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Black LotusBlack Lotus is the fifth studio album by Swedish heavy metal band Sister Sin.1. Food for Worms
2. Chaos Royale
3. Au Revoir
4. Desert Queen
5. Count Me Out
6. Stones Throw
7. The Jinx
8. Ruled By None
9. Sail North$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Now And ForeverSister Sin's leather lunged style is raw and powerful... tuneful and utterly captivating. - Outburn
An abundance of chugging, libidinous riffs, blazing leads and shrill, attitude-socked vocals reminiscent of early Motley Crue. - Revolver
Swedish mob SISTER SIN are once again storming the scene with their potent mix of classic metal and punk attitude on their latest album, Now and Forever. The band continue to bang heads around the world with a consistent formula of raw and dirty Rock N' Roll guitar riffs, stomping rhythm section, and anthemic , instantly-singable, choruses from the outstanding front-woman, Liv. SISTER SIN's tight musicianship and crisp production deliver memorable gems that are a true testament to the spirit of old-school heavy metal.
Having collaborated with and performed alongside Rock N' Roll icons MOTÖRHEAD and DORO, SISTER SIN now look to carry the torch from the glory days of MÖTLEY CRÜE and JUDAS PRIEST to a new generation of modern metalheads on Now and Forever.1. MMXII
2. End Of The Line
3. Fight Song
4. In It For Life
5. Hearts Of Cold
6. The Chosen Few
7. Hang 'Em High
8. I'm Not You
9. Running Low
10. Shades Of Black
11. Morning After$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
BeulahBeulah. It's a small, complicated word with a tangle of meanings.
It's the title of John Paul White's new album, his first in nearly a decade, a remarkably and assuredly diverse collection spanning plaintive folk balladry, swampy southern rock, lonesome campfire songs, and dark acoustic pop. Gothic and ambitious, with a rustic, lived-in sound, it's a meditation on love curdling into its opposite, on recrimination defining relationships, on hope finally filtering through doubt.
Beulah is also a White family nickname. "It's a term of endearment around our house," White explains, "like you would call someone 'Honey.' My dad used to call my little sister Beulah, and I call my daughter Beulah. It's something I've always been around."
Beulah is also something much loftier. For the poet and painter William Blake, Beulah was a place deep in the collective spiritual unconscious. "I won't pretend to be the smartest guy in the world," says White, "but I dig a lot of what he's written. Beulah was a place you could go in your dreams. You could go there in meditation, to relax and heal and center B photo credit: Allister Ann 119 west 57th street, penthouse north, new york, ny 10019 t 212.741.1000 www.sacksco.com SACKS A CO. N D yourself. It wasn't a place you could stay, but you came back to the world in a better state."
And perhaps the music on this album originated in that "pleasant lovely Shadow where no dispute can come." According to White, the songs came to him unbidden-and not entirely welcome. "When these songs started popping into my head, I had been home for a while and I was perfectly happy. I wasn't looking for songs. I didn't know whether any would pop back in my head again, and I was honestly okay with that. I'm a very happy father and husband, and I love where I live. I love working with artists for a label that I think is doing good work."
Far from the grind and glamour of Nashville-where he worked for years as a working songwriter before stepping into the spotlight himself-White settled in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a wellspring of gritty Southern rock and soul since the 1960s. Together with Alabama Shakes keyboard player Ben Tanner and Shoals native Will Trapp, he founded and runs Single Lock Records, a local indie label that has released records by some of the Yellowhammer State's finest, including Dylan LeBlanc, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and legendary songwriter and keyboard player Donnie Fritts. The label is based in a small ranch house a stone's throw from White's own home, which would come in handy when those songs started invading his head.
"Honestly, I tried to avoid them, but then I realized the only way I was going to get rid of them was if I wrote them down. I got my phone out and I'd sing these little bits of melody, then put it away and move on. But eventually I got to a place where it was a roar in my head, and that pissed me off." Due to his experiences as a gun-for-hire in Nashville, White was reluctant to romanticize the creative process, to turn it into a spiritual pursuit. "Then one day I told my wife I think I'm going to go write a song. She was as surprised as I was. I went and wrote probably eight songs in three days. It was like turning on a faucet."
Most artists would kill for such a downpour, but White was wary of the consequences. He knew that writing songs would lead to recording them, which would result in releasing them, and that means touring and leaving home for weeks at a time. "As soon as I write a song, I start thinking what other people might think of it. I've talked to friends about this: What is it about us that makes us do that? Why can't I just sit on my back porch and sing these songs out into the ether? I don't have an answer for it yet, but I think it's just part of who I am. I need that reaction. I need to feel like I'm moving someone in a good way or in a bad way. I need to feel like there's a connection."
