Niobe: The Cclose Calll
With highly regarded drummer Christian Thomé and Feinmotorik’s Marc Matter, who both have contributed to the present album recording, Yvonne Cornelius (Niobe) has once more performed magic, enveloping little stories in multi-facetted songs. As always the exotic atmosphere that is lost in reverie is maintained.
A near escape from the “other” life. Twelve pieces about the question, how one’s life might possibly have turned out. Yvonne Cornelius, composer of colourful and complex arrangements, and extraordinary vocal virtuoso, narrates in rich, imaginative ways from different characters who picture - within a song ? how their actually life would turn out if it was not beautiful but HORROR.
No Kids: Judy At The Grove
Judy At The Grove is a pop record of a different order, transcending any expectations of what "indie" music should sound like. Pristine production values, bonkers arrangements, and a star-studded list of talented guest musicians all prove that No Kids are onto some next level shit. Every track on Judy At The Grove points to a ingenuity, maturity, and clarity of vision that lifts No Kids heads and shoulders above their contemporaries.
Six years after the release of his previous album “Landau”, Toronto's Chris A. Cummings, a.k.a. Mantler, is set to release his highly anticipated fourth album Monody in March 2010. The album will be made available via Tomlab in continental Europe, Japan and the USA, and through exciting new partners Tin Angel in the UK and Ireland, and Blocks Recording Club in Canada.
Combining soul, rock, r&b, jazz and various other influences, the sound of Monody, which means “a sad melody” or “a single melody”, is hard to pin down. Mantler further elaborates: "I like it when a 'normal' artist tries to make a 'weird' album, like Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, or when a 'weird' artist tries to make a 'normal' album, like Archie Shepp's Attica Blues. Somewhere between Tusk and Attica Blues, that's the area I'm aiming for, conceptually. Even if the end result sounds nothing like either of those two albums!"
Diamond Rings: Wait & See
Diamond Rings is a creative outlet for Toronto based artist and musician John O. His first single “All Yr Songs” was released on limited edition vinyl via his own boutique label and design house Hype Lighter in August 2009.
Diamond Rings' follow up single Wait & See marks his first release with German record label Tomlab and features gated snares, distorted guitar, and a catchy chorus featuring backing vocals from Toronto based indie-pop star Gentleman Reg. The B Side is an unlikely cover of Sebadoh's "On Fire" that trades the mid-nineties acoustic aesthetic of the original for nightclub-ready MIDI beats and shimmering analog synth flourishes.
Capturing the spirit of the pop music that flooded the hit parade in the early 60's is a tall order, and the songs on Maintenant decidedly develop a world and language of its own. With a reverent eye on the past and a deep respect for the airtight songsmithery of artists like Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Shadow Morton (among countless others), the songs aren't content to be throwback-y pastiches or polka-dotted retro workouts but rather stand as attempts at working within a specific and incredibly rich tradition of pop music production.
Parenthetical Girls: The Scottish Play: Wherein the Group Parenthetical Girls Pay Well-intentioned (if Occasionally Misguided) Tribute To the Works of Ivor Cutler
Parenthetical Girls are a marginal pop group from Portland, Oregon. They have released a handful of records, most notably last year’s celebrated and sprawling orchestral pop opus Entanglements—a concept record so lush and beautiful that most people neglected to notice that it was about pedophilia. Their songs have been described as lascivious, unseemly, and grotesque. But their songs are also called lovely.
Over the past several years, Parenthetical Girls have developed a collective obsession with the life and works of Mr. Cutler—so much so that they decided to devote two full sides (an astonishing eleven-and-a-half minutes!) of a ten-inch LP to pay tribute to his gentle genius. Packaged in a silk-screened sleeve designed by renowned illustrator (and fellow Glaswegian) David Shrigley, this extremely limited release (500 total copies!) features Parenthetical adaptations of four songs and four prose poems from across the dense Cutler discography. These sparse, meditative recordings are a far cry from the chamber pop bombast of Parenthetical Girls’ recent output, as the group continues to skirt sonic expectations with yet another creative 180. Which means we’re back to where we started. As good a place as any for this to end, I suppose.
