Songs: Ohia: Didn't It Rain (Deluxe Reissue)
Didn't It Rain is Jason Molina's first perfect record. Recorded live in a single room, with no overdubs and musicians creating their parts on the fly, the overall approach to the recording was nothing new for Molina. But something in the air and execution of Didn't It Rain clearly sets it apart from his existing body of work. His albums had always been full of space, but never had Molina sculpted the space as masterfully as he does on Didn't It Rain.
Songs: Ohia: Didn't It Rain (Deluxe Reissue) Bundle
Album on both 2xLP and 2xCD, containing previously unreleased demos recorded for the Didn't It Rain sessions
GIANT 27" x 39" Songs: Ohia Didn't It Rain cinema style poster, suitable for framing. Rolled and shipped in a separate tube mailer
Digital download code for the album (as a .zip file containing 320kbps mp3s), redeemable two weeks before release date on October 28, 2014
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness: Dust
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness has reemerged from the shadows with their second full-length album Dust. Produced by Paul Barker of Ministry, Dust picks up where 2006's Fear Is On Our Side left off, with ten new tracks of dark, driving, propulsive rock.
These taut songs have no need for unnecessary arrangements or artifice. Chosen Darkness' music is honest, and never stiff; affected, but not whining. Dust's minimalist artwork and specificity of tone demonstrate an elegance & wisdom, as these 10 songs evoke the foggy landscapes of Twin Peaks (the misty "Safety", fatalistic "You Are Dead To Me") as well as a burning storm. It is high time for I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness to come back into the light.
Electric Youth: Innerworld
In a click-bait driven music scene, it's rare to find an album that stands the test of time, but Toronto-based synth duo Electric Youth may have managed that rare feat with their spectral, stunning debut album Innerworld. "We wanted to make something that had the sense of being timeless," says Austin Garrick, the band's instrumentalist alongside vocalist Bronwyn Griffin. "Our ultimate goal is to make a record that will be the favourite album of people that aren't born yet."
With their swooning collaboration with College, "A Real Hero", featured in Nicolas Winding Refn's universally acclaimed neo-noir Drive, a place in the history books is arguably already theirs. After cracking the Top 10 of the iTunes dance charts in 15 countries, the band stepped back from the limelight to take their time to work on a full-length. "We get asked a lot 'how have guys not already put out an album - that would have been a good time to do it'", admits Austin. "But at the end of the day, more important for us than capitalising on timing is really making sure that we would have the record that we wanna have."
Recording took place between the duo's Toronto studio and their home studio in LA. Each space served its different purpose - in Toronto Austin was able to make use of his extensive vintage synth collection, making up what he estimates is 80% of analogue sounds on the album. In LA meanwhile, the pair recorded Bronwyn's vocals, of which they share writing duties for - in their space - which includes a film projection room. Fritz Lang's boundary-breaking twenties classic Metropolis was a favourite. It's easy to see how the vast scope of Lang's movie inspired the wide-eyed vistas of Innerworld, where soundscapes bleed into vocals and songs take you on journeys into roads unexplored.
The artwork for Innerworld is similarly starry-eyed, with British artist Paul Roberts painting Austin and Bronwyn as intrepid children for the cover. "He was in a group called Sniff 'n' the Tears who had a big hit in the 70s with their song "Drivers Seat", which we came to know through its use in Boogie Nights. We loved his album covers which he would paint and from there we discovered he went on to incredible work as an artist" says Austin. "The initial intention was for it to be more about the landscape, but we liked it and it did make sense to us, going back to the concept of Innerworld? Bronwyn and I have known each other since we were 10 years old and a lot of the time we're still the same kids in our mind, in our inner world. And so for us you could say, in our inner world that's what we look like - those two kids." With their music's unquenchable sense of wonder, perhaps they're not too far from those kids today. "David Lynch never wants to define the meanings of his films," says Austin. "Similarly, we don't like to get too specific about the meaning of our music." When it sounds this good, who needs to put their music into a box? Let their inner world wash over you.
Electric Youth: Innerworld (Deluxe Bundle)
1. Innerworld on limited edition color vinyl2. Limited edition 7" - "Modern Fears" b/w "Final Girl"3. Innerworld on CD4. 11" x 17" poster5. Digital download code for the album (containing 320kbps MP3s) redeemable one (1) week before release date on September 23, 2014.
The emergence of Swedish duo JJ in March 2009 was both meaningful and mysterious. A debut single, jj no.1, enchanted the music press, simultaneously existing across indie-pop and hip-hop spectrums, excitingly new and yet frustratingly vague in its presentation. This was a taste, a scent, something intangible, an impression made without force. The music was here, but little else - its makers remained anonymous. Pitchfork's Best New Music review for the band's debut album, summer 2009's jj no.2, spoke first of their enigmatic qualities, rather than precisely what this music was: another sumptuous menagerie of styles, blended by an expert hand, intoxicating and otherworldly. Both Elin Kastlander and Joakim Benon appeared in the Marcus Söderlund-directed video to "Let Go". Cover, broken.
"We didn't mean to be anonymous, to begin with," says Kastlander. "We just knew we needed to put our music out."
