Indie / Alternative

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Saigon Soul Revival - Mối Lương Duyên (LP)Saigon Soul Revival - Mối Lương Duyên (LP)
Saigon Soul Revival - Mối Lương Duyên (LP)Saigon Supersound
Descending out of the southern night sky through a turbulent cloud of dreams, memory, longing and psychedelia, Saigon Soul Revival’s second full length album — Mối Lương Duyên — represents the latest act in the group’s resuscitation of the raw, heavy and subversive sounds of 1960s and 70s Saigon. Roughly translated to “destiny”, Mối Lương Duyên is a journey through eight original compositions and three soul-stirring reinterpretations of Saigonese nhạc vàng or golden music: the soundtrack to a Saigon once thought lost to history and amnesia. Driven by Western influences rock, bolero, soul, jazz and the rich heritage of Vietnamese ballads, Mối Lương Duyên delivers a seamless blend of genres and traditional instrumentation (Đàn Tranh, Đàn Bầu & Đàn Nguyệt) with themes from across time and space. Nguyễn Anh Minh's seductive vocals glide through this multi-stylistic tapestry of sound, going beyond the universal concepts of love and heartbreak to explore how destiny can be forged through individual experiences... or as she puts it in her own words: "Anything and anyone that comes into your life, every occurrence, whatever comes and whatever goes. It all happens as it is meant to. Whatever you have to face, whoever you love or lose - we must accept it. We can’t choose our physical body, family, happiness or misery, our place in the world, in the universe...but we have the power to embrace and welcome our destiny. In Vietnamese "Mối Lương Duyên" means destiny but it doesn't only refer to love. It can mean many things, for example: How we all came together to form this band." In this way - by being part of the unfolding story - the album also attempts to musically connect the past with Vietnam's evolving future. And the fact that Saigon Soul Revival seems to succeed in this is perhaps also the reason why the song ĐÁM CƯỚI NHÀ EM will be featured in the upcoming HBO Mini-Serie „The Symphatizer“ (directed by Par Chan-Wook (Oldboy) / Robert Downey Junior producer and actor), which is based on the novel of the same name (Pulitzer Prize 2016) by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Beth Gibbons - Lives Outgrown (LP+Obi)Beth Gibbons - Lives Outgrown (LP+Obi)
Beth Gibbons - Lives Outgrown (LP+Obi)Domino

Lives Outgrown is the debut album by Beth Gibbons featuring 10 beautiful new songs recorded over a period of 10 years, the album was produced by James Ford & Beth Gibbons with additional production by Lee Harris (Talk Talk).

Lives Outgrown is, by some measure, Beth’s most personal work to date, the result of a period of sustained reflection and change — “lots of goodbyes,” in Beth’s words. Farewells to family, to friends, even to her former self. These are songs from the mid-course of life, when looking ahead no longer yields what it used to, and looking back has a sudden, sharper focus.

Auschwitz - Live 81/87-93 (CS)Auschwitz - Live 81/87-93 (CS)
Auschwitz - Live 81/87-93 (CS)advaita records

(Auschwitz is the band name given to express their view on life. It has no connection to Nazism or racism and is not intended to discriminate or degrade any race, group, or individual.)

We are releasing a cassette of 87 minutes of previously unreleased live recordings by Auschwitz. The great band formed by the godfather of the Kansai Underground Naoto Hayashi, has marked 20 years since his passed away.

Side A: Live 81 consists of all unreleased tracks recorded from an exceptional live performance on the unknown date in 1981 and FRIGHT 7 DAYS in August of the same year. The early Auschwitz music is mostly unheard of until now, despite the buzz about impromptu performances featuring free-form guitar intertwined over repetitive beats like German rock, and it finally appears in the spotlight. This showcases that Auschwitz delivered an extremely cutting-edge live performance, similar to the post-punk style that flourished in Europe and the United States during the same period. Some tracks feature vocals by bassist Imanishi and drummer Nakajima and a glimpse of Hayashi’s side as a guitarist. It is a valuable testament to how Auschwitz was born through the chemistry of the musical expertise of these three artists.

Side B: Live 87-93 is a compilation of Auschwitz’s last live performance in Tokyo in 1993, a live performance at EGGPLANT in April 1987 just before the recording of their masterpiece “Rule of Spirit,” and a high-quality live performance from an unknown date, most likely around 1990. Starting with the far too beautiful “Journey Through the Night” in their last live performance, it mainly features songs and versions unavailable on previous live recordings, including the unreleased masterpiece “Ashes of Love” mentioned in the liner notes. Finally, it concludes with the latest track, “No Titled,” which was accessible to listen to Naoto Hayashi’s solo version on the Auschwitz Complete Box.

