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Things Are Getting Better'
UNIM-FAN-9222xCannonball Adderley & Milt Jackson
Things Are Getting BetterIf you ever needed proof that altoist Cannonball Adderley deserves to be considered one of the absolute masters of the jazz idiom, look no further than
Things Are Getting Better, which provides ample evidence for his canonical stature. On this date, Adderley teams up with Modern Jazz Quartet cofounder
and vibraphonist extraordinaire Milt Jackson to create a lively, varied set of sonic atmospheres. They are backed by the all-star ensemble of
Wynton Kelly on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and the legendary Art Blakey on drums. The standout track, Sounds for Sid, finds Adderley grooving hard
with an R&B flavor, flashing his virtuosic instrumental chops, and demonstrating in the process why this cut stands as one of the very best representations
of Adderley's early work. Essential listening for all manner of jazz enthusiasts, Things Are Getting Better has something for everyone and deserves a
place in every self-respecting jazz fan's vinyl collection.1. Blues Oriental
2. Things Are Getting Better
3. Serves Me Right
4. Groovin' High
5. The Sidewalks of New York
6. Sounds for Sid
7. Just One of Those Things$21.99Vinyl LP Reissue - Sealed Buy Now
All Things Bright And BeautifulOwl City's self-produced new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, finds Adam Young expanding his sonic palette as he takes his listeners into a verdant musical dreamland on such tracks as first single Alligator Sky, The Real World and Dreams Don't Turn To Dust.
Throughout the album, Young retains his trademark optimism, letting the listener know that no matter how tough times get, there's always light at the end of the tunnel. I would feel weird if I were to communicate anything other than optimism, because it's just who I am, Young says. It's always been in me to make Owl City a vehicle that sends a hopeful message. As a listener, I'm drawn to things that are really uplifting. When a certain melody grabs my ear, it makes me feel like I could be a better person.1. The Real World
2. Deer In The Headlights
4. Dreams Don't Turn To Dust
5. Honey And The Bee
7. January 28, 1986
9. Hospital Flowers
10. Alligator Sky
11. The Yacht Club
12. Plant Life$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Things to Remember - The Pamper DemosLiner Notes By Grammy-Winning Writer Colin Escott
Photos From Bear Family Label Founder Richard Weize's Personal Collection
Remastered By Mike Milchner At Sonicvision For Fidelity Far Superior To Prior Incarnations
Available On A 2xLP Set Pressed On Red Vinyl Limited To 1000 Copies
Housed In A Gatefold Jacket
The First Blossoming Of One Of The Truly Singular Talents In American Music
For the series of sessions that laid the foundation for Willie Nelson's career and thus changed the course of modern country music, these recordings have been treated pretty cavalierly over the years. But first, a little history Willie Nelson was a struggling songwriter, hungry for work and maybe even just plain hungry, when he moved to Nashville in late 1960 with his wife and kids and met Hank Cochran, who was a writer for Pamper Music. Pamper, which was owned by country star Ray Price, fiddle player Hal Smith, and a baker (!) from Pico Rivera, California named Claude Caviness, was the hottest publishing company in town, thanks to writers like Cochran and Harlan Howard and songs like "Heartaches by the Number" and "I Fall to Pieces." At first, Willie wasn't going to sign with Pamper because Hal Smith wouldn't give Willie the draw he needed, but Cochran told Smith to front Willie fifty bucks a week from his own draw. So Willie, determined to reward Cochran's trust, got to work. "I was writing to prove I could write," he said. "To get the money and feel like I was earning it." He would end most work days with a new song, and then he and Cochran would call a session with A-team musicians who didn't have major label studio work that day. The result: a body of work that just may well represent the most fertile creative period ever to issue from a country songwriter.
The songs Willie recorded for Pamper during the early '60s remain among his most famous, and include tunes he still performs to this day: "Crazy," "Funny (How Time Slips Away),' "Night Life," "Pretty Paper," "Half a Man," "Hello Walls," "Healing Hands of Time," and more. And these, the Pamper demos, are the first recordings of those legendary songs. In other words, this is what artists and label guys back in the day heard when Hal Smith or Hank Cochran handed over a little acetate, and said, "Hey, listen here to what our guy Willie Nelson just come up with." It simply doesn't get much more historic than that! But, for some reason, these demos have hitherto turned up in bits and pieces, mostly on budget packages with little documentation or care.
Now, finally, these incredibly important recordings are getting the respect they deserve. Things to Remember-The Pamper Demos brings together these 28 performances for the first time (several of which have hitherto eluded compilation), all remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision to sound much better than they ever have, and annotated by Grammy-winning writer Colin Escott, with photos courtesy of Bear Family label founder Richard Weize. Available from Real Gone Music as a gatefold , red vinyl double-LP limited to 1000 copies, this collection is indispensable for any Willie Nelson fan or any lover of great country music it's the first blossoming of one of our greatest songwriters, presented the way work of this stature should be, with great sound and packaging.LP 1
1. Where Were You Yesterday
2. More Than One Way to Cry
3. I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye
4. A Broken Promise
5. I'm Gonna Lose a Lotta Teardrops
6. Little Things
7. Will You Remember Mine
8. My Own Peculiar Way
9. I Gotta Get Drunk
10. Half a Man
11. You Left a Long Time Ago
12. Undo the Right
13. I've Just Destroyed the World
1. Are You Sure
2. Country Willie
3. Three Days
4. You Wouldn't Cross the Street
5. Pretty Paper
6. Night Life
7. Hello Walls
8. Healing Hands of Time
9. Good Times
10. Funny (How Time Slips Away)
12. Within Your Crowd
13. Save Your Tears
14. A Moment Is Very Long
15. Things to Remember$39.99Colored Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Get Your WingsRemastered from the original source tapes!
Contains the classics Same Old Song And Dance, Train Kept A-Rollin' and Seasons of Wither
Often overshadowed by the subsequent twin highlights of Toys in the Attic and Rocks, Aerosmith's 1974 second album, Get Your Wings, is where Aerosmith became Aerosmith -- it's where they teamed up with producer Jack Douglas, it's where they shed much of their influences and developed their own trademark sound, it's where they turned into songwriters, it's where Steven Tyler unveiled his signature obsessions with sex and sleaze. Chief among these attributes may be Douglas, who either helped the band ease into the studio or captured their sound in a way their debut never did. This is a leaner, harder album, bathed in grease and layered in grit, but it's not just down to Douglas. The band itself sounds more distinctive. There are blues in Joe Perry and Joey Kramer's interplay, but this leapfrogs over blues-rock; it turns into slippery hard rock. To be sure, it's still easy to hear the Stones here, but they never really sound Stonesy; there's almost more of the Yardbirds to the way the group works the riffs, particularly evident on the cover of the early 'Birds classic The Train Kept a Rollin'. But if the Yardbirds were tight and nervy, Aerosmith is blown out and loose, the sound of excess incarnate -- that is, in every way but the writing itself, which is confident and strong, fueled by Tyler's gonzo sex drive. He is the Lord of the Thighs, playing that Same Old Song and Dance, but he also slows down enough for the eerie Seasons of Wither, a powerful slow-churning ballad whose mastery of atmosphere is a good indication of how far the band has grown. They never attempted anything quite so creepy on their debut, but it isn't just that Aerosmith is trying newer things on Get Your Wings, it's that they're doing their bloozy bluster better and bolder, which is what turns this sophomore effort into their first classic.
-All Music Guide1. Same Old Song and Dance
2. Lord of the Thighs
4. Woman of the World
5. S.O.S. (Too Bad)
6. Train Kept A-Rollin'
7. Seasons of Wither
8. Pandora's Box$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
You Know Who You AreHaving recorded five albums in ten years and toured extensively in support of all of them, Nada Surf - singer/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca, drummer Ira Elliot and guitarist Doug Gillard (now official fourth member, more on that later) - opted to follow 2012's cracking The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy with a brief but well-earned hiatus. So in January 2015, when Caws informed Nada Surf's vociferous Facebook following that a new record was just about done, the news was greeted with explosive enthusiasm.
The music was in the can, he announced, and all that remained was to finish up a few lyrics and sing a few vocals; something he planned to do on off-days off during an upcoming solo acoustic tour. Caws even included a photo of the recording set-up he was bringing in the car. "I was so eager to have an album done that I believed in it as it was," Caws recalls. "But the great thing about being 'finished' is that you can take a breath and evaluate, because the pressure to 'do it' is gone. The more I listened and thought about it, the more I realized that I might want to keep working. Also, I'd sent the tracks to my friend Josh, who runs Barsuk Records, the label we've been on since 2002, and he said 'It's great,' but followed that with a pregnant pause. I got the message. I didn't take that as a critique as much as a belief that I could do better. It was very freeing."
And lo and behold, what would have been another really good Nada Surf album (their seventh since getting signed to a major in the go-go 90's and scoring a worldwide alterna-hit with "Popular") became what could well be the most representative collection of the group's two-decade career, all while pushing towards whatever comes next. Captured in the album's 10 tracks is every beloved facet of the band, but You Know Who You Are also finds much on offer that stands apart from anything previously heard in the band's diverse catalog.1. Cold to See Clear
2. Believe You're Mine
3. Friend Hospital
4. New Bird
5. Out of the Dark
8. You Know Who You Are
9. Gold Sounds
10. Victory's Yours$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ADAD-JOY-0167xJoan of Arc
He's Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His HandsTwenty years now there's been this thing, our band, Joan of Arc. Sometimes we forget about it
and let it fizzle out for a year while we tend to our lives. Sometimes we cling to it for a year and
wake up surprised and exhausted every day for months on end, given walking tours of old
Italian towns, browsing dreary British pedestrian malls or barefooted organic grocers on the
Pacific coast. We know how lucky we are.
