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  August 21, 2013  
Zola Jesus
Julianna Barwick
Rashad Becker
Alexander Von Mehren
No Age
Julia Holter
Jagwar Ma
Earl Sweatshirt
Ital 12"
Magic Mountain High 12"
Psychemagik Presents Magik Sunrise
Alien Rain 12"
Porcelain Raft
Scorched Earth Policy
Destruction Unit
White Hills
Afflicted Man
Black Rain
Jacqueline Humbert & David Rosenboom
U.S. Steel Cello Ensemble

Rabih Beaini
Nath Family/Aaron Dilloway

Ty Segall
Golden Suits
Dino Valente
Andrew Cedermark
Willy Mason
His Electro Blue Voice
White Lies



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

Brought to you by our good friends at the Brooklyn Flea and Raspberry Jones, you don't want to miss this Thursday's Other Music Listening Hour at the Brooklyn Flea's Smorgasbar Seahouse space at the South Street Seaport (directly above the market area in a giant shipping container)! We'll be playing in full the upcoming new album from Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, which comes out next Tuesday on Domino Recording Co. We will also have FF coasters and tote bags to give away as well as an autographed LP that you can enter to win at the upstairs bar! Things kick off at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by a DJ set from King Britt at 8, presented by AfroPunk in anticipation of the AfroPunk Fest, August 24 and 25. The Other Music Listening Hour is always a free event and open to all ages. Coming up next Thursday: Blouse's new album, Imperium, presented by Captured Tracks. View the full schedule for the Listening Hour and get more info here.

Free | All Ages

AUG Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 31

We'd like to thank everyone for coming out to join us on Monday evenings these past few months over at Ace Hotel for our weekly summer Other Music DJ residency. This coming Monday will be the final night of this residency, with OM staffer Ning Nong spinning an eclectic mix of his favorite records in the hotel's gorgeous lobby bar from 8 p.m. to midnight. We hope to see you!

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

AUG Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 31

With a great new album, Flourish//Perish, just released (and reviewed below in this week's Update), Canadian pop experimentalists Braids are now on tour and performing this Monday, August 26, in Brooklyn at Glasslands. We've got a pair of tickets to give away and to enter for your chance to win, email tickets@othermusic.com.

GLASSLANDS: 289 Kent Ave. Williamsburg, BKLN

AUG Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 31
SEP Sun 01 Mon 02 Tues 03 Wed 04 Thurs 05 Fri 06 Sat 07

Captured Tracks is celebrating its 5-year anniversary with a two-day festival in Brooklyn over Labor Day weekend (8/31-9/1), featuring DIIV, Mac DeMarco, Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils and many more. The label and their artists have set up a special contest for participating record shops within a day's drive to NYC, with three different prize packages, each one including two passes to the CT5 Fest as well as one of these experiences:

-Coffee and donuts with Mac DeMarco
-A tarot-card reading by Devon from DIIV
-A pizza hangout with Cole from DIIV + an autographed LP

To enter for your chance to win, email giveaway@othermusic.com. We'll forward your entry to Captured Tracks who will pick three winners at random from all of the entries from the participating stores. (Email addresses will be used for no other purpose than for this contest and will not be added to any mailing list.) Happy 5 years to Captured Tracks, and here's to many more!

THE WELL: 272 Meserole St. Brooklyn, NY
More infomation & tickets available here





$13.99 CD
$15.99 LP


(Sacred Bones)

"Fall Back"
"Sea Talk"

In a word: Wow. Zola Jesus returns with a perhaps unexpected new album featuring nine reinterpretations of songs from her back catalogue and one stunning new song, all recorded with accompaniment by the Mivos Quartet's orchestral strings, as arranged by influential leftfield figurehead and noted composer/songwriter J.G. Thirlwell. These new interpretations are absolutely stunning and hold as some of the most beautiful work that either artist has ever put to tape. While Nika Roza Danilova's songs as Zola Jesus have always attempted a powerful sense of dramatic bombast and intimate tension, Thirlwell's arrangements work wonders in not only highlighting this in a much more sensual manner, but they also aid in pushing her into some of the most nuanced and controlled vocal performances of her career thus far. This is a singer not particularly known for subtlety, and the arrangements throughout are able to not so much carry her voice as nudge, envelop, and intertwine with it at various points, providing both harmonic and rhythmic counterpoint. There are minimal flurries of skittering percussion peppered throughout the album, but this is more about taking the elemental forces of air and ether and making them rock solid.

The most striking transformations are often of the oldest material, once shrouded in thick layers of black, fuzzy tape hiss and cavernous reverberations; on Versions, these songs are let loose out in the wilds of the open air, and that freedom rings apparent across the entire record. Danilova is reaching skyward, and Thirlwell's arrangements throughout complement her admirably, not merely sounding like karaoke over cuts from his Manorexia output or Kronos Quartet commissions, but as studied, intimate garments to be worn by Danilova's striking vocal presence. It's a huge step forward for Danilova, who proves that she has the versatility and control to step out of her established comfort zone once dominated by the raging unease of youth, into the more patient and considered movements of adulthood. It's a beautiful, stunning album most highly recommended whether you've been a fan in the past or not. Now that she's proven that her songs are able to carry their weight without the heavy foundations in which they were once clothed, I'm excited to discover if she'll be able to fuse both environments together successfully in whatever comes next. Until then, we've got this. Cherish it, because it is special. [IQ]





$15.99 LP


(Dead Oceans)

"One Half"
"Adventure of the Family"

Over the course of a handful of LPs, EPs and singles released in the last five years, Julianna Barwick has developed a sublime sound that is all her own, a hazy melancholy built on little more than her angelic voice and a looping device that she uses to layer, distort and unspool the potential of that most personal of instruments. On those recordings, particularly 2011's wonderful The Magic Place, Barwick found her own unexplored intersection of ambient electronics, modern composition and homespun DIY aesthetics, crafting woozy dreamscapes that were as abstract and universal as they were deeply personal, equally effective as background music and headphone fodder. But where to go with it next? On her third full-length, Barwick has stepped boldly out of her bedroom, travelling to Reykjavik, Iceland to record with longtime Sigur Ros/Jonsi collaborator Alex Somers, bringing a newfound depth to the compositions by incorporating strings, guitars, even a children's chorus, without losing the intimacy that has always been her trademark.

