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ShriekJenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak have spent most of their
lives in Baltimore, Maryland. But after two years of constant touring
with Civilian, their highly lauded 2011 album, they landed on opposite
sides of the country with an unforeseeable future ahead. Despite this
newfound uncertainty, the two bandmates embraced their physical
distance, passing ideas back and forth, allowing new work to evolve in
their respective solitudes. Shriek is Wye Oak's fourth full-length and the
culmination of their intent to express the emotional and
intuitive self by acting out animalistic exclamations through cathartic
release. It is their most personal and confident declaration yet.
Newly inspired by playing bass, Jenn took up songwriting in a setting
where the guitar did not dictate harmonic boundaries or require a
call-and-response relationship with her voice, a hallmark of
previous Wye Oak records. With her phrasing freed, now it is often
Andy who interacts with Jenn's vocals, playing syncopated and
meditative keyboard parts, and the duo's collaborative arrangements
provide a backdrop in which both the arcs of melodies and the new
rhythmic elements flourish.
To engineer, mix, and co-produce, they brought in Nicolas
Vernhes of the Rare Book Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, whose inventive and forward-thinking approaches to production complemented
their new direction. The result is a record of indisputable humanity.
Shriek is a complete narrative of disorientation, loss, renewal, and
3. The Tower
5. Sick Talk
6. Schools of Eyes
7. Despicable Animal
9. I Know the Law
10. Logic of Color$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
CivilianWye Oak wrote what became Civilian between December of 2009 and July of 2010. After recording and mixing previous albums themselves, Wye Oak brought in mixing engineer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Shearwater), who played a pivotal role in the sound of Civilian.
Civilian is imbued with dense shoegaze guitars, nearly melodic rhythms, and impeccable splashes of electronic color. The songs beguile with fascinating chords and melodies, Jenn Wasner's voice and riveting lyrics, mesmerizing rhythms, and an intoxicating aural landscape. Just as good writing has meaning between the lines, Civilian has meaning between the sounds: the combinations of harmonies, timbres, and words summon vivid and ineffable associations just beyond reach.1. Two Small Deaths
2. The Alter
3. Holy Holy
4. Dogs Eyes
8. Hot as Day
9. We Were Wealth
10. Doubt$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
TweenThe word "tween" implies a certain, very specific kind of awkwardness, and
those implications are rarely positive. But think about it like this: Something
"tween" is in the process of becoming something else, and there's a very
specific kind of beauty in that becoming. There's something rewarding in
recognizing and celebrating it-in meeting it halfway.
Tween is a collection of eight songs born, raised, and almost abandoned for
various reasons during the years between 2011's breakthrough Civilian and
2014's reinvention-of-sorts, Shriek.
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack described these songs as "not emblematic of
a step forward, but a step sideways in time." In other words, they just didn't
make sense for album number five-which will happen at some point in the
future. But just because they didn't belong there doesn't mean they don't
belong anywhere. To wedge them onto Shriek would've been dishonest; to
orphan them would've been somewhere on the line between criminal and just
Now that your expectations are lowered, let's build them back up, because
Tween is full of gorgeous Wye Oak songs whose only crime was timing and
context, made by two people at the height of their game. At first these songs
sounded too disparate to me to be called an album, but the more Tween sank
in, the more it made sense: One minute Jenn and Andy are embracing their
floatiest Cocteau Twins instinct ("If You Should See"), the next they're back
in Civilian territory a bit ("No Dreaming"), and later they're slinky and
electronic and gorgeously '80s ("On Luxury").
The common thread: These are no castaways or cutouts. In fact, pound for
pound, Tween might actually be more directly accessible than Shriek. It should
join the pantheon of amazing not-albums of history whose names try to
downplay how good they actually are, like R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office, The
Who's Odds and Sods, maybe even Dinosaur Jr.'s Whatever's Cool With Me.
