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September 26, 2014

special announcement

TOMORROW: THE BROOKLYN FLEA RECORD FAIR

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

East River State Park: 90 Kent Ave @ N. 7th St.  Williamsburg, Brooklyn
11am-6pm | Facebook Event Invite

Other Music and Other Music Recording Co. will be in full effect at The Brooklyn Flea Record Fair tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with tons of new and used records for sale including boxes of used LPs we've been saving just for the event. You'll want to make sure to stop by our booth between 2 and 4 p.m. to have your rare records appraised by self-appointed and self-licensed vinyl expert* Wyatt Cenac, whose new LP, Brooklyn, comes out on October 21st via OMRC. (*Please note: Wyatt's "vinyl expertise" is not record related.) We'll be offering his forthcoming album exclusively for sale that day at the fair, and it will be your only chance to pick it up early, before its release date. Also, don't miss Other Music's own Ryan Naideau, who will be playing records in the DJ tent from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Here's the full DJ Schedule: Paul Collins (Beirut, 1-1:30PM), Ryan Naideau (Nude Beach/Warthog, 1:30-2PM), Kroba (Archie Pelago, 2-2:30PM), Rob Henry (Disco De Facto, 2:30-3PM), Silent Servant (3-3:30PM), Yale (Luaka Bop, 3:30-4PM), Nancy Whang (LCD Soundsystem/The Juan MacLean, 4-4:30PM), Jonathan Toubin (New York Night Train, 4:30-5PM)


XYLOURIS WHITE: THURSDAY RESIDENCY AT UNION POOL

OCTOBER 2, 9, 16 & 23

Union Pool: 484 Union Ave. Brooklyn 
Facebook Event Page

Underground music icon Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power, Nick Cave, Will Oldham) and acclaimed Cretan folk musician George Xylouris have come together for an exciting new project known as Xylouris White. Their debut album Goats, produced by Fugazi's Guy Picciotto, is being released October 14 on Other Music Recording Co., with the duo performing dates throughout the East Coast and Midwest during that month, which includes a Thursday night residency in Brooklyn at Union Pool: 10/2 with Sleepy Doug Shaw, 10/9 with Big Brave, 10/16 with Bo Ningen! On the final night of their residency, Thursday, 10/23, Xylouris White will be headlining Other Music's CMJ Showcase at Union Pool, with labelmates Invisible Familiars along with our two newest signings: 75 Dollar Bill and Tall Tales & the Silver Lining. Mark your calendar!


PEAKING LIGHTS IN-STORE PERFORMANCE

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3 @ 9PM

Free Admission | Limited Capacity

Just confirmed: next Friday, California's Peaking Lights are bringing their spacey dub-pop excursions to Other Music, via a special in-store performance at 9 p.m. The duo will be celebrating the release of their forthcoming album, Cosmic Logic (out the following October 7 on Weird World/Domino), and we'll be selling an exclusive limited edition version at the event!

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Aphex Twin
Goat
Perfume Genius
Moreno Veloso
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Earth
Wildest Dreams
Laetitia Sadier
Mono/Poly
Tweedy

The Drums
King Tuff
Alt-J

ALSO AVAILABLE

DNTEL
Helado Negro
MNDSGN

BACK IN PRINT

A.R. & Machines (CD+DVD)

announcements

WIN PASSES TO 'THIS AIN'T NO MOUSE MUSIC' FILM SCREENING

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Pioneer Works: 159 Pioneer St. Brooklyn

Lovers of Americana won't want to miss a very special film premiere event taking place this weekend in New York City at Pioneer Works: This Ain't No Mouse Music, a captivating new documentary about Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records, the legendary label behind hundreds of seminal blues, Cajun, country, folk, gospel, jazz, and zydeco releases since its inception back in 1960. Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets to this special event this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Pioneer Works, which will also include vintage performance clips, two films by the great music documentarian Les Blank, live music, and a very rare chance to meet Chris Strachwitz along with This Ain't No Mouse Music's directors Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon. Email giveaway@othermusic.com for your chance to win!

This Ain't No Mouse Music opens tonight at the IFC Center and will run for one week only. Chris Strachwitz, Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon will be there for Q&As after the 8:40pm screenings tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.

