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  August 8, 2013  
The Focus Group
Listening Center with Pye Corner Audio
These New Puritans
Essie Jain
Mutazione (Various Artists)
Asmus Tietchens
Dark Day
Pop. 1280
Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo
The Sufis
Eric Copeland

Andy Kaufman
The Dentists


Maurice Deebank
The Clean
Bird Nest Roys

Matthew E. White

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Just a few more weeks remaining in Other Music's Summer Monday residency at New York City's Ace Hotel! We hope that you'll come and join us as we cool off from the heat, with a member of our staff DJing their favorite records and countless varieties of music inside the gorgeous lobby bar every Monday evening in August from 8pm to midnight. Here's the schedule:

8/12 - Chris Pappas
8/19 - Andreas Knutsen
8/26 - Ning Nong

ACE HOTEL: 20 W. 29th St. NYC
8:00pm to Midnight | Facebook Event Page

AUG Sun 18 Mon 19 Tues 20 Wed 21 Thurs 22 Fri 23 Sat 24

Over the course of three full-lengths and a handful of EPs, Julianna Barwick has been captivating listeners with gorgeous, transportive soundscapes crafted from hazy layers and loops of her voice and ethereal washes of instrumentation. With a new home on the Dead Oceans label, her forthcoming album, Nepenthe, is absolutely stunning and on the night of its release, Tuesday, August 20, Barwick will be performing a special concert at NYC's historic Judson Memorial Church. Other Music is offering our Update subscribers a chance to win a pair of tickets to the show by emailing enter@othermusic.com. We'll be picking two winners who will also receive an autographed poster and a copy of her new CD.

JUDSON MEMORIAL CHURCH: 55 Washington Square South, NYC
$16 dollar tickets available at Other Music
Julianna Barwick's Nepenthe is now streaming on NPR's First Listen





$21.99 LP


Electric Karousel
(Ghost Box)

"The Elektrik Karousel"
"Fruminous Numinous"

Noted designer, visual artist, and Ghost Box label founder Julian House returns with a new album under his Focus Group moniker, and it's easily the best, most consistent record he's yet produced. I'll admit that while I love House's work across the board -- visually, sonically, aesthetically -- his outings as the Focus Group have left me somewhat disappointed at times; his dense, intricate sample collages were prone to suffer from the same attention deficit, splice-'em-up frenzy as a Madlib beat tape, and you'd often be left with a big pile of wonderful ideas whose potential was seemingly half-realized. Then Broadcast entered the picture, enlisting House's assistance on a series of excellent releases that stitched the final seam into his psychedelic Technicolor dreamcoat. What James Cargill and Trish Keenan brought into the Focus Group universe was a subtle but important skeleton to the intense spectrality of House's collage work, and it seems that their collaborations have instilled Elektrik Karousel with an energy and unified purpose that easily makes this the most accomplished album House has yet created.

Upon the opening samples, there's no mistaking that this is his work, as all of the key ingredients are there; the warbling wow and flutter of antiquated recordings of electric pianos, harpsichord minuets, chirping flutes, and frenzied jazz drum fills are combined with endlessly reverberating sound effects, touches of dub and Radiophonic wizardry, and heavy nods to the acousmatic school of musique concrete composers. What sets Elektrik Karousel apart from his previous releases, though, is a more unified, overarching theme and pace; it often plays as a lovely counterpart to his Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age album with Broadcast, as it is perfumed by the same supernatural muskiness as that record. Close inspection of the liner notes reveal that Broadcast actually contributed samples and recordings for House to use on this album, tying these themes together even more tightly, and while it remains an entirely instrumental affair, it is not to be missed by fans of Broadcast's last few efforts, not to mention the more mind-expanding elements of 1960s electronic experimentation. This is easily the most "psychedelic" dispatch from Ghost Box to date, and House is to be commended on the renewed vigor, enthusiasm, and yes, focus to the work that he's released here. Longtime fans should very much enjoy this, but if you've been hesitant or afraid to take the plunge with House thus far, this is easily, along with the aforementioned Witch Cults album, the best entry point into his world. I love this. [IQ]





$9.99 45

Study Series 09: Projections
(Ghost Box)

