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APRIL 10, 2014

special announcement

RECORD STORE DAY 2014

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 - 10AM to 8PM

Other Music: 15 E. 4th St. New York, NY

Record Store Day 2014 is a just little over a week away and we wanted to remind all of our loyal customers to mark their calendars and join us for this great annual event. While you probably don't need a special holiday to show your support for your local record shop, RSD gives a plethora of extra reasons to dig through the racks, and in our bins you'll be sure to discover an incredible array of exclusive vinyl releases that is nothing short of amazing. Quantities are limited and there are no guarantees of what you'll find, but you can check out a rundown of all the RSD '14 titles here. Once again, we've invited our favorite DJs and artists to spin some of their favorite records in the shop all day long, along with a special performance from Lonnie Holley at 1 p.m. -- the line-up is listed below. Other Music will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. for RSD, and keeping in the spirit of Record Store Day, there are no advance orders, holds or reservations -- just come on down and enjoy the fun!

RECORD STORE DAY DJ LINE-UP
Pop. 1280 (11AM), Pete Swanson (12PM), Lonnie Holley (Performance, 1PM), Com Truise (2PM), Boonlorm (3PM), Xeno & Oaklander (4PM), Matana Roberts (5pm), Tito Deler (6PM)

upcoming in-store events

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!


COURTNEY BARNETT IN-STORE PERFORMANCE

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23 @ 7:30PM

Courtney Barnett's The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas received universal acclaim last fall and next Tuesday, the Australian songwriter's record will be re-released to a much wider audience via the Mom & Pop label. She'll be stopping by Other Music the following week on Wednesday evening, April 23, with her band to celebrate with an intimate in-store performance. It'll be her only live show in NYC during this trip, and due to demand, we can only guarantee entry to the first 75 people who pre-order the CD (sale-priced at $9.99 for the pre-order) or LP ($18.99) with us at the shop or on-line here -- one admission per purchase.

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Charles Cohen
Teebs
EMA
Todd Terje
Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks
Tweens
Mo Kolours
Anne-James Chaton
Ratking
Black Lips
Dean Wareham
White Hinterland
Woo
 

ALSO AVAILABLE

Squarepusher x Z-Machines
The Skull Defekts
The House of Love (5LP Box)
Lavender Country
CYNE
Inner City Beat (Various)
Rafter
Ortolan
Joan As Police Woman
Caetano Veloso (Abraçaço - Domestic)
Love's a Real Thing Vol. 3 (Back on Vinyl)
Sigur Ros (Von Back in Print)

announcements

WIN TICKETS TO WILLIAM TYLER

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

Union Pool: 484 Union Ave. Brooklyn
Facebook Event Page | Tickets

Nashville six- and 12-string virtuoso William Tyler's performances are as thrilling as they are gorgeous, and next Wednesday, April 16, he'll be returning to Union Pool with a great bill rounded out by Brooklyn duo Trummors, and Ryan Sawyer & Darius Jones. Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets and you can enter for a chance to win by emailing contest@othermusic.com.


WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS TICKET GIVE-AWAY

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

NYU Skirball: 566 LaGuardia Pl. New York, NY
Tickets Here

William Fitzsimmons' vivid, personal songwriting is often mentioned alongside talents like Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens, and on Wednesday, April 16, he'll be performing in support of his new album, Lions, at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts with Leif Vollebekk. We've got a pair of tickets to give away to this special night and to enter, just email giveaway@othermusic.com.


WIN BLACK LIPS TICKETS

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

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

With a great new album under their belts (and reviewed in this week's Update), Atlanta's always-rambunctious Black Lips bring their soulful garage-rock sounds to the big Webster Hall stage with Natural Child opening the night. Email enter@othermusic.com for your chance at a pair of tickets!

this week's update

CHARLES COHEN
A Retrospective
(Morphine)