 


WIN TICKETS LEE RANALDO AND THE DUST

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Union Pool: 484 Union Ave. Brooklyn

This Saturday, Lee Ranaldo and the Dust will be performing in Brooklyn at Union Pool. Other Music has a pair of tickets to give away to see this iconic Sonic Youth guitarist, along with great opening sets from Metal Mountains (led by Tower Recordings' Helen Rush) and Tall Firs! Email giveaway@othermusic.com for your chance to win.


WIN PASSES TO DOWNTOWN FESTIVAL: NYC

OCTOBER 2 - 4

Thursday @ Irving Plaza 
Friday & Saturday @ Webster Hall

This great Downtown Records-curated event returns to New York City next week, rounding up a fantastic mix of local and international talent! The festival kicks off this coming Thursday, October 2 with Jungle at Irving Plaza, and then the next two nights will feature performances in all three rooms of Webster Hall from Kiesza, Autre Ne Veut, Zebra Katz, Saint Pepsi, and IAMSU! on Friday, and Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, Atlas Sound, Tobacco, Mas Ysa, Vacationer, TINK, and Computer Magic on Saturday. Go to the Downtown Festival website for more info, and email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win a pair of passes good for the whole event!

this week's update

APHEX TWIN
Syro
(Warp)

"There's an overemphasis on the new, especially on the part of the media who need this continuing diet of new things to write about. To be honest, I'd be happy to never hear anything new again. If you put out something that sounds completely new, it might sound revelatory in its time but, as with a lot of things, sounds rubbish a few years down the line."

Those words were spoken by Richard D. James back in 2003, eleven years before Syro, his first album of new material under the Aphex Twin name since 2001, was even a rumor through the grapevine. In listening to this feverishly anticipated release, these words kept echoing through my thoughts in the best possible way. I really love this record, filled with Aphex Twin's trademark playfulness, the melancholic detuned harmonics, and the labyrinthine layers of subtly tweaked details and unspooling beats that have positioned James as one of electronic music's most mythical figures and beloved creators.

What makes Syro such a surprise, though, are the ways in which he really isn't attempting to shock or jolt; on the contrary, the record plays to me like James' domestic bliss album -- he's spoken in recent interviews how his wife, two young children, and even his mother and father feature on the LP, and he seems to be more relaxed and jovial than he's ever been portrayed in the public eye. That comes through loud and clear on Syro, where it simply feels like he's cutting loose, playing with a palette of sounds that he genuinely loves, and having a bit of fun. That energy and enthusiasm is the lifeblood of the album, which to my ears comes across more than anything like a FUNK record. Thick, rubbery, squelching basslines, the boom-bap clatter of breakbeats tumbling over and chipping away at one another, and extended virtuosic solos are heavy features on nearly all of these tracks, not to mention the nods to what are believed to be the sounds of James' salad days -- acid, jungle, electro, and the shadows of rave all haunt the album's halls, but they come together in a way that oft makes me think of Coil producing hip-house tracks. It's delightfully perverse in concept, but even more delightful in the hands-up fun that the results produce.

James has said flat out that he doesn't feel the music on Syro to be particularly innovative, and for listeners who always looked to him for that next-level shit, they may find themselves disappointed. At the same time, I'm also reminded of a recent quote by songwriter Mark Kozelek, who spoke of the differences writing in his forties opposed to the music he made in his twenties: "At 47, I can't write from the perspective of a 25-year-old anymore. My life has just changed too much and my environment around me." Considering that the listeners who came up with Aphex's earliest records at the time of their release are all now pushing 40 and 50 themselves, the same can be said for 43-year-old Richard D. James, but Syro seems to be a postcard from a particularly warm and content place.