Niobe: Blackbird's Echo
Blackbird’s Echo is the title of the fifth full length album by Cologne, Germany based Niobe, recorded and produced at Studio G by Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, Home & Garden) in Brooklyn, New York with Aki Onda, Brooklyn, New York acting as guest producer and collaborations with David Grubbs, DJ Olive?
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone: Vs. Children
Hot on the heels of the recently released singles and rarities compilation ?Advance Base Battery life” comes Vs. Children, the fifth album proper by Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. Vs. Children continues the trajectory of 2006's “Etiquette”, which showed singer/songwriter Owen Ashworth straying from the strictly electronic instrumentation of his earlier recordings.
Parenthetical Girls: A Song For Ellie Greenwich
A Song For Ellie Greenwich is the first single from Entanglements—the third album by Parenthetical Girls—that is already available on CD & LP via Tomlab and Slender Means Society.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone: Advance Base Battery Life - Singles Collection
From Kraftwerk to Leonard Cohen, The Smiths to Suicide, and Pet Shop Boys to Smog, Chicago’s one-man musical army Owen Ashworth ? a.k.a Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - has been bracketed with all manner of illustrious names in the course of his eleven year career. But in collecting the 7-inch split-singles and compilation tracks he released from 2004-7 (all but two of them on CD for the first time), Advance Base Battery Life provides compelling evidence of the singular nature of this industrious film-school dropout’s talent.
Parenthetical Girls: (((GRRRLS)))
Now it's four years on. In that time, Parenthetical Girls have released two more critically-acclaimed full lengths (2006's Safe As Houses [Slender Means Society] and this year's Entanglements [Tomlab]), toured the US and Europe with the likes of Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu, Los Campesinos!, Evangelicals, and Casiotone For the Painfully Alone (whose album Etiquette, incidentally, features a rather lovely cover of (((GRRRLS)))' closing track "Love Connection"). We are pleased to finally present (((GRRRLS))) with the wide distribution that it deserves for the first time.
Parenthetical Girls: Safe As Houses
Recorded with the band's previous three-piece configuration (an ensemble made up of Pennington and Dead Science members Sam Mickens and Jherek Bischoff—a regular contributor to Xiu Xiu and Casiotone For the Painfully Alone, who also served as producer for the record), Safe As Houses embraces the group's shrewd attention to the awkward confluence of experimental and pop musics—creating a record that is at once more difficult and more intrinsically palatable (not to mention significantly darker) than anything so far bearing the Parenthetical Girls name. Which is to say, it's much better.
Parenthetical Girls: Entanglements
Portand, Oregon’s Parenthetical Girls have traded in their small-screen sincerity for a bold and blustering Technicolour ? a lush, longing and lusty celluloid schmaltz they call Entanglements. An orchestral song-cycle of grand sonic ambition, Entanglements is an eleven-song, linear narrative of ascendancy, adolescent sexuality, quantum mechanics, consent and other moral ambiguities! Borrowing string-swept sentimentality from the likes of Van Dyke Parks, Scott Walker, Jack Nitzsche, and Burt Bacharach, Entanglements draws colourful lines across the expanse between these orchestral pop antiquities and the more formidable strains of modern classical composers ? its hues distantly reminiscent of names like Krzystof Penderecki, Philip Glass, and Gavin Bryars.
Simon Bookish: Everything/Everything
An unpredictable and dramatic "big band song cycle about science and information", Everything/Everything is a new departure for Simon Bookish, being his first album for TOMLAB. Additionally, whilst previous Simon Bookish releases have been informed by the sounds of digital synthesizers, Everything/Everything does away with them entirely to focus on live instruments. Scored for an ensemble dominated by saxophones, brass, piano, harp and Farfisa organ, it features luminaries from both the jazz and experimental classical music scenes.
Whilst this is almost certainly his most pop-oriented release to date, Everything/Everything, as it's name suggests, finds room for moments of racing Philip Glass minimalism, lop-sided disco, expressionist cabaret, and even an eery ambient interlude. Lyrically, the album's concept is "the flood of information" in our modern age, taking in chemistry and ecology, language and art, sometimes surreal, sometimes humourous, sometimes provocative, a weird blur of fact and fiction, delivered in Bookish's distinctive English-eccentric vocal.