The newest release in Ghost Box's always wonderful series of limited edition 7" singles comes from New York-based producer Listening Center, who delivers a gorgeous, sun-soaked instrumental that nods toward vintage library music themes, but infused with the symphonic majesty of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. It's a striking piece that blends shimmering synth chords, the soft shuffle of a vintage rhythm box, and some choral voice clusters to startling yet intimate effect. The flipside is a collaboration with OM favorite Pye Corner Audio, who anchors the majesty of the main melodic motif with a pumping, arpeggiated rhythmic shadow. All in all, it's another top-notch single in a series that has yet to strike out, and as with all Ghost Box vinyl, quantities are limited -- so if you're hungry for it, bite now! [IQ]






Field of Reeds
(Infectious Music)

"Fragment Two"
"Organ Eternal"

Led by twin brothers George and Jack Barnett, These New Puritans is one of the more interesting bands in the UK, and after a three-year wait they are back with a new album; it's a mature and passionate record that also marks quite a departure for this somewhat underrated group. Though Beat Pyramid from 2008 and 2010's Hidden each had their own sound, both releases shared a unique blend of youthful DIY post-punk and Brit-pop crossed with dubstep; the band maintains this ever-evolving momentum here as well, while taking their chamber music and avant-garde/music concrete aspirations to new heights. Since their last full-length, Jack Barnett studied orchestral notation and also explored field recordings, and the group itself has been scaled back from a quartet to a trio (although Jack's impassioned singing is joined by additional vocals from Elisa Rodriquez, Elizabeth Turner, and Adrian Peacock). Much like movements within an opera, here Barnett employs space, drama, and emotion-filled brass and string arrangements to set the scene, and Field of Reeds seems to unfold in suites rather than songs.

While the album might seem to lack a spine (i.e. a back beat), it holds together well, with bass guitar and drums providing rhythm if not drive, and organ, piano, and synthesizer, along with lots of unique acoustic sound sources -- glass, rototoms, chromatic gongs, un-pitched percussion, and magnetic resonator piano, to name a few -- adding lush coloring. Like the music of Talk Talk, Arthur Russell, or Current 93, TNP explores moody orchestral pop with touches of stern British folk, full of deep ambiance and broad landscapes that create a stark yet rich tapestry of floating passion, sparse melody, open atmosphere, and tightly arranged restraint. With every full-length the band seems to shapeshift into a new form; I've always found a lot to like about the group in the past, and here they have really created an original, engaging, and accomplished album that they previously never quite seemed capable of (or interested in) realizing. It's a nice surprise to see a band branch out, mature, and explore new territory with such great results. Fans of minimal orchestral rock such as Dirty Projectors, Antony, How to Dress Well, or any of the above mentioned should definitely check out These New Puritans. Definitely not the group you thought you knew, and probably better than you remember. Either way, recommended. [DG]





$14.99 CD

All Became Golden
(Essie Jain)

"Stand in the Light"

It's been just a couple of years since we last heard from Essie Jain, with her Until the Light of Morning album. This charming 2011 collection of lullabies was a bit of an outlier for the British-born, Brooklyn settled singer, but it came from a similar tradition as a pair of lovely records that Jain released in the half-decade prior which also explored British folk melodies in her own dreamy and low-key modern style. With three albums down, some nice reviews, and a handful of committed fans around the world, Jain had reached some sort of a crossroads in her creative life, and this is where the story of All Became Golden picks up. More than just a new record, this album -- and the accompanying film, which is streaming in full right here -- is a deep look at the meaning of art, of creative passion and personal identity.

As Jain tells the story, she had basically stopped playing music at all for a time, beaten down by the struggle of putting so much of her heart and soul (and money and time) into a muse that had given relatively little back over the years; so she quit singing and tried to settle into the rest of her life, until her friend Natalie Johns wrote another chapter into Jain's musical story. A longtime fan as well as an accomplished filmmaker and video producer (whom many of our readers will know from the Live at Other Music video series she created, and as a co-producer of the Other Music SXSW Lawn Parties), Johns wanted to see her friend pursuing her life's dream again, and also wanted to make a feature-length documentary that truly captured creativity in action, exploring the making of an album not as some dusty artifact to be investigated, but in real time, and with the film as an integral part of the process -- a "film record."

