Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld: Never The Way She Was


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From the label:
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“Two of Constellation’s acclaimed solo instrumental artists join forces on this tremendous new album of original compositions for horn and violin. Colin Stetson has developed a unique and renowned voice as a performer and composer, chiefly on bass and tenor saxophones, where he rallies an array of technical strengths and innovations to make some of the most captivatingly organic, darkly soulful and otherworldly solo instrumental work of recent years. The solo violin work of Sarah Neufeld has emerged more recently, and especially through 2011-2014, in the period between her primary band Arcade Fire’s last two albums. While no stranger to modern/minimalist composition with her Bell Orchestre ensemble dating back to the early 2000s, Neufeld has lately forged a newly distinctive, deliberate and evocative solo violin practice combining rock, folk, ambient and modernist sensibilities, culminating with her debut solo album Hero Brother in 2013. Stetson and Neufeld first began playing in duo formation while on tour together as soloists in 2012, joining each other on stage for one or two of their respective pieces. Duo compositions for their debut album emerged throughout 2014, and were road-tested that spring with performances at the Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (Canada) and Moers Festival (Germany). The album was recorded without overdubbing, looping, sampling, cutting or pasting at their farmhouse attic studio in rural Vermont by Hans Bernhard and mixed in Montreal by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire). Never Were The Way She Was is guided by the metaphorical narrative of the life of a girl who ages slow as mountains; excited, exalted, and ultimately exiled in her search for a world that resembles her experience. The album’s expansive sonic trajectory and multiplicity of structures and voicings belies the fundamental economy of two acoustic instruments combining in real time. The result is a musical chronicle that powerfully establishes its own spatial and temporal horizon, a soundtrack that requires no images but profoundly compels the imaginative. From the filigreed ostinato polyrhythms of “The Sun Roars Into View” and “In The Vespers” to the stately long tones of “And They Still Move”, the dark drone-inflected sea-saw waltz of “With The Dark Hug Of Time” to the growling, pulsing thrust of the album’s epic centerpiece “The Rest Of Us”, Stetson and Neufeld offer up an incredible (and impressively diverse) integration of composition, performance, timbre and texture while holding their respective instruments in sparkling juxtaposition. Never were the way she was is a sum quite definitively and thrillingly greater than its parts.”
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Never The Way She Was is out April 28 via Constellation; listen to “The Sun Roars Into View” below.
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Speedy Ortiz: Foil Deer


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From the press release:
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“Sadie Dupuis wrote much of Speedy Ortiz‘s sophomore album Foil Deer at her mother’s home in the Connecticut woods, where the songwriter imposed a self-regulated exile and physical cleansing of sorts, finding that many of the songs came to her while running or swimming alone. “I gave up wasting mental energy on people who didn’t have my back,” she says. “Listening to our old records, I get the sense I was putting myself in horrible situations just to write sad songs. This music isn’t coming from a dark place, and without slipping into self-empowerment jargon, it feels stronger.” Many of the songs deal with a similar sense of starting over, editing out the unnecessary drama. “Boys be sensitive and girls be aggressive,” she sings on “Mister Difficult.” And while their debut album was recorded on the fly, Speedy Ortiz spent almost a month in the studio on Foil Deer. Mike Falcone’s drums are taut, mechanistic; Darl Ferm’s bass ranges from the aggressive rattle of an AmRep classic to smoother, hip-hop inspired lines. Guitarist Devin McKnight, meanwhile, lends spacier, textural riffs to complement Dupuis’ wiry, melody-driven guitar style. “The demos for our songs have always had tons of small details and production experimentation, but we never had any money to pay for more than a couple days in the studio, so the songs came out very live-sounding and guitar heavy,” Dupuis says. It was recorded and mixed at Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes (Silver Jews, Enon, Deerhunter), with the record mastered by Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beauty Pill), lending a more polished sound and a pop sensibility that will stand out to existing fans and new converts alike. For all the lyrical complexity and guitar-based excursions Speedy Ortiz have built their reputation on to this point, Foil Deer has a sense of light-footed fun. What’s the point of doing things yourself if you’re not going to enjoy the trip?”
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Foil Deer is out April 21 on Carpark Records; listen to “Puffer” below.
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Acid King: Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere


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From the press release:
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“Certain pillars uphold the underground. Their influence pervades throughout future generations, shaping the sound, style, and spirit of artists for years to come. Such can be said of Acid King, bubbling up from San Francisco in 1993 through a fog of revved up riffs, thunderous drums, and hypnotic vocal howl. This unholy triumvirate of visionary, vocalist, and guitarist Lori S, drummer Joey Osbourne, and bassist Mark Lamb existed before terms like “stoner rock” and “doom metal” entered the musical lexicon. On their fourth outing Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, the three-piece maintains the corrosive concoction at the heart of their identity, while simultaneously progressing. “I really wanted to add more depth and layers to our signature sound,” says Lori. “Everything still feels like riding a motorcycle on Quaaludes, but things have expanded. It was important that we didn’t write the same record over and over again. This is a little moodier. It happened organically that way.” In order to achieve that goal, the musicians riffed away in their Bay Area practice space, and the good old fashioning jamming yielded eight artfully architected tracks bookended by an “Intro” and an “Outro”, fusing together a cohesive journey. Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere was recorded at both Sharkbite and Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, mixed at Different Fur Studios and produced by Acid King and Billy Anderson. Striking artwork from famed tattoo artist Tim Lehi (who has designed cover art for High On Fire, Earthless and Witch) provides a preliminary indication of the cosmic scope of the musical innards. Acid King are doing things on their own terms, letting their personal ethos continue to drive the music. “We never played this music for popularity,” Lori S. exclaims. “There are no rules. We do everything how we want to. Acid King has always been driven by that.””
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Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere is out April 20 on Svart Records; listen to “Red River” below.
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Pale Blue: The Past We Leave Behind

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The paradigms of music industry fame have shifted so much in the last decade or so that now, as well as superstar DJs, superstar remixers and superstar producers, we have superstar label heads too. Mike Simonetti is one such figure, best known as the co-founder – alongside Johnny Jewel – of the Italians Do It Better imprint, and before that as the boss of punk/ noise outlet Troubleman Unlimited, but his latest move sees him taking centre stage in a more traditional way: by making music of his own rather than helping other people to get theirs heard. The Past We Leave Behind is the debut album from Pale Blue, Simonetti’s box-fresh duo with Silver Hands vocalist Elizabeth Wight, and although it just happens to be the first release on his new, post-IDIB venture – a joint enterprise with Captured Tracks’ Mike Sniper called 2MR (Two Mikes Records) – it’s much more than just a vanity project or extravagant advert for the newly minted label. In fact, Simonetti has crafted an effortlessly epic record that could cause his old pal Jewel a few sleepless nights, one that draws together the producer’s myriad influences – dance music, ambient atmospherics, noise-, drone- and dream-pop – and presents them as a beautifully realised long-form sonic fantasy to rival the best of the IDIB catalogue. With it’s glistening Italo disco cuts (the gently percolating title track and sinister, distortion-drenched “Embrace”) and spacey synth workouts (“The Scars”, “Rain”) The Past at times feels like a successful attempt by Simonetti to genetically modify his old label’s trademark sound; indeed, it’s tempting to view Pale Blue as “Simonetti’s Chromatics”, but the smallest of details can make a big difference and Wight’s vocals are unabashedly impassioned, smouldering where those of Ruth Radelet or Glass Candy’s Ida No chill with studied detachment, making this another animal entirely. It’s slicker too, a futuristic, 3D sci-fi movie rather than a grainy ’80s slasher flick, and roughly half of the album pays loving homage to more contemporary dancefloor styles: hypnotic Chicago house on “One Last Thing”, skipping Kompakt-esque electro-pop on “The Eye”, throbbing techno minimalism on “Distance To The Waves”. There’s even a loopy, thumping cut & paste sample collage (“The Math“) that sounds like the Avalanches trying their hand at Field-style happy trance which – somewhat surprisingly – works brilliantly. There are no obvious singles (an intentional move, apparently) but that doesn’t stop any of the tracks from being utterly engaging, and – perhaps thanks to Simonetti’s experience behind the decks – the album ebbs and flows for its hour-plus duration like a DJ set you just can’t tear yourself away from. With any luck, Johnny Jewel might have a competitive streak and be sufficiently motivated to finish the new Chromatics and Glass Candy albums he keeps promising, but even if not we should consider ourselves spoilt: regardless of whether or not Italians really do it better, The Past We Leave Behind is a master-class in how it should be done.
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The Past We Leave Behind is out now on 2MR/ Captured Tracks; check out the title track below.
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Bop English: Constant Bop