Would any of us have ever imagined such an album from Aphex Twin, particularly one that's so consistent and listenable, free of many of his more confrontational and impish impulses? It's ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you're down, but I personally think that the record is a welcome return, one which oddly and impressively seems to fuse together so many of the tangential strands of James' countless aliases and creative projects over the years, like taking analogue bubblebaths whilst windowlicking caustic polygons with rushup edges. He claims that with this release, he can now set aside the backlog of tracks he'd created in the years since Analord and the Tuss, and focus solely on brand new material. What comes next is anyone's guess, but with Syro looking to be the first Aphex Twin album to hit the upper reaches of the US Billboard charts -- as well as being a strong contender for the UK number one -- it's an impressive and deserving achievement for this artist. Welcome back, sir. [IQ]

$14.99 CD ON SALE
$31.99 3LP+MP3

GOAT
Commune
(Sub Pop)

Here's something to celebrate: a great new album from Goat, one of the most dynamic, exciting bands out there. Loyal OM customers probably know the Swedish collective by now, since we were early supporters of their phenomenal 2012 debut, but many don't. They were on a British label then, and distribution was limited. Also, Goat is not exactly publicity-friendly. They perform wearing masks, reportedly have a rotating list of players, and rarely grant interviews. Who are these people? That's anybody's guess. All we know is the story: They claim to hail from a small village in Sweden where a witch doctor practiced voodoo. Whether you believe this story is immaterial. Artistically it's true: Goat plays with the energy and mindset of people under a spell, and their music has a similar effect on their audience.

Now with indie stalwarts Sub Pop, Goat should win many new admirers with their sophomore LP, Commune. Once again, Goat's music ingeniously fuses psychedelia, Afrobeat, mystic chants, classic rock with wailing, reverb-drenched vocals. But there are plenty of hooks too. "Words," the album's best track, thunders with a Velvets-like sound and pace, sprinkled with some nice guitar lines; "Goatslaves" begins with spooky narration before launching into an fiery acid jam; "Hide from the Sun" could almost pass for Jefferson Airplane; while the thrilling instrumental "Bondye" builds to a smoldering, jarring climax. Not for the faint of heart, Commune is an exhilarating album by a band delivering music fresh and new. [JBr]

$13.99 CD
$18.99 LP+MP3


PERFUME GENIUS
Too Bright
(Matador)

With Too Bright, Perfume Genius has shed his skin of helplessness and introspective sadness; still raw, damaged and uncompromising, Mike Hadreas has nonetheless emerged from the darkness as "your queen -- cracked, peeling, riddled with disease." Two years ago, Hadreas would have doused these words in reverb, molding a humid synth dirge from his most vulnerable moments in life. He continues to remark largely on the past, but with a newfound aggression that fits even better than despair once did. And even aside from the album's refreshingly robust lyrical content, Hadreas' songs themselves have evolved beautifully. A minute into "Fool," the jazz fades into a single synth and Hadreas' poignant cooing, hitting hard enough just before building back into the same groove. Second single "Grid" begins with one tense note, repeated until the Genius himself breathes his tough cynicism among tribal ululations, and the track explodes. Working again with Ali Chant, as well as Portishead's Adrian Utley, and John Parrish, it's the most sonically interesting Perfume Genius record. But if there's a single reason to listen to his third album, it's without question for the song "Queen." Hilarious, empowering, brave, and addictive, this standout screams with poetic glory and sparkles with Egyptian gold. One of the best excerpts of pop this year, the single will bewitch any listener with its barking, whistling, and lilting. Too Bright is one of 2014's most innovative and effective pop albums, and very highly recommended. [MM]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$17.99 LP+MP3

MORENO VELOSO
Coisa Boa
(Luaka Bop)

While many know him as the son of one of the most legendary and beloved songwriters and musicians of Brazil, singer, composer and producer Moreno Veloso has long shown himself to be an immensely talented and innovative creative figure in his own right. He's released a number of wonderful records with the +2 band, and has played a pivotal role in reigniting the more leftfield, experimental streak in his father Caetano, having co-produced his recent string of brilliant art-rock albums.

It's with Moreno's new Coisa Boa, though, that the younger Veloso truly steps up with a near-perfect platter of gentle avant-bossa, fractured cubist samba, and hypnotic beachfront lullabies. Featuring collaborative session work by guitarists Arto Lindsay and Pedro Sá (co-producer and bandleader on Caetano's most recent album and backing band), bassist Melvin Gibbs, multi-instrumentalists and +2 comrades Domenico and Kassin, and a surprising appearance by Japanese avant-pop performer Takako Minekawa (who contributes vocals, synths, and assorted experimental treatments throughout), the album knits a breathtaking patchwork filled with gentle, woozy melodies, softly clattering percussion, intertwining guitars, and just enough oddity to keep the music surprising without sacrificing the masterful songcraft anchoring the proceedings.

