Indie Exclusive Releases
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Across two decades, eight albums, and a multitude of singles, splits, and EPs, Alkaline Trio has built a reputation as a defining act in punk rock’s modern era. Formed in Chicago by vocalist-guitarist Matt Skiba in 1996, the band would come into its own with its debut album Goddammit in 1998. Since then, the band has continually evolved, incorporating new influences with each record while achieving artistic, critical, and commercial success along the way. It’s been 5 years since Alkaline Trio released their last studio album, My Shame Is True. In that time, they’ve toured the world, sold over a million records, including a 20th Anniversary – 8 LP live box set, recorded on their 2014-15 Past Live tour. Since those Past Live shows, Andriano and drummer Derek Grant both released solo albums, and Skiba joined blink-182, releasing the chart-topping album California with the band. Alkaline Trio’s live shows have always been thrilling due to the fact that, even as the band ascended through the ranks of punk, they always retained the feeling of three friends excited to be on stage together. “When I think of a Trio live show,” says Skiba, “I always go back to the humble beginnings of the band, and I want that to always be in this band.” Alkaline Trio closed 2017 with a coveted opening slot for The Original Misfits, a band Skiba describes as his “first love,” Alkaline Trio is primed to step back into the spotlight. “We have the wind at our backs, it seems,” says Skiba. “Every aspect of the band—be it business or artistically or whatever—it feels like the Gods are in our corner.” Andriano agrees, and says that he’s ready to make the band’s best record yet. “I wanna be a band that people want to hear new stuff from. Because I feel like I’m still in a band that wants to write good, new music.” “Is This Thing Cursed?” will prove that good, new music is worth the wait.
Stay Out Late is ultimately, the end result of understanding who we are, and more importantly, who we are not.
This will be our 15th year as a band, and our 5th record overall. In the years preceding the making of this record, we all had to define what it meant for us to be happy making music. There are certain mechanisms and tropes we all fall into as a result. And as hard as we may try to emulate what we consider to be higher art, or rather, classic music; we always end up with a Buxton record.
Sergio couldn't write for almost 2 years after 'Half A Native'. The answers to "why" had run dry. We all saw each other, hung out and everything was like normal. I can't really pinpoint the moment it all made sense again. The question had suddenly changed to "why not" and we were back in the studio making demos. There was a lurking sense that nobody would ever hear these songs, and that lead to a sort of creativity I'm not sure we'd really experienced before. All ideas were on the table, and more importantly they stayed on the table.
There are a handful of truly great masterpieces and the attempt of achieving that is one of the most daunting and exhausting pursuits any artist can take on. In the van we're constantly educating ourselves and finding new and in many cases old points of inspiration. Whether it be Mark Hollis, HC McEntire, Mickey Newbury or rediscovering the genius of Bette Midler, we find ourselves at the mercy of our own limitations of expression. Yet somehow in our most vulnerable project, we're simultaneously the most comfortable in our skin as we've ever been.
The core of this record is about being in it for the long haul, looking back, and being able to accept it all. We can only hope that the listener can in some way share and make tangible the joy that went into making this record.
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Live From The Ryman was primarily recorded during the group’s six sold out nights at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium in 2017. The double album features 13 live versions of songs from their last three critically acclaimed, award-winning studio albums - Southeastern (2013), Something More Than Free (2015), The Nashville Sound (2017).
The Eclipse Sessions, John Hiatt’s newest album, offers up his strongest set of songs in years. Long celebrated as a skilled storyteller and keen observer of life’s twists and turns, Hiatt can get at the heart of a knotty emotion or a moment in time with just a sharp, incisive lyric or witty turn of phrase. The 11 tracks presented in The Eclipse Sessions, from the breezy opener “Cry to Me,” to the stark “Nothing in My Heart,” the lost-love lamentation “Aces Up Your Sleeve” to the rollicking “Poor Imitation of God,” demonstrate that the singer-songwriter, now 66, is only getting better with age, his guitar playing more rugged and rootsy, his words wiser and more wry.
