Posts Tagged ‘Paul Weller’

I think I’ve been suffering from Paul Weller fatigue in recent times. The ex-Jam and Style Council man has been knocking them out regularly for quite a while and although there’s been nothing really wrong with the likes of Saturns Pattern and A Kind Revolution, it feels like ages since I really loved one of his solo efforts (probably 2008’s 22 Dreams). But True Meanings has reversed that trend. It’s a beautiful record. I’m a sucker for that pastoral, folky vibe, but crucially, the songs are also very good. ‘Gravity’ and ‘Glide’ drip with acoustic regret while ‘Old Castles’ has a wonderful jazzy lilt. Best of all the mood and tone is consistent throughout and therefore this feels like a proper album, to sit back and enjoy.

The former Jam and Style Council man continues to rack up Top 10 albums at home in the UK. His music these days is more acoustic-based and rustic than it was, but his writing remains vital, and Bowie fans will want to hear Paul’s tribute to their man.

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The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ wasn’t the only shapeshifting punk record released in 1979. That honor also went to the Jam’s ‘Setting Sons.‘ The rabble-rousing “Girl on the Phone” and “Private Hell” are puncture-wound Britrock, while the surging standout “The Eton Rifles,” one of the Jam’s best songs, is a ferocious, biting piece of class commentary. Still, the graceful, strings-driven “Smithers-Jones” and the note-perfect, power-pop trifle “Thick as Thieves” reveal maturity and sophistication the Jam would soon embrace even more.

Having released four albums in two and a half years, The Jam had become one of the most prolific – and insightful – bands of the late 70s. By the time Setting Sons came out, on 16th November 1979, they had developed far beyond their initial punk/mod revivalist beginnings and were beginning to explore ever more ambitious themes in their work, with frontman Paul Weller stepping out as the new wave’s answer to The Kinks’ Ray Davies.

The only single to be released from the album, ‘The Eton Rifles’ recounted events of June 1978, when a fight erupted in Slough between Right To Work marchers and Eton pupils. Reaching No.3 in the UK – the group’s highest placement yet – it epitomised Weller’s knack for putting social commentary to catchy tunes. The song was initially part of a broader patchwork, as Weller had intended for Setting Sons to be a concept album of sorts, telling the story of three friends who, after having gone their separate ways and lived through a war, reunite only to discover how much they’ve changed. The concept didn’t survive to the end stages, yet the album remains a high-water mark in The Jam’s career.

Almost a year after Setting Sons was released the group were on stage at Newcastle City Hall, on 28 October 1980, showing fans how much they had changed in the preceding months. With their forthcoming album, Sound Affects, just a month away, The Jam tore through all but two of the then unknown songs (curiously leaving future classic ‘That’s Entertainment’ off the setlist), revealing the even more ambitious sonic palette they were working with. The album’s nods towards British psych and Weller’s beloved R&B rightly took the group to No.2 in the UK charts.

That Newcastle gig was recorded for posterity, offering fans an unparalleled insight into the band’s development at this crucial time in their career.

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This week my most awaited LP of 2018 thus far coming from the inimitable Low on their shadowy electronic masterpiece, ‘Double Negative’. There are synths akimbo on the new one from MCR up-n-comers Pale Waves, reminding me of a more youthful Kristin Kontrol (if only everyone loved that LP as much as I did), or a less saccharine Tegan & Sara. In fact, it’s a very electronic week on the heavy hitters, Those of you who love a good guitar can do FAR worse than The Goon Sax’s new outing on the ever-reliable Wichita Recordings, absolutely brimming with lyrical fire and melodic cleverness, and with the propulsive slacker vibes the Aussies do so well.

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Low  –  Double Negative

In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.

To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.

This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative co-writers, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.

Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?

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Toy  –  The Willo

Since 2010, Toy have earned a reputation as a band of integrity, virtuosity and taste, with Tom, Maxim, Dominic, Charlie and (joining in 2015) Max creating a sound that is embedded in the underground tradition, yet distinctly their own. Now here comes a two-track twelve-inch on Tough Love, a foretaste of a forthcoming album in January 2019, which marks a new dawn for this most singular of bands.

