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Enter here for the chance to win a pair of tickets to see One More Time With Feeling at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Sat. Dec 17!

 

 

Last Month's Top Sellers

1. LEONARD COHEN - You Want It Darker
2. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS - American Band
3. ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO - Burn Something Beautiful
4. NICK CAVE & BAD SEEDS - Skeleton Tree
5. NORAH JONES - Day Breaks

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FEATURED RELEASES

Friday
Nov252016

OXFORD AMERICAN 2016 Music Issue 

JUST ARRIVED! Collect all three covers!

"Across the 160-page magazine and 23-song CD compilation, we’re celebrating one of the South’s greatest cultural exports: blues music. The issue comes in multiple covers, showcasing three generations of blues artists: John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and Adia Victoria.

The CD features classic blues (Charley Patton, Allen Toussaint, Big Mama Thornton) alongside contemporary artists reinterpreting the genre (Alabama Shakes, Bassekou Kouyaté, Regina Carter), plus rare recordings (including a never-before-released vintage CeDell Davis track). The magazine contains new work by some of the best music writers of our time (Greil Marcus, Daphne A. Brooks, Elijah Wald, John Jeremiah Sullivan) and essays by first-time Oxford American contributors (Jeffery Renard Allen, Rashod Ollison, Sarah Bryan, Zandria F. Robinson), as well as stories from OA regulars (Amanda Petrusich, Jewly Hight, Cynthia Shearer, David Ramsey)." - Oxford American

Saturday
Nov192016

VA - David Holmes: Late Night Tales

"Few individuals fit the mould for a much-loved, artist-curated compilation series quite as comfortably as David Holmes. From his globetrotting, hugely influential DJ career to his genre-hopping solo output via soundtrack work for the likes of Steven Soderbergh and Steve McQueen, the Belfast polymath has the quintessential markings of a Late Night Tales curator. Doubling up as a feature-length breather of sorts following two decades of activity and crate-digging, Holmes’ addition to the series is a quiet triumph of meditative poise and restraint, underscoring his reputation as a savant whose appetite for curio, collaboration and the deepest of cuts continues to hold him in good stead...

...Rather than simply invite one to slumber, David Holmes impels the listener to cut themselves some metaphysical slack on his Late Night Tales. Conjuring both a sense of Nietzschean Eternal Return and the aboriginal concept of Dreamtime, this is music to be listened to on a solitary stroll just as the evening starts to bleed into the night. It’s music to submit to on good headphones whilst quietly rejoicing in the ever impenetrable, fucked-up madness of it all. It’s music to seek out when some respite from all the blurred lines in this very busy world is desperately sought. In taking our hand but never gripping too tight, Holmes taps into something that even the best Late Night Talescompilations sometimes neglect: the pure self-therapy of total escapism." - The Quietus

Wednesday
Nov092016

VARIOUS - (Microcosm) Visionary Music Of Continental Europe 1970-86

"The follow up to Light In The Attic’s game-changing I Am The Center box set is finally here. The Microcosm: Visionary Music Of Continental Europe, 1970-1986 is the first major overview of key works from cosmically-taped in artists needing little introduction — Vangelis, Ash Ra Tempel, and Popol Vuh — and unknown masterpieces by criminally overlooked heroes like Bernard Xolotl, Robert Julian Horky and Enno Velthuys.

Whereas I Am The Center called for a reconsideration of an entire maligned genre, The Microcosm requests nothing more than an open mind to consider this ambient, new age, neuzeit, prog, krautrock, cosmic, holistic stuff, whatever one calls it — as a pulsating movement unto itself, a mirror refracting the American new age scene in unexpected, electrifying ways, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the universality of the timeless quest to express “the Ineffable” through music.