Hiatt goes all in with The Eclipse Sessions. There’s a grit to these songs—a craggy, perfectly-imperfect quality that colors every aspect of the performances, right down to Hiatt’s vocals, which are quite possibly his most raw and expressive to date. “They ain’t pretty, that’s for sure,” he says about the creaks and cracks that punctuate his phrases in songs like “Poor Imitation of God” and “One Stiff Breeze.” “But I don’t mind a bit. All the catches and the glitches and the gruffness, that sounds right to me. That sounds like who I am.” The Eclipse Sessions is the sound of an artist not only living in but also capturing the moment.
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Tom Morello is living proof of the transformative power of rock’n’roll. As the co-founder of Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and Prophets Of Rage, and through collaborations with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Johnny Cash, he has continually pushed the limits of what one man can do with six strings.
But on his latest album The Atlas Underground, he’s transformed his sound into something even he could not have anticipated, blending Marshall stack riff-rock with the digital wizardry of EDM and hip-hop to create the most ambitious artistic effort of his storied career.
The Atlas Underground includes collaborations with Marcus Mumford, Portugal. The Man, the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and GZA, Vic Mensa, K.Flay, Big Boi, Gary Clark Jr., Pretty Lights, Killer Mike and Whethan among others. “The riffs and the beats led the way, but the extraordinary talents of the collaborators set my creativity into uncharted territory,” says Morello of the project, which will be released October 12th, 2018 by Mom + Pop Music.
There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall. Under the musical nom de plume of Cat Power, Marshall has released music for nearly 25 years now and her prowess as a songwriter, a producer, and most notably—as a voice—has only grown more influential with time. Wanderer, Cat Power’s stunning 10th studio album, marks a pivotal moment in both Chan Marshall’s life and her career. In the six years since the release of 2012’s Sun, Marshall has travelled the world, given birth to a child, and parted ways with her previous record label. Even though it was, in many ways, a period of profound upheaval and radical change, those experiences resulted in a record that is arguably the most assured artistic statement of her career. Produced by Marshall and mixed by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck), the album includes appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tourmate Lana Del Rey. Wanderer is, in many ways, a quintessential Cat Power record, with Marshall’s clarion voice front and center in a set of songs that remarkably stark and straightforward. But, if old Cat Power records might easily have been viewed as repositories for pain, Wanderer is, at its heart, a testament to the transformative nature of songs, an album-length imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility.
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Stardust Birthday Party is about human evolution. Specifically, one humans evolution: mine, Ron Gallo. That’s the name my parents gave me. Hi.
At one point, I was a very lost mid-twenties person living in Philadelphia, in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues and crippling heroin addiction. I was asleep. I didn’t know how to handle my life. I was also writing songs for HEAVY META - my “frustrated with humanity” album. I laugh about it all now, but at the time it all felt like an absolute nightmare. It was the perfect doorway to look inside the place I’d been avoiding forever: myself.
Stardust Birthday Party is about what is happening underneath all of this life stuff. My path inward. The details of my path are pointless because everyone’s path is different. It is about me sitting with myself for the first time and confronting the big question “WHAT AM I, REALLY?” It’s about the love and compassion for all things that enters when you find out you are nothing and everything. I think at one point I wanted to change the world, but now I know I can only change myself, or rather just strip away everything that is not me to reveal the only thing that’s ever been there. And that’s what this album is about, it’s me dancing while destroying the person I thought I was, and hopefully forever.
In the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme (which we pay tribute to on this album) he wrote: “During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.”
That’s it. That is the pure essence of creativity. Someone embodying what they have realized about themselves and the world that surrounds them. That is why this album exists.
