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Artist
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Release Date
2015-08-21
Briana Marela: All Around Us
MP3  $9.99     CD  $12.99     LP  $16.99    

Briana's lyrics are forceful, and throughout her second album, All Around Us, traditional song structure gives way to plainspoken declarations that pull back the record's shroud. Her first single,"Surrender" is musically delicate at first, with flickering blips and chords that float into earshot like fireflies. "Take Care of Me" is the album's brightest and most immediate song, a buoyant celebration of friendship with a skittering beat and a warm, sweet melody. And title track "All Around Us" is a stark but inspiring beauty, built on the memory of a family member of Briana's who passed away, and the sadness of not being able to say "goodbye" or "I love you" one last time. It is the balance of the abstract and the intimate that makes Briana Marela and All Around Us so special.

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2015-08-21
C418: Minecraft Volume Alpha
CD  $12.99    

Minecraft - Volume Alpha is the work of German composer and musician Daniel Rosenfeld. Using C418 as his moniker, Rosenfeld crafted the sweeping soundtrack and vibrant sound design which helped breathe life into Minecraft's voxel-based universe. Fans and critics were universally enamored with his beatless, nuanced electronic pieces upon release. Popular gaming site Kotaku named it among The Best Game Music of 2011, calling the music "remarkably soothing," and The Guardian has compared Rosenfeld's delicate piano and sparse ambient motifs to legendary artists Erik Satie and Brian Eno. In an interview feature with C418, Polygon distilled Volume Alpha to its essence: "It's not bound by the retro aesthetic of Minecraft's graphics. It transcends them. The album is an attempt to uplift the combined game/music experience into the sublime."

Chris Schlarb: Dropsy (Original Video Game Soundtrack)
MP3  $4.99    

I was five years old in 1982. I remember sitting on thick brown carpet, plugging in the joystick, and playing Yars Revenge on the Atari 2600. The music consisted of a single, oscilating drone. Thirty years later technology has granted us the wish of near-infinite possibilities: it's not uncommon for some games to feature vocal choirs and symphony orchestras. Of course, as Orson Welles famously remarked, "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations."

A few years ago my friend Jay Tholen asked me to write music for his adventure game about a mute, handless clown named Dropsy. We talked about junkyards and circus tents, we looked at photos of open country roads and graffiti and neon lights. Jay showed me his early pixel landscapes and it made me think, perhaps video games represented a type of modern folk art. He embraced the limitations of medium and created something honest and beautiful. I wanted to do the same with the soundtrack.

The themes for Dropsy were composed almost entirely on piano. After months of preparation, I booked a single, 12-hour recording session and tried to leave enough space for each musician to contribute their own voice. Everyone looked at the images Jay provided and we talked about the different locations inside the game. I can hear the subliminal influences of Joe Raposo's early music for Sesame Street in the music now. I hear the mechanical pop of Devo and the doom metal of Earth. I hear the limitations working their magic. The music is alive.

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2015-08-21
Gardens & Villa: Music For Dogs
MP3  $9.99     CD  $12.99     LP  $16.99     LP  $16.99    

Music For Dogs is a deeply personal album on which Gardens & Villa pokes, prods, and even strangely celebrates the zeitgeist of music commerce, pleasure culture, technological advances and the new home they've found in Los Angeles. The New Age and Eastern Religion sentiments that rippled across their first two albums (2011's Gardens & Villa and 2014's Dunes) have been swapped out with a new sort of zen pop- Nihilsm. What's Nihilism anyway but Buddhism with a fuck-it attitude? They've found a way to live on the firing line, a way to actually harvest creative energy from our sad Internet tendencies, the uncertain future. "My whole life fixation/See if we can make it underneath the radar," goes the respective call and response of primary songwriters Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen on "Fixations," a song about the beauty in bottoming out and then finding the false bottom. Lynch could mean living as a creative in the underground or living outside peripheral view of the NSA. Under the stewardship of visionary producer Jacob Portrait and with irreplaceable rhythm section Dusty Ineman (drums) and Shane McKillop (bass), "Fixations" — and a great deal of Music For Dogs — is really just Gardens & Villa doing what it has always done best. G&V creates Byzantine melodies and richly interwoven arrangements for synths, guitars and vocals that work incredibly well on a cerebral level, but wouldn't upset a late night Korean karaoke outing either.

