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January 22, 2015

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Sleater-Kinney
Liam Hayes
Population One
Amen Dunes
Belle and Sebastian
The Decemberists
Viet Cong
Oren Ambarchi

ALSO AVAILABLE

Aphex Twin (Just In: New EP!!)
Hanni El Khatib
Mac DeMarco
Jane Weaver (Back in Stock)
Roberto Cacciapaglia (2 LPs Back in Stock)
Dirty French Psychedelics (Now on LP)
Pixies (Doolittle 25 Now on LP)
D'Angelo (Voodoo LP Back in Print)
 

announcements

BROOKLYN FLEA *MINI* RECORD FAIR

February 7 & 8 / 14 & 15

1000 Dean St. Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Facebook Event Page
 

Nothing warms a record collector's cold winter day quite like the crisp, crackling sound of vinyl! While the next outdoor Brooklyn Flea Record Fair is still months away, we’re pleased to announce that a special mini-fair is coming to tide us over to May, featuring two weekends of vinyl browsing on February 7 & 8 and 14 & 15 inside the Flea's indoor space at 1000 Dean Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. There will be 15 different vendors in attendance each weekend selling new and used LPs including: ATO Records, Cakeshop / Capeshok, Captured Tracks Shop, Disco De Facto, Disco Matador, Halcyon the Shop, HPRS Records, Jammyland, Knitting Factory Records, Malcolm Tent / Trash American Style, Orivious Records, Other Music, Partisan, Raelian Raecords, Revilla Grooves and Gear, Rough Trade Shop, Sepiatone, Slipped Disc Records, Special Delivery Records, Unbreakable Records, Warp Records, White Columns, and Z/Z Records. Stay tuned for more details along with a listing of the guest DJs who'll be spinning sets over the course of the four afternoons. In the meantime, mark your calendars and see you at the Brooklyn Flea *mini* Record Fair!


WIN TICKETS TO BELLE AND SEBASTIAN AT RADIO CITY!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10

Radio City Music Hall: 1260 6th Ave. New York, NY
 

Belle and Sebastian have just released their ninth full-length, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (reviewed below in this week's Update), and will be performing in New York City on June 10 at the legendary Radio City Music Hall with Real Estate opening! Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets to one of our lucky Update subscribers, and to enter for your chance to win, all you have to do is email contest@othermusic.com.

this week's update

SLEATER-KINNEY
No Cities to Love
(Sub Pop)

Though Sleater-Kinney hasn't released an album in close to ten years, No Cities to Love marks a hardcore comeback. Announced merely weeks before its much-whispered-about "surprise" release date was revealed, the new record packs the same energetic punch, political awareness and keen sense of studied musicianship that we've come to expect from the trio's every collective breath. The band sounds tough, invigorated and full of ferocious energy, with Carrie Brownstein's spastic guitar colliding into Corin Tucker's unflinching rhythmic strum, and Janet Weiss chugging the whole thing forward with her solid, metronomic precision.

Unlike their sprawling last album, The Woods, the trio fluidly shifts gears over and over in about 30 action-packed minutes. Sleater-Kinney is a well-tuned machine at this point, as opener "Price Tag" rightfully showcases with its dubby Gang of Four-styled post-punk rhythm blasting into a messy guitar solo. By the third track, "Surface Energy" (a song about breaking the rules and not looking back), Tucker's signature yelp is commanding the listener's attention over an atonal, bending guitar riff. However, the centerpiece and title cut is perhaps the album's finest moment; with a classic swaying vocal harmony and existential narrative, Brownstein muses on the concept of the city, the urban landscape and one's place in a familiar setting that ultimately renders itself foreign and lonely. When Sleater-Kinney team up to belt the chorus, it's inevitable that No Cities to Love is not only a truly welcome return from a band no one ever wanted to disappear, but also a reminder of the power inherent in the group's observational, personal lyricism. Rock! [RN]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$17.99 LP+MP3
$31.99 DELUXE 2LP+MP3


LIAM HAYES
Slurrup
(Fat Possum)

