March 2020. Just that combination of letters and numbers sends me into a strange and confused place! I don't remember too much of what I did that month, and that's fine, but I'm grateful that ADRIANNE LENKER took the opportunity of an interrupted life to head to a Western Mass cabin and record 'Songs and Instrumentals' on a barebones tape set-up. The Big Thief vocalist has emerged as one of our most relatable, transcendent folk voices, and these songs have a dewy freshness that no lockdown can wither. We are big fans of Shearwater and Emily Cross (of Cross Record) around here, so any news of their collaboration as LOMA is cause for elation. Their second album for Sub Pop, 'Don't Shy Away', delivers tender, spectral folk pop with an enervating warmth. One of this week's most stunning releases comes from multi-instrumentalist DERADOORIAN, a shapeshifting talent who has collaborated with folks like Avey Tare, Dirty Projectors, and Vampire Weekend. On 'Find The Sun', she convenes a trio that's all rhythm section, crafting pieces that are not so much songs as they are intricate machines built right before our ears. The influence the band Can has had on modern music is so ubiquitous that it almost no longer seems worth mentioning, but I don't think I've ever heard such a compelling response to those Teutonic titans' seismic layering of pre-historic rhythms, done in a folk setting as Deradoorian does here. With drums, flute, guitar, synth, and her scrying intonation all in a mesh, the listener is drawn into a sonic environment that is foreign yet comforting.World-beating new releases from the wide globe of hip-hop this week include an uncompromising new album from CLIPPING. 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned' takes its cues from the Geto Boys' classic paranoid G anthem, "Mind Playing Tricks On Me", and lays vicious, vitriolic anthems that ought to age pretty well unless we pull back from this dystopia (fingers crossed! hehe lol). Loser edition vinyl is here on this massive album. As a midwestern 30-something white guy I am in no position to declare who the Best Rapper Alive is, but if my hand was forced I would say FREDDIE GIBBS. His latest is now here on vinyl and it's a must. 'Alfredo' finds the MC paired with production from The Alchemist, who dare I say might have a better handle on the low-key soul-glow tracks that Freddie thrives on than even Madlib (ducks). Great rappers measure their wordplay with the same spoon as their bravado, and that's where Gibbs thrives here; expanding and collapsing his meter to fit exactly what he needs to say, on tracks that knock with a menacing chill. Half a world away, we get an absolutely essential LP of Palestinian rap from the team of SHABJDEED and AL NATHER. 'Sindibad el Ward' is packed with songs that have been bellowing out of cars from Jordan to Ramallah for years now, an incredibly compelling blend of dabke and drill rap that you have likely never heard before. The press clip here says this album is "the Illmatic of the Arab world" and I'm certain I couldn't put it any better than that. Wow.
Limitless bard and high priest of nerdery John Darnielle reconvenes THE MOUNTAIN GOATS for a new record called 'Getting Into Knives', which we have here on limited color vinyl. YO LA TENGO have partnered with cult illustrator Yoshitomo Nara for a new mini-album of eclectic covers, with matching artwork by Nara and etched vinyl. A new series from the pop-song megalith GORILLAZ begins with 'Song Machine, Volume 1', with loads of stars joining the crew, on orange vinyl single LP, and a fancy deluxe edition.
Indefinable UK techno abstracteur ACTRESS returns with one of his most approachable records in some time. Notably, this album is built around vocal contributions from a number of artists, including the always welcome Sampha. Standard vinyl on this one, as well as a deluxe foil-wrapped version that comes with an art print. Narcotically jazzified deep house perfection is in from BYRON THE AQUARIUS, and we have a new record from POWELL for the first time in quite a while, collecting a torrent of dissolving, electro-acoustic material.
Emotional folk-pop for fans of Courtney Barnett or Mountain Man is in from the UK group THIS IS THE KIT, along with a solid debut of irreverent electro-pop from ELA MINUS. Patron saints of the freak-folk underground MAGIK MARKERS reconvene for the first time in many years, with a roiling blend of emphatic, psychy rambles that reminds me a little bit of the classic records from the Meat Puppets.On the heels of a book and documentary that compellingly situates them at the intersection of all that is good and cool with late 20th Century American culture, we now have the accompanying soundtrack to the BEASTIE BOYS 'Music' in on vinyl. Not quite a greatest hits but a guided tour through their rich sonic history. One of the more potent Nuyorican jazz records, 'Power' by RAY BARRETTO, gets a high quality reissue this week, and we've also got a very lovingly reproduced edition of the UK street soul rarity 'Garden of Life' by SPECIAL TOUCH. Originally released in 1991, this scarce album is the perfect hybrid of R&B and mellow house.
Rocktober rages onward with a green vinyl repress of INXS's legendary hit-laden album 'Kick', plus we have a new album in the house from JOE BONAMASSA. Just in time for an election season in which he would probably trounce either candidate, we have an instantly-classic new album from BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. 'Letter to You' is in stock on limited edition gray vinyl while it lasts.
