January 8, 2008  


ANIMAL COLLECTIVE "Strawberry Jam" (Domino)
Real Audio: "Chores"
Pop iconoclasts Animal Collective brought across their clearest distillation of sound and structure to date with Strawberry Jam, in which their attempts to shed their sounds of old met with thunderous, gleeful success. While many elements of their sound on Strawberry Jam leaned towards indie rock, the group's shared influences of tribal drumming, tropicalia and psychedelia, as well as nods to electronic composers like Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, are all strikingly present, with unexpected clarity. Adding a more purposeful use of rhythms and textures to the atmosphere of their songs, the group proved that a push towards new and more widely accepted songs didn't have to come at the cost of their rampant streaks of experimentation, all adding up to their best record to date.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

ARCADE FIRE "Neon Bible" (Merge)
RealAudio: "Intervention"
Montreal's runaway indie success story, the Arcade Fire published the second chapter of their ongoing tale this year, followed by a surge of media attention and a string of sold-out shows all around the world. Neon Bible lived up to all the attention paid them, showering listeners with a sweeping and anthemic collection of songs, evoking the works of U2, Bruce Springsteen, and David Bowie -- surely no mean feat, and every moment of it well-deserved. Critics and a legion of fans have ensured that 2007 was the Year of the Arcade Fire, and this stirring, beautiful album provided no less fitting a monument to such praise.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

A BAND OF HORSES "Cease to Begin" (Sub Pop)

RealAudio: "Ode to LRC"
A Band of Horses' second effort plays as hopeful as it is downtrodden, and perhaps that's why their musical landscapes wear the promise of nostalgia so well. Whether or not you were one of the believers drawn in by 2006's Everything All the Time, you'll no doubt be won over by the stirring, vibrantly layered epics of Cease to Begin. Frontman Ben Bridell and his bandmates once again layer desperation across songs so poetic and charged, you'll feel hope swell within you, despite the fact that many of the songs here are about people who have no such thing.
Buy CD $14.99

BATTLES "Mirrored" (Warp)
RealAudio: "Atlas"
An electronic-progressive rock supergroup of no small stature -- its membership includes former Helmet drummer John Stanier, ex-Don Caballero/Storm&Stress guitarist Ian Williams, and Tyondai Braxton, the son of avant-garde jazz composer Anthony Braxton -- Battles dominated the mindset this year of all those wondering where rock-based music could go next. The eleven songs gathered herein race along frantic drum thwaps, terra-forming finely nuanced vistas that the group's previous EPs only hinted at. Balancing processed vocals, hammered loops of guitar and percussion, and stern rhythmic structures against a playfulness lost on many of their predecessors, Mirrored proved its worth as a fully realized, confidently propulsive debut album.
Buy CD $14.99

BEIRUT "Flying Cup Club" (Ba Da Bing!)
RealAudio: "Nantes"
World/indie crossover wunderkind Zach Condon returned in 2007 with his second album as Beirut, and it came off as the type of record he and his group (featuring string arrangements by Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett and A Hawk and a Hacksaw's Heather Trost) needed to make this year, one that not only marks a significant maturing, but also shows a band, and not just Condon, having fine-tuned their craft a little closer to perfection. The Flying Cup Club found Beirut's take on traditional Eastern European music tempered with the winsome, romantic strains of French chanson music, owing a debt to artists like Jacques Brel. The Flying Cup Club provides a cinematic, vintage listening experience, the aural equivalent of floating in and out of a daydream while staring at an old Parisian carnival postcard in your grandparents' scrapbook.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

BLACK DICE "Load Blown" (Paw Tracks)
RealAudio: "Kokomo"
An unbelievable focus overtook Black Dice for Load Blown, one that drew together their concerns over unique, individual sound particles on their past few sprawling efforts, and applied them to the most natural, most interesting, and accessible rhythms of their ten year career. Collecting three vinyl-only EPs released across this year and last, Load Blown embraced an overall approach in love with electric Miles, Brainticket, Cabaret Voltaire and island music, making for their most psychedelic and engaging release since Beaches and Canyons.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

BLACK LIPS "Good Bad Not Evil" (Vice)
RealAudio: "Cold Hands"
Black Lips, Atlanta's notoriously rambunctious garage rockers, continued their ascent up through the ranks with Good Bad Not Evil, their fourth studio album. Following the evergreen template of noise, hooks, bluesy undercurrents and primal psychedelia that powered all the bands on the legendary Nuggets collections, Black Lips skillfully managed to improve and further their stereophonic excesses with this go around, as evidenced by the frenetic guitar basher "Cold Hands," the boozy "Lock and Key," and the surprising slow gem, "Veni Vidi Vici." Their edges were a little less rough this time, but their sound remained exciting and raw.
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RealAudio: "23"
Blonde Redhead's 23 marked a natural progression from previous efforts, with production far better suited for their fragile, minor-keyed melodies. There's an openness in the writing that's more reminiscent of 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, but it's far from retread, finding the trio furthering their experiments with electronica, and breezy '80s pop, even coming up with a song ("The Dress") that could have been the product of an impossible pairing between Radiohead and storied arranger Jean-Claude Vannier. The spirit of musical reinvention still powers Blonde Redhead's existence as much as it haunts, and 23 documented their efforts to ascend pop's fragile ladders with a dramatic flair.
Buy CD $12.99
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RealAudio: "Rafflesia"
Boris continued to release albums and collaborations at a steady pace in 2007, but perhaps the most accessible and varied pieces in recent years could be found on Rainbow, a collaboration with Ghost's and White Heaven's guitar deity Michio Kurihara. Previously only available as a Japanese import, Rainbow packed in shoegaze, heavy psych, crushing metal, experimental passages, unreal guitar gymnastics by Kurihara, even guitar pop besotted with lush vocals by bassist Wata. Another classic release by this trio, one which develops, transforms, and tempers extreme music to increasingly fulfilling ends.
Buy CD $13.99
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BILL CALLAHAN "Woke on a Whaleheart" (Drag City)
RealAudio: "A Man Needs a Woman or a Man to Be a Man"
After twelve albums and nearly two decades worth of work, singer-songwriter Bill Callahan dropped his long-running Smog moniker and released his first album under his given name. It's fitting, too, for though Smog records have always been consistently enjoyable, Woke on a Whaleheart heralded the arrival of a newly transformed Callahan, one more obviously indebted to classic country and occasional gospel moves and with a lighter, almost carefree touch, and was easily Callahan's most jubilant and accomplished recording to date. Though that unmistakable, near-baritone drawl is still very much intact, Callahan sounds rejuvenated here, leading his band through a series of tracks that replace leaden weight with a laid back groove that's every bit as surprising as it is approachable.
Buy CD $13.99
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THE CAVE SINGERS "Invitation Songs" (Matador)
RealAudio: "Dancing on Our Graves"
Formed from the ashes of Seattle's Pretty Girls Make Graves and Hint Hint, the Cave Singers' debut album is one of those rare records that words can't really do justice to. Haunting, thrilling, often chilling, Invitation Songs is just that, an irresistible invitation to join them in the dark and dreamy world that their music inhabits. Built around finger-picked acoustic guitars, brushed drums and intimate, emotional vocals, the trio transcended folk music, blues, bluegrass and country, with a singular focus that belied its members' punk rock backgrounds.
Buy CD $12.99
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ERIC COPELAND "Hermaphrodite" (Paw Tracks)
Real Audio: "Green Burrito"
The first solo album from Eric Copeland, a member of Black Dice and Terrestrial Tones, delivered heavily rhythmic electronic pastiche, unafraid to wander into more abstract territory; the 12 songs gathered herein find Copeland reflecting on his past work while exploring wholly new ideas, sonics, and textures. More than just a simple side project created in the gaps of his main band's recording schedule, Hermaphrodite is an assured and thoroughly bizarre debut, one that showcases Eric Copeland's ability to transform strange and oft-indescribable sounds into compelling, original, and endlessly listenable pieces.
Buy CD $13.99
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DAN DEACON "Spiderman of the Rings" (Carpark)
Real Audio: "The Crystal Cat"
The assault of Dan Deacon on the cerebral cortexes of the youth of America was something that none of us saw coming, but now feels like inevitability. The Baltimore one-man party machine blew us all out with rambunctious, yet adeptly-crafted electronic party music, somewhere between chunky '80s home computer blurps, Paper Rad-informed dayglo futurism, and a sheet of neon blotter acid. Deacon's degree in electro-acoustic musical composition infuses his manic, strobing, freakazoid jams with musically sound methodology, one which has supported such a crazed outpouring of ideas with the structure required for maximum listenability. As evidenced by his string of sold-out shows all over the world, Deacon inspires his fans to get as crazy as they feel, and then joins in with them, ramping up the chaos into an indescribable mélange of exuberant chaos. One of the biggest surprises of 2007, and the touchstone release of teenage neo-hippiedom.
Buy CD $13.99
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DEERHUNTER "Cryptograms" (Kranky)
Real Audio: "Spring Hall Convert"
Atlanta's Deerhunter made a significant splash this year, both onstage and off, with its second album Cryptograms, a swirling and inspired continuation of hazy, drugged shoegaze pop and lucid psychedelic excess. While their first album and batch of EPs varied wildly as the band searched for its sound, Cryptograms triumphed with a love of full-throttle chords and thick, driving other-worldly tones, referencing a cornucopia of artists, from Pink Floyd to the Jesus and Mary Chain to Animal Collective, but maintaining a strong, individual presence throughout.
Buy CD $13.99

DR. DOG "We All Belong" (Park the Van)
Real Audio: "My Old Ways"
Philly's Dr. Dog proved once again this year that they know how to craft immaculately psychedelic, Beatles-esque retro-pop jams with a stylized, laidback sensibility, which is funny, considering just how lush their second album, We All Belong, comes across. Every track here sounds stately and full, walled by kitchen-ware percussion, gooey vocal harmonies, fuzzy guitars, double-time McCartney pianos and ... well, you get the idea. We All Belong belies an understanding of the '70s pop demographic, in line with other modern groups like Midlake, that inspires awe and mellow wonder across the board.
Buy CD $13.99

GRIZZLY BEAR "Friend EP " (Warp)
Real Audio: "He Hit Me"
In 2006, it seemed as if there wasn't anything that NYC's Grizzly Bear couldn't do, in terms of their redefined sound from their revelatory second album Yellow House and their ceaseless touring around the globe. While the group takes time to recharge, fans have Friend, a ten-song EP, to tide them over. Featuring guest appearances from members of Beirut, Dirty Projectors, CSS, Band of Horses, and Deerhunter, Grizzly Bear fills this release with covers and re-recorded versions of earlier songs, highlighted by the harmonies of "Shift," new teeth cut on "Alligator," and a stunning version of Carole King's "He Hit Me."
Buy CD-EP $7.99

PJ HARVEY "White Chalk" (Island)
Real Audio: "To Talk to You"
Whether raucous and bluesy, hot with the sodium vapor lights of a city at night, or subtle and nuanced, Polly Jean Harvey's career of musical shapeshifting has never deterred her fans -- moreover, it's expected with each release. But 2007's White Chalk shocked even her most steadfast followers into rapture with its stark, skeletal compositions, made even more striking by her choice of piano instead of guitar. Her whispered, icy vocals cemented in this transformation, which brought her musical storytelling to a new plateau, an incendiary and emotional achievement on the artist's own terms.
Buy CD $13.99

JESU "Conqueror" (Hydra Head)
Real Audio: "Conquer"
Jesu's second full-length brought a sincere, pristine sense of balladry to the work of ex-Napalm Death/Godflesh mastermind Justin Broadrick, showing us how to apply heavy music tropes to emotional and melodic heights. Borrowing heavily from shoegaze's stunned charms, the central conceits of these eight mammoth tracks pick up where 2005's brilliant Silver EP left us, and continue on through the group's other works released this year (among them the Lifeline EP and a split release with the drone outfit Eluvium).
Buy CD $13.99

KING KHAN & THE SHRINES "What Is?!" (Hazelwood)
Real Audio: "Take a Little Bit"
King Khan, thee baddest French-Canadian Indian exiled in Germany, at least that we know of, returned in 2007 with yet another new album, here backed by an incredible eight-piece band, with a full brass section. On What Is?!, Khan channels Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Stones, the Stooges, Jacques Dutronc, Johnny Thunders, Dylan, and Sun Ra (no, wait til you hear "Cosmic Serenade") all in the space of one album, rooted in an authentic '60s style recording and gut-shot production values. Khan howls, preaches, and confesses like James Brown raised on Nuggets and Pebbles compilations, making for a totally irresistible. If you don't love this record, you are sick of rock 'n' roll.
Buy CD $13.99

KIRSTEN KETSJER THE ROCK BAND "ffffoo k tsscch" (Yoyo Oyoy)
Real Audio: "The Bridge"
Kirsten Ketsjer the Rock Band is a three-piece from Denmark who combine the good-hearted melodic chime of the Feelies, the easy-going moments of the Minutemen, as well as the jazziness of Sea and Cake and a little of the bombast of Polvo or even Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. All of that is wrapped up in a smart, fresh-faced, noise-friendly open-endedness that keeps you on your smiling and on your toes. It's great to hear such familiar sounds done in a new, effective, unforced manner, and in doing so the group maintains an ownership of their sound that transcends influence.
Buy CD $18.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM "Sound of Silver" (Capitol)
Real Audio: "Someone Great"
Real Audio: "45:33"
James Murphy's second LCD Soundsystem full-length, Sound of Silver, repeats the formula of his past releases, but makes it all seem effortlessly fresh and vibrant, like it's 2002 all over again, back when his DFA production team was making its first big impressions on dance music. The big difference between then and now, of course, is that Murphy's mastered the art of adding the personal to music that you can dance to, something which just about everyone before him has unilaterally failed at achieving. The emotions that run through tracks like "All My Friends" and "Someone Great" are two of the most moving songs of 2007, and the rest of the record supports these high points with energy, style, and pointed humor. Earlier versions of some of the tracks on Silver found their way to 45:33, a 2006 "exercise mix" commissioned by Nike that saw an official release on DFA this year, including several bonus tracks. Both of these releases will remind you why you got on board with LCD and the rest of the DFA roster in the first place.
Buy "Sound of Silver" CD $12.99
Buy "45:33" CD $13.99
Buy "45:33" mp3 $9.99

MAGIK MARKERS "BOSS" (Ecstatic Peace!)
Real Audio: "Last of the Lemach Line"
If this New England noise/improv group's chaotic, occasionally unstable live shows and countless tales of free-form scrape scattered across over two dozen albums, CD-Rs, and cassettes had scared you away in the past, then 2007 found Magik Markers doing a complete 180 turn and crafting a song-based work that's as affecting as it is solitary. Not that anyone was expecting the group to produce such a mature album, but BOSS proved that the group could fuse emotional volatility across a new and completely accessible approach. It's a POP album, and it will undoubtedly make you see the Markers in a different light.
Buy CD $9.99
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MENOMENA "Friend and Foe" (Barsuk)
Real Audio: "Wet and Rusting"
Post-post-indie-rockers Menomena created a work of sheer virtuosic complexity with Friend and Foe, their second full-length, and it's everything their debut I Am the Fun Blame Monster was and more: note-dense, playful, modern, completely ridiculous, epic, and undeniably compelling. The Portland, OR trio builds their jams off of a computer program written by member Brent Knopf that loops their instrumental passages into ascending, complex spirals of panoramic organs, triple-tracked drums, trombones, Glockenspiels, careening guitars, armies of keyboards, and hyper-melodramatic vocals. Bloggers went ape over Menomena this year, and here's your chance to find out why.
Buy CD $11.99

MODEST MOUSE "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" (Epic)
Real Audio: "Dashboard"
Modest Mouse singer/guitarist Isaac Brock described We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank as a "nautical balalaika carnival romp," and in the case of the group's latest album, he pretty much nailed it. A hybrid of the pop kick of 2004's smash Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and the more dissonant raucousness that was so characteristic of earlier efforts, the clamorous We Were Dead feels like the logical, or perhaps illogical, evolution of Modest Mouse's wayward, strung-out pop varietals. But while the album leans toward faster, jarring rhythms, there are still a couple solid slow burners to balance things out. And then there's the much talked about addition of Johnny Marr, the former Smiths guitarist seamlessly integrating his bright jangle into the songwriting process. With Modest Mouse's distinctive sound and playful lyrics still present, the album lives up to Brock's "romp" description with plenty of guitars and his sea-themed biting, energetic, exasperated vocals.
Buy CD $17.99

NEW PORNOGRAPHERS "Challengers" (Matador)
Real Audio: "Go Places"
Sadly, in rock and roll it's too seldom true that maturity is really a good thing, but for the New Pornographers -- who are coasting down the road of middle age with their fourth full-length and entering their tenth year -- the unhurried ease that comes only with time is a treat. Maybe it's just the excellent, diverse batch of songs and the singers' distinct styles that gives this album so much depth: Carl Newman's workmanlike '60s pop nuggets, Neko Case's oh-so-sweet-and-melancholy drawl, and Dan Bejar's gnarled glam theatrics. Maybe it's the way the group seems to be playing with each other and playing off each other with newfound comfort, with subtle instrumental flourishes and soaring harmonies that are positively infectious; surely this is the New Pornographers best sounding album yet.
Buy CD $12.99