Thank you for letting me share this with you. Ron Gallo
Molly Burch burst onto the music scene in 2017 with her debut Please Be Mine – a ten-track ode to unrequited romance written after studying Jazz Vocal Performance in Asheville, NC – and earned immediate praise from critics for her smoky, effortless vocals and bleeding-heart lyrics. Following a year of touring all over North America, Europe and the UK alongside the likes of Ought, Alex Cameron, Grizzly Bear and Courtney Barnett amongst others, Burch then returned to Texas to decompress. Finding herself suddenly devoid of stimulation and with nothing but time on her hands, she began anew, bouncing ideas off her bandmate and boyfriend Dailey Toliver – who contributed guitar parts and orchestration suggestions – and, slowly, an album took shape; soon after, First Flower became real.
A walk-through Burch’s most intimate thoughts – broken friendships, sibling relationships, and overwhelming anxiety – First Flower is a bright, beautiful album peppered with moments of triumph with Burch’s voice as strong and dexterous as ever. Opening track “Candy” is a swinging, playful hit, while “Wild” deals with pushing away fear. Title track “First Flower” is classic Burch, a simple love song that makes your skin raise with goosebumps when she breaks into the chorus. But the album’s true stand-out is “To The Boys”, a courageous, sassy fuck-you to her own self-deprecation where she learns to love all the things she hated about herself. “I don’t need to scream to get my point across/I don’t need to yell to know that I’m the boss,” she coos over a sparse guitar riff.
First Flower is a shapely sonic stage to let Burch shine on. The composition and production carefully constructed to compliment and not over power.
Double LP on opaque yellow blob in clear vinyl in same packaging as standard 2-LP. Includes coupon for full download
“Never sink and never hide / They tried to break our dream, but child: / Joy Stops Time”. I was sent an unfinished version of Dose Your Dreams so that I might contribute string parts. I couldn’t stop listening to the rough mixes I received. A friend asked me how the record was. I replied, “My God, Fucked Up have made their Screamadelica.”
And psych-rock-groove it is. The drums mixed wide, propensity for drones, for delay pedal, for repetition, groove. The politics and aesthetics of hardcore married to an “open format” approach to genre. Elements of doo-wop, krautrock, groove, digital hardcore.
“None of Your Business Man” opens the album in familiar enough territory, a sax-assisted exit from an office space. But things get psychedelic very quickly. By the time the title track arrives, Mike Haliechuk is whispering, wah pedals are in full effect, and we’re wearing oversized t-shirts and pinwheeling. “Accelerate,” the lyrical centerpiece of the album, storms in like Boredoms on a bullet train and dissolves into a digital nightmare. The album closer, “Joy Stops Time,” finds Fucked Up at their most Düsseldorfian, nearly eight minutes of blissful motorik.
At the center of it all is Damian Abraham’s scream—a man chained, a man tortured, a true protagonist. The effect is one of an epic, every chapter attempting its own narrative devices, its own genre hybridization—and it works, it works so insanely well. The drama unfolds like a miniature world of many parts being explored, a map being illuminated, location by location.
As with David Comes to Life, there is a story here. David—who once came to life—is now indentured to a desk job. David meets the elderly Joyce who closes his eyes, opens his mind, and sends him on a spiritual journey. David embarks on his own metaphysical odyssey. He sees a stage adaptation of his own life. He speaks to an angel in a lightbulb. He sees an infinite series of universes as simulations within simulations.
Meanwhile, Lloyd—Joyce’s lover—was sent, decades ago, by Joyce on the same odyssey, but was lost in the void. Lloyd seeks to be found and reunited with his lover. Where will David end up? Will Joyce and Lloyd be reunited?
Dose Your Dreams—meaning: treat your dreams as you would a dream, allow yourself to be lost within them, allow them to open your heart and your mind, enjoy them as you would a drug. Reach out for my hand and pull me close.
By most bands’ fifth LP, the sound is pretty set. Parameters established. Refinement dissipated in favor of to-formula execution of what’s worked in the past. Fair enough. All Them Witches go a harder route.