The less we feel like a band-the more we can continue to be a band, but escape that feeling of
doing all those shitty, corny things expected of bands-the truer to ourselves we feel. And you
all know it, everyone knows it even if everyone has to bury it to get on with their day-to-day:
the truer to ourselves we feel, the better everything gets.
We have shifted shapes and modified our approaches quite a number of times in the course of
twenty years. And we've done so always aiming to stay true to ourselves at that moment, by
instinct and with conscious intent. This time, it took us a long time to figure out how to start
back up. We threw away a lot of songs and started over, over and over.
But here's the thing: We are getting better at being ourselves. So many of the postures of
youth just fall away with time. Most bands break up by that point, or become caricatures of
their younger selves. Because money is tricky, or I should say, it comes to be that energy is
tricky to muster after all of it goes into the basics of sustaining yourself.
Every day, at some point, it occurs to me that Richard Brautigan killed himself at the age that I
am now. But I got this community of weirdo collaborators to lean on that he never had.
We've never had an audience that gets any validation of its coolness through liking us. We've
mangled, juxtaposed, and collaged too many elements for that social contract. But we trust
This time, finally, we trusted each other enough to throw all the songs away, to even throw
away every preconceived idea about which one of us should take position at which instrument.
We hit Record and played, and our collective tastes emerged. And they, our tastes in the
moment, were the only standards in all the expanse of the stupefying and beautiful unknown
universe, that we regarded as relevant in the least.1. Smooshed That Cocoon
2. This Must Be The Placenta
3. Stranged That Egg Yolk
4. Full Moon and Rainbo Repair
5. Cha Cha Cha Chakra
6. Grange Hex Stream
7. Two-Toothed Troll
8. New Wave Hippies
9. Never Wintersbone You
10. F is for Fake
11. Ta-ta Terrordome$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Hug Of Thunder"I don't want to go out there being presumptuous," Kevin Drew says, "because, I've worn those presumptuous shoes before, and you don't want it to feel like, 'Oh, what a let-down.'" That's the fear when you bring back one of music's most beloved names seven years after their last album. But with Hug of Thunder, the fifth Broken Social Scene album, Drew and his bandmates have a right to feel presumptuous.
They have that right because they have created one of 2017's most sparkling, multi-faceted albums. On Hug of Thunder the 15 members of Broken Social Scene - well, the 15 who play on the record, including returnees Leslie Feist and Emily Haines - refract their varying emotions, methods, and techniques into something that doesn't just equal their other albums, but surpasses them. It is righteous but warm, angry but loving, melodic but uncompromising. The title track on its own might just be the best thing you will hear all year - a song that will become as beloved as "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" from their breakthrough album, You Forgot It In People.
Its title, Drew says, captured what he wanted people to feel about the group's comeback, and how they sound playing together again: "It's just such a wonderful sentiment about us, coming in like a hug of thunder."
Broken Social Scene had reconvened, in varying forms, several times over the past four years - the odd festival show here and there, preferably ones that involved the least possible traveling. But the idea that they might turn their hand to something more than greatest-hits sets had been stirring since November 2014, when producer Joe Chiccarelli told Drew the group needed to make a new album.
"He started showing up at our label, asking if we were going to make an album," Drew recalls. "He just didn't give up; he just kept saying, 'You've got to strike, you've got to do this, the time is now,' and so finally we agreed."
As might be expected to be the case with a many-headed hydra of a group, getting all the principals to agree wasn't easy. Drew's co-founder Brendan Canning was keen, but Drew and fellow BSS lifer Charles Spearin took more persuading. A turning point for Drew came with the Paris terror attacks of November 2015, which made him feel the world needed an injection of positivity: "It just sort of made us want to go out there and play. Because I think we've always been a band that's been a celebration."
Canning picks up the story: "By autumn of 2015 we had started getting together and trying some ideas out, just getting back in that jam space, in Charles' garage. Then we set up shop in my living room and we were starting to come together in a very familiar kind of way, jamming in the living room, eating meals in the kitchen together, because that's what the band is about: 'Hey, let's all get on the same page and get the energies flowing in the same direction.'"
Recording finally began in April 2016 at The Bathouse studio on the shores of Lake Ontario, with later sessions in Toronto and Montreal, before the group went right back to basics. "It was very beautiful the way that it ended in Charlie's little rehearsal garage space," Drew says, "after going to all these studios. We just worked there, doing backup vocals and handclaps and all the shit we used to do when we were younger." And then it was to Los Angeles, where the album was mixed.
The result is a panoramic, expansive album, 53 minutes that manages to be both epic and intimate. In troubled times it offers a serotonin rush of positivity: "Stay Happy" lives up to its title, with huge surges of brass that sound like sunshine bursting through clouds. "Gonna Get Better" makes a promise that the album is determined to deliver. That's not to say it's an escapist record: Broken Social Scene is completely engaged, wholly focussed, and not ignoring the darkness that lurks outside. But there is no hectoring, no lecturing, but a recognition of the confusion and ambiguity of the world. As the title track closes with Leslie Feist murmuring "There was a military base across the street," the listener is caught in the division between the national security provided by national defense, and the menace of the same thing.
The gestation of Hug of Thunder was no idyll. When You Forgot It in People made their name, Broken Social Scene were young men and women. Fifteen years on, they were adults in or on the cusp of middle age, and - as Drew puts it - "all the adult problems in the world were happening around us individually, whether it was divorce or cancer". Three members of the band lost their fathers while the album was being recorded, "and it seemed like the days of going in the studio, getting stoned, drinking five beers and saying, 'Who gives a fuck?' were over".
Then there's the fact of the size of the ensemble, and the number of competing voices. "You don't always get the final say with Broken Social Scene," Canning says, with a certain degree of understatement. He compares the process of getting everyone to agree on a song to party politics: "It's like you're trying to get a bill passed through the House - you have to be really committed to wanting to win."
But, still, if they were to return, it had to be with everybody, no matter if that meant things might get unwieldy. "I'd like to believe that Broken Social Scene can be whatever it can be," Canning says, "but I think the fact we'd gone away for so long meant we really, we really couldn't have done the same thing without everyone involved, you know?" The story of Broken Social Scene, he insists, was built on the involvement of everyone, and so if the story was to be continued, those same people had to return.
"The thing that has changed is that the relationships between us are established," Drew suggests. "And in a family, you ebb and flow and you come and you go and you're in love and then you're annoyed - but it's established now, the relationships aren't going anywhere, you know? And I think through time, because we've been through so much together, personally and professionally, when we're all on stage, everybody knows what they're doing, everybody has a melody to back up someone else, you feel supported, you're a crew, there's nothing but protection all around you."
Canning picks up the theme: "Before we were making this record, I said to everyone: 'We all basically want the same thing, we might just have slightly different roadmaps on how to get there. So how do we stray off on certain country roads but get back onto the main thoroughfare?'"
That Broken Social Scene was a family again, driving along the same main road, became apparent to UK fans in September 2016, when the group - with Ariel Engle the latest woman to assume the role of co-lead vocalist - came over for less than a handful of festival shows, to test the waters. Their Sunday teatime appearance at End Of The Road - an ecstatic hour of maximalist music, physically and emotionally overwhelming - ended up being one of the biggest hits of the festival. It achieved what Drew has always felt music needed to do: it created transcendence, a pocket of time where everyone present was living only in the moment.
"My 11-year-old nephew asked me, 'Uncle Kev, why do adults get drunk?' and I looked at him and thought, 'OK, brilliant question, I'm going to give a brilliant answer,'" Drew recalls. "And I looked at him for about 10 seconds and I said, 'Because they want to feel like you. Because they want to feel like a kid again, they want to forget everything, they want to be innocent.' We are built in a way now where you can't do that because you're walking around with the anti-transcendence box in your pocket, and in your hand, and in your home, and on your bedside table: it's the anti-transcendence. It's called your phone! And we're getting killed, we're getting killed!"
So what do Broken Social Scene want listeners to take from Hug of Thunder? Canning wants it to make them "pause for the cause and maybe just leave things in your life alone for 53 minutes". For Drew, it's about what it's always been about: making the connection. "I just hope they understand that there's others out there, that they're not alone," he says. "I know that's silly! But you'd be surprised how many times I've had to tell people, 'Hey, you're not alone on this, you're not alone thinking these things.' I mean, with the title Hug of Thunder, I want to hold people. I want to fucking hold them. And when we do shows, I'm not: 'Look at me, I'm elevated up on the stage,' It's: 'We're here with you, this is us together.' Broken Social Scene is about the people, and it's always been about the people."1. Sol Luna
2. Halfway Home
3. Protest Song
5. Stay Happy
6. Vanity Pail Kids
7. Hug of Thunder
8. Towers and Masons
9. Victim Lover
10. Please Take Me With You
11. Gonna Get Better
12. Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse$25.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
DreamlandNatalie Bergman has had her picture taken on countless occasions -- hundreds of studio portraits and live shots and backstage festival snaps. But the simple, gorgeous black & white photo of Bergman on the cover of Wild Belle's Dreamland that she describes as just me and this sort of abyss That one was lensed by the person who best knows how to capture her essence on celluloid: Her older brother and bandmate, Elliot Bergman. Besides being Wild Belle's multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, Elliot has an equally impressive flair for visual arts, from painting and sculpture to bronzemaking and photography. An avid collector of vintage cameras, Elliot brought along a recently acquired Polaroid Land Camera to a show Wild Belle played in Denver this summer: The duo grabbed a quick moment at their hotel to take the portraits of each other that grace the front and back of their new record. The pictures Elliot takes of me are always really beautiful and it's because he knows me better than anyone else on this Earth, says Natalie. Adds Elliot: I like that it's a photo of Natalie just being Natalie. And the stark contrast of her in the foreground with the dark background really fit with these collages she has been doing. Natalie is in the light but the shadows are pretty heavy and you can't really tell where she is or what's back there.