White threw himself into the project, no longer the reluctant songwriter but a craftsman determined to make the best album possible-to do these songs justice. He cut several songs at the renowned FAME Studios in his hometown, where Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, the Allmans, the Osmonds, Bobbie Gentry, Arthur Conley, and Clarence Carter recorded some of their most popular hits.
One product of those sessions is "What's So," which introduces itself by way of a fire-andbrimstone riff, as heavy as a guilty conscience-the kind of riff you wouldn't be surprised to hear on a Sabbath album. But White's vocals are gritty and soulful, a product of the Shoals, almost preacherly as he sings about earthly and eternal damnation: "Sell your damn soul or get 119 west 57th street, penthouse north, new york, ny 10019 t 212.741.1000 www.sacksco.com SACKS A CO. N D right with the man, keep treading water as long as you can," he exhorts the listener. "But before you do, you must understand that you don't get above your raisin'." It's the heaviest moment on the record, perhaps the darkest in White's career.
At the other end of the spectrum is "The Martyr," one of the catchiest tunes White has ever penned. The spryness of the melody imagines Elliott Smith wandering the banks of the Tennessee River, yet the song is shot through with a pervasive melancholy as White wrestles with his own demons. "Keep falling on your sword, sink down a little more," he sings over a dexterous acoustic guitar theme. This is not, however, a song about some unnamed person, but rather a pained self-diagnosis: "These are the wounds that I will not let heal, the ones that I deserve and seem so real." White knows he's playing the martyr, but he leaves the song hauntingly open-ended, as though he isn't sure what to do with this epiphany beyond putting it in a song.
The rest of Beulah was recorded in the Single Lock offices/studio near White's home. "I can be more relaxed about the process. We can all just sit there and talk about records or baseball without feeling like someone's standing over our shoulders. That's a big deal to me, not to feel pressured. And I'm only about twenty yards away from home, so I can walk over and throw a baseball with my kids or make dinner with my wife."
Some of the quieter-but no less intense-songs on Beulah were created in that environment, including the ominously erotic opener "Black Leaf" and the Southern gothic love song "Make You Cry." As he worked, a distinctive and intriguing aesthetic began to grow clearer and clearer, one based in austere arrangements and plaintive moods. These are songs with empty spaces in them, dark corners that could hold ghosts or worse. "There were certain moments when Ben and I would finish up a song, listen back to it, and think how in the world did we get here. But that's just what the songs ask for. These are the sounds in my head. This is the sound of me thinking and living and breathing and doing."
Once White had everything assembled and sequenced, it was time to give the album a title, to wrap everything up for the listener. Beulah stuck-not only because of family history or Blake, but because White realized that making music was his own trip to Beulah. "If you had to sum up what music is for most people in this world, it's that. It's that escape. It's that refuge. You go there and you come back and you use that to help you with your life. You always have that as a place to go."1. Black Leaf
2. What's So
3. The Once And Future Queen
4. Make You Cry
5. Fight For You
6. Hope I Die
7. I've Been Over This Before (Feat. The Secret Sisters)
8. The Martyr
9. Hate The Way You Love Me
10. I'll Get Even$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
LoyaltyThe record was called Loyalty from the beginning-it was the first decision I made about it. It's a word you
usually see written in copperplate script, a virtue: LOYALTY. But the songs don't treat it that way, just as a
thing to unpack. It's a force that you have to reckon with: loyalty to the dream, to the "work," to the mythical idea of "you" that somebody thought they saw. It can be a weakness as much as a strength; it can keep you from the reality of your own life, your own self. - Tamara Lindeman
In excess virtue lies danger, or at least limits to pragmatic action-it's a lesson hard learned by anyone
disillusioned by the erosion of youthful mythologies. Strict fealty to a fixed ideal of identity doesn't do us
any favors as adults. Loyalty, the third and finest album yet by The Weather Station (and the first for
Paradise of Bachelors) wrestles with these knotty notions of faithfulness/faithlessness-to our idealism,
our constructs of character, our memories, and to our family, friends, and lovers-representing a bold
step forward into new sonic and psychological inscapes. It's a natural progression for Toronto artist
Tamara Lindeman's acclaimed songwriting practice. Recorded at La Frette Studios just outside Paris in
the winter of 2014, in close collaboration with Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz (Feist),
the record crystallizes her lapidary songcraft into eleven emotionally charged vignettes and intimate
portraits, redolent of fellow Canadians Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and David Wiffen, but utterly her
Lindeman describes La Frette, housed in an enormous, crumbling 19th-century mansion, as
"a secret garden, a place of enchantment and grace": walls mantled in ivy and lions, corridors piled high
with discarded tape machines, old reels, and priceless guitars. As she puts it, "Recording where we did
meant we embraced beauty-we weren't afraid of it being beautiful." Like the record itself, it's a quietly
radical statement, especially since certain passages achieve a diaphanous eeriness and harmonic and
rhythmic tension new to The Weather Station. The stacked vocal harmonies of "Tapes," the drifting,
jazz-inflected chording in "Life's Work," and the glacial percussion in "Personal Eclipse" contribute to a
pervading sense of clock-stopping bloom and smolder, recalling the spooky avant-soul of Terry Callier's
Beyond the decaying decadence and vintage gear, the brokedown palace atmosphere of
La Frette afforded a more significant interior luxury as well, one stated with brutal honesty in the
stunning "Shy Women": "it seemed to me that luxury would be to be not so ashamed, not to look away."
