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Genre > Rock > Alt & Grunge
Agaetis ByrjunReykjavík-based noise quartet Sigur Rós are the biggest band in their native Iceland, which should say much, much more about the collective insanity of that earthquake-ridden, blizzard-beaten crag of an island than anything to do with Sigur Rós's sound. But in their music, Sigur Rós reflect all the breathtaking glory of the Icelandic wastes--a fairy-tale explosion of unhinged elemental majesty that's finally crystallized here, their debut European release. Poised somewhere between the haunting soundscapes of Labradford and the lilting Celtic falsetto of Enya, Agaetis Byrjun is a truly breathtaking listen. Frontman Jon Por Birgisson sings in a language that Sigur Rós dub "Hopelandic"--an otherworldly mutation of Icelandic, sung in the falsetto cadence of angels; similarly, he plays his guitar with a violin bow, opening the floodgates for brilliant waves of feedback. And while it's the opening "Svefn-G-Englar" that's Sigur Rós' moment to date, there's far more that they have to offer; listen to the pomp and flourish of a full orchestra on "Flugufrelsarinn," or the awe-inspiring near-religious mantra of "Ny Batteri."LP 1
4. Ný batterí
1. Hjartađ hamast
2. Viđrar Vel Til Loftárása
3. Olsen Olsen
4. Ágćtis Byrjun
$29.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
AshIbeyi is set to release Ash via XL Recordings. Their first album, the eponymous Ibeyi, grappled with the past—the sister’s relationship, origins, loss, and roots. It earned them fans and collaborators in some of the most iconic and crucial artists of today, Beyoncé, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre included. By contrast, Ash is a more visceral and potent political statement, and while firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history, finds itself entirely concerned with Ibeyi’s present: Who Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi are, what’s important to them, and how they live today, especially given that the spheres, both personally and politically, are entirely different from when Ibeyi was recorded. It’s also a testament to their cathartic live performances, where they’re able to transmute a vast array of emotions—sorrow, anger, sensuality, happiness—to and through their fans.
Ash is also a study in deft electronic production. Ibeyi worked once again alongside XL head Richard Russell, a confidante, and friend, to produce Ash at his studio. “We absolutely wanted, 100%, to work with him again: It was not even a question,” Lisa-Kaindé says. “Richard is an amazing producer... wherever you want to go, he will guide you there. But it feels like you’re playing with him. You’re sharing ideas together and he has an amazing ear. It’s like a flow, it’s really easy.” To that effect, Naomi adds: “It’s like we produced the album too, actually, and it’s a good feeling.” Along with Russell’s stylized production sensibilities, Ibeyi drew from a host of influences ranging from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica, Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu and Nina Simone and beyond, to craft the wide-ranging musical landscape of Ash.1. I Carried This For Years
2. Away Away
3. Deathless (feat. Kamasi Washington)
4. I Wanna Be Like You
5. No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms
8. Transmission/Michaelion (feat. Meshell Ndegeocello)
9. Me Voy (feat. Mala Rodriguez
10. When Will I Learn (feat. Chilly Gonzales)
$24.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
IbeyiIbeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) means “twins” in the language of the Yoruban culture of Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz. The album of the same name, produced by XL Recordings boss Richard Russell, is the story of two sisters: their relationship, their origins, their shared history and their musical chemistry.
The twins’ roots are reflected in the polyglot nature of the lyrics — in English, French and Yoruban — and music which combines ritual chants with synths and samplers, jazz vocals with the spellbinding mystery of Björk and Fever Ray, the traditional with the modern. This uniquely cosmopolitan sound is the perfect vehicle for their intimately personal stories. According to them, “This album is about love and family and people who are gone.”
Lisa-Kainde and Naomi (the eldest by two minutes) were born in Paris, where they still live, but spent their first two years in Cuba. Their father was Miguel “Anga” Diaz, the member of the Buena Vista Social Club, who was acclaimed as the greatest conga player.
Record producer and XL Recordings boss Richard Russell first encountered Ibeyi when he saw them performing “Mama Says” on a 2013 YouTube video. He soon invited them to meet him - a serious offer from someone who in recent years has produced albums by Gil Scott-Heron I’m New Here and Bobby Womack The Bravest Man In The Universe (co-produced with Damon Albarn), as well Albarn’s own acclaimed 2014 solo album Everyday Robots.
