New Releases - 6/16/17

Beth Ditto – Fake Sugar CD (Virgin)
Beth Ditto, who rose to fame as the dynamic frontwoman of punk ‘n’ soul band Gossip, releases her debut solo album. In an interview with BBC 1 Radio, Ditto said she spent two years writing nearly 80 songs for her solo album, including some tracks written with producer Jacknife Lee. However, her main collaborator on Fake Sugar was songwriter and producer Jennifer Decilveo. “She was the rollerblades to my roller skates. We'd argue all day long and I loved it,” Ditto said of the collaboration. In addition to album opener “Fire,” the 12-song LP also features “Go Baby Go” that serves as a tribute to late Suicide singer Alan Vega. The singer's 2014 marriage to her longtime girlfriend also informed Fake Sugar's lyrics. “This is adulthood, baby,” Ditto added. “You fought for marriage equality, now you gotta live in it.”

Big Star – The Best Of Big Star CD/2xLP (Stax)
If the short-lived but fondly remembered Big Star could have experienced popular success in direct proportion to its posthumous influence, the rangy Memphis rock quartet would have lived up to its ambitious name, and then some. With the possible exception of the Velvet Underground, no other underground pop band has left such a lasting and indelible legacy. Taking the gritty soul of Memphis rhythm and blues and fusing it with the artful melodies and vocal harmonies of British power pop, and injecting it all with a flailing, pre-punk, garage-band energy, Big Star created a unique sound with a potentially universal appeal. This new Best Of compilation celebrates the founding fathers of power pop with 16 tracks spanning all three of their LPs (1972's #1 Record, 1974's Radio City and Third, released after the group disbanded). Includes rare single versions of some of their most popular songs, plus new liner notes.

Brandy – Brandy [Reissue/1994] 2xLP (Atlantic)
Double-LP reissue of the self-titled debut album by R&B singer Brandy. The album contains a range of contemporary genres, and the songs are a mix of soft hip hop soul, pop and contemporary mid-1990s R&B.

Broadside - Paradise CD (Victory)
As soon as the majestic opening licks of the album's lead off track burst onto the speakers, it's obvious that Broadside are setting bigger and better goals the second time around. An album of boundless energy, Paradise is a culmination of two years' worth of experiences, sacrifices, and tireless effort, and the end result is a go-for-broke tour de force in pop tinged punk rock. With the line “The sun peeking from the tall palm trees,” the title track “Paradise” sets the personality for a summer sunshine-stained statement. “The whole concept of Paradise is that you should chase that little view of happiness you create in your mind,” explains frontman Ollie Baxxter. “We often put our dreams and desires to the side believing they're unrealistic, but this record is about building a bridge to reach your goals, your dream, your...Paradise.”

Can – The Singles CD/3xLP (Mute)
The Singles collects all the A and B-side versions that the krautrock pioneers released over the course of their career (1969-1986). This unique document is the first time the singles have been presented together, from well-loved tracks like “Halleluwah,” “Vitamin C” and “I Want More” to more obscure and sought-after singles such as “Silent Night” and “Turtles Have Short Legs.” The tracks are all presented in their original single versions, many of which have been unavailable for many years and not presented outside of the original 7" releases.

Carach Angren – Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten CD (Season Of Mist)
The Dutch masters of horror are back with their most flamboyant album yet, pushing their unashamedly theatric style to a new intense height. On Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten Carach Angren have employed all the sonic colors on their palette to dazzling effect. Their trademark whipping guitars weave harsh melodies and sinister soundscapes, which are beautifully contrasted by opulent keyboards and majestic orchestrations. That Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren (Pain) have called upon the composition talent of Clemens “Ardek” Wijers is a telling sign of his outstanding mastery of the craft. Another signatory counterpoint is provided by Seregor's fierce rasping and shrieking vocals. Adding to the impact, Namtar has become a relentless driving force with his hart hitting yet intricate drumming

Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright! CD (Big Machine)
Cheap Trick's eighteenth studio album We're All Alright! follows 2016's acclaimed Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello. Features the electrifying lead single, “Long Time Coming,” which Billboard raved is, “a crunchy hard rocker driven by a Kinks-flavored riff...a bit of a one-song tribute to Cheap Trick's influential forebears.” Cheap Trick is an indisputable American institution, beloved around the globe since 1974 for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop rock ‘n' roll. The band – Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Daxx Nielsen (drums) – are true pioneers with an unparalleled streak of certifiably classic tunes, from “He's A Whore,” “California Man” and “Dream Police” to “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me” and the worldwide No. 1 hit single, “The Flame.” 2016 saw Cheap Trick's long awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’re All Alright! is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds three bonus tracks, among them a kaleidoscopic cover of The Move's “Blackberry Way.”

