Intensity Ghost is a follow-up to last years critically acclaimed Solar Motel album, which made year end lists at The New Yorker, Uncut Magazine and Popmatters and provoked ecstatic comparisons; from Television and Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Richard Thompson and The Grateful Dead. Solar Motel came together as a solo album but the band Forsyth assembled to tour the record - bassist Peter Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin'), and drummer Steve Urgo (ex-War on Drugs) - took things to another level and quickly became a powerhouse. Forsyth brought the group into the studio in late 2013 to capture what became Intensity Ghost, a 5-track masterwork of grace and power.
"I write about the things I know, but it should be interesting for other people. So I want it to be like a really great roman-a-clef, or reading your older sisters diary."
Berlin based songwriter Dan Bodan was born in the wide open Canadian prairies and raised in Montreal. Reared on the cities underground noise and experimental music scene, Bodan moved to Berlin 8 years ago. Blossoming in the cities unique mixture of crumbling old-world European values, start-up philanthropy, sleepless techno and epic grey skies, he began writing songs to soundtrack his train rides through the city and make sense of it all.
Working together with a team of world-class producers, poets and artists, he writes songs to fit comfortably in that space between the finger and the mousepad, the bedroom and the club, the earth and the ether.
From the beginning, the Lily & Madeleine's calling card has been the breathtaking and intuitive union of their voices. When the two come together in ecstatic and seamless "blood harmony," it's a sound that continues to haunt long after the songs are sung, leaving an electrical charge behind like a sparkling tracer in the air. When they step out individually as vocalists, Lily's warm, smoky alto is the counterpoint to Madeleine's crystalline, bell-like soprano. Those who first fell in love with the disarming beauty of Lily & Madeleine's voices on their debut EP "The Weight of the Globe" and their full-length follow-up "Lily & Madeleine" will find the same otherworldly harmonies on their new release "Fumes". With ten dazzling tracks, this record finds the sisters once again teaming with esteemed producer and manager Paul Mahern and stellar songwriting collaborator Kenny Childers. As the sisters have grown as people and artists, so has their sound evolved. The scope is broadened here. The music is expansive, the instrumentation multi-layered. This is an entrancing production that allows both singers to stretch out in new directions. Like the sun slanting through a window in a Vermeer painting, it’s an experience that captures the subtleties of both shadow and light.
Following the success of Highly Refined Pirates' forward-thinking guitar gymnastics and Menos El Oso's groundbreaking glitch rock, Seattle's premier pop revisionists Minus The Bear dug into some of rock music's most ostentatious years for inspiration for their 2007 album, Planet of Ice. The title alone conjures images of Yes's Relayer album art, and the influence of the elder statesmen's symphonic scope can be felt throughout Planet of Ice's lush and intricate arrangements. You can also hear the band channel the ominous instrumental interplay of Lamb-era Genesis on "Dr. L'Ling", the deceptively savvy musicianship and pristine production of Steely Dan on "White Mystery", and the tightrope walk between ethereal space and pre-metal riffage of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" on "Lotus". Not that Minus The Bear completely abandoned their earlier style--elements of Menos El Oso's sample-driven technique can be heard on the lead single "Knights". But the heart of the song ultimately belongs to the haunting Fripp-esque guitar lines spliced between verses. After being out of print on record since 2010, Suicide Squeeze is proud to reintroduce Planet of Ice's creative marriage of classic motifs and modern musical wizardry with a vinyl remaster courtesy of Bernie Grundman.
The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness are a pair of new albums by MONO. Recorded simultaneously yet conceptually and creatively disparate, the two act as both opposing and complementary sides to a story. No strangers to narratives, the twin albums explore familiar themes for the band: Hope and hopelessness, love and loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Those elemental parts of life and the complicated relationships they create have never been more resonant through MONO's music than they are here. The Last Dawn is the first of these two companion albums, and is the "lighter" of the two, thematically and melodically. It contains undoubtedly some of MONO's strongest songs ever, drawing on an array of influences from minimalist film score to vintage shoegaze. It is MONO at their absolute purest, executing an uncanny, unspoken dialogue with each other without the dozens of stringed instruments that have been so prominent throughout their catalog in recent years. The songs are also noticeably more efficient - there hasn't been a MONO full-length record that fit on a single slab of vinyl since 2003's One Step More And You Die - and the album benefits immeasurably from this streamlined approach. MONO have always been masters of telling compelling stories without words. But now they've proven they can do it without frills, too.
The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness are a pair of new albums by MONO. Recorded simultaneously yet conceptually and creatively disparate, the two act as both opposing and complementary sides to a story. No strangers to narratives, the twin albums explore familiar themes for the band: Hope and hopelessness, love and loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Those elemental parts of life and the complicated relationships they create have never been more resonant through MONO's music than they are here. Rays of Darkness is the first MONO album in 15 years to feature no orchestral instruments whatsoever. That fact alone is remarkable given the band's reputation for sweeping, dramatic instrumentals that recall Oscar-worthy film scores. Instead, Rays of Darkness more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a small, crowded auditorium. It is MONO's blackest album ever, a collection of scorched riffs, doom rhythms, and an unexpected contribution from post-hardcore pioneer Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy. The album ends with the smoldering wreckage of distorted guitars and ominous drones playing out a eulogy to the days when MONO shot blinding rays of light through seemingly endless darkness.
