v/a LA BELLE EPOQUE: EMIs French Girls 1965-1968 CD
*** A fantastic selection of chanteuse pop, once import-only and now available domestically.
AMP FIDDLER Afro Strut CD
ATHLETE Beyond The Neighborhood CD
DEVENDRA BANHART Smokey Rolls Down The Canyon CD
DEVENDRA BANHART Smokey Rolls Down The Canyon CD+BOOK
*** "Recorded in Topanga Canyon, once home to Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Joni Mitchell, Mick Fleetwood and members of the Doors. Those ghosts inhabit the sound and vibe of these recording sessions. Everyone wants to say that an artists' new album is the best thing they've ever done, but this is truly the case here. The whole "freak folk" tag is gone and in its place is a classic, gorgeous rock album. There are songs that are fragile and solipsistic, ones with a pronounced Tropicalia influence, and ones that are wildly electric and epic."
BLACK FRANCIS Blue Finger CD
*** "Musicians gain songwriting stimulus from broken relationships, bad intentions, and pop culture, but leave it to Black Francis (a.k.a. Frank Black) to find inspiration in the works of the late Dutch painter Herman Brood, who was also recognized as a musician fronting His Wild Romance. The Pixies' alter ego alludes to Brood either candidly or implicitly in all 11 songs, veering far from the Nashville-and-Memphis tones of the last two Black albums for a return trip to his raucous roots on loose-knit tracks."
THE CAVE SINGERS Invitation Songs CD
*** "A fascinatingly rural blend of homespun mystery and 'folk music approached by way of punk rock, or an updated version of the Anthology of American Folk Music,' to quote the Seattle Weekly. You might hear bits of Calexico, Iron & Wine, Devendra or indeed Lindsey Buckingham in their dense and eerie sound."
STEVE EARLE Washington Square Serenade CD
*** "America's greatest songwriter" returns. 12 new tracks and ALLISON MOORER duets.
FOO FIGHTERS Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace CD
TIM GANE & SEAN O'HAGAN La Vie d'Artiste 2xCD
*** "Tim Gane and Sean O'Hagan (respectively of Stereolab and High Llamas fame) put their heads together to pen the music for a new French comedy 'La Vie d'Artiste.' This is the first time they've worked together as a double act since their one-record band, Turn On, released a self-titled album in 1996. When originally approached by the director, Marc Fittousi (a huge fan of both the High Llamas and Stereolab), he wanted them to deliver something that captured what he loved about both bands and reached the heights of classic film composers like Ennio Morricone, François de Roubaix and Piero Picconi."
JOSE GONZALEZ In Our Nature CD
*** BLENDER said "Set against dense, dizzying syncopated guitar patterns, Gonzalez' words acquire unexpected hypnotic power."
HERBIE HANCOCK River: The Joni Letters CD
*** "The legendary pianist and innovator explores the words and music of another pioneer--JONI MITCHELL." Features performances by LEONARD COHEN, NORAH JONES, JONI MITCHELL, CORINNE BAILEY RAE, LUCIANA SOUZA, and TINA TURNER.
HAWKWIND Space Ritual 2CD+DVD
*** Reissued, remastered, bonus tracks, PAL DVD and it's the shit.
HELIOCENTRICS Out There CD
*** URB said “Malcolm Catto’s band turns traditional funk on its head with his syncopated drums tying up ’60s psychedelia and free jazz into chaos-on-the-one.” In an alternative galaxy, where the orbits of Hip-Hop, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic, Electronic, Avante-Garde and Ethnic music all revolve around “The One” – that's where you might find The Heliocentrics." Malcolm's brainbending drumming has been featured on releases by Madlib's YNQ and DJ Shadow albums and live show.
HIGH ON FIRE Death Is The Communion CD
*** This is High On Fire's ultimate sonic masterpiece!
CHARLIE HUNTER & BOBBY PREVITE Altitude 2xCD
*** Extraordinary pairing with JOHN MEDESKI as the special guest. One disc is an acoustic set, the other an electric.
BETTYE LAVETTE The Scene Of The Crime CD
*** With DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS as her backing band. "A blistering mix of anguished soul & greasy rock&roll, laced with swampy guitars, slippery Wurlitzer piano and Bettye's razor sharp voice in the forefront."
LE LOUP The Throne Of The Third Heaven Of The Nations... CD
*** "The complex themes of The Throne are characterized by mounting tension and dramatic swells, coupled with an engaging emotional resonance that lifts just as much as it illuminates. Simple melodies plucked on a banjo are buoyed by keyboard lines, improvised percussion, and sometimes as many as a dozen overlapping and intertwining vocal tracks, creating a complex and lush soundscape which shrouds itself only long enough to surge into hugeness. Conceptually abstruse while remaining fundamentally personal, The Throne is a collection of rushing narratives that connect the individual struggle of each of us to the death of the universe in a manner that is both intimate and unshakably vital."
PAT METHENY Secret Story 2xCD
*** Fully remastered, featuring 5 bonus tracks from the original session available for the first time.
JONI MITCHELL Shine CD
*** "The radiant return of one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time."
MUM Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy CD
*** "Over 3 years after the release of múm's last album, a new batch of songs making up a fresh album, strangely titled 'go go smear the poison ivy', a colorful, twitching and playful work of art, full of life affirming energy. The album was recorded in a number of different places, one of them being the music school in the small fishingtown of Ísafjörður, making use of the schools various instruments. The drums were mostly recorded in an old school house on the island of Nötö west of Finland. The songs on this multifarious album were conceived over a long period in many a different fashion, one song even dating back to the period of 'Yesterday was dramatic, today is OK.'"
MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams CD
*** Limited edition. 12 new tracks + "Soul Spaceship" as a bonus.
SHOCKING PINKS Shocking Pinks CD
*** NME called Shocking Pinks "an icon-in-waiting...we're in love with DFA's new signing." XLR8R said the album is "like a lo-fi shoegaze Belle & Sebastian."
STARS In Our Bedroom After The War CD+DVD
*** The follow-up to Set Yourself On Fire. Bonus DVD includes a 55-minute documentary of live performances and interviews.
TUNNG Good Arrows CD
*** RECOMMENDED. "Dubbed in the British press as 'nu-folk' or 'folktronica' and by Pitchfork as a 'digital folk collective,' this septet uses traditional as well as non-traditional instruments to create music that mixes in electronica, folk and pop elements among others and skillfully avoids any genre limitations as a result. Good Arrows is a totally immersive record, enveloping the listener and their first album to be recorded in its entirety with the full, six-piece band. Taking influences from Icelandic prog rock, choral music and film soundtracks, Good Arrows marks a significant development for Tunng."
WEAKERTHANS Reunion Tour CD
*** "This Canadian quartet has always excelled at mixing pop hooks with slice-of-life lyrics that earn comparisons to short story masters like Grace Paley and Raymond Carver. Musically, if you could imagine the Mountain Goats crossed with Death Cab--or even an older, slower, rocking-er Decembrists more in love with life itself than the dictionary--you'd not be too off the mark."
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Two Hunters CD
*** "Grim & purifying black metal from the forests of Cascadia." Yes!