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Stef Chura’s Saddle Creek Records debut is resonating with several sites in our following. On this standout release, the Detroit musician wields “leg-cutting words, a six-string axe, and burnt electric production from Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo that twists rusty riffed bombast through flaming red hoops.”

Michigan’s Stef Chura is a formidable triple threat: She is a intense singer, A bracing guitarist, and a revelatory songwriter. You can hear Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in her side-eyed snarl, Cat Power’s coiled intimacy in her quieter moments, Jack White and PJ Harvey in her modernist take on primitive instrumental violence and Nineties guitar-twisters like Silkworm, Pavement and Modest Mouse in the way her songs can often mutate and stretch beyond where you expect them to end up. But chalking up Chura to the sum of any sonic signposts doesn’t nearly do her second album justice. In every chirp, croak and holler, in every athletically mangled solo, she’s discovering her own voice, finding her own way to rewrite her world, and fool it too.

Stef Chura – Method Man from the album Midnight

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“Angie, are you tough enuh-uff/To let it go?” asks Mary Timony over her sugared electric guitar churn at the outset of Ex Hex’s latest, immortalizing a new rock’n’roll Angie with as much performative heartache and swagger as Jagger did, maybe more.

Ex Hex’s second album is about garage-rock thrust at its core, like prime Rolling Stones and their own debut Rips. Like that LP, it draws a through-line from the Shangri-Las to Blondie to Sleater-Kinney to, well, Ex-Hex. This time, though, pop-metal production shine adds a new meta-textual layer, conjuring visions of the CBGB Class of ‘76 upscaled to the arena rock of ’86, thanks in part to furniture maker-turned indie-rock production swami Jonah Takagi. It’s nothing but guitars, bass, and drums, but the sound is huge, bulked up with vocal reverb, choice pedals and amps.

Ex Hex have released the bizarrely glam new video for the track “Rainbow Shiner” from their latest album It’s Real, is out now via Merge Records.

The video’s animator, cult cartoonist M. Wartella, says of the project in a statement, “As artists, often our destructive tendencies come from the same place in our heads that creativity comes from, and that is what we aimed to capture in this psychedelic trip clip. Well, that and to rock your socks off! For real!!!”

From the album It’s Real, out now on Merge Records.

KEVIN KRAUTER – ” Pretty Boy “

Posted: June 26, 2019 in MUSIC

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On “Pretty Boy” the new track from the Hoops bassist Kevin Krauter, you can sense that the repeated guitar riff is a form of nirvana for the musician. It’s effortlessly technical, hypnotic in its metronomy but comforting in its hazy familiarity; the other instruments are both superfluous and vital, cohering into a greater whole that envelops you for its mesmerizing four-minute runtime.

Krauter explains in a statement that he wrote “Pretty Boy” in an attempt to learn “new ways to express feeling through my instrument,” and that the track helped him discover newfound love and confidence in himself. “Tell that pretty boy I wanna / see him dance, dance away,” Krauter sings in hushed tones just before a short instrumental break. When he returns, it’s with a self-assured beam: “Look ahead, say I see me now / Smiling at what used to stress me out.”

“Pretty Boy” sounds like walking meditation feels; the sensation of simultaneous connection and introspection, focusing on your circular movement until you don’t even realize you’ve been listening to the track for hours on end.

Krauter is currently working on a follow-up to last year’s Toss Up for Bayonet Records, and is about to embark on a short tour supporting Soccer Mommy.

When a Black Midi song blares, it’s like an impossible mountain climb—as soon as you find a ledge to grasp, it’s an electrifying triumph, but once you’ve gripped it, it crumbles off and you’re left hanging above a frightening abyss. With Black Midi, it’s all about the pursuit. You’re on a mission to find a more bewildering moment than the last. Their unconventional time signatures, breakneck guitars, propulsive grooves, Geordie Greep’s eccentric vocals and Morgan Simpson’s exceptionally agile drumming results in these devious, indeterminate rock squalls that make them so enamoring. Following a much-hyped run at this year’s South By Southwest, Black Midi are unleashing their debut album, “Schlagenheim”, via Rough Trade Records on June 21st. It’s misshapen, unpredictable, and at times murky, other times freakishly precise. It’s an experimental rock carousel with both a charming craftiness and menacing grandiosity. When Black Midi were on tour in Paris. they spoke about the band’s songwriting process with Geordie Greep, their slippery sound and the polarizing reactions to their music.