Drawing from major label budgets and homemade cassette distributed circumstances alike, The Microcosm demonstrates a depth of peace profound to behold, and clearly expands the boundaries. Lovingly conceived and lavishly presented by producer Douglas Mcgowan (Yoga Records) and liner notes contributor Jason Patrick Woodbury (Pitchfork, Aquarium Drunkard), The Microcosm features stunning cover paintings by Étienne Trouvelot, and labels by Finnish savant Aleksanda Ionowa." Light In The Attic

Tuesday
Nov082016

CHOIR OF CLARE COLLEGE - Remembrance

"Early November is filled with recollections of loss, from All Saints’ Day, on the first, to All Souls’ Day, on the second, to Remembrance Day on the 11th. In keeping with those traditions, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge has released a new recording on that theme called “Remembrance.” The packaging is decorated with poppies, the traditional image of the tragedy of World War I, taken from Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields:” “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row ...”

The almost 80-minute program includes a collection of nine brief choral works, from an ancient Russian Orthodox melody to a new arrangement of William Henry Monk’s iconic hymn “Abide With Me,” John Tavener’s exquisite “Song for Athene” and William Harris’ “Bring Us, O Lord God,” along with a complete recording of Maurice Duruflé’s setting of the Requiem mass. There’s not a weak link in there. Unlike some British university choirs, the Choir of Clare College is composed of both men and women, and they have a beautiful blend. The solo work of mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston in the Duruflé’s “Pie Jesu” movement is particularly noteworthy. Director Graham Ross skillfully maintains that sound; this is a gorgeous disc." - St. Louis Post Dispatch

Saturday
Nov052016

BETTY HARRIS - Lost Queen Of New Orleans Soul

"Under the guidance of musical legend Allen Toussiant, unsung soul queen Betty Harris recorded a string of incredible singles that have finally been collected on a new compilation by Soul Jazz Records. Recorded between 1964 and 1969, and backed by seminal engine room The Meters, the singles capture Harris’ raw, soulful, uncompromising voice that reflected the city’s raucous music scene, spilling out of every joint on Bourbon Street.

Although not native to New Orleans – she flew in for sessions from LA – Harris was synonymous with the city, pressing singles to Toussaint and his business partner Marshall Sehorn’s local label Sansu, that would become staples in jukeboxes across Louisiana. However, failing to gain the wider reputation enjoyed by her contemporaries like Lee Dorsey (who she recorded with) and The Meters (who backed her), Harris’ contribution was never fully realised and her career as a musician ended prematurely at the turn of the decade." - Vinyl Factory

Saturday
Nov052016

AGNES OBEL - Citizen Of Glass

"Citizen of Glass, the third album from Danish-born, Berlin-based singer-songwriter Agnes Obel, takes its title from the German concept of the gläserner bürger, meaning "the glass citizen." It's a legal term that refers to privacy — if somebody is glass, every detail about them is known. Though like the material itself, a person can, of course, never be totally transparent. Like glass, one can be distorted, cracked or even a reflection of something else. 
 
Obel uses this idea to create her most ambitious work to date, both conceptually and instrumentally. While 2010's Philharmonics and 2013's Aventine were applauded for the artist's piano work and the hushed beauty of her voice, here Obel complements her compositions with grandiose instrumentation, including violin, cello, spinet and the Trautonium. The additions are magnificent and never overwhelm, staying true to Obel's commitment to minimalism and forming a haunting, symphonic quality that partners with delicate vocals as they lead the way through the album." - Exclaim

Saturday
Nov052016

VARIOUS - After School Special: 123's Of Kid Soul

"Meet the kids with soul and funk galore. Like the label’s previous Homeschooled release, this new compilation focuses on the music 70s schoolgoing ensembles were making when classes ended. The Jackson 5 were the big influence for most of these kids – the brothers’ blend of pop, R&B and soul was a winner in playgrounds everywhere. You can hear shades of the Jacksons in the work of Georgia’s The Scott Brothers, whose Runnin’ Wild is a serious slab of funky pop. But it wasn’t all about the J5, as shown by the Bethlehem Center Children’s Choir’s touching I’m a Special Kid; Nancy Dupree and her students’ James Brown; and a great cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised from Brother’s Rap. A fascinating insight into what happens when music education goes beyond the classroom." - Irish Times

Saturday
Nov052016

STEVE REICH - The ECM Recordings

"There was a time when Steve Reich had few champions. Now he wins the Pulitzer Prize, collaborates with Jonny Greenwood, and on various anniversaries of the composer’s birth, concert halls the world over schedule celebrations of his catalog. But in the late ’60s and early ’70s, during his hardcore minimalist period, labels offered only sporadic commitments, including one-and-done relationships with both Columbia and Deutsche Grammophon. Before the American vanguard of minimalism would be canonized in classical circles, someone would have to demonstrate long-term confidence in Reich’s art.