It's only natural that Simon Bookish would want to tackle this chaos of stuff, since 'Simon Bookish' is the pseudonym of London-based composer Leo Chadburn, whose diverse recent work has included everything from sound-art installations in Bregenz, Austria, improvisation and guest spots with Leafcutter John and Polar Bear's Seb Rochford, and computer music for contemporary dance at the Royal Opera House to an acclaimed appearance with the National Theatre as "The Singer" in Brecht's "Caucasian Chalk Circle".
Why not call it GASOLINE or DEATH? Because MONEY is the root, and this is Root Music. Because MONEY will still be there after you've thinned out. Because MONEY is TIME and TIME is SPACE. MONEY is YOURS!
MONEY was made differently this time. MONEY was written in your sleep. MONEY was performed by hired extras. MONEY was produced by wanted celebrities. MONEY was engineered by a secret government. MONEY was arranged to be discovered by indigenous tribes. You're in a forest of insects wearing night vision goggles and everything is the color of MONEY. MONEY was invented by the Skeletons BAND: Jon Leland, Tony Lowe, Jason McMahon and Matt Mehlan.
Already up so early in the morning of 2008, Skeletons were hibernating in the safest, quietest, warmest place in the world: Times Square, New York. In a haunted WWII-era ballroom they recorded through the wintry nights when the studio was on fire. Taking breaks at 5am, standing under heat lamps listening to Hot Jass outside the Time Warp Hotel, soaking up the the empty streets with the leftover creeps while the tourists sleep. It's just the same struggle any old human has to go through to make anything: make it to work on time, make an excuse, make babies, make war, make breakfast without getting into a fight. The child of this struggle is MONEY, pre-made, for you, entering the world October 7th in the USA, and October 28th in the UK and Europe via TOMLAB.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone: Town Topic
The "Town Topic" EP is the soundtrack to video artist and photographer Laurel Nakadate's debut feature film, "Stay The Same Never Change." Laurel commissioned CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE'S Owen Ashworth to proved all of the music for "Stay The Same Never Change", right down to the character's ring tones. The "Town Topic" EP consists of thirteen short instrumental pieces, book-ended by tow vocal tracks that were recorded specifically for the film. This EP also collects tracks from two limited, vinyl-only EPs (the "Town Topic" 7", released by OIB Records in Brighton, England, and STSNC Instrumentals 7", released by People In A Position To Know Recordings, Inc. in Olympia, WA), plus one bonus track, the previously unreleased "Lesley Gore on the Tami Show (instrumental)."
No Kids: Come Into My House
Come Into My House is the first release by Vancouver, Canada trio NO KIDS, which is comprised of three-quarters of the critically revered pop band P:ANO. Come Into My House achieves an unexpected cohesiveness despite the wide range of musical styles over its 12 tracks. Golden era Hollywood musicals, Jam & Lewis-inspired production techniques, the icy displacement of contemporary R’n’B, and the breadth of Arthur Russell’s, disco, pop, and avant garde compositional work are referenced and married together by novelistic narrative strains, a lush instrumental palette, and a cinematic atmosphere.
Numbers: Tomlab Alphabet Series - W -
Numbers emerges from the dusk of last year’s full-length, Now You Are This, with a pair of rollicking jams that refuse to let the summer set from our hearts and minds. “Is That Really True?” takes on the heavy question of real knowledge with a fuzz bass and drone organ before turning to anirresistible hum-along chorus. And prevailing question remains: “What can we know?” On the ï?? ip, the Tommy James and the Shondells classic “Crimson and Clover” experiences a fuzz rock reawakening shot through by pointedly triumphant guitars and dirty synth. All builds to an end with a brilliant reenactment of the tremolo chant “Crimson and Clover - over and over...” Summer may go, but it won’t be gone forever.
