Posts Tagged ‘Cults’

The cover of Offering, Cults’ third album and their first in four years, says it all. After the opaque nocturnal allure of their earlier recordings, the New York City-based duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have come out of the dark, drenching their sharp pop songs in a warm, sumptuous glow that makes them more approachable and welcoming. While Offering draws on many of the same influences as its predecessors—namely, girl groups of the 1960s, like the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes, as well as chillwave artists like Toro y Moi and occasionally, the airy minimalism of the xx—here, they feel more lived-in. “I Took Your Picture,” for instance, contains echoes of Tame Impala’s kaleidoscopic psych rock, but delivers a human warmth and directness that the former lacks. Later, the thudding piano figures in “Recovery” blur the line between acoustic and electronic instrumentation to captivating effect.

While the song’s narratives aren’t necessarily overflowing with giddiness or optimism, there is a newfound confidence and self-awareness in Follin’s lyrics that melds seamlessly with the songs’ colorful arrangements. The album begins with an intention to live in the present moment—“Know I can’t see it all yet / But it’s so real to me”—and then echoes that sentiment throughout; “Our time is nothing now / It slips through our fingers,” Follin sings later on “I Took Your Picture.” Keeping the forces of time and doubt at bay is never an easy task, she seems to be saying, but it’s worth the battle. Sometimes all you can do is make an offering, and make it as exquisite as possible.

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The Weather Station  –  The Weather Station

On her fourth (and tellingly self-titled) album as The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman reinvents, and more deeply roots, her extraordinary, acclaimed songcraft, framing her precisely detailed, exquisitely wrought prose-poem narratives in bolder and more cinematic musical settings. The result is her most sonically direct and emotionally candid statement to date. The most fully realized statement to date from Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman. Self-titled and self-produced, the album unearths a vital new energy from Lindeman’s acclaimed songwriting practice, marrying it to a bold new sense of confidence.

CD – Digipack.

LP – Deluxe 140 Gram virgin vinyl LP features heavy-duty board jacket with full lyrics, full-colour inner sleeve, and high-res Download Card.

Yak yala! cover

Yak  –  All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life

Limited to just 300 Copies on 7″ Vinyl. Renowned for the ferocious intensity of their live shows, Yak are back with the new single All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life. Recorded with Tame Impala’s Jay Gum Watson in Kevin Parker’s studio in Perth, the track is Yak’s claustrophobic interpretation of The Dixie Nightingale’s cult gospel classic. “A loved one departed and on the way out sent me this song, so we ended up recording a delirious version in the blistering heat of Perth,” says Yak frontman Oli Burslem. “I love the original Dixie Nightingales’ version, it reminds me of songs like Wendy Rene’s ‘After Laughter’, which I imagined was recorded in the same studio with maybe even the same people playing.” On the b-side is Yak’s take on Lee Hazelwood’s Wait and See.

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Weaves  –  Wide Open

It’s been almost exactly a year since Weaves released their acclaimed self-titled debut LP, lauded internationally for its exuberant approach to guitar pop and recently nominated for this year’s Polaris Prize. It was a whirlwind year for the band who spent a nearly uninterrupted 12 months on the road, playing festivals across the globe, and touring with their fellow 2016 breakout artists Sunflower Bean and Mitski. Propelled forward by their own momentum, which they corralled like the barely contained energy of their explosive live sets, it was a life changing-experience, and upon returning home to Toronto the band’s leaders, singer Jasmyn Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters, found themselves possessed by an irrepressible burst of creative energy.

Burke and Waters half-jokingly refer to the album as their “Americana” record, and while the statement is made with tongues placed firmly in cheeks, the album, without discarding the punky pyrotechnics that defined their first LP, displays an expansive and anthemic quality in songs like the opener #53 and the sweeping Walkaway, that makes the joke ring half true. The record sees Burke extend herself as a performer – moving more frequently to the center of arrangements and revealing new facets of her unique and powerful singing voice – as the band find ways to interpret the growing diversity of her expression. From the glammy Saturday night strut of Slicked, to the stripped-down, pedal steel abetted torch song Wide Open, to the searing Scream, a warped duet with Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq that likely constitutes Weaves’ wildest recording to date, the album captures a band for whom exploration is a compulsion making a self-assured step into the unknown.

LP+ – Limited White Vinyl housed in Gatefold Sleeve with Download.

