Posts Tagged ‘Omnivore Recordings’

Alex Chilton - Boogie Shoes LP Bundle

In the summer of 1966, an 18-year-old Laura Nyro auditioned for Milt Okun, one of the most respected music producers of the day, and Artie Mogull, a noted A&R man. After the session, these eventual music business legends, were so blown away that Mogull became her manager, and Okun signed on to produce her debut record, “Go Find The Moon: The Audition Tape” puts the listener in the room at the very beginning of Nyro’s legendary career. 

“Go Find the Moon: The Audition Tape” captures the summer 1966 performance of 18-year-old singer songwriter Laura Nyro auditioning for Milt Okun and Artie Mogull.  The audition on which Nyro accompanied herself on piano, went so well that Mogull signed the young artist and budding songwriter to a management contract and Okun promptly booked studio time with arranger Herb Bernstein to record her debut album, More Than a New Discovery

It’s not hard to realize why: Laura Nyro heard music differently than everyone else – and her songs reflected that.  At the audition session, she performed a pair of the remarkable songs that would soon appear on that LP, the precociously mature “And When I Die” and “Lazy Susan.”  She also previewed an embryonic “Luckie,” the final version of which would be included on her even more acclaimed sophomore album, “Eli and the Thirteenth Confession“.  The ballad “Enough of You,” brief “In and Out,” and deliciously swooning “Go Find the Moon” were never released in studio form, making their appearances here all the more welcome. 

The audition tape is rounded out with fragments of “When Sunny Gets Blue,” “Kansas City,” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”  While Nyro was prompted to sing them when it was asked if she could perform something she hadn’t written, they hint at the stylistic diversity that informed her passionate song writing and performing.  In just 18-1/2 fly-on-the-wall minutes, this is the sound of an incandescent talent.  Omnivore’s first-time release is annotated by Jim Farber and mastered by Michael Graves. 

Available on CD, LP, and digital formats

Three plus versions of the same album. It’s ridiculous, but I’m glad.” The first paragraph of Richard Hell’s text in the booklet accompanying “Destiny Street Complete” lays it out. There are, indeed, three versions of his and his band The Voidoids’s album released originally in July 1982 album “Destiny Street” on this double-CD set. It seems excessive but this is a major release of a classic in the making .

Reviews of “Destiny Street” at the time of its release were positive. Creem Magazine said “Hell himself has hit on a style – part Nuggets-era basement rock ‘n roll, part speed-balling protest (not in content, but in attitude) rock, part confrontational CBGB psychodrama – that gives the album its pungent reverberations.” When considering the album, the New York Times frothed “Mr. Hell is the most soulful, emotionally compelling singer to have emerged from punk rock, and his lyrics are in the tradition of Rimbaud and Lautremont.”

Richard Hell Destiny Street complete

Really though, Destiny Street was scrappy, overly short and bulked-out with cover versions and reworked old tracks. There was Dylan’s “Going Going Gone”, The Kinks’s “I Gotta Move” and Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything”. There were also remakes of “The Kid With the Replaceable Head”, first heard on a single three years earlier, and of “Time”, which had been on an April 1980 EP. New inspiration appeared to be lacking. Destiny Street sounded messy too. Its trebliness was counterbalanced by muddiness. In his text for Destiny Street Complete Hell says “The final mix [of the album] was a morass of trebly multi-guitar sludge.”

Even so and despite its flaws, the original Destiny Street has some power-packed moments. The version of “Going Going Gone” is poignant. “Downtown at Dawn”, “Lowest Common Dominator”, “Staring in Her Eyes” and “Time” are all superb songs, however scrambled they come across.

What’s collected for Destiny Street Complete is the original album and a version titled Destiny Street Repaired, which was issued in 2009. This was created from a cassette of the album’s rhythm tracks which were overdubbed with new guitar solos (by Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and former Voidoid Ivan Julian) and vocals.

These are on Disc One. On Disc Two is Destiny Street Remixed: a new mix of most the original album fashioned from the three of the four original multi-track master reels (one reel has been lost). The gaps in Destiny Street Remixed are plugged by three tracks from Destiny Street Repaired. 

Destiny Street Repaired is a curio, an exercise in post-fact bricolage which is neither a new album or a remake – a half-way house. The new Destiny Street Remixed is aurally more up-front and punchier than the original album but doesn’t alter perceptions about the source album’s creative shortcomings.


