Posts Tagged ‘The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart’

The 2009 arrival of the debut album from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart brought the NYC band to the attention of many fans, fans that considered the fresh debut to be one of the albums of the year. That album contained 10 high-powered songs that elevated the album to attention-grabbing status among the indie crowds of NYC and eventually elsewhere. Unfortunately, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart has disintegrated and is seemingly no longer in any forward progression. And while this saddens me, the band was a memorable part of the music of the New Millennium.

On June 25th, Slumberland Records revisits the debut self-titled album by “The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart” on special edition heavy-grade 180g-weight colour vinyl in limited amounts. There will be two editions: a Purple and Pink coloured swirl vinyl LP edition (limited to 500 copies) will be made available; a split black and white coloured vinyl LP (limited to 500 copies) will be made available to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland exclusively. An ultra-rare Yellow vinyl edition was made exclusive to Rough Trade. (At this writing, those were thinning out significantly.)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Painbow/WB Music Corp Originally Released on: 2009-02-03

The Natvral is the new project of Kip Berman (formerly of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart). Look for new music coming in 2021. As the frontman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Kip Berman wrote songs about the thrills and ills of young adult life with the care and concern of a cool older sibling. Enter Tethers, Berman’s first solo record as The Natvral, where Kip finds his new project more aligned with the sounds of Bob Dylan, Neil. Young, and his long time hero Leonard Cohen.

But in this time away from the life of a touring artist, Berman discovered an unvarnished, broken folk rock sound – a marked departure from his previous work. Recorded over 7 days with producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine, Black Country New Road, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), Tethers is as raw in sound as it is nuanced and empathetic in its lyricism. Without effect pedals, overdubs or even a metronome, the resulting album feels free and unpretentious, recalling the strident obliqueness of Bob Dylan and Neil Young’s sonic primitivism – but drawn from a set of vividly detailed experiences all Berman’s own. Throughout, he is supported by former The Pains of Being Pure at Heart collaborators Jacob Sloan (bass), Brian Alvarez (drums), Sarah Chihaya (backing vocals) and Crystal Stilts/Woods Kyle Forester (organ).

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Released April 2nd, 2021

Former Pains of Being Pure at Heart leader Kip Berman will release the album “Tethers”, his solo debut as The Natural, on April 2nd via Kanine Records. Warm and driven by Hammond organ, Kip says, “It’s a song about how you don’t always want what’s for the best– and neither do I.” 

As the frontman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Kip Berman wrote songs about the thrills and ills of young adult life with the care and concern of a cool older sibling. The long-standing New York City indie-pop group disbanded soon after releasing their final record, The Echo of Pleasure (2017), and Berman found himself at a creative crossroads. He wanted to keep making music, but the themes and sounds he was interested in had shifted; it felt time for a course correction.

Enter Tethers, Berman’s first solo record as The Natvral, which finds him coming to terms with the changes in his own life by observing those transformations in the people he’s known – a self-portrait in relief. In the time between making his last record with his former band, Berman’s life and location have shifted dramatically, as he welcomed a daughter, then a son, and moved from Brooklyn to Princeton. With his new identity as a parent came a crucial shift in how he approached music. Gone were the months in a cramped tour van and late nights rehearsing with his band in a windowless warehouse space. In its place were amorphous, suburban afternoons playing whimsical songs to two young children, while writing music for himself after their bedtime.

But in this time away from the life of a touring artist, Berman discovered an unvarnished, broken folk rock sound– a marked departure from his previous work. The Natvral, the solo project that sprung up in the final years of Berman’s dearly departed Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, has thus far shared two singles from official debut album Tethers: “Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” and “New Moon.” Today he adds a third advance track.

