Think Can or Faust all mashed up with the personal disco of Arthur Russell. Think of the electric organ of Terry Riley's Shri Camel, slowly morphing and perpetually in motion, but remaining in step with a guitar-less and Moroder-charged Sparks. And think of a more composed Dead C, where Michael Morley sings about Big Thunder Mountain while holding a beach ball in one hand and fending off the digital shards of musique concrète humming around his ears with the other. Alex Delivery have gleefully exposed their myriad gifts and influences with their debut full-length Star Destroyer, almost two years in the making. On it the New York-based quintet have demonstrated their penchant for the electro-organic, seamlessly blending the sharp and gentle, like a chain-gang draped in organza. You can hear the chattering of insects resonating from the inside of a kettle drum, and you can imagine this colossal robo-beast wobbling and waltzing down an abandoned carnival boardwalk. Sylphs soar across strings, occasionally descending to enjoy some wiggle-worthy poly-rhythms. These and many more colorful characters have climbed aboard the Star Destroyer.
Alex Delivery is Nik Bozic, Marika Kandelaki, Robert Lombardo, Colin Ryan, and Yegang Yoo. Star Destroyer was self-recorded and mixed by the band and mastered at West West Side with Alan Douches. The album artwork is taken from six oil paintings made by Kandelaki.
Anyone reckless enough to have typecast Angel Olsen according to 2013's Burn Your Fire For No Witness is in for a rethink with her third album, MY WOMAN. The crunchier, blown-out production of the former is gone, but that fire is now burning wilder. Her disarming, timeless voice is even more front-and-center. Yet, the strange, raw power and slowly unspooling incantations of her previous efforts remain.
Over two previous albums, she gave us reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk, grunge-pop band workouts and haunting, finger-picked epics. MY WOMAN is an exhilarating complement to her past work, and one for which Olsen recalibrated her writing/recording approach and methods to enter a new music-making phase.
As the record evolves, one gets the sense that the "MY WOMAN" of the title is Olsen herself, absolutely in command but also willing to bend with the influence of collaborators and circumstances. An intuitively smart, warmly communicative and fearlessly generous record, MY WOMAN speaks to everyone. That it might confound expectation is just another of its strengths.
On her newest LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Angel Olsen sings with full-throated exultation, admonition, and bold, expressive melody. With the help of producer John Congleton, her music now crackles with a churning, rumbling low end and a brighter energy.
Angel Olsen began singing as a young girl in St. Louis. Her self-released debut EP, Strange Cacti, belied both that early period of discovery and her Midwestern roots. Olsen then went further on Half Way Home, her first full-length album (released on Bathetic Records), which mined essential themes while showcasing a more developed voice. Olsen dared to be more personal.
After extensive touring, Olsen eventually settled for a time in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, where she created "a collection of songs grown in a year of heartbreak, travel, and transformation," that would become Burn Your Fire For No Witness. Many of them remain essentially unchanged from their bare beginnings. In leaving them so intact, a more self-assured Olsen allows us to be in the room with her at the very genesis of these songs. Our reward for entering this room is many a head-turning moment and the powerful, unsettling recognition of ourselves in the weave of her songs.
After a summer spent listening to grimy hip hop beats and hooks, supporting the re-release of Sugar and Feathered, and making 4 track demos, Aspera converged at Tonearm Studios to begin work on their third album. Oh Fantastica continues a darkly thematic tradition established with Sugar and Feathered and the follow up Birds Fly EP (Suicide Squeeze) but strays from both records overwrought psychedelia (oft compared to Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev). Oh Fantastica is full of minimal yet memorable melodies driven by Drew Mills’ most upfront and un-effected vocal performance to date. The beats are intentionally raw—composed of deep, 808 / 909 textures and laced with gated, acoustic percussion takes and dirty synth bass lines. On Oh Fantastica, Aspera ride a dream-like wave enjoying and sharing the fruit of parallel universes—where the epic ‘80s pop production (as heard in early work of Simple Minds and Tears for Fears) exist side by side with hip-hop’s old school (Afrika Bambaataa) and new school (Swizz Beats, Anti-Pop Consortium, Missy Elliott & Timbaland, and producers the Neptunes), and, perhaps most-notably, electronic music's contemporary experimentalists (Boards of Canada) as well as its early trailblazers (such as the pop soundscapes of Another Green World-era Brian Eno; Giorgio Moroder’s militant electro; and the early-80’s tech-adventurism of musical veterans as manifested in Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock and Paul McCartney’s McCartney II).
