Posts Tagged ‘The National’

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The National released their seventh album last Friday called “Sleep Well Beast.” Many critics are calling it their best yet and certainly one of the best albums of the year. In a special performance recorded live just a few miles from their studio at the Basilica Hudson, Widely renowned band The National . In a special performance recorded live just a few miles from their studio at the Basilica Hudson, The National performs “Day I Die.”

The National performs “Nobody Else Will Be There.”

For Saturday Sessions: The National performs “Nobody Else Will Be There”.

a further track from their seventh album called “Sleep Well Beast.”. In a special performance recorded live just a few miles from their studio at the Basilica Hudson, The National performs “Turtleneck.”

Taken from the Saturday Sessions: The National performs “Turtleneck”.

 

The National wanted to go home. For the past three-plus years, the band had been working in studios all over the world — in Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, and upstate New York — on the long-awaited follow-up to its 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me, which firmly established the dour indie rock band as an internationally successful arena-rock outfit.

The quintet was wrapping up its second to last day at guitarist Aaron Dessner’s newly built home studio in Hudson, New York, when Matt Berninger, the band’s lead singer and lyricist, received a phone call.

On the other end was his wife Carin Besser, a literary editor who plays a large role in sculpting, editing, and occasionally contributing to her husband’s lyrics. Up to that point, the entire band had been feeling less than thrilled with the lyrics to one of its songs, whose chorus went something like this:

“Aaron takes his acid trip in Copenhagen/ Says he wants to stay that way/ But he can’t explain it any other way.”

Besser had a solution. She had found an early demo with a different set of lyrics Berninger had initially written, years earlier, and thought they might be a better fit. After the band had called it a day, Matt and Carin spent the evening texting tweaks to the old lyrics back and forth until they had rewritten the lyrics overnight.

The following morning, Matt, “red-eyed from no sleep and too much coffee and weed,” plugged his laptop into the studio speakers and started playing the alternate demo his wife had found on repeat as the band filtered into the studio to pack up gear and put a few final finishing touches on the record. The second time the song began to play through, Aaron stopped what he was doing and stood silently in front of the speakers, listening intently.

“Well, that sounds better than what we had,” Matt remembers Aaron saying to him. “I’m willing to chase this, if you really want to do it.”

“We do that sometimes,” says Berninger, recalling the eureka moment that resulted in the entirely revamped, current version of “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness,” the lead single to the National’s latest album, Sleep Well Beast,  “We flip the table over at the last minute, and if we don’t find anything when we flip the table over, then we know we’ve got the one.”

Over the past decade, the National has developed a reputation for being some of the most obsessive recording perfectionists in indie rock, a group that will record or mix a song in 80 different ways until they settle on something resembling consensus on a final product.

So when Scott Devendorf, the National’s bassist, recalls the moment when Matt and Aaron committed to reworking “The System Only Dreams” at the 24th hour, he remembers having one simple thought: “Okay, we’re going down that path again.”

For the past decade and a half, ever since releasing its self-titled debut album in 2001, the National has gradually developed one of the more fascinating collaborative songwriting methods for a band in any genre. Berninger writes lyrics to musical sketches made most often by guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner, with Scott and drummer Bryan Devendorf, who comprise the National’s rhythm section, later offering structural feedback and contributing additional instrumentation in the studio.

The National worked on its first several albums locally in Brooklyn, after the band moved to New York from their native Cincinnati in the late ’90s. But in the past five years, the group began to adjust how it made records after its members dispersed geographically, with Matt living in Los Angeles, Bryan back in Cincinnati, Scott in Long Island, Bryce in Paris, and Aaron splitting time between Copenhagen and upstate New York. As a result, much of Trouble Will Find Me was the product of several years of emailing song sketches, lyrics and instrumental parts back and forth.

The band’s newfound separation was one of the driving factors behind Aaron Dessner’s decision to build his new studio, a space where the band could once again convene to work for extended periods of time.

“That’s the big story of this record,” says Bryce Dessner, the guitarist and classically trained composer whose musical role tends to be pushing his bandmates towards left-field experimentation. “Finally having a place where we can all play together after all these years was really amazing for collaborating.”

Sleep Well Beast is the National’s seventh album and their first release in more than four years. In the period following their last album, the band devoted a good chunk of time toward Day Of The Dead, a three-disc tribute to the Grateful Dead organized by the National and featuring artists that ranged from Lucinda Williams and Mumford & Sons to Courtney Barnett and Lucius.

“It definitely rubbed off,” says Scott, who thinks the group found themselves more willing to make less structured, more improvisational music after absorbing so much of the Dead’s influence.

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Since their inception, the National have been defined by the push-and-pull creative dynamic between Matt Berninger, a pop traditionalist who, as the group’s sole lyricist, gravitates toward recognizable melody and straight forward song structures, and the Dessner twins, progressive-minded multi-instruments who tend to favor the avant-garde.

That dynamic is more plainly on view than ever before on Sleep Well Beast, which contains strong dosages of both the most straightforward pop balladry and the most far-out experimentation the five-some has ever put on record.

Songs like “Carin At The Liquore Store” and “Dark Side Of The Gym” are straightforward pop numbers with hints of doo-wop and r&b, the latter a reference to Berninger’s hero Leonard Cohen’s 1977 tune “Memories.” Meanwhile, songs like “Walk It Back” and the title track are full of spoken word interludes, programmed drum beats, and complex rhythmic patterns. 

“We allowed ourselves to try so many new things and take a lot of risks, but at the same time, if the song was special and obviously strong, we didn’t rule it out because it had something to do with our past,” says Aaron.

In the National, most songs begin with Aaron Dessner. He usually comes up with his initial ideas — typically some sort of “rhythmic or harmonic behavior” — by mindlessly tinkering around on guitar or piano.

