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   May 9, 2013  
Dwight Sykes
Dennis Johnson
Demdike Stare
Dean Blunt
Kyle MF Hall
The Haxan Cloak
Secret Circuit
She & Him
Pepe De La Matrona
Kev Beadle: Private Collection
Snapper 12"
The Bats 12"
Hanni El Khatib
British Sea Power


Nippon Girls (Various)
Holy Ghost!

The Caretaker (3 LPs)

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MAY Sun 12 Mon 13 Tues 14 Wed 15 Thurs 16 Fri 17 Sat 18

Next Wednesday, Montreal's No Joy will be pulling through New York City to perform at the Mercury Lounge in support of their new album, Wait to Pleasure, which is right up there with M B V as one of the best noise-pop albums of 2013. Other Music is not only giving away a pair of tickets to the show, but we've also got an autographed copy of No Joy's new LP to throw in as well, and to enter for your chance to win, just email giveaway@othermusic.com.

MERCURY LOUNGE: 217 E. Houston St. NYC

MAY Sun 19 Mon 20 Tues 21 Wed 22 Thurs 23 Fri 24 Sat 25

Montreal duo Majical Cloudz are stopping by Other Music for an in-store performance on Monday, May 20th, to celebrate the release of their debut full-length, Impersonator, which comes out the following day on Matador Records. Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto are crafting some truly evocative music, so come join us and catch an intimate set from them and grab an early copy of their fantastic album, which we'll have available for sale that night.

MONDAY, MAY 20 - 8:00PM
OTHER MUSIC: 15 E. 4th St. NYC

Other Music's summer Monday residency at New York City's Ace Hotel kicks off on June 3 and goes through to the end of August! During those months, you'll find a different member of our staff DJing their favorite records and countless varieties of music inside the gorgeous lobby bar every Monday evening from 8pm to midnight, and we hope you'll come and join us as we shake off those dog days that are just around the corner. We'll announce the DJ schedule in the coming weeks but for now, make sure to mark your calendar: Other Music's Summer DJ Residency at Ace Hotel, every Monday in June, July and August.

ACE HOTEL: 20 W. 29th St. NYC
8:00pm to Midnight





$17.99 LP+MP3


Silence Yourself

"City's Full"

Going into Silence Yourself, I wondered if Savages could imbue their debut LP with the ferocity of their live show. On stage, singer Jehnny Beth is simply thrilling to watch; she can emulate Ian Curtis' thousand-yard stare and nervous limbs, but her attitude and delivery strike a weirdly perfect balance between Siouxsie Sioux and Mark E. Smith. Sonically, the band cuts a swath of angular mayhem that originates from Wire, but also absorbs the frenzied dance punk of Delta 5 and the politicized stomp and vigor of Fugazi.

Indeed, they succeed here in capturing the ferocity of their live set, the brute force behind every song on the album being the churning synchronicity between bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton. Hassan, who wears her bass guitar slung low enough to make Paul Simonon proud, charges forward on the chugging "Shut Up," while Milton leads Beth and guitarist Gemma Thompson to the clanging chorus where Beth shouts, "Did you tell me to shut up?" and Milton swings at her cymbals to respond "CRASH CRASH." To call the band's dynamic "turn on a dime" is a gross understatement. Throughout the verses of "I Am Here," a vacuum seems to suck the air right out of the room when Milton trades toms for silence, measure by measure. Like Bush Tetras guitarist Pat Place, Thompson's neon junkyard Fender Mustang leads eschew melody to keep a howling, percussive rhythm on motorik bashers "City's Full" and "Husbands," the latter of which bleeds the blood of Patti Smith's "Horses." And in the smoky piano and sax-soaked closer "Marshal Dear," Savages, and particularly Beth, evoke Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' blasted, post-apocalyptic rock and roll. With the drums and bass pushed to the forefront of the mix, Silence Yourself is a very physical record, whose vibrations are felt long after the album has stopped spinning. [MS]




$18.99 LP


Dwight Sykes

"That's the Way Love Is"
"After Midnight"

