Strictly Discs

September 26, 2019

Let's start this week's new release rundown with the big stuff first, as we welcome some very sweet, and very large, box sets to the floor. The Beatles' iconic album 'Abbey Road' turns 50 this month, and is celebrated in a variety of expanded editions which see the songs given the remaster treatment, with demos and alternate takes included. We've got the vinyl expanded to 3 LPs, a 2 CD version, and a version with a large book and Blu-ray. The Replacements' seventh album, 1989's 'Don't Tell A Soul', is re-released in its originally imagined form as the sprawling 'Dead Man's Pop', a four disc set that includes a new mix, extra songs and outtakes, a studio session with Tom Waits, and the full recording of the band's blazing, oft-bootlegged 1989 show at UW-Milwaukee. While they last, we have a cassette of Mats rarities to give away with purchase of this set. The Grateful Dead's memorable 1991 performance at Giants Stadium is honored with a beautifully packaged new set on triple CD or 5 LP formats, and the first one through the door for this one gets a - wait for it - Grateful Dead hacky sack, to really put you in that parking lot scene. Let's get a hack goin' guys! Masked metallers Ghost revisit their album 'Prequelle' with a new deluxe vinyl version packed in a snakeskin box.

Grammy-winning country everyman Sturgill Simpson delivers his long-awaited new record, 'Sound and Fury', which sees the Sturge continuing to push into new hard rockin territory. We're getting QOTSA-meets-Waylon vibes on this one, which is in the building on limited indie-only vinyl. Punk lifers Mudhoney return with a new EP on Sub Pop's singular brand of Loser Edition vinyl, and we have a new record from the New Pornographers, 'In the Morse Code of Brake Lights', which has Neko Case in the mix!  

Psychedelic power couple Moon Duo head in a delightful new direction on 'Stars are the Light', a far more melodic and glittering album of puzzled pop than any of their previous more minimalist affairs. That one's here on red vinyl. Telefon Tel Aviv return from a decade-plus hiatus with a beautiful new record called 'Dreams Are Not Enough' that sounds like a fragmented IDM-influenced version of AnCo's 'Strawberry Jam'. UK prog-punkers Beak are back with a new EP, and we have an amazing new record from Melbourne musician Sui Zhen, who channels the grief of the loss of her mother into an enervating, surreal record of synth pop that will appeal to fans of Jenny Hval or Bat For Lashes.   

Modern folk and Americana is here in spades, with new albums from Charlie Parr, Will Johnson (of Centro-Matic), Jordan Moser, and the fiddle trio of the Quebe Sisters.

Spiritual jazz flautist Lloyd McNeill sees his stunningly gorgeous (and dead rare) 1980 album 'Elegia' reissued by the Soul Jazz label, where he is joined by bassist Cecil McBee and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. The archive revelations from the John Coltrane estate continue with the first official release of 'Blue World', a 1964 French film soundtrack that features unique, unheard takes of Coltrane quartet classics like 'Naima', 'Village Blues' and 'Traneing In'. No big deal!  Brad Mehldau's breakout 2004 solo piano album 'Live in Tokyo' hits vinyl via the Run Out Groove label, and we have a new CD featuring a collaboration between Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell.

PacNW melodic indie folk-rockers Chastity Belt have a doozy of a new album that hearkens back to bygone names like The Spinanes and Julie Doiron, and has us properly excited for their Madison show later in the year. Tegan and Sara return with the comforting 'Hey I'm Just Like You', in the house on yellow vinyl, and we have a lovely new record of classic country from a fresh voice in Michaela Anne's 'Desert Dove'.

Following on the release of the latest Bonnie Prince Billy album, which finds him collaborating with Bryce Dessner on arrangements of Julius Eastman pieces, we have a couple of key Eastman documents back in stock. The minimalist composer studied alongside Reich and may have outpaced him creatively were his career not derailed by racism and mental illness, and he's only recently getting his due adulation. We've also got a great new CD of healing gong music from Katherina Bornefeld, a drummer known primarily for her amazing work in the Dutch punk band The Ex. We've also got a new disc of compositions from Laurie Anderson called 'Songs From the Bardo'.  

