STAFF PICKS

Kimber – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lindsay – Metz, Hiss Golden Messenger
Dario – Phoebe Bridgers, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Dominic – Moses Sumney, Jon Langford

THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES

Amadou & Mariam – La Confusion CD (Because Music)
Eighth full-length album from acclaimed Malian musical duo. [Vinyl edition due October 6.]

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps CD/LP+MP3 (Dead Oceans)
From the weeping strings and Twin Peaks twangs of opening track “Smoke Signals,” to the simple heartbreak of “Funeral” and melancholic crescendo of “Scott Street,” Stranger In The Alps is a swooningly beautiful record with a gothic heart. [Limited white colored vinyl pressing also available.]

The Bronx – V CD/LP (ATO)
Produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliot Smith, Beck, FIDLAR), V is the aptly titled fifth album from the Los Angeles, CA punk band. The quintet has certainly lost none of its pugnacity as V is as hard-hitting, confrontational and relevant as ever. And while it may or may not sound more grown-up than their vein-bulging early releases, they will not apologize either way. “It has the angst and social commentary that has characterized us from the beginning” guitarist Joby J. Ford says. “Only now the angst is aimed at more than just superficial things and the social commentary is directed at more than just people who like different music than us.” The band has gained notice for their dual lives they have lived for the past eight years, maintaining an alter ego as Mariachi El Bronx that is as true to that form of music as their hardcore is to the punk ethos. In any iteration, The Bronx are the real deal, ready for the next fight.

Circa Survive – The Amulet CD/LP+MP3 (Hopeless)
Lead by charismatic front man Anthony Green, formerly of Saosin, The Amulet contains the band’s signature sound, with influences from soft rock, post-hardcore, experimental rock, emo, progressive rock, art rock, and pop.

The Clientele – Music For The Age Of Miracles CD (Merge)
The Clientele return with Music for the Age of Miracles, their first release of new music since 2010’s Minotaur EP. It seems fitting that a chance meeting with a ghost from the past/future is what led to the first album of new Clientele songs in seven years. Singer and principal songwriter Alasdair MacLean and Anthony Harmer knew one another and played music together in the mid-90s but had lost touch. “I had often wondered what had happened to Anthony since,” says MacLean. “It turned out – he told me – he’d studied the Santoor, an Iranian version of the dulcimer, and over decades become a virtuoso, at least by my standards. He suggested we have a jam together. Ant and I now lived three streets away from each other, it turned out. He started to arrange my songs. He let me write and sing them, and he came up with ideas for how they should sound. This carried on until we had an album. I called up James and Mark and asked them if they wanted to make another Clientele record. They did, and this is it.” [Vinyl edition due October 6.]

Cut Copy – Haiku From Zero CD/LP/Cassette (Astralwerks)
Cut Copy returns with their first proper studio album in nearly four years. Haiku From Zero showcases a band in full command of their powers to move people both emotionally and physically. Written and recorded at studios around the world (Melbourne, Copenhagen, Washington, DC, New York, Atlanta), the 9-tracks present a united sonic front, due in no small part to the guiding ear of producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Neon Indian). Songs like “Counting Down” and “Living Upside Down” offer glimpses of beauty in a state of disco-fueled flux. And single “Standing In The Middle Of The Field” announces a theme that percolates throughout Haiku From Zero – the need to cut through the noise, a desire to focus. Amid a backdrop of loping kalimbas, cowbells and bubbly synths, lead singer Dan Whitford’s plaintive voice offers some emotional advice in the lyrics, “You gotta give up the things you love to make it better.”

Dead Rider – Crew Licks CD/LP/Cassette (Drag City)
The Chicago based art rockers return to Drag City for their fourth full length album. Ever developing their almost unclassifiable sound you get glitchy time shifted R’n’B mellow grooves alongside twanging dark blues licks and layered vocal harmonies.

Steve Earle and The Del McCoury Band – The Mountain [Reissue/1999] CD/LP
Steve Earle – Transcendental Blues [Reissue/2000] CD/LP (WB)
Steve Earle – Sidetracks [Reissue/2002] CD/LP (WB)
The first three of six classic Steve Earle albums to be reissued this year – each remastered with some being pressed to vinyl for the first time.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers CD/LP+MP3 (Constellation)
Luciferian Towers boasts four tracks spanning 44:54 in length. The album was made “in the midst of communal mess, raising dogs and children. Eyes up and filled with dreadful joy – we aimed for wrong notes that explode, a quiet muttering amplified heavenward. We recorded it all in a burning motorboat.” Luciferian Towers was informed by “an end to foreign invasions”; “an end to borders”; “the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex”; “healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as inalienable human right”; and “the expert f**kers who broke this world never get to speak again.”