Rasco - Dmaot (LP)Rasco - Dmaot (LP)
Rasco - Dmaot (LP)Batov Records
Sun, sea, and surf rock converge with dreamy hypnagogic pop on 'Dmaot,' the enchanting sophomore album by the guitar-wielding, vocal-harmonising trio, Rasco. Named after Charlie Megira's acclaimed track "At the Rasco" and influenced by iconic artists like The Cramps, Beach Boys, Elvis, April March, and others, Rasco carefully extracts the essence and distinctive sound of sixties surf and garage bands and distils them into a modern and distinctly Mediterranean context. Blending ethereal vocal harmonies with irresistible guitar riffs, Rasco skillfully creates a one-of-a-kind sonic blueprint that sounds like something you dreamed of hearing at Twin Peaks infamous Roadhouse. Electric guitarist Eden Atiya and bass guitar Gaya Wajsman first crossed paths in a smoky cave in Jerusalem, eventually teaming up with drummer Itay Hamudi to form Rasco. Their self-titled debut album, characterised by catchy guitar riffs entwined with mysterious, ethereal vocals, sung in Hebrew, garnered attention and playlistings from the likes of acclaimed pianist, singer, and composer Hania Rani, and Spotify’s editorial team. Rasco’s hypnotic guitar and vocal-heavy sound have earned the group coveted opportunities to share the spotlight on stage alongside global psych bands such as Altin Gun, Boom Pam, and Messer Chups. The trio’s musical journey has taken them on tour in Germany and led to their billing on Cologne's famed c/o pop Festival, solidifying their place in the contemporary psych and surf rock scene. 'Dmaot' (Tears) represents a significant evolution from Rasco's debut, showcasing a darker, and denser side with a shift towards the shoegazing sounds of the '80s. The album, produced by multi-instrumentalist Uri Brauner Kinrot, leader of Boom Pam, pioneers of today’s resurgence in Middle Eastern surf rock and now labelmates on Batov Records, packs a heavier punch while maintaining Rasco's signature hypnotising power. The album delves into dreamlike landscapes, capturing the essence of different scenarios. "Layla" conjures hazy night-drives into the mountains, whilst "Nahar/Rau" reflects prophecies in rivers, birds, and sand. "Suzi Suzuki" is an ode to Japan, and "Louisa" pays homage to Hamudi's Grandma. According to Eden, there's a prevalent theme of "nostalgia for something you've never experienced." Similarly, “Sleeping Sea”, hints at the omnipresent power of the sea, even at its stillest, with its brooding hammond chords and almost C&W guitar, paints memories of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games”. 'Dmaot' also explores the dichotomy between life in the city and life in the countryside. Eden notes, "It's definitely something to define our songwriting by - the mix between electric heavier sounds and mystical, nature-inspired lyrics”. Commencing with a chime-like guitar motif before the first heavy wave of shoegaze-like tremolo hits, “Layla” alternates with an almost Lynchian pre-chorus, whilst the song earworms its way to your brain. “Nahur Rau” almost screams “garage rock anthem” with it’s clap-accompanied beat group rhythm, and fuzz guitar riffs, but the energetic delivery is balanced by Rasco’s laidback style. It would be remiss to omit mention of the group’s incredible cover of Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels”, that seamlessly connects The Smiths, Julee Cruise and the B-52s, in the group’s own haunting style. Rasco is a genre-defying trio that transcends the boundaries of surf rock and psych, creating a mesmerising blend of sound and emotion. 'Dmaot' is a testament to their evolution as artists and their ability to weave a tapestry of sonic landscapes into their own world.

Gastr del Sol - We Have Dozens of Titles (3LP BOX)Gastr del Sol - We Have Dozens of Titles (3LP BOX)
Gastr del Sol - We Have Dozens of Titles (3LP BOX)Drag City
Nearly twenty-five years after disbanding, Gastr del Sol have unpacked their archive, stringing together an alternative view to their genre-melting 1993-1998 run. This assembly of previously uncollected studio recordings and beautifully captured unreleased live performances forms a spacious ode to the flux that was their métier; a further set of reinventions that continue to alter the manner in which we hear music, and literally everything else!
Explosions In The Sky - Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever (LP)
Explosions In The Sky - Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever (LP)Temporary Residence Limited
Somehow, Jeremy deVine (self proclaimed Temporary Residence "overlord") convinced us to leave the mild December climate of Austin, Texas and to drive northeast to Baltimore (where Temporary Residence was based at the time) and record what would be our second record and our first for TRL. This was in 2000 and our means of transportation was a barely functioning, deathtrap of a family van loaded with our equipment, our clothes, several bags of snacks and a massive boombox (there was not a working stereo in the van). The trip took us a few days and we think we played some shows on the way there, but the memories are a bit clouded. We found Jeremy's house and knocked on the door. He answered and invited us inside. The place was in shambles. Boxes of records and CDs scattered about, art supplies crammed into every corner. The physical manifestation of our new record label was a shelf made of cinder blocks and a few planks. Also, it was freezing cold. Jeremy informed us that the house had no heat because nobody had paid the bill. We were concerned. We all slept that night in our parkas and hats and gloves. Then Jeremy woke us all up at seven in the morning (Jeremy doesn't really sleep much and apparently doesn't need to) and piled us all into the van. We would be driving to DC where we would be recording the album. Our first actual day of recording was discouraging. We couldn't play any of the songs right and we were all really nervous. The four of us were convinced that we had made a terrible mistake thinking that we could record an album that a label would actually send to stores for people to buy. At the end of the day, we got back into the van and headed back to Jeremy's house. None of us were feeling very good. We then stayed up all night talking with Jeremy. We told him how badly we thought the first day of recording went and how it might be best if we just packed up and went home. He didn't seem concerned. He said he had faith and that he knew that it would turn out alright. Actually, he didn't talk much about this horrible first day at all. Instead he talked about music and movies and art and food and growing up. He made us all laugh a lot. Eventually we fell asleep. Jeremy woke us at seven again and we drove to DC. And things went well. We recorded for the next few days, waking up early, driving to the studio, recording, eating at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, recording some more, driving back to Baltimore, talking, sleeping, dreaming. Less than a week later, we had a finished record and it was time to go home. We said our goodbyes to Jeremy. We were happy and sad. Happy that we had just recorded a record that we were all excited about. Sad because we had made a new, great friend and we weren't sure when we would see him again. We left. (We scheduled some shows on the way home. One was in Syracuse. The show was in the basement of a house. The police came during our second song and made us stop. The next day our van wouldn't start. We were stranded. We lived in the attic of some kind strangers. For eight full days we read books and watched blizzards and ate Chinese food and went sort of nuts. We almost missed Christmas. But eventually we made it home).
Aerial M - Post-Global Music (LP)
Aerial M - Post-Global Music (LP)DRAG CITY
"This-is-a-remix-record-but-not-in-the-traditional -sense angle. Remix tends to imply that a song has been remixed for the dancefloor, radio, etc. These are 'remakes' in which entirely new songs have been written using primarily 'Wedding Song No. 3' (see DC 144) for source material. Features the work of Directions in Music pioneer Bundy K. Brown, as well as man from U.N.K.L.E. Tim Goldsworthy, Tied & Tickled Trio and Tetsua's DJ Your Food."