“Now Now You Are This’ fuzzy guitar riffs and distorted synth melodies aren’t just burning and propulsive, they’re also strangely emotive. We like strangely emotive.” - XLR8R
Dead Science: Tomlab Alphabet Series - V -
The "V" single, and the two songs contained therein, will be a sort of satellite of The Dead Science's next album, Villainaire, a record dealing with a very specific period of time in singer Sam Mickens' life and, more generally, in the embrace of personal nihilism and the potential psychic luxury of amorality. The A-Side, "Make Mine Marvel (Remix)" will be, in the style of R. Kelly's remix work, a completely new song, with completely new melodic and lyrical content, built on components of the original "make Mine Marvel" which will appear on Villainaire. The B-Side, "White Mane," was a song initially intended and recorded for the album, but which will be exclusively here instead. "White Mane" is, in fragmentary and impressionistic fashion, about the American film actor Robert Blake, both in his own recent life and in terms of his relationship to certain past roles.
Hey Willpower: P.D.A.
“Which band can claim to take over the dancefloor with a twist of R'n'B, Radiopop and Electronica? Who has the secret recipe for a sound that equally stimulates teenagers and people in their 30ies? Who sounds as sexy as Justin Timberlake and The Soft Pink Truth combined? And who was the cover star of the San Francisco Guardian in May 2005 with the headline "dance, punk, dance"? Hey Willpower is one of the hottest acts in the R'n'B Underground emerging from the US.”
Munch Munch: Wedding
After being cherry picked to accompany the likes of Grizzly Bear, Franz Ferdinand, and TV on the Radio on the recent David Shrigley LP “Worried Noodles”, Munch Munch return with a new single this January 22nd on Tomlab. The A side, ‘Wedding’ defines Munch Munch’s sound. With prominent synth similar to Of Montreal, and the distinct vocals of Klaxons, this track is a piece of raucous DIY charm. Complex drums and synth move in to a jingle pop ditty with ‘Endolphins’. Like Architecture in Helsinki, Munch Munch are able to blend funk elements into the proceedings, making this track easy for every stripe of listener to enjoy. It is as hypnotic as Steve Reich-esque patterns play counterpoint to old school Neptunes style breakdowns. The end to this delectable slice of musical initiative is ‘Wet Nightmare’ ? the shortest track on the single, but by no means the least noteworthy. Like a Christmas song on speed, it grabs your attention and holds you tight, ending in a crescendo of frantic gusto. Recording frantic pop explosions in their bedrooms, they mix abstract lyrics, unpredictable structures, and ecstatic playfulness into a unique sound that appears to be the start of a fruitful career. The core members of Munch Munch are Thomas and Richard who met in 2005, and instantly bonded over a love of maple and pecan crunch cereal and the shared appreciation of the Lighthouse Family. After discovering there was unresolved musical tension between them, they scrapped their original idea of starting a Lighthouse Family covers band and set about writing some of their own songs. They now record in their bedrooms, channelling all kinds of influences into epic pop explosions. As musically informed by Robert Wyatt as they are by J Dilla and Madlib, this eclectic approach to song writing is filtered through a DIY recording ethic with comparisons to Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance, due to the prominent synth, abstract lyrics, unpredictable structures and ecstatic playfulness. Live they are joined by their friends Jack and Sarah, bringing a Man Man style party vibe to their performances. Gigs tend to involve frenzied instrument swapping and juggling of keyboards, two drumkits, glockenspiels, xylophones, melodica, and anything else that happens to be at hand. Bands such as Do Make Say Think and the Mae Shi are brought to mind. Unlike these bands Munch Munch are not afraid to go for the pop jugular.
Hey Willpower: Hundredaire
The title "Hundredaire" (let you go) is a play on words of Kelis and Andre 3000's "Millionaire". An homage with a life of its own. No money, same problems. Will Schwartz from Hey Willpower sings it like he means it; a postmodern take on a love gone awry. Inspired by real life events, and masterpieces like "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Walk On By", it's a story everyone can understand. Whether it's the beat of the snare that happened to be there, the Yamaha "Bar Mitzvah Keyboard" on which Will plays the lead riff, or the vocal choir that catapults the simple phrase in the chorus "Let You Go" straight into your heart, there's something for anyone who has felt the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.