In 1978, Manfred Eicher’s ECM imprint offered the first issue ofMusic for 18 Musicians, after famously spiriting the tapes away from a tentative Deutsche Grammophon. (The latter had been sitting on the album for years, after paying to record it in 1976.) Eicher’s trend-spotting sense proved keen: The jazz label’s first “classical” release eventually sold over 100,000 copies. ECM followed up this success as soon as they could, with a collection of shorter Reich pieces from his past, one of which was already more than a decade old. After a third LP—the recorded debut ofTehillim—Reich moved with onetime ECM employee Bob Hurwitz to the label Nonesuch, his recording home ever since." - Pitchfork

Saturday
Oct222016

LEMON TWIGS - Do Hollywood

"The teenage brothers and leaders of The Lemon Twigs are a gloriously off-kilter proposition. Watch them live and you’ll see Michael leaping around the stage as if he’s been possessed by the spirit of a young, madcap Keith Moon. See them on TV and you’ll instantly think you’ve been transported back to the 1970s. Queen, Tom Petty, spandex jumpsuits, vintage synthesizers, The Beatles after the break-up and genuinely great hair all play a sizable part in their DNA. Haircuts aside, how many other indie bands in 2016 would willingly admit to liking any of the above? This is where even The Lemon Twigs must be surprised at their recent trajectory. Within six months they’ve gone from complete unknowns to being hailed as the future of rock ’n’ roll. Which is funny when you think about it – because they sure do sound a lot like the past.

On much of ‘Do Hollywood’, their debut album for 4AD, there’s a lineage that recalls the A-list of North America’s recent cult music heroes (The Garden, Tobias Jesso Jr and Foxygen, whose songsmith Jonathan Rado produced this record). But The Lemon Twigs’ sheer musical knowledge, and willingness to incorporate it into their own sound, means they’re in a different stratosphere altogether. Their greatest talent is their ability to pick the pockets of rock’s dinosaurs without making it seem passé or pastiche. So we get clever, intricate, well- planned and deftly executed songs that recall Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd (‘Haroomata’), Wings (‘I Wanna Prove To You’), The Kinks (‘Those Days Is Comin’ Soon’) and classic, harmonious Beach Boys (‘These Words’). Only rarely does it ever sound trite. It’s thrilling for the most part, as if you’re being given a crash course in classic songwriting by two young know-it-alls." - NME

Saturday
Oct222016

VARIOUS - Black Gold: Samples, Breaks & Rare Grooves From Chess Records

"Incredible sounds from the Chess Records catalog – not the blues that you might know the label for, but a huge range of funk, soul, and jazz tracks from the headiest years of the 60s and 70s – a time when the Chicago scene was really turning out some incredible musical hybrids! As you'd guess from the title, all the cuts here have had a new life in recent years – thanks to samples by hip hop artists or other producers – but the original grooves are even better than the tracks that used them, and come together here to make one of the most mindblowing collections of Chess material we've ever heard! The package is nicely heavy on sounds from the Cadet/Concept years of the label – with more than a few contributions from producers Charles Stepney and Richard Evans – and the package features 42 wonderful tracks." -Dusty Groove

Friday
Oct142016

JULIA JACKLIN - Don't Let The Kids Win

"Though only her debut, Julia Jacklin’s Don’t Let the Kids Win works like a musical punch to the gut, a tearjerker that makes even the most public of spaces ready sobbing spots. Each of the album’s 11 songs sounds effortlessly polished, her voice seasoned with the emotion of an entire lifetime. Jacklin takes elements of the whip-smart lyrics of fellow Australian Courtney Barnett, the evocative musicality of Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten’s confessional poetry, and Jessica Pratt’s mesmerizing melodies — the mosaic of strengths made fresh by a unique perspective. 