This two-CD retrospective of elusive Philadelphia-based musician and composer Charles Cohen is, all hyperbole aside, a long overdue and essential treasure trove of his vintage recordings of analogue synthesis. Cohen is one of the few humans ever known to master the Buchla synthesizer, most specifically the Buchla Music Easel, and despite his preferences toward improvisation and live performance, the twenty-two pieces collected here offer a rare glimpse into the mind of a man who is so in tune with his machines, it is as though they breathe, move, speak, and live as an extension of himself. These pieces were primarily created for modern dance and film projects, and they pulsate with a kinetic energy that resonates even at their most abstract and abrasive. Much of the music throughout mirrors many contemporary innovations in Krautrock, techno, and dance musics, seldom leaning toward brainy obtusions in favor of more visceral urban shapes and patterns. The package also includes a thick booklet filled with photos and essays illuminating light upon a man who has long shied away from spotlighted attention. If you have ANY interest in electronic music as an active landscape of listening, this is pretty much damn near essential, folks. I can't get any more severe in my recommendation than that. [IQ]

$26.99 2CD


TEEBS
E S T A R A
(Brainfeeder)

The first release of the year from Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint is the sophomore full-length from the low-key producer (and painter), Mtendere "Teebs" Mandowa. Continuing in a similar vein to his 2010 debut, Ardour, E S T A R A is another slow-burning collection of autumnal beats and pastoral chords. I was a big fan of the first record, which felt like a natural extension of FlyLo's ambient moments and the playful, sunlit productions of Prefuse 73, and this new album feels like both -- only a little less and a little more. Much like his watercolor, chalk, ink, and collage paintings, the music of Teebs is a blend of soft-focus melodies and subdued rhythms, framed with smooth edges, and glowing with both vibrant and hazy coloring.

Like a walk in a blossoming garden filled with sunflowers and lavender, Teebs' songs are warm, fragrant, and based in the ethereal and precious. Using a combination of field recordings, acoustic instrumentation, and electronics, he paints a soundtrack that echoes the SoCal beat scene of the last few years, yet also looks beyond the valley into the hills and beaches resulting in music that could be called post-post-rock. It's an earthy yet electronic hybrid that at times is so blissful and pretty that it almost sinks into the background, like a sonic frame for his handmade imagery. Where his debut was mainly a solo affair, here he welcomes a few likeminded artists into his mellow vibe; Prefuse 73 (whom Teebs collabs with under the name Sons of the Morning), Lars Horntveth from Jaga Jazzist, Jonti, and Populous all add some nice additions to the billowing bouquet of sounds and textures. Fans of Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, and any of the above mentioned will find lots to chill out to here as well. [DG]

$14.99 CD
$29.99 2LP+MP3


EMA
The Future's Void
(Matador)

I was nervous when listening to this record for the first time. Though Erika M. Anderson had certainly rattled the indie world with her deeply introspective and heart-wrenching debut, there was something about Past Life Martyred Saints that struck a particularly deep nerve in me, and my expectations for the follow-up were high. EMA's first album was simply a flawless self-portrait that never tried too hard, or failed to show Anderson's dark, complex web of passions. Little did I realize that The Future's Void would do all the same and more, at a much, much heavier level. At every turn, there's a sci-fi mystery, an irate diatribe, and/or a trembling remark on the digital age. EMA turns out completely, focusing less on herself, and more on the volatile world around her, through a very industrial lens. From the unsettling grandeur of opener "Satellites," it's clear there are no more hints of a singer-songwriter here. While none of the lyrics stand out as much as, say, "Fuck California...you made me boring," the sheer gravity of the production and similarly robust vocals make up for any losses. A distorted Anderson screeches with disdain about people who are "SAAOO BLONDE!!" -- she's allowed to, she's a blonde herself -- over heavy riffs on the album's second single and obvious highlight ("So Blonde").

That said, the core tracks that epitomize The Future's Void and all its punky rage come in a trio of "Cthulu," "Smoulder" and "Neuromancer." The calmer songs, the outliers on the album (namely, "When She Comes" and "3Jane") still justify their value through bittersweet hooks and the stripped beauty that was everywhere on Anderson's debut. As to whether this generally brash sounding record fits EMA's persona better than her prior undecorated bluntness, it's hard to say; regardless, the mere fact that she can create an album that's quite comparable to its predecessor is a feat within itself. One of the most honest artists today has returned with yet another great piece of art, and this time, it gets really intense. [MM]

First 40 people to purchase EMA's new album on CD or LP at Other Music will get a free ticket to a special release show at Brooklyn's Union Pool this Friday, 4/11.

