finds the California collective covering a clutch of Dylan classics in the era’s revolutionary gospel style. Produced by Lou Adler, soon to work his magic on Carole King’s mega-successful Tapestry, and arranged by Gene Page, noted for his work for Motown, the performers were largely unknown, but many went on to find great acclaim. Merry Clayton, the powerhouse singer best known for sparring with Mick Jagger on Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”, appears here, as does Edna Wright of The Honeycones and Gloria Jones who recorded the original version of “Tainted Love” in 1965. The cast of 27 singers also includes Ruby Johnson, Shirley Matthews, Clydie King, Patrice Holloway, Julia Tillman and more. The genesis of the project was Lou Adler, the music business visionary who staged the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival. He imagined a project that combined the songs of Dylan
with L.A.‘s most sought after session singers, most of which began their singing in the Baptist churches of South Los Angeles. “Listening to Dylan’s songs, I felt there was a gospel-like feel to them, both spiritually and lyrically,” Adler says in the liner notes. “So those two ideas, to work with these singers and to explore that side of Dylan – came together.” Recording sessions at Sound Recorders Studios in Hollywood were a fourday party, with food, drink and far more musicians than were ordered, many of the singers bringing along cousins, mothers, partners and more. Carole King came to hear, as did Peggy Lipton and Papa John Phillips. It was a rock ‘n’ roll version of a gospel church. “Lou just put on a big, crazy party,” remembers Edna Wright. “He had all these people together, all this raw talent. And we were there for nothing but the love of singing.” Presented in this long-overdue reissue by Light In The Attic, this oft-overlooked album is a must for fans of Dylan. The word of Dylan has rarely sounded so stirring.
Grace Jones Nightclubbing In a career of myriad highlights ‘Nightclubbing’ remains the high water mark of Grace Jones’s imperial years with Island Records. It is indisputably the album on which her musical legacy rests, and rightly considered one of the greatest albums of all time. Jones was dispatched to Island Records’ Nassau studio Compass Point in 1981 accompanied by resident sessioners Sly & Robbie, Barry Reynolds, Michael Chung, Wally Badarou and ‘Sticky’ Thompson. Together they created a sophisticated mêlée of sound, blending post-punk cool with a killer JA reggae vibe and a Studio 54 disco catwalk sensibility. It’s a perfect example of artist and musicians working in complete accord. The album contains the all-time Grace classics in ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, ‘Walking In The Rain’, ‘Demolition Man’, and of course the Bowie / Iggy Pop-penned title track. There is magic in its every groove. In keeping with its reputation as one of the best sonically sounding albums of the ‘80s, ‘Nightclubbing’ has been comprehensively remastered using the latest studio technology.
- Seven Studio Albums
Trout Steel / Places I Know / The Machine Gun Co
The wildly acclaimed and influential band–formed in Olympia, Washington in 1994–consisted of Corin Tucker (vocals and guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar and vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums). Over the course of a breakneck seven albums in ten years, Sleater-Kinney took rock music in a new direction combining raw punk energy and an unabashedly political stance. Greil Marcus writing in TIME Magazine called Sleater-Kinney “America’s best rock band” and Rob Sheffield said they’re “America’s best punk band ever. EVER” in Rolling Stone. Greg Calbi (Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Talking Heads) at Sterling Sound has remastered these albums from the original analog tapes. “For such ferocious music, it was actually a very delicate process.” Available as a limited vinyl box set and seven stand alone albums, it’s a great way to get obsessed ahead of 2015’s new studio album “No Cities to Love”. Believe the hype.
In 1983, a man named Lewis recorded an album named ‘L’Amour’, which was released on the unknown label RAW and back in July of this year, that’s about all Light In The Attic knew about it. As with their other amazing journeys, it followed a fascinating curve with legions of new fans and eventually the news that the man is alive, well and very mellow. The album’s entirety will make fans of Twin Peaks feel nostalgic. The synths retain a faintly ominous, albeit frequently playful, quality to them that casts a lush shadow on the other instrumentation. Essentially, it sounds like Springsteen collaborating with Badalamenti in the late ‘80s. The record itself is a delicate, whispered album, reflecting the way the artist himself - spectral, movie star-like - almost disappears into the grey of the cover. It should come as no surprise that it failed to shout loudly enough to be noticed. Weird, woozy and full of melancholy.
After two years of tireless work to liberate these long out-of-print masterpieces from the vaults, Paradise of Bachelors is proud to present the first artist-sanctioned reissues - and first-ever vinyl reissues - of iconoclastic English-born, Romebased folk and experimental music legend Mike Cooper’s classic trio of early 1970s avant-folk-rock records: Trout Steel (1970), Places I Know (1971), and The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper(1972). The latter two titles are presented for the very first time as the definitive double album, as Cooper originally intended them to be released. The wide-open music he makes here wants to let everything in: improv, folk-rock, blues, chamber pop. “Improvisation is what I do—full stop. I am not interested in anything else. Improvisation is the reason to play music as far as I am concerned.”
2014 Reissued Album of the Year
Spiderland Slint established its earliest roots when, in 1981, at the ages of eleven and twelve, guitarist Brian McMahan and drummer Britt Walford began playing together in Louisville, KY. In 1984, Britt Walford and guitarist David Pajo started collaborating musically at the ages of fourteen and sixteen. 1985 saw the origination of Slint itself, the band then comprising Britt Walford, David Pajo, and bassist Ethan Buckler. Brian McMahan joined the following year. In 1987, Ethan Buckler departed and was replaced on bass by Todd Brashear. In 1990, Slint recorded the landmark Spiderland album in Chicago with Brian Paulson both engineering and mixing. This album was such a revelation in musical style, that it acted as a precursor to whole musical movement that would be known as ‘post rock’. Hugely influential, the effects of the album would be felt for a couple of decades, an unparalled album that still sounds fresh today. Spiderland, broadly speaking, is a
collection of six hazy, doomy, mostly instrumental, intricate, creepy rock songs that sound both instantaneous, familiar, driving, sad and familiar. For us, it is like feelings on record. “I first heard Slint before they were called that, but the difference between them and their contemporaries was already in concrete. From the outset they made music to suit themselves, not an audience, and their dogged pursuit of the sound of their imagination is still utterly unique. Tendrils of continuity between the doom of heavy metal, the drama of modernist classical music, and the rude musk of punk may not be apparent at first glance, but they glow like a web when illuminated by the fire of Slint’s muse. Nobody thinks about their music, or music itself, like Slint. Love this fucking band.” Steve Albini, 2014 This special reissue has been remastered from the original analogue master tapes by Bob Weston who has also mastered 14 outtakes and demos
personally selected by Slint. Both CD and Vinyl editions also Include ‘Breadcrumb Trail’, a brand new, never before seen, 90 minute DVD documentary about Slint and the making of Spiderland, directed by Lance Bangs. The liner notes include a foreword by Will Oldham who famously photogrpahed the iconic album sleeve.“Spiderland has always felt like the work of old, wizened souls who had endured great physical and psychological trauma and barely survived to impart their cautionary tales. But even with the visual evidence presented here, it’s still hard to fathom that music this visionary, disciplined, and emotionally resonant was being made by a bunch of guys still in their teens. (Slint may have a great band, but they were even better actors.) Spiderland’s greatest legacy is not that it motivated a cluster of semi-popular bands in the late-90s and early 2000s to adopt its whisper-to-scream schematic. It’s the boundless inspiration it perpetually provides for all the bands that have yet to emerge from the basement.” - Pitchfork
CLASSICS AVAILABLE on VInyL for thE fIrSt tImE In oVEr A dECAdE.
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A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW
“The only 21st century band to do anything original within the realm of shoegaze”
– Pitchfork (8.5 – Best New Music) A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW SEA WHEN ABSENT
“Voice and sound are burnished to a heavenly haze.” – Guardian (4/5) “The thrilling sound of shoegazing introverts coming out of their shells” – NME (8/10)
“The aural equivalent of a finely tuned firework finale” – Line of Best Fit (8.5)
Compilations Modeselektor Modeselektion Vol. 03 The third hand-picked ‘Modeselektion’ from Modeselektor on thier own Monkeytown label. Dodging the tried-and-tested approach of calling a few mates, bagging some shelved tunes, slapping it all together and unleashing the result on the unsuspecting masses, this compilation is actually all about the art of selection. About careful consideration, motivation, choice, process – that is, a pretty elaborate labour of love that hides intense effort under free-flowing, seamless sounds that sneak up on the ears to broaden your collective horizon.
Keb Darge & Little Edith’s
heavily across dance music since it’s first breakthrough club smash in ‘86, Duane & Co’s ‘J.B. Traxx’, offering a raw, DJ-led alternative to the Chicago powerhouses of Trax and DJ International. Founder Ray Barney astutely released classic after classic during the early years to cement Dance Mania’s credentials. The label’s influence continues today in contemporary sounds as varied as Diplo, Daft Punk, L.I.E.S., Brazil’s baile funk movement and Chicago’s dancefloor of today.
Various Artists Speedy Wunderground Year One
Legendary Wild Rockers 4 The record label Speedy Keb Darge has been with BBE since the beginning, he recently lived through a typhoon which destroyed the village where he lives in The Phillipines. His story, like the story of all survivors is a harrowing one. Somehow he managed to escape, with some records and put this album together, if you want to know more, check the sleeve notes, all the tracks were recorded between 1956 and 1964, and without them, we’d not have the incredible 40 years of ‘Rock’ music history to enjoy today. These were the trendsetters of the day who laid the blue prints for what came after.
Dance Mania Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997 A very special release on the way for lovers of quality original Chicago house music as Strut team up with the legendary Dance Mania Records for their first ever full label compilation. Dance Mania has wielded its influence
Wunderground is the idea of producer Dan Carey, who has previously produced records for Franz Ferdinand, Bat For Lashes, The Kills, Steve Mason, Willy Mason, Django Django and TOY, to name a few. The idea of Speedy Wunderground was to create something immediate, harking back to the golden age of rock and roll where records were written, recorded and put out in a short space of time. All Speedy records are recorded and produced by Dan in one day, followed by mixing for one day, released on 7”? single in limited runs of 250 as soon as was humanly possible. This is a collection of the first year’s singles along with the B-sides.
Various Artists Savage Rhythm New musical styles don’t appear over night. Rock and Roll didn’t explode out of a vacuum and Elvis wasn’t the Big Bang Before Elvis, there was a massively diverse R&B scene in the States, which today’s record buyer is currently enjoying the discovery
of through a wealth of compilations and reissue 7s. In turn, this music was a development of the sound that came before it, with many of the key players having been instrumental in the swing bands of the 30s and early 40s. Savage Rhythm is a compilation of this fantastic music, documenting the direct lineage from the Jazz and Swing of the 30s through to a more R&B-ready sound of the early 40s, signposting the way ahead for what was to become Jump Blues and eventually Rock and Roll. Quality music that is as vibrant and essentially vital today as it was 75 years ago.
Various Artists Soul Jazz Presents... The Soul Jazz label have this year presented a fine crop of releases, even by their own esteemed standards. Amongst them there were more perfectly rounded introductions to; Gipsy Rhumba, New Orleans Soul, Calypso, Studio One Dancehall and Studio One Rocksteady. On each occasion the label get the perfect balance between a welcoming overview and an exploration to the topic’s outer reaches. They are passionate investigations to the very centre of a time, movement or genre. Also this year were another two volumes of the amazing Punk 45 series. Vol 2; ‘There Is No Such Thing As Society’ and Vol 3; ‘Sick On You! One Way Spit!’ – both compiled with extensive sleeve notes from journalist Jon Savage. Our personal favourite was ‘No Seattle’, a double album following the tangled knots of the Washington grunge scene between 1986-97. Nirvana made the headlines and the impact, but the waves were subtle and just as important to the story. The last release of 2014 is a fantastic new album of disco, modern soul and boogie from 1978-82; these guys just do what they like. Never do their compilations feel lightweight or led by fashion. They’re passionate people who prove themselves to be aficionados in an ever increasing spectrum of music.
Various Artists Country Funk Volume II 1967-1974 In 2012, Country Funk 1969-1975 (Volume I) gathered together songs from a genre with no name. It’s a genre created not from geography or shared ideology but a term applied retrospectively based solely on the feel of the songs: hip- swinging rhythms with bourbon on the breath. These were songs to make your cowboy boots itchy, written and performed by the likes of Bobbie Gentry, Johnny Jenkins and Link Wray. Songs that encompass the elation of gospel with the sexual thrust of the blues; country hoedown harmonies cut with inner city grit. Compiled from tracks dating from the late ‘60s to the mid ‘70s, Country Funk is the sound of country music blending with sounds and scenes from coast to coast. White America’s heartland music blending with the melting pot as the nation assessed its identity in advance of its bicentennial year. Light In The Attic has followed up that first 16-track disc with a second volume, Country Funk Volume II 1967 - 1974, and a new set of loose-talking, lap steel-twanging tracks. You’ll find household names like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Kenny Rogers, Jackie DeShannon, JJ Cale, Bobby Darin and Dolly Parton; who steals the show. You’ll also find some more obscure artists like Bill Wilson, whose lost Ever Changing Minstrel album was produced by the feted Dylan producer Bob Johnston, and Thomas Jefferson Kaye, noted producer of Gene Clark’s opus No Other. It may be the genre that had no name, but there’s plenty of gas in the country funk trunk yet.
Eccentric Soul Capitol City Soul / The Way Out Label Two records released by Numero Group as part of their ‘Eccentric Soul’ series. Ohio’s Capitol City and the sonorous Shangri-La carved out by the indefatigable Bill Moss. ‘Capitol City Soul’ is a trove of completely unissued and under issued treasures from Moss and company. A decade in the making,
Various Artists this is the set of soul discoveries that no one but Numero could achieve. Features otherwise unreleased songs from the Kool Blues, the Four Mints, Jupiter’s Release, and Love Maximum, alongside rare sides by Dean Francis & the Soul Rockers, the Chandlers, Associated Press, the Soul Partners, and the Vondors. From the vaults under the basements under the garages of one of the nation’s most unsung music scenes. Fuelled by the financial drippings of number runners and boosted by Hall-of-Fame running back Jim Brown, Cleveland, Ohio’s Way Out Records offered asylum for a rising crop of rogue soul men, rust-belt vocal ensembles, and trial-by-fire producers. Helmed by a friendly consortium of hustlers, police officers, and gridiron giants, pet project beget obsession as Motown arrangers, gospel choirs, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra were all beckoned to the wrong side of the tracks. The Way Out Label gathers the brightest moments from the quirky operation’s eleven-year bid.
Bleep: 10 Bleep is an independent record shop housed in the warm embrace of the Warp label. Bleep:10 is a celebration of ten years of music retailing for Bleep with a fourteen track compilation in which they have sought out new and unreleased gems from some of their favourite artists, all of whom continue to shape the direction of the Bleep store. Together they represent different labels, scenes and genres that are important to them. Diverse, ambient, euphoric; it’s a killer collection and highlights Bleeps importance as not only a pioneering independent retailer, but also as determind curators and coilers. They know their business.
Native North America (Vol. 1) Aboriginal Folk, Rock, And Country 1966–1985
As we go to print, this, our 2014 compilation album of the year isn’t even Wayfaring Strangers in stock with us yet. It took only a handful of listens to our promo copy to Darkscorch Canticles realise that it was not only a rich source of music to discover, but also an album Also from the Numero Group label. of significant cultural importance. With Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Largely unheard, criminally Canticles, the impacts of Led undocumented, but at their core, Zeppelin and Black Sabbath on US utterly revolutionary, the recordings of shores and heartlands is revealed as a the diverse North American Aboriginal bludgeoning previously undescribed. community will finally take their In this collection, medieval Bonham rightful place in our collective history thunk and febrile Iommi guitar leads in the form of Native North America crowd out the bluesy Americana that (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and foregrounded those bands, replacing Country 1966-1985. An anthology of hippie pastoralism with mythology, music that was once near-extinct and armoured conflict, sorcery, and doom. off-the-grid is now available for all to From legions of occult-obsessive hear, in what is, without a doubt, Light 1970s bonehead teens, we summoned a In The Attic’s most ambitious and horde of 16 bands, cloaked in eons of historically significant project in the tortured obscurity, whose sole release label’s 12-year journey. Native North amounts to a blistering chapter ripped America (Vol. 1) features music from free of rock’s lumbering mythos. These the Indigenous peoples of Canada and worried, warlike Canticles occupy the northern United States, recorded a miniscule niche in the American in the turbulent decades between 1966 underground of self-released rock, but to 1985. It represents the fusion of their appeal is more broad today than shifting global popular culture and a in any previous era. reawakening of Aboriginal spirituality and expression.