The jaunty, jarring piano and bass that begin "Everybody" perfectly frame the song's anxiety-riddled themes of 21st Century voyeurism, surveillance and the turnstile of avatars intended to represent our true selves. "Everybody wants the new you/No one cares who you are," Lynch sings in a repeating chorus before the band collapses into a lovely out of time mall piano breakdown, which itself drops effortlessly back into the jaunty verse section. And the speedball ripper "Maximize Results" that begins the record is perhaps G&V's most ecstatic, vulnerable moment laid to record to date. It alone is worth the price of admission.

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2015-08-21
Luzmila Carpio: Yuyay Jap'ina Tapes

In the early 1990s, Luzmila Carpio's songs inspired the Quechua-speaking people of the Bolivian Andes to Yuyay Jap-ina - to "reclaim our knowledge" from a culture that marginalized indigenous people. These tapes, newly-restored and presented by Squirrel Thing Recordings (Molly Drake, Connie Converse), capture a vibrant celebration of a people and a language that would not be silenced.

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2015-08-21
Sextile: A Thousand Hands
MP3  $9.99     CD  $12.99     LP  $17.99    

Initially living in Brooklyn, guitarist/vocalist Brady Keehn and drummer/vocalist Melissa Scaduto made a jump to Los Angeles on a whim as the financial climate in New York became too much. Within months of being in LA, the two conveniently met bassist Kenny Elkin and guitarist/keyboardist Eddie Wuebben. Occultism, specifically a deeper understanding of astrology, was a connection amongst the band, hence the name Sextile, an astrological term that relates to harmony and the ease of expression of two seemingly different elements.

With urgency, the band quickly completed A Thousand Hands, a primitive form of rock n roll, melding surf punk, early industrial, ambient and post-punk. The album title is inspired by a form of spirit channeling that Wuebben was experimenting with one night. After doing open eye meditation for a long period of time, he observed thousands of hands reaching down towards him, violently in an extremely frightening, simultaneously exciting manor. The experience left such an impression on the band, it became the first track on the album as well the album title.

Still, whilst Sextile's journey on A Thousand Hands' has undoubted moments of bleakness & catharsis, the band express their will to live, to confront their demons and forge on in search of better days, making for a captivating & spellbinding listen upon the way.

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2015-08-21
Sinkane: Mean Dub EP
MP3  $3.99    

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2015-08-21
The Scientists: The Scientists
MP3  $9.99     LP  $17.99    

The Scientists' 1981 wild debut bewildered Perth, Australia's punters with its charging anthems centered on themes of young love and alienation. Obvious in its rebellion yet more pop than punk, the self-titled "Pink Album" deftly embodied the tough-yet-danceable outsider aura of The Ramones, and its unheard of, feverish clip shook the shores of the geographically confined Swan Coastal Plain of down under. Recorded just as the lineup of guitarist-vocalist Kim Salmon (The Cheap Nasties), drummer James Baker (The Victims) and bassist Ian Sharples were breaking up, the album stands as a testament to the contagious chops of Perth's swelling pool of musical talent, and to the promise of Salmon's unwavering vision that would become one of the most celebrated acts of the Aussie underground.

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2015-08-21
The Scientists: Blood Red River
MP3  $5.94     LP  $17.99    

After trekking east from the suburbs of Perth to take new root in Sydney, in 1983 the Scientists hooked up with producer Chris Logan, who's credited with the album's imposing sonic girth and rumbling low end, and premier Aussie punk label Au Go Go for an album that would define their unmistakably swampy, psychotic aura. These six songs revisited band leader Kim Salmon's interest in the Cramps and the Stooges,while adding in the repetitive dementia of Suicide and elements of cow punk twang, with Salmon's distinctly unrefined Australian accent snarling tales of lust, confusion and angst.

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2015-08-21
The Scientists: Frantic Romantic
MP3  $1.98     MP3  $3.96    

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2015-08-07
Blondes: Persuasion
MP3  $2.99     12"  $11.99    

Persuasion is a trio of new tracks by Blondes. The duo's first offering since Swisher, Persuasion furthers the extemporized themes explored on that album but reveal Sam Haar and Zach Steinman to be as dexterous in the studio as they are at motivating live, primal techno.

With Haar and Steinman no longer living within earshot of each other, the distance has inspired a new work ethic. In the creative incubation since Swisher's release, the duo's improvisational practice honed live in club settings has evolved from excursive to immediate and exacted.

