Recent Purchases, August Edition

The further we go along in 2017, the more this year seems to be that everyone is putting out an album!  Not that I’m complaining. There’s not just favorite bands releasing new stuff, I’m also finding new bands to obsess over. Here’s some of my favorites for August:

Life On Venus, Encounters, released 4 August. Dreamy, reverby shoegaze from Moscow? Sure, why not? Very Slowdive-y, in a really good way.

Black Grape, Pop Voodoo, released 4 August. Shaun Ryder once again proving he can’t hit a note to save his life, his poppier, dancier group returning after far too long with a new album.

Dan Wilson, Re-Covered, released 4 August. Known more for his songwriting and production now than his tenure in Semisonic, Wilson records some of his most well-known tracks that were recorded by other artists.

Frankie Rose, Cage Tropical, released 11 August. AllMusic described this album as sounding remarkably like a pop album from 1985, and they weren’t wrong. I most likely would have bought this at Strawberries back then.

Emily Saliers, Murmuration Nation, released 11 August. The other half of Indigo Girls finally releases her own solo album, and it’s a fun, poppy, maybe even a little electronic record worth checking out.

The Districts, Popular Manipulations, 11 August. A band that’s new to me, but won me over on the first track above. They kind of remind me of the Killers vocally but Beach Slang musically.

Paul Draper, Spooky Action, released 11 August. Draper has lost none of his quirky songwriting chops since leaving Mansun oh so many years ago. Definitely a welcome return!

Gold Class, Drum, released 18 August. It took me a few listens to realize they remind me a lot of The Cult, but without the overwhelming pomp and less Ian Astbury wail. I’m quite liking this one.

KMFDM, HELL YEAH, released 18 August. I really need to get back into Belgian industrial. I loved it way back in the day but could never find any of it (and when I did, I was usually too broke to buy it). Great to hear this band is still going strong.

Rainer Maria, S/T, released 18 August. I have been playing the hell out of this album. Over a decade since their last album, this is one hell of an excellent return. One of my favorites of the year.

UNKLE, The Road, Part I, released 18 August. Another band on the “I will buy anything they put out” list. They’ve come a long way from their more electronic sound, but James Lavelle still knows how to create a creepy ambience with his music.

Steven Wilson, To the Bone, released 18 August. It is kind of weird to see the Porcupine Tree front man playing alternapop here (and smiling in the video!), but it’s a great new record, apparently inspired by his favorite UK pop bands from the 80s.

PVRIS, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, released 25 August. Bonus points for one of my favorite album titles of the year! A group that was getting a lot of publicity that I just had to check out, and I wasn’t let down. And they’re from MA! Yay!

Cymbals, Light in Your Mind, released 25 August. Another record suggested by a music blog I read that I warmed right up to. Laid back but not blissed out, I find them quite pleasing to play during my writing sessions.

More to come…our September shopping list is going to be quite epic!

Recent Purchases, July Edition

More new and reissued tunage from 2017, for your perusal…an interesting mix of old and new, loud and soft, ambient and danceable this time out.

Tory y Moi, Boo Boo, released 7 July.

Public Service Broadcasting, Every Valley, released 7 July.

Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder, released 7 July.

HAIM, Something to Tell You, released 7 July.

Yoko Ono, Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space reissues, released 14 July.

The Dears, Times Infinity Volume Two, released 14 July.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets OST, released 20 July.

Dunkirk OST, released 21 July.

Nine Inch Nails, Add Violence EP, released 21 July.

Cornelius, Mellow Waves, released 21 July.

Declan McKenna, What Do You Think About the Car?, released 21 July.

Arcade Fire, Everything Now, released 28 July.

People Like You, Verse, released 28 July.

Recent Purchases, June Edition

Another great month of new releases worth checking out!

Saint Etienne, Home Counties released 2 June. SE is one of those bands that I kind of knew from different tracks, but only within the last, say, four or five years have I come to really appreciate them. Poppy, distinctly British, and finely written.

Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want?, released 2 June. It’s been quite some time since his last album. This is pure distilled angry, cantankerous Roger Waters at his finest, with music that sounds equal parts Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Final Cut.

alt-j, Relaxer, released 2 June. A continuation of their signature weirdness that somehow still gets a hell of a lot of airplay.