Norwegian pianist and synth pioneer Erik Wollo sees an LP of unreleased early material hit the LP format, a stunning selection of songs with feet equally placed in the Berlin school and new age traditions. Wonderful ambient here, as well as on 'All Night Chroma', a new LP of modern classical compositions by none other than Tom Jenkinson AKA Squarepusher. Glasgow's Iona Fortune returns with the second volume in her 'Tao of I' series, an arresting set of tunes that expertly blend classical Chinese guzheng with twinkling synth and throbbing, restrained bass. Belgian jazz group Black Flower see their 2016 album 'Ghost Radio' repressed, and it's a lovely slice of fascinating jazz shaded with Ethiopiques-style swing and dubby atmosphere.

Pre-post-and-during rock reissues about this week, with a 15th anniversary repress of Interpol's 'Antics', a fresh printing of El Ten Eleven's lone self-titled album, the Melvins' 'The Maggot and the Bootlicker', and a new color vinyl printing of Thrice's 'Vheissu'.

Longtime chuggy chillwave producer Secret Circuit returns with a new project called XLNT, and it sure does bang. 'High Tide' fits in well alongside 'Byen', the latest from Norwegian housemeister Bjorn Torske. Longtime Balearic wizards Woolfy vs Projections have a killer new LP called 'Destinations', which comes with 'Album of the Year' declarations from fellow SD staffer Ben. Nosaj Thing turned the whole vaporwave/chill beats to study to game on its ear with 'Drift' ten years ago (yes, ten years ago), and that one is back in print now on LP.

A pair of the 90s most potent hiphop albums are restored and expanded on vinyl this week: Ice Cube's 'Amerikkkas Most Wanted' and The Roots' 'Things Fall Apart', which now stretches to a mighty three LPs.

The Numero Group continues their 'Art of the Compilation' series with 'Visible and Invisible Persons Distributed in Space', a set of private electronic soul that expands the orbit of the phenomenal 'Personal Space' compilation that I have referenced in these emails approximately 50 times. The sleeve on this one folds out into a giant gold foil pyramid! Steve Hiett's lone 1984 album 'Down On the Road By the Beach' is one of those mythical lost albums that seems almost too good to be true, ala Ted Lucas or Charanjit Singh's 'Ten Ragas'. With the grace and ease of a beach-bum Pat Metheny, Hiett proceeds to predict Mac DeMarco by decades. You'd have to quantum leap to ever find one of these LPs until now, as we see a lavish reissue from the big boys at Be With and Efficient Space. Lastly, a potential 'favorite record ever' is here for one of you, in the form of the Turkish band Grup Dogus' lone 1975 album. Eschewing the blazing rock styles of contemporary groups like Mogollar or Bunalim, the Dogus fellas put organ at the front of their compositions, crafting an enchanting sound thats not quite jazz, not quite rock, maybe even exotica? But with a lovely Anatolian sheen. What an album.


Heading downstairs for this week's Used Vinyl Alert, we've got fresh new sale titles marked down at least 25% as well as 100+ fresh 45s out for digging.

As for the Friday used offerings, we dig even deeper into a recent acquisition of incredible country records that have arrived just in time to coincide with the must-see Ken Burns documentary now airing on PBS. We've got a nearly comprehensive collection of Carter Family records covering their voluminous output, plus a slew of truly old-time fiddle, banjo, flat top guitar, and mandolin music from many lesser known names of the 'hill billy' variety. After that comes crucial albums from George Jones, Jimmie Rodgers, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Gene Autry, Hank Williams, Flatt and Scruggs, Lyle Lovett, Waylon Jennings and many, many more.

