Deluxe Issue Eight

Page 1

Issue Eight: It’s the end of the year edition.


DUKE GARWOOD HEAVY LOVE OUT NOW

H. HAWKLINE IN THE PINK OF CONDITION OUT NOW

STEALING SHEEP NOT REAL OUT NOW

KID WAVE WONDERLUST OUT NOW

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD QUARTERS! OUT NOW

GWENNO Y DYDD OLAF OUT NOW

HOOTON TENNIS CLUB HIGHEST POINT IN CLIFF TOWN OUT NOW

DRINKS HERMITS ON HOLIDAY OUT NOW

FEVER THE GHOST ZIRCONIUM MECONIUM OUT NOW

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD PAPER MÂCHÉ DREAM BALLOON OUT NOW

NOTS WE ARE NOTS OUT 20/11/15

THE NECTARINE NO. 9 SAINT JACK OUT 27/11/15

ROUGH TRADE SHOPS PRESENTS HEAVENLY 25 2 X CD, OUT NOW

EAVES WHAT GREEN FEELS LIKE DELUXE EDITION OUT NOW

JOCK SCOT MY PERSONAL CULLODEN OUT NOW


Deluxe. Welcome to 2015. Or, this is actually more aptly, goodbye from 2015. A Deluxe review of one hundred new albums released during the year that we have really loved, plus some amazing reissues, compilations and interviews with some of the fine folk who have made those albums. New this year is a short round up of books we have loved and details of some albums released ‘outside of consideration’ that we will be enjoying and spinning heavily in the next few months. Shop wise we’ve had a great year thanks… yourselves? We were nominated again as one of the Music

Week best independent retailers (an award that we never mind losing when in such fine company) and I personally was nominated (again, didn’t win… always the bridesmaid) as the ‘Indie Champion’ at the AIM awards. We like being indie champions, it’s dead easy. We spend all of our time listening to new music and with next to no agenda whatsoever, we pick stuff that we dig and that we think you are all gonna enjoy. To that end, we think this top one hundred albums list is our most diverse yet; contemporary classical, experimental, metal, country, roots, Americana, jazz, hip hop, psychedelia, electronic and all inbetween.

Interviewed, edited and compiled by The Drift Record Shop Sleeve art by Christie Powers and Joe Jinks Some photographs by Andy Morrall Printed by Newspaper Club Distributed by Forte

Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this newspaper, the publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information or any consequence arising from it. Published in Devon by The Drift Record Shop. © 2015

Hope you enjoy reading this issue and perhaps finding an album that passed under your radar… maybe revisiting one that might need a second chance. Objections and corrections please to the usual address, and make sure to get out (the internet will even do…) and buy yourself, or someone you like, something from a record shop. Rupert Morrison Chief ringleader, Drift Record Shop and Deluxe Magazine.


100

The Maccabees

‘Marks To Prove It’ July 31st Fiction

Marks To Prove It is an album from a band fully formed and flying in their prime. It’s bold and direct, superbly produced (by the band themselves alongside Hugo White and Laurie Latham) and crammed full of textures, noises and instruments. It actually has a very live feel to it and hurtles along at one hell of a pace. The addition of female vocals brings the songs to new emotive heights, like a ghostly chorus. It’s not as though they have ditched their previous three albums, it’s just that Marks To Prove It is the sound of a band who have absolutely hit their stride.

99 Walls

‘Urals’ May 4th Ecstatic

As Walls, Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis have this year completed a three album cycle that began with their self titled debut in 2010 and continued in 2011 with Coracle. Urals, the concluding part, is an accumulation of four years of studio exploration, expanding their signature sound into a new, more intense dimension - deep organic house music. Willis and Natalizia are taking leave of the Walls project at the very top of their game.

98

Blanck Mass ‘Dumb Flesh’ May 11th Sacred Bones

Blanck Mass is the solo project of Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power. An album coming right out of the sonic wilderness, it is layered around glacial lifts and 808 beats (or hand claps? - it’s hard to tell). There is much that is troubling here, from the grotesque and contorted sleeve image to the dark and brooding rumbles, but through it all Dumb Flesh is actually pretty accessible. It’s the palpable build that is really exciting. It’s all about fragility, but ironically it’s one of the most sonically robust albums of the year.

97

Destroyer

‘Poison Season’ August 28th Dead Oceans

Tenth studio album from Dan Bejar under his Destroyer moniker and as is to be expected, it is hugely accomplished. Each track unfolds like it’s own theatre production. Epic and grandiose string arrangements, pounding saxophones right out of the Springsteen playbook and, most interesting, is the subtle nuances and shifts in his vocal delivery, track to track. The phrasing is considered without ever being distracting, sometimes fragile, sometimes euphoric. It has been historically polarising, but on Poison Season it sits more than ever as another instrument in the mix. As a lyricist and storyteller, Poison Season is 2015’s richest reward - right up there with Lou Reed, Van Dyke Parks and even Dylan.

96

Tamaryn

‘Cranekiss’ August 28th Mexican Summer

Tamaryn (a New Zealander but long time New Yorker) has always produced albums that are kaleidoscopic - a striking polarizing of influences. Initially, standing out in a crowd of shoegaze revivalists, to view the progression of her music is hugely exciting. With Cranekiss, Tamaryn emerges from her past in a way that’s inviting, warm-blooded, and shockingly direct. She’s made a big record, this time loaded with samples and synth triggers. It’s not like she’s just willfully trying out new tools, it’s more as if she has carefully constructed a different sonic canvas with new textures. It sounds complex but emotionally intimate. It’s euphoric stuff.

95

Deafheaven

‘New Bermuda’ October 2nd ANTI-

Deafheaven’s breakout and crossover success was one of 2013’s most brilliant moments. Without compromising any of their edge or grit, they captured just perfectly the zeitgeist and ascended to the year’s most critically acclaimed album. New Bermuda is again somewhere between death/black metal (although the hardcore crowd seem to hate them) and Shoegaze. It kicks off with church bells, giving the visceral wall of scream-vocal and distortion some sort of religious connotation, and that is really something. You can’t help but feel something.


94

Everything Everything ‘Get To Heaven’ June 22nd RCA

Everything Everything are always a euphotic listening experience, tricky ever-changing time signatures and that high pitched vocal delivery. Schizophrenic frenetic snippets fired at an incredible pace. Get To Heaven is an album brimming with ideas which sits equally at home on the dancefloor as anywhere else. As with their previous work, it easily transcends genrepigeonholing but it is supreme pop music for sure.

93

Laura Marling ‘Short Movie’ March 23rd Virgin

Self produced, Short Movie is Laura Marling’s fifth album in seven years, which is a remarkable achievement for someone who has yet to turn 25 years old. It marks a new chapter in her sound and development, moving towards a much bigger and electric feel. Its a much more free and loose sounding album than anything she has done before. Her vocals are amazing. She has shed the Joni Mitchell comparisons and developed a unique and distinctive growl. Quite a brilliant talent.

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‘Chambers’

‘Modern Nature’

Chilly Gonzales March 23rd Gentle Threat

Since the release of Solo Piano II, Chilly Gonzales composed the bestselling book of easy piano pieces Re-Introduction Etudes, produced and released Octave Minds, the piano-meets-electronica album with Boys Noize and, most importantly, devoted himself to finding a modern take on chamber music. The result is “Chambers”, an album for piano and string quartet (and a few surprises along the way). Inspired by the deepening relationship with Hamburg’s Kaiser Quartett, the album re-imagines Romantic-era chamber music as today’s addictive pop. People say genius all the time these days… but Chilly Gonzales is a certified genius. Solid gold.

The Charlatans January 26th BMG

After losing drummer and founder member Jon Brookes to cancer, the Charlatans reached a crucial crossroads in their career. With the temporary assistance of three percussionists (Pete Salisbury of the Verve, New Order’s Stephen Morris and Gabriel Gurnsey of Factory Floor) they crafted a set of sunshine tinged pop songs, to celebrate their friend and make themselves feel happy. It is their best set of songs in years and a heartwarming eulogy.

89

Will Butler

91

Lightning Bolt

‘Fantasy Empire’ March 30th Thrill Jockey

Over the course of their two-decade existence, Lightning Bolt have revolutionized underground rock in immeasurable ways. Their recordings have always been chaotic, roaring, blown out documents, that sound as if they could destroy even the toughest set of speakers. Although Fantasy Empire was recorded in a conventional studio set up, it still sounds akin to armageddon - furious, roaring and some of the most primally evocative music this year.

‘Policy’

March 16th Merge

Will Butler has been a member of Arcade Fire for over 10 years, but this is his first release under his own name. Policy was recorded in one week in Jimi Hendrix’s old living room (upstairs at Electric Lady Studios). Jeremy Gara (also Arcade Fire) played drums; other musicians contributed woodwinds and backing vocals, but most everything else was played by Will. It’s a set of loose and thrashy garage songs, very much cut from the same cloth as Violent Femmes or The Modern Lovers.


88

Matthew E. White ‘Fresh Blood’

March 9th Domino Recording Co

Spacebomb supremo and whizkid producer of the DIY grandiose, Matthew E. White returns with his second full length - ‘Fresh Blood’. Whereas 2012’s Big Inner sounded like a spiritual take on the evangelistic Motown, Fresh Blood is a slow-burner, joyous and sad in equal measures. At it’s core it’s essentially ballads, but it is so uniquely soaked in Soul, Gospel, Rock and Roll and even Space Rock that it creates and sustains its own vibe till long after the last beat has played.

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‘Constant Bop’

‘Algiers’

Bop English

April 13th Blood and Biscuits

Constant Bop is the debut album from Bop English, the recording name of White Denim frontman James Petralli. It is crammed full of wild sonic jams, jumping from vocoders to 808 kick drums and twanging country tones, at times in the same song. It’s a rich and diverse record that’s teeming with pop classicism and zippy rock ‘n’ roll… and of course plenty of garage bangers. The result of four years of careful studio work from an expert songwriter.

85

Jenny Hval

87

Lonelady

‘Hinterland’ March 23rd Warp

Lonelady (Manchester’s Julie Campbell) creates an agile, urgent and super inventive take on post-punk and angular pop music. Hinterland’ (literally “the country behind” in German) conjures up impressions of decayed post-industrial Manchester’s outskirts and reclusive inner landscapes obsessively throughout the record, whilst never sounding stark. It’s way too vibrant.

‘Apocalypse, Girl’ June 8th Sacred Bones

Jenny Hval’s new record opens with a quote from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup, and continues towards the abyss. Apocalypse, Girl is a hallucinatory and cryptic narrative that exists somewhere between fiction and reality, a post-op fever dream, a colourful timelapse of death and rebirth. It’s about as far away as possible from straightforward, but all played out via some of the most instantly gratifying pop music this year.

Algiers

June 1st Matador

Steeped in radical politics and deeply indebted to a both post-punk’s sonic trailblazing and gospel’s spiritual bloodletting, the self titled debut album from Algiers imbues neomodernist hymns with caustic social sentiment and explosive noise. A trio of émigrés from the American Deep South, now split between New York and London, their music is so highly charged it feels like it is constantly on the point of combustion. Essential listening, not easy going, but deeply spiritual in its’ origins, and it shakes the life right into you.

83

Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm ‘Collaborative Works’ October 30th Erased Tapes

Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm are two of Erased Tapes leading lights (which is really saying something) who have been long time friends and co-conspirators. Collaborative Works is a collection of their studio collaborations from the last few years, ‘fiddling with synths or pianos’, frequently little anecdotes to time they intended to spend relaxing. The first section is synthesizer lead with percussive elements and dub influences. The second part is a dual piano improv piece. Two singular artists, effortlessly creating for the fun of it. Exciting and inspiring.


82

Mercury Rev

‘The Light In You’ October 2nd Bella Union

Mercury Rev return after a seven year absence with an album that is more outwardly uplifting than before. There has always been a fragile sense of hope in the darkness, but The Light In You seems to be saying that things are okay, rather than delicately asking. It is the band’s first entirely self-produced and recorded album, as well as the first not to be produced by longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann. It has all of the hallmarks of their previous fine canon of work. Softly sung vocals, sleighbells, swooning strings, but it’s the later stages that are most interesting, where it starts to gesture towards psychedelia and experimenting with other areas. It suggests that the band are feeling invigorated by driving their own album.

81

Saun & Starr ‘Look Closer’ May 18th Daptone

Having provided backing vocals for Sharon Jones for many years, the duo of Saun & Starr (Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Lowe) this year broke out on their own in glorious fashion. A Daptone thoroughbred through and through, the album was recorded at Dapton’s own House of Soul studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn - with Daptone’s Gabriel Roth producing the ten original tracks. Their single “Hot Shot” is the biggest selling Daptone 45 ever. It’s a classic soul album, full of easygoing charm and the star-making support system of the “Daptone family.” To be honest, with their incredible duel vocals, Saun & Starr singing the phone book would have been decent.

80 Farao

‘Till It’s All Forgotten’ September 11th Full Time Hobby

Hailing from Ulnes, a village of 500 people in the Nordic mountain valley of Valdres, Farao makes enchanting and adventurous pop music, tinged with celestial electronics and earthen orchestration. The instrumentation is really exciting here, all melding together into a brilliantly structured set of songs. It’s when they change shape right in front of you that is really something. A striking voice, and a big one to watch.

78

Offshore

‘Offshore’ August 28th Big Dada

Two years on from the sad and horribly untimely passing of Ewan Robertson aka Offshore, his label Big Dada released a posthumous album from the Aberdonian musician and designer. The tracks for the new record were all more or less completed before his death in 2012. In its openness, beauty, humour and joyfulness, ‘Offshore’ is an album of simple and beautifully handcrafted electronic music, that both hints at what Ewan could have gone on to achieve and celebrates what a unique and lovely human being and musician he was.

79

Girls Names

‘Arms Around A Vision’ October 2nd Tough Love

Northern Ireland’s Girls Names return with their third full-length album, Arms Around a Vision. It’s as aggressive as they have ever sounded, pounding angular post punk, but there is a really cultured production going on. It’s as though they’ve listened to every sub genre of European music created in the last thirty years, soaked it up and found their own place. It always sounds like they genuinely don’t give a fuck, that’s what makes them so thrilling.

“It always sounds like they genuinely don’t give a fuck, that’s what makes them so thrilling.”


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77

Nicolas Godin ‘Contrepoint’ September 18th Because

Debut solo album from Nicolas Godin of Air, Contrepoint (or counterpoint in English) is exploding with ideas. It feels like it has been recorded in a sound library. Inspired by Bach (yep…) Godin took elements of Bach’s music, added sections, removed sections and created a multi-genre tapestry of ideas, that all had (even just snippets of ) Bach left in the mix. A wild idea brilliantly executed by a mad sonic professor.

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74

‘Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance’

‘Panda Bear Meets Grim Reaper’

Belle And Sebastian January 19th Matador

Glasgow veterans Belle And Sebastian released their ninth studio album in January. A broad set of new songs covering indie hooks, epic swells, whispered sentiments and about as close as they have come to disco bangers. There is still a level of almost unparalleled twee (it’s just Stuart Murdoch’s voice I guess?) but overall it is one of their most personal to date. As ever… it’s really funny.

Panda Bear

January 12th Domino Recording Co

Fifth album from Noah Lennox a.k.a. Panda Bear - the wild sonic experimentalist and part of Animal Collective. Old school hip hop textures and production techniques meld with the intuitive, cyclical melodies he has become known for. Densely groove filled and playful, the vocals are even more present this time. Walls and walls of Lennox almost singing to himself through time and space. In a relationship that already proved fruitful on previous album ‘Tomboy’, he has teamed up again with Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember (Spacemen 3, Spectrum), this time in a more top-tobottom production role.

73

James Elkington And Nathan Salsburg ‘Ambsace’

September 18th Paradise of Bachelors

76 Wilco

‘Star Wars’ August 21st Epitaph

Released initially for free on their website (they’ve been pioneering that sort of thing since as far back as 2001), Star Wars is a monster of a record, with Wilco on top form and sounding like they are enjoying playing. Elements of their alt-country and more rock roots are present for sure, but Star Wars’

real strength is that they have taken all their influences, ideas and experiments and sat on them, before crafting a studio album that is really progressive, without being at all alienating.

The second album of astonishing duets by guitarists James Elkington (who has toured and/or recorded with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and Steve Gunn) and Grammy nominated Nathan Salsburg (an accomplished soloist deemed by NPR “one of those names we’ll all associate with American folk guitar”) is a sublime suite of nimble, filigreed compositions by two singular stylists. Their playing and guitar tones are so complementary and so perfectly wed. It is amazing that they are able to both find and inhabit such wonderfully harmonious space. Undoubtedly the best acoustic guitar partnerships we will hear in many years. Very highly recommended.


72

Chvrches

‘Every Open Eye’ September 25th Glassnote

Second album from the the Scottish synth-pop trio, the follow-up to 2013’s massive breakout success ‘The Bones of What You Believe’. The biggest challenge for Chvrches wasn’t necessary following up on the anticipation, it was rather distancing themselves from the hoards of over zealous imitators they inspired, in a genre they have almost created for themselves. Somewhere along the lines of a pumped-up self preservation disco anthem, to score the most pertinent last moments of a John Hughes movie. The production on Every Open Eye is astounding, every single note, beep and pop are meticulously in place alongside Lauren Mayberry’s sugary sweet android vocals. They obviously look backwards for inspiration, but it is really exciting hearing them start to look forwards as well.

