Just about the only thing we knew here at SD when the calendar turned to 2020 was that we'd be getting a new TERRY ALLEN record this year. Well, it's here, and it's spectacular. The West Texas iconoclast was quite literally the first alt-country musician, recording albums of conceptual twang as far back as 1975, in between his career as a fine artist and a professor. Allen's slim discography is all classics, due largely to his limitless talent as a storyteller, which continues to gleam like a dime in the sun on the shoulder of an Amarillo highway. On 'Just Like Moby Dick', he reconvenes his longtime cohort, the Panhandle Mystery Band (Charlie Sexton, Shannon McNally, Lloyd Maines, Joe Ely, and more), for a profoundly spiritual rumination on a Texas frontier that's still as wild and unpredictable as a roiling sea. Chicago guitarist JEFF PARKER has been on quite a tear lately, trading inspiration with the younger roster of the International Anthem label while continuing to steer the ship of his longtime group Tortoise. His latest album, 'Suite For Max Brown', comes from a new partnership between IA and Nonesuch Records, and damn does it deliver the goods. Big Chi-jazz names like Makaya McCraven and Rob Mazurek turn up in the credits here, but the LP bears Parker's indelible stamp. Woozy yet articulate guitarwork (practically trademarked at this point) mingles with shimmering strings, glockenspiel and Korg on an album that looks forward and backward at the same time.Canadian songwriter ANDY SHAUF hit our radar when he opened for Low here, years back. His first new album in a couple years, 'Neon Skyline', steps up the power of his wonderful voice. The latest missive from Justin Vernon's collaboration-oriented label 37d03d comes from a new trio called BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN, which consists of Anais Mitchell, Eric D Johnson from the Fruit Bats, and someone named Josh Kaufman, who has a great beard. If you like your folk harmonies drenched in big-room reverb and lackadaisical drama, this is one steal of an LP. We also welcome a great new return album from the mighty WOLF PARADE, called 'Thin Mind'.Even more new releases roll in this week from big names like THE WOOD BROTHERS, a reissue of an old tour-only EP from THE TWILIGHT SAD, the return of the PET SHOP BOYS, and a new, gospel-influenced album from THE BLACK LIPS.For the first time on LP, we have the sole album from 00s Memphis gangsta rap unit DA CRIME CLICK; 'Million Ways to Murda' will make your mom really sad. The final album from the sadly departed hip-hop sensation LIL PEEP is here, and better late than never, we have the sensational late 2019 neo-soul beauty from DANIEL CAESAR. 'Case Study 01' is giving off major Frank Ocean vibes.On the heels of their smash 2019 release 'Hidden History of the Human Race' (which we also have copies back in stock on), the 2016 debut from BLOOD INCANTATION has been repressed. 'Starspawn' is yet another impressive slab of majestic death metal that leavens its ferocious ugliness with cosmic ambience. Finnish band CHILDREN OF BODOM gave rise to the melodic, technically-deft death metal that still fills arenas the world over with 1997's 'Something Wild', back in print now on LP.Before "Twin Peaks-esque" became a catch-all descriptor for unnerving, strange things that aren't what they seem, someone had to make the music that sounded that way. ANGELO BADALAMENTI's score did just that, with nods to Shostakovich and the Lounge Lizards, sounding beautiful and scary at the same time. That's back in print on LP, in addition to the latest release from JIM O'ROURKE. 'To Magnetize Money and Catch A Roving Eye' is a 4 disc set updating us on what the chameleonic composer has been up to the past few years, and its quite the hypnotic journey.The UK brother duo WOO have changed the lives of most of those who have heard their one of a kind brand of living room micro-orchestral dream pop. They've been honing their sound since the late 70s and on 'All Is Well', a limited edition new LP, they don't tinker much with an already perfect formula. Even longer in the music game is BILL FAY, who re-emerged from decades of obscurity recently with his best material yet. 'Countless Branches' is delicate twilight folk from the heart. Indie heroes SILKWORM didn't enjoy the same lasting fame of their contemporaries like Pavement and Yo La Tengo, but it was not for lack of trying. Their 1994 album 'In The West' was never released on LP back in the day (a head scratcher) and that's been remedied now with a new remaster with bonus tracks by the Comedy Minus One label.A trio of beautiful, if troubled records come our way from the Sige label run by Aaron Turner from Isis and Faith Coloccia from Mamiffer. BARNETT & COLOCCIA conjure mythical dread on 'VLF', while MARA's 'Here Behold Your Own' finds Coloccia solo, rendering minimalist plainsong folk in a mossy haze, not terribly unlike the recent Grouper records. Finally, our Wisconsin friend to the north JON MUELLER unleashes 'Canto', a moving album of vocal and drum-drone.
We were lucky enough to lay hands on a copy of the complete Nigeria 70 box set from Strut Records, limited to just 500 copies in the world. All four volumes of this iconic compilation series are here, representing the true breadth and scope of Afrobeat, one of the world's most enduring pop forms. We've also got the latest unearthed gem from the Numero Group, the 80s reggae-disco from Miami's DHAIMA. 'Love Lives Forever' collects her handful of hits and deep cuts.