The concept Jain and Johns came up with for the album was almost like a fantasy camp for Jain, taking a set of her songs -- mostly new, with a couple of older originals and heartfelt covers -- and giving them to the young avant-classical star Nico Muhly to arrange and conduct for a small ensemble. Jain and Muhly met only briefly off-camera to start the process, and while the songs were written and arranged out of sight, the rest of the creative process is captured on film, in a gorgeous studio in midtown Manhattan, where Jain, Muhly and the musicians rehearsed and recorded this lush, idyllic and sweetly emotional album, with Jain's silky voice and Muhly's subtly stunning arrangements for strings, woodwinds, harp, piano, string bass and guitar coming together as if in a dream. The film beautifully shows every track on All Became Golden being recorded live, and intersperses it all with behind-the-scenes moments and thoughtful interviews with Jain and Muhly about the process and the experience -- in Jain's case, a lot of back story on both the song meanings and origins, but also the overall picture of her musical and personal history and ambitions seen through the lens of this experience. It's a deeply intimate look into the heart of an artist many of you don't know at all, and perhaps has more universal relevance for just that reason. As narrator Martin Mills (yes, that Martin Mills) says in the intro, "Essie Jain is just like you and I. She dreamed of great love and true happiness."

As far as the actual music and the CD we have for sale, fans of Jain's previous work are sure to love All Became Golden, for while it is a fresh start and undoubtedly adds a lot of layers and colors to her often bare sound, it never loses any of the intimacy and texture that have always made Jain's singing stand out. The orchestration is truly lovely, a playful and emotional expansion of these simple chords and melodies that manages to add so much to these songs without ever cluttering the pure and central essence of her voice. Mixed by Bob Clearmountain, the album is warm, natural, but meticulously detailed, and the best tracks, like "Glory" or Jain's take on Dire Strait's "Why Worry," are classics that could easily bring her singing to a much wider audience than she has ever approached before. Whether or not that will happen is a big question the film implies without ever directly asking; Jain had basically given up on writing and performing until she woke up one day and made some of the best music of her life. Yes, these songs are the stuff of dreams and whatever the origin myth we see playing out here, All Became Golden is a great record that succeeds on the strength of Jain's haunting voice, Muhly's deeply engaging orchestration, and on its own terms. [JM]





$13.99 CD
$18.99 LPx2


(RVNG Intl.)

"Bora Bora"

The Brooklyn-based electronic duo of Sam Haar and Zach Steinman returns with an excellent follow-up to their self-titled full-length from last year. Featuring nine tracks across its 65-minutes, Swisher eschews the pop and Balearic elements of the previous album by placing more emphasis on precise rhythms and mysterious synthetic textures oft found in new age and kosmische sounds. The dance music that Blondes create is much more visceral than what's coming from so many EDM and house producers right now. Their live-to-hard-drive approach is almost improvisational, yet never off-putting; the duo stretch their analog tracks out while simultaneously tugging the listener (or dancer) in close with their eyes wide shut. The nine-minute "Bora Bora" shapeshifts atop a softly chugging 4/4 beat and is as propulsive as it is meditative, the track's Kraftwerkian railroad counter-rhythm eventually riding through a tunnel of feedback and exiting into a hazy lockstep of Latin percussion. Elsewhere, "Andrew" slowly builds atop a hypnotic bass as the duo adds a new melodic element one piece at a time and the song eventually climaxes into a sort of "E2-E4" for a Detroit warehouse dancefloor, while "Wire" siphons cavernous Basic Channel atmospherics through an amorphous cloud of tech-house. It's during album closer "Elise" in which Blondes reveal themselves completely, a hypnotic, rhythmic swirl of crackling arpeggios and bright waves of melody that's emotive yet far from heavy-handed. There's a human touch in Haar and Steinman's music that betrays the icy cold tones and robotic beat precision -- it's as if the listener is standing on top of a snowcapped mountain on a warm summer's day, looking down at the green, green world below. [GH]






Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988

"Maritime Tatami" Victrola
"Senza Tregua" LA 1919

Strut Records' Mutazione is a wonderful, robust collection of rare and obscure Italian new wave, cold wave, and experimental analogue synth recordings from the 1980s, moving away from the more disco/funk-oriented spectrum of Italo disco and into more knotted, gritty textures. There's still a heavy emphasis on rhythm, but the sound here is more rooted in post-punk experimentation, cosmic circuitry, and occasional no wave abrasion. Many of these tracks come from the same do-it-yourself, anything-goes spirit, and were sourced from limited-edition, private-press releases. If you're a fan of the early participants of the Mute Records stable like Cabaret Voltaire, the Normal, and Fad Gadget, the darker strains of minimal wave, not to mention the Teutonic avant-synth experimentation of Cluster, Conrad Schnitzler, or Monoton, you'll find much to love here, as the Italians bring their A-game throughout with just as much brute rhythmic force, textural detail, and wild-eyed raw emotion (with the occasional robotic frigidity) as their American, British, and German counterparts. This is pretty much an all-killer, no-filler set, and a collection that has been long overdue in assessing the Italian underground sound. If my points of reference are speaking your language, grab this without hesitation; it's absolutely great and filled with a wonderful balance of studied menace, itchy paranoia, and unabashed fun. Top marks all around for this one. [IQ]