Jim O'Rourke - Insignificance (LP)
Jim O'Rourke - Insignificance (LP)Drag City
Insignificance consists of rock plus multiple musical allusions, layers of discreet noises, great playing from all the players and, to top it off, funny pop tunes laced with lyrical arsenic. As the moving finger of O'Rourke points (and clicks...just kidding! Insignificance is an all-analog affair), moments will come and go -- to remind you of other moments. Moments will arrive that have no precedent. And different, conflicting emotions will flash within you. He'll have total control of you, the helpless listener.

Butthole Surfers -  Hairway To Steven (LP)Butthole Surfers -  Hairway To Steven (LP)
Butthole Surfers - Hairway To Steven (LP)Matador Records

The second part of Matador’s reissues of the essential early records by Texas’s Butthole Surfers continues with three of their most insane slabs -- 1985’s ‘Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis,’ 1987’s ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ and 1988’s ‘Hairway to Steven.’

The period during which these records were first issued parallels the Buttholes’ transition from being weirdo Texas outcasts to becoming internationally recognized smut-kings of the American underground. In 1985 they were still the sole province of hallucingen-soaked punk rock freaks. By 1988 they had toured Europe, had records licensed internationally, and bought a house in Driftwood Texas to serve as their home base. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

‘Hairway to Steven’ is a blast, ranging from the blood-smeared guitar-overload of “Jimi” to the acoustic guitar-based sing-along sweetness of “I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas” to the Fugs-like ranting of “John E. Smokes.” Yet somehow, the album managed to get the straight media to actually notice. For all its strangeness, ‘Hairway’ got rave notices in places that had never paid the band any attention previously. It was the Buttholes’ last album of the ‘80s and marks the beginning of their ascendance into something akin to commercial success. Not that the band actually imagined anything at all like that occurring.

Butthole Surfers - Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis (12")Butthole Surfers - Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis (12")
Butthole Surfers - Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis (12")Matador Records

The second part of Matador’s reissues of the essential early records by Texas’s Butthole Surfers continues with three of their most insane slabs -- 1985’s ‘Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis,’ 1987’s ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ and 1988’s ‘Hairway to Steven.’

The period during which these records were first issued parallels the Buttholes’ transition from being weirdo Texas outcasts to becoming internationally recognized smut-kings of the American underground. In 1985 they were still the sole province of hallucingen-soaked punk rock freaks. By 1988 they had toured Europe, had records licensed internationally, and bought a house in Driftwood Texas to serve as their home base. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

‘Hairway to Steven’ is a blast, ranging from the blood-smeared guitar-overload of “Jimi” to the acoustic guitar-based sing-along sweetness of “I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas” to the Fugs-like ranting of “John E. Smokes.” Yet somehow, the album managed to get the straight media to actually notice. For all its strangeness, ‘Hairway’ got rave notices in places that had never paid the band any attention previously. It was the Buttholes’ last album of the ‘80s and marks the beginning of their ascendance into something akin to commercial success. Not that the band actually imagined anything at all like that occurring.

Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician (LP)Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician (LP)
Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician (LP)Matador Records

The second part of Matador’s reissues of the essential early records by Texas’s Butthole Surfers continues with three of their most insane slabs -- 1985’s ‘Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis,’ 1987’s ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ and 1988’s ‘Hairway to Steven.’

