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March 12, 2015

record store day 2015

With Record Store Day 2015 landing on Saturday, April 18, we're just a little over a month out from what is always the favorite day of the year for vinyl collectors and music lovers. The upcoming list of limited RSD releases has just been revealed and it's impressive, with 592 exclusive titles being pressed for this one day only -- check out a full rundown of the RSD '15 releases here. Keeping in the spirit of Record Store Day, Other Music will not be taking advance orders, holds or reservations -- just save the date and plan on coming down to the store to join in on the fun! We'll be announcing more details about RSD store hours, events, and more in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Broadcast (LP Reissues)
Palmbomen II
Gaussian Curve
Matthew E. White
Dick Diver
Andrea Schiavelli
Will Butler
The Staple Singers
Ikue Mori
Emerald Web
Studio One Jump-Up (Various)
Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band
Buddha Machine 5
 

AVAILABLE ON VINYL

D'Angelo (Black Messiah)
 

PRE-ORDER

  Modest Mouse (New album w/ LTD 7")


 

announcements

TWERPS TICKET GIVEAWAY

SATURDAY, MARCH 14

Mercury Lounge: 217 E. Houston St. NYC  

We recently called Twerps' new album, Range Anxiety, a "new indie-pop classic" in our Update and this weekend this great Australian band will be in town to play a couple of shows. On Saturday, March 14, you can catch them at Mercury Lounge, headlining an excellent bill that includes Ultimate Painting and EZTV. Other Music has a pair of tickets to give away, and for your chance to win, just email enter@othermusic.com.


WIN MAX RICHTER TICKETS

MARCH 25 & 26

Le Poisson Rouge: 158 Bleecker St. NYC

Presented by Wordless Music and Le Poisson Rouge, Max Richter will be in NYC later this month, performing two nights at LPR. On Wednesday, March 25, the classically trained composer/programmer will be presenting The Leftovers and his Infra album from 2010, and on the following evening audience members will be treated to a now sold-out performance of 2002's Memoryhouse and Songs from Before and Infra; American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) will also be playing both nights. Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets to one of the concerts, with the winner choosing the evening they'd like to attend. Email tickets@othermusic.com for your chance to win.

this week's update

BROADCAST
Work and Non Work
The Noise Made by People
HaHa Sound
Tender Buttons
The Future Crayon
Broadcast & Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio
(Warp)

It's impossible to overstate the importance of Broadcast, either within Other Music itself or on the greater pop landscape around us. For those of you who are regular customers and devoted readers of the Update, you already know that our praise and admiration for this Birmingham, England psychedelic duo knows no bounds. Over the course of five albums, two compilations and a smattering of singles, Broadcast charted a new course that was sonically daring and emotionally resonant -- in doing so, they exhausted our arsenal of hyperbolic adjectives. Maybe you, like me, fondly recall Sunday afternoons listening to Tender Buttons while light rain drummed down on East 4th Street, watching customers fold their umbrellas and drop them into the green plastic bucket by the front door. Or maybe you, like me, remember feeling transported while hearing the chiming keys and cavernous drums on Extended Play Two for the first time. And maybe you, like me, also feel a pang of sorrow knowing that Trish Keenan's tragic death as the result of pneumonia in 2011 extinguished Broadcast's flame forever.

The band spent nearly its entire recorded career with Warp Records, who have finally listened to our fevered bedtime prayers and reissued all of Broadcast's brilliant albums and their two essential odds and sods collections on vinyl. Beginning with 2000's The Noise Made by People and ending with the decidedly disorienting trip of 2009's Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (2013's posthumously released film score to Berberian Sound Studio has remained in print), the group constructed a sound and atmosphere that was simultaneously retro-futuristic and seemingly for all time. Synthesizers and ring modulators and all manner of analog wizardry are a clear and taut thread that stretches back to the band's primary influence, the pioneering psychedelic electro-rock sextet, the United States of America. Vibraphones and flutes imbue a jet-set jazz age cool over Broadcast's sound, and even though these records feature some of this century's most innovative and buoyant drumming, it would all just be space age bachelor pad music without Keenan's vocals. "Dreamy" is often the word used to describe her singing, but it would be more appropriate to say that her voice inspires and induces a dream state -- drifting and ethereal, at once forever-reaching and gone in a flash.

