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Light The Torch'
Like Water For ChocolateCommon spent the '90s carrying the Native Tongues torch through an era dominated by gangsta rap, earning a sizable underground following. Positive-minded alternative rap came back into vogue by the new millennium, and Common managed to land with major label MCA for 2000's Like Water for Chocolate. The album established him as a leading figure of alternative rap's second generation, not just because of the best promotion he'd ever had, but also because it was his great musical leap forward, building on the strides of One Day It'll All Make Sense. There's production work by the Roots' ?uestlove, neo-soul auteur D'Angelo, the Soulquarians, and DJ Premier. But the vast majority of the album was handled by Slum Village's Jay Dee, and his thick, mellow, soul- and jazz-inflected sonics make Like Water for Chocolate one of the richest-sounding albums of the new underground movement. Common isn't always a master technician on the mic, but it hardly matters when the music serves his deeply spiritual vision and smooth-flowing raps so effectively. The singles The Light and The 6th Sense are quintessential Common, uplifting and thoughtful, and helped bring him a whole new audience. They're well complemented by the slinky, jazzy funk and lush neo-soul ballads that make up the record. Not everything is sweetness and utopia, either; Common sends up his own progressive image on A Film Called (Pimp), which features a hilarious guest appearance by MC Lyte, and spins a gripping first-person tale of revenge on the streets on Payback Is a Grandmother (though the tougher Dooinit feels a bit forced). The album could have been trimmed a bit to keep its momentum going, but on the whole, Like Water for Chocolate is a major statement from an artist whose true importance was just coming into focus.
- Steve Huey (All Music)1. Time Travelin' (A Tribute to Fela)
3. Cold Blooded
5. The Light
6. Funky for You
7. The Questions
8. Time Travelin' Reprise
9. The 6th Sense
10. A Film Called (Pimp)
11. Nag Champa (Afrodisiac for the World)
13. Payback Is a Grandmother
14. Geto Heaven, Pt. 2
15. A Song for Assata
16. Pops Rap III...All My Children$35.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Blue Light 'Til Dawn (Pure Pleasure)Cassandra Wilson started out as a jazz singer, doing gigs with several innovative bands (including Brooklyn's experimental M-Base collective) and at the same time recording typical jazz-singer let-me-entertain-you stuff - Night and Day and Blue Skies and shooby dooby dooby. Eventually the Mississippi-born New York-based vocalist, who reigned among the elite jazz singers of the 1980s, became restless, and began to look beyond torch songs for inspiration.
- Cassandra Wilson (vocal)
- Don Byron (clarinet)
- Olu Dara (cornet)
- Brandon Ross, Chris Whitley (guitar)
- Charlie Burnham (violin, mandocello)
- Kenny Davis, Lonnie Plaxico (bass)
- Tony Cedras (accordion)
- Lance Carter, Bill McClellan (drums, percussion)
Format: 2 LPs 33rpm / gatefold sleeve
About Pure Pleasure
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Pure Pleasure all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s - or employed existent tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasize that Pure Pleasure Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.1. You Don't Know What Love Is
2. Come On In My Kitchen
3. Tell Me You'll Wait For Me
4. Children of the Night
5. Hellhound On My Trail
6. Black Crow
10. Tupelo Honey
11. Blue Light 'Til Dawn
12. I Can't Stand The Rain$49.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Angel Guts: Red ClassroomAngel Guts: Red Classroom is the beginning of Xiu Xiu's descent from grayness into the deepest blackness endurable. It is the sound of Xiu Xiu's death.
This is a bold proposition, even for a band that has never so much pushed the envelope as pulled it (forcefully) away from the line other musicians are willing to toe. And now, in what is unquestionably their darkest hour, Xiu Xiu have lit the envelope on fire and are using it as a torch to light the path ahead.
Having spent the previous four years living in North Carolina, primary songwriter Jamie Stewart relocated to Los Angeles, moving blindly into a neighborhood whose notoriously dangerous reputation was unknown to him.
A park divided among four gangs, a lake routinely dragged for bodies, a building wherein two infant skeletons were recently uncovered -- the aura of his new home bleeds into every pore of the album, each lyric and note bearing traces of its essence: the terrible beauty, the despair, the violence, the ultra humanity, the uncertainty.