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1990S "Cookies" (Rough Trade)
Real Audio: "Cult Status"
Anybody who doesn't like fun, keep moving along, because this brilliant, energetic power pop/punk debut by Glasgow's 1990s offers nothing but. It's the first project to see release from the Yummy Fur's frontman John McKeown since his former bandmates moved on to a little project called Franz Ferdinand. Cookies offers nothing but casual brilliance; wound-up, jagged guitar pop and cheeky lyrics aside, there hasn't been a record this dedicated to good times in years, punched up by a bright and powerful production job by Suede's Bernard Butler. Highly recommended!
Buy CD $14.99

NO AGE "Weirdo Rippers" (Fat Cat)
Real Audio: "Boy Void"
Dean Spunt and Randy Randall were two-thirds of the insanely great (and ridiculously unheralded) Los Angeles art-punk band Wives. Emerging from the same all ages scene that also brought us folks like the Mae Shi, 400 Blows, and Mika Miko, their new project No Age retains that same unbridled spirit fully intact, only now the two have opened up their sound equally to noisier passages and to melodic songcraft. Now signed to Sub Pop with a debut album set for 2008, Weirdo Rippers collects tracks from the group's five vinyl-only singles and EPs, showcasing the band's sometimes-taut, often loose punk thrash and heady dream pop into wholly cohesive bursts of manic grandeur, recalling a more easygoing Lightning Bolt or a melody-driven take on Black Dice.
Buy CD $12.99
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OKKERVIL RIVER "The Stage Names" (Jagjaguwar)
Real Audio: "Unless It's Kicks"
Okkervil River's Will Sheff arguably usurped the Decemberists' Colin Meloy in 2007 as this generation's most literary-minded singer-songwriter, spinning deep and complex yarns from the fabric of his world, finding meaning in the very lack of meaning that stitches together a day in the life. The Stage Names, while far from upbeat, brings a loose, freewheeling joy to the equation that is both uplifting and infectious. The band is playing their hearts out, not looking for the perfect take, just the perfect emotion, and Sheff's voice rises from a whisper to a howl, perfectly in tune with his protagonist's rising temperature. With subtle allusions to the classics of American music -- rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country, and of course our beloved indie-rock -- this might be Okkervil River's masterpiece.
Buy CD $14.99
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PANDA BEAR "Person Pitch" (Paw Tracks)
Real Audio: "Bros"
Though many anticipated the new Animal Collective album this year, one could make the argument that a good bit of its thunder was stolen from founding member/drummer/guitarist/vocalist Panda Bear (a/k/a Noah Lennox). His third solo outing, Person Pitch, bridged the mellifluous atmosphere of Arthur Russell with the unflagging pop structures of Brian Wilson, crafted over dozens of samples and an ocean full of reverb, creating hazy, ethereal, fragile and childlike songs tracks that wash irresistibly over the the ears, body, mind, and even the soul of its listener. If you only listen to one new record this year, make it Person Pitch.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

JAY REATARD "Blood Visions" (In the Red)
Real Audio: "My Shadow"
Commanding major label attention while watching his audience grow tenfold, this was certainly Jay Reatard's year. This Memphis denizen has been banging away at the hallowed halls of garage punk (and its corollary of goth-tinged synth punk) for well over a decade with the Reatards, Lost Sounds, Bad Times, Terror Visions and several other outfits, but his recent forays into solo territory unleashed a knack for relentlessly catchy, songwriting that few but the faithful could have anticipated. Ricocheting between the fast and the faster, Blood Visions channeled Adam Ant through the Futureheads and vintage Sparks, showing a personal side to the genre that few are able to successfully harness.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

THE SHINS "Wincing the Night Away" (Sub Pop)
Real Audio: "Sea Legs"
Chalk it up to a sagging marketplace, but the Shins' strong showing in the Billboard Top 10 early in 2007 set the pace for the Arcade Fire to follow, and moreover, the steady gathering of independent labels to make a claim for relevance in a marketplace almost unilaterally dominated by the majors. On their long-awaited third album Wincing the Night Away, frontman and principal songwriter James Mercer never sounded more liberal, successfully rewriting his group's style in myriad ways, as quickly and as carefree as possible. As a result, the Shins have never been more exuberant, as sonic references abounded, only to be discarded, its representative songs careening off in every direction possible, without compromising the group's trademark sound.
Buy CD $14.99

SPOON "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" (Merge)
Real Audio: "Don't You Evah"
Spoon's sixth full-length was one of the most talked-about releases of the year, and for good reason. The showman-like façade put up by frontman Britt Daniel is once again tight and incredibly detailed, an inspired take on new-wave singer songwriting (think Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson) and their Top 40 corollaries, a la Billy Joel and Van Morrison. Daniel's out to keep this set brief, striking, and loaded with screeching samples and aural excitement, his coy vignettes coming across greasy, shocking, and slick with intent.
Buy CD $14.99
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ST. VINCENT "Marry Me" (Beggars Banquet)
Real Audio: "Marry Me"
This was the year that was for one Annie Clark, a 23-year-old from Dallas who has seen the world while slinging axe for the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens. Yet her association with those two overachieving entities scarcely prepares one for the sheer ambition and accomplishment of Clark's Marry Me album, a gorgeous, precocious and often stunning debut released under the name St. Vincent. Like Bjork, Clark is clearly an intense, iconoclastic, fiercely independent and hugely talented artist, whose vision and drive makes her music almost unclassifiable.
Buy CD $14.99
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A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW "Scribble Mural Comic Journal" (Notenuf)
Real Audio: "C'mon"
This twin sister and brother trio hails from Philadelphia, though, as their name suggests, one could imagine the band making music in some damp, European city. A Sunny Day in Glasgow come as close as anyone to re-imagining the term shoegaze since the descriptor first appeared. Trading in Britpop jangle, washes of orchestrated noise, and shimmering, minimalist melodic loops, Scribble Music Comic Journal's real ace in the hole lies in its angelic vocal stylings, as if the Cocteau Twins recorded for Kompakt. It's one of the most surprising albums of the year, never too "difficult" for anyone that's willing to let go of their imagination and allow a band take control of their senses.
Buy CD $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

VAMPIRE WEEKEND "EP" (Self-Released)

Real Audio: "A-Punk"
VAMPIRE WEEKEND "Mansard Roof " (XL)
Latest in a line of NYC buzz bands, Vampire Weekend scored a contract with XL Recordings this year, managed to sell out some of the city's most influential venues, and toured the U.S. all on their own. The group of four Columbia grads traffics in African Paul Simonisms as they pertain to the indie rock that many of us live and die by, with all of the quirks and nuances you'd anticipate from a band that drew well-earned comparisons to the best material of the Police, the Teardrop Explodes, Orange Juice, and the Talking Heads. The self-released three song EP which we premiered this past summer on our download store is no longer available, but the group recently released the "Mansard Roof" 45 which should ably tide us over as the group preps their 2008 debut LP.
Buy "Mansard Roof" 45 $3.99
Buy "Mansard Roof" mp3 $1.99

DAVID VANDERVELDE "The Moonstation House Band" (Secretly Canadian)
Real Audio: "Jacket"
Chicago pop prodigy David Vandervelde's barely into his twenties, yet performs with the musical depth of someone twice his age, channeling sturdy, retro-sparkled pop songs in a style reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, Little Feat, Bowie, T. Rex, or Plush. His debut showcases his glam-racketed lupine howl, all barroom eyes and feigned innocence, the wild yet earnest conflation of Matthew Sweet with the Brian Jonestown Massacre. If longing for rock's gossamer past is what you're into, this record will make your year complete.
Buy CD $14.99

WHITE WILLIAMS "Smoke" (Tigerbeat6)
Real Audio: "Headlines"
Having cut his teeth first on the mean streets of Cleveland, then Brooklyn, and finally on stages all over the country this summer (where he warmed up for Girl Talk and Dan Deacon), Joe "White" Williams nailed down a formula for electro-glam pop success. Smoke smolders with joyful abandon and soulful melancholy, amidst lazy, hypnotic grooves, detuned analog synths, and a lovely, laidback vocal delivery. He's got crossover potential in spades, and once you get turned onto Smoke, you'll understand just why.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

YEASAYER "All Hour Cymbals" (We Are Free)
Real Audio: "Sunrise"
Brooklyn's Yeasayer backed up two years of increasingly impressive live appearances with one of the great debuts of 2007. All Hour Cymbals contains eleven progressive-influenced, choral Eastern-flavored psych-pop gems, spiced with various forms of percussion, mandolins, perfect four-part harmonies, and a vocal delivery that recalls both Peter Gabriel, Lindsay Buckingham and the singers of NYC's own Akron/Family. Fusing an almost jam band mentality with mesmerizing guitar lines and ultra-catchy choruses, Yeasayer drenched their album with layer upon layer of instrumentation and studio effects, yet the end result sounds free and natural, showcasing unbelievable chemistry between its four members.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99



ARP "In Light" (Smalltown Supersound)
Real Audio: "St. Tropez"
Imagine early B. Fleischmann jamming with Schlammpeitziger in a Cluster tribute competition versus Delia & Gavin. Arp gets the formula dead on and then some by tempering the psychedelic loops with a melancholic atmosphere and melody. Droning, phasing, climbing, and pulsating analog keys are layered and then grow at their own pace. It's a really nice mix of the old earthy Krautrock vibe and a new, more song-oriented quality, with a few starker, slightly more experimental tracks thrown in at the end for good measure.
Buy CD $16.99

GUI BORATTO "Chromophobia" (Kompakt)
Real Audio: "Chromophobia"
Right when everyone was ready to pigeonhole their signature sound as boilerplate minimal techno with pop leanings, Kompakt released Chromophobia from Brazilian producer Gui Boratto. He's got an irresistible way with a groove that's firmly based in house and smartly avoids the trappings of trance, not too dissimilar from Villalobos but with a tendency to elevate rather than dig deep, with friendly, soft drum textures.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $12.99

BURIAL "Untrue" (Hyperdub)
Real Audio: "Untrue"
Last year, mystery dubstep revolutionary Burial knocked us all out with his self-titled debut. In 2007, his second album, Untrue, repeated that knockout twice over. Burial's overall palette and scope move far beyond his peers, allowing him to craft full albums that are more about the overall journey than the stops along the way; a deep, mysterious and dark world of mood music, of cold city streets and streetlight burn, of endless drives through vacant urban overpasses at 4 A.M. Burial's melodies are still steeped in the two-step/garage formulas that birthed dubstep, but carry a distinct Detroit techno feel that makes his works sound expansive, open, and wondrous.
Buy CD $15.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

CHROMATICS "Night Drive" (Italians Do It Better)

Real Audio: "Night Drive"
Chromatics' transformation from seditious no-wave punk bash to warm, pulsating Italo disco finally peaked in 2007 with Night Drive, an imaginary soundtrack helped out by Glass Candy's mastermind Johnny Jewel, contributing a battery of bleak but glimmering keyboard melodies and eerie drones. The group's icy version of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" really pushes this effort over the top.
Buy CD $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

EFDEMIN "Efdemin" (Dial)

Real Audio: "April Fools"
Even if we told you that Efdemin made some of this year's most non-retro-nostalgic Detroit, efficient, deep, on-point electronic jams, all full of warmth and slowly-rising energy, it still wouldn't really do this brilliant album justice. The nom de techno of one P. Sollman, Efdemin's tracks are strangely blissful (in a "house" way) and muscle-y (in a "Detroit" way) and sophisticated in a way very specific to the Dial label, on which Sollman has previously released some gorgeous ambient installation soundtracks.
Buy CD $15.99

THE FIELD "From Here We Go Sublime" (Kompakt)
Real Audio: "A Paw in My Face"
Imagine the ideal combination of Michael Mayer covering Wolfgang Voigt's Gas and you'll get a sense of what the Field had to offer us this year soft, pulsing and vibrating ambient techno with a pronounced, softly pummeling beat. From Here We Go Sublime enjoyed a well-deserved breakout success in 2007, possessing both the rare quality of listenability from beginning to end, plus a high amount of tracks that you'll wanna add to your DJ sets.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $12.99

GLASS CANDY "B/E/A/T/B/O/X" (Italians Do It Better)
Real Audio: "Beatific"
Glass Candy have taken up the Italo-disco revival torch and are running with it, offering six shimmering original tracks on B/E/A/T/B/O/X in addition to the two tracks previously released on the After Dark compilaton, plus a feel-good bonus intro track channeling Glass Candy's wholesome work-out buddy Anna Oxygen. While the album is packed with simplistic, retro disco-noir, synth swinger Johnny Jewel skillfully brings what sometimes seems like an ancient genre up-to-date; the backing trumpets of stand-out track "Candy Castle" evoke less a catwalk for flares and platform shoes than a slow-mo boxing ring where Kanye is pitted against Soulja Boy.
Buy CD $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

JUSTICE "Cross" (Vice)
Real Audio: "D.A.N.C.E"
Parisian duo Justice have been heralded by everyone from the NY Times to Pitchforkmedia, and every place else in between as both this year's European arbiters of cool, and the current reigning heirs to the dance floor throne. They've remixed everyone from Britney Spears and Madonna to their idols and main musical influence, Daft Punk. If you set foot in a dance club anytime this year, you were likely assaulted by their single "D.A.N.C.E.," with its catchy-as-hell kids' chorus, and infectious disco beat. High-powered electrocuted party music from front to back, it's no surprise that "Cross," their debut full-length, was one of the most popular electronic records of 2007.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

LUKID "Onandon" (Werkdiscs)
Real Audio: "Onandon"
It's rare that an album can attract the attention of everyone in our NYC store within its first 15 minutes, Lukid's Onandon did just that the first time we played it on our shop stereo. Its cut-up, sample-driven madness, pieced together like an eloquent mosaic with a slight hint of MPC production, with minimal "loop-finding" wizardry, bubbling basslines, and a warmth that is both undeniable and inviting. Prefuse 73 and Jan Jelinek are obvious waystations in Lukid's journey, but the bulk of its charms belong solely to the artist, and everyone who joins him.
Buy CD $14.99

MURCOF "Cosmos" (Leaf)
Real Audio: "Cielo"
Over the years, Murcof's epic soundscapes have grown more and more subtle; and even though a seamless blend of acoustic, electronic, and orchestral music is still the palette on this, his third album, the tones and colors have grown darker. With Cosmos, Murcof moved even further into the area of imaginary soundtracks, yet his imagination feels quite real. It's an ambient record with weight and a pulse, and one of the most moving, beautifully rich albums to grace the genre in a while.
Buy CD $14.99

PAN SONIC "Katodivaihe / Cathodephase" (Blast First)
Real Audio: "Lahetyst / Transmission"
Pan Sonic have a deep and impressive catalog but in its earliest years, they won over the avant-classical, Wire-reading set by instinctually exploring the cool underbelly of electronica that was as far removed from Eno's hazy ambiance as it was from the dance floor. In this sense, the Finnish group had no trouble crafting melodic, musical, rhythmic and compelling pieces from the tiniest and most meticulously assembled bleeps and pops. With Katodivaihe, a thrilling and sometimes startling progression took place, as Pan Sonic broadened their palette, if not their focus, with dense sheets of metallic noise, swampy and propulsive bass tones, and even cello weaving in and out of its pieces. Consider the album a powerful, time-freezing and lasting statement from true modern innovators.
Buy CD $14.99

PANTHA DU PRINCE "This Bliss" (Dial)
Real Audio: "Eisbacken"
2007 saw the highly-anticipated, much-lauded sophomore album from Pantha Du Prince hit our shelves. While his first album, Diamond Daze, turned heads with its uniquely manicured textures, This Bliss followed suit with an even more pronounced feel, at times slightly edgier production, and characteristically unique atmosphere, all united by an overall, undeniable "personality" that is sorely lacking in recent techno releases. Gripping, evocative tracks unfold with unexpected gravity and fragile beauty, placing his works in a class truly on its own. Only Pantha's labelmate Efdemin came through with a comparable release this year.
Buy CD $15.99

POLE "Steingarten" (~scape)
Real Audio: "Dusseldorf"
Stefan Betke and his Pole project all but invented the style known as "clicks & cuts" back in the '90s, paving the way for the minimal, dub-infected sludge of rhythms and sounds from a new generation of electronic producers at the start of the millennium. But 2007's Steingarten saw Betke reinventing his sound, and in turn created the tightest collection of upbeat rhythms he's ever produced. Gone are the slow burning, crackling dub meltdowns from his classic works; he's now focused on the brighter side of life and seems rejuvenated and energized.
Buy CD $15.99