Don’t Let the Kids Win closes with its title track. Lyrics that at first feel generic become utterly personal. “Don’t let your grandmother die while you wait/ A cheap trip to Thailand’s not gonna make up for never getting to say goodbye,” she mourns. “Gonna keep on getting older/ Gonna keep on feeling strange,” she bristles. It’s as if she’s offering advice to her former self as much as she is the listener. Throughout, the album offers a window into her world, revealing the singer-songwriter’s most intimate corners." - Consequence Of Sound

Tuesday
Oct112016

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Born To Run

"Springsteen’s book is the written equivalent of one of his legendarily lengthy stage shows. It’s a massive tome that will never be long enough for the fans (and probably seem a bit indulgent to naysayers), but carefully orchestrated to deliver rising and falling action, quiet moments of reflection and explosive passages of excitement, all laid out with the come-hither exhortations of a born performer. And at more than a few points, it leaves them wishing the words had musical accompaniment, as passages sound engineered to be shouted into a microphone with the passion and energy of a carnival barker, or possibly a tent-revival preacher—which, in his live act, is a fusion the musician often embodies.

Like life itself, the book lingers within the early years, and as time passes, years and events begin to churn by faster and faster, only stopping to explore singular moments or unexpected situations, like the political uproar over “41 Shots.” But some of the most potent moments reside in the final chapters, as Springsteen exposes a late-in-life struggle with depression that is as revealing as anything in the previous 450-plus pages. The artist’s forthrightness in confronting such vulnerabilities speaks to his lifelong commitment to rendering personal stories in vivid and affecting ways, his penchant for populating his music with striking characters now turned on his own life’s pains and pleasures. There are surely stories left to tell, but Springsteen, in his endless quest to craft the perfect setlist, has selected those that best fit his narrative. Even with this excellent effort in revealing the most human and exposed parts of himself, the Boss wants to put on a great show." - AV Club

Tuesday
Oct112016

ELUVIUM - False Readings On

"These songs stretch and curl in a state between nature and construction like oblong Spiral Jetties. Shifts are so gradual, so subtle, that even on close listen it is hard to pinpoint exactly when they begin. Music is defined by time and its passing more than most other art forms, but False Readings On comes close to existing outside of it. “Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse” is only 17 minutes long if you’re watching the clock. The same fluidity applies to “Drowning Tone” and its single spin of the second hand. Beginnings and endings happen here only because the three-dimensional world demands it.

Vocals, or approximations thereof, come to take an almost surprising presence, but, whether it’s “Regenerative Being”, with its intermittent soprano peaking like an old opera broadcast bounced back to this planet from the next galaxy over, or the spectral choral samples on “Movie Night Revisited”, they are as fleeting as they are focal. All together, False Readings On is not without weight and form, but it does leave an outsized impression for the mass it wields." - Popmatters

Tuesday
Oct112016

VARIOUS - Let It Be: Black America Sings Lennon, McCartney & Harrison

"It was not long after Beatlemania broke out all over the USA that their songs started to find their way into the catalogues of notable black American artists. By the middle of the 1960s soul and jazz performers were rushing to find the pick hits on new Beatles albums in the same way pop and rock acts had in the UK a year or two earlier.

The songs here span the Beatles’ entire discography, from the “Please Please Me” album to “Let It Be”, and features an agreeable blend of tracks that stick fairly close to the group’s own visions and others for which the term radical interpretation might be an understatement. A few artists from “Come Together” are welcomed back, as are a couple of songs, but in totally different treatments.

Highlights include Mary Wells’ beguiling boss nova-styled ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’, Aretha Franklin’s first person singular romp through ‘Eleanor Rigby’, the Temptations giving ‘Hey Jude’ a boogie woogie groove and Bill Withers’ sanctified essay on our title song" - Ace Records

Monday
Oct032016

JOHANN JOHANNSSON - Orphee

"Icelandic composer and producer Jóhann Jóhannsson wrote Oscar-nominated scores for Sicario and The Theory of Everything. In his new album, Orphée, his simple, haunting sketches of instrumental poetry use the familiar tale — and elements of a particularly famous telling of it — to comment on changes in his own life.