Recorded at studios in their native Chicago, Natalie's new home of Los Angeles, Nashville and Toronto, Dreamland -- Wild Belle's bold, evolutionary new album -- derives from an era in the singer's life when she was struggling to get control of what she describes as the anger and deep sorrow that plagued her at the end of her most recent romantic relationship. For a woman whose music has always been inspired by her desire to translate her complicated feelings into immediately relatable songs, there was certainly plenty of grist for the mill. Dreamland tracks such as Losing You and It Was You (Baby Come Back) offer glimpses of the darkness that Natalie battled during the early months writing for the duo's sophomore full-length. But there are also genuine moments of lightness and ecstatic triumph, like Giving Up On You -- an irresistibly kinetic, punk number Wild Belle recorded with TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek producing.
I was very heated when we were making this record. My body, my heart and my soul were filled with a flame, which sounds very dramatic but it's the truth, says Natalie. I had a healing moment when I moved to LA earlier this year, because I was far away from my ex and I felt like I was getting rid of a lot of baggage. That was the redemptive, triumphant time for my lyrics. On 'Giving Up On You,' I sing: 'Now I smile so bright, you can see me from outer space, look at me shine. Baby it's about time, I was so miserable and now I feel so alive.' All the songs I wrote near the end of making the album have that sentiment: 'Now look at where I am, after all the turmoil that was inside of me, I'm here and I'm happy and I'm ready for whatever comes my way.'
The follow-up to 2013's Isles, Dreamland expands the band's ambitions in every way. It's deeper, it's more fun, it's more haunting, it's got more grooves, Elliot says. There's sorrow and pain but there's also hope and joy -- all those things can coexist in the songs because they coexist in life. He continues: Dreamland, that's not some kind of idealized notion of where we live and I hope people hear that as a question: What is the Dreamland What is our dream here The album doesn't get overtly political, but we're dealing with a lot of the things that are dark about what's happening now. 'Throw Down Your Guns' is about a relationship but is also kind of about the messed up situation that we're in right now. The chorus, 'Throw down your guns / In the name of love, I put my hands up,' to me can be heard in a number of ways, including as a prayer for peace or a cry out against violence.
Importantly, the album also shares its name with one of the first songs Natalie remembers Elliot introducing her to: Bunny Wailer's 1970 reggae classic, Dreamland. One year for Christmas, he gave her a compilation of female artists who recorded at Jamaica's legendary Studio One, and it included Della Humphrey's version of the song. Natalie listened to it over and over and over again. I was so in love with it, she says. From there, I started my exploration of rocksteady and ska and lovers rock and anything that had to do with Jamaican music from the Fifties onward.
The duo started writing music together several years ago, after Elliot took a sixteen year-old Natalie on tour to play percussion with his acclaimed Afrobeat ensemble, NOMO. I can present a song to Elliot and he has this foresight -- he can see things further than I see them, and he helps me realize things, she says. I'd been writing very simple melodic love songs since I was fifteen years old. I definitely have a pop sensibility in my style, and that's a great platform for Elliot to work from, because it's fun for him to have a cool little pop song and combine it with more eccentric sounds and make it into a weird, unique percussive jam. Sometimes he'll bring the jam to me and because we've got this routine together, we can write a song together wherever we are.
Work on the album began in early 2014, in Chicago. The song that opens Dreamland -- Mississippi River -- was also the first one to come together in the studio. It was sparked by a moment of musical serendipity: The record starts with this pulsing ARP drone, says Elliot, which is a very expensive esoteric nerdy synthesizer that's complicated to program. Natalie and I had this weird, symbiotic thing where I was playing three chords off the ARP and she started playing different three chords on this out-of-tune autoharp she brought over. They were both completely in the wrong key, and yet perfectly in tune with each other. That was like the new bar for the record. It was like, 'Yeah, we're going to put synthesizers and saxophone and kalimbas on these songs, and we're going to have lavish string arrangements if we want to. We were getting comfortable with all of the materials that we love, and being like, 'I love this, so let's do it.
They tracked several songs at home in Chicago last year, and then at the start of 2015, Natalie packed all of her belongings into the Wild Belle van and drove from Chicago to Venice, California. She rented a house where Elliot joined her a couple weeks later. When I had my place in Venice, Elliot would wake up earlier than I would and start making dope beats, says Natalie. One day he made this ridiculous song, 'The One That Got Away,' and the beat and underlying track were so exciting that it didn't take very long to write. Our friends came over and were jumping on the tabletops, dancing, getting naked because they loved the song so much.
Playing the new songs at Lollapalooza for the first time with an eight-piece band, says Elliot, I had a feeling onstage that I'd never had before with Wild Belle, where you're part of a sound that's much bigger than you could make on your own. It's this charged-up badass feeling. It's about a groove and rhythmic energy and force and momentum and making a big, dark, deep sound -- something that moves people and makes you want to dance and makes you want to shout. It's tapping into a deeper musicality that I've always been looking for.1. Mississippi River
2. Losing You
6. Giving Up On You
7. It Was You
8. Throw Down Your Guns
9. The One That Got Away
10. Our Love Will Survive
11. Rock & Roll Angel$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Gargoyle (Awaiting Repress)Early in 2016, Mark was at home in LA, working on some ideas for what might turn into his next album when he got an email from a friend, an English musician named Rob Marshall, thanking Mark for contributing to a new project he was putting together, Humanist. The pair first met in 2008, when Marshall's former band Exit Calm supported Soulsavers, who Mark was singing with at the time. Now Rob was offering to write Mark some music to return the favour: "I was like, Hey man, I'm getting ready to make a record if you've got anything?'" Mark recalls. "Three days later he sent me *10 things !"
In the meantime, Mark had written 'Blue Blue Sea', a rippling mood piece that he thought might be a more fruitful direction for his new record. "It's almost always how my records start," he explains. "I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it's really the same process when I'm writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are, tell me what the next couple should be. I've always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess."
Within an hour, Mark had written words and vocal lines for two of the pieces Rob had cooked up at Mount Sion Studios in Kent and pinged through the virtual clouds to California. Rob's music fitted perfectly with the direction Mark had been pondering: in essence, a more expansive progression from the moody Krautrock-influenced electronica textures of his two previous albums, 'Blues Funeral' and 'Phantom Radio'. Eventually, Rob Marshall would co-write six of the songs on the new Mark Lanegan Band album. "I was very thankful to become reacquainted with him," Mark deadpans.
The remainder of the album was written, recorded and produced by Lanegan's longtime musical amanuensis Alain Johannes at his 11 AD base in West Hollywood. Everything was done and dusted within a month, unusually fast by Lanegan's recent standards. "I definitely feel like I'm a better songwriting than I was 15 years ago," he says. "I don't know if I'm just kidding myself or what, but it's definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me. Maybe I'm just easier on myself these days, but it's definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I'm better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else's perspective it's more exciting than if I'm left to my own devices."
While sharing roots with its two predecessors, on Gargoyle there's a significant up-shift in the swaggering power load of such keynote songs as Nocturne and Beehive, while the lyrics' tonal palette is more varied. The album title comes from a lyric in Blue Blue Sea - "Gargoyle perched on gothic spire" - and was chosen for its hint of self-deprecation. "I'm most proud of the songs that are atypical to stuff that I've done in the past," says Mark. "So I really like Old Swan, because it's an expression of positivity, which is completely anti-anything I've done before!" He laughs. "Y'know, I haven't played this record for too many people yet. I played it for Greg Dulli, who played on some of it, and he was like, 'Wow, I had to listen to it twice - it sounds like he's having a good time '
It's been a long journey traveled, not always easy, but in 2017, at the age of 52, Lanegan's got the look of permanence about him. Like that gargoyle on the gothic spire .1. Deaths Head Tattoo
3. Blue Blue Sea
7. Goodbye To Beauty
8. Drunk On Destruction
9. First Day Of Winter
10. Old Swan$23.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Pick Me UpTRUTH & SALVAGE CO.'s second album, PICK ME UP (Megaforce/Sony RED), is a work that powerfully builds on their stirring blend of rock and Americana introduced on their acclaimed 2010 self-titled debut album. Distinguished by their four lead vocalists and five songwriters, plus soaring four-part harmonies and a strong guitar-keyboard meld, the band co-produced the album this time around with Jon Ashley, while longtime band cohort Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses) handled the mix. It is a joyous tour de force recorded at Echo Mountain studio in Asheville, NC that features 12 original tracks and a cover of Joe South's Grammy-winning 1968 hit "Games People Play." Opening with the plaintive "The Bad Times," the album shifts into high gear with "Silver Lining" and keeps the highlights coming with such songs as "Appalachian Hilltop," "Bird On The Wing," "I'm Not Your Boyfriend," the title track and the rollicking "So Sad."
True to its title PICK ME UP, this is an album that soars. Tim Jones says, "We liked the triple meaning of 'pick me up,' how you could not only be asking someone for a ride, or literally encouraging someone to pick up the album, but also how it's a metaphorical lift, which we were feeling we needed throughout the process." Walker Young adds, "Lyrically we wanted that song to have an inspiring message, it's talking about hope and perseverance in the face of loneliness and just the challenges of everyday life. The sonic mix we ended up getting matches the vibe perfectly, I think. It's definitely a feel-good album we were going for joyous revelry, music that would inspire the heart and mind."