71

AUTOBAHN ‘Dissemble’ August 21st Tough Love

Anyone who sites Martin Hannett as an influence gets our attention, and AUTOBAHN have consistently ticked boxes for us ever since. Sitting somewhere between Leed’s goth sensibility and Manchester’s industrial gloom, new album Dissemble is a heavy wave of post punk. It’s an album that pushes the band through various degrees of light and shade, but ultimately into new and totally unexpected sonic spaces. Aggressively maudlin with bolts of sheer adrenaline into the gloom, resulting in a strangely euphoric listen.

70

Lapalux

‘Lustmore’ April 6th Brainfeeder

Lapalux knew where and how his sound should change for a second album, and to that end Lustmore feels like a record as compulsively inspired and meticulously crafted as you are likely to hear this year. Loosely based on the experience of hypnogogia - a transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep - it’s woozy, infectious rhythms, enveloping textures, and unfamiliarly familiar melodies conjure that territory perfectly. Both futuristic and weirdly nostalgic, Lustmore is pretty minimal in places, accentuated by the appearance of guest vocals - Andreya Triana sounding especially dreamlike and unattainable.

69

Waxahatchee ‘Ivy Tripp’

April 6th Wichita Recordings

Waxahatchee, the solo musical project of Katie Crutchfield, is named after a creek, not far from her childhood home in Alabama. At just 26 she is about twelve albums into her career, arguably the DIY/punk/rock scene’s reluctant spokesperson. The follow up to 2013’s critically lauded Cerulean Salt, Ivy Tripp drifts confidently away from its predecessor, and displays a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield currently finds herself. It is more confident in terms of the production, what she is prepared to say, and how she says it. Still pretty raw, but everything is quite deliberately in it’s place. It’s not some press-record bedroom jam, it’s very well crafted and pretty inspirational.

“We did it over six weeks, it was very intense. I was there every day. I had a vision and idea of what the tracks should sound like from when I started writing them. It was very important for me that every bit sounded like I’d imagined it in my head. It was so intense. Looking back…. It was intense” AUTOBAHN talking to Deluxe in September


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66

64

‘Shedding Skin’

‘The Sovereign Self’

‘Platform’

Ghostpoet March 2nd PIAS

Trembling Bells June 29th Tin Angel Records

Mercury Nominated

Although deep routed in a very British sort of folk music, Trembling Bells are Third album from London-based doubtless one of the most consistently Obaro Ejimiwe and his second creative, and brilliantly unique bands Mercury Prize nomination. The sparse currently working. Sophocles. Dennis electronic tinkering that marked his Potter. The painter El Greco. Not earlier output has progressed into more the usual collection of influences that band led territory, all still providing a go towards shaping an album, but backdrop to that distinct vocal delivery. then Trembling Bells are not your Recorded with a traditional live setusual sort of band. The Sovereign Self up with what has become his touring is a brilliant indication of the latest band; Joe Newman on guitar, bass evolution of the Bells. It is rather as player John Calvert and John Blease though they are evolving circa 1972 on drums. The self-produced album psychedelia, prog and rock, it feels also features guest vocals from Nadine very much like an acid album. There Shah, Etta Bond, Melanie De Biasio, is a follow-the-white- rabbit sort of Lucy Rose and Maxïmo Park’s Paul vibe, everything means something Smith. here, it’s just how far you want to follow them. They are, quite simply put, a group of people with music pouring out of them.

67

Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers ‘Seasonal Hire’ March 9th Thrill Jockey

Steve Gunn and The Black Twig Pickers are key figures in the current resurgence of American traditional and folk music. The Twigs play a fervent form of traditional music from their Appalachian homeland, while Gunn’s songwriting and inventive guitar playing are driven by his restless mind, having released nine solo and collaborative albums since his debut in 2007. For fans it’s super exciting to hear melodies and codas from their respective catalogues, pulled together and reimagined. This majestic record shows the impressive range of some of the most talented and imaginative musicians around today, who have made a name for themselves for experimenting in folk forms.

65

John Carpenter ‘Lost Themes’

February 2nd Sacred Bones Records

Debut album from John Carpenter, the Legendary Director and Composer behind Halloween, Escape From New York, They Live, Assault on Precinct 13 and many more. Ranging from a few minimal and chilling notes, through to overblown chainsaw like lead guitar, Lost Themes is incredibly evocative. It pulses with weird unworldly synths and ghost like electronic choirs. Arguably, the only bad thing about this quite exceptional John Carpenter album, is that you are all going to have to imagine an entire horror film to accompany it.

Holly Herndon May 18th 4AD MAY RECORD OF THE MONTH

Holly Herndon has become a leading light in contemporary alternative and electronic music by fearlessly experimenting within the outer reaches of dance music and pop songwriting structures. Born in Tennessee, but raised on music from abroad, Herndon broke out from her formative years in Berlin’s minimal techno scene to repatriate to San Francisco, where she currently lives and studies as a doctoral candidate at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). The whole record layers ideas, beats and techniques to amazing effect, always just out of sight of dropping a huge beat. It is superbly avant garde and inventive.

63

Red River Dialect

‘Tender Gold & Gentle Blue’ July 31st Hinterground Records

Red River Dialect formed in Falmouth. Initially a duo, the band expanded to a five piece psych-folk outfit, releasing the critically acclaimed “awellupontheway” in 2012 (think Fairport Convention with plenty of psych and edge). Their new album, Tender Gold & Gentle Blue, is a real departure, taking leave of the swirling electrified balladry and instead focusing on the forthright solo central figure of David Morris. Tender Gold & Gentle Blue is bittersweet, stark and brutally honest in it’s forlorn sentiments, but the augmenting musicians surround Morris in tearful optimism, not too dissimilar at times to the National. A truly cultured record, really special stuff.


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59

‘Natalie Prass’

‘Don’t Weigh Down The Light’

Natalie Prass

Meg Baird

January 26th Spacebomb

Natalie Prass is the kind of artist Spacebomb (modern day Motowncome-comune, home to Matthew E. White) was created for - a songwriter’s songwriter and performer’s performer, blessed with a golden voice and universal appeal. Much like Matthew E. White’s Record, the production here Masayoshi Fujita is understated but considered to the ‘Apologues’ point of perfection. Gentle gestures and warm swells take a necessary back September 11th seat to focus attention on Prass’ vocals Erased Tapes - genuinely timeless and infinitely In a hugely busy year of releases, it listenable. almost feels like every one of them is shouting for your attention. Masayoshi Fujita isn’t shouting at all, he is hardly even whispering on his astonishingly beautiful Apologues album. Berlinbased Masayoshi is a Japanese vibraphone player and his music paints swooning, evocative mind trips.

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Hooton Tennis Club

‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’ August 28th Heavenly Recordings

Debut album from Wirral based Hooton Tennis Club, recorded and produced at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool by Bill Ryder Jones. The school friends were in various teenage bands together, before deciding to record “scuzzy, Jesus And Mary Chain-influenced noise”. They have developed quickly, pulling in influences from post-grunge, indie and experimental music; whirling it all into their very own sound. Even though they have produced accomplished and radio ready pop songs, they have retained all of their DIY charm. And that name? It’s from a road sign for the Little Sutton based tennis courts.

June 22nd Wichita Recordings

Meg Barid is not one to remain still. In the last decade she has co-founded and recorded three albums with Espers. She recorded two solo albums: ‘Dear Companion’ and ‘Seasons On Earth’. She formed the moody and thunderous Heron Oblivion. She also collaborated with Will Oldham, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten and Steve Gunn. Don’t Weigh Down The Light is very much about her, an intimate and beautifully balanced album. The arrangement is rooted in the lonesome whine of Country, but there are subtle cues and ideas to take you wandering off somewhere altogether more dream like. Superb vocals.

“When I compose a song, it doesn’t come from my head in the first place. I just play the vibraphone and sometimes encounter a nice chord or phrase. Then I play it over and over. Then at one point an image comes to my mind and I play it again and again with the image. Then I look for further chords or melody, according to that image or atmosphere, and new sound gives me wider image and then I look for further sound again… Repeating this process I make the seed of a song bigger and richer. I call it ‘cultivating’ the song.” Masayoshi Fujita speaking to Deluxe in September


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‘The Expanding Flower Planet’

‘Ibeyi’

Deradoorian

Ibeyi

February 16th XL Recordings

August 21st Anticon

Even if you’re unfamiliar with Angel Deradoorian’s name, you will likely be familiar with her voice. As the former bassist and vocalist for Dirty Projectors, her exquisite vocal flights helped create the magical tapestry of the Brooklyn-based group. Elsewhere she’s a member of Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks and has collaborated with Bjork, Flying Lotus and Vampire Weekend. The Expanding Flower Planet is somewhere around 90% Angel and is a fascinating and rich listen. Recorded over several years, it’s like she has written intricate diaries and revisited them with constantly evolving musical cues. With this much tweaking and experimenting the danger is that it would become too bitty, but the biggest pay off with the albums is that is feels like one abstract, elegant, exciting and inspiring dream.

57

Portico

‘Living Fields’ April 6th Ninja Tune

Living Fields is an album of catharsis and redefinition, born out of a desire to create newness from loss and change. It’s the same process for the band more broadly speaking, Portico (formerly Portico Quartet) themselves have undergone a process of ending and rebeginning. Really brilliantly produced pop songs with some amazing use of ambience. It is at the same time ethereal and tense, a really clever balance. Featuring guest vocals from Jono McCleery, Joe Newman (Alt-J) and Jamie Woon.

56

HeCTA

‘The Diet’ September 18th City Slang

HeCTA is the brainchild of Kurt Wagner, Ryan Norris and Scott Martin of Lambchop, but don’t call it a “side-project”! HeCTA is rather an “expanded universe”. The Diet pulls in influences from experimental vocal music, spoken word and plenty of electronic music. The real trick is that they have taken ownership and crafted something totally them.

Ibeyi (pronounced “ee-beyee”) is Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz, daughters of the late Cuban percussionist ‘Anga’ Diaz of Buena Vista Social Club fame. Naomi plays percussive instruments, the Cajon and the Batas, while Lisa plays piano. Together the twins have learned the songs of their father’s culture, Yoruba. Their love of Yorùbá choirs was inspired by their mother. This, their self-titled debut album, produced by XL’s Richard Russell, is an inventive collision of the old and the new - stark electronic atmospherics, heartfelt soulful vocals and melodies inspired by slave chants, producing what Ibeyi themselves have dubbed “contemporary negro spirituals”.

“As HeCTA we take our approach seriously and are respectfully aware of the great electronic music created throughout it’s history continuing into the present. So much so that when it came time to mix these recordings we reached out to some of the central figures of the genre… Suck it up hippies. This music is our attempt to extend the boundaries of our expression and have some fun. It’s not Americana, house, techno, trap, juke or blaze. Why would it be?” - Kurt Wagner


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Deluxe CD / DL

12”

Contains Re-Covered EP

Out Now

S t a r G a z e and deerhoof preSent Chamber Variations EP 12” / DL

Out Now

Out 4th December

Alvvays

A Dream Outside

GenGahr

CoSmo Sheldrake

Ltd. 12” / CD / DL

Ltd. 12” / CD / DL

Ltd. 12” / CD / DL

Out Now

Out Now

Out Now

alvvayS

Pelicans We EP

www.tranSGreSSive.Co.uk


54

52

‘Feels Like’

‘Why Make Sense?’

Bully

June 22nd Columbia Records

Debut album from Nashville post grunge quartet Bully, hung around the coarse Cobain-esq screams of Alicia Bognanno. Recorded at Steve Albini’s ‘Electrical Audio’ studios, where singer, producer and engineer Bognanno used to be an intern. Loud, messy garage music but pinned in place by some serious rhythm. It gives plenty of opportunity for Bognanno to deviate, and her vocal phrasing is really good… weird almost. It’s pretty sad in places (she’s a very disconcerted protagonist), but it’s so pumped up that you’ll want to keep going back. Really legit.

53

Spectres ‘Dying’

May 18th Sonic Cathedral

Bristol-based four-piece Spectres are the loudest, probably most abrasive band on the Sonic Cathedral rosta to date. A band who surely make a mockery of those articles that crop up every now and again asking “is guitar music dead?”. The album opens with the ominous and unsettling white noise and dark found-sounds of ‘Drag’ and continues unrelenting for the next 50 minutes. Rather like My Bloody Valentine, it is the amazing moments you hear in between the vitriolic walls of noise that are the most rewarding. Primal and threatening, but anything but primitive. There are some smart things going on here.

Hot Chip

May 18th Domino Recording Co

Hot Chip are one of the most reliable bands of their generation, and sixth album - Why Make Sense? - feels a bit like they are acknowledging this, their past (the band are fifteen now) and their future. The biggest compliment is that they sound pretty much as they always have; inventive, a bit twee, vulnerable and infinitely danceable…, even if you can’t dance for shit. Slightly less house, slightly more influenced by US culture, there is so much crammed into every track, plenty for repeat listens. Oh, and due to a unique and bespoke printing technique, the album comes in one of 501 different colours.

51

Maribou State ‘Portraits’ June 22nd Counter

Portraits’ sees Chris Davids and Liam Ivory exemplify the sort of rare but precious sonic harmony that has made their name so far. It is equal parts emotive instrumentation and sturdy rhythms, stark soundscapes and rich textures. Released on Ninja Tune’s Counter imprint, it’s very organic and live sounding electronic music. The production is compact around the minimal beats, but everything else, the hushed vocals in particular, feels like it is flowing into shape almost as it happens.

50

C Duncan ‘Architect’

July 17th Fat Cat Records

Mercury Nominated A very fitting outsider for the Mercury Prize, Architect is the debut LP from Glasgow’s considerable new talent C Duncan (The C is for Christopher). Entirely written and recorded alone in his Glasgow flat, on a bedroom studio setup, gradually adding each layer and each instrument one at a time, building up the breadth of the pieces. Homespun in it’s origins, but maximal production and construction. A pop record with very few equals this year. As a composer, he is classically trained, graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - another influence clearly visible in his songwriting, in its fully-formed textures and meticulously crafted arrangements. It doesn’t stop there. The cover art for Architect is a detailed and stylised aerial view of a Glasgow side street, created by Christopher himself. A skilled and accomplished artist, his work has been exhibited at galleries around Scotland.


The Latecomers When we put together our annual poll (this one that you are reading) it takes quite a lot of voting time, interviewing time… well, you can imagine. We drew up a list of over 600 albums to vote on this year so we take it pretty seriously. To that end, we actually only really have the ability to consider albums that have been released between January and early October in the year in question. There were a few things that snuck in that all of the staff had been able to hear early and vote on (‘Fuzz’ in particular) but here is a little summary of albums released late October, November and December 2015 that are already blowing our lids and would no doubt have ranked very highly under different circumstances. You’re going want to check out...

Soldiers Of Fortune ‘Early Risers’

November 6th Mexican Summer

A cracked mercenary “dirty dozen” type of outfit. Gnarly fuzzed jams featuring a core troupe of Mike Bones, Matt Sweeney, Kid Millions and Barry London of Oneida, Jesper Eklow (Endless Boogie) and the elusive Papa Crazee. Guest vocals from Cass McCombs and Stephen Malkmus amongst others on a freewheelin banger.

Dave Heumann

‘Here in the Deep’ October 16th Thrill Jockey

Dave Heumann, leader of the beloved Baltimore indie-rock band Arbouretum, branches out with his debut solo record “Here in the Deep”. Way more acoustic, but with plenty of meaty, albeit more traditional, folk inspired hooks.

EL VY

‘Return To The Moon’ October 30th 4AD

EL VY is a collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist with The National, and Brent Knopf of Menomena. It sounds exactly like you’d hope a collaboration between those artists would. Berninger’s darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody is offset by Knopf ’s playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production.


Roots Manuva ‘Bleeds’

October 30th Big Dada

Not only one of Britain’s greatest musical artists, but one of the greatest lyricists full stop. Drawing upon production assistance from young British producer, Fred, together with musical heavyweights Four Tet, Adrian Sherwood and Switch’s new production team, With You, the title of the record is, in the man’s own words, an “egocentric jest of daring to do things in the tradition of Jesus: I’m ready to bleed for the artform.” Even by his own standards, ‘One Thing’ is an epic track.

Floating Points ‘Elaenia’

November 6th Pluto

For the past 10 years, all roads Sam Shepherd as Floating Points has followed have been slowly leading to Elaenia - an album with roots deep in his formative years, and one that draws upon everything he has done so far. Synths, guitars, drums, plenty of life to it and more than a little bit of a leaning towards jazz. Electronic music with guts and feeling and lots of surprises. This is a real joy to listen to, highly recommended.

The Drink ‘Capital’

November 13th Melodic

Really into this band. Skewed time signatures and rapid key changes, inspirations in krautrock and harmony drenched pop, it’s wonderfully strange.

SUNN O))) ‘Kannon’

December 4th Southern Lord DECEMBER RECORD OF THE MONTH

Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts ‘Manhattan’ October 30th Rough Trade

Manhattan is Jeffrey Lewis’s seventh studio album for Rough Trade. It’s funny, poignant, wry (‘Support Tours’ is the most depressing indictment of the indie music scene since his own ‘Don’t Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch’) and through it all really enjoyable. He’s on fine form and the production is great, really frames his vocals well.

Oneohtrix Point Never ‘Garden Of Delete’ November 13th Warp

Oneohtrix Point Never’s second LP for Warp. A continuation of the incredible cinematic sound design for which composer/producer Daniel Lopatin has gained a reputation during his career. One of the most exciting and pioneering leftfield music makers around.