Another inescapable problem with the original Destiny Street  is that it was released close to five years after the debut Richard Hell & The Voidoids album, October 1977’s Blank Generation. It came too late. The moment had passed. Hell was integral to the New York scene, had been in Television, then The Heartbreakers and first played live with The Voidoids in November 1976. But the forward motion of 1976 and 1977 dissipated, and momentum was lost. Thereafter – fits and starts. Hell should have made a second album in 1978 or 1979, rather than 1982 (Destiny Street was recorded in 1981).

A broad hint at what could have been a more timely second album comes with what follows Destiny Street Remixed on Disc Two. There’s the careening January 1979 UK-only “The Kid With the Replaceable Head” / “I’m Your Man” single , nine demos from July 1979 (three of which are previously unreleased) and a live track from 2004.

Richard Hell The Kid With the Replaceable Head

The demos open a window into Hell’s pre-Destiny Street world, when he was still being facilitated by former Dr Feelgood road manager and Stiff Records co-founder Jake Riviera. A Hell supporter, Riviera had seen The Heartbreakers in 1976, tried to get the newly band-less Hell to play August 1976’s Mont-de-Marsan punk rock festival with Nick Lowe, issued the “Blank Generation” single on Stiff Records and organised support slots for Hell with Elvis Costello. “The Kid With the Replaceable Head” single was on Riviera’s post-Stiff label Radar. The 1979 demos heard here were made for Riviera and could have become the ground floor of an album, but in his essay Hell says “It was clear by the end of the summer that I wasn’t going to be dependable enough to warrant Jake investing in a full-scale album. So that plan was scrapped.”

Of these nine tracks from 1979 (misleadingly credited as “Destiny Street Demos”), six have been out before: “Don’t Die” and “Time” were on the 1980 Shake label EP mentioned above; “Crack of Dawn”, “Going Going Gone”, “I Lived my Life” and “Ignore That Door” were on the 1984 cassette album R.I.P. In full, the 1979 recordings sound terrific. Coherent, kinetic and spikey, this is wonderful stuff. The previously unheard “Smitten” brings in a Gang Of Four slant. But there was no immediately ensuing album, and Destiny Street arrived three years later.

Anyone with a passing interest in this ever-intriguing figure will need the 1979 demos. They’re as essential as the “The Kid With the Replaceable Head” single. But overall, the thought-provoking Destiny Street Complete says more about Richard Hell’s urge to wrestle with his past than it does about the original Destiny Street album itself.

 Hell may have saved the best for last. Disc two of this set also includes Destiny Street Demos, an essential collection of raw early recordings and singles spanning from 1978 to 1980. This stuff smokes, plain and simple; it might even be the best argument for the Voidoids as one of the finest bands to emerge out of NYC during this period. Almost all of Demos has shown up on various collections in the past, but presented as a whole here, it’s as powerful a statement as Hell and co. ever made. Worth the price of admission alone.

Richard Hell, under exclusive license to Omnivore Recordings. Released on: 22nd January 2021

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Matthew Sweet fans have something to look forward too on January 15th, the day his much-anticipated album “Catspaw” album is due out on Omnivore Recordings. Rather than wait for release day to get here, Sweet is bridging the gap between then and now with the release of his new single “Stars Explode” .

One hand washes the other. What goes around comes around. The cliches can be endless but in essence, that’s exactly how the new single’s title came to be.

“Recently, I heard a song called ’Matthew Sweet’ by a band from Chapel Hill, N.C. named The Stars Explode,” says Sweet from his home in Nebraska. “I was flattered and liked the song and their band name, so I decided to use it in my song ‘Stars Explode.”

While the name may have been a smiled volley, the song itself has nothing to do with the band. Instead, the alt-rock, singer songwriter’s hook heavy, radio ready song is set in the stars and built on sparkling guitars, and his signature stacked harmonies. Side note: while on a self-described, semi-permanent hiatus, the North Carolina rockers were pretty damn good and would have fit in fairly well with Matthew Sweet fans.

The music ‘arrived,’ so to speak, together with the title. I’ve always been interested in Space and that greater nature of things; I love the concept that “we are all stardust.” I explored that idea in the lyrics. ‘Stellar winds she comes riding upon / with a nebulous intent…’ The female character here is sort of a Mother Nature of the Cosmos—maybe the queen of the universe!

“The way I come in singing that repeated note in the first verse reminded me a little bit of something Neil Young might do melodically. I had a lot of fun with the lead guitars on this one too.” 