The engine of Persuasion is fueled by kinetic textures and decisions. Melodies follow unpredictable paths and flare into spiraling percussion. Sounds simultaneously rise and crash entering and exiting the different track environments. Still, the groove remains true, a grounding technique.

Space and time have refined Blondes blend of live dynamics and studio discovery. What sets Persuasion apart from their prior records is the sense of Haar and Steinman's maturation behind the controls, yielding more propulsive, assertive, and persuasive forces than ever.

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2015-08-07
Built In Sun: Built In Sun
MP3  $8.91    

Built In Sun is a new project from Joe Plummer; drummer for The Shins, Cold War Kids and Mister Heavenly. Joe also produced and co-recorded an all drum project called Hew Time, released on Joyful Noise in 2014. Joe has also toured and recorded with Modest Mouse and The Black Heart Procession on drums and percussion over the last 10 years. Built In Sun was created during touring breaks between The Shins and Cold War Kids releases. Built in Sun began as an instrumental idea, with inspirations landing somewhere between John Cales' "Fear", the punk vibe of the Wipers and John Reis, and his favorite soundtrackists; John Brion and Clint Mansell. After the first instrumental mixes were finished (with help from Richard Swift), he decided that the melodies just might be cool enough to ask a few of his pals to sing. Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession) was the first. Within a week, Pall had added vocals to most of the tunes. The songs now felt complete, and it felt good to collaborate with Pall again. With this, "Built In Sun" was complete, and is set to be released on PIAPTK, August 7th, 2015.

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2015-08-07
Hauschka: A NDO C Y
MP3  $9.99     LP  $17.99    

A NDO C Y is a continuation of the Abandoned City story, told as a tale of two sides. Side A features five tracks conceived during the Abandoned City sessions, a suite of songs that together form an exceptionally resonant whole. As with Abandoned City, these songs owe as much to minimalist techno as modern composition, which makes them particularly conducive to remixes. On Side B, experimental folk icon Devendra Banhart distills Abandoned City standout, "Agdam", to barely-there, fractured clusters of solitary piano strikes and swelling synths. By comparison, Eluvium's transformation of "Stromness" sounds almost shockingly euphoric, all cascading waves of distortion washed over a plethora of plucked piano pings. Included as a special bonus download is a stunning live album recorded in Yufuin, Japan in late 2014. The 40-minute performance is split into two 20-minute improvisations built on themes from Abandoned City. It's a gorgeous glimpse of live Hauschka, a world where songs you think you know become entirely new works of art at the mercy of Bertelmann's whims.

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2015-08-07
Heather Woods Broderick: Glider
LP  $15.99    

Heather Woods Broderick excels at distilling her experiences into a soulful melancholy that's enduring both for it's intimate relatable moments and its persistent sense of mystery. Her uncanny ear for evocative production and gorgeous vocal harmonies serves her well on her new album Glider. Throughout the album, the rich dreamlike atmospheres she creates hint at a darkness looming on the horizon, while the singularity of her ethereal voice always seems to linger long after the music has stopped.

As a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Heather has had the opportunity to record and tour with plenty of incredible artists including Horse Feathers, Efterklang, and Sharon Van Etten, which has kept her moving house and traveling around the world for much of the past decade.

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2015-08-07
Heathered Pearls: Body Complex
MP3  $9.90     CD  $12.99     LP  $16.99    

For Jakub Alexander, the languages of music and visual art are permanently intertwined. And he's always been this way - from his birthplace in communist Poland, to growing up outside of Detroit, to his current home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. "When music like Gas, early Dial Records, and Mille Plateaux releases in the 2000s popped up in my headphones," Alexander begins, "it was completely visual for me. Something clicked from collecting pages out of old Architectural Digest magazines and being completely overwhelmed with inspiration for my own visions of interior architecture." The concept carries on still, now as an integral part of Body Complex, his second album as Heathered Pearls, which also features contributions from fellow Ghostly artists The Sight Below, Shigeto, and Outerbridge (mem. Beacon). Body Complex represents a new form of Alexander's visually inspired sound creation, but just as it points to changes in direction for the ambient-inclined producer, it also revisits the past experiences that make his music possible.

