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April 3, 2014

special announcement

DAVID GRUBBS BOOK READING & LISTENING SESSION

MONDAY, APRIL 21 @ 8PM

Free Admission | Limited Capacity

Other Music is pleased to be hosting our good friend David Grubbs on Monday, April 21 at 8 p.m., in an intimate reading and listening session to celebrate the publication of his fascinating new book, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording. As David discusses Cage's personal history as a recording artist, he will be playing excerpts from some of Cage's most interesting 1960s-era recordings, while he explores the larger issues of his book, examining why experimental and avant-garde music of the time were particularly ill-suited to be represented in the form of a recording. Please join us for this exciting literary event, and if you want to study up in advance, you can buy Records Ruin the Landscape from us now!

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Koen Holtkamp
Mac DeMarco
HTRK
Cloud Nothings
Young Fathers
Peder Mannerfelt
Anthology of American Folk Music
John Cage
The Body
Wen
S. Carey
 

ALSO AVAILABLE

Evian Christ 12"
Small Black 12"

NOW ON CD

Efdemin
Axemen

VINYL IN STOCK

Beck
Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1

announcement

WIN TICKETS TO REAL ESTATE

SATURDAY, APRIL 5

Webster Hall: 125 E. 11th St. New York, NY

Real Estate's shimmering new album, Atlas, has been hovering at the top of our weekly best sellers chart ever since its release a month ago, and this weekend the Jersey group will return to New York City for a much-welcomed homecoming of sorts. Both Friday and Saturday's shows at Webster Hall with opener Pure X are sold out, but we've got a pair of tickets to give away to the second night (Saturday, April 5) and all you have to do is email enter@othermusic.com for a chance at 'em!


TICKET GIVE-AWAY TO TRUST

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Le Poisson Rouge: 158 Bleecker St. New York, NY

Supporting his excellent new full-length, Joyland, Trust brings his brooding, goth-tinged electro to Le Poisson Rouge next week, with bedroom-synthpop maker Mozart's Sister opening, along with DJ sets from Faso. Presented by PopGun, the show is now sold out, but Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets and to enter for your chance to win, just email tickets@othermusic.com.


WIN TICKETS TO CLOUD NOTHINGS

MONDAY, APRIL 14

Bowery Ballroom: 6 Delancey St. New York, NY

Cloud Nothings has just released Here and Nowhere Else, a great, pummeling album informed by '90s punk, hardcore and grunge. It's the best record yet from this Cleveland band led by Dylan Baldi, receiving rave reviews everywhere (and also featured below in this week's Update). The group will be making two appearances in New York City this month, Sunday, April 13 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Monday, April 14 at Bowery Ballroom. We're giving away a pair of tickets to the Bowery show and you can enter for a chance to win by emailing giveaway@othermusic.com.

this week's update

KOEN HOLTKAMP
Motion: Connected Works
(Thrill Jockey)

The new solo record by Mountains member (and longtime Other Music friend) Koen Holtkamp displays his well-established blend of analogue synth, trippy folk and gentle Krautrock elements, filled with arpeggio-heavy, cosmic synth/acoustic tracks that touch on Terry Riley, Cluster/Roedelius and other spiritually leaning synth luminaries. The intimate "Baba O'Riley" pulse of album opener "Between Visible Things" slowly unfurls into a sun-dappled, gently flowing stream. The following track, "Vert," shifts into Cluster territory at a higher clip, without feeling rushed, while undulating synth melodies soon bear the weight of an extended slow-mo, overarching celestial guitar cloud resembling a heavenly trumpet choir heralding an oncoming angelic army. Epic album ender "Crotales" features a leaden yet levitating drone of Pandit Pran Nath proportions that soon invites a swarm of fireflies to join in, leaving light trails by the song's end. Motion continues Holtkamp's analog synth explorations on an intimate level, bringing the pastoral atmosphere we expect of him but also revealing something a bit more alien. Overall we're given the impression of a field at night and some inner cosmos reaching towards the outer, all at the same time. (CD includes a bonus disc of previously vinyl only offerings that mark the beginnings of his solo forays into Kraut synth psych bliss.) [SM]