The period during which these records were first issued parallels the Buttholes’ transition from being weirdo Texas outcasts to becoming internationally recognized smut-kings of the American underground. In 1985 they were still the sole province of hallucingen-soaked punk rock freaks. By 1988 they had toured Europe, had records licensed internationally, and bought a house in Driftwood Texas to serve as their home base. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

‘Hairway to Steven’ is a blast, ranging from the blood-smeared guitar-overload of “Jimi” to the acoustic guitar-based sing-along sweetness of “I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas” to the Fugs-like ranting of “John E. Smokes.” Yet somehow, the album managed to get the straight media to actually notice. For all its strangeness, ‘Hairway’ got rave notices in places that had never paid the band any attention previously. It was the Buttholes’ last album of the ‘80s and marks the beginning of their ascendance into something akin to commercial success. Not that the band actually imagined anything at all like that occurring.

PJ HARVEY - Boston Tea Party: Live At The Avalon, Boston, Ma, Nov 2nd 1998 – Fm Broadcast (Red Vinyl 2LP)
PJ HARVEY - Boston Tea Party: Live At The Avalon, Boston, Ma, Nov 2nd 1998 – Fm Broadcast (Red Vinyl 2LP)Dear Boss
PJ Harvey’s performance at the Avalon in Boston on November 2nd, 1998, is often remembered as an electrifying and intense concert experience. During this period, PJ Harvey’s live performances were known for their raw energy and emotional depth, with Harvey captivating audiences with her powerful vocals and dynamic stage presence.
Brijean - Macro (Tangerine Vinyl LP)
Brijean - Macro (Tangerine Vinyl LP)Ghostly International
"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." - Rainer Maria Rilke, Go to the Limits of Your Longing Since their debut as Brijean, the project of percussionist/singer-songwriter Brijean Murphy (the percussive heartbeat for live bands like Mitski, Poolside, and Toro y Moi) and multi-instrumentalist/producer Doug Stuart has moved with ingenuity, fusing psych-pop abstraction with dancefloor sensibilities. Through the body and mind, rhythm and lyricism, they make sense of the worlds around and within; 2021's Feelings celebrated self-reflection; 2022's Angelo processed loss, coinciding with the duo's first headlining tour, which doubled down on the material's desire to move. Now, across the playful expanse of Macro, arriving in 2024 on Ghostly International, Brijean engages different sides of themselves, the paradox of being alive. They've leveled up to meet the complexities and harmonies of the human experience with their most dynamic songwriting yet. Colorful, collaborative, sophisticated, and deeply fun, the album animates a macrocosm with characters, moods, and points of view rooted in the notion that no feeling is final and the only way out is through. "Worlds of beauty and pain / I spy comedies in the most mundane," Murphy sings on "Euphoric Avenue," the rainbow road to Macro that expands Murphy and Stuart's shared sense for storytelling. One of the first tracks recorded in their home in Altadena on the outskirts of Los Angeles, "Euphoric Avenue" took shape on organ and drum machine, later welcoming live contributions from Stephanie Yu (strings), Logan Hone (flute), and Kosta Galanopoulos (drums). "Being in this beautiful part of town nestled up against the San Gabriels played a big role in how comfortable we felt stretching out and trying to push our musical boundaries," says Murphy. "Anytime we brought someone into the world to add their musical touch, it felt like a highlight." Throughout the album, additional friends dropping in — including drums parts from Chris Cohen on "Laura" and Khruangbin's "DJ" Johnson Jr. on "Rollercoaster” — give the songs extra depth and bounce. Macro's sequencing elicits an exploratory vibe with high-tempo peaks and breezy valleys in the psyche; astral drifts like "Euphoric Avenue" and "Roxy" (with lapsteel by Ryan Richter) brush up against propulsive pop numbers like "Bang Bang Boom" and the breakbeat-bursts of "Breathe." The latter's exhale sets up "Counting Sheep," both a wistful ballad and a bop. "It's only in my dreams when I'm with you," Murphy repeats across a grooving beat that Stuart built on his OP-1 remixing the demo late at night, isolating the vocals and guitar. "I wrote the lyrics to this song while struggling with insomnia and heartbreak," says Murphy. "That kind of heartbreak that is all-consuming and unrelenting. But I found that within those gutting feelings, the more I leaned into the longing and became witness to the uncontrollable, I was brought closer to peace." "Workin' On It" finds Brijean at their lightest and free. The track initially started as a living room jam, then "Doug played the two-layered basslines over a loop of bongos, congas, and a drum machine and the rest felt like it happened in a dream," explains Murphy. While working late into the night and struggling with insomnia, she improvised her sleep-deprived lines, riffing on self-improvement and modern times, half-serious at first but something clicked in those small hours. Later she asked fans to send voice memos in exchange for art, and some of those got peppered into the soundbed. "That was a treat… Just getting to go through and hear all of these voices from around the world, an intimate and charming experience." Brijean sees the record's vast sonic spectrum in contrast to the expectations for their output — "we're supposed to know the box that our art fits in, and then fully commit to it existing within that box," adds Stuart. Take the closing pair of "Rollercoaster" and "Laura"; one a thrilling roller-disco anthem and the other a parade of heartfelt, flute-heavy indie-pop. Both are signature Brijean and offer an appropriate send-off; love, family, fantasy, pleasure, pain... the intention of Macro is not just to move through the ups and downs but to feel it all.

