NEW THIS WEEK AT THE SHOP:
A band like the YEAH YEAH YEAHS are a bridge to another time. They were a motley, stylish team of denizens of a mythical city at the turn of a century, before a traumatic event that put its ugly stamp on everything, gigging constantly in an effort to rewire rock n roll in a period where it wasn't cool anymore, not even in New York. Like Blondie and Television did before them, they described a city and a scene as they saw it, in a way that, looking back, makes it look boisterously alive. Refreshingly, they are still that band, even if their prolonged periods of hiatus seemed to indicate they'd lost interest and moved on. Their new album 'Cool It Down' rips the bandages off right away, unloading eight tight tracks of their trademark poignant pop, mechanically flawless and effortlessly cool, riffing on influences as disparate as ESG and Frankie Valli. Yellow vinyl on this one, plus a limited supply of cool patches that are free with purchase. Nobody goes their own way quite like Kurt Wagner and LAMBCHOP, who are back with another fascinating album of funky genre melange called 'The Bible'. Farsighted folk-rock geniuses WILCO revisit the album that truly launched their career with a graciously-expanded edition of 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', the 2002 gem that revealed a band as deeply invested in reworking the grandeur of traditional American folk as vocalist Jeff Tweedy was bent on weaving his troubled autobiography with that of his troubled country. This one somehow gets better with every listen, and a newly remastered vinyl edition keeps that trend advancing. Expanded deluxe editions include a deep trove of alternate mixes (a version of 'Kamera' that sounds like a Marc Bolan demo? nice) and exceptional live material. Every day is Bosses Day when you're TITUS ANDRONICUS. The New Jersey roots rock stalwarts conjure a modern day Greetings from Asbury Park on 'The Will to Live'.
Bluegrass belter TYLER CHILDERS returns with a downright epic triple album called 'Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?', where he and his longtime band "The Food Stamps" band are presumably letting extra loose. Noise-pop icons THE PIXIES maintain their punched-up melodic wail on a new disc called 'Doggerel'. A new record and a reissue of their '04 debut bring some necessary fresh ears to the little-appreciated DC band THE CASUAL DOTS: the trio of Christina Billotte (Slant 6), Kathi Wilcox (Bikini Kill), and Steve Dore (Deep Lust) make perfect garage pop with a minimalist snarl and unexpected nods to Ronnie Spector and Roy Orbison.
The intense, introspective Florida rapper DENZEL CURRY returns with an unhurried and tripped out gem with 'Melt My Eyez See Your Future'. Atlanta producer SOL MESSIAH has some serious years in the game, with credits ranging from TLC and Boyz II Men to David Banner, Chamillionaire and, most recently, female rapper Sa-Roc. His first proper full length for Rhymesayers flexes his address book well, with verses from Sa-Roc, Slug, Evidence, Zion I, Aesop Rock, Murs and more. 'GOD CMPLX' is on red, blue & black marbled vinyl. Veteran rapper LOGIC deliversÂ 'Vinyl Days', his last album from Def Jam, and we've got an electrifying collection of mental club bangers from a trio of Durban, South Africa's up and coming gqom producers. 'The Gqom Trilogy' is a deep scene report on a kaleidoscopic sound influenced by trap, grime, and kuduro in equal measure, that's captured a lot of ears including those of Beyonce.
Soul rocker BEN HARPER returns with another critically acclaimed LP calledÂ 'Bloodline Maintenance'. BUDDY GUY's 1980 masterpiece 'Stone Crazy!' set a very high new bar for uptempo electric blues, heavily featuring Guy's relentless playing and a riveting live-in-the-studio feel. Trancy synth rockers MOON DUO deliver their trippy installment in the 'Live at Levitation' series, and we've got a super cool new compilation called 'Atencao!: Novos Sons Do Brasil' which introduces a new generation of Brazilian folk walking in the footsteps of Joao Gilberto and Milton Nascimento.
