Strictly Discs

July 11, 2019



This week brings a surprise new album from a voice we weren't sure we'd ever hear from again. David Berman, the driving creative force behind the band Silver Jews, slipped off the radar after their last live performances more than a decade ago, after perfectly narrating a certain slice of the American conscience across several classic albums. Now he re-emerges as Purple Mountains, and honestly, while it doesn't sound like the intervening years have been all that kind to Dave, I'm happy to report this new album sounds quite welcomingly similar to the classic Silver Jews sound. Chillwave godfather Tycho returns with a slightly revamped sound that heavily features a new vocalist named Saint Sinner. Folky-psychers Khruangbin revisit the breakout success of last year's 'Con Todo El Mundo' with a dub version of the album (with some assistance from Scientist) called 'Hasta El Cielo', in the house on limited yellow vinyl. 

Poppers push forward with new albums from Banks and Ed Sheeran, the latter of which finds the UK singer collaborating with everyone from Chance the Rapper to Chris Stapleton. Retro-leaning duo Bleached return with 'Don't You Think You've Had Enough', a spot-on take on The Bangles or the Flirts, in the building on opaque cream vinyl.

Rising orchestral synth-pop stars Drab Majesty ride the bump from their recent stint opening for Smashing Pumpkins with a top class new album called 'Modern Mirror'. We've also got new records from underground lifers Imperial Teen and Uzeda.

A pair of great compilations sort out your party playlist this week. 'ACID LP', the 1988 record from the Hot Mix 5 label, captured the Chicago house sound just as it began to get darker and more technically sophisticated, and features classic tracks from DJ Pierre, Armando, and Mr. Fingers. The Brazilian DJ Selvagem has collected some of the best songs from his youth listening to the radio in 90s Sao Paulo for a set called 'Brasil Street Soul' that's setting up to be one of the best compilations of the year. Like last year's 'Onda De Amor' chronicled 80s Brazilian electro and dance oddities, this collection picks up the chronology, where R&B and rap enter the mix. The result is some of the chillest 90s beats your ears have ever heard. 

Reissues and archival releases pass through from all over, starting with the latest Numero missive, the lost country classic from rockabilly shoulda-been Sanford Clark. 1968's 'They Call Me Country' is classic twang, dipped in the ghostly reverb and gentle humor of producer Lee Hazlewood, but it fell into obscurity. (dramatic pause) Until now! The Russian duo Notchnoi Prospekt (Night Street) quietly created some powerful darkwave in the 80s that's been hard to access without influential diplomatic relations until the release of this excellent re-packaging of 1987's 'Health Resorts of the Caucasus'. The all-instrumental album is quite powerful, blending the pair's unique take on Sherwood style industrial dub, fourth world elements, and a noirish air particular to Russian music. Memphis rapper Shawty Pimp's staggeringly great 1995 cassette-only release 'Still Comin Real' is back in the house on vinyl, plus we've got reissues of The Roots' 'Tipping Point' and Parliament's 'Up For The Down Stroke'.

Both versions of David Bowie's Space Oddity single are compiled in 2x45 box set with a photo print and poster, and we've got the massive vinyl set of the Grateful Dead's Fillmore West 1969 set, on five LPs with an etching on the 10th side. The Daptone label celebrates their 100th 45 release with an extra special one: the Family Daptone includes performances from Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, The Frightenrs, Lee Fields, and the Budos Band, and comes on crystal clear wax. 

After several years out of print, the mighty pair of Rodriguez studio albums, 'Coming From Reality' and 'Cold Fact' are back on vinyl and CD. The re-discovery and re-introduction of the lost folk singer is one of the greatest stories of this whole record game, and American music in general. Feels good to have these back on the shelves!

The Paul McCartney catalog continues to be refurbished, with new reissues of 'Choba B CCCP', 'Paul is Live' and 'Wings Over America', plus the first-ever release of his live album 'Amoeba Gig'. 

Some heavy-hitters come back in print on vinyl from the jazz world, including Lonnie Smith's 'Think!', Charles Mingus' timeless pair of Impulse albums 'Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus' and 'Black Saint and the Sinner Lady'. We've also got one of my all-time faves, Bobbi Humphrey's spiritual jazz-funk masterpiece 'Blacks and Blues', which saw the emerging flautist and singer paired up with arranger Larry Mizell and drummer Harvey Mason at the heights of their powers. 

New rap and rock slap is here on CD from Big Krit, Kool Keith, Sublime with Rome, the Insane Clown Posse, 311, and Torche.

Some gorgeous records from ambient and deep listening land come through this week. Anouar Brahem's beloved 2002 album 'Le Pas du Chat Noir' is on vinyl for the first time, finding the oud player in a haunting chamber setting. Michael Stearns' 1981 album 'Planetary Unfolding' is a private issue new age holy grail for a reason, with a room full of cutting-edge synthesizers describing a voyage to a primeval time. Contemporary ambient painter Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has another must-hear with 'Tracing Back the Radiance', his most fragile work in many years. UK underground trustee Neil Tolliday reaches into his vault for 'Music For Deathbeds' a collection of home-recorded pop sketches only half as sad as its title indicates. Ripperton delivers exquisite ambient ala early Tim Hecker, and we have a corker of a new record from dark drone legend Kevin Drumm, on the famously seldom seen Sähkö label out of Finland. 