Com Truise - Iteration CD/2xLP+MP3 (Ghostly Int'l)
Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Seth Haley's singular music has ever sounded. At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of “Isostasy” to “Ternary's” lush synth-funk. “Vacuume” somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and “Usurper” gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. The closing title track “Iteration” ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry. [Limited blue and white color vinyl pressing also available.]

David Lynch/Alan R. Splet – Eraserhead [OST/Reissue/1977] LP+7” (Sacred Bones)
An expanded, silver color vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to David Lynch’s landmark 1977 film. This limited deluxe edition includes: a 16 page booklet, three 11"x11" prints, digital download, and a limited edition Peter Ivers 7". A-side of the single is "In Heaven" and the B-side unearths a newly discovered original Ivers recording entitled, “Pete’s Boogie” taken from the original audio tapes and mixed by Lynch.

Dead Heavens – Whatever Witch You Are CD/LP (Dine Alone)
The early sparks of the Dead Heavens' sound began on a solo from frontman/guitarist Walter Schreifels (Vanishing Life, Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicks) with Drew Thomas (Youth of Today, Bold, Into Another) and Nathan Aguilar (Cults) as the backing band. They were obsessing over Cream's first album Fresh Cream and MBV, My Bloody Valentine's both miasmic yet blissful follow up to Loveless. Aguilar also introduced them to the psych beauty of White Fence on that tour, which resonated with Schreifels, who was in the mood for heavier music, guitar solos, and a big rock feeling after a recent Quicksand tour. Upon returning to NYC, Aguilar reacquainted Thomas and Schreifels with musician, painter, engineer and dude who came up with the title Use Your Illusion, Paul Kostabi, who had previously played in White Zombie and Psychotica. Eventually Kostabi joined Dead Heavens, which had morphed mid-recording from a project into an actual band, changing the sound dramatically. Heavier and dual guitar leads, more sonic possibilities. Whether they're connecting the sounds of the psychedelic ‘70s or channeling the now, Dead Heavens have sound tracked their explorations their full-length debut, Whatever Witch You Are.

The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts CD/2xLP+MP3 (ANTI-)
With The Drums' new Abysmal Thoughts, band founder Jonny Pierce is making the exact album he has always held in his heart. Of course, this is The Drums, so that heart is broken – but there's beauty and even bliss in this kind of heartbreak, as well as that special kind of glorious delirium that comes from taking everything life can throw at you and still walking away triumphant. If Abysmal Thoughts doesn't sound at all abysmal – really, Pierce has rarely been this irresistibly pop – that's because this is a story about how to figure out what happiness means once the worst has already happened: “If there's one thing I can rely on it's the healing power of being an artist,” he says. “I'm falling back in love with music.”

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up CD/2xLP (Nonesuch)
Crack-Up is the long-awaited and highly anticipated third album from Northwest indie-folk act Fleet Foxes. The Nonesuch Records release comes six years after the 2011 release of Helplessness Blues and nearly a decade since the band's breakout 2008 self-titled debut. All 11 songs on Crack-Up were written by Robin Pecknold who also co-produced the album with longtime bandmate and close collaborator Skyler Skjelset. The album comes preceded by “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” a nearly nine-minute epic powered by piano and electric twelve-string guitar, string quartet, and the group's trademark sparkling harmonies. “When Fleet Foxes released the nine-minute album centerpiece ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara,’ they were sending a message, letting us know that this would be an album of multi-part suites and proggy digressions and quiet ruptures. On that score, they have been true to their word. Crack-Up is an album full of pretty, soothing music that nonetheless delights in taking odd turns, in branching off in unexpected directions.” – Stereogum