Jean Cocteau's impressionistic 1950 film Orphée transplanted the legend to postwar Paris, and includes the poet of the title listening to mysterious voices on the radio. According to Jóhannsson's liner notes, it's an effect he chose to duplicate in "a period that saw old relationships die and new ones begin, old lives left behind and a new life begun in a new city."

If you're into Philip Glass and Michael Nyman and Arvo Pärt and movie soundtracks in general, this could be for you. You'll probably hear this music on TV and out in the world. Maybe it'll decorate a rainy afternoon, give texture to your night or even remind you of your capacity to follow the promise of someone — a lover, even a fellow musician — to the future, to the past, to Heaven, to Hell." - NPR

Thursday
Sep082016

TEENAGE FANCLUB - Here

It's no small thing being able to write consistently beautiful pop songs...but it sure is something that people take for granted. Scotland's Teenage Fanclub know a thing or two about that. 25 years of genius, ebuliiently harmonized tunes should make them legends. Instead, one of the best kept secrets out there (Norman Blake lives in Kitchener now people! He's one of us!) Here is their 11th album and it's really great. Just like all the others. In fact, after a few weeks with it, it might just be their best LP in some time. If you're already a fan, you'll love it. If you haven't been converted yet, your best chance is here. (See what we did there? Just come and get the record.) 

"On Here, the balance between melody and whipped-up layer is a bit more complicated, and it portrays well the album’s central tension. The way “The First Sight” opens up from dreamy melodies into towering guitar riffs and horn sections. The keys and dusty fills that tangle up the end of “I Have Nothing More to Say”. The quiet chords that yield to the loud propulsion of “I’m in Love”. The brilliantly layered vocal harmonies clashing with distorted notes on “It’s a Sign”. Every turn complicates and muddies up the album’s power-pop center without distracting from sweet hooks and beautiful turns of phrase. In short, to listen to Here is to engage with its thematic complications. Every song keeps you in the moment, keeps you paying attention. But it’ll go with you into the future; it will ring in your ears. And, eventually, you’ll think back fondly on the first time you heard these solid and shifting songs." - Popmatters

Thursday
Sep082016

WILCO - Schmilco

Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson was a career-defining, Grammy-winning, style-straddling bonafide classic pop LP that sounds as masterful today as it did in 1971. Wilco's latest nods towards that record in its title, though its sights are set at more modest level. Introspective and cagey, Tweedy & co. leave most of the hooks in the box, but the interplay between members is fascinating to follow and more subtle than ever (even firecracker guitarist Nels Cline plays it pretty cool). For those who liked the idea of Sky Blue Sky's chill vibe but found that record too saccharine and by-the-numbers, Schmilco is your jam. The title suggests a shrug, but the album's hard-won obsrvations are found everywhere.

"That’s exactly what Jeff Tweedy and his long-running creative juggernaut Wilco have done on their tenth album, Schmilco, a record that they’ve described as “joyously negative.” As Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman pointed out in our cover story on the LP, it’s “a description that should frustrate every music critic out there looking for the perfect signifier.” He’s right. It is frustrating to search for cynicism and discontent in an album that finds the band sounding more at ease than … well, ever. If Tweedy has so much to be crabby about, then why the hell does he sound so relaxed?

Because those two states of mind aren’t mutually exclusive. The latter might even be dependent on the former, and Schmilco recognizes that from the get-go. On opener “Normal American Kids”, Tweedy reflects on how carefree his younger days were, even though he resented the positivity of his peers while growing up. Now that he’s older and has witnessed or experienced events actually worth fretting about — addiction, sick relatives, doomsday politics, the works — he realizes the cruel joke of his own adolescent misanthropy: So many of us spend the easiest times of our lives being consumed with dread when the worst is yet to come. And when the worst does come at an older age, sometimes we’re better equipped to deal with it than in the past — if we’re honest about our own darkness, that is. “Normal American Kids” is not a song about wasted romance or happiness, but wasted worrying. Think of it as a gleefully grotesque reversal to “Heavy Metal Drummer” and all its halcyon sentimentality." - Consequence of Sound

 