Who knows what an album is at this point, anyway? Here's what Jenn and
Andy had to say: "We rejoice in being free to make what we like and release it
in a way that feels true, and you are free to enjoy it or dismiss it as it suits you.
We hope, of course, for the former. But-all gimmicks aside-we created this
thing with love and are so happy to share it with you, whoever you are."
-Josh Modell1. Out of Nowhere
2. If You Should See
3. No Dreaming
4. Too Right
5. Better (For Esther)
6. On Luxury
7. Trigger Finger
8. Watching the Waiting$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The MonitorThe Monitor was recorded this past August (2009) by producer and engineer Kevin McMahon at his studio Marcata Recording in New Paltz, NY. The usual suspects from the world of Titus Andronicus were all in attendance, as well as members of Ponytail, Wye Oak, Vivian Girls, and the Hold Steady. McMahon also mixed the album, and it was mastered by Greg Calbi whom the band chose because he is the only person alive who can claim involvement in both The Chemistry of Common Life by Fucked Up and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell by Meat Loaf!1. A More Perfect Union
2. Titus Andronicus Forever
3. No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future
4. Richard II
5. A Pot In Which To Piss
6. Four Score And Seven
7. Theme From ôCheersö
8. To Old Friends And New
9. ...And Ever
10. The Battle Of Hampton Roads$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The KnotWye Oak's 2009 sophomore album, The Knot, is now available on vinyl! Wye Oak started as two friends (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) recording songwriting demos together, but their basement project has since evolved to include tours of America and Europe, and a home on legendary label Merge Records. The Knot reflects that burgeoning confidence and comfort while maintaining the intimacy and emotional directness that are the band's hallmarks. Only good things can come of a band this curious,honest, and oblivious to current trends. Pay attention.1. Milk And Honey
2. For Prayer
3. Take It In
5. Talking About Money
6. Mary Is Mary
8. I Want For Nothing
9. That I Do
10. Sight, Flight$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
My Neighbor / My CreatorIn between their acclaimed The Knot and shortly before the release of their critically heralded third album Civilian, Wye Oak released My Neighbor / My Creator, a vibrant EP that brims with melody and creative detours. This EP marked the first time Jenn and Andy collaborated with outside producers. Originally released on limited-edition CD in 2010 and reprinted with alternate cover art in 2011, the limited-edition My Neighbor / My Creator 12-inch vinyl EP, cut at 45 RPM, is released here with the original red-tinted cover art and include a digital download.1. My Neighbor
3. My Creator
4. I Hope You Die
5. That I Do (Mickey Free Remix)$10.9945 RPM Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Natural MotionOther Colors is an exploratory pop group from Baltimore comprised of longtime collaborators William Ryerson and Daniel Whatley, with a rotating cast of characters.
A historic blizzard in Baltimore back in 2010 played prominently in the early history of the band. With the city shut down for almost two weeks, Ryerson took the opportunity to write a droney, catchy set of songs on a broken electric guitar, layering sounds overtop on an old four-track. The results, captured on a self-titled EP released a year later, set a course for the group's future pop ambitions: a skewed, lo-fi miniature of greater things to come.
Their proper debut album, Free Thoughts, was recorded in 2012 by Dan Frome (Big Ups, Expert Alterations). A more polished and recognizably rock affair, it features contributions from notable musicians including Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak) and Dave Jacober (Dope Body). Released on their own Genpop imprint in early 2013, the album incorporates introspective folk-rock moods and atmospheric production into a set of memorable songs. To follow up, they recorded a two-song seven-inch with Chester Endersby Gwazda (Future Islands, Dan Deacon) that more accurately captured the band's dreamy live sound.