In 2017, the Nashville four-piece offered what might’ve otherwise become their own template in their fourth album, Sleeping Through the War. Also their second for New West Records behind 2015 mellow-vibing Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, it brought a larger production value to dug-in heavy psych blues jamming, with oversight from producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson).
After exploring new ground through their early work on 2013’s Lightning at the Door and 2012’s Our Mother Electricity as well as Dying Surfer, the band had arrived at something new, sprawling, and grander-feeling than anything before it.
So naturally in a year they’ve thrown that all to the Appalachian wind, turned the process completely on its head and gone the absolute other way: recording in a cabin in Kingston Springs, about 20 miles outside of Nashville on I-40, with guitarist Ben McLeod at the helm. Take that, expectation.
The result, mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile), is the most intimate, human-sounding album All Them Witches have ever recorded and another redefinition of who they are as a band. Introducing keyboardist/percussionist Jonathan Draper to the fold with McLeod, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler, All Them Witches’ All Them Witches isn’t self-titled by mistake.
It’s the band confirming and continuing to develop their approach, in the shuffle of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” the organ-laced groove of “Half-Tongue,” the tense build of “HJTC” and the fluid jam in closer “Rob’s Dream.”
It’s a reaction to being a “bigger” band. To playing bigger shows, bigger tours, etc. From the sustained consonants in Parks’ vocals to McLeod’s commanding slide in “Workhorse” and drifting melancholy at the outset of “Harvest Feast,” All Them Witches is their laying claim to the essential facets of their identity.
And most crucial to that identity is its shifting nature. All Them Witches didn’t get to this point by resting on laurels, and if anything, the urgency of these tracks – fast pushers and sleepy jams alike – is among their greatest strengths.
It’s a rawer delivery, as stage-ready as the band itself, and as ever, it captures All Them Witches in this moment. Is it who they’ll be tomorrow? Who the hell knows? Check back in and we’ll all find out together. That’s the whole idea.
After his celebrated self-titled 2016 debut, Roosevelt aka Marius Lauber steps outside. While the debut album was deeply rooted in club culture and neon lit Nightmoves, his new album, entitled Young Romance, sees the 27 year-old producer embracing a new found love for bigger, bolder and sunnier pop songs - a fearless leap towards the light with songs that will further establish him as one of the most talented young artists of the day. Pressed on limited sun yellow vinyl.
News of a previously unreleased recording by any of jazzs 'holy trinity is a reason to get excited. Now two have come along in the space of a few months. For hot on the heels of Impulses hit Coltrane release comes this precious lost treasure from prime-era Monk, featuring his most critically acclaimed Quartet. Mønk is a memorable live set (Copenhagen, Denmark) from 1963, featuring among other gems, glorious versions of soon-to-be classics Bye-Ya and Monks Dream that outdo even the famous studio versions. It's most definitely Monk in is pomp, heralding a year in which Monk would become one of only 4 jazz artists to ever appear on the front cover of TIME magazine. The original tapes, having been saved from a skip, have been faithfully restored, mastered and cut using Gearbox's legendary all-analogue process, making this a treat for audiophiles, enthusiasts, historians and music lovers of all shapes and sizes."