You gotta reckon any trio with Ty Segall in it is gonna be a power trio, but THE FUZZ leave no question on the topic with their latest, Albini-produced album 'III'. Melodic sludge abounds on a weighty new album from PALLBEARER, which we have a very limited yellow/green pressing of, plus we welcome a vinyl edition of the latest from the colorful blues rockers the ALLMAN BETTS BAND.
At the peak of their tumultuously creative powers, San Francisco industrial-punk pioneers CHROME released their greatest album, 'Half Machine Lip Moves'. Over forty years later, its strange ferocity has found few parallels, and it has remained somewhat tricky to track down in nice shape. That's rectified now with a quality, legit reissue. Also seeing some justice cast its way is 'Gone Glimmering', the debut album from the mighty NYC guitar band CHAVEZ. Matador has been revisiting some overlooked gems in their back catalog for expansion, and this one deserves the treatment, as they've now added 'The Pentagram Ring EP', which contains the best songs the band ever did. In the 25 years since this album came out, few rock bands have achieved the strange stasis that exists on 'Gone Glimmering'. These songs hit extremely hard but never sound macho or anguished, instead shot through with a blissful lightness that was seemingly in short supply in the mopey 90s. The 1988 album 'The Frenz Experiment' by THE FALL also gets a greatly expanded reissue this week.
Versatile LA musician TERRACE MARTIN has positioned his talented self as a linchpin of that city's jazz and hip-hop scenes, and celebrates with a fantastic new album called 'Dinner Party', with guests like Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, and 9th Wonder. This effortless-seeming album sounds like the musicians behind Kendrick's 'To Pimp A Butterfly' sticking around after-hours to jam. Chicago bandleader KAHIL EL'ZABAR has been a busy man himself, lately, and returns with a stirringly hopeful new album called 'America the Beautiful', with awesome performances from Hamiet Bluiett, Corey Wilkes, and Tomeka Reid. Following last year's incredible debut, the South African jazz ensemble SPAZA return with a soundtrack to a documentary on Nelson Mandela and apartheid resistance called 'Uprize!'
The Jazzman label sets its sights on the big fish for the latest edition of their ongoing 'Spiritual Jazz' series, taking on the one and only IMPULSE RECORDS. Collecting essential and hard-to-find tracks from Pharoah Sanders, Marion Brown, Archie Shepp and more, this stellar-sounding collection also includes a huge rarity from Alice Coltrane. The Black Jazz label reissues continue with a stunner from vibe-man ROLAND HAYNES, and we get a new LP edition of a seldom-documented late 80s incarnation of GIL-SCOTT HERON's live band, called 'Summer 86'.
British post-punkers Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey of The Sound peeled off from that group for one crucial album of synthy, proto-industrial onslaughts as SECOND LAYER, now back in print on limited grey vinyl. We've also got limited represses of the two crown jewels in the discography of NURSE WITH WOUND, 'To The Quiet Men...' and 'Merzbild Schwet'.
The Acid Jazz label stirs back to life with a sweet new album of uptempo jazz from the NIMBUS SEXTET. Danish artists Loke Rahbek and Frederik Valentin revive their CROATIAN AMOR project with a new album of fleeting, synthetic beauty called 'All In the Same Breath', and we have a new LP pressing of one of the most important ambient albums of all time, the mighty 'Deep Listening' by PAULINE OLIVEROS, STUART DEMPSTER, and PANAIOTIS.
Before he helped found the cult-fave new wave group Telex, Belgian artist DAN LACKSMAN was busy in his room full of synths, organs, and esoteric gear throughout the 70s, making loads of now-rare albums experimenting with electronic pop before anyone even knew such a thing existed. The good ol Youtube algorithm launched him into modern consciousness with his epic groovy jam 'Skylab' racking up hundreds of thousands of views in recent years, but he has so much more to explore. That tune is on 1973's 'Tchip Tchip', reissued now alongside two other fascinating albums from the period.
Strictly Discs will be the place to be this Post-Thanksgiving-Shopping-Melee-Day, also known as Black Friday.
And that's because certain indie stores across the country will be the place to get special releases created just for you, for giving and getting this holiday season, and they're scheduled for release on Black Friday, November 27, 2020.
Now, this is not Record Store Day, Jr., but it is brought to you by the powers-that-be at Record Store Day. This is a group of special releases you can only find at certain independent record stores nationwide. The magic of these pieces (many uber-limited) is that every one of them is something someone will really LOVE to get, and you'll really ENJOY giving. And you may have the added nice feeling of supporting a local, independently owned (Strictly Discs, Independently Owned since 1988) business during the holidays.
Wishlists can be now be made HERE for Black Friday. The deadline to create or modify a Black Friday wishlist is 5PM Wednesday, October 14th.