‘The Willo’ is a dreamlike, seven-minute glide, redolent of a forest at sunset and just as pretty, but not without hints of malevolence. Maxim’s fingerpicking acoustic melds with electric twang from Dominic, and a whirling organ from Max Oscarnold gives this elegant creation an extra layer of disorientation and depth. “People appear to have seen Will-o’-the-wisp, a mysterious green-blue light, over the centuries. It generally means something ominous is about to happen”, says Tom.

Then there is ‘Energy’, which lives up to its name with thunderously metronomic drums from Charlie Salvidge and a ferocious guitar from Dominic O’Dair. The lyrics, culled from a story written by Max about a nighttime ritual, are obscured by the barrage-like forward momentum of the music.

The twelve-inch, recorded and mixed by the band between Oscarnold’s Stoke Newington flat and a south London studio, is the first release for Toy on their new label Tough Love, representing the latest stage in the evolution of the band. Since their inception, they have released the acclaimed albums Toy (2012), Join The Dots (2013) and Clear Shot (2016), and toured everywhere from Serbia to China, while holding onto that youthful, magical moment of discovering strange new worlds of innocence and experience.

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The Goon Sax

The Goon Sax are James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones from Brisbane, Australia. Still in high school when they made their first album Up To Anything in 2016, their brand of awkwardly transcendent teenage guitar pop took earned them wide-spread critical acclaim.

For album number two, they flew to Melbourne to record with James Cecil and Cameron Bird, respectively former/current members of Architecture In Helsinki, and ‘We’re Not Talking’ shows how much can change between the ages of 17 and 19. It’s a record that takes the enthusiasms of youth and twists them into darker, more sophisticated shapes. Relationships are now laced with hesitation, remorse, misunderstanding and ultimately compassion.

Drummer Riley Jones really comes to the fore here, joining Louis and James in singing lead and writing songs for the first time, making the band the musical equivalent of an equilateral triangle (the strongest shape in physics).

Delivering brilliantly human and brutally honest vignettes of adolescent angst, The Goon Sax brim with personality, charm and heart-wrenching honesty. ‘We’re Not Talking’ is a record made by restless artists, defying expectations as if hardly noticing, and its complexity makes ‘We’re Not Talking’ even more of a marvel.

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Dilly Dally – Heaven

Heaven highlights Dilly Dally’s rough edges in all their ragged glory, drawing every potent ounce of energy from the foursome’s swampy tones, raspy vocals, and volatile rhythm section. While the music is undeniably ferocious, there’s uplift woven into the fabric of every track. The album opens with the dreamy “I Feel Free”, which begins as a floating, untethered soundscape before transforming into a soaring anthem for a world that’s ready to finally turn the page on all the darkness and disillusion the last few years have wrought. The inexorable “Believe” insists on self-confidence, while the driving “Sober Motel” celebrates the lucidity a clear mind, and the lilting “Sorry Ur Mad” makes a case for releasing yourself from the prisons of anger and resentment. Heaven carves out its own atheistic religion to get through the day, a faith that validates our pain as real but responds with a beaming light of hope. [Limited white colored vinyl pressing also available.]

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Slothrust  –  The Pact

Slothrust is principal songwriter, guitar player and unrepentant aesthete Leah Wellbaum, with drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann. On their fourth full-length album The Pact, Slothrust constructs a luscious, ethereal cosmos perforated with wormy portals and magic wardrobes, demonstrating more clearly than ever the band’s deft shaping of contrasting sonic elements to forge a muscular sound that’s uniquely their own. Bizarre and mundane, tender and confident. The awkward duality of the forever outsider, rightly reclaimed as power. This is The Pact. Produced and engineered by Billy Bush in Los Angeles (the band’s new home base), Slothrust’s new album is a confident journey across 12 songs that oscillate between a quietly reflective tenderness and a slick, sleek confidence; balancing playful innocence with ballsy swagger. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had making a record,” Wellbaum confirms. “We were able to take risks. I’m saying yes more than no these days.”

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Pale Waves  – My Mind Makes Noises

After signing a record deal with Dirty Hit in 2017, Manchester’s Pale Waves released their debut single “There’s a Honey”, followed by “Television Romance”. The following year, the band were ranked fifth in the BBC Sound of 2018 poll and won the NME Under the Radar Award at the NME Awards. They now return with their debut album which features the singles ‘There’s A Honey’, ‘Television Romance, ‘Kiss’, ‘Eighteen’ and new single ‘Black’.

