For the past eight years the duo of Rob Lowe and Michael Muller have nurtured and refined their creative partnership as the core members of the band Balmorhea. Though their first album on Western Vinyl Rivers Arms (2008) garnered some remarkable press, their self-titled debut, recorded in 2006 and released in 2007 best captures the duo's unique magic as it first blossomed. With no label, distributor, manager, publicist, or booking agent the duo quietly self-released their first recordings and started playing live shows. Now, seven years later Western Vinyl is honored to have the opportunity reissue the band's self-titled album, and make it available on vinyl for the first time ever.
In preparation for this special reissue, the audio was lovingly remastered, drawing out even more of the nuances... magnifying the sounds of Muller and Lowe's fingers on the instruments, and teasing out the textures that set these recordings apart from the rest of their catalog. Throughout the album the distant sounds of Texas grackles, the warm summer rain, the steady rhythm of crickets chirping, and creaking wooden stools, all seeping in to cradle the notes in a restrained din of primordial wonder.
Tomorrow Was the Golden Age is an album length composition by minimalist ensemble Bing & Ruth. Written and conducted by pianist David Moore, Tomorrow Was the Golden Age is a halcyonic journey to a neverending place, where music waxes, wanes and drifts imperceptibly from silence to grand, glowing sound.
The players on Tomorrow Was the Golden Age are David Moore on piano, Jeremy Viner on clarinet, Patrick Breiner on clarinet, Mike Effenberger operating tape delay, Leigh Stuart on cello, and Jeff Ratner and Greg Chudzik on bass, respectively. The album was recorded in Yonkers, New York and mixed in Brooklyn, with Brian Bender and Moore at the controls. Intended to be experienced at both high and low volumes, Tomorrow Was the Golden Age is perfectly calibrated for meditative backdrops, burrowed headphone listening and utter captivation when performed live. Its sonorous palette inspires emotional response across a dynamic field, welcoming a journey to and beyond tomorrow's promise.
In 1971, Bulbous Creation poured what little personal surplus they had into a full day of recording at Cavern Studios, tracking enough material for a full length album. The band wouldn't stay together long enough to save up for a custom pressing on Rock. Singer/guitarist Paul Parkinson was deeply individualistic, and left to perform his songs as he thought they should be, as a solo act. He preferred coffee shops to concert halls, and would stick to his craft another 20 years before hanging it up. Drummer Horstmann followed suit. Jim "Bugs" Wine and guitarist Alan Lewis soldiered on, shortening their name to the more sensible Creation and adding vocalist Wayne Austin, dynamic drummer Tommy Ward, and guitarist Roger Sewell. The Bulbous Creation LP was nearly doomed to oblivion, but for the efforts of Rich Haupt, who issued an unauthorized eight song LP in 1995 on his Rockadelic imprint. Lewis died in 1998 of esophageal cancer. When Paul Parkinson died of leukemia in 2001, a lone copy turned up amongst his possessions, with piece of mind that someone, somewhere, was listening.
Any discussion of Cherry Glazerr is going to have a few obvious bullet points. First and foremost, the band is astonishingly young, with frontwoman/guitarist Clementine Creevy and drummer Hannah Uribe still not old enough to vote and bassist Sean Redman just barely above the drinking age. And then there's the fact that the band's debut cassette was released by California's current kings of DIY power pop and garage rock, Burger Records. So even if you know nothing else about the LA trio, you know that they're young and that they're a part of the thriving underground community of stripped-down jubilant rock n' roll. But if you're envisioning a bunch of awkward, hyperactive kids bouncing around in their parent's basement, consider the fact that the band has been championed and photographed by French fashion designer Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent Paris. Slimane even commissioned the band to score his fall/winter 2014 Paris show. The result was "Had Ten Dollaz", a song that captures Cherry Glazerr's knack for dualities: sultry and virulent, sophisticated and casual, laid back and bombastic, playful and deliberate. Suicide Squeeze Records is pairing up "Had Ten Dollaz" with the equally intoxicating b-side "Nurse Ratched" as a limited edition 7”.
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.
Psychedelic collective from Macon, GA. Waves of texture with catchy melodies that rise up from the primordial stew. Hints of Captain Beefheart, Animal Collective, Gong, and African music. Their live show is a full-on sensory experience with video projections, costumes, and stuffed animals. There are whoop and hollers, and they chant together in a language of their own construction. The drummer has a spastic high energy style that relates more to free jazz than ordinary pop music. The things he does with a drumstick with one hand, while working a sampler with the other are truly mind blowing. The collective has released tons of stream of consciousness material on their bandcamp page, but this is their most fully realized output to date. They are all hard working and dedicated musicians, and one of them even runs a record shop in Macon called Fresh Produce Records. Limited edition 300 copies on vinyl.
"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.
Her voice was all Saturday night, delivered on a Sunday morning. Patsy on Jesus. Elvis without the pelvis. Fern Jones' only album, released by Dot Records in 1959, captured 36-year-old Sister Fern as she anointed church music with the same untamed energy that younger white Southerners were bringing to their rock 'n' roll. Produced by Mac Wiseman and showcasing crack Nashville session players Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, Floyd Cramer, Joe Zinkan, and Buddy Harman fresh off their June 1958 session with The Pelvis, Singing A Happy Song should've taken Jones from dusty canvas big tops to the Opry's storied stage. But with no 45 to flog, Jones instead sold nary a record and never did hear herself on the radio. Her fiery rockabilly gospel was a few shades too radical for the conservative, traditional, near puritanical public she played to anyway. Fern Jones: The Glory Road collects her Singing A Happy Song LP and cuts including "Didn't It Rain," from her The Joneses Sing album, into one rousing package, rich with the details and imagery of a brief career spent tethered to the hard ground and gazing skyward. The Glory Road's sound gnaws at the bit and stands in reverence, a runaway rockabilly tent show without a single drop of rain on the horizon.
The band's sophomore album still holds a dear place in many hearts and its raw honesty is apparent in every note and every breath on Midnight Organ Fight. The album, previously only available on import vinyl and in a Record Store Day expanded issue is now back in its original form and here to stay.
Recorded by Peter Katis (The Walkmen, Interpol) over the space of two weeks, and mixed over the ensuing fortnight, Midnight Organ Fight was written with the intention of creating a more "pop" sounding album. Yet although musically more immediate, vitally, the band have not forsaken the personality or passion of any of their earlier recordings. Scott Hutchinson expands: "I feel the general FR weirdness is still apparent in the lyrics and this makes for an interesting sort of juxtaposition. It sounds kind of clean, but it's actually pretty fucking dirty once you get listening."
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.
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.
During this past year Brad Laner, Elizabeth Thompson and Jim Goodall eschewed the 90's nostalgia touring circuit trod by their peers and instead dug deep to bring you "Home Everywhere": A collection of new songs created with a gaze that is omni-directional. An answer to no other band, movement or genre (don't be lazy, you). An ambitious work that could be no one else but said three lifer music weirdies in full inspiration mode.
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.