$13.99 CD
$18.99 LP
$9.99 CASSETTE

TODD TERJE
It's Album Time
(Olsen)

A few weeks ago at a party, a friend of mine -- a music critic -- put on a record. As the opening strains of what I would later realize was "Leisure Suit Preben" filtered through the laughter and clatter of clinking glasses, my ears honed in. It sounded very analog. Very soundtrack-y. But it didn't sound particularly new. My first thought was that it reminded me of classic '70s sound library music (think Bruton, De Wolfe, Rouge), all harpsichords and vibraphones. "What's this?" I asked. "Guess. I'll give you a hint," he offered. "It's a very eagerly awaited album," he informed me with a grin, relishing the suspense.

Minutes later, spangly synth arpeggios were floating over the din. And the harpsichord-led melodic motifs continued. What was this? If someone told me it ("Preben Goes to Acapulco") was a lost track from Barry White's brilliant arranger Gene Page, I wouldn't have been entirely surprised. But those melodies. I was sure it wasn't Morricone or any of the countless other Italian soundtrackists who did their best to mimic him. But there was something very... "Euro". Still, placing this in the current landscape was, without any context, a bit confounding. Soon, things were getting proggy. A synth solo took off, strings swelled. The chord progressions were going a bit... jazz fusion. The kind of stuff Daft Punk were clearly paying homage to in Random Access Memories. The next song was a detour -- "Svensk Sås," a cheeky take on salsa that could soundtrack an episode of... a show I'd rather not mention. The fact that it consists entirely of samples of scat singing -- impressive as that might seem and unknown to me then -- does nothing to make this track more appealing.

Finally, my grappling ended moments later, as the opening bass line of "Strandbar" hit. Of course! Todd Terje. Still, that it took four tracks and fourteen minutes to figure it out says something about what this Norwegian DJ/producer/songwriter is up to on It's Album Time. Terje has used this opportunity to show what he can do. Even more so than countryman Lindstrom, Terje has been able to cross over from the world of Cosmic Dance to the world of Pop. His It's the Arps EP and Strandbar were heard all around the globe -- and not just in clubs -- in coffee shops, boutiques and living rooms. In the process, he's become the poster child for Balearic, that ever-mysterious sound and feeling, hard to pin down for some, easily sensed by others. (Let's just say Balearic combines disco revivalism with that 5 a.m. feeling that blends the aesthetic of Fleetwood Mac, Italo and breezy jazzy soundtrack excursions once thought to be very uncool.) [AGe] Read more

$11.99 CD
$24.99 2LP+MP3


AVEY TARE'S SLASHER FLICKS
Enter the Slasher House
(Domino)

Animal Collective frontman (and Other Music alumni) Avey Tare has a way of tearing up expectations when it comes to his solo efforts. For his duo album with now ex-wife Kria Brekken, Tare literally turned the record inside out, every song playing backwards. And with 2010's Down There, Tare repurposed the visceral tones and textures of dubstep for something as confessional as a singer-songwriter album. With his new trio Slasher Flicks (with former members of Dirty Projectors and Ponytail on board), Avey Tare now applies the density of AnCo's Centipede Hz to '60s garage-rock. It's a strange hybrid, but it works. The keyboard playing of Angel Deradoorian conjures tones like something from a horror film or a Uruguay psych-rock single while drummer Jeremy Hyman gives everything a powerful pulse, allowing plenty of space for Tare and his telltale screeches and distorted yelps. Slasher House finds Tare and crew at their most pop (see the first ear worm single, "Little Fang") and most oblique, giving AnCo fans plenty to unpack. [AB]

$13.99 CD
$23.99 2LP+MP3


TWEENS
Tweens
(Frenchkiss)

Cincinnati's newest export Tweens seemingly came out of nowhere fully formed, a trio with enough gusto and raw realness to persuade any non-believers in the merits of good ol' fashioned rock n' roll. Tweens are a solid unit of three talented players, and singer Bridget Battle's electrifying, gritty and soulful delivery harkens back to girl groups like the Crystals or the Tammys, but is clearly filtered through a nostalgic Courtney Love meets Kathleen Hanna post-riot grrrl intensity.