Pale Waves are Heather (vocals, guitar), Ciara (drums), Hugo (guitar) and Charlie (bass).

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Richard Thompson – 13 Rivers

Richard Thompson’s new album is his first self-produced record in over a decade. It’s a minimal and spacious recording which, according to Thompson, is a projection of current events in his life. “This has been an intense year for myself and my family, getting older doesn’t mean that life gets easier! There are surprises around every bend. I think this reflects in the immediacy of the stories, and the passion in the songs. Sometimes I am speaking directly about events, at other times songs are an imaginative spin on what life throws at you. The music is just a mirror to life, but we try to polish that mirror as brightly as possible.” 13 Rivers spans thirteen tracks. It is an album as much about growth as it is about reflection. Says Thompson, “I don’t know how the creative process works – I suppose it is some kind of bizarre parallel existence to my own life. I often look at a finished song and wonder what the hell is going on inside me. We sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission at the back.” [Limited black and cream colored vinyl pressing also available.]

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First Aid Kit – Tender Offerings

“Technically, Tender Offerings are the four songs that did not make it onto Ruins. For these ladies, these precious songs did not fit the bombastic folk-nature of the album. Instead, they truly felt like tender offerings; too sweet and soft in scope to be fluidly aligned with their other tracks. Once, you hear such gorgeous tracks like, “I’ve Wanted You” and “All That We Get” you will understand their point. Instrumentally, you feel every hook, melody, and chorus was precisely and clearly made as a cloud creates a raindrop. This duo turn their guitar melodies into field of amber strings dancing in the suns of their voices like grains move with daylight.”

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Paul Weller – True Meanings

To put it simply, True Meanings, the fourteenth Paul Weller solo album and the 26th studio album of his entire career, is a record unlike any he has ever made before. It’s characterized by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Weller’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited. A dreamy, peaceful, pastoral set of songs to get lost in, it’s both an album that his faithful audience has been wanting him to make for a long time, and an album that many new people outside of that audience will relate to.

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The Doors – Waiting For The Sun [Reissue/1968]

50th Anniversary reissue. This double-CD and single-LP collection features a new version of the album’s original stereo mix on both CD and 180-gram vinyl LP, which has been newly remastered from the original master tapes by Bruce Botnick, the Doors’ longtime engineer/mixer. The CD set also includes a second disc of 14 completely unreleased tracks: nine recently discovered “rough mixes” from the album recording sessions and five live songs from a 1968 Copenhagen show.

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Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now: Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 DVD

Directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Murray Lerner, Both Sides Now: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 features new interviews with Joni, discussing her recollections of the event intercut with festival footage, both onstage and behind the scenes, offering a fascinating insight into a now legendary concert from the artists point of view and putting the events of the day into context.

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The string-laden, largely acoustic and Nick Drake-esque track Aspects is a taster for Paul Weller’s hotly anticipated 14th solo studio album True Meanings which will be released later this year and from the sound of this track alone, promises to be a truly special release.

Paul said of Aspects; “I don’t know if it’s indicative of the album, but it’s certainly the cornerstone to the record for me. It’s also where I got the title of the album from…”.Today, Friday May 25th, Paul Weller celebrates his 60th birthday and to mark this momentous occasion, Paul has a special treat in store for his fans with the release of a beautiful new tune Aspects.

Sound Affects [VINYL]

On the 28th November in 1980: The Jam released their 5th studio album, ‘Sound Affects’, on Polydor Records…by Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton & Rick Buckler It featured the group’s second UK single, “Start!”; as well as other excellent Jam gems such as the funky “Pretty Green”, the raging “Set The House Ablaze”, ballad “That’s Entertainment” & the horn-driven “Boy About Town”; one side of the cover design was a pastiche of the artwork used on various sound effects records produced by the BBC during the ’70s; Paul Weller later cited it as his favourite Jam album in a BBC documentary; in 2006.

For many this album represents the musical zenith for The Jam. It is a fantastic album from start to finish in terms of the songwriting. The earlier Setting Sons has few brilliant anthemic tracks such as Thick as Thieves or The Eton Rifles and was intended as a concept album with the themes of friendship over time being the focal point but by Paul Weller’s own admission had a few fillers such as Girl on the Phone, Private Hell and the cover of Martha Reeves’ Heatwave. This album by contrast is a highly polished offering, perhaps a little too over produced at times and as such saw The Jam going in a new direction. Gone is the earlier raucousness and anger and the imperfect guitar playing and vocals which added something to the songs and at times made them seem rather like live tracks. Instead, this album has a veneer and a polish which firmly established The Jam as a post-punk band.

