Strictly Discs

May 2, 2024

New This Week At The Shop

Welcome to the newsletter, my friends, where we discuss the new records of the week and luckily nothing else that's going on in the outside world. If you're in need of sonic solace this weekend, 1900 Monroe is your zone. Just look at this batch of headliners! It's been several years since we heard a new album from Los Angeles songwriter JESSICA PRATT, and when word got out that she was releasing a new one this spring, I broke my usual habit of waiting until the week of release to listen to it. The advance of this perfect album, called 'Here In The Pitch', has been my most-played record all year and its unlikely to move too far from the turntable for a long, long time. If you aren't familiar with Ms. Pratt, it's not too surprising; she's released a handful of excellent albums for labels like Drag City, Mexican Summer, and Tim Presley's short-lived Birth Records, landmarks of subtlety and taste garnering critical praise but not much in the way of publicity or buzz. Pratt cuts one of the shadowiest figures in modern music, letting her hushed wisps of songcraft speak softly for themselves, lurking in the dusklight waiting for you to find them. When she opened for Kurt Vile at the Sylvee a few years back, I wanted to dart around the room telling everyone to shush, but she did a fine job of quieting that cavernous room on her own. The new album opens with perhaps the most upbeat song of her career, with martial snare rolls and orchestral guitar strums signaling perhaps a sunny pop turn. Its an incredible song (I'm told Ryley Walker plays guitar on this one, hi Ryley, we love you), but fortunately the rest of the album returns to her familiar motifs of repose, reflection, and a solemn search for satisfaction in a darkened world. Pratt served time as a clerk at Amoeba Records, and it shows in her command of a sound mined by obscurantists like Scott Walker, Joe Meek, Blossom Dearie, Judy Garland, and Shirley Collins. Spacious production here allows her uncannily modulated voice to saunter, as if through infinite rooms of an empty house, echoing with a Victrola's whisper of samba and cool jazz. # Speaking of cool jazz, who is cooler than KAMASI WASHINGTON? The once-a-generation talent returns with an ensemble more massive than any he's summoned so far on a new record called 'Fearless Movement'. Hailed as a "dance album", this record does have a more inviting sense of jubilation than his past works, while maintaining his dedication to epic-scale pieces that unite a staggering range of modern musical traditions across jazz, R&B, spirituals, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban fusion, and more. Guests on this spectacular record include luminaries like George Clinton, Thundercat, and Andre 3000, but Washington remains the fearless leader. # Baltimore post-pop whiz kid NOURISHED BY TIME has been catching a lot of good pub, but we haven't been able to lay a hand on any of his small-batch released until the XL label stepped up to release his latest EP, 'Catching Chickens'. Esoteric, confessional synth-pop brilliance bleeds off this potent mini-album, refracting the realness of Yves Tumor or King Krule through a prism of Prince. # With the smoke only beginning to clear from the stages of his US tour last fall, Tuareg guitar hero MDOU MOCTAR returns with a blazing new album called 'Funeral for Justice', which serves as a companion to his last record, 'Afrique Victime'. If there were any limits left on Moctar's freewheeling guitar playing, they've shattered on this set, his shreddiest yet, which confirms that he and his band aren't just the most explosive act to come out of the storied Sahel scene, but likely the best rock band currently playing on Earth.
Sudden and premature deaths are always a tragedy, but few truly shocked the music world like Trish Keenan's passing from a bout of pneumonia in 2011. Along with BROADCAST, the band she humbly fronted, Keenan revived an untold story of underground psychedelic pop music, contextualizing obscure sounds of her uniquely British past in a project that felt fertile enough to continue on forever. In the years since her death, the rest of the band has kept a low profile, leading many longtime fans to wonder just how much unreleased material such an inspired collective might be sitting on. The first such a trove arrives this week with the generous collection 'Spell Blanket', a collection of demos Keenan and her partner James Cargill recorded across three years following the release of their final proper studio album, 'Tender