The album is a subtle melange of diverse influences: not just Lisa-Kainde’s soul and jazz leanings and Naomi’s up-to-the-minute beatmaking but the bloodlines of France, Cuba and Africa, including the use of Yoruban chants they first heard in the Santeria ceremonies. The tense, dramatic “Oya,” the lead track on their debut EP, addresses the deity (or “Orisha”) of change and destruction while “River” honours Oshun, the Orisha of love, rivers and fertility. Yoruban culture travelled from Nigeria and Benin to Cuba and Brazil with the slave ships centuries ago but is little-known in Europe.1. Eleggua (Intro)
5. Think Of You
6. Behind The Curtain
7. Stranger / Lover
8. Mama Says
12. Ibeyi (Outro)
$22.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
VonThe heaps of praise during 2000 surrounding 1999's Ágćtis Byrjun brought surprisingly little attention to Sigur Rós' first record, released in 1997. Remaining available only through the band's Icelandic label, it took some effort to obtain, but those who did get a copy probably found it to be just as adventurous as Agćtis. Though darker and more fractured than the string-laden nooks of the follow-up, it's just as sprawling and outright bombastic. It's remarkable that such a young band would be this experimental at this stage in their lifespan, but the sheer breadth gets to be an albatross. Poking fun at '70s prog rock is just as easy as shooting at cement gargoyles on a suburban rooftop, especially when you're an indie kid or a fan of post-rock. But Sigur Rós makes Yes look like the Minutemen. Whittled down to 40 minutes, Von would be considerably more effective than it already is. As a mood setter, the 10-minute opening track really takes about three minutes to do what it needs, and a few other spots seem to drag on for the sake of sucking time. That doesn't prevent Von from being impressive, veering from Gavin Bryars-style aquatic minimalism to My Bloody Valentine-style dream pop. Varying states of isolationist ambience run throughout, whether evoking unrest or tranquil rest. You can practically envision a stray headboard floating through the Sinking of the Titanic-type passages, and the lush "Myrkur" comes from a planet where MBV's Kevin Shields and Kitchens of Distinction's Julian Swales are accorded the level or worship that Earth gives to Hendrix and Clapton. And then there's that voice, one of the most distinctly unintelligible voices since the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser. Boy? Girl? One would be hard-pressed to guess without liner notes. Based on pure sound, Von is just as much of a treat as the acclaimed follow-up.
- Andy Kellman (All Music Guide)LP 1
1. Sigur Rós
3. Hún Jörđ…
4. Leit ađ lífi
6. 18 sekúndur fyrir sólarupprás
1. Veröld ný og óđ
4. Syndir Guđs (Opinberun frelsarans)
$29.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Negative Qualities“Single Mothers might be that band, fusing Americana staples like Bruce Springsteen with wild and raucous punk rock...” - Brooklyn Vegan
“Ferocious and untamed, few bands give any more of themselves onstage.” - Clash
“Thomson’s almost entirely quotable...” - Pitchfork
“It’s honest and it’s worth coming back to over and over.” - Fader
While accounts vary, Single Mothers was either founded amidst a nervous breakdown or as a means for payback. What is known, is that it was shakily hatched by Drew Thomson in his hometown of London, Ontario in 2008. Having lined up shows before he had a band or any music of his own, Thomson would quickly gain a reputation as a gifted troubadour; known for his enunciated howl and literary lyrics that married poetic penance with vignettes of small town ennui. But he was also an incendiary character; firing his band outright in 2009, and at one point having two different versions of the band existing at the same time.
Somehow the right core of characters fell into place, solidifying the band’s feral take on punk rock; gritty rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities counterbalanced with hooks, dynamics and musicality.
Released as the S/T EP by Secret Voice in 2012, the first pressing of the 7” would sell out in weeks, then sell thousands of copies in the ensuing years.
Negative Qualities is an unrelenting ten song behemoth of a debut album that was two years in the making; written across two provinces, initially started in Los Angeles then finished in London, Toronto and Upstate New York. It represents a band pushed to their most savage state, it’s their pound of flesh slammed down on the counter as raw statement. And now, they’re looking to collect. But as Thomson rallies “I am who I am” on Negative Qualities one can only wonder if this is a declaration of acceptance or a derision of him and his band? As such, the album will either be the first of many or the band’s final record. Ultimately, it is up to Single Mothers and their inherited behavior to decide.1. Overdose
5. Feel Shame
9. Blood Pressure
$20.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Pay Close Attention: XL RecordingsXL Recordings is a collaborative endeavour, and many people have contributed to its evolution.
In the song “Out Of Space”, Liam Howlett of The Prodigy provided a blueprint when he sampled Kool Keith of Ultramagnetic MC’s rapping these words: “Pay Close Attention”.
And whilst XL has never had any outside ownership, Gil Scott-Heron advised me not to even consider XL “independent”; because everything is connected.
This compilation is an attempt to illustrate some of these connections.
Part 1 is the roots of XL; underground music, made for DJ’s. These roots are still growing.
Part 2 features some of the singular talents who have taken the label further than we ever envisioned. There is no unifying genre, and I’ll happily confess to aesthetic opportunism; hopefully the thread of originality is evident though.