There is a clarity and spaciousness to the sound here that can be hard to approximate in home recordings, but it is the instrumentation that most clearly differentiates Nepenthe from Barwick's earlier work: the swoon of the Amiina strings on "The Harbinger," or the tickle of the pizzicato intro to "Adventurer in the Family"; the haunting piano figure that opens "Crystal Lake," or the ecstatic children's chorus on "Forever." Even Barwick's well-worn "aaaaaahhhhh" finds some lyrical purchase on "One Half," as her ghostly one-woman chorus coalesces around a simple refrain: "I guess I was, asleep at night, just waiting for...." It is both a stunning change and also a natural progression, holding onto the quirks and imperfections that always made Barwick's loopy compositions resonate, while adding layers of sound and emotion that are totally fresh and inspiring -- this is the music of the sunrise, of wide-eyed wonder and new beginnings, and it's one of the more compelling and enjoyable ambient albums in recent memory. [JM]





$26.99 LP

Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1

While not anywhere close to a household name, Rashad Becker will still be a familiar one to many longtime listeners of the heavier, darker, esoteric ends of bass and beat music. As a longtime mastering and cutting engineer at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering, Becker's name has graced the inner sleeves and back cover technical credits of countless releases on labels like Type, Modern Love, Editions Mego, Chain Reaction, and many others. He has also been a well-respected sound artist for years, but surprisingly has only just now issued his debut release on the venerable Pan label. For those who do know Becker's work, Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1 is most likely not what many would be expecting from the man; its eight tracks betray any sort of logical ties to electronic beats, chest-pummeling bass, or even basic rhythmic and harmonic structure. Instead, he creates one of the most stunning, nuanced, and intricately detailed albums of electroacoustic music in the modern era; these pieces pulsate, throb, tremble, and flicker, but with an internal logic that slowly reveals itself over fully attentive listening. What is most striking about these eight pieces, though, is that they also simultaneously manage to impressively brush off the buttoned-up safety to which similar exercises in this music often falls prey; these cuts are thick, visceral, and filled with FEELING. This music breathes and functions bodily, tapping into the same sorts of mind-altering living sound explorations as Coil circa Musick to Play in the Dark, or Bernard Parmegiani's recently reissued De Natura Sonorum (which, incidentally, was remastered and cut to vinyl by Becker). This is a stellar, landmark release of importance, and Becker is to be commended for putting as much craft into his own music as he does giving everyone else's physical life. For fans of musique concrete, electroacoustic composition, and more psychedelic drone/dark ambient music, this is a MUST OWN, standing as one of the year's best experimental/out releases. [IQ]





$21.99 LPx2+MP3


(The Control Group)

"La Chanson de Douche"
"Winter Comes"

Sometimes a record drops into your lap so serendipitously. Lately I've been dusting off a lot of albums from the late '90s and early aughts, as things like Stereolab, High Llamas, and some Tortoise-related bands have all been back in rotation, sounding no worse for the wear. One of the common threads in the unique feel of those records was Tortoise's John McEntire, so it's no surprise to find his fingerprints all over the debut of Alexander Von Mehren. Von Mehren is Norwegian but his heart is clearly planted in turn-of-the-century Chicago, and the vintage '60s/'70s artists that inspired that scene -- sun-baked orchestral pop that was both beautiful and wonderfully weird. Von Mehren keeps Aeropop in constant motion by peppering his pop confections with short instrumental interludes that serve as bridges between the more crafted, "proper" songs, even giving the direct nod to Stereolab with a quick "Switched On" run-through in one of these sections. One of the things that people tend to forget when talking about the music that Von Mehren references is that it wasn't just formalist academia, exotica workouts and socio-political sloganeering. There was a lightness of touch and playfulness to much of the music, and Von Mehren sagely recovers this spirit, while keeping a sophisticated, seductive gravity intact that brings to mind Serge Gainsbourg at his deadliest. With recent reissues of much of the music that informs it, Aeropop is a consolidation of strengths, and timely reminder of what made this stuff such a breath of fresh air to begin with. [JTr]





$16.99 LP+MP3


An Object
(Sub Pop)

"I Won't Be Your Generator"
"An Impression"

An Object, the fourth studio album by Los Angeles skate punks No Age, feels like an inhalation of air after the explosive exhalation of 2010's Everything in Between. With about ten years on the clock as a band that has never consisted of more than drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall, No Age is consciously looking down the mountain at Weirdo Rippers, their raw and righteous paean to the L.A. DIY scene that shaped and propelled them. One of the legs of their return trip to the DIY primordial stew is to personally have a hand in manufacturing, assembling, and shipping as many of their 5,000 LPs and 5,000 CDs as they possibly can, despite the deeper coffers and extra staff that a major indie like Sub Pop possesses.

The other leg of that journey is the effort to combine Spunt's drum kit with Randall's electric guitar in a way that feels stormy and unpredictable, despite three albums that would appear to exhaust the territory that they helped colonize. "No Ground" and "I Won't Be Your Generator" evoke the frayed wire tension of Gang of Four, as Randall gives his effects pedals a break and zeroes in on the glassy texture of a hot tube amplifier. Deliberate atonality, like the Kevin Shields-like guitar squeals on "C'mon Stimmung," and a loose, lived-in interplay on songs like "Defector/Ed" and "Running from a Go-Go" are effective echoes of the group's early days as jagged, untrained punks with intentional arty overtones. The rockers like "Circling with Dizzy" will be catnip for fans of Liars, but overall, An Object finds No Age channeling their raw musical energy back into the simple but powerful actions that transform bands into missions: cutting, printing, folding, gluing. [MS]





$19.99 LP+MP3


Loud City Song

"In the Green Wild"
"This Is a True Heart"

Early pieces about Julia Holter's Loud City Song, her excellent third full-length and first for Domino, have made much ado about a narrative arc inspired by the 1944 novella, Gigi, by French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (and its musical adaptation by Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe). In the novella, Gigi is a young French girl who attempts to exercise her own wishes and will within the confines of stringent family tradition, a blossoming love for an older man, and the lashing, withering scrutiny of high society. But what is more immediately apparent, inside of the thematic thread of a young girl becoming self-aware, is the dichotomy between the city and the wilderness. "I live on the fifth floor/of the apartment building/what am I looking for in you/How can I escape you," sings (well, melodiously speaks) Holter on opener "World," a sparse and lovely song that introduces us to many of the key instruments that feature on the record.