It may be hard to write about, but Schlagenheim is a record you feel more so than anything else. Case in point: First track “953” features one of the hardest hitting lead guitar riffs in recent memory, an opening salvo that makes you want to drop everything. Within mere seconds of hitting play on their debut album, Geordie Greep and Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin make their case as two of our most inventive contemporary guitarists, all while you try your hardest to keep time with a beat that will still elude you after 10 listens. There’s a high barrier to entry for Schlagenheim, a record by a band who refuses to meet you halfway. Pedantic and pretentious all the way through, Schlagenheim showcases why black midi are generationally great instrumentalists despite our inability to follow what they’re doing and why. Schlagenheim is like Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica in this way—it doesn’t always sound aurally pleasing, and it’s often tough to keep up, but it rewards those who try. By the end of “Ducter’s” anarchic pandemonium, you won’t know what hit you, but you’ll find yourself quickly returning to “953” for another go around of an album that showcases some of the most talented musicians around, coalescing behind an experimental, genre-less and extremely noisy sound to exceptional results. Schlagenheim is beyond weird. Schlagenheim is a legitimate one of a kind record. Schlagenheim is a masterpiece.

album ‘Schlagenheim’ is out now:

In “Mr. Tillman” the single off his 2018 LP God’s Favorite CustomerFather John Misty sings through a bizarre conversation he had with the person working the desk of his hotel. Jason Isbell makes a cameo shortly after a member of the hotel staff casually mentions Tillman has a few outstanding charges and that Tillman left his passport in his room’s mini fridge: “Did you and your guests have a pleasant stay? What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face / And oh, will you need a driver out to Philly? Jason Isbell’s here as well and he seemed a little worried about you.”

Isbell later joked about the instance on Twitter, but refrained from popping out for a cameo when Misty — a.k.a Josh Tillman — played “Mr. Tillman” at Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park on Wednesday night (June 19th) and was met with a round of cheers when he sang through the verse.

A year after Father John Misty unveiled God’s Favorite Customer, Isbell and his band, the superlative 400 Unit (which includes renowned fiddle player Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife), find themselves on the road with Father Misty and Jade Bird. The trek is proving to be an ideal match-up for two of the best songwriters in American rock, and they have plenty in common — to the point where it’s shocking no one’s made the call to pair them up on a co-headlining tour before.

Pristine tenors with exceptional musical acumen aside, Tillman and Isbell share a brave propensity to stare, unblinkingly, into the churn of crisis. Disintegrating relationships, loosening grips on mental health, the pressures that come with striving to be a good partner (and father, in Isbell’s case), and facing all of the above in a world gone mad and growing madder by the minute — none of this is off-limits or too far afield for either songwriter. Isbell’s “White Man’s World” from 2017’s The Nashville Sound is a master class in this allergy to bullshit put to paper, and the song directly confronts the racism, sexism and classism that shaped the American experiment in a radical call for empathy. Even his contribution to the soundtrack for A Star Is Born, “Maybe It’s Time,” throws to this (and played over well in Brooklyn).

Tillman explores the consequences of these destructive forces across both 2017’s Pure Comedyand God’s Favorite Customer, and though he’s the one who called the planet a “godless rock that refuses to die” (on Pure Comedy’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution”), it could’ve been an Isbell line. On their own terms, they each unpack the scariest issues of the moment while condensing them into songs listeners can absorb and sing along to, as both artists were met with a near-constant sing-along from the crowd of 5,000 that gathered to join them in the rain in Prospect Park.

But neither Isbell nor Tillman remained fixated on the doom and gloom, and both managed to keep from overwhelming the masses by working plenty of swoon-worthy balladry and deeply funny banter into their sets. Tillman and Isbell’s love songs are just as potent as the discourse of their heaviest cuts, and those remain rapturous crowd pleasers on this current jaunt. Isbell rarely plays “Cover Me Up” if Shires isn’t present (which, given her own career and the touring it requires, can lead to weeks or months apart), but when she is, it’s a breathtaking duet and an intimate glimpse into the love they share.