Though Sweet steps into the spotlight to take on the lead guitar duties, a first for him, that isn’t the only new territory he explores. With the exception of the excellent drumming by long time collaborator Ric Menck (Velvet Crush), Sweet handled the rest of the duties on Catspaw including Höfner bass, electric guitars and backing vocals. Even the recording and mixing was done at his beloved home studio, Black Squirrel Submarine.

Stars Explode · Matthew Sweet under exclusive license to Omnivore Recordings. Released on: 11th december 2020

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Richard HELL; B&W Posed  (Photo by Peter Noble/Redferns)

On this day (November 18th) in 1976: Richard Hell & The Voidoids made their live debut at CBGB’s New York; their 1977 debut album, ‘Blank Generation‘, would influence many other punk bands – its title song was chosen by music writers as one of ‘The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock’ in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame listing, & is ranked as one of the all-time Top 10 punk songs by a 2006 poll of original British punk figures,

Richard Hell and the Voidoids will revisit their 1982 album “Destiny Street” as a “remastered, remixed, repaired” reissue that captures how the band’s second and final album was originally intended to sound. Destiny Street Remixed, due out January 21st, 2021 via Omnivore Recordings, makes use of the newly discovered three of the four original 24-track masters from the 1981 sessions for the album that, in its original form, “was a morass of trebly multi-guitar blare,” Hell writes in the reissue’s new liner notes. Never happy with the 1982 album, Hell first tinkered with it for 2009’s Destiny Street Repaired, which combined the original rhythm tracks with Hell’s new vocals and guitar overdubs courtesy of Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian. After rediscovering the 24-track masters featuring the Voidoids’ contributions, Hell enlisted Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner for a full remix of the original Destiny Street.

Destiny Street was the follow-up album to one of the greatest punk albums of all time, 1977’s Blank Generation. The album was originally recorded in 1981 and released in 1982, but not to Richard Hell’s satisfaction. As he says in his new liner notes to Destiny Street Remixed, “The final mix was a morass of trebly multi-guitar blare.”

Now, for the 40th Anniversary of its creation, the album is at last presented improved the way Richard Hell has long hoped and intended: “The sound of a little combo playing real gone rock and roll.”

Richard Hell co-founded his first band, the Neon Boys, with Tom Verlaine in 1973. That band became Television. When Hell left Television in 1975, he formed, with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan, both formerly of the New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers. After another year, Richard Hell departed The Heartbreakers and created Richard Hell And The Voidoids, which, along with other CBGB bands of the era, such as the Ramones and Patti Smith, formed the template for punk, the effects of which are still being felt.

Apart from Hell on vocals and bass, the original Voidoids comprised Robert Quine (guitar), Ivan Julian (guitar), and Marc Bell (drums). The Destiny Street-era band retained Quine, but otherwise the backing lineup became Naux (Juan Maciel) on guitar and Fred Maher on drums.

Richard had wished forever that he could remix the original Destiny Street, but was told by the record company that the original 24-track masters had been lost. In the early 2000s, Hell discovered a cassette from 1981 that contained just the album’s rhythm tracks (drums, bass and two rhythm guitars) and he realized he could add new guitar solos and vocals to that to obtain a cleaner, improved version of the songs. He enlisted Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian to overdub the solos (Quine had died in 2004 and Naux in 2009) and he re-sang everything. This was released as Destiny Street Repaired in 2009. Hell was pleased.

Then, in 2019, three of the four original 24-track masters were discovered. Now, at long last, Destiny Street could be fully remixed, and Hell signed on Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) to help him with that. The result became the uncanny centerpiece of the 2-CD Destiny Street Complete extravaganza to be released in January of 2021. Destiny Street Remixed will also be available as a stand-alone vinyl LP.

Besides containing the three faithful versions of the album, the 40th anniversary 2-CD deluxe edition of Destiny Street includes not only Hell’s detailed liner notes, but a fourth LP’s worth of demos and prior studio versions of the album’s material—essentially all of Richard’s songwriting output recorded between the release of Blank Generation in 1977 and the recording of Destiny Street in 1981—including some of the best playing and singing in the four-part Complete—called Destiny Street Demos.

And for Record Store Day 2021, Omnivore Recordings will proudly offer this special material on its own stand-alone vinyl LP. Significantly, all the material in this entire collection has been freshly remastered (or in the case of the Remixed, mastered) for these releases by Michael Graves at Osiris Studios.

