Posts Tagged ‘Matador Records’

Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus has announced her third studio album “Home Video”, due out 25th June through Matador Records. The album’s first single, “Hot & Heavy”, landed alongside the album’s announcement today. It features a music video directed by Dacus herself. To mark the launch of the single, Dacus will perform the track during tonight’s (13th April) episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Footage for the “Hot & Heavy” video was shot in the historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia – a regular haunt of the singer-songwriter when she was growing up.

“So much of life is submitting to change and saying goodbye even if you don’t want to,” Dacus said of the single in a statement. “Now whenever I go to places that used to be significant to me, it feels like trespassing the past.

“I know that the teen version of me wouldn’t approve of me now, and that’s embarrassing and a little bit heartbreaking, even if I know intellectually that I like my life and who I am.”

She continued: “I thought I was writing Hot & Heavy about an old friend, but I realised along the way that it was just about me outgrowing past versions of myself.” “Home Video”, which features 11 tracks, is said to explore themes of “childhood, memory and identity” and involves a “a large biographical component” from Dacus.

The record will include the single, Thumbs, a song Dacus has regularly performed, but never publicly released until last month. Considered a ‘white whale’ for Dacus fans, the track was also never filmed unofficially by request of the singer-songwriter.

“Hot & Heavy” is taken from Lucy Dacus‘ upcoming album ‘Home Video’ out on Matador Records June 25th

Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out

Hailing from Olympia, Washington, Sleater-Kinney are pioneers in the riot grrrl movement. At its core, “Dig Me Out” is an album leading listeners through vigorous emotional strains — and the tension implodes on nearly every track. The record was released just barely a year after the bomb-hitting Call the Doctor, but the trio somehow managed to upstage themselves with “Dig Me Out”. This is the record where they first teamed up with Janet Weiss, and the change only did amazing things for them.

This album shows a sense of confidence. Sleater-Kinney were still an underground band when this record came out; Call the Doctor was a critical hit, but still wasn’t smashing numbers, and the band had shifted from a tiny indie label to a less tiny indie label. Dig Me Out is an album that will always push first into people’s minds when they think of the band, because it’s the record where everything first clicked for them — the record that marked their territory as a defining rock band in American history. 

“Dig Me Out” was the third studio album by the American rock band Sleater-Kinney, released on April 8, 1997, by Kill Rock Stars. The album was produced by John Goodmanson and recorded from December 1996 to January 1997 at John and Stu’s Place in Seattle, Washington. Dig Me Out marked the debut of Janet Weiss, who would become the band’s longest-serving drummer. The music on the record was influenced by traditional rock and roll bands, while the lyrics deal with issues of heartbreak and survival.

The album cover is an homage to The Kinks’ 1965 album “The Kink Kontroversy”. Two singles were released in support of the album: “One More Hour” and “Little Babies”.

Call the Doctor confirmed the band’s reputation as one of the major musical acts from the Pacific Northwest, rebelling against gender roles, consumerism, and indie rock’s male-dominated hierarchy. After the release of Call the Doctor, drummer Janet Weiss of Quasi joined the band. Previously, the band had had a number of temporary drummers, including Misty Farrell, Lora Macfarlane, and Toni Gogin. Weiss would eventually become Sleater-Kinney’s longest serving drummer. For its third album, Sleater-Kinney worked again with producer John Goodmanson.

Both Tucker and Brownstein remarked that Weiss became an essential part of the band’s sound. According to Tucker, “Musically, she’s completed our band. She’s become the bottom end and the solidness that we’ve really wanted for our song writing”. In addition to playing drums, Weiss provides hand claps and tambourine in “Turn It On”. Dig Me Out also contains more guitar and vocal interplay by Tucker and Brownstein than Call the Doctor. As Brownstein explained, “If you were to separate our guitar parts I don’t necessarily think they would fully stand on their own. Our songs aren’t really complete until the other person has put their part over it, and their vocals”. The lyrical themes on Dig Me Out deal with issues of heartbreak and survival.

