SC Distributon

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2016-03-18
Damien Jurado: Visions of Us on the Land

Providing the ideal entry point for neophytes and an intoxicating aural high for the faithful, Damien Jurado's new opus extends the hot streak ignited by 2012's Maraqopa and its 2014 follow-up Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Cut once again with label mate and super producer Richard Swift at the latter's National Freedom recording facility in rural Oregon, Visions of Us On The Land completes the tale of an individual who has had to disappear from society in order to discover some universal truths.

Damien Jurado: Visions of Us on the Land (Deluxe Edition)

Providing the ideal entry point for neophytes and an intoxicating aural high for the faithful, Damien Jurado's new opus extends the hot streak ignited by 2012's Maraqopa and its 2014 follow-up Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Cut once again with label mate and super producer Richard Swift at the latter's National Freedom recording facility in rural Oregon, Visions of Us On The Land completes the tale of an individual who has had to disappear from society in order to discover some universal truths.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2016-02-05
Benji Hughes: Songs in the Key of Animals

North Carolina's Benji Hughes fronted a rock band in the nineties. He's written commercial jingle. He's made music for film and television (Walk Hard, Eastbound & Down). He released 2008's A Love Extreme, his excellent double-LP debut record. But these ventures aren't different hats Hughes wears. They're not different paths traveled. This is Hughes playing in different keys.

Now, for his first full-length on Merge, Benji Hughes is playing Songs in the Key of Animals. Recorded over two years mostly at Frisbie studios in New York, the record is 41 minutes of pop-music exploration. The album has a summertime immediacy but an evergreen resonance (see "Longshot"). It's clever but too deep for punchlines (check the excellent back and forth of "Picnic"). It is sincere ("Girls Love Shoes") yet heartbreaking ("Song for Nancy"). It's eccentric but never forced in its strangeness. It's the kind of record that reminds us music can be fun without being empty. It's an album full of peacocks and sharks and zebras and tigers, but ultimately, it's about us. "People are animals," Hughes says, "even if some people don't want to admit it." Songs in the Key of Animals taps into something beyond just intellect or trend or taste. It's all about the feel, the connection between the player, the music, and the listener.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2016-01-22
Half Japanese: Perfect

Half Japanese is one of the most influential bands in rock history. Founded by brothers Jad & David Fair in 1975, the band is credited with pioneering the DIY and lo-fi movements and influencing everyone from Sonic Youth and Neutral Milk Hotel to Daniel Johnston and Kurt Cobain (who asked the band to open some of the dates on Nirvana's In Utero tour.) Known for dismissing conventional music basics like melody, song structure and chords (and for Jad's famous line "the only chord I know is the one that connects the guitar to the amp"), Half Japanese operated under the premise that rock music should be accessible to anyone who wanted to play.

On January 22nd, Joyful Noise will release Half Japanese's new full-length album, Perfect, a collection of songs that feature otherworldly sounds, chaotic rhythms, and weird time signatures, topped off with Jad's brash vocals and oddball lyrics. Its tracks run the gamut from sweet love songs with overtly sincere lyrics to manic, almost abrasive tracks that seem to end before you can fully wrap your head around them. With Perfect, Half Japanese manages to combine elements of every genre imaginable into one strange, unpredictable, and undeniably-catchy package.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2016-01-22
Lord RAJA: PARA

PARA is Lord RAJA's second full-length and the first that fully captures his vision for his music. "This is probably my most successful attempt at making a consistent work," he says. "I was really conscious about making a record that wouldn't alienate people." Which doesn't mean he cut back on experimentation. If anything, PARA is his most adventurous work to date. Every song makes use of RAJA's Lexicon PCM 90 and an Eventide H3000 that he modified himself to get the effects he heard in his head. RAJA used these processors as instruments, creating customized reverb and textures to suit each song.

