Kimber – Robyn Hitchcock
Lindsay – Black Angels
Dario – Charly Bliss
Brittany- Bowie, Ravonettes
THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES
Actress – AZD CD/LP (Ninja Tune)
Darren Cunningham aka Actress returns with a new album and a new alter-ego AZD (pronounced Azeed), a chrome-plated journey into a parallel world. AZD is themed around chrome both as a reflective surface to see the self in, and as something only surface-deep, the perfect metaphor for the bleakness of life in London. Another way to approach would be through the art of James Hampton and the Ramm:Ell:Zee (who is sampled on CYN) both of whom, though of different generations of the African-American slave diaspora, created art through scavenging stuff from nothing and turning it into absolute majesty. There is also the career-long influence of the Detroit techno pioneers, something which comes over clearer on this album: in the past rhythms have always been blurred out, now they have more glow.
Big Star – Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live …And More 2xCD/2xCD+DVD/2xBlu-ray (Concord)
Experience Big Star’s Third album through the prism of a collective of immensely talented musicians. While the band may not be Big Star per se, the fabled group’s sole surviving original member, Jody Stephens, heads an amazing cast, whose membership includes latter-day Big Star alumni Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey of the dB’s, and others. Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson of Semisonic, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Jessica Pratt, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, and Skylar Gudasz are among the guests who were joined by a full chamber orchestra helmed by the Kronos Quartet, performing scores created directly from the original multi-track tapes from Ardent Studios for this event. Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations, conducted.
The Black Angels – Death Song CD/LP+MP3 (Partisan)
Death Song is the Austin psych-rock band’s first full-length release in four years. Written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle, the music here serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. “Currency,” a strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role the monetary system plays in our lives, while slow-building psychedelic earworm “Half Believing” questions the nature and confusing realities of devotion. Recorded between Seattle and Austin, Death Song features production from Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). The 11-track collection offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound — menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream.
Boss Hog – Brood X CD/LP (In The Red)
Recently released on vinyl – now available on CD. Boss Hog returns from the wild with their most subversive record — this is the seductive soundtrack for the second coming of militant rock ‘n’ roll, and the groove has never been stronger. Brood X — emerging from the dirty streets of New York City after seventeen years of gestation — is a futuristic brew of 21st century blues, toxic punk rock beat music, and hyper-focused, outer-space psycho assaults. Thermonuclear chanteuse Cristina Martinez blisters the hypocrites, the haters, the heartless, and the clueless hangers-on with a full-tilt microphone attack. A sex-bomb salvo for troubled times, Martinez gives voice to America’s pain while pulling no punches.
Charly Bliss – Guppy CD/LP (Barsuk)
If it’s true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Bliss — an NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue cover — can pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom — a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui. The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss’ sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengths – a combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and ear worm melodies is a testament to the band’s commitment to the art form of pop songwriting.
Ray Davies – Americana CD/2xLP+MP3 (Legacy/Sony)
Ray Davies returns with his first solo album since 2008’s Working Man’s Cafe. Americana is based around Davies’ recent memoir, Americana: The Kinks, The Riff, The Road: The Story, and includes spoken-word portions from the book. Fittingly, the singer recruited an American band, the Jayhawks, to support him on the album, which was recorded in London at Konk. Guy Massey and John Jackson helped Davies with production. The album’s first single, ‘Poetry,’ is a crunchy power-pop tune, full of jangly guitar leads and pretty backing vocals, concerned with the material obsessions of the modern world. ‘I kneel down and say grace for the comforts the world bestows on me/ And the great corporations providing our every need,’ Davies sings. But at least one of his needs remains unsatisfied. ‘Where is the poetry?’ he wonders.” – Rolling Stone
Gas – Narkopop CD/3xLP+CD (Kompakt)
From wafts of dense symphonic mist emerges a floating and whirling feeling of weightlessness, before the listener steps into an eerily beautiful forest of fantasy, pulled in by the allure of a narcotic bass drum. While earlier Gas tracks were often based on the hypnotic effects of looping techniques, the ten new pieces on Narkopop unfold their magic in a more entwined manner, sometimes with the sonic might of an entire philharmonic orchestra, at times subtle and fragile. [Triple LP version includes a copy on CD and a 24-page booklet in a hardcover.]
Ghost Bath – Starmourner CD/2xLP (Nuclear Blast)
Ghost Bath plays atmospheric black metal focused on depression and human emotion. [Limited blue and purple color vinyl pressings also available.]