Aaron, who composed the majority of the music for the band’s new album, goes into great technical detail when describing his group’s music, detailing a litany of harmonic patterns, rhythmic intervals, and chord inversions that comprise the National’s latest record. Aaron Dessner is an enthusiastic promoter of the National’s musical synthesis, eager to talk about the theory and process that defines the group’s creative dynamic; in our 30-plus minute chat, I ask him a mere total of five questions.

Over the years, the National’s internal studio arguments and laborious decision-making have become the stuff of indie rock legend. Bryce Dessner, for one, can still point to specific musical disagreements that happened nearly a decade ago. “Aaron resents me for writing ‘Lemonworld,’” he says, unprompted, at one point while calling from his home in Paris. “He thinks it’s not an interesting enough piece of music.” 

Aaron recalls one particularly tense moment in Hudson. The group had been discussing the song “Sleep Well Beast,” an atypical musical sketch that Bryce and Aaron had become particularly invested in seeing to completion. But Berninger had been having a hard time connecting with the song, and at one point put forth a suggestion: “Why don’t we mute everything except for the drum loop, and we can write something else to it?”

Before Aaron went to sleep that night, he turned to his wife, and said, “I think we just destroyed the one song I’m most excited about.”

What happened next is typical of the National’s chaotic process: The band appeased Matt, using the drum loop to form the foundation of a new piano ballad, “No Guilty Party.” After writing that new song, Aaron, still trying to convince Matt of the musical possibilities of “Sleep Well Beast,” took the lyrics from “No Guilty Party” and inserted them into the “Sleep Well Beast” backing track. It worked: Matt slowly warmed up to the initial song sketch and began writing separate lyrics to that piece of music, which ended up serving as the record’s concluding moment (and the longest studio recording the National has ever put on record).

The resulting two songs, “Guilty Party” and “Sleep Well Beast,” are just the latest in a long line of examples of the National deploying its inherent creative tensions in its favor.

“We’re experimental and quite adventurous in our tastes and in what we do live and what we all do separately,” says Bryce. “Our records have tended to be a little more buttoned-up and … not conservative, but economical. If they’re adventurous it’s in more subtle ways, the way we would use an orchestra or the fact that we would make these weird hits out of all these sleepy songs.”

Those sleepy hits — be it 2007’s morose ode to disillusionment-turned-Obama-campaign song “Fake Empire,” 2010’s Great Recession-era lament “Bloodbuzz Ohio” or 2013’s anxious arena rock anthem “Sea Of Love” — have formed the backbone of the band’s songbook.

But on its latest, the National mostly abandons a core feature of its signature sound — the slow-building musical climax that’s been described as “crescendo rock” — for a more subtle approach. On Sleep Well Beast, the band allowed its sparse ballads to remain as such. And when the group did build exuberant musical landscapes, during the endings to “Walk It Back” or “I’ll Still Destroy You,” it composed entirely separate pieces of music and stitched them together.

“Where in the past we’ve been hammering this sort of anthemic thing,” says Bryce, “these ones have more information in them.”

Matt Berninger is surrounded by notebooks. He’s calling from his home in Los Angeles, where he’s lived since 2013and at the moment, he’s sitting in a room where he stores all of his old writing journals.

Berninger used to depend on these notebooks: he’d constantly jot down lines and lyrics, fill them up with color-coded page markers, and write notes to himself in the margins.

“They stressed me out, all these notebooks, and staring at them gives me a bit of anxiety,” he says. “I don’t need to dig them up again. Those notebooks are dead bodies. Let them rest in peace.”

In recent years, Berninger has adopted an entirely new, unstructured approach to lyric writing. Nowadays, he doesn’t write unless he has music in front of him, and when he is writing, he now relies on a mix of improvisation and free-association. He’ll receive a demo from Aaron or Bryce, lie down on a recliner with some wine and weed, turn the music on, and begin singing the first thing that comes to his head.

“I find it much more exciting to just keep running forward through the woods, not worrying if I’m going in the right direction,” he says.

Berninger now uses one-page Word documents when he’s ready to begin gathering the countless revisions and rough takes he records — often directly into his laptop microphone — on GarageBand.

The lyrics on the Berninger’s newest batch of songs, however, are every bit as evocative in their specificity as anything he’s ever written. On “Carin At The Liquor Store,” Berninger, who’s always been at his sharpest when documenting upper-middle class malaise, paints an exquisite portrait of privileged summertime longing:

I see you in stations and on invitations

You’d fall into rivers with friends on the weekends

Innocent skies above

Carin at the liquor store

I can’t wait to see her

I’m walking around like I was one who found dead John Cheever

Over the span of his career, the essence of Berninger’s thematic focus as a songwriter has essentially remained the same. “Sometimes, I want to remind myself of ideas I’ve written, so I write them again in a different way,” he says. “Usually that idea is one of three things: I’m freaked out about the world, I want to be a good husband and dad and I’m trying but sometimes I’m a bit of an asshole, and I’m sorry. So it’s either: I’m scared, I’m sorry, or I love you. It’s one of those three things, almost always.”

With the National back in the studio together in Hudson without any immediate deadlines or time crunches, the band was able to experiment and create more freely, and more collaboratively, than they had in years.

Devendorf characterizes the band’s recording sessions as opportunities for each member of the band, “a five-headed monster,” as he puts it, to constantly give each other feedback and advice.

“There will be times when I think I’ve messed up a whole section on the drums and think it’s terrible, and Aaron will say, ‘That’s the best thing you’ve done on the whole record,’” says Bryan. “The band helps me see what’s working. Otherwise, I would just try to make things too complex.”