Forever is a great album, full of hooks, instrumental passages, plenty of distortion, and excellent pop-punk songs you'll be humming for days. Opener "Bored in This City" kicks off in a Ramones-ian blaze, with BB proclaiming "This town/It's eating me alive" over and over again. Here, and elsewhere on the record, she truly sounds pissed and convinced that there's a whole world outside their Ohio hometown worth experiencing. And the entire album echoes this sentiment with passionate conviction in the form of short blasts of pop perfection. "Forever" is like a tougher, less narcissistic Dum Dum Girls while "Wait Up for Me" plays like a perfect Donnas meets Exploding Hearts garage banger. "Be Mean," the album's proper single, is a true pop hit in the classic sense that it drives the chorus so deliriously straight to your dome you may start to feel dizzy. Whichever way you cut it, this record has SUMMER written all over it, and will most definitely soundtrack first crushes, rooftop parties, and beach cruises in your friend's car for years to come. Get it! [RN]

$11.99 CD
$14.99 LP+MP3


MO KOLOURS
Mo Kolours
(One-Handed Music)

One artist who has been on my underground radar for the last few years has been this half-Mauritian/half-English producer, singer and percussionist, Joseph Deenamode, a/k/a Mo Kolours. He's has been putting out some nice EPs via his Bandcamp page, and limited pressings through the London-based One-Handed Music label (Bullion, Paul White), and this new full-length LP showcases many of his skills in fine style. The self-titled release is a nicely balanced effort that moves from soulful and playful vocals to bump-n-thump instrumentals with a few samples worked into the mix, giving the whole thing a fun mix-tape feel. He's obviously a lover of soul music, and a crate digger, yet his vibe and charm come from how he blends that love of American music with his own ancestral home's rhythms known as sega.

As a one-man band, he layers samples of himself playing various percussion, with his chosen loops fusing elements of dub, soul, hip-hop, and down-tempo, with touches of African and Caribbean sounds echoing throughout that nicely accent his short jams. I hear lots of references in his music, in such a refreshing way. If you blended the soulful side of J-Dilla or Moodymann with the smoky vibes of Lee Perry, the international outsider DIY pop of Jai Paul and Gonjasufi, added the future soul of Sa-Ra, and the organics of early A Tribe Called Quest, you would end up with something like this. Yet Mo Kolours approach is so authentic, and it's nice to hear an artist mix up styles and influences with such a playful spirit. On Bandcamp he asks his audience to pay what they want for digital versions of his tracks, and I give him credit for that, yet the vinyl sounds so good, and it's nice to actually hold one of his recordings. Natural, organic, fun, soulful, smoky, vibey, and just really nice. What more could you ask for? [DG]

$22.99 LP


ANNE-JAMES CHATON
Decade
(Raster-Noton)

Decade is the newest dispatch from French writer and sound poet Anne-James Chaton, one of the leading lights in pushing the concepts of concrete sound poetry forward into contemporary mindsets. His aural documents of seemingly mundane life events take shockingly banal actions and/or phrases and give them crushing weight, either through punishing manipulation via cut-up loops of words into stuttering glottal rhythms or his cold, robotic tickertape recitation of a person's every movement. This particular project began as a series of live performances with Alva Noto's Carsten Nicolai and guitarist Andy Moor of Dutch punks the Ex; as Chaton delivers the texts (all fully documented in Decade's accompanying book), Nicolai and Moor create slowly shifting environments around and underneath him, sometimes providing a blanket with which to drape the multilingual texts, while sometimes acting in a point/counterpoint fashion.

Though it begins quite glacially, overall the album is quite stunning -- at times one is reminded of Kraftwerk's robotic delivery, then suddenly the mood shifts into something like Suicide as fronted by a European relative of Robert Ashley, another brilliant composer and writer who helped sew the conceptual seeds for the works being explored throughout Decade. Moor's guitar is notably versatile, shifting textures and tones effortlessly throughout, while Nicolai keeps a pulse and prunes the landscape wherever necessary. All in all, it's one of the more challenging and yet rewarding releases in Raster-Noton's catalogue, and those interested in concepts of vocal and textual manipulation, electronic performance art, and a more overtly vocal approach to minimalist techno all should give this a listen. Chaton's work is a personal favorite of mine, and this release does NOT disappoint. [IQ]

$32.99 CD/BK

RATKING
So It Goes
(XL Recordings)

 Gone is the New York that birthed Biggie and 2Pac; young people will always have their own idols, perspectives, and stories. New XL signing Ratking is no different, and though they have been billed as the second coming of the Beastie Boys, this trio reminds me more of Company Flow. As the Beasties had Rick Rubin, and Co-FLow had El-P, Ratking have enlisted Jay-Z's Young Guru to record and mix the production of in-house beat maker Sporting Life. The resulting album, So It Goes, sits alongside their contemporaries Odd Future, A$AP Rocky, or even Death Grips as the next upstarts within the skate-rap world.