The Jam’s most consistent effort, ‘Sound Affects’ finds the trio splitting the difference between retro mod-pop (“Boy About Town,” the lovelorn “Monday,” jangly “Man in the Corner Shop”) and kicky power-punk (“But I’m Different Now” the herky-jerky “Start!”). Yet ‘Sound Affects’ also has a menacing tone—check the wary whistling on “Set the House Ablaze” and the record-closing, post-punk march “Scrape Away” a dark soundtrack suitable for stalking prey—that gives the music enduring depth. Plus, the LP contains one of the band’s finest moments, the nostalgic and bittersweet classic “That’s Entertainment.”

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Tellingly, when Paul Weller came to record 2010’s Mercury-nominated Wake Up The Nation, it was 1980s Sound Affects that his collaborator and producer Simon Dine held up as a model. Sound Affects was originally released at a time when The Jam was considered the biggest band in Britain. The album followed the band’s first number one single– “Going Underground” and features the group’s second UK number one single, “Start!”–a track built around almost exact copies of the bass-line and guitar solos from The Beatles’ “Taxman” (at the time Weller considered the album a cross between Off the Wall and Revolver). It includes many of the band’s classic songs: “That’s Entertainment” (written in a caravan in Selsey, after the pub), never released as a single in UK,”Man in the Corner Shop”, “Pretty Green”, the pure-pop of “Boy About Town” and “Dream Time”. It’s regarded by critics and fans (as well as Weller) as their most adventurous and experimental collection of material, drawing musical influences from the ‘post-punk’ groups of the late-70s–Wire, Gang Of Four and Joy Division–as well as neo-psychedelic touches from The Beatles and The Zombies.

The 30th anniversary two-disc, CD deluxe edition of the classic Jam album has been digitally re-mastered and features 22 bonus tracks, demos, b-sides and alternative versions. Also included is a 24-page booklet with extensive new sleevenotes by writer John Harris, a brand new interview with Paul Weller, rare photos and period memorabilia. The bonus material includes eight previously unreleased tracks: demos of “Pretty Green” and “Start!”, alternate versions of “Set the House Ablaze” and “Monday” and a cover of Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset”, and two instrumental demos.

The Jam regrouped and refocused for All Mod Cons, an album that marked a great leap in songwriting maturity and sense of purpose. For the first time, Paul Weller built, rather than fell back, upon his influences, carving a distinct voice all his own; he employed a story-style narrative with invented characters and vivid British imagery à la Ray Davies to make incisive social commentary all in a musically irresistible package. The youthful perspective and impassioned delivery on All Mod Cons first earned Weller the “voice of a generation” tag, and it certainly captures a moment in time, but really, the feelings and sentiments expressed on the album just as easily speak to any future generation of young people. Terms like “classic” are often bandied about, but in the case of All Mod Cons, it is certainly deserved.

All Mod Cons, released to wide acclaim in 1978, firmly cemented the group’s rise to extraordinary heights. Indeed, for many it was the first essential Jam album and listening to it now its impact has not diminished over time.” When I think about English records I think of The Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society, The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead, The Who’s Quadrophenia and The Jam’s All Mod Cons. To me all those albums are quintessential English
Recorded between 4th July 1978 to 17th August 197 at 8RAK (Upper London) and Eden Studios
It’s their third full-length LP. It took it’s title from a British idiom one might find in housing advertisements, is short for “all modern conveniences” and is a pun on the band’s association with the mod revival as well. Of Course it is also Paul Weller’s view on the music business as a ‘con’.

Film about the making of “All Mod Cons” by The Jam in 1978 with interviews from all involved including band members Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler

The single “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” was one of the band’s most successful chart hits up to that point, peaking at #15 on the UK charts. In 2000, Q magazine placed All Mod Cons at number 50 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. I think it is The Jams most fully realised album, it is their best album.

British Invasion pop influences run through the album, most obviously in the cover of The Kinks’ David Watts and It’s too bad a song The Who would have been proud of.