The band left Chainsaw Records and decided to release the album through Kill Rock Stars, another independent record label which singer and guitarist Corin Tucker thought had better resources to ensure the band’s distribution. Goodmanson also remarked that Kill Rock Stars afforded the band a generous amount of studio time for an independent label, stating that Call the Doctor only took four days to record while Dig Me Out was recorded over the period of eight days.

The song “One More Hour” is about the breakup of Tucker and Brownstein’s romantic relationship.

Dig Me Out also features songs that show frustration with sexism and gender stereotypes. “Little Babies” is a protest against the traditional maternity role, while the title song “Dig Me Out” exposes a woman in a dominant role. The album’s title was inspired by the fact that the band had to literally dig out the recording studio after a heavy snowstorm that took place in Winter 1996 in Seattle. Musically, the song “Words and Guitar” was said to “[leap] and [skit] with the just-released repression of early Talking Heads”, while “Dance Song ’97” was said to “sport Devo-esque keyboards of a distinctly ’80s vintage”

Sleater-Kinney:
  • Carrie Brownstein – guitar, vocals
  • Corin Tucker – vocals, guitar
  • Janet Weiss – drums, percussion

See the source image

Julien Baker’s solo debut, Sprained Ankle, was one of the most widely hailed works of 2015. The album, recorded by an 18-yearold and her friend in only a few days, was a bleak yet hopeful, intimate document of staggering experiences and grace, centered entirely around Baker’s voice, guitar, and unblinking honesty. The album appeared on year-end lists everywhere from NPR Music to New York Magazine’s Vulture.

For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life . Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal.  There’s something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty. Baker has met critical acclaim for her performances and song writing, described as emotively cathartic, as well as a fresh take on folk music. Her album Sprained Ankle has been described as featuring pared-back fragile songs, while Turn Out the Lights features more developed song structures while retaining the raw emotion of its predecessor

Baker has opened for artists including Death Cab for Cutie, Conor Oberst, The Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, Paramore, The Front Bottoms, and Manchester Orchestra. Julien Baker won the hearts of music lovers right out of the gate with the startling intimacy and meticulous craftsmanship of her 2015 debut, Sprained Ankle. Her sophomore album from the following year, Turn Out the Lights, built on that with a somewhat more elaborate sound palette, recorded at Ardent Studios. Since then, her only release has been the 2018 EP by boygenius, a collaborative effort with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, and fans have been scanning the skies for any new solo work with great anticipation.

Now the wait is nearly over, with two new videos heralding the release of her third album, “Little Oblivions”, due out on February 26 via Matador Records.

In 2017 she was signed to Matador Records.  In 2018, Baker formed the supergroup Boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, both with whom she had toured previously. The group released three songs in August of that year and subsequently announced an EP and accompanying tour.  The EP, self-titled boygenius, was released on October 2018.

In 2020, Baker, alongside Boygenius bandmates Bridgers and Dacus, recorded background vocals for the Hayley Williams’ song “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris” ahead of the release of Williams’ debut album, Petals for Armor.

“Sprained Ankle” (2015)

Julien Baker was a member of the band Forrister when she recorded a solo EP of songs that didn’t fit her band. Using her friend’s free studio time, she recorded demos, and she travelled to Richmond, Virginia, to record sparse versions of her songs. The songs were recorded quickly and released on Bandcamp as an EP – ‘Vessels’ and ‘Brittle Boned’ were added to the record later. While the arrangements are low-key, Baker’s songs often deal with big issues like addiction and faith. The stark sound works for Baker’s heartfelt songs, making them rawer and more poignant.

People quickly started to share the album, including a video version of her song, “Something” — shot in a Memphis parking garage by local filmmaker Breezy Lucia — but it wasn’t until Rhorer and 6131 contacted her about a record deal that she realized what was happening. On her new label’s advice, she took the record down from Bandcamp until it could be mastered and formally released.