For their most recent sessions, Berninger introduced a few gags to help lighten the mood and foster directness. He instilled “Honesty Hour,” when the band would give unfiltered opinions about each other’s creative ideas. He also embroidered a knit cap with the word “Producer,” and whoever wore the literal “Producer’s Hat” would get to make production decisions at that moment. “Matt wore it a lot,” says Scott Devendorf. Indeed, Sleep Well Beast marks the first time Berninger receives an individual co-production credit on a National album.

Seven albums and 15-plus years into their career, the National are still finding ways to reinvent and fine-tune the way the band harnesses the talents of all of its individual members to write interesting songs and make lasting records.

“It’s kind of a cliché, but bands are all about the alchemy of individuals,” says Bryce Dessner. “There are fairly well-worn relationships that play out, and then we subtly challenge them. That’s part of keeping it interesting — we have to keep growing. How do you do that? Especially a band that becomes mildly successful, it’s easy to get overconfident. Part of it is that our self-deprecating personalities allow us to challenge ourselves. It’s like, ‘Actually, though, what we do is not that interesting, so let’s keep improving it.’” 

Tracklist:
Nobody Else Will Be There
Day I Die
Walk It Back
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Born to Beg
Turtleneck
Empire Line
I’ll Still Destroy You
Guilty Party
Carin at the Liquor Store
Dark Side of the Gym
Sleep Well Beast

The National: <i>Sleep Well Beast</i> Review

Throughout their sixteen years making music, The National have been one of the most rewarding bands to follow. Each of their six albums to date, encapsulate a new chapter in the life of the semi-autobiographical character that singer/lyricist Matt Berninger has created.

Sleep Well Beast, the 7th studio album by The National, primarily tackles themes surrounding the difficulties, and triumphs married life—in fact, Berninger’s wife, Carin Besser, co-wrote many of the album’s lyrics with him, a role she has taken in the past and it feels like the logical next step in this topical timeline. “Empire Line” addresses a marital communication gap while the couple is riding on a train through the country, “Carin At The Liquor Store” is Berninger’s promise to be a better partner and “Dark Side of The Gym” is a love-lullaby where Berninger sings “I’m gonna keep you in love with me…for a while.”

Musically, Sleep Well Beast has more unexpected turns than any record the band has ever done. Aaron Dessner’s lengthy guitar solo on “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” is atypical of The National, who generally rely on harmonious arrangements where no one member of the band rises above the others, not even Berninger and it’s the hallmark of a unit in sync. A different, but likewise excellent guitar solo appears on “Carin At The Liquor Store,” likely emanating from the other Dessner brother, Bryce, while Aaron plays keys.

This newfound experimentation doesn’t stop at guitar solos and is actually most evident in how the album’s drums were sequenced. Yes, there are now electronic drums playing alongside Bryan Devendorf’s live drumming and it’s the biggest risk the band took on the album. Devendorf, one of rock and roll’s finest drummers, said that he’s been a longtime admirer of the synth-driven techniques used by Joy Division and New Order’s Stephen Morris and had been working for years to master electronic drum patterns. Sometimes it works well and adds depth and darkness, like on album closer “Sleep Well Beast” or on “Guilty Party,” where the digital drum intro could fool you into thinking it’s a Radiohead song. Other times though, the transition from digital-to-live (and vice-versa) leaves us pining for the masterful Devendorf to just let loose instead, like on “Walk It Back.”

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The National return with their much anticipated seventh album, produced by Aaron Dessner, with additional production by Matt Berninger and Bryce Dessner. The album was mixed by Peter Katis and recorded at Aaron’s Long Pond studio in Hudson Valley, NY.

While in some ways it’s typically National-sounding, they’ve definitely added some new elements to their sound. Opening track “Nobody Else Will Be There” is a stripped back ballad with melancholic piano, and Matt’s distinct vocals, but the electronics pulsing away in the background are a sign of what’s to come with the album.

All the usual elements are there, intricate guitars, delicate piano keys, scatter-shot drums and of course Matt’s mumbling/crooning baritone, but a new layer of electronics bubbling away in the mix adds a new dimension to their sound. As with the last couple of albums, it features mostly fairly downtempo ballads but they do ramp things up from time to time: “Day I Die”, “They System Only Dreams In Total” and the big rock-out track of the album, “Turtleneck”. It’s taken a few listens to get into it, but it’s definately their best album yet.

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Although L.A. Witch hail from Los Angeles, they do not partake in any sort of witchcraft. Yet their ability to conjure a specific time and place through their sound does suggest a kind of magic. On their eponymous debut album, L.A. Witch’s reverb-drenched guitar jangle and sultry vocals conjure the analogue sound of a collector’s prized 45 from some short-lived footnote cult band. The melodies forgo the bubblegum pop for a druggy haze that straddles the line between seedy glory and ominous balladry; the production can’t afford Phil Spector’s wall of sound but the instruments’ simple beauty provides an economic grace that renders studio trickery unnecessary; the lyrics seem more descendent of Johnny Cash’s first person morality tales than the vacuous empty gestures of pre-fab pop bands. This isn’t music for the masses; it’s music for miscreants, burnouts, down-and-out dreamers and obsessive historians.

Album opener ‘Kill My Baby Tonight’ is the perfect introduction to the band’s marriage of 60s girls-in-the-garage charm and David Lynch’s surreal exposés of Southern California’s underbelly. Sade Sanchez’s black velvet vocals disguise the malicious intent of this murder ballad, with the thumping pulse of bassist Irita Pai, the slow burn build of drummer Ellie English and Sanchez’s desert guitar twang helping beguile the listener into becoming a willing accomplice to the narrator’s crimes.

‘Brian’ follows the opening track with a similarly graceful, if not somewhat ominous, slow-mo take on a well-worn jukebox 7”. It’s a vibe that permeates the entire album, from the early psychedelic hue of 13th Floor Elevators on tracks like ‘You Love Nothing’, through the motorik beat and fuzzed-out licks of ‘Drive Your Car’, to the grittier permutation of Mazzy Star’s sleepy beauty on ‘Baby In Blue Jeans’.