To Be Someone (Didn’t we have a nice) time is an early jab at the rock’n roll lifestyle, about the hollow and empty life of a star, supposedly written after a horrible tour pairing in America with Blue Oyster Cult. The Bass line is a cool rip-of of Paul McCartneys bass line to “Taxman”.

All the tracks are really strong, great playing and great singing all around. The Production is unusually complex and sophisticated for a punk/new wave album.
The song “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” is a first-person narrative of a young man who walks into a tube station on the way home to his wife, and is beaten by far right thugs. The lyrics of the song “All Mod Cons” criticise fickle people who attach themselves to people who enjoy success and leave them once that is over.

Track Listing:
1. All Mod Cons
2. To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)
3. Mr. Clean
4. David Watts
5. English Rose
6. In The Crowd
7. Billy Hunt
8. It’s Too Bad
9. Fly
10. The Place I Love
11. A Bomb In Wardour Street
12. Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

This deluxe repackaged, remastered edition contains single b-sides, demos and rarities. It also features a new film, The Making Of All Mod Cons, with new interviews, promo clips, and previously unseen live footage.

In October Universal Music will release The Jam / 1977a new 40th anniversary, five-disc box set celebrating the busy debut year of The Jam when Paul Weller, Rick Buckler Bruce Foxton delivered two albums and three hit singles.

This forthcoming collection features remastered versions of both albums In The City and This Is The Modern World, and despite a plethora of Jam box sets in the last five or six years the label have dug out six previously unreleased demos from the first album which feature on the second CD alongside five further demos which have been issued before.

CD four is a live disc and includes a previously unreleased concert (15 tracks) from the ‘Nashville’ recorded on 10th September 1977. This is paired with two John Peel sessions from the same year.

Finally the fifth disc – a DVD – features TV appearances and promo videos.

This discs in this box set are packaged in mini-LP vinyl replica wallets with printed inner bags. In The City uses the US version of the inner sleeve and This Is The Modern World features an alternate Gered Markowitz cover image. The box is a rigid card, lift-off lid variety and comes with a 144-page book, featuring new liner notes, period photos etc. It comes with five postcards.

The Jam / 1977 will be released on 20th October 2017

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Paul Weller is nowhere near as musically conservative as some of his fans. The hits understandably get the biggest response – Changing Man, You Do Something To Me, That’s Entertainment, a slightly trudgy version of Start!, a sparkier take on A Town Called Malice that concludes the set – but the most intriguing stuff he plays is off his most recent album, Saturn’s Pattern: if it’s less fragmented and strange than its predecessor, Sonik Kicks, there’s still something exploratory and off-kilter about the piano-powered title track, and the dense, ominous psychedelia of opener White Sky.

As the Glastonbury 2015 festival draws to a close, the set by the Modfather, Mr Paul Weller, who takes the penultimate slot on the Pyramid stage with a set of songs from across his extensive solo back catalogue on the final evening

Happy birthday to Paul Weller, born on 25th May 1958, The UK singer, guitarist, songwriter, of The Jam (1980 UK No.1 single ‘Going Underground’ plus over 15 other UK Top 40 singles). With the Style Council, (1983 UK No.3 single ‘Long Hot Summer’, plus 14 other UK Top 40 singles). Solo (1995 UK No.7 single ‘The Changing Man’). Weller has received four Brit Awards, winning the award for Best British Male twice, and the 2006 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. Do you have a favourite Weller track?

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Love Is Love was written and recorded in the two months immediately following the election, but it’s not a record borne entirely of angry, knee-jerk reaction to what America is becoming. Instead, it’s a meditation on love, and on what life means now. Taking cues from last year’s City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, it feels very much like a record made from living, shoulder to shoulder, in a major city: weaving psychedelic swirls of guitar between languid horns reminiscent of the best Ethiopian jazz—Love is Love is a distinctly New York record. It is a document of protest in uncertain times and an open-hearted rejection of cynicism in favor of emotional honesty. It is bright, and then, unexpectedly, a little dark sometimes too.

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“Wisdom comes with age, so it’s no surprise that Woods have grown more sage in the twelve years since they formed, expanding from sylvan drum circles into increasingly elaborate, transcendent psychedelia.” – Pitchfork.