As we go to press… we’ve heard none of it, but so confident are we in SUNN O)))’s sonic gravitas that we are billing this as December’s “must listen” album. Layers of sonic assault and doom, the album is 36 minutes in length and consists of three pieces of a triadic whole : Kannon 1, 2 and 3. We are fascinated to hear in full.

Joanna Newsom ‘Divers’

October 23rd Drag City

TRAAMS Nadia Reid

‘Listen to Formation, Look For The Signs’ December 4th Spunk

Nadia Reid has really spun us out. She arrived with very little forewarning and her LP is as skilled a set of original songs as any we’ve heard this year. 23-year-old New Zealand native Nadia Reid has claimed her place as one of the country’s most evocative and profound young songwriters.

OCTOBER RECORD OF THE MONTH

Divers is the fourth studio album from the quite remarkable Joanna Newsom. Just a tad over fifty minutes, it’s eleven November 13th songs are lyrically beautiful and elegant Fat Cat riddles, and while members of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra NOVEMBER RECORD OF THE MONTH Second album from post punk trio. By feature as players on the album, it’s relocating to Leeds, the band were able actually a very direct and engaging listen. Sure there are few songs that to record and work alongside familiar follow a standard verse and chorus producer MJ of Hookworms (hero…) structure, and the instrumentation at the Suburban Home Studios. Way more outward than their debut, but in a is full to the rafters, but it is a rich shouty psychotic way. Really top stuff. and instant reward. If we had heard this album two months back, and had more time to sit with it, it would be a very clear candidate for the album of the year… very highly recommended indeed.

‘Modern Dancing’


Bjork Vulnicura

Destroyer Poison Season

Editors In Dream

Enter Shikari The Mindsweep

Faith No More Sol Invictus

Ghostpoet Shedding Skin

Here We Go Magic Be Small

Le Butcherettes A Raw Youth

Low Ones and Sixes

New Order Music Complete

Roisin Murphy Hairless Toys

Royal Headache High

Ryley Walker Primrose Green

Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love

The Districts A Flourish and A Spoil

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

THE FOR THE

IN

Multi-Love

SOUND CROWD

THE BEST INDEPENDENT ALBUMS FROM 2015 Viet Cong Viet Cong

Youth Lagoon Savage Hills Ballroom www.thedriftrecordshop.net

www.pias.com


Literary Pursuits We don’t want to make out as though we’re massive readers, but we do particularly enjoy books about bands, music and records. Independent booksellers are a lot like independent record shops, only way less publicised and missing out on a day in April called ‘Book Shop Day’. Here are six books we’ve really enjoyed this year and highly recommend. Don’t buy them from us, go and pick them up in your local book store. Richard King

‘Original Rockers’ April 2nd

Richard King’s account of the several years he spent working in a Bristol independent record shop in the early 90s is destined to become a classic of music writing. Sure it resonates with us, because of the hyper specific nuances of day to day shop business, but it is an incredibly warm and engaging account of how a building (and a pretty scummy one at that) can change lives. Chaotic, amateurish and extravagantly dysfunctional, the influence of Revolver in Bristol is still felt today. Original Rockers is about people, music, cities, plenty of records, the unique overlaps and how they all affect one another.

Kim Gordon

‘Girl in a Band’ February 24th

There are few artists who inspire such reverence as Kim Gordon. In Girl in a Band she tells, with complete openness, the story of her family, her work in the visual arts, her move to New York city, the men in her life, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, her music and her band; Sonic Youth. It’s so directly written that, if anything, she plays down what has been a quite remarkable life, and talks more about feeling, which at times is very moving.


Rob Chapman

David Cavanagh

‘Psychedelia and Other Colours’ September 2nd

In the summer of 1965 the informal parties that Ken Kesey was holding at his house in Palo Alto, California were about to evolve into what became known as the Acid Tests. These spontaneous anarchic gatherings spread their tentacles far and wide, until an entire generation seemed to be under their spell. Fifty years on from the Merry Pranksters multimedia mayhem, acclaimed author Rob Chapman explores, in crystalline detail, the history, precedents and cultural impact of LSD, from the earliest experiments in painting with light and immersive environments, to the thriving avant-garde scene that existed in San Francisco long before the Grateful Dead and the Fillmore Auditorium. An opportunity to both discover new artists and read some fascinating insights into some of the most written about musicians of all time.

Carrie Brownstein

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’

‘Good Night and Good Riddance’

Jon Savage ‘1966’

November 19th

The pop world accelerated and broke through the sound barrier in 1966. In America, in London, in Amsterdam, in Paris, revolutionary ideas, slowcooking since the late ‘50s, reached boiling point. In the worlds of pop, pop art, fashion and radical politics -often fueled by perception-enhancing substances and literature -- the ‘Sixties’, as we have come to know them, hit their Modernist peak. A unique chemistry of ideas, substances, freedom of expression and dialogue across pop cultural continents, created a landscape of immense and eventually shattering creativity. After 1966 nothing in the pop world would ever be the same. The 7 inch single outsold the long-player for the final time. It was the year in which the ever lasting and transient pop moment would burst forth in its most articulate, instinctive and radical way.

October 1st 2015 BOOK OF THE YEAR

Goodnight and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Britain is a social history, a diary of a nation’s changing culture, and an in-depth appraisal of one of our greatest broadcasters, a man who can legitimately be called the most influential figure in postwar British popular music. Without the support of John Peel, it’s unlikely that innumerable artists - from David Bowie to Dizzee Rascal, Jethro Tull to Joy Division - would have received national radio exposure. But Peel’s influence goes much deeper than this. Whether he was championing punk, reggae, jungle or grime, he had a unique relationship with his audience that was part taste-maker, part trusted friend. For anyone who spent even a small amount of time listening to John Peel, this book is so evocative. A stark reminder that Peel was a champion of simply being open minded. It’s actually a very sobering thought that the void he left behind has never been filled, and ten years on it feels even more unlikely that anyone could ever fill his shoes. A wonderful book, and across the 300 radio shows and the thirty seven years it covers, it’s a little bit like he is back in the room. Heartbreaking, but lovely to hear his voice again.

October 27th

Before Carrie Brownstein (of SleaterKinney) became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest, just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Accessible, raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer, an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of Rock and Roll. For fans of her music and observations in Portlandia (the TV show she created with Fred Armisen) it’s a beautiful way to get closer to such an alluring character. It will come as no surprise to discover that she is honest, insightful and very very funny.

Photographed by Chalkie Davies


Record Shops. by Jon Savage

The first time that I ever went into a record shop to buy something for myself was in around Spring 1963. The record was Del Shannon’s “Little Town Flirt”, the label was London, and the shop was called Squires: this was a big electrical/ music store on Ealing Broadway situated just off my daily journey to school. On the ground floor it sold musical instruments and gramophones - this was the period when playback machines had to look like expensive furniture and took up half the room.

Carroll expanded into the Rock On stall in Soho Market and the shop in Camden Town, those outlets became a petri dish for London Punk.

The big change was visiting the Rock On stall at Golborne Road. This wasn’t the rows of rejected product cluttering up many record shops - usually run by an owner who asked what you wanted and frowned if you browsed - but a carefully selected mix of hardcore R&B, Rock’n Roll, sixties mod Pop/ Psych - the product of an aesthetic and a personal taste. I’d hang around there and just listen. As Ted

Jon Savage is the author of England’s Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock and Teenage: The Creation of Youth, 1875 - 1945. He has written sleeves notes for Wire, St. Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys, among others, and his compilations include: Meridian 1970 (Heavenly/EMI 2005); Queer Noises: From the Closest to the Charts 1961 - 1976 (Trikont 2006); and Dreams Come True: Classic Electro 1982-87 (Domino 2008).

In the later 70’s, Rock On and Rough Trade became more than record shops. By providing a meeting place and access to different/ rare material, they helped to create connections between people. By setting up their own labels, they were able to turn their own personal taste and on-the-ground market research into new and vital music. It wasn’t just The atmosphere on the ground floor was staid and wooden. about selling things, it was about making a culture, and the best record shops - RTE, Rough Trade W11 1JA and However once you descended the spiral staircase you were in a totally different environment: pop world. Bright lights, Piccadilly Records in Manchester, to name but three - still futuristic circular counter, loud noise. What could be better? provide that function. That was my favourite haunt until 1967, when my parents Since then, I’ve been to some amazing vintage record stores moved into central London, and I was let loose on a much - Attic Records in Pittsburgh springs to mind - and, despite wider canvas. One of my favourite places was in the ground the blandishments of the internet, remain committed to floor of the old Derry and Toms building on Kensington leafing through the racks. It’s a habit I have no desire to High Street, which, just before Biba, had a variety of kick, simply because I might come across something I temporary stalls selling cheap records. hadn’t heard or thought of before. The internet offers no surprises: you look for something and you find it. Condition At first, it was singles. They were cheaper, and more pop. I is always an issue. There’s nothing like seeing and holding started collecting 45’s on Elektra and Track, and that was the item in question - a fact applicable to other areas of it, I’d got the bug. Everywhere I’d go, I’d hunt out record internet activity! shops, hardware shops, electrical shops, junk shops. In the late 60’s you could find Beat and Rock’n Roll singles for My nearest city is Manchester, so I regularly go to Piccadilly about 1/- (5p) each, and even better, recent deletions - this Records on Oldham Street - fantastic selection, detailed being a period when if it was old, it was gone. My best haul was in a tiny Sussex sea-side town called Rustington, where descriptions of each record, helpful staff - and, my vote for the best vintage record shop in the UK, Kingbee Records in the back of the newsagents I found the three John’s in Chorlton. It has a website, but there’s nothing like going Children singles on Track, 2/6 each. into the shop and rifling through the boxes. Manchester is a huge Black American music town, and Les Hart puts Hunting for vinyl became the way I’d orient round cities, out dozens of Funk/ Reggae/ Northern 45’s Original 60’s particularly my home town. In the early seventies I’d read albums are priced firmly and fairly, while there are great Chris Savory’s column in Let It Rock, which mentioned a bargain bins. Check it out! different record shop each month. That took me to some strange places. Cheapo Cheapo in Rupert Street was always good, despite the rude staff (always an occupational hazard), and I found some amazing records in the bins at the Charing Cross Road Dobells: Dylan bootlegs and a copy of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Easter Everywhere”, which terrified me at first.


Compilations Another very strong year for compilations with plenty of funk, soul, folk, roots, traditional music, psych, rock, electronica, disco, reggae and loads and loads more. Solid gold at every turn from labels like Daptone, Light in the Attic and especially Numero (whose amazing Ork Records boxset is due to land shortly). We always like to put some time aside to celebrate the releases on the Soul Jazz Records label, the recording arm of the brilliant Sounds of the Universe shop, ‘Worldwide Musical Merchants’ in the heart of Soho. Always compiled with passion, purpose and wide open ears. Punk 45 January 26th Soul Jazz

Two more additions to the utterly essential Punk 45 series landed back in January. “Burn, Rubber City, Burn - Akron, Ohio: Punk And The Decline Of The Mid-West 1975-80” and “Extermination Nights In The Sixth City - Cleveland, Ohio: Punk And The Decline Of The Mid-West 1975-82” examining the punk scene that developed out of the Ohio cities of Akron and Cleveland.

Nu Yorica! May 18th Soul Jazz

“Culture Clash In New York City. Experiments In Latin Music 1970-77” - A 20th anniversary 2015 expanded edition of one of Soul Jazz Records earliest definitive releases and a stunning and groundbreaking collection of music, bringing together Latin, Soul, Jazz, Funk and more, from the melting pot of New York

Sounds Of The Universe: Art + Sound June 15th Soul Jazz

Art + Sound is a new album featuring some of the most forward-thinking and progressive artists and producers working with electronic music around the World today. Lovingly compiled, a stunning array of contemporary artists that will really expand your mind.


Disco 2 July 17th Soul Jazz

Rastafari July 31st Soul Jazz

“A Further Fine Selection Of Independent Disco, Modern Soul And Boogie 1976-80” - We totally fell for the first part in the series last year, so we were pumped for this second selection of independent disco records, featuring rare and classic tracks, originally released in the USA between the halcyon years of 1977 and 1985. Addictive stuff.

“The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 - From Nyabinghi, Burro And Grounation To Roots And Revelation” - An in-depth look at some of the most unique and righteous music ever made. Comes complete with a 40+ page outsize booklet, containing exclusive photography and extensive historical and contextual sleevenotes. Wonderful compilation charting the many links between reggae music and the Rastafarian faith.

Coxsone’s Music

Popol Vuh

November 13th Soul Jazz

The First Recordings Of Sir Coxsone The Downbeat 1960-63. A stunning new collection featuring over two and half hours of early Jamaican proto-ska, rhythm & blues, jazz, rastafari and gospel music - charting the earliest recordings produced by Clement Dodd, in the years before he launched the mighty Studio One Records, brought together here for the first time ever. Features sleevenotes by Studio One authority Rob Chapman.

‘Kailash’

April 13th Soul Jazz

A new collection of work from Florian Fricke, leader of Popol Vuh, seminal group in the German rock scene of the 1970s (Can, Faust, Amon Duul, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream) and creators of classic soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog (‘Aguirre The Wrath Of God’, ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Fitzcaraldo’, among others). “Florian was always able to create music I feel helps audiences visualize something hidden in the images on screen, and in our own souls too.” - Werner Herzog


Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness January 26th Strut

Strut returned to the archives of seminal Chicago house label Dance Mania. This new instalment places the spotlight on the raw, stripped back, hyper b.p.m. of ghetto house and the rise of the movement’s fresh generation of stars during the mid ’90s. It tells the story of the evolution of Chicago’s sound during the era, as mix tapes circulated through local stores, and DJs developed their own underground following, playing local parties in the projects.

Trevor Jackson Presents: Science Fiction Dancehall Classics October 2nd On-U Sound

A curated selection of classics, rarities and unreleased tracks from the On-U Sound vaults, by DJ and audio visual artist Trevor Jackson, who on release said “Putting this compilation together is nothing short of an honour.” Really superb this, such an amazing catalogue.

Hubris June 1st The Quietus Phonographic Corporation

‘Hubris’ is a spoken word album by John Doran featuring music by Nicky Wire (Manic Street Preachers) and Loz Williams, Abi Fry and Neil Hamilton Wilkinson (British Sea Power), Arabrot and Karin Park, Perc and Nik Void (Factory Floor). The album is a complimentary release to Doran’s debut book ‘Jolly Lad’ - a memoir about his recovery from alcoholism, substance abuse and mental illness. John came and read one evening at Drift back in the summer (joined by Norwegian noise-rockers Årabrot) and it was a remarkable experience.

Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4 March 23rd Soul Jazz

Sherwood At The Controls April 6th On-U Sound

A compilation of early tracks produced or remixed by the legendary Adrian Sherwood. A pioneering blend of post-punk, mutant disco, dub, funk and electro. Features The Slits, Prince Far I, The Fall and Mark Stewart.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia Presents PZYK Vol.1 October 9th PZYK

“Zulu Rock, Afro-Disco and Mbaqanga 1975-1985”. One of the first compilation series we ever stocked. More from the rich archives of South African music to spotlight the fertile era of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Tightly controlled by oppressive apartheid laws, South Africa’s music scene had nevertheless progressed into myriad new directions, embracing funk, soul, rock and disco.

Ork Records: New York, New York October 30th The Numero Group

In August of 1975, the world’s first punk record label was born. ‘Ork Released just in time to celebrate Records: New York, New York’ is the Liverpool based festival, this is a a tale of Terry Ork, a film-obsessed deluxe compilation, celebrating the fugitive of Warhol’s Factory set. Ork’s current neo-psychedelic underground. impresario ear would pull damaged, A mix of exclusive tracks, re-mixes, literate new rock music from the rarities and album cuts, the compilation pregnant Bowery grime of CBGB, spans and charts the global PZYK resulting in debut 45s by Television diaspora, with artists from around the and Richard Hell, as well as landmark world contributing to an international recordings by the Feelies and Lester selection comprising 30 of the current Bangs. a visionary glimpse of punk movement’s key noisemakers. and new wave as invented, nurtured, feted, and forgotten by the streetlevel artisans who attended the genre’s arrival.

Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton June 8th Tompkins Square

Karen Dalton (1937-1993) recorded two studio albums during her lifetime, neither of which contain any songs she wrote. By the good graces of legendary guitarist Peter Walker, who oversees Karen’s Estate, we are gifted with these lost lyrics, now given voice by; Sharon Van Etten, Lucinda Williams, Josephine Foster, Diane Cluck, Isobel Campbell, Marissa Nadler, Laurel Halo, Julia Holter and more. An amazing collection.

Daptone Gold Vol.II September 18th Daptone

Twenty-one tracks featuring previously (limited) unreleased and bonafide modern classics by Daptone’s elite roster of stars. Hand-picked by Daptone staff, musicians, and fans beautifully put together by the House of Soul.