Between Caetano's recent triumphs and Moreno's fantastic new record, the Veloso family has been on a hot streak in recent years; it's rare that the offspring of such a highly canonized performer is able to step up and produce comparable work to their predecessors, but Moreno manages with considerable aplomb while seeming cooly casual and nonchalant about doing so. This is one of my favorite albums of 2014, folks. It's truly a masterpiece!  [IQ]

$15.99 CD
$19.99 LP

BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY
Singer's Grave A Sea of Tongues
(Drag City)

Last night I saw the great new David Bowie Is documentary (actually a doc about a museum exhibit about Bowie), and even while listening to Will Oldham's new album, Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues, I can't seem to shake the impact of the chameleon-like evolution and artistic rebirth that Bowie has had again and again throughout his career. Obviously, to hold any artist up to that sort of standard is simply cruel -- David Bowie is unquestionably one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking artists pop music has ever seen -- but Will Oldham has forged an import and influential career through a series of artistic reinventions of his own, from his name to his band to his overall sound, and anyway I just have Bowie on the brain this morning.

These days though, while Oldham is always ready to upend the apple cart, his driving force seems to be simply to create, and his albums have been coming fast and furious, and with little warning -- I counted close to ten new LPs released in the last five years. This one is a reinvention of sorts, as the bulk of the tracks are new versions of songs from Bonnie "Prince" Billy's 2011 LP Wolfroy Goes to Town, with new, warmer and more welcoming productions, as well as new lyrics and arrangements in most cases. Where Wolfroy was spare and intense, these versions are bigger and a bit slicker; from the original recording sessions, Emmett Kelly returns, but Angel Olsen's haunting vocals have been replaced by the uplifting gospel harmonies of the McCrary Sisters, and Earl Scrugg's grandson Chris brings some great mandolin and ukulele melodies. It's a loose and usually engaging album of abstract country-folk, with a bit of shambling country-rock thrown in there, and overall, it's a solid and enjoyable listen from front to back.

If you are sensing that I'm a little bit underwhelmed, it's true -- even without Bowie's blinding beacon in my eyes, as a passionate fan of Oldham's from the very beginning, I'll admit that his recent records have largely struck me as "good," and rarely more. For all of his wry deception and idiosyncrasies, it has been a while since I've felt really challenged or excited by a new Bonnie "Prince" Billy album. But he does sing some awfully pretty songs. [JM]

$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP

EARTH
Primitive and Deadly
(Southern Lord)

New major statement from Pacific Northwest juggernauts Earth! Primitive and Deadly, their first in two years, is less a reinvention of the wheel but rather a return to full-blown form, with heavy-handed riffs, lots of sludgy, pulsating grooves, and a focused straight-faced intensity. For their last few albums Earth have been shedding their metallic skin in favor of a slightly more acoustic -- read: cello -- pensive, drone-laden feel. However, it's with great conviction and furiosity that record opener "Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon" blasts Primitive and Deadly off, with a vampyr-ian chug and tons of distortion. And like a snake charmer, lead guitarist Dylan Carlson spins slow-motion cyclical guitar webs around the steady pace of Adrienne Davies' studied drum rhythms.

The only real difference here is the addition of guest vocalists, most notably Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees, etc. His track, "There Is a Serpent Coming," is a somber if slightly uplifting sermon, with Lanegan cooing and spouting obtuse poetry over a very pretty minor-chord riff. His lyrics never get in the way, however, and only add to the Gospel-tinged Americana flavor of Earth's re-vamped 2000s sound. Next up is Rabia Shaheen Qazi, a new female voice on the scene whose heavy Ozzy-like delivery truly accents the signature tone of album centerpiece "From the Zodiacal Light," which clocks in around the 12-minute mark and never ceases. A truly great slab of darkened hard rock from the masters themselves. [RN]

$13.99 CD
$26.99 2LP

WILDEST DREAMS
Wildest Dreams
(Smalltown Supersound)

While many know DJ Harvey as an influential, well-respected British DJ who played a key role in bringing the disco/garage/Balearic house sounds to UK nightlife, few are aware that he actually got his start as a musician in his own right. He brings forth perhaps one of 2014's most delightfully surprising albums with Wildest Dreams, an eponymous album of a full-on rock band fronted by Harvey.