The finale “If We Were Vampires” has them both considering their mortality while celebrating the eternity of their love, and was just as stunning. 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear was one long love letter to his wife, Emma, and Tillman soared through the songs off that album that directly pull from significant moments their marriage, from the moment they met (set closer “I Went to the Store One Day”) to their wedding and honeymoon (“Chateau Lobby #4 [in C for Two Virgins],” complete with mariachi interlude courtesy of his killer brass section).

In between songs, Isbell and Tillman kept their musings brief (and briefer than most would’ve liked, as one dude in the crowd actually screamed “I WANT BANTER!” five songs into Tillman’s set). Isbell praised Tillman and his band, joking that they played “songs that I can listen to where I don’t get mad” from backstage; Tillman praised Isbell and Bird in turn, but first took a few minutes to try to find a hair tie for his mane and requested a scrunchie, which one fan happily met. (He was surprised that he wasn’t met with “a blizzard of scrunchies,” which, same.)

The new material popped, too: though the well-worn gems from their catalogues were roundly applauded, both Isbell and Misty — who’ve been hard at work on the follow-ups to both The Nashville Sound and God’s Favorite Customer — played brand new material. Isbell’s “Overseas” is clearly a throw to making a relationship work across long distances (“Does your heart rest easy where you are? / Do they treat you like a star?”), while Misty’s fresh cuts (name TBD) offered a stylistic gear-shift with ‘80s synths, harmonica solos and a drum beat Ronnie Spector would covet. In spite of the dreary weather a Misty night for Misty and Co, Isbell, Tillman and the magnificent musicians that join them onstage each night proved that they should’ve circled their tour buses a long time ago. We’re all the luckier they finally did just that.

Image  —  Posted: June 25, 2019 in MUSIC
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Well it’s that struggle I have with music. I write so much stuff and then end up leaving things off albums for one reason or another. The problem is a lot of these songs just didn’t fit for one reason or another. Or they did fit like “Keys To The Kingdom” and I ran out of money to mix it right. Still a lot of beautiful moments on here hence “Lost Gems”. Anyways I added as much as the original artwork ideas as I could along with some photos from the Skull Worship tour in Europe. This one is a little expensive because some of these tracks are just wav. files rough mixes and little too lo fi for my taste. To go back in time and mix these songs properly would cost a lot of studio time. I’m down of course but mixing can cost anywhere from 150-300 on up to mix 1 song a day and do it properly. You do the math its gets expensive quick esp. whenever everyone expects everything for free! Support the cause and pay it forward! If i can get these tracks up to snuff I’ll look into putting them out properly. The next generation (might) thank you! Kidding! No but seriously thanks for reading and take care.
Lots of love xoxo Bobby Hecksher restless spirit and leader of The Warlocks rock and roll band.
released June 25th, 2019

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Super fancy David Bowie ‘The Mercury Demos’ box is out this Friday! Replica of the original tape box, 2 contract sheets, a print and 1 LP featuring a bunch of previously unreleased recordings!.

As part of the ongoing celebrations marking 50 years since David Bowie’s first hit, Space Oddity, and following the recentSpying Through A Keyholeand Clareville Grove Demos collections, The “Mercury” Demos are 10 early Bowie recordings captured live in one take to a Revox reel to reel tape machine in David’s flat in spring 1969, with accompaniment from John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on guitar and vocals.

The version of Space Oddity from the Demos, originally released with edits on the Sound and Vision boxset, is presented here in its true context for the first time. The other nine recordings on the album are all previously unreleased. In addition to Bowie originals, the session also includes the Roger Bunn composition Life Is A Circus(which features in an earlier demo version on the Clareville Grove Demos set) and the Lesley Duncan composition Love Song later recorded by Elton John for his Tumbleweed Connection album. David’s own Conversation Piece is announced as ‘a new song’ and Janine features a short nineteen second section sung to the melody of The Beatles’ Hey Jude.