No doubt it is a little surprising to still be talking about Liam Hayes' debut single (under the name Plush, from 1994) as if it should justify still caring about his music two full decades later. That said, it would be hard to understate the importance and influence of that record, with Hayes embracing orchestral pop and lush '70s production aesthetics at a time when the prevailing sound of indie music was loud, raw and aggressive. Four years later, Plush's stark album debut, 1998's More You Becomes You, featured mostly just Hayes on solo piano and vocals, evoking nothing more than Burt Bacharach solo in the late '60s -- though far from perfect, it's a classic that still sounds relevant today. Since then, Liam Hayes has mostly frustrated his loyal fans, first with an interminable wait for his sophomore LP, which finally arrived in 2002, lushly orchestrated but bloated in every imaginable way -- not a bad record really, but still, a disappointment both creatively and commercially. Things never really rebounded from there, with Hayes still a talked-about and clearly talented artist, but even so his sporadic and spotty releases were generally a letdown, that is when you could even find them.

Rather than fade away, however, Hayes has continued to record, and he's dropped enough tantalizing breadcrumbs over the last few years to keep the fans hooked in, including the soundtrack for A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, a 1970s set piece directed by Roman Coppola and starring Jason Schwartzman, featuring a full set of new Hayes songs and re-workings of "classic" Plush. But Slurrup is his first proper album to completely forego the Plush moniker he hid behind for so long, and it's his most immediate and fun record in memory, maybe since that very first single, in fact, maybe ever.

There are well-thought and sharply written power-pop songs, recorded as a full-band rock album, but not an orchestrated one, opting for a twisting guitar solo or a well-placed cowbell flourish rather than a string section, and at 30 minutes, it leaves you wanting more -- a common feeling for Plush fans, but still invigorating. This will not be the first time Liam Hayes' music has been compared to Badfinger, but here, with a straightforward and rocking production that gives his nasally affected Brit-whine some real muscle, it's an apt descriptor. Here's hoping that this great new album will help Hayes find the kind of success that's eluded him; it's not a game-changer, but despite the ripples his music caused early on, that was never Hayes' approach. He is a classic pop songwriter, and Slurrup feels like a step away from all of the obfuscating impulses that have kept him on the margins for so long -- it's straight-up and fun, at a time when we might need a touch of both. [JM]

$13.99 CD


POPULATION ONE
Theater of a Confused Mind
(Rush Hour)

The announcement of his retirement from musical production in early 2014 has found Detroit veteran Terrence Dixon on a roll. His surprising declaration followed an exceptionally inspired period, releasing the by now classic From the Far Future Pt. 2, as well as the more rhythm-oriented Badge of Honor album. Against expectations, the statement also preceded an impressive string of 12"s. And now there's Theater of a Confused Mind, another glorious full-length. The record presents a remarkable return to the Population One avatar with which Dixon first established his extraordinary career now more than twenty years ago. According to the latest self-declared rumors, it marks the final episode of his career as a techno producer. If true, the album makes for a deviously calculated closing, Dixon's futuristic outlook having come perfectly full circle. This sense of circularity appropriately aligns with his compositional merits, with tracks that typically end at the exact same point at which they started -- embodying a delightfully disorienting stasis.

Reimagining Detroit's postindustrial setting as a true sci-fi décor, song titles such as "Battle for Space" and "Code Urgent" suggest an Afrofuturist outlook. But there's also a sense of looming melancholy hovering above Theater of a Confused Mind. Whereas a hypnotic track such as "For Only You" directly engages the listener, its simply irresistible double bass throwing one into dancadelic headspace, cuts like "Inner City Circus" and "My Own Shadow" add a sense of industrial paranoia to the overall mood. This becomes all the more apparent as the record steadily progresses through its oftentimes-mesmerizing minimalist patterns and gradually disintegrating sounds. By the time we arrive at "We Live in Outer Space," a staggeringly repetitive closing statement, things seem to be stuck in an endless wormhole, with Terrence Dixon masterfully hovering above it. If Theater of a Confused Mind turns out to be his last recorded statement, it is by all means a daunting coda. May his ever-forward looking attitude continue to inspire future techno voyagers! [NVT]