After making a name for herself with primarily electronic compositions, lilting strings, tumbling marimba, and intoning cellos abound across the new album, which possesses the playful feeling of Jean-Claude Vannier conducting a Laurie Anderson performance piece. Percussion rarely surfaces overtly, and when it does, it reinforces the mounting tension in the overall arc -- the drums kicking in on "Horns Surrounding Me" intensify the persistent sound of feet running along a street, feet which resurface not as sounds but as words in the following song, "In the Green Wild" -- "There's a humor in the way they walk/even a flower walks." Elements of John Cage's whimsy flutter throughout the two main set pieces "Maxim's I & II," as saxophones bleat and moan and cymbals clang and Holter pierces the cacophony with her voice. And that voice... it echoes the pastoral humanity of Kate Bush and the otherworldly undulations of Bjork, but never hug their coattails too tightly. And after the one-two punch of "He's Running Through My Eyes" (there's that pounding feet motif again) and "This Is a True Heart," Holter and her cast recede into the mist with the gorgeously jazzy "City Appearing," closing the curtain on a stage that will momentarily erupt in applause. [MS]





$15.99 CD

Vertical XL
(Fade to Mind)

"Bank Head" Feat. Kelela
"Viper XL"

Easily one of my favorite DJs/producers on the American electronic scene is Ezra "Kingdom" Rubin. After coming up in Chicago and New York, Rubin has been creating some great tracks out of L.A. of late, and is now crossing over from the 12" scene to longer productions, first with a CD compilation, VIP Edition, that collected some of his remixes and original work, and now Vertical XL, the expanded CD version of his latest 12". Kingdom makes music for gay people to dip, dive, and socialize to, it's good every time, and here, with this expanded format, he begins to structure longer movements within his sound, thinking more about overall experience than just producing tracks. After early releases on Fool's Good, Kingdom became part of the Night Slugs label family, and has since started his own sister label, Fade to Mind. These two imprints have helped usher in the new era of ballroom/vogue, thanks to the digital world of the R&B re-fix. In the spirit of George Kranz's classic "Din Daa Daa," both labels embraced vogue's golden age, updating it and creating some spare yet weighty, powerful, and sexy moments especially designed for today's dance floor. Within the loose family of artists working along similar lines, his productions fit between Jam City's open runaway abstraction and Nguzunguzu's sensuality. Kingdom's music is heavily electronic with open and cosmic atmosphere, where bass thumps, synthetic sounds, vibrant synths, and sparkling fireflies swirl, whip, pound, smear and pierce the air, equal parts, electro, bass, US dubstep, house, and "other."

Having mostly worked up to now with instrumentals or vocal samples, this release finds Kingdom now collaborating with a live vocalist. American singer Kelela has been on an equally steady rise of late, spearheaded by her live singing with the Fade to Mind sound system and her song "Bank Head" that leads off this disc. Full of steady hand claps, stuttering percussion, rolling snares and light synth washes, she floats atop the production with a warm and airy presence that grows steadily in emotion. Both Kingdom and Kelela are part of the new wave of American underground/indie artists that are creating a fresh blend of electronics and R&B, and the song is a perfect example of the fusion at its finest. The rest of the EP is equally engaging as Kingdom flexes his production skills on some nice tracks that bring to mind Paul Hardcastle's Rainforest, Art of Noise's Into Battle, or disc two of Zomby's With Love. Actually that's probably whom Kingdom's production is most like -- think of Zomby with more of a swish in his walk. Both are influenced by sonic progressions in the urban mainstream, and yet operate outside of it, and both are deconstructionists. Fans of any of the above, or if you're wondering what the ballroom boys are voguing too, here's a taste. [DG]







(Mom + Pop)

"That Loneliness"
"Man I Need"

Although Jagwar Ma are surely not working in a vacuum -- a lot of people relate their music to late-'80s and early-'90s British "baggy" dance rock/pop -- it's safe to say that the Sydney-based trio resembles no other band today. Howlin, the group's debut, sounds like Jagwar Ma have been developing for decades, effortlessly fusing first-quality DJ beats with distorted bluesy guitar a la Black Keys and fun, pop melodies courtesy of lead vocalist Gabriel Winterfield. There are "modern" influences, with the band incorporating the pulsating hip-hop vibrancy of the Avalanches and euphoric psychedelia of Tame Impala (both of whom are also Aussie natives), and this has got to be one of the most enjoyable listens of the year. Although it's not an exaggeration to call all of these tracks masterpieces of sorts, "The Throw" is undoubtedly one of the record's most captivating. Six minutes of ecstasy roll in and out of Winterfield's dancefloor oohs and ahhs over reverberated drums and electronic beats. "Four," a similarly lengthy track devoted to electronic genius, could soundtrack any dance club in a heartbeat, and even jack up the heat with its mesmerizing layered vocals and tribal-infused rhythms. However, the duo hardly relies on electronica to keep them exciting; "Come Save Me" has bits and pieces of Beach Boys' harmonies and '60s pop hits over hard-hitting drums, but stays nearly acoustic and just as hypnotizing. The songs are simultaneously motivating and tranquil, leaving the listener both in utter bliss and awe at the jangling, eccentric style of Jagwar Ma. Certainly one of the most enjoyable debuts of the year, I am confident enough with the record that I'm guaranteeing Howlin a spot on my end-of-year list. [MM]