"The title, PARA is an open-ended 'For,'" RAJA explains. "It could be 'For You,' it could be 'For' something you're doing. Ultimately, it's for whatever you want it to be for." PARA retains that flexibility and fluidity, while staying true to the person who made it. "I feel like I was very prepared to make this album," RAJA says. "I wanted to include everyone, and say 'This is my voice.'" On PARA, that voice comes through loud and clear.

Klaus Johann Grobe: Baby lass uns sein b/w Ich bien nicht der Grund

Klaus Johann Grobe continue to confound listeners who dare to pidgeonhole them as a "psych" band with their newest single for Chicago-based Trouble In Mind Records, "Baby lass uns Sein" b/w "Ich Bien nicht der Grund". "Baby Lass uns Sein" is a mainstay of the group's live repertoire, a tender ballad that - depending on the band's vibe opens or closes their set with it's mellow metronomic pulse, lilting organ chords & tinkling Moog sparkles. The flip side "Ich Bien nicht der grund" is classic a KJG dance-floor-filler; it's stark beat & thumping bass grounding stratosphear-arching organ drones and chorded keyboard musings. Landolt guides his Moog Prophet thru an array of effects, oscillating it toward new, and decidedly weirder places. The 7-inch single of "Baby Lass Uns Sein" is pressed on black vinyl, comes housed in the Trouble In Mind company sleeve & includes a download code.

Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U Ahn-Sahm-Buhl: We Are Not The First

We Are Not The First features the interstellar ensemble of Marshall Allen, Daniel Carter, Greg Fox, Shelley Hirsch, Shahzad Ismaily, Elliott Levin, Rafael Sanchez, and Ben Vida directed in deep dialogue through humans' hidden sound history by Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being. Hieroglyphic Being & the J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Bul demonstrate that vitality lives in its collectivity and a sonic-consciousness exists somewhere in the primordial ooze.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-10-30
Jaye Bartell: Loyalty

Born in Massachusetts, Jaye Bartell moved to Asheville, NC, in the early 2000s where he began playing music among friends as a parallel activity to his work with poetry and other writing. Writing was his main focus for most of a decade - a time that involved constant traveling and moving around the U.S., mostly between North Carolina and the Pacific NW, where he lived on a small island in northern Washington.

He released his first album, Feeling Better, Pilgrim, in 2008. The album incorporated live incidental sounds (wind, chimes, traffic, birds), some of which were manipulated and processed as loops, but emphasized vocal melody and lyrics above all.

Bartell moved back to Asheville in 2009 and recorded The Dog's Dinner. He continued to write, record, and perform intensively in Asheville for the next few years with Parish and other musician, although most of the recorded output came from live performances. He recorded the EP Elation with Asheville musician J Seger in 2012, as well as the full-length, full-band album Loyalty in 2013 with Parish, Seger, and Emily Easterly.

Bartell moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in the fall of 2013, where he began working on the new set of material that will furnish his next release - a set of songs that examine and resist transcendence, dissociation, and departure to "find a home on earth" as Robert Creeley wrote, and take images and inspiration from hot air balloons, Spalding Gray, and the neighborhood around McGolrick Park.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-10-16
John Carpenter: Lost Themes Remixed

John Carpenter has inspired countless musicians since his earliest minimal, synth-based film scores. The themes to his features like Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, and Escape from New York have remained instantly recognizable since he penned them nearly four decades ago. In February 2015, Sacred Bones released his first solo record of non-soundtrack music, Lost Themes, to overwhelming critical success. The Horror Master proved that not only could he perfectly score his own films - he could also score the movies in your mind.

Eight pivotal contemporary electronic artists were moved to reshape the original songs on Lost Themes in tribute to one the genre's great pioneers. Several of the remixes were released as part of the digital deluxe edition of the album, but Lost Themes Remixed marks the first time any of the tracks have been on vinyl.