Memphis, TN-based songwriter Julien Baker is the latest addition to the Matador Records roster. The 21-year-old’s devastating and vulnerable debut album, Sprained Ankle, which was originally released in 2015 and now gets re-released by Matador. The album was recorded at Spacebomb Studios, though Julien’s songs don’t share the down-home gloss of the other albums produced there. Instead of beefing up her honest tunes with rich layering like Natalie Prass or Matthew E. White, Baker pares her songs down to their simplest possible format: alone, singing and playing acoustic guitar directly into the microphone, sometimes in a single take. That decision resulted in a remarkable record, one full of beautiful, personal explorations revealed in stark intimacy. That choice makes a lot of sense for Baker’s voice, both in the literal and figurative sense. Rather than Prass’ sweet, soaring tones or White’s blue-eyed soul, Sprained Ankle is delivered in reedy whispers and chilled coos. Released just before she turned 20 years old, the record still sounds raw – not that her voice lacks control or power, but rather that the weariness of songs about death, breakups, and existential questioning are sung with incredible presence. They’re coming of age songs from someone still coming of age, the wounds still fresh, the big truths currently being revealed. There are the struggles of depression, drugs, loneliness, but the clear-eyed way she faces it all supersedes any platitude.

Sprained Ankle becomes more immersive the deeper it gets into the running list. Baker’s vocals take flight on ‘Rejoice’ – “I rejoice, and complain/I never know what to say/But I think there’s a god and he hears either way” is a great line. The keening electric guitar of ‘Vessels’ is a lovely accompaniment for Baker’s voice, while ‘Go Home’ is a cathartic closer, concluding with a piano version of modern hymn ‘In Christ Alone’. There’s great stuff at the start of the record too – the double-tracked vocals on tracks like ‘Good News’ are the only indication that these songs weren’t laid down in one sitting, while ‘Blacktop’ is typically confessional.

“Blacktop” the first track on her debut solo album, is a lonely song, maybe her loneliest, though it has some strong competition. When she asks, in the next verse, that some intervening divine, the same that saved her life, “come visit me in the back of an ambulance,” it is with the longing of something barely missed, rather than any certainty in her good fortune.

Sprained Ankle is a lovely debut, with Baker’s songs often immersive.

in 2016, Baker performed in an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, During that set she referenced a new song, “Sad Song #11”, which was later retitled “Funeral Pyre” and released as a single, with “Distant Solar Systems” as the b-side. Baker contributed the song “Decorated Lawns” to the Punk Talks winter compilation Jingle Yay, released in December.

Turn Out The Lights (2017)

Baker’s second album was recorded in a mere six days, with Baker handling most of the instruments, but it feels slick after the rawness of “Sprained Ankle”. There’s still no rhythm section, but Baker adds touches of violin, clarinet, and saxophone. It lacks the lo-fi intensity of Sprained Ankle, and the songs are less memorable, but it’s still a worthy follow-up.

With Turn Out the Lights, Baker returns to a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breath-taking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments  when her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings  “Turn Out the Lights” throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. This evolution from ‘Sprained Ankle’s intentionally spare production allows Baker — who is still the album’s sole producer and writer — greater scope and freedom. Strings and woodwinds now shade the corners of her compositions, and Baker takes to piano rather than guitar on several tracks, pushing the 21-yearold Baker’s work to cinematic heights of intensity.

Julien Baker releases her highly anticipated second album Turn Out The Lights via Matador Records. The album arrives nearly two years to the day after Baker’s debut LP, Sprained Ankle, which was widely acclaimed by outlets including The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Noisey, and MOJO, among others. Recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Baker’s hometown of Memphis, TN, Turn Out The Lights expands upon the sound and vision of Sprained Ankle while retaining the haunting, confessional song writing style for which she has become known. Throughout the album, Baker reflects on experiences of her own and those closest to her, exploring the internal conflicts that wrestle inside us all: how we deal and cope with our struggles, and how it all impacts both ourselves and our relationships of all kinds. The result is a deeply empathetic album that embraces the greys and complex truths of humanity and mental health. Turn Out The Lights was written and produced by Baker. 

