Strictly Discs

September 8, 2022

New This Week At The Shop

It's probably safe to say for most of us, when we go down to the basement to mess around on a project, the results could easily come out looking like something we want to lock down there forever. Not so for CHARLES STEPNEY, the revered producer, writer and arranger for Chess Records, Rotary Connection, Ramsey Lewis, and Earth Wind & Fire, who used his well-supplied subterranean home studio as a portal to the farthest frontiers of funky, jazzy soul in late 60s/early 70s Chicago. 'Step By Step' is the first official album from an artist who has mainly stayed in footnotes of the era's history, and on the wizened fingertips of sample-flippers like Madlib, Kanye and Tribe, but who clearly belongs to an influential legion of American musicians; simply put, these are demo recordings, early germinations of songs like EW&F's 'Imagination' or Minnie Riperton's 'Black Gold', that glimmer with a genius that most musicians don't come close to touching. International Anthem has collected this body of work with great care, introducing some of the songs with organic slivers of dialogue between Stepney's delightful daughters as they reminisce about living with a man who had the power to take them far beyond their physical surroundings. What a fantastic record, and in stock now on limited gold vinyl to boot. I could go on and on here, but there's like 40 other rad releases to hip you to in the newsletter, like 'The Man From Waco', the latest from the time-warping East Texas crooner CHARLEY CROCKETT, a fresh session of evocative R&B from violinist/producer SUDAN ARCHIVES called 'Natural Brown Prom Queen', and a charmingly comforting new record of songwriting from Australian nice lady STELLA DONNELLY.
'Welcome To My World', the 2006 compilation that made the best effort to summarize the expansive work of songwriter DANIEL JOHNSTON, lands on vinyl for the first time this week. The 2LP set includes his most-loved tunes like "True Love Will Find You In The End" and "Some Things Last A Long Time" plus some unheard gems, and comes on pink and coke-bottle colored vinyl. Rough-hewn folkies GLEN HANSARD & MARKETA IRGLOVA rocketed from the sidewalk to the Oscars on the strength of their collab album 'The Swell Season' and it's accompanying film 'Once'; this gem of the 00s gets a fresh pressing on minty green wax, alongside color vinyl editions of BRIGHT EYES' explosive 2000 album 'Fevers and Mirrors' and THE HEARTBREAKERS mod punk bomb 'L.A.M.F.'
THE AFGHAN WHIGS first album in five years, 'How Do You Burn?', is garnering critical raves, while New Zealand soul man MARLON WILLIAMS makes some delightfully dreamy AOR pop on 'My Boy'. Once you've gotten a good look at the beefcake visage of Aussie crooner DONNY BENET, devote some time to his latest album of sultry, adult new wave, 'Mr Experience'. Getting some strong Devo vibes off the latest from LA psych-punkers THE PARANOYDS, who will support 'Talk Talk Talk' while opening for Jocko White on his upcoming tour.
Omaha emo legends CURSIVE expanded the definitions of the genre to include the psychodrama of relationships with their 2000 concept album, 'Cursive's Domestica', which gets a 20th anniversary deluxe reissue with extra material, a bonus 7", and cleverly updated cover art. 'Live Leaves', an album documenting the tour for UNWOUND's final album 'Leaves Turn Inside You', gets a fresh edition in advance of their 2023 shows, with a few new tracks added. BAD RELIGION's 1992 album 'Generator' gets a fresh printing on color wax, and we have the bracing, PJ Harvey-ish post-rock songwriting of SHANNON WRIGHT's fabulous 2001 album 'Dyed in the Wool' back in stock on clear vinyl.
Indie hip hop fusionist SANTIGOLD emerges from a long hiatus with a blockbuster new record called 'Spirituals' on a limited edition picture disc. Vancouver producer LOCAL ARTIST follows his fellow Mood Hut associate Jack J back out into the world with the bumptious electro-funk of 'Expanding Horizons'. Louisville musician Christopher Bush has played with a number of beloved groups in the US synth/flambient underground, and with his latest project FLANGER MAGAZINE he perfects a mystical blend of avant-garde synth and ISB-style strings. Glammy indie-poppers MY FAVORITE make an unexpected but very welcome return with the first of a series of EPs called 'Tender Is the Night Shift'.
LUCA YUPANQUI, the daughter of Psychic Ills bassist Elizabeth Hart, was not even born yet when Sacred Bones released her debut album 'Sounds of the Unborn' last year. She adds a remix album called 'Conversations' to her already impressive resume, with material recorded using "biosonic midi" on Hart's then-pregnant body now re-interpreted by artists like Laraaji, Suzanne Ciani, and Peaking Lights. Transformative pipe organist KALI MALONE delivers another masterpiece with 'Living Torch' for the Reflections GRM label, plus we have some immersive sound art from MORITA VARGAS and a new time-erasing synth odyssey from CATERINA BARBIERI, called 'Spirit Exit'.