Shirley Inspired June 1st Earth COMPILATION OF THE YEAR

Shirley Collins is one of Britain’s most celebrated folk artists. Known equally for her role alongside Alan Lomax in the documentation of American Folk music and for her own recorded output (primarily) from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Those songs and stories have been an inspiration to generations of folk, roots and traditional music fans. To coinside with her 80th Birthday, a selection of her songs were covered by some of the many artists who have taken inspiration from her work; Lee Ranaldo, Bitchin Bonnie Billy Bajas (Will Oldham), Graham Coxon, comedian Stewart Lee, Johnny Flynn, Angel Olsen and many others. From her seminal field-recording trip to America, to her lauded musical career; from her role as historian and protector of the folk tradition, to the very fact that this record can exist - more than half a century after her career began - all of these things are testament to the breadth of her influence. A beautiful collection of songs and performances “Her music did kick off for me a whole sort of... renewed passion or interest or love of my own country’s music. So that was helpful. Thank you Shirley!” - Graham Coxon “Shirley has kept us in the loops of unexpired lyric power, sibling collaboration, and musical continuance and heritage. And what a smile.” - Will Oldham “Even though I am a folk fan, I like lots of different music and Shirley’s in the top ten of all artists for me, irrespective of what they’re supposed to be classified as.” - Stewart Lee

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the singers and musicians who responded to the invitation to be part of the Shirley Inspired collection. Their choice of songs is fascinating, the interpretations of them fresh and various, beautiful and sometimes challenging! Listening to these recreations shows me again that English folk music has timeless power and significance” - Shirley Collins “Shirley is deserving of every accolade that’s thrown at her... she’s the best.” - Linda Thompson “There are these unique voices, these unique songs that would not have survived if it were not for Shirley... she has kept that entire tradition alive.” - Alan Moore


FROM THE AUTHOR OF

Mojo Jon Savage returns with a monument to the year which changed pop music forever Out now in all good bookshops


Reissues It’s been another year of looking backwards as well as forwards, long lost gems and gladly re-appraised works on vinyl for the first time in years and even decades. Rhino continued their Led Zeppelin reissue series with deluxe editions of Coda, In Through The Out Door and Presence this year. Other notable artist catalogues that we particularly enjoyed this year were Red House Painters’ Rollercoaster, Down Colourful Hill, Ocean Beach / Shock Me and Bridge all on single LP’s following a deluxe appearance on Record Store Day as part of a hefty box set. Really brilliant set of albums, damn shame old Mark Kozelek seems hell bend to notify every person in the free World that he is an utter cock. In March Warp reissued the Broadcast back catalogue, one of the most seriously underrated bands around (and sadly no longer around following the tragic death of Trish Keenan). Pressings of The Noise Made By People, HaHa Sound, Tender Buttons, The Future Crayon, Work And Non Work and Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The New Age.

Alejandro Jodorowsky

‘El Topo / The Holy Mountain’ June 15th Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers are always fascinating, but two particular highlights this year for us were the series of Jodorowsky’s ABKCO film scores. El Topo is taken from the original master tapes of engineer Brian Humphries (Black Sabbath / Pink Floyd) and presented with new artwork based on the rare European and South American poster artwork for the film’s original release with exclusive sleevenotes from Andy Votel and actress/ director (and Jodorowsky friend/collaborator) Asia Argento. The Holy Mountain includes exclusive interviews and lost information from Neneh Cherry, Ronald Frangipane and the Swedish members of the original Don Cherry Holy Mountain line-up Bengt Berger and Christer Bothen alongside commendable quotes from Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet). It is music (and films!) of great curiosity, rich in reward but hardly linear or in anyway easy to explain. Here’s to hoping you dive feet first into both.

Alongside her new Vulnicura album, Björk and One Little Indian released beautifully considered colour vinyl pressings of Debut (1993), Post (1995), Homogenic (1997), Vespertine (2001), Medúlla (2004), Volta (2007) and Biophilia (2011). The descriptions like “Shy beginner humility virgin beige silver mohair” or “Icelandic / cosmopolitan green patriotic warrior confrontational volcanic beats icelandic octet contrast active” were worth the fee alone. Seems bonkers that nobody had been keeping the Joy Division catalogue in stock, especially considering the number of Unknown Pleasures T-Shirts Urban Outfitters get through. Closer, Still, Unknown Pleasures and Substance all on a good weight with original art. Decent.

Alan Vega, Alex Chilton, Ben Vaughn ‘Cubist Blues’ December 4th Light in the Attic

The unlikely union of Suicide’s Alan Vega with Big Star’s Alex Chilton, and singer-songwriter Ben Vaughn happened in December 1994 in a fog of cigarette smoke at two barely-lit, all-night improv sessions at Dessau Studios in New York. They just followed their instincts, their inspiration, and combined the experience they acquired during their impressive careers to this wild and pretty surprising LP. Vocally it’s like a crooning Ian Curtis through halls and halls of reverb. There is some spiritual alchemy going on in the tapes, three very disparate creatives finding quite a bond in their expressions. Completely ignored on releases, with hindsight it’s influences are pretty massive… but nothing has sounded anything like it before or since.


The City

‘Now That Everything’s Been Said’ October 2nd Light in the Attic

We all know the Carole King who wrote some of the biggest hits of the ‘60s, from “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” via “The Locomotion” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” We also know the singersongwriter behind Tapestry, the album that launched King as a solo singer in her own right. But in between–and not nearly as well known–is King’s band, The City, and their album, Now That Everything’s Been Said. The City were just a few years ahead of their time, with King on piano and vocals, they created a folk rock sound that pre-empted the singer-songwriter boom of the ‘70s… some would say they kind of kicked it all off. The title track takes one play to get routed deep into your soul, it is from that point simply unimaginable that you’d not heard it a hundred times before. It’s such a strange experience to hear that voice, Carole King’s voice, but on a new canon of work that it progressive, rootsy and essentially a freeform of all the ideas that would come into sharp focus three years later as ‘Tapestry’.

Bob Dylan

The Cutting Edge 19651966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12 November 6th Legacy Recordings

“BSP’s performance art antics and throwback posturing come with a distinct set of innovations and surprises, and The Decline of British Sea Power proves that BSP have the song-power to back up their bullshit. More than just a cheeky album title or bizarre live spectacle, British Sea Power can also stir up a perfectly chilling wave.” British Sea Power ‘The Decline Of BritishSea Power’ June 31st Golden Chariot

Released on the band’s own Golden Chariot Records was a twelfth anniversary celebratory reissue of their seminal debut album, ‘The Decline Of British Sea Power’. On release The Guardian described the “slightly camp, wholly menacing, startlingly audacious debut is unlike anything you’ll hear this year”... they weren’t wrong. The key to BSP’s longevity has been their sustained ability to not really sound much like anything else.

Rooted in elements of post-punk, they have evolved tremendously to bring in a surreal and wonderful range of influences over the years, most recently scoring beautiful and meditative soundtracks and collaborating with full brass bands. Under it all they still have the ability to play harder, longer and faster than anyone else around. Really exciting to go back and see the roots of where it all began.

“Dylan’s alternate versions could more accurately be called alternate performances, meaning each one is unique. And given the way he refined and re-worked songs during this period—trying them with just voice and acoustic, adding a full band, changing tempos, time signatures, and lyrics—the different versions can be sharply different in mood and effect.”

REISSUE OF THE YEAR

The latest volume in the acclaimed Dylan Bootleg series premiered previously unreleased studio takes - including never before heard songs, outtakes, rehearsal tracks and alternatives - from the sessions that formed the albums Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. After 2013’s

Another Self Portrait (Volume Ten), and given the continued brilliance of Dylan’s bootleg series in general, you start to get the impression that Bob Dylan has alternate versions of damn near each of his albums in the can somewhere. This trilogy of album masterpieces secured

Dylan’s reputation as a songwriter and performer of unprecedented depth, power and originality, while significantly impacting the course of popular music and culture. Truly groundbreaking and hearing new life in such familiar friends is utterly astonishing.


Super Furry Animals ‘Mwng’

May 1st Domino Recording Co

Doubtless one of our favourite bands, sonic explorers, pop music experts, psychedelic high priests, gentle folk and proud Welshmen; the inimitable Super Furry Animals. Originally released in 2000 on the band’s own Placid Casual label (between deals with Creation and Sony), the Super Furries career-defining fourth album Mwng was the band’s only Welsh language long player. It reached Number 11 in the UK album charts and was their highest selling record globally up to that point. It remains the biggest selling Welsh language album of all time. On its original release, the record was praised in an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons for its significant part in promoting the language and culture of Wales. This fifteenth anniversary edition was beautifully packed across triple vinyl (and CD) with five tracks previously released on the US version of Mwng under the name Mwng Bach, as well as a an unreleased Peel session and a full live show recorded at ATP. I’d been singing ‘Ysbeidiau Heulog’ for fifteen years without ever thinking to translate it… “Sunny Intervals”.... flipping love those guys.

“The rehearsal-room feel of Mwng succeeds in capturing the organic, woody, mystical atmosphere that was sometimes missing from its highly-polished, heavily-digitised predecessors.”

“It’s like watching Picasso paint on glass in 1949, building his masterpiece from scratch. A revelation.”

“Dylan’s Bootleg Series is not just about shedding light on the processes behind familiar work. These albums also represent the only legitimate way of hearing some of his genuine and long-buried masterpieces:”




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‘Culture Of Volume’

‘No No No’

‘III’

East India Youth April 6th XL Recordings

APRIL RECORD OF THE MONTH

Over the last year London-based East India Youth has combined strikingly original music with euphoric live performances, and has quickly become recognised as one of the most experimental and captivating artists around. Culture Of Volume is his debut for new partner XL Recordings, following on from his Mercury Prize nomination for his debut Total Strife Forever. Even with his ascension, and joining arguably the biggest indie label on the planet, this album was still mostly recorded and produced in his bedroom at home in London, and that is William Doyle’s shrewdest move. Culture Of Volume is successfully open, honest and very much an album crafted, but the time and details poured into it have created an album of striking and brilliant ideas, coherently forged into a very accessible sort of pop music. Whatever path he follows here he masters, in that way it is a bit of a masterpiece.

Beirut

Föllakzoid

September 11th 4AD

March 30th Sacred Bones Records

Coming four years after The Rip Tide and recorded over a two week period during one of the coldest New York winters, with blizzard after blizzard raging outside, No No No is Zach Condon’s most intimate and spirited record to date. All the hallmarks of Beirut are in place - Condon’s rich swooning croon, the mournful swelling brass - but the most striking change in format is all the space. It is positively sparse, compared to his earlier work, but this gives ample room to really take in the delicate gestures of each song. A really beautiful set of songs, steeped in melancholy against moments of euphoric blaze.

Föllakzoid began seven years ago as a trance experience between childhood friends Diego, Juan Pablo, and Domingo from Santiago, Chile. Heavily informed by the heritage of the ancient music of the Andes, the band has learned to integrate this influence with contemporary sounds of their times, creating a rich yet minimal atmosphere. Their ability to find a groove and lock into it is pretty much unparalleled. III is an album of longform primal jams, psychedelic shapes from another time, certainly another space. You either get it or you’re deaf.

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‘The Magic Whip’

‘II’

Blur

April 27th Parlophone

16 years after their last record as a four-piece, this April Blur released their eighth studio album.The Magic Whip was actually primarily recorded back in 2013, during a five-day break from touring, at Avon Studios in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Those sessions were revisited initially by Graham, who drafted in old friend and early producer Stephen Street to work with the band on the material. Damon finally added lyrics and The Magic Whip was the result. Without ever pushing for a ‘single’, the album is like an introduction to all the various manifestations of Blur. Disaffected outsider pop, rambunctious Britpop, paranoid electronic gestures through to confident elder statesmen. Blur, officially the greatest band of Drift’s lifetime™.

Fuzz

October 23rd In The Red

II is the second studio album from Ty Segall’s Fuzz, a slab of all out power-psych to melt face and shred ears. Thrilling from the get-go and as serious as a heart-attack. As the In The Red label explain, it’s pretty easy... “Bathe in the heat wave that is Fuzz, and regret nothing in the time freeze.” Ty always delivers, but II steps out as way more than a side project. Fuzz is a powerful consolidated tour de force of its’ three parts - Charlie Moothart on guitar/vocals, Chad Ubovich on bass and Segall on drums/vocals. For an hour it’s like we’ve got Black Sabbath in the room... and that’s pretty awesome right there.


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My Morning Jacket ‘The Waterfall’ May 4th ATO

Louisville Kentucky’s My Morning Jacket are one of Drift’s favorite bands, and this years The Waterfall LP (The group’s seventh album) was reason to rejoice. Band leader Jim James’ voice is in fine form (even by his own spellbinding standards) and elevates The Waterfall into a Panoramic widescreen epic. There is much warmth and moments of really touching intimate sincerity, but without losing any of their charm or integrity, they have delivered an album of huge choruses and hooks. They’ve been around, they can play stood on their heads, but The Waterfall is an album of people truly invigorated by doing it.

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Georgia

‘Georgia’ August 7th Domino Recording Co

At just 21, Georgia Barnes has packed one hell of a lot in already. At one point (bizarrely) a pro football career seemed the most likely trajectory, but after working at the iconic Rough Trade West, stints drumming for Kwes and Kate Tempest, and ultimately crafting every beat and pulse on her glistening debut album for Domino, she is a young woman totally obsessed and clearly focused. Her self titled debut is a complex and amazingly skilled debut, with futuristic beats and vocals at times more symphonic than electronic. Elements of the glacial yet hyper-melodic tone of early 2000s grime, sweltering, mid-Summer West London dub and ragga, sophisticated pop and first wave post-punk. As original as any record this year.

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Gwenno

‘Y Dydd Olaf’ July 24th Heavenly Recordings

Released in a period of governmental and cultural transition, former Pipettes front-woman Gwenno Saunders, released a political concept album inspired by an obscure 1970s Welsh language sci-fi novel by Owain Owain, in which World-conquering robots turn humans into clones. Nine of Y Dydd Olaf ’s (The Last Day) songs are in Welsh while the closing track is in Cornish, all taking queues and elements from Krautrock and glorious synthesizer led future pop. A good number of folk won’t understand what is being said (Drift included), but the delicious manner in which it is said, and it’s crystalline production, will have you spending hours translating lyrics across the album. Top stuff.

Ducktails

‘St. Catherine’ July 24th Domino Recording Co

Matt Mondanile’s (also guitar player in Real Estate) fifth outing as Ducktails has accomplished a rare feat - the production has developed exponentially to a high level of swooning pop, but he has retained all of his DIY experimental ambient bedroom charm and, most importantly, … the wooze. A more refined, personal and sincere collection of baroque pop songs. On the surface freewheelin, even lazy in it’s sunglazed charm, but the blissful, cascading melodic fretwork delivers a much more fully formed context this time out.

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Jessica Pratt

‘On Your Own Love Again’ January 26th Drag City

We went nuts a couple of years back for Jessica Pratt’s self titled debut on Tim Presley’s Birth Records. On Your Own Love Again is artistically a big step forward, and arguably a strong look backwards. Sounding more than ever like someone found on a dusty old roll of tape from the backroom of an English library, an eccentric home recording of spooky, sleepy twin vocals. The arrangement is beautifully simple, rarely anything other than her guitar (which does sound almost harp like at times) and her delicate overlapping vocals, but so captivating that the albums thirty odd minutes passess in one short daydream.


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‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’

‘Vulnicura’

‘The L-Shaped Man’

John Grant

October 9th Bella Union

There is something about the cover art, the curious title or even singing (a mere ten seconds or so into the album) about his issues with haemorrhoids, that suggests John Grant might be half joking with his third studio album. But that is ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ in a nutshell. The album is John Grant. He has publically grown to a wonderful stature from his first fragile gestures as a solo artist, and the album is a warts (or piles) and all appraisal of who he is, both good and bad. The production is still inspired by electronic music (although less than Pale Green Ghosts), but the triumph as ever is his voice. Richer and more swooning than anyone recording today. Lyrically unique, sad, funny and clever as anyone, it’s the bits you pick up on a second, third, fourth or fifth listen that are real belly laughs. So when you come full circle and really analyse it, it kind of is a joke. The multi-linguist (back in 2010 explaining he was fluent in German and Russian, solid Spanish, decent conversational French and currently digging into Dutch, Icelandic and Swedish as a hobby) has combined two phrases (from Icelandic and Turkish) to make a joke about the neurosis of approaching middle age.

Björk

March 16th One Little Indian

In March, one of the most respected, evolving and important artists of this generation returned early with her eagerly anticipated studio album Vulnicura. And why early you ask? Because some fucking cock decided that they were in a position to leak it onto the internet. When you have a think about it, Björk has spent the last thirty years making ever progressive music, never resting on her laurels. That in itself is remarkable, especially with the pressures she has had to endure, having become an internationally recognised artist. Vulnicura is not an easy listen. At it’s most direct it is brutally sad and a very public and sincere outpouring of emotion, drawing on Björk’s split with artist Matthew Barney. But it is not direct, co-produced by Arca and the Haxan Cloak it is, for the best part, ‘difficult music’. Somewhere between abstract electronica and contemporary classical. There are moments of such striking emotion that it can be overpowering, but that should not be frightening and certainly not something to be avoided. Vulnicura is one of 2015’s most essential listens.

Ceremony May 18th Matador

Ceremony’s roots are as an intense throwback to early American hardcore, a fine calibre of thrashing and screaming. Over the course of their discography (this is their fifth album) the East Bay outfit have progressed into new directions, largely outgrowing their pumped up early incarnation, to produce a more nuanced sound. The L-Shaped Man is the final step in their development toward something much closer to postpunk, they bear very little resemblance to their younger selves. What was once white knuckled aggression and steele is now drowned in much brood. They are positively melancholy. Right from the offset this was openly described as a breakup album, and there is an unrelenting bleakness to the heartache. There are still moments of volatility, but Ceremony have now perhaps hit on that it’s what they don’t say that is all the more powerful.