PROFESSOR GENIUS "Professor Genius" (Tropical Computer Systems)
Real Audio: "Kisses"
Local hot prospect Professor Genius isn't the type to borrow the kitschy tropes of synth-disco and coast out on secondhand style with it. Rather, his tracks are filled with the wild, unfettered spirit of the Italo/synth-disco of yore, and showcase an effortless ability to apply it to catchy and original songs and sounds. It's so refreshing to hear someone doing something new with the old. Combining the drive of Black Devil Disco Club, the motorik rhythms of Detroit, and the Blade Runner-esque dystopian sprawl of Vangelis, his debut album also unites the cosmic, roller-boogie funk of Peter Brown and the propulsive bounce of Alexander Robotnick.
Buy CD $9.99

SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO "Attack Decay Sustain Release" (Interscope)
Real Audio: "It's the Beat"
If you wondered what the British hype over "nu-rave" was all about, then you won't find a better place to start than Simian Mobile Disco's debut album. Following singles and mixes that have all but defined the sensibilities of indie dance parties for years, ADSR offers up an unabashedly single-minded take on electronic grooves, one that's almost strictly for dancing. And while there are moments where you just might be reaching for that glow-stick, there are equal doses of acid, big beat, electro-pop and house to keep you from grinding your teeth for too long.
Buy CD $10.99

STUDIO "West Coast" (Information)
Real Audio: "Out There"
Originally released last year as a super-limited LP, West Coast, by Swedish duo Studio, quickly became a DJ favorite, even finding DJs like Prins Thomas and Todd Terje remixing the album's "Life's a Beach." Though their connections to the Scandinavian bent for neo-space-disco are evident, Studio sticks closer to the cosmic blueprint of Italian DJ Daniel Baldelli's legendary sets, with their slo-mo tempos and an assimilation of diverse and often disparate styles, one which will also appeal to Krautrock aficionados.
Buy CD $15.99

PRINS THOMAS "Cosmo Galactic Prism" (Eskimo)
Real Audio: "Soul Machine"
The spaced-out four-on-the-floor masterpieces that Prins Thomas and his Norwegian brethren (Lindstrom, Todd Terje, etc.) have been producing have been wreaking havoc on discerning dancefloors worldwide. We don't expect that to change, as evident from this awesome double-disc mix CD that Thomas unleashed on us in 2007. This painstakingly sequenced collection manages to be leftfield, deep and eclectic, like a mix from a guy who's been buying records for years and knows these tunes inside and out, and who knows how to work them. Holger Czukay, Hawkwind, Boards of Canada, Zombi, Lindstrom and dozens more flow in and out of each other in breathable fashion, each new track adding to the overall vibe, as if it's all part of one long extended piece with 10 or 12 movements.
Buy CD $20.99

AMON TOBIN "Foley Room" (Ninja Tune)
Real Audio: "Ever Falling"
Moving on from sampling vinyl to recording and looping the world around him, Foley Room saw Amon Tobin collaborating with scientists, zoologists, musicians, and a cast of thousands, tracking audio sources from bugs and ants to wolves and tigers to trains and motorcycles to the Kronos Quartet to (literally) the kitchen sink (there was an extensive underwater strings and percussion recording session). Tobin managed to find a new direction yet seamlessly builds on his past explorations, and as the accompanying DVD shows, he clearly had a ball along the way.
Buy CD w/DVD $14.99

UUSITALO "Karhunainen" (Huume)
Real Audio: "Satumaa"
Uusitalo is by far the most straight-ahead techno guise of Finland's Sasu Ripatti (also known as Vladislav Delay and Luomo), but even that says little about Karhunainen. Eschewing digital processing entirely, this latest was entirely analog and drum-focused, intent on making the bass kick sound ridiculously large. About as floor-friendly as we've ever heard the trickster, it's a strong effort from start to finish, and one of his best releases out of his wildly diverse and prolific career.
Buy CD $15.99

RICARDO VILLALOBOS "Fabric 36" (Fabric)
Real Audio: "Won't You Tell Me"
Not one to be outdone, techno producer extraordinaire Ricardo Villalobos eliminates the middle man and cuts right to the chase with his unbelievable mix for Fabric, composed entirely of his own new and otherwise unavailable tracks. Divided into three thematic/rhythmic "suites" if you will, so there's often no telling where one piece ends and another begins. There's no easy payoff, and the mix deserves (and requires) repeated listens on both the biggest sound system you can manage, and the best pair of headphones with which you can curl up and get lost. One of the best records of the year -- Villalobos is in a class of his own.
Buy CD $16.99

[V.A.] "After Dark" (Italians Do It Better)
Real Audio: "Rolling Down the Hill"
The After Dark compilation was originally compiled and pressed in an edition of 200 copies as a label sampler/promo for a Glass Candy tour, but an unexpectedly massive response to the sounds contained herein has brought it out of limited edition limbo and into wider availability for the general public. It's an oft-stunning mix of airy, synth-soaked dance glee and low-slung grooves that samples key 12" singles and demo tracks from a whole host of different Giorgio Moroder-loving bands, such as Glass Candy, Professor Genius, Chromatics, Farah and Mirage.
Buy CD $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

[V.A.] "Dirty Space Disco: Selected by the Dirty Space Sound System" (Tigersushi)
Real Audio: "I Need Somebody to Love"
This languorous mix compiled by the Dirty Sound System is a slow-roasting pleasure of ancient synth arpeggiations and bubbling hand percussion. Kicking off with the Beach Boys-esque falsetto of John Forde, the mix is streamlined and silvery throughout its duration, encompassing the likes of Krautrock demi-urges like Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler as well as Sylvester, Fern Kinney and the Undisputed Truth, all coherent and wilded out.
Buy CD $15.99

[V.A.] "Elaste: Slow Motion Disco" (Compost)
Real Audio: "Logic System"
DJ Mooner's Slow Motion Disco mix is a compilation of tunes that were popular amongst the Afro-Cosmic disco scene of the late '70s and early '80s, an immensely popular underground scene in Germany and Italy, and represented in bits and pieces all over Europe. The Cosmic sound would be best described as slower psychedelic electro meets Italo disco, and DJ Mooner provides a fine reintroduction this trippy style, where Heaven 17, Chris & Cosey and Eloy(!) were dance floor fillers. Those who bought the Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and Confuzed Disco albums will probably be quite into this, as well as of proggy Krautrock, screwed & chopped hip-hop mixtapes and Section 25 could get with this aesthetic quite easily.
Buy CD $15.99

[V.A.] "Soundboy Punishments " (Skull Disco)
Real Audio: "Gold and Silver"
The heavier-than-heavy dubstep label Skull Disco brings us Soundboy Punishments, compiling the label's first five 12-inch singles. Culled primarily from the work of Shackleton, as well as a few selections from Appleblim and Gatekeeper, this is a mysterious yet engaging collection of deep, dark and danceable dub. As the title suggests, this is punishment for any sound boy expecting the same ol' thing, and worth it to everyone from the curious to the aficionado, especially for the now-legendary 18-minute Ricardo Villalobos remix of Shackelton's "Blood On My Hands."
Buy CD $20.99
Buy mp3 $9.99



AFFLICTED MAN "The Complete Recordings" (Senseless Whale)
Real Audio: "I'm Afflicted"
An eye-opening overview of a little-known punk rocker steeped both in the blues and heavy psych, this public service reissue of Afflicted Man's discography. Steve Hall spent most of his career on the furthest edge of the DIY fringe, but The Complete Recordings does a bang-up job in chronicling the work of a musician who managed to connect the dots between skinhead punk, the Messthetics compilations, Billy Childish and High Rise, the latter of which (High Speed and the Afflicted Man's Get Stoned 'Ezy LP from 1982) make this a mandatory purchase.
Buy CD $20.99

ED ASKEW "Little Eyes" (De Stijl)
Real Audio: "Little Eyes"
Ed Askew was a unique folk singer in NYC back in the '60s who cut a legendary album, Ask the Unicorn, for ESP-Disk. Now available to the public after over three decades in mothballs, Little Eyes surfaced in 2007, the follow-up album long thought to be lost forever. Askew waltzes through ten songs of triumphant sorrow, an album more confident and assured than his debut, and one that could have legitimately catapulted him beyond cult status had it been released in its own time.
Buy CD $13.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

VASHTI BUNYAN "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind" (DiCristina)
Real Audio: "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind"
British folk chanteuse Vashti Bunyan's unprecedented return to the realms of outsider music began a few years back, with the rediscovery of her lone album, the beautiful and delicate Just Another Diamond Day. Yet the music world she had left behind so completely back in the '60s has flooded back to her, with a comeback album, collaborations with Animal Collective and Devendra Barnhart, and now this fantastic double-disc reissue of her first two singles, demos for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label, and other home recordings, all dating from 1964-1967. Varied in scope but never in quality, Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind is another fine glimpse of one of the most honest and direct female voices to be rediscovered in recent years.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

GENE CLARK "With the Gosdin Brothers" (Sundazed)
Real Audio: "Tried So Hard"
Gene Clark made quite a few incredible albums -- including the first three albums by the Byrds -- and his oft-reissued 1967 solo debut is among the best of them. Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers came out almost simultaneously with Younger Than Yesterday, the first post-Clark Byrds LP. Clark's album was a commercial failure at the time of its release, but over the years it's become known as one of the great California country-rock albums, the first of many Clark would helm. It's a stone cold classic.
Buy CD $16.99

STUD COLE "Burn Baby Burn" (Norton)
Real Audio: "Burn Baby Burn"
The Stud Cole story is a familiar one: despite his utmost dedication to singing and songwriting, only a limited amount of the Buffalo native's material ever made it to record, and likewise never with much success. That being said, what appears on Burn Baby Burn is a treasure trove full of off-kilter doo-wop, loose rockabilly and sultry, blues-inspired rock tunes. If you're a fan of the Cramps, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Hasil Adkins, Ronnie Dawson, Charlie Feathers, etc., you can't go wrong with Stud.
Buy CD $14.99

KAREN DALTON "Cotton Eyed Joe" (Megaphone/Delmore)
Real Audio: "Down and Out"
A never before heard two-CD live set of one of the most-revered and under-documented female folk singers, Karen Dalton, rescued from the crumbling remains of an ancient pair of reel-to-reel tapes ... seriously, this is a big, big deal, essentially doubling her recorded output, and prefacing those works by seven full years. Recorded in Boulder, Colorado, the repertoire she covers here spans the gamut from Jelly Roll Morton to Fred Neil, to key tunes from Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. While the sound isn't one hundred percent pristine, it's more than enough to capture even the most subtle nuances and heretofore unseen ferocity of her performance.
Buy CDx2 w/DVD $26.99

DINOSAUR L "24 24 Music" (Sleeping Bag)
Real Audio: "#1 (You're Gonna Be Clean On Your Bean)"
Along with his World of Echo, Dinosaur L's 24 24 Music is quite possibly THE Arthur Russell jam most talked about, coveted and, in 2007, the one that finally became available once again. Arthur's concept for this record was actually more in line with downtown/avant composition concepts than simple disco jams -- every piece here revolves around the concept of initiating subtle changes in the music every 24 bars (hence the title) funky as hell, but much more loose and freewheeling than you might expect. It's one of the most essential downtown/disco (not disco)/punkin & funkin New York records ever recorded.
Buy CD $15.99

THE DRAGONS "BFI" (Ninja Tune)
Real Audio: "Food for My Soul"
These lost studio reels by esteemed session musicians, Beach Boys' live backing band, and brothers Dragon -- Dennis, Doug, and Daryl, who you might recognize as the Captain (of The Captain & Tennille!) -- were recorded in 1970 to the sound of slamming record company doors. 35 years later, Strictly Kev/DJ Food picks up a bootleg of a surf soundtrack called A Sea for Yourself which features the Dragons' "Food for My Soul," and has his mind slightly blown. Long story short, here's their album BFI, at long last: part studio wizardry, part futuristic space age effects, part lightly hippie/psychedelic touches, part Millennium/Sagittarius-esque soft rock, part laidback jazzy beach vibes. If you're fed up with the barrage of lost reissue hyperbole, and just wanna chill out for a while, this might be the one for you.
Buy CD $14.99

Buy mp3 $9.99

FIRE ENGINES "Hungry Beat " (Acute)
Real Audio: "Candyskin"
The relentless skronk and sweetened melodies of the Edinburgh, Scotland quartet the Fire Engines were perhaps the most successful representation of no-wave chicanery as applied to the pop single template, from the brutal bashing of "Get Up and Use Me" to the catchy and near-perfect pop of "Candyskin" are just a few of the highlights of Hungry Beat, the first legit domestic reissue of the group's discography. Though they existed only for a brief while, their music rattled the nerves of future generations of no-wavers and post-punkers.
Buy CD $13.99

Buy mp3 $9.99

JIM FORD "The Sounds of Our Time" (Bear Family)
Real Audio: "Harlan County"
Hands down the best rock and roll reissue of the year, Jim Ford's The Sounds of Our Time will be absolutely essential for anyone who has ever dug Exile on Main Street, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Dr. John, Link Wray's three track shack recordings, gritty southern soul, driving with the windows down etc., etc. It is THAT GOOD! Including his classic Harlan County album in its entirety as well as 15 more tracks that are just as good, if not better, this collection was culled from some 300 hundred hours of reel-to-reel tapes found under the Ford's bed in a trailer park in Northern California. And his story is every bit as incredible as his music. Sadly, Ford passed away last month.
Buy CD $21.99

FRASER & DEBOLT "Fraser & DeBolt" (Fallout)
Real Audio: "Them Dance Hall Girls"
Highly regarded by those in the know as a homespun masterpiece and somewhat improbable entry in Columbia Records' 1971 release schedule, Fraser & DeBolt combined subtly brilliant and slightly surreal songwriting with a bare-boned and rough-edged delivery, succeeding mainly on the strength of the duo's incredibly heartfelt delivery. These songs are all funk and flash and as well worn as your grandma's homemade quilt.
Buy CD $15.99

LEE HAZLEWOOD "The Very Speical World of Lee Hazlewood" (Water)
Real Audio: "So Long Babe"
LEE HAZLEWOOD "Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure" (Water)
Real Audio: "The Girls in Paris"
LEE HAZLEWOOD "Something Special" (Water)
Real Audio: "Stone Cold Blues"
In memory of Lee Hazlewood's passing this calendar year, San Francisco reissue label Water came through with three of the artist's albums from his short tenure with MGM Records in the '60s. Each lovingly arranged by Billy Strange, these titles feature Hazlewood's own solitary take on studio pop as well as many of the classic songs of his that were made famous by the chart-topping artists he produced. With a long and storied career, opinions vary on which of Lee's many great records were his best, but these three are all clearly amongst his finest, blending his smart, sharp-as-a-tack songwriting with that laconic drawl and off-beat production style to great effect.
Buy "The Very Special World of..." CD $15.99
Buy "Lee Hazlewoodism" CD $15.99
Buy "Something Special " CD $15.99

JOY DIVISION "Unknown Pleasures" (Rhino)
Real Audio: "Candidate" (Live at the Factory 1979)
JOY DIVISION "Closer" (Rhino)
Real Audio: "Glass" (Live at University of London 1980)
JOY DIVISION "Still" (Rhino)
Real Audio: "Ice Age" (Live at Town Hall Soundcheck 1980)
This year's major motion picture Control reopened the tragic legacy of Joy Division's Ian Curtis to audiences all over the world, so it seems fitting that his group's two albums and posthumous compilation would once again see reissue in 2007. These editions have been remastered, trading in their vintage Martin Hannett productions for a newer, more modern clarity. Each title is coupled with a bonus disc of awe-inspiring live concert recordings, which showcase the punked-out guitar grind their studio sides never captured.
Buy "Unknown Pleasures" CDx2 $23.99
Buy "Closer" CDx2 $23.99
Buy "Still" CDx2 $23.99

NICO "Frozen Borderline" (Rhino UK)
Real Audio: "The Falconer"
Nico's signature solo efforts, the 1968 release The Marble Index and 1970's Desertshore, showcased the haunting singer's most experimental, true-to-nature recordings. They're both collected on Frozen Borderline, with previously unreleased outtakes, alternate versions and demos. Startling and starkly impassioned, it's a must-have for Nico fans as well as a good primer for those that only know her through Velvet Underground and Chelsea Girl.
Buy CDx2 $24.99

GRAM PARSONS & THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS "Archives Volume 1: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969" (Amoeba)
Real Audio: "Hot Burrito #2"
Esteemed West Coast record retailer Amoeba Records made the jump to starting an in-house label in 2007, and what a title to kick things off: long-missing live tapes of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, recorded by legendary Grateful Dead roadie Owsley "Bear" Stanley, which had been hiding in the Dead's infamous tape vaults for years.The band was killing it on these two nights in early April, 1969, Gram mic'ed close up, Chris Hillman reacting to the heat of Jerry Garcia's nightly shredding, and the very breath of clarity allowing these tracks to ache and burn in all the right places. If this artifact doesn't put to rest the rumors that the Burritos were slouches live, then nothing will.
Buy CDx2 $18.99