$13.99 CD
$17.99 LP
$25.99 Deluxe LP w/MP3 + 7"


I Hate Music

"Trees of Barcelona"

On "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo," the anthemic lead single off Superchunk's stellar new album, Mac McCaughan, arguably the king of indie rock, declares: "I hate music/What is it worth?/Can't bring anyone back to this earth/Or fill in the space between all of the notes/But I got nothing else so I guess here we go." But Superchunk isn't a band that's just going through the motions. After 20-plus years together, it's remarkable that their brand of hyper punky power pop still feels this fresh and exciting. Songs like the existential-crisis-inducing "Void" or "Staying Home" -- the most punk rock ode to staying in you'll ever hear -- effortlessly bounce and crush, daring you not to pogo out of your seat while listening. But underneath all the noise, there's real substance. Sure, it's a record about growing up and getting older, but at its heart it's a loving tribute to those we lose along the way. From the heartbreaking opening lines of "Overflows" ("Everything the dead don't know/Piles up like magazines/Overflows"), there's a somberness here that is uncharacteristic from the band, yet it's a great fit, if a deeply melancholy one. McCaughan is working out how to keep living after losing someone you can't imagine living without, and at times it seems like he can't; on the closer, "What Can We Do" McCaughan defiantly relents, repeating: "I'll say I love you/I won't say goodbye." Ultimately, I Hate Music is a celebration of music and the memories it helps us make, as well as a reminder of its limitations. It's also a testament to how lucky we are that Superchunk is still making music. [KB]







"Knight" Feat: Domo Genesis

Within the youthful posse known as Odd Future, Thebe Kgositsile b/k/a Earl Sweatshirt is not the team captain -- that's Tyler -- but he's the star pitcher. His eponymous mix tape from 2010 is a highlight of the collective's self-released period, and as Earl's writing, production, and overall vibe seems to have matured dramatically since that underground debut, this long-awaited mainstream entry was worth the wait. Though known for lyrics peppered with cartoonish violent imagery and massive amounts of weed, Earl is the most instantly likeable and relatable of the OFWGKTA posse, seemingly a sweet, poetic kid who mysteriously went missing during the height of his crew's meteoric rise to fame, eventually turning up in a Samoan boarding school, where his mother had sent him to get his head on straight when drugs and hip-hop got in the way of high school. Earl turned 18, returned to the States, moved from L.A. to New York, established his own imprint through Columbia Records, made a duet with Flying Lotus, and now offers up his official debut album, Doris.

Still a rapper's rapper, his wordy style has notably improved; his voice low and full, smart and natural, he twists syllables and punctuates elements that turn his rhymes into gooey and elastic verbal gymnastics, with a clever and intricate flow that warrants the included lyric sheets. It's smart, poetic and full of wit and wisdom, but he's more (sub)urban dweller than conscious rapper, talking about the things most 19-year-olds obsess over. Joined by guest verses from a small group including Vince Staples, Domo Genesis, Casey Veggies, Mac Miller, RZA, Frank Ocean and Tyler, throughout he creates a soulful soundtrack of bi-coastal existence, staying sober, being part of a popular team, and the struggle and joy that lies within that life. The lead single from last fall, "Chum," seems to be a key point where everything really comes together; the lyrics, the track, the flow, it's a perfect match. One of the more overtly personal moments, it's a tale of being fatherless, having Tyler as a like-minded big brother, being hunted down and 'found' by the media and not being happy about it. It's an insightful spot on the album that really sets the vibe of Doris, but far from the only highlight. That cut, produced by Earl's producer alter ego Randomblackdude, features a soulful and jazzy outro by the Neptunes, whose presence is felt throughout, even when they have nothing to do with the track.

Like Tyler, Earl's production style pays tribute to a now-classic era that is more Clipse than Robin Thicke, and mostly programmed with some live playing (and only a handful of samples notably from, Can, David Axelrod, and Lennie Hibbert). Earl handles most of the production, but he's nicely accompanied by Frank Ocean, Samiyam, Christian Rich, Tyler, Om'Mas Keith, Alchemist, RZA and Syd the Kid behind the boards. The tracks are soft and minimal, with few big choruses, but it's still melodic and engaging, filled with pianos, shuffling jazz snares, full yet not overhyped bass, a steady stride, and just some nice musical moments that are at times even a little psychedelic. Overall this is a near-perfect hip-hop album -- straight-edge, new-school hip-hop at its finest, a backpacker holy grail for the current nu-era. Recommended to those even slightly curious. [DG]





$15.99 12"

Workshop 18

We have a two-fer here in the Workshop section! Aside from being a member of the Planet Mu roster, Ital has the distinction of being the first U.S. artist to join the esteemed ranks of the Workshop label. He does so with the appropriate amount of introspective, softly raw headiness that the label has made its name on, but as a Planet Mu artist would likely do, Ital brings a bit of the UK vibe. It is most noticeably on the A-side, "Ice Drift (Stalker Mix)," where a gently skittery break rides with some warm pulse stabs, some creaky/bleepy data transmissions and an over-arching drone in the background. This track is steppy while still being uniquely laidback, dreamy, deep and sublime at the same time. This wouldn't sound out of place on Trilogy Tapes, now that I think about it. The bliss continues with B-2, "Pulsed," which is ultra-placid and warm like a tropical pool, utterly charming, so sweet and a bit melancholic. While I love the A-side, "Pulsed" is what sold me on this EP. Also included is the abstract yet still tracky, icy and ultra deep "Slower Degrees of Separation," which has an even slightly more primordial take on the Basic Channel sound. [SM] 