David Grubbs – Creep Mission CD/LP (Blue Chopsticks)
If “mission creep” refers to a long-haul fatigue cited with increasingly regularity in the present political moment, David Grubbs imagines “creep mission” to be a talismanic utterance in the effort to turn this ship around. Creep Mission is an album of instrumental compositions with Grubbs’ effortlessly recombinant electric guitar at its core, and its m.o. is to go both deep and wide.

Noah Gundersen – White Noise CD/2xLP+MP3 (Cooking Vinyl)
Two years after the release of his highly acclaimed LP Carry The Ghost, Seattle native Noah Gundersen unleashes his bold third studio LP. “White Noiseis a sensory overload,” Gundersen explains. “Fear, anxiety, desire, sex, lust, love. White Noise is the place between waking and dreaming, where the edges blur and the light is strange. It’s a car crash, it’s a drowning, it’s everything all the time.” The conception of White Noise started long before Gundersen stepped into his homemade studio, nestled inside a 1600 sq. ft. loft on the marina in Ballard, Washington. “At the beginning of 2016, I walked on stage and was met with a feeling of overwhelming emptiness” explains Gundersen. “I imagined a career playing music I didn’t believe in and was terrified.” For fans of Noah Gundersen during the era of albums like Ledges (2014) and Carry The Ghost (2015), White Noise finds Gundersen in a variety of headspaces, with anthemic rock choruses in “The Sound” to piano ballads in “New Religion”, but still holding true to his in-depth and hyperaware style of songwriting.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Hallelujah Anyhow CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
“The stellar Hallelujah Anyhow often feels like a restless fever dream. Taylor’s elegant lyrics scan like stream-of-conscious poetry: Historical nods and ethereal characters (e.g., Jenny Of The Roses, Rhode Island Red) combine with real-life references, giving the songs a mythical quality. Although Hallelujah Anyhow hints at unrest and feeling lost—‘When the poets called for gasoline, I knew my days in the kingdom were numbered,’ Taylor sings at one point—the record’s allusions to finding silver linings are stronger. ‘If it’s up to me, a little love would go a long way,’ Taylor sings on ‘Harder Rain,’ while on ‘Jaw,’ he proclaims, ‘No more dancing like the world’s whipped forever.’ In a further nod to Hallelujah Anyhow’s urgent genesis, Taylor’s mix of alt-country and indie-folk is loose and extroverted. The soul-rock shimmy ‘Domino (Time Will Tell)’ possesses Rolling Stones-esque swagger, courtesy of freewheeling guitars and barnstorming saxophone, while the insistent folk-rock highlight ‘I Am The Song’ boasts repetitive strumming that matches a forceful vocal delivery. Even the songs that hew toward Heart Like A Levee’s stripped-down vibe—the piano-dappled ‘Caledonia, My Love’ and the low-lit folk gem ‘When The Wall Comes Down’—are more elaborate. – A.V. Club

The Horrors – V CD/2xLP (Caroline)
V is the stunningly assertive fifth album from The Horrors and follow-up to 2014’s Luminous. Lead single “Machine” sees the group at their majestic, imperial best, although the ten tracks on the album are so diverse that when the final song and second single “Something To Remember Me By” appears to channel dance, trance and ‘80s pop genres it feels like both the most natural thing in the musical world and also the most surprising. V shows the group at the peak of their powers, exhibiting a freedom and sense of exploration that feels truly liberating. “It is a risk,” says Faris Badwan discussing the band’s bold refusal to stand still. “But life isn’t much fun without risk. It’s the antithesis of being creative if you know what you’re going to be doing every time.” Keyboardist Tom Cowan continues: “It’s natural, if you do see yourself as an artist, to progress and not play it safe. Bowie pre-empted the modern condition of not being able to stay in one place for very long, and I get frustrated with bands who stay still. Because then it does become a career.”