It's impossible to recommend only one or two of these albums, but perhaps the best place to start is the beginning, with Work and Non Work, a compilation that collects the band's first singles in one place. Broadcast appeared fully formed and luminous, and the proof is contained in those first sashaying pulses of "Accidentals," the light keys giving way to Keenan's voice before floating up into the stars that she often sang about, so convincingly that it was almost possible to reach out and brush them. [MS]

$24.99-$26.99 LP+MP3


PALMBOMEN II
Palmbomen II
(Beats in Space)

New from Tim Sweeney's Beats in Space imprint comes this full-length from Dutch producer Kai Hugo. Not to be confused with his collaborative Palmbomen project, the self-titled album from his Palmbomen II solo guise was recorded last summer in his hometown of Breda. Setting up a studio in the attic of his mother's house, Hugo surrounded himself with all sorts of vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and music gear, and went to work creating these playful melodies. During this time, Hugo also started binge watching The X-Files, and you can hear how the show's score began to inform these drifting and soothingly haunting synth lines; subsequently, each track on the album would be named after a character on the series.

Hugo doesn't sacrifice a good groove for his paranormal fascination, however, and this hour-long journey is chock full of spacey synths, clunky driving drums and lots of other sonic treats, with an intuitive sense of live improvisation emanating through the warm, direct-to-tape ambiance and the boxy sound of hardware. There are also times that I can hear the influences of Larry Heard's melodic new age house, the Balearic beats of A Certain Ratio, Maximilian Dunbar's analog boogie, and Krautrock's rolling psychedelia a lá Cluster or Roedelius, not to mention the loose-limbed, cosmic beauty of Hieroglyphic Being. All said, it's nice when an album you know nothing about surprises you with its laid-back vibe, inviting atmosphere, layers of weaving rhythms, and a "Human x Hardware" approach. If any of the above descriptors intrigue you, this is a little gem of a record that shines in its simplicity. As Hugo puts it himself, "Program the rhythms, arrange the harmonies, play these together, and record to tape. That's it." [DG]

$13.99 CD

GAUSSIAN CURVE
Clouds
(Music from Memory)

A major new transmission from the excellent Music from Memory label based in Amsterdam. The first contemporary artist that the otherwise archival cabal has released, Gaussian Curve's Clouds sounds stunningly timeless, as if it could have been recorded pretty much any time between 1974 and the present. This new group is fronted by elder statesman of ambient, Gigi Masin, whose Talk to the Sea collection was featured on almost all of our staff's Best of 2014 lists. Masin, an Italian composer, started recording in the early '80s, crafting deep, soulful, Balearic, mostly "ambient" electronic music existing in the same realm as Jon Hassell, Harold Budd, Cluster, and Talk Talk, and he also collaborated with This Heat's Charles Hayward on a series of chamber works.

Gaussian Curve uses the same sound palette to great success, with soft synth textures and submerged minimal drum patterns colliding with plenty of sonically dense atmosphere. The two other collaborators -- Jonny Nash, a founder of the ESP Institute label, and Marco Sterk -- give the whole affair a deeply intuitive sense of group play. Clouds opens with street sounds and a church bell, setting the contemplative, almost voyeuristic mood of the record -- the group supposedly recorded the album over a series of jams one weekend in an Amsterdam loft, with the windows wide open and mics capturing the ambience of the town. Clouds then blissfully drifts along with tracks like "Impossible Island" slowly unfolding to a motorik tick and "Ride" infusing muted trumpet with moody soundscapes. I can't totally articulate how beautifully meditative and engaging this record is, needless to say, it's highly, highly recommended. [RN]