PYLON "Gyrate Plus" (DFA)
Real Audio: "Feast on My Heart"
Formed in the late 1970s around a core of University of Georgia students, Pylon were instrumental in establishing Athens, GA as a hotbed of bizarre punk rock activity. Supported by new wave darlings the B-52s, Pylon stayed active until 1983, acting as a fundamental influence to a then nascent R.E.M., who championed the band during their rise to mainstream success. It's fitting that the DFA found time to reissue the band's debut album, Gyrate, with a host of singles and unreleased tracks in 2007 as Gyrate Plus. Pylon's slash-and-burn dance-punk is in retrospect a prime influence on that label's main activities, and a fitting tribute to an essential band, all but lost to time and history.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

SAICOS "Saicos" (Repsychled)
Real Audio: "Demolicion"
Saicos, from Lima, Peru, are remembered for recording one of the most insane '60s punk songs of all time, and if you've never heard "Demolicion" before, it will stop you in your tracks and implant its amazing refrain of "tatatata tatatata yayayaya" in your brain for days to come. You can find it here on this top-flight reissue, which includes all six of the band's singles, as well as unreleased alternate mixes of two songs. Chock full of cool fuzz-rockers and brooding ballads all delivered with gravel-throated authority, this is essential stuff.
Buy CD $16.99

SEEFEEL "Quique - Redux Edition" (Too Pure)
Real Audio: "Climatic Phase #3"
One of the most subversively influential records of the early-'90s has to be Seefeel's Quique, from 1993. Building off of the ideas behind My Bloody Valentine's techno-shoegaze crossover track "Soon," Seefeel blew minds in 1993 with Quique, opening up possibilities for miscegenation of the two musical forms that are still being explored to this day. This stellar reissue tacks on b-sides, rarities and unreleased material; this is required listening for fans of Ulrich Schnauss, the Field, Boards of Canada, and the like.
Buy CDx2 $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

SMOKEY AND HIS SISTER "Smokey and His Sister" (Sundazed)
Real Audio: "Ever Losin' Lover"
Although 40 years have passed since the brother and sister Larry "Smokey" and Vicki Mims' album almost came out, their breezy, baroque folk-pop songs still sound fresh. There's virtually no imitation of '60s trends here; just lovely little tunes that are as timeless as they are precious.
Buy CD $13.99

AL STEWART "Love Chronicles" (Collector's Choice)
Real Audio: "In Brooklyn"
You likely remember Al Stewart for his soft-rock hits like "Year of the Cat," but before having been permanently ensconced in the AOR hall of fame in the mid-seventies, the Scottish troubadour cut a handful of warmly regarded but rarely heard folk/pop albums. Love Chronicles dates back to 1969, and found Stewart backed by the original and best incarnation of Fairport Convention, as well as a pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page. A concept album about the author's love life, Stewart managed to pull off the impossible feat of sounding sincere and conversational without once inducing a cringe from the listener. Absolutely essential purchase for fans of Roy Harper, Incredible String Band, Donovan, etc.
Buy CD $12.99

VAL STOECKLEIN "Grey Life" (Fallout)
Real Audio: "Color Her Blue"
Val Stoecklein had been the leader of the Blue Things, the Kansan answer to the Byrds, back in the '60s. Grey Life was his lone solo album, written in the process of putting his life back following a mental breakdown, the collapse of a relationship, and a case of bi-polar disorder exacerbated by alcohol and LSD abuse. Despite it all, the record holds its own with the best of Scott Walker or Gene Clark, a riveting and personal singer-songwriter statement from the edge.
Buy CD $15.99

ROBERT WYATT "Comicopera" (Domino)
Real Audio: "Tower of Meaning, Track One"
At age 62, Robert Wyatt continues to be a refreshing voice in music, and there's no doubt that avant-pop's elder statesman is as much of an adventurist and pioneer today as he has ever been. This man belongs in the same pantheon of innovation as Arthur Russell, Tom Waits and of course, Brian Eno. His latest, Comicopera, unfolds over three acts, its tales of "human foibles" spelled out with contributions from Eno, Anne Whitehead, Paul Weller, Karen Mantler, Yaron Stavi, Orphy Robinson, and Monica Vasconcelos. It's a fresh take on Wyatt's classic sound, his latest ranking right up there with other great releases like Rock Bottom, Shleep, and, of course, his work with Soft Machine and Matching Mole.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS "Colossal Youth" (Domino)
Real Audio: "Searching for Mister Right"
In just a couple of short years at the end of the 1970s, Welsh trio Young Marble Giants burned a bright post-punk flame that still casts a huge shadow some decades later. Sweetly melodic and yet still hauntingly ethereal, the Moxham brothers (principal songwriter Stuart and bassist Philip) and Alison Statton took punk's simplicity and imbued it with hints of reggae, funk, simple electronics, and folk, creating a beautiful and timeless sound. Domino's Colossal Youth collection pulls together every last track the band cut, including their lone LP, a handful of singles, and a couple of tracks recorded for John Peel's radio show.
Buy CDx3 $18.99
Buy mp3 - Expanded Edition $17.99
Buy mp3 - Album Only (No Bonus Tracks) $9.99

[V.A.] "D-I-Y: The Rise of the Music Industry After Punk" (Soul Jazz)

Real Audio: "Let's Build a Car"
The folks at Soul Jazz bring their typically thorough, rewarding compilation formula to a realm previously only occupied by Chuck Warner's Messthetics series, with the sort of results you've come to expect. D-I-Y Do It Yourself covers the UK post-punk scene from 1978 up through 1986, across artist- and collectively-run labels like New Hormones, Rough Trade, Industrial, Cherry Red, Fast Product, Factory, Rather, and many others. Packaged with a thick booklet describing the ins and outs of the history behind the music, and the individuals who made it happen.
Buy CDx2 $18.99

[V.A.] "Tales from the Australian Underground Vol. 1: Singles 1976-1989" (Feel Presents)
Real Audio: "Ocean Liner"
[V.A.] "Tales from the Australian Underground Vol. 2: 1977-1990" (Feel Presents)
Real Audio: "Things Will Be Different"
Take cover! Tales from the Australian Underground is essentially the Nuggets of that country's rock, punk, pop and experimental music scenes, covering a wide but cohesive amount of territory across two double-CD sets. Incredible collections here, featuring one or more tracks by all the heavy hitters (Radio Birdman, the Saints, the Triffids, Scientists), plenty of lesser-known bruisers (like the Psycho Surgeons' "Horizontal Action"), even subhuman grot a la SPK and Thug as it sidles up to bands like the Hoodoo Gurus. Punk rock never left the Australian populace alone there the way it did it in America, and their people replied in kind with hundreds of remarkable releases. If you've already been through Murder Punk, Can't Stop It! and Where Birdmen Flew, you might have already heard a good portion of what's included here, but these are by far the most panoramic and complete views of the Aussie scene to date.
Buy "Volume 1" CD $15.99
Buy "Volume 2" CD $15.99



BABY GRANDMOTHERS "Baby Grandmothers" (Subliminal Sounds)
RealAudio: "Being Is More Than Life"
Sweden's Baby Grandmothers released a single in Finland during the late 1960s that has since become something of a holy grail for Scandinavian psych aficionados. Subliminal Sounds' double-length collection bundles that fabled single together with a cross-section of live recordings -- it's psych at its primal and wooly best, with roaming guitar lines, dizzying, diving bass runs and prodigious, rolling drums that push the whole organism on toward the Northern Lights and beyond.
Buy CD $15.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

CHICO MAGNETIC BAND "Chico Magnetic Band" (Lizard)
RealAudio: "We All Come and Go"
Mentalist heavy rock freakouts from a Parisian outfit circa 1970, back for the attack in 2007. This one looks. sounds, and smells like drugs, the kind of mad record with internal logic dictating all sorts of crude vocal sputum and intensely monged delivery, like it being chill to play an entire track backwards, one which fuses an understanding of wild, untempered psych and proto-metal in a way that bridges Funkadelic with Amon Duul II, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience as fronted by Themroc, by way of the Edgar Broughton Band. It's the sound of student revolt, full penetration, and hive minds; thoroughly unrestrained, yet highly conceptual and pretty together, accomplishing more in one 30-minute album than most can in a whole career.
Buy CD $17.99

HOLGER CZUKAY "Canaxis" (Revisited)
Real Audio: "Canaxis"
In 1969, shortly after the formation of German super group CAN, Holger Czukay and cohort Rolf Dammers made this tape music tour de force by combining and manipulating recordings of everything from Pierre de la Rue and Medieval choral music to Vietnamese singers, Japanese Koto, Tibetan Oboes, and Australian Aboriginal music. Most of the material here was taped off of shortwave radio broadcasts, then manipulated via an illicit visit to Stockhausen's professional recording studio. Canaxis is at once a deeply meditative and disorienting listening experience that somehow manages to coax the earthy spirituality of ethnic field recordings and the mechanical experimentation of musique concrete into a kind of radical musical symbiosis.
Buy CD $16.99

DINO "Montevideo Blues " (Lion Productions)
RealAudio: "19 de Octobre"
Uruguay's Gaston "Dino" Ciarlo was the foil to Eduardo Mateo's wildly eccentric streak. Both were blessed with a superb pop sense and a keen desire to wed it with their national folkloric heritage, but with Dino's tunes you can feel a real purposefulness, a poetic seriousness even, that reinforces his scathing political wit. Compulsively listenable, Montevideo Blues easily ranks up there with the best of all the South American reissues we've been fortunate to discover in the last few years.
Buy CD $15.99

EL KINTO "s/t" (Lion Productions)
RealAudio: "Estoy Sin Ti"
EDUARDO MATEO "Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame" (Lion Productions)
RealAudio: "Yulele"
The esteemed Lion Productions imprint presents the incredible career of one of South America's greatest creative geniuses, Eduardo Mateo, through two elaborately packaged and immaculately researched albums. He first gained notoriety as the principle force in El Kinto, a groundbreaking Uruguayan act that was enormously influential for their times, taking rhythmic inspiration from Uruguayan candombe and their melodic sensibility from British and American rock acts. Their reissue is a revelation, better even than likeminded South American rock bands We All Together and Traffic Sound. El Kinto collapsed in 1970, largely due to Mateo himself, but in late '71 he was coaxed into traveling to Argentina to record his first solo album, Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame, a work of rare and astonishing beauty; subdued without being explicitly melancholy, filled with syncopated rhythms, unusual phrasing, and poetic idiosyncrasies. If you love the mellow side of Caetano, Pep Laguarda, Gilberto Gil, or even contemporary artists like Juana Molina, you will absolutely be freaking out over this.
Buy El Kinto CD $17.99
Buy Eduardo Mateo CD $17.99

NIAGARA "Afire" (Performance)
RealAudio: "City Walk"
Legit reissue of the third and final Niagara album. Adding bass to the mix on this '72 go-round, this German ensemble, led by Klaus Weiss, lays it down with five drummers and percussionists in one of the tightest, most groovin' records ever made. The entire thing is one giant break, intense polyrhythms from stem to stern. Imagine five copies of Brian Auger's "Listen Here" battling it out with the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache" as a marching band raids a Guitar Center and cleans them out of claves, wood blocks, shakers, and cowbells, and you're close to what's going on here.
Buy CD $22.99

OPHIUCUS "s/t" (Lion Productions)
RealAudio: "Darbouka"
Ophiucus (the band) cut one stellar album for Barclay back in 1972, a singularly ambitious affair that nevertheless orbits a similar artistic territory to that covered by the Pretty Things' Parachute, the Beatles' White Album, early Pink Floyd, and Faust IV. There's a heavy use of pastiche, often within a single track, with references to musique concrete, pastoral folk, French chanson, and the multi-part harmonies of the Beach Boys, not to mention heavy rock. Whether you favor the Decadanse or the Psych section here at Other Music, this is one for you.
Buy CD $15.99

TARKUS "s/t" (Repsychled)
RealAudio: "Rio Tonto"
Colossal, heavy psychedelic hard rock from this Peruvian band, which lasted long enough to cut an album in 1972 (original copies of which trade for ridiculous sums on the collectors' market). It's a very strong piece, with eight short songs ripping up hard, loud and urgent. At odds with the other groups in their scene, Tarkus fought tooth and nail to be accepted despite their jet-engine volume and reckless behavior. This well-designed reissue will fit in well with most of the early, crucial Vertigo roster, Sir Lord Baltimore, and other rough customers from the early '70s proto-metal pantheon.
Buy CD $16.99

TELEGRAPH AVENUE "s/t" (Repsychled)
RealAudio: "Let Me Start"
Telegraph Avenue never broke through to American audiences during their brief run in the 1970s. In their home country of Peru, however, these four guys were stars, with a hit single that helped make their self-titled debut one of the all-time best-selling records in Peruvian rock history. An effortless mix of American psychedelic rock, delicate soul, and breezy pop, Telegraph Avenue recalls the direct hits of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Grand Funk Railroad, but also serious debts to the Beatles and Badfinger. Members went on to perform in Tarkus, but you can catch their earlier, more accessible efforts here.
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TREES COMMUNITY "The Christ Tree" (Hand/Eye)
RealAudio: "The Trees Chant"
The Trees Community formed in 1970 NYC with a shared commitment to Jesus Christ and music. Led by William Lebzelter (a/k/a Shipen), the band usually consisted of seven or more members playing a variety of instruments from all over the world to create their unique sound, informed by Balinese chant, American folk music, Indian raga, African rhythm, Tibetan ritual gong, Scottish bagpipe, and Mexican bell wheel sanctus -- all in coordination with deep Biblical lyrics and serious Christian praise. This four-CD collection definitely transcended all of these elements and created a sound that was truly all their own.
Buy CDx4 $39.99

BOBB TRIMBLE "Iron Curtain Innocence" (Secretly Canadian)
Real Audio: "Glass Menagerie Fantasies"
BOBB TRIMBLE "Harvest of Dreams" (Secretly Canadian)
Real Audio: "Premonitions - The Fantasy"
Born and raised in and around Western Massachusetts, singer-songwriter Bobb Trimble released two albums of peculiar, placidly shook, fully-loaded psychedelic pop in the early '80s, at a time when such music couldn't have been less relevant. These reissues bring these hallmark recordings back out of the hands of collectors and into the public, where they belong. Trimble's 1980 debut Iron Curtain Innocence split the difference between paranoid rockers and more contemplative, folk-laced numbers, while 1982's Harvest of Dreams is his fully-realized masterpiece, a work of oddball charm and mellifluous beauty. Both works are glacial, fragile ruminations on isolation and despair, backed by everything from video game samples and busy signals to a group of 12-year-old kids. Hard to describe in so few words, these are unparalleled classics of the psychedelic canon.
Buy "Iron Curtain Innocence" CD $14.99
Buy "Iron Curtain Innocence" mp3 $9.99
Buy "Harvest of Dreams" CD $14.99
Buy "Harvest of Dreams" mp3 $9.99

TULLY "Sea of Joy Soundtrack" (Em Records Japan)
Real Audio: "I Feel the Sun"
Paul Witzig's 1972 film Sea of Joy has long been considered a cult classic due to the commentary-less, free floating and communal vibes he conjured, in stark contrast to the typically aggressive and hot action of most surf films of the era. When Witzig approached the Australian rock group Tully about scoring the movie they were one of the biggest acts on the continent, known for their hard rocking head music and psychedelic light shows. However, they'd just undergone a spiritual revelation, changed direction entirely, and wrote this incredible album in an enlightened state of mind. In turn, they created an absolutely beguiling soundtrack, one which flows effortlessly from track to track, with mellow organs and maracas providing the initial propulsion, before veering into roiling and intense passages that suggest the group's earlier incarnation. Incredible stuff.
Buy CD $20.99

Real Audio: "Underwater Journey"
Folk guitarist Rick Tomlinson is Voice of the Seven Woods, with a handful of tapes and import singles under his belt leading up to his debut for Andy Votel's B-Music imprint. The deft playing and Janschian elements of his previous efforts are slightly switched up for the mostly instrumental album, which ushers in a load of "Astro-Sounds" fuzz raga ("The Fire in My Head"), Hendrix watchtowerisms ("Second Transitions"), and even the metrics of Krautrock ("Return from Byzantium") to the fold, transcending simple folk into something more wild and free-wheeling.
Buy CD $14.99

WHITE NOISE "An Electric Storm" (Island)
Real Audio: "Firebird"
In the late 1960s, American-born bassist David Vorhaus hooked up with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson to form White Noise, a group that created strangely alluring pop masterpieces that mixed traditional instrumentation with space-aged synths and avant-garde worthy tape experiments. They debuted with 1969's An Electric Storm, a now-classic LP that was every bit as bizarre and unsettling as it was sweet and tuneful. On par with similar proto-electronic pop works from the likes of Bruce Haack and the United States of America, White Noise's debut is one of those rare records that manages to evoke the spirit of its time while effortlessly transcending it.
Buy CD $16.99