I know to a degree I must have romanticized it, Stewart admits, But when it's not safe to go out at night, what else can one?
Romanticized is hardly the word anyone other than Stewart would use. Like its namesake, a Japanese erotic noir film, Angel Guts: Red Classroom is as radical as it is inventive. The subject matter -- racialized sex, double suicide, double penetration, criminality, fear of physical harm -- is unsuitable for the faint of heart. But when the heart has stopped beating, only the soul remains to carry on. And here, Stewart transcribes his without boundaries.
Your face is down alone / On your desk / At the end of the city / You were squashed into / There is no one you love. So begins the album's first verse.
In the wrong hands, such topics could be rendered as far-fetched fantasies. But Stewart's evocative vocals lend his provocative lyrics the balance they need, grounding them in a stark realism that forces us to acknowledge their existence, even confront them (as discomforting as that is).
Unsettling, too, is the music. Working with only analog synths, drum set, and 1970's analog drum machines, Xiu Xiu has never before sounded so focused, so captivating, so intent on delivering a kick to the throat.
Though influences can be cited (Suicide, Kraftwerk, Nico, EinstÜrzende Neubauten), they are ultimately far less relevant than the mark this album will leave on other musicians and music fans from this point forward.
Take Stupid in the Dark -- its tone ominous and pulsing, its harmonies simple and direct, its grip unrelenting. Or Botanica de Los Angeles, a sparse, yet undeniably anthemic merging of bruising drums and bone-rattling bass synths.
Unbearably dark, yet incredibly illuminating, on the John Congleton-produced Angel Guts: Red Classroom Xiu Xiu continues to forge (and at times risk) its reputation as avant-garde pioneers. It is the work of a band unraveling to its core and exposing the boldness within.
Xiu Xiu may be dead, but its will is more alive than ever.1. Angel Guts
2. Archie's Fades
3. Stupid in the Dark
4. Lawrence Liquors
5. Black Dick
6. New Life Immigration
7. EL Naco
8. Adult Friends
9. The Silver Platter
10. Bitter Melon
11. A Knife in the Sun
12. Cinthya's Unisex
13. Botanica de Los Angeles
14. Red Classroom$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Eccentric Soul: The Young DisciplesThough there are currently dozens of small labels dedicated to unearthing and reissuing forgotten soul recordings from the `60s and `70s, few of them can compete with Chicago's Numero label, whose ECCENTRIC SOUL releases serve not just as fine collections of rare soul, but as miniature history lessons that throw light on forgotten corners of the American experience. Where previous ECCENTRIC SOUL volumes have documented the vibrant independent soul scenes that flourished in Miami, Chicago, and Detroit, THE YOUNG DISCIPLES album collects the output of St Louis' Merry and Gateway labels. The Young Disciples band accompanies talented and heretofore unknown young singers like LaVel Moore and Dauphin Jackson on a series of sides ranging from hard driving southern funk to impassioned torch songs.1. The World Is Changing - Moore
2. Crumbs from the Table - Merry
3. Third Flight - Merry
4. Tears - Merry
5. Checking Myself - Ludy
6. I'm Not Afraid of Love - Ludy
7. Anyone or Anything - Merry
8. Girls Girls Girls - Merry
9. I Love You - Williams
10. Hard Hard - Ludy
11. Country Loving Country Style - Matthews
12. It's Not Your Business - Matthews
13. People - Ludy
14. Would You Rather - Ludy
15. Love Love Love - Conrad
16. Choose Me - Merry
17. Outside of Memphis - Merry
18. That's a Good Reason - Matthews
19. I'm Your Man - WIlliams
20. Bang Bang Bang - Merry
21. Homeboy - Merry$26.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Lightning BoltPearl Jam will release their much-anticipated tenth studio album, Lightning Bolt, on Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records in the US. Produced by Brendan O'Brien, Lightning Bolt marks Pearl Jam's first studio album since the highly acclaimed Backspacer, which was released nearly four years ago in September of 2009.