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The Waterboys release their brand-new studio double album Out Of All This Blue; their first for BMG Records, with whom they recently signed. Out Of All This Blue is The Waterboys most exploratory recording yet, comprising 23 songs with Mike Scott’s trademark sharp lyrics set to pop music with echoes of classic R&B, country, soul and funk and underpinned by modern hiphop production values and rhythms. String and brass sections were arranged and conducted by Trey Pollard of The Spacebomb Collective. Mike Scott says of the record: “Out Of All This Blue is 2/3 love and romance, 1/3 stories and observations. I knew from the beginning I wanted to make a double album, and lucky for me – and I hope the listener – the songs just kept coming, and in pop colours.”

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Following the release of the critically celebrated Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Margo Price returns with four fresh, gutsy originals that further explore themes of duality, loss and redemption that expand her musical pallet. The four new tracks are being released as a two-piece 7’’ bundle “EP” – a Third Man Records first.

“Paper Cowboy” (written by Matt Gardner) is a whip-smart anthem tailor-made for the blistering summer festival circuit that touches cosmic country territory with a four minute jam that hits a listener like heaven. Meanwhile, “Good Luck” (For Ben Eyestone) is a bittersweet farewell that stands as a perfect fit for when the credits start to roll, the sun takes seat and the world signs off…

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The song Old Heads is a sci-fi space anthem to technology that constantly replaces itself, proving both necessary and unnecessary at the same time. It’s also a jangly pop gem, a trip through the fantastical that is ultimately warm and relatable. This remarkable coexistence is one of many achievements of Chad VanGaalen’s Light Information, his sixth record on Sub Pop. For an album that’s about “not feeling comfortable with really anything,” as VanGaalen says, Light Information is nonetheless a vivid, welcoming journey through future worlds and relentless memories. The rich soundscapes and sometimes jarring imagery could only come from the mind of a creative polymath – an accomplished visual artist, animator, director, and producer, VanGaalen has scored television shows, designed puppet characters for Adult Swim, directed videos for Shabazz Palaces, Strand of Oaks, METZ, Dan Deacon, and The Head and the Heart, and produced records for Women, Alvvays, and others. While alienation has always been a theme of VanGaalen’s music, Light Information draws on a new kind of wisdom – and anxiety – gained as he watches his kids growing up. “Being a parent has given me a sort of alternate perspective, worrying about exposure to a new type of consciousness that’s happening through the internet,” he says. Throughout the dark-wave reverb of Light Information are stories of paranoia, disembodiment, and isolation – but there’s also playfulness, empathy, and intimacy. The product of six years’ work, going back even before 2014’s Shrink Dust, Light Information emerged from the experimental instruments that fill VanGaalen’s Calgary garage studio. As always, VanGaalen wrote, played, and produced all of the music on Light Information (save Ryan Bourne’s bass part on Mystery Elementals and vocals on Static Shape from his young daughters Ezzy and Pip), and designed the cover art.

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The second album from Alvvays, Antisocialites, is set for release on Transgressive Records. Across ten tracks and thirty-three minutes, the Toronto-based group dive back into the deep end of reckless romance and altered dates. To write Antisocialites, Rankin traveled to Toronto Island, working in an abandoned schoolroom by day and sleeping a few feet from shore at night. “I carried a small PA on the ferry in a wheelbarrow,” she recalls. “Every morning I would listen to my favourite records on the beach, then I’d write melodies and record demos in the classroom.”

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The Dream Syndicate are at the foundation of contemporary alternative music because back in 1981 at a time when most bands were experimenting with new technology, they choose to bring back the guitar. Their seminal album The Days of Wine and Roses (1984) has been cited as influential by artists from Nirvana to The Black Crowes. The Dream Syndicate are at the foundation of contemporary alternative music because back in 1981 at a time when most bands were experimenting with new technology, they choose to bring back the guitar. Their seminal album The Days of Wine and Roses (1984) has been cited as influential by artists from Nirvana to The Black Crowes. Known for their incredible live performances, the band toured with everyone from R.E.M. to U2, before splitting up in 1988. In 2012 after years apart in solo projects, front man Steve Wynn reunited The Dream Syndicate to perform at a charity festival in Spain. The reunited band took everything in baby steps. A few shows here and there—including a still talked-about set at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival. The shows were exciting—for both the band and the eagerly awaiting fans, many of whom weren’t even alive when the band were around the first time.

The next step was to see if the excitement and newfound chemistry would extend to the studio. From the first day of recording it was apparent that the band was making an album that would live up its history and take their story into the present. Wynn says, “In a way it feels like if The Days of Wine and Roses would have been made in 2017. Which is to say that it’s true to what we did before but it’s also a whole new thing.”

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“Up until 2014 I was an investigator’s assistant in a public law office. I can’t tell you exactly what my job was on account of I signed a shut your mouth agreement around the time I quit for stress related reasons. But what I can say is that I dealt with corruption and badness perpetrated at the highest levels of authority, daily. I clocked all these leads and I made a file. Because these aren’t things you keep in the dark. You shine a light on the badness and you strive to understand it.

“From a dossier on all things delicate and beautiful and sadly human. Crimes of passion and victims of love. All contained in 10 hot songs. Who’s the culprit? I’ve got my inklings and you can get your own. But first you need to listen to the thing, take it all in, stick photos to your walls and connect them with string, measure footprints in the yard, wear a suit made of reeds, track the migration patterns of birds, intercept whispered transmissions, learn to eat spiders with a hunting knife, sleep in air ducts, make the case.

“Here it is, my album: ‘Forced Witness’.” – Alex Cameron

Album features guest appearances by Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Angel Olsen and Weyes Blood.