According to Hell: “I’ve been working on this release for 40 years. Long road! Three different versions of the same ten songs, from the same basic tracks by the same four musicians. I couldn’t help myself, and I’m glad, god damn it. But really, each of the four parts (including the collection of demos) has its points of interest and then the whole is greater than the parts, for my money. It was a good trip, with lots of roadside attractions, but I’m happy to have reached the destination.”

In addition to the standalone Destiny Street Remixed, the remastered 1982 LP, the “Repaired” version, and the new remixed version will also be released together as the two-CD Destiny Street Complete, which adds a fourth disc of a dozen demos recorded between 1978 and 1980. “I’ve been working on this release for 40 years. Long road,” Hell said of the release in a statement. “Three different versions of the same 10 songs, from the same basic tracks by the same four musicians. I couldn’t help myself, and I’m glad, God damn it. But really, each of the four parts (including the collection of demos) has its points of interest and then the whole is greater than the parts, for my money. It was a good trip, with lots of roadside attractions, but I’m happy to have reached the destination.”

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Signed copy of the 1995 album ‘Orange Crate Art’, by Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks. As singer & songwriter for The Beach Boys. Brian is ranked among the greatest American composers of popular music in the rock era thanks to his unorthodox approaches to song composition & arrangement & mastery of recording techniques – he was the first rock producer to use the studio as a discrete instrument; after signing with Capitol Records in 1962, he wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits for the group; The Beach Boys were inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame in 1988; Brian was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of fame in 2000; Rolling Stone ranked him #52 on their 2008 list of ‘The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time’; UK music weekly NME ranked him #8 on their list of ‘The 50 Greatest Producers Ever. He released & toured his version of the ‘lost’ Beach Boys ‘Smile’ album in 2004, which also earned him a Grammy Award; Brian issued his latest (& 11th) solo album, ‘No Pier Pressure’, in 2015; to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ‘Pet Sounds’, Brian embarked on the ‘Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour’ in 2016; that same year saw publication of the autobiography, ‘I Am Brian Wilson’

Van Dyke Parks – composer, lyricist, arranger, producer, and all-around iconoclast – found inspiration in those familiar fruit crates painted with lovely, bucolic images of the fantasyland known as California. Having crafted a relaxed, loping melody, he was determined to set lyrics to it. The story goes that the first word he thought of was “orange.” While it isn’t easy to rhyme, it does stir at least four of the five senses. Orange Crates spread a romanticized notion of a land of abundant sunshine and endless possibilities; perhaps Mississippi native Parks could ruminate on his adoptive state in song…or songs. Who possessed the quintessential California voice to bring them to life? The sonic auteur summoned his old friend and collaborator Brian Wilson to lend his voice and trademark harmonies. turned into “Orange Crate Art”.

Now, that 1995 album – Parks and Wilson’s first collaborative effort since 1967’s abortive SMiLE but happily not their last – has received a beautiful 25th anniversary expanded edition from Omnivore Recordings.

From the gentle opening title track, the album unfolds with cinematic flair as a series of musical vignettes or snapshots. Parks’ words – typically dense, filled with striking and sometimes free-associative imagery and interior rhymes – conjure a Golden State fantasia. His memorable if often unconventional melodies draw on many rich strains of American popular song. Robustly sung by Wilson with shimmering, stacked multi-part harmonies (other vocalists including Three Dog Night’s Danny Hutton and Lion King “Circle of Life” singer Carmen Twillie do appear on the backgrounds of a few songs), “Orange Crate Art” takes listeners to the heart of wine country in Sonoma…what better to rhyme with aroma? It’s nostalgic, sure, with references to rocking chairs and barnyard gates, but also immediate. You can smell the ripe oranges or the wine “from the vine of a vintage cru.”

A tropical, steel drum-flecked invitation to “Sail Away” (“You go and get the telephone/Give it a real good yank and thank God we’re all alone in a tropical zone”) is swathed in the splendour of strings even as it evokes a wistful counterpoint to Wilson and Parks’ rocking entreaty to “Sail on Sailor” from two decades earlier. (The instruments throughout are as colourful as the lyrics, with hammer dulcimer, harmonica, trumpets, and more adding vibrancy.) “Orange Crate Art” offered a plea to “Hear the lonesome locomotion roar/Hobo hop on if you dare.” That thread reaches fruition on “My Hobo Heart,” one of three songs featuring words by Albert Hammond’s old songwriting partner Mike Hazlewood. Over swooning, intricate harmonies and impressive falsetto, Wilson adopts the role of a travelin’ man who succumbs to true love. The arrangement is tight and bright with keyboards bringing a breezy air.