... Eyeing the milestone of 50, Vedder is very comfortable in his skin: he's no longer raging against the dying light or tilting at windmills, he's choosing his battles, knowing when to lie back so he can enjoy the rush of rock pushed out from his familiar, but never lazy, colleagues. This unhurriedness may seem to run counter to the rebellious spirit of rock & roll, but for all their insurrectionist acts, Pearl Jam weren't upstarts: they eagerly accepted the torch of arena rock when it was handed to them. On Lightning Bolt, they've grown into that classic rock mantle, accentuating the big riffs and bigger emotions, crafting songs without a worry as to whether they're hip or not and, most importantly, enjoying the deep-rooted, nervy arena rock that is uniquely their own.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine (All Music)1. Getaway
2. Mind Your Manners
3. My Father's Son
5. Lightning Bolt
8. Swallowed Whole
9. Let The Records Play
10. Sleeping By Myself
11. Yellow Moon
12. Future Days$35.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The Look Of LoveThe Look of Love doesn't tamper with Diana Krall's ongoing success, continuing the emphasis on romantic ballads and embracing them with lush string arrangements. At the core, of course, is Krall's voice. She's developing into one of the great torch singers, with an approach that's both direct and subtly nuanced, true to the song and yet deeply personal.
There's a combination of restraint and drama here, as Krall ranges from the confident to the wistful, from loss to playful insinuation, as each song requires. Cry Me a River is bittersweet triumph, while Love Letters and Maybe You'll Be There maintain the most tenuous emotional hold, at once fragile and resilient. Besame Mucho and Dancing in the Dark are sultry romances wafted on light Latin beats. The songs develop their intimacy in the setting of Krall's quartet, which usually includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Peter Erskine and several fine guitarists, most frequently Russell Malone. They're a superb complement to her voice and piano, and the close communication carries through the depth and sheen added by Claus Ogerman's rich orchestrations. -Stuart Broomer1. S'Wonderful
2. Love Letters
3. I Remember You
4. Cry Me A River
5. Besame Mucho
6. Night We Called It A Day
7. Dancing In The Dark
8. I Get Along Without You Very Well
9. Look Of Love
10. Maybe You'll Be There$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Trouble MakerRancid as a band has always been imbued with a sense of place: the blue collar neighborhoods where they grew up in Berkley, California, their place as individuals within their band, their band as part of a movement and their evolving sense of place in relation to the world at large. This year Tim Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Matt Freeman (bass, vocals), Lars Frederiksen (vocals, guitar), and Branden Steineckert (drums) return with their ninth studio album Trouble Maker.
Born in the midst of the post-Reagan economic downturn in the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay region specifically, Rancid came to light as Armstrong and Freeman were moving forward after the first band they founded, Operation Ivy, reached a friendly demise. As Rancid, the band took up the torch of social commentary and the examination of the local scene and instantly inflamed the newly revived punk community, setting the stage for what was to come. After having seen the American dream dwindle and fade within their country, community, and homes, Rancid put their description of its aftermath into their songs. Each album served as a layer cementing Rancid's natural place in punk. Their lyrical themes established their identity in the punk rock world while musically they incorporated horns, rockabilly bass lines, reggae rhythms, rasp, and distortion. Balancing their personal tales of love, loss, and heartbreak with attitude, Rancid gave their listeners a community.
Over the past 2 decades, Rancid has shown awareness of their changing environment and have established their place in it, all while never losing sight of themselves as individuals or as a band.1. Track Fast
2. Ghost of a Chance
3. Telegraph Avenue
4. An Intimate Close Up Of A Street Punk Trouble Maker
5. Where I'm Going
7. Farewell Lola Blue
8. All American Neighborhood
9. Bovver Rock and Roll
10. Make it Out Alive
11. Molly Make Up Your Mind
12. I Got Them Blues Again
13. Beauty of the Pool Hall
14. Say Goodbye to Our Heroes
15. I Kept a Promise
16. Cold Cold Blood
17. This is Not the End$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Primitive And Deadly
Contains Vinyl Only Exclusive Track: Badgers Bane
This deluxe vinyl version of the new Earth studio opus comes in a thick Stoughton old style tip-on jacket with a soft-touch UV varnish.
