Indie Exclusive Releases
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The cliché that circulated after the 2016 election foretold a new artistic golden age: Artists would transform their anger and anxiety into era-defining works of dissent in the face of authoritarianism.
Yet Bob Mould calls his new album Sunshine Rock.
It’s not because Mould—whose face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of alternative music—likes the current administration. His decision to “write to the sunshine,” as he describes it, comes from a more personal place—a place found in Berlin, Germany, where he’s spent the majority of the last three years. Here Mould would draw inspiration from the new environments.
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Jessica Pratt is not a loud performer. She does not have to be. In a club of a few hundred, even the bar staff are known to go quiet while she's on stage. Her third album, Quiet Signs, feels like a distillation of this power. The album leads off with "Opening Night," a nod to Gena Rowlands' harrowing, brilliant performance in the John Cassavetes film of the same name. It’s also an emblem of where this spare, mysterious collection of songs falls in the course of Pratt’s career.
"On some level I considered an audience while making the last record (2015's On Your Own Love Again)," she writes, "But my creative world was still very private then and I analyzed the process less. This was the first time I approached writing with the idea of a cohesive record in mind."
After a collection of demos and early studio recordings (Jessica Pratt, Birth Records, 2012) earned her a small, dedicated audience, Pratt moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles and recorded her first intentional album in her bedroom in a matter of months. That album, On Your Own Love Again (Drag City, 2015), would bring her around the world many times, leading many to fall under the spell of Jessica Pratt the performer, the songwriter, the singer with the heavy-lidded voice that feels alien and familiar at the same time.
Her first album fully recorded in a professional studio setting, Quiet Signs finds Pratt's songwriting and accompanying guitar work refined -- more distinct and direct. Songs like "Fare Thee Well" and "Poly Blue" retain glimmers of OYOLA's hazy day afternoon spells, yet delicate flute, strings sustained by organ arrangements, and rehearsal room piano now gesture towards the lush chamber pop and longing of The Left Banke. On the album’s first single, "This Time Around," Pratt hits on a profound, late-night clarity over just a couple of deep chords, evoking Caetano Veloso's casual seaside brilliance. And before the curtain drops on Quiet Signs, Pratt provides a show-stopping closer, "Aeroplane."
In the world of Quiet Signs, the black of night usually represents fear, despair, resignation; finally at home descending towards the illuminated city, she sings over black leather drone and tambourine shuffle with a newfound resolve. Quiet Signs is the journey of an artist emerging from the darkened wings, growing comfortable as a solitary figure on a sprawling stage.
The album was written in Los Angeles and recorded at Gary's Electric in Brooklyn, NY over 2017 and 2018. It was co-produced by Al Carlson. He plays flute, organ and piano on some songs. Matt McDermott also played piano and string synthesizer. It will be released on Mexican Summer on February 8, 2019.
For over 20 years, Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, and Rich Vogel have been exploring the seemingly limitless musical possibilities born out of their work together as Galactic. Over those years, the seminal New Orleans band has consistently pushed artistic boundaries on the road and in the studio, approaching their music with open ears and drawing on inspiration as much from the sounds bubbling up from their city's streets as they do from each other.
Boy Harshers second full-length album, Careful, further develops the bands brooding dance style, set up in their previous ep Country Girl. The ten songs, spanning forty-four minutes, contain eerie narrative soundscapes that are bracing, high tempo and dynamic. The album delivers manifold emotions, from the nostalgic yearning of LA to the gripping intensity of Come Closer. The nervousness of Augustus Muller's bent, out of tune synths paired with the lush and sometimes brittle vocals of Jae Matthews, delivers an unsettled, yet fulfilling encounter with Boy Harsher. Careful summons a new spirit for the young band - that of growth and desire.
Temporal is the elegantly restrained new album by Canadian cellist/composer Julia Kent. Following the dissonance and tension of her previous album for Leaf, 2015s Asperities, Temporal is a meditation on the transitory and fragile nature of existence.
Prismism examines our basic relationships and interactions, with family, friends and co-workers, how one can feel trapped by their surroundings, as well as those that rely on them, emotionally and/or professionally. It applies to Dave's difficulties in reconciling his domestic and career choices and finds the solution in the very thing that brought him here in the first place -- the music. Combining both acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a longtime fascination with keyboards and electronic music -- which he wasn't able to explore as much as he would've liked in The Killers -- Keuning has created a psychic diary that allows us to connect the dots and learn what brought him to a career crossroads.
Almost Free, the new release from FIDLAR touches on many of the tragedies and irritations of modern life: existential dread, gentrification, the inescapable sway of the super-rich and the self-involved, post-breakup telecommunication, performative wokeness, the loneliness of sobriety or the lack thereof. But through sheer force of imagination and an unchecked joie de vivre, the L.A.-based band manages to turn feeling wrong into something glorious and essential. In the age of joyless self-care, Almost Free makes a brilliant case for being less careful, for living without fear of fucking up, and possibly embracing any incurred damage as a lucky symptom of being alive. The album sees the band pushing boundaries into new territory and influences while staying true to their unshakable core. "A lot of the vibe was, 'Well, why can't we do that? Why can't we have horns? Why can't we have key changes? Why can't we have a harmonica loop?', said lead singer/guitarist Zac Carper. It was abouttaking the ceiling off. Having it be limitless. Ain't no rules." Elvis added "Almost Free feels like a step forward for us in a lot of ways. We tried to be true to ourselves and let the music come out naturally, without fear of how people would receive it.