YY 1

Workshop label releases are always awesome and always limited, so this is the first time in a while we've had enough quantity sitting on the shelves to even bother writing up. With Lowtec, Even Tuell and David "Move D" Moufang running the show, creating their own tracks or inviting game-changing producers like Kassem Mosse, Madteo, Late' and Marvin Dash to make outstandingly heady and casually raw cuts that work outside the box, their formula is unimpeachable and we fall for it every time. Pretty much a no-brainer on this one: Workshop chairperson Move D collaborating with some younger guns (Juju and Jordache), doing live-to-tape analog house and techno-tronic, supremely skilled and on-point, yet loosely structured and uniquely psychedelic qualities you'd expect and then some. Those questioning Move D's pedigree with live analog electronics should look no further than his work with Jonah Sharpe in the project Reagenz, though Magic Mountain High is much less "clean" and much more psychedelic via raw, muddy deep house/disco/techno. There's a more developed sound here than the last MMH on Workshop. A-1, "Live at Freerotation 2012" (clocking in at 17:21), sounds like Isolee with a shaking reverb cabinet, soft claps, naturally gurgling synths doing trippy introspective tech disco. B-1, "May the Box Be with You" (13:51), has a variety of soft druggy textures vibrating in a gently pulsing, non-urgent techno framework. Not sure what the title means, but it will have you doing that classic rave dance "the box" in the safety of your own bedroom in no time. Both long-ass tracks have nice, amorphous breakdowns in the middle that turn and shift style rather nicely! Raw, loose, bubbling, throbby, trippy and great!! [SM]





$18.99 CDx2

Presents Magik Sunrise

The dance music duo Psychemagik began to make a name for themselves with a string of disco edits that found them expanding cuts from the likes of Wang Chung and the Talking Heads as well as David Crosby, infusing them with tons of Balearic light and pixie dust to make them more dancefloor-friendly. Last year, they dropped a heavy comp of truly moldy, cheesy and obscure dancefloor cuts called Magik Cyrkles, which disappeared from shelves like mushrooms in direct sunlight. Now they return with Magik Sunrise, which as its title suggests, is meant for dawn's early light. The set opens with Greek new age pioneer Iasos and proceeds to get even more diffuse and gentle from there. The BPM meter never gets far above 90, but there are all sorts of strange French folk, Eurofunk, bossa nova and acid psych to be found here. One for the chill out room. [AB]





$17.99 12"

(Alien Rain)

Finally a reason to break that vow you made in the late '90s to never buy anything with an alien head logo on it again!!! Alien Rain is the secret moniker/project from the already underground producer, Milton Bradley. Where Milton Bradley usually offers dark, dry, industrial warehouse techno workouts (a la Pom Pom, Sleeparchive, Traversable Wormhole, Cassegrain), Alien Rain takes the warehouse/underground rave vibe and turns it through a more spacious/space-y acid techno style. Imagine if Redshape's space-y melodic acid didn't have any overlong breakdowns and had the focused meanness and internal drive of Regis. Sounds good, right? It is!!! [SM]





$14.99 LP


Permanent Signal
(Secretly Canadian)

"Minor Pleasure"
"Night Birds"

The shoegaze electronica and breezy, carefree lyrics of "Drifting In and Out" (from Porcelain Raft's 2012 debut, Strange Weekend) once defined his style nearly perfectly. Embracing the natural-meets-electronic dream pop aesthetic that a variety of indie artists (Washed Out, Bear in Heaven) have turned to in the past few years, Mauro Remiddi found a way to stand out. Although at first listen Remiddi's new LP suggests a similar mentality, Permanent Signal reveals a much more somber take on dream pop, and also enlists help from Yuck's drummer Jonny Rogoff, Antlers' bassist Darby Cicci, and cellist Gaspar Claus (collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and the National). Remiddi comes in with a more direct approach both vocally and musically. On most of the tracks his reedy melodies pierce through the web of guitar, piano and synth, a triumph that was incomprehensible under haze on Strange Weekend. "I Lost Connection," one of the slower and most accessible songs on the album, finds Remiddi presenting himself as a loveless singer/songwriter. Similarly, "Cluster" puts Remiddi in a new light as he brings out the power vocals over subdued guitar picking. Single "The Way Out," on the other hand, proves that Porcelain Raft hasn't completely sailed on from previous lands, as he coos over smashing beats about enjoying the night and breaking ground. Ultimately, if you're hoping for another record of similarly gauzy, hazy pop, look elsewhere. Porcelain Raft is no longer the moniker of a shoegazy and carefree mixer, but rather an emotional and profound song architect who can make soaring electronic-tinged pop as well as music that's far more organic and soulful. [MM]





$15.99 LP

Going Thru a Hole in the Back of Your Head

2013 has been a banner year for New Zealand bands of the past having their works reissued, and it just got better: here are both 12" EPs by Scorched Earth Policy, a genus of sorts for where early '80s Kiwi groups began to darken their sound apart from the more accessible tunes of the Clean, the Verlaines, and the Chills, among others. Theirs was a stormier pop, all creaking violins and rambunctious presence, heavy on melody and hooks but unafraid to dive into murkier environments for the sake of their songcraft, or lurch off course of an established rhythm if it meant successfully unsettling the listener. For those familiar with the Flying Nun and Xpressway discographies, you'll hear similarities to the Terminals, the Max Block and the Renderers, which shouldn't be a surprise, as Scorched Earth Policy's lineup is essentially an earlier configuration of the Terminals, and Brian Crook would end up as the guitarist in all three. Some of these songs even appear in modified versions on Terminals' records ("Too Far Gone" would inform both "Uncoffined" and "All Their Lives," while "Mekong Delta Blues," their bleakest track, would be re-recorded for the similarly hopeless Little Things). We're not taking for granted the days when Flying Nun releases were ubiquitous in the used bins all over the country at cut-rate prices, and that this music is brand new to a whole new audience that wasn't around for or paying attention to this side of music in the '90s, so to reiterate: the core New Zealand scene produced what is now being remembered as the superior pop music of the 20th century, mostly rooted in punk, all rickety and thin-sounding, but with a sense of adventure and an expectation for surprise missing from bands that generally didn't take their songwriting roots from the Velvets and Roxy Music. Imagine if Camper Van Beethoven were serious in the '80s, and had more facets to their sound than the results of smoking dope in California's university system could provide, and you're approximating the singular and chilling, thrilling experience of Scorched Earth Policy. Absolutely recommended! [DM]