U2, The Joshua Tree [Deluxe Edition], released 2 June. How many times have I listened to this album and not gotten sick of it? It’s indeed a classic album and the new 30th anniversary package is quite worth checking out.

Panda Riot, Infinity Maps, released 9 June. One of many “oh, they have a new album out? SWEET!” releases that seem to be sneaking up behind me this year. I was a big fan of their 2013 album Northern Automatic Music and this was definitely a great follow-up.

London Grammar, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, released 10 June. I know I’ve heard of this band before but I can’t seem to remember where, so I gave it a stream listen, and LO! It was pretty damn good.

The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts, released 16 June. One of those bands I didn’t quite ‘get’ the first time around, but the more I listen to them, the more I love their stuff.

Royal Blood, How Did We Get So Dark?, released 16 June. Another band whose first album passed right by me. This one’s loud and crunchy like Foals with a bit of Sleigh Bells thrown in for good measure.

Ride, Weather Diaries, released 16 June. A VERY welcome return to one of my favorite bands of the early 90s, they’ve lost none of their signature soaring shoegaze noise.

311, Mosaic, released 23 June. 311 is on my list of ‘I will buy any new album they release’ bands. I know they’re not to everyone’s tastes, especially since they’ve mellowed somewhat since their louder mid-90s output. It’s a hell of a great album.

Radiohead, OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017, released 23 June. Loved the original when it came out 20 years ago during my HMV years (and one that got a hell of a lot of heavy rotation during the trilogy writing session years). Love the new release, which features a great remaster of the original, most of the b-sides, and three unreleased tracks. I originally wasn’t going to download this as I had most of it, but it was a great price and yeah — helluva great album and all that.

Prince & the Revolution,Purple Rain [Deluxe Remaster], released 23 June. An album that got me through a lot of my early teen years, it’s still a freakin’ FANTASTIC and solid album from start to finish. The new remaster sounds powerful and full of energy, and it also contains all those pesky hard-to-find era b-sides as well!

Algiers, The Underside of Power, released 23 June. Another ‘who the hell is this and WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THEM’ band for me. Tried it out with a stream and immediately put it in the basket to purchase. I’m still not quite sure how to describe them other than a mix of TV On the Radio and Bloc Party. Highly recommended.

Au.Ra, Cultivations, released 30 June. Ditto for this band as well, only they get extra points for heavily reminding me of the early 4AD sound, complete with chimey guitars, dreamy melodies and reverb for days. I’ve been playing this one a hell of a lot over the last week.

Floating Points, Reflections – Mojave Desert, released 30 June. Ditto again. This particular band fascinates me because they’re kind of like Air, with a bit of Caspian thrown in, and maybe just a hint of BT’s more ambient sound as well. This one continues to fascinate me.

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OKAY! I’m not sure what’s coming in July, as I haven’t been up on my release lists as of late, but I’m expecting more goodness soon!

Recent Purchases, May Edition

More tasty tunage from what’s turning out to be a really good year for music!

LCD Soundsystem, “Call the Police”/”American Dream” single, released 5 May. I’m not the biggest LCD fan…they’d have been a band I’d have taped off the radio but probably wouldn’t have actively looked for, back in the day. I do like this b-side, which has a very early-80s-synth feel to it.

The Afghan Whigs, In Spades, released 5 May. They’re a bit of an odd band that uses tension well in their music, which is one of the reasons I like them.

The Primitives, New Thrills EP, released 5 May. First of many blasts from the past this month! Always loved this band’s bubblegummy alt-pop.

Blondie, Pollinator, released 5 May. Second blast! A welcome return, sounding quite like their late-70s/early-80s dance-punk.

Slowdive, Slowdive, released 5 May. Third blast! And HOT DAMN is this a gorgeous album. I expect all you shoegaze fans have to already have this in your collection.

Day Wave, The Days We Had, released 5 May. As you can tell, the beginning of May had one hell of a great list of releases. Perky, twitchy, echoey alt-rock similar to Two Door Cinema Club and the like.

The Darling Buds, Evergreen EP, released 12 May. Fourth blast! One of my favorite ealry-Britpop bands from 1989, returning with a new EP that sounds as just as fresh as their previous catalog.