Power Chords, Mike Krol's new Merge release, picks up where 2015's Turkey left off. It traces Krol's journey back to punk rock, harnessing both the guitar technique and the musical redemption referenced in it's title. He's wielding the same influences-Misfits, The Strokes, early Weezer, Ramones-but turning up the gravity and the gain. Indeed, Krol has gone somewhere new; yes, he bludgeoned himself with over-analysis and self-loathing, but along the way he stumbled upon a trove of intricate guitar lines and artfully mutating melodies. Music ruined Krol's life. And then saved it. In chronicling that process, Krol has made his best record-painful, voyeuristic, and angry, but ultimately transcendent and timeless. It is the sound of Krol giving in to a force greater than himself, as though the chords are playing him rather than the other way around.
From M.C. Taylor: William s new record, Goes West, is the best music that he s ever made. I m sure of this because I know and love all of his music intimately, and this album moves me the most, and the most consistently. The first time I heard it was in the late spring in the Texas Hill Country, rolling between limestone and scrub. I was on a cleanse then no alcohol, no drugs, no evil thoughts and was astonished at the emotional clarity that the album held. It offered up a model for what I wanted my head to feel like. Goes West marks a sort of narrowing of focus for William s music; it sounds as though he found a way to point himself directly towards the rich and bittersweet emotional center of his music without being distracted by side trips. Perhaps this is down to the fact that William only plays acoustic guitar on the album, a clear and conscious decision considering that he is one of Nashville s great electric guitarists. The band that performs Goes West alongside William including guitarists Meg Duffy and Bill Frisell, bassist and producer Brad Cook, keyboardist James Wallace, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, and engineer Tucker Martine is the best and most sympathetic group of players that William could have assembled to play these songs.
Just as she takes up space in the male-dominated Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area punk scene, Sneaks aka Eva Moolchan takes up space among the patriarchy. Highway Hypnosis, plays on hip-hop, post-punk, and invented words to fill a gap between the feminist underground and genre-specific singles charts. Through it, Moolchan joins the resistance forged by queer black feminists who create, explore, empower, conquer, and play bass.
Guster's latest studio album Look Alive was produced by English musician, composer, and producer Leo Abrahams (Regina Spektor, Brian Eno/David Byrne, Belle and Sebastian, Chromatics). The forthcoming LP maintains the band’s unique charm while charting new sonic and lyric pathways. It will be available on CD, vinyl, and digitally.
Following the ever-emotive Boo Boo, Toro Y Moi’s new album Outer Peace is a time capsule that captures our relationship to contemporary culture into one comprehensive, sonic package. As both a producer and designer, Bear utilizes abstract sound pairings with recognizable samples for his most pop influenced record to date, including features from ABRA, WET, and Instupendo. This is no departure from his funk and disco roots, which can be heard on “Ordinary Pleasure”, later fusing into variations of house with tracks like “Freelance” and “Laws of the Universe.” Smooth interludes melt into fast paced beats, paralleling the feeling of driving through the Bay Area, where Bear spent most of his time writing the album. Outer Peace is duality. It embodies whatever form you choose to inhabit in the moment. Listen and let your imagination become the universe.
Double vinyl LP pressing. Twenty is a career retrospective, celebrating 20 years of Taking Back Sunday. The collection spans all seven of their full-length studio albums: Tell All Your Friends, Where You Want To Be, Louder Now, New Again, Taking Back Sunday, Happiness Is and Tidal Wave. Whether your introduction to the band was singing along to "A Decade Under The Influence" in a sweaty club or hearing "MakeDamnSure" or "Sink Into Me" on the radio, Twenty is a look back at some of the highlights from this genre-defying band. Additionally, fans will be able to hear newly recorded songs, which hint at the direction that Taking Back Sunday are heading in the coming years.
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Here Swings The Judge is Milt Hinton’s first LP as a band leader, and includes intimate, private recordings featuring Ben Webster on tenor saxophone before his departure to Europe in 1964. The remaining tracks consist of dynamic studio recordings produced by Harry Lim, and feature prominent players such as Jon Faddis and Budd Johnson. These sessions range from the swinging “Blue Skies,’ to the slow, serene blues of “Blues for the Judge.” This is truly an impressive collection of recordings from the group of early jazz musicians.
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Topping the Billboard R&B charts in 1957, Bill Justis' "Raunchy" is one of the most successful rock & roll instrumental tracks of all time. Having grown up in Memphis, Justis played an integral part in the development of rock music, working with artists on the legendary Sun Record Company, as well as recording music for himself. This collection of instrumentals pays homage to 1960's era rock & roll scene of the south. Now the album has been remastered for its first vinyl pressing in nearly five decades.
This holiday LP is brimming with jazz rarities plucked from the Prestige, Contemporary, and Debut label vaults. Notable artists include pianist Bobby Timmons, known for playing with Chet Baker and here contributing covers of "White Christmas" and "You're All I Want For Christmas," and tenor saxophone greats Dexter Gordon and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, each performing spirited takes on "The Christmas Song." The Christmas Collection songs, most of which are long out-of-print, have been remastered from original audio tapes and then pressed on festive translucent red vinyl. Remastered from the original tapes by Paul Blakemore at CMG Mastering and lacquers cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Pressed on translucent red vinyl at RTI.
On December 7, Merge Records will reissue Hot Issue, a dozen turn-of-the-century new digs and old finds recorded by Redd Kross in Hollywood between 1980 and 2007. Available on limited-edition translucent fluorescent green Peak Vinyl, licorice black vinyl, and CD, this collection of top-quality recordings features Redd Kross rarities and focuses on the band’s most explosively creative period from the early ’90s straight through to Researching the Blues, all mastered from the original source tapes for optimal audio fidelity by Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz at d2. An energetic compilation created to be a complete play experience with unreleased and rare tracks unearthed from the Jeff McDonald archives, Hot Issue is a total must for all Redd Kross fans around the world!