$21.99 LP


$21.99 LP

(Bureau B)

 "In Die Zukunft"

 "Cretin Statique"

(Bureau B)

"Lourdes Extra"

Finally, two of Asmus Tietchens' seminal albums from his 1981-83 Zeitzeichen ("time signal") period get a glorious re-issue from Bureau B. Those who know Tietchens from his later, more abstract work or earlier electronic and musique concrète achievements, might be surprised by the sardonic pseudo-pop sensibility he displays throughout this stage of his career. It's often through the quirky, yet occasionally sweeping, and dissonant avant-synth miniatures of these records that he truly pushes the expectations and possibilities of the pop vernacular. Yet surprisingly enough, the majority of this supposedly lighter period foreshadows the often dark and gothic nature of later work, of which snippets come creeping through in the strangest fashion. Take "Miss Ann Trope" from Biotop, a somewhat disturbing sounding ambient pop exploration with eerie synth squeaks and a slowly throbbing rhythm. The inspired word play of its title might be an early indication of his later use of quotes from the notoriously nihilistic Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran, whereas its unconventional sonic palette announces the industrial avant-garde soundscapes that later emerged on Former Letzter Hausmusik, from '84.

If Biotop, with its disjointed rhythms and tumbling melodies, lauds a dystopian future, then Spät-Europa (Late-Europe) is a remarkably tongue-in-cheek assault on European high and low culture. Its eponymous opening track starts with a serene church choir, the only non-electronic sound on the record, which gets cut short by an oblique synth melody and weirdly shuffling rhythm. On this album Tietchens perfects the compositional methods started on Biotop, something that is all the more impressive given that he is adhering to a self-imposed restriction. With a greater focus on form and economy, each of the tracks is supposed to last only two minutes, but Tietchens, lacking the proper technical means, constantly misses his ideal target with a few seconds. The inherent beauty of such unintentional errors and inexactitudes enhances Spät-Europa's deceptive nature. Track titles are stuffed with wordplays and parodies, with Tietchens' social commentary marked by the greatest irony and detachment. Through this approach, he succeeds in evoking the great German musical tradition of irreverent and at times outright funny cultural critique, which originated decades before in the cabarets of Berlin, while injecting the undoubtedly pop framework of this strange record with some of the radical sound experiments of the historical avant-garde. [NVT]





$13.99 12"


Hands in the Dark
(Dark Entries)

Dark Day's debut single Hands in the Dark gets a special expanded release on Dark Entries as part of their ongoing reissue series. Robin Crutchfield is best known as an original member of New York's seminal no wave band DNA. In 1979, he left the group in order to work under his Dark Day moniker with a vision of exploring minimal electronics, under the influence of U.K. bands like the Normal and Throbbing Gristle. With help from Nina Canal of the Gynecologists (and later UT) on guitar and Nancy Arlen of Mars on drums, Crutchfield soon released the first single, "Hands in the Dark" b/w "Invisible Man." This early work is an eerie psychedelic parade with hypnotic synths and stark guitars guided by a march of subtle, steady drums and escorted by Crutchfield's haunting vocal style. The two tracks would foreshadow Crutchfield's full-length, Exterminating Angel, recorded with an entirely different band (which included Phil Kline, and Steven Brown of Tuxedomoon) and an evolving sound. The first "single" from that record, "Trapped," was released as a limited 12" in '81 to promote the album, and included "The Exterminations 1-6" as the B-side, widely available here for the first time -- according to Crutchfield, these are his favorite recordings with the project. Crutchfield experimented with his album's master reels, returning to the studio and altering the effects, speed and reverb as he played the tapes backwards, resulting in surreal psych landscapes. This EP is a brilliant collection of Dark Day's early work that will leave you feeling blissfully bewildered. If you've picked up Dark Day's previous two fantastic reissues, Window and Exterminating Angel, you're bound to enjoy this further journey into the curious world of Robin Crutchfield. Re-mastered, with great vintage cover art from a 1979 poster drawing by Crutchfield, plus foldout posters with photos, lyrics and notes. [ACo]

$13.99 CD
$15.99 LPx2


  POP. 1280
Imps of Perversion
(Sacred Bones)