Luke Temple and The Cascading Moms - Certain Limitations (LP)Luke Temple and The Cascading Moms - Certain Limitations (LP)
Luke Temple and The Cascading Moms - Certain Limitations (LP)Western Vinyl
Lauded for his contributions to Here We Go Magic and Art Feynman, Luke Temple brings his signature off-kilter grooves and melodies to his new project's debut album Certain Limitations. The trio's sound takes influence from the likes of Dire Straits and The Velvet Underground, weaving together intricate guitar work, and a propulsive rhythm section, with a touch of jazz sensibility that recalls the ECM catalog. A product of serendipity, The Cascading Moms were formed when in need of a band for an upcoming show, Temple brought together Kosta Galanopolous, a collaborator from his Art Feynman project, and Stuart, a musician he already knew in LA. When these three came together to rehearse, a spark ignited, revealing a creative connection that transcended that first show that brought them together.

Dana and Alden - Quiet Music For Young People (LP)Dana and Alden - Quiet Music For Young People (LP)
Dana and Alden - Quiet Music For Young People (LP)Winspear
Brothers Dana and Alden McWayne, along with a troupe of multi-instrumental artists, come together to create jazzy melodies with indie sounds inspired by their unconventional upbringing in Eugene, Oregon. Dana (saxophone) is an organic farm inspector while Alden (drums) is a recent grad of Berklee College of Music. Their debut full-length album, Quiet Music for Young People, is a lush album that melds vintage sounds with the aesthetic and experience of existing in Gen Z and the digital age. Quiet Music For Young People also reminisces of the brother's childhood, summer days spent working at an apple orchard and jamming at jazz clubs on rainy Oregon nights. The experimental smooth jazz-infused album closer "Dragonfly" has been gaining traction on streaming due to trends across Instagram and TikTok. The band has recently toured across the US supporting Benny Sings and will be making their headline debut at NYC's Baby's All Right this winter.
Ozean (White Vinyl 12")
Ozean (White Vinyl 12")Numero Group
Set your shoes to gaze mode and rip into this king size cloud of ethereal dream pop. Inspired by the spate of Brits leaning into swirling distortion and punishing volume, San Jose's Ozean played just two shows in their brief existence, dissolving before the Scene That Celebrates Itself ever broke the silicon barrier. The quartet’s 1991 self-titled demo cassette has been remastered and pressed at 45RPM, a timeless document of late adolescent wonder and experimentation.
The Softies - Holiday in Rhode Island (LP)The Softies - Holiday in Rhode Island (LP)
The Softies - Holiday in Rhode Island (LP)K Records
Listening to The Softies feels like peeking into a diary, with no personal detail spared. Holiday in Rhode Island, their third album, presents the most accessible means inside the humble honesty of the emotive universe of Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap, Gaze, Go Sailor) and Jen Sbragia (All Girl Summer Fun Band). The band lyrically documents a lovelorn heart in every manifestation, here hope is a bright silver lining adorning each of these new songs. The harmonies between Rose And Jen shimmer, brighter than ever before, benefiting from strong arrangements and production. Their two delicately jangling guitars and crystalline voices never needed anything else, their minimalist blueprint succeeds in filling every single space, but with maturity comes the security and confidence to explore, and that's just what The Softies do with these tunes.
Khruangbin - A LA SALA (LP)
Khruangbin - A LA SALA (LP)Dead Oceans
“‘A La Sala,’ I used to scream it around my house when I was a little girl, to get everybody in the living room; to get my family together. That’s kind of what recording the new album felt like. Emotionally there was a desire to get back to square-one between the three of us, to where we came from–in sonics and in feeling. Let’s get back there.” - Laura Lee Ochoa The title makes it clear. A La Sala (“To the Room” in Spanish), the fourth studio album by Khruangbin, is an exercise in returning in order to go further, and do so on your own terms. It extends the air of mystery and sanctity that’s key to how bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson, Jr. and guitarist Mark “Marko” Speer approach music. Yet if 2020’s Mordechai, the last studio album Khruangbin made without collaborators, was a party record whose ensuing post-lockdown tour enhanced the band’s musical reputation far and wide, A La Sala is the measured morning after. It’s a gorgeously airy album made only in the company of the group’s longtime engineer Steve Christensen, with minimal overdubs. It is a porthole onto the bounties powering Khruangbin’s vision, a reimagining and refueling for the long haul ahead. A La Sala scales Khruangbin down to scale up, a creative strategy with the future in mind. It is also a response to the unique moment Khruangbin finds itself in now: following a decade spent cultivating extraordinary music paths, beginning a year when they'll perform for more people, in more iconic spaces, staging a live show that pushes a creative envelope peculiar to them alone. (Look for the band at major festivals and venues near you.) 2024 feels like both marker and pivot, cementing Khruangbin’s stature as a commercially and critically successful group that continues to be guided by creative possibilities. Such crossroads are familiar for iconic artists throughout the rock era — your Dylans, Stevies and Bowies, up thru turn-of-the-century Radiohead, all have navigated these straits. On A La Sala, Khruangbin also pulls exploration inward, spurning the din of the crowd’s expectations, mapping