 

There will be parts of life where we will watch as events unfold and we will feel helpless. We will not be sure of the future. On good days, we’ll have each other. On the bad ones, we’ll turn to the art that helps us feel something. Love is Love is a document of the new world we live in, proof that light can come from despair and hope is still possible. We just need a little help remembering it exists.” –

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“I wasn’t planning on making a record,” says Juliana Hatfield, of her new “Pussycat” album. In fact, she thought her songwriting career was on hiatus, and that she had nothing left to say in song form; that she had finally said it all after two decades as a recording artist. But then the presidential election happened. “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.” She booked some time at Q Division studios in Somerville, Massachusetts near her home in Cambridge and went in with a drummer (Pete Caldes), an engineer (Pat DiCenso) and fourteen brand-new songs.

Hatfield produced and played every instrument other than drums—bass, keyboards, guitars, vocals. From start to finish—recording through mixing—the whole thing took a total of just twelve and a half days to complete.“It was a blur. It was cathartic,” says Hatfield. “I almost don’t even understand what happened in there, or how it came together so smoothly, so quickly. I was there, directing it all, managing it, getting it all done, but I was being swept along by some force that was driving me. The songs had a will, they forced themselves on me, or out of me, and I did what they told me to do. Even my hands—it felt like they were not my hands. I played bass differently– looser, more confident, better.” Pussycat comes on the heels of last year’s Hatfield collaboration with Paul Westerberg, the I Don’t Cares’ Wild Stab album, and before that, 2015’s Juliana Hatfield Three (My Sister, Spin The Bottle) reunion/reformation album, Whatever, My Love. “I’ve always been prolific and productive and I have a good solid work ethic but this one happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think or plan,” says Hatfield. “I just went with it, rode the wave. And now it is out of my hands. It feels a little scary.” Pussycat is being released into a very tense, divided and inflamed America. The songs are reflective of that atmosphere—angry (When You’re A Star), defiant (Touch You Again), disgusted (Rhinoceros), but also funny (Short-Fingered Man), reflective (Wonder Why), righteous (Heartless) and even hopeful (Impossible Song, with its chorus of ‘What if we tried to get along/and sing an impossible song’).

Luke sital singh time is a riddle ray031cd

Eighteen months on from debut album, The Fire Inside comes Time Is A Riddle, the second album Luke Sital-Singh was determined to make solely on his terms. No interference, no scheduling issues, nor elaborate musicianship, nothing big or brittle. Just care, and effort, and time well spent – values he shares with the Slow Movement to which he subscribes, and with the crafts people up and down the country with whom the musician has some special projects planned. It’s a lovely record of self-written songs, a crafted distillation of the ideas and tastes that have been percolating through Sital-Singh since he was a teenager in suburban southwest London.

Having written a brace of songs – simple songs that moved him – Sital-Singh followed his long-held artist’s dream: he escaped to a remote studio, Attica Audio, in Donegal, with nothing on his mind other than making the record of his life. The studio’s owner, producer Tommy McLaughlin (a member of Villagers’ touring band, who Sital-Singh has opened for) pulled together a small group of musicians. Well-used to playing together, the band slotted together effortlessly for a series of recordings over ten days. Time Is A Riddle is a record where you can smell the graft, see the joins and hear the sweat on the frets – and the occasional live-recording misstep. It’s that real. Luke Sital-Singh wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pwr bttm pageant

On PWR BTTM’s new album Pageant, glammed and glittered duo Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce tackle their diary-like explorations of life, identity and existential crises head-on. Pageant is a vital exploration of self that’s hot with friction, angst and hope, both hilarious and heart wrenching.

Pageant is ferociously emotional, with passionate narratives set to cutting rock and roll anthems. The album builds upon PWR BTTM’s sensational debut Ugly Cherries with a further refined song craft and sonic flourishes including horns, flutes, keyboard and even an impromptu choir. The result is thirteen original songs that burst with laughter, tears and triumph. Pageant was produced by Christopher Daly and Cameron West, and was recorded primarily in the top floor of a furniture factory in Geneva, New York. Ben Hopkins takes his guitar playing and vocal fierceness to new heights, and with newfound openness. The duo swap instruments on the record and live, constantly alternating between Hopkins’ finger-picking solos and Liv Bruce’s tremendous drumming.