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Neil Young will open his archive and release Hitchhiker, an unreleased new studio album. The 10-track acoustic solo album was recorded in Malibu, CA at Indigo Studio in 1976. The original session was produced by Young’s long-time studio collaborator David Briggs.

Recorded between Zuma and American Stars and Bars as a solo album in a single session, the resultant performances are truly breathtaking and passionate. The simplicity of a single voice and guitar captured here is as pure and powerful as it gets, with only Young, Briggs and actor Dean Stockwell in the room at the time of recording. A few of the songs would not appear on vinyl until years later. Some have never been heard, included in the original sessions for Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Dume” another unreleased record of original sessions that yielded the classic album, Zuma. When the Hitchhiker album was recorded, none of the included songs had ever been released and many of the performances of the songs were the first ever. This is truly an album of original performances

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Experiencing one emotion at a time is a luxury of the past. Think back to that moment at the women’s march or the pro-science rally, when you spied a small child holding a handmade sign that read “I love naps but I stay woke” or “Boys will be boys good humans” or “May the facts be with you.” How adorable! How upsetting! How the hell are they going to make it to adulthood in this toxic environment? Deerhoof is right there with you.

They recognize that we are simultaneously living in two worlds, one a maniacal, mainstream monoculture hell-bent on driving humankind into extinction, the other a churning underground teeming with ideas and dogged optimism and the will to thrive and survive. Mountain Moves refutes the former by ecstatically celebrating the latter. Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide op en. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines.

The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesn’t fit into a single, neatly-defined category – and doesn’t wish to. If Mountain Moves were a movie, it would be a double feature, Journey to the Center of the Deerhoof and Escape from Planet Deerhoof, shown side-by-side simultaneously. The record epitomizes the band at its very best, exploring new realms between the poles of independence and invention. It also serves as a welcoming point of entry for new listeners outside Deerhoof’s traditional orbit, an opportunity to bring even more voices into the communal conversation. We’re all in this together.

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Acclaimed Norwegian singer songwriter and producer Susanne Sundfør releases her highly anticipated new album ‘Music For People In Trouble’ through Bella Union Records.

Sundfør’s most poignant and personal album to date, ‘Music For People In Trouble’ marks her out as one of the most compelling artists in the world.

The album was inspired by a journey Susanne made in a bid to re-connect, travelling across continents to contrary environments and politically contrasting worlds from North Korea to the Amazon jungle.

“We are living in a time of great changes. Everything is moving so rapidly, sometimes violently, sometimes dauntingly. I think a lot of people experience anxiety these days. I wanted to address these emotions on the album.” – Susanne Sundfør

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Third album for all female Melbourne psych-rock icons. Love from Pitchfork, Spin, Stereogum, GvsB. Iconic Australian psych rock quintet Beaches return with epic double LP Second Of Spring – Chapter Music’s first double album by a single artist. Beaches’ much-loved second album She Beats brought the band international acclaim in 2013. Featuring guitar by German motorik hero Michael Rother (Neu, Harmonia), the album earned raves from Pitchfork, Stereogum, Gorilla Vs Bear, Spin and elsewhere.

Second Of Spring takes Beaches even further out, to where the pyramid meets the eye – an enveloping sonic landscape filled with extended instrumentals, overdriven psych-outs and propulsive pop nuggets. The album was recorded in Melbourne with engineer/producer John Lee (Totally Mild, Lost Animal). Artwork is by the band‘s Ali McCann, with design by renowned artist Darren Sylvester. Beaches’ self-titled 2008 debut was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize, and included in glossy coffee table book 100 Best Australian Albums.

The band released a standalone 12″ on New York lab el Mexican Summer in 2010. They have toured the US twice, playing SXSW and Austin Psych Fest, and shared stages with Roky Erickson, Deerhunter, The Cult, Thee Oh Sees, Lightning Bolt, Mogwai, Best Coast and more. Already revered as sprawling, swirling psych overlords, Second Of Spring is Beaches‘ undeniable magnum opus.

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Grizzly Bear  –  Painted Ruins

Grizzly Bear release their first album in five years Painted Ruins produced by band member Chris Taylor. Painted Ruins fits the current political mood, it’s an album of songs beautiful on the surface, but with darkness nibbling on all sides; hope and despair on an endless see-saw. It’s also a record of thirty something friends, estranged by both geography and navigating the adult territory of marriage, divorce and parenthood, fighting through separation to find the common ground that once and still exists. It’s political and personal and the best Grizzly Bear album in ages.

2LP – Double 180 Gram Vinyl housed in Gatefold Sleeve with Download.

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Kacy and Clayton  –  The Siren’s Song

Kacy and Clayton first met Jeff Tweedy in the backroom of the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco in September 2016. The band had been invited to open for Wilco on night 4 of their annual 5-night run. While waiting for their soundcheck, Jeff appeared through a curtain backstage and introduced himself. In the conversations that followed, Kacy Anderson, Clayton Linthicum and Jeff Tweedy discussed their mutual appreciation of Davy Graham and Jeff’s understanding of Saskatchewan’s geography. Those conversations would eventually blossom into an invite to stop by Wilco’s studio, the Loft, a visit they made only weeks later. In January 2017, Kacy and Clayton returned to the Loft with a rhythm section and a batch of new songs. Over the course of 8 days, the band recorded 9 songs with Jeff Tweedy producing and Loft house engineer Tom Schick at the helm. These 9 songs are what would become the band’s fourth album, The Siren’s Song. While writing and recording The Siren’s Song, Kacy and Clayton found inspiration in the music of Sammi Smith, The Everly Brothers, Link Wray’s chicken shack LPs, country records with harpsichords, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Gene Clark, Jeannie C. Riley, as well as British traditional singers like Peter Bellamy and the Watersons. The Siren’s Song is a product of these influences and an extraordinary progression in the band’s own sound.