Joe Goddard – Electric Lines CD/2xLP+MP3 (Domino)
Electric Lines, new album from producer Joe Goddard, is all about connections. It’s an apt title for a record which brilliantly unites the broad-ranging strands of a unique career. Whether it be as a member of Hot Chip, one half of The 2 Bears, songwriter, producer, DJ, remixer or co-founder of the Greco-Roman label, Goddard’s influence has been keenly felt in clubs and headphones all over the world for over a decade. Electric Lines is the culmination of all this and more, and confirms Joe Goddard’s place in the front rank of British producers. The album was named after the cables that connect to the modules in Goddard’s Eurorack synthesizer, as well as the invisible wires that run between all the different kinds of electronic music he loves. “The best moments on Electric Lines are Goddard’s squiggly, skronky takes on house that approach both the acidic (‘Lasers’) and the dubby (epic centerpiece ‘Children Of The Sun’).” — Treble
Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock CD/LP (Yep Roc)
Robyn Hitchcock is the follow up to 2014’s critically acclaimed The Man Upstairs. The new record was recorded in Nashville, Robyn’s new home base in the US, and was produced by Robyn and Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs). This is the first-time Robyn has made a full band album in the studio since 2008 and the record features a lot of key players, including Gillian Welch, Emma Swift, Pat Sansone (Wilco, The Autumn Defense), and Grant-Lee Phillips. The psych-rock influence is a callback to his days with The Soft Boys and his early solo albums.
Maxïmo Park – Risk To Exist CD/LP (Cooking Vinyl)
Maxïmo Park’s sixth album is a collection of irresistible pop songs about anger, hope, resistance and, above all, empathy – a knockout fusion of music and message from a band on extraordinary form.
Imelda May – Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. CD/LP (Verve)
Imelda May has found a new groove, exploring blues, soul, gospel, folk, rock, acoustic, cinematic drama and explosive balladry. She is setting a new course with a collection of the boldest, most personal and intimately autobiographical songs she has ever written. May has long been admired by her peers in the music community, including Bono, who says of May, “I love the girl she used to be but I think I love even more the woman she s become. Still mischievous and playful, still a siren, but there’s an ache in her voice now that has me with a glass at my ear to the wall of her world where trouble has entered the room. There’s an erotic power here that’s not just feminine power. She makes truth telling an invitation to intimacy.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – So It Is CD/LP+MP3 (Legacy/Sony)
So It Is finds the classic PHJB sound invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band’s 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts,” says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe. “There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one – we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.” Producer David Sitek, a founder of art rock innovators TV On The Radio, offered both a keen modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s storied history. Upon arriving in New Orleans to meet with the band, Sitek recalls he and Jaffe accidentally stumbling into one of the city’s famed second-line parades. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediate,” he says. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.” The music on So It Is, penned largely by Jaffe and 84-year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel, stirs together that variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson were joined by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood hastened the journey into new musical territory.
The Raveonettes – 2016 Atomized CD/LP (Beat Dies)
LA-based Danish indie rock duo The Raveonettes completed their Rave-Sound-Of-The-Month series with the December 2016 release of the final track “Pendejo.” What was dubbed an ‘anti-album’, the Rave-Sound-Of-The-Month playlist began at the start of 2016 where the band would upload a freshly recorded track on the last Friday of every month throughout the year without any limitations of restraints. The pieces of this musical puzzle finally come together on vinyl in the form of 2016 Atomized which collects all twelve of their monthly 2016 singles. “There is no track on 2016 Atomized that better encapsulates the unorthodox nature of The Raveonettes’ songwriting than the addictive ‘A Good Fight,’ which splits the chorus between two completely opposite sonic palettes. The song’s anticipatory guitar riff seems like it’s going to explode into a post-punk chorus, but instead drops off into a chasm of atmospheric heartbreak, complete with poignant piano and wistful synths. It’s haunting” – Vague Visages. [Vinyl is available in Regular and Deluxe gatefold 180gm editions.]
Tobin Sprout – Carnival Boy [Reissue/1996] CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Burger)
Tobin Sprout – Moonflower Plastic (Welcome To My Wigwam) [Reissue/1996] CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Burger)
The Guided By Voices guitarist and songwriter’s mid-‘90s Matador back catalogue is repressed courtesy of Burger.