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Protomartyr

‘The Agent Intellect’ October 9th Hardly Art

The Agent Intellect, is the third album from Detroit post-punks Protomartyr and it is an utter sledgehammer. Right from the off it is a pretty harrowing ride. Bleak and threatening but really essential listening. There are moments

of light - “Ellen” in particular, named after Joe Casey’s mother, and written from the perspective of his late father - but combined these moments cast a harsher shadow onto proceedings. The sound of their decayed Detroit city haunting proceedings with such genuine hopelessness. It is named after an ancient philosophical questioning of how the mind operates in relation to the self. In line with this it is articulate

and elegant in its frankness. The brood of content is palpable. There is nothing here to take optimism from, and nothing overplayed. It’s just the way it is and that is what makes it so powerful. The sound is colossal, but it is actually for the best part kept under close wraps. It is the constant threat of the switch getting flicked and letting go that is so rewarding... and when it does, it is fucking devastating.



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The Cairo Gang ‘Goes Missing’ June 22nd God?

The Cairo Gang are a constantly evolving group of musicians. They are, however, always fronted by, or occasionally composed solely of, Emmett Kelly; singer, songwriter, chief orchestrator and harmony singer of supreme skill (as anyone who’s caught him onstage with Bonnie ‘Prince’ will vouch). Now a couple of albums and tapes and singles and

things into it, he is making streamlined music for the ears. Constructing with a heavy hand in order to have a heavy impact, with more than just sounds but songs, and beaming them in on bright bolts of sunshine. Goes Missing is a supreme set of songs, recorded neither here nor there, but all pinned together with a swaggering style, utter vindication and loads and loads of

charm. To that end, without necessarily borrowing anything, he recalls The Byrds, R.E.M., Idle Race, The Pretty Things and Yardbirds (maybe even a little Kinks?) . It’s all been soaked up, pumped through the veins and contributed to a set of modern jangly bangers.

“The songs are all, in my mind, related to each other in tone. The lyric and overall harmony were very much within the same world. I was not in one world in particular, and so then the music created its own world. That stayed pretty consistent throughout”

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‘Personal Computer’ August 28th Weird World

Silicon is Kody Nielson, a songwriter, producer and visual artist from Auckland, New Zealand, formerly of cult band Flying Nun, and The Mint Chicks, a group he started with his brother Ruban - now of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Personal Computer is a seductive electronic pop record that pits Nielson’s brilliant soul, funk and disco influenced songwriting against a backdrop of extraterrestrial sonics. It’s pretty much all created using his laptop and frontal lobes. It’s an album that screams of imagination, celebrating the meeting of old and new technology, human and computer. There is more soul (and funk) via the relatively primitive setup and approach than loads of multi-member collectives manage over the whole of their careers.

Emmett Kelly speaking to Deluxe in July.

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Songhoy Blues ‘Music In Exile’ February 23rd Transgressive

All those old ‘World music’ prejudices have no place here. Songhoy Blues are a young and exuberant Malian band who already have a remarkable history behind them. Four talented, hungry, sharp and outward-looking young men from a part of the World that has had more than it’s share of pain and conflict in recent years, but has given back far more than its share of music and joy. They fled from their homes in the north, when radical Islamists overran the region, and on reaching the safety of Bamako, decided to form a band – at which point their fortunes dramatically changed. They have worked with the Africa Express team,

also collaborating with Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs). That rich Afro rock guitar tone is ever present, holding the blues and traditional inspired songs on course, but also offering plenty of occasion to wig out against the primal grooves of the drums and claps. Anything but one dimensional. No sooner have you locked in on the groove, they have fliped it on a heartbeat and, before you know it, your legs are moving to something else, whilst your brain deciphers what’s to follow. Instinctive, joyous and brilliantly delivered. Oh, and then right at the end of the year… Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Fucking superb.


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Ultimate Painting ‘Green Lanes’ August 7th Trouble In Mind

Four Tet

‘Morning/Evening’ July 10th Text JULY RECORD OF THE MONTH

As label boss at his own immaculate Text imprint, you get the distinct impression that Kieran Hebden has reached a point where he feels not only a complete lack of restriction (both artistically and logistically) but is also as motivated and prolific as at any point in his career. His eighth studio album arrived on his bandcamp page, and the week following in indie shops, with his now customary lack of pomp or pageantry and marketing. His acclaim and reputation continues to grow and it is all based on the music, rather than the marketing or processes, a fine example to set. Morning/Evening is an album of two approximately twenty minute tracks. The Morning side features samples of Lata Mangeshkar (“Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon” as you ask) and has been seen as a marker to Hebden celebrating his Indian heritage. It is a hypnotic raga, winding in and out with serene beats. Evening picks up where Morning leaves off, slowly building, but never peaking, into the most beautiful soundscape. The composition feels like a slow reveal. The vocal sample (much harder to decipher on the Evening track) hints at much, but as beautifully as it arrives with the chiming of bells, it fades away as the side fades into almost nothing at all. Morning/ Evening is a beautiful open love letter, never overt, a sonic landscape and experiment. It shows supreme confidence and fearlessness, either that or Hebden has genuinely reached a point where the music is for himself, and any further appreciation is a by-product.

During downtime from their day jobs as part of Mazes and Veronica Falls, Jack Cooper and James Hoare found time to hatch plans, swap demos and swiftly deliver one of last years most addictive jams under the name Ultimate Painting. No slouches, this year they dropped their second full length Green Lanes, with a third already partially in the can. They’re making it sound easy. Post-Velvet

Underground melancholic vibes, really loose and, this time out, plenty of new additions. Loads more piano and organ developing what they are doing. The album artwork was once again provided by Portland artist Bradley Kerl, who portrayed Hoare’s London flat & recording space chock full of the equipment used to record both the band’s albums, casually tumbling toward the viewer.

James: “It was recorded in my flat, on an Otari Mx5050 tape machine. All done on analog equipment, no computers or plug ins. The Otari is the same model of machine Nirvana used to record their first LP Bleach, that’s basically why I purchased it. I recorded/produced it but we are both involved in the process and have input in all the various stage” Jack: “He records the thing, but we’re both there the whole damn time. I certainly have some input as to the sonics but I’m punching below James when it comes to production. I would just complicate matters and the idea is for everything to be very simple. He’s very good at what he does.” Ultimate Painting speaking to Deluxe in July.


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‘Universes’

‘What Green Feels Like’

Seven David Jr. July 24th Ninja Tune

From time to time a DJ, vocalist or producer comes along who transcends a particular scene, bridging the gap between disparate movements and uniting tribal music fans. Seven Davis Jr has that talismanic quality. His productions have a rawness, a loose-knit, lolloping groove that seduces even the most steadfastly stubborn of hips. Universes really sounds like nothing else about, even the production cues have been taken into new space. Born in Houston, Texas, before relocating to Northern California, Seven Davis Jr was raised on the classics – from Michael Jackson and Prince to Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. He studied gospel and jazz singing, channeling the spirit of heroes Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Burt Bacharach. During his teenage years he discovered dance music, specifically house and jungle, which coincided with a period of substance abuse and a downturn in his fortune and wellbeing. However, dragging himself up and out of this abyss, Seven emerged from these dark times stronger and more resilient than ever, determined to spread positivity through his music. There is much to marvel at on this record, weird neo-jazz time signatures, complex interchanging drumbeats, samples and off kilter vocals. Seven has created a party record and a think piece all in the same place.

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‘Sun Coming Down’ September 18th Constellation Records

With Sun Coming Down, Montréal quartet (none of them are Canadian by the way) Ought released their second

Eaves

April 27th Heavenly Recordings

Under the moniker Eaves, Joseph Lyons has been one of this year’s most brilliant surprises. For starters, in a battered T-Shirt, maybe a plaid overshirt, with his unkempt nest of shoulder length hair, he is obviously going to be wailing at the helm of a grunge band right? Never judge a record by it’s cover. Lyons is one of the purest young balladeers around. A remarkably earnest voice, easily capable of filling the space of many instruments. He is also very dexterous, whether he accompanies himself with a piano of a guitar, cue a roll of comparisons from Nick Drake to Neil Young. Still in his early twenties, his voice and the things he writes about are well ahead of his years, but that’s not to be condescending and suggest that he hasn’t lived. “I grew up in Bolton in a family of seven. No family is perfect but it wasn’t the most comfortable

environment. A lot of my imagery comes from that working class upbringing and things that were happening as I was growing up. Alcoholism, stuff like that. I’m distanced from it now, but now and again I will come back to it. They know I’m singing songs that are rooted in those times, but I don’t want to be dishonest or pretend it didn’t happen.” What Green Feels Like is a superb set of songs, impeccably delivered with guts, honesty and a unique voice - a future classic in the highest class of songwriting. We had the pleasure of meeting Joseph back in the Summer. He drank a beer, signed a few records and was as charming as anyone we have met. The Mercury Prize is supposed to be heralding new music like this… Fuck them, they’re missing the point.

long player in as many years - their debut ‘More Than Any Other Day’ ranked well in our 2014 list. Much as we loved that debut album in it’s collective frustrated anonymity, Sun Coming Down is a big step forward, and that is all about the tone of voice. Tim Beeler Darcy’s vocal delivery is so wry, massively effected, but you sense more by emotion and intensity, than trying to sound any which way. As he croons ‘halle-fucking-lujah’ it instantly transplants Ought right into the middle of the 70’s NYC new wave scene, like a fevered David Byrne or Tom Verlaine; both of which are particularly good anchor points in fact. Sun Coming Down is hung around ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’, the opening track on the second side of the album, a near eight minute examination of everything and nothing, the mundane, modern society, mendacity - all delivered with an ever increasing howl; “Well, how’s the family? how’s the family?

how’s the family? how’s the family? how’s your health been? how’s your health been? how’s your health been? how’s your health been? fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here, time and off again, time and off again, time and off again, time and off again, beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today how’s the church? how’s the job? how’s the church? how’s the job?”. Although it sits more obviously alongside Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’ with the long structure and sustained crescendos, it is Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime (‘how did I get here?’) that is more resonant. Either way, two of the most iconic songs in the last thirty years, and in 2015 we have played ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ way more. Tetchy, pretty minimal and delivered with unfading sincerity. It’s about hope, fear... nothing is right, nothing is wrong... how’s the family?


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opens with Gosh, cranking up to speed right from the get-go with a murky track from modern underground London. The samples across the record Jamie xx are perfectly picked, all adding weight ‘In Colour’ to the otherwise subtle but strong beats. Fellow xx’ers Romy MadleyJune 1st Croft and Oliver Sim add vocals to Young Turks three tracks, and on all of which the JUNE RECORD OF THE MONTH trio take what they have done as The Mercury Nominated xx and head off into new territory. Obvs (pretty sure this is a joke) drops The release of In Colour comes on the the weird steel samples and, although back of an incredible six year creative pretty crude, still makes for addictive period for Jamie xx, which has seen him listening. In Colour is a rich painting alternate effortlessly between his role of influences, reimagined successfully, as founding member and producer of conveying emotions of high times, low The xx, and creator of more electronic times and those drawn out gestures in and club orientated music as Jamie xx. between. That is the album’s biggest When the Mercury Prize nominations success; it is so bold and so clear. For were announced he was a shoe in, an such a set of party bangers, there is also original album of material crossing much melancholy and that is one of the genres and influences. The album big pay offs.

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‘Ones And Sixes’ September 11th Sub Pop SEPTEMBER RECORD OF THE MONTH

Low are a band we have always felt very strongly about, and this year with Ones And Sixes they have delivered a full on career highlight, one of their most intimate and sonically adventurous albums. For twenty years they have been arguably the most vital mainstay of slowcore and their eleventh studio album is like a full HD presentation of what has kept them so pertinent. Over the last few releases (since the superb C’Mon album) Mimi Parker’s vocals have been ever more present, and on Ones And Sixes she is essentially the co-front person with husband Alan Sparhawk. Their vocals compliment each other with a symmetry and companionship that only arrives from experience, and arguably being married for thirty years. Elsewhere the production is incredibly intricate but beautifully balanced. There are pattering digital drums, haunting

“We like having another person to work with - sort of a bridge between us and the technology. I think we get confidence from knowing we are working with and through someone we trust and respect.”

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Mac Demarco ‘Another One’ August 7th Captured Tracks

Mac Demarco is a guy we like… we really like. Over the last three or four years his output has been pretty prolific but has never waned in content or consistency. Beer splashed, weed burned jams with hip-hypnotic rhythms. So this is Another One, a mini-LP announced almost one year to the day after the meteorically successful Salad Days. Conceived and recorded entirely by Mac himself in a short period between a relentless tour schedule, at his new place in Far Rockaway, Queens, Another One is eight freshly written songs, expanding the arsenal of Mac’s already impressive catalogue. He must have been really into his new abode, perhaps too proud infact. “My House by the Water”, the closing track, ends with DeMarco providing his home address in Far Rockaway and inviting listeners over for a cup o’ joe. That is a pretty good analogy of Mac to date. Musically he, and his band, have serious chops and have built a cult reputation as a very serious live band, but they have a rich history of dropping goofy covers for their own amusement, as much as anyone else, or getting naked onstage, or consistently and fervently promoting the budget Viceroy cigarette brand. Specifically, here on Another One the basslines just don’t stop moving, like they are trying to cram as many notes per song as possible. Lyrically it is funny, sweet and nostalgic; he’ll unlikely be cited as a poet, but his ability to hit the nail on the head is always there. It’s a great set of jams, very organic and full of hooks. For fans it’s a another great batch of Mac vibes and for everyone who is new to the game, a great place to start.

Low talking to Deluxe in September

timbres that are unidentifiable and shimmering guitar tones, all in rich harmony to frame the vocals.There is so much going on, especially if you crank it up,that Ones And Sixes is a

really scintillation listen. You really have to go with it and that does take patience, but the reward from the control they display is amazing.



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Tame Impala ‘Currents’ July 17th Fiction

Since their earliest appearances, the clarity of what is Tame Impala and what is Kevin Parker has been hazy, interweaving shadows and reflections on their sunburned sonic take on modern psychedelia. He writes the songs, he sings, he produces the records and, as time has developed, he has gradually played all of the instruments. His third album Currents is a very clear marker for the seismic shift in scale from beach rats, stoners, hammering away at spaced out jams, to this new body of work, which is on a par with anything produced

this year. In terms of it’s sonics it is inventive, endlessly creative and progressively bold. Talking about the new album Parker explained that it takes inspiration from “contemporary hip hop production, Thriller, fried 70s funk, the irreverent playground Daft Punk presented on Discovery, swathes of future pop and emotional 80s balladry, all filtered through a thoroughly modern psychedelic third eye.” Musically, Currents sounds like the work of a player at the top of his game and having a blast. Parker is indulging his whims and is unafraid of diving down the rabbit hole after an idea. People coin it a lot but this one is a real genre-bender, with themes borrowed and reinterpreted from a multitude of wide inspirations. In lesser hands it might have seemed disjointed, but it is a success in the majority, due to the obsessive attention to detail and utter vindication behind it.

“For us, a lot of it has to do with the fact that it is winter eight months of the year, so you kind of need a project to get you through those eight months. So this record was definitely a product of that, locking ourselves in the basement and not wanting to go outside for anything.”

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Viet Cong

‘Viet Cong’ January 19th Jag jaguwar

Recorded in a barn-turned-studio in rural Ontario, the seven songs that make up ‘Viet Cong’ were born largely on the road, when Matt Flegel and bandmates Mike Wallace (both ex members of the much loved band Women), Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen embarked on a 50-date tour that stretched virtually every limit imaginable. Over the last twenty years plenty of bands have taken a good stab

Viet Cong speaking to Deluxe in July

at Post Punk, a copy of ‘Substance’ never far from the turntable. Dark imagery, bleak poems, but the biggest difference and ultimate success for Viet Cong is that they are drenched in the mood, the imagery, but their music is bitingly original. Viet Cong’s songs are like complex puzzles of interchanging parts. It’s like they heard the course a song was taking and deliberately took a step in a different direction. There is much sorrow and much threat, but it is delivered with such drive that their full debut album is overwhelming in its vigour, even if it is a pounding and droaning eleven minute jam called Death.

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Jim O’Rourke ‘Simple Songs’ May 18th Drag City

Without overselling the guy, Jim O’Rourke is one of the most important figures in alt music over the last couple of decades. As producer, performer and mixer he’s worked on (arguably the better) albums from Bill Callahan’s Smog, Stereolab, Wilco, Joanna Newsom, Superchunk, Beth Orton, Faust and of course his work as a part of the mighty Sonic Youth. Amongst this huge canon of work (not even brushing on his freeform and experimental Jazz releases) he has always had the ability to deliver much more straight form releases (in partnership with Drag City) that have always been referred to as ‘pop’. Simple Songs is his first ‘pop-album’ since 2001’s ‘Insignificance’ - an album of perfect arrangements, crunching guitar solos, warm hushed vocals and more than a few dirty jokes. Fourteen years in the waiting (he has kept busy admittedly) Simple Songs is approaching as perfect a collection of singer-songwriter compositions as you could hope for. As one of the World’s most celebrated producers you’d expect little else, but the album is brilliantly arranged and just sounds better than everyone else, literally, rich and full. He’s been reluctant to allow his music to have digital releases, what you are hearing is massively important. Both lyrically and structurally O’Rourke is always clever and funny (like Van Dyke Parks or even Randy Newman), references upon references throughout. In actuality Simple Songs is anything but simple. It is perfectly balanced although ludicrously full of ideas and instrumentation. We’re hoping that there isn’t another fourteen year gap, but this is an album we’ll be playing in fourteen years for sure.