With a history in hardcore and punk, they can create mosh pit energy pretty easily, yet it's the more subtle moments throughout that are most interesting to me. The sound of the album is vibrant and SUV-ready, with lots of nods to dubstep, modern electronica, and various splinter cells within hip-hop (trap, cloud, ratchet, dipset), with songs full of a deep bass bottom, spinning hi-hats, scratchy snare, choppy samples, bouncing rhythms, and slow-rolling rumbles, all with swirling synths and sci-fi noises. Tracks like "Eat," "Protein," "Snow Beach," and even the King Krule-assisted single "So Sick Stories" bring something worth talking about. But to my ears, there are also some questionable choices, like the hip-house throwback "Puerto Rican Judo." (Sure I get it, but really?) In contrast, there's album stand-out "Remove Ya," which speaks on the city's stop and search policies -- though every rapper doesn't have to be political, it's nice when you can relate to the subject matter.

On top of the thick production, the lead MC, Wiki, comes off like a mix of Yelawolf and Eminem, delivering speedy rhymes for days. Skills are not a question, and the record is filled with some nice moments, yet those are mostly in the instrumentation or when the chorus opens up an otherwise dense song. The other vocalist, Hak, can deliver a welcome change in an overall heavy and dizzy album, and he seems to ground it in something real rather than a just an accomplished technical style, but I wish we heard more of him throughout. So yeah, the jury is still out on if Ratking are the next big thing in hip-hop, but they are definitely the voice of those kids in hoodies hurdling down the avenues on four wheels and a board, and I'm glad to see they found a platform to show their skills. Now whether they will be the face of the next generation of New York hip-hop, only time will tell. [DG]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$19.99 LP


BLACK LIPS
Underneath the Rainbow
(Vice)
 

If you ever had any doubts, be sure that the latest Black Lips record markedly cements their ramshackle rockin' soul sound as entirely their own. Trading the fancy Mark Ronson production of 2011's Arabia Mountain for more concise songwriting, the Atlanta group covers everything from '50s rockabilly to '60s pop moves and fried basement punk. Whereas their early albums relied on blown-out lo-fidelity recording, Underneath the Rainbow has a lot of room to breathe and thanks to the great production from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney and Tommy Brenneck of the Dap-Kings, the sonic palette feels fresh. Opener "Drive-By Buddy" twangs in via a punked-up Hank Williams-meets-Range Rats drawl and trails off with heavy guitar and organ trading lines. Two hook-filled poppy punk songs follow and then by the fourth track, "Funny," the album really starts chuggin', with psychedelic synth lines swirling atop the Stooge-y gallop of the tune. One also can't help but hear the country rockin' influences throughout the record, bringing to mind everything from the Knitters to Scud Mountain Boys, and early Mekons to Veterans-era Royal Trux. Totally energetic, catchy and pumped up, this is classic Black Lips turned upside down and we love it! [RN]

$13.99 CD
$19.99 LP


DEAN WAREHAM
Dean Wareham
(Double Feature)

After fronting a number of highly influential and lasting groups who helped change the landscapes of guitar pop for close to thirty years, Dean Wareham -- of Galaxie 500, Luna, and Dean & Britta -- finally delivers a proper solo album, and it sounds as though he's taken all of those years of experience and folded them back in on themselves via these nine beautiful songs. The lush production by Jim James of My Morning Jacket helps blanket this music in a womblike warmth that only accentuates Wareham's long-running penchant for dreamy introspection and sharp-eyed observation. Many of these songs seem to reference subjects of a seemingly personal nature, though lyrically he's still as simultaneously oblique and vivid as ever. What's perhaps most welcome (and surprising) is the way the album sonically references nearly everything Wareham has explored throughout his creative life, effectively fusing together the droning romanticism of Galaxie 500, the more sharp-edged and neon-lit post-Tom Verlaine guitar work of Luna, and the culturally erudite cosmopolitan pop of Dean & Britta into something both warmly familiar yet freshly surprising. Wareham's voice is also in fine form throughout, and overall, it's not so much a return to form as a confident declaration that after all he's seen and done, Dean has still got stories to tell with humdinger surprise endings. Kudos to him for this wonderful record. [IQ]