Orange Crate Art is at its most carnival-esque on the swirling “Wings of a Dove,” on which the wordsmith Parks playfully brings the listener in again with the onomatopoeia of “the din tin tin tabulation” (for “tintinnabulation”). Wilson has a stunning, wordless vocal interlude on the yearning “Palm Tree and Moon;” whereas that song found him dropping a letter in a bottle in the sea (“I don’t know where it went so I sent to Sacramento/Said you were meant for me”), “Summer in Monterey” landed him on California’s central coast. A reflection of first love, it’s cited by Wilson as one of his favourites on the album, and it’s not hard to see why. Parks’ music and Hazlewood’s lyrics are imbued with the innocence and childlike sweetness that defines much of Wilson’s finest work. “My Jeanine” is another remembrance of love with a delightful streak of whimsy.

Another of Brian’s favourites, “San Francisco,” seemingly returns to the western milieu of SMiLE‘s “Heroes and Villains” when it starts with the a cappella exclamation “Time to giddy up! Do wah diddy up!” Featuring one of Wilson’s toughest vocals (“It’s pretty rockin’, you know,” he offers in the liner notes, and indeed, he even snarls some of the lyrics), the ever-shifting, rhythmic mini-suite of a song is packed with cultural allusions as it paints a portrait of a rough-and-tumble San Francisco very different than the ones Tony Bennett or Scott McKenzie sang about.

Perhaps the song that best encapsulates Orange Crate Art is “Hold Back Time.” Its sentiment is straight out of Tin Pan Alley (“Hold back time/Don’t talk about tomorrow/Tell that old clock on the wall he’ll just have to call it a day/Hold back time when we’re in each other’s arms/We’re in each other’s arms, so hold back time…”) but as affectingly sung by Wilson – who has experienced his share of well-publicized ups and downs – it’s achingly poignant. So is the escapist paean “Movies Is Magic,” which proclaims, “Movies is magic/Real life is tragic/I regret I gotta say/It is time we get away/to the movies and magic.” The simple yet profound message has never felt so relevant. A full orchestra is deployed for a touch of Max Steiner or Alfred Newman-esque Hollywood grandeur.

Mike Hazlewood penned both music and lyrics for “This Town Goes Down at Sunset,” a pretty, low-key tune that brings Orange Crate Art full circle, from its earlier call of “Sun up!” on “Sail Away” to sundown. It’s followed by a gorgeous grace note, a fully-orchestrated rendition of George Gershwin’s 1919 “Lullaby.” The hypnotic work is considered one of the Broadway tunesmith’s first “serious” pieces of music and later formed the basis of an aria in his 1922 one-act jazz opera Blue Monday, a precursor to Porgy and Bess. It’s an unexpected if altogether appropriate finale.

However, there’s an encore on Omnivore’s reissue. Three previously unreleased bonus tracks have been rescued from the vaults including two more Gershwin compositions. Brian, who has long cited the legendary composer as an inspiration, adds layered, wordless voices to the famous “Rhapsody in Blue” and delivers Ira Gershwin’s lyrics on a smooth and dreamy rendition of “Love Is Here to Stay” recorded for Warner Bros. honcho Mo Ostin and his wife Evelyn. The final bonus is Bob Thiele and George David Weiss’ anthem of hope, “What a Wonderful World.” Singing over spare keyboard accompaniment, Brian movingly shapes it into a close cousin of his own perennial concert closer, “Love and Mercy.”

The 25th anniversary edition, produced by Omnivore’s Brad Rosenberger, also adds a second disc reprising the entire original album stripped of Wilson’s soaring vocals. This mix is beguiling in its own way, shining a spotlight on Parks’ elaborate and ever-inventive arrangements as well as the talented musicians involved. Previously buried or less prominent flourishes from steel drums, sleigh bells, accordion, or Wilson’s signature bass harmonica rise to the surface on this disc. There isn’t enough room here to name them all – they’re listed in the digipak – but mention should be made of such top-drawer session vets as Grant Geissman and Fred Tackett (guitar) as well as Tommy Morgan (harmonica) and Dennis Budimir (drums), both of whom played on countless records with The Wrecking Crew. Morgan has even been credited with introducing Brian to the bass harmonica.