a personal direction home. The trio’s collective musical DNA and the years spent constructing it in Houston’s local-meets-global cultural stew ensure the band carries on sounding like no one but itself. A La Sala may in fact be Khruangbin’s purest distillation. A cascade of crisp melodies still emanates from Marko’s reverb-heavy electric, dancing gently around Laura Lee’s minimalist almost-dub bass triangles, while DJ’s drums serve as the tightened-up pocket and unwavering dance-floor on which all this movement takes place. Where prior album-by-album growth seemed to point the narratives towards music’s polyglot edges, such inquiries now sound like known intimacies. What once seemed like sonic invocations — spaghetti-western film scores, found-sounds, dancing moments more living room than rooftop disco — are ingrained characteristics. This is who they are! And there’s a freshness to the instrumental interactivity on A La Sala that’s less concerned with getting further out than going deeper in. That depth is not about therapeutic self-reflection, but a profound desire to celebrate the world’s external wonders. A La Sala invites intimate intercontinental partying. The first single is, after all, called “A Love International.” “Pon Pón” holds the band’s table at the West African discotheque; yet the joy now moves to the corner left of the dancefloor, where the back-and-forth between Laura Lee’s bass, DJ’s hi-hat, and Marko’s tuneful rhythm scratches, is a marvel of knowing head-nods. There’s “Hold Me Up (Thank You),” a familial sweetness in its spare lyrics, feeding off the rhythm section’s sturdy funk shuffle, and a chorus on which Marko’s guitar evokes both sides of the Atlantic in confident unshowy rhythms. They’re on “Todavía Viva” too, next to DJ’s noir-soul rim-shots, synth strings and a pregnant pause that is Laura Lee’s favorite moment on the album, the mood kin to the band’s glorious live interpretations of G-funk fantasias. And the rocked-up miniature, “Juegos y Nubes,” demonstrates Khruangbin’s Houston-born superpower to culture-mix, a dancing mood less concerned with worldly glamor than communal grooving. “I read something long ago, attributed to Miles Davis. He said, ‘When they play fast, you play slow. When they play slow, you play fast.’ And it's definitely how I've approached looking at music: Don't follow the trends. And if the trend is this, then do something else.” - Marko From the get-go, Khruangbin’s journey has been emphatically its own: a sound and visual representation with few precedents, ignoring pop expectations, relying only on internal inspirations, and a multitude of visions. It’s a mindset of penetrating the self, connecting to the surrounding world, modeling your own life experiences. This ethos is threaded throughout A La Sala, audible in the album’s form and function. (It’s even visible in the vinyl version’s physical package, which will be released as a set of seven distinctive covers and color-sets — more on which in a sec.) The building blocks for the album’s 12 songs were jigsaw pieces found in Khruangbin’s creative past. Having stockpiled ideas originally set down as off-the-cuff recordings (voice-memos made at sound-checks, on long voyages, as absentminded epiphanies), they began fitting those pieces together in the studio. Which parts were apt? Which could be massaged and stretched out? Which inspired new sections or rhythms or musical interactions? Once more, Khruangbin’s familial DNA kicked in. Layer-by-layer, the intimate work, rework and re-rework bore new fruit. They also brought back a strategy once foundational to their records: seeding an album with field recordings. Some results fold directly into A La Sala’s down-home feel. “Three From Two” and “May Ninth” are wistful mid-tempo numbers, with guitar melodies that reside somewhere between Bakersfield and by-the-riverside, cues that, for all its borderless inclusivity, another core Khruangbin value is being steeped in American roots. And in the landscape that music comes from. Like all albums prior to Mordechai, Marko made sure environmental sounds — natural and man-made — appeared as textures. (At times philosophically: the group recorded while cricket chirps played in their headphones, presumably for terroir.) It’s how A La Sala achieves such interconnected set-and-setting-ness. Other results are more metaphorical, especially in Khruangbin’s flirtation with ambient spaces. The dramatically beatless “Farolim de Felgueiras” and “Caja de la Sala” both feature only Marko’s unmistakable guitar dueting with Laura Lee’s Moog, lightly layered with sounds of shoes on stone steps, and cicadas in an open field. The closing “Les Petits Gris” more fully reduces and fleshes out the ambiance, with a piano and a simple single-note bass pattern, Marko’s plaintive spare guitar echoing the melody of a ballerina-turning music box. It feels an apt way of ending — as a passing of this particular moment, preparation for the next one, soon-come. Even the seven different covers that adorn A La Sala’s various vinyl editions offer a throughline from the music into Khruangbin’s current frame. Designed by the band using Marko’s multitude of travelog photos, they are windows from the band’s living room onto a set of daydreams, scenes of impossible skies, external glances illuminating what is going on inside. These are also directly related to David Black’s images of DJ, Laura Lee and Marko which accompany A La Sala, and to Khruangbin’s live staging reinvention. It’s all about looking out and looking back, in order to better look ahead. “All the little moments you capture. You don't see how impactful they are until you hear what eventually comes of them. A lot of those scraps end up being the thing — and you don't realize it until it's ‘The Thing.’” - DJ