David Shrigley / Various Artists: Worried Noodles
“I didn’t make a record. I couldn’t be bothered to make a record. It would have been too difficult. It was easier not to make a record,” writes David Shrigley about his LP-sized book of song lyrics. The original Worried Noodles songbook reveals a never-ending curiosity; the lyrics are simple poetry, ironic yet somehow honest, and insistently inciting. The book merged the three spheres in Shrigley’s work ? art, book, and music ? yet it was silent.
That first edition, also released by Tomlab, sold out within just 6 months of its publication two years ago. The book found a slew of new admirers of David Shrigley’s work in pop music circles, wherein the idea of adapting these songs to music was recognized as something that needed to happen.
In collaboration with David Shrigley, Tomlab gathered a diverse selection of musicians and bands from the unknown to the legendary to receive a copy of the book. Many were already familiar with David Shrigley’s work, and some are among his most devoted fans. Those who did not know of his work instantly fell in love with his quirky drawings and words. All of the artists wished to join this collaboration and delivered their stellar songcraft! During the process of the collaboration, Shrigley found perhaps the best words to describe the strong enthusiasm present in the project: “Now we have opened the can of worms we have to deal with the consequences.” The can now counts 39 worms ? all exclusives!
Erase Errata: Alphabet Series - U -
After last year’s extatic album “Night Life”, SF’s Erase Errata return with two new and exclusive recordings for this series. With “Clear Spot” they pay tribute with a genius cover version of one of their heroes, Captain Beefheart. The flipside brings you “Pass the Crimson”, a dynamic and cutting new song that follows EE?s tradition - Ellie?s sliding bass, Bianca?s tricky drums and vocalist Jenny?s staccato singing.
Misha: Teardrop Sweetheart
Misha are Ashley Yao and John Chao. The two have crossed paths since their childhood days in Taipei, but each time, circumstances caused them to move, wandering the world (here in Hong Kong, there in Paris) until they met again after college in New York. Two years after their debut on the highly respected Alphabet-Singles-Series on Tomlab, the Asian/American duo now presents their first longplayer Teardrop Sweetheart: a cycle of happy/sad love songs with a new take on an old pleasure: the classic pop album. Walking the line between traditional songwriting and modern musicmaking, settings of grandeur and intimate doubts, Ash and John make little big things, imagining a dimestore Joseph Cornell, Buster Keaton with holes in his shoes.
Von Spar: Von Spar
When Von Spar made their ciritcally acclaimed entrance in the pop circuit in 2003 (e.g. coverstory in Spex Magazine) they were regarded as the German answer to the Post-Punk/No-Wave-renaissance. But their debut was more a clever parody about eighties-style-hipster-bands. In the meantime the former trio grew to a five piece band which now (three years later and wiser) returns with an uncompromising album that gets ahead of all expectations. It will surprise their audience and critics and maybe leave them confused at first. Detached from the usual style issues Von Spar have exorsized the Zeitgeist and overtaken the discourse. There is no scheme. Anything goes.
Dog Day: Night Group
In many ways a pop group's success hinges on their ability to write memorable songs. Dog Day's Night Group not only delivers in this sense, but also shows how simple tunes can convey meaning, beauty, and honesty. From the playful intro "Lydia", named after keyboardist Crystal Thili and drummer KC Spidle's fanatical cat, to the sorrowful "Bright Light", a song about fate and last chances, the album moves through a broad range of content and mood. In the tradition of great pop bands, Dog Day keeps it simple on Night Group. They are not a band who distracts by over-indulging or showing off. The beats pound straight through, the keyboard plays one well chosen note at a time, the guitars and bass follow suit. But unlike the countless bands toting incompetence as a selling point, Dog Day demonstrates mastery by playing tight and aggressive, taunting us at times with their understated abilities on tracks like “Vow”, which plays with timing, starts, stops, and meanders. This album consistently makes the point that minimalism can be a compositional choice, not a foregone conclusion.