"I'd say we've been working on this album our whole lives," says Benon of V, the band's third long-player. "It's the thing I've always wanted to do. I feel that we've been working on this album ever since we began to record music. We have never really had any other plan than to make this V shit happen and at the same time we never knew what it was - the story presented itself to us - and it's a story that's always been clear. It's only grown in its own way. And now we're finished, we look at it and back at it, and can begin to realize what it really is, what we have done, because it's something you don't necessarily decide for yourself, even though you've made it. And the songs... we don't write them, we just do our best to catch them forever, for real." JJ have, with new album V, realised the definitive expression of their experiences to date, and are finally comfortable with being a press-welcoming, tour-ready outfit.
As Benon explains, everything the pair has produced in the past has been part of this journey, to a zenith that they always sought to reach. But just as "My Boyz" exists exclusively in and of itself, so too does the new album's material, always envisioned as a whole, separate from other projects despite carrying over select DNA from its pop progenitors.
Tracks like the gorgeously understated "Be Here Now" and subtle strings of "When I Need You" float into clarity, coming together from vaporous beginnings. The latter number is one of several on V that showcase how Kastlander has grown as a vocalist. Hers is no indiscernible mumble, no vulnerable presence set to music that fizzes like a beachside cocktail on "Fågelsången" and soars on digital wings on "All White Everything"; rather, it's a mix-spearing confirmation that, whatever the bruised heart or open sexuality behind the lyrics, she's intent on connecting without compromise. Words are crisp, intonation perfect. There's still a hard thud on occasion, too: "Hold Me" opens with lean-flavoured raps, before twisting into a stained-glass confessional of absolute gravity, and "All Ways, Always" packs substantial swagger beside its rock riffs.
"We do it now," sings Kastlander on "I". And now really is the time for JJ, as acknowledged by Benon. "At last I have music that I really want to listen to, that I want to hear from a stage. In a way, we've made this music quite selfishly, to appeal primarily to ourselves and I really haven't felt this way about our material before. This is the moment. It's for real now."
And why do anything to restrict the sharing of that joy? Evidently at the top of their game in 2014, JJ are ready to, in Benon's words, "communicate with the world", quite unlike they've ever done so before. They're embracing, not retreating. Besides, mysteries are more frustrating than fascinating without resolution.
Music Go Music: Impressions
The Los Angeles trio Music Go Music began humbly, recording songs in their spare time and playing them for friends. A few songs posted online caught the ears of a surprising number of strangers, who implored the band to make a go of it. They eventually, and reluctantly, agreed to this, and before long the show had been officially taken on the road; MGM was being "buzzed" about, flying back and forth across the the Atlantic, touring around with Glasgow rockers Franz Ferdinand, and performing for the most discerning of music lovers in Moscow, London, LA, and points in between. Their debut album "Expressions" was a warmly received dance-pop-prog excursion that drew apt comparisons to Abba, Kate Bush, Bonnie Tyler, and Giorgio Moroder. After things settled down and they got back to their workaday lives, they began chipping away at a new record. In the course of several years, one or two songs at a time, 'Impressions' took shape.
By now, the world has swayed in ways that seemed unlikely back at the band's dawning. When their first EPs began coming out in 2007, MGM was an anomaly; a real band capable of crafting a steady stream of hook-dense A-sides, who played honest-to-goodness live dance music. This time around, of course, they're sending a record out into a world that has turned just enough to embrace the kind of analog disco that MGM has been making for years.
While remaining unambiguously pop, "Impressions" sees the group's aural sheen and careworn elegance joined to deeper grooves and oblique sonic turns. Never before, though, has an unhinged recounting of love won and lost been so blatantly entertaining. It's an assured, kinetic journey through light and dark, calm and chaos, with nothing less than pop transcendence waiting on the other side.
"... [it] plays like the greatest hits of dance saviors that never existed... and indeed, they probably should only be performed from inside an aqua-dome at the bottom of the Caspian Sea, or at least during a summer-long residency in Ibiza." - Fader
"One thing is for sure: the ambition for a long-lasting dynasty of overblown, slightly crackpot pop excess is there. " - Stool Pigeon
"Superhero pop music that will soundtrack all of your weddings" - NME
Anand Wilder & Maxwell Kardon: Break Line The Musical
On a front porch in Philadelphia in early 2004, Anand Wilder and Maxwell Kardon sat with a guitar and a banjo and busily fingerpicked to keep their hands from freezing. After a few false starts they settled on a dirge in d-minor and began improvising lyrics about a labor conflict in a Western Pennsylvania coal town that their fathers had learned about from an old folk song taught in Quaker schools in the '50s. The principal heroes and villains of the story were lost to history and buried in mineshafts and unmarked graves, and the particulars of the outcome were primarily recorded on newspapers lost in warehouse fires and floods. Neither can believe that what started with just the two of them huddled on a cold porch would grow to involve a once-in-a-lifetime cast of collaborators. A decade after its conception, they are proud to present to the public their vision of a classic story of betrayal, pride and lost love.
Woman's Hour: Conversations
Woman's Hour are not your average band. The first clue comes in the name of the London-based four-piece, taken from a beloved female-focused news and culture show on BBC Radio 4. The second is in their graphic, striking monochrome visuals, meticulously curated in collaboration with TATE and MOMA certified fine artists Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg. These play with shape and texture, much like their powerful, iridescent music. On their excellent debut album 'Conversations', this has the intricate construction and intimacy of The xx and the iridescent shimmer of summer-defining indie pop. Pay attention now, or regret it later.