"Lights Out"
"Coma Baby"

This Brooklyn four-piece unleash their sophomore full-length, Imps of Perversion being another sleazy bludgeoning of goth-tinged no wave/post-punk. The maturing since last year's The Horror, however, is immediately apparent with "Lights Out," an intense, caustic opener that eschews some of the darker, menacing grit of that album for something that's still raw yet dare we say accessible. The group has embraced a little more nuance to their heavy metallic attack, and while it's all still noise and scum, the ominously pulsing synths, pounding drums, and growling bass and guitars on tracks like "Do the Anglerfish" are as conducive to inciting riots as they are simply frightening. Chris Bug's dark, seedy tales of blood, lust and deviance are still delivered in his rabid Nick Cave howl, yet there's a little more clarity to the band behind him courtesy of producer Matin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth, Cop Shoot Cop). That is save for the sinister "Population Control." Here any semblance of production is thrown out the window for what sounds to be a cassette recording of the group playing in a decrepit warehouse, making the song all the more paranoid, like a drug-fueled stroll through the crumbling Lower East Side of the not-so-distant past. And indeed, Pop. 1280 draw a straight line back to late-'70s/'80s downtown New York, channeling Suicide, DNA, Live Skull and early Sonic Youth in equal measure, while painting a modern, burnt-out version of the city. [GH/MM]




$13.99 CD
$16.99 LPx2

Prince Avalanche OST
(Temporary Residence)

"Theme from Prince Avalanche"
"Dear Madison"

Though they have not done a ton of soundtrack work up 'til now, Explosions in the Sky's soaring, textured instrumental recordings make this sort of thing seem like an easy transition for the band. Working with fellow Austin musician David Wingo, the group effortlessly tweaks their established sound in all the right ways for this score to the new David Gordon Greene feature. Wingo has worked with Greene on several previous projects, and though his own Texas-based indie band Ola Podrida is actually not quite as "cinematic" as Explosions, it's obvious that he brought a keen understanding of the mechanics of scoring (as opposed to "songwriting") to the relationship, and together they have made a lovely album of intricate, emotional soundtracks that will appeal to fans of Explosions without being just another new record from them. With less of an emphasis on crashing dynamics, and more of a nuanced approach to the fine lines of ambiance, these pieces convey mood and emotion without too much internal drama of their own -- that is usually best left to the action on screen, lest a soundtrack come off as hokey and leading. By their very nature these songs are more background music than anything requiring deep and full engagement to enjoy, but they are beautifully orchestrated and full of surprising complexities, and mark what will likely be an interesting new chapter for the band. [JM]

Soundtrack purchase comes with a voucher good for two tickets to a screening of Prince Avalanche at New York's IFC Center -- while supplies last! (Sorry, no mail order, in store purchase only.)







Nashville band the Sufis came from seemingly out of nowhere last year with a brief but promising debut that hinted at and occasionally flirted with the same psychedelic pop greatness of young upstarts like Tame Impala and White Fence, but still seemed a bit unformed. They have very swiftly remedied that with their excellent sophomore album, Inventions, which overflows with bright, sharp hooks, a sweet, summery vibe, and a lovely throwback sound that winks in the directions of Village Green/Face to Face-era Kinks, a bit of Syd Barrett-era Floyd, and the baroque pop of American groups like the Cyrkle and the Left Banke. These songs are built around fluttering clusters of harpsichord melodies, thick organ drones, and shuffling, clattering drum and tambourine beats. It possesses an unpretentious, ramshackle charm that hasn't been so successfully deployed in contemporary psyche pop since the fledgling days of the Elephant 6 collective or the Paisley Underground of the 1980s, and special mention must be made of Calvin Laporte's vocals, which shine throughout with a more pronounced confidence and assertion. All in all, it makes for one of my favorite rock/pop albums of the year, and I say without hesitation that it's an absolute must-own if you're a fan of classic psyche/garage pop sounds. Absolute highest recommendation on this one, folks! [IQ]




$14.99 LP

Tides End
(Captured Tracks)