$21.99 LP


MATTHEW E. WHITE
Fresh Blood
(Spacebomb/Domino)

Last week I had the pleasure of catching Matthew White performing with a 30-piece orchestra in Brooklyn, celebrating his new album in the grand style it deserves, and highlighting what makes White's music so engaging. Coming out of a university jazz background, White brings a level of musicianship and broad compositional vision to his songs that is all too rare in the indie world (or maybe anywhere these days), and while the influences are many -- '70s swamp rock informed by everyone from Randy Newman to Stevie Wonder, to Curtis Mayfield and Allen Toussaint -- his approach is so genuine, it sounds fresh and utterly alive. Matthew White is the nexus of a sprawling group of musicians based in Richmond, VA, drawing on that region's specific geographical personality -- jazz horn players mix with country pedal steel, soulful electric piano, Latin percussion and gospel background vocals, building a swirling sound, layer upon layer, that is instantly engaging. His taste, both in collaborators and in specific production flourishes, is impeccable, as evidenced by his recent star-making turn with Natalie Prass, whose heavily buzzed debut, produced at White's Spacebomb studios with his well-tuned house band, enabled the talented singer and songwriter to emerge fully formed from the shadows.

On his second full-length, Fresh Blood, White expands on the themes, both lyrically and compositionally, of his previous LP and EP; the arrangements are even deeper, his singing has really come into its own, and any fan of his earlier stuff will love this new record. That said, while the sounds here are deeply soulful and utterly embracing from start to finish, it is perhaps White's songwriting that comes up a little short on Fresh Blood. His heroes wrote indelible pop songs first, and then fleshed them out with great playing. For White, it sometimes feels like the playing comes first, and both on record and on stage, the intense love and joy in the performances is palpable, so much so that it's sometimes a little too easy to forget the actual songs behind the grooves. But White brings a maturity, depth, and straight-up soulfulness to his music that is undeniable, and this new one is not to be missed. [JM]

$13.99 CD
$19.99 LP+MP3

DICK DIVER
Melbourne, Florida
(Trouble in Mind)

I can't decide if Dick Diver's third full-length is their best record yet or if it is just the one that I've actively anticipated. I came to the party a bit late and discovered their first two albums, New Start Again and Calendar Days, within a few months of each other, and kept them in almost constant rotation for a good long while. Since then I've had the pleasure of seeing Dick Diver live, where they lived up to my personal, lofty expectations, and to me they are pretty much a perfect band: casual above all else with a sly sense of humor. Their songs can be all over the place both aurally and emotionally, and that is the way I like it. This brings me to Melbourne, Florida, an LP whose release I have kept tabs on for a while now and heaped even more lofty expectations upon. In that sense I am ready to proclaim it their best record, as it has pretty much lived up to, or surpassed, any bar I'd set for it in my mind.

Album opener "Waste the Alphabet" is perfect in every way. Effortlessly catchy, emotionally weighted, and already able to withstand repeated listens, it is an instant indie-pop classic. For me, this is the song to beat this year. I had a momentary concern that the rest Melbourne would be a let down after obsessing over it so much, but the record is full of great tracks, and with all of the members contributing songs and vocals, there's a lot of variety as well. After side one bookends with another classic, "Percentage Points," the flip begins with "Competition," a synth-blasted slow jammer in a Yo La Tengo style that references Tonya Harding(!?!). Dick Diver then take a couple of soft-rock detours complete with horns during "Private Number" and "Blue Time," and the one-sided conversation of "Boomer Class."