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20

‘Howl’

‘Savage Hills Ballroom’

Rival Consoles October 16th Erased Tapes

Howl is the third studio album from Rival Consoles, London-based electronic producer Ryan Lee West. Out on the always superb Erased Tapes, founder Robert Raths explained that it was a CDR of West’s early demos under the name Aparatec that inspired him to start the label, and we’re damn glad he did. Foremost a guitarist, growing up listening to rock rather than club music, West continues, as Rival Consoles, to strive towards finding a more personal balance between music for home listening and larger spaces. To that end, Howl is a deep record… really deep. It feels organic in its structure, strange nonspecific noises and textures that form before you into the most primal of beats. It’s neither necessarily music for the dance-floor, the stereo or the headphones, it’s something altogether more mysterious. The tone is pretty brooding, it’s not aggressive in its menace, but the threat sure is intense. The way the compositions build and build is on a par with any of the other amazing contemporary classical musicians on the Erased Tapes roster. “I try to create atmosphere and mood throughout with a less-is-more approach to composition. I’m always trying to find an exciting reaction from a few ingredients, because that is magic to me. To make something interesting with tons of layers or effects just doesn’t excite me, but to make something interesting with just three layers requires a special alignment of sounds, ideas and timing. This is my most personal work to date, following on from ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ which gave me the confidence to continue exploring my own ideas and approach to sound. The essence of this album was made with a few synths, some guitar pedals and lots of cups of tea. I hope you’ll enjoy it.”

Youth Lagoon September 25th Fat Possum

Under the name Youth Lagoon, Idaho based songwriter Trevor Powers has delivered two albums of substantial wooze, somewhere between hallucinogenic notebooks and love letters. His new album Savage Hills Ballroom is an album of rich textures, sounds and striking emotions, all pulled into sharp focus. Whereas his earlier works had been based around headphones (on release NPR called ‘Wondrous Bughouse’ “the most arresting headphones record you’ll hear all year”) and intimacy, Savage Hills Ballroom is very much about opening up to a broader audience and presenting a grand and honest vision. The whole album is beautifully played out, delicate and swooning, delivered with such sincerity and vindication, albeit at times so fragile it feels like it might crumble under it’s own weight. Thematically it is focused very centrally around loss (while touring Powers got a call that one of his closest friends had unexpectedly passed away) but there is plenty of room for the celebratory. It’s a lament but there is much beauty in the sorrow. It’s a super set of songs and the production deserves much attention. It’s creative and takes Youth Lagoon out of it’s hazy bedroom origins into a rich and immersive space. The masterstroke is placing Powers vocals right in the middle, bold, loud and clear in all their

19

Sleaford Mods ‘Key Markets’ July 24th Harbinger Sound

“I approach writing by not trying to overthink anything and just acting on impulse -- which is ironically very different from the recording process because, in that, I’m consumed by details. So with any album being ‘finished,’ it’s a strange thought, because nothing ever feels perfect. You kind of just hit a point where you know if you tinker with it any more you will become certifiably insane.” Youth Lagoon talking to Deluxe in September.

fragility. Instantly gratifying and very arresting, but it is also one of the years biggest growers for us, so much to find here.

Mid Summer we see a lot of vacationing visitors through our store. Along with the hordes of new and very welcome, switched on and open minded visitors comes the all together less welcome companion, the one that has no inclination for shopping, has no shame about mercilessly bending your ear, and worst no understand of personal space or the limits of what


18

as we’ve ever noticed too, the start of ‘Sparks’ in particular sounding like My Bloody Valentine. As we drew closer ‘Depression Cherry’ to the musical conclusion of the year, August 28th Beach House could have been in the Bella Union top 100 for either of their two albums this year. Hardly a duo to adhere AUGUST RECORD OF THE MONTH Heading into late Summer, Depression to convention, the dust had barely settled on the Cherries before they Cherry was certainly one of the year’s announced the drop of a sixth studio most eagerly anticipated albums. The album on their relatively quiet twitter fifth studio record from Baltimore feed. They explained; “We are very Dream-Pop supremos Beach House, excited, it’s an album being released pinned down by monochromatic the way we want. It’s not a companion drumlines, Depression Cherry plays to Depression Cherry or a surprise or against itself constantly. You just get b-sides”. So pretty much a week later, your ear locked around the beat and the organ takes you off somewhere else. we had Thank Your Lucky Stars in the shop. Although they said otherwise, The guitars were cranked up as much

Beach House

17

Young Fathers

‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ April 6th Big Dada

Back in early April we were still hammering the Mercury winning (2014) DEAD album when Alloysious, Kayus and ‘G’, the three collective components of Young Fathers, dropped ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’, their explosive fourth album (or second if you still insist on calling the Tape releases EP’s). Right from the get go, highly politically and

we should have to tolerate. Happily rumbling through Key Markets this July, the Drift staff were treated to a particularly tiresome explanation of how the ‘Stepford Mods’ (this may have been exaggerated) were “your poor man’s Fall”. Bang on time, as articulately put as you could dream, lead Mod - Jason Williamson cut through the track, through the

it’s a brilliant companion piece to Depression Cherry. Not seismically different, perhaps a little more direct, less swamped in tone. They can sure knock out a chorus, a killer lead line and everything is drenched in emotion. Very few bands can create such a consistent vibe as Beach House. They are meticulously careful with all aspects of their music, and when you stand back and look at their catalogue as a whole, you realise that over their six albums they’ve not put a foot wrong.

socially charged, obviously people with a keen eye for what is going on around them, around all of us, and unflinching in talking about the positives and negatives. It’s not some sort of tirade about ‘recession Britain’, ‘poverty porn’ or any number of red top devices, it’s just that what is driving the record has substance. You get the impression that songs explode out of feeling the need to say something. Explode they do, there is a reinvigorated sense of urgency (and DEAD was no slouch!) and many of the album’s tracks pound along at a hell of a pace. Production wise there is much in the engine room that churns out beats, low registers of noise, very

much like the Young Fathers machine has been engaged. There are plenty of ideas in the mix too, organs pump out lead lines like any number of fine 2 Tone Records from back in the day. Elsewhere electronica, rock, tribal chanting and even crooning are even more pronounced. The only one thing Young Fathers haven’t done is stop. They are creative, arresting and important, a band with plenty more in the tank, we sense.

stereo and as if leaning right in to save the day “implications are fucking meaningless mate….” well put that man. Sleaford Mods’ core two-man dynamic is producer Andrew Fearn’s churning backline - somewhere between Krautrock and a glitchy post-Autechre - and Williamson’s machine gun delivery, hyper aggressive and concerned primarily with a social

conscious that offers a harsh wake up diagnostic, rather than any notion of a fix. Song to song and even verse to verse it changes from depressing to hysterical, with barbed pot-shots at politicians, affluence and even 6Music. One of the most vital UK bands around right now.


16

Godspeed You! Black Emperor ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ March 30th Constellation

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GYBE) returned this year with their first single LP length release since their earliest days in 1997-99. ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ clocks in at a succinct and positively svelte 40 minutes. It is arguably the most focused sounding recording of the band’s career. Working with sound engineer Greg Norman (Electrical Audio) at studios in North Carolina and Montréal, GYBE slowly and steadily put the new album together through late 2013 and 2014, emerging with a mighty slab of superlative sonics, shot through with all the band’s

inimitable signposts and touchstones: huge unison riffage, savage noise/ drone, oscillating overtones, guitar vs. string counterpoint and inexorable crescendos. They really are a unique sum of their parts, still sounding very little like anything else. Sonically rich, tonally dark and as devastatingly effective as ever. It’s such evocative music, be that uplifting or overwhelming. Using the mighty force of their music, Godspeed You! Black Emperor record and play instrumental pieces that exist to move you… and succeed.


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14

‘Allas Sak’

‘Time To Go Home’

Dungen

September 25th Smalltown Supersound

With very little communication in between, after a five year hiatus, news reached us early this Summer that rural Swedish psychedelic jazz supremos Dungen would be returning in the Autumn with a new studio album, their follow up to the marvelous ‘Skit I Allt’. It’s title is Allas Sak. It’s a short phrase with enormous implications. Those two Swedish words translate loosely into English as “everyone’s thing” or maybe “anyone’s thing.” They not only provide the title for Dungen’s latest collection of sophisticated psychedelic rock, but explains how the band works creatively and collaboratively. “I was told by a friend once that as a songwriter and as a musical artist, you have to understand that as soon as the music leaves your body, it is no longer strictly yours,” explains Gustav Ejstes, Dungen’s mastermind and main songwriter. “The listener also owns it and filters it through their personality, their thoughts and feelings.” You don’t need to understand what Dungen are necessarily saying, it’s very much about feeling; the evocative and winding songs that sound like something you might not have heard thirty years ago. It’s also about the surprises and changes of direction, getting excited when they drop a flute solo. The album is split almost evenly between Swedish-language psych-pop songs and wild fusion instrumentals and it is a very fine addition to their rather immaculate repertoire of albums. It is beautiful, optimistic, at times strange and as singular as ever.

Chastity Belt March 30th Hardly Art

MARCH RECORD OF THE MONTH

Chastity Belt is a rock band consisting of four friends guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm. They met in a tiny college town in Eastern Washington, but their ascension began for real in Seattle with Sub Pop Records ‘Hardly Art’ imprint, and has hit full flight with their second release Time To Go Home. Album opener ‘Drone’ is right up there as one of our tracks of the year. Dragging it’s feet into life, staggering along to the meticulous lead guitar riff and culminating in the brilliant chorus (A repurposed Sheila Heiti quote) “He was just another man trying to teach me something”. Chastity Belt’s master stroke is the ability to spend most of the time fucking about, goofing on each other and smashing stereotypes of sexuality and feminism (“So what? We like to fuck”) whilst effortlessly finding new and thrilling space in the massively over subscribed slacker punk genre. It’s an album of hits, jagged post-punk shapes, jokes, good vibes and plenty of gnarl.

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Gaz Coombes ‘Matador’

January 26th Hot Fruit Recordings

Mercury Nominated It’s been an extraordinary journey for Gaz Coombes, from flashily whiskered pop tearaway (principal songwriter and singer with the much loved Supergrass) to Ivor Novello and BRIT Award winning rock star. The mega-watt melodic genius responsible for ten Top 20 hits and six Top 20 albums (‘I Should Coco’ was Parlophone’s fastest selling debut since the Beatles - Please Please Me) delivered his second solo album this year, Matador. Lots and lots going on, from aspects of Krautrock, bordering on gospel choruses, delicate piano leads and classic singer-songwriter cues,

very much in the Nilsson/John Lennon school. The main event however is Coombes’ voice, always right in the middle, very present and brilliantly honest. It’s actually quite a sad album at times, but that is never shied away from, and his delivery has been matched by few other leading men over the last twenty years. He explained on release; “Life is full of moments of fear, loss and longing, but it’s how you get through those things and triumph over them which define you. But there’s as much light as there is dark on this record; there’s beauty in both of those states and that has always intrigued me.”


12

Kendrick Lamar

‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ March 23rd Interscope Records

Kendrick Lamar is doubtless Rap’s brightest light. His 2012 breakout album ‘Good Kid… M.A.A.D. City’ was a worldwide success, building on his early mixtapes and debut ‘Section.80’ to raise his profile higher and arguably broader than the long line of guests and contributors he has worked with. The hype machine rolled on, and in March the Compton native released his third studio album, the massively anticipated To Pimp a Butterfly, his crowning achievement so far. A grand and cinematic opus, pulling in influences from his well documented gritty roots, classic albums in the rap canon, and themes and genre from a much wider pool of influence. The year’s most critically acclaimed and best selling rap album doesn’t however follow any of the conventions of the genre and, truth be told, it has one foot elsewhere for the vast majority of it’s duration. Lamar is backed (faultlessly) by in essence a Jazz band. Pianist Robert Glasper, producer and saxophonist Terrace Martin and bass wizard Thundercat, give To Pimp a Butterfly a remarkably loose and fluid composition, matched in Kendrick’s urgent and tempestuous vocal delivery. Another pull towards the Jazz world is the amazing string compositions of Kamasi Washington, creating a grandness to frame the narratives. Elsewhere samples from Sufjan Stevens, Sly & The Family, journalist Mats Nileskar and guest spots and production from Flying Lotus, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, George Clinton, Snoop and Rapsody. However you feel about ‘rap music’, To Pimp a Butterfly is essential listening, it’s as important as any other literary work in decades.

“Multi-Love is a squelchy, seductive update of UMO’s nagging groove, now with added whoa-factor”

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Multi-Love’ May 25th Jag jaguwar

The third album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the third time they are right up at the exciting end of our top one hundred albums list. Multi-Love is, sonically speaking, another massive step forward and another big step sideways. They are a band very hard to define or to pin down, and Multi-Love at it’s core is a complex concept album. During the making of the album, Nielson and his wife both fell in love with another woman, who moved in with the couple before leaving them both confused and heartbroken. Putting this out there is refreshingly honest, but the euphoria melancholy and sadness that this hindsight brings to the album feels like an intimate privilege. Thematically

unique and equally matched by the multitude of ideas and freshness of execution. It’s positively kaleidoscopic, the retro synthesizers sounding hauntingly futuristic and little snapshots of the sixties (acid trips), the seventies (laurel canyon balladeers) and the eighties (disco beats) all cohesively crafted into the U.M.O. cosmos. Expertly (self )produced but with fingerprints all over it, it’s the highest echelon of homespun psych and soul.

“Underneath the tragedy and adversity, To Pimp a Butterfly is a celebration of the audacity to wake up each morning to try to be better, knowing it could all end in a second, for no reason at all.”


An interview with Carrie Brownstein

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Sleater-Kinney

‘No Cities To Love’ January 19th Sub Pop JANUARY RECORD OF THE MONTH

Late October last year, we were just wrapping up the 2014 issue of Deluxe when we heard that in January of this year, Sleater-Kinney would be releasing ‘No Cities To Love’, the first new album in 10 years from the acclaimed trio of Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss. Hugely anticipated it was a long overdue return from the band who came crashing out of the 90s Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, setting a new bar for punk’s political insight and emotional impact. When you’re a massive fan of a band (can you tell… am I making it clear enough here?) it can be hard to dissociate how much you like their body of work, how much you like certain songs, how much you like the way they made you feel, how much you like what they say, why they say it, what they stand for and most importantly how much you like them. With or without impartiality, we have been playing No Cities To Love all year, very regularly, very loud. It is a superb albums of pounding drums, driving vocals (and harmonies that never seem to get the credit they deserve) and riffs the whole way through… so many great guitar lines. This set of songs has them sounding as invigorated and vital as at almost any point in their lifetime. Superb.

“No Cities to Love is a disarming, liberationist force befitting the Sleater-Kinney canon.”

“Throughout, their balance of the tense and clanging with the urgently poppy is impeccable”

How did you locate the lens you wanted to write through? I knew that the container for the story would be Sleater-Kinney, and that the story of the band and my relationship to the band would serve the narrative better than, say, Portlandia. I wanted to write through the lens of family and searching for a sense of stability and belonging, and themes of disembodiment and embodiment, visibility and invisibility. Those were the lenses through which I wanted to write, especially the middle section of the book, I knew that Sleater-Kinney would be the conduit for this. I was so struck by the deep way you always knew your intentions, that you could join the dots between the parts of your life. Did you know what you were doing as you were going along, or did you have to work out those patterns in retrospect? Part of the reason that I assigned values to those memories and decided to turn them into the building blocks of the book was because they spoke to that intentionality and wilfulness and desire to be seen, especially in relation to a family that didn’t want to be seen and had trouble with the idea of being known. There was sort of an inarticulate nature to the people in my life. Going from this unspoken childhood to this Olympia community that’s articulate and challenging - was that jarring? I think there was something both jarring and comforting about it. I applied criticism more to myself than to the community and the internal dialogue that people were having. I also really valued it, and saw it as a way of building a body, and building a sense of self through words and language in ways that language had failed me and failed my family in my youth, so I relished the opportunity to be engaged in a continual discourse with myself and a community, even though it took


2015 on...