The moment that comes closest to recapturing the intensity of Sprained Ankle is ‘Sour Breath’, with Baker screaming “The harder I swim, the faster I sink”. ‘Sour Breath’ is nestled between other lovely songs like ‘Appointments’ and the sparse piano of ‘Televangelist’ – Baker also plays organ on the latter. The second half is less memorable than the first, but ‘Hurt Less’ is lovely.

Turn Out The Lights suffers from sequel-itis a little, but it’s a fine record on its own terms.

Julien baker   red door halloween

Red Door (2019)

On the heels of her triumphant Matador debut Turn Out The Lights and the critically acclaimed collaborative EP ‘boygenius’, Julien Baker returns with her first new solo recordings in 18 months, “Red Door / Conversation Piece”, available exclusively for Record Store Day 2019. The 7”vinyl features the first studio recording of a fan favourite Red Door, previously only heard live, and a previously unreleased cut begun during the Turn Out The Lights sessions,  7″ – Limited Red Vinyl only.

Little Oblivions (2021)

With a new album, Little Oblivions, about to drop on Matador on February 26th, Julien Baker is surfacing more and more these days. It’s good to have her back. The Memphis native has gone from success to success simply by sticking to her unique blend of the cathartic confessional, from the intimate to the dramatic. Though her voice has always powerfully navigated both whispers and roaring melodies, it seems she’s grown into her range even more as the years have gone by. That was especially in evidence last night, when she led her band through “Faith Healer,” the album’s first single, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Baker’s third album is due in late February 2021, and it looks like it will include a rhythm section. “Little Oblivions” will be the third studio album by Julien Baker. Recorded in Memphis, TN, the record weaves together unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for storytelling to new heights. It also marks a sonic shift, with the songwriter’s intimate piano and guitar arrangements newly enriched by bass, drums, keyboards, banjo, and mandolin with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker. “Faith Healer” was released in October, and portends a more ambitious approach to production than Turn Out the Lights. While that album filled in her sound more than her debut, it was still rather minimalist, for the most part. Now Baker brings us the sound of a rock band, albeit one still laced with all the introspection of her previous work. 

Upon the release of “Faith Healer,” the artist released this statement: 
Put most simply, I think that ‘Faith Healer’ is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience. I started writing this song 2 years ago and it began as a very literal examination of addiction. For awhile, I only had the first verse, which is just a really candid confrontation of the cognitive dissonance a person who struggles with substance abuse can feel— the overwhelming evidence that this substance is harming you, and the counterintuitive but very real craving for the relief it provides. When I revisited the song I started thinking about the parallels between the escapism of substance abuse and the other various means of escapism that had occupied a similar, if less easily identifiable, space in my psyche.

Thanks Aphoristic Album Reviews

We’re not entirely sure what we are seeing in Perfume Genius’ “Describe” but we’re digging it nonetheless. Set on a dusty ranch, the music video shows the life of a cult-like group of people who eat, dance, and apparently sleep on the floor together. The video gives off major Midsommar and Wild Wild Country vibes (albeit with a much happier ending). Mike Hadreas has stated that the song is about being in a dark place and needing someone to describe what goodness feels like, which explains the overall introspective feel to the music video.  

Mid-lockdown, here was my reminder that the world out there is vast and oppressive, beautiful and foul, almost psychedelically diverse and yet the very definition of mundane; sometimes fun, sometimes shit, always confusing. Perfume Genius has a way of capturing what feels like the whole human experience in a single album – heck, even a single song. Gone are the minimalist confessionals that made his name. On ‘Set My Heart on Fire Immediately’, grand, melodramatic laments on earthly fragility and the passage of time rub up against snatched reminiscences of hook-ups. It’s a sprawling, detailed masterpiece, shot through with typical Mike Hadreas yearning, that embodies just how rich and radiant and fucked up life can be.

Like an oil puddle rainbow, it shimmers. He shimmies. Hope seems to be a waking dream. It simmers. Elongates. Reverberates. You’re cradled by sumptuous arrangements, whilst sadness slow dances in the shadows. There are glimmers that you can’t quite discern. Björk? Eno’s ambient chambers? Soap&Skin? Zola Jesus? John Grant’s molten disco? There’s a sensation of the weight of the world being lifted and, just for a moment, the pins and needles leave you frozen. It’s murmurations of doves scattering to the four corners, bright white wings flapping gracefully against an ominous sky. It’s some kind of wonderful.