$18.99 2CD
$18.99 LP


MAC DEMARCO
Salad Days
(Captured Tracks)

The Mac DeMarco that you hear on Salad Days is two years older, a million miles of touring wiser, and several thousand Marlboros smokier than the dude that penned "Rock and Roll Nightclub." His basic sound -- like a monster mash of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and a fuzzy Steely Dan song that you accidentally tune into during an all-night drive -- hasn't so much evolved as bloomed, revealing a smart, lyrical storyteller and a keen arranger. The Mac on this album is kind of like the man behind the nasty, lipsticked Muppet that once leered at babes wearing blue jeans. DeMarco still likes his guitars dipped in flanger and sprinkled with phaser, which imbues the songs with the neon, red-light district atmosphere that made 2012's Rock and Roll Nightclub EP feel like a trip through a particularly dirty dream. But on Salad Days, what you'll hear between those silky lines is the earnest and thoughtful reckoning of a road-worn soul, like Spicoli emerging from the forest as a wizened yogi.

I'm hesitant to describe any of these tunes as "jangle-pop," even though you could draw plenty of lines from Mac to other guitar-centric songwriters, like Martin Newell and Jonathan Richman, or even to contemporary Brooklyn bands and fellow Deadheads like Real Estate. The tones sure are similar, but the blue-eyed moods that he strikes across the album share far more in common with soul singers and crooners of the past. He dispenses wit and wisdom on "Blue Boy" the way that Bill Withers does, with a wink and a firm hand on your shoulder as he sings, "No use acting so tough/Come down, sweetheart, grow up." Even his album covers, all of which are simply photographs of himself, are kind of a throwback to big, handsome personalities like Al Green and Marvin Gaye. Still, DeMarco has never been a slouch when it comes to his rock and roll worship or his guitar skills, and an obvious love for six-string classics abounds on Salad Days -- one needs to look no further than the epic "Picture Book" steal that he perpetrates on the title track.

The sweetest and best moment on the record is the sparse and touching "Let My Baby Stay," written (as they all are) for his girlfriend, Kiera McNally. It's a testament to his charm as a songwriter and a singer that such an earnest tune floats so breezily, as buoyant and lovely as the Beach Boys' "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." As the longest, dreariest winter I can remember lifts, I don't think I'm alone in thinking that DeMarco's soulful croon was made precisely for these times. [MS]

$13.99 CD ON SALE
$17.99 LP

HTRK
Psychic 9-5 Club
(Ghostly International)

The tragic loss of bassist Sean Stewart, who took his own life during the recording of Work (Work, Work), no doubt left an indelible mark personally and creatively on Australia's HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock). While there's no telling what the resulting album would have sounded like had Stewart been alive to complete the sessions with surviving members Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang, the record revealed a dramatic shift for the band. The primitive electro throb of Suicide and the screeching art damage of groups like the Birthday Party -- whose Rowland S. Howard produced and occasionally collaborated with HTRK until his own death -- were prevalent influences that once had informed the trio's earlier work of slow motion, oft-droning music; however, those touchstones all but disappeared on their fourth album. Instead, Work occupied a much sparser plane, relying on the spatial electronic atmospheres and textures that might be found on a Pan Sonic record in shaping a sultry yet equally dark, creeping pop set.