$17.99 CD


AMEN DUNES
Cowboy Worship EP
(Sacred Bones)

Amen Dunes just came off a banner year, with Damon McMahon & Co. releasing the critically acclaimed Love (which landed on our Best of 2014 list) and touring like crazy alongside the likes of Mac DeMarco and Juan Wauters, as well as performing in showcases with Marissa Nadler and Moon Duo. A triumph of an album, the aforementioned Love effortlessly wove seemingly disparate influences into a warm sound entirely its own -- think a "singer-songwriter" record for lovers of the avant-garde and vice versa. So if Love was McMahon's definitive artistic statement as Amen Dunes up to this point, then consider Cowboy Worship a contextual aid: a series of outtakes and alternate versions of what would appear on the record in fully realized form. But unlike some of these types of B-side collections that favor a quick buck between albums over a substantial listening experience, this is absolutely 100 percent essential for any fan of the last record and lover of Amen Dunes, providing a voyeuristic glimpse into the artistic process of one the most intriguing artists recording today.

A peaceful introspective song about processing human emotions, "I Know Myself" is a very close approximation of the version we have on Love and culled from the same Montreal session. There's also a cover of "Song to the Siren," a Tim Buckley tune popularized by This Mortal Coil, and McMahon's take is a harrowing, stripped-down version consisting only of multi-tracked vocals and guitars. Elsewhere, "I Can't Dig It" sounds clearer and even poppier than the take found on Love, which is great as you can really dig into the intricacies of the melody. The real treat, however, is the until-now unreleased "Lezzy Head," its dreamy mellow vibe being worth the price of admission alone. An excellent collection, my only complaint is that Cowboy Worship is too short! Limited vinyl edition of 1000 copies. [RN]

$14.99 12"


BELLE AND SEBASTIAN
Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
(Matador)

More than four years since the release of Write About Love, Belle and Sebastian return with their ninth studio album and it certainly proves worth the wait. Perhaps under the influence of producer Ben Allen, who has worked with everyone from Animal Collective and Washed Out to CeeLo Green and M.I.A., Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance sees another shift in sound for these Scottish faves. Longtime B&S fans need not worry, however, as the group is more energetic and vibrant than ever.

Like the title and album cover suggest, the subject matter of Girls in Peacetime is split between politics and romance, yet it is unexpectedly optimistic in tone. We also find the band exploring a variety of new sounds, as hinted at by the dancefloor-friendly single "The Partyline," first released late last year. Throughout the record you'll hear elements of Motown, gospel and a little jazz, not to mention a big helping of disco and Europop. Highlights include: the autobiographical opener "Nobody's Empire," in which frontman Stuart Murdoch tells of his childhood struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome; the bouncing, ABBA-inspired electro of "Enter Sylvia Plath" (too good to be a guilty pleasure!); the jaunty, tropical-flavored "Play for Today" featuring a guest spot from Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny; "Ever Had a Little Faith?" which revisits the breezy twee-pop of the group's early days; and of course the aforementioned first single. It all makes for a great new chapter in this long-running band's career, with Belle and Sebastian maturing gracefully yet still having fun. Girls (and boys) will indeed want to dance. [ACo]

$12.99 2CD ON SALE
$21.99 2LP
$54.99 LTD. 4LP BOX SET


THE DECEMBERISTS
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
(Capitol)

It's been four years since the Decemberists released their last album, The King Is Dead, and while the thoughtful and obsessively literate folk group has long been a major draw, that record ironed out some of their quirkiness, toned down the gothic pretensions, and rode the burgeoning folk-pop wave to chart-topping success. Now, in 2015, we have a near-endless supply of slick and scruffy folk bands who embellish their pop songs with old-time acoustic instrumentation and have breakthrough singles with close-harmony paeans to simpler times, and What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World arrives with a similar approach. The group has embraced a wider array of influence on their later records, keeping their roots in vintage British folk intact while drawing on more centrist indie influences like R.E.M., amping up the hooks, toning down Colin Meloy's famous wordy storytelling, and delivering on this new one a set of laid-back but muscular songs. A couple of tracks are led by a twangy electric guitar, but it's mostly broad acoustic strumming, tight percussion, soaring electric and acoustic piano, and well-placed flourishes of strings, vocal harmonies, or a lonely harmonica wail. There are not a lot of risks taken here, and no obvious radio hits either, but it's a well-made and enjoyable set that won't disappoint the band's many longtime fans, or the new ones they've made. [JM]