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From The Skinny:
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“At first glance Constant Bop just looks like a sixties pastiche. From the pastel-washed cover to the cheesey title, this could pass for a lost Tim Buckley or Arthur Lee record, so it’s a surprise to find that Bop English is the nom de plume of White Denim’s James Petralli. Despite being ably assisted by day-job bandmates, Constant Bop largely eschews the guitar squall of the Texan four-piece and does indeed aim for old fashioned trippiness in keeping with its cover. Petralli’s voice is unmistakable and this new cap fits him rather well, especially on the barn dance stomp of “Struck Matches“. Dashes of his parent band’s experimentalism only occasionally infiltrate with melody favoured over noise here. Retro it may be but it’s refreshing to see an artist shrugging his usual creative straightjacket.”
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Constant Bop is out April 14 on Blood And Biscuits; check out “Dani’s Blues (It Was Beyond Our Control)” below.
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American Wrestlers


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From Pitchfork:
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“Here’s a complete rundown on the available information on American Wrestlers: he’s a Scotsman who used to record under a different, presumably well-known name before getting picked up by Fat Possum and he now lives in Missouri. Of course, the first impulse is to dissect the decision for anonymity, to wonder what everyone involved is trying to say while saying nothing. But it’s in alignment with all of the conscious sonic decisions on “I Can Do No Wrong”, the first single from American Wrestlers’ upcoming eponymous debut. The song’s boxy bass, squishy vocals, rippling 12-string riffs and straight-to-tape production hearkens back to the cloistered, mid-fi psychedelic pop of Elephant 6 and their associates, expansive and lush music that maintained a kind of private press sensibility. At least at the time, it could seem like you’d stumble upon these songs magically and accidentally, either as an inclusion on a mixtape handed down from someone more in the know or featured in a magazine that wasn’t necessarily available at the Borders in your local mall. But after that, you were tasked with finding out more, of deciding whether the investment of either time, money, or imagination would pay off. Who knows what we’ll eventually find out about American Wrestlers or whether it’ll matter: for all we know, the guy from Aereogramme just holed up in Joplin or something and he’s dying to start an Instagram account. For the time being, the blinders are on and the glowing hooks of “I Can Do No Wrong” effusively speak for whoever’s behind the curtain.”
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American Wrestlers is out now on Fat Possum; listen to “I Can Do No Wrong” below.
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Wand: Golem

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From the press release:
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“Following up their debut full-length on Ty Segall’s God? label, Wand presents their second album, Golem, on In The Red. Recording with Chris Woodhouse at his Hanger studio in Sacramento, Wand summons the dark and heavy power of the riff. Back in September 2013, Wand was quietly dismembered and ritually eaten in the hills near Dodger Stadium. Wand was reborn as “Wand”—an obese organ falsely organized as four overjoyous nerds. Four flesh balloons betting on a few aging amplifiers. Rumor has it they listen to Here Come the Warm Jets on loop all day and plot mail fraud. What’s more, they allegedely stole Dale Crover’s car and sacrificed it to the weather near the Los Angeles County Line. A few things, at least, are certain: Wand hears ghosts. Wand prefers serpents. The Sun is the mother of every fiction. All phenomena will be consumed in alphabetical order, but desire will recirculate ad infinitum. If all else fails, Wand will just devour more hands.”
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Golem is out now on In The Red Records; listen to “Self Hypnosis In 3 Days” below.
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GABI: Sympathy