One of the most prominent albums to arrive with us after we had conducted this poll was Scott Walker’s collaboration with the iconic drone rock band Sunn O))). If you’re even remotely interested in avant-garde and experimental music you’ll be familiar with both pioneering artists and the two combined on record is nothing short of a dream project. Rather than try to describe it’s complicated themes and musical nuances ourselves, we asked John Doran at the Quietus if we could print his superb interview with Scott Walker. They, after all, had it totally covered.
Enter The Furnace: Scott Walker Interviewed by John Doran That Soused exists is, on its own, cause for celebration. That it exists and is brilliant is cause, in my opinion, for the declaration of a new national holiday. I met up with Scott Walker last week at his managers’ West London home.
First of all I wanted to congratulate you on your poker face because when I was sat in this very same chair in December 2012, interviewing you about Bish Bosch I was actually wearing a Sunn O))) T shirt and I asked you some questions about drone metal and black metal. You said you were aware of these genres and discussed them briefly with me but of course behind the scenes you’d been talking to Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) for a couple of years by that point. Scott Walker: I’d been talking to them but not literally. We’d been sending messages back and forth. I was thinking about the project then, yeah. When did Sunn O))) first get in touch with you? SW: In 2009. It was for Monoliths + Dimensions but I couldn’t do it - not because I didn’t want to but because I wasn’t available, I was working on something else at the time. They wanted something written and sung and I just didn’t have the time. So that was the first time.
SW: They sent me all of their CDs and I listened to nearly all of them - simply because I really liked them. And that’s when I became aware of them.
last record not because of being in the studio but because of the gaps between everything. And it literally drove Pete [Walsh, musical director] and I insane… I was thinking that I would love to make a record faster and with continuity and reduce everything. Get rid of the cast of thousands and take it down to the basics. And the basic in music is the drone. So I thought, ‘Well, it’s a reductive exercise.’ And then I thought of those guys and the drones. So I sent them an email via the record company and said, ‘Look if I’m going to do this are you interested… if I write these songs do you want to be part of it?’ They said yes they were so I said, ‘Well, I’ll get on with it then.’
There’s a slogan that’s printed on a lot of their records which reads: “Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results”. Did you acquiesce to their dictat and did you give them a good rinse?
Whether it’s avant garde or extreme or mainstream heavy metal - is this a genre that you’ve not really paid that much attention to in the past or is it something you’ve been moderately aware of?
SW: Yes. We’re all volume freaks. Even before this record we have always recorded guitars at a very high volume in the studio but of course it was never anything like Soused. We even mix very loud, which is very unfashionable.
SW: Moderately aware of. Yeah. And I’ve always liked it. And I’ve always thought, ‘My sound could work with this.’ And so it was really a case of who to pick to work with.
Did they send you a scratch demo of the track ‘Alice’? SW: They did. I don’t remember what the track was called but yes they did. They asked me if I could write something for it and sing it. Had you heard the band before? SW: No. Did you explore what the group sounded like?
After you couldn’t work with them on Monoliths + Dimensions when did the first germ of the idea for Soused happen? SW: I think the last time we spoke, I told you what a trial it was making the
And I don’t want to state the obvious but it feels to me like what Sunn O))) do and what you have done over the last four albums might not be in the same genre and might not sound formally alike but aesthetically, philosophically and spiritually they have a lot in common don’t they?
SW: Yeah. It’s the weight of it. Because it’s not like working with a band which would be boring to me when it’s just like four or five guys playing. I either wanted to do something very big or very small. If you look at the last track on my last few albums it’s just me and it’s quite small or otherwise it’s a cast of thousands. They were a great compromise in that way because of the weight they have. I mean they’re so loud. When we recorded them [laughs] it was shockingly loud. We’d go into the studio and… ha ha ha! We all had to wear earplugs. The first day we heard it - that brought new meaning to the phrase ‘guitar levels’. I believe that when Sunn O))) turned up to Wespoint in London, they brought so much amplification that they couldn’t fit all of it into the studio, which is almost worthy of a Spinal Tap storyline. SW: I know. It was ridiculous. But thankfully enough of it fitted in. It was just perfect for what I wanted to do. Was Peter Walsh at the receiving end of the guitar onslaught? SW: [nodding] Because he’s miking things up. Yeah. [laughs] So he started wearing earplugs pretty quickly and so did Mark [Warman, Musical Director]. And then everyone started wearing earplugs. But you can feel it right up through your knees, it’s such a weird thing. And funnily enough when I was standing right in the centre of it, it didn’t bother me but when you first
So normally you work with different, talented musicians and even though they’re in demand and some of them are famous Did you find it interesting that they obviously in their own right, they are very much your band. Did it change anything working with had a pedigree for working with very an outside unit who were already a band in distinctive vocalists such as Attila Csihar of their own right and in possession of a very Mayhem and Julian Cope? long recording history of their own? SW: I thought their sound would SW: Let me say that it was an absolute be complimentary to my voice but pleasure, the whole thing. It was whichever vocalists they had working really… I’d never met them before, with them before I had really no we’d never spoken, we just turned interest in that, that didn’t influence up at the studio. I thought it was the me at all. I was just thinking what I best way to do it. So I thought, ‘If it’s could do with them and what I could going to be an ugly surprise, it’s going bring to the project. So that wasn’t a to be an ugly surprise and everyone consideration. can just go away and try and forget Stephen O’Malley told me that he was blown about it.’ But I like that. I like the risk factor involved in something like this away by the scratch demos that you sent because I didn’t know what was going to him and Greg; that they revealed that to happen. But they were an absolute you completely understood how their music worked. To what extent did you have to shift pleasure and everyone got on perfectly. They were serious about what they your own compositional sense or perspective did but they were funny as well. They around in order to incorporate their noise were so aware of their sound and how it - because, let’s face it, they do create a very evolves. And very particular about their intrusive noise. sound. SW: Well, it’s all about where you So Sunn O))) weren’t there for the whole place everything - that’s the most album were they? It was recorded in a couple important thing. Where you place the of different stages. vocal with the guitars and any other noises you use. But in a sense because SW: Yeah it was. They were with us it was reductive I wasn’t having to for a week. And then they went and we worry about, or to be concerned with, carried on but we had continuity to it harmony so much. I could get a really which is what we wanted. primal noise which is what I was really after anyway. So in one sense it was harder because I had to be aware that I How quick was it compared to Bish Bosch? needed more space but in another sense SW: Because we didn’t have to wait for it was also easier. big studios for strings and other studios for other things it was much quicker. We used a big studio for a couple of things: the drums and the whips. We got my friend Pete The Whipper down from Bristol to record the whips. Peter Gamble is the bullwhip champion of Great Britain. He came down on the train with nine bullwhips and we recorded all of them at the big studio. Some of them are about three metres long. He had them from Australia, from America. We settled on the American whip - the real bullwhip. He was amazing. He could crack two at the same time. We have a video of him. He throws axes as well. And do you know what his day job is? Health and safety. [laughs] That cracks me up. We had Sunn O))) for a week and we worked so well and so concentratedly that we had go into the room it’s like entering a furnace… a furnace of sound.
“If it gets too Guns N’Roses you want to stop that though, and replace it with something else”
nearly a day left over in studio time. So we were really cooking.
actually done all of the guitar parts. SW: They did all the guitar stuff.
The songs on Soused are very different to those on Bish Bosch, they’re a lot less complex in compositional terms. They’re more songlike songs. Was this due to having to work with this very powerful, primal Sunn O))) sound or was it just something you were aiming for? SW: No, I started writing and it just kind of unfolded that way - in this kind of slightly more traditional way. Actually, I don’t think ‘Fetish’ fits that mould but I know what you’re saying. It was just as I was arranging them, that’s how they came. And my main thing was I had to leave space for the drones to happen, so there had to be plenty of room for them to unfold, work and happen. I couldn’t squeeze things together like in a traditional song. So, can you tell me about ‘Brando’. The lyrics suggest that it’s named after the actor. SW: Yes. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the songs but as you know I don’t want to go too far down that road because once you become too detailed about a song it ruins whatever it is that it has. But I can tell you a few things… I was watching One Eyed Jacks on television one night. And I know all of his films really well and I like them. But I thought to myself, ‘Hey, he must have it written into his contract that he has to get beaten up in the films he’s in.’ In One-Eyed Jacks he gets tied to a post and beaten by Karl Malden with a bullwhip. In The Chase he gets beaten to a pulp by the local town vigilantes. In Reflections In A Golden Eye, he gets repeatedly beaten across the face with a riding crop by Elizabeth Taylor. There’s On The Waterfront of course… In The Appaloosa as well. In The Wild One he gets beaten up by vigilantes. He must have had it written into his contract. There’s an undeniably sado-masochistic, sexual element to this… SW: Yeah. It’s a song of unfulfilled longing. A song of masochistic longing. When I first heard the album I naturally presumed that Sunn O))) had just done the drones but Stephen told me that they’d
This is the most formally varied album that Sunn O))) have done, in the terms of the guitars, so was there a discussion about getting them to use different styles? SW: The original email I sent said, ‘If you guys just want to concentrate on the drones I’ll get one of my guys to do all the lead stuff.’ But they got back to me and said, ‘We’d like to have a go at all of it.’ They did. Tos [Nieuwenhuizen, auxiliary member of Sunn O)))] was great. He played quite a lot of [the lead guitar].
He has a natural feel for the lead guitar. He has a wonderful groove feel and everything he does sits right in the pocket. I didn’t know who he was when he turned up though. I thought, ‘Who is this guy? Is he their tech?’ But they were like, ‘No he plays [in Sunn O)))] as well.’ And he was really great. There are all sorts of guitar styles on there aren’t there? There are some real classic rock flourishes on ‘Brando’, the kind that almost wouldn’t be out of place on a Guns N’Roses track but then these are counterbalanced by the dreadful rumble, the heavy drone industrial bass lines and some no wave, atonal chords as well.
Did you go through a number of choices before SW: If it gets too Guns N’Roses you want to stop that though, and replace it you settled on Soused as the title? with something else! [laughs] SW: I had two potential names and I sent them off to Stephen because he Can you outline Peter Walsh’s role in the designed the cover and all that. I sent recording and tell me if it varied much from through “Ronronner” which is the his role on previous recordings? French word for purr. You know, like SW: His role wasn’t really that different the noise a big cat would make but he said that French would read that as too to how it has been in the past. I just cute. So I came up with Soused. rely on him to get the best recording we can get. Where he was really great I don’t think Stephen and Greg will mind me was in the mixing stage because he has saying that they like a drink or two but what so much on his hands and I’m always about you? Aren’t you teetotal? in and out trying to get everything shaped. But he’s always there with suggestions. But in the mixing stage he was brilliant on this record. This record was such a contrast to the last one and this time everything went right. It almost painted itself. Everything we tried worked. I tried to sabotage it at one point but I couldn’t do it. I would come up with an idea but had to say, ‘That sounds great!’ It didn’t matter what I threw at it. I kept on trying SW: Oh no! Not at all. I don’t drink to knock it off course but as much as I used to. I’m more of a everything we did worked. weekend drinker now. The name has a few meanings but the one meaning What were the responses from everyone on your team when they were first placed in this being submersed in water, that’s the one we were after. crucible of drone metal?
What aspect of this project did you get the most intrinsic pleasure out of? SW: Experiencing them first when I first heard them in the studio. It was like… [whistles] I thought, ‘This is either going to work or it’s going to be fucking awful. And mixing it was great as well. Is it inevitable that people are going to draw a comparison between the recent occurrences in the Middle East, with the beheadings by ISIS and the song ‘Herod 2014’? SW: It might be inevitable but I wrote it before these things started happening. Whatever associations people have after listening to this song, that’s fine. I’m happy for people to bring whatever they want to the work but I didn’t have that in my mind.
“funnily enough when I was standing right in the centre of it, it didn’t bother me but when you first go into the room it’s like entering a furnace… a furnace of sound.”
SW: Well Mark was shocked but then he always is because he’s from the world of musical theatre. [laughs] When we did The Drift with him he’d come straight from doing a musical. He was a replacement for a guy that we had before and he walked into this situation with all the meat punching and all of that and for him it was like walking into a nightmare. But then he settled in and he’s been brilliant ever since. And whatever we do now - like I said last time, even if we drive cattle through the studio - he’ll cope. He’ll pick it up.
I was thinking earlier today about how shocking ‘Herod 2014’ compared to the opera Richard Strauss produced based on the Oscar Wilde version of Salomé with all of its suggestions of necrophilia and incest. Is it pretty much impossible for an artist to shock their audience in terms of subject matter these days and is it even your job to shock your audience any more?
SW: That used to be the case. It was definitely in people’s heads to try and shock especially in the modernist period. I just work in my own sound world now though. I’ve established a sound world and developed certain tropes and things that I understand now. The track starts with a bell, which is really a representation of the female SW: Yeah, I push myself out of my in the song. But the bell is submerged comfort zone. [laughs] Well, yes, in the song, you can barely hear it but but only in the sense that they sound it’s keeping a pulse and hiding away in different so I had to make what I do the track and you only hear it appear at work with that and that’s always a challenge. But once we started doing it, the very end again. There is a noise at the beginning, a kind of wah wah wah it was great. noise - that’s taken from a recording This might sound like a strange question but did Sunn O))) push you outside of your comfort zone. I say strange because someone listening to your last few records might be forgiven for presuming that you don’t have a comfort zone.
Bosch I was constantly having to match the lyrics to other forces. I was constantly having to think, ‘What am I going to do with the strings here that hasn’t been done before to make the phrase really kick - to make these words really stand out? What’s the noise for this lyric?’ And I had a long list of things that needed to be dealt I think the lyrics to this album work as poetry. with. Here I could get freer with the And maybe you could say that about the lyrics lyric writing. to Bish Bosch but that would be a different Soused is unusually melodic for both you and kind of verse - more fractured, modernist, hyper-condensed and full of allusion whereas Sunn O))) - does this mark a movement away from the more atonal style of Bish Bosch the lyrics to Soused I think you could take or is it more of a ring-fenced project? intrinsic pleasure from the luxurious use of language and how the words have been SW: People are funny about saying juxtaposed. It simply has a more intrinsic side-project now aren’t they? Everyone lyrical quality to my ears. Did these lyrics has come to hate that term. But that come easier to you? is how Soused actually started. I think the idea of it being more melodic is the SW: Some of them did. On Bish actual surprise of it. When people read Bosch there’s not so much rhyming that we were going to do this record I so you have to make everything count think what they expected was a lot of in itself. So when you’re rhyming it makes everything easier. On a song like drones and some incoherent shit… you know what I mean… some screaming ‘Herod 2014’ a lot of it rhymes so it’s buried in the background. But I think fun to write because the combinations the great surprise of it is that it is as it of words are fun to work out. But it’s hard as well. I didn’t do this with all the is now. And that’s what makes it more far out. songs though and on ‘Fetish’ I go off that gets played to babies in the womb. It’s a white noise sound that’s meant to keep them tranquil. It’s meant to keep them really tranquil but the fucking thing is really loud, I don’t know how it works! It’s a scary noise and there are things like that placed here and there in the track.
“When people read that we were going to do this record I think what they expected was a lot of drones and some incoherent shit…”
on a Bish Bosch tangent. I go off into a scheme with no rhyming. It all takes time but this was faster than I thought it was going to be. Is it more fun for you to write in this way that it is to write for Bish Bosch? SW: Yes because I’m dealing with fewer forces simultaneously. On Bish
existence itself. I was trying to go back to the crusades so I started going back to Latin for that reason itself. My Latin pronunciation is terrible but Pete’s son, who is about nine or ten, speaks perfect Latin. So we phoned him up in Germany and asked him to pronounce all the words down the phone for me. You can hear his little voice right at the beginning of the track from where we recorded the phone conversation. Will Soused influence what you do next? Even though everything you’ve done for the last few decades has been markedly distinct from each other, there is also a through line and one record seems to influence the next. SW: I don’t know because I haven’t started thinking about it yet. I’ve had a kind of strange year because I’ve got several projects but none of them have quite panned out yet. They’re in the mix but nothing to do with recording another record. So I’m kind of in that space at the moment. Now I wasn’t going to ask this originally but there was a clue on the official 4AD website which made me change my mind. On the Soused website there are tabs which read ‘news’, ‘video’ and ‘live’. So are there going to be live shows? SW: I haven’t seen what you’re looking about but then I never look at the website so that could be why… Erm… Stephen and I brushed on this and we all want to see what’s going to happen with the album. But you’re not saying no. SW: We’re not saying no but we want to see what the reaction will be, to see if it’s strong enough to make a consideration of it. But if the reaction is strong enough then you’ll be looking for a venue that’s nice enough and well equipped enough to reproduce this kind of sound?