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound CD/LP (Southeastern Records)
“The title of Jason Isbell’s sixth album, The Nashville Sound, could be construed as either wildly presumptive or absurdly aspirational. In truth, it’s a little bit of both. The idea of a homespun artist like Isbell eclipsing any number of corporate country megastars as the public face of “the Nashville sound” is far-fetched, but it’s no longer entirely laughable. The bro-country backlash has made Isbell’s cerebral, folky brand of songwriting somewhat en vogue to the point that even the most mainstream country artists have started chasing at least the perception of the rootsy authenticity he exudes. Even if Isbell only plays a miniscule role in defining what comes out of Nashville these days, he’s exercising that influence the best he can on The Nashville Sound. The album is more eclectic and energetic than his other recent efforts, which have seen Isbell’s voice and vitality as a songwriter crystallize just as his sound has become slicker and more uniform. It may not entirely be the full-throated ‘return to rock’ we were promised, but it’s convincing evidence that the Nashville sound can and should encompass more than country—alternative or otherwise—and mean more than just somber acoustic dirges about sobriety and marriage.” – Slant [Limited vinyl pressing including a 11”x11”, 22-page songbook also available.]

Kevin Morby - City Music CD/LP (Dead Oceans)
City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where great cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mold. It is a collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. “Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener,” explains Morby. City Music sees Morby joined once again by cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were recorded at night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys). Here the album gives voice to all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture.

Moby & The Pacific Void Choir – More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse CD/LP (Mute)
As with much of Moby’s output during his nearly three-decade-long career, it’s not surprising that a spiritual & political questioning underpins the nine songs comprising latest full length album. In characteristically iconoclastic fashion, the weighty themes explored throughout More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse find expression as some of the most direct and personal music Moby has ever created. “That quality of atmospheric sadness I’ve done so much of before isn’t here – there’s nothing quiet or ambient,” he notes. “Sonically, this record isn’t subtle: it’s big & loud, with huge kick drums & massive choral choruses.” [Limited orange color vinyl pressing also available.]

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock CD (Atlantic)
“It’s been a long time coming since 2013’s Evil Friends from Portugal. The Man, but a new album is on the way. Between 2006 and 2013, the Alaska-born psych-indie pop group released a whopping eight studio records, never leaving more than two years in between. As we approach four years since their last album, fans have begun to wonder what the wait is, — would a new album ever come? On a trip back home, frontman John Gourley was met by the same questioning by his father, who asked him ‘What’s taking so long to finish the album?’ according to a press release. ‘Isn’t that what bands do? Write songs and then put them out?’ It light a fire under PTM’s collective asses, leading them to throw out all previous material of what they were going to call Gloomin’ And Doomin’, enlisting the help of Beastie Boys’ Mike D, Danger Mouse, and John Hill on the production side. With a bit of inspiration from finding an old Woodstock ’69 ticket of his Gourley’s father, PTM went back to the drawing room table to produce an album that can inspire some good in this ‘avalanche of flaming biohazard material sliding down a mountain of used needles into a canyon full of rat feces’ that sums up 2017 so far.” -- Indie88 [Vinyl edition due in August.]

Ride - Weather Diaries CD/2xLP (Wichita Recordings)
Ride's first album in over 20 years was produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, and is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early-‘90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that's ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive. Weather Diaries sees the band reunited with label co-founders Mark Bowen and Dick Green, who worked with Ride during the band's early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again.

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark? CD/LP (WB)
After becoming the biggest breaking British rock band with their self-titled 2014 debut album, Royal Blood returns with their eagerly anticipated second album, How Did We Get So Dark? The album’s first single “Lights Out” ups the ante on their first outing with a wrecking ball of a groove cemented by Thatcher's thunderous rhythms, while Kerr wrangles the twisted invention of his bass riffs to a whole new level. Their patented two-man artillery of carefully constructed melodic aggression is prevalent throughout, especially in “I Only Lie When I Love You,” which is a compelling cowbell-assisted reminder of the power of a stop-start riff and a strident chorus. There are times when Royal Blood are more visceral than ever – notably the gargantuan introduction to “Hook, Line And Sinker” and also the intense denouement that brings “Look Like You Know” to a close.

