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  • Psychic Temple II Psychic Temple II Quick View

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    Psychic Temple II

    It may seem hard to imagine a place where indie rock visionaries like Sufjan Stevens and Castanets' Ray Raposa could meld minds with the genius of Brian Wilson, where death metal pioneer Paul Masvidal might wield his legendary six-string chops on a blissed-out soul ballad, where adventurous young jazz players like Kris Tiner and Devin Hoff share credit with Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens and singer/songwriter Aaron Roche.


    Long Beach composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist (not to mention truck driver) Chris Schlarb has not only imagined such a place but has now made it manifest for a second time. Released by Asthmatic Kitty, Psychic Temple II is a labor of love, envisioned by Schlarb to bring his most far-ranging inspirations to life - as he puts it, "a dream ensemble that could never actually exist." The ensemble's sophomore release was painstakingly constructed over more than a year with the cooperation of some of the most progressive musical minds from a staggering variety of genres.


    "I love interesting juxtapositions, where you bring together people from different communities," Schlarb says. He cites iconoclastic predecessors like Bill Laswell's ever-changing group Material, which once brought together a young Whitney Houston with jazz legend Archie Shepp and future Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers producer Michael Beinhorn to cover a song by Hugh Hopper of English prog-rock pioneers Soft Machine. On 2010's Psychic Temple, Schlarb assembled a 29-member ensemble that included Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, vocalist Julianna Barwick, and pianist Mick Rossi of the Philip Glass Ensemble.


    "It seems like a crazy combination of people," Schlarb says, "but they're all just musicians. Why not bring them all together? It may not always work, but it's always worth reaching further."


    Psychic Temple II reaches beyond the long-form experiments of its predecessor for a more tightly focused yet conceptually dense collection whose songs are no less exploratory for their briefer durations. "I never see the point in continuing to regurgitate," Schlarb says of the new album's unique direction. "What was natural at that time would now feel contrived. I have to keep moving forward."


    Schlarb also includes three cover songs by composers who share his boundary-demolishing mindset: Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out," Frank Zappa's "Sofa No. 2," and Brian Wilson's "'Til I Die," a gorgeous, lesser-known Beach Boys song that features vocals by Sufjan Stevens, Castanets' Ray Raposa, and Cryptacize's Nedelle Torrisi.


    Psychic Temple had its origins in Create (!), a large improvising ensemble with which Schlarb used to perform. The free-form group would often incorporate multiple drummers, a concept that Schlarb decided to pursue in a more composition-oriented setting. No matter how much Psychic Temple mutates from track to track, the rhythmic possibilities of its two drummers (in this case, Tabor Allen and Andrew Pompey) remain intact.


    Schlarb's imaginative leaps are evidenced from the outset of Psychic Temple II, on the intoxicating opening track, "Seventh House." Featuring the sinuous vocals of Sarah Negahdari, who recently served as touring bassist for Silversun Pickups, the song weaves together lyrical and musical references to Neil Young's "Will To Love," to the Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers album Pisces, and to Sheena Easton's notorious Prince-penned pop hit "Sugar Walls."


    Then there's "The Starry King Hears Laughter" and "She Is the Golden World," two songs that pay simultaneous homage to poet William Blake and jazz legend Bill Evans; or "Solo in Place," Schlarb's attempt to filter classic soul through his own "weird prism," a missing link between the Isley Brothers and the Alan Parsons Project that features guitar wizard Paul Masvidal of the death metal bands Death and Cynic.


    Despite such a mind-blowing array of talent from the farthest reaches of the musical spectrum, Psychic Temple II is a surprisingly cohesive album, a testament to Schlarb's clear controlling vision. "One of the fundamental flaws of modern music is the idea of the record as a pastiche," he says. "With hip-hop and R&R records starting in the '90s, you had ten tracks with ten different producers so every track sounded completely different. There was no aesthetic where you could just put on a record and listen to it beginning to end. I admire people who are control freaks."