The band is now preparing to release their second album Natural Motion, recorded and mixed throughout 2015 at Beat Babies by Chris Freeland (Lower Dens, Wye Oak). This new album draws stylistic inspiration from forgotten AM radio hits and the smoother side of krautrock, conjuring tender soft-rock vibes through the fractured lens of contemporary underground pop. Filled with imaginative arrangements and first-rate songcraft, Natural Motion is a major step forward for the group: a lush, fully realized sound experience with abundant melodic treasures waiting to be uncovered.1. Return To Life
2. Natural Motion
3. Livin The Same
4. Color Me Whatever
5. Awaken The Feeling
6. You Know The One
7. Something Flashy
8. Dream Of Mine
9. Is It Over$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Infinity CallerWhat do you do when irrational guilt and fear start to steer the ship? When you're a kid living in the Dallas suburbs it's relatively predictable; you start to see a shrink, take some prescribed meds, and as soon as you have access, numb the voices with
drugs and alcohol. Not a particularly novel or interesting trajectory, but what if those voices just keep getting louder, consuming every waking moment, leaving you effectively paralyzed or twitching with paranoia? After a while, succumbing to these voices might seem self-indulgent, a cry for attention, or just boilerplate teenage histrionics. What do you do when you're 30; a grown-ass-man still tethered to the beast that dictated your life throughout your formative years? You could do a lot of things, but if you're Travis Johnson of the band Grooms, you stop drinking, soberly stare the demons in the face, and start writing songs.
Johnson's OCD (a religion-centric form of OCD called Scrupulosity) has guided all of his adult life's pursuits, from inspiring his initial interest in music to his current day job making guitar pedals at Brookyn's Death By Audio. After releasing two albums on the prestigious indie label Kanine Records, the band still hadn't gained enough traction to support themselves with their music and they were understandably ready to call it quits. However, in 2011, impressed with their albums and live shows, author Michael Azerrad invited Grooms to perform at his Our Band Could Be Your Life show alongside St. Vincent, Ted Leo, Wye Oak, Dan Deacon, and WV alumni Dirty Projectors. It was a huge opportunity for the band, and the catalyst for what would become their
new album Infinity Caller. Azerrad's enthusiasm and encouragement gave Johnson the confidence to soldier on, keep making music, and ultimately find peace of mind.1. Lion Name
2. I Think We're Alone Now
3. Sleep Detective
4. Iskra Goodbye
6. Susie Jo
8. Very Very Librarian
9. Sometimes Sometimes
10. Something I Learned Today
11. Infinity Caller$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Fellow TravelersFellow Travelers wasn't supposed to be a full-length record, so I'm
a little surprised to admit that it's my favorite Shearwater album so
far. It was meant to be a small thing to release between Animal Joy
and the next full-length. But it took on a life of its own. Re-imagining
and renovating songs by the bands we've toured with was like leafing
through a scrapbook, and brought back the highs and lows of a
decade of touring.
Touring is an expression of faith - in yourself, in your friends, in the
hope that the world has a place for you. In that spirit, I invited all the
bands we covered to play on Fellow Travelers, with the caveat that you
couldn't play on your own song. Almost everyone rose to the bait: Chris
from the Baptist Generals turned Clinic's "Tomorrow" into a stomping
incantation, while Clinic infected the Generals' "Fucked Up Life" with
drum machines, radio signals, and combo organ. I added recordings I
made of birds and waves in the Falklands to David Thomas Broughton's
"Ambiguity," and he sent us a tape he made of sparrows, bulbuls, and
the clanking shovels of highway workers in Pyongyang, North Korea,
which we spliced into our rock-anthem version of Xiu Xiu's "I Luv the
Valley OH!!" And Jenn from Wye Oak, who, like us, had also toured with
Lou B, added vocals to "Natural One."
Leon Trotsky, who gave the words "fellow travelers" their political aura,
once wrote that "a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious,
active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really
creative piece of work." Listening back, I get a feeling of common effort,
of common purpose, among all of our different musical paths; we've all
tried to defy or transform reality in small ways with our music, and to
prove it with our performing lives.
