Afghan Whigs – In Spades CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
From its evocative cover art to the troubled spirits haunting its halls, In Spades casts a spell that challenges the listener to unpack its dark metaphors and spectral imagery. On the one hand, it is as quintessentially Afghan Whigs as anything the group has ever done – fulfilling its original mandate to explore the missing link between howling Midwestern punk like Die Kreuzen and Hüsker Dü, The Temptations’ psychedelic soul symphonies, and the expansive hard-rock tapestries of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. At the same time, this new record continues to push beyond anything in the Whigs’ previous repertoire – another trademark, along with the explosive group dynamic captured on the recording. “This is the first time since Black Love [the Whigs’ 1996 noir masterpiece] that we’ve done a full-blown band album,” Greg Dulli says. The joys, sorrows, and upheavals of innocence and experience echo throughout In Spades: it powerfully documents where The Afghan Whigs have been, and where they might go next.
At The Drive-In – in·ter a·li·a CD/LP+MP3 (Rise)
“Ever had that feeling when introducing a friend to a band you love – the envy that they get to discover them for the first time, to hear it with fresh ears? Well, At The Drive In are making a comeback almost two decades after Relationship Of Command with in•ter a•li•a. It feels like in•ter a•li•a quite literally picks up where At The Drive In left off, with familiar chord attacks from Omar Rodriguez Lopez and the yelping emotion of Cedric Bixler. ‘No Wolf Like The Present’ and leading single ‘Governed By Contagions’ could have come directly from the band’s 2000 release, with the exception of the slightly more solid production. It’s still got the post-‘90s prog obsession, but it’s been cleaned up a bit. in•ter a•li•a does avoid being overly nostalgic with tracks like ‘Pendulum In A Peasant Dress’ and ‘Incurably Innocent’ which seem in turn to swing At The Drive In’s new release from one side to the other of their sonic spectrum. ‘Pendulum…’ takes the stuttering skat-like vocal performance of Bixler to an extreme, while ‘…Innocent’ seems closer to ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ era My Chemical Romance – and no that’s not a bad thing, get over it” – Skateism. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
Big Walnuts Yonder – Big Walnuts Yonder CD/LP+MP3 (Sargent House)
Big Walnuts Yonder is bassist/vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). It is not a supergroup. It’s worlds colliding, says Mike Watt. Four exceptional musicians whose work spans multiple genres and generations, Big Walnuts Yonder is a monumental endeavor that’s more than the sum of its parts. The results are a truly epic album defying categorization, where one might hear elements of proto-punk, free jazz, power pop, experimental music, psych-rock and your first teenage acid trip all in one.
Black Lips – Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art? CD (Vice)
Produced by Sean Lennon at his studio compound in upstate New York throughout 2016, Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art? stays true to Black Lips’ original blistering take on fuzzy, dirty rock n’ roll. The album features contributions by Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family and guest vocals by Yoko Ono. [Vinyl edition due July 14.]
Blondie – Pollinator CD/LP+MP3 (BMG)
Pollinator is Blondie’s 11th album. Alongside original band members Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke, the album also features contributions from Johnny Marr, Sia, Dev Hynes, Charli XCX, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and The Gregory Brothers. “Pollinator starts strong with four hook-driven tracks, each a unique pop offering accented by song-launching drumrolls, funk-inspired riffs, and plenty of synth for ears to swim in. Joan Jett duets with Debbie Harry on album opener ‘Doom Or Destiny,’ a fitting match that pairs the rough edge in Jett’s voice to Harry’s sweeter croon. She’s not the only guest, not by a long shot, and it’s the corollary talent that winds up making Pollinator such a success” – Consequence Of Sound. [Limited edition color vinyl pressing also available.]
Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy – Best Troubador CD/LP/Cassette (Drag City)
With Best Troubador, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy pays homage to a long-time and forever hero, the late Merle Haggard. A singer who, some 25 years previously, first performed in public by playing a Merle Haggard song, Bonny has often cited Merle’s work in performance, on records and in conversation with anyone who was around, even talking to Merle himself for Filter magazine in 2009. The songs sung on Best Troubador are pulled from all over — from Haggard’s third album in 1967 through to his 47th in 2011 — but this is no simple hits compilation. Capable only of occupying a shared space between himself and Merle Haggard, Bonny chose personal favorites, singing the songs he wanted to sing, to find Merle and himself together in the music. Only two of Hag’s thirty-eight (!) country number ones are included, and only two others that charted at all. Seven of the sixteen songs are from his later period, after his long run at the top of the country charts had ended, but before encroaching mortality could finally cease the singular and indefatigable creativity of Merle Haggard.
Brother Ali – All The Beauty In This Whole Life CD/2xLP+MP3 (Rhymesayers)
Over the past 17 years, Brother Ali has earned wide critical acclaim for his deeply personal, socially conscious, and inspiring brand of hip-hop. “This entire album is based on the reality that beauty is the splendor of truth,” says the Minneapolis MC. “Beauty in all of its forms is the outward manifestation of love and virtue. It soothes the soul and pulls it gently toward the truth it communicates. Every word and note of this album is intended to either reflect beauty, or expose the ugliness that blocks us from living lives of meaning.” [Limited clear vinyl pressing also available.]
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) 2xCD/3xCD+DVD/3xLP (Mute)
Lovely Creatures was compiled by Nick Cave and founding member Mick Harvey, with help from the current Bad Seeds. Band members past and present raided their personal archives to provide previously unseen photos and memorabilia which have been collected into a beautiful hardcover book, along with a series of original essays. The book is available as part of the limited edition Super Deluxe album collection that also comes with a two-hour DVD containing rare and unseen archive footage. Lovely Creatures is available in four formats, all featuring personal and rare photographs of the band. “There are some people out there who just don’t know where to start with The Bad Seeds. Others know the catalogue better than I do! This release is designed to be a way into three decades of music making. That’s a lot of songs. The songs we have chosen are the ones that have stuck around, for whatever reason. Some songs are those that demand to be played live. Others are lesser songs that are personal favorites of ours. Others are just too big and have too much history to leave out. And there are those that didn’t make it, poor things. They are the ones you must discover by yourselves.” — Nick Cave
Alice Coltrane – World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music Of Turiya Alice Coltrane CD/2xLP+MP3/Cassette (Luaka Bop)
Alice Coltrane remains a singular figure on the fringe of American music but her appeal is growing. While Coltrane’s music is gaining wider acceptance there is an entire era of her recorded output that remains obscure, almost as if by design. Her four self-published, devotional albums of the ‘80s and ‘90s were recorded during a period in which she had withdrawn from secular life. They were manufactured and distributed in limited quantities amongst her spiritual community. Operating outside of the constraints of the commercial recording industry Coltrane was free of external pressures whether monetary or deadline. She recorded this music totally on her own terms. The resulting compositions synthesized her spiritual and musical outlook into a highly original work that is unique unto herself.
Carl Craig – Versus CD/2xLP (InFiné Music)
Monumental symphonic versions of Carl Craigs classic material, re-enforced and magnified by Les Siecles Orchestra. Iconic French conductor François-Xavier Roth is at the helm of the symphony whilst InFiné mainstay Francesco Tristano supports on piano.
Day Wave – The Days We Had CD/LP (Harvest)
Debut album from the critically acclaimed dream pop project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jackson Phillips.
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog CD/LP+MP3 (Captured Tracks)
Before you ancients out there turn your heads and scoff at the premise of a twenty-something rock-and-roll goofball calling himself an old-anything, consider this: said perpetrator, he who answers to the name Mac DeMarco, has spent the better part of his time thus far writing, recording, and releasing an album of his own music pretty much every calendar flip, and pretty much on his own. This Old Dog makes for his fifth in just over half a decade — bringing the total to three LPs and two EPs. According to the DMV, MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco is 26. But in working-dog years, ol’ Mac here could easily qualify for social security. To stay gold, turns out all he needed was some new tricks. [Limited edition white vinyl pressing also available.]