Listen, if you haven’t depression-fucked the love of your life to “Describe,” I’m extremely sorry. This album lights up every individual nerve ending, sometimes all at once. 
From Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” released on May 15th, 2020 on Matador Records.

To date Matador’s Revisionist History series has set its focus on the hallowed year of 1995 – surfacing critical releases by Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, and Chavez.

Today, however, we whirl the dial on the in-house wayback machine and travel toward the future: the year 2000 and Mary Timony’s debut solo album, ‘Mountains’, which will be reissued on January 15th. Remastered by Bob Weston, Mountains comes back to us as a gold foil-embossed gatefold 2xLP and will include the previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” which were delivered along with the original master tapes 20 years ago, but were omitted from the final album. The record is completed by a newly recorded orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes” produced by composer Joe Wong (Russian Doll, Midnight Gospel) and mixed by Dave Fridmann.

At the turn of the century, Timony (Ex Hex, Wild Flag, Hammered Hulls) was already a celebrated presence in American underground music – a fixture of D.C. and Boston rock ’n’ roll via her work in Autoclave and Helium respectively. By 1998, though, Helium was drawing to a close and Timony was feeling uncertain about the future. “I had never been good at the rock’ n’ roll business, and making a living from being in a band just didn’t seem like it was in the realm of possibility for me,” she writes. “I just knew I wanted to make another record because that was the part of being in a band that I liked the most.”

At the time of its original release, Timony called ‘Mountains’, “A Trip to the New Underworld.” “A bunch of hard stuff was happening in my life: family illnesses, people dying, people leaving, relationships ending. I fell into a deep depression,” she explains. “I tried new ways of making music: I tried writing songs without any filter at all, and I purposely didn’t think about what the music would sound like to anyone else. I was only interested in describing what was in my head.”
Recorded and mixed in Boston alongside Christina Files and Eric Masunaga and in Chicago with Bob Weston, Mountains found Timony dialing into territory that was barer and more confessional than her work in Helium. Stark arrangements were augmented with newly ornate instrumentation — piano, vibraphone, and viola — and the lyrics were tinted with slyly occult imagery.

“Listening back to Mountains now I am struck most by how raw it sounds,” says Timony. “I hear the depression and angst, but also I hear all of that darkness disappearing through the power of music and friendship—and turning into songs during those happy and productive months recording and hanging out in Christina’s loft in downtown Boston.”

Today, you can also watch Timony in the Brett Vapnek-directed short film, “Dream Machine” (1999).

Muzz have announced details of a new EP, ‘Covers’. The four-track set, which sees the trio of Paul Banks, Josh Kaufman and Matt Barrick reimagine songs by Arthur Russell, Bob Dylan, Mazzy Star and Tracy Chapman, will be released digitally on December 9th.

‘Covers’ is as much an illustration of the bands collective inspirations as it is a sonic testament to their expansive imagination and fluidity as a musical outfit, imbuing the singular classics with a sense of wonder and awe that come together to a short but powerfully holistic set.

Arthur Russell’s ‘Nobody Wants A Lonely Heart’ is deconstructed to its mesmerising foundations, with Banks‘ baritone gliding over Kaufman’s submerged piano and Barrick’s gentle shuffle. Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’ is recast in a cobweb of acoustic guitars, swooning slides and ghostly vocals that slow-burn to a mystical crescendo. Elsewhere, Banks’ invocation of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ is fraught with raw emotion, set to a backdrop of palpitating percussion and arching strings. Tracy Chapman’s ‘For You’ brings the set to a buoyant and moving close, punctuated by fluttering guitar runs, cinematic pads, and Banks’ soulful delivery.

“Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart” · Muzz under exclusive license to Matador Records

This morning we’re releasing the Jim-E Stack remix of Perfume Genius’ “Without You,” taken from the critically acclaimed album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately’. Stack had previously collaborated with Perfume Genius and Empress Of on the single “When I’m With Him,” and also worked with artists including Bon Iver, Caroline Polachek, Haim and more. Stack said of the “Without You” remix, “to my ears a Perfume Genius album always embodies excellence, from the song-writing to the production to the mixing. Every word, note, and sound feels so purposeful while playing its role in each song and in the greater context of the album. I chose to remix ‘Without You,’ because something about it felt timeless and familiar but also grounded and confident. That gave me room to make a completely new instrumental around the vocal.” He went on to say, “even though Mike and I are friends and we’ve worked together in the past, I was admittedly intimidated by the task of remixing ‘Without You.’ Once I found a way to bring the song into my world, I started listening to the remix outside the studio and I knew I had done my thing. I just hoped Mike would want to listen to it too.

Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” is out now:

Mountains

To date Matador’s Revisionist History series has set its focus on the hallowed year of 1995 – surfacing critical releases by Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, and Chavez.

Today, however, we whirl the dial on the in-house wayback machine and travel toward the future: the year 2000 and Mary Timony’s debut solo album, ‘Mountains‘, which will be reissued on January 15th. Remastered by Bob Weston, “Mountains” comes back to us as a gold foil-embossed gatefold double LP and will include the previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” which were delivered along with the original master tapes 20 years ago, but were omitted from the final album. The record is completed by a newly recorded orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes” produced by composer Joe Wong (Russian Doll, Midnight Gospel) and mixed by Dave Fridmann.  

At the turn of the century, Timony (Ex Hex, Wild Flag, Hammered Hulls) was already a celebrated presence in American underground music ­­– a fixture of D.C. and Boston rock ’n’ roll via her work in Autoclave and Helium respectively. By 1998, though, Helium was drawing to a close and Timony was feeling uncertain about the future. “I had never been good at the rock’ n’ roll business, and making a living from being in a band just didn’t seem like it was in the realm of possibility for me,” she writes. “I just knew I wanted to make another record because that was the part of being in a band that I liked the most.” 

At the time of its original release, Timony called ‘Mountains’, “A Trip to the New Underworld.” “A bunch of hard stuff was happening in my life: family illnesses, people dying, people leaving, relationships ending. I fell into a deep depression,” she explains. “I tried new ways of making music: I tried writing songs without any filter at all, and I purposely didn’t think about what the music would sound like to anyone else. I was only interested in describing what was in my head.”

Recorded and mixed in Boston alongside Christina Files and Eric Masunaga and in Chicago with Bob Weston, Mountains found Timony dialing into territory that was barer and more confessional than her work in Helium. Stark arrangements were augmented with newly ornate instrumentation — piano, vibraphone, and viola — and the lyrics were tinted with slyly occult imagery.

“Listening back to Mountains now I am struck most by how raw it sounds,” says Timony. “I hear the depression and angst, but also I hear all of that darkness disappearing through the power of music and friendship—and turning into songs during those happy and productive months recording and hanging out in Christina’s loft in downtown Boston.”

Mountains” will be reissued on January 15th.

Mountains
No photo description available.

We’re very pleased to announce the new Gang of Four 77-81 Limited Edition Boxset, out on Matador Records on December 11th, available to preorder now here: gangoffour.ffm.to/boxset.ofp

The boxset features:- Entertainment! (Remastered) LP- Solid Gold (Remastered) LP- Exclusive Singles 12” LP- Exclusive ‘Live at American Indian Centre 1980’ Double LP- Exclusive Demo Cassette Tape of Outtakes, Rarities and Studio Demos- 2x New Badges- 100 Page full-colour Hardbound Book curated by Allen, Burnham and King.

“I stumbled upon a copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! accidentally and it went on to become one of the most influential records of my life as a producer, lyricist and fan of music in general. Their sparse, unorthodox, riff heavy guitars and nasty, funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section drew me in, but it was their questioning of the world that kept me listening as I grew. I consider them a seminal band, whose influence and effect permeates the music world in a deeper way than many realize. Thank you, Gang of Four, for existing.”