This killer collection by Dwight Sykes on the always-reliable PPU label is an odd slab of DIY, home-recorded machine funk and off-center R&B that taps into the same vat of electric Kool-Aid as Shuggie Otis' Inspiration Information, Jeff Phelps' Magnetic Eyes, and the entire Personal Space compilation that had everyone here chomping at the bit. Sykes lays down some relaxed, blunted grooves heavy on percolating machine drums, warbling synth chords, and rubbery slap bass, with layers of four-track tape hiss fogging up the rear-view; while mostly instrumental, there are a handful of vocals throughout that give the cuts an even deeper handmade charm, but everything here is so engrossing because of its supremely do-it-yourself. This is the document of a man feeling a groove, and riding a vibe so hard that he'll do whatever it takes to get it down on tape. Fans of everything from the aforementioned artists and titles to the works of Dam-Funk, Nite Jewel, and Ariel Pink will find much to dig; its squelchy, sultry, synthesized soul is both offbeat and entirely on-point. While we seem to be hearing more of this sort of thing unearthed nowadays, this is the real deal. [IQ]






(Irritable Hedgehog)

"Disc 1"
"Disc 3"

Well, it's not often we're presented with an album that does nothing less than end up the traditional history of minimal music in America as we know it, but that's exactly what this record does. In the late 1950s, the now mostly entirely unknown composer Dennis Johnson was a friend and classmate of La Monte Young at UCLA, where he wrote a (quite endlessly) melancholy and austere piano piece full of beautiful, subtle modulations called "November," whose duration can last for up to six hours. Five years later, Young debuted his similarly lengthy and earth-shattering composition "The Well Tuned Piano," and directly credited Johnson's piece as an influence. Johnson, in the meantime, despite having been included in Young's influential 1963 book, An Anthology, was mostly relegated to the dust-bin of history, having moved away from composing music to study geometry.

I first heard about "November" on composer and music historian Kyle Gann's blog maybe five or so years ago, where he recounted the story of La Monte Young giving him a fragment of Johnson's piece on a one-hundred minute tape in the early 1990s. Intrigued, Gann eventually received the score from Johnson, and ultimately reconstructed the piece and posted a somewhat lo-fidelity version on his site. From out of that work comes this exquisite, commercially released version, the piece performed here by the great pianist R. Andrew Lee across four discs, for a total of five hours of music, and issued by the great new-ish record label Irritable Hedgehog who specialize in fantastic, under-heard minimal and post-minimal music compositions by the likes of Tom Johnson and Ann Southam.

Far from being just a historical curiosity, "November" is a superb composition in its own right, wonderfully full of silent spaces between decaying notes, slowly accumulating pauses and resonances that sculpt time in a way that only the best minimalist music can. In addition to its influence on Young, it also presages the long durational work of Morton Feldman in the 1980s, but without that composer's sometimes-extreme variances between notes. The music here is actually a quite fluid and listenable sound world, the only bar to easy accessibility being the time commitment required of it. In the excellent twenty-page booklet that accompanies this disc, Gann calls this recording a "major work that has been lost to history for fifty years." How wonderful then to have it back. [MK]




$17.99 12"

Testpressings 002
(Modern Love)

The Demdike Stare deluge continues, with the next volume in their limited edition Testpressing series unleashed to the masses. Dispatch number two is a noisier beast, just as aggressive as volume one, but less frenetic in its rhythmic approach; "Grows Without Bound" is seven minutes of analogue electronic tone bending that sounds like a Pan Sonic interpretation of Andy Stott's recent work, sculpting tattered clouds of mid-range sonics into rhythm clusters and letting them slowly weave into a wooly, fuzzy tapestry. "Primitive Equations" is heavy on metallic percussion clattering across a wet, dank passageway, with eerie whispering voices conversing just out of earshot as a street percussionist bangs out break-beats on spackle buckets while people wait for a subway train, suddenly bringing in an acid synth bass in the home stretch. It's a fresh take on a sound that Demdike have played with in the past, and is one of the most interesting, jacking tracks they've ever produced. I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical and dubious of this series at first, but they've really been delivering the goods in a way that I'd wanted them to do for a long time; these 12"s have the duo going full-monty, delivering on the promise that they'd continually teased us with and hinted at but never truly landed upon. Don't sleep on these, folks... they're wicked! [IQ]




$18.99 LP+MP3



"Neon Junkyard"
"Back to the Middle"

Monomania, the fifth full-length from Deerhunter, is the band's most raw and immediate collection of songs to date. Featuring only one song by guitarist Lockett Pundt, Monomania feels like an album made by singer Bradford Cox's raging id. Just like Cox's public persona, the record is loud, snotty, ever engaging, and often brilliant. "Neon Junkyard" throws the listener straight into a melee of blown-out drums and grating electric guitars while Cox delivers the best first line of a rock record in recent memory: "Finding the fluorescence in the junk/by night illuminates the day." The chiming parallel guitars of 2010's Halcyon Digest are swallowed whole and spat out by the howling distortion of songs like "Leather Jacket II" and the relentless squall during the choruses of the title track. There are moments of sonic respite from the punk onslaught, though. Pundt's sole song, "The Missing," hums beautifully with the help of soft organ punches, almost derailing the punk spirit of the album around it.