Tuesday
Sep062016

TUNS - Tuns

"If you grew up on the collective songbooks of their Super Friendz, Sloan and the Inbreds, chances are you'll be grinning just as big over this latest release. Certainly, parts of the record could be likened to the former Haligonians' halcyon days. For instance, while driven by a glammy stomp from drummer Chris Murphy, the backing falsetto harmonies of his bandmates on "Look Who's Back in Town Again" echo his closing cries on Sloan ballad "The Other Man." That said, the act broadens its horizons by exploring '80s vintage Athens, Georgia jangle ("Mixed Messages") and twitchy, cane sugar-spiked power pop ("Mind Your Manners"). Slowing things down just slightly for the finale, O'Neill steals hearts with a tender vocal turn on the lightly strummed, but heavily swoon-worthy "I Can't Wait Forever." While it's a group of seasoned pros, there's a wide-eyed and youthful feel to TUNS. In part, this could be attributed to Matt Murphy's quite cherubic vocals, but more than that, it just sounds like the three old pals are having a blast working together. Beyond its heaps of pop-rock hooks, TUNS debut full-length is a testament to the eternal power of friendship." Exclaim
Tuesday
Sep062016

LEE MOSES - Time and Place (2016 reissue)

"Lee Moses was a huge talent and if he’d had the big hit album he richly deserved, Time And Place would’ve been it. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Moses cut his teeth in the clubs of Atlanta, the ‘Motown of the South’, where he frequently performed alongside his contemporary Gladys Knight (who reportedly wanted him for the Pips, but couldn’t pin him down).

It was, however, in New York in the ‘60s that Moses made his greatest bid to find the solo fame he desired. Moses began working there as a session player, even playing frequently with a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix, but his close relationship with producer and Atlanta native Johnny Brantley eventually saw him getting his own break via a series of 45s in 1967 – most notably with covers of Joe Simon’s “My Adorable One”, The Four Tops’ “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” and The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”.

It was 1971 before Moses’ dream of being at stage front was realized, when he released his Brantley-produced LP Time And Place for Maple Records. Recorded with a band including members of The Ohio Players and Moses’ own backing group The Deciples, it was, nonetheless, Moses himself whose star quality shone through, via his scratchy guitar riffs, his throat-ripping vocals and the stirring mood that permeates the LP’s heady mix of funk, soul and R&B." - Light In The Attic

Tuesday
Aug232016

COPENDIUM: An Expedition Into The Rock'n'roll Underworld by Julian Cope

Published in the UK in 2013, now available in North America...

"I like to fancy I know a little bit about the more obscure corners of the rock world. Did I not, after all, spend 20 years listening to John Peel? Did I not sneer at and spurn the mainstream? I am now chastened. I know nothing. Or at least, nothing compared to Julian Cope, erstwhile frontman of the Teardrop Explodes, now writer, unofficial warden of the ancient sites of Britain, and, by his own admission, spaced-out freak. (And by my own earnest assertion, under-appreciated national treasure.)

Here is a book of umpteen reviews by Cope of umpteen bands, a book so thick that its spine alone can accommodate not only the book's title and author, Faber's logo and a drawing of the Cerne Abbas giant waving an electric guitar, but three quotes from reviews of the book itself (from Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Roddy Doyle and Q magazine). Of these umpteen bands, I had heard of about 11.

The reason you want to read that is – apart, of course, from the idea you might learn something – because of Cope's prose. As far as I know, both the Oxford Style Guide and Faber's in-house manual do not explicitly rule out spelling "was" "wuz", but they don't rule it in, either. Cope uses that spelling when mentioning the band the Pretty Things, who, as Cope puts it, "wuz Born Never Arsed a full decade too early". (In other words, they were punks avant la lettre, and he's right.) The book is almost all written in an unapologetic, Lester Bangs mid-to-late stoned NME style, and it's no accident that the late-hippy adjective "righteous" not only comes up frequently, but is the first word of the book after its introduction. Sentences are long, quirky but controlled – and hugely informative. It is, in short, a celebration of the music Cope is himself celebrating: loud, irreverent, verging on the apparently mindless, but actually possessed of an underlying tight control and intelligence. In other words, just right." - The Guardian