$13.99 ON SALE
$22.99 2LP+MP3


VIET CONG
Viet Cong
(Jagjaguwar)

Viet Cong is a Canadian band formed in Calgary, Alberta. The group consists of two ex-members of the short-lived indie rock group Women, whose two albums were a deep, sensory revelation for many at the time. Influenced by classic rock, folk, Krautrock, and definitely post-punk, Women's music was pretty hard to pigeonhole. Their songs had jangly guitar parts that would blend and break with abstract rhythms, all the while staying firmly in a pop sort of framework. Much like Women, Viet Cong are also all about that angular, repetitive motif. Songs like "Bunker Buster" have a steady, straightforward build to them, in which one guitar part bleeds into another, the drums break through, and then the whole thing snowballs into a mid-tempo Neu!-by-way-of-Interpol pop zone. But other tracks on this varied album hint at industrial moves, with "March of Progress" relying on an electronic beat and crunchy textures and "Newspaper Spoons" echoing the dark, sonically vast sensibility of Dreams Less Sweet-era Psychic TV. Whether it's classic avant-rock that they're referencing or similar, aesthetically minded modern music, Viet Cong is blazing their own path with a sound that borrows equally from the past while morphing into its own thing. [RN]

$12.99 CD ON SALE


OREN AMBARCHI
Quixotism
(Editions Mego)

On Quixotism, Oren Ambarchi's latest full-length on Editions Mego, things emerge from utter silence, out of which muddled orchestral sounds gradually become discernable. Thomas Brinkmann's subtle motoric pulse establishes a way forward, providing ground for John Tilbury's atonal piano and Ambarchi's exploratory guitar tinkling. The dark vastness of this almost 18-minute-long opening movement makes for a disquieting listen. The track bears the traces of the location in which the orchestra was recorded -- a concert hall in Iceland -- and explores the physical qualities of this massive space, presenting an impressive tour de force of sonic imagination in which everything sounds adrift in immensity.

Assembled over the course of two years, and recorded within alternately vast and intimate spaces, Quixotism falls into a hypnotic, locking groove soon afterwards. A wide range of collaborators lends their immaculate skills to this record, including Jim O'Rourke (synths), Crys Cole (contact mics), and the above-mentioned Tilbury (piano) and Brinkmann (computable drums). The careful combination of their contributions, along with the physicality of the explored spaces, is sheer magic and represents a huge accomplishment for Ambarchi, whose sense of compositional equilibrium is simply astonishing here. Ambitious yet natural sounding, the album ends undiscernibly, its sounds evaporating into nothingness. The effects are wondrous, and make one want to return over and over again to this beautiful, mysterious five-part composition. [NVT]

$15.99 CD

also available

APHEX TWIN
Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2
(Warp)

Hold the presses! While it may have taken 13 years between Drukqs and the next Aphex Twin full-length, Richard D. James is already back with a brand new EP released under his ubiquitous guise only months after Syro. We just got the shipment in but you can purchase via mail order right now. They won't be hitting our shop floor until tomorrow (Friday) morning, however, so if you want to pick yours up in person, come by anytime after we're open and get 'em while they're hot!

$12.99 CD EP
$18.99 12" EP


HANNI EL KHATIB
Moonlight
(Innovative Leisure)

Hanni El Khatib got a nice bump in exposure with his Dan Auerbach-produced 2013 sophomore LP, Head in the Dirt, when the Black Keys' main man stripped back and simplified El Khatib's garage-rock impulses to their purest pop forms. But to HEK's credit, rather than aim for that sort of sterile perfection on the follow-up, he splits the difference with his 2009 debut, and delivers a hook-filled and fun set that is not afraid to let its hair down, and not afraid to be messy and passionate. Moonlight is a modern SoCal approach to the thrill of early rock and roll classics, and though this won't change your world, it's clearly not meant to. Good stuff.