$13.99 CD
$15.99 LP


Deep Trip
(Sacred Bones)

"Slow Death Sounds"
"Final Flight"

Ryan Rousseau has been recording under the name Destruction Unit for about a decade, but his latest brutal transmission is the band's first true LP and second recording of triple-guitar, proto-metal fuzz stomp. Beginning in Memphis as an offshoot of Lost Sounds with Jay Reatard, Rousseau moved Destruction Unit west to Phoenix; there, he sculpted a raw, feral sound that belies a heavy interest in craggy-faced Midwestern punk like Husker Du, the cosmic guitar swirl of Spacemen 3, and the kind of gritty riffage that made you keep reaching for that first Slug Guts LP.

Like their Sacred Bones labelmates the Men, Destruction Unit are unnervingly tight -- one of the chief pleasures of Deep Trip is listening to them whip between feels at the snap of a cymbal, as on "The World on Drugs" and "The Holy Ghost," which alternate between hellish punk velocity and druggy caveman stomp. "Punk velocity" and "druggy caveman" are the prevailing moods of Deep Trip, but the shockingly loud volume that seems welded to the record is offset nicely by Rousseau's vocals, which sound something like Lux Interior by way of David Bowie; the theatricality of his warble surfs elegantly along the waves of wah-wah/fuzz/overdrive/space echo guitars. For me, the standout song is "Night Loner," which feels like a fresh take on Suicide's "Ghost Rider," if not a straight-up spiritual descendant. [MS]





$24.99 LP+12"

So You Are...So You'll Be
(Thrill Jockey)

"So You Are...So You'll Be"
"Forever in Space (Enlightened)"

This Brooklyn hard psych outfit have been knocking around the global underground for close to a decade now, yet their sound keeps evolving, and on the band's seventh studio album, they have returned to Martin Bisi's studio and made what might be their heaviest record yet, a powerhouse of crunching guitars, wailing synths, and bludgeoning rhythms. White Hills come from the Hawkwind school of rock, where a few destructive riffs are hammered relentlessly into shape like molten steel, and while they don't exactly add anything 'new' to the genre, they do it better than almost anyone these days. So You Are... So You'll Be" may be their most engaging album to date, with the group trimming away both superfluous guitar wank, and the hazy vocals that sometimes struggled to break through the din, and focusing instead on the massive riffs. Elements of everyone from the Stooges to F/I to Spacemen 3 poke through, but in the end this is pure, weird, wonderful White Hills, and it will melt your mind. (Very limited colored vinyl version with bonus 12", while supplies last.) [JM]






I'm Off Me 'Ead

No sooner did Guerssen fire off a much-needed reissue of High Speed and the Afflicted Man's crucial motor-psych burner Get Stoned Ezy than we get a second dose of Steve Hall's DIY punk/blues after burns, care of Chicago/L.A. store-label Permanent. I'm Off Me 'Ead is the second Afflicted Man full-length, originally released on the Human label in 1980, and lives up to its ragman-punk imagery sported on the front sleeve --- these seven ranting, groovin' blasts of back-alley ruminations carry with them the acid-tongued revelations of Mark E. Smith fronting the Groundhogs, and you can readily hear the roots of punk-meets-R&B specialists like Billy Childish and Dan Melchior within. Even there, this is a singular effort with very few peers in the UK punk or post-punk racket, and might be the most challenging record you hear all year. It's worth the effort! [DM]







(Blackest Ever Black)

Perhaps best known for his work in Ike Yard, Stuart Argabright reactivates his long-dormant Black Rain project with a four-track 12" for Blackest Ever Black, recorded live at a label showcase in London last year. While the fast, skittery beats of opener "Data River" recall classic LP5-period Autechre, this gives way to cavernous drones and haunting ambience in a live version of "Night City Tokyo (London Version)," originally heard on the 1995 CD 1.0. The fractured, syncopated rhythms on side-closer "Endourban" bring to mind the recent work of Regis -- high praise indeed. Side B is taken up by the title cut, which successfully blends the beats and ambience found on the tracks on side A. Argabright has accomplished the rare feat of reviving an old project, yet sounding vital and contemporary. A welcome return. [NN]




$19.99 LP


Daytime Viewing
(Unseen Worlds)

"Distant Space"

A few months ago, I read Stephen Benatar's Booker Prize-nominated novel Wish Her Safe at Home, a harrowing trip through a middle-aged woman's mind as fantasies of love and fortune (not to mention delusions of grandeur) push her towards delirium. The book came to mind upon listening to Unseen Worlds most recent discovery, a collaboration between Robert Ashley collaborator Jacqueline Humbert and minimalist composer David Rosenboom that makes for one of the more peculiar synth-pop documents of the early 1980s. In much the same manner as Benatar's heroine drowns in her delusions, Humbert gives voice to a housewife overrun with television and magazine advertisements as well as soap operas melodramas. Humbert delivers her complex, funny yet askew lines with a dryness and detachment that makes sense to fans of Glass Candy and Chromatics while Rosenboom deploys a Buchla synthesizer to create these lounge-y yet mesmerizing soundscapes about her. One of the stranger reissues to appear in recent memory but wholly captivating. [AB]








"In Kind"