In 2017, the musical term “electronic” is nearly obsolete given the ubiquity of computerized
processes in producing music. Even so, the prevailing assumption is that musicians working
under this broad umbrella must be inspired by concepts equally as electrified as their
equipment. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has demonstrated in her still-blooming discography that this
notion couldn’t be further from the truth, and that more often than not, rich worlds of synthesized
sound are born from deep reverence of the natural world. Smith (who by no coincidence, cites
naturalist David Attenborough as a contemporary muse) has embodied such an appreciation on
The Kid in as direct and sincere a way as possible by sonically charting the phases of life itself.
The album, which punctually follows up her 2016 breakthrough Ears, chronicles four defining
cognitive and emotional stages of the human lifespan across four sides of a double LP.
The first side takes us through the confused astonishment of a newborn, unaware of itself,
existing in an unwitting nirvana. Smith’s music has always woven a youthful thread befitting of the
aforementioned subject. Here she articulates it in signature fashion on the track “An Intention,”
which serves not only as a soaring spire on The Kid, but on her entire output. There is playfulness
here, but it’s elevated by an undertone of gravity into something compelling and majestic that is
fast becoming Smith’s watermark. The emotional focus of side two is the vital but under reported
moment in early youth when we cross the threshold into self awareness. The subject is profound
enough to fill an entire album, but rarely makes its way into a single track, indicating Smith’s
ambition to broach subtler and deeper subjects than the average composer. This side offers up
another highlight in the form of In The World But Not Of The World which serves its subject well
with epiphanic, climbing strings and decidedly noisy textures over a near-Bollywood low end
pulse. Side three emphasizes a feeling of being confirmed enough in one’s own identity to begin giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, which is arguably the duty that all great artists aim to fulfill. This side ends with the exploratory album cut Who I Am and Why I Am Where I Am recorded in a single take without overdubs on the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. This humble piece of sound design serves as a contrast to side four’s verdant orchestral moments, all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet by Smith herself. This final side represents a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life. On To Feel Your Best this concept is voiced in the bittersweet refrain “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” which Smith intended to be a grateful acknowledgement of life rather than a melancholy resentment of loss. The song has both effects depending on the mood of the listener, and both interpretations are equally moving. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith belongs to an ilk of modern musicians who are defined by their commitment to creating experiential albums despite the singles-oriented habits of modern listeners, and here she represents her kind proudly. The subjects on The Kid are not simple to convey, and yet through both emotional tone and lyrical content, Smith does just that. There is a similar gravity to both birth and death, and rarely is that correlation as accurately and enthusiastically mapped as it is here. Alan Watts, another logical inspiration of Smith’s, once expounded that people record themselves to confirm their own existence, and as such, echoes and resonance are reminders that we are alive. “You’re not there unless you’re recorded,” Watts muses, “if you shout, and it doesn’t come back and echo, it didn’t happen.” The Kid speaks to this idea directly. As Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith explores her existence through music, she guides us in gleefully contemplating our own.
2LP – Double Black Vinyl.
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Yumi Zouma –  Willowbank

Following last year’s lauded debut LP, Yumi Zouma return to Cascine with their sophomore album, Willowbank, a collection of dreamy, disco-indebted pop tracks. The album’s namesake is a wildlife reserve in the band’s home base of Christchurch, NZ, a community on the mend in the wake of a devastating earthquake in 2011. The Yumis, whose four members are scattered across the globe, reunited in New Zealand to write and record Willowbank. The result is an album that channels both the tight-knit togetherness and the unparalleled beauty of their native land. Willowbank is also some of Yumi Zouma’s best work to date, refining their effortless, windswept songwriting sensibility, while also exploring a new pallet of sounds and textures.

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Cults  –  Offering

Cults made their name in black and white. A pair of film school dropouts who burst onto the New York scene with a perfect single and a darkly retro sound, the band’s first two albums play like noirish documentaries on a lost girl group. Four years after Static, Cults returns with Offering, an exciting collection of songs bursting with heart, confidence, shimmering melody and buzzing life. The time off has given the band new energy and new ideas–Cults are working in Technicolour now. The core duo remains the same. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, both 28, still live in New York. They still finish each other’s thoughts and still share a love of catchy music and black humor (this is a band that sampled cult leader Jim Jones on their first hit). But the pair have put some blood on the tracks since their breakout debut: they’ve toured the world, built a devoted audience, survived a breakup, grown up in green rooms, parted ways with their old label and made a home of their new one.

Pains album cover

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Echo Of Pleasure

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have long set the benchmark for big-hearted, idealistic pop songs. With The Echo of Pleasure, The Pains push beyond their many inspirations and embrace their role as indiepop heroes in their own right. Showcasing the deft songwriting of frontman Kip Berman, The Pains‘ fourth album is their most confident and accomplished. After three critically-acclaimed records, 2009’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 2011’s Belong and 2014’s Days of Abandon received praise from The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Guardian and Rolling Stone, they have put together a collection of songs that possess a timeless grandeur, deeper and more satisfying than anything the band has done since their iconic debut.

It’s an album that reflects the band’s most joyous moments while maintaining Berman’s candid and critical lyricism, free of the self-abasing insecurity of youth. “The album is loving. The music is heavier, more expansive,” he says. “To me, songs about love shouldn’t be thought of as light. Love is big- sometimes it’s emphatic, overwhelming or simple – other times it’s tense, anxious or just exhausting. But at its best, it makes you want to be something better.”

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Miracle Legion  –  “Annulment”

First ever live album by Miracle Legion, Annulment was recorded during the band’s 2016 US reunion tour. Most of the album comes from a show at Codfish Hollow, Iowa plus tracks from the Bellhouse, Brooklyn show. Double CD with 25 songs

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Richard Thompson – Acoustic Classics 2

A continuation of the Acoustic Classics series, this collection features acoustic renderings of classic songs from the Richard Thompson catalog, including some previously recorded by other singers, some only available in a band format, and some only existing as cover versions.

3LP – Triple Gatefold Vinyl comprising Acoustic Classics II and the Acoustic Rarities albums.