Overlake, Fall, released 12 May. One of those bands I’d never heard of but given a great review on one of the music blogs, I checked it out and deemed it quite excellent. It’s been part of my Lidwells playlist lately.

White Sea, Tropical Odds, released 12 May. Morgan Kibby, under her band name, popped up not only on recent M83 tracks but duetted with Big Data. Her second release is beautiful, moody and fascinating.

The Charlatans UK, Different Days, 26 May. It’s been how many years since Some Friendly…? And they’re still going strong. A mellower affair than previous albums, but still strong and fantastic.

The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Deluxe Edition, released 26 May. Well, DUH. Of course I’m playing the hell out of this lately!!

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Stay tuned for the June releases, which should contain the following:

Saint Etienne, Home Counties
Ani DiFranco, Binary
Panda Riot, Infinity Maps
Alison Moyet, Other
Cheap Trick, We’re All Alright!
Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up
Ride, Weather Diaries (!!!!)
Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain Deluxe Edition
Radiohead, OK Computer: OKNOTOK 1997 2017

…and more that I haven’t been aware of! 😀

Recent Purchases, April Edition

April is always an odd month musically — it’s the start of Q2 but a lot of the biggest releases won’t be coming out until the end of May or mid-June.  Still, a lot of great stuff that came out this past month that’s getting a lot of play on my player (when I’m not listening to 90s stuff for my writing)!

K Flay, Every Where Is Some Where (released 7 April)

Future Islands, The Far Field (released 7 April)

The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions (released 7 April)

Incubus, 8 (released 21 April)

Charly Bliss, Guppy (released 21 April)

Maximo Park, Risk to Exist (released 21 April)

Sylvan Esso, What Now (released 28 April)

…and of course, the long-awaited and welcome return of…

Gorillaz, Humanz (released 28 April)

Coming up for May:

–Slowdive, Slowdive (!!)
–Day Wave, The Days We Had
–Linkin Park, One More Light
–New Order, NOMC15
The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band remix/reissue

…and I’m sure there will be a lot more on that list by the end of the month! 🙂

Recent Music Purchases, March Edition

D’OH!  Forgot to do one of these last month, so here you go.  I’ll have April’s up in a few weeks.

This year is continuing to surprise and delight me with some absolutely solid albums.  A lot of new albums by old favorites, and numerous releases by bands I hadn’t heard of previously.  I’m looking forward to more of this!

Minus the Bear, Voids (released 3 March).  I’ve been hitting this one hard lately…they kind of remind me of Shearwater, with the odd melodies that somehow fit together perfectly.  LOVE this album.

Bush, Black and White Rainbows (released 10 March).  Glad to see them having a second life with a consistent run of excellent new albums.

The Creation, Action Painting (released 17 March).  A fascinating garage band from the UK, this one packages their single 60s album (We Are Paintermen) and the singles from the same era.  They were influential to a hell of a lot of UK musicians, from Jimmy Page to Paul Weller.  [And yes, the UK record label was named after them.]

Spoon, Hot Thoughts (released 17 March).  Probably my favorite Spoon album since Kill the Moonlight back in ’02.  It’s weird, heavy, and there’s a hell of a lot of funk going on as well.

Lloyd Cole, In New York (Collected Recordings 1988-1996) (released 17 March).  A lovely counterpoint to the box set he released for his Commotions work, this contains his first five albums plus an album of demos.  An exellent and underrated songwriter.

Depeche Mode, Spirit (released 17 March).  A return to the darker and more electronic DM.  I’d say this is on par with Ultra, with its heavier, angrier sound.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Damage and Joy (released 24 March).  Wait, this is 2017, not 1987, right?  Seriously, though…it’s a welcome return.  It sounds a lot like their mid-era sound, very similar to Honey’s Dead, but that’s definitely a good thing.

Jamiroquai, Automaton (released 31 March).  Jay Kay still has the funk, and he doesn’t skimp on it here.  I often find myself listening to this in the afternoon as a lift-me-up.

Wire, Silver/Lead (released 31 March).  What can I say?  I will buy anything and everything by this band.  They’ve never let me down once.