Detroit house savant shifts gears on his latest album, the lush and inviting 'Tala', trading the crisp clubby beats of his last album for a balmy, jazz-influenced groove. Can't stop bumping this one, as well as the equally stunning new record from the Italian group Aura Safari, who debut on the Church label with a quick classic of an LP that crosses up Neapolitan disco with cool jazz. Floating Points returns to the sound that first launched him with a new EP of eggheaded deep house, and we have a slapper of a new EP from the Vancouver producer duo Ciao. 

Spanish trip Pataphysical debut on the 12th Isle label with 'Periphera', a welcome statement of restless IDM and steamy ambient particles. The Russian producer Solar X's 1997 album 'Xrated' was languishing in CD-only purgatory until the Japanese label Galaxiid restored it with a breathtaking new cover; instantly addictive click-n-cut techno here will appeal to fans of Jan Jelinek. Elusive Dallas producer Gerard Hanson (aka Convextion) revives his ERP project for a full length album of pitch-perfect electro that sounds like it would be bumping in the tapedeck of the Mars Rover. Last up, a long, long overdue return of Dutch MVP (and Youtube synth tutorial whiz) Legowelt's rowdy Gladio alias, which channels arcade game style fantasy into seven tracks of escapist jacking. 


Heading downstairs for this week's Used Vinyl Alert, the new arrival bins are chock full of rare and essential rock and pop. We've got deep catalog runs on the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen and Led Zeppelin, as well as collectible and rare LPs from the Incredible Bongo Band, the Bubble Puppy, Shadows of Knight, Big Star, Moondog, the Box Tops, the Shangri-Las, the Marketts, and Siren.

Even more classics roll in from the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, Buddy Holly, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, the Byrds, the Monkees, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, the Allman Brothers, Canned Heat, Jack Bruce, XTC, Tim Buckley, Amboy Dukes, The Who, Moby Grape, Creedence, and ELO.

Some classic early heavies from Ozzy, the Sex Pistols, Def Leppard, Jesus and Mary Chain, the Smithereens, and Yngwie Malmsteen are joined by more contemporary punk, metal and indie from names as varied as Rancid, Minus the Bear, System of A Down, Diet Cig, Burnt Hills, Ty Segall, Norma Jean, Deafheaven, Wavves, Seasick Steve, Remo Drive, the Story So Far, Jets to Brazil, the Killers, Jimmy Eat World, Boygenius, and couple doozies from 16 Horsepower.

Jazz is in the house from Ken McIntyre, Cannonball Adderley, Max Roach, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Earl and Carl Grubbs, and Keith Jarrett, along with some lovely soul from Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Al Green, the Last Poets, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, and the O'Jays. Some great regional folk and gospel LPs pair with country from Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, the Highwaymen, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Bobby Gentry. We close with some classic blues spanning several decades, with LPs from Otis Spann, Son Seals, Johnny Shines, Paul Butterfield, Bonnie Raitt, Chuck Berry, John Mayall, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Magic Sam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Albert Collins.


There’s a lot to be excited about this week despite the ongoing paucity of Inspectah Deck material. The streak of ample quantities of hip-hop and r&b continues with rock-solid albums from The Roots, People Under Stairs, Pete Rock, Pac and Prince. Titles of note include Wu-Tang’s debut missive, Rick James’ coked-up lithe masterpiece “Street Songs,” and the messy brilliance of Erykah Badu’s “New Amerykah Part 2.” More weeks than not, we put out new arrivals from The Beatles. This week is special because we wrangled some fresh digipaks including the blue and red comps, along with “Let It Be.” As often as we get in discs from the lads, we do not see these. Take advantage. In addition, feast your ears on the likes of Patterson Hood, New Pornographers and the incredible chamber folk-avant jazz cult classic “Trout Steel” by Mike Cooper, a crazed alchemy of Nick Drake and wayward skronk. In terms of contemporary sounds, there’s plenty by the varied likes of Fugazi, LCD Soundsystem, Bill Callahan, Radiohead, Deerhunter and Bright Eyes. Finally, check out the jazz and blue sides from folks ranging from Bobby Bland, Evan Parker, Mavis Staples and the deep cosmic classic “Journey In Satchidananda” from Alice Coltrane.



This isn't the spot to lay down odds on the third race. OTB is where Others Talk Back and give you the lowdown on what they've been feeling lately. This one's for the customers.

Sigur Ros –“Agaetis byrjun – A Good Beginning” This is a fantastic reissue of the band’s first internationally released album.  It may be hard to remember, but Sigur Ros stunned the musical world when this album was first released twenty years ago.  Their debut album “Von” had only released in small quantities in Iceland.  So this album is when the rest of the world heard them for the first time.  That the band and their music were so fully formed and fully realized was what was so remarkable for a band just into their second album.   Musically, their idiosyncratic take on avant dream pop mixed with prog and classical elements was also unexpected.  Their sound wasn’t comparable to anything else in 1999.   This box set has the original album remastered along with three additional discs.  One of the discs has an entire show performed at the Iceland Opera House in Reykjavik shortly after the album was released in early 1999.   Additional live tracks are also featured along with a fair amount of demos.  It is interesting to follow how the album slowly evolved through their demos.  And by the way, Sigur Ros is a phenomenal live act.  They are as mesmerizing live as they are on disc.  That is amply proven on the box set’s many live cuts.  This box set of “Agaetis byrjun – A Good Beginning” certainly demonstrates the correct way to reissue one of the most important albums of the last twenty years. - Ted

Ron, Ryan, Angie, Marty, Evan, Matt, Ben, Will, Ed, Isaac, Larry, Andy, Mark, Jack, Sam, Eric & Mike

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