$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP


MAC DEMARCO
Demos, Volume 1
(Captured Tracks)

Following limited vinyl-only pressings, this CD features demos for both Mac DeMarco's excellent Salad Days album from last year and 2012's 2 full-length, which was ground zero for many fans. Recorded in DeMarco's bedroom Jizz-Jazz studios, listeners are given an intimate glimpse at this freewheeling musician during the process of creation, in which his pop hooks still shine through the lo-fi hiss and buzz of these album-track demos along with several unreleased songs.

$14.99 CD

back in stock

JANE WEAVER
The Silver Globe
(Bird)

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jane Weaver got her start in the Manchester rock scene in the early 1990s, and has explored a number of variations on psychedelic pop styles over the course of her career, including her activities curating and running the Bird and Finders Keepers imprints with partner Andy Votel. While her last few solo albums saw her exploring more folk-influenced subtleties, her stunning new effort, The Silver Globe, moves into a driving, more hard-hitting territory heretofore unexplored by Weaver at large. The sound suits her well, as her vocals fly high atop motorik Apache Krautrock grooves, shimmering synthesized space-rock textures, and nimble percolations of drum machine folk balladry. The album's foundations are built upon strong rhythmic bases, while the arrangements display an eclectic diversity that remains in the psychedelic canon whilst journeying along roads that fuse past and future aesthetics quite ably. It helps that Weaver's voice has never sounded better, coming off confident but coy, mysterious yet majestic. This is easily her most ambitious release to date, and it's a stunning triumph, filled with dense yet distinct arrangements, inspired combinations of instrumentation, and most importantly, wonderful songs.

One of the pitfalls of many a psychedelic release is the failure to ground the mind-altering experiments with strong, memorable melodies. Weaver squashes that dilemma with a heavy, stylish boot, and brings in a number of talented guests -- Suzanne Ciani, David Holmes, Damon Gough, Andy Votel, Aussie psych vets Cybotron, and even Hawkwind! -- who enhance but never overshadow Weaver's unshakable talents throughout. This is easily one of the best albums I've heard this year, and one of the strongest, most memorable modern psychedelic records released in recent memory. Fans of everything from Broadcast, Cate Le Bon, and the Soundcarriers to vintage classics like Linda Perhacs, the White Noise, and Edda Dell'orso's Giallo horror work with Ennio Morricone absolutely NEED to check The Silver Globe out. It's the sort of album that grabs you right away with its melodic hooks, yet pulls you in even deeper with each detailed listen. This is a noteworthy record that deserves your undivided attention. [IQ]

$17.99 CD
$25.99 LP


ROBERTO CACCIAPAGLIA
The Ann Steel Album
(Mirumir)

Italian composer Roberto Cacciapaglia is a pianist who studied electronic music and musical computer applications in his early years, yet whose early works were focused more on Terry Riley-inspired kosmische sounds recorded in the early 1970s during Krautrock and prog's heyday. In 1979, Cacciapaglia wrote and produced an album of electronic artpop for aspiring American model Ann Steel, and released the LP under Ann's name on the Durium label in Italy, France, and other European territories. The record is, quite simply, astonishing; its songs are instantly catchy and hummable, its rhythms very upbeat and dancefloor friendly, and its lyrics overflow with sly, winking nods to everyone from Andy Warhol and Sigmund Freud to Marshall McLuhan and the Hilton hotel empire. Steel's voice combines an untrained girl-next-door charm with a stunning range of unorthodox pop emotion; she warbles, chirps and coos in an odd midrange that really sounds quite unlike anyone else I've heard, evoking a housewife with dreams of operatic grandeur, singing to herself alone as she cleans her home, dreaming of the life she either left behind or will one day finally have. The music is very much in line with some of the Japanese and French waves of "technopop" coming out around this time, drawing parallels to everything from Yellow Magic Orchestra to Lio and Telex. 