HTRK's newest album isn't as drastic of a re-write this time, but here we find the Melbourne-based duo stripping their sound back even further, with producer Nathan Young (of Excepter) pulling a newfound warmth from the open air of the dubwise production. Whereas 2011's Work could be described as moody, Psychic 9-5 Club is pure mood, with the gentle, deep pulse of slo-mo rhythms and electronics floating in the air like wisps of smoke, caressing Standish's breathy, longing melodies. It's impossible not to think of Sade during tracks like "Blue Sunshine" and "Love Is Distraction," which also bring to mind the impossible pairing of post trip-hop-era Donna Regina and the humid, tropical pop of Peaking Lights, all sonically siphoned through the xx's minimalist filter. In spite of the title, this album is anything but 9-5; nocturnal and seductive like a moonlit summer night, what Standish and Yang are conjuring here should be named LVRSRK. Recommended. [GH]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$16.99 LP


CLOUD NOTHINGS
Here and Nowhere Else
(Carpark)

Cloud Nothings' gradual refinement over the course of the last few albums, from Dylan Baldi's raw solo home recordings, to the group's Steve Albini-produced 2012 breakthrough Attack on Memory, to this blistering new steamroller of a record, happened the right way for a punk band. Instead of toning down or dressing up their sound, the evolution has been through paring back on the flourishes and turning up both the hooks and the volume, and the results on Here and Nowhere Else are exhilarating. Recorded this time with John Congleton, the songs are desperate and beautiful, and the takes are loose and nearly unhinged, with Jayson Gerycz's relentless bass drum and wildly powerful drumming driving Baldi to the brink again and again, with overloaded guitar and raw-throated singing that aspires to the likes of Westerberg and Cobain, and frequently succeeds. Born from early classic emo, American hardcore, and grunge, these songs are shot through with adrenaline and teenaged aggression, but show maturity in their economy and focus. Cloud Nothings bring little "new" to their thrilling sound, but as long as there are kids (and adults too) who crave the pure release this music has always offered, there will be plenty of room for a band that consistently delivers as hard as Cloud Nothings. [JM]

For a limited time only: free Cloud Nothings turntable slipmat with purchase of LP!

$13.99 CD
$19.99 LP+MP3 (Blue Vinyl)


YOUNG FATHERS
Dead
(Anticon)

One of the most interesting and magnetic hip-hop albums I've heard in some time comes not from New York, Los Angeles, or London, but rather Edinburgh, via this trio of young men with roots in Liberia, Nigeria, and Scotland. Young Fathers have made a name for themselves over the last few years going back to when they released their Tape One material online after their first deal fell through. That mixtape, and the following Tape Two, were picked up by Anticon, and now they've formed a relationship with Big Dada for their new full-length, Dead. The three members (Alloysious Massaquoi, Graham Hastings and Kayus Bankole) sing, rap, speak, chant and yell their way through these 35 minutes creating a synthesis of eclectic energy that vocally brings to mind the unlikely references of Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, Death Grips, Gravediggaz and/or Anti-Pop Consortium. Yet this isn't stream-of-consciousness word association, Young Fathers like a good hook, and on Dead there are plenty, just not in the way you might expect.

Musically, the tracks are built around a free-flowing and organic assemblage of electronic structures that very much feel like rap as much as punk, soul, and even rock at times, with Caribbean and African sounds used throughout. Songs weave around various melodies, and often shift sonics effortlessly within their three minutes, yet they never come across as overstuffed. While utilizing elements of found sound, noise, and textural ambiance that generate a heavy and thick, dark and dense sonic scape, their style has an intelligent consciousness to it, steering away from the obvious gangsta or street motifs of their contemporaries.

Young Fathers exist more in a positive but fractured world view than most MCs, and are a welcomed addition to and possible exception from the tried and true tales of glamour, glitz, and gluttony that run amok in the current mind of today's rappers. With lyrics that touch on political situations, families torn apart by war, and life-and-death circumstances, the trio layers stories of passion and resistance with a spirited youthful energy, and boast their multicultural stance loud and proud.