Melenas - Ahora (LP)
Melenas - Ahora (LP)Trouble In Mind Records
'Ahora', the new record by Melenas is the exact opposite of "that difficult third album". While other bands might be suffering from a lack of inspiration typical of that delicate creative moment, our Spanish quartet reappears more invincible than ever, reassembled with a collection of dazzling songs, and revitalized with a splendid new palette of sounds that raises the following question: can you make jangle pop and garage rock with synthesizers? Listening to songs like 'K2' or 'Bang' the answer is a resounding yes, because the glorious throb of the analog keyboards that dominate 'Ahora' does not betray Melenas' sound, that bubbling vibration that the guitars provided until now, propelling their songs to the pop heaven. The new textures that vintage synths like the Korg Delta or the Yamaha PSR-36 provide maintain that immediacy, and also imprint fascinating new shades of color by stretching the band's sonic identity, transforming it with new nuances, from the crystalline pop of '1986' to the somber but moving undertones of 'Flor de la Frontera'.

 Moreover, this new wealth of tonalities is in keeping with an album in which Melenas have a lot to say: its title ("Now") aspires to vindicate, according to the band, "the importance of time, to reflect on how we live our everyday lives, with whom we share our moments and how we want (or don't want) to do it". An exploration of their own identity, of their relationships with others, and of the importance of " togetherness, shared feelings and shared action". Their intentions to "convey a moment of halting and reflecting on the present to know what we want to remain and what we need to leave behind" are brilliantly captured in verses such as "El tiempo que pasó ¿a quién se lo dí? / Desde hoy ganaré lo que perdí" (The time that passed, who did I give it to? / From today I will gain what I lost") or the irresistible "Lo bonito se acaba, me dijo mi ama / Este fuego calienta o te puede quemar" (What is beautiful always comes to an end, my mama told me / This fire can heat you up or burn you down). 

At the same time, musically, the new sonic vibes symbolically delve deep into those themes: the concept of togetherness is conveyed in the vocal harmonies, more abundant and elaborate than ever. The concept of time, by means of some astounding sequencers, arpeggiators, and mechanical rhythms. Combined with Melenas' knack for pop, these elements turn many of these songs into an exciting mixture of darker, machine-like shades (the cold wave echoes of 'Flor de la Frontera', the kraut rhythm of 'Bang') with heavenly melodies. All this is woven together with a wealth of dazzling electronic arrangements (check the gorgeous Korg Monologue and Moog textures on '1.000 canciones'!), handcrafted to perfection but played with the energy of a live band, in a very post-punk conjunction of synthesizers with real bass and drums. The outcome includes such wonders as 'Dos pasajeros', 'Tú y yo', or that banger named '1986', which sounds like contemporary pop but is propelled by the same spirit with which new wave bands in the early 80s used analog synths as if they were garage-rock Farfisa organs. Or the beautiful 'Promises', with its synthesizer riff destined to become a neo-synth pop classic. 

Ahora' is the confirmation of a wonderful anomaly that at this point should no longer surprise anyone: the fact that a Spanish band that writes and sings in Spanish is released in the US as part of the prestigious Trouble In Mind label. It also encompasses an enormous desire to 'seize the moment' at a time when Melenas are more in command of their creative powers than ever. Not so much to give a new twist to their music - which is still essentially rooted in a love of pop - but to invest their songs with a new electronic energy and vibe. With these ingredients, let's hope the future holds 1,000 more songs from Melenas.
Carmen Villain - Only Love From Now On (LP)Carmen Villain - Only Love From Now On (LP)
Carmen Villain - Only Love From Now On (LP)Smalltown Supersound
US-born, Norwegian-Mexican artist and producer Carmen Villain's fourth album Only Love From Now On is out February 25th, 2022 on Smalltown Supersound. The culmination of a build-up that began with a turn in sound evident on 2019's Both Lines Will Be Blue, Only Love From Now On presents Villain’s aesthetic blossoming into something unexpected, benevolent in its composure and altogether luxuriant in its sensuality. If her themes are wide, philosophical, and occasionally abstract, the emotional tenor of Hillestad's music is clear and purposeful. Makes sense that her key musical touchstones are dub, ambient, and cosmic jazz – flexible vehicles for tranquil wonder. Listening to Only Love From Now On is simultaneously comforting and alluringly strange. Partly it’s the contributions of guests Arve Henriksen (trumpet, electronics) and Johanna Scheie Orellana (flutes). Partly it’s the fluidity between instruments – such as clarinets – field recordings, the studio, jam, and careful composition. She calls the process a conversation with sound that occurs in her deliberate attempts to experiment with new methods, like granular synthesis, for her music-making. Only Love From Now On is fueled by the sense of scale in feeling small in the face of things so large, the contemplation of how the biggest impact we can have is in the people close to us, the attempt to make sure that impact is a positive one, and the choice to try to focus on love instead of fear. Hillestad describes it as "wishing to maintain a sense of careful optimism for the future, while on the cusp of something unknown."
O Terno - <atrás/além> (Blue Vinyl 2LP)
O Terno - (Blue Vinyl 2LP)Psychic Hotline
is the fourth and most recent studio album by the Brazilian band O Terno. The record, which follows the acclaimed 2016 release "Melhor do Que Parece", features 12 unreleased compositions and musical experimentations that show a new path for the band. Released by Selo RISCO, it's filled with orchestral arrangements that add up the sound of the trio, formed by Tim Bernardes, Biel Basile and Guilherme d'Almeida, and also features special appearances by Devendra Banhart and Shintaro Sakamoto.
Duster - Stratosphere (25th Anniversary Edition) (Constellations Splatter Vinyl LP)Duster - Stratosphere (25th Anniversary Edition) (Constellations Splatter Vinyl LP)
Duster - Stratosphere (25th Anniversary Edition) (Constellations Splatter Vinyl LP)Numero Group