Though Brian Wilson didn’t compose any of the music on Orange Crate Art, his imprint is deeply felt on the album as he brought pure warmth to Parks’ deliciously complex musical creations. The album “is a continuum of that which stood, freeze-frame, at the release of SMiLE,” Van Dyke writes in his new liner notes. It’s a key part of a vibrant tapestry of Americana that runs through both artists’ solo albums: whether Parks’ Song Cycle (1967) and Discover America (1972) or Wilson’s That Lucky Old Sun (2008) and Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (2010). That Lucky Old Sun revisited many of the themes on Orange Crate Art, and even features Parks’ spoken-word poetry interludes. On Reimagines Gershwin, Brian reinterpreted both “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Love Is Here to Stay.”

Shortly after the release of Orange Crate Art, Brian Wilson began working with Andy Paley on a group of songs that still haven’t yet been fully realized. (He tantalizingly admits in his liner notes, “I’d love to get back to those songs eventually, too.”) By 1998, he’d release the studio album Imagination with producer Joe Thomas and a new set of collaborators; within a couple of years he’d form the remarkable band with whom he’d triumphantly return to the concert stage. He and Parks would complete their long-lost masterpiece, SMiLE, in 2004.

Omnivore has afforded this grand, sweeping journey through the heart of both the Golden State and the United States the respect it deserves. Michael Graves’ subtle, quiet, and detailed remaster preserves all of the dynamics of the album while revealing nuances in vocals and instruments. The CD’s six-panel digipak and 16-page booklet designed by Greg Allen both honour the spirit of the original release. Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks’ Orange Crate Art is ripe for rediscovery.

“Orange Crate Art” is available now on CD and vinyl!

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The Muffs - Blonder And Blonder

The Muffs’ debut hit the scene in 1993, and was an instant smash. Any fear that they could follow it up successfully was answered when Blonder And Blonder arrived two years later. The Muffs burst onto the California music scene at the beginning of the ’90s, and after a few independent singles and EPs, they were quickly snapped up by Warner Bros Records. Entering the studio with David Katznelson and Rob Cavallo (who would go on the helm records from Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and more), The Muffs roared from speakers across the country in 1993. According to renowned critic Jim DeRogatis, “You’d have to reach all the way back to Blondie’s Plastic Letters to find punkish power pop this endearing.

If you’re curious why so many sing the praises of the late, great Kim Shattuck, “Blonder And Blonder” is the perfect place to start. The Muffs’ second album sees the screamer-guitarist joined by bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald, and the trio bash out these 14 Shattuck originals with spirit and skill. Green Day producer Rob Cavallo knows more than a little about punk-pop, and together with the Los Angeles band helms this collection, whose catchy hooks, droll lyrics and instrumental fury shine on such highlights as “Agony,” “Oh Nina” and single “Sad Tomorrow.” The Reprise set turns 25 this weekend, and any alternative rock fan will have more fun with “Blonder And Blonder”. 

The band propelled by Shattuck’s material to even greater heights, and Blonder became the band’s biggest selling album.
Omnivore Recordings is proud to present this ’90s milestone on CD with 7 bonus tracks (2 U.K. B-sides, and 5 previously unissued Shattuck demos) and on LP for the first time in over two decades.
Like 2015’s reissue of The Muffs, debut album the full-color packaging includes photos, drawings, memorabilia, and essays from Barnett and McDonald, as well as, track-by-track commentary from Shattuck. 21 years later, Blonder And Blonder still sounds as vital and visceral as it did upon its original release. Face it, you to have this record in your collection.

Reuniting and issuing their first new release in a decade last year, garnering critical lauds and playing to enthusiastic crowds, it’s time to go back to where it all started. It’s time for The Muffs!

Beat Poetry For Survivalists is the new collaboration between Peter Buck and Luke Haines. Peter Buck was the guitarist for the biggest band in the world – REM. Luke Haines was the guitarist for the Auteurs. The Auteurs were not the biggest band in the world. They were pretty good though. Luke Haines also does paintings of Lou Reed.

One day, Peter Buck bought one of Luke Haines’ Lou Reed paintings. They had never met before but decided that the fates had brought them together and they should write some songs together and make an album.

Beat Poetry For The Survivalist is that album. With songs about legendary rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, The Enfield Hauntings (of 1978), a post-apocalyptic radio station that only plays Donovan records, Bigfoot, and Pol Pot.

