There have been some great new additions added to the shop--some of the highlights from this month and last month have been Aja Monet, Estrella del Sol (Mint Field), The Particles reissue, L80s (another fantastic Numero Group release--a first with it's jean-clad outer sleeve and an actual pocket), Sweeping Promises, ANOHNI & The Johnsons, and more.
1. ANOHNI & The Johnsons, "My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross," Secretly Canadian, July 2023 (Black or White vinyl available)
Press: "Recorded quickly, with most of the 10 songs featuring Anohni’s original vocal takes, it’s an album that manages to wear its heaviness lightly and quickly buries its way under your skin."--The Guardian
"... Anohni and her band, the Johnsons — named in honor of gay-rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, who graces My Back’s cover — has carried the weight of her worries for decades. That same tremulous voice and her holistic fragility were the defining aspects of her breakthrough album, 2005’s I Am a Bird Now, and they’re also the qualities that made her live performances in the early 2000s of the Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says” with Lou Reed so emotional, as she captured the aching body dysmorphia of trans icon Candy Darling. Some of her music over the years has sounded more upbeat and dance-forward (she’s collaborated with Hercules and Love Affair) but she’s always sounded best pulling at your heartstrings and dragging you into her world. It’s just in the way her voice flutters."--Rolling Stone
“I want the record to be useful. I learned with Hopelessness that I can provide a soundtrack that might fortify people in their work, in their activism, in their dreaming and decision-making. I can sing of an awareness that makes others feel less alone, people for whom the frank articulation of these frightening times is not a source of discomfort but a cause for identification and relief. I want the work to be useful, to help others move with dignity and resilience through these conversations we are now facing.”
"... The singer and songwriter began working on My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross in 2022 alongside producer Jimmy Hogarth. ANOHNI brought Hogarth pages of lyrics, and, together, they pieced together demos with ANOHNI playing piano and Hogarth on guitar. Hogarth then assembled a studio band including Leo Abrahams, Chris Vatalaro, Sam Dixon, and string arranger Rob Moose to record the full ANOHNI and the Johnsons album ..."--Pitchfork
2. The Particles, "1980s Bubblegum," Chapter Music, July 2023 (black vinyl).
Press: "The Particles emerged out of Sydney’s punk scene in the 70s, but their early recordings lean towards a significantly more melodic, poppy sound. The band’s core members were guitarist Peter Williams and vocalist Astrid Spielman alongside a revolving cast of collaborators, including members of the Cannanes and The Lighthouse Keepers. Throughout their time as a band, the Particles released three EPs – 1980’s Colour In and 1981’s Advanced Colouring were both originally self-released, with final EP I Luv Trumpet arriving in 1983 via Sydney label Waterfront Records. Spielman passed away from a brain haemorrhage in 2015."--Yahoo! Entertainment
"Though they may not be known to any but the most dedicated fan of far-flung post-punk, during the early '80s Australian group the Particles were making music that in retrospect is, along with bands like Dolly Mixture and the Television Personalities, one of the missing links between punk and indie pop. The group had their roots in the same scene that spawned the Saints, but by the time they started recording, guitarist Peter Williams and vocalist Astrid Spielman were looking to blend the simplicity of bubblegum music with the energy of punk, a poetic lyrical stance, and an occasionally angular dance beat. Working with a revolving cast of supporting musicians, the duo came up with a sound that was bouncy, innocent, and stripped down to the basics: mostly guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional keyboard. The Particles only issued three singles during their short run, along with a couple of compilation appearances, and 1980s Bubblegum compiles them all in one handy and completely essential package."--AllMusic
3. Various/Nick Drake, "The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake," Chrysalis, July 2023 (2XLP / 2XLP+7 / CD Digipak).
Press: "The relatively scant body of work English folk singer Nick Drake created in his short life has proven to be one of the more lastingly influential in music history. Though plenty of artists have impacted the sound and vision of those that followed, the painful obscurity of Drake's music while he was alive, the incredible power he harnessed in just three studio albums, and the mysterious air that touched everything he did all contribute to the unique spell he has continuously cast over generations of fans and music makers. The Endless Coloured Ways is one of several various-artists compilations paying tribute to Drake's catalog, but this one has an interesting angle in that the acts involved were instructed to ignore the original version of the song they covered and instead reinvent it in their own way. This concept yields a better mix of results than might be expected. Let's Eat Grandma's soft electro-pop take on "From the Morning" doesn't lose any of the original's gentle joy, despite completely replacing its fingerpicked guitars with vibrating synth pads and the static sway of an archaic drum machine. AURORA's beautiful electronic take on "Pink Moon" is similar. A hazy duet on "Harvest Breed" by Skullcrusher and Gia Margaret builds on Drake's spare arrangement with cloudy ambient textures and layers of haunted vocal harmonies. There's a gnawing post punk-rendition of "Cello Song" from Fontaines D.C., a rearrangement of "Northern Sky" from Karine Polwart and Kris Drever that pairs jazz inflections with traditional folk vocal styles, and a fairly faithful cover of "Time Has Told Me" from Ben Harper -- all ear-catching standouts. Due to the nature of the compilation's prompt, The Endless Coloured Ways lacks continuity, and some of its unmoored stylistic experiments clash with one another. The strongest submissions make it worth the listen, however, as it's wonderful to hear yet another generation of artists doing interesting things inspired by Drake's evergreen presence."--AllMusic