Primitive And Deadly, is EARTH's tenth studio collection. Dylan Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies, manage to pull off the trick of completing an Ouroborean creative cycle, twenty-five years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in their music. For the first time in their diverse second act, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson's guitar has always been the focal point of EARTH's music, it's been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive And Deadly, though, is prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of EARTH into something approaching traditional pop structures.
On Rooks Across the Gates, a song stylistically the closest to the folk inspired modality of Angels Of Darkness, Carlson stretches out into some of his most lyrical playing to date, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between his performance and the vocals of old friend Mark Lanegan. From the Zodiacal Light, meanwhile, takes the late 60s San Franciscan/freaked-out jazz-rock transcendence of The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull and quickly re-appropriates that sound into a musky torch song for the witching hour.
This contradictive tension between a band pushing itself ever-forward whilst surveying their history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California where EARTH recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull and Hibernaculum sessions).
Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is EARTH reaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock.
produced by earth
recorded at rancho de la luna, joshua tree, ca by mathias schneeberger, assisted by dave catching
additional recording and production at crackle & pop and avast, seattle, wa by randall dunn
mixed at avast, seattle, wa by randall dunn
mastered at chicago mastering services by jason ward
dylan carlson - guitars
adrienne davies - drums and percussion
bill herzog - bass
brett netson - additional guitars
jodie cox - additional guitars
mark lanegan - vocals
rabia shabeen qazi - vocals
randall dunn - moog synthesizerLP 1
1. Torn By The Fox Of The Crescent Moon
2. There Is A Serpent Coming
3. From The Zodiacal Light
1. Even Hell Has Its Heroes
2. Rooks Across The Gate
3. Badgers Bane (exclusive vinyl only bonus track!)$25.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Eonian (Bone & Black Swirl Vinyl)Eerie shadows are lurking in the dark corners of spring 2018; the spirit that denies, a force able to distort our conception of space and time. Over seven years, deathlike silence has filled the halls of the world's biggest black metal forge, DIMMU BORGIR, whilst powers have been gathering to resurrect the band right in time for their 25th anniversary. Now they finally mark their return with a vicious work of art that can be defined as timeless in the truest sense of the word: »Eonian«.
Conceived in the heart of the Norwegian black metal scene in 1993, DIMMU BORGIR quickly broke free from the boundaries of the genre, daring to combine a traditional raven black sound with opulent symphonic orchestration. Soon they turned into pioneers of their field, forging groundbreaking albums such as »Enthrone Darkness Triumphant« (1997), »Spiritual Black Dimensions« (1999), or »Death Cult Armageddon« (2003), invading the entire world with headline tours and eventually turning into the most influential act of their genre after nine full-length studio releases. Seven years have passed since their latest manifesto »Abrahadabra«, they are now returning to rip apart the space-time continuum with »Eonian«.
From a musical point of view, the band explores their boundaries in every direction with this new record, with the black metal parts even rougher and darker than before, and the epic, orchestral moments pushed to their ultimate limits. This time DIMMU BORGIR were aiming for a more organic sound for their devilish offerings, and reached out to Jens Bogren, who engineered the 10 new tracks inside his Fascination Street studios. The cover artwork was designed in fascinating detail by Zbigniew M. Bielak.
The songwriting core of DIMMU BORGIR furthermore consists of charismatic vocalist Shagrath, as well as the string wizards Silenoz and Galder, but other familiar faces also emerge from the darkness: Drummer Daray and keyboarder Gerlioz are still part of the team, and Gaute Storaas helped with the choral arrangements for the majestic voices of the Schola Cantrum Choir.
The lyrical theme of the Norwegians' tenth studio work follows a philosophical concept, dealing with the illusion of time and Luciferian codes:
"Time, when not approaching it from the construct we're used to can't be defined and thus it is illusory", explains axemaster Silenoz. "There's only an 'eternal now', which the album title is already hinting at. When we travel between the worlds seen and unseen, the perception of time ceases to exist, it has no function. Our energy is our torch and our compass when we make rifts and pierce through our the veil - when we go beyond." Silenoz refuses to grant more information than that, hence why DIMMU BORGIR's albums have always been open for interpretation and felt somewhat like a dark room in which every listener believes to see something different in front of their light seeking eyes.