Mysteries is just as it implies. A few months ago the felte label received an anonymous demo accompanied by a photo of 3 figures, faces covered like some sort of futuristic druids. To this day the label still doesn't know the group's origin, but the joy of discovering this music unimpeded renders this fact almost irrelevant.
There's a sense that the band would prefer to keep your focus on the music and not who they are, where they come from or what you might perceive them to be before hearing a single note. If you need glorious mug shots and preamble to capture your intrigue, then this is not for you. The album's title, New Age Music is Here, could even be a sarcastic shot at the new listening habits dictated by the constant noise all around us, but is more likely a simple invitation to engage with the music on its own terms, in its own universe.
One thing is certain, New Age Music Is Here glows with exotic, crunchy, muscular, expressive pop music built around vocals and drums, rather than the big synth or guitar riffs prevalent today. Almost like a psych-rock, cyborg, 50's doo-wop Alice Coltrane if you will. Is it truly new age? We definitely haven't heard much like it.
Ought has been gathering momentum the old-fashioned way, with a humble and deceptively unassuming post-punk debut that's been worming its way into many ears thanks to its combination of intelligence, authenticity, directness, simplicity and energy; and driven by live performances wherein the band's channeling of genuine passion, politics and charisma is exuberantly galvanizing audiences.
Ought's full-length More Than Any Other Day has been showered with accolades. Discussion of a tour-only release that would commit a couple of the band's self-recorded early tunes to vinyl shifted towards a realization that Ought wanted to update some of this material to reflect how the songs have evolved on stage and in concert. A weekend session at Montréal's Hotel2Tango in June 2014 yielded new recordings of two early pieces, "Pill" and "New Calm Pt. 2" along with the brand new, more experimental "New Calm Pt. 3". The fantastic non-album track "Waiting" from the More Than Any Other Day sessions rounds out this 4-song, 24-minute, vinyl-only offering.
Rather than restrict this freshly recorded material to tour-only status, Constellation is making it available to indie retail; a very fine EP that rounds up Ought's first two years of songwriting and reveals exciting additional facets of the band.
Slim Twig is the name of a man, not of a band - though he has performed in many a group, some under his own moniker. Boasting a catalogue several under-the-radar releases deep, the Toronto native lays claim to a tremendously original work with his orchestrally-inflected, art rock album, A Hound At The Hem. Self-produced in the fall, 2010, Hound is a suite of narrative songs thematically inspired by Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. DFA is privileged to re-issue this album in advance of the release of Twig's newest works. Upon completing AHATH in 2010, Twig struggled to find wide release for it due to its uncompromising textural onslaught and disregard for genre. This course of events set the stage for the composition and release of Sof' Sike, a somewhat more conventional set of pop songs released on Paper Bag Records, in 2012.
Recorded on Toronto Island in collaboration with fellow Torontonian, Louis Percival, the album features string arrangements by Owen Pallett, and other collaborators including Meg Remy (U.S. Girls), Carl Didur (Zacht Automaat), and the St. Kitts Quartet.
As a concept-album exploring the troubling and the taboo and themes like the transformative power of lust, AHATH can be interpreted as an echo-like response to Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier's Histoire De Melody Nelson.
Recorded at K's own Dub Narcotic Studios, The Shivas' fourth LP will have you on your feet. With all of the fierce energy and body shakin' that The Shivas are known for, You Know What To Do (KLP252) encapsulates that, and much more. Recorded and mixed on tape by Calvin Johnson, it is an apt follow-up to WHITEOUT (KLP242), and features the title track of The Shivas, "You Make Me Wanna Die 7" EP" (IPU143) released last April. Amongst the 13 tracks of the album, you can glance the many faces of the The Shivas' musical style. From the blistering heat of tracks like "Old Lightning Rod" to the cool groove of "Ride On", the record also touches down into the slower tempos on tracks such as the deeply psychedelic "Let It Happen To You". This is The Shivas record we have all been waiting for, so don't hesitate, you know what to do.
Following their stark nod to the heroes of an industrial past, No One Can Ever Know, The Twilight Sad has dug into their own past to form an album that's bracing, biting and as widescreen as anything in their canon. The band, ever ambassadors of Scottish gloom, have harnessed their dark muse once again and drawn on their prowess in the live arena to track a record that proves they can translate the power of their stage show to tape.
"We spent a lot of time at home when writing this new record, we got to hang out with old friends and get back to some sort of normality, which I think really helped me clear my mind and focus in on writing these new songs," Graham says. "I had a lot I wanted to get off my chest and I've done that with this new record." A first listen to the album confirms everything the band has said - noisy, densely layered, and deeply melodic, it wouldn't be out of line to say this may be their best yet. One thing's for sure - the Twilight Sad have still got a lot of life left in them.
Not quite hell, but close enough. Local Customs: Cavern Sounds covers six years lost in the deranging darkness of Independence, Missouri's Pixley limestone mine, where a team of misfit engineers captured the reverberating echoes of Kansas City's rock 'n' roll blasting cap. Taped in the subterranean studio headspace of Cavern between 1967 and 1973 are previously unissued recordings by Jaded, Larry Sands & the Sound Affair, Sheriff, Mulligan, Stone Wall, Morningstar, the Montaris, and the Dantes, alongside the most explosive tracks released on KC's Pearce, Rock, and Cave labels by the likes of the Reactions, Burlington Express, the Classmen, Fraight, American Sound Ltd, Baxter's Chat, 21st Century Sound Movement, Pretty, Tide, and A.J. Rowe.