Buttons'. Being demos, these songs have an unfinished yet inspired feel to them, and sequencing assistance from Deerhunter's Bradford Cox (who knows a little bit about lining up a record) give it an eccentric, compelling flow. It may not be the album we would have received from Broadcast, but we will never know what that would have been. # Fittingly, this week brings a trio of reissues from a hall of fame-roster of female fronted post-punk bands: DELTA 5's 'Singles & Sessions 1979-81' collects the most scorching tunes from the Leeds feminist rockers who predicted the Kill Rock Stars label's entire style, but only got their proper due decades after breaking up; X-RAY SPEX fused punk snarl, new wave weirdness, and an iconic anti-consumerism message on 'Germ-Free Adolescents'; Swiss quartet KLEENEX pioneered an angular, uncompromising minimalist punk sound that influenced decades of musicians, a lawsuit from the tissue brand led them to change their name to LILIPUT, but all these years later, everyone still calls them KLEENEX. Go cry about it why don't ya!
DUA LIPA must know something we don't know, as her new album is called 'Radical Optimism' and it's cover depicts the Kosovar dance-pop balladeer swimming with a shark. Hope that works out for you, friend. Early tracks from this one sound jubilant, like Kylie Minogue fronting Daft Punk. Our copies come on recycled red vinyl. Blood red? Hope not. # Neo-soul vocalist TWEET's 2002 debut album 'Southern Hummingbird' was blessed by peak-Timberland production and guest shine from Missy Elliott and spent a season, accordingly, at the top of the charts. 2002 being a low-point for major label vinyl production (shudder), it never got an LP release in the US, rectified now by an audiophile repress from Real Gone. Speaking of real gone: we haven't seen copies of early records from MELANIE MARTINEZ and LAUFEY for awhile. New pressings arrive this week for 'K-12' and 'Typical Of Me'.
Blue Note reaches wayyyyy back in the vault for a pair of Tone Poet installments this week. Originally released in 1956 on the Transition label, 'Byrd's Eye View' is one of the earliest sessions from DONALD BYRD as a leader, backed here essentially by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. In fact, he's just called Don Byrd on the cover, which has a comforting familiarity to it, and finds the trumpeter already in dazzling command of his instrument. BOBBY HUTCHERSON's 'Total Eclipse', a classic session from his cant-miss partnership with Harold Land, also gets the deluxe treatment. CEDAR WALTON's 1975 rarity 'Mobius' gets a reissue, restoring an overlooked gem of swampy, bluesy fusion, and the elegantly psychedelic beat-jazz of ALESSANDRO ALESSANDRONI's 1972 classic 'Open Air Parade' gets a fresh press.
I stumbled across the work of musician CLAIRE ROUSAY several years ago, drawn in by her hilariously self-effacing social media presence, but left wondering what exactly to call the music she was making. A year or so later, in a profile in the New York Times, the Texas artist called her sound "emo ambient", and I don't think I've ever heard something so accurate. After a few years honing a sound that splays somewhere between Robert Ashley's site-specific field recordings and American Football's plainly brilliant emo (finding a form of confessionalism shared by both), she lands on Thrill Jockey with her best, clearest statement yet; it's called 'sentiment' and don't you dare capitalize that "S". New records are in this week from bands we know and love: pop auteurs CAMERA OBSCURA are back with 'Look To The East, Look To The West', while glam-guys THE LEMON TWIGS return with 'A Dream Is All We Know'. Philly band THE GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK up the word count with 'The Iliad and the Odyssey and the Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick'. I'll take Things That Are Super Long for $800, Alex. This is a gorgeous record of syrupy-slow emo, like a mix of Pinegrove and the Bright Eyes records with a string section on them.
A chance encounter between UK ambient selector MIXMASTER MORRIS, San Fran producer JONAH SHARP aka Spacetime Continuum, and Japanese pop-tronic pioneer HARUOMI HOSONO resulted in one glorious album called 'Quiet Logic', which has languished in Japan-only CD obscurity until now, when it gets a deluxe vinyl treatment from WRWTFWW, who truly continue to release whatever the fuck they want. ORBITAL's 1991 debut album 'Orbital' aka "The Green Album" broke peak-era UK acid house to a global audience, and gets a fresh remaster on colored vinyl for 2024. Around the turn of the century, Cologne producer DETTINGER delivered a pair of albums for the iconic German techno label Kompakt. Unlike many of his ilk, he had no other aliases, no known bio, and after he dropped his pair of instant classics, he bounced from the scene entirely. 'Intershop' and 'Oasis', twin symphonies of clicks, pulses, and swatches of tonal detritus, get remastered by Jorg Burger and redelivered on wax this week.