Expertly produced by longtime associate Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, etc.), Melbourne, Florida sounds supremely human, almost like you are in the room with the band. Although we are only three-or-so months into 2015, all of the records still to be released are going to have to work pretty hard to even come close to this one. [DMa]

$14.99 CD
$21.99 LP


ANDREA SCHIAVELLI
Souls on Fire
(OSR Tapes)

Andrea Schiavelli is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Brooklyn whose ridiculously under-heard debut LP we raved about in these pages a couple of years ago. And now he's back in full force with a cassette featuring 17 unused sketches, acoustic songs and lo-fi rock-n-rollers. Souls on Fire is a deep collection of weary man blues, with plenty of lyrical wisdom, musings on love, deconstructed musical idioms and smart aesthetic decisions. "Falling Off Ship" is a synth-driven, power-pop gem, while the heady psych-jam, "Joker's Game," channels Tobin Sprout's fragmented vision on Bee Thousand. "Bad Expectations" features a lonesome rock refrain and "Never Been to Kansas" swaggers with a Royal Trux/Beefheart stomp. But the best track may be "There's No Rules," which is led by a smooth Rhodes and a Mick Fleetwood-esque backbeat, with Schiavelli's vocals floating on air.

Souls on Fire could've lived on a number of fine labels like Drag City, Columbus Discount, or even Siltbreeze during their '90s heyday; instead it favors this compact cassette and small label format to great success, and it's truly one of my favorite records so far this year. Props to OSR for picking this one up -- an essential grip for lovers of skewed pop and truly studied, visionary music making. [RN]

$5.99 CASSETTE


WILL BUTLER
Policy
(Merge)

Stepping out of the shadow of his older brother and their Grammy-winning, arena-filling, world-conquering band, Will Butler's solo debut is a scrappy rock record that fits in nicely with Arcade Fire's sound without being beholden to it. Looser, leaner, and far less anthemic than what that group has become, nonetheless Policy draws on many of the same influences, from disco-funk to post-punk to first-wave rock'n'roll, but delivers it all with far less sheen. As a lead singer (and songwriter too), Butler is engagingly loose-limbed, and at turns raw, refined, funny and intense, with a vocal presence that cuts right through the rockers, and nestles nicely within the mellower piano tracks. If Butler's other gig was not such a monumental one, of course the reception for Policy would be far more muted -- it's a really good record, though maybe not a startlingly original or important one -- but the bottom line is, if you love Arcade Fire, you are bound to find a lot to like here. [JM]

$13.99 CD
$18.99 LP+MP3


THE STAPLE SINGERS
Freedom Highway Complete
(Epic)

"We're not here to put on a show," Roebuck "Pops" Staples announces at the beginning of this essential, expanded 50th anniversary edition of Freedom Highway. But (excuse the expression) holy shit, do he and his children (Pervis, Cleotha, Yvonne and Mavis) proceed to put on a show. Recorded in the spring of 1965 at Chicago's New Nazareth Church, Freedom Highway is steeped in the Civil Rights movement, with the protests of Selma and Montgomery just a few short weeks past. You can feel the electricity and urgency of the moment coming through loud and clear five decades later, as the Staple Singers perform old standbys like "We Shall Overcome," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Samson & Delilah," as well as the just-composed title track, which refers directly to the previous month's events in Selma and Montgomery. Pops' tremolo-fueled guitar and the stirring vocal harmonies from the rest of the group are, as ever, a source of deep pleasure. Freedom Highway's expanded edition adds about 30 minutes to the original LP, giving us a fuller picture of the service's warmth, humor and passion. This is about as good as it gets. [TW]

$12.99 CD


IKUE MORI
In Light of Shadows
(Tzadik)

Going back to her earliest days in New York City drumming with late-'70s no wave pioneers DNA, Tokyo-born Ikue Mori has remained one of the most respected avant-garde musicians to come up from NYC's downtown scene. Mori's craft has continued to grow and change over the decades since, with the composer first embracing then-new technologies such as drum machines and samplers in the mid-'80s, and to this day her rhythmic sensibilities continue to inform both her electronic solo works and collaborations with other key figures in the experimental world. Released on John Zorn's Tzadik imprint, In Light of Shadows is a compelling addition to her large discography, with Mori taking us through a stunning, mind-twisting excursion of texture-bending, laptop-based electronic music. Through the course of the album, she challenges sonic possibilities with unique methods of abstraction and manipulation of source material. Her detailed compositional approach consists of microscopic motives and otherworldly sounds that exist within a continuously evolving, moving structure, representative of Mori's labyrinth-like musical mind. Naturally, there is an improvisational feel to these works, with percussive elements and drone-like sounds interacting with fluidity and elasticity. It all comes together as a haunting narrative that communicates through a maze of eerie soundscapes, while taking its time to settle in the minds of listeners. [HW]