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From the bio:
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“Gabrielle Herbst’s formal training began at an early age, studying Balinese dance and gamelan in Indonesia while learning both the clarinet and piano. Her training continued at Bard College where she studied voice and composition under the tutelage of Joan Tower, Zeena Parkins and Marina Rosenfeld. Her work has already been showcased at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, as well as Roulette, who in 2014 commissioned and premiered her first opera, Bodiless. Herbst’s experience writing for chamber orchestra and mixed instrumentation inspired her to develop a repertoire of short-form, vocal-centric compositions under the name GABI. These were driven by solitary explorations in early 2013 with a dual-track loop pedal. The nine songs composed for Sympathy embrace the vast potential of the human voice as instrument, story, and landscape. Sympathy was recorded in the studio where she was joined by her band Matthew O’Koren (percussion), Rick Quantz (viola), Josh Henderson (violin), and Aaron Roche (electric guitar / trombone). With production by Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Paul Corley (Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker, Ben Frost), these open-ended sessions yielded a suite of compositions that capture that Gabrielle’s metamorphosis into GABI via an intimate exploration along the edges of song-form. GABI renders past influences and new collaborations into a personal statement on the desire for human connectivity and emotional catharsis.”
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Sympathy is available now via Software Recording Co.; check out “Fleece” below.
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Toro Y Moi: What For?


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From the press release:
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“Opening to the scream of cars speeding around a racetrack, and maintaining that intensity with booming guitar riffs and psychedelic effects throughout, the forthcoming album from Toro Y Moi is definitely making a statement. Or maybe a few statements. But Chaz Bundick, the frontman and songwriter, is leaving it up to you to figure out what they are. While it is obvious that each song is crafted around a personally meaningful experience, Chaz seems to purposefully leave the lyrics just vague enough to let each listener mould it into something unique. Chaz presents you with a few themes: love, beauty, nature; and gently lets go of your hand so you can wander off on your own. A feeling of searching for something threads its way through every song on the album, which is aptly named What For? It feels contradictory in a very human way, like Chaz is swinging between waiting for something and not being able to wait anymore. But the swinging isn’t panicked or frustrated, it’s just a situation that he’s reflecting on. The songs are heavy with nostalgia, too, for simpler times, better music, more fulfilling relationships. Chaz references Weezer to warn you that “there is no one to destroy your sweater” and, in another song, recalls Big Star to declare that “rock and roll is here to stay.” It feels like he misses everything (even things he wasn’t around for yet), but is somehow excited for what comes next. What For? is a glimpse into the life of a guy trying to figure out what it all means. The music is influenced by bands like Big Star, Talking Heads, Tim Maia, Todd Rundgren, but it doesn’t quite sound like any of them in particular. And it isn’t trying to. It has that special something that Chaz imbues in every Toro Y Moi album, his personal filter on the world he experiences. So whatever message you take from the album, don’t forget that it’s good. As Chaz himself so candidly believes, “Good is good. Good finds its own audience.””
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What For? is out now on Carpark Records; check out “Run Baby Run” below.
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Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp


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From the press release:
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Waxahatchee, the solo musical project of Katie Crutchfield, is named after a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Ivy Tripp drifts confidently from its predecessors and brings forth a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield currently finds herself. The lament and grieving for her youth seem to have been replaced with control and sheer self-honesty. “My life has changed a lot in the last two years, and it’s been hard for me to process my feelings other than by writing songs,” says Crutchfield. “I think a running theme (of Ivy Tripp) is steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.” Recorded and engineered by Kyle Gilbride of Wherever Audio at Crutchfield’s home on New York’s Long Island—with drums recorded in the gym of a local elementary school—Ivy Tripp presents a more developed and aged version of Waxahatchee. “The title Ivy Tripp is really just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents. I have thought of it like this: (Waxahatchee’s last album) Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas.””
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Ivy Tripp is out April 7 on Merge Records; listen to “Air” below.
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