Through the cerebral undergrowth and fantastical thickets of Aspera's dark imagination comes Sugar And Feathered, the re-release of the elusive Philadelphia-based quartet's sophomore full-length, re-mastered and packaged with all new artwork. As eerie as it is amiable, the twelve songs of Sugar And Feathered create a conceptual forest breathing with melodies familiar and forgone.On this record, Aspera creates songs that bear a passing resemblance to Crocodiles era Echo and The Bunnymen as fed through the dry, trashy production work of Tony Visconti's T Rex recordings. The experimental nature of Brian Eno and David Byrne's random sampling on My Life In The Bush of Ghosts mixes with the rudimentary electronics of Bowie's Scary Monsters, a smattering of 80's-style synthetic percussion and a fondness for Peter Murphy, conjuring a record with only one non-wayward quality - unrelenting creativity.
Bevel makes pastoral folk music in the same vein as Vashti Bunyan, Nick Drake and Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Bevel is the project of Via Nuon (lead guitarist of Manishevitz and now defunct Drunk). Down the Puppet String, Marionettes began in the early parts of 1998, is now being introduced for the first time since its original conception 6 years ago. Comprised of old and new songs diligently re-worked and re-recorded between 2001 and 2002, it also includes a chilling rendition of a Civil War-era traditional and a suitably deconstructed version of Donovan Leitch’s “Teas”. Melodious and interwoven throughout this mini-album are the lull-like tones of Deanna Varagona’s baritone sax exhalations. Sometimes an undulating piano line—played by Michael Krassner—can be heard punctuating against the textural rhythms tapped out by Gerald Dowd. Although only 19 minutes in length and operating in a stream of consciousness-like fashion, Down the Puppet String, Marionettes, captures a transitory world, whose bucolic plains and uncharted beaches are characteristic results as one awakens, diluted and immersed, such as from an afternoon reverie.
With Where Leaves Block the Sun, Bevel follows through with the promise that was made with its debut Turn the Furnace On. The new full-length is principal songwriter Via Nuon's electric pastoral folk music, which begins with a symbolic Dante-esque like descent into the wilderness. Through the foliage disguised music, rich and fascinating images interplay with dark and light scenarios giving a chiaroscuro effect and also a sense of cinematic progression. Though difficult to describe in sound, one might compare Bevel to the other worldliness music of Pearls before Swine, Brian Eno's experimental ambient period, or the climactic achievement of Popol Vuh's lush film soundtracks.
Twelve uneasy pieces, these songs are rough and unhewn like the stones that make up an altar precipice. Bevel is theAn unpolished document, TURN THE FURNACE ON exists in the same moody and emotional climate as Yoko Ono's SEASON OF GLASS and Red House Painters' OCEAN BEACH. Not so unlike Skip Spence's OAR, TURN THE FURNACE ON is the product of a man who has for years existed in the public eye only as a member of a greater whole (Nuon being a core member of the Richmond, Virginia, group Drunk, as well as an occasional member of Chicago-based Manishevitz; Spence with San Francisco's Moby Grape). Like Oar, TURN THE FURNACE ON is the sort of creative watershed which begs the listener to re-examine the works done by the artist in his more well-known group and experience his effects there more acutely, with more regard for the subtle force of personality which has rightly been made more evident. name of a character in modern Southern literature.Turn the Furnace on is the debut album by Bevel, and it is a feat of beauty. Conceived, composed and captured almost entirely by one man, Via Nuon, Bevel's TURN THE FURNACE ON is a subtle work of solitary triumph. Few albums created by the hands of one succeed in leaving such an indelible impression of personality. Most solo artists -- especially those of such minimal design -- are required the span of a career to leave their mark on the ever-evolving body of song. But with TURN THE FURNACE ON Bevel distinguishes Via Nuon as a brave new voice in folk form.
The rock canon has many anti-heroes, Black Mountain being the latest. In the past, Can's Tago Mago established that the only rule in rock and roll is that there are no rules. Pink Floyd's prodigious output in the 70s showed us that architecture can be cool, while delinquent proto-metallers Black Sabbath demonstrated that you can make a lot from not that much. Now Black Mountain teach us that you don't have to be afraid of the past to move bravely into the future, defining what it is to be a classic rock band in the new millennium. Today, they announce IV, an unapologetically ambitious record made by a group of musicians who are at the peak of their powers.