As explained in promo materials for the album, “Sun Blisters” is about the freedom that comes with embracing your fate as a fuckup, and how that counterbalances with the emotional consequences of living in the margins. “In the end maybe I was wrong/ Laughing where only tears belong,” Berman sings. “But love to you’s just a pretty song/ And I’m a sour note.” It surges along with the energy of a Blonde On Blonde classic — not to raise your expectations too high, but think of something like “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later).” It’s strengthening the case that Berman can write great songs in just about any historical rock milieu you throw at him.

Berman says of “Sun Blisters”: “It’s a song about how you don’t always want what’s for the best– and neither do I.” Stereogum says “I’m loving these Dylan-inspired bangers from Kip Berman!”

From The Natvral album “Tethers’

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Kip Berman, formerly of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, has announced his full-length debut from his solo project as The Natvral. The album is called “Tethers” and it’s out April 2nd on Kanine Records. Berman has also shared the first song from the album, “Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” .

“Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” is taken from The Natvral’s forthcoming LP, “Tethers” on Kanine / Dirty Bingo Records.

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“Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” is taken from The Natvral’s forthcoming LP, “Tethers” on Kanine / Dirty Bingo Records.

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Tethers was produced by Andy Savours, whose catalogue includes records with Berman’s previous band and others such as My Bloody Valentine. The album also features Pains collaborators Jacob Sloan, Brian Alvarez, and Sarah Chihaya, plus Kyle Forester of Crystal Stilts and Woods.

Berman led the Pains of Being Pure at Heart for more than a decade, beginning in 2007. The band broke up in 2019, following the release of The Echo of Pleasure in 2017. Berman released Know Me More, his first EP as the Natvral, in 2018.

Kip Berman singer/songwriter of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart  has begun recording and performing as The Natvral. Drawing inspiration from the lyrical folk rock of icons like Richard and Linda Thompson, Leonard Cohen and Ted Leo, this EP finds Kip channeling his lyricism with newfound intimacy and emotional candor. This venture is neither solo project nor side project, but rather a chance for Berman to create new music that connects in sound and substance to his present life. Since the recording of the last Pains record in 2016, The Echo of Pleasure, Berman has become a father and traded his beloved Brooklyn for the collegiate charms of Princeton, NJ.

“Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” is taken from The Natvral’s forthcoming LP, “Tethers” on Kanine / Dirty Bingo Records.

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“Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” is taken from The Natvral’s forthcoming LP, “Tethers” on Kanine / Dirty Bingo Records.

May be an illustration of one or more people and text that says 'THE NATVRAL TETHERS 04.02.2021 LTD VINYL DIGITAL PRE-ORDER NOW'

Tethers was produced by Andy Savours, whose catalogue includes records with Berman’s previous band and others such as My Bloody Valentine. The album also features Pains collaborators Jacob Sloan, Brian Alvarez, and Sarah Chihaya, plus Kyle Forester of Crystal Stilts and Woods.

Berman led the Pains of Being Pure at Heart for more than a decade, beginning in 2007. The band broke up in 2019, following the release of The Echo of Pleasure in 2017. Berman released Know Me More, his first EP as the Natvral, in 2018.

Kip Berman singer/songwriter of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart  has begun recording and performing as The Natvral. Drawing inspiration from the lyrical folk rock of icons like Richard and Linda Thompson, Leonard Cohen and Ted Leo, this EP finds Kip channeling his lyricism with newfound intimacy and emotional candor. This venture is neither solo project nor side project, but rather a chance for Berman to create new music that connects in sound and substance to his present life. Since the recording of the last Pains record in 2016, The Echo of Pleasure, Berman has become a father and traded his beloved Brooklyn for the collegiate charms of Princeton, NJ.

“Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore?” is taken from The Natvral’s forthcoming LP, “Tethers” on Kanine / Dirty Bingo Records.

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The latest installment in Turntable Kitchen’s series of releases featuring artists covering a full album of their choice is one of its most curious: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart tackling Full Moon Fever, the 1989 solo effort by Tom Petty. It’s a novel, unexpected choice for the band considering their core sound, but it’s also one that doesn’t make for the most gentle transition to a shoegaze/dreampop format. The otherwise sturdy songs have been made wispy and empty at their core, with even The Byrds’ “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” turned into something dippy and fey. The key downfall is Kip Berman’s vocal performances throughout.