The vibe on Wildest Dreams is a loving throwback to the roots of late-'60s/early-'70s Hollywood Babylon: loose love, tight riffs, and an air of drug-addled occult mysticism. Harvey, who plays guitar, drums, and sings lead vocals throughout, reimagines himself in some kind of Nick Cave-in-Easy Rider scenario and holds court with that vibe throughout. He aesthetically nods to the Beach Boys' flirtations with the Charles Manson family, to the Venice Beach gangsters singing along to the Doors' "L.A. Woman," and to the hippy Satanism of Kenneth Anger's halcyon days. His songs alternate between tight-boogie groovers and loose, exploratory psychedelic jams, sometimes in the span of just one tune.

This album took me by complete surprise, and you don't really need to know a damn thing about Harvey's DJ past to enjoy it, as the only club culture Wildest Dreams really acknowledges is the Whisky a Go-Go; on the contrary, it's geared more toward fans of artists like Jimi Hendrix, Richard Hawley, Led Zeppelin, and the Bad Seeds. No big revelations here, but just a ragged motley crew of gnarly, acid-fried groovers tailor-made for road-trippin' or cold lampin'. Get wild. [IQ]

$13.99 CD

LAETITIA SADIER
Something Shines
(Drag City)

While it would be impossible to still be producing the kind of boundary-breaking sounds of their creative peak during the '90s, the founding members of Stereolab continue to release some very enjoyable music. The past year or so has seen Tim Gane returning to the motorik focus of the defunct "groop"'s earlier records with his new Cavern of Anti-Matter project, while singer Laetitia Sadier has been keeping busy with her newly formed "country band" Little Tornados (album out next month) as well as her current career as a solo artist. Like the previous two full-lengths released under her own name (and her Monade project for that matter), Something Shines nicely recalls the space-age lounge pop of Stereolab -- an easy listening blend of Brazilian bossa nova and MPB, mellow soundtrack funk, and closer-to-home French inspirations like the iconic Francoise Hardy and avant-chanteuse Brigitte Fontaine. Old fans hoping for any of the 'Lab's long, droning Krautrock excursions, however, won't find that here; even the most experimental tracks are closer to a '70s-era Alain Goraguer film score than Neu! But from the breezy open-chord jangle of guitar and melodic in-the-pocket bass lines, to the whirs of organ and vintage synths, and the lush accoutrement of vibes, strings, horns and flutes, there's no mistaking Something Shines as coming from any place else than the Stereolab universe. Of course, Sadier's gorgeous dulcet melodies -- sung in both French and English -- remain the centerpiece throughout and are as velvety as ever.

Something Shines is far from straightforward, however, and while pleasant to listen to, the arrangements are filled with twists and turns all along the way. Seven-minute opener "Quantum Soup" nicely shape-shifts between spacey, hypnotic jazz-funk and passages of free-floating cosmic tones, while "Butter Side Up" uses the same blueprint behind so many classics of her old band: retro sci-fi balladry that starts to percolate at the halfway point. Listeners might even mistake "Release from the Centre of Your Heart" as an unreleased Stereolab gem, with the rich layers of Sadier's Free Design-inspired vocal melodies and soaring '70s game-show-theme brass riding a slinky groove. In fact, the only real misstep of Something Shines comes near the end. Emboldened by Occupy and the ever-increasing gap between the haves and have-nots, Sadier's pointed lyrics ("They are a class, they are at war/Their plan is to transfer our wealth to under their sinister wing") during the darkly restrained "Obscuridad" come across as a clumsily spoken coffeehouse performance rather than the elegant allure of most of her other Marxist-leaning pop. Although heartfelt, Sadier's call to arms is still at its most effective when she's killing them softly with her song. [GH]