Faust – Fresh Air CD/LP+CD (Bureau B)
Faust’s new album Fresh Air differs in several respects from its predecessor, Just Us. The recordings were made at Jean-Hervé Péron’s rehearsal studio in Schiphorst in northern Germany, hypnotic pieces with the kind of noisemaking the band is known for.
The Flaming Lips – On Board The International Space Station: Concert For Peace CD (WB)
Seven live(ish) tracks from Oczy Mlody reimagined as afictional/fantastical live Flaming Lips performance on the International Space Station. [Vinyl edition due June 16.]
Forest Swords – Compassion CD/LP+MP3 (Ninja Tune)
Compassion is a response to the uncertain, aggressive new world were experiencing and communicating within, distilling it into a unique sound territory: composer Matthew Barnes’ exploration of the mid-point between ecstasy and melancholy, artificial and human feels timely and affecting; a celebration of primal connections, life itself, and an anxious glance at the direction we’re heading. The result is an assured, compelling, vital body of work, tying together the ancient and future: weaving swathes of buzzing digital textures, field recordings, clattering beats and distorted jazz sax with fizzing orchestral arrangements. Compassion is equal parts disorienting and immersive, balancing bold sweeping gestures and crumbling textures; tracks seemingly disintegrating and reassembling at points across the album. Blending both digital and specially recorded brass, strings and vocals, Barnes’s processing never truly makes it clear what’s new or old, sampled or unique, constantly blurring and toying with the line between digital and acoustic.
The Head And The Heart – Stinson Beach Sessions CD/LP (WB)
Unreleased demos from the writing of the Signs Of Light album and three previously unreleased songs.
Hoops – Routines CD/LP (Fat Possum)
Bloomington, IN based four-piece band Hoops craft hyper-melodic songs, built around power-pop chords, deceptively complex drum patterns, and rock-anthem sentiments that hide some tellingly dark thoughts. Three of the four members write and sing, each a frontman and a sideman simultaneously. During a live show, the bandmates can be seen frequently swapping instruments and positions on stage. The setup isn’t democratic so much as it is simply adaptable and committed: doing what the song demands, getting the sound just right. Hoops’ full-length debut, Routines is a bittersweet and honest record that sounds both warmly familiar and jarringly distinctive.
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon – 30 Seconds Over Planet Earth CD (Caldo Verde)
Sun Kil Moon and Jesu teamed up for the aptly titled collaborative album Sun Kil Moon/Jesu back in January 2016. Now, a little over a year later, they’re back with a follow-up.
Little Dragon – Season High CD/LP (Loma Vista/Concord)
Gothenburg, Sweden Grammy-nominated electro-pop outfit Little Dragon follow-up their acclaimed 2014 album Nabuma Rubberband with Season High co-produced by James Ford who also mixed the record. Consequence Of Sound called lead single “High” a “warm slice of alternative R&B” while equally as captivating second single “Sweet” is a saccharine-induced dance floor number framed by lead singer Yukimi’s lush vocals. Yukimi muses, “We want to exist in our own bubble where we can stay curious about sounds. The magic feeling that sounds can sprinkle over any boring day is what got us all hooked. That feeling of escapism…maybe because Gothenburg is a grey place for most of the year, our curse and blessing is that we never quite succeed.” [Limited white color vinyl pressing also available.]