We’ve never compromised. The rave music XL first became known for was known as “hardcore”; that spirit continues.
To show our appreciation for your support: thank you DJ’s.
And thank you also to the retailers, writers and of course, ravers.
-- Richard Russell, London, 20141. DJs Take Control – SL2
2. Out Of Space – The Prodigy
3. Don’t Go (Kicks Like A Mule Mix) – Awesome 3
4. Sweet Harmony – Liquid
5. Piper – Jonny L
6. Gabriel (Live Garage Version) – Roy Davis Jr. feat Peven Everett
7. Destiny – Dem 2
8. Anytime – Nu-Birth
9. Jump N’ Shout – Basement Jaxx
10. I Luv U – Dizzee Rascal
11. Igloo – Wiley
12. Hater – Various Production
13. Talkin The Hardest – Giggs
14. Wildfire (ft. Little Dragon) – SBTRKT
15. UK – Jamie xx
16. Firestarter – Prodigy
17. Fuck The Pain Away – Peaches
18. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
19. I Feel Just Like A Child – Devendra Banhart
20. Once Around The Block – Badly Drawn Boy
21. Seventeen Years – Ratatat
22. Paper Planes – M.I.A.
23. The Eraser – Thom Yorke
24. New York Is Killing Me – Gil Scott-Heron
25. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – Radiohead
26. Yonkers – Tyler, The Creator
27. Sea Within A Sea – The Horrors
28. BTSTU (Edit) – Jai Paul
29. Please Forgive My Heart – Bobby Womack
30. Angels – The xx
31. Step – Vampire Weekend
32. Easy Easy – King Krule
33. Rolling In The Deep – Adele
Firestarter – Prodigy
Where’s Your Head At – Basement Jaxx
Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes
Fix Up, Look Sharp – Dizzee Rascal
BirdFlu – M.I.A.
A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
Lotus Flower – Radiohead
I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron
Yonkers – Tyler, The Creator
Someone Like You – Adele (Live From The Brits 2011)
$69.99Vinyl LP + DVD - 4 LPs SealedBuy Now
CoexistAnyone expecting a dense pop production won't find it in "Angels," a ballad which feels a bit like an introduction to a more lavish song; if past hits like "Crystalised" were spare, then "Angels" is positively barren. Opening, characteristically enough, with a clean but woozy guitar, the new song doesn't get much more bombastic from there: A few snare taps and a low rumble join the most elemental guitar lines as the few adornments for Romy Madley Croft's naked expressions of devotion.
"You move through the room, like breathing was easy," she sings, adding, "If someone believed me, they would be as in love with you as I am." A gentle love song made all the more disarming for its simplicity, "Angels" ratchets up the tension using the fewest possible ingredients.1. Angels
10. Swept Away
11. Our Song
$21.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Kveikur“This is the most exciting new Sigur Ros song I’ve heard in a long time, and I love the band’s music.” ~Bob Boilen, NPR
Kveikur is the band’s first release on XL Recordings worldwide.
The record, which was self-produced by the three members of Sigur Rós: Jón Ţór Birgisson, Georg Holm and Orri Páll Dýrason, sees the band shifting towards a more direct, aggressive sound.Brennisteinn
$25.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Hvarf - HeimHvarf, is a five-track collection of rarities from Sigur Ros' vaults. Heim, is comprised of six acoustically performed versions of favorites from their back catalog.Hvarf "disappeared" or "haven"
Salka – 6:06 [The name of Georg's stepdaughter], previously unreleased
Hljómalind – 4:53 (Formerly known as "Rokklagiđ" ["The Rock Song"]), previously unreleased
Í Gćr – 6:22 (Formerly known as "Lagiđ Í Gćr") ["Yesterday"], previously unreleased
Von ('Hvarf' version) – 9:12 ["Hope"], original version on Von
Hafsól (2005 version) – 9:46 ["Sea Sun"], same version as on "Hoppípolla", original version on Von
Samskeyti ('Heim' version) – 5:20 "Attachment", original version on ( )
Starálfur ('Heim' version) – 5:25 "Staring Elf", original version on Ágćtis byrjun
Vaka ('Heim' version) – 5:17 The name of Orri's daughter, original version on ( )
Ágćtis byrjun ('Heim' version) – 6:35 "A good beginning", original version on Ágćtis byrjun
Heysátan ('Heim' version) – 4:40 "The Haystack", original version on Takk...
Von ('Heim' version) – 8:14 "Hope", original version on Von
$22.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. That was also right around the time that Nirvana and Pearl Jam fueled the grunge rock explosion.
And when you want the full and real alt rock experience, you’ve gotta try it out on vinyl, and SoundStage Direct is your one-stop shop for all the best alternative rock vinyls.