CLARENCE CLARITY

BERNARD + EDITH

FATHER JOHN MISTY

BEACH HOUSE

NO NOW

JEM

I Love You, Honeybear

Thank Your Lucky Stars

PINS

EZRA FURMAN

LANDSHAPES

LANTERNS ON THE LAKE

Wild Nights

Perpetual Motion People

Heyoon

Beings

BEACH HOUSE

JOHN GRANT

MERCURY REV

PETER BRODERICK

Depression Cherry

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

The Light In You

Colours Of The Night

bellaunion.com


me a while to learn the vernacular. And later of course, I was critical of the way that it felt stifling. I immersed myself in it, and later I was aware of how that could be limiting in terms of creativity, but it was a very important informative step and process I think to be surrounded by that elevated conversation. You write about getting ‘zined’ - basically the paper equivalent of a Twitter callout. Did you get zined? [laughs] I don’t think I did! Well actually, I’m sure I did but I didn’t read it, I was not engaged in the writing of fanzines. One common through-line with all my work is that I am an observer of interactions and the way people perform selfhood and couplehood and relate to their environment, and I think even back then in relation to that critique, the constant critique of writing through fanzines, I remained on the periphery, as an observer. I loved that line, “there’s a lot of pressure on a band to encompass menace and protector.” Could you expand on how that related to Sleater-Kinney? I think when people feel recognised by the songs or by a band, that recognition can feel like a form of salvation or even a form of protection, and I think people use that as a shield and sort of a second skin, and see it sort of as an extension of themselves. But at the same time, as someone making the music, that isn’t necessarily the intention, it’s a byproduct. When you’re trying to create something, you want – or at least, I do – a sense of dissonance and defiance and to create sonic moments that might be more uncomfortable. And I think that when bands change or try to push themselves with a record, and you remove that layer of comfort for the fans, they often feel rejected in some ways. It’s a real tightrope walk between surprising people, which is, I think, what they want, but then at the same time they don’t wanna be surprised. It’s tricky and sometimes why you have to tune out that external listener, at least in the process of creating. There’s also this notion of wanting people, artists, to exist in their own mystery, which is also akin to being unattainable, but then at the same time embody this likability, which of course grounds people and makes them more real. And that’s a really difficult balance to maintain, I think. In all the writing about the band’s initial existence in the book, there’s this insurrectionist fire about the Dig Me Out period. You write it so joyously – do you recall that period more fondly than any of the others? I think there is something very romantic about Dig Me Out, even in the recording of it, in the middle of a snowstorm, the insularity, the closeness between the band members, the sense of kinship and friendship. Also so much was yet to be known, and I think we felt a sense of freedom in that of not having a lot of expectations outside of our own. Those tours for Dig Me Out were very exciting, because we toured,

I think, longer for that record than we did for any other, in terms of chunks of time – literally six weeks. There was so much omission of the outside world, which I do think creates a very unique environment, it’s very hermetic. I really relish that time, and there is a glimmer to that Dig Me Out era of the band, which serves, of course, as contrast to the encroaching shadow that starts to hang over the band in the later years. When you toured this year, it would have been in a very different way to the first incarnation, save maybe The Woods. As you were on a tourbus, was any part of you nostalgic for splitter van life? [laughs] No! Not at all! I’m so relieved that we don’t tour like that any more. I’m grateful that we did. I mean, it makes for a good story and I think you appreciate the luxuries more when you go from a van to a bus, but I would never go back. Never! [laughs] Simultaneous to you writing this book about your life as a fan, there’s been this increased media attention in fandom. Why do you think that relationship is such an enduring source of fascination and misinterpretation? I think part of what’s interesting is that – in some ways I feel with fandom, there is a constant element to it of insertion of oneself into the landscape of an artist. It used to be a more cumbersome process, but I think it still existed, of creating visual art or writing that spoke to the relationship that one had with a piece of music, a singer or an actor, literally drawing oneself into the background, or into the foreground, creating an appearing, creating a world and a relationship with the thing that you love. Now the means with which to do that are more facile and immediate, you know, whether it’s blogs or tumblr or memes or gifs, and I think the ways that fans can almost substitute the performer, become their substitute for the performer, almost these sorts of acts of subterfuge in the best way, supplanting themselves – I think it’s really exciting, and I think it’s a really wondrous example of technology and fandom coming together. You know, I guess people are interested in it because it’s so unabashedly wilful. And I think people are really curious about one’s belief in themselves as a protagonist, and there’s such a multitude of stories that fans are allowed to tell with themselves as the chief protagonist. I think it plays a lot with identity and gender, I think that’s where a lot of the curiosity comes from. I think it’s a really exciting time. It’s very malleable, and I like it a lot.

Thanks to our buddies who set this up. This interview has been edited and condensed.


9

Kurt Vile

‘b’lieve i’m goin down’ September 25th Matador Records

If you have read any back issues of Deluxe before, you will know full well that we are big fans of Kurt Vile. 2009’s Childish Prodigy was one of our favourite indie releases of that year, (at the time he was one of the guys from War on Drugs doing these spiralling bedroom jams), then ‘Smoke Ring for My Halo’ was right up the top of the 2011 list, and ‘Wakin on a Pretty Daze’ was right at the summits of the 2013 magazine. So are you surprised at all to find ‘b’lieve i’m goin down’ holding court in 2015’s top ten? Neither were we. It is a superb album, retaining all of Kurt’s meandering charm and winding guitar parts, whilst successfully becoming fully formed and positively stadium ready. The production is the grounding element here, pulling in songs recorded here, there and everywhere - also with wide and disparate influences - but crafting a very coherent piece of work. At just over the hour mark there is plenty of time for solos and a wealth of riffs, but again, there is a lot of measure, and it keeps it’s focus without disappearing into the horizon to the Hotel California. The vocal phrasing is more confident than ever, unique and really funny. He does sing against his drawl, but it doesn’t feel affected, it’s just more testament to an artist who has found his own space and is very confidently filling it. The massive opening track ‘Pretty Pimpin’ describes a moment of existential hesitation. Kurt sings about brushing a stranger’s teeth before discerning that “they were my teeth, and I was weightless Just quivering like some leaf come in the window of a restroom”. It’s over wordy for the space in which he sings it, but the delivery hammers it home and it sinks in. Things have changed. There are subtle movements away from the main rock and roll drive. For the middle section of the album the guitars take a back seat to the organs and pianos, making space (loads of room) for the vocals. When the guitars do

“It has a travelling vibe for sure, I think maybe the songs sound that way anyway, but I can see the whole trip when I listen to it. I had been travelling around a lot before we recorded but this period was way more laid back, less gruelling.” Kurt Vile talking to Deluxe in September

come back in, there is some beautifully low-fi fingerpicking, right back in the ‘Smoke Ring’ vibe. Traditional elements, Country, drawn out cinematics - it is such a rich album with not a dud moment. So, we guess 2017 is the next installment, and there is not a shadow of doubt in our minds that Kurt Vile will deliver another killer set of songs in his inimitable style. One of the finest.

“This darker edge lends substance to some of Vile’s best songs to date.”

“As compelling as Vile’s words can be, much of the magic lies in his delivery. Like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan, Vile’s singing voice has acquired an unstable accent of indeterminate origin that shifts to suit his musical decisions, rather than connecting to genre or region or even his own upbringing.”


8

Tobias Jesso Jr. ‘Goon’

“Ultimately, Goon is a very good album, one further elevated by its terrific tale of redemption. Here, victory is belatedly extracted from the digestive tract of defeat.”

March 16th True Panther Sounds

And so the advert proclaimed; You can’t miss Tobias Jesso Jr. He’s six foot seven. Who you ask is our young gun Tobias Jesso Jr.? America’s new bag… and he’s Canadian. A Genius of songs and heartache. Get in the mood with Tobias before he get’s in a mood with you. Because you see, Tobias Jesso Jr. sings songs from the heart. He’ll take you right down beside yourself and next to him. Why? Because he is Tobias Jesso Jr. He’s your new best friend. On a billboard just off Sunset Boulevard, his label True Panther Sounds spelled it out really simply; he’s Canadian, he’s tall and by god does he sing songs from the heart. Goon is an album of ballads all steeped in a very specific kind of broken hearted melancholy. It’s not necessarily all about the ‘boy meets girl’ kind of melancholia in a Woody Allen film, it’s just about life giving you a relentless series of “kicks to the groin” ( Jesso had been working hard for years with no reward in LA when he got dumped, found out his mum had cancer, got hit and run, and whilst laying on the floor with a very bloody gash across his hand, watched on in concussed disbelief as a bystander simply wheeled off on his bike). Jesso returned, understandably dejected, to his old bedroom in North Vancouver and set about putting things straight. Although he admits that his piano-playing hovers around a Grade 2, that is the master stroke of Goon and the songs on it, there is nothing but honesty and sincerity. It features production from Chet “JR” White (formerly of Girls), along with the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, the New Pornographers’ John Collins, and studio guru of the moment Ariel Rechtshaid. The augmentation and supporting instrumentation is very balanced. It never gets in the way of Jesso being center stage. His demos for the album (all available online in various stages) on a range of beaten up pianos,

“Goon isn’t an album of layers; what you hear is what you get, which in this case turns out to be something special.”

just further add to the charm. Simple songs direct from the heart. From the fruitless attempts to write pop songs for other artists behind the scenes in LA, to this fine collection of work, and laterly this year writing a song for the new Adele album, not bad considering he was going to jack it all in eighteen months ago. He’s joked himself that bits of it sound like the Cheers theme, and there is a very prominent core 1970’s singersongwriter vibe going on (“I love Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson now, but I wasn’t listening to that when I wrote the songs on the album”), but it all adds to the charm. It’s a wonderful set of songs and they sound like they’ve been around for years. As they said… he’s your new best friend.


DRIFT TOP PICKS 2015

DUNGEN ALLAS SAK

FOLLAKZOID III

HeCTA THE DIET

JOHN CARPENTER LOST THEMES

THE CHARLATANS MODERN NATURE

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7

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah

“One of this even more classy album’s appeals is the juxtaposition between the elegance of the music and the grimness of the rhymes”

‘Sour Soul’

February 23rd LEX

Toronto jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD this year collaborated on an album with the legendary Staten Island rapper Ghostface Killah. Billed officially as “BADBADNOTGOOD ft. Ghostface Killah”, the WuTang Clan appears on the vast majority of the tracks and where he doesn’t speak his presence is still felt (on “Stark’s Reality” you can almost feel Ghostface Killah pacing around). Sour Soul sounds like a mislaid Blaxploitation gem, shimmering cymbals, driving basslines, searching soul horns, rising strings and, like all good Blaxploitation movies, this one has a killah central character. BADBADNOTGOOD’s 2014 album ‘III’ (nominated for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize) showed that the young trio of Matthew A. Tavares, Chester Hansen and Alexander Sowinski have some serious jazz chops, all original material played with extreme dexterity and fluidity. They’ve also got a healthy cross-over resume already, previous collaborations with Earl Sweatshirt, Leland Whitty, Frank Ocean, and Tyler, The Creator. At 45, Ghostface Killah is going through a purple patch too. Last years’ 36 Seasons was a superb concept album,

following Tony Starks (another pseudonym) as he returns to Staten Island, after nine years away seeking a quiet life. Early this year he also dropped the second part in his ‘Twelve Reasons to Die’ series, he’s sure prolific at present. Even with both artists in fine form, there is something much more explosive going on. They have a cooperative understanding of what they want to achieve. They are much greater than the sum of their parts and have effortlessly created a whole vibe. Ghostface’s first line is “cleanse me, clean me of my sour soul”. The album is about reflection, growing older and ultimately redemption. Midway through, “Tone’s Rap”, arguably the most outwardly aggressive in his vocabulary, is all about fighting to regain control and just trying to get along… albeit as a pimp. The guest spots from Danny Brown, Elzhi, Tree and supervillain rapper MF Doom all sit in perfect harmony with Ghostface. Brilliantly collaborative and expertly measured from start to stop, they sound synonymous with one another and it will be very hard to hear them apart again. Wonderfully strange bedfellows.


6

Courtney Barnett

‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ March 23rd Marathon Artists

Recorded in the Autumn of 2014 in an intense 10 day session at Head Gap studios in Melbourne. Courtney Barnett’s debut is full of infectious melodies and, at the very center of it, an incisive and unflinching performer. ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ (itself a slightly borrowed AA Milne quote) is one of the most fully formed debut albums we’ve heard in years, even if the protagonist does her very best to convince you otherwise at all times. It is her full debut album, although the double EP “A Sea Of Split Peas” (a collection of the two EPs “I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris” and “How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose”) was actually one of our favourite releases of last year. She is instantly likeable, feet-draggingly-laid-back, homespun and funny, all hanging off the bones of a brilliant young songwriter. Courtney Barnett is shy. It’s almost like she has accidentally stumbled into her role as international recording artist. When we interviewed her last year for Deluxe she was more interested in talking about her garden and the weight of paper they use to package her album. She came across as a person of substance, content with making music as much as tending to herbs. On ‘Pedestrian At Best’ she sings “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you. Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you”.

It’s brilliantly honest, but it’s actually kind of hard to believe. It seems she might feel that way on some level but she has been placed on a pedestal, and she has worked really hard to honour those who have put her there. In the last eighteen months there have been comparisons to Kurt Cobain and Bob Dylan, amongst a long line of others. She wears T-shirts and shreds guitars, some of the songs have a good foot in grunge... but not really in the Cobain model. She does take wild lyrical flights of fancy, cramming long and complicated sentences into pop songs, with honesty and guile, but she isn’t really much of Dylan either. The highest compliment to Courtney Barnett is that she is perhaps most unlike anyone around. Her songs are funny, elegant, full of drive, full of pathos and most of all full of honesty.

“An ease surrounds her music, a looseness: Even at their most clever, her songs glide from line to line and thought to thought”

“The Melbourne musician has a knack for vivid flights of imagination born of insignificant detail, but this richly rewarding debut is more than slacker rock”


Kamasi Washington Tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington is one of few musicians to appear twice in one of our end of year magazines, even fewer have appeared twice in the top ten or so. His new studio album, a triple, clocking in at over 173 minutes on the Brainfeeder label, is so suitably titled ‘The Epic’. En route to play dates in New York City, the spiritual home of American Jazz, Kamasi took our call… We spent the first ten minutes just telling how much we like his album. Deluxe: Are you enjoying playing live, compared to studio time?

or do you feel like you want people to find their own meaning from the songs?

KW: I think that’s how it all works (laughing). I think that people are gonna take their own vibe either way. I don’t mind telling people about what I thought was going on. The songs themselves have their own… I guess a meaning… for D: How strict are you playing live, in terms of how the song me. The music just comes out of nowhere and I take it and apply a meaning to it. What it means to you is almost as valid has previously been recorded? as what it means to me, in a sense. I am of the opinion that KW: Nah (laughing) they’re completely different every time. music comes through us… not necessarily from us. Every time… whether I like it or not… D: So very much more about feeling D: (laughing) I was gonna say, how much control are you KW: Yeah, definitely. There is a narrative backing, but there able to impose on the group? is plenty of feeling in there. KW: Nah, not at all, I want them to go off and make it D: The artwork and overall presentation is really stunning. different, explore every time. How important to you is that side of the process? D: Specifically talking about ‘The Epic’, I might be wide of KW: It is important. I was involved, but not on the very the mark here, but it all feels very dreamlike. specific level. I worked with two amazing photographers called Mike Park and Theo Jemison. We talked through KW: I am a daydream kind of guy. I wanted it to feel free, places we could go. Some of the key locations are ideas I had kind of like how dreams are. They’re random, but they’re but it was about working in collaboration. The thing about not… you know? I wanted it to have that feeling along with photography is what you can capture in the image. If you an overlaid, pre composed feeling. A combination of how take two photographers to the same location with the same the band, the choir and narrative interplay. person you can get two very different photographs. D: How do you feel about talking through the narratives, Kamasi Washington: Yeah, it’s definitely very different skill sets performing in the studio or live, I like both. Playing live is more fun, there is less… it’s more free!


D: Much the same in music I guess KW: Exactly. You know the same music and instruments or the same camera and the same exposure… (laughing) Musically we’re all playing with the same twelve notes. D: I feel like all the presentation feels like it is from another time, was that deliberate?

“What it means to you is almost as valid as what it means to me, in a sense. I am of the opinion that music comes through us… not necessarily from us.” KW: It wasn’t deliberate D: I don’t necessarily mean it sounds like the past KW: Yeah, yeah, totally. It isn’t supposed to sound like something that happened now, or something that happened before or the future, kind of ambiguous. D: In terms of recording, having read about the amount of material and session you recorded… don’t take this the wrong way, but are you obsessive?

his brother the longest, like my oldest friends. Lotus, I met Lotus a long long time ago… when he was just Steven. The first band I had was called the Young Jazz Giants and our first gig, our very first gig, was the John Coltrane competition and we won it. Ravi Coltrane came along to give out the award and he had his little cousin along with him.. Steven.. and that’s how we met Flying Lotus. He’s the same age as Thundercat. They were both like thirteen years old. D: The other album you worked on this year - I guess working on Kendrick’s (Lamar) album must have felt like the polar opposite to recording your own album? KW: Well, it was kinda similar as it was a lot of the same people, but very different in terms of what was expected and the pressures… different pressures. D: It was a pretty bold move bringing you into that project though, right? It felt very consciously bringing someone from the Jazz discipline into the Rap world? KW: I felt like he had a bunch of people like that involved already you know. I kind of just dropped in at the later stages. He had Thundercat there, who is very much Jazz, and also Terrace Martin, who is known as Hip Hop producer but he is a great, great Jazz alto Saxophone player. Kendrick himself, even though he’s not necessarily studied Jazz, he has it in him in his sprint, you know? So yes, in effect it was a bold move, in the sense that his previous album was such a successful record, and many people wouldn’t have gone against a formula that worked, but he did, for the next album he went somewhere

KW: (laughing) well, you know, it was just that we had so much time. The reality is that most of the time we’d have like half a day, maybe like another four hours here or there. So it was all about time. For us to have thirty consecutive days was just amazing. Me and the musicians that I grew up with we just never had time like that. So our approach was, maybe subconsciously, based on all those years of having to rush, to keep that urgency. It was like a little music sweatshop. There was constantly a new energy, as we were doing this little round robin. I’d record for like four or five hours, then Brandon (Coleman) would do four or five, then maybe at the end of the night Miles (Mosley), then in the next morning it would be Cameron Graves or maybe Ronald (Bruner Jr) for a few hours. It was an amazing experience but we just looked up and we’d recorded all this stuff, more than I planned, and including tracks and ideas that I didn’t intend to record necessarily; some of that ended up on the LP. D: Let’s talk about you co-conspirators on the Brainfeeder roster, do you all feel like a gang? KW: Yeah, I grew up with Thundercat. I met him and

Photographed by Mike Park


completely different, and that is very bold. D: I guess lastly, do you feel responsible that you are likely going to turn a lot of young folk onto Jazz? The Epic will be one of the, if not the, first Jazz album they hear. KW: Well, I look at it way more like an honour, being the person that gets to welcome them into this world full of so much music. I don’t look at it like I am somehow, in one album, giving them the entirety of the experience of taking in the music we call Jazz, but it is a very cool thing that I might be able to usher people over to this place that I have been all along, that has all these amazing wonders. To hear all these amazing albums that I love, and also the amazing albums that have not been made yet. It’s very much more an honour rather than a responsibility.