$15.99 CD


EMERALD WEB
Catspaw
(Anodize)

For those of us expecting more of Emerald Web's glorious mixture of post-prog rock, proto-new age, and ambient motorische beat as explored on 2013's unforgettable The Stargate Tapes compilation, Catspaw might come as a bit of a surprise. According to the liner notes, it's the duo's seminal recording, but whereas the selection of materials on the former record adventurously balanced off the above-mentioned musical ideas, the latter finds Kat Epple and Bob Stohl diving head-on into heavily synthesized territory. It's great music to listen to while drifting above the clouds across the Atlantic Ocean, or rapidly moving through the landscape in a high-speed train, its embellishing yet soothing sounds delivering perfectly sequenced, wandering movements. Actually, once one adapts one's taste palette and embraces the leap into more syrupy terrain, this is perhaps just as adventurous and well balanced as the music on The Stargate Tapes. If you dig mid-1980s digitized harps, bells, violins, cellos, oboes, piano, and percussion with airy flutes floating above it all, this should definitely be right up your alley. Others: beware of the new age marmalade! [NVT]

$14.99 CD


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Studio One Jump-Up
(Soul Jazz)

With their latest collection, Soul Jazz focuses on the birth of the Studio One label and its singular sound. Featuring 20 of the Jamaican imprint's earliest R&B, ska, and jazz tracks, Studio One Jump-Up showcases the connection between American music of the late '50s and early '60s and its influence on the singers and players of the Isle. This is a very horn- and guitar-driven affair, with lots of staccato chords, tasty solos, punchy rhythmic accents, and a dizzying array of rapid-fire drumming, as recognizable names like Don Drummond, Derrick Morgan, the Maytals, Roland Alphonso, and Bob Marley and the Wailers sit alongside lesser-known singers and groups. It all makes for a lively, bubbling collection of vocal and instrumental tracks, while offering an informative glimpse into the sonic origins of Studio One's unmistakable influence on Jamaican music and beyond. For those that like a bit of blues in their reggae, a little foot stomping in their speedy jazz riffs, or some relaxed yet soulful crooning, Jump-Up is a great addition to Soul Jazz's seemingly endless and always-great series. [DG]

$23.99 CD
$29.99 LPx2


BABA COMMANDANT AND THE MANDINGO BAND
Juguya
(Sublime Frequencies)

For your recommended dose of fiery Afrobeat, look no further than Baba Commandant & the Mandingo Band's Juguya, an album packed with trance-like rhythms, stinging guitar, and soulful vocals. Juguya comes to us via the Sublime Frequencies label, which might make you think that the sound quality will lean towards the vérité end of the spectrum. But the tunes here are professionally recorded, an approach that suits the punchy, driving vibe of the Mandingo Band. Not that it's super slick; there's plenty of grit in the grooves, as Baba Commandant's raw voice and donso ngoni (West African hunters' harp) lead the Mandingo Band into some extremely funky territory. Juguya will please fans of both vintage Afrobeat and more current sounds as well. [TW]

$15.99 CD
$21.99 LP


BUDDHA MACHINE 5
(FM3)

These oddball looping devices are still one of the most intriguing and talked-about items in our shop, a popular handheld Chinese meditation device reconfigured by Beijing-based experimental sound artists FM3 (a/k/a Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian). Ten years since FM3 released their first Buddha Machine comes its fifth generation, containing nine loops that range from deep orchestral tones, a grand piano, or ambient washes of a vintage mono synth. Your choice of white or black, both options feature a special five-layer silicon coating which gives the machine a nice comfortable feel. Runs on two AA batteries (not included), with volume and pitch controls as well as a lineout jack for headphone listening or outputting to an amplifier. Not exactly an instrument, yet much more than a simple recording, a ton of fun yet not a toy, these machines are a blast.