Can you tell me about the use of Latin on the track ‘Bull’ - you’ve got the term “Custodient SW: Yeah. Oh yeah... Oh yeah. migremus” - which means “keep moving on” and you’ve also got several terms which Can you tell me about ‘Fetish’, the least roughly translate as the occurrence of pain… standard track on the album? restless pain… sinful pain… why is this? SW: The idea of the song is it’s a crusade. There are a lot of crusade images in it. It’s a crusade against
SW: It’s about fetishising objects… but it’s one of the songs I kind of want to skate around really because I
like to have people work that out for themselves. Ok, well, Scott-watchers will already know the last track on the album ‘Lullaby’ as a version of ‘Lullaby (by by by)’ which you wrote for Ute Lemper in the late 1990s and which appeared as a bonus track to the Japanese version of her LP Punishing Kiss. SW: That’s right. I wrote it in 1999. Ok, well, her version of this song is already fantastic. Why revisit it? SW: It’s because the song is one of the only songs… in a sense, in a very superficial sense, the song is about assisted suicide. That was in the air back then but now it’s really in the air. So I thought, ‘We could do a great version of this song. I’ll just rearrange it for us.’ So I chopped away at it and changed it. And it worked. Like everyone I know, I am torn about this subject. I understand the problem and why some people want it but I’m very frightened about the idea of people engineering our deaths in a technological way. That’s the bothering thing about it to me. So that’s why I recorded it because it’s a current issue but then again it’s also one of those timeless subjects. It’s absolutely brutal, especially in the “Lullaby lullaby” section where I’m absolutely screaming it so there’s no vocal quality at all in it. It’s not a quiet lullaby it’s an absurd lullaby because I’m shouting it.* Do you find it in anyway upsetting or draining to sing this track? SW: Erm… it was in some ways but when I have that great track that Sunn O))) did… I did it in one take and I just love what we did with it. That was one of the tracks where Greg was coming back in while I was trying to get it right and he would say, ‘Oh God, that sounds like shit.’ And then I found a way with them to make it sit but then it worked. I guess that was the only one where we had a bit of a glitch. What are some of the instances of on the fly studio innovation that you used? SW: Oh, there are so many examples… There’s that middle section in ‘Fetish’ where the guitars go [hums Suicide-
like riff] and I wasn’t liking that. So finally I was on the floor with the ring modulators and everything else because it wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t darkly funny enough. And then it worked and then Greg went crazy and shouted, ‘You nailed it man!’ It’s interesting working with Americans because I never usually work with them. Not for nearly 50 years. He’s a funny guy though. So polite. You’ll have to watch it if you do play live with them in case they make you put on the robes… SW: [laughs] That is definitely OUT!
[*A few hours after the interview, Scott’s manager forwarded me the following email: Hey John Just a small detail that I forgot to mention regarding LULLABY that might be of help. The reason for quoting some of the William Byrd song “My Sweet little Darling” is because the English language is considered to be the technological language. Good Luck. Scott.]
When was the last time you wrote lyrics autobiographically? SW: Oh God… the 60s probably. You always say, ‘I’m not going to leave it so long until the next record.’ And then, to be fair to you, last time after Bish Bosch you really didn’t leave it that long. I know you’ve said that things aren’t coming together for a new record just yet but what do you have in the pipeline that you can talk about? SW: I’m doing a film soundtrack. I’m going to start one. But the thing is there are contractual issues going on. Not to do with me but to do with other people involved with the movie. So it’s been on and off and on and off. But it should start sometime this year. Presumably you won’t want it to last as long as Pola X did. SW: Oh God no. No. But listen, the contract stage of the film already has lasted longer than Pola X. Well, I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed hearing the album. It was an amazing idea and even better in practice. SW: Thank you. ‘Soused’ by Scott Walker + Sunn O))) is out now via 4AD. Many thanks to John Doran and Luke Turner for allowing us to print this interview. It was originally published online at www.thequietus.com A fine website that we frequent often.
48 That’s already fifty new albums and a whole bunch of compilations and reissues. Are you ticking as you go? They all sound great right?
50 Thurston Moore The Best Day The Best Day, Thurston Moore’s first solo record since 2010’s Demolished Thoughts, radiates with both his signature dynamism of dense thrashing electric guitars as well as blissful 12-string acoustic ballads. Recorded with Thurston’s current band line-up of James Sedwards (guitars, UK), Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine, bass, UK) and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth, drums, USA), there are also some tracks that feature all instrumentation by Thurston. The Best Day is a record defined by positivity and radical love. The songs range from opener “Speak to the Wild”, a Crazy Horse-like paean to anti-authority and activism, to “Vocabularies”, a paean to a new realization of language, which includes ALL people, including transgender. He is the founder and ringleader of Sonic Youth, the band that turned on an entire generation to the value of experimentation in rock n’ roll - from its inspiration on a nascent Nirvana, to Sonic Youth’s own Daydream Nation album being chosen by the US Library of Congress for historical preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2006.
49 Sleaford Mods
Protomartyr Under Color of Official Right In a city full of brilliant people with dead-end jobs and dampened by bitter-cold winters, playing music offers a cheap outlet. Protomartyr’s taut, austere rock was incubated in a freezing Detroit warehouse littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and warmed, feebly, by space heaters. Short songs made for short practices, and the band learned quickly not to waste time. Despite the cold, Protomartyr emerged with a sound that is idiosyncratic but relatable, hooky but off-kilter. Protomartyr’s economical rock elicits comparisons to possible antecedents like Pere Ubu or The Fall, it’s all controlled but the feelings are running very close to the surface.
Divide And Exit Divide And Exit’ sees Sleaford Mods once again released on the elusive Nottingham-based low-profile Harbinger Sound label. Once dismissed around their native Nottingham as “two skip rats with a laptop” the last 12 months has seen the Sleaford Mods simply knock all their distractors (think you mean detractors)clear out of the way. “Divide and Exit “ contains 14 new tracks all written over the last 12 months and the result is as immediately in your face as it”s vicious predecessor. Whilst Fearn’s beats and loops will pull you up into the urgency of Sleaford Mods they also allow you to run the gauntlet from deliberate clumsy dance-floor swaggers to full-on punk throwabouts with them. The verbal salvos and side-swipes are often savage and brutal , yet at turns, hilarious, but always spot on, as Sleaford Mods rage and despair as the country sinks deeper into a cesspool of its own idiocy.
47 St. Vincent St. Vincent On this, St Vincent’s (self-titled) 4th album, Annie said “I wanted the groove to be paramount. I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.” A former collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree, Annie Clark has been credited with playing up to 13 instruments on her previous albums (and recent collaborative album with David Byrne) - so there is no wonder that this album is full of meticulously crafted pop gems. Lyrically frank and unquestionably satirical, it’s the kind of album you can’t put down. Eleven perfectly formed songs with different ideas and influences; they do all groove.
46 Wild Beasts Present Tense Present Tense is a dramatically new album - taking cues from the most intense and effervescent of 1980s and 1990s electronic sound but rethinking and retooling these elements with exquisite detail for the 21st century. Longer in creation than any of its predecessors, the band took almost a full year away from touring to conceive and construct the eleven tracks of ‘Present Tense’. Recorded with co-producers Lexxx and Brian Eno protégé Leo Abrahams, they created a record of astounding intricacy, coherence and emotional resonance. Alongside its breathtaking leap in production, ‘Present Tense’ also finds the band at the peak of their considerable songwriting powers each one of the album’s eleven tracks illuminating the precious, tender, sad and funny moments of modern life in their trademark plain-spoken poetics.
45 Ultimate Painting Ultimate Painting
44 Sinkane Mean Love With roots in the rich musical history of North America as well as Africa, Sinkane provide a new perspective on what Soul Music is, and what it can be. Sinkane’s Mean Love rolls like an emotional, existential history of the artist. Ahmed Gallab has created an altogether unique compound of sound, stylistically nostalgic and ultramodern at the same time. From Gallab’s childhood in Sudan there is a Pan-African influence of popular Sudanese music and haqibah, as well as distinct horn and synth arrangements more common to East Africa. This background merges with the lessons learned from Ahmed’s stints with obsessive craftsmen such as Caribou, Yeasayer and Of Montreal, and especially the monumental task he underwent as musical director of ‘ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor.’
Temples Sun Structures
The album was recorded at home, in the box-room of James’s house Jack Cooper (Mazes) & James Hoare in Kettering, an end terrace with a (Veronica Falls) are Ultimate Painting. blessedly forgiving neighbour. “I’m The two formed a fast friendship always apologising to him for the when Jack’s band Mazes were on tour noise, but he says, ‘It’s not noise, it’s supporting James’ band Veronica music,” says James. The band aim for Falls, sharing similar tastes in music, Jack Nietzche production on a DIY art and films. It wasn’t until after budget – and succeed. “It’s similar to returning home that a musical synergy Joe Meek – he used to record vocals in was formed. After numerous demos his bathroom in his flat on Holloway were exchanged, a few casual jam Road,” says Tom. “The way I see it, sessions turned into something more; there aren’t any limitations any more. a partnership. Named after a piece of If you know what you want to achieve, art by the Southern Colorado desert there’s always a way around it.” Sun community “Drop City, there is Structures is an enormous psychedelic influence also in music with The Velvet pop album with melody and charm Underground heavy in the air, but they in abundance. You can hear the paths have successfully found their own space they have followed but only these guys and made it sound real mellow. know where they’re going.
42 Martyn The Air Between Words Three years after his last album Martyn joins the Ninja Tune family to present his third long player. Universally respected for his ever evolving, but inimitable sound, the Dutch-born, Washington DC-based producer brings an entirely new sonic direction with ‘The Air Between Words’. This is an exploration of the essence of all of Martyn’s music: a rugged four-tothe-floor groove, intelligently sculpted and artfully composed. Stylistically and sonically, Martyn stands apart from his counterparts. His music incorporates vintage references but is steadfastly forward facing at the same time. He’s always done that. His sound is heritage and future - and that character has elevated him alongside fellow electronic heavyweights such as Four Tet, Kode9, dBridge and Mark Pritchard.
41 Ásgeir In the Silence 21 year old Icelandic singer songwriter Asgeir’s Icelandic album ‘Dýrð í dauðaþögn’ is the most successful commercial debut release ever in Iceland. It has now gone triple platinum, outselling the debuts of The Sugarcubes, Sigur Ros, Bjork and Emiliana Torrini. The production on the album is perfect. It’s controlled, cinematic, swooning and has enough about it to still throw a few curve balls. The Icelandic lyrics were written by Ásgeir’s 72 year old father. Those lyrics were then translated from Icelandic to English by John Grant. Ethereal and perhaps the most Icelandic sounding music ever released,. All those guys who bought it can’t be wrong right?
40 Jungle Jungle Jungle are based around a core musical duo of lifelong friends T and J; Tom McFarland and Joshua LloydWatson, childhood skater friends from Shepherd’s Bush with a history of dissecting classic records together. They expand to a thrilling seven piece live, and make mesmeric, kaleidoscopic modern soul that’s unmistakably born in the UK but has true global appeal. The album was recorded between the band’s own home studio in Shepherds Bush, London and the XL Recordings studio in nearby Ladbroke Grove. Thier self titled debut was one of the twelve Mercury Prize nominated albums.
39 Eno · Hyde High Life The collaboration between Brian Eno and Karl Hyde, two of UK’s most highly respected and influential electronic musicians, continues with second full-length record, ‘High Life’. In the short amount of time since the release of their highly acclaimed debut album ‘Someday World’, the creation of ‘High Life’ was written and recorded over a series of sessions. The experiment drew inspiration from the repetitive minimalism of composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass and from the polyrhythmic music of Afro-Funk and in particular Fela Kuti. “When ‘Someday World’ was finished I felt like we were still on a roll and I wasn’t ready to stop working and get into ‘promotional mode’ for that record. So I suggested we immediately start on another album, a different one, where we extended some of the ideas we’d started and attempted some of the ideas we hadn’t.” - Brian Eno
38 Soft Walls No Time So we spoke with Dan Reeves a littler earlier in the magazine about his year and his label - but this is his record. These 10 songs are meditations on the passing of time itself and the preconceived notions (both external and internal) of what you can and should be doing with it. The album is primal stuff. It has the ability to drag you out of your seat into an Ian Curtis strut before throwing you back down, full of anxiety and introspection. Howling vocals are both intimate and estranged like personal advice from a stranger. It’s Filled with avant-leaning psych drones, dreamy guitar ragas, motorik head-boppers and pop tunes that shimmer enticingly. These are songs to get lost in and to discover and re-discover. Don’t worry - there’s plenty of time.
36 Eagulls Eagulls Eagulls have become synonymous with a discontented, disillusioned kind of anger, moulded into bullets of post punk that’s rife with urgency and aggression. The Leeds four-peice have had an explosive few years leading to their debut, that has itself taken them around the world and as far as the David Lettermans TV show. Lyrically it’s hard to make out and as hard to decipher, playing instead on the emotions with walls and walls of fierce kicking sounds that convey any number of shitty cities, shitty jobs and desolate shitty futures.
35 Actress Ghettoville
Ghettoville’ is the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image. After nearly a decade of cryptic transmissions, Darren Cunningham, aka Actress, is packing it in. Broadly FKA twigs speaking it is a techo album and he LP1 is a techno artist, but the carefully constructed glitches, ambient dips, The debut album from the Londonindustrial clangs and minimal sections based producer, singer, songwriter make it oh so much more. Lets hope and video director. LP1 is FKA twigs this is just a hiatus. - Where the demands defining artistic statement to date, of writing caught the artist slumped and building on the success of her two reclined, devoid of any soul, acutely aware previous EPs and accompanying videos of the simulated prism that required (‘EP1’ and ‘EP2’) which have elevated breakout. Four albums in and the notes and FKA twigs from a word-of-mouth compositions no longer contain decipherable secret to global obsession over the past language. The scripts now carry tears, the two years. LP1 features none of these world has returned to a flattened state, and previously released songs; instead each out through that window, the birds look back track on LP1 is brand new, born out into the cage they once inhabited. Spitting of FKA twigs’ artistic philosophy of flames behind a white wall of silence. The spontaneous creation and collaboration machines have turned to stone, data reads in the studio. Glimmering modern pop like an obituary to its user. A fix is no music with pulsating and whirlig beats. longer a release, it’s a brittle curse. Zero Both lyricaly and stylisticly creative. satisfaction, no teeth, pseudo artists running Another of the much deserved Mercury rampant, but the path continues. Prize nominations and a bona fide gobal star. R.I.P Music 2014.
Luke Abbott Wysing Forest Since signalling his arrival with the probing, peerless avant techno of 2010’s ‘Holkham Drones’ (Drift’s album of the year no less), Luke Abbott has kept a relatively low profile. A couple of EP’s on Gold Panda’s Notown label and a fierce appearance at our shop for Record Store Day 2013... there’s been enough to tantalise fans but a true follow up to this peerless debut has been slow in announcing itself. New album ‘Wysing Forest’ arrived this year, with Border Community once again providing the producer with safe harbour. Named after the Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire who hosted Luke as their first ever musician-in-residence over a six week period during the winter of 2012, the album comprises a series of improvised live recordings, edited and compiled after a period of after-the-act reflection into one rapturous movement. The finished article’s 52-minute duration may have been chopped into nine track-sized chunks for its official album release, but this is most definitely an album which is greater than the sum of its parts, designed to be listened to in one immersive go. “‘Wysing Forest’ has a very particular arc to it and the tracks only make sense in the context of that arc,” Luke explains. “Structuring the album to work as a whole was quite a challenge, almost more of a challenge than making the music, but I think I’ve ended up with something that has a kind of internal logic.” And though only a pair of tracks - ‘Free Migration’ and ‘Highrise’, together forming the subtle peak that marks the mid-point of the album - approach ‘Holkham Drones” idiosyncratic lumpen danceability, it is thanks to Luke’s perfectly judged elegant transitional dynamics that neither piece - although as dancefloor-directed as anything he has ever done before - feels out of place amongst the album’s more mellow moments.
Damien Jurado Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son Damien Jurado’s ‘Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son’ is the follow up to 2012’s critically acclaimed ‘Maraqopa’ and again features Richard Swift producing - the third time in which the pair have collaborated. Expanding on the existential journey of its predecessor, ‘Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son’ tells the story of a man who disappears on a search for himself never to return. The world of ‘Brothers...’ is birthed from the deepening partnership between Damien and producer Richard Swift. Damien’s musical career began with the release of his debut ‘Water Ave S’ on Sub Pop in 1997. He went on to release three more records for the Seattle label before joining Secretly Canadian, a move marked by the release of ‘Where Shall You Take Me?’. What’s evident on ‘Brother And Sisters Of The Eternal Son’ is that Jurado continues to evolve. In his own words he states “How I feel about, not just my songs but what happens in the studio... It is limitless.”