In recent interviews, frontman Bradford Cox has pointed to early rock and roll icons like Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker as direct inspirations for Monomania's primal sound. You can hear Diddley in the percussive, palm-muted guitar scrapes of junkyard-country-jam "Pensacola," and in the sound of the revving motorcycle that closes "Monomania." As an interview subject, Cox tends to spill his guts, dealing openly with the medical issues, emotional turmoil, and personal weaknesses that inform his songs. But with Monomania's channeling of muscular rock and roll and punk icons of the past, Cox sounds fierce and in command of the swirling angst that sets this Deerhunter record apart from his others. [MS]




$16.99 CD
$21.99 LP


End Times

"Frost Flowers"

Queens is the solo project of Other Music's own Scott Mou, who besides being a longtime and essential presence here at the store and a well-known DJ, has previously released a series of collaborations with Noah Lennox (a/k/a Panda Bear) under the Jane moniker. His debut solo statement has been well worth the wait, with a sound that might surprise OM regulars who know Scott for his deep knowledge and curation of the shop's electronic music selection; it is released on the esteemed Dial label, best known for deep, sultry techno and minimal house, but while End Times successfully evokes and embraces the imprint's core aesthetic of dark sensuality, it's a beatless and drifting concoction that presents these moods in a context that is relatively new for the label. Recorded primarily by Josh Dibb (a/k/a Deacon of Animal Collective), with additional recording, production and mixing input on select tracks by Efdemin and a final album mix by Kean Holtkamp (Mountains), End Times is a hypnotic, breathtaking hex of sonic storm clouds made predominantly with just guitar, voice, and subtle layers of field recordings and effects processing, eschewing rhythmic movement for a spectral haze that floats across the stereo field.

Mou's lovely, eerie falsetto vocals drift through the sonic ether like a choirboy's ghost softly singing to himself on a rainy twilight evening; the music, meanwhile, variously evokes the stark, velvet textures of Felt's early Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty and Splendour of Fear albums, as well as the shadowed black fragility of influential neo-folk troubadours like Current 93 or Death in June. This influence is further recognized via a cover of Death in June's "Frost Flowers," where Mou strips the original track's softly thumping pulse down to a reverberating hum, and shifts the vocal from a cool, detached recitation into an impassioned lamentation that connects successfully with the tone of the lyrics. It's a perfect summation of the bold risks Mou takes in the album's naked intimacy; it's never easy to lay yourself so bare on record and let that fragility be interpreted openly by listeners. That Scott is a close friend and associate of the store and many of our readers is really only an aside here, as End Times is a powerful and moving album that succeeds on its own terms, and any fan of the aforementioned should not hesitate to grab this one. [IQ]




$13.99 CD
$16.99 LP

Sub Verses
(Dead Oceans)

"Sand Time"
"Whole World Is Watching"

Since their emergence during the height of the freak-folk era in the mid-2000s with their self-titled debut on Michael Gira's Young God imprint, Akron/Family have been in a constant state of flux, with every new record revealing more experimental tendencies and genre collusions than the last. It all culminated with 2011's S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, a mystical, epic opus which found the band culling strains of African and Latin music, free jazz, psychedelia, and noise rock together into a thrilling, expansive, yet highly listenable set. Their latest album, Sub Verses, continues this evocative journey, but with a little more focus, and producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Kinski, Sunn 0))) -- Sunn0)))'s Stephen O'Malley also designed the cover art) bringing a scorched-earth sound to the mix. Opener "No Room" places desert blues guitar riffs atop a steady, hypnotic rhythm with Miles Seaton's eerie shamanic vocal melody snaking through the incense-scented atmosphere and eventually leading the band into an explosive climax of tribal drone. It's pretty Zeppelin-esque, actually, but as if filtered through Mali's Tinariwen and a handful of peyote. "Way Up" isn't too far off from the wide-eyed Technicolor pop of Animal Collective via its call-and-response verse and choruses, while "Until the Morning" finds the band taking a more tranquil route, with synths subtlety pulsing beneath fingerpicked and slide guitars, and unknowingly conjuring a bit of the charm of Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place." In contrast, Holy Boredom is a careening psych-rock stormer, with pounding drums, fuzzed-out guitars and vocal chants all pushing the mixing console's VU meter way into the red and nicely setting up "Sand Time," which finds the band returning to the desert blues influences, this time with a menacing heaviosity. The closing "Samurai," however, may be the album's most surprising moment, an understated, bucolic ballad that can be likened to drifting in the warm waters off some Pacific island, as swirling steel guitars gently lap against Seaton's yearning vocal. A gorgeous send-off for the listener, it reminds us that Akron/Family is indeed capable of just about anything. [GH]