$24.99 WHITE
$24.99 BLACK

available on vinyl

D'ANGELO
Black Messiah
(RCA)

Some 14 years after he dazzled the world with what has become a genre-defining album, Voodoo, Michael D'Angelo Archer dropped Black Messiah back in December with no warning. As with many records, timing is a key factor, and even after years of tweaking this album, it was no coincidence that he returned in the wake of protest and general unrest among people of color within the borders of the United States. A lot has happened in America through the years, for better and for worse, and he seems to have been watching and taking notes. He's making a statement and offering an auditory escape, a musical accompaniment to these trying times.

The album is credited to D'Angelo and the Vanguard, which includes Questlove, Kendra Foster, Q-Tip, legendary bassist Pino Palladino, and 75-year-old drummer James Gadson, with all the songs recorded direct to reel-to-reel (more than 200 tapes!). This jamming analogue aesthetic brings out the organic nature of the material, the connection between the players within the twisting and layered arrangements, and gives the album a warm and live-room atmosphere. This is real music for real life. Across the 12 solid tracks, he slurs, scats, croons, whistles, preaches, screams, recounts, gives praises, and calls spirits into action. Through a mix of soul, blues, jazz, Latin, rock, and funk, these songs further cement D'Angelo within the legacy he's been missing from and a natural link to. Together with Questlove, they continue to create an ode to the classics, and Black Messiah is fueled by the tradition of soul a la Sly Stone, Prince, George Clinton, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Jimi Hendrix (recorded at Electric Ladyland). Never one to hide his love for and knowledge of those that paved the way, here he fuses all those influences into an honest and original mélange.

Album openers "Ain't That Easy" and "1000 Deaths" (which first surfaced in 2011 but is now fully realized here) are filled with heavy nods to Sly and Clinton, with a visceral assault of funky bass and distorted keys, yet they have the undeniable stamp of a Questlove production. Then personal favorites "The Charade" and "Really Love" find the musicians flipping through Prince's Paisley Park discography, complete with his classic reverse snare/snap, layered claps, and sitar, while "Sugah Daddy" is swinging juke joint jive. And the spirit of collaborator and friend J-Dilla can be felt throughout, bringing to mind their collectively past/present fusion made as the Soulquarians.

Needless to say, this set of songs is classic D'Angelo, with all the elements of grit, sex, spirituality, swagger, politics, beauty, love and humanness still in place and as poignant as ever. It's a special record and definitely a cause for celebration in the music world. Sometimes through absence a spirit can grow stronger, their void felt by the masses and their return a unifying action. D'Angelo's value has been evaluated many times over, and here he proves that he is still worthy of all the praise. This is a welcomed and accomplished return, and right on time. I think this is the kind of record that everyone needs to hear, immediately, and dare I say it's a What's Going On and/or There's a Riot Going On for our era. Consider this a tale of struggle, self-doubt, adversity, hard times, and nostalgia, yet overcome with the redeeming sense of love and passion, all disguised as a soul album. I don't want to blow it up too big, I'm just proud to say I highly recommend it and that it gets better with every listen.

$22.99 2LP
$14.99 CD

pre-order w/ bonus 7"

MODEST MOUSE
Strangers to Ourselves
(Epic)

Modest Mouse's anticipated new full-length, Strangers to Ourselves, is in stores on March 17!! Fans who pre-order the new CD or LP from Other Music will also get a FREE LIMITED EDITION 7" single, featuring the tracks "Lampshades on Fire" and Coyote" from the forthcoming album, while supplies last.

$14.99 CD
$27.99 LP

the big picture

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