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Hazel English is a 25-year-old Oakland-based artist who makes beautifully blurry indie-pop music powered by transcendent melodies and caked in layers of Californian sunshine and redolent reverb. She finds herself something of a scene queen amidst the burgeoning jangling happenings of the Bay Area, which count the likes of her producer Jackson Philips aka Day Wave amongst it ranks, as well as kindred spirits like Craft Spells and Hot Flash Heat Wave, to name but a few. Despite the fun being had locally, Hazel describes her music as, “Transportive. It makes you feel like you’re in a different place”. A very literal example is the title track, which charters the bittersweet abandon of her runaway journey from her native Australia to her new adopted home in an near-cinematic narrative. She’s drawn comparisons to everyone from Alvvays and Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to touring partners Ride, while her soaring, hypnotic, vocal arrangements have been likened to everyone from Grimes to Diiv.

2LP – Double LP on Pastel Pink and Pastel Blue Vinyl.

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Manic Street Preachers’ eighth studio album Send Away The Tigers celebrates its tenth anniversary in May and to mark the occasion a 10 Year Collectors’ Edition of the album packed with unheard music, unseen footage and artwork from the band’s own archive is released.

3CD – 2CD / DVD folio book featuring the original album remastered by James Dean Bradfield, a second disc of b-sides and rarities and a DVD including the band’s full 2007 Glastonbury performance plus previously unseen rehearsal footage, an album track-by-track and promo videos. This comes packaged with a beautiful folio book of artwork and handwritten lyric sheets from Nicky Wire’s personal archive alongside photos and liner notes.

2LP – Double gatefold heavyweight vinyl, featuring a remastered edition of the album alongside demos recorded at Faster Studios and at the band’s homes. The vinyl release includes download codes for the album and demos.

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2017, marks the 40th anniversary of Paul Weller’s first album, In The City, which he released with The Jam in May 1977. For most artists such a landmark would be greeted with extensive retrospective celebrations: lavish reissues and all that jazz. But Paul Weller is not like most artists, instead releasing a new studio album, because releasing new albums is what Paul Weller does. Always moving forwards, almost clinically averse to nostalgia or checking his progress in the rear-view mirror. And so, continuing his never-ending creative peak, Paul Weller releases his eagerly awaited 13th studio album A Kind Revolution on Parlophone Records.

Weller started work on A Kind Revolution immediately after finishing 2015’s Saturns Pattern, first tickling out the funky strut of New York and the beautiful slow-mo gospel of The Cranes Are Back – a song that ties in the changing face of London with the power of nature. The album’s title is taken from a line in the aforementioned song. Musicians on the album feature most of the touring band faithful with Andy Crofts and Ben Gordelier being the top mainstays. Steve Cradock and Steve Pilgrim also feature on several tracks. Opening track Woo Sé Mama sees legendary soul singers PP Arnold and Madeleine Bell supply their distinctive vocal skills while the exceedingly funky One Tear features the unmistakable voice of the one and only Boy George. Paul even managed to lure Robert Wyatt out of retirement to sing and play trumpet on She Moves With The Fayre. Finally, and once again, The Strypes’ guitarist Josh McClorey has been drafted in to add his magic to 3 tracks.

A Kind Revolution features ten absolute classic modern Paul Weller songs. By “modern Paul Weller songs” we mean, instantly recognisable but in no way predictable. He doesn’t make a “kind of” album, he fits together all his influences – rock, R&B, soul, jazz, funk, folk…whatever – and builds a song from them, delivering something that drifts through genres un-selfconsciously and at ease. Two great examples of this are two of the most reflective, contemplative songs, Long Long Road and Hopper, which in lesser hands might have been delivered as ballads, but Weller adds so much texture and colour to each that they defy categorisation. With great age comes great wisdom. Written and recorded at de facto HQ, Black Barn Studios in Surrey, A Kind Revolution was produced and arranged by Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert and Paul himself.

CD – 10-track album in Gatefold card wallet with lyric booklet.

3CD – 8-panel fold-out card wallet containing the original 10-track album A Kind Revolution, plus a bonus CD featuring instrumental versions of A Kind Revolution and a third CD with remixes / alternate versions of A Kind Revolution tracks and another brand new track, Alpha. Also includes a booklet containing album lyrics.

LP – On heavyweight black vinyl, housed in a Gatefold sleeve with lyric booklet, art print and a download card with access to MP3s of the 10-track album.