Available in limited edition Grey Vinyl. Black Mountain's self-titled debut album is a new classic rock, with reference points arcane and clear, its sound fresh, unfamiliar and irresistible. Savor the compact, spacey brilliance of this cosmic, heavy and subtle album, expanded now with a raft of delicious bonus tracks scavenged from the Black Mountain Army archives.
Wilderness Heart, the new album by Black Mountain, is packed with succinct rock songs that pulse and pound with startling precision: it pummels you and you ask for more. This is arguably the band’s tightest, most concentrated venture, but there’s still plenty of raw rock energy at work. “It’s our most metal and most folk oriented record so far,” songwriter Stephen McBean says. “I’m not gonna say it’s our best record or the album that we always dreamt of making ‘cause that’s what everyone says. It’s all about where we were at the time the machines were rolling. You can’t control the electricity or how your limbs were moving that day. You have to erase the visions and just go along for the ride.”
Favorite psych-and-prog-spiritual pioneers BLACK MOUNTAIN are back with "In The Future", their second full-length album that resonates with the same epic ring, beloved deep rock touchstones and genuine folk fragility that made their self-titled debut full-length an instant classic. The new album possesses immense breadth, seamlessly showcasing short and classic folk-pop gems along with driving modern rock masterpieces, peaking with "Bright Lights", a seventeen-minute multi-dimensional opus that gives Pink Floyd's "Echoes" a run for its money.
Time to rejoice space travellers, music lovers, drug takers and all freak creatures of the nighttime world. The heat is on and the streets are wild. We've had enough of your modern music and fake painted smiles. We're all looking for a little more. Big amps, small amps, it's all the same. Dee-lite said that groove is in the heart. But we believe that rock'n'roll is boiled in the blood and born in the soul. What more do you want? What more do you need? Distractions? Interstellar cellular progress? Better killing machines? Originally released as a 12-inch single (and acting as the band's first release ever), the Druganaut single is now being molded in the CD format, with two additional songs added to it. Black Mountain are the front line soldiers for the Black Mountain Army, an arts collective from Vancouver, British Columbia, featuring members of The Pink Mountaintops, Jerk With A Bomb, Sinoa Caves, and Blood Meridian. Their debut self-titled full-length record may well be the Pied Piper that takes us all back into the primordial mountain, where our hearts can be made steady and our minds can be set free. It brings to mind - as does this Druganaut single - Animals-era Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Neil Young and a James Brown on a liberal does of cough syrup.
Black Mountain, the front-line soldiers for the Black Mountain Army, an arts collective from Vancouver, British Columbia, write, perform and record music that speaks (and sings) to this realization: that solutions are rarely simple, that the world is as complex as it is ambiguous, and that music sprinkled with an inoculating dose of madness may well be the Pied Piper that takes us all back into the primordial mountain, where our hearts can be made steady and our minds can be set free. Their debut self-titled record, like a space probe built of erector set parts and transmitting secret and arcane messages to earth by string, charts territories unknown yet remains grounded by the roots of classic rock and roll. It is easy to discern these roots: Black Sabbath, Animals-era Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin and Can. Principal songwriter Stephen McBean’s vocals are a smoother, bluesier amalgam of the voices of Neil Young, Mick Jagger and perhaps a James Brown loaded on cough syrup. And when Amber Webber’s voice joins Stephen’s, the combination brings to mind the potency and chemistry of Richard and Linda Thompson singing together on Shoot Out The Lights, or of Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley howling together on Bat Out Of Hell. Musical comparisons aside, the Black Mountain full-length is one part protest song, one part pop-cultural commentary, and one part sick-groove-rock casserole peppered with mesmerizing ballads and intoxicating ditties. “Modern Music” is the lead-off hitter and counts its way to the imposing and riff-rife “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around”. Immediately thereafter, the sludge-rock masterpiece “Druganaut” establishes the fecund heart and tone of the record. Black Mountain have also just recently released a 12-inch single (on Jagjaguwar), including an extended mix of “Druganaut” on the A-side. And the band’s currently sexploitative counterpart The Pink Mountaintops, a band that also pipes into the prolific well-spring of Stephen McBean’s mind, released their self-titled debut record (on Jagjaguwar as well) this past summer. A video by Heather Trawick of the song “Druganaut” is included on the CD version of the Black Mountain self-titled record.