$14.99 CD
$21.99 LP


The Redeemer
(Hippos in Tanks)


Now THIS is the kind of record I'd always hoped for from Dean Blunt, best known as one half of the experimental R&B act Hype Williams. With The Redeemer, Blunt has crafted a bold sonic statement that lifts the notorious tape hiss fog and scattershot eclecticism of his previous work, and instead delivers a 19-track, 40-odd minute album that for the first time feels like a unified concept. The majority of the record is sculpted from a palette of orchestral and folk oriented samples, with harp glissandos, forlorn acoustic blues guitars, and operatic choral vocal arias being the primary ingredients. These are fused with the occasional blunted beat pattern or gauzy synth patch, but on the whole, it's this minimal instrumental combination that gives the album such a bewitching yet alien feel. Blunt's vocals also take center stage, with his half sung, half spoken recitations adding an emotional weight. The Redeemer recasts the psychedelic soul of Cadet Records acts like Rotary Connection or Terry Callier into a cracked yet cohesive statement that makes all of his previous work seem like learning in public. This to me sounds like the sort of bold statement artists like Frank Ocean and Drake have tried to make, yet without the obvious pop concessions; while the record isn't pop or traditional R&B, it is one of the most soulful albums I've heard all year. Even at its most experimental, it displays an intimacy and heart-on-sleeve dedication that contrasts sharply with the ambiguity and subjective irony of Blunt's past work. It's perhaps one of the year's most surprising releases thus far, and anyone who digs the confessional soul of artists like Gil Scott-Heron or the aforementioned needs this, and it has notched a firm spot onto my best of 2013 list. [IQ]






The Boat Party
(Wild Oats)

Released on his own Wild Oats label, Kyle Hall's The Boat Party knocks debut LP expectations out of the park by doing exactly what he's been doing so well for the last so many years since being announced as the new up 'n' coming young gun of Detroit: confounding expectations! I mean, a double-LP album coming out on the heels of the recent Zug Island EP??! What were we supposed to expect after being delightfully flummoxed by that one? Something as ill, loose and psychedelically unhinged as that can only make us throw up our hands and say, "Okay, whatever you wanna do, just don't stop!" And with The Boat Party, he manages to push his style forward while making it even less precious.

First thing about this record: listen to it loud! Not that it is an album of mindless big-room bangers, but it's just that we made the mistake of playing this in the shop at a medium-low volume the first time and missed some of its special, subtle qualities that are revealed when turned up on the stereo or headphones -- the main one being that this is a really l-o-o-s-e and r-a-w batch of tracks with many of the cuts sporting select bits tastefully pumped into the overdriven red-zone. There's a very "live," controlled yet on-the-fly/jamming feel to these tracks that keeps your ears perked. At times samples, kicks and snares come and go at what seem like randomly varied volume levels, but when played loud the composition of these volumes prove to be an integral part of the Kyle Hall sound. (It's almost in the same way that the vinyl-esque clicks and pops in Stefan Betke's Pole project prove to be set into a delicate pattern, rather than just random as they first seem to be.)