YATHRA SIDHRA "A Meditation Mass" (SPV)
Real Audio: "Part 2"
Yatha Sidhra rose from the ashes of Lea Gamble, a German group that played soul-based hard rock; fronted by two brothers (Rolf and Klaus Fichter), the new band would soon switch musical direction. A Meditation Mass is comprised of four long instrumental passages that can surely be classified as prog-rock, but you can hear jazz, Eastern music, tribal rhythms and folk influences. Thankfully there isn't any of that showy, over-the-top self-indulgence that one normally associates with a lot of Krautrock. This is an excellent progressive rock gem that balances the gentle, restrained playing with the fearless, open-ended musicianship required to perform a 50-minute prog piece and make it work. Recommended.
Buy CD $17.99

MICHAEL YONKERS "Grimwood" (De Stijl)
Real Audio: "The Answer"
After Michael Yonkers' stellar debut album Microminiature Love was indefinitely shelved in the late 1960s (where it unfortunately stayed until De Stijl stepped up and released it just a few years back), the man himself took a step back and recorded the low-key, moody folk album Grimwood. A marked contrast to his debut's guitar grit and grime, Grimwood plays like a sparse analogue to Skip Spence's Oar or some of Syd Barrett's more stripped down recordings.
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Real Audio: "Sracok of Sracok"
"Greatest hits" packages never sounded this good, but they also never sound this foreign and captivating either. Sarolta Zalatnay was one of Hungary's biggest sex symbols and led a life in front of the camera that found her both a national celebrity and a criminal. But that won't prepare you for her music, a pinnacle of pop psychsploitation loaded down with drum breaks so hard and crisp they belong on a Meters record, and her bracing vocals and able backing bands that sound like a white Tina Turner singing in Esperanto and backed up by Black Sabbath. Anybody who has picked up recent reissues of Selda, Julie Driscoll, and Shocking Blue should make room in their collection for this fiery vocalist's insane psych-funk.
Buy CD $14.99



RICHARD CRANDELL "In the Flower of Our Youth" (Sound Advice)
Real Audio: "Rebecca"
RICHARD CRANDELL & BILL BARTELS "Oregon Hill" (Sound Advice)
Real Audio: "Boxcars"
The name Richard Crandell may ring a bell to some of you; he recently released an exquisite CD of solo mbira music on John Zorn's Tzadik label, and a previous title of such ended up on our "best of" list a few years back. Here it's evidenced that he also was an incomparable acoustic guitar player in the seventies and early eighties. His approach is fundamentally different that that of Fahey or Basho; Crandell has a much more minimal sensibility that's really focused on melody; low-key, but with a lushness normally associated with some of the more accessible minimalist composers. Both releases are stunning affairs, and Oregon Hill's telepathic duets with the guitarist Bill Bartels remains impeccably-timed, with songs are thoroughly memorable despite all the intricate patterns they conjure.
Buy "In the Flower of Our Youth" CD $14.99
Buy "Oregon Hill" CD $14.99

JIMMY DRIFTWOOD "Voice of the People" (Omni)
Real Audio: "The Lonesome Ape"
Voice of the People includes tracks from the final three albums by Jimmy Driftwood, recorded in Nashville for Monument Records between 1962 and 1966. Driftwood has been touted as "The Hillbilly Alan Lomax" for his folklorist's approach to songwriting and collecting. Known more as a songwriter than a performer, this anthology justly elevates him to the level of some of country music's most iconic artists.
Buy CD $16.99

MICHAEL HURLEY "Ancestral Swamp" (Gnomonsong)
Real Audio: "Light Green Fellow"
Due to a variety of health issues and age-old music biz ups and downs, folk singer Michael Hurley never quite broke through to a fulltime career as a troubadour. Now adopted by the next wave of guitar-plucking free spirits, Hurley's latest is released on Devendra Barnhart's Gnomonsong label, and features Tara Jane O'Neil and other young bloods helping out on a few tracks. Ancestral Swamp is a sparse affair, with Hurley alone on guitar (and banjo, fiddle and electric piano), his weathered and passionate voice filling the room and singing from the heart.
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BUELL KAZEE "s/t" (June Appel)
Real Audio: "The Roving Cowboy"
Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music reissue in the '90s brought forth a revelatory performance from a Baptist minister and banjo player from Kentucky named Buell Kazee. His genteel voice acted at odds with the mountain mainstays of the banjo and painfully tragic lyrics, but Rev. Kazee was a renaissance man of sorts, having formally studied literature, music, Greek and Latin. These songs, recorded late in his life at the prompting of his family, are simply riveting, his steady clawhammer banjo technique belying his time away from the instrument when these tracks were recorded in the '70s. If you're into music of adventure, step right up.
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CHARLIE LOUVIN "s/t" (Tompkins Square)
Real Audio: "Must You Throw"
Charlie Louvin found success in the 1940s and '50s with his brother Ira and their close-harmony country hit-making duo the Louvin Brothers (their 1956 full-length debut Tragic Songs of Life fully lives up to the promise of the title), and he scored a couple of solo radio hits throughout the '60s. The Brothers had a series of charting country originals with both gentle honky-tonk and darkly redemptive religious music (their 1960 epic "Satan Is Real" is a twisted and intense country gospel classic). For his first new record in 10 years, Louvin reaches out to his many young (hipster) enthusiasts by hooking up with Lambchop producer Mark Nevers, who invited down a full cast of guests, including Will Oldham, Jeff Tweedy, George Jones, Elvis Costello, Tom T. Hall, Mac McCaughan, and Kurt Wagner. The material is a nice cross-section of the Brothers' mainstays, other period classics, and a couple of new titles, and Charlie's voice, while a bit weathered by the years, is still that of a master.
Buy CD $15.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

SPIRITUALAIRES "Singing Songs of Praise" (Case Quarter)
Real Audio: "I'm Going to Tell on You"
One of the most unique mainstays of the independent radio stations of the South are the "Sunday Morning Ministries" programs. They generally consist of a local preacher or singing group providing a Sunday service on the air for shut-ins, with local businesses sponsoring them. Formed in the 1950s, the Spiritualaires are one of the few remaining authentic vocal gospel groups of this nature and this album is surprisingly their first recorded effort. The album production is highlighted by the slow, ghostly pitch-perfect harmonies of the group, but what really sets this recording apart is the firm, rhythmic bluesy guitar playing of Curtis Harris, firmly rooted in the Lightning Hopkins tradition of boogie pickin', with elements of blues, country, and early rock 'n' roll are all weaved into the vocal tapestry as well.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "Art of Field Recording" (Dust-to-Digital)
It would be difficult to overstate the appropriateness of the title "Renaissance man" for Art Rosenbaum: he's an accomplished writer, educator, musician, painter, record producer, concert and festival organizer, and with the help of his wife Margo, a tireless musicologist and archivist of traditional American music. Since the 1950s, Rosenbaum has committed to tape hundreds of hours of incredible music most of us would have assumed to be extinct. Impassioned hymns, work songs, blues, dance music, topical songs, and Child and Laws ballads are among the music he has collected from all over America. Taking his cue from Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, as well as from Pete Seeger's advice to him, "don't learn from me, learn from the folks I learned from," Rosenbaum set out to find those for whom music was a family and community heirloom: something learned and used, and then passed on to the next generation. This quest led him to blues guitar great Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis, IN, singer/banjoist Buell Kazee in Winchester, KY, Skillet Licker Gid Tanner's son Gordon in Dacula, GA, folk-art icon Howard Finster in Pennville, GA, Tommy Johnson protege Shirley Griffith in Indianapolis, IN, as well as numerous outstanding heretofore-unknown musicians, all heard for the first time on CD on this collection.
Buy CDx4 $63.99

[V.A.] "People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs" (Tompkins Square)
Real Audio: "Ohio Prison Fire"
This wonderful three-disc set of classic topical songwriting from the golden age of American roots music is broken up into three sub-genres corresponding to the individual discs: "Man V. Machine," with a healthy dose of Titanic laments, train crashes, bus wrecks, and even one sunken canoe; "Man V. Nature," covering pestilence, fires, floods and general foul weather; and "Man V. Man (And Woman, Too)," chock full of guns and knives and assorted sad ends for good folks. Seventy tracks in total, from a diverse roster of country, blues, and roots artists including Skillet Lickers, Charlie Patton, Son House, Bob Miller, Furry Lewis, Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon and so many more, beautifully re-mastered, packaged in a great wide book form with a beautiful and detailed booklet, including an introduction from Tom Waits.
Buy CDx3 $51.99
Buy mp3 Sampler $4.99

[V.A.] "Shit Happens!" (Bear Family)
Real Audio: "Pickin' Flowers"
Shit Happens! is a hilarious and wrenching collection of some of the most depressing country songs of the 20th century. Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, the Louvin Brothers, Hank Snow (country's king of the bumpkin-bummers), and more name artists sing songs about children both abused and dead, blind orphans, fatal illnesses, dead dogs, dead parents, drunk driving accidents, and all the worst domestic tragedies life has to offer. Will brighten your day solely by comparison to its material -- a must-have!
Buy CD $21.99

PORTER WAGONER "The Rubber Room" (Anti-)
Real Audio: "The Rubber Room"
PORTER WAGONER "Wagonmaster" (Anti-)
Real Audio: "A Place to Hang My Hat"
Porter Wagoner passed away in 2007 at the age of 79, remembered as a true legend of American music: a pioneer of country music on radio and television, ubiquitous on the Grand Ole Opry since the late '50s and the host of his own hugely popular country music jamboree on television from 1961 until the early '80s, where he helped launch Dolly Parton's career with a series of top-10 charting duets. His bejeweled Nudie Suits, impeccable pompadour, and melancholy baritone created the look and sound of what we know of as country music, and his heart-wrenching hits defined the tear-in-my-beer tone that still dominates the genre. The Rubber Room showcases some of Wagoner's best performances from 1966-1977, bypassing some of his biggest hits in favor of his most enduring songs, while Wagonmaster, his final studio session, features 17 great new recordings, with simple, straightforward production, excellent playing, and Wagoner in remarkable vocal form for a fellow of his advanced years, including a lost track written for Wagoner by Johnny Cash. Before his death, Wagoner got to enjoy one last spin around the country, opening for the White Stripes and Grinderman on a summer 2007 tour; count yourselves lucky if you caught him.
Buy "The Rubber Room" CD $16.99
Buy "Wagonmaster" CD $16.99



"BLUE" GENE TYRANNY "Out of the Blue" (Unseen Worlds)
Real Audio: "For David K"
"Blue" Gene Tyranny is a figure who pops up in the most curious of places, either as a member of the pre-Stooges Iggy group, the Prime Movers, corresponding with Fluxus members while still in high school, or else working in collaboration with Laurie Anderson and Robert Ashley on his late-era operas. So it's no surprise that this release of his from 1977 has its feet in a couple of different worlds. Though sounding timeless, just try to find another album in which the AM folk pop stylings of Carole King rest heads comfortably with Poppy Nogood-era Terry Riley. Each of these four long tracks moves about though, from song to rock to minimalism and back, providing a wonderful entry into the world of this most cherubic figure of the American vanguard and modern classical.
Buy CD $15.99
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SIR RICHARD BISHOP "Polytheistic Fragments" (Drag City)
Real Audio: "Elysium Number Five"
Sun City Girls' (R.I.P.) resident occultist/guitarist Sir Richard Bishop drops his sixth official solo outing of lone guitar stylings, creating a sense of familiarity even in the record's most fanciful moments. As the title suggests, Polytheistic Fragments is a record of many gods -- as usual, Indian ragas, flamenco, early country blues and the spectre of Django Reinhardt all figure heavily into the mix -- and seems to be more about presenting a pantheon of revered musical ideas than about the ecstatic, long-form flights of his previous records. There are no 20-minute Gypsy ragas to be found here; the pieces on Fragments are concise -- all but one clock in around or below the five-minute mark, and the tone, while varied, is markedly lighter than his other releases. Fragments is almost, well...fun.
Buy CD $13.99
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LOREN CONNORS "As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992-2000" (Family Vineyard)
Real Audio: "Sorrow in the House"
One of NYC's most esteemed guitar heroes Loren Connors, culled a decade's worth of miniature pieces for As Roses Bow, his most immediately satisfying release since his early collaborations with folk singer Kath Bloom back in the late seventies. The pieces gathered here, originally strewn across numerous hard to find albums recorded between 1992-2002, all take their inspiration from traditional Irish Airs, though the relationship of Connors' airs to actual folk music is tenuous at best. It's essentially the same approach as he's always applied to the blues, a stripped down, emphatic, note-by-note investigation that seems hell bent on discovering the truth in a kernel of melody.
Buy CD $17.99
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MORTON FELDMAN "For Bunita Marcus" (Sub Rosa)
Real Audio: "For Bunita Marcus"
Written just two years before his passing in 1985, For Bunita Marcus is a perfect example of late-period Feldman focusing on loosely repetitive phrasing which slowly unravels during the course of the piece's 70-plus minutes, adding and subtracting individual notes and chords to create a sense of movement which is only discernable over long periods of time and with a deep commitment to listening. After all, for someone who composed works lasting over six hours (see "String Quartet No. 2" from 1983), 71 minutes is only a glimpse. Recorded in 2006 in Brussels on a Bosendorfer 225, Stephane Ginsburgh's interpretation of For Bunita Marcus is precise and carefully laid out, but the magic is not in the individual gestures but what those gestures add up to as they slowly draw you into silence.
Buy CD $13.99

HENRY FLYNT & Nova'billy "s/t" (Locust)
Real Audio: "Conga"
There's probably little that will prepare you for this stunning and outright jammin' full-length from maverick composer and philosopher Henry Flynt's short-lived boogie-rock band, Nova'billy. Originally recorded between 1974 and '75 but never released, H.F. and Nova'billy, while surprising, is not by any means unprecedented in the Flynt catalogue. While most ostensibly an extension of Flynt's radical reconfiguration of Southern music, one can also sense a smart and seamless synthesis of many of his ideas and experiments with rock, free jazz, North Indian, and ecstatic musics. Guitar, saxophone, keyboards and, of course, Flynt's unmistakable violin playing -- here in particularly fiery form -- wail, blast and even trade hot licks over a rhythm section that varies from the "Wipeout" style intro of the opening "Conga" to firmly in-the-pocket back beats to unhinged percussive battery.
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TEIJI ITO "Tenno" (Tzadik)

Real Audio: "Track 4"
Teiji Ito's 1964 masterpiece, Tenno, is a record full of paradoxes and mirrored chambers, of mystery and fundamental, ritual power. A longtime collaborator and one time husband of dancer/experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, Ito was a lifelong student of ecstatic ritual music and was welcomed into shamanic rites in Japan, Nepal, Native America, and Haiti, where he died in 1982. Consisting of overdubs of Ito performing on a myriad of traditional ethnic instruments, electronics, and tape and phonograph manipulations, the 50-odd minutes of Tenno adjust the poles of primitive versus technological, acoustic versus electronic, "live" versus recorded, and music versus noise into so many configurations that it would be dizzying if it were not so grounded in the mysterious primal unity that it is.
Buy CD $14.99

LUBOMYR MELNYK "KMH" (Unseen Worlds)
Real Audio: "Track Three"
KMH was Melnyk's first recorded attempt at documenting his "continuous" mode of piano playing and minimal/maximal composition. As the fifty-minute piece progresses, the sonorities become more and more lush, with rows of notes materializing out of some kind of achingly beautiful ether. Extremely listenable, and seemingly endlessly fascinating, KMH is a major rediscovery that will surely change the way people look at official canon of minimal music in the twentieth century.
Buy CD $14.99
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CHIE MUKAI "Solo Improvisations" (Siwa)
Real Audio: "January 24, 1999"
Chie Mukai does not build linear melodic phrases or rhythms that propel, but her playing is anything but static. Since the mid-1970s, when she studied with Taj Mahal Traveller Takehisu Kosugi, Mukai has been playing er-hu (or kokyu, in Japanese), a Chinese, two-stringed, upright fiddle predisposed to a kind of modal approach, and an instrument from which Mukai is capable of extracting sounds that recall the ragged-nerve viola playing of John Cale or the watery sonorities of distant, singing whales. The ancient, ritualistic feeling of Mukai's playing is heightened by her periodically ecstatic, wordless vocalizations and histrionic cymbal crashes. Highly recommended for fans of Takehisu Kosugi, La Monte Young, and John Cale in the '60s.
Buy CD $14.99

PAULINE OLIVEROS "Accordion and Voice" (Important)
Since the early-60s, composer Pauline Oliveros has been at the forefront of American experimental music. Accordion and Voice dates from 1982, and represents her solo and group settings for the instrument. It's a deep, meditative record that finds Oliveros unaccompanied, her singing at times blending effortlessly with the long harmonics of her accordion and at others entering into dynamic, spatializing interplay. Intimate, yet universal, is Accordion and Voice both a powerful, personal vision and the kind of selfless, spiritual surrender that one associates with the Eastern spiritual traditions that Oliveros has long been a practitioner of.
Buy CD $13.99