Seeking respite and inspiration for his second full-length, Tides End, Sonny Kilfoyle a/k/a MINKS moved out of New York City and set up shop in Eastern Long Island. Exchanging the city's concrete aesthetic for a far more natural one, Kilfoyle's change in scenery is certainly evident in his work. Incorporating simple drum machines under '80s-inspired synths and guitars, MINKS creates ultra-catchy dream-pop that fills the gap nicely between your New Order and Diamond Rings records. Just as Beach House's dreamy tunes are perfect for a warm, relaxing day, MINKS' second album is the epitome of an afternoon spent driving down to the beach and watching waves lap the shore. While Kilfoyle's debut LP, 2011's By the Hedge, was admirable for its lo-fi, Slumberland-esque indie pop, Tides End is all that more enjoyable thanks to a refreshing clarity provided by Berlin-based producer Mark Verbos, who has fine-tuned MINKS' sound, polishing up the chiming guitars and adding more depth by layering sonic textures and synths. In the indie world where indistinguishable lyrics and stretched-out songs are so prevalent right now, Kilfoyle's directness and simplicity comes across like a breath of fresh air -- these tunes are short, sweet and glossy. Even on tracks like "Weekenders" and "Doomed and Cool," where the choruses are merely "And today, the sun's gonna shine" and "There's no better place than paradise" respectively, there's something unarguably satisfying amidst his memorable yet subdued melodies, bouncing beats and synths. Fans going all the way back to Lightning Seeds on forward to current contemporaries like Wild Nothing and any of the aforementioned should check this out. [MM]




$13.99 CD
$14.99 LP

To the Happy Few
(Captured Tracks)

Medicine's first full-band album in 18 years, featuring the original line-up, is surprisingly on par with their best work. Led by guitarist Brad Laner, the California group's dreamy noise-pop signature is still firmly in place, yet there are some slightly more psychedelic touches here, made most clear by the inclusion of the piano on several tracks. Overall, however, it does sound like the band picked up right from where they left off, and that's no complaint, as 1992's Shot Forth Self Living and 1993's The Buried Life (both recently reissued by Captured Tracks) were, in my opinion, two of the best records of that period.

One thing that has always set Medicine apart from other rock combos is that Jim Goodall is a drummer's drummer. His playing has a certain swing to it that makes anything placed on top of it immediately head-nod inducing -- check "Burn It," where Goodall marries a John Bonham backbeat to Laner and Jim Putnam's blurry guitar work for a completely blissful, woozy effect. Yet as washed out and atmospheric as they get, the group have always managed to bury a pop song in there somewhere. As far as I'm concerned, the arrival of a new Medicine album is just as exciting as the recent release of My Bloody Valentine's long-awaited follow-up to Loveless. I don't care what year it is, I'm just glad to have one of my favorite bands of all time back in action and producing work every bit as good as they were in their heyday. [NN]





$21.99 LPx2

Joke in the Hole

"Bobby Strong"

The fifth solo full-length by Eric Copeland -- longtime member of Brooklyn-based experimentalists Black Dice -- is arguably one of his most direct outings. Although Copeland typically samples and mixes hundreds of universal sounds into short avant/dance tracks, the result of this work on Joke in the Hole is much more accessible and poppier. Like the 11-minute promotional 12" ("Masterbater") that Copeland released prior to this album, the songs here seem as though they flutter in and out of different radio stations -- some pieces fit for a beach party, others for a rave. There's a definite evolution in Copeland's sound taking place on this record; although the tracks are often distorted and disjointed, none of them are very industrial or dark. Even though Joke in the Hole has moments that are reminiscent of a summer-themed pinball machine on steroids, the pounding bass in every song keeps the album kinetic and alive. Slower, longer tracks and succinct raves alike hold the listener's interest via his ability to instill a familiar dancefloor style into the bizarre, experimental mishmash. It all makes for a pleasant, strange and exciting tangent to Copeland's previous work. [MM]




$21.99 LP

Andy and His Grandmother
(Drag City)

"Andy and His Grandmother"
"Kick in the Pants"

Infamous American entertainer Andy Kaufman never considered himself a comedian. He insisted that he was a "song and dance man," and while many of his routines and performances indeed involved plenty of singing and dancing, his first album is surprisingly not based around such a concept. Kaufman is believed to have passed away in 1984 after a battle with cancer, but to this day many hardcore fans (myself included) have wanted to believe that he, following a series of increasingly complex and multilayered performance art pranks, had faked his own death. However one chooses to categorize Kaufman, one thing was certain: he was a master provocateur, never breaking character to spoil the joke to such extreme degrees that few people took his death seriously, considering it the ultimate prank.