He didn’t need to try and replicate the twang-y tones of Petty but Berman makes the wrong choices throughout. He opts for his breathy croon when he should growl, and growls when he should get dreamy. It upends the more inventive moments like the band’s rendering of “A Face In The Crowd” as a synthpop dance classic and “A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own” as Beatles-esque blues. A pleasant diversion that will only inspire revisits to the Petty original. Maybe that was the point all along. Pains’ Kip Berman announced his debut solo EP Know Me More under the name the Natvral. Last year, the band released The Echo of Pleasure.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have covered Tom Petty’s 1989 solo debut Full Moon Fever in its entirety. It’s due out October 25th as part of Turntable Kitchen’s ongoing Sounds Delicious series—a monthly vinyl subscription of full-length cover albums, Full Moon Fever was Petty’s solo debut record and it is absolutely packed with hits. No less than 5 tracks charted on the Billboard Top 100: Free Fallin’, I Won’t Back Down, Runnin’ Down a Dream, Yer So Bad, and A Face in the Crowd. But even the tracks that didn’t chart could have been hits: Love Is A Long Road, Depending On You, A Mind With a Heart of its Own. The same could be said for so many of his albums. This dude’s catalogue is deep.

This is a Record Store Day 2020 item. It will be available to purchase from our stores from 9am 20th June. Remaining stock will be available to purchase from this page at 12pm 21st June.

Hatchie and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart cover the Jesus and Mary Chain. Both tracks are previously unreleased. Hatchie has released a new 7″ exclusive vinyl to Bandcamp and 100% of proceeds will also go to The Movement for Black Lives and The Loveland Foundation. The 7″ vinyl includes “Sometimes Always” — a collaborative cover with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, originally by The Jesus and Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval. Side B includes the 2018 Adult Swim single “Adored”

Hatchie is the world of Harriette Pilbeam. Step inside her mind; a dreamy landscape where cascading synths, jangling guitars, propulsive rhythms and white noise undulate beneath irresistible pop melodies. Rather than focusing on the external world of her life in Brisbane, Pilbeam turns her gaze inwards, making a soundtrack out of her daydreams, setting her emotional life to song,

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“Sometimes Always”, originally performed by The Jesus and Mary Chain. A collaborative cover from Hatchie & The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
7″ vinyl available at midnight EST on June 5th. Items will not ship until

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, which turns 10 years of age this week, The New York indie pop quartet built up a pretty rabid fan base in the indie pop community prior to the release of their self-titled debut record in early 2009. For this, they could thank a string of excellent singles and EPs that began in 2007 (songs from which appear on the album) but more than that they can put it down to the fact that their sound melds together the trademarked sounds of many beloved indie and noise pop bands into one shiny ball of sound and melancholy. Mixed in skillfully are the sonic assaults of early My Bloody Valentine, the hazy sweetness of Ride, the introspective and usually morose lyrical approach perfected by the Field Mice, the sensitive and tender vocals purveyed by most Sarah records bands, and the rhythmic drive of early-’90s Amer-Indie bands the likes of which more often than not found themselves on Slumberland (Lilys, the Ropers, Velocity Girl — whose Archie Moore ably mixes the album).

The awkward characters that populate the New York group’s brisk and clumsy first full-length are also lovesick misfits for whom the simple task of staying alive seems overwhelming. “It sounds like teen drama,” the band’s frontman Kip Berman explained once.