Damien Jurado made up his own Jesus because a Damien Jurado album needs a beautiful Jesus. Some freaky space Jesus that I don’t recognize. The name is the same, a lot of the imagery is the same, but he’s reborn. Born again, I mean. Yeah, as if Jesus got born again. That’s what this album sounds like. Jesus is out of his goddamn mind and I want to live in Damien’s America. Sign me up. -- Father John Misty
32 Young Fathers DEAD This is known: Young Fathers are three young men from Edinburgh, Liberia and Nigeria, all at the same time. Their journey has taken them through various incarnations and styles but they are still only in their mid 20s. And... and this is important: they’ve chosen to kill the past - their own past, even - to make their own future. The what-what, the feeling: Following on from the acclaimed EPs ‘TAPE ONE’ and ‘TAPE TWO’, their debut album ‘DEAD’ comes as an intimate epic, thirty six minutes of…. what? What? You can call it hip hop or rap, but Alloysious, G and Kayus sing more than they chat. There’s the suburbs and the cities of Grey Britain in there, but also Africa. There’s an obsession with the surface texture of sound, the psychedelicist’s love of noise. Equally, the deep, warm, maternal reassurance of bass. But the band also craft hook after hook, instant kid-melodies, piling them up on great reefs of backing vocals. Above all, what they insist on is that their music has to mean something, emotionally. If this is a wake, it’s a celebratory one, full of heart. Since February we’ve been going back again and again to this album, never quite picking a favourite track, which of the diverse and swirling timbres we liked most. Seeing as we were totally unable to put our finger on it, we reached out to talk to the guys who’d know best, the fathers themselves...
LONG LIVE INDEPENDENT MUSIC! Republic of Music Top Picks 2014 - as featured in Drift’s year end chart
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ESBEN AND THE WITCH A NEW NATURE
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WYE OAK SHRIEK
V/A DANCE MANIA: HARDCORE TRAXX 1986-1997
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Young Fathers Winners of the 2014 mercury Prize, the edinburgh based young fathers have their roots in liberia and nigeria amongst other places and influences across all genres. We had the opportunity to get alloysious, kayus and g into one great ‘young-fatherly’ huddle and talk about their superb dead album. It was nearly three years ago that you made ‘Tape One’ available as a free download. Do you think you were one of the first artists to make that approach work? One of the first, no. One of the many, possibly! It wasn’t an original idea but it really was perfect for us at the time Looking back. At the time, what was your thinking with making the mixtape available in the public domain? We were strict, we had to put it out by the end of the week or everything was over. We put this on ourselves but also circumstances dealt us a hand that meant we had to take fairly drastic action. The reception for Tape(s) One and Two was universally glowing. Did this make you anxious with DEAD? How much of an impact do critics have on you as artists?
Anticon and Big Dadda feels like two perfect homes for you. That’s important right? If the label understands then half the battle is won. Anticon and Big Dada both have a good understanding of what we’re about. They leave us to do what we do best and we leave them to do the same. Both labels are run by music fans, which is quite special in the music business. Leading on from that, your artwork is incredible, who created it? We think you had the years best stickers.... The artwork is created by a little old lady called June. She lives next door to our manager and does the artwork for the price of a knitting pattern. When she’s busy we do it ourselves.
The Guardian (all be it in a very glowing review) referred to you as “magpie-ish” Do you feel like your influences come to the surface in your work? We would challenge anyone to accurately name our influences based on what they hear... our influences are buried so deep that we don’t recognise the sight or smell ourselves if or when they manifest. If or when they manifest we hope they are bastardized beyond recognition. People seem to get hung up on categorising music. Does it matter to you where in record shops you get filed?
Glad you loved the stickers - we would We prefer to be filed right at the front, have preferred them to be even stickier. preferably in the window... if not, then Rock and Pop.
“our Influences are BurIed so deeP that We don’t recognIse the sIght or smell ourselves If or When they manIfest” We had no time to be anxious. Kept it intense, urgent. Kept the blood flowing. Critics don’t really have an effect on us - not all of us even read the reviews. It’s irrelevant what the critics or anyone think as to how we make our music.
of that idea. A ride and a story - can’t ask for a better reaction apart from an orgasm, perhaps?
DEAD tells a story and takes you on a ride. Were you anxious about incorporating so many ideas into one album? Didn’t think about the amount of ideas - in fact, there’s probably only the one, big idea and every track is a section
What I took most from DEAD were the drones. (LOW in particular) feels like very spiritual music. What influences outside of music have effected your work? We don’t examine our influences - just let it happen. Taking them out and looking at them makes them disappear, takes away their power. Best not to approach, keep it full strength. How about taking the work out of the studio, have you enjoyed playing the music live? Sometimes you do, sometimes, not. Live it’s different every night, mainly because it is witnessed. In the studio we make things alone to be consumed by many - live, it’s just us and the invited.
Parquet Courts Sunbathing Animal The year and change since the release of Parquet Courts monumental Light Up Gold is reflected in ways expected and not with Sunbathing Animal, its sharper, harder follow up on Rough Trade Records. Following their quietly released 2011 debut American Specialties, Light Up Gold caught the ears of everyone paying even a little bit of attention, garnering glowing reviews across the board for its weird colours and raw energy saturated punk songs that offered crystal clear lyrical snapshots of city life. It was immediately memorable, a vivid portrait of ragged days, listlessness, aimlessness and urgency, broadcast with the intimacy of hearing a stranger’s thoughts as you passed them on the street. As it goes with these things, the band went on tour for a short eternity, spending most of 2013 on the road, their sound growing more direct in the process and their observations expanding beyond life at home. Constant touring was broken up by three recording sessions that would make up the new album, and the time spent in transit comes through in repeated lyrical themes of displacement, doubt and situational captivity. To be sure, Sunbathing Animal isn’t a record about hopelessness, as any sort of incarceration implies an understanding of freedom and peace of mind. Fleeting moments of bliss are also captured in its grooves, and extended at length as if to preserve them. Pointed articulations of these ideas are heard as schizoid blues rants, shrill guitar leads, purposefully lengthy repetition and controlled explosions, reaching their peak on the blistering title track. A propulsive projection of how people might play the blues 300 years from now, “Sunbathing Animal” is a roller coaster you can’t get off, moving far too fast and looping into eternity.
Gruff Rhys American Interior Much as Light Up Gold and the subsequent EP Tally All The Things That You Broke offered a uniquely tattered perspective on everyday city life, Sunbathing Animal applies the same layered thoughts and sprawling noise to more cerebral, inward-looking themes. While heightened in its heaviness and mania, the album also represents a huge leap forward in terms of songwriting and vision. Still rooted firmly in the unshackled exploration and bombastic playing of their earlier work, everything here is amplified in its lucidity and intent. The songs wander through threads of blurry brilliance, exhaustion and fury at the hilt of every note. Parquet Courts remain, Austin Brown, A. Savage, Sean Yeaton, and M. Savage.
30 Alvvays Al vvays Comprised of Molly Rankin (lead vocals / guitar), Kerri Maclellan (keys / vocals), Alec O’Hanley (guitar), Brian Murphy (bass) and Phil MacIsaac (drums), Alvvays take the template laid out by the likes of Scottish stalwarts Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines and Belle & Sebastian and fuse it with a strong sense of self and a unique personality. Each shimmering track on their debut full-length frames Rankin’s melancholic melodies and unwavering voice with meticulous arrangements and needlepoint guitars.
American Interior is a unique project that firmly establishes Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals) as a captivating storyteller, blurring the boundaries and possibilities of songwriting, music, literature, film and technology to create a multisensory experience telling the incredible true story of John Evans. In 1792, John Evans, a twenty-twoyear-old farmhand from Snowdonia, Wales, travelled to America to discover whether there was, as widely believed, a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe - The Madogwys - still walking the Great Plains. We had the extreme good fortune to meet Gruff for the first time back in the summer and he is humble, fasinating and utterly engaing. What a guy. “In 2012 I embarked on an investigative concert tour of the American Interior, retracing the steps, and looking for the grave of a relative called John Evans. Evans was last sighted in New Spain in 1799 under a new name: Don Juan Evans. Did he find the tribe he was looking for? What became of him? What is it that sends men and women to the ends of the Earth in the vain pursuit of glory? I’ll try and explain all in a PowerPoint presentation (across the nation) this summer.”
Oh, and incase you wondered, it’s pronounced “Al - Vahys” or “_Àl wó–z”... whichever is more suitable for you. If you grew up in any part of the early 1990’s, then ‘Archie, Marry Me’ sounds like how falling in love felt... really stunning stuff.
27 28 Real Estate Atlas Atlas, the new album from Real Estate, was recorded over the summer and fall of 2013 with producer Tom Schick [Rufus Wainwright, Mavis Staples, Low], and is the follow up their amazing ‘Days’ album, the noodling slab of sunshine that projected them onto the World stage. The members of Real Estate are in all honesty way too young to pine for their lost youth, but nostalgia remains crucial to the New Jersey band’s tender and impeccable sound. The biggest presence with the band is the distinct feeling that every song is a short soundtrack. Not necessarily anything glitzy or overblown, but short, sepia tinged super 8 movies of growing up, falling in love, falling back out of love. How the fuck they managed this feat without ever sounding sentimental or insincere is amazing. It’s shimmering pop music that seems to echo out of the past; beaches, garages and tape decks, the kind of melancholic beauty few bands outside The Beach Boys have ever matched. Whereas their self-titled debut was all about the jams, ‘Days’ was all about the Sunshine, ‘Atlas’ is very much more personal, much more direct and much more maudlin. They’ve always flirted with melancholy but ‘Atlas’ feels distinctly sadder in tone. The sun has set and they are tired, homesick and ready to stop and catch their breath. One of the biggest compliments we can think to pay them is that they sound distinctly like themselves. They have progressed in their song-writing, their production and their delivery.
White Fence For The Recently Found Innocent For ‘The Recently Found Innocent’ is many things - the fifth White Fence album, the first White Fence album to be recorded outside the bedroom (with live drumming!), the first White Fence record to be produced for Drag City, the second time that Tim Presley and Ty Segall have met to record music (does anyone remember the beast of an album called Hair?), this time pure and simply committed in the name of White Fence. Inevitably, the collision at the intersection of all these winding roads is a beautiful pileup of deep
impacts, graceful lines and open space embodied in sound. White Fence’s previous release, ‘Cyclops Reap’, demonstrated a process being executed at the top of its game. ‘For The Recently Found Innocent’ surges forth with a fresh set of elaborately crafted songs, harmony vocalizations and trippin’ guitar tones that strike the face and viscera with an equal (easy) blow. We’ve spun this album pretty hard since the summer, so we thought we’d get in touch with Tim to tell him so.
White Fence Since 2010, Tim Presley has released five solo albums as White Fence, one collaborative album with Ty Segall, a live cassette, and a handful of singles on Woodsist, Castelface and Drag City records. They’re all cigarette burned bedroom bangers, kaleidoscopic rock and roll with swagger and hooks. We were stoked at the chance to talk to him about his new ‘studio’ album. A lot has been made about this being a production step up for you, Pitchfork going as far as dubbing it you “first non-bedroom LP” - How does that ring with you? Does it feel like you’ve changed gear?
for them. sometimes i feel like Nick can read my mind. He is the type of drummer who pays attention to vocals. I could play him 10 seconds of a song and he already knows how it ends.
I guess technically it’s non-bedroom. but really it was made in a garage, then dumped onto 2” tape in a studio. It was sort of big deal to put my trust in someone else’s hands, but that was the idea. I made 5 records in my room, so I wanted to try a different method this time around. I wanted to see how shit sounded wearing a different dress.
The past eighteen months have seen quite a ‘psychedelia’ boom. Do you feel part or it? What genre do you feel part of?
Were you anxious about how it would effect the sound you’ve cultivated to date? Nah. I know what I’m doing.....I think. For sure! ha ha. We agree. Does the album sound like how you’d expected it to in your head? Did the process of working/ collaborating with other people surprise you in the ultimate end product?
That might be a UK thing now. right? I don’t really feel that here. I remember a wave of that in the US in the mid 2000’s. but blogs didn’t give a fuck then. I think all rock n roll will boom in different forms forever. The only thing that will survive is honest music on record, not bushy hair and paisley shirts. Not sure where i fit in all this. Am I even on the radar?
Totally off topic, but i’ve just been really turned onto Michael Nesmith. Any gems you’ve found this year? I don’t know who that is. is that Lady Gaga’s boyfriend? He was in the Monkees.
Previous reviews have referenced the Nuggets - Oh, ok. um…gems. I dunno. i’ve just been reading truly tasteless joke books. compilations as inspirations in your work. I sensed a distinctly more anglophile jangle. For all the sunshine in the production, it feels Who has directly influenced your work? like a sad album to me. Did I get that totally wrong?
“I’m a fucking bummer dude. As long as there’s a sad bone in my body, i will make music.” Maybe I know what the end result should be, but I try to leave as much open as possible. the more room for improve, mistakes, and off the cuff moments are the most important to me. For a good amount of the songs, I did not dictate too much to Ty or Nick. I wanted to leave that space open
and peers hold a large percentage of influence on me. That, and.. I just want to be Magic Sam. but yeah, I don’t know what’s up with the anglophile thing. I guess I can’t help it. I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t even like spotted dick. My great grandparents came from Ireland. Maybe that’s it. Maybe there’s a little Irish ghost in me. I hate myself right now, does that count?
Yes, all that stuff is cool...British or American. I think early on, Skip Spence made me want to be more personal with songs, and The Pretty Things made me want to be different. but really, I think you respond creatively with your surroundings and social tribe. I think my friends
Yeah, I suppose it is a sad album now that you mention it. I’m a fucking bummer dude. As long as there’s a sad bone in my body, I will make music. You have obviously worked together before, but how was recording with Ty? What does he bring to the room? He brings genuine enthusiasm. Also, we agree on everything, sonically. He usually brings wonton soup to the room. Love your sleeve. Who painted it? I did. Thank you very much!
26 Taylor McFerrin Early Riser Brooklyn-based producer, composer, pianist, DJ and live musician Taylor McFerrin is set to release his first full length LP, Early Riser, in June 2014 on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder record label. Taylor’s musical style is equally influenced by the legends of 60s/70s Soul, the kings of the Modern Beat Generation, Golden Era hip hop, free form jazz and electronic music. By playing all of the instruments on his productions, while also relying heavily on sampling and chopping up his live takes, he has found a sound that seamlessly bridges myriad musical worlds and draws the listener into a constantly shifting audio soundscape. “I spent years laying down tons of tracks,”? McFerrin explains, “and I got into a really bad habit of never really finishing anything. So this last year the concept was - let me go back and find all the stuff that really felt right, the stuff that felt like an honest moment of creation for me, and just force myself to finish those tracks.”? From the opening build of “Postpartum”? onwards, you know you’re in for something pretty special with “Early Riser”?. It’s a smouldering, woozy and intensely beautiful record. Tracks like “Degrees of Light”? and “Stepps”? establish a sun-up mood in their opening few bars and then develop it, the organic live feel perfectly balanced by the the snap of their programming. If McFerrin’s own voice on a track like “Florasia”? adds a genuine neo-soul emotion, his guests are sensational. From Nai Palm of Melbourne’s Hiatus Kaiyote on “The Antidote”?, through Emily King on “Decisions”? (“one of the best singers alive in my opinion”? - McFerrin) and on to labelmate RYAT’s collaboration on “A Place In My Heart”?, each adds a different mood and lift to the music they’re involved with. Taylor’s father, the legendary Bobby McFerrin, teams up with Brazilian master Cesar Mariano on “Invisible/Visible”? for one of the jazziest moments on the
record. Robert Glasper, Thundercat and Marcus Gilmore also provide their substantial jazz chops to “Already There”?. But the key to the whole record is the balance which McFerrin keeps throughout - between his guest’s individuality and his own vision, between the styles of music he loves, between a feeling of intense, sunlit joy and a deep aching sadness, which, it could be argued, is a definition of soul. Since creating a major buzz with his first EP, Broken Vibes, McFerrin has toured worldwide as a one man show and has played major festivals such as Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, The Big Chill, and Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival. In his home base of New York City, he has performed at such legendary venues as The Apollo, The Blue Note, Radio City Music Hall and The Lincoln Jazz Center opening up for artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, Nas, Talib Kweli and Robert Glasper. In addition to producing and performing, Taylor has served as the Head Instructor of the pioneering Beat Rockers program over the past 4 years, teaching beatboxing and musical self-expression to students who are blind and/or have multiple disabilities at the Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx. Taylor’s ability to create and evolve musically by drawing inspiration from all corners of his life translates into a music of exceptional honesty and emotional directness, deep sophistication and effortless style.
