BRAIDS: In Kind // Amends
After having released their critically acclaimed debut Native Speaker in 2011, BRAIDS have returned with a new 12" single In Kind // Amends. Out June 11th on Arbutus Records, the 12" features two singles from their forthcoming sophomore album, as well as two exclusive b-sides.
The first single "In Kind", hits the pinnacle of the group's songwriting as a four piece. Written live, it is a layered and emotionally raw saga. The second single, "Amends", is a strong contrast, and shows the group's exploration into electronic and dance music. Filling out the 12" are two exclusive tracks that explore the textured and atmospheric side of the band ? the subtly percussive "Near Enough" and the mesmerizing "A Dawn in Me".
Case Studies: This is Another Life
Case Studies is the musical project of Jesse Lortz, a prolific Seattle based musician. His lyrics wax and wane with truth bare tales from his life. Melodies surface as lines hummed in the in-between times. These easy melodies coat the heavy subject matter of suicide, heartbreak, grief and regret. As with his previous project, The Dutchess and the Duke, listening to Case Studies feels like taking part in an exploration of sentimental landscapes. They appear and fade like dark light lingering on the horizon. The meandering verse journeys to seek comfort in loneliness and vulnerability. Through the twisted subconscious, dawn breaks, breathing its light on both the joyous and dismal occasions that mark life's milestones, each song a continuation of his story, each song a probing examination of motivation and consequences.
Dur-Dur Band: Dur-Dur Band Remixes
The international re-release of legendary Somali outfit Dur-Dur Band?s Volume 5 celebrates the vibrant Mogadishu music scene of the 1980s. On the heels of that successful release comes Dur-Dur Band Remixes, a digital EP featuring reworkings by two crucial American producers: Airbird, aka Joel Ford, co-founder of the Software label and half of electronic duo Ford & Lopatin; and Secret Circuit, who is Eddie Ruscha, creator of a much-adored catalog of recordings for RVNG Intl., Beats in Space, Emotion Response along with his own self-released tapes and EPs.
Dur-Dur Band?s distinctive sound is a jumping off point like no other for these two artists. Airbird strips down the disco romp ?Dooyo? into an ethereal meditation with slowly mutating midranges. When the vocals finally rise from a bed of multiplied rhythms and angelic keyboards, the track approaches its sublime finish. Secret Circuit unleashes his signature dub/disco/acid sensibilities, layering and manipulating elements of the brief ?Dur-Dur Band Introduction.? He starts with a new beat and transforms it into a dubbed out synth delay with whispers of the guitar line and handclaps. The spoken word bits from the original version leak out in a dream-like trickle as the groove deconstructs and ultimately fades away.
Eleanor Friedberger: Personal Record
At a time when most female singer-songwriters perform as alter egos, Eleanor Friedberger is simply, refreshingly herself. And that's just the way her fans like it. Having spent the last decade fronting the indie-rock institution The Fiery Furnaces (currently on hiatus) with her brother Matthew, she emerged in 2011 as a formidable solo artist with Last Summer, a thoughtfully crafted tale of memory and place couched in the organic pop of her '70s idols. Instantly, Friedberger established herself as a modern-day heir to the tradition of Donovan, Todd Rundgren, Ronnie Lane, and their ilk: warm, nuanced, timeless songs. No gimmicks necessary.
The title of Friedberger's sophomore album is Personal Record, and it is, in a sense. Personal, that is. But not personal in the way of, say, a coming-of-age record, or a diary about the past, which Last Summer was. Many of the songs seem to be about love, or love lost, but whether any of the experience is hers or someone else's, she isn't saying. "It's not as specific a narrative this time," she says. "There's a universality to it."
Free Time: Free Time
Free Time formed in the summer of 2012 around Melbourne luminary songwriter Dion Nania (Panel of Judges). After moving to New York in 2011, Nania kicked around for a while, played some lead guitar with fellow Melbourne transplantsScott and Charlene's Wedding, then helped out the Twerps playing bass on a national tour. Shortly thereafter he began writing new songs with the intent of putting a new band together, eventually enlisting the support of Adrienne Humblet on bass, Jonah Maurer on guitar, and Michael Mimoun on drums. Filling out Nania's jangly, sometimes heartbreaking pop, the band quickly recorded most of their first LP the day before Dion flew home to mix it. He returned with fragments for new songs and the band finished the record in December 2012.
Nania's songs tell stories of following love across the world, of being unsure about the future and of his place in it. Like the trans-pacific ping pong of the last 2 years of his life, his songs veer between sweet sadness and wild exuberance.