$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP

MONO/POLY
Golden Skies
(Brainfeeder)

Another cadet on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder starship goes out on a solo mission. Charles Dickerson (a/k/a Mono/Poly) has been in orbit around the L.A. beat scene for some time, but his new full-length comes across as a fresh start and proper landing for the producer. Golden Skies definitely falls in line with the label's catalogue from this year, as you'll hear bits of the blissful and billowing textures of Teebs, the melodic, head-nodding jazz-electronic fusion of FlyLo, the subdued use of voice á la Taylor McFerrin, Thundercat's throbbing cosmic-slop lounge, and the soulfully smeared treatments of Lapalux. Yes, like the rest of the Brainfeeder crew, Mono/Poly shares a common love for spacious laid-back beats, shimmering synths, cosmic harps, as well as an understanding of how electronics can come alive, emote feelings, and paint picturesque scenes using synthetic means, often pushing sound into unimaginable structures.

Mono/Poly's production skills have grown and mellowed since his 2010 debut, and here joined by BF session players like Mendee Ichikawa (who guests as the lone lead vocalist on "Empyrean"), vocalist Niki Randa, harpist Rebekah Raff and bassist Thundercat, Dickerson presents a less glitchy, more refined and tender aesthetic that at times recalls Boards of Canada. Standouts include "Ra Rise," its slow and open rhythmic strut, prismatic synth pattern, stretched-out hazy vocals and moody dropouts even bringing to mind an FKA Twigs dub. A few tracks later, "Urania" (named after the Greek muse of astronomy) indeed feels like the discovery of a planet -- that moment when your spaceship flies across the horizon, the sun illuminating your arrival to an unknown world. Another album highlight, "Night Garden" plays like a lost outtake from a Greek-funk Vangelis soundtrack, its driving yet suspense-filled sci-fi synths taking the passenger on a late-night fluorescent- and neon-hued ride over city streets and hillsides with the headlights aglow. Then the following track, "Euphoria," lures that same science fiction cruiser into Kuedo's hood, as low riders bounce and chrome rims spin.

Many of Brainfeeder's releases feel like they could be a perfect soundtrack to a video game and Golden Skies is no exception. That said, Mono/Poly's game is filled with more mood than action, sunsets instead of rifles, lovers not fighters, and soft edges replacing brick walls. It all makes for a solid release and a nice addition to the ever-flowing wealth of blissed-out space age bachelor pad electronica coming from the Golden State. Followers of any of the above, as well as producers like Nosaj Thing, Shigeto or Paul White, will find lots to enjoy here. [DG]

$15.99 CD
$25.99 LP+MP3

TWEEDY
Sukierae
(Anti)

Yup, as in Jeff, Wilco frontman and one of the best songwriters on the planet. But there's another Tweedy: Spencer, his 18-year-old son, who plays drums and despite his young age has already recorded on several other sessions. (Pity they didn't name this Tweedies.) So don't call Sukierae a solo album. It's the work of two accomplished musicians, one a lot more famous than the other.

Wilco fans will not be disappointed. Everything we love about that great band is here: Tweedy's warm, soulful vocals; the slashing, biting guitar work; the stellar songwriting, the creative arrangements. But Sukierae doesn't really sound like Wilco. It's a stripped-down affair, with father and son at the center (there are other musicians on the record, but they have minor roles). Jeff, who wrote all 20 songs on this double LP, is channeling AM rock more than ever, as the songs drift from singer-songwriter acoustic to psych to rock. "World Away" has a snarling bite, beautifully mixing shredding guitars with crisp drumming; "Low Key" is the album's catchiest track, with piano riffs and some neat vocal work; the warm, lovely "New Moon" has a Dylan-esque sound and structure. This is a long record, well in excess of one hour, but Sukierae never lags. Jeff knows how to keep the music flowing. It's also no vanity project on Daddy's part. Spencer can play. For an 18-year-old, he brings many influences to his performance, particularly jazz. His drumming is always lively and inventive, nicely complementing and never overshadowing Jeff's singing and guitar playing. Let's hope Sukierae is not a one-off; it's a welcome addition to Tweedy's outstanding body of work. [JBr]