Young Fathers are confrontational and emotive in good measure, and Dead is a solid album that's bound to excite and entice as much as it may annoy and/or confound the listeners. At first I was a bit confused, but now I am definitely excited. Like Shabazz Palaces did a few years ago, YF seem to have come from nowhere to blow hip-hop apart, offering something a little different from the norm. Young Fathers' Dead gives new meaning to the phrase "dropping bombs." [DG]

$13.99 CD
$16.99 LP


PEDER MANNERFELT
Lines Describing Circles
(Digitalis)

I'm not even going to mess around here: this is one of my favorite releases of 2014, no joke. Peder Mannerfelt is one half of the great European cosmic synth duo Roll the Dice, but is perhaps best known as the man responsible for producing Fever Ray's eponymous runaway smash album back in 2009. This is his debut solo LP, and he pulls absolutely NO punches here; Lines Describing Circles is easily one of the most visceral, aggressive, dark platters of electronic composition I've heard in ages. Mannerfelt has a sharp ability to draw the maximum amount of kinetic force, textural detail, and harmonic compositional majesty from a minimal roster of sounds, and the ten pieces on this album do just that throughout. Deep, rumbling bass drones, sharp, serrated sine tones, and thumping rhythmic pulsations all overlap into a series of clusters that just KILL.

While one can draw comparisons to Pan Sonic/Mika Vainio or some of Raster-Noton's more maximalist projects, what I'm most reminded of in spirit and aesthetic throughout is Monoton's infamous black album, Monotonprodukt 07. To make a very broad generalization, if one were to imagine that record being covered by the Knife circa Shaking the Habitual, I imagine it would come pretty close to this. Lines Describing Circles is one of the standout albums of the year to my ears, electronic, experimental, or otherwise; it presents itself in a posture and vocabulary that immediately grabs your attention, and demands to be played at high volumes for full impact. This gets my absolute highest recommendation. [IQ]

$21.99 LP


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Anthology of American Folk Music Volumes 1-4
(Mississippi)

Originally released in 1952, Harry Smith's rural American folk collection is one of the most essential sets in all of modern recorded music, a deeply influential release that compiled a group of both famous and obscure artists performing nearly lost traditional songs that have gone on to pretty much define the legacy of traditional American music. If you have even a passing interest in folk, blues, gospel or country music, this should be your bible, and Mississippi is making this amazing music available again on LP, including both the original first three volumes released in '52 on Smithsonian Folkways, and the fourth volume that came out on Revenant a half-century later. Enough has been said about the Anthology of American Folk Music over the years that there is really nothing to add, except to say that it's as essential now as it ever was. (Buy each 2LP volume separately or save a few bucks if you purchase all four together!) [JM]

$149.99 VOL 1-4 8LP BUNDLE
$39.99 VOL 1 2LP
$39.99  VOL 2 2LP
$39.99 VOL 3 2LP
$39.99 VOL 4 2LP

 

JOHN CAGE
Early Electronic and Tape Music
(Sub Rosa)

Although his looming influence extends far beyond music and into the realms of art, poetry and painting, John Cage is perhaps the least understood and above all least heard of all 20th century American composers. Viewed as a radical philosopher-muse who broke aesthetic barriers by introducing non-musical elements such as extended silence ("4' 33" "), indeterminacy and chance, Cage's broader oeuvre is all too often deemed "impenetrable" by even those well versed in avant-garde music. Among Cage's most challenging works of the 1950s and '60s were electronic realizations, performed live with makeshift tools and recording technology of the day.

Early Electronic and Tape Music gathers six such Cage pieces in the loving hands of the Langham Research Centre, a UK-based new music troupe specializing in authentic re-creations of classic electronic compositions. Remaining steadfast to the tradition established by Cage collaborators such as David Tudor and Bebe and Louis Barron, LRC utilize open-reel tape machines, portable radios, turntables, and magnetic pickups, using them to coax all manner of noises, from high-frequency squeals and low-end rumbles to fleeting snippets of big band music and disembodied voices. While less adventurous ears and the otherwise Cage averse will likely want to pass over this collection, others with a fancy for electro-acoustic improvisation a la AMM or MEV, or a foothold in the noisier strains of free improvisation (Borbetomagus, Voice Crack), will have plenty of sonic grist to mill here. [DS]