In the tradition of bands like Beat Happening and Belle And Sebastian, the members of the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart celebrate teenageness — nowhere towns, long wasted summers, lust at first sight — with a bit of hindsight. Before Pains, Berman toiled away in a call center and did some some marketing for a company called Drillteam. He also spent time stumbling around Portland, Oregon’s DIY scene, eventually moving to NYC and geeking out over Dear Nora songs with Pains’ founding keyboardist Peggy Wang, who worked full-time for a new startup called BuzzFeed. At the same time, bassist Alex Naidus edited for eMusic’s Canadian website and drummer Kurt Feldman taught music to kids. Their teenage years were in the rear view, but an adolescent-like desire to belong to something lingered — as did their appreciation for the messy mythology of being young and in love.

The record dropped in February 2009 via Slumberland, an act of kismet considering the band’s vibe was clearly informed by the iconic label’s roster of scrappy noise-makers. At first glance, Pains seemed doomed to be typecast as yet another fashionable group with fashionable influences and a retro looking album cover. And while it was true that nothing about the songs felt particularly contemporary, they definitely didn’t sound stale either. The album’s first track, “Contender,” which makes lyrical allusions to the Exploding Hearts and On The Waterfront, was the first song the group wrote together. It’s a mid tempo letter from Berman to his aimless younger self: “You saw the boys in white sing ‘I’m a pretender’ / But you never were / You never were a contender,” he sings, his mopey timbre layered atop Wang’s background melodies.

Things mostly get brighter and noisier from there: The sweet and thrashy “Come Saturday” posits a skipped party as the light at the end of the tunnel, while the Psychocandy-esque closer “Gentle Sons” is about mortality and Mondays: “You stumble down the diamond path / And every breath could be your last,” goes the latter’s hook. The relatively huge-sounding “Stay Alive” teases the kind of room-filling, Creation Records-indebted dream pop that the group turned to when making the album’s 2011 follow-up, Belong. (The Higher Than The Stars EP, which includes a drop-dead gorgeous Saint Etienne remix that is absolutely worth revisiting, came in between.) But the self-titled’s most eternal artifact is probably “Young Adult Friction,” an unselfconsciously twee chant-along about hooking up in a library. The innuendo-laced wordplay is top-notch (“I never thought I would come of age / Let alone on a moldy page”) and Berman and Wang’s call-and-response chorus is pure, jangly joy.

Best of all is the amazingly hooky “Everything with You,” which stands as the equal of anything the shoegaze poppers or pop losers cranked out back in the day. If you had gone out and bought the 7,” after one play you would have tacked the sleeve up on your wall and played the record until the grooves wore out. It’s that good. It lifts the album from pretty good to almost great.

But for all its nostalgic energy, the songs on Pains also reflect another classically teenage concern: uncertainty about the future. “You say you’ve been waiting … waiting since you were born / For a moment when everything’s alright,” Berman sings on the bouncy, distorted “Hey Paul.” It’s hard to look back at albums that came out at the end of the aughts without thinking about the financial crisis — especially ones made by 20-somethings who were attempting to find their place in a bottomed-out economy while simultaneously searching for footing in the shifting musical landscape. Maybe there is a tendency to drift off into an idealized version of the past when things seem really shitty. Listening to the album in 2019, when things are deeply fucked in a different way, it feels borderline magical to spend 35 minutes in a teenage world full of power pop bangers and dusty old books, a place where hearts break and dreams fade but there’s always another weekend on the horizon.

It remains a coming-of-age classic to many, an unflinching and hopelessly quotable tribute to the rollercoaster romance of youth. So far it seems like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart is destined to be remembered fondly.

thanks a little to Stereogum,

Renowned songwriter, known for his main band and then you suddenly write a song that just doesn’t belong? It happened recently to The Natvral, aka Kip Berman from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, “I opened my mouth one day and heard a different voice. It was mine, but unfamiliar. I didn’t know – and still don’t know – where it’ll take me, but I’m going to follow it.” So far it’s taken Kip to his debut EP as The Natvral, Know Me More, and this week he’s shared a new video to stand-out track,”Home”.