Richmond, VA band CITY OF CATERPILLAR burned incredibly hot and fast in the early 00s, delivering one stellar album of cinematic, chaotic post-hardcore before breaking up. Two decades later they return with an album called 'Mystic Sisters' that sounds as if no time has passed at all. Angular dynamics abound on this jabbing ripper, for fans of Fugazi and Converge. West Virginia hardcore band LINCOLN made just a scant few singles before moving on to other projects, but their approach to complex, heavy rhythms and solemn sincerity was very influential across the 90s emo underground; 'Repair & Reward' collects all of their output for the first time. Anthemic UK punkers HIGH VIS return with a widescope album of Bunnymen/Bauhaus stylings on 'Blending', and we've got a reissue of 'Those Days Are Gone', the 2014 debut by Nashville emo kings FREE THROW on color wax.
Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie and Greek artist Christina Vantzou teamed up as THE DEAD TEXAN for one wonderful album in 2004, a dark time in world history in which many labels were not even releasing things on vinyl! Can you imagine? This specific case has been remedied this week with an LP edition of this absolutely stunning album of warm neoclassical that easily sits alongside the celebrated SOTL classics. Swedish DIY folkie ASTRID Ã�STER MORTENSON's short-run albums have been dazzling the small numbers of listeners who have managed to track em down. With a few armloads of scavenged bits of gear, Mortenson makes fragile, liminal folk music that feels as though its coming down the wire of an old transistor radio on its last drop of battery, in the tradition of Grouper, Aki Tsuyuko, or Aoba Ichiko. Her 2021 debut 'Gro Mig En Blomst' gets a reprint this week, alongside a pair of LPs from her fellow Goteborgians NEUTRAL, a duo who make lo-fi no wave in the tradition of Suicide and Mars, but with that added mysterious air of Nordic gloom.
Australian avant-jazz veteran OREN AMBARCHI has hit a thrilling new stride with his last few albums that turn plucked guitar and percussion elements into a glittering tapestry of sound that has no identifiable source, as if he has just alchemized a new instrument. On a new LP called 'Shebang' he keeps this system moving, with a monster crew of players that have way more fun within their somewhat academic approaches to music than most, like Jim O'Rourke, Julia Reidy, Joe Talia, and even pedal-steel hero BJ Cole. Multi-instrumentalist DIALECT returns to the Rvng label with a beautiful album of kankyo ongaku style ambient sketches called 'Advanced Myth'. Ohio trio EMERALDS kicked off the American ambient revival with a torrid run of cd-rs and tapes in the late 00s before signing to Mego alongside Oneohtrix Point Never. It's almost not humanly possible to appreciate how much great music they made in that short span, but a deep listen to their 2009 album 'Solar Bridge' provides a stunning sample, released on vinyl for the first time now, originally a cassette on Aaron Dilloway's legendary noise label Hanson. 'Listening Music / Anfang', a gorgeous 1975 private press LP from Pennsylvanian MARC EMORY gets a lovely new edition, perfect for fans of Fahey, Kottke, and Daniel Hecht.
Over sixty years ago, the pianist and composer known as SUN RA was already far into the future. His 1962 LP 'The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra' is an early career highlight full of cosmic portents, back in print this week, alongside reissues of Latin gems (JOE BATAAN's 'Gypsy Woman'), rare dub deposits (BORIS GARDINER's 'Ultra Super Dub Vol. 1') and Argentinian gothic rock (EUROSHIMA's 'Gala').
Lots of folks get called pioneers around this newsletter, but its still not a term we try to use lightly. Now I wasn't there, but I'm still fairly sure there weren't too many dudes wearing their hair long, ripping towering solos of doom-laden guitar, and singing about evil icebergs like RANDY HOLDEN was in the early 70s when he briefly served time in Blue Cheer, and released the cult-fave proto metal masterpiece 'Population II'. Somehow, all these eons later, Randy is still letting 'em rip, as he shows with a killer new slab called, naturally, 'Population III'. Funeral doom standard bearers MOURNFUL CONGREGATION see their elegantly evil classic 'The June Frost' get a repress, and we have a new album from SLIPKNOT called 'The End, So Far', and a reissue of the ALICE COOPER classic 'Live from the Astroturf'.
If you don't need the constant stream of reissues and anniversary editions highlighting the inexorable march of time, we've saved these small reminders for the end of the newsletter. Back in print this week: TV ON THE RADIO's 'Young Liars', BRAINIAC's 'Electro-shock for President', THE HIVES' 'Barely Legal', and TAKING BACK SUNDAY's 'Happiness Is'. You're welcome!