Two years since releasing their sonically groundbreaking debut, Native Speaker, Montreal via Calgary art rock trio Braids are back with Flourish//Perish, an experimental approach to pop music that drops most hints of live instruments for the atmospheric world of electronic beats and sounds. As side A (a/k/a Flourish) opens, tiny blips of notes accompany Raphaelle Standell-Preston's soft and strange Björk-esque singing. "Victoria" quite literally flourishes into a world of oscillating synths and skittish bird chirps and seamlessly leads into "Fruend," an equally unassuming and airy cut that functions most successfully due to Standell-Preston's compatibility with the pure bells that surround her voice. The first five songs on the record are similar in texture and quality; undoubtedly beautiful, they mark Braids' transformation from shimmering guitars to shimmering noise. Side B (Perish), on the other hand, pushes the band's sound in a more experimental direction than ever before, and certainly is laudable for the minimal and tense qualities that envelop the vocals on tracks like "Amends." There is still a lot here to enjoy, but since none of the final tracks last for fewer than six minutes, they can fall a bit flat every now and then. But on the whole, the trio's movement toward ambience is a wise decision, simply because Standell-Preston's delicate whirring coexists magnificently with the glitchy jabs of electronica. Any fan of Braids' debut alone isn't guaranteed to love this, but it is an interesting and challenging record, sure to gain a ton of followers, attracted to the beauty of Perish//Flourish. [MM]







Bitter Suites

Creaking high tones announce this archival LP of bowed metal music. Originally issued privately in 1979, this reissue has been pressed on the 83rd birthday of the composer and instrument builder, Robert Rutman. Recorded live, these sidelong pieces find the players, including Rutman himself, coaxing long tones out of instruments built from tuned metal rods and giant pieces of sheet metal. The variance of pitches, overtones and dynamics achieved by such seemingly simplistic sound sources is staggering. Side A, recorded at the Showing Room in NYC, begins with rich deep tones, gradually building to a raging crescendo by the end of the piece. The way these apparatuses resonate, it must have been amazing to have been in that room. This is lovely, organic music that will appeal to fans of the creepier drone works of Nurse with Wound (Shipwreck Radio, Soliloquy for Lilith), the musical sculptures of Harry Bertoia, or the bowed metal work of David Jackman's Organum project. Thanks to the Holidays label for rescuing this fantastic achievement from obscurity. [NN]







Spectrum Ripper
(Cold Spring)

"Part III"
"Part XXI"

Sometime back in the late-'90s, I was fortunate enough to see Merzbow and Masonna live in concert, at an upstairs room in Cleveland, Ohio. While I'd experienced noise performances before, this was one of the proverbial giants of the genre, and Masonna's performance in particular is solidified in my mind as one of the most exciting and visceral noise acts I've ever witnessed. Yamazaki "Maso" Takushi, all long hair and kinetic energy, strapped himself up with a wireless mic and these handheld signal/phase controllers, and for the next five to 10 minutes, he was everywhere: in the air, prowling across the stage, jumping off the PA cabinets, flailing about in the crowd, his movements directing the onslaught of sonic terror as the floor cleared out to make room. This reissue of 1997's Spectrum Ripper captures everything I remember about that performance: gouts of static, machine-gun bursts of power electronics, violent oscillations and frantic screaming in a truly psychedelic swirl of lurid, nightmarish proportions. If what they say about the future is true, and aliens will descend upon the Earth with electric neural whips to beat us all into subservience, then this is the soundtrack. They just don't make noise like this anymore. What a shame. [DM]





$29.99 CD
$29.99 LP



Albidaya, meaning 'the beginning' in Arabic, finds acclaimed producer Rabih Beaini revisiting the sounds of his formative years in Lebanon, his native country from which he relocated to Berlin via Italy. This record, Beaini's first under his own name (he is best known as Morphosis), is the statement of a displaced spirit finding comfort in the extraterrestrial universe of Sun Ra while reconsidering the musical tradition of his homeland. Fittingly released on Annihaya, the Lebanese label devoted to the deconstruction of regional folk cultures, Beaini eschews a conservationist approach to traditional music. Instead, he presents a collection of suggestive resonances, exploring evocative melody lines and pondering drum arrangements filtered through the lens of experimental electronic music and psychedelic jazz. For the most part recorded over the course of one day in 2012, it features Beaini on vintage synthesizers and sequencers, as well as on guitar and vocals, alongside his Upperground Orchestra collaborators Tommaso Capolato on drums and Piero Bittolo Bon on woodwinds and electronics.

"Maples and Rocks" finds Beaini on the Eko Tiger Duo (a Sun Ra favorite), exploring its vibrato over a flowing beat with Bittolo Bon producing descending sax sounds, exhilaratingly combining local traditions with Zuckerzeit-era Cluster, while the striking 12-plus-minute-long "Ya Shater" covers pulled strings with textures of static, dust, and gravel. Over the course of the record, there is a sense of decomposition pervading the excavated musical snippets, with sparkling electronics crumbling and absorbing their mnemonic foundations before being resurrected in surprisingly new settings. Through this strategy, Beaini decidedly avoids sentiments of nostalgia, fully exploring the complex feelings of loss and displacement experienced by the émigré subject instead. This remarkable artistic approach turns out to be highly prospective, with Beaini imagining new relationships to age-old musical traditions, replacing a yearning for the past with a search for music as an ever-transfiguring autonomous entity. Albidaya is a simultaneously beautiful and unsettling record, whose experimental sense of aesthetic disquiet must be heard and experienced by anyone interested in the ongoing history of progressive music. [NVT]





$19.99 LP

Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer Vol. 2

First issued on tape in 2006, Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer Vol. 2 needs to be heard on vinyl. The field recordings of the Nath Family that Aaron Dilloway captured on tape in Kathmandu are a stunning window into the hypnotic music being made on the street every day in Nepal. Though Dilloway did time in Michigan noise group Wolf Eyes, and his Hanson label is known for releasing noise and experimental music, Indian Snake Charmer Vol. 2 feels surprisingly of a piece with those transmissions. Direct parallels can be drawn between the immediacy and lo-fi quality of the Nath Family recordings and the personal and organic nature of Dilloway's own solo work. Though this will certainly appeal to fans of the Sublime Frequencies label, this LP is more focused and sounds as if it could have been made from one straight field recording. Real deal. [NN]





$17.99 LP
$8.99 CS


(Drag City)

"The Keepers"
"Sweet C.C"

Ty Segall has thrown us more than a few curveballs over the last couple of years, proving that he is a lot more than a one-trick fuzz rocker, but Sleeper will likely surprise many fans nonetheless. It's basically all acoustic, strummed guitars and light orchestration, and it's a thoughtful, melancholy psychedelic folk album that shows Segall in a new light. He has described this as a deeply emotional album for him, recorded during a time of personal turmoil, and both the songwriting and performances are raw in spirit, and refined in delivery, in the best possible way. Full review next week.