Logic – Everybody CD (Def Jam)
New album from the hip-hop artist features guest appearances from Killer Mike, Black Thought, Chuck D and Juicy J, Alessia Cara, Khalid, Ansel Elgort and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Juana Molina – Halo CD/LP (Crammed Discs)
Halo is Juana Molina’s seventh album, and it pursues the experimental path she began years ago, marking a new milestone in the evolution of her own, unmistakable voice. She’s “on an evolutionary journey of her own devising” (Pitchfork), and pushes once more her “eerie, hypnotic” music “to increasingly haunting heights” (as written by SPIN magazine about her previous record). The 12 tracks on Halo abound with hypnotic rhythms which seem to draw their energy from immemorial rituals; with timbral explorations and ever-changing soundscapes; with mysterious lyrics often touching on witchcraft, premonition and dreams, always used as metaphors for emotional states; with voices which sometimes move away from word and meaning to be reduced to abstract phonemes and onomatopoeia. The album features contributions by Odin Schwartz and Diego Lopez de Arcaute (who have both been playing live with Juana for a number of years), and Eduardo Bergallo (who has taken part in the mixing of her previous albums), with Deerhoof’s John Dieterich making a guest appearance on a couple of tracks.
Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vol. 2 CD/LP (Sacred Bones)
Following the Yin (feminine, darkness, night, earth) represented on Occult Architecture Vol. 1, Vol. 2 presents the Yang. Yang means “the bright side of the hill” and is associated with the male, sun, light and the spirit of heaven, and as such Vol. 2 explores the light and airy elements of Moon Duo’s complex psyche.
John Moreland – Big Bad Luv CD/LP (4AD)
Big Bad Love marks a change in Moreland’s sound and outlook on life. With lyrics that are as intense and unfiltered as his earlier work, Moreland delves into finding peace within. He also branches out sonically, which is injected with a heavier dose of rock ‘n’ roll.
Nite Jewel – Real High CD/LP (Gloriette)
Recorded over the course of four years, with the help of Cole M. G. N., these songs of absent love and relentless nostalgia present the most personal, lyric driven Nite Jewel record to date. With everything from expansive, futuristic balladry to mellow dance floor hits, Real High acts as the artists most focused and bold effort yet. Featuring contributions from long-time collaborators such as Dâm-Funk, Droop-E, and Julia Holter, the timeless production, unique voice, and pristine song-craft of Real High create an irresistible combination that only seeks to enhance its affecting message.
Oxbow – Thin Black Duke CD/LP (Hydrahead)
On their seventh album, Oxbow’s elusive brand of harmonic unrest has absorbed the ornate and ostentatious palate of baroque pop into their sound, pushing their polarized dynamics into a scope that spans between sublime and completely unnerving.
Penguin Cafe – The Imperfect Sea CD/LP+MP3 (Erased Tapes)
A penguin stands in the middle of a scorching desert, far away from its natural habitat. This mirrors composer Arthur Jeffes’ journey and exploration into a new musical territory. Penguin Cafe have evolved into something of their own at the hands of Arthur who started the band in 2009 with the continuation and homage to his father’s legacy, the late Simon Jeffes’ Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Now, their upcoming album echoes reminiscent sounds that embrace the new.
Predominantly self-composed, the new album also features covers of electronic works by Simian Mobile Disco and Kraftwerk, along with a re-working of Simon’s “Now Nothing.” Arthur has developed from the traditional folk and jazz heritage Penguin Cafe Orchestra is known for into another realm of blissful ambience and dance music, recreated using strictly acoustic elements.