The "live feel" also extends to the sounds themselves -- some seem like they were mic'd acoustically with foot pedal-driven metal percussion, and there's lots of well-placed swinging, (soft) clanging, banging, bumpin' and thumpin' goin' on here!!! There's a very intentionally un-polished, imperfect quality to the sounds that ultimately arrive at perfection in the way he arranges and delivers them. This quality, mixed with the typical space between the elements that Hall does so well, just sets this record even farther apart from the pack than expected. And finally we have the effectively wonderful, careening style shifts that range from the rather pretty, sultry "Crushed" to the straight-up juke of "Finna Pop," to the raw, jamming "Dr. Crunch" and "Spoof" and then back to the soulful, beautiful, almost turntable-edited, side-long "Measure2Measure," all given the patented rough-edged, deep, heady treatment by KMFH. While Omar S is doing such a great job of refining his sound, Kyle Hall seems to be inviting even a bit more wildness in his "Wild Oats." It works beautifully here. Another early best of the year! [SM]




$19.99 LP


(Tri Angle)

"Excavation (Part 2)"

UK producer the Haxan Cloak returns with an eagerly anticipated second album, and his first for the hotly fetishized Tri Angle label. Where his debut saw him working in a largely acoustic palette of classically oriented instrumental movements that were subtly processed, edited, and sampled, Excavation works largely in an inverse of electronic snaps, crackles, and drones. He taps into a series of lurching beats that crawl slowly like ectoplasm, while flittering clouds of static and fuzz waft above the bass weight. His penchant for creating suites and headspace moods rather than floor-oriented tracks remains, however, as this is definitely a subtle album with lots of minute textural detail. His usage of disembodied voices at times is reminiscent of Burial or labelmates Balam Acab, though here the voices aren't necessarily pitch-shifted, but rather ripped directly from startled throats and chopped into spectral, staccato exclamations. It's a perfect fit for the label, and those who've enjoyed much of what Tri Angle has offered in the past, not to mention recent works by the likes of Raime and Demdike Stare, should give this a spin. [IQ]






Inside the Shadow
(Macchu Picchu)

"J. Rider"
"Pick Up and Run"

This one's turning a lot of heads at Other Music, and invoking a lot of references to early Jefferson Airplane, Shocking Blue, and Fleetwood Mac. Anonymous' sole LP disappeared quickly after its 1976, 300-copy release, but Machu Picchu (the new reissue arm of OM fave M'Lady's Records) has done a really beautiful job in resurrecting a record that deserves every bit of its "lost treasure" status. Main songwriter and arranger Ron Matelic pulls the electric 12-string tone and close vocal harmonies of the Byrds and the grand pop gestures of the Mac into a more refined psychedelic landscape. Every song on this record is a mindblower, thanks in no small part to Marsha Rollings, whose vocals can evoke the woolliness of Grace Slick on songs like ""J. Rider" and "Sweet Lilac," or the sweet and soulful interplay of Stevie and Christie, as on the gorgeous acoustic strummer "Up To You, Pt. 1." I'd be willing to bet it all that David Roback heard the heavy romanticism of "Sweet Lilac" and immediately ran off to form Opal with Kendra Smith. Housed in a lovely tip-on jacket, with some new liner notes from Matelic and Acid Archives co-author Aaron Milenski, fans of the recent Tully reissues or perfectly crafted rock and roll in general will not be able to resist. -seeking festival fan of the Flaming Lips will spend some quality time with The Terror. [MS]




$18.99 LPx2


Tactile Galactics
(Beats in Space)

"Nebula Sphynx"

Secret Circuit is one Eddie Ruscha, who has been unleashing a steady stream of psychedelic Balearic beatscapes on cassette, 12" and download for the past few years now. Released on Tim Sweeney's Beats in Space imprint, Tactile Galactics sees Ruscha crafting an ambitious full-length of cosmic dance music that blends sun-saturated haze, squelching underwater bass frequencies, and the steady thumping sensuality of house into an absolutely gorgeous platter that will perfectly soundtrack your upcoming summer nights. He blends dizzying shoegaze textures (fitting, as he spent time as a member of Medicine) with laidback, tanned, salty Ibiza rhythms that will appeal to anyone who's ever closed their eyes and got down to the sounds of Baldelli, Lindstrom, or even Mr. Fingers. It's easily one of the best dance records I've heard all year, and one that appeals to anyone that enjoys taking a journey via their eardrums, whether it be on the dancefloor or in the privacy of their own home. [IQ]




CD $19.99 LP+MP3
$8.99 CAS+MP3


Volume 3

"Turn to White"