Eilen Jewell – Down Hearted Blues CD/LP (Signature Sounds)
On Down Hearted Blues, Eilen and her long-time road band (Jerry Miller, Shawn Supra, Jason Beek) rip through greasy versions of dark blues like Charles Sheffield’s “It’s Your Voodoo Working,” Willie Dixon’s “You Know My Love” and Albert Washington’s “One Of These Days.” The band also strips down the sound, trading in drums and electric instruments for washboards, mandolins, and banjos to cover songs like Memphis Minnie’s “Nothing In Rambling,” Bessie Smith’s “Down Hearted Blues” and Moonshine Kate’s “Poor Girl’s Story.”

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful CD/LP (Island)
Recorded with producer Jacknife Lee and longtime collaborator Stuart Price during sessions in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Wonderful Wonderful is bursting with all of the blazing choruses and arena-filling anthems that make The Killers one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

Jon Langford – Four Lost Souls CD/LP+MP3 (Bloodshot)
An album of pure Americana, beyond the news of the day, going to a place where the differences between country, soul, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll are blown aside by the warm, languid breezes.

Ted Leo – The Hanged Man CD (Super Ego)
The Hanged Man is Ted Leo’s first solo album in nearly a decade, following his 2014 Aimee Mann collaboration The Both and 2010’s The Brutalist Brickswith The Pharmacists. The 14-track collection was recorded at a home studio in Wakefield, Rhode Island with the singer/songwriter manning almost all of the instruments. The streamlined LP features Leo’s familiar sharp bursts of skinny-tie pop-punk offset with an adventurousness in both tone and structure. The Hanged Man features contributions from Chris Wilson (The Pharmacists), Aimee Mann (The Both), Jean Grae and Jonathan Coulton and is ushered in by the urgent lead single “You’re Like Me.” [Vinyl edition due September 29.]

Luna – A Sentimental Education CD/LP (Double Feature)
Luna – A Place Of Greater Safety 10” (Double Feature)
In 2015, Luna reunited for a world tour after a 10-year absence. And now the beloved indie rock band returns with not one but two releases in 2017: an LP of covers entitled A Sentimental Education and a 10″ EP containing six new Luna instrumentals entitled A Place Of Greater Safety. The former finds Luna covering the Cure, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Mercury Rev and others.

Macklemore – Gemini CD (Bedor LLC)
Seattle rapper Macklemore’s first solo project in 12 years, following two releases with producer Ryan Lewis.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers The Long-Awaited Album CD/LP (Rounder)
On his latest LP, Martin reconnects with his backing band the Steep Canyon Rangers, who previously contributed to 2011’s Rare Bird Alert, 2013’s Love Has Come For You and 2014’s Live. Peter Asher, the Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond, helmed The Long-Awaited Album which is full of stories that mix humor and melancholy, whimsy and realism, rich characters and concrete details. And lots of banjos. Lead single “Caroline” is a banjo-slathered number that manages to be unfailingly jolly even as it dissects a brutal break-up. The song opens not long after the title character has unceremoniously dumped Martin’s narrator, and he’s still hung up on her. The song appears to serve a therapeutic function, however, as by the end of “Caroline,” Martin’s narrator is finally beginning to think about moving on. “Research has shown that there are many, many songs with the title Caroline,” Martin tells Rolling Stone. “However, this is the only good one.”

Mastodon – Cold Dark Place CD (Reprise)
Four previously unreleased tracks. Three of the songs – “North Side Star,” “Blue Walsh,” and “Cold Dark Place” – were recorded during the sessions for the band’s 2014 album Once More ‘Round The Sun. The fourth cut, “Toe To Toes,” was recorded during the sessions for their most recent album, 2016’s Emperor Of Sand.” [Limited 10” vinyl picture-disc edition due October 27.]

METZ – Strange Peace CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
“The best punk isn’t an assault as much as it’s a challenge — to what’s normal, to what’s comfortable, or simply to what’s expected. Teetering on the edge of perpetual implosion,” NPR wrote in their glowing review of METZ’s 2015 second album, II. The band’s follow-up and third album, Strange Peace is a distinct artistic maturation into new and alarming territory, frantically pushing past where the band has gone before, while capturing the notorious intensity of their live show. The album was recorded in Chicago live off the floor to tape with Steve Albini and was finished up with longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Graham Walsh. Strange Peace isn’t merely a collection of eleven uninhibited and urgent songs. It’s also a kind of sonic venting, a truculent social commentary that bludgeons and provokes, excites and unsettles. With all the pleasurable tension and anxiety of a fever dream, it is equal parts challenging and accessible. It is this implausible balancing act, moving from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, that only a band of METZ’s power and capacity can maintain: discordant and melodic, powerful and controlled, meticulous and instinctive, subtle and complex, precise and reckless, wholehearted and merciless, brutal and optimistic, terrifying and fun.