    Schlarb has wielded control over a number of vastly different projects himself. The New York Observer called his debut solo album, Twilight & Ghost Stories, "40 minutes of avant-garde bliss," while Interoceans, recorded with experimental jazz duo I Heart Lung, was chosen by NPR as one of the top five jazz albums of 2008. He composed the score for Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren's video game Nightsky and has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Meet the Composer. In 2001, Schlarb founded the eclectic Sounds Are Active record label, which has released music by the likes of Nels Cline, Mike Watt, and Castanets.

    1. Seventh House
    2. The Starry King Hears Laughter
    3. Solo In Place
    4. Bird In The Garden
    5. 'Til I Die
    6. She Is The Golden World
    7. Steppin' Out
    8. All I Want Is Time
    9. Sofa No. 2
    10. NO TSURAI
    11. Hyacinth Thrash Quarter
    Chris Schlarb
    $19.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Bones Bones Quick View

    $18.99
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    Bones

    On The Delta Saints' new album, Bones, their first for Loud & Proud Records, the Nashville-based band have stripped their roots/blues sound down to its essence, having rearranged the elements into something uniquely their own. Steeped in rock 'n' roll's building blocks - country, R&B, soul and gospel - The Delta Saints' second full-length effort explores influences like Jack White, The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and Led Zeppelin. Producer/engineer/mixer and Third Man Records alum, Eddie Spear [Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Neil Young] provided a ghostly, psychedelic atmosphere at Nashville's Sputnik Sound studios, yielding a sound unlike anything they have created before.


    "We got to the point where what we were recording and playing had veered from what we were listening to and loving on our turntables, which can lead to discontent," said Louisiana-born singer/lyricist Ben Ringel, who co-founded the band almost eight years ago with fellow Belmont University student, Kansas native bassist David Supica. Soon after, they were joined by Tennessee-bred guitarist Dylan Fitch and later, after a health scare with the band's former harmonica player, enlisted Louisville resident and keyboardist, Nate Kremer, who was added to the lineup only two weeks before a two month long European tour.


    Taking a novel approach of writing songs spontaneously in the studio, The Delta Saints were challenged to create in the moment and as a result, Bones is their most adventurous effort yet. The album is a collection of eclectic songs, beginning with The White Stripes-meets-Led Zeppelin fuzz-toned garage-rock blast of "Sometimes I Worry." The spare, spooky strains of "Butte la Rose" tell the band's tale of a Louisiana town purposely flooded and displaced five years ago to save New Orleans. The Grapes of Wrath drama of "Dust," based on Ringel's grandfather, an East Kansas farmer, builds to a primal wail at nature with a stunning coda in which Dylan Fitch's guitar drops out and Kremer's B3 organ provides the climax. The title track, "Bones" features hoodoo organ riffs and African-influenced trance music, which came from listening to the Sahara desert African groove of Niger's Tuareg guitarist Omara "Bombino" Moctar and Mali's Tinariwen. The grindhouse honky-tonk chain gang chants of "Heavy Hammer" celebrates the work ethic in no uncertain terms, a call for unity in the wake of Ringel's frustration about getting stuck in the rat race and feeling trapped by some of life's mundane tasks. "Berlin," the first song they recorded after adding Nate on keys, started out as an instrumental penned in the title city while on tour. It eventually metamorphosed into a country twang intro and a prog-rock jam. Bones is a complete work veering between despair and apocalyptic dread.


    "We're trying to push ourselves forward to do something more modern, but at the same time incorporating where we come from," explained Ringel.


    "It was incredible to be able to write a song on the spot and immediately hear what it sounded like," added Supica. "It was a great way to capture the magic right when you come up with an idea, preserving that raw element. We were used to playing a song for months on the road before we recorded it. Still, on the flip side, it was absolutely terrifying to sit in the studio watching the clock tick and waiting for a song to come out. That's where (producer) Ed Spear came into play; he was so good at keeping us pointed in the right direction."