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2015-08-07
Little Howlin' Wolf: The Guardian (Reissue)
MP3  $9.99    

Little Howlin' Wolf is a street musician, bluesman, actor, storyteller and truth seeker. He is also a true outsider, whose wrenching soulfulness and fire-brained intensity have been captured in a breadcrumb trail of confounding and intentionally obscure self-released records.

In the late 1960s Wolf -- born James Pobiega in 1950 -- was already a saxophone wailing fixture at the legendary Chicago hangout, Maxwell Street Market. By the mid-1980s he released nearly three dozen 45s. Those singles are sprawling journeys into Wolf's world vision, as told through his gravelly voice and an array of instruments in styles and influences not limited to: American Indian, Polish and gypsy folk musics, Voodoo, vocal chants, blues, calypso and avant jazz. Often, it's all filtered through overdubbed abstraction.

Wolf issued two LPs collecting some of those singles -- "The Guardian" (1982) and "Cool Truth" (1985) -- both now reissued by Family Vineyard. "The Guardian" is a baffling, hyper-creative statement recorded between 1976 and 1982. It's also vastly sincere and some of Wolf's most accessible and deeply emotional songs, yet it orbits a universe known only by the likes of Captain Beefheart or Albert Ayler.

This reissue features replicated LP jackets, with Wolf's original transcendent liner notes, and labels bearing the Solidarity Solidarnosc Records name; never before seen photos; new essay by ethnomusicologist Ian Nagoski; and download coupon.

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Release Date
2015-08-07
Little Howlin' Wolf: Cool Truth (Reissue)
MP3  $9.99     LP  $17.99    

Little Howlin' Wolf is a street musician, bluesman, actor, storyteller and truth seeker. He is also a true outsider, whose wrenching soulfulness and fire-brained intensity have been captured in a breadcrumb trail of confounding and intentionally obscure self-released records.

In the late 1960s Wolf -- born James Pobiega in 1950 -- was already a saxophone wailing fixture at the legendary Chicago hangout, Maxwell Street Market. By the mid-1980s he released nearly three dozen 45s. Those singles are sprawling journeys into Wolf's world vision, as told through his gravelly voice and an array of instruments in styles and influences not limited to: American Indian, Polish and gypsy folk musics, Voodoo, vocal chants, blues, calypso and avant jazz. Often, it's all filtered through overdubbed abstraction.

Wolf issued two LPs collecting some of those singles -- "The Guardian" (1982) and "Cool Truth" (1985) -- both now reissued by Family Vineyard. "Cool Truth" is a damaged, hallucinatory journey that radiates from a Chicago blues core. Performing most, if not all, the instruments himself -- sax, guitar, harmonica, marimba, etc. -- Wolf speaks in tongues, hollers and serenades. The 12 songs recorded between 1979 and 1983 alternate between Sun Ra-style orchestration and primitive forms to more traditional blues takes.

This reissue features replicated LP jackets, with Wolf's original transcendent liner notes, and labels bearing the Solidarity Solidarnosc Records name; never before seen photos; new essay by ethnomusicologist Ian Nagoski; and download coupon.

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Artist
Label
Release Date
2015-08-07
Mac DeMarco: Another One
MP3  $7.99     CD  $10.99     LP  $19.99    

Like the days of Steely Dan or Harry Nilsson releasing a classic album every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco's Another One, a Mini-LP announced one year after the release of the meteorically successful Salad Days. Written and recorded during the downtime between a relentless touring schedule, Another One is an eight-track release that expands the arsenal of Mac's already impressive catalog, showing the maturity of Mac's progression as songwriter: it's a bit more refined, a bit more sophisticated, but nonetheless retains the guts and soul of classic Mac.

Despite working at the same pace as artists like Creedence and The Rolling Stones, coupled with an equally unending schedule of touring and press, it's odd that Mac is labeled as a slacker. With two full-lengths and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, a recent late night television debut on Conan following a special performance on The Eric Andre Show, it seems, as Mac nears his 25th birthday, there's not a slack bone in the man's body. Great songwriters don't need to reinvent themselves; they just need to keep going and let the songs out in the world. Thus, here's Another One.