BERNARD PARMEGIANI "Chants Magnetiques" (Fractal)
Real Audio: "Entropie"
French electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani's thorny and organic works inform much of 21st century music, from Autechre and Aphex Twin to Mego folks and Black Dice. Chants Magnetiques is of a piece with his indisputable masterpieces "Da Natura Sonorum" and "Le Chant du Monde." Exceedingly scarce and basically unknown to our ears until now, this rare work of tape music is one dark and tumultuous electroacoustic journey. These 10 untitled tracks put the man back on top of a heap of folks like MEV, Dockstader, Schnitzler, Edgar Varese, and Nurse with Wound.
Buy CD $19.99

CHRISTA PFANGEN "Watch Me Getting Back the End" (Die Schlachtel)
Real Audio: "I'm Leaving"
Equal parts free improvisation and avant-folk with the occasional electro-acoustic interjection, the Italian duo Christa Pfangen's Watch Me Getting Back the End is a nice enigma; while it manages the organic feel of free improvisation, it is hard to imagine the rich complex of sounds on these tracks being done by just two people without serious overdubs, but at the same time, the sounds and synchronicities rise and fall so naturally and spontaneously here that its equally hard to imagine the parts being too premeditated, with exceptional drumming, chime and cymbal atmospherics, the guitars weave not quite interlocking patterns and acoustic washes amongst a din of overloading circuits, feedback squeals, and other electrical sounds.
Buy CD $17.99

ELIANE RADIGUE "Jetsun Mila" (Lovely Music)
Real Audio: "Jetsun Mila 1"
Long overdue reissue of French minimalist/tape composer Eliane Radigue's 84-minute evocation of the life of the 11th century Tibetan yogi and poet, Milarepa. Jetsun Mila eschews text in favor of a purely electronic treating of his storied life via nine passages that slowly and seamlessly flow into one another. Her exploration of inaudible subharmonics and overtones has a way of physically changing the landscape of the room her music inhabits, and it becomes difficult to sort out what the reality is between what you're perceiving and actually hearing. Jetsun Mila is deeply meditative, and Radigue's genius is that she achieves this sentiment through allusion rather than mimicry, trusting in the listener's ability to pursue the truth just as Milarepa did with his inscrutable words of wisdom.
Buy CD $26.99

TERRY RILEY "Les Yeux Fermes/Lifespan" (Elision Fields)

Real Audio: "Happy Ending"
Two film scores by composer Terry Riley are offered for the first time together on this release. Les Yeux Fermes consists of two long-form pieces - "Journey from the Death of a Friend" for organ, and "Happy Ending" on sax - that follow in Riley's looped, exploratory worldview. Lifespan tracks ruminate for shorter running times, bringing other instruments into the fray as counterpoint to Riley's intricate scale manipulations. Compelling avant-garde music, and for many, an essential purchase.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

KAIKHOSRU SORABJI "100 Transcendental Studies for Piano" (Bis)

Real Audio: "No. 4 Study"
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji might as well have been known as the "Anti-Feldman". Once called a "one-man musical apocalypse" by composer and critic Kyle Gann, Sorabji largely stood outside the current of trends in twentieth-century composition. The twenty-five "Transcendental Studies" included on this CD are but the first quarter in a piece that is a total of seven hours in duration. Performed here by the incredible pianist Fredrik Ullen, this is possibly the best and most easily digestible introduction to Sorabji's work. Conlon Nancarrow and Cecil Taylor both come to mind as references while listening, but mostly in the interior logic and fluidity of their work.
Buy CD $16.99

SUPERSILENT "8" (Rune Grammofon)
Real Audio: "8.3"
For their 10-year anniversary as a band, Norway's Supersilent decided to release a new record, their first since 2003's 6. A treat for the initiated and future fans alike, 8 continues the shrouded-in-mystery audio research that trumpeter / electronics guy, Arve Henriksen, tape manipulator Helge Sten (a/k/a Deathprod, and the band's Teo Macero figure), drummer Jarle Vespestad, and keyboardist Stale Storlokken have conducted how and when they see fit. The method hasn't changed (no rehearsal, no songs or song titles, no overdubs, only improvisation), but the sound continues to morph as it enters new realms as the train rolls on, referencing Louis and Bebe Barron's Forbidden Planet soundtrack, late period Talk Talk, Popol Vuh's trance, and other unique tropes.
Buy CD $15.99

TRUE PRIMES "We Have Won" (Locust)
Real Audio: "We Have Won"
We Have Won, from True Primes (which incidentally features OM staffer Che Chen), is one of those special records that mixes elements that you wanna hear together: Think the shambolic living room mess of Shadow Ring (but dynamic and not funny or monologue-ish) meets Magik Markers (gentler and not as go-for-it, but definitely getting there more consistently), occasionally backed by the communal/unison vibe from some close friend of La Monte Young or Tony Conrad. Like Jandek, it's deceptively loose and open, everything happening, and not happening, being completely intentional. This is pleasingly liberating music peppered with small doses of transcendence.
Buy CD $15.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

JOZEF VAN WISSEM "Stations of the Cross" (Incunabulum)
Real Audio: "Dew Drops Fall Like Tears at Eventide"
Best known for his mirrored, palindromic compositions, a group of which are collected on Stations of the Cross, Josef van Wissem chronicles progressions through a series of notes to the midpoint of the piece, where the sequence then reverses and the pitches are played in retrograde order back to the compositions starting point. The effect is strange and subtle, and oddly psychological -- there is a sense that time expands and contracts back to the point of origin, while the exact moment of reversal is difficult to detect. These recordings lend an eerie, impersonal atmosphere, the specificity and contemporary nature of which stands in stark contrast to the timeless, esoteric quality of Van Wissem's gut stringed lutes. Stations is a record of quiet, stately beauty and concept.
Buy CD $16.99
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DOROTHY ASHBY "The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby" (Dusty Groove)
Real Audio: "Heaven & Hell"
The queen of funky jazz harp, Dorothy Ashby made three records for the Cadet Concept label in the late '60s; Rubaiyat was the last of them, and rivals her oft-sampled classic Afro-Harping in terms of its scope and sense of adventure. Based on the writings of Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat positively shines, injecting these majestic tracks with serious bump in its orchestral and torch song tendencies, and with exotic gracefulness in others.
Buy CD $12.99

PHIL COHRAN & THE ARTISTIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE "The Malcolm X Memorial - A Tribute in Music" (Katalyst)
Real Audio: "Malcolm X"
Philip Cochran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble lived in the liminal space between electric Miles and the space chants of Sun Ra. This disc documents a performance for Malcolm X, its four sections split according to his various names, be it Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, or Malcolm X. By turns bluesy, syncopated, free or soulful, Cohran's mutli-faceted talents as an arranger and player are on display. Wide-open, this is a must for fans of Mr. Ra and other likeminded sonic explorers.
Buy CD $11.99

MICHAEL GARRICK TRIO "Moonscape" (Trunk)
Real Audio: "Moonscape"
Released in 1964 as a privately pressed, impossibly small edition of 99 copies, the Michael Garrick Trio's Moonscape holds the distinction of being one of the first British examples of the New Thing, and a surprisingly beautiful (and all too brief) specimen at that. And while his stately keys and the sly rhythms supplied by sidemen Colin Barnes (drums) and Dave Green (bass) hardly hint at the sheer, mind-blowing non-idioms his later countrymen like Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, or the whole of AMM would explore, these six tracks are a crucial early pass that found these three confidently expanding upon the forms and conventions of British jazz in the early 1960s.
Buy CD $15.99

ARVE HENRIKSSEN "Strjon" (Rune Grammofon)
Real Audio: "Black Mountain"
As a member of the esteemed quartet Supersilent, Arve Henriksen's trumpet-playing and wordless singing have formed an essential counterpoint to his bandmates' oft-tense and pounding tracks. Strjon is Henriksen's latest solo venture, and this time out he's joined by his Supersilent cohorts Stale Storlokken and Helge Sten (a man probably more well-known as Deathprod). But despite the presence of such heavy hitters, Strjon is Henriksen at his pure and unadulterated best. His fluid, pensive trumpet playing comes to the fore track in and track out. It's almost as if someone stripped away most of the accompaniment on Miles Davis' In a Silent Way, leaving spare trumpet to reverberate well off into the distance.
Buy CD $15.99

MELVIN JACKSON "Funky Skull" (Dusty Groove)
Real Audio: "Silver Cycles"
Originally released on the avant-garde Limelight imprint, this classic slab of electric space funk showcased the heavily-processed Maestro Echoplex ruminations of upright bass by longtime Eddie Harris collaborator Melvin Jackson, backed by fellow Chicago alums Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Leo Smith, Pete Cosey, and Phil Upchurch. The electric effects on the bass lead to some intergalactic duck calls, but such malleability leads the group to touch upon Chicago blues, Mayfield funk, electro-gospel, as well as the outer reaches of Ra jazz, while remaining wholly un-definable. An original.
Buy CD $12.99

HENRY KAISER, CHARLES K. NOYES & SANG-WON PARK "Invite the Spirit 1983" (Tzadik)
Real Audio: "Sinpuri"
Ritualistic performances by guitarist Henry Kaiser and percussionist Charles K. Noyes, one of the underrepresented talents of the downtown scene, are steered into the fragile, gossamer realms of ancient wisdom by Sang-Won Park on kayagum (a Korean zither set up somewhat like a lap steel guitar). Explosive musicianship is curtailed in favor of a gently active approach, meditative and calm but bustling with one-of-a-kind musical kinesis. An enduring session, finally available once again.
Buy CD $14.99

SELWYN LISSACK "Friendship Next of Kin" (DMG ARC)
Real Audio: "Friendship Next of Kin"
This is the first legitimate reissue of a rare gem, the lone solo album by South African drummer turned sculptor Lissack, and the first release on a new label started by the venerable New York institution, the Downtown Music Gallery. Friendship Next of Kin has little to do with London and South African jazz of the time it was released in 1969, and is closer linked to the freer expanses of Sunny Murray, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Julius Hemphill and Albert Ayler, not to mention the fiercer moments of Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath. This is one of the heavier albums of the time and a very welcome piece of the European improv puzzle.
Buy CD $14.99

CHRIS MCGREGOR "Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath" (Fledg Ling)
Real Audio: "Think of Something"
Recorded in London and originally released in 1972, the second album from pianist and bandleader Chris McGregor was a more open and freer jazz/blues affair than the South African jazz roots of the ensemble's self-titled debut. Opening with the piano and brass-driven stomper "Nick Tete," the song quickly takes a more improvisational turn with meandering pianos, splashy drums and exploratory soloing clearly previewing the direction that his music would take in later records. Much here is underpinned by the African rhythm and modality of his past, but it's that push-and-pull of these two modes that makes this music dynamic and gives it its strength.
Buy CD $17.99

ORIGINAL SILENCE "First Original Silence" (Smalltown Supersound)
Real Audio: "In the Name of the Law"
A world-class wrecking crew that unites saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, guitarists Terrie Ex and Thurston Moore, bassist Massimo Pupillo, and electrician Jim O'Rourke, Original Silence run through two lengthy pieces on their debut First Original Silence that showcase an ad hoc sextet with a keen and intuitive ability to communicate while creating the ultimate group sound. Sounding little like "conventional" free jazz or improv, the album lurches and staggers like an epic, thrashy punk dirge, with a nervous pulse of a backbone that allows each player to contribute to a scorching wall of heat and white noise that ebbs and flows throughout.
Buy CD $16.99

SALAH RAGAB & THE CAIRO JAZZ BAND "Egyptian Jazz" (Art Yard)
Real Audio: "Ramadan Is Space"
Salah Ragab and his Cairo Jazz Band is the unsung missing link between Dizzy Gillespie and Sun Ra, and this is a long overdue overview of his significant work. A major in his country's army, Ragab was also an aspiring jazz composer and drummer. After getting fired-up from a Randy Weston concert that he attended, he vowed to start the first real Egyptian jazz ensemble. Two years later, Ragab was appointed Chief of the Military Music Departments and set about finding army musicians to form a national band. The arrangements are out of this world, combining traditional Arabic scales and Muslim prayer melodies with large bebop-influenced brass phrasings and rhythms. It's one of the year's most stunning jazz reissues, and must be heard by anyone with an ear for musical exploration.
Buy CD $21.99

SUN RA "Strange Strings" (Atavistic)
Real Audio: "Worlds Approaching"
Sun Ra's Strange Strings finally saw the light of day with this CD reissue from Atavistic. Probably the most mysterious of Ra's output, here he experiments and arranges extended pieces using a wealth of homemade and traditional instruments, and ethnic strings and percussion.
Buy CD $14.99

MASAYUKI "JOJO" TAKAYANAGI "Independence: Tread on Sure Ground" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Track 4"
Up until his death in 1991, guitarist Masayuki "Jojo" Takayanagi was a perennial force in Japan's jazz community, pursuing an unbridled and relentless vision of free music and improvisation that was as uncompromising and blindingly intense as it was hauntingly dark and strangely beautiful. Independence: Tread on Sure Ground is the latest reissue from his formidable body of work, capturing one of the earliest of his New Directions groups as well as his first date as a bandleader. Recorded and released in 1969, the trio locks into a series of tense improvisations that layered oft-excoriating guitar and frantic percussion into manic bursts of raw power and withering feedback.
Buy CD $25.99

OTOMO YOSHIHIDE "Multiple Otomo" (Asphodel)
Real Audio: "Prepared Guitar"
This CD/DVD set highlights turntablist Otomo Yoshihide as a solo artist, where the pieces are devoid of any recognizable structure or melody, in concentrated doses of his sound experimentations. Over the course of the 18-track CD, the avant-garde musician and his arsenal of turntables, contact mics, prepared guitar, and tone generators take us through extreme blasts of turntable feedback and high electronic frequencies that would cause a dog to howl even at low-volume. The DVD, titled Multiple Otomo, is even more varied and shows the artist at work, abusing turntables and records as an artform.
Buy CD w/DVD $16.99



DANIELE BALDELLI PRESENTS Baia degli Angeli 1977-78: The Legendary Italian Discoteque of the 70s (Amarkord / Mediane)
RealAudio: "Chain Reaction"
Italian DJ Daniele Baldelli is best known for creating the cosmic sound that was popular in the European underground during the early '80s. But before his legendary five-year stint at the Cosmic nightclub in Lazise, Baldelli held a yearlong residency at the Baia degli Angeli (Bay of Angels), a glamorous multi-floor disco where Italian DJ culture was born. Unlike the slower BPMs of his Cosmic sets, Baldelli's selection of late-'70s leftfield disco here is quicker paced, with 16 diverse tracks masterfully woven into a live sounding mix that could have been recorded right off the club's system, running from New York to Italy and back again. The disc comes packaged in a hardbound book with tons of full-color photographs of the club, flyers and various personalities, and liner notes in Italian and English.
Buy CD w/ Book $24.99

BARBARA AND ERNIE "Prelude To..." (Fallout)
RealAudio: "Play with Fire"
Short, sweet, and sophisticated, this early '70s, May-December musical collaboration is long overdue for serious reconsideration. Soul singer Barbara Massey, a backup torch out on her own, was paired with jazz guitarist Ernie Calabria, who'd played with everyone from Bob Dylan to Harry Belafonte, and assisted ably by Keith Jarrett, Grady Tate, Chuck Rainey, Joe Beck, and orchestrations conducted by Eumir Deodato. The vibes present are immeasurably deep and rich, crossing the streams of lounge exotica, sit-down jazz, and somnambulant psychedelia.
Buy CD $15.99

BOSCOE "s/t" (Asterisk)
Real Audio: "We Ain't Free"
A deep, dark funk/soul ensemble that mixed minimal, bottom-heavy grooves with firebrand, almost proto-hiphop spoken word, Boscoe gigged hard in and around the Midwest throughout the '70s, sadly never seeing even a fraction of the recognition that obvious influences like the Arkestra or the Art Ensemble commanded. Championed by rare groove collectors in Japan, this record came to the attention of the Numero Group's Asterisk imprint, who reissued this killer in full in 2007. Boscoe at long last gets a chance to unleash its intensity on a whole new generation of listeners, bouncing with a passion that's hardly been dulled by the three decades it spent unheralded.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

BETTY DAVIS "Betty Davis" (Light in the Attic)
RealAudio: "Anti-Love Song"
BETTY DAVIS "They Say I'm Different" (Light in the Attic)
RealAudio: "He Was a Big Freak"
After decades of gray-market bootlegs, the wild, raunchy funk of Betty Davis finally sees legitimate, royalty-generating reissue. In the late '60s, she was briefly wed to Miles Davis, introduced him to Jimi Hendrix, and received credit for generating the ideas that fueled Bitches' Brew and, from the sound of things, Miles' divisive electric period as a whole. She was also a songwriter, having written hit material for the Commodores and the Chambers Brothers, but held her ground for complete creative control as a performer and songwriter, even shunning Eric Clapton as a producer for her album sessions. Originally released on the Just Sunshine imprint of the long-gone Paramount Records, these albums sustained her banshee shriek and streak of fierce, progressive feminism, telling funky tales of streetwalkers, living in the fringes, and loving in the moment.
Buy "Betty Davis" CD $15.99
Buy "Betty Davis" mp3 $9.99
Buy "They Say I'm Different" CD $15.99
Buy "They Say I'm Different" mp3 $9.99