25 Grouper Ruins Liz Harris, for she is Grouper, has spent the last decade refining her music. Whispery vocals, ambient and crackly soundscapes of textures, tones and emotions. For many she is a closely guarded secret, like letters from a pen-
pal in beautiful scrawling hand written text. Only the letters are unfinished and the corners of the paper have started to bend in the damp. They’re not perfect things, they are fragile and even degenerating with each listen - that is why they are so special. It is delicate music that builds up around simple but hypnotic piano parts. At the very end of “Labyrinth” the highpitched electronic beep of a microwave scars the track. She chose deliberately not to re-record it or to remove the noise digitally, it happened and it’s part of that performance. It demonstrates clearly the intention of this record: to faithfully capture a time of her life, as the cliche goes, “warts-and-all.” As Liz explains it was recoded in Portugal and Cicadas can be clearly heard on several tracks, also those southern European rainstorms hammer away in the background of ‘Holding’. For all the rich noises and textures, the songs are the main event here. No choruses, crescendos or even much deviation in tempo, instead it’s the repetition that builds and the faint subtleties that are really stunning. Also the vocals, fragile as ever, are whispered with more clarity than ever before, the fogginess and delay of previous releases are brought down to a minimum. Lyrically it’s emotionally charged and candid, it pulls you in and holds you from start to finish. No one makes music like her. Speaking about it herself, she said; Ruins was made in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 on a residency set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois. I recorded everything there except the last song, which I did at mother’s house in 2004. I’m still surprised by what I wound up with. It was the ﬁrst time I’d sat still for a few years; processed a lot of political anger and emotional garbage. Recorded pretty simply, with a portable 4-track, Sony stereo mic and an upright piano. When I wasn’t recording songs I was hiking several miles to the beach. The path wound through the ruins of several old estates and a small village. The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.
24 East India Youth Total Strife Forever William Doyle released his debut album as East India Youth right back in January, an ambitious work heralding the arrival of a singular new talent. Doyle is an inventive composer, and not tied to one style of music, bringing a love of minimalist and ambient composition to play alongside traditional song writing. The album ranges from ambient passages and neo-classical episodes, Detroit techno through to effervescent melodic electronic pop songs, with ‘On Heaven How Long’ combining all elements as the euphoric chorus dissolves into a driving motorik rhythm. We got turned onto this guy early by The Quietus, who in fact set up their own recording arm (Quietus Phonographic Corporation) specifically to release his music. Founder John Dorran at the time proclaimed “I would have remortgaged my soul to get this music out there.” That’s just the sort of spirit East India Youth’s music invokes. The album’s central, four-part motif, which – a nod to minimalist and abstract composers like Brian Eno, Steve Reich and Tim Hecker – bubbles with serene noises and complicated audio structures. It’s a coming-of-age album fizzing with pop, Krautrock, classical and ambient electronics like a pinwheel firework, dense with tension and then burbling into beautiful bleakness. There’s just a scattering of songs; otherwise it’s instrumentals – a structure, Doyle says, inspired by David Bowie’s Eno-supervised “Berlin” trilogy. It’s thrilling: one minute his reedy vocals are calling to “find new love dripping down your soul”; the next, monstrous techno banger Hinterland threatens to burst apart your speakers. In less capable hands, moving for the minimal to the maximal could seem incoherent, but Doyle plays it out as part of the same drama, like a soundtrack in many ways. To that end we now have special bonus editions of his album with an epic 54
minute imagined soundtrack for the 1916 silent film ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ - you know, just cause he can. Minimal, pounding and all sorts of places in between, it’s an album of great depth and humanity.
23 Earth Primitive and Deadly EARTH’s career, like its music, has always been a slow, deliberate progression. Each record slightly removed from the last, a constant refinement of a singular vision. Dylan Carlson has remained focused throughout on coaxing moments of strange beauty and reflection from “the riff”. This elemental foundation of rock is refracted, in their earliest recordings, through the prism of sheer volume and feedbacking drone or via a sparse unravelling take on folk. With Primitive And Deadly, EARTH’s tenth studio collection, Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies, manage to come full circle twenty-five years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in their music. For the first time in their diverse career, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of EARTH’s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and
Davies’ drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive And Deadly, though, is the prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of EARTH into something approaching traditional pop structures. On “Rooks Across the Gates” Carlson stretches out into some of his most lyrical playing to date, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between his performance and the vocals of old friend Mark Lanegan. “From the Zodiacal Light,” meanwhile, takes a late 60s San Franciscan/freaked-out jazz-rock transcendence and quickly re-appropriates that sound into a musky torch song for the witching hour. This contradictory tension between a band pushing itself everforward whilst surveying it’s history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California where EARTH recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull and Hibernaculum sessions). Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is EARTH reaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock.
22 Jack White Lazaretto Jack White is pretty much a law unto himself these days. As head of his esteemed Third Man record label, shop and empire, he fulfils every whim and fancy he likes in the cast of a musical Willy Wonka. He is arguably the most prolific artist of this generation via his tenure in super groups The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, pretty much popularising the boy/girl group dynamic with The White Stripes and now his super successful solo career. So onto Lazaretto, his second solo album that sold over 60,000 vinyl copies in under two months, making it the best selling vinyl record of the last 20 years. Well, it was pretty much magic. There were two vinyl-only tracks hidden beneath the center labels, a secret track that plays at 78 RPM, another that plays at 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record. Both sides end with locked grooves, it has a matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an un-played 78 RPM record and it mostly(!) had Dualgroove technology to play an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink”... this is about half the list of features. Jack White can if nothing else be praised for his evangelising of the vinyl format. Ultra LP aside, Lazaretto is predictably full of delicious riffs that rip along at a great pace. There are side steps towards Americana and Roots and it all frames up his distinctive and very listenable voice. At it’s root it is a breakup album. Recently divorced, he sounds angry, confused and more than a little horny. He’s already got a bad rep for a worse temper, but it’s been channeled into his work thankfully, a howling, wild set of songs with bonkers production ideas and utterly vindicated delivery. It was always going to be good, but it’s refreshing that even though he can do what he likes, he still cares enough to make it great.
21 Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness Many of the superlatives describing Angel Olsen refer to how seemingly little it takes for her to leave an audience speechless, even spellbound. But Olsen has never been as timid as those descriptors imply, and the noisy, fiery hints in her earlier work find a fuller expression on her newest LP. After extensive touring, Olsen eventually settled for a time in Chicago’s Logan Square neighbourhood, where she created “a collection of songs grown in a year of heartbreak, travel, and transformation.” Many of them also remain essentially unchanged from
their bare beginnings. A new and more self-assured Olsen is opening up to us, allowing us to be in the room with her at the very genesis of these songs. We jumped at the chance to ask her about her devastating new album. The first UK review I read about you compared you to Loretta Lynn. Thats pretty big boots to fill. Are you a fan of Loretta? Who has particularly inspired you? I was surprised to read somewhere that Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey had been mentioned as formative influences? I wasn’t expecting to fill her boots. I’ve actually not listened to her as much as Dolly Parton. Have you heard “islands in the stream”? the way she sings it, she’s really going for it- and that’s not my kind of music really. She has the ability to make me want to listen to her even though my first natural impulse isn’t to pick up a country record. As for Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill.
Angel Olsen They are undeniable influences of my generation. Based on the previous question, do you take pay attention to your reviews? (if you don’t, they’ve all been very positive so you know) I have in the past, but I find it best not to obsess over what someone thinks I said or what they think I’m projecting. If I did that I’d never go forward. it’s cool if it’s positive but I’m not trying to pat myself on the back too much. There’s still life ahead of me.
the new songs I was bringing. I wasn’t afraid to tell them what I was hearing and what they brought on their own was/ is complimentary without being forced. I think we all had similar ideas on direction so it wasn’t difficult to translate. “Hi-Five” in particular has a disarming complicated time signature. It’s not traditional music anymore is it?
I guess I don’t really think of music in time signatures, but that might be a question for Josh. I just asked him if he thought it was complicated and he Did serving in Will Oldhams’ band help said “no but maybe they just like my prepare you for the potential pitfalls of the funky style”. So there you have it. I music industry? Was he a good counsel? don’t know what’s traditional anymore. I think he was a counsel simply through Seems like we are at a time where his actions, but every teacher is human- everyone is ready to try anything. Going back to the past is alright by me there are things I had to learn on my if you can make it your own. own, things no one could prepare me for. I have never worked so hard on I read somewhere once that (loosely) ‘if you tour as I have lately. have to ask questions about a song, you’ve not Your previous album ‘Half Way Home’ was listened hard enough’. Do you feel you’ve told a story with your album? stark in it’s arrangements, so ‘Burn Your Fire for No Witness’ in contrast sounds Well I guess it’s only natural that very full. Was this deliberate? Do you enjoy people are going to be curious, that working with your own band? they want to know the exact reason why you did something. I don’t know It’s cool to remember when I first if I can say for everything that there started practicing with Josh and Stew.. we used to bike in the snow downtown was one exact event or if there even was an event in my personal life that to stews basement space. We shared it influenced each song. I think that there with his landlord, who had a clothing are stories in them, and if you wanted store upstairs. There was also a group to you could find one big story, that of delivery dudes who used the back they don’t have to be explained if of the loft - they’d always be hanging you’d rather listen to it conceptually around smoking and talking.. and we instead of viewing it as a documentary would just go down into the basement of someone’s life. I don’t blame anyone where there was a tiny shitty room for wanting to know what an artist is and we’d practice with a make shift doing how they think these, how they PA. Stewwould always have a French write. I just don’t think it’s necessary press ready and sometimes I’d call to make a piece of work and then to him just to ask if he had milk, then I’d break every single process of it down. hang up and grab some milk on the It might be complete like a house, but way or whatever and it would be like it didn’t come together that way. that, we would practice sometimes for 4-5 hours two or three times a week What have you been listening to that has immediately following the release of inspired you this year? Which records have HWH. It was the first time anyone you bought (and where?) had spent so much energy learning my material while also being open to
I went to a shop in Raleigh NC and bought Erykah Badu’s Worldwide Underground and New Amerykah Pt 2. I had heard them both before but I wanted to own them and listen to them at home. I also got into Prince again this year, revisiting some of his earliest stuff. “For You” and the 1979 one. as far as modern stuff it’s mostly been Blood Orange, Mac Demarco, and Melodys Echo Chamber. Knowing that you have connections to Harvest Records, how important to you are independent retailers? I don’t think you can ever find the good stuff, reliably in corporate places. I can depend on people at an independent record store to have many different tastes and to bring their personalities to the store. It also just feels like people want to be there, that they thrive on even talking with regulars. There’s a world of different characters that they see on the daily. Everyone needs music and wants to find it, even crazy people hah. Who painted your album cover? A local artist in Asheville, Kreh Mellick. I had seen some of her work hanging up and thought the style was bold and stark at once. I wanted something to be very bright in comparison to past records when everything was in black and white. I think it contrasts well when I see them altogether. Images can be misleading, so I try to see past a bad record cover when I see one. I do think of the record cover and music as a whole, but not every one else does. Hey...what’s the best part of Christmas? The lights.
Warpaint’ was co-produced by Warpaint and Flood (PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros, New Order, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Foals), and mixed by Flood and Nigel Godrich (Radiohead). The album was conceived after some writing and recording sessions that took place in The Joshua Tree late last year. Here the band was joined by visionary director Chris Cunningham who has partnered with them for many of the album visuals including the cover. He has spent the past two years filming and photographing the band as they made ‘Warpaint’. Warpaint’s ascent over the last six years has been monumental. The band’s singles online (possibly even on MySpace) caught the attention
of none other than John Frusciante, who gleefully mixed the group’s first EP, Exquisite Corpse, back in 2008. Because the four-peice are all female, it’s almost unavoidable to not read into tones of sexuality as either ‘sultry’ or ‘staunchly feminist’, but the whole album is about blurred lines and hazy textures. The reframe of “Disco// very” are the words “She’ll eat you alive,” followed by alternating yowls and echoes; they might very well be four sirens. There is an air of mystery to ‘Warpaint’ and It’s hypnotic timbres are on the surface satisfying grooves, it’s those dark brooding undertones that are so interesting and the album wears darker and darker with each listen. They’ve grown up without trying to just sound bigger.
Goat return with Commune, the eagerly awaited follow up to their astonishing debut album World Music. Commune continues on with World Music’s acidic grooves, hypnotic incantations, and serpentine guitar lines but also introduces a darker, more angry edge to the band, not seen before on previous releases. Starting with the layered percussive groove, Eastern guitar flourishes, and convoking vocals of “Talk To God”, it re-establishes the trance-inducing rhythms and exotic blaze of guitar that characterized their debut so well. That spellbound pulse delves into darker and more propulsive territories on “Words” and “Goatslaves”, while “Goatchild” veers towards the transcendental pop of ‘60s Bay Area
FULL TIME HOBBY 2014 RELEASES
TIMBER TIMBRE ‘HOT DREAMS’ CD / LP / DL ‘Smoky, Lynchian treat’ Guardian 5*
ERLAND & THE CARNIVAL ‘CLOSING TIME’ CD / LP / DL ‘Opulently crooned pop-rock songs’ MOJO 4*
SMOKE FAIRIES ‘SMOKE FAIRIES’ CD / LP / DL ‘Scuzzily atmospheric’ 8/10 Uncut
THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS ‘EVERYTHING’S A THREAD’ CDx2 / LP / DL ‘A fabulous soundtrack for a heatwave’ Guardian 4*
FULL TIME HOBBY’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY COMPILATION ‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?’ CDx2 - A retrospective through FTH’s 10 years as a label
DIAGRAMS ‘CHROMATICS’ CD / LP / DL COMING SOON
SAMANTHA CRAIN ‘KID FACE’ CDx2 / LP / DL Mojo 4* Independent 4*
18 Future Islands Singles rock. The vintage psychedelic vibe permeates through songs like “The Light Within” and “To Travel The Path Unknown” - tracks that suggest that these rural Swedes operate on the same wavelength as the Turkish psych-folkies recently rediscovered by reissue labels like Finders Keepers. Commune reaches its apex when Goat’s hymnal invocations meet a heavy dose of proto-metal fuzz on “Hide From The Sun” and “Gathering of Ancient Tribes”. The pallet of ideas this time around aren’t perhaps as groundbreaking, but the execution is so genuine that the psych grooves are never anything other than addictive.
Future Islands release ‘Singles’, their debut album for 4AD and their boldest and most immediate work to date. The Baltimore trio consists of enigmatic frontman Sam Herring, bassist / guitarist William Cashion and keyboardist / guitarist / programmer Gerrit Welmers. Herring’s poetic tales of heartbreak, love and loss are up front and in high fidelity, thanks in part to a newfound creative partnership with producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear). The trio teamed up with longtime collaborator Jay Buim, who created the music video for ‘Singles’ opener ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’. An honest and intimate look at the American heartland, the video was filmed in the Great Plains. It documents a real life love story,
the modern cowboy way of life and captures the landscapes that personify America. It follows a string of videos Buim has shot for the band (‘Tin Man’, ‘Balance’ and ‘Grease’) that convey the same sense of honesty, beauty and earnestness that are the cornerstones of Future Islands’ music. When Future Islands performed earlier this year on “Letterman”, the secret was out: Here’s this front man, this dude with a tucked-in shirt, khakis, and a receding hairline, a Disney gloss to his eyes, bobbing and weaving, grinding gears in his throat, giving a “fuck yeah” gesture before a perfect pop modulation takes him to the chorus. The performance went viral, rightfully, masses of new fans amazed and delighted by his uninhibited spirit. For anyone familiar with the bands back catalogue and their live presence in particular, they’ll know this was all genuine, not a touch of the calculated, same as it always have been with the band.
Mac DeMarco Salad Days Salad Days, is the follow up to 2012’s lauded “Mac DeMarco 2” which saw the Edmonton local propelled into the limelight. Written and recorded around a relentless tour schedule (which picked up all over again as soon as the LP was done), “Salad Days” gives the listener a very personal insight into what it’s all about to be Mac amidst the craziness of a rising career in a very public format. The lead single, “Passing Out Pieces,” set to huge overdriven organ chords, contains lines like “..never been reluctant to share, passing out pieces of me..” Clearly, this isn’t the same record that breezily gave us “Dreamin,” and “Ode to Viceroy” but the result of what comes from their success. “Chamber of Reflection,” a track featuring icy synth stabs and soulful crooning, wouldn’t be out of place on a fantasy Shuggie Otis and Prince collaboration. Standout tracks like these show Mac’s widening
sound, whether insights into future directions or even just welcome one-off forays into new territory. Still, this is musically, lyrically and melodically good old Mac DeMarco, through and through. The same crisp John Lennon/ Phil Spector era homegrown lush production that could have walked out of Geoff Emerick’s mixing board in 1972, but with that peculiar Mac touch that’s completely of right now. The reverse sleeve cover of Salad Days is a photo of his apartment / studio / squat - bits of equipment, wires, stickers and a shit load of cigarette butts. This new album is produced humbly and on the fly and it’s that lack of interference and conventional studio constraints that enable it to perfectly frame around the purists ideas of the songs. Essentially, they are still just a bunch of jams from a guy who likes getting high and goofing around - this is the master stroke that underpins Mac DeMarco - tell
everyone you’re not taking it seriously and they are disarmed. His band are all very capable players and the songs across his three albums are complicated and actually very sophisticated, but in approaching them as beer-stained and throw-away it enables Mac to sing ballads that will really get in and jangle around your chest.