- Jonathan Meiburg, NYC, March 20131. Our Only Sun
2. I Luv the Valley OH!
3. Hurts Like Heaven
4. Natural One
8. A Wake for the Minotaur
9. Mary is Mary
10. Fucked Up Life$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
DungeonesseDungeonesse, the pop project of Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes) and Jon Ehrens
(White Life),willrelease itsself-titled debut album May 14, 2013 on Secretly Canadian.
Shucks, which premiered with Pitchfork, is an apt lead-off for the album, a funk-influenced
track full of bass that Wasner's voice surfs like a wave. The band's first single and video (also
released as a standalone 12),Drive You Crazy, premiered with The FADER. On it, Wasner's
Ciara-like breathy coo comes to the fore over Ehrens' gigantic production-Top 40 with a
connoisseur's touch. Wasner & Ehrens know we want to party and the songs on Dungeonesse
are the perfect soundtrack: bangers (Cadillac, Drive You Crazy), slow jams (Nightlight,
Wake Me Up), synthy house (Private Party), and carefully crafted beats that make you
Born of a mutual admiration for Top 40 and R&B and the mechanics of what makes a hitsong,
the Baltimore natives and longtime friends Wasner & Ehrens began putting jams together
remotely. Ehrens would send tracks from LA to Wasner on tour, and they'd bounce ideas back
and forth. The charming strength of the resulting Dungeonesse restsin the dichotomy formed
by of a bold re-introduction of the beautiful imperfections of the human voice into a landscape
of what is an increasingly mechanized process of music making.The fun residesin the listen.Shucks
Drive You Crazy
This Could Be Home (Featuring TT
Wake Me Up
Cadillac (Featuring DDm)
Anywhere You Are
Soon$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ADAD-JAG-0116xSharon Van Etten
TrampThe shimmering sound of Tramp both defies and illuminates the unsteadiness of a life in flux. During the 14 months of scattered recording sessions, Sharon Van Etten was without a home, crashing with friends and spreading out her possessions between various locations. The only constant during this time was when Van Etten returned to the garage studio of The Nationals Aaron Dessner.
How much more incredible then that Tramp sounds so profoundly effortless and singular-minded. Given the space to experiment, Van Etten pushed herself deeper than ever before, testing different approaches and rejecting many. Van Ettens records have been subtle and powerful, at once heartbreaking, luminous, intricate and beautiful. Now lush and triumphant, this is a fresh vision, and Van Etten has realized it with the same grace that made her first two releases so enduring.
Van Ettens debut, Because I Was In Love, was a sparse set of solo songs, all anchored by her instantly unmistakable voice. The intricate, understated record covered so much emotional ground within its 33 minutes, you couldn't possibly absorb it all at once, nor stay too long in one place along its journey. The following year, Van Etten added a full band to her music. Fans quickly picked favorites, then found their choices changing, often more than once.
An early fan of Van Etten, Dessner performed epic closer Love More with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. When Van Etten found out, she contacted him, and almost immediately collaborative plans were made. Dessner had just completed work on his studio, and offered up his new space, as well as his insight as a savvy producer. But with both artists near-nonstop touring schedule, recording days had to be spread out, a few days here, a couple weeks there, and a lot of floating and flying in between.
The resulting album is an assured and strident one, and Tramp showcases an artist in control of her powers, incorporating vivid arrangements and instrumentation into the songwriting. It is a startling collection, filled with as much defiant rock (the precise venom of Serpents), as pious, minimal beauty (the breathtaking Kevins and Joke or a Lie). There are declarative hymns (in the earnest solemnity of All I Can), and remarkably sultry numbers (as in Magic Chords). Tramp features many stupendous guests, as well, including Wye Oaks Jenn Wasner, Julianna Barwick, Beiruts Zach Condon, and Dessner himself.1. Warsaw
2. Give Out
6. In Line
7. All I Can
8. We Are Fine
9. Magic Chords
11. I'm Wrong
12. Joke or a Lie$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Adult FilmTim Kasher seems to never rest. Since 1997, he has written and released 12 full-length albums both as a solo artist and with his bands Cursive and The Good Life, and has crisscrossed North America and Europe countless times on tour. His newest album, sophomore solo effort Adult Film, began coming together in late 2011, just shortly after Cursive finished recording their seventh LP I Am Gemini (Saddle Creek, 2012). Kasher continued to work on it over the next year before heading to Electrical Audio studio in his adopted hometown of Chicago, IL in spring 2013.