"»Eonian« represents the illusion of time, everything that is and always has been. For us, it also marks the 25th anniversary of DIMMU BORGIR and the album itself is a tribute to our own history and the Norwegian black metal history", adds Shagrath.
Since their debut album »For All Tid« from 1994, DIMMU BORGIR have always released their epic new works in regular intervals, but this time around, the Norwegians couldn't tame the beast of their creativity that quickly, and therefore they took the time it needed to slowly weave their collective ideas into these nine new tracks:
"Some of the songs on this album were written in 2012. All of us have our own pre-production studios and just write separately, without too much communication at first. Over a time period of one or two years we collect our ideas and then get together and try to get the best out of the material", says Shagrath. "Sometimes this can be quite challenging, because we have different tastes and opinions - but that makes it also more interesting for the listener, since we want to create music that makes you feel as if you don't know what's behind the next corner."
Silenoz agrees: "The main challenge is to hold back the beast. You're so into what you're doing that sometimes it's easy to forget that you have to approach the beast without waking it up right away, because you know you won't be able to control it. It's actually pointless to trick yourself to believe you can ever control art... It's like going into a lion's den with a rope tied around your waist in case you need to be pulled out real quick. Being our own producers also mean we have to step out of our own egos and look at our material from an 'outside' perspective. This is another challenging part of the songwriting process because you put so much of yourself into it - and then to start shaving off things, trim things down instead of adding - is a tough process. Letting go can sometimes be really hard but when we step out of ourselves and look into the mouth of the beast, only then we're able to distinguish what to feed it next."
Thus, both classic black metal invasions such as 'Lightbringer', but also highly symphonic charged anthems like 'Interdimensional Summit' gather on »Eonian«, with one of the band's personal favourites being the experimental, folkloristic 'Council of Wolves And Snakes'. Risking a look far beyond the horizon, this song proves that the band follows 'no formula, no absolute', as Silenoz vows, and shows that the path sometimes guides them to places they would have never expected to end up when they started their journey.
On the previous album, »Abrahadabra«, the Norwegians irritated some militant black metal elitists by appearing in opulent white / gray costumes. And although they chose a different appearance for »Eonian«, DIMMU BORGIR always keep new surprises in store:
"We're definitely a band that does not follow any set of 'rules', if any; we're out to break them - for sure. Not that it's a goal per se, it's just who we are. We knew the white/grey look would raise a few eyebrows but whatever we do, or not do, we'll end up raising eyebrows", Silenoz states and Shagrath adds: "The album feels like a rebirth, but also like a logical continuation. Our music comes naturally. We're not sitting down in a circle, thinking about what we could do next - it has to come with a flow and with whatever is in your mind at that time, it needs to be spontaneous and is exactly what we could do at that time. Each one of our releases was linked to a certain time period of our life."
After having released the live DVD »Forces Of The Northern Night« in spring 2017 which provided a monumental overview of the shows that DIMMU BORGIR had performed with a big orchestra and choir, the time is over in which fans needed to watch the band members on screen - hence now they are ready to storm the stages of the world again. The first headline slots at Europe's major festivals, such as Wacken and Hellfest, have already been confirmed, and further live plans are currently being forged for the second half of this year. The Lightbringers are back - and they've come to split apart the heavens:
"We obviously rely on our fans, if a band says they don't care - they're lying. We're definitely ready to work hard to convince the 'doubters', the 'dwellers ready to strike', that what we have to offer is still very much valid. A new generation of fans and listeners who come from a different 'time' than we do are out there now, not shy to let artists hear it! And we're not shy to let them hear what we've been up to!"1. The Unveiling
2. Interdimensional Summit
4. Council of Wolves and Snakes
5. The Empyrean Phoenix
7. I Am Sovereign
8. Archaic Correspondence
9. Alpha Aeon Omega
10. Rite of Passage$34.99Colored Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Among The Ghosts (Pre-Order)Lucero's ninth studio album, Among the Ghosts, is their first for noted Nashville indie label Thirty Tigers. It was recorded and co-produced with Grammy-winning engineer/producer and Memphis native Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Drive by Truckers) at the historic Sam Phillips Recording Service, the studio built by the legendary producer after outgrowing his Memphis Recording Service/Sun Studio.