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16 Mogwai Rave Tapes Rave Tapes is the eighth studio album by Mogwai and their second on Rock Action, the label they set up almost 18 years ago to issue their debut 7in single, Tuner/Lower. In between, the Scottish quintet have established themselves on the international stage through a prolific recorded output and a commitment to touring that few of their peers can match. Clocking in at just under 50 minutes, the 10-track album is a lustrous collection mined from the same quarry as its predecessors, wreathed in painterly textures underpinned by increasingly electronic beats. The haunted strains of Deesh channel the slow-burning ecstasy of their 2006 song “Auto Rock” while the guitars on which Mogwai built their reputation remain, if for the most part less overtly belligerent this time round, as evidenced by the somnambulant opener “Heard About You Last Night” and the sonic scowl of “Hexon Bogon”. With Rave Tapes, Mogwai’s mastery of sound and space is firmly at its apex. Created in summer 2013 in the band’s Castle Of Doom studio in Glasgow, the record marks the latest phase in the group’s increasingly substantial canon – since the dawn of this decade, Mogwai have released four full-length records, one live album, two EPs and three singles. They’ve also revisited their cinematic tendencies producing the soundtrack to the acclaimed Canal+ supernatural drama series ‘Les Revenants’ and performing their most conspicuous predecessor ‘Zidane’ live. Part of Mogwai’s early raise to prominence were the reports that due to excessive volume, peoples ears were spontaneously exploding at their live shows. In their esteemed career they have developed into a band who can play both loud and quiet, fast and slow. These days they focus more on making your whole head explode.
15 Hiss Golden Messenger Lateness of Dancers Hiss Golden Messenger is Durham, North Carolina-based songwriter M.C. Taylor. Lateness of Dancers is the fifth full-length from Hiss Golden Messenger. It’s an open, confident, immediate album, and it feels, at times, like a direct response to the darkness of Taylor’s last record, 2013’s Haw, or to the searching of 2010’s Bad Debt, the stunning acoustic LP he made at his kitchen table shortly after the birth of his son. Lateness of Dancers was recorded in a tin-roofed barn outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina, last fall and includes many of Taylor’s longtime collaborators, like Phil and Brad Cook of Megafaun, the guitarist William Tyler, and his erstwhile recording partner Scott Hirsch. Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man contributes backing vocals; her tender, wooly voice both complements and challenges Taylor’s. The record takes its name from a Eudora Welty story, which is noteworthy not because of its origins— although there are hints of Welty in Taylor’s work, and not just Welty but Flannery O’Connor and Faulkner and Barry Hannah and Larry Brown and the whole pantheon of brutal and exquisite southern writers—but because Taylor is the type of person who recognizes the beauty in a phrase like that. It is a record about selfdiscovery and self-knowledge, and how impossible it is to outsmart yourself. I don’t know how you learn a lesson like that, except the hard way. “The misery of love is a funny thing / The more it hurts / The more you think / You can stand a little pain,” he sings on “Mahogany Dread,” one of Lateness’ most telling tracks. These are the kinds of lies we tell ourselves to feel the things we want to feel, even when those pleasures are buried in a whole lot of hurt.
We had the oppertunity to ask MC a few questions about his new album. So forgive my ignorance, I know nothing about Eudora Welty, tell us a little about her and Lateness of Dancers. Eudora Welty was an author of novels, short stories and essays from Mississippi. In all honesty, I’m far from an expert on her work. When reading her novel Delta Wedding I cribbed the phrase that became the album title. But because that phrase was hanging out in my notebook with no attribution, and I had forgotten where I got it from, it wasn’t until I told my pal Brendan that I was naming the record Lateness of Dancers that I realized it was a Welty quote. But I think it fits in some way. The album feels like a collection of stories, is this how you saw it? Is it like a book in itself? Maybe a book about my life? I might be the only one that understands the whole narrative arc of it, although there is certainly an emotional arc that is relatable to a lot of people. All of the songs were written around the same time, so they all definitely share themes (and sometimes even words, I’m told). How meticulous were you about the arrangements or did you trust your esteemed band of collaborators? Even though we record HGM records quickly, we spend a lot of time on pre-production-- thinking about what the songs want to be, rhythmically, lyrically, instrumentally. By the time we had our recording rig set up in the barn, I generally knew the record. There is always plenty to uncover in the recording of any album, no matter how much thinking you do about it beforehand, but the emotional timbre of the songs that appear on this record was consistent from when the songs were first written. Also, I consider my band, on a purely technical and soulful level, to be one of the best bands working. I don’t mean to sound arrogant. I just really feel strongly that the people with whom I work understand the kind of American music that I love on a really deep and profound level. So I trusted everyone to just play what they felt.
them to life in a whole new way, a London way, but also a completely personal way, where she inhabits the different characters and shows the There’s a strong, vibrant formal boredom and fear in their lives rather tradition in hip hop: the story rhyme. than some faked glamour, shows more Rather than the bragging and boasting than anything their need for love. of many raps, in a story rhyme the Carey, meanwhile, sculpts soundscapes MC presents a narrative - a street that pay tribute to the roots of hip update of Ovid or Homer if you want hop while melding into the themes to get hifalutin about it. Traced back Tempest addresses, tough and gritty by some to “The Message” by Melle but intensely musical, the sound of a Mel, few would dispute that it reached wet winter’s night out in London. He some sort of a peak with Slick Rick’s even got US singer-songwriter Willy first album, and was carried forward Mason to contribute a chorus! In the by the likes of Biggie and Eminem. end we get an audio story Dickens It also had a profound influence on might have tried to write, one which rap in the UK, with artists like Roots is, in Tempest’s words, quite simply Manuva using the form to represent about “loving more.” ‘Everybody themselves and their city in a myriad of Down’ was one of this years Mercury new ways. Kate Tempest is best known Prize nominated albums and alongside as a poet, perhaps a performance poet eventual winners and roster mates, or a spoken word artist. She has a novel Young Fathers, would have made a coming out next year with Bloomsbury. strong and very deserving winner. As But ask Kate what she is and she’s it happens, as soon as the nominations more likely to say she’s a rapper who were announced Kate was met with writes. That’s her first love. Listen to a universal acknowledgement of her voice, her cadences, the accent, ‘absolutely right she should win’ - the and you’ll hear more of Skinnyman hard work had already been done than Seamus Heaney, a veteran of and Kate Tempest is recognised as a Deal Real’s legendary Friday night multi-disciplined artists very much on rap battles but also someone at home the rise. So a Mercury success story doing a book reading at Foyles. Kate in part, she was in it and reaped the Tempest understands the story rhyme, awards without having to necessarily loves it. Which is why Everybody win it, and more so a celebration for a Down is something like a “novel very hard working and supportive label rhyme” – twelve ‘chapters’ telling one and a genuine creative unafraid to do long, complex story, a unique, one-off whatever just comes out. project, almost unique in the history of the form.
Kate Tempest Everybody Down
Dan Carey aka Mr Dan is one of the UK’s best known and most highlyrated producers. He’s worked with or remixed Bat For Lashes, Toy, MIA, Chairlift and Hot Chip (and just about everyone in between). When the two met, Carey invited Tempest to come through to his South London studio to muck about on a track or two. In a burst of intense creativity, they put down the whole twelve track album in a fortnight having spent almost a year developing the characters and story. The result is a revelation. Tempest takes the tropes of the hip hop story drugs, money, gangsters - and brings
13 Swans To Be Kind Swans make apocalyptic music that is far from easy going. Listening to their work could be seen as a commitment, following the eruptions across the epic running times (112 minutes on this occasion) and violent shifts. It is the apex of experimental rock
music, orchestrated power and utterly unrivalled. On the closing, title track of ‘To Be Kind’, their third album since reforming in 2010, Michael Gira solemnly repeats the words “to be kind”, it’s like a retrospective mantra to see you through the malevolence of the album. Utterly stunning, a real experience for the mind and body. On release back in May, Michael Gira wrote the following introduction to the album. Hello There, We (Swans) have recently completed our new album. It is currently being mastered at the time of this writing. It is called To Be Kind. The release date is set for May 12, 2014. It will be available as a triple vinyl album, a double CD, and a 2XCD Deluxe Edition that will include a live DVD. The album was produced by me, and it was recorded by the venerable John Congleton at Sonic Ranch, outside El Paso Texas, and further recordings and mixing were accomplished at John’s studio in Dallas, Texas. We commenced rehearsals as Sonic Ranch in early October 2013, began recording soon thereafter, then completed the process of mixing with John in Dallas by mid December 2013. A good portion of the material for this album was developed live during the Swans tours of 2012/13. Much of the music was otherwise conjured in the studio environment. The Swans are: Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris, Christopher Pravdica. Special Guests for this record include (among many others): Little Annie (Annie sang a duet with me on the song Some Things We Do, the strings for which were ecstatically arranged and played by Julia Kent); St. Vincent (Annie Clark sang numerous, multi-tracked vocals throughout the record); Cold Specks (Al contributed numerous multi-tracked vocals to the song “Bring the Sun”?); Bill Rieflin (honorary Swan Bill played too many instruments to list here, ranging from additional drums, to synthesizers, to piano, to electric guitar and so on. He has been a frequent contributor to Swans and Angels of Light and is currently playing with King Crimson)” - I love you! -- Michael Gira
Steve Gunn Way Out Weather Despite the album-opening lyric to the contrary, “Way Out Weather” is an uncommon song in Steve Gunn’s discography. Sonically and lyrically the album demonstrates a radical evolution, lighting out for lusher, more expansive, and impressionistic territories; it’s his first major work as an artist for whom the studio provides a critical context. A more enigmatic and elevated affair than its predecessor, Way Out Weather completes Gunn’s satisfying transformation into a mature songwriter, singer, and bandleader of subtlety and authority. It ranks as his most impressive and inviting record yet, an inscrutable but entirely selfassured masterpiece. The critically acclaimed Time Off (2013), his first full-band album highlighting his vocals, represented the culmination of Steve’s steady fifteen-year migration from the frontier fringes of the guitar avant-garde, where he is regarded as a prodigy, and toward his especial style of more traditionally informed (albeit deconstructed) songcraft. Those songs developed from years of woodshedding and performance, offering a linear, local narrative that mapped the contours of Gunn’s Brooklyn neighborhood and a matrix of musical friendships, earning him a broad new following. Less patently intimate, Way Out Weather angles for something far more cosmic, dynamic, and widescreen in sound and sentiment. In contrast to the interiority of Time Off, these eight decidedly exterior songs aren’t grounded by the specifics of geography, instead inhabiting headier, more rarefied altitudes (see in particular the ethereal “Shadow Bros,” “Fiction,” and “Atmosphere.”) They step beyond home and hover above horizon, unmoored from immediate circumstances and surroundings. Here Gunn’s discursive, mantric guitar style, at once transcendent and methodical— and as influenced by Western guitarists such as Michael Chapman and Sonny Sharrock as by Ghanaian highlife, Gnawa, and Carnatic forms—maintains
its signature helical intricacy and mesmeric propulsion, while buoyed by a bigger crew of musicians, a wider instrumental palette, and higher production values than ever before. Belying their ambitious new scale and scope, most of these songs arrived at Westtown, New York’s scene-seminal Black Dirt Studio as skeletal solo demos. An enthusiastic and generous collaborator—recently he has partnered with Kurt Vile, Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, the Black Twig Pickers, Cian Nugent, et al.—Gunn assembled an accomplished group of comrades to flesh out the full arrangements, trusting the germinal songs to an instinctual process of spontaneous composition, transposition, and improvisation. The WOWstudio band comprised longtime musical brothers Jason Meagher (bass, drones, engineering), Justin Tripp(bass, guitar, keys, production), and John Truscinski (drums), in addition to newcomers Nathan Bowles(drums, banjo, keys: Black Twig Pickers, Pelt); James Elkington (guitar, lap steel, dobro: Freakwater, Jeff Tweedy); Mary Lattimore (harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile); and Jimy SeiTang (synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton.) This preternaturally intuitive and inventive band allowed Gunn to sculpt the album as a composer and colorist as well as a player. The cascading runs of “Milly’s Garden,” the menacing urgency of “Drifter,” and the alien, galvanic syncopation of album closer “Tommy’s Congo” (the latter unlike anything Gunn has heretofore recorded) display a thrilling mastery of heavier, increasingly kinetic full-band arrangements. His vocals throughout are more present, commanding, and refined, revealing a restrained but highly nuanced baritone capable of remarkable grace.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow Sea When Absent We’d forgive you for being confused, but they’re not Scottish. They are actually from Philadelphia and they don’t necessarily even craft particularly sunny music, it is however completely consumed in walls and walls and layers and layers of almost violently explosive euphoria. Although you can pin on genres like ‘Dream Pop’ and ‘Shoe-Gaze’, none of them really fit with ASDIG and their ability to move in-between them all so quickly and with such dexterity makes them sound pretty much like nothing else. It’s been a while, but A Sunny Day in Glasgow are back with Sea When Absent, their third proper album. Sea When Absent situates itself in the science fiction that is life in 2014 and goes looking for what new myths might speak to us in our post-Fukushima, post-quantum, post-everything world.Recorded over a year and half with Jeff Zeigler (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) at his Uniform Recording Studios in Eraserhood Philadelphia, the album is a conscious move away from the bright-dark, ambient maximalism of the band’s acclaimed double LP, Ashes Grammar, and a move towards a post-millennial, up-front pop sound. Sea When Absent is simultaneously A Sunny Day in Glasgow at their most accessible, most insane, and most rock. Music that overflows with so many ideas runs the risk of sounding cluttered, but Sea When Absent manages to avoid that pitfall. This is even more impressive seeing that the six members of the band are scattered across Australia, New York, and Philadelphia, and the album came together as they sent each other snippets of songs, with creative decisions made via lengthy group email chains.A bit like the Sun, it’s an album that feels like you can’t look directly at it and it’s impossible to make any shape out of it.It will however bleed onto everythign else and leave you with a mellow haze.
Hookworms The Hum The Hum comes eighteen months after the band’s debut album Pearl Mystic - a record that steadily went on to become one of 2013’s most impactful breakout statements. Even more ferocious and uncompromising than its predecessor and yet more melodic and focused than the band have ever recorded, The Hum further cements the band’s status as a vital force in British independent music. The Hum takes the blueprint of Pearl Mystic - proto-punk, garage rock, Washington DC hardcore, 80’s British spacerock - and further stamps it with the band’s seal. Leaner, meaner and more propulsive thanks to the muscular playing of new drummer JN, the record boasts both the most straight-up punk song the band have written to date in eviscerating opener ‘The Impasse’ (“we wanted it to sound like Suicide if they had a full band”?, explains MJ) and moments of patient, widescreen beauty only hinted at previously. “We were writing Pearl Mystic to an audience in the same way your diary has an audience”?, says guitarist SS. “It’s written to one but if no one ever reads it that’s not a big deal. This time round though we knew we had a really clear audience, so The Hum is really about different freedoms and constraints - with Pearl Mystic the possibilities were almost too vast, this time around we had a much clearer idea of what the record should be like and that became freeing because we didn’t need to worry about its direction so much.” That word “free”? is a good way to approach The Hum, a record that could only be made by a band in total command of their personality. “It’s like that bit on Fugazi’s Instrument documentary where Brendan Canty says that a jam they’ve got sounds ‘good, but not Fugazi’, says MJ - “we sound more like Hookworms rather than anyone else on this record.” The band faced a fairly common problem with this difficult second record. On their debut they
Sharon Van Etten Are We There
“We’ve reached a point now where we’ve been given so much praise that people seem to enjoy hating us. It’s cool, I don’t like The Smiths, it’s not the end of the world” sounded like a refined and controlled Hawkwind, or a thoroughly modern take on Spiritualized, so having made those confines, can you construct a second album in that mould? Sure, but you’ll get kicked for being a genre band. Break out, as they have, and some quarters will flag this up constantly as if it is a bad thing. The biggest shift perhaps is the mood. Where as they sounded wild and loosely controlled, The Hum is full of control and melancholy. It’s still explosive, very driven and undeniably a Hookworms album, but the shift in timbres and organ tones have brought an unexpected (to us certainly) new sense of focus.