This concept is discussed toward the end of Andy and His Grandmother, an album assembled from over 80 hours of recordings made by Kaufman with portable tape recorders which feature him in conversation with assorted individuals (his grandmother included), and which offer more candid glimpses at both his more famous public persona, but also at the man behind the many masks. It plays more as a collage of vignettes than as scripted skits, with the occasional foray into absurdity (his heated exchanges with an ornery, squealing pig are a particular highlight). Much of the record involves him in seemingly serious, philosophical conversation with a group of prostitutes, and much like his intergender wrestling performances, or his film My Breakfast with Blassie, the line where performer and everyman are divided is practically nonexistent. The album does little to really shine light on Kaufman's private life, and while it may not be of interest to those who aren't already fans of his work, it's a beautiful, hilarious, more candid look at the man's brilliance. [IQ]





$18.99 LP


Some People Are on the Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now
(Trouble in Mind)

Formed in early 1980s, the Dentists looked for inspiration in '60s psychedelia whilst keeping up with their contemporaries in the post-punk and power-pop circles, later becoming a crucial contribution to England's 'Medwey Scene' (think Billy Childish and the Claim). These indie darlings concocted a fine blend of jangly Byrds-ish guitars and the charming vocals of the Go-Betweens, topped off with a witty lyrical style akin to Morrissey. The band's debut record, Some People Are on the Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now, was originally released in 1985 on a tiny label called Spruck, taking its eccentric name from commentary during the 1966 World Cup. This sought-after album showcases the group's raw sound of jangly guitars, ramshackle drums, and melancholy vocal styles. The up-tempo tracks are just as brilliant as the mellower ones, and among many highlights is the band's first single, "Strawberries are Growing in My Garden (and It's Wintertime)"; it's a perfect mix of psychedelic indie pop with haunting vocals that meld seamlessly with the mesmerizing guitar jangle. "I Had an Excellent Dream" is probably my all-time favorite track by the Dentists, painting a paisley-hued lo-fi landscape that Martin Newell would definitely approve of. While the Dentists do fall into the 'children of Nuggets' genre, they're a unique band and not to be missed. Fans of Red House Painters, Biff Bang Pow! and Cleaners from Venus, this one's for you! [ACo]




$16.99 LP


Inner Thought Zone

"Maestoso Con Anima"
"Silver Fountain of Paradise Square"

Maurice Deebank was the lead guitarist in the first incarnation of the infamous UK post-punk group (and Other Music faves) Felt. His playing during the first half of Felt's career was intricate, melodic, and serpentine, adding a touch of Spanish classicism to Lawrence's songs, which they often co-wrote in those days. He and Lawrence had a notoriously fraught relationship (immortalized in Felt's single "Battle of the Bands"), and Deebank left the group in 1986, seldom to record again save for the occasional guest spot on tracks by artists like Saint Etienne. Before his departure, however, he cut one masterful album of solo guitar entitled Inner Thought Zone. Few records have such beguilingly appropriate names. Felt fans occasionally received glimpses of his instrumental prowess, and their superlative Strange Idols Pattern album featured a handful of Deebank instrumentals as interludes throughout. This record, however, is the full monty, overflowing with Deebank's sensual, airy, detailed fingerwork and dreamlike atmosphere. His only true comparative contemporary would be Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column, but the comparisons there are still only half-accurate, as Reilly's sound was more rooted in flamenco and jazz; Deebank often evokes clouds of atmosphere akin to Cocteau Twins at their most dreamy and sultry, sans the rhythmic drive or vocal acrobatics. It's a truly unique album, and it's a massive shame that Deebank seemingly retired from playing soon afterward, as the record shows true promise if not for a full-blown solo career, then for at least one as an inimitable sideman. Long out of print, this is a welcome reissue of a special album with few aesthetic peers. [IQ]




$14.99 CD
$26.99 LPx2

Vehicle - Expanded Edition
(Captured Tracks)

"Bye Bye"
"Getting to You"

Breaking up led to one of the best things the Clean ever did. After effectively jumpstarting the Flying Nun label with their regional hit "Tally Ho!" in 1981 and releasing two EPs, brothers David and Hamish Kilgour watched while the other rotating members of their band pushed the "Dunedin Sound" far beyond the boundaries of words like "shambolic" and "jangly." Groups like the Bats, the Chills, Snapper, Look Blue Go Purple and Straitjacket Fits carried Flying Nun through its second wave of creativity; these acts polished some of the shopworn Velvet Underground impulses and imported the tones and mood of '80s shoegaze acts. Not to be upstaged by the bands that had formed in their wake, the Clean reformed for 1990's joyous comeback album, Vehicle, which is receiving the deluxe reissue treatment from Brooklyn's Captured Tracks.