Midland – On The Rocks CD/LP (Big Machine)
Made up of singer Mark Wystrach, guitarist Jess Carson and bassist Cameron Duddy, Dripping Springs, TX trio Midland is the embodiment of ’70s California country, all smooth Eagles harmonies and heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics. Their songs are intoxicating country sung with the twang of George Strait. And it’s impossible to resist. Midland – named from a Dwight Yoakam song – excel in setting a mood, transporting the listener to another place and time. This is music made for wide-open skies, endless deserts and wondering where the road is going to take you next. Their full-length debut, On The Rocks, features some of the most traditional-sounding country music to come out of Nashville in a decade. Lead single “Drinkin’ Problem” evokes Gary Stewart – one of Midland’s biggest inspirations, along with Merle Haggard. “Electric Rodeo,” with its plaintive piano, sweeping strings and high-in-the-saddle chorus, is a prime example of the “picture” the band envisions creating. And the majestic “Nothin’ New Under The Neon” sounds like vintage Eddie Rabbit.

Linda Perhacs – I’m A Harmony CD (Omnivore)
Until 2014, Linda Perhacs had only issued one album, Parallelograms, in 1970 on Kapp Records. That album immediately fell into obscurity, but gained fans over the ensuing years as fans as disparate as Devendra Banhart, Daft Punk, and death metal group Opeth sung its praises. As the status of Parallelograms continued to grow, Linda found her way back to recording thanks to talented fans like Fernando Perdomo, Julia Holter, and Chris Price. In 2014, another fan, Sufjan Stevens, released Linda’s 44-year follow up to ParallelogramsThe Soul Of All Natural Things. Perhacs’ long overdue return to music was joyously welcomed with MOJO magazine describing the album as “a spectrally hypnotic work of prismatic beauty.” Now in 2017, Perhacs returns with  another new album, I’m A Harmony—this time produced by Pat Sansone (Wilco/The Autumn Defense) with Linda Perhacs and Fernando Perdomo reprising their roles from The Soul Of All Natural Things. Joining the ensemble are Pat Sansone and John Stirratt (The Autumn Defense/Wilco), Nels Cline, Glenn Kotche (Wilco), Devendra Banhart, and producer/remixer Mark Pritchard.

Josh Ritter – Gathering CD/2xCD/2xLP+CD+MP3 (Pytheas Recordings)
“For all his stylistic wandering, Ritter gives some of his best signature moves a workout throughout Gathering: Few singers possess such a gift for the sly folk-rock ramble, and few remain as adept at road-trip-friendly laments … In short, Josh Ritter remains at the top of his game two decades into a highlight-strewn career. He’d be forgiven for loosening his grip, but his hand has never felt surer.” — NPR [CD is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds a bonus CD with home recordings. Limited opaque yellow colored vinyl pressing including bonus CD and download also available.]

Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
The fifth full-length by Shout Out Louds marks a welcome return to the Swedish pop masters roots. “Ease My Mind celebrates music as a means of escape, a need to take a break from feeling petrified with fear,” the band notes. “The world is a different place now than it was in the beginning of the 2000’s. We didn’t grow up very aware of political messages in music and probably didn’t feel much of an urgent need to understand the world around us, in that sense. However, that has changed over the years. The world has seemed extremely dystopic and frail for quite a while now, and having children and getting older forces you to open your eyes to issues more devastating than heartbreak and feeling lost. But in our music, we still allow ourselves to address things the way we always have: through emotions rather than analysis. Music as a means of escape, a need to take a break from feeling petrified with fear. Ease My Mind is a lot about that for us.”

Moses Sumney – Aromanticism CD/LP+MP3 (Jagjaguwar)
Since emerging onto the scene in 2014, Moses Sumney has ridden a wave of word-of-mouth praise, hushed recordings, and dynamic live performances. It’s an organic, patient ascent all too rare in today’s musical climate. In a voice both mellifluous and haunting, Sumney makes future music that transmogrifies classic tropes, like moon-colony choir reinterpretations of old jazz gems. His vocals narrate a personal journey through universal loneliness atop otherworldly compositional backdrops. His proper debut album, Aromanticism is a concept album about lovelessness as a sonic dreamscape.