The fresh records continue with a slew of Afro-pop and R&B gems. London Fela-enthusiast NUBIYAN TWIST link up with Nile Rodgers on 'Find Your Flame'; soulful shapeshifter CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON goes chanteuse on 'Cyan Blue', IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE enhance their synthy take on Nigerian dance-funk on 'Pull The Rope', while JOEY G II & KLEIN ZAGE blend brisk techno and spoken word on 'New Cross To Ridgewood', a cracking EP blessed with reworks from Ariel Zetina and DJ Python.
Pick it, pack it, fire it up, come along, as we cruise through some psychedelic classics back in print this week. Few records compare to 'Die Grune Reise' aka "The Green Journey" by A.R. & MACHINES, the one-man band from by Achim Reichel, who must have got his hands on some seriously sticky stuff before recording perhaps the greatest Kosmische psych-rock trip ever concocted in all of Deutschland's history. Few took dub to a trippier place than the mighty JAH WOBBLE, whose 90s obscurity 'Jah Wobble Presents The Light Programme' gets a refresh this week. When I hear the word GHOST, first I shout "where?", and then I think of the freeform Japanese folkrock ensemble Ghost, who released a series of seance-like albums which increased in intensity across the 90s and 00s, before disbanding and ceding their band name to the Swedish metal meatballs. The first three albums of their catalog are back in print this week, and all of them are glorious.
When he's not fronting legendary bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control, or delivering cheap and reliable mastering jobs for experimental musicians across the world, Aussie kingpin Mikey Young is quite the adventurous record collector. He's already curated some fantastic compilations of down-under downer rock, but he's outdone himself this time with 'Someone Like Me', a collection of mostly American private press / "Real People" folk, country, and unclassifiable blues for the Efficient Space label, who continue their run of gorgeously-artworked esoteric compilations that beggar belief. It's always a joy to get a new album from SIR RICHARD BISHOP, who has outlived another Queen and picked up his guitar again for a doozy of a double album called 'Saginaw Racket'. According to the pub for this record, the former Sun City Girl hadn't so much as touched a guitar in several years before settling in to make this record. Given that Bishop's got a cult following that considers him one of the greatest to ever play a six string, and he's famously traveled the world collecting centuries-old instruments from Moroccan luthiers and such, this is quite a factoid and I have no choice but to believe it. At any rate, he returns to his mistress with a renewed abandon here. Avant-rock super group WINGED WHEEL get even super-er with the addition of Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley on 'Big Hotel', and lastly, RASPBERRY BULBS bring a refreshingly desolate take on death rock with 'The World Is Empty, The Heart Is Full'. Seems like a great place to stop, eh?

Used Vinyl LP Alert

Here is your weekly update for May 2. We'll pickup where the Thursday night sneak peek video on our @StrictlyDiscs Instagram and Facebook left off. No frills. Just the artists. The rest is for your 500+ fresh-used digging pleasure downstairs. Some of the headliners this week (along with a ton of great stuff still available from last week's RSD used LP drop):

Rock/Pop: Sting, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Whitesnake, U2, Steely Dan, Steve Miller Band, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, The Roches, Bread, Joe Cocker, Motley Crue, CCR, ACDC, Elton John

Jazz: Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, George Benson

Soul: Al Green, The 5th Dimension, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Lionel Richie

Contemporary: The Weeknd, Nirvana, Green Day, Whitney Houston, Lupe Fiasco, Guns N Roses

Country/Folk/Blues: The Judds, Johnny Cash, Chuck Willis

Misc: West Side Story, Ghostbusters Soundtracks, Edith Piaf

Happy Digging!


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