$15.99 CD
$15.99 LP


THE BODY
I Shall Die Here
(RVNG Intl)

In a word: DAMN. The RVNG label deliver one of the finest, most surprising moments in their catalogue to date with this jaw-dropping work by the Body, an American sludgecore band who've collaborated with British noir producer the Haxan Cloak for I Shall Die Here. The resulting album is an unrelenting assault on the senses that blends thick droning bass weight, the piercing whine of feedback layers, clattering metallic percussive rattles and pummeling slow-crawl rhythms made with both live and machine drums. This is an absolutely EVIL record, certainly not for those with weak constitutions; if you find yourself digging the more avant extremes of the Southern Lord roster, the creeping noir-ish beats of the Downwards/Modern Love labels, and the sheer noise terror of the Hospital catalogue, this album effectively blends them all into one of 2014's most blistering heart attacks. Crank at your own risk... and I mean that in the BEST possible way!! [IQ]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$16.99 LP


WEN
Signals
(Keysound)

The Bristol-based Keysound label brings the ruckus once again, this time with the debut album from 22-year-old producer Owen "Wen" Darby. Using a tight fusion of grime and bass, Darby creates an open and swinging rhythmic frame designed for the dance floor. Yet it's his skills at chopping up grime MCs from the '90s and '00s that really brings out the flavor and freshness of his tracks. Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, and Trim are among the voices going under the digital knife, their rhymes being dissected and reused as loopy signposts within the bubbling and pulsing music.

At times it's like a more dance floor friendly version of early Burial, or a darker, moodier El-B, or a less heady Zomby. Wen's tracks fit nicely among the latest producers infiltrating and pushing the grime scene forward like label mates Logos and Beneath, or members of the Fade to Mind crew. Though not the same thing, Wen's energetic album is similar to Special Request's Soul Music from last year. Rave-fevered energy, pirate radio influences, and a steady and rolling set of rhythms make this one a winner for the warming weather, where layers are shed and sweat is unstoppable. A surprise hit for sure, and worthy of multiple rewinds; it might just be time to break out the air horns! [DG]

$17.99 CD
$24.99 2x12"


S. CAREY
Range of Light
(Jagjaguwar)

Sean Carey has been a key part of Bon Iver's sound since soon after Justin Vernon left that icebound freighter that spurred the recording of his influential debut (do I remember the story correctly?), and his knack for percussion, vocal and instrumental arrangements has helped shape the band's sound and success. His strengths have never been more clear than on the new Range of Light LP, a lush album that pays tribute to the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains in a loosely themed pastoral suite. Carey's songwriting and vocals are not what have found him his success, but he has grown in both respects here, and the record uses the template of artists like Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens and, of course, Bon Iver to orchestrate these lovely crystalline folk songs, with a number of great vocal and instrumental guests (including Vernon). Sure-footed and deeply accomplished, Range of Light lives up to its name and pedigree with a sparkling set. [JM]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$15.99 LP

also available

EVIAN CHRIST
Waterfall EP
(Tri Angle)

This UK producer/beatsmith on the rise follows-up his breakthrough 2012 mixtape, Kings and Them, and a high-profile production credit on Kanye West's Yeezus album, releasing the excellent Waterfall EP on Tri Angle. Across these four new tracks, Evian Christ (a/k/a Josh Leary) trades his earlier ambient collages for a more massive, beat-heavy approach with abrasive industrial textures reportedly inspired by influences like the Haxan Cloak and Vatican Shadow.

$12.99 12"


SMALL BLACK
Real People
(Jagjaguwar)

This new 12" from hypnagogic popsmiths Small Black picks up from where 2013's Limits of Desire left us. Like that full-length, these five songs were written with the live instrumentation of a full band in mind, which nicely fleshes out their synth-pop that's usually as danceable as it is dreamy. Features guest vocals from Frankie Rose on the title track and the ballad "Lines of Latitude," plus a cover of Blue Nile's "Downtown Lights."