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2015-08-07
Martin Newell: Teatime Assortment
CD  $13.99    

Since before he was even able to play an instrument, Martin Newell was messing around with home-recordings. Having grown up in the Far East, Newell returned to his home of England at age 13 with just a little 3-inch spool tape-recorder and his first guitar. At age 14 he wrote his first song, not even knowing any chords. His song writing continued through is teens and into his 20s, when he purchased a Sony reel-to-reel recorder and 12 string guitar. It is this early songwriting that led him working with a wide variety of musicians, recording in beautiful studios and forming his many projects such as Cleaners from Venus and Brotherhood of Lizards. But it was this early songwriting and recording that led him to find that he was happiest when recording by himself, with minimal equipment. As Newell often says, "Actually, I preferred the demos".

Having upgraded himself from reel-to-reel to a Tascam Pocketstudio and digitizing some of his archaic recording knowledge, Newell set out to begin home recording again. The tracks on this collection run from 2010 to mid 2014. Some are recordings loosely based on movie themes and soundtracks for imaginary films. Some are instrumentals from a collection called The Late District, while others are from a recent album Return to Bohemia, which saw a small release in England. This recent resurgence in creative strength, along with the success and newfound popularity of Cleaners from Venus, have all led up to Teatime Assortment. Think of it as a "Best of New Newell". A true wordsmith, Newell himself has put simply why one might be compelled to take a listen here: "If you're the sort of person who likes this kind of thin, then this is the sort of thing you'll probably like."

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2015-08-07
Michael Stasis: RIP III
MP3  $9.99     CD  $11.99    

Michael Stasis is a songwriter and artist living in Los Angeles. Since the age of thirteen, he has written and recorded music in tiny homemade studios. As a child, Michael and his father would make toys and go for heady night walks through the rolling hills and lonely mansions of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. With its own American folklore of wealthy industrialists, witches and dog-people, Michael's youth danced with an oil-to-water hatred of homework and beige pragmatism. Convinced that imagination and faith in the unknown are keys to the good life, he left home to study art at Cooper Union in Manhattan. For his first release on Arbutus, RIP III is the third in a "greatest hits" series. Largely self-recorded, his restless output (over two hundred songs) has jumped sonically and stylistically, leaving some listeners to wonder if it's the same artist at all. Stasis calls it "playlist mentality", a fractured approach borrowed from current listening patterns and dwindling attention spans. This intuitive tactic, he hopes, will keep people interested, rather than lamenting a bygone era of classic anything.

RIP III is out August 4th on Arbutus Records.

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2015-08-07
Night Beds: Ivywild
MP3  $9.99    

Night Beds, the musical project of 26-year-old Colorado Springs native Winston Yellen, received much acclaim for his 2013 debut album, Country Sleep, scoring plaudits for its tortured take on alt country and Yellen's soaring vocals. But after finishing that album and before Country Sleep was even released, Yellen began experimenting with the kind of melancholic, neon-tinged R&B that makes up the mesmerising Ivywild.

The thread that weaves through all of Yellen's music and holds it together is his unmistakable voice - plaintive, yearning, soulful, heartbreaking. Whether it's ascending over the luscious epic-electronics of "Tide Teeth" or aching alone on Country Sleep's opener "Faithful Heights", Yellen's voice has a unique beauty matched by few of his contemporaries.

The second Night Beds album draws on Yellen's original love of Bill Evans through to J Dilla and is made up of what Yellen calls "sad sex jams" and was inspired by a long-term love and a break-up which looms large throughout the albums veiled lyrics. Its genesis can be found in the stoned night in Nashville when Yellen first heard Yeezus. Lying on the floor, Yellen blared the album at top volume.

Ivywild is a truly collaborative effort with a makeshift team of 25 musicians, notably Abe, Yellen's younger brother and closest friend - his credit on the album comes above Winston's own, so much value does he place upon the work Abe put in. Additional vocals come from Heather Hibbard, a singer from Maine who features on over half of the 16 track album, and was contacted by the gregarious Yellen through YouTube, after he found a video of her covering one of his songs. She came out to the studio the very next day.

Finessing the poignant assortment of songs was a sometimes painful task, but dedicated to the core. "I felt at some points we were losing our minds," he says. Initial versions of "Me Liquor and God" band "On High:" were 17 and 33 minutes respectively while "Finished" took four months to record. His editing process though was simple: "If it makes you cry, keep it in." Field recordings also flood the record, offering it a deep textural grain. "It is a luxury record, but it has a worn shirt feel," explains Yellen. "It's lived in. It's like a quilt - but it took forever, cutting up all the vocals and letting it breathe."