Scott Kinnebrew says the time between their first and second albums helped them grow: "We have had, really, four years since recording our first record and we have been playing our asses off. So we are better players." Adam Grace elaborates: "For this record, we just wanted to record what we do live onstage every night. We kept things loose, had a bunch of fun, and just played and sung our hearts out. The result is a record that shows the real chemistry we share. You can hear it oozing from every song."1. The Bad Times
2. Silver Lining
3. Bird on the Wing
5. Appalachian Hilltop
6. Games People Play
7. I'm Not Your Boyfriend
8. Back in Your Love
9. Pick Me Up
10. So Sad
11. Shady River
12. Middle Island Creek
13. All Stand Tall$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Falling Faster Than You Can RunWell, it doesn't take long for Falling Faster Than You Can Run to reveal that Nathaniel Rateliff isn't in a very good place. His deep funk is revealed very quickly on the opening track 'Still Trying': "If you roll in it long enough/your shit won't even smell" sings Rateliff, in between crying out, unaccompanied, "I don't know/I don't know/a god damned thing".
And that's the feeling that sticks throughout this, often very fine, new record from Denver, Colorado's Missouri-born Rateliff. On his second full-length album (dropping the & the Wheel from his name) loneliness is writ large: not the kind of loneliness from actually being along, but the kind that comes from being constantly surrounded by people yet unable to shake the feeling of complete isolation. Rateliff has toured with many, many acts over the past few years and most recently has spent time with Dr Dog and fellow Denver act (and friends) The Lumineers. Thankfully, Rateliff rarely sounds like his friends (you might say I'm not a fan) and instead writes and plays music with a lot of heart and soul. It's often his voice that's the star of the show thanks to the subtly-arranged instrumentation: part matured Kurt Wagner burr and part throat-ravaged bluesman ( a bit The Tallest Man on Earth) it's a voice you could listen to all day. But good voice is nothing without good songs, and Rateliff comes with plenty of ammunition on Falling Faster Than You Can Run.
"Still Trying" is an arresting opener; while Rateliff's heart-wrenching roars are the highlight, the backing isn't too shabby either - acoustic guitar and bass drum battle for the spotlight on a ragged country song, and it sounds authentic, like Rateliff has lived what he's singing. And things get better quickly: "I Am" is mostly just Rateliff and his guitar, as broaches his isolation singing: "you'll never know what's buried there / less you dig around". The music swells as he sings the title over and over, following a similar pattern to the album opener. But before things get too familiar, Rateliff picks up the pace with a couple of full band numbers that could almost be considered jaunty, if we were to ignore the lyrics. "Don't Get Too Close" is fine enough and ticks over nicely like a quickstep, but "Laborman" is even better. Like Wilco at their poppiest, it flies off on crunchy and bright electric guitars which belies the lyrical content: "I got a feelin' / a sleepin' depression / that somebody's gonna get hurt", sings Rateliff, followed by "you got the harness/so where you gonna drag me now?" You can see a pattern developing here; Rateliff's stuck somewhere he doesn't want to be, lonely, but how does he get out of it? Take another look at that album cover too - a couple share a bed, an arm reaches out yet it doesn't touch the other person. It's basically a visual encapsulation of what's being sung about.
The epic electric storm of "Forgetting Is Believing" leads a trio of great closing tracks, ending with the Lambchop-murmur of the title track. Rateliff's baritone is exposed and dusty as he sings "leave me alone/you can see me fall/faster than you can run", ending as he started the record - alone and isolated.
Falling Faster Than You Can Run feels, through the dirt, the shit and the whisky, and despite the loneliness, like a hard-earned triumph for Nathaniel Rateliff.
- Andrew Hannah (The Line Of Best Fit)1. Still Trying
2. I Am
3. Don't Get Too Close
5. How To Win
6. Nothing To Show For
7. Right On
8. Three Fingers
9. Forgetting Is Believing
10. When Do You See
11. Falling Faster Than You Can Run$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
WARB-CUR-3018xWynonna & the Big Noise
Wynonna & The Big NoiseWYNONNA and her band The Big Noise, led by her husband, producer/drummer Cactus Moser, recorded the majority of the album in the sanctity of their home studio located on the family farm in Tennessee. WYNONNA has described the new album as "vintage yet modern" and a "return to the well." It's a rootsy work encompassing country, Americana, blues, soul and rock.
The process of recording WYNONNA & THE BIG NOISE with her band set her free artistically. "Like a garage band we all get in a room, basically knee to knee in a circle, and we jam until it feels amazing,"WYNONNA shares. "By the time we push record we are already jacked up because we have practiced and practiced until we know we are rocking. The end result is even better than when we started out because we're free to just play and enjoy ourselves." She adds: "I have stripped myself of all the expectations of worrying about fitting into any format and just picked songs I love. This album is my favorite thing I've done so far."
Cactus elaborates about the recording of the album. "It creates more energy, more excitement and definitely a more unique sound to have our actual band play. When you have session players you just play differently. There's less emotional input, less freedom! These guys are with us 365 days a year and that was my goal to have an actual living breathing band make a record, not just people who come in for the week and then are gone. Much better feel, much better vibe. AMEN."1. You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast (feat. Cactus Moser)
2. Cool Ya'
3. Things That I Lean On (feat. Jason Isbell)
4. Ain't No Thing (feat. Susan Tedeschi)
5. You Are So Beautiful
6. I Can See Everything
7. Staying In Love
8. Jesus And A Jukebox
9. Something You Can't Live Without
10. Keeps Me Alive (feat. Derek Trucks)
11. Every Ending (Is A New Beginning)
12. Choose To Believe$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
I'm Not The DevilCody Jinks was raised on country music but he cut his teeth on metal. "Metallica was king. They set the tone for me and I spent a good part of my youth wanting to be James Hetfield." After a dedicated stint as a frontman in a thrash metal band, Jinks willingly found himself back to where it all began. "My dad loved the outlaw country icons, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. That never ending consistency of incredible music growing up laid some very deep seeds. I'm mean, come on nothing better than mentally diving into 'The Hag' and metal when it comes time for me to write songs."
Always avoiding trends and ferociously choosing his direction was the only option from day one, even though that very path could have prevented success. "What is success if you can't wake up everyday being who you really are. In the end, that will catch up with you." Jinks has been tested countless times by his career choices. The better part of the last 15 years have included numerous empty bar rooms and a never ending financial loss. "Yeah, I've been pretty good at losing money. Not the greatest feeling in the world to be gone from home for long stretches of time, only to walk in the door broke. Luckily I've got a damn good woman in my life. She has stood by me with unmeasurable strength to say the least and it is an absolute fact that I seriously overplayed my hand when landing her."
His long, dark beard and endless array of tattoos are no fad. They unquestionably define Cody Jinks. His prototypical metal/hard rock band frontman look is not a well orchestrated image, but again, define Cody Jinks. Diving into to his album, I'm Not the Devil is the perpetual truth of who he is and where he has found himself at this point in his career. "I'm just glad that I ended up where I am now," Jinks said. "It makes complete sense that I'm at this place in my life. Country music found me when I was young and chased me down as I grew older"
Jinks' latest project is his deepest, darkest and most provocative album to date, with a metal common denominator, the apocalypse, running throughout the record. "It's a pretty scary time," Jinks said. "There are some evil people running things in the world. It hits me since I have a six and three-year old."
There's not a weightier song than the aptly titled "Heavy Load." It's the most apocalyptic song on the album but the dense cut, with a pretty violin break, is a gorgeous tune. The vocal hook grabs ears when Jinks croons "Train Jumps Tracks Some Time Ago/You Can't Root That Heavy Load." "That was the last song I wrote on the record," Jinks said. "I couldn't be happier how that one turned out."
"All You Can" features a pretty piano line and sobering wordplay. When Jinks belts out 'What Are You Living For," you can't help but think about the serious question posed in what is becoming an increasingly shallow existence. "I was really tired when I wrote that song," Jinks said. "We had been on the road for awhile. The bottom line is that if you're not helping people, you're not doing your job as a human being. It's time to quit feeling sorry for yourself and do something."
One of Jinks' favorite songs on the album is "The Way I Am," a cover of a Merle Haggard classic. "I love that song," Jinks says. "I wrapped it up just before Merle died. The song always resonated with me. I relate to that one since there are times I would rather be out fishing."
"No Words" is a stunner of a gritty, autobiographical love song, which is a throwback to how songs used to be written. It is a tuneful gem, inspired by reality. Jinks starts out dark as night. "My Whole View of the World has Changed/ I Guess that Comes with Age/I Don't Believe there is Good in Every Man Like I Did Back Then/I May Drink More Than I Should/You've Seen Me on the Floor/I Spent my Lifetime in this Cage I Built Around Me." But the song is actually a tip of the hat to his beloved wife of 19 years. "There Aint' No Words/ To Say How Much I Need You/With You Here/ You Make This Life I Lead Worth Living." "It's about my wife," Jinks says. "But the funny thing is that she doesn't like it. She thinks it sounds too sad."
With the title track "I'm Not the Devil," Jinks wakes us all up to the realities of mistakes and the heartfelt desire to be forgiven. "We are all guilty of mistakes and very guilty of pointing out the mistakes of others. Forgiveness feels so much better or so I think."
It's impressive how Jinks is getting his message across. Jinks utilizes space well in his songs. Notes aren't crammed in. Jinks lets his songs breathe. "After all I've experienced, I think I've matured," Jinks says. "I think you can hear it in the music. I've grown up."
Even though he still looks the part of the headbanger he was back in the day, he has moved on. "It's all for the best, Jinks says. "I'm where I was meant to be."