4

Julia Holter

‘Have You In My Wilderness’

5

Kamasi Washington ‘The Epic’

May 18th Brainfeeder

Trying to pinpoint quite why ‘The Epic’ has been such a joy this year is very hard to say. Generalising horribly, the ‘jazz’ records that tend to have some sort of perceived crossover success try and modernise aspects of jazz into electronic music, acoustic music or even rap. Kamasi Washington’s music just isn’t that place. It’s not consciously trying to fit into anything, it feels like it is quite the opposite, it’s own broad and epic

universe. it is post-Coltrane, postDavis-fusion, continually inventive and radical across it’s tracks and three movements - the scope as a piece of work is staggering. Not one aspect of it is anything to do with zeitgeists. Genuinely timeless and the doorway into another world.

“From her found-sound DJ mixes to her experimental albums based on French novels and Greek tragedies, Julia Holter seems very much the serious artist. But she has always done beautiful melodies, and never more so than here.”

September 25th Domino Recording Co

Have You In My Wilderness is a perfect album, every second of it. For us, it is this year’s finest pop record. Addictive, hook laden, accessible and with the allure of discovering more and more on repeat plays. So here is the real kicker, whereas pop music is normally about simplicity and capturing the most aesthetic route from A to B, Julia Holter’s fourth album is unbelievably complex… like serious genius music making. Like looking at the Earth’s sun, you to have to be so careful not to directly listen to what she’s doing or you’ll risk becoming completely overwhelmed. About half way through ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ (just after the whistling solo) Holter just rips the song into shreds with the most amazing saxophone solo, although we don’t

know if she played it herself. It starts almost cheekily, playing against the vocal melody but descends into a phasing psychedelic primal scream - just amazingly unexpected and so unbelievably life affirming. Then, as if nothing has happened at all, it returns to it’s delicate phrasing, ending with whispered vocals and a harpsichord (could be a glockenspiel… could be both) - no further proof is needed of her sagacity. Julia Holter has every right to be confident. She is a transcendent experimental music maker and with Have You In My Wilderness she has made an album that is pop music on the best of it’s game. What’s exciting is that you sense she has plenty more gears to use.

“This is not a record that wants or needs to be solved, but the clues and traces it leaves behind are so compelling it’s difficult to let it alone.”


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3

Ryley Walker

‘Primrose Green’ March 30th Dead Oceans

Ryley Walker’s Primrose Green was an album we liked instantly, it felt familiar but excitingly new and as fans of his debut, we were psyched to hear where the young Chicago resident would go next. His debut All Kinds of You (2014) was a product of the current acoustic generation; experimental but very much within the confines of traditional acoustic music. Even the cover art tells a tale here, with All Kinds of You depicting Ryley stood smoking against a warehouse, guitar by

his side and snow in droves - it’s very much the tale of ‘Llewyn Davis’ - the hard touring finger picker. Less than a year later - album two - Primrose Green portrays psychedelia; double exposed photographs of Ryley with hair everywhere, flowers, cursive characters - it’s not so much that he has gone somewhere… but somewhen. If you are a guy of a certain age, we’re just going to take away all of the wind out of your sales here I am afraid. When he sings Ryley Walker has a touch of Jackson C. Frank or Tim Buckley about him. When he plays he doubtless recalls Bert Jansch or John Martyn (especially when augmented by the Danny Thompson-esq bass) - deal with it. All that hot air of who sounds

like who misses so wide of the point it’s chronic. Walker is a prodigious talent, genuinely finding new space in song, performance and arrangement. The musicians on Primrose Green are of the highest calibre, Jazz players from the vibrant Chicago scene, all doing complex, weird and tremendously measured things that place the bulk of this album closer to say, Grateful Dead, than John Fahey. Inspiration is always present in music, but Ryley Walker is legit, the reincarnation of the True American Guitar Player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways, or as to the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop.

“Primrose Green is disorientating, casting new light on modes you thought you knew well. Wherever there are familiar elements, Walker and his excellent, jazzy, band take them to new places”.

As the Autumn nights started to draw in, we spoke to Ryley about touring, inspirations and plenty of liquor... Deluxe: Ryley, where you at, what you doing? Ryley Walker: We’re just into London right now. Just popped over today and met the bassist Danny Thompson, that was cool. He lives in some leafy suburb. D: It’s kind of hard to do anything when you’re touring. Nice you did something nice!

“how many goddamn bands have popped up in the last ten years that sound like Joy Division right?” RW: Nah, I got a band. A couple of Norwegian Jazz dudes and my friends Ben and Brian from Chicago on keys and guitar respectively. It’s a full line up.

RW: Oh yeah, Touring can be hard but D: When you’re playing out live are I always pop into record stores for sure. you looking to make a fairly true representation of the LP, or are you looking to do something a little D: You are mid tour, do you actually different with the songs? like playing live? RW: Absolutely, of course. Hell yeah man… actually, put that in print… Hell Yeah man. D: What is the line up at the moment? Are you playing solo?

RW: Well everyone is always looking to change the song up every night. We jam a lot, it’s part of the gig and what we do. We don’t really do the record verbatim. We try and find new space, play some older songs, jam them out.

We actually write them on stage, as that works for me, so we’re working out things as we go. The more we play them, the better they’ll be for when we tape the next record. D: How about taping the record, was that an enjoyable process? RW: Umm… recording records is… well, it can be an enjoyable process, but it can also be like a fucking pain in the ass you know? (laughing) It’s like you have car and your car is going all to shit and you’re like “well, now, I guess I should get that fixed one day…” The record is like that, like, “well, I got to do this thing someday….” The car’s


muffler is falling off and you’re finally like “ah, fuck, yeah… I gotta fix this now”. It can be fun, but time just stops when you’re making a record. You’re mostly shut in a place with no windows all day. Chain smoking, eating crappy Thai food. There is just not future or past in those things. You are in your own place, just making this thing, your own planet… a big part of it is just trying not to punch your band mates in the face. (laughing) I don’t know if I enjoy it or not?! D: I suppose talking about ‘records that have been made before’, it feels like plenty of folk have been pinning various “who you sound like” to you with this album… is that a pain in the ass? RW: I’ve kind of been beaten over the head with it. Ah, I mean it makes sense… but we’re getting past all that. I feel like we’re better… We’ve been playing so goddamn much this year that we’re just all getting better… more finely tuned and I’m really happy with how it’s all sounding and where we’re going now. It happens all the time.

D: I suppose the arrangements are kind of ‘traditional’ in terms of arrangement, but I think it’s actually way weirder than anyone seems to have given you credit for… RW: A lof of this year, the press have been hammering us about how it ‘sounds like this’... and giving me shit for it too. I don’t know, how many goddamn bands have popped up in the last ten years that sound like Joy Division right? D: (laughing) Oh man, we’ll there is a sub post-Joy-Division-genre right there… RW: It’s been really easy for them to say ‘this reminds me of Tim Buckley’ and they jump at me like ‘Fucking Poser’. That stuff is all sacred music, but there are double standards there and it’s not like I am all that influenced by it all, I am way more into people that want to reach out into far out zones... D: (laughing) Oh, so talking about taking things that aren’t yours and the old guard… I am reliably informed that you stole all the liquor off Donovan’s rider?

D: Is it mostly guys of a certain age? RW: Yeah, it can be some pretty old school guys wanting to talk war stories about gigs they saw you know? But it’s all pretty cool. I get to travel the world and talk to record fans. It’s better than mixing concrete… People mention that sort of stuff all the time but I think with the next record it’ll end up being pretty different. D: I think to that end, I actually really picked up on Jazz with this album. I know it’s been talked about in roots, folk and country world, but it’s way more Jazz than all that… You’re not really all that traditional at all are you? RW: No man, I don’t really hang with the traditional vibe all that much. I’m not folk with a capital F you know? I am totally more informed by a bunch of Jazz records for sure. Folk music, everyone has their own definition anyway… we take influence from loads and loads of different things and we’re just trying to make it as uniquely us as possible.

RW: Yeah (laughing) that’s right. Totally. I’ll take that one to the grave with me I don’t care what you think, he had a great liquor rider… D: So this year, whose records have you been really into? Mostly this year, plenty of crate digging. I’ve been to a bunch of countries I didn’t expect to go to. Morocco was awesome for it, all these semi-anonymous people, weird traditional, no way to trace them. Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas on Drag City. Cooper from that band does my records, a real close friend. Lots of Chicago records too, oh and a ton of Jeff Parker from Tortoise. D: Those guys have a new album early next year… I think it has been announced? Sure it will have by the time this prints! RW: He’s fantastic, the whole band are man. Oh! and this band called Ultimate Painting from London.

D: Love those guys. James from the band will be at my store at Christmas, I’ll tell him. Well, I’ll just print it actually and he can read it. RW: They’re fantastic man, one of my favourite bands right now. D: How about stores, where is good in Chicago? RW: Ah, so many man. Jazz Record Mart downtown, the guys from Delmark Records run that place so if you want Jazz or funk or soul… they are the best. Permanent is amazing, Dusty Groove is also killer for funk, I’m pretty into funk right now. I am actually roommates with the guys who run Numero. They are forever turning up with like doubles or triples of shit and they’re all “do you want this for like a dollar”.... yeah! Weird private press stuff. D: Did they give you a copy of the Ork boxset? RW: Yeah, that is great, all those amazing 12”s man. Everything they do is amazing. D: Oh, I did have one more question, What is Primrose Green by the way? Is it a place? RW: ….. It’s a drink that me and my friends made up when we were in high school, like sixteen years old… It’s whisky and morning glory seeds. If you ingest morning glory seeds it makes you hallucinate, kind of like LSD, not as heavy, but it gets you super drunk and you get trippy and you barf a lot. It’s a disaster. It’s so stupid really. It was a nice time in my life though.


2

Father John Misty

‘I Love You, Honeybear’ February 9th Bella Union FEBRUARY RECORD OF THE MONTH

“I just love the kind of woman who can walk over a man… I mean like a goddamn marching band”. Father John Misty’s ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ is just full of zingers, couplets across the whole album that are hysterical, cutting, enlightening, depressing and honest… we think. The beauty of Father John Misty is that he is the nom de plume of Josh Tillman (recording artist under his own name, as well as drummer to a point for the Fleet Foxes), at times a brash character, an overblown vision of what Tillman might think and may or may not say. He is Tony Clifton to Andy Kaufman, a lothario, drug addled and partied out. ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ sounds like the score to Chateau Marmont, the party, coming up, a wedding, true love, coming down - it is a very emotive and spiritual record, even if he does say fuck more times than you’d expect. Above all else, it is an album about finding and cherishing love. Misty is a wonderful central character, handsome, a swooning voice; he is extremely charismatic as a performer. There is much theatre about the music, grandiose in the vein of his label mate Van Dyke Parks.

“There are grand arrangements and barbed bon mots in the style of Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, but what’s most striking are the more restrained moments.”

“It’s hard to tell where Joshua Tillman ends and his alias Father John Misty begins – but perhaps it doesn’t matter when the songs sound this good”

The production is superb. You are listening to a Hollywood movie here, everything is in it’s right place. The flourishes are beautiful, be it through the conventional string arrangements and Tillman’s own addictive voice, or from the carefully augmented electronics that are subtly introduced on a couple of tracks. Lyrically the anger is thinly veiled. It’s bitter and frustrated, even the jokes at times scarcely paper over what is bubbling away just under the surface. Misty

is mean, he’s fucking mean, but it’s mostly self depreciating. There is a very palpable sense that his selfloathing could engulf him. The joy of this album, and going back to it time and time again as we have this year, is the utter ease of delivery. Whether he means what he says or is just charming us all, it’s a brilliant performance. A modern classic that sounds very much like a non modern classic. In such expert hands, you just can’t beat a good love song.


1

Sufjan Stevens

‘Carrie & Lowell’ March 30th Asthmatic Kitty 2015 RECORD OF THE YEAR

Sufjan Stevens by Laura Snapes

As end-of-year trend pieces start to cohere, it’s tempting to perceive 2015 as a year of grave losses expressed in painful clarity. Björk had to pull out of touring Vulnicura, a record about her split from long-term partner Matthew Barney, because dredging through those emotions night after night proved, understandably, to be too intense. “The internal clock of [this album is] different to the other ones,” she wrote in a statement. “It has sort of had to behave in its own little way. Both the urgency of the leak and now this sudden closure for reasons beyond my control is characteristic of that.” When Björk pulled out of the Pitchfork Paris festival, she was replaced as headliner by Thom Yorke, who himself recently split from his girlfriend of 23 years. Wax Idols released American Tragic, a great record about a young, painful divorce. We watched Amy Winehouse die all over again on cinema screens. And of course there was Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, about the death of his estranged, sick mother from cancer, and the chaos the event wrought in his own life.


This is not a trend, other than one of long (or not so long) lives, many of which we’ve had the privilege of witnessing unfold over many years. Carrie & Lowell in particular seemed to unlock a void that Sufjan Stevens’ music had been circling since he arrived at the turn of the millennium. Even before Carrie died, he had already lost his mother twice: first when she left his father, and then again when she walked out on his stepfather, Lowell. Her presence during those periods had been negligible anyway, as she suffered through schizophrenia and alcoholism, struggling to look after her kids. “When I was three—three,

maybe four—she left us at that video store,” Stevens sings on “Should Have Known Better”. On the title-track, he sings, “She breaks my arm,” but when I

to keep them at bay. It’s very writerly to do that, and I’ve been trying to shed those fashions for a while. But they’re helpful, they allows for a kind of crossreference that is a useful distraction. Metaphors have become kind of like a salve to the hard facts of pain and suffering.”

“This is not my art project; this is my life,”

interviewed him for Uncut in February, the only question he wouldn’t answer was whether that line referred to his mother. Overall, he perceived Carrie & Lowell as an artless record. “This Unlike Stevens’ previous records, the is not my art project; this is my life,” subject matter called for no grand he told Pitchfork. It’s completely conceit. Once the songs started understandable that he makes those coming together, he imagined Carrie distinctions; as an act of self& Lowell as the Oregon entry in his preservation, to vehemently avoid aborted plan to make a record about prompting anyone to think he’s all 50 American states—that is, until his romanticising his pain. Yet anyone de facto producer Thomas Bartlett who’s spent time with it this year talked him out of it. The neon-hued would probably argue that it’s Stevens’ cosmic panic of predecessor The best record, where the ideas and Age of Adz was gone, as were the sentiment that he used to complicate charming orchestrations of Illinois with concepts and lavish arrangements and Michigan. In its place were briskly sit in painful clarity. It’s one of my thumbed acoustic guitars, and light favourite records of the year, though synthetic touches that acted like dew I’ve listened to it half as many times as on cobwebs, adding a luminescence the rest of my top 10 just because it’s that felt like a natural magnifier rather so difficult to listen to: not just because than an extra layer. “This was the of the sadness (though the “we’re

first time in my life where I couldn’t sustain myself through my art,” he told me. “And I think that’s why the record required a kind of distillation of sound and meaning. I couldn’t solve anything through my music any more. And maybe I had been manipulating my work over all these years, using it as a defence mechanism or a distraction. I couldn’t do that any more, for some reason.” A few mythical allusions remained in the lyrics, to his dismay, in spite of his attempt to edit them out. “I

all gonna die” refrain on “Fourth of July” is almost unbearable), but the

devastation and danger that glints through these beautiful songs, the threat of self-harm, self-destruction and debasement, and the knowledge that, although few of us will be as unlucky as Stevens, such grave reckonings lie in all of our futures.

Stevens had announced the Carrie & Lowell tour just weeks before Björk cancelled her remaining dates; the idea really wanted to reduce things to hard that he could sing about this great loss facts,” he said. “I feel like some of that night after night seemed unfathomable. “It’s gonna be a challenge,” he had told mythologising and the literary allusions and metaphors are distracting. So I tried me in February. “I need to find a way to

present the music without indulging in the dark nature, its miserable conditions. I think I need to be adult about this, and to curate an experience that’s really emotionally pure and consistent.” The Carrie & Lowell tour came to the UK in late August. The stage set consisted of just nine diamondshaped panels behind Stevens and his small band, evoking the structure of a stained glass window, onto which sea-scapes and abstract scenes were projected. (When he played End of the Road, a friend’s six-year-old daughter asked, “how can something so sad be so beautiful?”) It felt disarmingly simple compared to what he had called the “larger social scene on stage” of jaunts like The Age Of Adz tour, where he was surrounded by neon-clad hulahooping dancers. But in the same way that Carrie & Lowell makes masterful use of a simple palette, Stevens conveyed the intensity of these songs with just illumination and volume. They came to sound like cathedrals ascending to space, weighty, majestic and awing. The combined glint of white light and piercing sound evoked the blades he toyed with in his darkest hours, the “hysterical light” of Eugene, Oregon, where he was raised, and the salvation he found in new life, his brother’s daughter: “The beauty that

she brings, illumination.”

Over the years, there’s always been the impression that certain fans like Stevens in spite of his Christian faith, that it’s a part of him they ignore because it’s alien. But that night felt as close to church as many of us will ever come: questing, human, divine.