Sammy Brue – I Am Nice CD (New West)
Sammy Brue embodies the kind of wisdom, talent and natural empathy that are often signs of age and maturity, and yet at 15 years old, he can place himself in the shoes of others, real or fictionalized, and write stories about them. The Ogden, UT based songwriter has been writing songs since the age of 10. I Am Nice is a brilliant album with nuanced dimension that provides emotional resonance to Brue's songs which Rolling Stone described as “a collection of devastatingly beautiful songs that touch on heartbreak, jealousy, God and suicide.” They would further declare Brue “an Americana prodigy.” Though Sammy may appear quiet and unassuming, his songs speak volumes. From busking at Sundance at age 10, to opening for Justin Townes Earle, John Paul White, Lucinda Williams and John Moreland to mention a few, as well as performing at Summer Set and the Newport Folk Festival, you will be hearing a lot about Sammy Brue.

Steve Earle & The Dukes – So You Wanna Be An Outlaw CD/2xLP (WB)
If you ever had any doubt about where Steve Earle's musical roots are planted, his new collection, So You Wannabe An Outlaw, makes it perfectly plain. “There's nothing ‘retro' about this record,” he states. “I’m just acknowledging where I'm coming from. I'm always gonna be a Texan, no matter what I do. And I'm always going to be somebody who learned their craft in Nashville. It's who I am.” So You Wannabe An Outlaw is an homage to outlaw music. “I was out to unapologetically ‘channel' Waylon as best as I could.” says Earle. “...Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes was the template for the new album. And I've always considered that record to be really important. I consider his Honky Tonk Heroes the Exile On Main Street of country music.” The new songs include the gentle, acoustic folk ballads “News From Colorado” and “The Girl On The Mountain.” “Fixin' To Die,” on the other hand, is a dark shout from the hell of Death Row. “The Firebreak Line” returns Earle to his pile-driving, country-rock roots. “You Broke My Heart” is a sweet, simple salute to the 1950s sounds of Webb Pierce or Carl Smith. “Walkin' In L.A.” is a twanging country shuffle. The guitar-heavy “Sunset Highway” is an instant-classic escape song. And the deeply touching “Goodbye Michelangelo” is Earle's farewell to his mentor, Guy Clark, who passed away last year.

Sun Kil Moon - Common As Light & Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood 2xLP (Caldo Verde)
Mark Kozelek’s new double-album was recorded with former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley in San Francisco, CA and Hoboken, NJ and for the most part captures events from January to August of 2016 and how the mercurial singer/songwriter processed it all while traveling. A disenfranchised Kozelek laments the Nice, France terror attack and Orlando nightclub shooting on “Bastille Day” and “Bergen To Trondheim” respectively and condemns Trump's election and tech culture on “Lone Star.”

Various Artists - Boombox 2: Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro And Disco Rap 1979-83 2xCD/3xLP+MP3 (Soul Jazz)
A new selection of early rap music from the period 1979-83, with barely a household name in sight. Featured here are some the earliest hip-hop records that came out of New York City following the enormous commercial success of the first ever rap record, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, in September 1979.

Various Artists – Chicago Slickers 1948-1953 [Reissue/1976] LP (Nighthawk)
Various Artists – Chicago Slickers Volume 2 1948-1955 [Reissue/1980] LP (Nighthawk)
Various Artists – Windy City Blues: The Transition 1935-1953 [Reissue/1976] LP (Nighthawk)

Vinyl reissues of ultra-rare recordings from Chicago's mid/late-‘30s to early-‘50s blues heyday. The explosive post-war outburst of musical creativity was matched by the rise of dozens of small independent labels, but after imprints like Parkway, Tempotone and Random went bankrupt, many blues classics were relegated to obscurity.

Various Artists – Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht CD/2xLP (Numero Group)
The Numero Group's dive into the deep end of America's private press continues. With pop music's volume knob adjusted for deflation in the early '70s, softness begat smoothness. Crewmen arrived from the worlds of jazz, folk, rock, and soul, all peddling a product that was sincere, leisurely, and lofty. A sound that was buoyant, crisp, defined. Sometimes classified as West Coast - and, later, Yacht Rock - the compass points of our Private Yacht expedition are the blue-eyed harmonies of Hall & Oates, the cocaine-dusted Fender Rhodes of Michael McDonald, and the comb-over strums of James Taylor. Here, at the glassy apex of rock's softer side, 20 strong swimmers are gathered together. An album for both relaxation and reflection, where listeners can enjoy the present, a cool breeze, and a taste of the good life.