Akira Sakata & Jim O'Rourke with Chikamorachi & Merzbow: Flying Basket

Flying Basket is a zonked and fantastic double album of avant jazz, discord and deconstructed rock by five master practitioners. It also marks the debut collaboration by a pair of Japan's legendary transgressors -- saxophonist Akira Sakata and noise pioneer Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. For the past ten years Sakata has rededicated himself to fiery free jazz alongside guitarist Jim O'Rourke and monstrous rhythm section Chikamorachi -- Chris Corsano (drums) and Darin Gray (double bass, percussion). Sakata's playing remains beautiful and exploratory as it did 40 years ago.

But with this quartet, plus special guest Merzbow, the wheels snap off: Sakata ejects the sax and howls; O'Rourke bleeds the guitar of melody, leaving only pulsating electricity. The drum/bass truly swing it and nail it down like Ali/Garrison. Merzbow's analogue sound mass cut textured furrows headlong into these four, leaving behind harmonic shifts and caterwauling in the wake. There's minimalist motifs and repeating horn/bass/six-string phrases woven in but Flying Basket remains a massive free flowing, hallucinatory zone of propulsion. No clichés. They just kick out the jams.

Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin December 2014 by Rashad Becker. 150 gram LPs housed in popping gatefold jacket hand sculpted by Jeremy Kannapell; CD in a Stoughton tip-on mini-LP sleeve.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-09-18
James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg: Ambsace

The second album of astonishing duets by guitarists James Elkington (who has toured and/or recorded with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and Steve Gunn, among others) and Nathan Salsburg (an accomplished soloist deemed by NPR "one of those names we'll all associate with American folk guitar") is a sublime suite of nimble, filigreed compositions by two singular stylists. Belying its title - "ambsace" is the lowest throw of dice; snake eyes - the record thrives on a gentle empathy and generosity of spirit, sitting sneakily protean original compositions alongside gorgeous arrangements of songs by Duke Ellington and The Smiths at the same big hand-hewn table.

"Their playing and guitar tones are so complementary, so perfectly wed that I wouldn't hesitate to put the duo up there with some of the very best acoustic guitar partnerships: Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn come immediately to mind, as does the work of Richard Crandell and Bill Bartels." - Work & Worry

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-09-18
Jerusalem In My Heart: If He Dies, If If If If If If

Radwan Ghazi Moumneh returns with a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes Montréal and Beirut. Since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly Montréal-based live/theatrical happening, Moumneh has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East. While JIMH continues to expand to include a larger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently an immersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound/composition and filmmaker Charles-André Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations.

Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan's expressive acoustic playing on buzuk and zurna as a point of departure. If He Dies, If If If If If If is an adventurous, scrupulous, impassioned and highly original work of modern contemporary Arabic music and a gratifying sign that JIMH is situating itself in recorded works with the same thoughtful and dynamic intensity previously accessible only in live performances.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-09-04
Joan Shelley: Over and Even

Joan Shelley quickly follows her acclaimed 2014 album Electric Ursa with Over and Even, a quieter, more contemplative set recorded in a farmhouse in her home state of Kentucky. The New York Times said "her music is folky and pastoral, with a sense of scale that makes her humble about her place in mankind and the universe, and her songs are serene but never complacent." Over and Even is her third record.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-08-07
Pridjevi: Pridjevi

Pridjevi is the recording project of Dino Santaleza , Ivana Picek & Nina Romic; a trio of Croatian songwriters who formed the band on a lark, trading ideas & songs over email until birthing what would become Pridjevi's debut album. After releasing it via Bandcamp in the spring of 2014 as a digital-only release, the album caught the ears of Trouble In Mind who present it here in the vinyl & compact disc format. Pridjevi's s/t debut is a dizzyingly psychedelic magnum-opus & a stunning debut, stitching together a seemingly disparate range of inspirations such as psychedelia, acid rock, baroque pop, Tropicalia, and Eastern ragas into an addictivel listenable whole. The band sings entirely in Croatian, but the melodies & songs carry the entire weight of the album, holding the listener's attention until the last note is struck. Pridjevi's tunes feel almost like rock devotionals to a higher spirit; heavy, hypnotic & wholly unique. The band has evolved into a fully functional live unit, playing shows & festivals in Europe, building a solid fanbase, particularly in their native country, where the band has already been featured in Rolling Stone & beyond.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-08-07
Syl Johnson: Complete Twinight Singles