It Was Fifty Years Ago…

You may have heard the BIG NEWS from hither and yon that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is getting a super deluxe edition from Apple in celebration of the album turning 50.  It’s BIG NEWS because this is the first Beatles album to get this kind of remaster/expanded reissue.  The deluxe edition will contain a new remix from Giles Martin, two discs of outtakes, and a dvd and blu-ray of even more goodies — including a 5.1 mix (!!) and the Making of Sgt Pepper documentary from 1987.  The new stereo remix, per Martin, is not the original remaster we heard on the 2009 box set, but a true remix, in which he shifted the sounds to make it sound more like the original mono mix.*

Yer darn tootin’ I pre-ordered it as soon as I heard about it!

Anyway…I’m looking forward to hearing this new mix.  I gave the album a good listen the other day (the mono mix, actually) and it really did break a hell of a lot of rules and boundaries.  Hundreds of other bands who heard the album for the first time were completely blown away by it, even more influenced by it.  When people call songs ‘Beatlesque’, they usually mean it sounds like something from this album.

Me?  I’m looking forward to hearing “A Day in the Life”…it’s what I think of as their finest moment, not just in songwriting but in production.  It transcends being just a pop song and turns into an orchestral piece.  Hearing a new stereo mix of this song should be a treat.

To quote from my ‘Blogging the Beatles’ series from a few years back, plus a few added notes:

Though this track was recorded relatively early in the sessions (19-20 January, with additional work done a week or so later), by the time they finished recording, they knew that this absolutely had to be the last track on the album, no question. It’s long been considered one of their best compositions, and given the amount of time dedicated to it (a total 34 hours, twenty-two more than the entirety of Please Please Me!), it’s by far one of their most complex productions.

There are three distinct parts – the first and third, written mostly by John and taken from recent newspaper articles (the death of friend Tara Browne in a car accident, the report that the roads in Blackburn were filled with potholes, and so on), and the middle section provided mostly by Paul (a simple nostalgic trip of riding the double-decker bus through Liverpool when he was younger), each with its own personality.

The first part is performed with deliberate slowness, starting quietly but growing increasingly louder until we reach the end. [EDIT: Ringo’s drumming here is to the fore, punctuating each line of the verse, mixed high and given a thunderous echo.  The deliberate slowness of this first part adds to its haunting mood, which makes the first orchestral swell sound like a maelstrom.]

The link to part two is via a crazy idea from Paul and Martin, in which an orchestra plays an unscripted rise from the instrument’s lowest E up to its highest in the space of 24 bars. [EDIT: if you listen closely, you can just about hear Mal Evans under the din, counting out said bars, leading up to the alarm clock going off.] That link serves not just to wind up the listener but the speed, as Paul’s section comes in double-time, a bouncy and simple melody meant to evoke a commuter running late.

The second gives way to a third part via an absolutely breathtaking eight bars – it’s not complex, but listen to how Martin takes a simple four-note score and makes it dynamic by gradually increasing the volume of the brass, pulling them from the back to the foreground, while simultaneously pushing John’s angelic ‘aah’s being pushed back into the increasingly echoey mix.  [EDIT: In the mono mix, John merely fades into the mix, but in the stereo mix he pans from right to left as well. This entire section is by far one of my favorite moments of any Beatle song ever.  A few simple mixing and scoring tricks, but they’re done so beautifully.]

In part three we’ve returned to an abbreviated repeat of John’s first section, played double-time as well…only to be brought back to that nightmarish ascension again. This time, once everyone hits that high E, we’re left floating up in the air for a brief second…only to come crashing down – hard – on a final low E chord. That final breathtaking moment is played by John, Paul, Ringo and Mal Evans on three pianos and George Martin on a harmonium, and is drawn out to nearly forty seconds via the recording level being brought up as high as possible as the piano’s natural reverberation slowly fades.

The Super Deluxe Edition of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will be released on 26 May, one week shy of fifty years of its original release.

 

* Some background here…the Beatles were present for the original mono mix of the album back in ’67, but were not present for the stereo mix, which was done afterwards.  Audiophiles often say the mono mix is much better, as it’s closer to what the band wanted.  It also has a fuller, tighter sound, whereas the stereo mix feels a bit spacious.  Oh–and “She’s Leaving Home” is at the right speed on the mono mix, and in my opinion makes it a stronger song, where the stereo mix was slower and more maudlin, maybe too much so.