Beat Poetry For Survivalists is the new collaboration between Peter Buck & Luke Haines. ‘Jack Parsons’ is the first single and track from the new album

Peter has two new albums out this month including a collaboration with Luke Haines (ex-Auteurs) called Beat Poetry for Survivalists as well as new material with the No Ones called The Great Lost No Ones Album.

Beat Poetry for Survivalists which Peter calls “a freaked-out post-apocalyptic beast of a record,” was released on March 6yj on Cherry Red Records (UK) and Omnivore (USA) while The Great Lost No Ones Album will be released on March 27th on Yep Roc Records.

In addition, Peter will be touring in support of both records this spring,

The Muffs - No Holiday

A couple of weeks before the release of “No Holiday,” Kim Shattuck, the Muffs’ leader died. The album was presumably meant to be the beloved punk band’s final statement. If you listen to single “A Lovely Day Boo Hoo,” without crying, hearing Shattuck’s voice singing in a softer, sweeter tone that contrasts greatly from her signature yell, you may be lacking something. Of course, this record does still have plenty of rockers like “Down Down Down,” “Pollyanna “and “The Kids Have Gone Away.” But it is the quieter moments that are the most stirring. Closer “Sky,” particularly lands hard. Kim Shattuck was one of the best power-pop writers around and she was cut down too soon.

After reissuing The Muffs’ three acclaimed first titles (The Muffs, Blonder And Blonder, andHappy Birthday To Me), it’s only fitting that the brand new Muffs album makes its way out into the world via Omnivore Recordings.

No Holiday, The Muffs’ first new album in five years, is a celebration of everything the band has always stood for, and continues to be. Bassist Ronnie Barnett says “I think this new album represents the depth of our band like none of our others. It could have easily been aptly called The Many Moods Of The Muffs. All of our strengths: melody, big rock, sweetness, nastiness… All on display and readily apparent. The three of us, after all these years, are a family. The love between us is well represented here. We laid it all out there on this one.”

Kim Shattuck (songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist) adds “I wrote the songs between 1991 and 2017. We decided to have a long album and use songs that had been in my arsenal but were weeded out for super concise albums. They were all great songs and we didn’t want them to go to waste. No way!” .Kim Shattuck has been described as ‘a force of nature.’ She was even more than that to people like me who love her music. She was a rockin’ performer and a masterful songwriter. It feels like she’s left us too soon.

Big Star - In Space OV-338

October 25th marks the release of the latest in Omnivore’s ongoing Big Star series: an expanded reissue of the band’s 2005 album “In Space”. In four short years, Big Star created three cult classic albums. Their legend grew over the years, and in 1993 – nearly two decades after disbanding – Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens collaborated with The Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow for a one-off performance.

This led to a well-received tour, which led to years of concert performances. A decade later, they surprised everybody with a new studio album, 2005’s In Space. The well-received 12-song set included ten new originals and two covers and was recorded in the fabled Ardent Studios, where Big Star began. The album was originally released on Ryko and received a limited vinyl run on DBK Works. Now, the album will return to vinyl on translucent blue wax and will be expanded on CD to the tune of six bonus tracks. Among them are five unissued demos and alternate mixes, plus the 2003 reunion track “Hot Thing,” previously available on the out-of-print Ryko comp, Big Star Story. The packaging will include notes from Supermegabot’s Jeff Rougvie, formerly of Ryko A&R, plus recollections from Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow, Jody Stephens, engineer Adam Hill, and co-producer Jeff Powell (who also cut the new vinyl edition).

Released in 2005, Big Star’s reunion album In Space has been ignored by some fans, and derided by others. Now some 14 years on, Omnivore Recordings has decided to bring this album back into the spotlight for a much needed reappraisal.

In order to really get a handle on this album, I think it’s important to understand the context. After the group’s implosion in 1974 following the chaotic sessions that would eventually be released as the group’s third and final album, the group’s only two remaining members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens would part ways. While each would remain involved in music, there seemed little hope that in spite of the cult that had begun to sprung up around the music of Big Star that a reunion would ever happen. That all changed in 1993.

Sporadic reunion gigs followed over the ensuing years. But, other than a one-off track, “Hot Thing,” that the lineup cut for a somewhat ill-fated tribute album, Big Star, Small World, in 1997 (eventually the track ended up making it’s debut on the out-of-print Ryko compilation Big Star Story when the company behind the tribute went belly up), at any rate no one expected a new album. So when the notoriously contrarian Chilton suggested the group record some new songs, I can imagine everyone including his bandmates were somewhat shocked.