Throwing a weather analogy into a music review is one of the most overused tools of the trade but damn, this new breezy set from She & Him has summer written all over it. Sure, their other albums do as well, Christmas record aside naturally, and if for some reason you were expecting Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward to suddenly change course and, I don't know, make their Metal Machine Music LP, just go right ahead and move on. But for the rest of us, Volume 3 finds the duo staying on course, looking back to the golden era of Brill Building pop, offering 11 new timeless originals and a couple of surprise covers, all centered around Deschanel's swooning dulcet voice and Ward's tasteful guitar and meticulous horn and string arrangements. Tunes like the girl-group influenced album opener "I've Got Your Number, Son" effortlessly pull from the Phil Spector playbook while the jaunty "Never Wanted Your Love" throws a little early Motown inspiration into the mix. During "Together," however, She & Him step into the '70s, delivering a catchy slice of funky, mid-tempo soft rock that nicely falls somewhere between Marvin Gaye and Carole King's work of the time, while a few songs later we find the duo reaching further into that decade via a take on Blondie's "Sunday Girl," which they turn into a light, twangy rave-up. It all makes for a highly enjoyable outing from two notable talents who would each do just fine in their respective careers without this ongoing collaboration, but they truly seem to be having fun making music together, and it definitely comes through. [GH]




$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP+MP3


"One Girl/One Boy"

Brooklyn-via-Sacramento sextet !!! return with a new album produced by Spoon's Jim Eno, and a new approach to their recorded output. Where past efforts tried with varying success to emulate or recreate their wild, energetic live show, on the cheekily titled Thr!!!er the band sounds like they're taking full advantage of the recording studio, with ambitious yet direct musical arrangements. Clocking in at a tidy 39 minutes, it's also the most pleasingly succinct album the group has recorded; the grooves are solid, squelchy affairs that nod to various signposts in the history of dance music, from nights at the Paradise Garage to UK acid raves, and a bevy of female guest vocalists join in the proceedings to buffer frontman Nic Offer's sometimes goofy swagger. It sounds as though the band got a swift slap in the face and woke up after coasting for some time, with punchy, catchy tunes, ass-moving grooves, and some of the most genuinely soulful music the group has ever recorded. [IQ]






Grands Cantaores Du Flamenco
(Le Chant Du Monde)


Have we ever featured a flamenco record before? Not that I can recall, anyway. Perhaps it's appropriate then that the first flamenco record we shall review at one time included liner notes by the great avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis, who wrote, in part, "The song is super. It is based on a dorian tetrachord in the style of the diatonic syntony as defined by Aristoxenus of Tarentum." Hmmm, well, perhaps that explanation is a tad dry and doesn't exactly fully impart the absolutely towering, gutting power of Pepe De La Matrona's voice. Matrona was born in Seville in 1887 and lived to be 92; throughout his life he gained stature as one of the purest interpreters of the cante, delivering the song in its rawest, most primitive manifestation. The depths of soul, emotion, control and abandon on display here remind me of nothing so much as the great Indian singer Pandit Pran Nath, where we find such a thrilling intensity and realness to the voice that the listener feels they're being imbued with the accumulation of hundreds of years of tradition and history. What else can I say besides check it out, as Pepe De La Matrona is nothing less than one of greatest singers who ever lived! [MK]




$22.99 LPx2


Private Collection

"Freedom Road" - The Pharaohs
"Grandma's Rocking Chair" - Olli Ahrentahti

Kev Beadle's Private Collection is a delicious compilation of soulful, swinging jazz-dance tunes plundered from his personal favorites. It centers predominantly around late-1970s and early-'80s private press platters, ably mixing spiritual jazz vibes akin to the Black Jazz catalogue with more silky, sensual grooves straight out of the quiet storm songbook. The collection is masterfully sequenced, playing straight through like an album in its own right, and the vibe throughout is absolutely killer, keeping your head nodding and your soul well nourished. If you've ever picked up any of Gilles Peterson's jazz collections over the years, have dug the more spiritual sides of Theo Parrish or Moodymann, or have been digging the recent Black Jazz reissues and the likes of the recent wave of new kids plundering the quiet storm soul sound, this is rock-solid listening that'll take you further down that path, bringing your ears back to a lost era where even radio programmers were mixing jazz into their programming, as it was some of the most soulful and groovy music making waves. This is simply beautiful. [IQ]









Snapper EP
(Captured Tracks/Flying Nun)

By Night EP
(Captured Tracks/Flying Nun)