EAST OF UNDERGROUND "East of Underground" (Wax Poetics)
RealAudio: "People Get Ready"
Top-flight reissue digs here of some great funk cut under unbelievable circumstances. In 1971, Army personnel stationed in Germany had a "battle of the bands" contest, presumably to boost morale as the situation in Vietnam continued to worsen. Winners of this contest were the officers in a raging, blistering-sounding funk and soul outfit known as East of Underground. Navigating through covers and medleys of "Popcorn," "Walk On By," "Oye Como Va," "California Dreamin'," as well as material by Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, Funkadelic and the Undisputed Truth, East of Underground showcases men with enviable musical talent, confident and proud in the face of impending peril.
Buy CD $12.99

THE HELIOCENTRICS "Out There" (Now Again / Stones Throw)
RealAudio: "Joyride"
The Heliocentrics were DJ Shadow's backing band for his last couple of tours, and bandleader Malcolm Catto is one of the most respected drummers in the UK, not to mention one of the most notorious funk and soul record dealers around. Four years in the making, Heliocentrics' Out There is an awesome instrumental amalgam of all sorts of instrumental, psychedelic funkiness, painstakingly produced to recreate a certain type of analog, beat-driven psychedelia informed by hip-hop. Sun Ra, Axelrod, Hancock, James Brown, Ananda Shankar, Gainsbourg, Velvet Underground, Morricone and even Pierre Henry are all referenced here, but this band's musicianship is tip-top and there's nary a sample in site.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS "100 Days 100 Nights" (Daptone)
RealAudio: "100 Days 100 Nights"
Despite the relative age of her young, new-soul backing band the Dap-Kings (who are excellent, and who worked similar charms on Amy Winehouse's Back to Black this year), Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings should not be mistaken for some kind of brainy revival band. Jones' deep, raw well of emotion, more in tune with the human heart than the times of today, strides alongside the Dap-Kings' killer vintage funk, for a record that can stand nose to nose with anything from the '60s or '70s.
Buy CD $14.99

SYREETA "Syreeta/Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta" (Hip-O Select)
RealAudio: "To Know You"
This uber-talented Motown vocalist is best remembered for being Stevie Wonder's first wife. Her self-titled debut was recorded shortly after they married in 1970, and the album was very much a collaborative effort, marking the first time that one heard a young Wonder finding his own unique voice in his production and arrangements, and it would prove to be a direct link to the synth- and Rhodes-drenched spiritual soul of his aforementioned records. Syreeta's voice here is disarmingly sweet like Minnie Riperton's, and the overall mood of this album is one of deep optimism and joy. By the time they started on her follow-up album some three years later, Wonder's star had risen all the while their marriage was in turmoil. Amazingly enough, this album was recorded while they were in the process of divorcing, and the optimistic mood of the debut was replaced with a slightly schizophrenic suite of songs documenting their tumultuous relationship. These records were cherished throughout the years by the people who did get to hear them, and have long been acknowledged as some of Motown's most underrated releases.
Buy CD $22.99

[V.A.] "Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul" (Numero Group)
RealAudio: "Here's Some Dances"
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, groups like the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds cast a huge shadow across America with their steady stream of pop hits. And as this great compilation from the always excellent Numero Group illustrates, that very shadow was one thousands of children and parents were desperate to claw their way out of for a little time in the spotlight. Gathering up a host of previously little-known and altogether unheard gems from across the country, Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul kicks out funk, joyfully boisterous harmonies and gorgeous ballads.
Buy CD $17.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

[V.A.] "New York Latin Hustle" (Soul Jazz)
RealAudio: "Shoot the Pump"
An excellent 2CD collection documenting hybrids and crossovers of the NYC Latin scene with funk, disco, and early hip-hop cultures, Latin Hustle is representative of the dynamic melting-pot aesthetics that make some wistfully pine for the days of NYC Downtown culture in the '70s and '80s. Heavyweights from the Fania camp like Ray Barretto, Joe Cuba, Willie Colon, Tito Puente, and Machito are represented alongside a juicy selection of cuts from labels like Salsoul, Tico, and a few lesser known and almost forgotten labels, and the track list nicely displays exactly how influential Latin music was in upping the groove factor in many of club music's greatest songs. One of the best Soul Jazz compilations, possibly ever.
Buy CD $20.99

[V.A.] "Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba" (Waxing Deep)
Real Audio: "Bacalao Con Pa"
One of the more groundbreaking and totally out of the ordinary funk comps in some time, Si, Para Usted gives a rare taste of the deep, funky side of Cuban music from the early 1970s into the early '80s. Largely unavailable to U.S. markets until now due to embargo, it's a much-needed break from the flood of traditional (though still great) Cuban discs typically released, instead focusing on instances of progression, fusion and invention in Cuban music, with strong elements of disco, rock and soul (and listen closely for some psych and Brazilian influences!) layered over a traditional Cuban beat. Reissued thanks to rare access to the state-controlled master tapes, this is easily one of the most important reissues of the year.
Buy CD $16.99

WILD MAGNOLIAS "Wild Magnolias/They Call Us Wild" (Sunnyside)
Real Audio: "They Call Us Wild"
Though these New Orleans legends are considered to be more of a traditional Mardi Gras tribal band, their sound, arrangements and energy has much in common with the likes of the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Allen Touissant, and the Meters, all of the aforementioned infusing the city's swampy, sweaty atmosphere with the soul and funk sounds from up north, and the Native American rhythms that roamed the hills. Melding call-and-response street chants and wild costume flair with arranger Willie Tee's ARP synthesizer, these mid-'70s recordings channel Southern psychedelia, soul, and rhythm in unique and irresistible ways. If you're into the cross-cultural expression of, say, Cymande, Otha Turner, or Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, you'll probably find this an interesting intersection.
Buy CDx2 $18.99

NICOLE WILLIS & THE SOUL INVESTIGATORS "Keep Reachin' Up" (Light in the Attic)
Real Audio: "Invisible Man"
The much-needed tru-skool soul revival continues to pick up steam with the stateside release of the stellar Keep Reachin' Up. Nicole Willis has been kicking around the modern soul scene since the mid-'80s, performing with early incarnations of the Brand New Heavies and Deee-Lite before leading the influential, unheralded NYC-based band the Repercussions in the early '90s. By the close of the decade, she had relocated to Finland, where she released two critically acclaimed yet little heard albums produced by her husband, Jimi Tenor. But judging by this collaborative effort with the Finland-based Soul Investigators, it seems that Willis' ship has finally come in. Gilles Peterson named one of its tracks "Single of the Year" and her sweet, Tammi Terrell-esque presence will no doubt tell you why.
Buy CD $12.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

AMY WINEHOUSE "Back to Black" (Universal)
Real Audio: "You Know I'm No Good"
Oh, Amy. You landed a hit record. Keep your head up and your hustle strong.
Buy CD $15.99



J-DILLA "Ruff Draft" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "The $"
This double-CD (vocal and instrumental) issue of the previously bootlegged, super rare 12" comes from a seemingly bottomless pit of beats that the late, great James Yancey left behind. Cut in 2003, right before the Jaylib album when Dilla was in label limbo, he recorded Ruff Draft, his answer to being list in the Universal Records merger shuffle. Raw, raunchy, soulful and spiteful. Dilla goes multitask on us, by becoming both rapper and producer, returning to his Slum Village roots, and throwing in all his now trademark tricks. It's early-2000 Detroit rap at its finest.
Buy CDx2 $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

KURIOUS "A Constipated Monkey" (Amalgam)

Real Audio: "I'm Kurious"
Kurious' lost classic of NYC true-skool hip-hop, A Constipated Monkey was buried upon its release in 1994, and since then cherished amongst hip-hop luminaries ranging from Madlib and MF Doom to Pharell Williams and Kanye West. Discovered and signed by the ubiquitous Bobbito Garcia, and boasting production from the Beatnuts and 3rd Bass, not to mention guest spots from a young hungry MF Grimm, the Hieroglyphics and Sadat X of Brand Nubian, this album was a banger from start to finish. Though it came and went without a trace, those who heard A Constipated Monkey considered it to be a masterpiece, and now you can do the same once again.
Buy CD $15.99

TALIB KWELI "Eardrum" (Warner Brothers)

Real Audio: "NY Weather Report"
Talib Kweli has developed his everyday man meets black scholar style, going from backpackers' champion to gaining the respect of more mainstream producers and rappers. Eardrum internalized this journey, juggling between the indie and mainstream realms of hip-hop within every song. Sporting an all-star cast of above- and below-ground talent, Eardrum is Kweli's most solid release since Liberation.
Buy CD $14.99

Real Audio: "Extra Hard"
The third album by North Carolina's Little Brother (now without production wiz 9th Wonder) sees them moving alone in fine fashion. On Get Back, the duo are further perfecting their formula of combing the old school (EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest) with Roots-style conscious hip-hop -- but never without a much appreciated sense of humor -- and Southern flavors. From the raw funk of opener "Sirens" to "Breakin' My Heart" which stars Lil Wayne, the highlights on Get Back are plenty.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

MADLIB "Beat Konducta in India Vol. 3 & 4" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "Sitar Ride"
Touching down in India for his third and fourth installments of his Beat Konducta series, blunted boy wonder Madlib offers up his own take on Bollywood beats -- a whole CD of cutting and slicing the pulp from that country into thirty instrumentals. Thanks to Stones Throw, this kind of album has now become a genre in and of itself, the hip-hop producer's re-edit CD, of which Madlib rests at the top.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

M.I.A. "Kala" (Interscope)
Real Audio: "Boyz"
One of the most anticipated releases of the year, M.I.A.'s sophomore effort was well worth the wait, buzz and backlash. Over the minimal yet throbbing, building mix of bass thumps, live and programmed drums, odd keyboards and tons of weird world culture samples, she's singing wild and free and rebellious jams, in a league of her own. It sounds like nothing else, honestly. The textures and overall mixes shift from polished PlayStation sheen and big arrangements to grittier lo-fi techniques, all enhancing the shifting climates and cultures. It's a melting pot of a lot of things that really has nothing to do with America, yet it's definitely a pop record that confronted American consumer culture and its all-encompassing presence head-on.
Buy CD $9.99

OH NO "Dr. No's Oxperiment" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "Bouncers"
Madlib's lil' brother Oh No borrowed a crate of vinyl from Now Again honcho Egon's collection -- all rare music from Greece, Lebanon, Italy, and Turkey -- and chopped, looped, layered, and reshaped these various bits into a whole new composition of his own imagination, combining them with his own programming and playing. It's a psychedelic funk response to Madlib's Beat Konducta series or, of course, Dilla's Donuts.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

PERCEE P "Perseverance" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "The Man to Praise"
Having spent years cutting his lyrical teeth as a steadfast hustler, peddling his CD-Rs on the streets of Manhattan, Bronx native Percee P joined forces with Madlib for his latest invasion. Perseverance is just that, a testament to what dedication and hard work can do, highlighting Percee's rapid-fire rhyming technique, which meshes well with atop Madlib's swirling samples.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

SHAPE OF BROAD MINDS "Craft of the Lost Art" (Lex)
Real Audio: "Changes"
The brainchild of Jnerio Jarnel, one the top producers from the post-Dilla generation of hip-hop headz, Craft of the Lost Art found a mad creation: a freaky super group out of Jarnel's multiple personalities. Like the work of MF Doom, Jarnel crafts murky yet futuristic worlds that bounce from old school flava, a la Pharcyde, to the beat constructions of Prefuse 73, sounding off via multiple layers, tons of tracks, and countless musical styles touched upon and absorbed, a summation of the last two decades of underground hip-hop.
Buy CD $13.99



THE ABYSSINIANS "Satta Massagana - Deluxe Edition" (Heartbeat)
Real Audio: "Declaration of Rights"
This is perhaps THE most important, heaviest roots reggae record ever made; its title track is known as the reggae music national anthem. It's sung in Rastafarian churches, and its rhythm has probably been versioned more than any other in reggae history. The rest of the album is all killer, no filler; a key work by one of the most soulful vocal trios in music history, reggae or otherwise. From aficionados to neophytes, this is one reggae record any fan of roots music should own -- from obsessives of Heart of the Congos to the casual rocker whose reggae collection is a Bob Marley album or two.
Buy CD $15.99

CULTURE "Two Sevens Clash / 30th Anniversary Edition" (Shanachie)
Real Audio: "See Them a Come"
Some of the greatest records are those that have gone on to spark a movement, and Culture's Two Sevens Clash is a perfect example of the cross-cultural power of reggae. Originally released on 7/7/77, in celebration of the 30th anniversary (7/7/07) of their call to arms for empowerment and liberation, Shanachie re-mastered the original album and added some bonus mixes, new liner notes, and extensive photos. Produced by Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson, Two Sevens Clash was the debut release from the vocal trio of Joseph Hill, Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes. The production, playing, lyrics and delivery recant a solid mix of Bob Marley and Burning Spear, righteous Rastafarian theology, and steady, subtle, bouncing and grooving rhythms.
Buy CD $17.99

MARCIA GRIFFITHS "Play Me Sweet & Nice" (Trojan)
Real Audio: "Here I Am Baby"
Prior to her worldwide wedding success with "The Electric Slide" (ugh), Marcia Griffiths was one of the most successful solo performers in the reggae world. With the legendary Lloyd Charmers behind the board, Griffiths recorded this dynamite record of reggae vocal soul. Her extraordinary voice is the centerpiece here, and her husky, jazz-influenced phrasing in chestnuts like "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and Neil Diamond's "Play Me" would appeal to any Etta James or Nancy Wilson fan (two of her biggest influences), and musically it shifts seamlessly from breezy rock steady to straight-up funky soul with solid results overall.
Buy CD $15.99

KEITH HUDSON "Brand: Reggae Instrumental Dub" (Pressure Sounds)
Real Audio: "National Anthem"
KEITH HUDSON & THE SOUL SYNDICATE "Nuh Skin Up"(Pressure Sounds)
Real Audio: "Ire Ire"
Informed by American rock and its diabolical underbelly, visionary reggae and dub producer Keith Hudson continually showed a dark sound in stark contrast to the sunny sounds one usually associates with the genre, almost tailor-made for these dark times. Originally released over a decade ago, Brand quickly slipped out of print due to some licensing squabbles. Now it's back, with another dub showcase from 1979, Nuh Skin Up. Both of these albums are in the same vein as his classic Pick A Dub; tough, austere workouts focused on guitar, bass, and drums, with nary a wacky (or stoned) sound effect in sight. Crucial dub reissues for 2007 -- don't sleep 'em.
Buy "Brand" CD $17.99
Buy "Brand" mp3 $9.99
Buy "Nuh Skin Up" CD $17.99
Buy "Nuh Skin Up" mp3 $9.99

NATIVE "Rockstone" (Pressure Sounds)
Real Audio: "For David K"
Pressure Sounds unearthed yet another gem from Lee Perry's Black Ark era by way of this album by Native, two British brothers who had migrated to Jamaica and settled in the same area where Burning Spear was born. The brothers Jobson caught the ear of Perry, who began work on their album in the late 70s and, in true Upsetter style, torched his studio before the sessions had been completed, but it was eventually finished and found release on the Arista label. This great, mysterious slice of reggae finds the former Brits digging deep into their new homeland, and is on par with Perry's work with the Congos, though it has a deep, moody and dark feel, dripping with Perry's eccentricities. Keith Hudson fans need to get on this ASAP.
Buy CD $17.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

LEE PERRY "Ape-ology" (Trojan)
Lee "Scratch" Perry's discography, at this stage, is unwieldy and difficult to navigate. Other Music is here to help. Ape-ology brings together three of Scratch's strongest and most consistent albums from his most fertile creative period, all recorded at his legendary Black Ark studio during the mid '70s. In fact, Ape-ology is one of Perry's most solid, well-rounded, and wallet-friendly collections. Beginning with Perry's dub masterpiece Super Ape, lightning up a bit with the classic Roast Fish Collie Weed & Cornbread album, and finishing off somewhere in between with Return of the Super Ape, Ape-ology serves as an essential companion to Island's 3CD Arkology set.
Buy CD $19.99
Buy mp3 $14.99

BRENDA RAY "Walatta" (EM Japan)
Real Audio: "Star Light"
Brenda Ray's Walatta, which is the Ethiopian word for "first daughter," is one of those rare moments when musical cultures mesh, in line with music from other non-Jamaican women who embraced reggae: Sinead O'Connor, Leslie Winer, Ari Up, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, and even a dubbier Young Marble Giants. Essentially a reggae record built upon handpicked backing rhythms originally recorded by Roy Cousins, Walatta sounds soft and tropical, a playfully executed slice of life, with contributions by Prince Far I, Style Scott, Tommy McCook, Robbie Shakespeare, Gladstone Anderson, Horsemouth, and Family Man.
Buy CD $20.99