For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 breakthrough ‘Tramp’, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a hunger to turn another corner and to delve deeper, writing from a place of honesty and vulnerability to create a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. Now, the result is ‘Are We There’, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity, and immense breadth. For this album, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on ‘Boardwalk Empire’, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of making a record together in Lerman’s studio in New Jersey. Lerman’s studio expertise gave Van Etten the freedom to make ‘Are We There’ the way she imagined. Van Etten also enlisted the individual talents of her band, consisting of Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins and brought in friends Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War On Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C Morris and Mickey Freeze. It is clear from the opening chords in the first song ‘Afraid Of Nothing’ that we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign of Van Etten in full stride, writing, producing and performing from a place that seems almost mythical, were it not so touchable and real. Always direct, and never shying away even from the most personally painful narratives, Van Etten’s songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. She sings of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence.
Sharon Van Etten New Yorker Sharon Van Etten is a song-writer or rare courage and honesty. Her 2012 break through album ‘Tramp’ ranked right up the top of many end of year lists (our own included) and from that place of universal acclaim she did something unpredictable, she decided to produce her new album herself. She took the reigns and just told it as is, right from the heart. We like your handwriting. I am sure you’re used to seeing your pictures in record shops, but did it feel funny to see your writing on the wall?
I first saw it for sale at Other Music in New York City. It is one of my favorite record stores, so I was definitely tickled.
It’s comforting that people are connecting to it. It’s important to me that no matter what I am very hands on with artwork and keep it as personal as possible.
Some of the album lyrically makes for hard hearing in it’s frankness (Pitchfork went as far as “excruciatingly confessional”) - Are there things you’ve said you’d like to take back? Are there people who you don’t want to hear them?
Which was the first shop you saw ‘Are We There’ for sale in? How did it feel to have completed that part of the journey?
coming from a place of love. ‘Your Love is Killing Me’ has been my favourite song from any album this year. I can’t concentrate on anything else whilst it plays. Do you feel like you managed to truly capture something there? It is ALL about the performance on that one. It had started as unrelentless and we only built upon that energy.
What was the most important thing you I have no regrets. I feel badly for anyone I hurt along the way, but it is all learned from producing the album? That I can be a leader as long as I trust the people around me. I learned how to communicate better and I am continuing to do so. You tipped us (non-directly) off last year about Torres, so we’re very keen to hear what you’ve been into. War on Drugs, Natureboy, She Keeps Bees, Brianna Lea Pruitt, Sam Amidon, Perfume Genius, Lyla Foy, & Tinry Ruins... to start... I really enjoyed your vocals on the She Keeps Bees album. How did that come about? How did it differ from recording your own album? They are old friends of mine. We go way back - early New York days. They asked me to sing on their record and I was THRILLED. I am a huge fan and have a lot of respect for their work ethic. Is ‘Are We There’ exactly as you intended it? As you crafted all aspects of it could you see it in your head before you began? Some songs are exactly what I heard in my head, and some came out even better - and as of a surprise. I am very proud of this album.
8 Stephen Steinbrink Arranged Waves There’s much to be said for solitude. It gives you time to step back and reflect. Self-taught songwriter, multiinstrumentalist, and home recordist Stephen Steinbrink has had plenty of time to do that. Having spent the last 13 of his 25 years on this planet travelling solo in Greyhounds, Toyota minivans, and European trains, his wanderlust travels as seen through his Lennon frames have shaped stunning breakthrough album ‘Arranged Waves’. Escapism can come in many forms. For
Steinbrink whether travelling around the world singing to anyone who will listen or simply sat in a road-side diner writing his next set of songs, ‘Arranged Waves’ has provided that much-needed distraction. Whilst getting inside its chords by finger-picking counter melodies, Steinbrink’s distinctive falsetto may recall a youthful Neil Young, a one-man Simon & Garfunkel or Nick Drake at his most poignant. Yet for each beautifully understated lament, there are moments where down-shifted synths gleam through 8-bit wobble and foggy 80s pop is filtered through gauzy Ariel Pink textures like broken transmissions from a waterlogged radio. If it’s not for the album’s field recordings - the bells ringing in ‘Tangerine’ were recorded before a show in Graz, Austria whilst its
low frequency hum is the manipulated recording of a bus he was riding - it’s his lyrics that marks Steinbrink out as a true punk troubadour trying to make sense of the world. Inspired by multi-media artist James Roemer, repressed memories of watching TV, the early 70s work of John Cale and Can, and the underground community of songwriters that live on the western coast of the USA. In the same way that Midlake captured melancholy so beautifully with ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’, there is a real homespun Fleetwood Mac thing going on that is both euphoric and at times heartbreaking. Across the album he sounds like the broodier moments of Buffalo Springfield and even Big Star.
Stephen Steinbrink One early July morning when driving around the country lanes listening to promo albums in the car, I loaded up Stephen Steinbrink’s forthcoming album via Melodic. As with all of their promos, it arrived with few pre-conceptions in a simple brown card packet. It took less than ten seconds to pull the car over and listen to the entire first half of the album in a lay-by. It sounds a bit like all of the bands I love, so I wanted to tell him so and talk about how it came together. If you don’t mind me asking, who is tattoo’d on your right forearm? Hi! It’s just a little doodle I drew on a piece of paper while on tour years ago, I kept it in my wallet for ages and then kinda blithely got it tattoo’d on me one night in someone’s apartment in Glendale, AZ. It’s a datestamp for a weird time. The very kind person who gave it to me died recently, so lately I think about him when I remember it’s there. As outsiders, Olympia WA’s musical reputation and musical legacy is huge, how does it feel to be part of that scene? Is it a supportive network? Which artists do you particular recommended that might not be on the wider radar yet?
I actually just moved away from Olympia several months ago. It’s a special place, it was educational to be around radical creative people in a community that prioritized living simply, though I was either in my own head or my studio too often to really integrate myself into the pace of the city fully, socially or otherwise. But there were some good times had in the 2.5 years I lived there -- collaborating with LAKE on Arranged Waves was a total dream, working on various recordings at the legendary Dub Narcotic Studio taught me a lot about musical freedom. Being able to interact with the ghosts in the recording equipment there was straight up devotional.
The press has made a lot of your transient touring. Do you feel nomadic? Where is home? Where have you particular enjoyed touring? Which record shops have you enjoyed along the way? I don’t feel like a nomad, but my perspective is not very... objective. My life feels normal to me because my experience is all I’m working with, y’know? I’m trying this new thing, experimenting in socially acceptable transience. I’m digging into the idea of just existing in many different places without really actively identifying with being from a specific geographic location, as in: “this is where I live, it is a part of who I am”. I don’t want an identity (sometimes when I’m driving in my car I try to make myself forget that I am a musician or have a gender
or a family). I have a difficult time with community. I think if I do have a community I belong to, it’s more conceptual. Like, lately I’ve been telling people that I live in Western North America. Borders are totally meaningless and arbitrary, so what’s the difference between saying you live in part of a city or a section of a continent? My conception of place and distance is kinda ruined from a decade of touring, though. Currently I’m in Phoenix, AZ, mixing my new record and working in a diner. I grew up here, it’s familiar and strange, beautifully ugly and hot (it’s 90 deg F inside as I type this) and lately I’ve been feeling like I’m always dreaming or something. On Tuesday I’m going to New York for a month and then back to Washington to finish the new album, then back to Arizona for the Holidays, then off to Europe for a month in 2015. I’m going to Mars in 2016. I like touring everywhere. ‘Arranged Waves’ feels nostalgic and pretty ghostly at times. Is it a record that looks backwards or are we just hearing things in the wires? I guess thematically, or lyrically, the album is about memory and the idea of integrating past images into one’s sense of self in the present. In 2013, while I was recording and writing the album I was seeing a healer or specialist or whatever in Olympia who was helping me to recover repressed or lost memories, so a lot of those images worked themselves into these songs. It’s all in there. But I think you’re right, it is ghostly. Memories are ghosts. I felt like I had heard it before, even during the first listen. Do you feel like you have captured an emotion? Does the album have an overall vibe? Well, the form I’m working in is really familiar. I’m using types of typical pop tropes that are familiar to people who grew up with a radio and a television in the 90’s. I like to think of it like this: I had all this media forced on me as a child without my consent just by merely existing in the world. And now I’m processing this overwhelming media assault on my senses by making more media, paradoxically.
Maybe that’s why it sounds familiar? (this is meant as high praise) I was reminded instantly of Big Star. Do you feel that the work you’ve recorded in ‘Arranged Waves’ is a contemporary album? Do you think it has to exist now or it can carry on finding audiences almost without you? Thank you! High praise taken, I am a huge fan of Chris Bell! I strongly believe it’s a contemporary album in the sense that it is reflecting the experience of a songwriter who listened to a lot of western pop music, who is living in the dregs of late capitalism, 2014.. Now that it is released, does the album have a life of it’s own? Totally! The cool thing about art is that it’s not yours once you say it’s finished. It’s like a freakin’ bird, you know? Just flies away. I originally released 100 copies of the album
through a wonderful small tape imprint called Holy Page, and had pretty modest expectations, but since then it was released in Europe and Japan. The album decided on all this without me! (with the help of some nice people at Melodic and P-Vine) I’m totally humbled by it. You’re pretty prolific in the studio and touring live... are they different things for you? Do you prefer any one side of it? I think they’re two different things. I am communicating two separate ideas in performance and recording. To me recording is more about craft and skill, while performing is such a pure expressive act that is an exercise in letting go of control. Recording is infinitely more fun in many ways, but playing live is like, good for the soul in the way that dong triplicate takes of a guitar solo is not.
7 Caribou Our Love You reach a point in life where the question of how to stay at the top of your game looms; the only real solution being, you change the game. Our Love, the new album from Caribou, is the sound of Dan Snaith doing just that. It’s formed around a mixture of digital pop production, hip hop inspired beats, muted house basslines and a love of shuffling garage all filtered through Dan’s own unique perspective. It’s a warm, electronic, modern soul record and it is beautifully crafted with a pallete of electronic drums and samples. Dan Snaith makes his highly anticipated return to the long player, faced with the unenviable task of following up an undeniable classic, 2010’s “Swim”. That universally adored album saw Snaith complete the journey from the pastoral electronica of his early work as Manitoba, through the woozy hip hop inflected beats
of “Milk Of Human Kindness” and “Andorra” to the undisputed champion of leftfield house. “Our Love” sees the producer joining the dots between the synth led euphoria of his dancefloor productions and the polyrhythmic rattle of his Daphni project while offering new take on warm and expansive future soul, while featuring his strongest songwriting to date. Snaith makes his intentions clear from the off, with album opener “Can’t Do Without You” picking up right where “Sun” left off, but with the euphoria turned all the way up to 11 thanks to crescendant synths and heartfelt vocals. Recent single “Our Love” falls into the same camp, pairing emotional vocals and melodies with a skipping garage beat, while organic synths and Owen Pallett’s darting strings provide a richly textured backing. The warm analogue sounds of futuristic soul weave themselves deep into the record’s DNA, particularly on
“Silver”, “Second Chance” (featuring Jesse Lanza’s seductive vocals) and “Back Home”. These immersive synth ballads form intimate moments of calm between the driving house and garage of “Can’t Do Without You” and “Our Love”, the Daphni-styled dancefloor diaspora of “Mars” and the raving interludes “Dive” and “Julia Brightly”. Snaith’s mastery of these diverse styles, and the ease with which he moulds them into his artistic vision is a testament to his mature and accomplished songwriting. Nowehere is this so clear as on the LP finale and crowning moment “Your Love Will Set You Free”, which combines the soulful with the driving, the melancholic with the euphoric, bringing the album to a gorgeous bitter sweet conclusion. Ultimately, Snaith has delivered a worthy follow up to “Swim”, which is high praise indeed.
Caribou From its humble beginnings with the theft of a sampler gathering dust in his high school’s music department, through several acclaimed albums and an absurd collision with a litigious wrestler, Dan Snaith’s (aka Caribou) musical life has followed anything but a predictable tra jectory. His new album ‘Our Love’ is a masterclass, so naturally we wanted to catch up and ask him a few things about it. A Year back Daphni felt like a side wards step to the middle of the dancefloor. Now alongside ‘Our Love’ it feels like a stepping stone to somewhere all together more soulful. Did you know where you were going? Where does this lead? Is that the point? Both of the things reflect the things
that have been going on in my life in the past few years - Swim both allowed me to get out and do more djing again - which resulted in me making all the Daphni tracks - and also its reception and also more personal things like having a child put me in the reflective and outward looking mode that led
to Our Love. For me it feels like the Daphni music captures a very specific interest and part of my life whereas the Caribou records are really somehow supposed to document my entire life. It’s very hard to know where it’s leading - just as it is to say where my life is headed.
The crystalline production of ‘Our Love’ feels distant from the psychedelia of your earlier work. Has your approach changed? The technical side hasn’t changed that much - everything is still recorded at home in a reasonably similar way - but at least in the case of this new album the intention is very different. Those earlier records were me getting lost in a constructed world of sound whereas Our Love is both an attempt to document the more everyday textures of my life but also to reach out to the people who are listening - hence the directness and care taken to keep things in focus. What has inspired you in the making of your new album? Definitely the things going on in my personal life - the feeling that swim had connected with people in some special way and being at a naturally
reflective point in my life had a big impact on the sound and the sentiment. Originally I thought sonically the record would sound more glassy/ glossy/digital/unreal in the way of lots of the exciting R&B production that is everywhere these days - i’m glad it didn’t in the end as that sound is so omnipresent both in the mainstream and independent music these days - but in the end a lot of classic soul records that I was listening to with my daughter - Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curits Mayfield etc ended up unexpectedly playing a big part in the sound. How did the Jiaolong label come about and have you enjoyed being a label? It was started on a whim to release my Daphni stuff as easy as possible and to see what it was all about running a label. I both have and have not enjoyed running a label - I’ve enjoyed the
immediacy of it but it has made me realise that the last thing I want to do is run a business where I have to constantly account to people etc. That is not my idea of fun. Who did you work with on the artwork for this album? You have also just released a pretty powerful video for the title track... Jason Evans www.thedailynice.com who has done my artwork (amongst others - Four Tet etc) for over a decade always does an amazing job with the artwork. That is one of the things I enjoy most - allowing Jason - who is a very musical person - to interpret the music visually as he sees fit. Yes - I have mixed feelings about music videos in general but when I saw the pitch for Ryan Staake’s Our Love video I knew that it was the one and related to what I was thinking about to the music. Do you approach playing live as a different experience to the studio? Are you reinterpreting the songs? Very much so - the live show is entirely a collaboration between the 4 of us onstage and we take the songs apart and put them back together in the way that makes sense for a live performance. As we tour for months the songs change dramatically which is one of the best pleasures of touring. The response to ‘Our Love’ has been universally positive. The consensus is that the album is about love. Have people picked up the right message? Do you feel like you have conveyed what you wanted to with the album? I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to ‘Our Love’. It has been amazing and affirming. I hope people - and it seems like they have - read my intention in the music but also one of the things I have learned to embrace in the last few years as my music has travelled perhaps more broadly than before is that it’s not necessarily about people getting what I want from the music - rather that they get what they want. And that I enjoy that happening
6 Flying Lotus You’re Dead! Flying Lotus returns with ‘You’re Dead!’. At once reflective, restless, heart wrenching and joyous, this is a melodic ode to those who have died young, suddenly and unexpectedly, while also existing as a comfort to those mourning the loss of a loved one. ‘You’re Dead!’ serves as an exploration, a eulogy and a portal between the parallel domains of life and afterlife. ‘You’re Dead!’ features another set of genre-blending tracks from Fly’Lo, with fluid movement between hip hop, jazz-funk and electronica, often combining all three elements densely woven together. Across the album bassist Thundercat lays down some furious fingerwork, while the drum programming gives free jazz a run for
its money. Elsewhere things get deep and spiritual, with the influence of his late aunt Alice Coltrane shining through. Flying Lotus provides vocals and rapping as alter ego Captain Murphy, and he’s also joined by a high rollin’ set of guest MCs (Snoop Dogg, longtime FlyLo muse Niki Randa and Kendrick Lamar - whose easy shift between spitting rhymes and a sung delivery works perfectly with the music). Other collaborations on ‘You’re Dead!’ include original jazz-funk pioneer Herbie Hancock and Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian. In interview after release, Herbie Hancock made the totally on-point observation that if Miles Davis was
“I have so much loss in my life that I might be an authority on the fucking subject. I wanted it to be playful, because it’s the one experience we have in common. I wanted to make something that captures death from different angles—from the sad moments, to the confusing moments, to maybe even the blissful and silly ones.”
around these days, then Miles would be hanging out with Fly’Lo, Thundercat and Brainfeeder. Although this new album leans mostly heavily towards Rap, it is essentially as much of a sprawling Jazz record as the heady fusion Jazz of the late sixties and ‘Bitches Brew’. Like Miles Davis forty five years ago, Steven ‘Flying Lotus’ Ellison has produced an album that sounds like no one else at all. It takes cues from a wide and interweaving network of genre’s, but the subtlety in which they are crafted into something new that is damn near alchemy. In his role as ringleader of the Brainfeeder label, he’s proved time and time again his reverence for the album as a format and an utterly unflinching desire to put out records regardless of commercial hooks or even genres to a degree. The whole album bleeds into one magnificent buzz, thanks in part to some incredibly short track times, but also to the nature of the music itself. Snippets in-between dreams, higher consciousness and floating ideas. The lines between jazz and Ellison’s more traditional beats are blurred almost beyond distinction, encouraging you to hear it as a whole and revel in its dizzying ambiance. It’s a concept record with a beautifully delivered tone and it is a remarkable listen.