$13.99 CD
$18.99 LP+MP3


WHITE HINTERLAND
Baby
(Dead Oceans)

Opening with an intense, hold-your-breath a cappella track ("Circle the block, in my car/ Gotta keep it down, the world is so full of noise"), Casey Dienel instantly sets the tone for White Hinterland's stark new record. After a minute or so, a swaying classical piano line helps lighten the mood, but throughout this collection of soulful avant pop, Dienel rarely softens her focus. Essentially a shifting solo project, each White Hinterland album has come with its own set of sonic parameters, and for Baby, Dienel learned ProTools and built a studio in her parents' basement, stripped both her emotions and her production bare, and hit the record button. The early Laura Nyro comparisons have waned, and the haze on 2010's Kairos has fully lifted, leaving in its stead a mix of jazz and classical-infused pop and lurching funk that nods to Dirty Projectors, tUnE-yArDs, or Solange, pushing boundaries while rarely forgetting the groove for too long. The lyrics can be raw and emotional, but moreover the performances are, and there is a palpable feeling throughout of Dienel, alone in her parents' seaside Massachusetts home, crafting this music in near-isolation. There are multi-tracked vocal swells, pristine instrumental orchestrations and a healthy dose of throbbing nu R&B, but in the end, its real power lies in Casey Dienel, singing her heart out. [JM]

WIN TICKETS TO WHITE HINTERLAND & S. CAREY
Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets to see White Hinterland and S. Carey next Wednesday, April 16, at NYC's Le Poisson Rouge. Email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win!

 

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$15.99 LP


WOO
When the Past Arrives
(Drag City)

Over the past 30 odd years, British duo Woo have been a gentle secret, kept close to a small but devoted group of record lovers' hearts. Clive and Mark Ives started recording their music in the early '80s. Throughout that decade and into the '90s, the duo pursued a lovely and uniquely strange aesthetic of ambient minimalism that is as unserious as that description usually sounds. Their catalog, until recently mostly out of print, meant that the group's listenership was bound to those who already knew about them. In recent times, however, their music has become commercially available again. Last year saw the reissue of their debut 1981 album -- and their masterpiece, in this writer's opinion -- Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong (reissued by UK label Emotional Response) and 1990's It's Cozy Inside (reissued by Drag City). Interest in Woo's music seems only to be building. And deservedly so.

The Brothers Ives often gain comparisons to Cluster and the Durutti Column. And while those comparisons, especially the former, are apt -- I'd add Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Basil Kirchin, Robert Wyatt, sound library music and certainly Eno's more pastoral side -- the way the group combines gently plucked acoustic instruments (acoustic guitar, clarinet, rhythm box, singing bowls, pixie phone) with synthesizers to create their airy, impressionistic mood results in something altogether unique. Their use of acoustic instruments does lend an air of old-timeyness -- though it is nothing like what that adjective usually denotes -- that is strangely futuristic, out of place, out of time, and yet, somehow timeless. Like a folk music that belongs to no particular region or peoples.

Woo's music never nears the skeletal emotional tenor of Durutti Column but, certainly, like Durutti Column, there is an outsider-ly quality present. A willingness to go into terrain others might find too ephemeral, too soft, too earnest. It harks back to that moment when the UK post-punk scene discovered "World Music," inventing a new strain in the process. In fact, the group's quiet sound is in great part due to their nighttime recording hours and a very sensitive neighbor. Of course, this has much to do with why their music is special. Like the title It's Cozy Inside, Woo's music has a safe, contented, domestic quality, the kind of music your mother might find soothing. It wouldn't be out of place as the soundtrack to a vegetarian restaurant in Northern California, or a New Age shop in Santa Fe (yes, there is a song here -- and it's a good one -- titled "Om Shanti"). And yet there is something captivating here that so much of that kind of music typically lacks. [AGe] Read more

$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP

also available

SQUAREPUSHER X Z-MACHINES
Music for Robots
(Warp)

Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson has never been one to shy away from subversion, and his latest release for Warp takes that to new levels. Music for Robots is just that: an EP allegedly written for and recorded by Japanese robotic performers able to display a technical dexterity and virtuosity unreachable by human counterparts. Squarepusher's music has always been known for its knotted, complex obtusion, so the pairing may not be such a surprise; what is surprising, though, is the level of melodicism displayed throughout these five pieces. While it doesn't really break any new ground for the man, it's a lovely and offbeat work in the catalogue of an artist who has recorded nothing but that sort of thing; its true oddity lies in the romanticism he attempts to inject into these machines' programming. Fascinating stuff.