Future Bible Heroes: Partygoing
Partygoing features 13 quick and catchy songs, and Stephin Merritt and Gonson deliver their lines with vim and vigor, particularly on "How Very Strange," a mean-spirited look back at the implausibility of a relationship, batting lines back and forth--it could be a sequel to the Magnetic Fields' "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" (sample lyric: "I put a little heroin / In everything you took in"). Another top track is "Drink Nothing But Champagne," in which Merritt gives his best impressions of David Bowie and Aleister Crowley, as he sings, "Children, drink nothing but champagne / It makes life shorter / Than drinking water" (and water's mostly piss!). Merritt's ode to double suicide, "Let's Go to Sleep (And Never Come Back)," makes it sound like an adventure, while "Keep Your Children in a Coma" offers these words of wisdom: "You can't let them go to school / For fear of bullying little beasts / And you can't take them to church / For fear of priests." His lyrics veer into territories few have the audacity to touch. There are fewer zombies and aliens on Partygoing than on the prior two albums, though there are plenty of songs about aging, death, heartbreak, rejection and austerity.
Future Bible Heroes: Memories of Love (reissue), Eternal Youth (reissue) & Partygoing
Future Bible Heroes are comprised of celebrated songwriter Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies), longtime friend and collaborator Christopher Ewen (Figures on a Beach, the Hidden Variable and a popular Boston-area DJ) and Magnetic Fields pianist-singer-manager Claudia Gonson. The band released two albums, Memories of Love (1997) and Eternal Youth (2002), and three EPs, all of which they are repackaging as one large collection for simultaneous release via Merge on June 4, 2013, along with their new album, Partygoing.
Gold Panda: Half Of Where You Live
Half Of Where You Live is the second album by Berlin-based electronic musician Gold Panda. The follow up to his award winning Lucky Shiner released in 2010, his new album is a distillation of that which that made his previous work both loved and acclaimed, and also displays an evolution of his sounds, stylings and methods. Half Of Where You Live is the culmination of three years of touring and intermittent experimentation in his self-builtstudio, the time between records was well-spent; each track is informed by the experiences of his trips through Asia and beyond. Shows and weeks away forming personal experiences that ultimately became the thematic basis for each track on the album.
Imperial Teen: Feel the Sound
The fifth album by Imperial Teen, Feel the Sound, succeeds completely at its goal, plainly stated in the collection's title. Like the sharpest pop music, Feel the Sound gets you to keep coming back for more, but unlike so much music today, it rewards you for doing so, giving you the experience of a fulfilled and yet still yearning, lively potential, one that will be further realized when the songs are performed live. From the exhilarating, propulsive "Runaway," which features the entire band on lead vocals (how many other groups can make that claim?), to the expansive final statement of "Overtaken," Roddy Bottum, Lynn Perko Truell, Will Schwartz, and Jone Stebbins feel the sound themselves and, in turn, make the listener feel it in ways immediate and pleasurable but also lasting and haunting.
John Vanderslice: Dagger Beach
While it's true I did endure a terrible break-up at the beginning of writing this record, this is not a break up record. Dagger Beach is a put-me-the-fuck-back-together record. The break up came in late 2011, after endless months of White Wilderness touring. I returned home to an empty house, and, as that's pretty unbearable when you're not quite right in the head, I decided to set out walking. I hiked the Lost Coast (36 miles of off-the-grid splendor in Southern Humboldt County), I hiked the entire 150-mile trail system of Pt. Reyes, I hiked for days, deep, deep in the woods, usually alone.As I walked and walked, listening to records on repeat, I started obsessing about music again. As the experience changed me, it changed the record. Dagger Beach is looser, weirder, and more free because of it.
Julianna Barwick: Nepenthe
Julianna Barwick's art is equal parts force and beauty. Her music finds its motor in significant events in her own life, but they are abstracted into a sense of sonic wonderment, a radiance that you could say is her signature sound. That radiance has been taken to new zeniths with Nepenthe, her third full-length album, which was recorded in Reykjavík, Iceland, in the dark cold days of February.
"Everything I was making was visceral ? the record represents some serious emotional stuff," she confirms, while at the same time she raves with enormous positivity about the unique recording environment. Alex Somers (musician/producer of Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Jónsi & Alex) invited her to Iceland in the first place. For Julianna, who was blown away at a Sigur Rós show in 2002, it was a dream come true. "That was the fastest email I ever wrote: "Yes!" Who would say no to that?" Somers produced and engineered the record and brought in local Icelandic musicians who turned out to make crucial contributions: string ensemble Amiina, guitarist Róbert Sturla Reynisson from Múm, and a choir of teenage girls.