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Echo and the Bunnymen  –  It’s All Live Now

Each LP is individually numbered and strictly limited. 180 Gram, black vinyl pressed at Record Industry comes in a single sleeve aqueous-gloss, old school tip-on Stoughton sleeve with brand new artwork and hard stock insert. Never before seen photos of the band. Liner notes by guitarist Will Sergeant. One of the most acclaimed British rockers from the 1980’s, this legendary band formed in Liverpool in 1978 and were forefathers of the neo-psychedelic movement. This brand new collection of their legendary live material recorded in Sweden in 1985 includes classic Rock- N-Roll covers of legendary tunes by the Doors, Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Television and more available on vinyl for the first time. Many of the tracks from Sweden were recorded live for Swedish National Radio at the Karen Club. Also included here is a legendary extended version of Do It Clean recorded live in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983.

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Sheer Mag  –  Need to Feel Your Love

Sheer Mag has let the sparks fly since their outset, with an axe to grind against all that clouds the way. A caustic war cry, seething in solidarity with all those that suffer the brunt of ignorance and injustice in an imbalanced system. With their debut LP, the cloak has been lifted. It is time to reclaim something that has been taken from us. Here the band rolls up their sleeves, takes to the streets, and demands recompense for a tradition of inequity that’s poisoned our world. However, it is in our ability to love – our primal human right to give and receive love – that the damage of such toxicity is newly explored. On Need to Feel Your Love, they make their first full-length declaration of light seen just beyond our darkness. Spoken plainly, without shame: It is love. This – is Sheer Mag.”

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Interpol  –  Our Love to Admire

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Our Love to Admire, Capitol release expanded versions of this beloved classic. Our Love to Admire marked a critical and commercial breakthrough for the band. Recorded at New York’s Electric Lady and the Magic Shop studios with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Death Cab for Cutie), the album boasts an expansive, cinematic sound that drove home such notable songs as The Heinrich Maneuver, Pioneer to the Falls, No I In Threesome, Mammoth and Rest My Chemistry. Upon its release, the album debuted in the Top Five in both the U.S. and the U.K. Interpol formed in the late 1990s and quickly established a dense, intoxicating sound featuring layers of guitar, bass and synthesizers. The band came up through the vibrant New York scene, alongside such notable contemporaries as the Strokes and the National, but gained crucial early attention in Britain, where they recorded a prestigious live session for legendary BBC DJ John Peel. The LP and CD debut a sparkling new edition of the original album, remastered for this release by Gavin Lurssen with all of its original packaging intact. The bonus DVD captures the band’s 12-song performance at the London Astoria on July 2, 2007. The DVD includes live versions of several songs from Our Love to Admire, along with such earlier Interpol favourites as Narc, Obstacle 1, Public Pervert, Evil and NYC.

2CD – CD and DVD Set.

2LP – Double 180 Gram Vinyl.

2LP+ – Double 180 Gram Vinyl with DVD.

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Kelley Stolz – Que Aura

Extra fine songwriter and longtime bedroom-pop auteur Kelley Stoltz delivers on the promise so many of his records slyly hint at. Que Aura is the platonic ideal of a Kelley Stoltz record, which is a very exciting thing indeed. Stoltz embraces his best synth-pop tendencies, with this incredibly self-assured set of tender tunes, combining in his own hangdog fashion both a disco-lit abandon and the attendant post-party sighs of dread and remorse. Great songs come out of Stoltz at an alarming rate on any given day but this particular collection is some of his most effortlessly catchy stuff yet. Ennui under the disco lights suits him very well – there’s a hearty sip of Pulp-ian white Brit shimmy with a wink, a dash of Fleetwood Mac’s cynically professional late ’70s sheen, and even a spritz or two of Echo and The Bunnymen, which should surprise no one who’s noticed Stoltz has been playing guitar with McCulloch and Company for the past year or so. This record cements Stoltz’s place in the power-pop pantheon where he belongs, right between Dwight Twilley and Martin Newell.

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Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer  – Not Dark Yet 

Critically acclaimed artists and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer release Not Dark Yet via Silver Cross Records / Thirty Tigers. Produced by Teddy Thompson, their first and highly anticipated album together is an extraordinary debut of the pair’s transcendent musical bond. Not Dark Yet was recorded in Los Angeles in the summer of 2016. The album provides a potent look at the sisters’ individual and collective artistry through eclectic song choices from writers ranging from the Louvin Brothers, Nick Cave, Kurt Cobain, and back to Jessie Colter. Shelby and Allison wrap their arms around the past, plant their feet in the present, and nod toward what’s around the bend with a co-written Is It Too Much, to close out the ten-song set.

LP – 180 Gram Vinyl.

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Ariel Pink  –  Another Weekend / Ode To The Goat (Thank You)

Ariel Pink’s Another Weekend is the first single from the forthcoming album. The limited 7″ record comes in printed inner sleeve with liner notes and artwork from Matt Fischbeck, longtime collaborator of Ariel Pink.

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Anna Meredith  –  Nautilus

Limited Edition one off pressing on Etched 12” Vinyl (500 copies – Exclusive to Rough Trade). Stand out track from Anna Meredith’s critically acclaimed album Varmints gets a release on a beautiful limited etched vinyl in all of its 5 minutes 30 seconds glory, and comes backed with hard to find gem Miranda. The flip side of the vinyl features an etching. Anna Meredith, aside from sharing bills with Anna Calvi, James Blake and These New Puritans, Meredith’s dizzying CV includes being Composer In Residence for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, writing a piece for MRI scanner, soundtracking Prada’s Spring / Summer 2015 campaign, symphonies created for nursery children, music for park benches in Hong Kong and sleep-pods in Singapore. Performances at the BBC Proms have included collaborations with Laura Marling and The Stranglers for the first 6Music Prom, a performance of her body-percussion piece Connect It from the BBC Ten Pieces project and her Last Night Of The Proms composition Froms, simultaneously performed by five symphony orchestras across the UK, was broadcast to an audience of 40 million people.