Adult Film is more thematically elastic than any other of his recent albums, and spans songs that reflect on matters such as aging and mortality, growing up and growing older, and how these things impact our relationships-including the way we interact with and view the life around us. Kasher is as lyrically incisive as ever: the album is packed
with thoughtful apprehensions, cleverly turned phrases, and reflections on himself and the world at large, all run through his distinctive filter of dry wit and frequent self-deprecation.
Musically, the new album plays down the orchestral element of his lush debut solo album The Game Of Monogamy (Saddle Creek, 2010) and offers a more direct, yet no less affecting, blend of rock and pop. Kasher is aided throughout by Sara Bertuldo (bass, vocals), Patrick Newbery (organ, keys, synths, horns), and Dylan Ryan (drums) - who backed him while touring around Monogamy-as well as Nate Kinsella (drums; of Make Believe and Birthmark); Laura Stevenson (vocals; of Laura Stevenson and the Cans); Matt Focht (drums; of Head Of Femur); Jenna Morrison (vocals; of Conduits); Laura Carrozza (flute; of Aficionado); and Sarah Holtschlag (saw). Adult Film was mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Wye Oak, Explosions In The Sky) at Elmwood Recording in Dallas, TX.
Kasher has become known throughout his career for insightful, literate, and candid songwriting, and his solo work and albums with Cursive and The Good Life have been praised by Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times, Alternative Press, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, The A.V. Club, and Vice, among many others.1. American Lit
2. Truly Freaking Out
3. Where's Your Heart Lie
4. The Willing Cuckold
5. Life and Limbo
6. Lay Down Your Weapons
7. You Scare Me to Death
8. A Raincloud is a Raincloud
9. A Looping Distress Signal
10. A Lullaby, sort of$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
REDI-THR-6817xThe Soft Pink Truth
Why Do The Heathen Rage?Not final cover art
The Soft Pink Truth is the solo alter ego of Drew Daniel, one half of celebrated Baltimore-based electronic duo Matmos. After a decade of silence in which Daniel concentrated on Matmos and becoming a Shakespeare professor, The Soft Pink Truth is set to release Why Do the Heathen Rage? whose subtitle "Electronic Profanations of Black Metal Classics" reveals its bizarre agenda as an unrequited love letter to a justly divisive genre. A gleeful queer travesty of black metal's undying obsession with kvlt authenticity, Why Do the Heathen Rage? is also a formally precise homage executed with a scholar's obsession. With the guitar chord transcription assistance of Owen Gardner (Teeth Mountain, Horse Lords) and a coven of guest vocalists, including Antony Hegarty and members of Locrian and Wye Oak, Daniel meticulously transposes the riffs, structures and patterns of black metal chestnuts and deep cuts by Darkthrone, Venom, Mayhem, Sarcofago and more into oddly hybrid new forms. Cruising camp absurdity by forcing a sticky tryst between the two mutually incongruous early 90s subcultures of rave and black metal, the results are bracingly strange on first listen, but curiously addictive as the album sinks in.