Perfume Genius – No Shape CD/LP+MP3 (Matador)
2014’s Too Bright showcased Mike Hadreas stepping out saucily onto a bigger stage, expressing, with the production help of Portishead’s Adrian Utley, emotions arranged all along the slippery continuum from rage to irony to love. Here in 13 new ferocious and sophisticated tracks, Mike Hadreas and his collaborators blow through church music, makeout music, an array of the gothier radio popular formats, rhythm and blues, art pop, krautrock, queer soul, the RCA Studio B sound, and then also collect some of the sounds that only exist inside Freddy Krueger. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Betty’s Blends Volume 3: Self-Rising, Southern Blends 2xCD/3xLP (Silver Arrow)
Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s acclaimed live album series Betty’s Blends returns with Volume 3: Self-Rising, Southern Blends. Recorded and mixed live from the soundboard by legendary Grateful Dead archivist and recording engineer Betty Cantor Jackson, this latest edition captures the CRB on a Southern swing through Atlanta, Raleigh and Charleston in November 2015. The set includes original staple CRB material like “Clear Blue Sky,” “Roan County Banjo” and “Oak Apple Day,” but focuses on the band’s sprawling selection of cover material ranging from Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out Of My Life Woman” to the Leiber/Stoller classic “I’m A Hog For You,” Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” to the Slim Harpo rarity “The Music’s Hot.” It also marks the first release in the series with current CRB drummer, Tony Leone. In Robinson’s own words, “With Betty, we trust her sonic sensibilities and give her the space and freedom to do what the woman does, and what she does is beautiful and unique. It’s the stuff rock ‘n’ roll dreams and recordings are made of.”
Joan Shelley – Joan Shelley CD/LP (No Quarter)
In December 2016, after more than a year of touring the world behind her 2015 LP Over and Even, Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg headed a few hours north to Chicago, where they joined Jeff Tweedy in Wilco’s Loft studio for five days. Spencer Tweedy, home from college, joined on drums, while James Elkington (a collaborator to both Tweedy and Salsburg) shifted between piano and resonator guitar. Jeff added electric accents and some bass, but mostly, he helped the band stay out of its own way. Half of these songs are first takes.
Slowdive – Slowdive CD/LP+MP3 (Dead Oceans)
UK shoegaze pioneers Slowdive enter their second act and offer up a fourth studio opus, their first in 22 years. Self-titled with quiet confidence, Slowdive’s stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears. Deftly swerving what co-vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell terms “a trip down memory lane,” these eight new tracks are simultaneously expansive and the sonic pathfinders’ most direct material to date. “It’s poppier than I thought it was going to be,” notes principal songwriter Neil Halstead, who was the primary architect of 1995’s previous full-length transmission Pygmalion. This time out the group dynamic was all-important. “When you’re in a band and you do three records, there’s a continuous flow and a development. For us, that flow re-started with us playing live again and that has continued into the record.” “There’s a different energy about it,” adds drummer Simon Scott. “It took ages to get back together and write songs and for it to click in the studio, but this album doesn’t feel like a bolt-on — it’s got an energy that’s as vibrant as Souvlaki and Just For A Day. It feels very relevant to now.” [Limited edition silver vinyl pressing also available.]
Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1 CD/LP+MP3 (Mercury Nashville)
Chris Stapleton follows up his Grammy award-winning 2015 debut Traveller with not one but two albums in 2017. From A Room: Volume 1 is the first, while the second installment From A Room: Volume 2 will appear later in the year. “I’m real proud of this record,” Stapleton exclaimed at a record release party at RCA Studio A in Nashville, TN. “We made it right here in (RCA Studio A) like the last one. We camped out in here…and had a lot of fun recording things.” Produced by Dave Cobb and recorded live with Stapleton’s band, the nine-track affair includes eight originals co-written by Stapleton and the lone cover “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” which has been recorded by Willie Nelson. Chris’ soulful vocals and understated guitar work are supported here by Cobb on acoustic guitar, Morgane Stapleton on harmony vocals, J.T. Cure on bass, Derek Mixon on drums, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, Robby Turner on pedal steel, and Mike Webb on keys.
The Sword – Greetings From… CD/LP (Razor & Tie)
There’s an unspoken edict handed down through the ages when it comes to rock bands: there are no rules. Austin, Texas metal luminaries The Sword – John Cronise (vocals, guitar), Kyle Shutt (guitar), Bryan Richie (bass), and Santiago Vela III (drums) – cut out boundaries since day one. Their style never stood predicated on a trend or a template. They always create what feels right and let the results speak for themselves. Greetings From… is a collection of nine live tracks spanning the band’s career. From Age Of Winters to their latest, High Country, Greeting From… creates a seamlessly crafted cocktail showcasing the music of The Sword throughout the past decade.