Recorded primarily live as a five-piece, Among the Ghosts eschews the Stax-inspired horns and Jerry Lee Lewis-style boogie piano featured on some of the band's past recordings for a streamlined rock & roll sound that pays homage to their seminal influences as it seeks to push that legacy into the future. For a band who carried the torch of the alt-country movement back in the 90's and helped pave the way for what is now called Americana, Lucero have re-discovered what inspired them in the first place. The sound is more their own and at the same time not exactly like anything they've done before. This is a band settling into their craft. The 10-song disc's title is both a tribute to the spirits which roam the streets of their fabled city, as well as the hard road the determinedly independent band set out on 20 years ago. The band played around 200 shows per year for many of those 20 years.
With a nod to his younger brother Jeff Nichols, an acclaimed filmmaker whose movies include Loving, Mud, Take Shelter, Midnight Special, and Shotgun Stories; Nichols has written songs that are cinematic short stories, steeped in Southern gothic lore. There are nods to regional authors like Flannery O'Connor and Faulkner, as well as newer writers like Larry Brown (Big Bad Love, Fay), Ron Rash (The Cove, The World Made Straight), and William Gay (The Long Home).
As the first album he's written since his marriage and the birth of his now two-year-old daughter Izzy, Nichols approached the task as a narrator rather than in first person. It's a dark palette that includes tales of a haunting ("Among the Ghosts"), a drowning ("Bottom of the Sea), a reckoning with the devil ("Everything has Changed"), a divorce ("Always Been You"), and a shoot out ("Cover Me"). And that's just Side A. Side B is a letter from a battlefield ("To My Dearest Wife"), a crime ("Long Way Back Home"), a straight-out rocker ("For the Lonely Ones") and even a spooky spoken-word cameo from actor Michael Shannon, who has appeared in every one of Nichols' brother's films. The song's title "Back to the Night" references a line from Nick Tosches' Jerry Lee Lewis biography, Hellfire. In addition, there's a song Nichols wrote for his brother's movie Loving, which appeared in the film and on the soundtrack, re- recorded for Among the Ghosts with the whole band.
"You could also say there's a rescue, a getaway, a survival story and a middle finger to Satan himself," laughs Nichols. "It's all in your perspective."
Several songs juxtapose going off to battle with a rock & roll band's endless touring, shifting time periods like the spirits which haunt the album, the happiness of domestic bliss undercut with fears of loss and the specter of mortality. Among the Ghosts simultaneously reprises the past and looks to the future, while being firmly anchored in the present.
Musically, the band highlights range from co-founding member Brian Venable's Dire Straits-meets-War on Drugs guitar pyrotechnics in "Bottom of the Sea" and "Cover Me" to the Springsteen vibe of "For the Lonely Ones," Rick Steff's skeletal piano lines on "Always Been You," John C's bass lines in "Everything Has Changed" and "Long Way Back Home," and drummer Roy Berry's dynamic shifts from the powerful and brutal title track "Among the Ghosts" to the marching drive of "To My Dearest Wife" and the subtlety of "Loving." Throughout, Nichols' bourbon-soaked growl has become even more distinctive and commanding.
Among the Ghosts offers a timeless perspective on Lucero's distinctive sound. The lyrics could've been written 200 years ago or yesterday. Representing a new South compared to the one that's been mythologized, Lucero have formulated their own ideas and culture which, in some cases, contradicts what came before them (no Confederate flags), but also updates and reconsiders those traditions in a new light.
"I think we've tried to remake this place that we love and cherish in our own fashion. We are very proud of where we are from and we've spent the last 20 years trying to bring a bit of our version of home to the rest of the world It may have taken 20 years, but everything has fallen in place right where it needs to be," acknowledges Nichols. "There were some dark days in those middle years, but we've learned how to do this and survive. We still write heartbreak songs, but now, with a family at home, it's a whole new kind of heartbreak."