Imitating the countless black metal albums that begin with ominous intros, the album commences with "Invocation for Strength", a spoken word track in which a Radical Faery poem used by gay activist Arthur Evans in his classic Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture is read by Drew Daniel and Antony (Antony and the Johnsons). After this queer hymn, the rhythmic assault begins with an industrial gabber take on Venom's genre-founding song "Black Metal", featuring vocals by Baltimore artist Bryan Collins and screams from Daniel. Stark trap beats and rave synths meet two-step house bounce on "Sadomatic Rites," originally by Beherit, whose electronic opus H418ov21.c was an inspiration to Drew as he was making this album. Adding a witchy twist to an underground metal classic, Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Dungeonesse) lends her smoky, soulful voice to an orgasmic house deconstruction of Sarcofago's redlight anthem "Ready to Fuck." After a surprisingly sensitive guitar led intro, "Satanic Black Devotion" erupts with full on screaming vocals from Terence Hannum (Locrian), paired with IDM beats, synthetic banjo, and a rather glaring plunderphonic re-working of a recognizable dancefloor classic. Side Two kicks off with a stark, vogue-ball inspired rethinking of Darkthrone's "Beholding the Throne of Might", with whispered vocals from London based free improviser/composer Jennifer Walshe and a spoken interlude from David Serrotte of the vogue ball crew House of Revlon. The goth factor spikes on "Buried by Time and Dust", in which Daniel's Matmos partner M.C. Schmidt croaks the lyrics to the vampiric Mayhem original on top of MIDI harpsichord while a moldy 808 drops the "Planet Rock" beat. In an Ouroboric final gesture, the album concludes with a paroxysmic take on "Grim and Frostbitten Gay Bar" by Impaled Northern Moonforest, the parodic fake black metal project of Anal Cunt's Seth Putnam. A blizzard of snippets of pop, house, crust and metal are shredded and smothered in lo-fi screaming and arctic field recordings, ending the album on suitably contradictory notes of mockery and celebration. The album's controversial artwork, which will remain redacted for the time being due to the extreme content it portrays, fits those themes as well, depicting a volatile, extremist scene undergoing a long overdue queerification, coming out rich and strange, shiny and pink.
The Soft Pink Truth was started in 2001 when legendary UK house producer Matthew Herbert challenged Drew to "make a house record," resulting in the project's slyly funky debut album Do You Party?, which Herbert released on his own Soundslike Records. Daniel has also produced floor-burning remixes for Bjork, Herbert, Grizzly Bear, Dat Politics and many more under The Soft Pink Truth moniker. "Why Do The Heathen Rage?" follows his 2004 release "Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth?," a collection of electronic interpretations of UK punk and American hardcore songs. As a member of Matmos, Daniel continues to break down established norms of experimental and pop music practice by filtering genres through unique and brilliant conceptual lenses, and has established himself as one of the most individualistic electronic musicians of the past several decades.
Disclaimer: Aesthetics and Politics are neither equivalent nor separable. Black metal fandom all too often entails a tacit endorsement or strategic looking-the-other-way with regards to the racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic bullshit politics that (still) pervade the scene, on behalf of either escapist fantasy talk, shaky invocations of art as a crypto-religious path to transcendence, or--the oldest cop out in the book--the quietist declaration that "I just like how it sounds." Just as blasphemy both affirms and assaults the sacred powers it invokes and inverts, so too this record celebrates black metal and offers queer critique / mockery / profanation of its ideological morass in equal measure. Mixed emotions about a murky, diverse and self-differential scene are all very well, but, as Barack Obama is so fond of saying at press conferences just before legitimizing drone warfare, let's be clear: No apologies, no excuses, and no escape clauses are hereby offered. Murderers are murderers. No safe space for fascist garbage. The Soft Pink Truth hereby abjures black metal homophobes, racists, and Nazis categorically and absolutely: MAY THIS CURSE BIND! Remember Magne Andreassen!"1. Invocation for Strength
2. Black Metal
3. Sadomatic Rites
4. Ready to Fuck
5. Satanic Black Devotion
6. Beholding the Throne of Might
7. Let There Be Ebola Frost
8. Buried by Time and Dust
10. Grim and Frostbitten Gay Bar$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now