22, A Million is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self-understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding. The album's 10 poly-fi recordings are a collection of sacred moments, love's torment and salvation, contexts of intense memories, signs that you can pin meaning onto or disregard as coincidence. If Bon Iver, Bon Iver built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then 22, A Million is the letting go of that attachment to a place.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver is Justin Vernon returning to former haunts with a new spirit. The reprises are there – solitude, quietude, hope and desperation compressed – but always a rhythm arises, a pulse vivified by gratitude and grace notes. The winter, the legend, has faded to just that, and this is the new momentary present. The icicles have dropped, rising up again as grass.
The four song Blood Bank collection continues down the path forged by 2008's critically acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago.From the title track's remembrance of the winter warmth we seek, to the summer love tribute of b-side gem "Babys," Bon Iver's snow-blanketed harmonies live across the seasons. Both expansive and intimate, these four songs explore the darker and lighter natures of the seasons and what they signify, and offer a dynamic glimpse into the natural energy and refined craftsmanship that characterize Justin Vernon's music.
We are thrilled to release Bon Iver's debut full-length "For Emma, Forever Ago". Bon Iver (pronounced: bohn eevair; French for "good winter" and spelled wrong on purpose) is a greeting, a celebration and a sentiment. It is a new statement of an artist moving on and establishing the groundwork for a lasting career. For Emma, Forever Ago is the debut of this lineage of songs. As a whole, the record is entirely cohesive throughout and remains centered around a particular aesthetic, prompted by the time and place for which it was recorded. Justin Vernon, the primary force behind Bon Iver, seems to have tested his boundaries to the maximum, and in doing so has managed to break free from any pre-cursing or finished forms.
Briana's lyrics are forceful, and throughout her second album, All Around Us, traditional song structure gives way to plainspoken declarations that pull back the record's shroud. Her first single,"Surrender" is musically delicate at first, with flickering blips and chords that float into earshot like fireflies. "Take Care of Me" is the album's brightest and most immediate song, a buoyant celebration of friendship with a skittering beat and a warm, sweet melody. And title track "All Around Us" is a stark but inspiring beauty, built on the memory of a family member of Briana's who passed away, and the sadness of not being able to say "goodbye" or "I love you" one last time. It is the balance of the abstract and the intimate that makes Briana Marela and All Around Us so special.
DIANA are an enigmatic foursome from Toronto, where they must be putting something in the water with the number of great bands hailing from there. Consisting of Joseph Shabason, Kieran and singer Carmen Elle, with Paul Mathew recently joining the live line up, Shabason and Adams met while studying jazz at music college where they played extensively together. Having lent their skills (saxophone and drums, respectively) to many bands, including Bonjay, The Hidden Cameras and Shabason's recent contributions to Destroyer's excellent Kaputt, it was a leap of faith to make their own full-length. But the time had come.
After a songwriting sabbatical in the Canadian countryside, Shabason and Adams went into the studio with engineer and co-producer Roger Leavens. They asked Toronto musician and vocalist Carmen Elle to sing on a track, as both Kieran and Joseph knew her from her work with other bands such as the much feted but short-lived Spiral Beach, all of whose members have since gone on to play in various successful Canadian bands from Austra to Doldrums. The pair thought her voice might add something special, this turned out to be a huge understatement. Even though Shabason and Adams wrote the songs, the lyrics and melodies belonged to Elle the moment they escaped her mouth, each nuance of phrasing and melody deepening the sentiments. With this last dazzling piece of the puzzle in place, DIANA was born. Right from the first note we’re reeled into DIANA’s intimate world, with the dense, ambient swell that begins album opener ‘Foreign Installation’. A heady mix of drums, electric guitar and lush production, all sewn together and lifted by Carmen’s soothing vocal, their sound is addictive from the off. The pace is picked up with ‘That Feeling’, the detached refrain "We were blind to all the ways we sat and watched it fade away…" echoing through a mist of synths layered over insistent drums and bass. It is future music with an undeniable pop sensibility, though never overwhelming, the glossy yet sparse production always leaving just enough room for the imagination.Album highlight ‘Perpetual Surrender’ boasts an impressive travelling bassline, with Carmen’s gorgeous vocal repeating “I need saving from myself” over blown beats and perhaps the year’s best indie sax solo, all coming together to create well over four minutes of eerie, blissed-out ambience. Though there are glances to music past and kinship with music present, there is a progressive and contemporary feel to the record. DIANA comparisons traverse eras and genres; from the soft-focus soft rock and pop of Roxy Music to the dreamy production of jj and Chromatics, topped off with the Balearic disco swirl of Studio. While referencing so many, Carmen’s unique vocal brings them their own voice. For DIANA, the point is to push things forward, summed up with the embryonic bliss of instrumental closer ‘Curtains’, a startling piece of atmospheric production that stays with you long after the last sound has echoed into the ether.