The National inch closer to the release of their new LP “Sleep Well Beast” with the unveiling of new song and video for “Carin at the Liquor Store,” one of the tunes they previously debuted at a show in Paris recently .
The song is the third to have its studio version released, with “System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and “Guilty Party” also getting their release earlier this year.

Sleep Well Beast arrives on September 8th.

The National’s new album ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is released 8th September on 4AD Records on limited 2xLP, CD and digitally, featuring ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness’The National have now shared the second single from their forthcoming seventh album Sleep Well Beast. Watch the video for the haunting new tune, titled “Guilty Party,” below along with the first single. The National will tour the world in support of their new album beginning this fall. Last week in Paris and the U.K., the band performed new songs from Sleep Well Beast live for the first time during their Glastonbury main stage set .

In honor of their forthcoming record, The National will throw a Guilty Party at New York’s Basilica Hudson July 14-15th. The event, a collaborative concert performed in the round, features Buke & Gase, Nadia Sirota, Mouse on Mars, So Percussion and others. Video artist Casey Reas, who directed the band’s “Guilty Party” and “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” videos, will contribute live projection mapping for the event, which sounds like both an eye-popping and ear-pleasing experience. Mikkeller will provide the beer.

The National have released just 700 tickets for each night of the Guilty Party. Each guest in attendance will walk away with a 7-inch split including “Guilty Party” and lead Sleep Well Beast single “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness.” A portion of ticket sales will benefit Basilica Hudson itself, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts center housed in a reclaimed 1880s industrial factory on the Hudson River.

Enough about the Guilty Party—on to the “Guilty Party.” Reas explained his vision for the new tune’s Rorschach test of a video in a statement: “The video is a dream about memory and the degradation of memory; it’s about distance in time and space,” he said. “Time moves forward, but then backward as memory. The image of the two-faced Roman god Janus, who can look into the past and future, is the core visual language.”

The new album, Sleep Well Beast, out September 8th, 2017

The National Share Second <i>Sleep Well Beast</i> Single, "Guilty Party"

The National unveiled the title of their forthcoming album, called “Sleep Well Beast”. In addition to announcing the album, they also gave a sneak peek of the new music via single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.”

“The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” has an eerie accompanying video, directed by software designer Casey Reas. The track is undeniably catchy and offers listeners a throwback to earlier National records. You know them, you love them.  Cincinnati-turned-Brooklyn indie rock gurus The National have finally readied album number#7, their first full-length in almost 4 years.  Berninger and the boys’ have perfected their knack for channeling our inner melancholy and giving us a cathartic dose of anthemic rock and roll, and given the current sociopolitical landscape around us, The National should have plenty of material to fashion a charging album of glimmering hope.

This is the group’s follow-up record to 2013’s Trouble Will Find MeIn support of their new album, The National will tour worldwide starting in late June.

Sleep Well Beast will be available September 8th via 4AD Records4 AD have slung together two colorways for the album, and indie-exclusive on blue wax and a 4AD-exclusive white vinyl copy.  The word ‘limited’ has only been used for the blue vinyl, so if you’re looking for the rarer of the two, that’s most likely the choice for you.

Day Of The Dead

The National’s massive triple-disc Grateful Dead tribute album “Day Of The Dead” still keeps throwing out some classic covers. It’s took me an age to get through this album and still I keep discovering some beautiful gems. Already we’ve heard a whole pile of songs from it. the people behind the album have shared most of the tracks, and there are some heavyweights on them. For our purposes, the biggest of these is probably the version of “To Lay Me Down,” done as a funeral duet from Perfume Genius and Sharon Van Etten. Also we get to hear My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James doing “Candyman,”

‘Candyman’ by Jim James & Friends, from ‘Day of the Dead’, is a tribute album to the Grateful Dead curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, with all profits going to Red Hot Organization. ‘Day of the Dead’ was released on 20th May via 4AD Records. Featuring an incredible cast list, the compilation is a wide-ranging tribute to the songwriting and experimentalism of The Grateful Dead which took four years to record and features over 60 artists from varied musical backgrounds, with 59 tracks and a duration of almost six hours. The limited edition 10xLP ‘Day of the Dead’ LP boxed set is released today via 4Ad Records, on individually coloured vinyl.

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Among others are Unknown Mortal Orchestra covering “Shakedown Street,” Bonnie “Prince” Billy singing “Rubin & Cherise,” and old-school soul howler Charles Bradley teaming up with soul/funk revivalists the Menahan Street Band for “Cumberland Blues.”

The tracks curated from Bryce & Aaron Dessner ,The compilation was produced by Aaron Dessner and co-produced by Bryce Dessner and Josh Kaufman. Grateful Dead tribute album were released a year ago. Considering the album has 59 tracks, this is just a small sampling. Last March, a whole bumch of covers from the record were released, including takes from the National, Courtney Barnett, the War on Drugs, Bruce Hornsby with Justin Vernon’s band DeYarmond Edison, and Phosphorescent with Jenny Lewis., the National and Grizzly Bear members also performed a’ 17-minute cover of “Terrapin Station Suite” .

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Day of the Dead

On May 20th, 4AD will release “Day of the Dead” – a celebration of the Grateful Dead’s music created and curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National.

It has been a massive undertaking. The compilation is a wide-ranging tribute to the songwriting and experimentalism of the Grateful Dead, which took four years to record, features over 60 artists from varied musical backgrounds, 59 tracks and is almost 6 hours long.