It's all about the music and the fans, who are the fuel that drives Jinks. "They come out night after night giving up hard earned money and precious time to see me play," Jinks says. " It's truly is amazing when you really think about it. The best way I can say thanks is by giving back with effort and gratitude."1. The Same
2. I'm Not the Devil
3. No Guarantees
4. No Words
5. Give All You Can
6. She's All Mine
7. The Way I Am
8. Chase That Song
9. Heavy Load
11. Church at Gaylor Creek
13. Hand Me Down$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Love From With The DeadWith the Dead - Love From With the Dead
Doom is all around us. The optimism of a new millennium has steadily disintegrated. The light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a burning tower block and the powers-that-be are dancing in the smouldering ruins. Humanity is eating itself and we're all terminally fucked. As a result, it makes perfect sense that the emergence of British doom metal mavens With The Dead would strike a dissonant chord with so many people. Formed in 2014 by former Cathedral/Napalm Death frontman and Rise Above Records boss Lee Dorrian and ex-Electric Wizard/Ramesses bassisit/guitarist Tim Bagshaw, the band coalesced in a monetary burst of spontaneity and shared fury, resulting in the release of their eponymous debut album in 2015: one of that year's most widely acclaimed releases and a welcome shot in the arm for fans of merciless, unrelenting sonic despair.
"We were very happy with the way the first album was received," says Lee. "To be honest, there were no real expectations with the first LP. It's hard to explain. We just got together and did it. There was no big anticipation. We knew it was going to be well received by certain people, just because of the sheer heaviness of it, but we didn't think it would get the reaction it did. It sold really well and got a good response all around. It came together so strangely and so fast. We hadn't gone round, sweating in the clubs, although we've all done that previously. The record came out on Rise Above so it was easy and there were no demands from anyone except ourselves. The important thing is, we didn't want it to be seen as some novelty project band."
Hell-bent on staking a further claim to be doom metal's most intense and remorseless practitioners, With The Dead have now completed work on their second album, Love From With The Dead. Comprising tracks recorded during two separate sessions with celebrated studio guru Jaime Gomez Arellano, the new material represents the first fruits of the band's recently retooled line-up. Joining Lee and Tim are bassist Leo Smee and drummer Alex Thomas, who replaces the departed Mark Greening. As Lee explains, the band's new incarnation generated great chemistry from the start.
"Tim came over from New Jersey, where he still lives, and we booked four nights' rehearsals with Leo and Alex to see how it was going to work. Literally, on the first night, they had the whole set nailed within three or four hours. It sounded better than ever before, too. So the next three nights were pointless and we didn't need them, so we spent the time going over ideas for new songs and by the end we had four brand new songs. It was crazy. Then we thought 'While Tim's over, let's go in the studio and record them ' Luckily, Gomez was free and we went over to his studio and recorded the four new tracks, they're the last four on the album, and it was all done just like that. The other three tracks were recorded nearly a year later, again with just one night's rehearsal. It was all done super quick."
For those who flinched at the sheer, unforgiving brutality of With The Dead's first record, the songs on Love From With The Dead are liable to cause major emotional trauma. Darker, denser, more despondent and sickeningly heavy in numerous senses of the word, this is an album that re-establishes doom as a genre that embraces the extreme and not just some cosy, nostalgic reimagining of the early '70s. From opener Isolation's slithering howl of torment and the crushing, schizophrenic barrage of Egyptian Tomb through to the expansive, drone-driven horrors of the closing CV1 (a mournful lament to Lee Dorrian's home city of Coventry that features a guest appearance by home-town comrade and electro-noise maverick Russell Haswell), Love From With The Dead grimly extinguishes the light of hope and hammers home the hatred and futility that plagues our brief and brittle lives.
"The thinking was that the first LP was meant to be the heaviest we could possibly make, but then what do you next?" Lee muses. "Well, the only thing you can do is make the next one even heavier. So that was the ambition and the intention, to make it even more crushing. But to be able to do that you have to be crushed yourself. This last couple of years have been quite soul-destroying. There's been a lot of personal shit going on, and during this whole process so much fucking bad shit has happened in my personal life and other people's personal lives. Everything you hear on this LP, the angst is very real. I've never felt so disillusioned with life and the world around me, not since the first Cathedral album!"
Irrefutable evidence that With The Dead are a formidable and substantial proposition, the quartet's second album could hardly provide a more apposite soundtrack to the deeply fucked up and irrevocably dysfunctional state of the world in 2017. Both a fine example of the simple, savage power of the riff and an authentic outpouring of anger, bitterness, bile and vivid existential dread, it is the living, breathing, screaming embodiment of heaviness itself. Cometh the hour, cometh the bringers of doom
"I'm 50 next year and you're supposed to mellow out when you get older, but why?" Lee asks. "I don't feel like mellowing out. The world's getting worse, the atmosphere is getting heavier, people treat each other like shit and there's so much negativity, how are you supposed to chill out when all that's going on? I'm in a privileged position to be able to be in a band like this, so why fuck around? The band's called With The Dead and it's a doom band, why would you want to mellow out? It's got to be pure nihilism or nothing."
Dom Lawson, July 2017.1. Isolation
2. Egyptian Tomb
3. Reincarnation of Yesterday
4. Cocaine Phantoms
5. Watching the Ward Go By
7. CV1$29.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
LP 2At a time when the music world is saturated with more bands than ever, Restorations are a refreshing change of pace: an act who undeniably embody the DIY spirit but also bring along a real breadth of musical knowledge and an unlikely set of influences that somehow manage to work perfectly together.
Formed out of the ashes of the long-running Philadelphia rock act Jena Berlin, Restorations sees the band-vocalist/guitarists Jon Loudon, Dave Klyman and Ben Pierce joining forces with drummer Carlin Brown and bassist Dan Zimmerman, crafting an album that transcends punk rock and picks up where they're extremely well-received self-titled LP left off.
LP2 is a unique blend of indie rock, punk rock and focused psychedelia that can only come from spending a decade honing their skills organically. After producing their music largely on their own the band linked up with close friend Jon Low (Local Natives, Twin Sister, Kurt Vile) at Philadelphia's Miner Street Studios to create an album that captures the unbridled energy, sonic grandeur, and sheer volume of the band's live performances.
From the driving, anthemic vibe of "The New Old" to the inventive indie rock of "The Plan," LP2 is a remarkably diverse album, which makes sense when you consider how varied the members' respective tastes are. "I think the influences for us are a little broader than a lot of bands because we don't have one central songwriter," Loudon explains, citing everyone from the classic punk acts, classic rock, metal, drone and noise. "Over the years we've become more comfortable with trying stranger things and odder combinations to see what works," he continues. "The general rule is, if everyone is into it then we just go for it. We really carried that spirit into these songs."
Lyrically, LP2 sees Loudon once again collecting his own vignettes and pairing them with the
group's music to create a narrative that isn't linear but is instead as vast as the instrumentation that supports it. "The theme of this band is boredom and repetition and focusing on little tiny moments and that type of thing, so this record is just a collection of those stories," he explains. Sharing these stories is what lies at the core of the band. Restorations aren't looking to be the biggest band, they just want to continue to create music, evolve, and bring their musical stories all over the world.
"I feel like if we tried to set a real goal with this band it would be kind of pointless because we've been doing it long enough where if you think you're getting to a certain level then you're just setting yourself up for disappointment," Klyman explains. "So it's better to just see what happens, which is how we've always approached this band." Whatever ends up happening, there's no question that with these songs as a vehicle, Restorations is headed somewhere uncharted and they invite you to come along for the ride.1. D
2. Let's Blow Up the Sun
3. Civil Inattention
4. Kind of Comfort
5. In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe
6. New Old
8. The Plan
9. Adventure Tortoise$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Teacher Don't Teach Me NonsenseTeacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense: Fela explains the role of the teacher in any society with the concept that: all the things we consider as problems, and all the good things we accept from life as good, begin with what we are taught. The individual teaching begins with when we are children - our mother is our teacher. When we come of school age, our teacher is the school-teacher. At the university, the lecturers and professors are our teachers. After university-when we start to work, government becomes the individual's teacher. When then is government's teacher? 'Culture and Tradition' says Fela. This is the order of things everywhere in the world. However, it is the problem side of teacher and student that interests Fela in this song. Because every country in this world except in Africa, it is the respective culture and tradition of that country that guides the government on how to rule their people. Going for specifics, Fela mentions France, Germany, England, Korea, Japan, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Etc., it is the culture of these countries that shapes and guides their respective government's decisions. The culture and traditions of these countries serve as a teacher to their respective governments. Turing his attention to Africa and her problems. Problems which he had sang about: corruption, inflation, mismanagement, authority stealing, electoral fraud, the latest addition which even makes him laugh is -austerity. Fela says if you ask him why 'austerity makes him laugh? The answer is that it is beyond crying. The government steals money from the country, the same government is introducing austerity measures-forcing the poor people to pay for their own greed and calling it 'austerity measures'. How funny if to say the least. Who taught African 'leaders' to rule the way they do today? 'Na the oyinbo' (meaning in Yoruba language: 'it is them white folks') referring to ex-colonial ruler of each country. Take electoral fraud, which is a true test of our democracy. Many African leaders rig elections with impunity and their respective ex-colonial rulers say nothing against this form of 'democracy'. While the same 'white folks' are quick to claim credit for Africa's 'civilization'-which Fela disputes in this song. Is this democracy? , he asks. Turning to other problems like the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor. Particularly, since the rich are the rules, and also the people stealing the country into poverty. Is this democracy? Or dem-all-crazy? In conclusion, as an African personality, Fela says he is not in the same league as those who believe in dem-all-crazy, so he calls on the Western powers who claim to be Africa's teachers not to teach him nonsense-Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense.