Richard Reed Parry’s Quiet River of Dust, is a meditative, widescreen musical experience with Beach Boy harmonies and a hypnotic pulse. Layered songs that move in a linear fashion, following a current rather than circular composition. Japanese folk myths, death poems and British folk music are tributaries flowing into a river of avant-garde composition and traditional song craft, written and performed by a member of the Grammy-winning rock band, Arcade Fire. Being released as two volumes, Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1 will be available on the start of the autumn equinox, September 21 2018. Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2 is coming out next year on the spring equinox 2019. Long before he joined Arcade Fire in 2003, Richard Reed Parry grew up in a thriving folk music community in Toronto, where house parties were full of singing. While a student of electroacoustic music and contemporary dance in university, he formed the instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre, who have released three albums. In 2014, he released an album of biologically inspired compositions, Music for Heart and Breath, on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon classical label. The genesis of these songs came after Arcade Fire’s first tour of Japan in February 2008. Parry stayed on for weeks after the last show, heading to a monastery for some solace in “the biggest silence you’ve ever heard.” One day he was walking alone in a massive, snow-covered cedar forest when he heard distant voices, voices that sounded a lot like his father’s folk group back in Toronto, Friends of Fiddlers Green. (Parry was 18 when his father died in 1995.) “There was no reason for something to sound like full-throated, British-Isle folk singing there,” he recalls. “I walked and walked but I could never get closer to where the music was coming from.” The ghostly experience inspired the song “On the Ground,” which in turn inspired the rest of the song cycle. When it came time to record “On the Ground,” he enlisted his father’s former colleagues on concertina, Northumbrian pipes and fiddle. For a musician raised in a musical family and environment, collaboration and community are essential parts of the process. Guest performers on this project include Parry’s partner Laurel Sprengelmeyer of Little Scream, Stef Schneider of Bell Orchestre, Dallas Good of the Sadies, Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, Amedeo Pace from Blonde Redhead, and The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner.
Joyce Manor are back with a new album, entitled Million Dollars To Kill Me. Frontman Barry Johnson along with co-founding guitarist Chase Knobbe, new drummer Pat Ware—(“Awesome new drummer,” adds Johnson)—and longtime bassist Matt Ebert, wrote enough songs to fill a full-length, and then worked to get songs lifted from emails between Johnson and one of his musical hero Impossibles’ guitarist/vocalist Rory Phillips, with whom he had been co-writing long distance, to match the ones written at full volume. (“Bedroom charm versus live rock band,” Johnson explains.) Their next step was a new step: their first time recording outside their L.A. hometown, at Converge’s Kurt Ballou’s GodCity studio in Salem, Massachusetts. They recorded daily 10-to-6 and then slept right upstairs in bunk beds: “Kinda felt like camp,” says Johnson. “It was a pleasure—I would recommend it to anyone.” If 2016’s Cody was about growing up, then Kill Me is about what happens next—the reckonings with love, money, doubt and confusion, and the hope that persists despite it all.
Richard Thompsons new album, 13 Rivers, is the artists first self-produced record in over a decade. 13 Rivers is a very stripped down, bare-bones recording and according to Thompson the album is a reflection of current events that have happened in his life. This has been an intense year for myself and my family, getting older doesnt mean that life gets easier! There are surprises around every bend. I think this reflects in the immediacy of the stories, and the passion in the songs. Sometimes I am speaking directly about events, at other times songs are an imaginative spin on what life throws at you. The music is just a mirror to life, but we try to polish that mirror as brightly as possible. The album was recorded at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California. 13 Rivers features Richards regular accompanists, Michael Jerome and Taras Prodaniuk, as well as Thompsons guitar tech, Bobby Eichorn, on second guitar. Each track on the album was recorded in analog, with minimal overdubbing. Boulevard is a really funky-looking studio, says Richard, but it sounds great. It used to be called The Producers Workshop, and was owned by Liberace, whose ghost is reportedly still hanging around. Steely Dan records were done there, and The Wall by Pink Floyd was mixed there. Clay Blair, the engineer, is a Beatles nut, and has every piece of Beatles gear he can lay his hands on - so if things sound a bit like Abbey Road, so be it! 13 Rivers consists of thirteen tracks. It is an album as much about growth as it is about reflection. Says Thompson, I dont know how the creative process works - I suppose it is some kind of bizarre parallel existence to my own life. I often look at a finished song and wonder what the hell is going on inside me. We sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission
‘Heaven’ highlights Dilly Dally’s rough edges in all their ragged glory, drawing every potent ounce of energy from the foursome’s swampy tones, raspy vocals, and volatile rhythm section. While the music is undeniably ferocious, there’s uplift woven into the fabric of every track. The album opens with the dreamy “I Feel Free,” which begins as a floating, untethered soundscape before transforming into a soaring anthem for a world that’s ready to finally turn the page on all the darkness and disillusion the last few years have wrought. The inexorable “Believe” insists on self-confidence, while the driving “Sober Motel” celebrates the lucidity a clear mind, and the lilting “Sorry Ur Mad” makes a case for releasing yourself from the prisons of anger and resentment. ‘Heaven’ album carves out its own atheistic religion to get through the day, a faith that validates our pain as real but responds with a beaming light of hope.