$19.99 2CD

THE DRUMS
Encyclopedia
(Minor)

Although there has always been a dark streak running through the Drums' wistful pop -- even, arguably, on their feather-light debut single "Let's Go Surfing" -- the band really embraced their pain on 2011's Portamento. The drama and public fissures between members has since become part of the group's appeal, or at very least their image; now pared back to the core duo of Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, Encyclopedia is their darkest album to date, both lyrically and musically. When the songwriting for the new record began, Pierce said, the childhood friends were "feeling very angry, confused, and alone, and we wanted to be very honest this time around, even if being honest meant making some people uncomfortable." Pierce's statement rings undeniably true as Encyclopedia has already begun polarizing fans of the band. Despite the accessible nature of the songs' production, there is a looming sense of bleakness throughout that prevents any of the happier moments on display from being truly without worries.

With a synth-heavy, thin and melodic sound that owes a lot to vintage Brit-pop, this record is wrought with the anxious energy of a band actively trying to navigate through its problems, and this usually works in its favor. But it can be a hard mood to sustain for a full album, especially for a group that we know has a huge capacity for joyful release. "Face of God" rages forwards like any Drums song you've ever heard with an infectious hook and kaleidoscope synths that add chaos upon chaos. "Deep in My Heart" buzzes with frantic energy, all the while coated in the band's trademark reverb. "Break My Heart" is especially worth mentioning in that it represents the best possible scenario for Encyclopedia: an amalgamation of the aloof surf-rock sounds and the eerie, bold new synthesizers that the group has become so fond of. The remainder of the record veers between dizzying psychedelic rock ("Magic Mountain"), chill wave ("I Can't Pretend"), and admirable post-punk efforts ("Kiss Me Again"). In fact "Kiss Me Again," and the band's clear affinity of New Order/Joy Division post-punk, is the best way to distinguish their third LP from their previous works. Where before the Drums delivered their own brand of carefree yet secretly sinister surf-punk, here they seem more inclined to assert themselves as being more "serious" in their efforts to grow as artists. [CM]

$11.99 CD


KING TUFF
Black Moon Spell
(Sub Pop)

King Tuff, L.A.'s most charismatic rocker, is back with his second album on Sub Pop and it's a hook-filled winner. Kyle Thomas enlisted a bit of help from his buddy (and garage-rock royalty) Ty Segall, and his longtime partner Magic Jake, and has created a set of glam anthems, each with its own heavy hooks and riffs, that bring us back to Thomas' time shredding in stoner-rock heavy-hitters Witch, with J Mascis. It's no surprise then that Black Moon Spell is colossal in a way that King Tuff's previous albums have not been. More polished than anything he has done before, we can now see Tuff best alongside a mix of modern surf-pop rockers like Wavves and Black Sabbath-era metal, though a bit goofier than either. This album will certainly take Thomas' live shows to a new level of fun -- the lyrics are simpler and the choruses are more ripe for headbanging. It might not be quite as loose and lovable as its predecessor, but Black Moon Spell will bring you to your feet, or at least brighten your day with some crisply recorded jam sessions like "Demon from Hell" and the title track. [MM]

$13.99 CD
$18.99 LP+MP3


ALT-J
This Is All Yours
(Atlantic)

From the get go, Alt-J's sophomore full-length, This Is All Yours, seeks to immerse the listener within its sprawling world. As ambitious and quirky as the British trio's Mercury Prize-winning 2012 debut, the record builds on their unique brand of cerebral indie-prog, while straying even farther from the normative "alternative" center. The band's debut, love it or hate it (few are neutral), is a tough act to follow -- upon first listen, Thom Green's minimalist drumming and Gus Unger-Hamilton's gurgling synthesizers were sounds from another planet, but now these tools of the group are more familiar. Though less groundbreaking than its predecessor, This Is All Yours proves that, thankfully, Alt-J are still unapologetically their weird selves. Where An Awesome Wave was a carefully concocted five-year process, the new album is much looser and more off the cuff, and is better for it. The first single, "Hunger of the Pine," is, to say the least, rather eclectic. The song begins over a soft acoustic guitar. Before long the building-block percussion gathers under textural horns and saxophones that confidently drop into the indie rock equivalent of a hip-hop beat, complete with a Miley Cyrus sample, yet despite this chaos, the song somehow remains cohesive. Elsewhere, "Left Hand Free" sounds like a tune that could have been written one afternoon on a tour bus, evoking an out-of-character southern rock feel.