I would say they get overlooked when compared to other titans of the atmospheric post-punk galaxy because of their unusual name, but is SAD LOVERS AND GIANTS really much stranger of a name than, say, Echo and the Bunnymen? While you ponder that, check out some reissues of their stellar early albums, 'Feeding The Flame' and 'The Mirror Test', plus their live on the radio album 'Total Sound'. Athens, GA, power-poppers LOVE TRACTOR's potent, Mitch Easter-produced 88 album 'Themes From Venus' gets a nice reissue, alongside the debut album from the mighty GOATSNAKE, and POWERMAN 5000's late 90s album 'Tonight The Stars Revolt!'
UK roots reggae pioneers TALISMAN see their potent early 80s material collected on 'Dole Age', and we've got a nice new edition of WAYNE SMITH iconic dancehall LP 'Sleng Teng', with futuristic digital programming from producer Prince Jammy. The Kiowa Indian guitarist JESSE DAVIS got his start gigging with Conway Twitty and Taj Mahal before cutting a fiery solo album in 1970, back in print now alongside a new edition of 'Fanny Hill', the third album by the proto-Pretenders FANNY, widely considered the first all-female rock & roll band to sign a major label record deal.
Pencils down, helmets on! We've got a quartet of rare DAFT PUNK records in the house this week. A fresh edition of 'Alive 2007' comes in, alongside limited copies of 'Human After All' and 'Daft Club', and slightly less-limited copies of their swan song (....unless?) 'Random Access Memories'.
Several wild ones from the fringes of the jazz avant-garde this week include the spectral, Coil-involved BILL LASWELL album 'City of Light', back in print alongside a new printing of the classic HORACE TAPSCOTT album 'The Call'. A new comp called 'Viento Sur' collects pearly electronic fusion gems from 80s Argentina, while a reissued edition of 'Pra Quem Sabe Das Coisas' delivers rare Brazilian jazz from the early 1970s.
ORCHESTRA GOLD, an Oakland group fronted by Malian vocalist Mariam Diakite, play an absolutely smoking brand of 'African Psychedelic Rock' on their vinyl debut of the same name. The Afghan heavy psych group NAUJAWANAN BAIDAR deliver a fresh edition of their epic 'Volume 1 & 2', full of riffs, chants, noise, traditional folk strains, and field recordings, and we've got a pair of crisp reissues from the Peruvian psych-garage group LOS SHAIN'S.
Viennese guitarist and soundscaper FENNESZ first found his footing with the 1997 album 'Hotel Paral.lel', an expansive set of elegantly glitching instrumentals that has never been on vinyl until now. His colleague Jan Jelinek emerged around the same time under the moniker FARBEN, releasing a series of color-themed EPs of vibrant, shuffling electronic music that hovered in a liminal space between jazz and techno; all collected now on a set called 'Textstar+'. Producer Stefan Schneider was best known for his work in groups like To Rococo Rot and Kreidler when he linked up with French guitarist Philippe Poirier for a one-off 2003 collab called AUTOMNE SIX; this obscure CD only release gets a vinyl edition now in an era where its genre-melting, intelligent chillout sound is much more in vogue. Synth-wielder DAVID JAVELOSA was a crucial early cog in the west coast avant-electronic scene with his group LOS MICROWAVES, and now reveals some unreleased Schulze-scapes on the lovely 'Modern Work Vol. 1'.
We don't have a "Belgium section" in the newsletter every week, but maybe we should! Some real sweet ones are in from the little bilingual country that's given us a relative wealth of forward-thinking music over the decades, starting with a necessary reissue of the 2017 overview of pianist and composer DOMINIQUE LAWALREE. 'First Meeting' collects several stunningly gorgeous late-80s pieces in the style of Harold Budd. Alongside countrymen Front 242, the duo A SPLIT SECOND pioneered a genre called 'New Beat', a kind of industrial-tinged electro dance with an emphasis on flamboyant new wave style, and their debut EP 'Flesh', repressed this week, is a crucial introduction. The Brussels prog band UNIVERS ZERO were the first group to play what's now called 'chamber rock', an often heavy-as-hell band of baroque prog that shines on the 1979 album 'Heresie'. The dream-pop group IMPOSSIBLE TYMES were from Greece and not Belgium, but this collection of their mostly unreleased 90s material 'Popadelic' sounds like it could have come from literally anywhere on Earth, so universal is its fuzzy, hypnotic glow.
Osaka producer AKIO NAGASE stunned us with a 2021 EP that channeled Chinese traditional music and deep techno, and now he turns in an equally compelling disc called 'African Acid'. The stirringly sensory chillout on 'Before' sounds like it's emerging directly out of the white isle of Ibiza, but it is the work of Japanese producer CALM, who has never been there. This dazzling album pairs great with a new record from cosmic beachcombers COYOTE called 'Everything Moves, Nothing Rests'. We close things out with a pair of new EPs from the legendary dub techno producer DEEPCHORD, serving as a teaser for a new full length from him later in the year.