10″ – Deluxe rigid board box set with lift-off lid containing A Kind Revolution pressed up on 5 x pieces of 10” black vinyl with individual artwork. Includes 10” art print, lyric booklet and download card to access MP3s of all 29 tracks from Deluxe formats of the album.

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Limited to 500 Copies on Seafoam Green Vinyl with Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg’s artwork beautifully repurposed in a shiny gold mirror board sleeve. Ask Me Tomorrow has been unavailable on vinyl since its release on 4AD in October, 1995 and original copies now change hands for three-figure sums. The reissue is timely as it follows the recent announcement of Slowdive’s fourth album, and this could well have been that record, but after being dropped by Creation following the release of Pygmalion, the band – reduced to a three-piece of Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon – rechristened themselves Mojave 3 and experimented with stripped-down, acoustic songs more in thrall to Leonard Cohen than LFO. As a result, Ask Me Tomorrow is essentially Slowdive Unplugged; a special record, with a unique, hushed grandeur all of its own. For fans of Nick Drake, Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons.

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Girlpool made their mark with a spare, simple sound – two guitars and two voices, with absolutely nothing else accompanying them. It was an original, intimate sound, and it made the two sound like they were united against the rest of the world. But on their new album, Powerplant, they’re trying something else. They’re playing with a full band. Over 10 days in August 2016, Girlpool holed up at Los Angeles’ comp-ny studios to record and mix Powerplant with Drew Fischer. For the first time, Harmony and Cleo were joined by a third performer, drummer Miles Wintner, a friend who easily meshed with the tightknit duo. The 12 tracks that compose Powerplant grow and burn with greater fire than the duo have possessed heretofore. Both bandmates were heavily inspired by Elliott Smith, the Cranberries, the Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, and Graham Nash; the influence of each appear in the record’s deliberate and intricate guitar work (Fast Dust, She Goes By) as well as its embrace of dissonant noise (Corner Store, Soup). Perhaps what really makes Powerplant a home run is that Girlpool understand exactly how to use their incisive lyrics, soft textures, hushed harmonies, and soaring hooks for maximum emotional impact. In these moments, when Harmony and Cleo’s voices join together to deliver transcendent transmissions straight from their hearts, Girlpool become a league of their own.

LP+ – Translucent red vinyl with Download – 300 copies.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download.

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Nomad stands as Martha Tilston’s most compelling work to date, an album full of experimentation and impulse. Across the album, musical arrangements realm from the pinhead intimacy of acoustic guitar and voice to the expansive electric guitar, slide guitar, rolling beats, deep bass, banjo and string arrangements. There are subtle undertones of old country music flittering throughout, suggestions of rock and pop and a good dose of stripped back acoustic cinema for the listener to submerge in. Recorded in Cornwall, Martha and her frequent collaborators Matt Tweed, Nick Marshall and Tim Cotterell, amongst other new faces, would pick up instruments in the late hours and the outcome of these sessions arising from spontaneity, experimentation and maturing songwriting was to become Nomad. Martha Tilston has grown up immersed in music from a young age. Her singer-songwriter father Steve Tilston and the late Maggie Boyle (step-mother) were obvious influences, with their musician friends Bert Jansch, John Rebourn and John Martyn often gathering and singing in the family kitchen.

Martha’s own musical journey has taken her from the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury to touring the far reaches of the globe. Originally one-half of folk duo Mouse (alongside Nick Marshall), Martha often shared the stage with the likes of Kate Tempest and Damien Rice before earning a nomination from the BBC for best newcomer and featuring on the Zero 7 album, Yeah Ghost.

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Concord release Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live…and more celebrating the musical legacy of one of rock’s most influential bands – Big Star– and their legendary Third album. Experience this classic of late ’70s power pop through the prism of a collective of immensely talented fans, including members of Wilco, R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, and, of course, Big Star. Following the untimely death of Alex Chilton two days ahead of Big Star’s SXSW performance in 2010, famous friends and fans came from far and wide to play the gig in his honour. Much of that spontaneous ensemble, along with other musical titans, assembled at Glendale, CA’s Alex Theatre in April 2016 to record and film an epic performance.

2CD – Stand Alone Double CD.

3CD – Double CD and DVD Version.

3CD+ – Double CD and Blu-Ray Version