What I love so much about this album, though, is the way it really couldn't have been recorded during any other era; it was made during a rare time in modern culture where the beginnings of portable, digital innovations and personal computer technologies in everyday household life created a sense of simultaneous confusion and confidence in citizens, where all of the promises but none of the detachment and terror were in view. The songs are filled with ad sloganeering, psychological morsels from Jung and Freud, and the shiniest plastic optimism covering a dark, biting wit. This is a desert-island record for me, no question about it, and I'm thrilled to see it available to an audience that needs to hear it, regardless of whether or not they'll get the message. [IQ]

$27.99 LP+CD


ROBERTO CACCIAPAGLIA
Sei Note in Logica
(Mirumir)

Italian composer Roberto Cacciapaglia has finally been getting some well-deserved and long overdue recognition and reevaluation in the past year or so, with his classic albums Ann Steel (reviewed above) and Sonanze receiving new vinyl editions that place him firmly in a camp of inspired and innovative creators like Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and even Moondog. Sei Note in Logica is a systems music piece that takes a six-note melodic phrase and permutates it into every possible combination via the usage of tuned percussion (marimba, xylophone, etc.), strings, woodwinds, computer-derived electronics, and a choir of vocalists (including recitation by Ann Steel). The piece has a hypnotic fluidity that swirls and tumbles in cyclical motions, with the orchestra gently rising and falling in intensity as the percussion taps out Morse code rhythms and the choir chirps over top; all the while, the computer overlays buzz, whir and twinkle with texture that never distracts, but instead subtly shades Sei Note in Logica as each 17-minute movement progresses. It's arguably one of the most stunning and engrossing examples of systems music in minimalist composition, displaying a sophistication that is oft imitated yet seldom duplicated. [IQ]

$27.99 LP+CD

now on lp

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Dirty French Psychedelics
(Born Bad)

Dirty French Psychedelics is precisely just that: crazy Gallic jams mostly from the early to mid 1970s, with an ear towards freakouts caused by sensual tension and emotional turmoil rather than overt head-tripping. Musically, the tracks owe much to Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson and Gerard Manset's La Mort D'Orion, with plenty of jazzy electric bass grooves, quiet but menacing acoustics, vocal lines focused on poetics and spoken monologues, and orchestral flourishes that only add to the mood and atmosphere with subtleties that are often thrown out the window in so much psychedelic music.

There's a heavy artiness that borders on prog-rock theatrics at times, but on the whole, this collection is fantastic. Highlights and personal favorites include Brigitte Fontaine's wonderful "Il Pleut," a collaboration with Jean-Claude Vannier from her essential first Saravah LP, Dashiell Hedayat's totally bonkers "Long Song for Zelda" which was a collaboration with Gong, and Nino Ferrer's trippy funk bomb "Looking for You," to name a few.

Fans of the ever-growing international freakbeat reissue scene from Lion, Finders Keepers, etc. will definitely find much to love here. It's great because it features both classic faves and totally obscure selections, and the thing is perfectly sequenced; in fact, it's the first compilation I've heard in ages that actually works as an album proper in its own right. You will try to hunt down at least one record by one of these artists if you dig this comp, and that's what these are all about, aren't they? [IQ]

$19.99 LP


PIXIES
Doolittle 25
(4AD)

Marking the 25th anniversary (!?!) of Pixies' watershed Doolittle, 4AD has released deluxe versions of the classic album. The LP set features a gatefold sleeve holding two slabs of black 180g vinyl containing six B-sides and two full Peel Sessions, as well as the full record in demo form, plus three bonus cuts. And of course, the third LP features the original album, with classics like "Debaser," "Wave of Mutilation," "Here Comes Your Man," "Monkey Gone to Heaven," and "La La Love You" never sounding better. The three-CD version features the original album plus the two full Peel Sessions, six B-sides, and 22 demos (almost half never officially released until now).

$22.99 3CD
$35.99 3LP

vinyl back in print

D'ANGELO
Voodoo
(Modern Classics)

On the heels of D'Angelo's long-long-awaited third full-length, Black Messiah, comes this double-LP pressing of Voodoo, the first time his groundbreaking album has been available on vinyl since its original release 14 years ago. One of the most defining records of the early 2000s and as influential now as it ever was, you need this. Enough said.

$25.99 2LP

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