Used Vinyl Alert

Lots of goodies as always in the used New Arrivals bins this week. We start off with a nice collection of contemporary hip hop & electronic records, with names like Flying Lotus, Ras G, Anderson .Paak, Earl Sweatshirt, Thundercat, Dibia$e, knxwledge, L'usine, Leon Vynehall, & more.

Rock classics are in from The Beatles, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Talking Heads, B-52's, & The Zombies, among many others. Jazz continues to be well represented in the new arrivals, featuring names like Cannonball Adderley, Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, George Benson, Ray Barretto, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Art Farmer, & others.

Solid blues & folk titles are also in from B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddy King, Johnny Winter, Bert Jansch, & Loudon Wainwright III. Country is well represented as well this week, with names like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Bobbie Gentry, Willie Nelson, & Hank Williams.

20th Century / Avant Garde household names are in as well; John Cage, Moondog, & Karlheinz Stockhausen. We round out this week with some clean, seldom seen soundtracks, a slew of classical LPs, as well as some Latin / regional South American folk music.

Black Friday Record Store Day is November 25th

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 25, 2022.

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.
Here is Strictly Discs' plan for the day:

1. We OPEN at 9AM for RSD shopping
2. Line to form westbound on Monroe Street
3. While in line, you will be handed a menu of all RSD/BF titles
4. We will pull your requests & you will check out outside
5. The shop will open for normal browsing at approximately 10 (when the RSD line is gone)
6. RSD titles will be located upstairs

Thank you for helping us to keep this event safe & fun.


Yes, we are still buying! Call Ron to schedule (608.213.3610).
Ron, Ryan, Angie, Marty, Evan, Matt, Ed, Eric, Jack, Steve, Shep, Mark, Brad, Roger, & Adam
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