Among the Ghosts lays out that new territory with alacrity, as Lucero shines their Morning Star, burning just as brightly, if not more so, 20 years later. As one of the album's song titles so aptly puts it, "Everything Has Changed," but one thing hasn't Lucero's music remains more vital than ever.1. Among the Ghosts
2. Bottom of the Sea
3. Everything Has Changed
4. Always Been You
5. Cover Me
6. To My Dearest Wife
7. Long Way Back Home
9. Back to the Night
10. For the Lonely Ones$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed PRE-ORDER Buy Now
Algiers"This is revolutionary music in the truest sense of
the word. It demands action. It requires penance. It
destroys expectations." - Stereogum
"The Death Grips of gospel torching the South's
dark underbelly." - Rolling Stone
The debut LP by Algiers is haunted by promises of the past:
the rapturous call and response of millenarian gospel, the
bellowing urgency of 60s protest soul, the scene-searching
intensity of DC hardcore and the smeared viscosity of
post-punk and no wave. After all, as Marx once said: "The
tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare
on the brains of the living." But rather than revel in a state
of nostalgia, the band wields these burdened visions to
charge headlong into the future.
Over the album's eleven tracks, these three ÉmigrÉs of
the American Deep South lay waste to appropriators,
oppressors, revivalists and the cultural shock troops of
capitalism. Vocalist Franklin James Fisher's every shriek and
incantation will take you from the sweaty fervor of Dennis
Edwards-era Temptations through the righteous rebellion
of Nina Simone to the solitary midnight howls of PJ Harvey.
Shards of Lee Tesche's guitar, along with Ryan Mahan's
bass pulses and synthesizer slashes, pierce through the
processional, transforming neo-modernist hymns with
explosions of foreboding and dread that evoke the
vanguard of pop experimentation from Suicide to Roland
In an era when political subjectivity and human connectivity
have been smashed to pieces by the demands of finance
capital, Algiers has taken its stance: to maintain fidelity to
these subversive spirits and trudge toward the light. While
they may never arrive at their destination - consigned to a
life of wandering - they conjure the dead sound to life in
frightening new directions.1. Remains
3. And When You Fall
5. Old Girl
6. Irony. Utility. Pretext.
7. But She Was Not Flying
8. Black Eunuch
10. In Parallax
11. 11$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Riverman's DaughterThe Grahams, the creative union of lifelong romantic partners Alyssa and Doug Graham, combine soulful bluegrass with hints of earthy Americana, adding colors from traditional folk and country blues, into an infectious blend of storytelling that results in songs of love, loss, yearning, and the view from rural American roads less traveled.
While the duo first met in grade school -- a trait shared by previous musical trail-blazers, from Lennon/McCartney to Jagger/Richards - the Grahams' journey together began when they were teenagers in the shadow of New York City. There, Alyssa, the impassioned troubadour, and Doug, the guitarist extraordinaire, shared a mutual love for the music of the Woodstock era and the adventures of the great outdoors. Over the ensuing years many a campfire lit acoustic jam would include the best of roots renegades like Neil Young, The Band, Gram Parsons, Janis and Emmylou along with more than a few Jerry Garcia and Johnny Cash nuggets. Later, spending much of their time in the secluded Adirondack Mountains at the Graham family fold, Alyssa and Doug learned the time-honored craft of songwriting. Here, their ongoing interests in traditional country, mountain bluegrass and folk legends such as The Carter Family and Mississippi John Hurt would blossom. Hoping to share their stories on a wider stage, the couple eventually settled in New York City, where they performed, collaborated and recorded a variety of acclaimed material before adopting The Grahams moniker.
While the duo had written music together before, in the summer of 2012 new writing sessions yielded a different approach. Something magical was happening between Alyssa and Doug. A catalyst was born in the new song Riverman's Daughter, a tale of love, loss, and hardship on the river that showcases Alyssa's bountiful voice. Backed by her own rhythm guitar, along with the strong current of Doug's cascading accompaniment on the six string, and traditional vocal harmonies, the track came in a lightning bolt of inspiration. A vision and calling to write more songs of its kind took hold.