$12.99 12"

now on cd

EFDEMIN
Decay
(Dial)

Efdemin (a/k/a Phillip Sollmann) has dropped a gorgeously unique album for us to sink our teeth and minds into, one of his absolute best yet. Recorded in his Berlin studio and completed in Kyoto while attending an artists residency for a forthcoming film project with Hanne Schwartz, Decay is unapologetically lean, tightly focused, warm and throbbing techno fraught with effortlessly elegant sound choices and an unhurried sense of development. These are tracks built for the club but with sound design and structure that is focused on distilling a unique moment -- a point of utter, introspection and clear focus. Turning away from expectations and squarely towards the dance floor, the sole maxim seems to be doing it precisely on his own terms. Sollmann has effectively brought techno that offers higher experience, as the tracks have a strange and wonderfully unique proportion of depth to energy: enough force to be qualified unquestionably as techno but with an uncluttered and non-soporific depth that still leaves room for thought. This, plus imagination-grabbing atmospheres aided by mysterious and distant drone elements, warm bass, earthy scrapes and the analog details and texture of contemporary club music, are tightly and thoughtfully woven without being strangulated while also being paced in a way that leaves room to breathe. While fans may argue that these qualities apply to most all of Sollmann's output, it must be said that the results found here are uniquely successful.

From the start, album opener "Some Kind of Up and Down Yes" makes the mission clear: a round, dry, assertive (yet softer than expected) bass kick, a lilting drone and a wet, almost-whistling hi-hat instantly yet gently drives our attention to the track at hand without doubt or hesitation. This uniquely gentle urgency continues with the rumbling "Drop Frame," the quietly massive "Transducer," and even the tropical Robert Hood meets M. Vainio of "Solaris." A dose of house elements arrives in "Track 93," with its vocal refrain of "I've got a love, love, love, right here..." but slowly and surely gains momentum. More familiar chime-laden Dial house comes in "Parallaxis," with its undulating bells and the stomping/snapping house of "The Meadow." These are at once beautifully colored swaths of deep techno, very visual in nature (almost suitable for framing!), but the sounds of Decay invariably hit the listener deep in the brain, (deep in the temporal lobe to be exact), eliciting pleasure and insight all at the same time. By album's end we are reminded to consider music with more than just our ears as we hear the repeating phrase "...music, touching music, touching muuuusic." Another top of the year record here. [SM]

$17.99 CD
$29.99 2LP


AXEMEN
Derry Legend
(Luxury Products)

As with their fantastic 39 Clocks reissue, Luxury Product once again live up to their name with a beautiful package on this LP, originally released on Flying Nun in 1989. Derry Legend was the second proper Axemen album and it is also the band's most immediate and coherent statement. Coherent is a pretty funny term to apply to this group, who always seemed to teeter on the brink of it and more often fell into chaos, but compared to their earlier work, the sprawling double album Three Virgins and earlier cassettes Scary Pt. III and Big Cheap Motel (all of which have been reissued by Siltbreeze over the past few years), Derry Legend is a perfectly distilled statement of all that the band was capable of. This is a record that shifts from off-kilter rock 'n' roll to Tin Pan Alley ballads to what is most likely New Zealand's first (and only?) anti-drug, conscious, rap/rock hybrid -- and all of this is even before you get to the track called "Human Hot Dogs!"