Singer Joe Newman still remains the band's most intriguing component. With one breath he's name-dropping the protagonist of The Matrix, with the next he confidently asserts he's going to "turn you inside out to lick you like a crisp packet." Then you get the most challenging moment, "The Gospel of John Hurt," an entire song devoted to the most infamous scene from the film Alien. This jarring, almost schizophrenic juxtaposition of images and themes is at times wholly engrossing and at others isolating, and This Is All Yours never truly finds a balance between those two extremes. However, Newman's liquid vocal performances and the band's impressive originality deliver this record despite its flaws, and solidify it as a worthy follow-up to Alt-J's hugely successful debut. [CM]

$13.99 CD
$27.99 2LP+MP3

also available

DNTEL
Human Voice
(Leaving/Stones Throw)

Postal Service producer Jimmy Tamborello returns with a new album under his Dntel moniker, his first since 2012's Aimlessness. Human Voice was originally issued as a limited edition 12" and cassette bundle via the California label Leaving Records, and here they've partnered up with Stones Throw to give it a wider release, enabling a much larger audience to hear the album's smudged, warbling sample beds and pulsating rhythm clatters. It's steeped in throwback bleep techno modes that nod strongly to both the halcyon days of the Warp label's early years, as well as the more chilled-out toytronic innocence of artists like Boards of Canada and Plone. It's a record seemingly meant not for the club, but rather for the comedown the next morning.

$11.99 CD


HELADO NEGRO
Double Youth
(Asthmatic Kitty)

The fourth album by New York-based songwriter and producer Roberto Carlos Lange, a/k/a Helado Negro, is his most assured and confident record yet. Throughout Double Youth's ten songs, he crafts detailed, intricate productions centered around snapping beats, faded samples and synths, and woozy, crooning vocals. The results come off like a gorgeous blend of Krautrock synthesis, tumbling dream-pop free falls, and some new romantic shoegaze cosplay. It's perhaps the best entry point into his beguiling world -- one that's likely to satisfy longtime fans whilst simultaneously attracting new ones as well. Recommended!

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$13.99 LP


MNDSGN
Yawn Zen
(Stones Throw)

MNDSGN's (pronounced mind-design) debut LP on Stones Throw features his moody, ethereal and grainy production style while staying true to his hip-hop roots. Yawn Zen lands itself on the softer side of the 'L.A. beat scene' sound with its frequent ethnic instrument samples and feather-light melodies. Recommended for fans of Flying Lotus and Madlib.

$11.99 CD
$15.99 LP

back in print

A.R. & MACHINES
Die Grune Reise
(Tangram)

Achim Reichel is right up there with Manuel Gottsching (Ash Ra) and Gunter Schickert as the premier Krautrock guitar player, who has undeservedly been toiling in relative obscurity, especially compared to Gottsching. Spanning the sublime and totally outrageous, Die Grune Reise, his 1971 debut, is a form of pretty bizarre post-psychedelia, with amazing layered (by the use of tape recorders, a/k/a the "Machines" in A.R. & Machines) and echo-ey guitar playing and hippie-inspired vocal ramblings and chants, that predates Gottsching's Inventions for Electric Guitar by three years. And there's a track that sounds like a Krautrock version of AC/DC. Yeah, it's that awesome.

Die Grune Reise was reportedly intended as "a soundtrack for an imaginary movie," and the bonus DVD included in this Tangram reissue sees Reichel's wish come to fruition: a 42-minute film for all 10 of the album's tracks created by 60 students of the Lippe and Höxter's University of Applied Sciences, as well as a 10-minute making-of video. It's all housed in a six-panel, tri-fold deluxe digi-pack, with liner notes in both German and English penned by Jörg Gülden. [AK]

$24.99 CD+DVD

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