Taj Mahal + Keb’ Mo’ – TajMo CD/LP (Concord)
TajMo is a collaboration between two generations of blues giants, converging their singular talents for the first time ever on an album of original songs and covers, featuring cameos from Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E., Lizz Wright, and many more. TajMo brings out the best in both artists, with the pair merging their distinctive voices, personalities and guitar styles to create vibrant, immediate music that’s firmly rooted in tradition yet ruled by a playful sense of adventure. “Don’t Leave Me Here” is a love letter to the south that sounds like an instant classic, and “Soul” interweaves world music with blues in a way that only Taj could pull off. Taj and Keb’ put a soulful spin on Mayer’s “Waiting On The World To Change,” on which Raitt lends her unmistakable vocals. The 11-song set also includes covers of John Mayer and The Who.
Toxic: Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker – This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD (ESP-Disk Ltd.)
Recorded December 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, New York. Personnel: Mat Walerian – alto saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, flute; Matthew Shipp – piano, organ; William Parker – double bass, shakuhachi.
Various Artists – Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years Of The Story (An Album To Benefit War Child) CD/2xLP (Legacy)
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Brandi Carlile’s breakthrough album The Story. To celebrate she recruited artists like Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Pearl Jam, The Avett Brothers, Adele and many more for this Cover Stories album to benefit the charity War Child. Brandi describes this project as “…a David and Goliath story. Since becoming a mother, the reality of a child s beautiful little life being torn apart by war felt like too big of a problem for me. So I asked my heroes and friends to help me launch a rock at the giant that is our refugee crisis and help in the only way we know how, through the power of music.”
Wooden Wand – Clipper Ship CD/LP (Three Lobed)
In a world of guitar players, James “Wooden Wand” Toth remains first and foremost a songwriter and lyricist. Clipper Ship, however, presents a break in tradition: in attempting to emancipate himself from old habits, Toth wrote most of the songs on Clipper Ship ‘music first,’ adding lyrics later, a reversal of the tried and true method that has made him one of the most prolific and respected songwriters of his generation. The result is the most democratically-conceived, multi-layered, and musically sophisticated album in the vast Wooden Wand discography.
Arca – Arca LP (XL)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Arca is the first to feature the Venezuela-born, London-based producer’s untreated singing voice. He sings in Spanish – the language of his childhood home, Venezuela. It stands as a defiant, delicate statement of intent, and cements his position as one of this turbulent decade’s defining musicians. Previous work has incorporated snatches of song and Arca’s rapping, but on Arca, his voice is front-and-center on eight of the album’s 13 tracks.
Bad Brains – Build A Nation [Reissue/2007] LP (Megaforce)
2007’s Build A Nation served as Bad Brains’ first proper studio album in over a decade and featured all of the original members: HR, Darryl Jenifer, Dr. Know and Earl Hudson. Produced by long-time fan, Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, Build A Nation was a rock-solid return to form for the band who helped define American punk and hardcore music.
Bibio – Beyond Serious 12”+MP3 (Warp)
With this new EP Bibio continues down the path he started with 2016’s A Mineral Love and The Serious EP. The warm vibes of this new four-track 12” come just in time for you to enjoy with the onset of spring weather.
Descendents – Everything Sucks [Reissue/1996] LP+7” (Epitaph)
Deluxe 20th Anniversary edition of Descendents 1996 masterwork pressed on 180gm vinyl including a 7” with a pair of unreleased bonus tracks.
Twin Peaks – Urbs In Horto 2xLP (Grand Jury)
This special double LP features live performances from Twin Peaks’ sold out hometown shows at the Metro and Thalia Hall in Chicago, IL from December 2016 and comes in a gatefold package designed by the band.