TRINITY "Three Piece Suit" (Crazy Joe)
Real Audio: "Queen Majesty"
You've heard the term "producer's producer"... well, how about "toaster's toaster"? This excellent reissue from such a vocalist comes via this one-man "trio," known as Trinity. Featuring production from Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson, Three Piece Suit was originally recorded in 1977, and then slightly updated in 1982. The record is a nice slice of early dance hall with solid backing from one of Sly & Robbie's various incarnations, featuring punchy rockers rhythms, tight horn arrangements from Vin Gordon and Bobby Ellis.
Buy CD $17.99

Real Audio: "Snowbird"
Trojan continued with their always enjoyable rethinking of their legendary catalog, this time with a triple-long collection of Trojan artists doing reggae versions of country music classics. This excellent and comprehensive box set compiled the best of the Trojan stable's versions and interpretations of country tunes, including tracks by Max Romeo, Skatalites, and many more. The cultural juxtaposition of Dennis Brown rocking "The Green Green Grass of Home" or John Holt doing "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" is superseded by the pure pleasure of great singers enjoying great songs.
Buy CDx3 $19.99
Buy mp3 $17.99

WAREIKA HILL SOUNDS "s/t" (Honest Jon's)

Real Audio: "Coconut Head Special"
Roaming the same hillside as Count Ossie & the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Light of Saba trombonist Calvin Cameron is one of the lasting members of the Groundation musicians, a group known for creating hedonistic trance jams by combining niyabinghi drumming, reggae and jazz. Wareika Hill Sounds is a new recording featuring various members of the aforementioned collectives. This is a bassy, thumping, and funky reggae party with sharp, flowing horn arrangements, with Cameron effortlessly floating on top of heavy percussion rhythms.
Buy CD $17.99



JORGE BEN "Forca Bruta" (Dusty Groove)
Real Audio: "Oba la vem ela"
Chicago's dynamite soul/funk retailer Dusty Groove kicked off their reissue series in 2007 with one of Jorge Ben's deepest, most emotional records, 1970's Forca Bruta. Here, Ben mellows out a bit for an album that, while still a groover, relies more on quiet intimacy and subtle orchestrated flourishes akin to the work of Caetano Veloso's self-titled LPs of the same period. He's backed up here by samba heavyweights Trio Mocoto, and JB's vocals never quite sounded as throaty and passionate in the early years as they did on this LP -- the fire in his voice on this album is matched perhaps only on his 1976 classic Africa Brazil. Anyone with an interest in Brazilian soul and post-tropicalist pop would be wise to check out this record, one of his beautiful and most important releases.
Buy CD $13.99

GERARD MANSET "1968" (Xenon)
Real Audio: "Mon Amour"
For those familiar with Manset's 1970 rock symphony La Mort d'Orion -- reissued last year on EMI France and greatly loved by many of the OM staff and customers -- please be warned that 1968 carries little similarity to that recording. Featuring work from Manset's first two albums, Animal on est mal and the self-titled Gerard Manset, 1968 is more of a reflection of the Parisian pop music scene. Released at the beginning of the student revolution in '68, it initially sank without trace, only selling a few hundred copies. But there's much here in this collection for French music fans to enjoy, as Manset's music is filled with the charm and catchiness of Jacques Dutronc as well as the mysteriousness of Michel Polnareff. 1968 will surely convert anyone fond of langue Francaise and is an excellent gateway into the career of Gerard Manset.
Buy CD $15.99

SANTIAGO MUTUMBAJOY "Yage Pinta: Psychedelic Shaman Songs of Santiago Mutumbajoy" (Latitude)
Real Audio: "Track One"

Anthropologist Michael Taussig recorded the tracks comprising Yage Pinta to tape in the '70s over the course of numerous trips to Colombia, where he lived and traveled with Putumayo shaman and healer, Santiago Mutumbajoy. Author of the groundbreaking book, Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wildman: A Study in Terror and Healing, Taussig captured the fervent, animalistic ritual of Yage (a/k/a Ayahuasca, a powerful natural hallucinogen), with unreal singing that fully brings the healer and subject into the realms of the spirits. At times providing a meditative, aural focal point and at others a rhythmic, driving force, it's easy to see how a voice like this -- compassionate, resonant and persistent -- would be an important ritual support during such an experience.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

OS NOVOS BAHIANOS "E Ferro Na Boneca" (Som Livre)
Real Audio: "Ferro na Boneca"
Better known for their post-Tropicalia explorations of traditional Brazilian music, Os Novos Bahianos at times sound vaguely similar to Os Mutantes on their rare debut album, reissued here. Recorded in 1969 with the help of Os Leifs, who were accompanying Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil around the same time, Novos Bahianos seamlessly blended rock, pop, samba, jazz, soul, mambo and funk with samba and other indigenous styles. E Ferro Na Boneca is a terrific record from start to finish, an under-appreciated treasure and a welcome addition to any Brazilian music collection.
Buy CD $22.99

THE RAIL BAND "1 Soundiata" (Belle Epoque/Stern's)
Real Audio: "Armee Mali"
2007 saw the release of this two-disc volume, the first of a three collections devoted to the peak creative years (1970-1983) of the long running Malian super group, the Rail Band. A state-sponsored ensemble set up and funded by the national railway to provide entertainment at the Buffet Hotel de la Gare Bamako, the Rail Band was fronted by vocalist Salif Keita, an albino of noble descent who had to break the rules of his caste in order to step into the role of a griot. Possessing an impossibly beautiful voice, he is today one of the most famous Africans alive, but it was via the Rail Band that he originally came to prominence and arguably did the greatest work of his career. Innovators of African music, the Rail Band stretched the boundaries of their song lengths and influences, changed dialects to fit their audience, had a fluid membership and arrangement style, and are one of the most well-loved African groups of our times.
Buy CDx2 $20.99
Buy mp3 $17.99

TABU LEY ROCHEREAU "The Voice of Lightness 1961-1977" (Stern's Music)
Real Audio: "Aon Aon"
While familiar with Tabu Ley's track on the sublime Golden Afrique set of a few years back, it was an effervescent cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be" that brought the Congolese singer into sharp focus. It's almost a no-brainer that each successive Stern's Africa compilation holds myriad delights, but this 2007 compilation of Rochereau's work from 1961-1977 may very well be the most crucial. His range as revealed here is astounding and confounding: sweet, poppy, celebratory, or else melancholic, pensive for one track, then peddling laundry soap the next.
Buy CDx2 $21.99
Buy mp3 $17.99

OMAR SOULEYMAN "Highway to Hassake" (Sublime Frequencies)
Real Audio: "Leh Jani"
Often playing at breakneck speeds, Omar Souleyman and his band have created an ecstatic party music unlike anything else you could find in 2007. Fusing elements of regional folk forms with lo-fi drum machines, phase-shifted Arabic keyboard lines, and unidentifiable spurts of electronic noise, Souleyman sings and chants with palpable energy, often in feverish call and response, and proves his virtuosity on traditional Middle Eastern instruments like the oud, spike fiddle, saz, or nay. Souleyman is an intriguing, imposing character capable of impassioned, frenetic vocalizations that are as much about rhythmic invention as they are about delivering the lyrical goods. A musical icon in his native Syria, he's reputedly released more than 500 studio and live cassette albums since 1994.
Buy CD $15.99

TINARIWEN "Aman Iman" (World Village)
Real Audio: "Cler Achel"
The story of Malian musicians Tinariwen has caught on significantly over the past few years both here and abroad. While serving time in Algerian military training camps, singer and leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib became mesmerized by the "new" sounds of Led Zeppelin and Santana. Inspired to pick up a guitar, he and his band (who were also militants) developed a signature brand of desert blues. Drawing on the experiences of the fiercely nomadic Tuareg people, Tinariwen writes of unemployment, social oppression, rebellion and subjugation, first by French colonizers and later by the Malian government, translated into English for the first time in the booklet for Aman Iman. It's trance inducing, yet extremely well-grounded music, alive with the spirit and struggle of life in this trying world.
Buy CD $16.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

MELODII TUVI "Throat Songs and Folk Tunes from Tuva" (Dust-to-Digital)
Real Audio: "Bayan-kol"
Anyone who has heard the peculiar sound of Tuvan throat singing, perhaps in the Paul Pena documentary Genghis Blues, will most likely never forget it. For the uninitiated, it is a style of singing found in the remote Republic of Tuva (between Russia and Mongolia), which seemingly defies the laws of physics by allowing a singer to vocalize two separate tones at the same time. All three distinct styles of Tuvan throat singing (khoomei, sygyt, and xoomei) are featured in these 1969 Russian-recorded tracks, all heard for the first time on CD.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "Authenticite: Syliphone Years 1965-1980" (Stern's Music)
Real Audio: "Koukou Befo"
Culled from the Syliphone label, a state-run music production company in Guinea, this two-disc compilation is a fantastic overview of the music from the '60s through the early '80s. Although there's a distinctly regional African aesthetic, you can clearly detect other influences, most prevalently Cuban jazz, highlife/Afro-beat, and American organ-fueled R&B. Dance music-of the highest order.
Buy CDx2 $20.99
Buy mp3 $17.99

[V.A.] "Awon Ojise Olorun: Popular Music in Yorubaland 1931 to 1952" (Savannaphone)
Real Audio: "Orin Faji"
Ever wonder what Nigerian music sounded like before Fela Kuti and his development of Afro-beat? Awon Ojise Olorun details the beginnings of music recording and production in Yorubaland. British colonization permitted musical acts to travel freely beyond their home regions, resulting in an exchange of instruments and rhythms began, and a fusion of traditional styles such as juju, sakara and apala. Many of the songs presented on this compilation were popular songs of the time, often performed for the royal courts by street musicians. Combining political and protest-fueled lyricism with homemade instruments and hand rhythms, Awon Ojise Olorun is a recommended glimpse into a forgotten time and of a people who witnessed colonization, later gained their independence, and the music made in the process.
Buy CD $22.99

[V.A.] "The Bombay Connection: Funk from Bollywood Action Thrillers 1977-1984" (Bombay Connection)
Real Audio: "Bond 303"
[V.A.] "Bombshell Baby of Bombay: Bouncin' Nightclub Grooves 1959-1972" (Bombay Connection)
Real Audio: "Loafer"
The first installments of a proposed eight-volume series collecting Bollywood film music, these were some of 2007's wildest compilations, displaying a full complement of wild psych, breaks, hard funk, African rhythms, and traces of Imperialism left to their own devices. The Bombay Connection connects like a line drive to the jaw, all looped and banging tracks from action and exploitation cinema and TV shows of the '70s and '80s, while Bombshell Baby of Bombay gathers lighter, teeny-bopper fare from comedies and dramas (including "Jaan Pahechan Ho," popularized years back in the film version of Dan Clowes' "Ghost World"). Gorgeous packaging, comprehensive liner notes and filmography information, and great sound on these discs uphold the insanity therein.
Buy "Bombay Connection" CD $16.99
Buy "Bombshell Baby" CD $16.99

[V.A.] "Brazil 70: After Tropicalia" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "Vivo Ou Morto"
Soul Jazz delivered a much-needed user-friendly comp highlighting a musically rich yet under-documented movement. Brazil 70 explores the country's popular music, following the tropicalia era, which was broken up and destroyed by the oppressive military dictatorship that ruled the country at the time. Despite arrests and deportations, the artists of this period chose to experiment even more musically and the lyrics became even more obtuse and impressionistic, many writing in code to get their message across. Featuring Joyce, Novos Baianos, Nelson Angelo and many more luminaries.
Buy CD $18.99

[V.A.] "Colombia! The Golden Years of Discos Fuentes" (Soundway)
Real Audio: "Pacifico"
Discos Fuentes is a style of mid-20th Century Colombian music which utilized the strong African influence of the musicians from rural farm towns scattered throughout the country. A fusion of salsa and cumbia with American big band jazz arrangements, it became a highly rhythmic sound that ruled over dance floors in both North and South America. Colombia! captured 20 hand-selected cuts from the coveted Discos Fuentes vaults. For anyone with even a cursory interest in Latin dance music, this is a superb place to start.
Buy CD $15.99

[V.A.] "Cuba: Una Noche en la Habana" (Syllart)
Real Audio: "Tiene Sabor"
The same label that brought us the fantastic Rail Band collection kicked off their Cuban Pearls series (a counterpart to their African Pearls compilations) with this excellent first installment, focusing on the country's golden age of dance music. There's way too much history to cover here about this one time Spanish colony, but the music produced in, and influenced by Cuba during the '40s and '50s is some of the most soulful and rhythmic of the past century. Una Noche en la Habana (A Night in Havana), documents the deep connection between African and Cuban music, as well a myriad of other influences and, leading up to the revolution, its wildfire spread into the United States. Highly recommended.
Buy CDx2 $22.99

[V.A.] "Daisies OST" (Finders Keepers)
Real Audio: "Bath of Milk"
From the same wacky denizens that brought us Valerie and Her Week of Wonders comes this OST to the seminal Czech underground film, Daisies. From baroque French themes to the Charleston to an ode to musique concrete, Daisies' cut-and-paste soundtrack fits perfectly with the vivid colors, bedlam plot, and vanguard cinematography that earned this film both its banned status in Eastern Europe and international acclaim.
Buy CD $21.99

[V.A.] "Lipa Kodi Ya City Council" (Mississippi)

Here's the latest in a series of limited vinyl reissues from Portland, OR record store Mississippi Records, one of the most diverse imprints to surface in years -- their releases span from pre-war country blues collections to the agit-punk of the Dog Faced Hermans. Lipa Kodi Ya City Council collects African music from 1967 through 1972, a beautiful and rarefied assortment of R&B, high life, vocal choruses, palmwine, juju, and pop. You'll be entranced by the sounds of Zambia, Mali, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya, where the roots of calypso, the strains of Western pop and centuries of tradition culminate into a unique and remarkable album.
Buy LP $12.99

[V.A.] "Molam Vol. 2" (Sublime Frequencies)
Real Audio: "Poo Ying Lai Jai"
Documenting a localized form of country folk from Thailand's Northeastern provinces, Molam mixes traditional instrumentation with organs and guitars to affect a music that balances the region's musical history with restless innovation while spotlighting the daily toils and troubles of those from the area. It's another in a long and storied line of Sublime Frequencies releases, and like all others on that imprint, is very much worthy of your undivided attention.
Buy CD $15.99

[V.A.] "The Roots of Chicha" (Barbes)
Real Audio: "Worlds Approaching"
Chicha sprung up in the late '60s along the Peruvian Amazon, party music inspired by Colombian cumbias, adding in regional inspirations like the pentatonic scales of traditional Andean melodies, Cuban guajiras and more exotic North American surf and psychedelic sounds. The Roots of Chicha identifies quite a few parallels to the Tropicalia movement that was taking place in adjacent Brazil at the same time, but Chicha took another route to globalization, built around standard Afro-Cuban percussion sections (bongos, congas, bells, timbales) and wood flutes of Colombian cumbias with Western instruments, like electric guitars, Farfisa organs, and Moog synths. It's the sound of modernism poking up through the soil and air in this ancient land, and empowering the newly urban population taking in the music and mood of the world without abandoning local culture and tradition.
Buy CD $14.99
Buy mp3 $9.99

[V.A.] "Thai Pop Spectacular 1960s to 1980s" (Sublime Frequencies)
Real Audio: "Roob Lor Thom Pai"
Thai Pop Spectacular: 1960s - 1980s brings together a multifaceted set of tracks that explore pulsing disco, twangy surf guitar, spry comedy bits, and a couple of pieces of soundtrack music from all over the country. Far from being a uniform presentation of Thai pop, the compilation goes a ways towards highlighting the tremendous diversity at work in the country's music industry from the 1960s until the 1980s.
Buy CD $15.99

CAETANO VELOSO "Ce" (Universal Import)
Real Audio: "Outro"
Ce was a surprise from Brazilian pop legend Caetano Veloso, a big departure from the work he's been turning out for the last several years, and the greatest album he's recorded since his late-'60s and early-'70s heyday. Long tagged as the Brazilian Bob Dylan, Veloso has taken the opposite track of Dylan's world-weary grumbles and somehow morphed back into a nineteen-year-old, his voice totally intact and as beautiful as ever, and further proof that the man is simply one of the greatest pop musicians of the last forty years. You won't be disappointed.
Buy CD $17.99

MARC WILKINSON "Blood on Satan's Claw OST" (Trunk)
Real Audio: "Fiend Discovered and Titles"
Trunk Records continued its one-of-a-kind reissue streak in 2007 with this truly haunted, affected soundtrack work. Backing the lurid, spellbinding British horror/Satanic/teen rebellion picture Blood on Satan's Claw, composer Marc Wilkinson crafted a fragile, menacing score, based around a descending chord progression known as "the Devil's Interval." Electronic swoops and a folk-goth menace throughout make for a pronounced, tantalizing piece of work.
Buy CD $15.99





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