$11.99 CD
$15.99 12" EP+MP3


THE SKULL DEFEKTS
Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown
(Thrill Jockey)

Hailing from Sweden's experimental underground, the past few albums have seen the Skull Defekts moving away from the brutal noisy drones, electronics and ritualism of their earlier works and into more of a rock territory, albeit it's far from straightforward. Just as surprising was the arrival of Daniel Higgs who took over vocal duties for 2011's excellent Peer Amid and is back again for Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown. The Lungfish singer delivers his mystical, surreal musings like a growling shaman and once again it proves to be a perfect match for the band's dense, wiry guitars and plodding tribal rhythms. The results are often as thrilling as they are hypnotic.

$16.99 CD
$18.99 LP


THE HOUSE OF LOVE
The House of Love Deluxe Vinyl Edition Box Set
(Optic Nerve)

This beautiful box set collects the entire Creation Records output of this splendid yet under-regarded UK group, including the band's lone Creation album, all of their singles, as well as a wealth of unreleased, live, and demo cuts. The House of Love's 1988 Creation full-length remains one of the shining lights in the group's catalogue, and their dreamy, sensual, introspective psychedelic songs rival the other British greats of the era without question -- any fan of the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and the Stone Roses really needs this in their collection. This box captures the band at their absolute peak, and includes every delicious note they recorded during the era.

$119.99 5LP Box Set


LAVENDER COUNTRY
Lavender Country
(Paradise of Bachelors)

This reissue of Lavender Country's 1973 eponymous album carries with it a heavy sociopolitical importance, as it is believed to be the first openly homosexual document in the country music community. While it's perhaps impossible to discuss the record without addressing its content and context, its songs and musical arrangements are stunning as well. Powerful documents of the injustices of the homosexual community at the turn of the '70s, frontman Patrick Haggerty takes the tried and true ingredients of one of the nation's most notoriously conservative songforms and wholly subverts and inverts them, balancing lush western waltzes with pointed lyrics that are both devastatingly forward and winkingly wry. That the album still brings about such disclaimers and discussion shows that we still have a long way to go socially, but this record stands on its own two legs both musically AND politically, its message as important and powerful as ever.

$10.99 CD ON SALE


CYNE
All My Angles Are Right
(Hometapes)

These Gainesville, FL hip-hop stalwarts are back with their first new album in five years, and one less member, as emcee Akin Yai is off to pursue a solo career. There's no slacking however; Cise Star's wordflow is as tricky and tight as ever and beatsmiths Enoch and Speck are at the top of their game here, their crisp, original productions all funky and jazzy before taking a few unexpected darker turns.

$11.99 CD
$19.99 LP


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Inner City Beat: Detective Themes, Spy Music and Imaginary Thrillers
(Soul Jazz)

Soul Jazz's new Inner City Beat collection features a heavy dose of British library music themes from assorted spy and crime-related albums from the KPM, DeWolfe, and Conroy music libraries. Breakbeat-laden funk etudes, groovy jazz workouts, and tense orchestral interludes are the order of the day on this set, featuring a serious dose of seldom-heard soundtracks for personal espionage!

$22.99 CD
$28.99 2LP


RAFTER
It's Reggae
(Asthmatic Kitty)

San Diego indie mainstay Robert Rafter has taken so many musical detours over the years, he's pretty much forgotten where the main road is at this point. That said, it comes as no surprise that this self-aware exploration of dub reggae is every bit as enjoyable as it was ill advised. Rafter basically drafted a love letter to classic Jamaican dub, from the riddems to the swaying melodies to the tripped-out dubs, crazy artwork and positive vibrations. He adds little to the genre, but he's not really taking anything away either, he's just riding this wave through a dozen sun-drenched instrumentals.