Originally released in 1988 on New Zealand's Flying Nun label, Snapper's self-titled EP is one of the greatest debut records of all time. Led by Peter Gutteridge, who had formerly played with the Clean, the Chills, and the Great Unwashed, Snapper was a definite departure from those groups' shambolic, jangling pop aesthetic. Snapper wasn't bright or loose or particularly cheery -- instead, their songs feel like hell-spawned successors to Suicide's "Ghost Rider." The band's intention is clear from the distorted keyboard vamp that kicks off "Buddy": ladies and gentlemen, we are ripping through space. The fuzzed-out, cavernous organ sound that Stereolab would employ on their first singles and EPs originated with Snapper's Christine Voice, who seems to have plugged in whatever keyboard Norman Greenbaum used to record "Spirit in the Sky." Voice also doubles the vocals right alongside Gutteridge; together, the pair spit venomous lines like "I've got teeth you cannot see" and "No more buddy buddy/no more messing around/I'm not gonna be your/Be your fucking clown." Plenty of contemporary bands -- like Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo, and Disappears -- are clearly already hip to this EP, which Captured Tracks has lovingly reissued down to reproductions of the original poster and press release; now it's your turn to (affordably!) electric mainline Snapper.

The ethos and atmosphere of the Bats was already fully formed by the time the group, led by Robert Scott, recorded the By Night EP in 1984. Not as rambling or as raw as the Clean (Scott's main gig at the time), but still an intoxicating blend of Byrds-y twelve-string pop and a dash of the gawky new wave of Talking Heads '77 or Up for a Bit with the Pastels. Everything about "Jeweller's Heart" makes it one of the best songs in Scott's entire catalog -- especially the acoustic lead guitar nervously hopping from one section to the next, and the way he keeps the verses upbeat and major before diving into a swirling minor key chorus. By Night sounds like New Zealand's answer to "Love Goes to Building on Fire," the similarity between Scott's stretched vocals with those of David Byrne's is unmistakable. Like the Snapper EP, By Night is enjoying a limited reissue thanks to Captured Tracks -- don't miss it! [MS]





$18.99 LP+MP3


Head in the Dirt
(Innovative Leisure)

"Head in the Dirt"
"Skinny Little Girl"

Produced with Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach, the new album by Hanni El Khatib boasts a beefier sound and an ambition to step up to the big leagues as a new modern blues-rock figurehead. If you enjoyed HEK's debut, you'll most likely dig what's on offer here, though the ragged edges are somewhat cleaned up and tailored, and the low-end is jacked up into juggernaut proportions; where on the debut he embraced a more DIY scrappiness that added a bit of off-kilter charm to the songs, on Head he's front and center with big stomping anthems and plenty of distortion. He's going for gold, and listeners who enjoy the works of Jack White and Auerbach will have much fun jamming this, as he's taking the torch and running as far and fast with it as he can, with solid results. [IQ]





$17.99 LP


Machineries of Joy
(Rough Trade)

"Loving Animals"
"Radio Goddard"

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since British Sea Power released their raucous debut, exploding onto the music scene with their frenetic guitars, bookish lyrics and elaborate live shows. Over the last decade they've become more polished as the band transitioned from that scruffy first album to perfectly crafted jangly pop, proving they could do both equally well. Their latest, Machineries of Joy, is a straightforward rock record -- not too much of a departure though the sound feels a bit more refined. As expected, the lyrics are quirky and draw heavily on literary influences; the title track, inspired by a collection of Ray Bradbury short stories, is a sprawling science fiction love song of sorts. "K Hole" offers glimpses of the raw energy of earlier British Sea Power efforts, while standouts like "Spring Has Sprung" and the haunting closer "When a Warm Wind Blows Through the Grass" are more controlled as they slowly build toward their booming peaks. Though the rough edges are long gone, with Machineries of Joy British Sea Power has nicely settled into itself. [KB]






Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966-1970
(Big Beat International)

"Suki Sa Suki Sa Suki Sa" Nana Kinomi & Leo Beats
"Aeba Suki Suki" Magaret with Bunnys

Now available on vinyl! Big Beat International have outdone themselves with this outstanding collection of swinging pop jams from some of the best Japanese beat girls of the late 1960s and early '70s. Combining elements of Ventures-esque surf music (made popular during Japan's "eleki" boom of the early '60s), the elaborate arrangements of northern soul- and Burt Bacharach-inspired pops orchestras, a bit of Brazilian bossa nova groove, and a heavy, heavy dose of jumpy French yé-yé pop akin to the likes of France Gall and Sylvie Vartan, these tracks are totally infectious, overflowing with repressed sensuality and the inevitable release that came with Japan's move away from buttoned-up enka song styles into the modes of the pop machine. (Ever seen the cover to Sparks's Kimono My House album? That photo sums up precisely what I'm referring to.) There seriously is not a single dud on this collection; it has been lovingly compiled and features a booklet jam-packed with notes on each of the singers here and the evolution of the popular song in Japan during the 1960s, along with amazing period photos and sleeve repros. I've been collecting this stuff myself for quite a few years now, and I was familiar with only a fraction of the tracks and performers on offer here. And now that the comp is available on LP, there's no excuse not to put on your best mod gear and get busy! Highest recommendation! [IQ]




$24.99 LPx2+MP3


Holy Ghost!