Look and Laugh: By 1981 when Fela wrote and started to perform live the song Look And Laugh, he was living a life that could be described as a recluse. Fela, who loved to go out in public places, clubs, etc. Suddenly, was always found sleeping or playing sax at home with women around him, or performing at the Africa Shrine. His old attitude of keeping abreast of events, giving lectures at universities and institutions of higher learning stopped. He rarely gave press conferences or press releases, like he used to do. Finally he wrote the song to explain what was going-on with him. He sang: ' many of you go dey wonder why your man never write new song! wetin I dey do be say I dey look and laugh.' Meaning: many of you must have been wondering why, your man has not written new songs! what I am doing is just look and laugh! Fela went on to explain his contributions and sacrifices for the cause of black emancipation, the countless beatings and arrests from the Nigerian police and army, his trials and tribulations, his ultimate sacrifice being the burning down of Kalakuta by the Nigeria army. But despite his sacrifices and sufferings like millions of other Africans, it was obvious that things were not getting better for the average man on the street. There is still injustice everywhere, no freedom, no happiness. All these made him feel disillusioned and all he could do about the situation is to Look and Laugh.
Just Like That: This song is a call to arms from Fela to all Africans to rise up and do something about the political, economic, social and cultural retrogression that has plagued Africa since independence. For more than three decades of independence, there is glaring mismanagement of people's lives, corruption in the highest echelon of government-all these carried out with impunity-'Just Like That' he sings. Using the Nigerian experience as an example of the 'lack of maintenance culture', in Africa's present day neo-colonial administrations, he says: 'White man ruled us for many years, we had electricity constantly, our leaders take over! No electricity in town-Just like that!' Fela explains that the attempt to transplant 'Western style democracy' in an African society is the cause of all the problems. Despite calls for African Unity from leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, who said: '..Until all foreign institutions and culture are removed from the African land, that is when the African genius will be born and African personality will find its fulfillment..'. Instead of heeding Nkrumah's call, Nigeria's political founding fathers, like most African leaders at independence, chose the option of fashioning the constitutions of their respective countries after those of the departing colonial 'masters'-Just Like That. The ambiguity of such decisions can be seen in the poor imitation we make of our attempt at 'Western style democracy'. Persistent political gangsterism, military coups, and sometimes wars, are means used to enforce the already compromised constitutions. As another example of enforcing a fragile constitution, Fela stresses the face that in 1966, Nigeria for a civil war to keep the country ONE. General Gowon, the military head of state, divided Nigeria into twelve administrative regions, subsequent administrations divided the regions into more-Just Like That. He adds that if the idea of the civil war was to keep the country ONE, sub-dividing Nigeria into more regions would separate rather than unite the country. Turning to the position of traditional rulers in the mess called government, Fela sings: ' nothing good for town to give the youths good examples, how our traditional ruler they do, them come make youths look-up to Europe and USA, in those places them don lose them common sense, na the number of Nuclear weapons you get, na him give you power pass! Right now! Fight now! Suffer must stop! Just Like That". Therefore, calling on the people to fight now for a better society.1. Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense
2. Look and Laugh
3. Just Like That$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Leave Me AloneThe debut album from the all-female indie rockers. Since bursting onto the DIY scene last summer, Hinds - Ana Perrote, Carlotta Cosials, Ade Martin and Amber Grimbergen - have mastered a raw and playful sound all their own. With just a handful of released singles under their belt, Hinds have already earned early support from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music, NME, Guardian, Beats 1, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Fader, Gorilla vs. Bear, and many more. Kicking things off with their single 'Garden', Hinds take us on a bad* rock 'n' roll ride on Leave Me Alone.
Weaving sun-kissed, '60s inspired melodies, executed with a genius call and response between co-vocalists and band co-founders Perrote and Cosials, Hinds create the ultimate soundtrack to the best day ever - from start to finish - spent with your four best friends. In addition to previously released fan favorites including the band's first-ever single 'Bamboo', 'Castigadas en El Granero' - which translates in English to Grounded In The Barn - and the band's first new song of 2015 'Chili Town', Leave Me Alone only gets better with each song. Featuring bright surf-pop tune 'San Diego', the mixed-tempo 'Fat Calmed Kiddos', and a bitter ode to sh*ty boyfriends in 'And I Will Send Your Flowers Back', Leave Me Alone is guaranteed to bring the Mediterranean sun to you wherever you are in the world at any time of the year.1. Garden
2. Fat Calmed Kiddos
5. Castigadas en El Granero
6. Solar Gap
7. Chili Town
9. San Diego
10. And I Will Send Your Flowers Back
11. I LL Be Your Man
12. Walking Home$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Up In Arms (Awaiting Repress)We work hard, and we have a lot to say. Look around the planet - people are fed up with the corrupt ruling class. They destroy the planet and kill millions for profit, and the formula for our response is simple: Anger + applied knowledge = results. Don't just bitch. Change it.
- JOHN JOSEPH
At its purest, there is little that can match the visceral thrill and empowering spirit of hardcore. As frontman of New York City hardcore kings Cro-Mags, this is something John Joseph knows very well, and with Up In Arms, he and his Bloodclot compatriots deliver a furious collection that hits hard on every level. "In this band we're doing what each of us have always done: give it our all," he states plainly.
The results reflect the roots and passions of the individual members. Danzig/Murphy's Law guitarist Todd Youth was the first piece of the puzzle. "We've always talked about doing this record together, Todd had songs written and I had notebooks full of lyrics. In late September 2015, I went out to LA to do a triathlon and injured my calf muscle, so I couldn't race, and Todd said he could get some studio time. So, we went in and cut the demo. While there are things we may perceive as a negative in our lives, in fact the universe has a bigger plan, and that experience ultimately resulted in the record." Having been friends with Queens Of The Stone Age and Danzig powerhouse drummer Joey Castillo for three decades, the two musicians had long admired each other's work, and their collaboration has been a long time coming. Following Castillo's suggestion of bringing in Nick Oliveri (Queens Of The Stone Age/The Dwarves) to handle bass duties, the lineup was complete. The songs that comprise Up In Arms manifested after the quartet plugged in and let the music speak for them. "We didn't decide to try to play anything, these are the songs that happened when we started jamming, and I love this band because there are no egos involved. Our goal is to make the best music possible, period. I love it when those guys contribute with melodies, etc., and I've even helped with some of the arrangements. Because we all think alike, our lyrics deal with the issues of the day, and that makes for better songs."
Every track on Up In Arms lives up to the rallying cry of the album's title - the bursts of high energy hardcore act as the perfect accompaniment to Joseph setting his sights on injustice and the seemingly endless flaws of the contemporary world. The breakneck thrashing of "Slow Kill Genocide" is an anthem for everyone sickened by those responsible for "killing the planet and all its inhabitants through industry and war. They're fucking maniacs and must be stopped." The suitably titled "Manic" attacks with bared fangs, Joseph making it clear that you can only push someone so far before they will react with violence - a call to arms for the disenfranchised who want tomorrow's world to be better than today's. Tracked at NRG in Los Angeles, the raw, old-school production that leaps out from the speaker comes courtesy of producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Revocation), and the record was mixed by Kyle McAulay at NRG. From the moment the opening title track explodes to life, it's clear that everyone involved is having a blast and playing from the heart, and that this is no frills / no bullshit music at its most passionate - every song evoking mental images of utter chaos in a heaving mosh pit.
For anyone approaching the album for the first time, Joseph has only this to say: "Turn the volume way the fuck up!" And with plans to tour everywhere, Bloodclot will be getting in a lot of faces in 2017 and beyond. "We are already writing material and the next album is in the works. But, for now, all we want is to hit the stage to support 'Up in Arms', and every single night leave every ounce of ourselves up there."
John Joseph (Cro-Mags) - Vocals
Todd Youth (ex-Murphy's Law, ex-Danzig) - Guitars
Nick Oliveri (ex-Queens of the Stone Age) - Bass
Joey Castillo (ex-Queens of the Stone Age, ex-Danzig) - Drums1. Father Of Lies
2. This Is Exile
4. To All That Are Dead
6. Somatically Incorrect
7. Death Becomes Him
9. Eternal Refuge
10. Of Legions
11. Messiahbolical$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
409Purple play pop music. Messy, dirty, raucous, grit-spitting, tequila-glugging pop music. They do not apologise for this. They have a big streak of it running skunk-like up their backs and through urgent tunes full of indie-punk snarl and piss and vinegar, but driven by grooves deep enough to rival any hop-hop classics. They are wrestling pop away from the world of vocoders, slick dance routines and coquettish airheads and bringing back to where it belongs: to the beach, to the house party, dancing on the table in that bar you need a fake ID to get into. They like to bare flesh and play until they bleed. Good things followed: a huge local following, two managers and endless touring.
'(409)' is the name of the area code for their East Texas neighbour and the name of Purple's debut album produced by Chris 'Frenchie' Smith (...Trail Of Dead, Jet ). Recorded in El Paso, '(409)' is an album that's borne out of endless jams and no shortage of live shows where Purple offer a combination of the explosive and the celebratory. Instruments are abused and crowds are surfed; their shows are somewhere between the wild, fleshy abandonment of early White Stripes. "We're positive people," shrugs Busby. "We're always looking for the party somewhere. Or maybe we are the party."
Pop is there in the 60s garage-influenced brilliance of 'Beach Buddy', a song propelled by a dual girl/boy vocal and the same endless summer joie de vivre of Ramones, Black Lips and Weezer . The chorus is an earworm that burrows deep. It's there too in 'Wallflower', a joyously uplifting song that flips the usual script and sees a girl ardently - some might say aggressively - pursuing an admirer through the upended bottles, overflowing ashtrays and tangled limbs of a party: "I'm a girl - you're supposed to be chasing me!" With definite shades of Bikini Kill and No Doubt it's the best femme-punk song we've heard in an aeon. 'Head On The Floor' meanwhile is a proto-grunge song that swings like early Hole and has a whole of soul.