The ‘’Mercury” Demos set comes in a replica of the original tape box and will feature 1 LP, a print, two photo contact sheets and sleeve notes by Mark Adams. The labels of the LP feature the same EMIDISC acetate styling as Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos with the song titles in David’s own handwriting.

 

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Debut album by electronic pioneers Suicide reissued on limited red vinyl, Comprised of Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev on electronics, the duo formed in the early ’70s, before coming to fame later in the decade as part of legendary NYC club CBGB’s punk scene.

Originally released in December 1977, their debut album was “described as the rock and roll version of Martin Scorsese’s neo-noir New York thriller Taxi Driver,”  Suicide’s enduringly influential debut album, Suicide. A door opener for the guitar-less synthesizer bands of the 1980s and the electronic dance music of the 1990s, the disc continues to fascinate and inspire. Singer and lyricist Alan Vega and keyboard player Martin Rev formed Suicide in New York’s amphetamine-addled Lower East Side in 1970, a time and place they nailed in early songs such as ‘Methedrine Mary,’ ‘Speed Queen’ and ‘Junkie Jesus.’

The emblematic ‘Frankie Teardrop’ is a harrowing, 10-minute portrait of desperation in which Vega relates – or, rather, emotes – the blood-stained story of a young factory worker who is driven to madness and murder by poverty. Most of the album inhabits similarly grim territory, although ‘Cheree,’ a love declaration to a dominatrix, has a pretty tune. John Lydon memorably called the track “’Je T’Aime’ with tape hiss.”

In some ways, Suicide were a latter day incarnation of Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground, psychogeographers of the same edgy New York locales and chroniclers of the lives of outcasts, outsiders and unfortunates. Suicide was followed a string of consistently inventive studio albums, ending with American Supreme in 2002, and Vega and Rev continued to perform together until shortly before Vega’s death in 2016.

Co-produced by Ramones producer Craig Leon and Red Star Records founder Marty Thau, Suicide packs a payload equivalent to a dozen Greek tragedies rolled into one, with Vega periodically blending eruptions of Diamanda Galas-like screams and wails with the frantic rockabilly of mid-1950s Gene Vincent, his all-time hero.

Originally released in December 1977, all seven tracks have been remastered for this new reissue on red vinyl, with an accompanying 12″ print.

Suicide’s 1977 self-titled debut LP is being reissued on vinyl, this July via Mute/BMG.

L’ÉPÉE (EMMANUELLE SEIGNER, ANTON NEWCOMBE, THE LIMIÑANAS) •FAT WHITE FAMILY •  ICEAGE • THE WARLOCKS • NIGHT BEATS • BLACK MIDI • MYSTIC BRAVES • LE VILLEJUIF UNDERGROUND • THE PSYCHOTIC MONKS • FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS • NEW CANDYS • TVAMNew additions FRUSTRATION •  KING KHAN’S LOUDER THAN DEATH • MATTIEL • VANISHING TWIN • DERYA YILDIRIM & GRUP ŞIMŞEK • FRANCE • JUMAÏ and MIËT have been announced, topping off the confirmations already released:

Two Day Passes are on sale now, Single Day Tickets are coming soon.

The city of Angers, and the Le Quai theatre are an incredible setting and we can’t wait to go back. Join us for year 7 in France!

PHOEBE BRIDGERS  &  CONOR OBERST  - PHOTO BY NIK FREITAS

Hearing Conor Oberst’s froggy, pain-dappled voice paired up with a frank, wispy lady like Phoebe Bridgers. On their self-titled debut as Better Oblivion Community Center, he’s pushing forty, learned and weary after nearly thirty years in the business, while she’s still in the first bloom of fame at twenty-four—and the intermingling of their fragile dispositions makes good sense. Oberst’s voice is always quivering like the last leaf on an autumn tree, while hers cocoons his like a silver lining, patient as a lullaby.

Better Oblivion Community Center performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded March 17th, 2019.

Songs: Dylan Thomas Didn’t Know What I Was in For Little Trouble Easy/Lucky/Free