Convening in Memphis at the legendary Ardent Studios where Big Star recorded their 1970’s recordings; the plan was to write and record a song a day. At the end of the day, In Space featured 12 tracks (10 originals and 2 covers) with songwriting contributions from all members. I remember there was an almost immediate feeling of disappointment upon the albums’ release. Stringfellow later recalled: “The album was released in 2005 and a year later we found ourselves on the main stage of Primavera Sound, a prestigious music festival in Barcelona. Some 10,000 people in the crowd. Before we played ‘Hung Up on Summer’ Alex addressed the crowd: ‘Here’s a song from our latest album . . . you know, it totally bombed— just like the other ones! But don’t worry . . . 30 years from now you’ll be saying it’s the greatest thing ever!’”

In retrospect, I think perhaps we, as fans of the group might have been a bit harsh. Is it a record that scales to the heights that any of the first three Big Star albums do? The short answer is unfortunately, no. But that doesn’t mean the album doesn’t have some nice moments that do a great job of honoring the group’s prior work while pushing the group into some new sonic territory. In Space is a seriously frontloaded album with its first four tracks representing the best the album has to offer. Kicking off with “Dony,” a tune that boasts a crisp autumnal twin guitar groove with Chilton’s vocal delivery a sort of professor hulk amalgamation of all of his various personas from blue-eyed soul crooner, to lounge lizard to reluctant power pop icon.  “Lady Sweet,” drizzles a little bit of daisy glaze on the proceedings that recall some of Radio City‘s hazier moments, “Best Chance,” is classic Jody Stephens power pop optimism in the same mode as Big Star’s 3rd standout “For You.”  While “Turn My Back on the Sun,” is a pitch perfect Beach Boys pastiche. Which makes perfect sense given Chilton’s affection for America’s band, and Big Star 2.0’s penchant for covering “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” live.

After those first four tracks (which would have made a killer EP on their own, mind you), let’s just say your results will vary based on your level of fandom and affection for some of Chilton’s more subversive impulses such as the disco romp, “Love Revolution,” or quirky covers of The Olympics’ “Mine Exclusively” and French baroque composer Georg Muffat’s “Aria, Largo.” While the jam oriented album closer “Makeover,” is a bit of a half-baked commentary on consumerism.

In some ways, it was impossible for Big Star to ever make an album equal to that untouchable trio of 1970’s releases. Those were different times, after all. The guys who recorded In Space were different people in some cases literally, and other cases metaphorically. That doesn’t diminish some of the great music you might discover on here if you open your mind, and adjust your expectations a bit.  It’s still Big Star, and although no one knew it at the time, this was their last time to shine.

Buy the album via Omnivore Recordings.

The Posies - Frosting On The Beater

We began our career exactly 30 years prior by releasing a home-recorded cassette called Failure, which to our complete surprise became an instant favorite around the Northwest, earning us critical accolades, radio airplay, and major label interest all in a very short time. We were lucky to find ourselves living just a few doors down the road in Seattle from Arthur “Rick” Roberts and Mike Musburger, both of whom agreed to join our band on bass and drums, respectively.

Signed to Geffen Records, we recorded 3 releases, 1990’s Dear 23, Frosting On The Beater in 1993, and Amazing Disgrace in 1996.

These three albums remain beloved by our fans; our most popular, most often cited, most requested works. However, over the years, the CDs have been in and out of print, there have been inconsistent presences on streaming, the LPs either long out of print or not issued at all depending on the territory.

Good news: all that’s about to change. Frosting On The Beater is back, re-issued by Omnivore Recordings (who have, among many releases new and old, reissued our first album, Failure, plus releases by Big Star, Game Theory, etc).

The album will be released as a double CD set: one CD containing the original album, remastered from the original analog tapes, plus enough bonus material to fill out the rest of the CD; and another full CD of more bonus material. Don’t expect just a repackaging of material already available on our 2000 boxed set of outtakes—15 of Frosting On The Beater’s 31 bonus tracks on this reissue have never been heard!

Frosting On The Beater will now stretch across two LPs and will be mastered at 45 RPM from the original tapes. We made the decision to stick to just the original albums for the vinyl release, to give it room to breathe across two glorious slabs of wax. So, if bonus tracks are your thing, the 2-CD set will have you covered.

From the album, “Frosting On The Beater”