$13.99 CD
$14.99 LP


ORTOLAN
Covered in Black
(Sounds Familyre)

The Cottingham sisters were still in their teens when they hooked up with Daniel Smith (of the Danielson Family, and the Sounds Familyre label), and recorded 2010's Time on a String. Now a few years older, with quite a bit more experience to work with, the group's second full-length shows admirable growth and maturity in both the songwriting and the performances, without losing the exuberant, unvarnished approach that set them apart. It's simple folk-pop built around playful melodies and Stephanie Cottingham's lovely singing (and her sisters' sweet harmonies), one part Everly Brothers' strummy innocence, one part twee-pop joyfulness, with a sense of real emotion that is embracing.

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$17.99 LP


JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN
The Classic
(Play It Again Sam) )

Joan Wasser's Joan As Police Woman project has always trucked in some version of soul music, albeit a pretty punked-up version, at least in the early days. Yet after exploring different collaborators and production aesthetics over the years, Wasser has settled here on a pretty straight-up homage to classic '70s R&B, with tight, driving rhythms, punchy horns and finger-snapping choruses that owe as much to Aretha and Marvin as anything going today. It's not really a meticulous genre recreation, a la Daptone, but rather a joyful tribute to these classic records that slyly updates the template with allusions to more modern R&B, while never losing the vintage analog sound.

$13.99 CD
$22.99 2LP+CD

domestic pressing

CAETANO VELOSO
Abraçaço
(Nonesuch)

The last decade has seen iconic Brazilian songwriter, vocalist, and composer Caetano Veloso returning to the daring, experimental nature of rock-infused material that elevated his profile from a post-bossa singer into a politically charged, controversial figure in South American popular culture. He has, at this point in his career, earned carte blanche to essentially make whatever the hell kind of album he damn well chooses; after quite a few years playing it safe in large concert halls to respectable crowds, it's wonderful to hear Veloso infusing his records with a sharp, electric sound that fuses together his love of bossa nova and maracatu with art-school punk minimalism. The songs ably balance the taut rhythmic drive of Wire with the gentle relaxed tenor of Veloso's hero Joao Gilberto, and as crazy as that combination may sound, it's absolutely gorgeous and riveting coming out of the speakers. It is easily Veloso's best album in years -- possibly since 1989's Estrangiero, his collaboration with Arto Lindsay and Peter Scherer of the Ambitious Lovers. This is an altogether more relaxed and casual affair than some of its recent predecessors, however, feeling less forced than Ce or Zil E Zie. It is one where a master is making music purely for pleasure, and we have the fortunate position of learning from a man who has singularly lived a creative life filled with more twists, turns, triumphs, and tribulations than a dozen of his peers combined. [IQ]

$17.99 CD

vinyl back in print

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Love's a Real Thing: World Psychedelic Classics 3
(Luaka Bop)

Finally, back in print on wax! An awesome collection of Technicolor funk from mother Africa, however, don't buy this comp expecting to hear Os Mutantes/Sgt. Peppers'-style mindbenders. The selections are a bit more fuzzy, driving and loose like Chambers Brothers, Equals or early Sly. Some of the standout tracks are Manu Dibango's instrumental vibe chiller "Keleya," William Onyeabor's socio-political workout "You Better Change Your Mind," and the heavy Hendrix style funk of Ofo & the Black Co.'s "Allah Wakburr." [DH]

$23.99 2LP

back in print

SIGUR ROS
Von
(XL Recordings)

The first album from Iceland's Sigur Ros is back in print. Even though it was recorded while they were a trio, 1997's Von fans the flame of the dynamic orchestral sound made popular by Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai. Their sparse soundscapes, soaked in My Bloody Valentine reverb, ignite images of the land of fire and ice and seem directly inspired by the environmental extremes of their homeland. The beginning ambient notes float eerily like glacial drift slowly falling apart, accented by warped seagull cries. It's not until the second song that Jonsi's high male vocals gently fade in to subtly carry the melody. By the third song, "Hun Jord," the traditional instruments carry the mark of mid-'80s experimental pop bands with pounding drums, distorted guitars, and the best part: an unexpected loop, creating the effects of skipping CDs and pitch-shifted vinyl. More quiet experimentalism characterizes this album than their later work, making Von a primeval journey into a groundbreaking future. [LG]

$13.99 CD

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