Accordingly, Loyalty brings a freshly unflinching self-examining gaze and emotional and musical control
to The Weather Station's songs. She is an extraordinary singer and instrumentalist-on Loyalty she plays
guitar, banjo, keys, and vibes-but Lindeman has always been a songwriter's songwriter, recognized for
her intricate, carefully worded verse, filled with double meanings, ambiguities, and complex metaphors.
Though more moving than ever, her writing here is almost clinical in its discipline, its deliberate wording
and exacting delivery, evoking similarly idiosyncratic songsters from Linda Perhacs to Bill Callahan.
Outside her musical practice, Lindeman also happens to be an accomplished film and
television actor, and it's her directorial eye for quietly compelling characters and the rich details of the
everyday, Bressonian in its specificity and scope, that drives the limpid singularity of The Weather
Station's songs. As in Bresson's films, there is no trace of theater here, no brittle singer-songwriter
histrionics, but rather a powerful performative focus and narrative restraint, a commitment to what the
auteur called the "simultaneous precision and imprecision of music." Despite the descriptive delicacy, the
album never lapses into preciousness or sentimentality, instead retaining its barbs and bristles and
remaining resolutely clear-eyed and thick-skinned. Lyrically, Loyalty inverts and involutes the language
of confession, of regret, of our most private and muddled mental feelings, by externalizing those
anxieties through exquisite observation of the things and people we accumulate, the modest meanings
accreted during even our most ostensibly mundane domestic moments. ("Your trouble is like a lens," she
discerns in "I Mined," "through which the whole world bends.")
"Tapes" and "I Could Only Stand By" expose and exalt the quotidian-"the little tapes"
hidden beneath a lover's bed, "the sunken old moorings" at the "bruise-colored lake"-without romanticizing
these scenes of, respectively, grief and guilt. "Like Sisters" analyzes the darker contours of a
friendship with devastating scrutiny. The breathless momentum of "Way It Is, Way It Could Be"-"both
are," she sings of the way we sometimes live, for better or for worse, amid multiple truths-hinges on a
mysterious moment when two brown dogs die underwheel, then don't, and that gut-sickness is
overturned, a sin redeemed with a second glance. "Floodplain" and "Personal Eclipse" are also road songs
about traveling through, and owning, the empty places in-between, literally and figuratively-what
Lindeman deems "the various ways people try to disappear from themselves, in physical distance, in
To invoke Melville (author of PoB's namesake story), "extreme loyalty to the piety of love"
can be a destabilizing force, a kind of bondage from which we must emancipate ourselves. The line is
from his strange masterpiece Pierre, or the Ambiguities; The Weather Station's Loyalty could quite easily
support the same subtitle for the fascinating ways it navigates the deep canyons between certainty and
uncertainty, faith and doubt.1. Way It Is, Way It Could Be
4. Shy Women
5. Personal Eclipse
6. Life's Work
7. Like Sisters
8. I Mined
10. I Could Only Stand By
11. At Full Height$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Drunk Is The New Sober/Stupid Is The New DumbDrunk Is The New Sober and Stupid Is The New Dumb are the twin subtitles of Drunk & Stupid, Dots Will Echo's debut album on Asthmatic Kitty, but those aren't just arch witticisms, they encapsulate the apparent contradictions that power the New Jersey duo's music. The warmly weird world created by multi-instrumentalist Nick Berry and drummer Kurt Biroc seems simultaneously sacred and profane, edgy and accessible, sad and transcendently silly. What else would you expect from a group that describes itself as "dour moralizers and drunken assholes" and identifies its key influences as "A little bit The Incredible String Band, a little bit AC/DC?"
"I can see the carnival lights from here," sings Berry in a half-crazed, half-elated tone at the beginning of the opening track, "I Like It," sounding like either a psychotic infatuated with his own attractive fantasy world or a genius inventor marveling at the luminous landscape he's created. It's up to the listener to decide which, but either way it's 100% Dots Will Echo.