Let's face facts - in 2016 it is remarkable that there's a new Dinosuar Jr album to go ape over. After all, the original line-up of the band (J Mascis, Lou Barlow & Murph) only recorded three full albums during their initial run in the 1980s. Everyone was gob-smacked when they reunited in 2005. Even more so when they opted to stay together, as they have for 11 years now (on and off). And with the release of Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, this trio redivisus has released more albums in the 21st Century than they did in the 20th. It's enough to make a man take a long, thoughtful slug of maple-flavored bourbon and count some lucky stars.
I Bet on Sky is the third Dinosaur Jr. album since the original trio – J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph – reformed in 2005. And, crazily, it marks the band’s 10th studio album since their debut on Homestead Records in 1985. Back in the ‘80s, if anyone has suggested that these guys would be performing and recording at such a high level 27 years later, they would have been laughed out of the tree fort.
The trio has taken everything they’ve learned from the various projects they tackled over the years, and poured it directly into their current mix. J’s guitar approaches some of its most unhinged playing here, but there’s a sense of instrumental control that matches the sweet murk of his vocals (not that he always remembers to exercise control on stage, but that’s another milieu). This is head-bobbing riff-romance at the apex. Lou’s basswork shows a lot more melodicism now as well, although his two songs on I Bet on Sky retain the jagged rhythmic edge that has so often marked his work. And Murph…well, he still pounds the drums as hard and as strong as a pro wrestler, with deceptively simple structures that manage to interweave themselves perfectly with his bandmates’ melodic explosions.
After submerging myself in I Bet on Sky, it’s clear that the album is a true and worthy addition to the Dinosaur Jr. discography. It hews close enough to rock formalism to please the squares. Yet it is brilliantly imprinted with the trio’s magical equation, which is a gift to the rest of us. For a combo that began as anomalous fusion of hardcore punk and pop influences, Dinosaur Jr. have proven themselves to be unlikely masters of the long game.
The worry about the reunion of the original Dinosaur Jr. line-up, more than 20 years after their formation and legendary dissolution, was that these guys were just flogging the back catalog as a marketing gimmick. With the release of Beyond, in 2007, the band gave a hearty Marshall-driven "F**K YOU!" answer to those inquiring ears. Restoring the sound established by the opening hat-trick gambit of Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me, and Bug, the Beyond record continued the band's march into rock greatness by making old ears smile and new ears bleed afresh. And now comes Farm, the fifth full length record by the original line-up-J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph--set to release on their new label home Jagjaguwar on June 23rd.
If Beyond was Dinosaur Jr.'s return to form, Farm is proof that this band continues to deliver that which makes rock worth cranking to 11. At times wholly 70's guitar-epic, at times perfect for sitting by a babbling brook with Joni and Neil, Farm encompasses Dinosaur Jr.'s signature palette - soaring and distorted guitar, unshakable hooks, honey-rich melodies - songs that get into your head and, bouncing around happily, stay there. The ear-catching "Plans" is nearly 7 minutes of classic whipped-topping rock dessert, while "I Don't Wanna Go There" is a meat-and-potatoes main dish, mixing unapologetic lead guitar with straight-ahead delivery a la James Gang or Humble Pie. These two tunes round out twelve tracks propelled by the unique energy of one of America's greatest living rock bands hitting their stride.
Farm was recorded in J Mascis' Bisquiteen studio in Amherst, Massachusetts, and was produced by Mascis.
RAISED TOWARD -- thirteen songs for sufficience and disregard. Drunk's third full-length release features the gently effective words of Rick Alverson set amidst the workings of a full range of musical contraptions. The songs Alverson and crew have put together on RAISED TOWARD are cut from the same cloth as those of many of the great lyrical composers of our time (and slightly before our time): Leonard Cohen, Tim Foljahn, Nick Cave and Mark Eitzel, to name a few. If RAISED TOWARD resonates in that special, timeless style, it is not for want of fragility or the grace of inexperience, or for lack of innovation and youthful exuberance. Drunk has all of these to spare. They are, according to one magazine, "far ahead... in the race to the define the new American sound."