Thrice created Palms with a free-form and fluid approach to the album’s sonic element. The result is their most expansive work to date, encompassing everything from viscerally charged post-hardcore to piano-driven balladry. To carve out that eclectic sound, Thrice enlisted trusted producer Eric Palmquist for the recording of the percussion and vocal tracks, and self-produced all of the guitar parts on Palms. “When we track our own stuff we tend to be far less neurotic about getting every note perfect,” says singer Dustin Kensrue. “It’s more about getting the right emotion out of the performance, so that it connects on a deeper level.” Kensrue, co-founded Thrice with guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, and drummer Riley Breckenridge in 1998. Hailing from Orange County, California, the band formed when three of its members were still in high school, making their debut with the kinetic punk/hardcore hybrid of the 2000 album Identity Crisis. Their breakthrough arrived with 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance—Thrice’s third full-length, whose singles “All That’s Left” and “Stare at the Sun” each landed on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Palms is the band’s first release since signing to Epitaph in early 2018, and the album matches its raw passion with a measured intensity, a rare feat for an album so informed by the volatility of the times. “Even though some of these songs are really aggressive-sounding, I wanted to make sure they never felt like finger-pointing, especially at a time when there’s so much talking past each other,” says Kensrue. Within that approach, Thrice reveal their profound commitment to making an enduring impact on the listener.
Released in 1980, Heartattack and Vine was Waits’ final album on Elektra /Asylum Records and it built on the raw blues approach of Blue Valentine with the incendiary title track, the funky, organ driven “Downtown” and the stomping NOLA blues of “Mr. Siegal”. This album also contains some of Waits most popular ballads, including “Jersey Girl” which was famously a hit for Bruce Springsteen. “On the Nickle” is a moving song about the homeless people who lived on 5th street in downtown LA, and “Ruby’s Arms” is a beautiful song with a lovely Bach-like melody.
The latest postcard from The Chills epic journey is an album about consolidation, re-grouping, acceptance and mortality, claims the chief Chill. Hopefully a kind of Carole King Tapestry for ageing punks. Wow! Are rock bands allowed to grow old gracefully and assess the world's and their shortcomings in the process? Is it possible to swerve the obvious and make something that's bittersweet in tone but harmonious on the ear? Of course it is. On Snow Bound lost heroes are lamented, relationships are re-evaluated, atonement is sought, mortality is mulled over and fake news is undercut. It's serious stuff, the thoughts of a dysfunctional 50-something wrestling with maturity and discovering that their post-punk DIY beliefs still have a real voice that resonates between the fans of their early years and which can now pass down to the next generation. Casting our minds back, we can recall that The Guardian mused, They sound almost like the musical embodiment of autumn, when confronted with Silver Bullets. Three years on, Snow Bound nestles heartily in its own winter of discontent. And all this with a humalong melodic verve, Phillipps' gift for the tempered dalliance of verse and chorus and those gorgeous euphoric organ fills. Let the soul-searching commence
Alejandro Escovedo’s new album is perhaps his most varied and expansive album to date. It is his first album recorded outside of America, in northern Italy, with co-writer Don Antonio Gramentieri and a band of Italian musicians. It is also Alejandro’s first ever concept album drawing the story of two young immigrants to the US, who bond over a mutual love of punk rock as they struggle with the racism and discrimination as immigrants. Special guests on the album include Wayne Kramer (MC5), Joe Ely, and Peter Perrett and John Perry of The Only Ones. The sound ranges from straight ahead rockers like, “Sonica USA,” to ballads like the classic Joe Ely penned, “Silver City,” and everywhere in between. To describe this album as, "epic," might be an understatement.