The box set contains “Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’ (both remastered from the original analogue tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released ‘Live at American Indian Center 1980’. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from ‘Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’, and an epic 100-page, full-colour hardbound book.

The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never before seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.

Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favouring tense rhythms, percussive guitars, and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance. This original line-up of the band released two monumental albums, ‘Entertainment!’ (1979) and ‘Solid Gold ‘(1981). A third, ‘Songs of the Free’ (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After ‘Songs Of The Free’, Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released ‘Return The Gift’ (2005).

Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalogue and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.

In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of ‘Entertainment!’, Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.

Music, specifically pop music, is as much of a commodity as pork bellies. It’s bought, packaged, sold, traded and has as little to do with the Platonic triad of beauty, goodness and truth as, well, pork bellies. And it hasn’t just become this way. It’s been this way. From its inception to now, its value is what’s made it significant in the marketplace. But pressed against a wooden stage in New York at Hurrah’s in the late 1970s, what stepped out on stage had nothing to do with any kind of commercial calculus. That I could see.

See, in 1979, after a steady diet of The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Klaus Nomi, fer chrissakes, and on the strength of the name alone, a single, the press and the locale, the Gang of Four was a must see. But wrapped in the earlier vaudevillian aspect of punk rock, new wave, no wave, and a sort of well-meaning but very extant schtick, expectations were in keeping with what had already been seen. But what had been seen would in no way prepare you for what you were about to see.

Four Brits, no leather jackets, no make-up, and outside of an opening song with about two minutes of unremitting feedback, no schtick.

“We all grew up around vaudeville. It was part of the zeitgeist,” said drummer Hugo Burnham, from outside of Boston where he toils in academia and presently makes his home. But Gang of Four? “It was anti-schtick. And it was somewhat deliberate because we were serious about what we were doing but we weren’t dour. We didn’t go as far as the shoegazing thing.”

Which is almost right. Gone was the clever art school quirk of Talking Heads or the mordant rumble of a Joy Division, musicians framing what we were understanding about new music at the time. Replaced instead with something that was equal parts both cool and hot, and when they tore into their set that night it was with a life-changing brio. No “Hello Cleveland!” No foot on the front wedge rock god posturing, just songs and songs played like those that were playing them meant it. It, here, being coruscating takes on very precisely what it was we were doing while we were doing it. Again: not by accident. But very specifically, deliberately.

“We sat in pubs and talked about it,” Burnham said. Right down to things like, “No fucking feet on the monitors.”

What Burnham fails to mention and this is an amusing Rashomonesque feature of chatting with the three members still living – Burnham, singer/lyricist Jon King, and bassist Dave Allen – is that the no-feet-on-the-monitors “chat” didn’t happen in a pub. King, in a call from London, offers an alternate scenario. “It happened backstage after a show in what used to be Yugoslavia,” King laughs. “And it involved a fistfight.” So Gill and Allen settled things the old-fashioned way and while it’s unknown who won, at the Hurrah’s show there were no feet on monitors.

But first a little historical political perspective and a sense of the tableau upon which whatever Gang of Four was, was created. In the late 1970s in the U.K., there was 14 percent inflation, 18 percent in 1980, one in five adult males were out of work, interest rates were 14 percent, and there was massive industrial unrest. “In ’78 and ’79 it was called the Winter of Discontent,” King said of the hellscape that England had been even before Thatcher dug in. “There were piles of garbage four meters high in the street, people weren’t going to be buried because there was a strike of mortuary workers and grave diggers, there were dozens of IRA terror attacks in mainland UK, there were plotters looking to pull a coup d’etat, plus Russian SCUD missiles in eastern Europe and Americans sending Pershing missiles to NATO, so threats of nuclear attack. Songs like ‘In the Ditch’ on Solid Gold? That was the context we were working with.”