$22.99 LP

Golden Suits
(Yep Roc)

"Swimming in '99"
"I Think You Would Have Been Mine"

Fred Nicolaus, who also collaborates with Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen as the duo of Department of Eagles, releases his first solo LP under his Golden Suits moniker. Based in New York, Nicolaus enlisted a variety of contributors on this self-titled debut, including Ava Luna, Mason Jar Music, and some Grizzly Bears too. According to his website, Golden Suits was mainly inspired by a year in which Nicolaus experienced a painful breakup, was evicted due to rats, visited Germany to explore his family's past, and lost forty pounds. As you can imagine, it's a very personal outing that naturally has small hints of Grizzly Bear, with its unique melodies, subdued and minimalistic guitar and piano ("Restaurant Song," "You Can't Make Your Mind Up"), and beautifully heartbreaking songs.






Dino Valente
(Tompkins Square)

First-ever vinyl reissue (in mono, no less) of this 1968 classic from Quicksilver Messenger Service main man Dino Valente. Despite Valente's success with Quicksilver, this is some of his best and most affecting stuff, and fans of dusty folk and psych of the era should rejoice.







Home Life
(Underwater Peoples)

Onetime Titus Andronicus guitarist Andrew Cedermark follows up his much-acclaimed solo debut, Moon Deluxe, with this murky and angst-filled set. Inspired by a variety of his previous homes in New York, Virginia, and New Jersey, Cedermark spends much of Home Life reflecting on adulthood, friendship, and the warmth of a reliable support system. Cedermark's droning and dark voice sounds so perfect beside his folky guitar riffs and this combination continues to be a strong suit of his work. Slower, moodier songs like "Tiller of Lawn" function just as well as glorious jams like the outstanding "At Home," where a harmonica and Cedermark's longing vocals wholeheartedly pound.





$16.99 LP+MP3


Carry On

"Restless Fugitive"
"If It's The End"

Willy Mason's third full-length finds the melancholy songwriter combining Americana's refined acoustic textures and storylines with some updated production techniques and slow-rock ballast, for a warm and welcoming album. Mason's voice is his greatest asset, a deep, expressive instrument that sounds far older than we know the singer to be, giving these songs the welcome weight of experience.


$13.99 CD
$15.99 LP+MP3

Ruthless Sperm
(Sub Pop)

This new Italian band delivers driving post-punk that sounds a little reminiscent of Chicago (or Seattle) in the '90s: rhythmic, raw and powerful. On a quick first listen, our only negative comment is that the lyrics are not nearly as awkward as the band name and album title.





$11.99 CD
$22.99 LP

Big TV

On their third full-length, the UK's White Lies continues their steady march towards epic grandeur, taking their melodic post-punk into more anthemic, dark pop territory, combining elements of U2, Doves and Depeche Mode. It's a loosely structured concept album about a young woman who leaves her hometown and boyfriend to connect with her absentee father in the big city, and those themes of unrequited love, loneliness and ambition play out here on a grand, chiming scale.







Negative Capability
(In the Red)

"I'm a Bug"
"Male Masturbation"

Fate? Destiny? Chance? I don't care what you call it or if you put any stock in it, but consider the staggering body of work created by these (then) three UCLA students almost on a whim. Thirty-plus years later, the output of the Urinals still stands as one of the most unique, bizarre and great moments in all of punk rock-dom. The three original 7" singles -- all released on the band's Happy Squid label -- stood in contrast to the rest of L.A.'s punk rock scene. Musically they are nowhere close to their city's punk brethren like the Germs, whose primitive origins may have been similar. The Germs, however, added a negative spectacle named Darby Crash who, in retrospect, is closer to Jim Morrison than anyone was ready to admit until someone sold it as a movie deal. And the Dangerhouse scene (X, The Dils, Alley Cats etc.)? Those records may have been shocking at the time but today they sound closer to classic rock. The Urinals, however, still sound like aliens landed, found instruments and immediately made a record. And what records they are. The WTF ratio is off the charts the first time you hear something like "I'm a Bug" or "Ack, Ack, Ack" (later covered by the Minutemen who were greatly impacted by the Urinals). Originally issued on CD by Amphetamine Reptile in the 1990s, this essential document rounds up all of the vinyl output from the singles and compilations and adds some great live tracks for good measure. While a lot of records get referred to as essential, there are few others that I would rate ahead of this one. So with that in mind I will tag this as: Ultima-hyper essential. [DMa]







Mountains Mountains Mountains
(Thrill Jockey)

Thrill Jockey reissues Mountains Mountains Mountains, originally released on Catsup Plate in 2008. Here's what we wrote when we first covered the record in our Update five years ago:

Mountains' self-titled four-song EP features the duo going full-strength "improv" on Side A -- the undulating, warm and placid "Whale Years" is an improvisation recorded in a Georgia hotel during a 2005 tour, while "Nest" is a finger-picked guitar and field recording improvisation produced in the studio at home in Brooklyn. The third and fourth tracks on the flip side, however, have to be the most beautifully aggressive Mountains tracks ever recorded to date. The celestial Kraut-throb of "Millions of Time" ranks as one of my all-time favorite jams from the duo; it's most definitely a waltz in the clouds. EP closer "Hive" does indeed come across like a colony of bees that fester and boil until they suddenly attack with relentless, burning intensity, and while it's very much an uncommonly aggro track for Mountains, it is still unmistakably theirs. Excellent stuff from a duo on the rise! [SM]

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[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[DG] Daniel Givens
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[JM] Josh Madell
[MM] Matthew Malone
[DMa] Dave Martin
[DM] Doug Mosurock
[SM] Scott Mou
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