A strong crop of blues LPs includes seldom seen albums from Bobby Bland, Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Lightnin Hopkins, Earl Hooker, Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Taj Mahal and many more, plus we have some jazz LPs from Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, the Crusaders, Miles Davis, and Oscar Peterson.

Clean and collectible copies of nearly every Led Zeppelin album are in the house, as well as another deep rabbit hole of very cool international Beatles bootlegs. Lots more classic rock, folk and pop is here from names like Joni Mitchell, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Big Star, Delaney and Bonnie, CSNY, Jefferson Airplane, Alice Cooper, the Pretty Things, Kiss, Jethro Tull, the Kinks, Elton John, Barclay James Harvest, Mahogany Rush, Los Lobos, and Moby Grape.

Moving into the 80s, we see records from Dio, Devo, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Elvis Costello, the Clash and B.A.D., Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, In the Nursery, and Siouxsie. More contemporary stuff is here from Wilco, Snail Mail, Beck, S. Carey, and the Raconteurs.

We close out with yet another trove of incredible and timeless disco and boogie singles, ranging from the earliest days of disco to the era of the Paradise Garage and Chicago house. Special ones include Grace Jones, France Joli, Rinder and Lewis, Lizzie Mercier Descloux, and a stunning copy of Chip E's foundational Chicago record 'Time To Jack' inscribed with a phone number and suggested BPM by the house pioneer himself.


We're picking right up from last week with a continuation of the jazz deluge. Leading off are two 4-cd sets: one, representing everything Thelonious Monk contributed on under the Blue Note banner; the other, an overview of Chet Baker's time at Pacific Jazz. As for Blue Note material, pay particular attention to deeper catalog sessions from Lee Morgan and Andrew Hill, along with some standbys. Capping it off, check out these killer sessions: Rahsaan Roland Kirk "Rip, Rig and Panic;" Eric Dolphy "Far Cry;" John Coltrane "Complete Africa Brass;" the very nice-priced "Complete Prestige Recordings of Sonny Rollins;" and Max Roach "Deeds, Not Words." Unlike last week, there's a healthy amount spanning country, americana and all places in between. George Jones, John R. Cash, and the Carter Family hold up the hardcore end, while songbirds are in abundance. Think Gillian Welch, Dolly, Lucinda, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Margo Price, you get the picture. There's jammy live stuff from String Cheese Incident, a pair from Rick Danko, and plenty from in-betweeners like Mumford & Sons, Avett Brothers and Ray Lamontagne. There's lots to love this week and enough leftovers from a week prior to warrant a stop.



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.

Vivian Girls - “Memory”  This album is the band’s first release in eight years.  The band played their last shows in 2014 and then the band members walked away and went on to form other bands.  So, it really is a surprise then to see this album suddenly appear. And the question that needs to be answered is whether this reformation album is as good as their prior three releases.  I would definitely say yes! The band still knows how to write memorable and catchy songs and this disc is chock full of them. And the band still knows how to rock, though there is a psychedelic undercurrent to their sound on this album.  The production is a bit on the dense side, but that strangely adds to the enjoyment of the album. It may seem counterintuitive, but at times reformed bands can be just as good as they once were. And the women of the Vivian Girls prove that even after five years that they can bounce back no worse for the wear. - Ted

Giant Sand - “Recounting the Ballads of the Thin Line Man”  Not many bands want to go back to the future. This album is a reimagining of their 1986 album “Ballad of The Thin Line Man.”  I should probably use the term redo, for Giant Sand completely rerecords all the songs on the original album. Also, a few songs were dropped and a few were added.  It is implied that Howe Gelb, the only original member of the band left today, wanted to polish material that he thought he had somehow failed to polish thirty-three years ago,  The end results are certainly different. The redo is more sonically cohesive and even more electric guitar-orientated than the original. In fact, this album is a primer on electric guitar playing.  But most importantly, the unique beauty of the songs are still there, even in gussied up form. In fact, one could say that the new recordings make some of the songs much better than the originals. - Ted

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

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