Alyssa and Doug had an idea: What if they put their city lives on hold and, armed with just guitars and backpacks, traveled the 2,500 miles of highways and byways of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana. Light out for the territory, so to speak, like Huck and Jim. There, the duo could follow the Great River Road (GRR) that parallels the waterway, meet the people, and hear first-hand where European folk music, brought to these shores generations ago, took root alongside rhythms and chants from Africa, and how these polarizing sounds formed the backbone of our 20th Century American musical heritage. And so The Grahams did just that, and in the process created their debut album, Riverman's Daughter. Along the way The Grahams played gigs at the various gin and juke joints that dotted the GRR, and met a colorful cast of characters and genuine music makers with whom the duo shared and exchanged stories through the common bond of song.
Eventually Alyssa and Doug ended up intentionally isolated on an old houseboat in rural Louisiana where the Mississippi spills into the Atchafalaya swamp. There, The Grahams prolifically stockpiled songs, enjoyed the simplicity of living off the grid, and for a spell, invited onboard friends and musicians including their longtime collaborator Bryan McCann, a wordsmith who aids with lyrical inspiration. Yet perhaps the biggest inspiration on Riverman's Daughter was Doug's own mother, Gigi, the matriarch of the Graham family clan, and a true fan of the duo who had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that year. As her condition worsened, the Grahams packed up their guitars and newly minted collection of songs to become Gigi's angel band, and played by her side until she passed away.
As recording of the new album began, The Grahams found a true kindred spirit in Grammy-winning producer Malcolm Burn, who brought a magical touch and inspired ideas into the studio. It was Burn's idea to record both Alyssa and Doug's parts live to tape without the assistance of headphones or isolation -- in the way they were written. This process gives the album a natural aura that harkens back to an era when this practice was commonplace. Along the same lines, The Grahams chose to record the album in Nashville, the longtime epicenter of country music. While the album's foundation is simple and acoustic, The Grahams are backed on a few tracks by stellar accompaniment including the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars. Along with the title song the album is highlighted by the 70's country rock flavored Carrying The Torch, the spirited traditional vibe of The Piney River, and the riveting upbeat barn dance playfulness of Revival Time.
Ultimately, the album is a winning culmination of The Grahams' long journey into the heart of America, the inspiration they derived from immersion into classic American music, and the natural and honest talent they have for bringing forth a modern musical idiom steeped in tradition.1. Revival Time
2. Riverman's Daughter
3. Carrying the Torch
4. You Made Me Love You
5. Cathedral Pines
6. If You're in New York
7. The Piney River
8. A Good Man
9. Marnie Hawkins
10. Heaven Forbid
11. Lonesome Child
13. Goodbye Babe (B.C.)
14. Lay Down Delilah$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Reports From The Threshold Of Death (Awaiting Repress)With their last album, The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist, Junius explored the controversial theories of scholar Immanuel Velikovsky. The concept was centered around the trials and tribulations of Velikovskys life, providing a captivating narrative to the bands expansive, dreamlike soundtrack, which Pitchfork called a rich, immersive experience, a bleak jewel of a record that takes obsession as its theme and rewards it in equal measure.
Conceptually picking up where The Martyrdom left off (with the death of Velikovsky), Reports from the Threshold of Death chronicles the journey of the soul after the body dies. In writing this album, vocalist/guitarist Joseph Martinez was inspired by reports and accounts of near-death experiences. On the albums ten beautifully cathartic tracks, the band takes listeners on a journey into the unknown, channeling basic human themes like love, regret, and longing. Massive walls of guitars drive with steadfast rhythm beneath soaring synth and vocal melodies throughout the albums arc, providing a passionate soundtrack for the journey into the light.
Reports from the Threshold of Death was the first album to be recorded at Will Benoits Radar Studios in Clinton, CT (the first fully solar-powered sustainable studio on the East Coast) with longtime friend/producer James Dunham of rock-noir band InAeona. The recording was in many ways a return to Junius roots, with engineering assistance from past collaborators Benoit and Daryl Rabidoux, mastering by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella (Isis, Converge, Torche, Doomriders), and art designed by former Junius bassist Ira Bronson (of Black Day Creative).1. Betray The Grave
2. All Shall Float
3. Dance on Blood
4. A Universe Without Stars
5. Haunts for Love
6. The Meeting of Pasts
7. (Spirit Guidance)
8. A Reflection on Fire
9. Transcend the Ghost
10. Eidolon & Perispirit$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now