Day of the Dead will be released digitally, on a 5 X CD, and as a limited edition vinyl boxed set. All profits will help fight for AIDS/ HIV and related health issues around the world through the Red Hot Organisation.

Among the first five songs shared from it today include the first new music from The War on Drugs since 2014’s brilliant Lost In The Dream with their cover of the Dead’s 1987 hit “Touch of Grey”.

Phosphorescent and Jenny Lewis combine with the backing of the in-house band (featuring 4/5 of the National) that contributed to numerous recordings on the compilation, to cover 1971’s “Sugaree”.

Courtney Barnett puts her characteristic slant on New Speedway Boogie,

The National cover Bonnie Dobson’s Morning Dew, a Grateful Dead staple since 1967, one of two songs that they contributed to the compilation.

Black Muddy River’ by Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison, from ‘Day of the Dead’, a tribute album to the Grateful Dead curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, with all profits going to Red Hot Organization.

‘Day of the Dead’ is released on 20th May via 4AD.

After much anticipation and years of work, the massive tribute to the Grateful Dead organized by The National’sAaron and Bryce Dessner has finally been officially announced. Titled Day Of The Dead, the 59-track playlist features over 60 guests, and is split into three parts: “Thunder,” “Lightning,” and “Sunshine.”

The album is full of an incredible listing of special guests, including The War On Drugs, Jim James, Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis, Courtne Barnett, Wilco, The Lone Bellow, Bruce Hornsby, Charles Bradley, Local Natives, Kurt Vile, The Flaming Lips, Lucinda Williams, Mumford & Sons, Joe Russo, Lucius, Perfume Genius, Stephen Malkmus, Bela Fleck, Tallest Man On Earth, Richard Reed Parry, and more! Bob Weir makes a handful of appearances throughout, including collaborations with Wilco and The National.

ABOUT RED HOT ORGANIZATION:

Red Hot is a not-for-profit, 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS through pop culture. Its mission is to raise awareness and money around the AIDS crisis and related health issues. It was started in 1990 by Leigh Blake and John Carlin with the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue, which raised millions of dollars, helped reduce the stigma around AIDS at the time and supported organizations and efforts such as ACT UP and T.A.G., which took a stand and made the world pay attention and develop medication that let people with AIDS survive.

Over the past 25 years, over 500 artists, producers and directors have contributed to 20 compilation albums of original music, videos, events and media to keep people thinking about the implications of the AIDS epidemic as well as donate millions to organizations around the world.

Day of the Dead Tracklist:

“Thunder” (Volume One)
Touch of Grey (The War on Drugs)
Sugaree (Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends)
Candyman (Jim James & Friends)
Cassidy (Moses Sumney, Jenny Lewis & Friends)
Black Muddy River (Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison feat. Justin Vernon and Megafaun)
Loser (Ed Droste, Binki Shapiro & Friends)
Peggy-O (The National)
Box of Rain (Kurt Vile and the Violators feat. J Mascis)
Rubin and Cherise (Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Friends)
To Lay Me Down (Perfume Genius, Sharon Van Etten & Friends)
New Speedway Boogie (Courtney Barnett)
Friend of the Devil (Mumford & Sons)
Uncle John’s Band (Lucius)
Me and My Uncle (The Lone Bellow & Friends)
Mountains of the Moon (Lee Ranaldo, Lisa Hannigan & Friends)
Black Peter (Anohni and yMusic)
Garcia Counterpoint (Bryce Dessner)
Terrapin Station (Suite) (Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear, The National feat. Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, So Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus)
Attics of My Life (Angel Olsen)
St. Stephen (live) (Wilco feat. Bob Weir)

“Lightning” (Volume Two)
If I Had the World to Give (Bonnie “Prince” Billy)
Standing on the Moon (Phosphorescent & Friends)
Cumberland Blues (Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band)
Ship of Fools (Tallest Man on Earth & Friends)
Bird Song (Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Friends)
Morning Dew (The National)
Truckin’ (Marijuana Deathsquads)
Dark Star (Cass McCombs, Joe Russo & Friends)
Nightfall of Diamonds (Nightfall of Diamonds)
Transitive Refraction Axis for John Oswald (Tim Hecker)
Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (Lucinda Williams & Friends)
Playing in the Band (Tunde Adebimpe, Lee Ranaldo & Friends)
Stella Blue (Local Natives)
Eyes of the World (Tal National)
Help On the Way (Bela Fleck)
Franklin’s Tower (Orchestra Baobob)
Till the Morning Comes (Luluc with Xylouris White)
Ripple (The Walkmen)
Brokedown Palace (Richard Reed Parry with Caroline Shaw and Little Scream feat. Garth Hudson)

“Sunshine” (Volume Three)
Here Comes Sunshine (Real Estate)
Shakedown Street (Unknown Mortal Orchestra)
Brown-Eyed Women (Hiss Golden Messenger)
Jack-A-Roe (This is the Kit)
High Time (Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear)
Dire Wolf (The Lone Bellow & Friends)
Althea (Winston Marshall, Kodiak Blue and Shura)
Clementine Jam (Orchestra Baobob)
China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks)
Easy Wind (Bill Callahan)
Wharf Rat (Ira Kaplan & Friends)
Estimated Prophet (The Rileys)
Drums > Space (Man Forever, So Percussion and Oneida)
Cream Puff War (Fucked Up)
Dark Star (The Flaming Lips)
What’s Become of the Baby (s t a r g a z e)
King Solomon’s Marbles (Vijay Iyer)
Rosemary (Mina Tindle & Friends)
And We Bid You Goodnight (Sam Amidon)
I Know You Rider (live) (The National with Bob Weir)

Various - Day of the Dead - Five New Tracks Released and Pre-Orders Launch