The Songs Of Nick Drake (Trailer): https://youtu.be/hC59HvJB4PY
Fontaines D.C. "Cello Song": https://youtu.be/ezDU--NeT4c
Let's Eat Grandma "From The Morning": https://youtu.be/k3sfm6WGuKs
Stick In The Wheel "Parasite" (Official Film): https://youtu.be/kfPUn8hrBtA
Emeli Sandé "One Of These Things First": https://youtu.be/pLXSi0gJSp8
Liz Phair "Free Ride": https://youtu.be/thzHVi3ZRQM
4. Sweeping Promises, "Good Times Are Coming For You," Feel It Records, July 2023 (White/Black Marbled vinyl).
Press: "This duo continue to deliver lo-fi post-punk earworms on their first album since signing to Sub Pop ... Sweeping Promises dropped out of nowhere the summer of 2020 with Hunger for a Way Out, one of the best debuts of the year, a record that found Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnu fully formed, compressing decades of post-punk, punk, riot girl, alt-rock, etc into punchy pop diamonds. The songs were purposefully lo-fi, had no room for solos or jams, only hooks, with Mondal belting out memorable chorus after memorable chorus. Hunger played, and still does, like a greatest hits album. Three years later, having relocated from Boston to Lawrence, KS and signed to Sub Pop everywhere except North America (they're currently still on Feel It here), the duo are back with its follow up."--BrooklynVegan
"... Hunger for a Way Out was such a strikingly rough diamond that Good Living Is Coming for You couldn't have the same element of surprise, but the refinements Sweeping Promises have made only reinforce how consistent and distinctive their music is -- and how much more it has to offer."--AllMusic
5. Estrella del Sol, "Figura de Cristal," Felte Records, June 2023 (Baby Pink variant).
Press: "Estrella del Sol is known for her work in shoegaze band Mint Field, hailed for their tender exploration of sentimentality and grief. While Mint Field propel their themes with oozing, amplified guitars and commanding vocals, del Sol’s solo work blossoms in a quieter, more electronic space. “I wanted to experiment more with my vocals and mainly synth sounds, always trying to find a different sound,” she explains. The result is a patient and nurturing collection of songs that remind us of the importance in taking our time."--Rough Trade
"Time stands still inside the spacious melodies and emotive structures of Estrella del Sol’s new album, Figura de Cristal. The Mexico City-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for her work in Mint Field, winds a gossamer spirit through the open spaces of the album, using that delicate intricacy to tease out buried emotional threads. At times, the music is calming and quiet, though it floats in heavy water, but in every stretch, del Sol’s songs are dreams."--Brad Rose, Foxy Digitalis
6. Aja Monet, "When The Poems Do What They Do," drink sum wtr, June 2023 (Black double vinyl, gatefold packaging).
Press: "Aja Monet, a Musical Poet of Love ... On her debut album, “When the Poems Do What They Do,” the writer and community organizer offers up a fluid mix of jazz and poetry that evokes the spirit of 1990s spoken-word scenes."--New York Times
"Monet's wondrous debut album, when the poems do what they do, is actively thinking about performative poetry's purpose, and her place in the continuity. Among many other things, on opener "I Am," she is the djembe drum; the gardenia in Billie Holiday's hair; a Bob Marley dreadlock; Marcus Garvey's last microphone. But, most importantly, she is a reflection of community: "I'm only possible because we are," she exclaims. This is not the first time her poetry has been staged with music, but it is her first recording, the first time she has felt like part of an ensemble and the first time her poems feel like songs. Here, she is not only a bard but a bandleader, one tapping the smoothness and urgency of soul to deliver restorative messages at a time when they're much needed."--NPR
7. Various, "L80s: So Unusual," Numero Group, June 2023, (Metallic Gold, Red, or Black variants).
Press: "The tenth volume of Numero’s elaborately packaged Cabinet of Curiosities series, L80s finds the group exploring the far-flung corners of the global downtempo underground. This 12-song mix tape weaves icy hot coldwave, Sausalito seafood jazz, Glaswegian goth, makeshift Madonna, Sade spoofs, and Brat Pack Balearic into a high-waisted, party-ready pair of danceable denim."--Rough Trade
8. Yours Are The Only Ears, "We Know The Sky," Lame-O Records, June 2023, (Sky Blue vinyl).
Press: "Susannah Cutler is a textile designer who moonlights as a musician, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that she’s a musician who moonlights as a textile designer—either way, the Brooklyn-based artist has a nimble handle on both of these creative pursuits. “I feel like I couldn’t choose one or the other—music or art,” she says. “They both serve as an outlet. I feel like I get more excited about making art, but I get more upset if I don’t write a song or something—it feels more urgent in a way because it’s definitely more of an emotional release than painting something is.”--Vogue
"We Know the Sky, the sophomore full length album from Yours Are the Only Ears (aka Susannah Cutler), provides the listener with heartfelt melodies and intensity manifesting itself through nature and vivid imagery. Cutler's songs are full of spirit and tender ruminations on the travails of love, the different ways we communicate, and the ever changing unpredictability of the world around us. This is a record of movement on many levels, Cutler can be remarkably vulnerable and open while accompanied by chiming and airy melodies, displaying a direct and biting edge when the moment requires it. Her ability for endearingly beautiful songcraft is on full display, the ringing fingerpicking and cycling rhythms create a dreamlike fluffy cloud type of atmosphere around mostly delicate tales."--Post-Trash