Tricky Ununiform CD/LP (False Idols/K7!)
Tricky’s 13th album is a delicate, storming, intricate affair that sees the artist take perhaps his most radical step yet a journey into happiness and contentment. It’s a record that shows the legendary British producer confront his legacy, history, family and even death itself. And in all of this, he finds the strangest, least familiar thing and peace.

Various Artists – Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares CD/2xLP (Numero)
18 distorted tales of dope fiends, pill poppers, and the baddest of trips lifted from the ashes of the acid rock hellfire.

Wand – Plum CD/LP/Cassette (Drag City)
Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013, but their first new album since 2015. After a whirlwind first two years of writing, recording, and touring, their newest document focuses teeming, dense, at times wildly multi-chromatic sounds into Wand’s most deliberate statement to date, with a long evening’s shadow of loss and longing hovering above the proceedings.

Brian Wilson – Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology CD/2xLP (Rhino)
An anthology of solo recordings from the original Beach Boy, starting with his ‘comeback’ album on Sire, through to the current day and a new track “Run James Run” which is previously unreleased and recorded specifically for this album.

Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun CD/LP+MP3 (Sargent House)
While past albums operated on the intimacy of stripped-down folk music (The Grime And The GlowUnknown Rooms), or the throbbing pulse of supplemental electronics (Pain Is BeautyAbyss), Chelsea Wolfe’s sixth album wrings its exquisiteness out of a palette of groaning bass, pounding drums, and crunching distortion. Recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), Hiss Spun was conceived as an emotional purge, a means of coming to terms with the tumult of the outside world by exploring the complexities of one’s inner unrest. “I’m at odds with myself,” she explains. “I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.” The album features contributions by Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, SUMAC) and Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens Of The Stone Age, Failure).

Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven CD/2xLP (Artemisia)
A glorious return to the blazing and furious black metal that they alone can create.

John Zorn – The Interpretation Of Dreams CD (Tzadik)
This powerful collection of new work inspired by the surrealism of Luis Buñuel and the psychotropic dream world of William Burroughs comprises three remarkable compositions—two stream-of-consciousness tours de force for vibraphone and rhythm section and the sensual piano quintet Obscure Objects Of Desire, one of Zorn’s most evocative new works.

David Bowie – Heroes 7” (Rhino/Parlophone)
Limited edition 7” picture disc vinyl pressing of this double-A side single of “Heroes” to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The AA side features a previously unreleased live recording from Marc Bolan’s British TV show, originally broadcast on September 20, 1977.

Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun 2xLP (Temporary Residence)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Every Country’s Sun takes two decades of Mogwai’s signature, contrasting sounds – towering intensity, pastoral introspection, synth-rock minimalism, DNA-detonating volume – and distills it, beautifully, into 56 concise minutes of gracious elegance, hymnal trance-rock, and transcendental euphoria.

 

 

NEXT WEEK’S NEW RELEASES

JESSICA LEA MAYFIELDSorry Is Gone CD/LP
PEARL JAMLet’s Play Two CD/LP
PRIMUS Desaturating Seven CD/LP
J RODDY WALSTON + THE BUSINESSDestroyers Of The Soft Life CD/LP
WOLF ALICEVision Of A Life CD/LP
WORRIERS Survival Pop CD/LP
DAVID CROSBYSky Trails CD/LP
IBEYI Ash CD/LP
KITTY DAISY + LEWISSuperscope CD/LP
LONEY DEARSelf-Titled CD/LP
PROPAGANDHIVictory Lap CD/LP
PROTOMARTYRRelatives In Descent CD/LP
RACQUET CLUBSelf-Titled CD/LP
UNSANESterilize CD/LP
LUCINDA WILLIAMSThis Sweet Old World CD/LP
BEN FROSTCentre Cannot Hold CD/LP
KAMASI WASHINGTONHarmony Of Difference CD/LP
NEIL FINNOut Of Silence CD
CAP’N JAZZAnalphabetapolothology LP
CONCRETE BLONDE – LP reissues
JOAN OF ARC – LP reissues
LEMON TWIGSBrothers of Destruction LP

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