"It's Not Over"
"Some Children"

Holy Ghost!'s debut full-length is back in print on double-LP pressed on colored vinyl, and includes a bonus digital remix compilation and album download. Here's the original Update feature that ran when the record was first released back in 2011:

Holy Ghost! is possibly the DFA's most straight-forward act (not counting glam-rock revivalists Free Energy), the duo of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser being well-versed in the synthetic R&B and pop sounds of '80s radio, all neatly re-imagined here as new millennium party jams. Existing somewhere between Chromeo and Cut Copy -- but without the tongue-in-cheek irony of the former and minus the dream-pop sheen of the latter -- necessary singles like "Hold On" from 2008, "Say My Name," and the title track off of last year's Static on the Wire EP are grouped with several new cuts which all follow the same slippery, electro-pop trajectory. Songs like "Wait and See" pairs the British new wave meets blue-eyed soul of Curiosity Killed the Cat and Naked Eyes with Jellybean Benitez-styled electro-funk production, while disco-pop thumpers "It's Not Over" and "Slow Motion" are driven by pulsing Moroder-esque synths with lockstep bass and guitar lines grooving atop. Though the album is a fun ride from start to finish, Holy Ghost! does mourn the death of good friend and powerhouse drummer Jerry Fuchs during "Jam for Jerry," a tasteful tribute addressing the forever-unsettled emotions of this tragic loss while also celebrating his great talent in the form of a propulsive dance anthem. The duo saves the big guns for the end of the record, however, not only enlisting a choir but also the legendary Michael McDonald, whose unmistakable baritone couldn't be better fit for the funky, '80s-inspired synth-pop of "Some Children." Let's get a full collaboration happening, guys! [GH]




Patience (After Sebald)


An Empty Bliss Beyond This World


Persistent Repetition of Phrases

Patience (After Sebald)
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
Persistent Repetition of Phrases
(History Always Favours the Winners)

After falling out of print for a while, Leland Kirby's last three albums as the Caretaker have been repressed in limited quantities, so if you missed them the first time around, here's a brief chance to grab them! All three records find Kirby creating haunting, eerie, yet deeply romantic soundscapes out of loops plundered from old pre-war jazz, big band, and classical 78s, with the final product sounding both lush and romantic, yet haunted and unsettling at the same time. The albums are mixed as though they were field recordings of a ghost playing records through a phonograph at the end of a long, cavernous hallway, EQed for maximum spectral quality and with the hiss, crackle, and pop of the dusted grooves adding to but never overwhelming the musical content. Patience (After Sebald) is Kirby working with recordings of Schubert's voice-and-piano piece Winterreise, and is perhaps the least romantic, most barren Caretaker album; it's more suited to fans of dark ambient and esoteric modern composition. An Empty Bliss Beyond This World is probably the most highly-regarded of these releases, and the one which brought Kirby to more widespread attention; sounding like an extended suite scoring the end credits of Kubrick's The Shining, it's one of the most listenable experimental albums you'll ever hear, heavy on old-time jazz band plunderphonics with a heavier emphasis on manipulated melodies which balances the atmospheric alchemy quite well. Persistent Repetition of Phrases falls somewhere in between these two releases, utilizing the same jazz-heavy palette, yet painting its atmospheres in more spectral, shadowed landscapes. All three records are absolutely stellar, and if you're new to the Caretaker's universe, you'll most likely end up craving all of them, so I recommend going for broke and buying them as a set; those of you who managed to grab one or two of these in the past now have an opportunity to fill in your collection's gaps. I've raved about these albums in the past, and my enthusiasm hasn't wavered in the slightest; on the contrary, I've grown to love these records even more over time. Needless to say, these albums get my absolute highest recommendation. [IQ]
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[KB] Kari Boston
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[IQ] Mikey IQ Jones
[MK] Michael Klausman
[SM] Scott Mou
[MS] Michael Stasiak

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