"There are many great soul singers, but few has inspired hip hop from its early beginning to now. Syl Johnson is a unsung pioneer of musical fusion." - RZA

Syl Johnson began the '60s a blues singer and session guitarist and concluded it having synthesized his own brand of gritty Chicago soul. Their first signee, Syl Johnson set the tone at Twinight Records, writing and producing fifteen 45s during his four year tenure with the label. This double LP neatly bundles each side of each of Johnson's Twinight 45s, from the heavily-sampled grunts on "Different Strokes," to the ghetto-conscious "Concrete Reservation."

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-06-23
Juan Wauters: Who Me?

Who Me? is the next chapter in the ongoing story of Juan Wauters. Whereas his debut solo record was recorded casually over the course of one year, his new album was crafted in under two weeks at Future Apple Tree in Rock Island, Illinois. Inspired by both the arrangements of Uruguayan songwriter Jaime Roos and the production of American master Dr. Dre, this collection of songs presents his continued approach to existential questioning through pop music. Tracks like "She Might Get Shot" and "I Was Well," which may seem like wisdom addressed to the listener, are in fact part of Juan's reciprocal process of self-actualization through songwriting and performing. Bringing new sounds to his repertoire, "This Is I" and "Through That Red" add a spiritual tone with ethereal string arrangements. Juan's voice - which has risen to the forefront of his music since his first recordings with The Beets - intensifies with added nuance. This year Juan Wauters will continue to tour the world in support of his second solo record.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-06-23
Royal Jesters: English Oldies

Twenty-eight homespun stunners from the Alamo City's scrappiest souleros. The Royal Jesters were the kings of San Antonio's cross-cultural teen scene in the 1960s, soundtracking lovelorn slow dances with their heart-sick harmonies. For the first time, English Oldies gathers the best early doo-wop, R&B, and blazing Latin rock and soul from these Tex-Mex masterminds - a simmering melting pot of diverse regional flavors, best served hot.

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-06-09
J. Fernandez: Many Levels of Laughter

"There's a certain, undeniable feeling associated with the songwriting of J. Fernandez. There are plenty of familiar touchstones and influences deep and intricately woven; Marquee Moon guitars, an affectless, Kraftwerk-ian singing style, psychedelic dissonance and melodic structures not entirely unlike The United States of America, and a modern warmth like Chris Cohen's work with The Curtains and Deerhoof. But, dropping these names doesn't adequately sum up what J. Fernandez has captured here. On Many Levels of Laughter, he has invited us into his own, very special, Universe. One that presumably exists only in his head, or at the very least in the Chicago bedroom where he recorded the album, alone.

Giving yourself over to this record for 36-or-so minutes is a bit like agreeing to Gene Wilder's version of The Wondrous Boat Ride, you're going to experience things you don't expect. Some of it will be immediately wonderful, some of it will be confusing and magnificent. Only, instead of a nightmare-fueled, psychotropic freak-out, it feels more like a Brian Wilson daydream, magically stepping into the scraps of tape and interlude left on the cutting room floor once they finally got around to assembling SMiLE." - Mike Adams

Title
Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-06-09
Jenny Hval: Apocalypse, girl

Think big, girl, like a king; think kingsize. Jenny Hval's new record opens with a quote from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup, and continues towards the abyss. Apocalypse, girl is a hallucinatory narrative that exists somewhere between fiction and reality, a post-op fever dream, a colourful timelapse of death and rebirth, close-ups of impossible bodies - all told through the language of transgressive pop music.