TNGHT, the duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, return with a cracking new EP, and we have an unreal new album of dreamy techno from RECONDITE. Electro veteran BRENDON MOELLER delivers one of the year's best EPs of fluid atmospheres for the Acido label, and we have a new EP of titanic drift from PAVILION, a new alias of Canadian producer Florist. UNKNOWN MOBILE rep the Great White North as well with 'Daucile Moon', an album of exquisite ambient flecked with shadowy breaks, and a wonderful pairing of GOLDEN BUG and IN FIELDS drop a gorgeous album of jet-puffed, BOC style drifty downtempo with 'Vibrations Metalliques'.
Heading downstairs for this week's edition of the Used Vinyl Alert, we're glad to tell you that the record sprites we're extremely fiendish this week, as the bins are fully stocked with lots of unique, unusual and rare pressings alongside our usual selection of time-tested classics. Comedy, international, novelty, sound effects, Polish prog, Brazilian guitar, French vocalists, black poets, soundtracks, gospel, italo disco, Hi-NRG, exotica, children's, instructional, and sundry varieties aplenty this week. There's even a couple here that, well, we can't even figure out what they're supposed to be. That can be your job!Plenty of fire from the big names this week, like Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Rush, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Waits, Crosby Stills and Nash, Sly and the Family Stone, Frank Zappa, the Hollies, Steely Dan, Graham Parker, REO Speedwagon, and Van Morrison, plus 80s waves from the Cars, U2, Ultravox, Duran Duran, the Heartbeats, A Certain Ratio, REM, Level 42 and the B-52s.We continue our torrid run of great jazz LPs, with some very eye-catching albums from Art Blakey, Jayson Lindh, Miles Davis, Andrew Hill, Gabor Szabo, Airto, Richard Groove Holmes, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Ahmad Jamal, Lem Winchester, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Mann, Kenny Burrell, John Abercrombie, Jaki Byard, Willis Jackson, Donald Byrd, Pharaoh Sanders, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Dexter Gordon, Alice Coltrane and dozens more.Blues is in from Jimmy Witherspoon, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williams, Taj Mahal, Paul Butterfield, Leon Thomas, and BB King. A wide variety of soul from the early days to the 80s is in from Rick James, the Shirelles, Staple Singers, Willie Hutch, the Temptations, Isaac Hayes, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Zapp, George Clinton, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Brenton Wood, and Curtis Mayfield. We see a nice variety of 80s and 90s dance 12"s, and some critical reggae is in from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and King Tubby.Select newer albums are in from Nine Inch Nails, My Morning Jacket, Black Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Hippo Campus, Cage the Elephant, Sorority Noise, Cold War Kids, and more. Electronic/modern business is here from John Cage, Easley Blackwood, Philip Glass, George Crumb, and more.
Sounds this week is welcome standbys ranging from the ragged to the immaculately engineered. Yes, Virginia, there are incoming Steely Dan titles for the cocaine enthusiast slash persnickety audiophile in your life. I keed, but I also unflaggingly stan for "Aja," "Can't Buy a Thrill" and "Pretzel Logic," so do what you feel people, unless it's that devil's candy, Strictly Discs is all about clean living this new decade. At the other pole, we have a whole grip of sides from the off-key but never out of tune Neil Young, including "Zuma," "Harvest," "Gold Rush," and "Live at Massey." Trust, there's more beyond that. Likewise, we are deep with Stones this week, including the entire four album run spanning "Beggars" to "Exile," probably the greatest four-bagger in rock history there I said it. We go a sixer of 2-cd digipaks from the following heavies as well: Bee Gees, Grateful Dead, The Byrds, Allmans, Clapton and Blind Faith. Finally, we end with three prime Stevie Wonders: "Songs in the Key of Life," "Innvervisions" and "Talking Book." And wouldn't you know it, I was rearranging my archives and I actually do have Inspectah Deck, I've already been sick twice this calendar year, but this is the proof that 2020 might not be a dumpster fire.
STRICTLY DISCS 2019 STAFF TOP 10s:
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After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, we launched this holiday tradition to spread some much needed joy and spirit. This year's holiday groove is in its 19th edition and we hope the effect remains the same...happy holidays from all of us at Strictly Discs.
2019 Holiday Groove Tracklisting:1. Jonwayne - Sticky Bandits - 20182. Cuba L.A. - Let It Snow - 20003. Earl Grant - Jingle Bells - 1965
4. Lindstrom - Little Drummer Boy - 20095. Jherek Bischoff - White Christmas - 20176. John Fahey - Joy To The World - 19687. Mogwai - Christmas Song - 20008. Oscar Peterson - White Christmas - 19959. The Aislers Set - Christmas Song - 200010. Milly & Silly - Getting Down For Xmas - 197311. The Jive Turkeys - Get Down Santa - 201012. The Ventures - Silver Bells - 196513. Jimmy Smith - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 196414. Guy Lombardo - Auld Lang Syne - 1946
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