On September 7, Katie Crutchfield’s ever-shifting musical project Waxahatchee returns with the Great Thunder EP. Featuring a collection of songs written with now-dormant experimental recording group Great Thunder while Crutchfield was also writing the Waxahatchee albums Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp, the original recordings have mostly faded into obscurity. Unearthing and reimagining them with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin was a cathartic experience, she says. On the heels of last year’s critically acclaimed Out in the Storm, Crutchfield found herself looking to take a sharp turn away from the more rock-oriented influences of her recent records towards her more folk and country roots. “I would say that it is a complete 180 from the last record: super stripped-down, quiet, and with me performing solo, it’s a throwback to how I started,” writes Crutchfield. “Overall, the EP is a warm, kind of vibey recording.” Some of the songs on Great Thunder, like “Chapel of Pines” and “Singer’s No Star,” stayed the same and will be recognizable to those intensely familiar with Crutchfield’s catalog to date, while closer “Takes So Much” was built back up on piano from the bones of the original version, surprising even the songwriter: “Until then, I didn’t realize how beautiful this song was.” As Crutchfield entered April Base to record, she became ill but opted to forge on, beautifully stretching her voice to its emotional limits.
LP is glossy jacket with printed sleeve + clear vinyl + LP3 coupon
Notes on Escape-ism’s The Lost Record by Johnny Sincere When Escape-ism—nom de guerre of mythic rock ’n’ roll provocateur / theorist / revolutionary Ian Svenonius (performer, author, filmmaker, etc.)—announced the imminent release of its second long-player, The Lost Record, it shook the foundations of the hermetic swamp / tundra known as “underground music.” In the music world, a “lost record” is the term for an LP that was passed over, unappreciated—maybe not even released—but is later discovered, unearthed, and celebrated by in-the-know tastemakers and canny connoisseurs. Many of our culture’s favorite records are “lost” records; once despised or unheard, they’re now in heavy rotation in the clubhouse and in the car. Indeed, every group or musician dreams of making such a seminal record, with the heroic underdog narrative of: 1)Initial rejection by philistines 2)Clueless mishandling by the record company 3)An aimless amble through the desert of neglect and finally 4)Rediscovery and veneration However, the process a record has to go through to be “lost”—and then found again—is arduous. It’s also quite risky, since most lost records are really just lost: tossed aside and forgotten forever. So, when Escape-ism—the most exciting group in the world—announced its new and highly anticipated release The Lost Record, it created a commotion. For some, it seemed unfair for Escape-ism to jump ahead of the usual protocol and not go through the degradation that a historic “lost record” suffers: the endless time spent in a bin in the basement or a remote warehouse. Unshipped, unloved, unappreciated. But for Escape-ism, it seemed easier to circumvent the rigmarole and just get on with it. The Lost Record is a classic, destined to bewitch the minds, hearts, and dancing shoes of any rock ’n’ roll fan who happens to discover it, for as long as such creatures exist. Without the high-octane hype machine of the mind-control minstrels who hypnotize the hapless through the mass media, The Lost Record is bound for inevitable obscurity, but—with its timeless tunes, poignant message, and innovative sound—rediscovery and immortal status is equally assured! The Lost Record, being what it is, has enormous selling potential. Music enthusiasts will be thrilled to be the ones clever and kind enough to have rescued this platter from oblivion. The tunes—“Bodysnatcher,” “I’m a Lover (at Close Range),” “Exorcist Stairs,” “Nothing Personal,” and the rest—are foot-stomping classics as sung by the greatest song stylist and most dynamic performer of the epoch, Ian