言わずと知れたスロウコアの大名盤!これは是非聞いておくがいい。自国のソウル、ゴスペル、ファンクにとどまらず、ニューエイジ・ミュージック始祖ヤソスや日本からは原マスミまで、世界各地のオブスキュアなサウンドを掘り起こしてきた米国の大名門〈Numero〉からは、1998年に〈Up Records〉からリリースされたDusterのデビュー・スタジオ・アルバム『Stratosphere』が25周年を記念してアニヴァーサリー・リイシュー。スロウコアの第一波の頂点にたつ一枚であり、子宮の中で聞くべき!暗い空間と閉じた瞼のための音楽にして、パンクの鋸歯状のエッジを持つアンビエント・ミュージック。

Karate - The Bed Is In the Ocean (Lego Tri-Color Vinyl LP)Karate - The Bed Is In the Ocean (Lego Tri-Color Vinyl LP)
Karate - The Bed Is In the Ocean (Lego Tri-Color Vinyl LP)Numero Group
A lingering guitar note. A cushion of a bassline nudging along a hushed cadence unspooling impressionistic poeticism one halting line at a time; the sparse snap of a snare providing punctuation. This is how Boston’s Karate opened their third full-length, 1998’s The Bed Is In The Ocean. Perhaps this was a reaction to the aggressive punk tones that marked their previous album, or maybe they hoped to capture the somnambulant dusk on one of those pristine fall days that make living in a town whose population swells when colleges welcome back students all worthwhile. Then again, Karate never made a point of chasing the same idea twice, and “There Are Ghosts” remains in line with the band’s stylistic intrepidness and unpredictability. Even the group’s lineup appeared constantly in flux. After expanding from a trio to a quartet and employing a dual-guitar attack with 1997’s In Place of Real Insight, founding member Eamonn Vitt hung up his axe to attend medical school. Karate soldiered on as a trio, with mid-stream addition Jeff Goddard’s bass work helping establish a sidewinding path forward through the smoky jazz melodicism and sun-beaten blues brushstrokes that hung in the background of the band’s catalog. In their short time together, Karate helped bolster the national punk ecosystem, a scene in which individual artistic vision was prized but rarely achieved. Their exacting precision and emotive interplay helped recombine the DNA of the dignified grace of slowcore, the hot-and-sweaty atmospherics of the blues, and the high-wire tension of post-hardcore to deliver drawling instrumental curveballs and a furtive riptide climax with a controlled grace on “Outside Is The Drama.” Singer-guitarist Geoff Farina frequently teased out the emotional nuances of each song, his worn-in voice shading in the complexities of his enigmatic lyrics; no matter how difficult it may be to parse his snatched-from-daily-life wisdoms, on The Bed Is In The Ocean Farina sounded like a guy who knew exactly the right thing to tell whoever may be listening. And with Karate’s snaking turns through quasi-punk reveries no one else appeared capable of mustering, it’s comforting to hear it accomplished by a band that knew exactly what they were doing.
Codeine - Dessau (Clear Smoke Translucent Vinyl LP)
Codeine - Dessau (Clear Smoke Translucent Vinyl LP)Numero Group
After the success of Codeine's Frigid Stars LP, the trio of Stephen Immerwahr, John Engle, and Chris Brokaw booked time at Harold Dessau Recording in June 1992 to track an eight-song sophomore album. A few days and a couple of unexplainable high-pitched frequencies later, the record was scrapped, shelved, and forgotten about. Brokaw left the band shortly after, and these songs were re-tracked in various iterations for Codeine's final LP. On its 30th anniversary, Numero has unearthed these recordings, restoring the original White Birch to the band's exacting standards with producer Mike McMackin. A slowcore masterpiece hidden in plain sight.

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