Texas – Jump On Board CD/LP (The End)
Over 30 years since they formed, and 20 since their White On Blonde ‘Say What You Want’ heyday, Texas are back to prove they still matter on this self-produced set. First single ‘Let’s Work It Out’ nods to the band’s Caledonian pop-soul roots – think Chic via Orange Juice, or Altered Images, who were doing this sort of glossy, Glaswegian funk-lite thing back on 1983’s Bite, before Johnny McElhone left that band to form Texas with Sharleen Spiteri. Elsewhere, Spiteri gets to live out her female icon fantasies, echoing Debbie Harry’s sublime blankness on ‘Tell That Girl’ and ‘Great Romances,’ Lana Del Rey’s noir fatale on ‘Sending A Message,’ Chrissie Hynde’s gum-chewing insouciance on ‘Won’t Let You Down’ and Stevie Nicks’ witchy woman on the danced-up ‘Round The World.’” – Team Rock
Matthew Logan Vasquez – Does What He Wants CD/LP (Dine Alone)
Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit, Middle Brother) is feeling optimistic. That’s not necessarily apparent the first time you spin his new full-length solo album. Each track on Does What He Wants feels urgent and intense. Impatient landlords, financial woes and other frustrations fan the agitation embedded in the opening track, “Same.” Isolation darkens the brooding images of “From Behind The Glass.” Death takes a bow on “The Fighter.” Vasquez can’t help but juxtapose the celebration of “Fatherhood” with a lament that “we ain’t got the money to pay the hospital.” Elsewhere, Does What He Wants is like a hall of mirrors, each capturing a different image of one self-aware and restlessly creative individual. The pure finger-picked acoustic guitar that sets up vivid stories on “The Informant” and “Tall Man,” the retro textures of “Headed West,” the lofting melody that evokes Roy Orbison, the waterfall of harmonies in “The Fighter” – this music is diverse yet unified, a priority for its author. And, in the end, it turns out to feel pretty optimistic after all – a perfect statement for these times.
David Bowie – No Plan 12”+MP3 (Sony)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. The No Plan EP features single “Lazarus” from Blackstar backed with three final, non-album tracks recorded during the Blackstar sessions. Limited color and laser etched vinyl pressings available.
Daniel Brandt – Eternal Something LP (Erased Tapes)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Daniel Brandt, co-founder of Germany’s electroacoustic ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, joins the Erased Tapes family with his solo debut album. What started off as a more simplistic idea soon evolved into something a lot more complex as the London and Berlin based music producer traveled across the world, experimenting with various other artists and different instruments. From his father’s cabin based in the German countryside with access to nothing but cymbals, to being surrounded by guitars in Joshua Tree, his unexpected journey soon progressed into what became his first solo album. Daniel played nearly all instruments himself with the only exception being fellow musicians Florian Juncker on trombone, Manu Delago on hang drum, and Andreas Voss on cello.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross/Gustavo Santaolalla/Mogwai – Before The Flood [OST] 3xLP (Lakeshore)
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Mogwai, and Argentine film composer Gustavo Santaolalla teamed up to compose the score for Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change film. The soundtrack includes the previously shared Reznor and Ross collaboration “A Minute To Breathe.”
Maggie Rogers – Now That The Light Is Fading 12” (Capitol)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Maggie Rogers grew up playing banjo on a working farm in rural Maryland and first came to the public’s attention when she appeared in a video posted on YouTube of producer Pharrell Williams teaching a Masterclass at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School Of The Arts, where Rogers was a student. In the clip, Rogers plays an unfinished recording of “Alaska” and the song earned slew of media attention. SPIN declared the song “blends folk, electronic, and pop music sensibilities to form an entirely new hybridized sound,” while Paste calls it “hauntingly beautiful.”
NEXT WEEK’S NEW RELEASES
FEIST – Pleasure CD/LP
GORILLAZ – Humanz CD/LP
SYLVAN ESSO – What Now CD/LP
BNQT – Vol 1 CD/LP (members of Midlake, Grandaddy, Franz Ferdinand, Band Of Horses!)
BRITISH SEA POWER – Let The Dancers Inherit The party CD/LP
THURSTON MOORE – Rock n Roll Consciousness CD/LP
OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW – 50 Years Of Blonde on Blonde CD
WILLIE NELSON – God’s Problem Child CD/LP
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 cd
MARK LANEGAN – Gargoyle CD/LP
MEW – Visuals CD/LP
COLIN STETSON – All This I Do For Glory CD/LP