And given that context, a steadfast mark of Gang of Four’s genius that they didn’t zig into what was a popular pose at the time (and still really) and try to pull off the working class hero crap that had smart people dumbing down in the name of some sort of shopworn idea of what was authentic. That is, the Gang of Four were driven and obsessed with what middle class art school students should be obsessed with: making great music and art in and of the times they are living, fully realizing that you can’t fake authenticity. “Look, in looking back I have decided I really like this sort of troublesome 21-year-old me who wrote these totally un-commercial songs,” said King. But the charm, at least for the creator, is that “there’s nothing in it that is an attempt to pander to people. And it may sound kind of stupid but I kind of thought of us as like a blues band.”

“So I tried to avoid cliché, but it’s quite difficult trying to not write about things that everyone else was writing about,” King explains.” But there’s a reason hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world now and that’s because it’s got some authenticity about it; it talks about things that are actually happening. The world is a shit show now. To not write about it is a remarkable evasion of responsibility.”

Something that wasn’t missed in 1979 New York either with crime at an all-time high and the city collapsing financially. So mid-set when King dragged a metal crate on stage – “we later switched to a microwave,” Burnham said – and started blasting it with a drum stick it was both the sound of the city and the times all at once.

Adding percussive elements in and from trash, well in advance of Einsturzende Neubaten and even Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo who Burnham initially thought they had lifted it from (“No,” corrects King), this was a perfect sweat-drenched statement of intent: Gang of Four absolutely were not fucking around.

And it was perhaps this quality specifically that drew the heavy. “We were political with a small P,” said bassist Dave Allen who followed a post-Gang of Four career with music tech gigs at both Apple and Intel, which is how he ended up in Portland. “But we were fighting Nazis. The fascists that came to the shows. They would jump onstage when we were playing in London, skinheads, and they had knives.” Allen, in general soft spoken, neither laughs nor smiles in the retelling. “The security guards would all run away. Having a big heavy bass in this instance helped quite a bit.”

But before reforming in 2005, Allen was the first to leave Gang of Four, in 1981, and his leaving was part of that whole not fucking around piece and almost perfectly Gang of Four-ish. “EMI were always pushing us. They wanted us to make ‘hits’. Be on the radio. Top of the Pops,” Allen sighs. “That’s not what we do. We don’t make pop songs. The 2005 reunion only lasted a few years, but Andy Gill continued with replacement musicians and died right in the midst of touring with them. He left giant shoes to fill. But even considering trying to fill them? A straight-up damn the torpedoes move. To which they are well matched. “When you try to audition a guitar player they just can’t do it,” Allen winds up. “They come in blasting thinking it is punk, but we were post-punk. It was us and Wire…”

On December 11th, Matador will release GANG OF FOUR: ’77-81”, a stunning, limited edition box set gathering Gang of Four’s influential early work.

Julien Baker has announced her third full length album titled “Little Oblivions”, which is set for a February 26th 2021. Released via Matador Records. In addition to the album announcement, Baker also shared the first single off the new record, titled “Faith Healer” coupled with a music video directed by Daniel Henry.

In Baker’s own words: Put most simply, I think that “Faith Healer” is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience. I started writing this song two years ago and it began as a very literal examination of addiction. For awhile, I only had the first verse, which is just a really candid confrontation of the cognitive dissonance a person who struggles with substance abuse can feel — the overwhelming evidence that this substance is harming you, and the counterintuitive but very real craving for the relief it provides. When I revisited the song I started thinking about the parallels between the escapism of substance abuse and the other various means of escapism that had occupied a similar, if less easily identifiable, space in my psyche.

There are so many channels and behaviours that we use to placate discomfort unhealthily which exist outside the formal definition of addiction. I (and so many other people) are willing to believe whomever — a political pundit, a preacher, a drug dealer, an energy healer — when they promise healing, and how that willingness, however genuine, might actually impede healing. ‘Little Oblivions’ is the third studio album by Julien Baker. Recorded in Memphis, TN, the record weaves together unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for storytelling to new heights. It also marks a sonic shift, with the songwriter’s intimate piano and guitar arrangements newly enriched by bass, drums, keyboards, banjo, and mandolin with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker.”

Releases February 26th, 2021