Everything on Drunk & Stupid was played by Berry and Biroc, with the basic tracks recorded in a single marathon, three-day session. "I meant this to be a very raw recording, capturing the way we sound live," says Berry, who plays everything from guitars and keyboards to Autoharp, glockenspiel, and Andean charango over the course of the album, as he and Biroc build their own beautifully ramshackle universe from the ground up before your very ears.
"A poorly played violin can sound better than a well played piano," says Berry half-jokingly of the organic, offhand feel of the tracks. From the first moment, Drunk & Stupid makes the listener a fly on the wall for a day in the life of Dots Will Echo, with snatches of goofy studio chatter interspersed between tunes. The bit that leads into the crooked campfire singalong "I'm a Monkey" is particularly telling, as Berry spontaneously announces, "I want to try a song I dreamt the other night," Biroc disapprovingly asks, "In the studio?" and Berry blithely counters, "Yeah, why not?"
In fact, Berry dreams a large percentage of his songs. "Some are stupid, but I let 'em fly anyway," he says self-deprecatingly, "but the really stupid ones, nobody's ever gonna hear." By the time they enter our waking world, Berry's tunes bear trace elements of psychedelia, power pop, field-recording folk, DIY post-punk, and tantalizingly trashy garage rock (the duo does in fact rehearse in Biroc's garage). "What You Tryin' To Do," for instance, comes off like Sister Lovers-era Big Star recording for Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, while the giddy blastoff of "Rocket Girl" evokes early XTC covered by Guided By Voices, and the fragile, almost-ominous beauty of the hushed, acoustic ballad "Gates of Eden" feels like the greatest song Neil Young never wrote for Galaxie 500.
The black humor that inhabits an impressive amount of real estate in the Dots Will Echo neighborhood isn't the whistling-through-the-graveyard variety, but rather the kind that finds all of creation to be a bit of a knee-slapper. Like the great writers in every medium, Berry finds the human dilemma a source of endless hilarity, even though you can always hear the big, gently bruised heart beating at the core of every song on Drunk & Stupid. Berry sounds like an amphetamine-fueled tour guide as he walks us through a field of mankind's folly on "Seven Deadly Sins," his loopy lyrics punctuated by Captain Beefheart-esque bursts of six-string cubism.
Even when things get apocalyptic, as on the minimalist stomp of the cautionary "Shitstorm," Berry exhibits so much obvious glee in announcing the impending arrival of the titular phenomenon that you can't help singing "there's a shitstorm coming" right along with him and bobbing your head randomly to the track's triumphantly spastic anti-groove. The deceptively mellow-sounding anthem of global dystopia "History's Grave" was written in early 2008, but Berry notes, "Since then many of the events mentioned or alluded to have come to pass. This made me feel a little bit like a character in a Stephen King novel."
At the same time, Drunk & Stupid sports songs like "Be a Friend" and "So Deep the Night," lambent, low-key ballads that balance between bittersweet and unabashedly sentimental without ever turning mawkish. On these tracks, the Lennon-like undertone in Berry's voice rises to the top of the mix, tapping into an almost spiritual vibe and making for some of the most undeniably poignant moments on the album.
Berry and Biroc, who also work together at the same day job (the drummer is Berry's boss), have been making music together since 2004, hashing out their ideas in Biroc's garage and documenting them in Berry's basement studio. Along the way, they've made unofficial micro-pressings of their work, mostly for passing around to friends and admirers in an ad hoc fashion, but Drunk & Stupid represents the first time the duo's freewheeling work has ever been properly presented to the public at large as a full-on album. With all the material the prolific pair has been stockpiling, they had a huge tally of tunes to haul along with them for this project, and hearing it is a little like stumbling for the first time into a lost world with a long legacy of its own rituals, relics, regalia, and history. But once you wander in, you can't imagine how you ever existed without it.
Originally meant to be two separate discs (the vinyl version is a double LP with download codes for bonus tracks), Drunk & Stupid is a wild ride that clocks in at just under 80 minutes and boasts 19 songs overflowing with insanely catchy melodies, endearingly off-kilter arrangements, and a strangely satisfying blend of the divine and the absurd." As Berry says, "We try to allow for the will of the universe to have a large part in our music. There must be something sacred in mistakes. This is our explanation for being fuck-ups."1. Untitled
2. I Like It
3. Untitled II
4. I'm a Monkey
6. Be a Friend
7. Whatcha Tryin to Do
8. Rocket Girls
10. Run Away Anna
11. History's Grave
12. Sweet Sweet Sanity
14. Who Left You Here
15. The Future
16. Untitled III
17. Peace in Your Life
18. Our Little Part of the World
19. Untitled IV
20. Gates of Eden
21. Visions of Light
22. Seven Deadly Sins
23. So Deep the Night$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now