Svenonius. It’s a no-brainer that The Lost Record will be both unfairly neglected but also enshrined as a pinnacle achievement for subterranean civilization. Recorded in four different studios—Gaucho in Los Angeles, Flat Black in Iowa, Tonal Park in Takoma Park, MD, and at Club Blasé in DC—the record is the culmination of humanity’s attempt at something poignant, perverse, and poetically imperfect. Escape-ism is the work of Ian Svenonius, the author of Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ’n’ Roll Group, The Psychic Soviet, and Censorship Now!!; the singer of The Make-Up, Chain & the Gang, XYZ, et cetera; the writer / director of What Is a Group?, the world’s only rock ’n’ roll sci-fi documentary exploitation film; and the host of “Soft Focus,” the musician-on-musician chat show that preceded all the pretenders. Escape-ism, though, isn’t a footnote in a laundry list of awards and citations; it’s the most vital thing going now. At festivals, clubs, art galleries, happenings, parties, and put-downs, Escape-ism is ripping up stages, unlocking cages. Escape-ism reinvents rock ’n’ roll the same way the jet engine reinvented travel. It’s an enchanting and terrifying answer to the mire of contentless, going-through-the-motions beat groups and electr...
There was something sinister about Crooked Fingers, both the name of the project and the music that Eric Bachmann wrote at the helm of its ever-shifting lineups over 15 years. He retired the moniker a couple of years ago, but with his third album under his own name, the transformation feels gorgeous and final and irreversible: No Recover.
The drunken louts and red devil dawns are a thing of the past now, monuments to a different time. Bachmann, husband and recent father, has some new lenses through which to view the world. But while No Recover is decidedly mellow and reflective, do not mistake it for the work of a relaxed, satisfied songwriter, sitting on some Georgia porch with a stalk of wheat between his lips, gently rocking a cradle with his foot and whistling an old tune.
No, the Eric Bachmann of 2018 seems to view life with a sort of disgruntled maturity and righteous resignation. No Recover is both harrowing and beautiful, and its mellowness can be deceiving. The album is mostly just him, a classical guitar, some treated rhythm tracks, and otherworldly drop-ins from singer Avery Leigh Draut and guitarist Eric Johnson, Bachmann’s old pal from their Archers of Loaf days. He’s got a lot on his mind, only some of it pretty.
The sunset on the album’s cover might be the end of a cruel world for the duo in “Jaded Lover, Shady Drifter,” who introduce No Recover; they feel like flip-side lovers, both sonically and lyrically, of the couple at the center of Bring On the Snakes’ “The Rotting Strip.” But that dark sentiment is quickly reversed with “Daylight,” one of Bachmann’s most stunning vocal performances ever: For a guy who earned his stripes by shredding his vocal cords in the ’90s, he sure can croon. And though the words cast some shadows—“fight for your life,” he implores—ultimately there is hope. “If you try, you can be loved.”
Same goes, to a less direct degree, for “Waylaid,” the record’s jauntiest song, and a meditation on failure and love that leaves room for Johnson’s bright-but-mournful electric guitar to take center stage. But leave it to Bachmann to save the best for last: No Recover ends with one song for his wife and another for his son. “Wild Azalea,” for Liz Durrett—who also makes a brief appearance earlier in the album—is pure ’70s AM gold, including the tinge of sadness that the best of that era embraced. And “Dead and Gone” offers wistful, Bachmann-style comfort to a child. It’s vulnerable and giving, a lifetime promise that somehow intertwines regret and hopefulness.
In that way, it perfectly encapsulates No Recover—and Bachmann himself—circa 2018. He’s got a lifetime of experience behind him, and a catalog that runs the gamut from fiery to scary to simply beautiful, sometimes all at once. But it also feels like a new beginning. Here’s to another 25 (or more!) years of watching him grow.