'(409)' is certainly an album with sand in its shoes and a rocket up its ass. It transports you to a better place. Listening to Purple quickens your pulse. Gives you the sweats. Has you reaching for a cold one. And then another. And then ten more. They make you feel alive. They are good for you.1. Wallflower
2. Double Nickels
3. Leche Loco
4. Beach Buddy
7. Head On The Floor
9. New Born
10. DMT$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Revelry And ResilienceGypsyhawk is four metal dudes playing rock and roll and bringing the party every time they get on stage, states guitarist Andrew Packer, and there is perhaps no better way of surmising the spirit and sound of the Pasadena quartet. Revisiting the electrifying sounds of bullshit-free 70s rock, the band is a breath of fresh air compared to the endless onslaught of breakdown obsessed bands cluttering up heavy music. Marinating their wares in whiskey and weed, they hurl out blistering riffs and irresistible hooks and grooves, doing their damnedest to ensure that everyone at their shows is having as much fun as they are.
With Revelry & Resilience, their second full-length and Metal Blade debut, this vibe bleeds from the speakers from start to finish, determinedly putting a smile on your face and compelling you to throw your hair around, no matter how much or how little you might have. It's music for girls to shake their asses to and dudes to bang their heads, states vocalist/bassist Eric Harris. It's good-time rock and roll, and we don't take ourselves too seriously.
The band's distinct personality is splashed all over Revelry & Resilience. Whether it's the edgy and upbeat barroom swagger of The Fields, the balls out stomp wielded by the serpentine grooves and blistering leads of The Hedgeking, the head-bobbing bounce and triumphant air of Frostwyrm or their crunchy yet soulful take on Johnny Winter's Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo, the record crackles with energy while being wholly devoid of pretension, and on every level it is leagues ahead of its predecessor.
The definition of a DIY band, the quartet have determinedly done things off their own backs since their inception, including self-producing Revelry & Resilience, which has allowed them to retain complete control over everything they do. Having worked with producers in other bands I've been involved with, I know I would much rather have Gypsyhawk do it without anyone else's interference, Harris states. I don't want to get caught up in that situation where you say these are the songs and this is what our band is, and the producer says no, no, no, all wrong! That's not our band and it's not going to come across sounding like our band if someone meddles with it like that, and we're proud of what we do and want to represent that as best we can.1. Overloaded
2. The Fields
5. Galaxy Rise
7. Night Songs from the Desert
8. The Red Wedding
9. Silver Queen
10. State Lines
11. Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo$20.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
CongratsA cyborg dance party for a broken future that's closer
than you think - Pitchfork
Off Your Face Euphoria - The Line of Best Fit
hypnotic, electronic climax-rock - SPIN
scuzzy, funk-fuelled energy - FACT Mag
Holy Fuck took the world by surprise around 2005 because there was
just nothing like them-a hardcore thrift-store found-object punk
band with a relentless commitment to rhythm and a sense for
atmosphere better matched to a close encounter of the third kind
than a simple rock concert. Think EinstÜrzende Neubauten re-inspired
by Fela Kuti with Brian Eno working as keyboard tech and every
channel on the mixer set to max power. It was the best ride out there
while it lasted, up to and including their 2010 full-length Latin,
recorded largely in too-brief breaks while on the road. That album
cemented Holy Fuck's sound and reputation for unapologetic
instrumental noise but at the end of yet another insane touring cycle,
it was time to take a break which turned into a hiatus which turned
into a chance to explore other projects and production work. (Like the
bands Lids, Dusted and Etiquette, or production for Metz, Alvvays and
They'd been moving faster than they'd ever expected, especially after
a 2007 sophomore release that came close to securing Canada's
prestigious Juno and Polaris Music Prize. (Not to mention festival slots
at All Tomorrow's Parties, Glastonbury, Coachella and more-plus Lou
Reed said they were the best band he'd seen at SXSW.) The strategy
was just to stay busy, says founder and noisemaster Brian Borcherdt,
but soon they started to feel like Indiana Jones running from that
boulder: "He had to step aside and let things settle!"
But there's nothing Indiana Jones does better than the shock reveal, is
there? And so in 2016 Holy Fuck suddenly announced the release of
Congrats, a surprise full-length two years in the making that is by any
scientific measure their holiest fuckiest release ever: "When you're
sitting still in a van and staring out the windows, you start to dream
about all the other things you want to do," says Borcherdt. "This album
is exactly what we couldn't do then."
Checking into a "proper" studio, rather than the barn in rural Ontario
where most of Holy Fuck's records were made, Congrats was
recorded by the same lineup that recorded Latin: Borcherdt, Graham
Walsh, Matt "Punchy" McQuaid, and Matt Schulz. As they worked, they
discovered that Congrats was a process of refining things, Walsh
says-both physically and philosophically. Their ad hoc arsenal of
low-budget hi-tech toys has been streamlined down to what he calls
the nervous system of the band: "What gets run through our system is
the seed of the idea for our music, and the system is what we play. This
record is almost a beginning-the first stage of a new way for us."
So consider those previous albums prelude to Holy Fuck's true
breakthrough, and recognize Congrats as the moment when Holy
Fuck take the chaos and craziness (and charm) that have always been
at the heart of their band and not so much control it as concentrate it.
Now they're heavier, wilder, leaner, sharper, more daring and more
unpredictable than ever before, on fire with the power of inspired
outsiders like Suicide, Silver Apples, Can, Mission of Burma or the
Monks or even Sun Ra, says Borcherdt, whose pursuit of his own kind
of musical purity is exactly what Holy Fuck are after. Yes, it took them
a few years, which in 2016 is supposed to be the career suicide, but
they took that time to take chances. "We were told we did everything
wrong," Borcherdt says now, laughing-but really Congrats is the
sound of a band doing absolutely everything right.1. Chimes Broken
2. Tom Tom
4. Xed Eyes
5. Neon Dad
6. House Of Glass
10. Crapture$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
NightbringersAny band that has earned an army of devout followers through dropping seven killer full-lengths - and touring their collective ass off for sixteen years - could perhaps be forgiven for thinking they could take it easy as they wade into their eighth release. But that's just not The Black Dahlia Murder's style, and Nightbringers is testament to that. Having released their most accomplished, aggressive, and emotionally diverse music to date in the form of 2015's Abysmal, the Michigan quintet have once more pushed themselves to new heights, and the 34 minutes of searing melodic death metal that comprises Nightbringers is riveting listening. "I always feel a responsibility to the people who support this band when we start making a new record," asserts vocalist Trevor Strnad. "The pressure that comes from people being excited to hear what you come up with next can be intimidating, but it's so exciting that those people love you so much for just doing what you do. It makes you want to honor what you've done in the past, but also excite them with where you go next, and that definitely drove us on Nightbringers. When we started writing I honestly didn't know we had this album in us, and I feel really proud of it. It's a great moment for us."
Rather than meticulously plan things out or stick rigidly to any kind of template, when it comes to writing The Black Dahlia Murder prefer to let things happen organically. In the hands of guitarist Brian Eschbach - who co-founded the band with Strnad in 2001 - and new recruit Brandon Ellis (Cannabis Corpse/ex-Arsis) Nightbringers is rich with dynamic riffs that are at once fresh and classic TBDM, resulting in a collection that shifts through many moods and effortlessly incorporates various elements of extreme metal. With guitarist Ryan Knight having amicably stepped down in 2016, the addition of twenty-four-year-old Ellis to the band's ranks has helped usher in an exciting new era. "He's very professional for his age, I think he's skilled far beyond his years, and his live energy is exceptional. When Max (Lavelle, bass) joined the band he challenged a lot of us on stage to raise our personal bar, and Brandon's pushed that even further," states Strnad. "Brandon coming into the band and writing a bunch of songs was an awesome surprise too. He really took the reins, and this record is also the most involved that Alan (Cassidy drums) has been too. The way that we were doing the demos and bouncing things back and forth he had a lot of room to do what he wanted to do, and I think it's definitely a more colorful album for that. I also think as we get older the emotional content goes up. I think we better realize how to grip the listener. Personally, I try to write lyrics that are going to match each part, and kind of ramp up those feelings that we're putting across." Strnad's statements are vividly borne out by every moment of Nightbringers. For fans attending 2017's Summer Slaughter tour, the first taste of of the record came with the inclusion of the title track in their set, which has an undeniable immediacy to it, rich with hooks and boasting a "circusy, evil and playful" air. By contrast, "Catacomb Hecatomb" is suffused with tragedy, the mournful tone of its slower passages deeply affecting. This too is dramatically different to "As Good As Dead", which has some swagger to it that Strnad likens to Megadeth, or "Matriarch", described by Eschbach as a "wild, neoclassical romp" and stands as one of the most cutthroat and all out aggressive tracks in the quintet's arsenal. Upon first hearing the latter, Strnad was intent on matching its visceral intensity. "I felt inspired to write very violent lyrics to it. It's told from the perspective of a woman who is trying to have a child and not having any luck, and she goes kind of crazy and stalks this other woman who is due to have a child. She finds her moment to take it from her, cutting it right out of her stomach." While Strnad explores a variety of themes and ideas with his lyrics, they are united by the album's title, which embraces a tenet that has been central to The Black Dahlia Murder's output since the very beginning. "A lot of archaic ideas that are still upheld - such as marriage and monogamy - came from Christianity, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, and to me, death metal has always been bucking that. It's 'being-the-villain music', because we're the enemy of Christianity, the enemy of all that is good and traditional. Death metal is for free thinkers, it's for showing people the path to inner strength and operating on your own will, instead of being told what to do and living in fear, and songs like the title track and "Kings Of The Nightworld" are about leading a legion of awakened minds into battle." Following this theme also motivated Strnad to forge into ever-darker territory, even when this meant tearing things up and starting over. "I felt I needed to rise to the occasion to make as much of the blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrote some songs. I just didn't feel like they were dark enough, or violent enough, so I was really trying to ramp up the monstrous aspects of things, and definitely trying in different ways to take down tradition."