    "This record was made out of both necessity and desire. We needed to be fulfilled and surprised by music again, and we also needed to fulfill that love of writing and recording again."


    The Delta Saints have independently released two EPs (2010's Pray On and A Bird Called Angola), a full-length album (2012's Death Letter Jubilee) and a live disc (2014's Live at Exit/In). They have spent the last eight years touring the US averaging almost 200 shows per year, organically growing their audience, fan by fan, city by city. Major appearances include several festivals including Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Harvest, The Ride, Summerfest and The Simple Man Cruise. A testament to their mixed appeal, they have opened for such diverse acts as Blackberry Smoke, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Taj Mahal, Dickey Betts and Michael Franti & Spearhead.


    The Delta Saints have also have a large international fan base having toured Europe a total of six times, selling out countless venues and playing more than 200 shows in Spain, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Germany, as well as several festivals in Holland (Moulin Blues, Ribs and Blues), Belgium (Gevarenwinkel) and Germany (Grolsch Blues Fest).


    With all that they've accomplished as a hard-working group on their own, The Delta Saints have earned their graduation to industry veteran Tom Lipsky's Loud & Proud Records (which has been the home of Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Robert Plant, Rob Zombie, Lenny Kravitz and The String Cheese Incident, among others).


    "Don't look so tired, my dear," sings Ringel in Bones' closing track, "Berlin," echoing the band's progress. "We may be bruised, but the day is almost here."


    "It's hard to see progress when you're in the middle of things," said Supica about The Delta Saints' ambitions. "We try to take stock every six months or so and look back from where we've come, from eating at McDonald's and sleeping on people's floors to staying at a Motel 6 and graduating to La Quinta. We mark our success by the hotel chain where we're staying. When we get to Marriott, we know we've made it."


    Bones proves The Delta Saints are well on their way to making that reservation.

    The Delta Saints
    $18.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Official Release Series Discs 5-8 (Box Set) (Out Of Stock) Official Release Series Discs 5-8 (Box Set) (Out Of Stock) Quick View

    $159.99
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    Official Release Series Discs 5-8 (Box Set) (Out Of Stock)

    The Neil Young Official Release Series Volume 2 limited edition box set includes On The Beach, Time Fades Away, Tonight's The Night and Zuma. Remastered from the original analog studio recordings at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Historically accurate artwork reproduced by Neil Young's long time art director Gary Brden. Reissued on 180g audiophile vinyl for the first time in over 40 years and pressed at Pallas Mfg Germany.
    LP1 - Time Fades Away
    1. Time Fades Away
    2. Journey Through The Past
    3. Yonder Stands The Sinner
    4. L.A.
    5. Love In Mind
    6. Don't Be Denied
    7. The Bridge
    8. Last Dance


    LP2 - On The Beach
    1. Walk On
    2. See The Sky About To Rain
    3. Revolution Blues
    4. For The Turnstiles
    5. Vampire Blues
    6. On The Beach
    7. Motion Pictures
    8. Ambulance Blues


    LP3 - Tonight's The Night
    1. Tonight's The Night
    2. Speakin' Out
    3. World On A String
    4. Borrowed Tune
    5. Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown
    6. Mellow My Mind
    7. Roll Another Number (For The Road)
    8. Albuquerque
    9. New Mama
    10. Lookout Joe
    11. Tired Eyes
    12. Tonight's The Night - Part II


    LP4 - Zuma
    1. Don't Cry No Tears
    2. Danger Bird
    3. Pardon My Heart
    4. Lookin' For A Love
    5. Barstool Blues
    6. Stupid Girl
    7. Drive Back
    8. Cortez The Killer

    9. Through My Sails

    Neil Young
    $159.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP Box Set - 4 LPs Sealed Temporarily out of stock
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