5 Metronomy Love Letters Metronomy’s new album, ‘Love Letters’, has a title that speaks volumes about sensations and modes of communication, about things that have always been there, and will always be here. In its execution, ‘Love Letters’ tries to do fresh things in an oldfashioned way. It takes richer methods of recording and injects them with the shock of the new – of tight electronics, and experiments in sound. It does so not to be retro, but to embrace the quality standards of the past. It also aims to be up there with the greats, reaching for those old stars. ‘The Upsetter’ is about having no reception when you want to send a message to someone special, for instance, and about the memory of listening to music when you were young. Monstrous is about holding on tight to everything you love, in a world you don’t understand (“honestly”, Joe sings, “it’s all I’m thinking of ”). ‘Reservoir’ is about a place near where Mount’s parents (and this establishment) live, where glittering keyboards mimic “heartbeats drifting together”. ‘Month Of Sundays’ shimmers its emotions through bright, shining guitars. Too. All show the warmth, richness and depth being added to the Metronomy sound. New musical spirits inhabit this album, too. ‘I’m Aquarius’ was inspired by Diana Ross and The Supremes’ 1969 album, ‘Let The Sunshine’ In, full of psychedelic atmospheres, and gorgeous backing vocal shoop-shoops. Mount nearly left the song behind because he thought it didn’t sound like him, before he realised his style was naturally growing and changing. This was also the time to start having new adventures, he quickly realised. ‘Boy Racers’ came next, the spokenword song he’d always wanted to write (but then ditched the spoken word part because ‘it didn’t sound very good’). Then came ‘Call Me’, driven
“I’ve been trying to work out how to write songs in the same way that you get funk or slow jam songs – they’re literally slower, but they have a kind of swagger and attitude to them, which makes them not sound like The Postal Service. You can inject energy into slower songs.”
by glittering organ lines, and the exhilarating title track, with a fourto-the-floor beat, skipping between Motown and northern soul. These songs go places Metronomy never have before, and they do so spectacularly. All on a record where old friends take our hands, and lead us somewhere new. The influences and references are vast, but all so measured that it never dips into the vein or borrowed, it’s progressive and really really inventive.
Whereas the English Riviera was the sound of peak time promenades, vibrant and bustling beach breaks, ‘Love Letters’ are those last few days of Autumn where all the holiday makers have left and the carparks are empty. It’s not maudlin, it’s just something else. The red coats of the band in residence have the bandstand all to themselves and now it’s theirs, so they’ll sound like whatever the fuck they want to.
4 Ty Segall Manipulator THE SEGALL HAS LANDED. And it’s fully loaded, with everything that Ty Segall (and you and me) are gonna need in the world to come. Heads up! It’s coming down fast. Sticking his hand deeper into the machines all around him, TY is reaching ever further to the outer limits of inner space orbited throughout ‘Twins’ and ‘Sleeper’. And now more than ever, the chunks of the world that came before are like asteroids formed in his image... picking up speed... Still fighting the power with all the energy that a determined mind-patriot can conjure, Ty’s a fighter who loves, a surfer, a spaceman, and yeah, a casualty - like you, he’ll never be free. But unlike you, he knows it - and when he goes down and his head cracks in two, out pour the multi-colored manias that make up ‘Manipulator’. Soursweet declarations featuring freaks and creeps alike: ‘The Singer’, ‘The Faker’, ‘Mister Main’, ‘Susie Thumb’ the ‘Connection Man’ and ‘The Crawler’, to name but a mutant fistful. To see these peeps, to realize their dreams and visions, TY kept working, kept writing, laying down more tracks than ever. New musical expressions pop and surprise relentlessly throughout all the knockout tunes of ‘Manipulator’ with many sounds in the mix - but most of all, SO many guitars! So many. And different kinds of strings - the strangled-neck solo of “The Singer,” recalling the good old days down by the river with Neil. Numbed-and-unplugged discursions spiraling away from the funk on “Mister Main.” Three-quarter quartets raising their din in a few key places. Waves of sparkling acoustics with ominous, Love-ly undertones - and then, torrents of filthy git-grunge, exploding into the chorus, washing everything away, fusing the blackness of Sabbath with the grime and grab-ass of the Stooges and the sweet swinging tones of the Stones. All in the name of getting higher on the music. Why
“it’s not so much about things that have actually happened to me. In fact, there are really no personal songs on the record, it’s mostly a bunch of different vignettes that are spoken by a bunch of different characters that exist in this other world of Manipulator.”
have one guitar solo when you can have a few in the same space? There’s so little time, and a LOT to say. In order to ensure that he got it all out, TY called a few friends to fill in special parts on certain ‘Manipulator’ songs. He got great touches from Chris Woodhouse (piano, synth & percussion), Sean Paul Presley (vocals), Brit Lauren Manor (vocals), Steve Nutting (drums), Irene Salzer (violin), Jessica Ivry (cello), Matthias McEntire (viola) and the Ty Segall band (Mikal Cronin, Charles Mootheart, Emily Rose Epstein). Plus, Mikal arranged the strings - and everyone played awesomely. The clarion call / siren song of his guitar . . . . clouds of guitar billowing, blood rushing to the head, the temperature going from blue to red... TY’s on a mission, working to
change chemistry through music with the steam-lined pop and heliumcooled vocals of ‘Manipulator’. These seventeen songs take many forms, as if TY is finally releasing all the thoughts that have been holding him down, that made him pick up the ax to begin with. By the end of ‘Manipulator’, you’ll feel that he must have chased all the demons — but it’s a big world, and ‘Manipulator’ has only begun to fight. The guy just doesn’t put a foot wrong, prolific, consistent and always exciting. A legitimate, authentic and very genuine musical hero.
3 Aphex Twin Syro Richard D James announced his return as Aphex Twin in suitably outlandish style with the help of a giant blimp over London, cryptic messages on the ‘Deep Web’ and a clandestine listening event at Warp HQ. He’s been away for over a decade but it took just the faintest scratch to wake up scores and scores of obsessives, desperate for new material. Thirteen years in the making (or at least since his last studio album in 2001’s Drukqs), Aphex Twin delivered ‘Syro’, a classic electronic record in a genre that he was so pivotal in sculpting. It is both utterly fresh and instantly recognisable as his work. The twelve track album is glitchy, pulsating and even pulls in rhythmic samples (his Wife, Mum, Dad, Children and own voice he admitted) before it collapses into piano meditations reminiscent of Eric Satie as it fades out. The hysteria around the release was highlighted by no one really knowing what to expect; a return to the ambient works? glitching computers staggering through mathematics? relentless acid squelches? uncompromising drum and bass? something even more demented? The irony I guess is that it takes trips past all of them. The production is exquisite, it’s like you’ve literally never heard these sounds before. The dexterity at which they move is totally baffling. It requires attention and focus, but across it’s various directions it commands it. No sooner than you think you have him pinned down, he’s moved again and you’ve been scrambled right back to where you started. Few people will ever really understand what is going on here, and so long as you don’t get bent out of shape trying to work it all out, it’s one hell of a ride. It’s quite overwhelming in its tones and abundance of fully complete ideas. It’s a masterclass.
Without a shadow of a doubt, there is no one like him. Lastly, here is an excerpt from the press release that was delivered by James and the ever sympathetic Warp label. They really don’t give a fuck.
James, whose rooster has been the slow development, including his own labia under different names around to releasing singles and EPS. Her next full-length record together since 1995 ... I think it she will be issued. Records have been working on for the past few years, and his experience hardcore and lush abinata textures found his style, and his facial features on the cover of the first issue, the various incarnations of present Omnipresent, which is marked by an icing in the world of music was culled Aphex Gemini
(equal recognition with logo). 1896 under the name Aphex Twin record his fourth eponymous EP Girl / boy. This collection of 90s ‘nTV era is the result of the video, in which he praised the music video director Crease Cunningham saw: Teaming in a way that my Daddy (1997) and Windowlickie (1999), EPS, was followed. Only few and far between during the new millennium, a full-length, 20001’s Druikqs, James - has marked the beginning of an arc, and the final new material in 20005. A lot of the music in any way is often a lack of communication and leadership to be fallacious rumors of new material for his fannies and his enthusiasm has not diminished hope. However ambitious this year, 9014, they uncovered new mats in almost a decade distribution crowdfund rallied together his army of fans: A precious gift that can not be the same as the new Phex Twinnipicks material is still unquenched thirst.
“Forget all the equipment, forget the music, at the end of the day it’s just literally frequencies and their effects on your brain. That’s what’s everyone’s essentially after.”
FOXYGEN … AND STAR POWER
SHARON VAN ETTEN ARE WE THERE
OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
“Bottles early Pink Floyd,Skip Spence’s cracked psych-folk and the ragged majesty of the Stones” Q
“Her Voice is breathtaking…. Altering to inhabit every emotional extreme.” UNCUT 9/1O
ANGEL OLSEN BURN YOUR FIRE FOR NO WITNESS OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
“Her second album is one of those records that hypnotises as it unfurls” THE OBSERVER HHHH
PLUS S. CAREY - RANGE OF LIGHT . PINK MOUNTAINTOPS - GET BACK . LIA ICES - ICES
WOMAN’S HOUR LOST IN THE DREAM
DAMIEN JURADO BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE ETERNAL SUN
OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
“Their music is a beautifully ruminative, after-hours carouse that expands deftly on the xx’s stark intimacy and the quiet rapture of Kendal compatriots Wild Beasts.” THE GUARDIAN GUIDE
OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
“The spiritual descendant of early 70’s Laurel Canyon” UNCUT 9/10
THE WAR ON DRUGS LOST IN THE DREAM OUT NOW CD/LP/DIGITAL
“Right to the final note Lost In The Dream is a triumph of emotive feel and detail.” MOJO HHHH
PLUS GARDENS & VILLA - DUNES . TOMAS BARFOD - LOVE ME . JJ - V ELECTRIC YOUTH - INNERWORLD . SONGS: OHIA - DIDN’T IT RAIN (REISSUE)
2 The War on Drugs Lost In The Dream ‘Lost In The Dream’ is the third album by Philadelphia band The War on Drugs, but in many ways, it feels like the first. Around the release of the 2011 breakthrough ‘Slave Ambient’, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two years on the road, touring through progressively larger rock clubs, festival stages and late-night television slots. As these dozen songs shifted and grew beyond what they’d been in the studio, The War on Drugs became a bona fide rock ‘n’ roll band. Their first couple of albums hold a very dear place in our hearts and over the last few years we’ve used every opportunity possible to recommend them, in particular alongside the heightened awareness of friend, fellow Philadelphian and former band member Kurt Vile. To date, I think it’s fair to say that you either get them or you don’t. The War on Drugs have always produced sprawling soundscapes of drone, feedback and noodling come-down guitars. There’s always a moment that feels only one chorus away from ‘Dancing in the Dark’, only thrashed through their long fridges, eyes locked on the pedal boards at their feet. ‘Lost In The Dream’ is the album that this band were destine to make, and only through being a band were they able to do so. In the past, Granduciel built the core of songs largely by himself. But these tunes were played and recorded by the group that had solidified so much on the road: Dave Hartley, (his favorite bassist in the world), who had played a bit on The War on Drugs’ 2008 debut ‘Wagonwheel Blues, and pianist Robbie Bennett, a multiinstrumentalist who contributed to ‘Slave Ambient’. This unit spent eight months bouncing between a halfdozen different studios that stretched from the mountains of North Carolina to the boroughs of New York City. Only then did Granduciel - the proudly self-professed gearhead, and unrepentant perfectionist - add and
subtract, invite guests and retrofit pieces. He sculpted these songs into a musical rescue mission, through and then beyond personal despair and anxiety. ‘Lost In The Dream’ represents the trials of the trip and the triumphs of its destination. This is a collection of songs that are direct, the songwriting is reaching out the listener more than ever, in places they’re anthemic. On first listen, ‘Lost In The Dream’ is an album with great drive and charisma. It’s an album of
The most subtle interactions between the players. These are no spiritual jams, they’re all have locked eyes and are waiting for the precise moment to move the song forward. The more you keep going back the more you keep hearing and the more you’ll recognize. Soon, the songs will sound like feelings and the emotional attachment is not a thing you can break. Adam Granduciel made no secret of his inspirations and his heroes. Bob Dylan
“there’s a lot of older musIcIans Who say your Whole lIfe makIng musIc, you’re really tryIng to get Back to that fIrst couPle of thIngs you lIked When you Were a kId. and as much as you mIght lIke to thInk you’re not, you really are.”
confidence and controlled pace, taking time to meander and play out each idea no matter how long it takes. A lot is made of the synths, the organs, the pedals, but it’s the hum of all of them together that washes over this album, never once just filling space, but orchestrated with unimaginable precision to control a dense and utterly captivating vibe. When you roll out this album for the second of third time, you start to hear more and more in the mix.
is there, Bruce Springsteen is there and unless you are aspiring to join those ranks, there is little point in plugging in the guitar in the first place. Without over stating it, ‘Lost In The Dream’ is a classic rock and roll record, pretty much perfect in it’s design, creation and delivery.
Beck Beck has wilfully dabbled his toes in and out of whichever genre he choses with flair, creativity, humour and utter conviction. Morning Phase is his twelfth studio record and his first in six years. A countrytinged singer-songwriter album in the tradition of his L.A hometown, it’s about pushing through terrible times and where to go when hope has run dry. It’s our 2014 Record of the Year.
Beck Morning Phase
He’s made no bones about it, this album is a real downer. Inspired variously by 70’s LA rock and Nashville country, it’s a reunion with the band with which he made 2002’s ‘Sea Change’, one of the finest records of this generation. Whereas Sea Change was directly about the breakdown and death of a relationship, Morning Phase is altogether harder to pin to any one thing, it’s about hitting the bottom and realising you have done so. Its not about taking a deep breath and pushing back to the surface . There’s no chest pounding chorus or rousing sentiments to get you through, it’s about feeling every bit of a bad time and understanding it for what it is. It’s a slow, almost ethereal affair, far remove from his more rambunctious records like Odelay or Midnite Vultures. It’s also, in places at least, a melancholic album, one whose centerpiece – the eerie, reverberating Wave – climaxes in a howled one-word refrain of “Isolation”. Morning Phase came together over a lengthy period and in uncertain fashion. Wave was the first song to be recorded – at Capitol Studios in 2009. Three other songs were salvaged from an abandoned
project that had taken place in a flash in Nashville in 2010. His reunion with the five-piece Sea Change band came just last year but was similarly brief, totaling just two days. (“Getting all those individuals in the same room is like the aligning of nine planets,” Beck says.) Those final sessions form the core of the record and were characterised by a particular technique. “Everything is exceedingly slow,” says Beck. “Almost impossible-to-play slow, you know? When a lot of the songs were being tracked we were always ‘Slower, let’s get slower’. Because the slower it gets, the harder it is to play. They get harder to sing. But suddenly these songs that could be just simple singer-songwriter songs, everything elongates and they become something else. It just has a spell to it, this suspended feeling, and I wanted a lot of the sounds to feel familiar, but also to have something a little bit haunting and strange about them. I don’t know why I just thought it might make it a little more interesting.” The result is an album that strikes a tender balance between angst and hope, between something beautiful and something just a little discomfiting.
Beck’s abilities as a producer have grown immensely and his understanding of how to control each performance is sublime. For an album so forlorn you’ll not hear one as beautiful. The string arrangement (again from his father) is cinematic and frames up tone perfectly. Each strum of the guitar feels like rays of Californian sun peering through dusty venetian blinds. Beck appears to have rediscovered his enthusiasm for making and listening to music. This at a time when the crushing together of genres that he pioneered has become increasingly the norm. Ultimately with Beck, the expectations are so high for a multi genre pop record breaking down structures, styles and content with a kaleidoscope of pop hooks, he’s gone the other way and defied the conventions by simply obeying them all... he’s just done it better than anyone else.
“There’s a reason why I made these songs and this record. It felt very personal and direct and uninhibited. At the same time I’d hate to say it sums up some kind of mood or something because I’m now working on another record that’s the opposite of this. I was trying to express things in a way that… like a lot of songwriters… in a way that might speak to or resonate with somebody else. Can you make [things] good again even when it’s all been ruined and you need to start over? Can you find that again? I think that’s what I was try ing to reach for on this record.”
The records of the Year