I've wracked my brain trying to think of any New Zealand bands that might have been the forbearers of such insanity and can't really come up with any. Surely there must have been some Captain Beefheart and Bonzo Dog Band records involved and there are a few moments, like on the album opener "Disc to Disk" and closer "Mourning of Youth," where they don't seem too far off from the sound that made Flying Nun famous. You get the sense that if they wanted to they could have made a classic LP in that mold, but thank god they didn't, as what they did make is far more unique and wonderful. If anything this record reminds me of a Kiwi version of Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert, as it embodies that same sort of free-spirited, devil-may-care attitude, and like that album the more you listen to it the better it sounds. [DMa]

$17.99 CD
$24.99 LP

vinyl back in stock

BECK
Morning Phase
(Capitol)

While it's been six years since his last proper full-length, Beck hasn't exactly been keeping quiet; he's produced and mixed a number of records for other artists, published a book of sheet music for other performers to read and interpret, and has even released a handful of excellent singles in the time between 2008's Modern Guilt and his new Morning Phase. While his last trio of albums were seemingly attempts to recapture the offbeat glory of his classic Odelay record (with varying degrees of success), it's those three self-released singles issued in 2013 that really showed a promising new context and maturity; they took his deft, DIY artiness and fused it with the more "accessible" strands of his folk troubadour DNA. While his new album unfortunately features none of those three gems, it taps more fully into that same acoustic songwriter stream. Morning Phase has repeatedly been called the "proper follow-up" to 2002's Sea Change, an epic downer of a breakup record that fused elements of Nick Drake's Bryter Layter, Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson, and his own One Foot in the Grave into a platter that displayed a maturity and sensitivity that Beck had only before hinted upon in fleeting moments.

It's a bit foolhardy to compare Morning Phase to Sea Change, though, in that the man was in two completely opposing emotional places of his life during the recording of each; Sea Change was a full-length lament at the sun setting on a shattered relationship, while Phase sees him facing the dawn with a wife and two young children. The overall atmosphere throughout this record is honestly even more twilit and shadowed than anything he's done before, but melodically and lyrically, he's climbing out of a hole, rubbing his eyes, and letting a bright wave of light wash over both him and the songs he's written here. Morning Phase shakes loose any of the emotional baggage or hesitant uneasiness that bogged down his previous acoustic material, and sees him at his most confident and beautiful vocally. The arrangements are also lush and subtly psychedelic, all slowly nudging tempos and grand, wide-open harmonic vistas. Where Sea Change was Beck shrugging his shoulders and accepting that his life was, from his perspective, completely fucked, Morning Phase is that same man looking back at that period and openly singing not only about how much of a jackass he was at that time, but boldly and humbly admitting that he's learned a great deal from his past mistakes. It stands as one of Beck's most breathtakingly gorgeous records, and continues to show how well he's now capable of songcraft without the crutches of winking pastiche. To think that this is the same person who once wrote "Satan Gave Me a Taco" and "Steve Threw Up" is simply astonishing. [IQ]

$13.99 CD
$23.99 LP+MP3


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1
(Sacred Bones)

Not to outdo themselves by digging out that Vex reissue from the clutches of collector antiquity, Sacred Bones offers up their own take on the whole bootleg compilation phenomena that swept through obscure punk, hardcore, garage and DIY discographies -- your Killed by Deaths, your Bloodstains Across. This one's fully legit, though, and has the curatorial touch of those who know their way around every last corner of '80s goth/punk, or "deathrock" as it was known in certain parts of the country with a bit higher elevation. All 11 tracks on Killed by Deathrock Vol. 1 do justice to the name: every song is fast, every song charges along to the pagan beat, to where you can nearly smell the cloves on your jacket. This thing is solid from one end to another, from the all-female haunt-stomp of Your Funeral's "I Want to Be You" to the absurd synth/cabaret tremors of Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons' "Liberty," to the wall of forlorn electronics and cape tricks of Screaming for Emily's darkly romantic "The Love." It's obvious that this entire compilation comes from a place of extreme fandom, but for once the obscurist angle works in the favor of the selections, which hold up their end of the bargain: if anything is deathrock, it's surely the material presented here. Excellent, ghoulish fun. [DM]

$14.99 CD
$15.99 LP

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