Rather than decamp to a single studio, the members split off when it came time to start laying down the songs - all well versed in how to get the best out of their individual performances. With former bassist Ryan Williams once again assisting, the drums were tracked at The Pipe Yard in Plymouth, Michigan and rhythm guitars in the band's practice space in Warren, Michigan [was bass tracked there too?]. Ellis then recorded his many blistering solos in his home studio, while Strnad headed to Full Force Studios on Long Island, with Joe Cincotta (Suffocation, Internal Bleeding) overseeing his sessions. For the unique and haunting cover art they turned to Kristian Wåhlin, aka Necrolord, who has designed seminal artwork for the likes of At The Gates, Bathory, Emperor and also TBDM's 2007 release, Nocturnal. "I think he's the most prominent artist when it comes to classic releases in the melodic death metal genre, and kind of bringing things full circle with it being the ten-year anniversary of Nocturnal felt right. By now people probably wouldn't have expected us to go back to him, so it's kind of a surprise, but at the same time it's a very classic cover too." With the band celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the aforementioned album by playing it in its entirety on Summer Slaughter, it has given them a moment to reflect not only on the road that has led them to here but also that which lies ahead. "When I think back to when we started the band I feel very proud of everything we've done, and I also see a lot of improvement over the years," says Strnad. "In the early songs I can hear us as kids, and then segueing into our adulthood as musicians and writers, but sixteen years in I still feel young as a band. I feel like we have a shit ton left to do, and I think we're sitting pretty with the best lineup we've ever had. I also think Nightbringers could be our finest hour yet. I feel very strongly that it will affect people, I want to get all of these songs in people's ears, and I want them to check out everything we've got on this record. There's so much variety and so many great ideas, and I think that this could take us to another place."1. Widowmaker
2. Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake
6. Kings of the Nightworld
7. Catacomb Hecatomb
8. As Good as Dead
9. The Lonely Deceased$25.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
New SkinNew Skin is the debut album of CRX a new project for STROKES lead guitarist Nick Valensi. The urge to begin a new project came from a primal place for Valensi, he just wanted to play. I was at a place where I got really hungry to perform in front of audiences, and do things a little more simply, Valensi says. The Strokes don't play that often anymore, and when we do it's awesome, but it got to the point where I needed to balance that out with a project I could take on tour whenever I wanted to. And the idea of playing clubs again was really exciting to me. But Valensi couldn't start playing until he'd written some songs, and he realized he'd have to finally embrace an aspect of performing he'd resisted up until that point -- singing. Last summer, he just dug in, grabbing whatever spare time he had to record demos on his laptop at home. It was a learning process, says Valensi. It took me some time to figure out how my voice sounds most natural, and to think about what I wanted to say.
As the songs progressed, Valensi invited a few trusted musician friends to join him and to contribute as songwriters. In addition to Valensi on guitar and vocals, CRX includes bassist Jon Safley, keyboardist/vocalist Richie Follin, drummer Ralph Alexander, and guitarist Darian Zahedi. Once we were all in a room together, it got collaborative pretty quickly, Valensi says, noting that about half of New Skin s ten tracks are co-writes with the band.
After demoing several songs, Valensi reached out to Queens of the Stone-Age's Josh Homme, for feedback on the tracks and advice regarding producers who might be right for the band. It quickly became apparent that there was no better person for the job than Homme himself. He was really enthusiastic about the demos, says Valensi. There were even specific things he loved from the demos so much that we ended up including them on the album, which was very much a Josh decision.
New Skin was recorded at Homme's Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, with work wrapping up in early 2016. And even as this year marks the fifteenth anniversary of The Strokes first LP, it represents the beginning of a promising new chapter for Valensi. One of the coolest things for me is that I began making this record as a vehicle to get onstage, he says, but along the way, it started to feel like we were working on something more special than that. I'm excited to be singing and having a lot of fun with it, and I'm really enjoying the feeling of having to work hard to win people over. It's like being a kid again - like everything is new and kind of scary but irresistibly fun, too.1. Ways to Fake It
2. Broken Bones
3. Give It Up
6. Slow Down
7. On Edge
9. One Track Mind
10. Monkey Machine$20.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Binary"My last record was very inward-looking," says Ani DiFranco. "I was pregnant and then raising a screaming infant. But now that kid is about to turn four, so I got out of the weeds of personal space and started looking outward again, being more engaged, more big 'P' Political. As an artist, I like to be out in the world, and what initially compelled me was to try to push society to a better place. So when I'm not in heartbreak or motherhood mode, that's where you'll naturally find me."
With her twentieth studio album, Binary, the iconic singer/songwriter/activist/poet/DIY trendsetter returns to territory that brought her to the world's attention more than twenty-five years ago. One of the first artists to create her own label in 1990, she has been recognized among the feminist pantheon for her entrepreneurship, social activism, and outspoken political lyrics. At a time of global chaos and confusion, DiFranco is kicking ass and taking names, with a set of songs offering a wide range of perspective and musical scope.
She describes a moment during the writing of "Play God," an unblinking pro-choice battle cry, as a particular breakthrough. (A live version of the song was included in the anti-Trump "30 Days, 30 Songs" campaign alongside tracks from Death Cab for Cutie, Aimee Mann, Franz Ferdinand, and more.)
"When I wrote the line 'You don't get to play god, man/I do,' I paused and thought, 'Can I say that?,' " she says. "It's not the first time I've thought that, but it's been a while. And in that moment, I thought, 'I'm back, mothafuckas!'"
"When you make a record about family and relationships, people assume you're mommy now and you've lost your edge, and it's going to be all buttercups from here on. So that line had the feeling of 'Take that! My kid is sleeping right now and I want to talk about some shit!"
On Binary, DiFranco tackles the challenge and necessity of teaching non-violence with "Pacifist's Lament" and the need for empathy in "Terrifying Sight." Remarkably, though, these songs-recorded, in her usual fashion, in a couple of short full-sprint sessions spread across several years-were all written prior to the 2016 elections and attendant political turmoil.
"I'm not surprised," says DiFranco. "Over twenty-five years, I've found that my songwriting is often full of premonition. It shows me, in a deep and spooky way, how we know things on levels below consciousness. I write songs and then they happen, and later I realize what they're about. I'm just happy to have some good tools in my toolbox to address what's happening now-the feminist diatribes are turned up nice and high on this record!"
She notes that Binary's title track is key to her intention on this project. "I always title a record from the song that seems to be at its core," she says. "An underlying theme in the songs, and in the feminism I want to engage society with, is the idea that autonomy is a fallacy-nothing exists except in relationship to something else. We are, in some senses individuals with individual liberties and unique powers, but that's only a surface story."
Though this concept is closely tied up in our present-day obsession with technology ("Sitting alone at home, staring at a screen, you can't really know anything, because knowing is engaging," she says), DiFranco also reveals a growing connection to nature and the physical world.
"Every year on Goddess' Green Earth, I understand my relationship to it more," she says. "My early songs were all human drama. I don't think I noticed the bigger picture at all-I was transfixed by power dynamics between people. Now I see that it's largely the providence of women to really embody nature, so I do think I'm getting back to basics, and it's a shift for me."
The backbone of Binary's sound is DiFranco's long-time rhythm section of bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Terence Higgins, but on much of the album, the trio is augmented with some all-star guests. "I knew I wanted to involve some of my brilliant friends this time out," she says. "We made some calls and got a party going. That was the idea, to reach out and have some other spirits enter."
Virtuoso violinist Jenny Scheinman and keyboard wizard Ivan Neville both join in for more than half of the record; "they are so captivating and they elevate my shit whenever they come near it," says DiFranco. Other contributors include the legendary Maceo Parker, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and Gail Ann Dorsey, longtime bassist for David Bowie. New Orleans resident DiFranco takes special pride in the Crescent City funk spearheaded by natives Higgins and Neville on a number of the tunes. "Their souls are of this place," she says. "The feel they bring is something they got in utero."
For the better part of 2016, DiFranco beat the drum for voter turnout on her "Vote Dammit!" tour, focusing on registering and inspiring people to vote. In the days following the election, fans turned to her for guidance with renewed earnestness, anxious to hear music and wisdom from the longtime activist. Ani encouraged fans to take political action and did the same herself, participating in the Women's March on Washington and performing at the official Women's March after party benefitting Planned Parenthood with The National and Sleater-Kinney.
Binary, of course, is being released into a world in which music distribution and consumption have transformed rapidly and dramatically. For DiFranco, a true pioneer in the music industry with her Righteous Babe label, it's a time to reconsider the possibilities and ambitions of her business.
"While I was precedent-setting at one time with Righteous Babe and my indie crusade, I feel like, in the time it took me to nurse another baby into being, I've fallen behind," she says. "The universe and technology have continued to evolve, and the idea of harnessing technology and crowd-sourcing everything-money, knowledge, revolution-is a very powerful concept that I'm ready to get more involved with. Righteous Babe is starting to grow now into something that will hopefully become avant-garde once again- more of a collective, more dynamic."
"I'm trying to figure it out daily," says Ani DiFranco. "Just like always."1. Binary
2. Pacifist's Lament
4. Play God
7. Even More
10. Terrifying Sight
11. Deferred Gratification$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now