For Vehicle, the brothers Kilgour enlisted the help of Alan Moulder, who had previously worked the boards for My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and the Smiths. The rhythms and mood of the songs are still undeniably the work of the Clean. Each song is sharp, brief, and lyrically snappy -- and despite having ten years to practice, the Kilgours still had only one drum fill between them. But the guitars are less prone to bouts of feedback sickness, and each ringing riff tumbles effortlessly alongside lyrics that are opaque enough to fuel repeat listens. "People tell me they've seen you walk by here/I look outside but the view is far from clear" is a favorite from "I Wait Around," as is the way ocean waves become sand dunes in "Dunes." Though the first, prickliest songs by the Clean are the ones that sparked the sonic revolution in New Zealand, Vehicle is the delivery of the group's early promise. And, for the fans of the vamping, jam-prone version of the Clean, the Captured Tracks reissue includes a replica of the rare In-A-Live EP, recorded in 1988 in London at the Fulholm Greyhound. Turn that one up too loud and you might just get every dog in the neighborhood howling. [MS]




$26.99 LPx2

(Captured Tracks)


The fifth entry in Captured Tracks' ongoing exploration of the Flying Nun catalog is also its first truly wonderful surprise. Bird Nest Roys is not the first band that comes to mind when anybody thinks of Flying Nun, but their sole self-titled album for the label from 1987 sounds in itself like a compilation of the group's peers as well as a game of one-upmanship with them. With harder jangle than the Clean and moodier minor key rocking than Straitjacket Fits, Bird Nest Roys sounds like the Weather Prophets, if they hailed from Auckland and were better at playing their instruments. The rhythm section deserves special praise, as Peter Moerenhout's drums and Deborah Shadbolt's bass lock in beautifully on the lovely "Alien" and "Who Is the Silliest Rossi." Singers Ross Williams and Ross Hollands reveal a fervent love of the Go-Betweens on "Me Want Me Get Me Need Me Have Me Love," which may emerge as the definitive song for the lonely-hearted with the lyric, "I thought you didn't like me/even despised me, don't recognize me." The group never seems to overreach when grasping at new sounds, like the blasted cowpunk of "Bided" or the neon growl of "Joringel."

Included with the Captured Tracks reissue is the excellent Whack Me Down EP from 1985, which is more subdued and closer in spirit to the Bats' Daddy's Highway, or a Feelies album at half speed. [MS]





$18.99 LP+MP3



Big Inner

"One of These Days"
"Will You Love Me"

Matthew E. White's Big Inner was store favorite at Other Music last year when first released on the Hometapes label. The record appeared on our Best 30 of 2012 list as well as many other critics lists, and subsequently Domino Recording Co. stepped in and are now releasing this great album to the world over. If you missed this one last time, now's your chance. Here's what we wrote we first covered Big Inner in the Update last year.

I'll be blunt and to the point here -- this is one of the best debut albums I've heard not only this year, but in a good long while. Matthew E. White's stellar Big Inner came seemingly from out of nowhere and pretty much smacked me upside the head with its sly, subtle, understated beauty and loping, stoned funk grooves. Much has been said in the press about White's outspoken love of Randy Newman, and while I certainly hear that in the album's dry wit and biting character portraits, there's much more going on here. He ably and skillfully blends breathtaking string and horn arrangements, restrained guitar and piano melodies, robust gospel choruses, and hypnotic New Orleans funk straight out of the Toussaint family, and ties them all together with his softly murmured croon, gently purring lyrics like a sarcastic cat who's soaked up too much secondhand weed smoke. The final product plays like a funky Southern soul take on the sound perfected by Jim O'Rourke on his classic Eureka album, and it's obvious that White is a similarly diverse and eclectic collusionist who delights in subtle references to his loves throughout the record's arrangements. Much has been said in other reviews of the album's closing mantra of "Jesus Christ is my lord; Jesus Christ, he is my friend," but no one seems to realize that he's not getting heavy and dogmatic on you, he's actually paying tribute to one of my favorite Jorge Ben songs, the epic "Brother" from A Tabua de Esmeralda. White's posed on the record's cover next to paintings of King Tubby and Dr. John, and the swooning Bacharach/Newman worship actually sharpens his impact rather than diluting it, with much of that thanks to the strength of the songs themselves. I've listened to this album on solid repeat for the past week, and I say without hesitation that it is lodged firmly toward the top of my list of 2012's best records. [IQ]

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