“Home” is undeniably a different beast to Kip’s other band, it’s pretty much stripped bare, just a strummed electric guitar and Kip’s vocal, which as he himself noted sounds like an almost entirely different person. Lyrically, Kip has suggested the track is, “a reflection on the relationship that began seventeen years ago as a tumultuous and short-lived romance, and grew into a marriage with two children.” Passionate, minimal, raw and honest, The Natvral is a stunning re-invention of Kip Berman’s songwriting, and whisper it, might actually be even better than The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

Know Me More is out now via Kanine Records. released October 5th 2018

Kip Berman on The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s fourth album, The Echo Of Pleasure.

As The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s primary singer and songwriter, Berman has always rendered aspects of his life into his music. From the fizzy allure and bittersweetness of his 20s to the creeping responsibility of adulthood, he sings with a sense of wistful honesty and, when bolstered by the band’s effervescent melodies, with joyful idealism. But as he was writing and recording new material, Berman was facing a major life change: He and his wife were expecting the birth of their first child. Berman has said he couldn’t help but let that uncertainty — such as worrying about providing for his burgeoning family, and wondering what it meant for his band — influence his songs. The resulting album represents his most mature and personally revealing yet — without losing any of the The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s trademark infectious charm and sincerity.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's new album is The Echo Of Pleasure.

That’s especially true of “When I Dance With You,” an ecstatic dance-ready song built from buoyant beats and glistening synths that imply a fleeting, lose-yourself-in-the-moment headspace, but actually exposes deeper meaning: Contentment derived from inseparable togetherness washes away, at least temporarily, fears of an unknowable future. “When I dance with you, everything else just slides out of view… when I dance with you, I feel OK,” Berman sings. And on the dynamic opener, “My Only,” Berman gives into his love and unwavering commitment, earnestly declaring “Now that you’re here, I don’t have a fear, you’re my only / So keep it together, I won’t find another love like I found you.”

Throughout its nine songs, The Echo Of Pleasure balances the complex shadings between lust and sensuality, blissful devotion and messy accumulation of regret. On “Anymore,” he exposes his own flaws, and ruminates on whether he can live up to others’ expectations: “Don’t need to be told what I’ll never be, anymore,” he asserts. Later, the glimmering “Falling Apart So Slow” charts a seasonal year wherein intimacy unravels in his absence; and “The Echo Of Pleasure” describes how dynamics can change and decay when feelings are left unreciprocated. “The echo of pleasure can’t return / Just fade into these silent days… I was young and sick with love / Now I’m sick with something else,” Berman concedes.

Mirroring Berman’s resonant themes, there’s maturation in the music, too. Across its previous records, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart toggled from the lo-fi shoegaze of its self-titled debut to the stormy distorted heft of Belong to the nimble indie pop the band is now best known for. With The Echo Of Pleasure, Pains reshapes its sonic palette once more. With bright, chest-swelling pop anthems such as “The Cure For Death” and “The Garrett,” the band absolutely sparkles, blending shimmering hooks, noisy guitar lines and snappy beats with swirling female vocal harmonies that crest into celebratory sing-alongs. Many of Pains‘ ever-widening net of friends pop up to flesh out Berman’s widescreen tapestry — including singer Jen Goma, who takes the spotlight on the retro dance track “So True.” “If you don’t lose some skin for the things you believe / How do you know that you really do,” she asks over fluttering keyboards and disco drum beats.

What makes The Echo Of Pleasure so powerful is the way The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart can address somber themes with such warm positivity. As he’s grown older and gained perspective as a songwriter, Kip Berman has settled on a beneficial, aspirational lesson: Healthy, enduring relationships require frequent compromise and reassessment over time, but if nurtured, the rewards can be limitless.

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The Weather Station  –  The Weather Station

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

CD – Digipack.

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

Yak yala! cover

Yak  –  All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life

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

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Weaves  –  Wide Open

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

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

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

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

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

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Cults  –  Offering

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

Pains album cover

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

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

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

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Miracle Legion  –  “Annulment”

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

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Richard Thompson – Acoustic Classics 2

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

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