Posts Tagged ‘The Shins’

The discography of American rock band The Shins consists of five studio albums, one live album, one remix album, three extended plays, two splits, sixteen singles and nineteen music videos. Evolution has been a tremendous theme throughout The Shins career. Whether they’re transforming their bill, sound or approach, the band have never managed to find a comfortable niche to settle down in.

However, instead of letting this constant fidgeting work to the detriment of their music, they’ve turned it into one of their greatest assets, championing a sound that is simultaneously varied and distinct. Despite their many internal conflicts and line-up changes, The Shins are yet to make an underwhelming or poor record and even after five studio albums, it still feels like they have many more facets of their colourful and multi-dimensional sound to flaunt and unveil.

The band was formed by Mercer as a side project to Flake Music, who were active from 1992 to 1999. Flake Music released two 7″ singles and a full-length album “When You Land Here It’s Time To Return” on Omnibus Records and were touring with Modest Mouse following the Shins’ subsequent signing to Sub Pop Records, with the band’s classic line-up consisting of Jesse Sandoval on drums, Marty Crandall on keyboards, and Dave Hernandez on bass (who was temporarily replaced by Neal Langford until rejoining in 2003).

The band’s first two records, “Oh Inverted World” (2001) and “Chutes Too Narrow” (2003) performed well commercially and received critical acclaim. The single “New Slang” brought the band mainstream attention when it was featured in the 2004 film Garden State. Consequently, the band’s third album “Wincing The Night Away” (2007), was a major success for the group.

Following this, the Shins signed to Columbia Records and Mercer parted ways with the entire original line up, deeming it “an aesthetic decision.” Following a near five-year hiatus, “Port Of Morrow” the band’s fourth studio album, was released in 2012. Their fifth album, “Heartworms” was released in March 2017.

Oh, Inverted World

When a band is constructing a debut album, the unrealistic goal that is perfection should never be something to strive for. Instead, the primary goal of a premiere project should be to tease some of what you have to offer and leave listeners wanting more. The Shins’ first full-length is a definitive indie rock album of the 2000s not just because of its thoughtful, tuneful songs, but also because of the vivid portrait it painted of indie culture. “Oh, Inverted World” is the sound of realizing there’s more to life than being a smart-aleck – but also not being ready to open up completely. Caring might be creepy, but it’s hard to avoid; Oh, Inverted World chronicles this post-ironic vulnerability, wrapping it in jangly guitar pop that echoes the Kinks, Zombies, and Beach Boys.

Sun-bleached pop at its most blinding, choose a ’60s touchstone (the Kinks, the Left Banke) with a gorgeously Byrds-ian bridge, “Girl Inform Me” is one of the more deceptively simple numbers on the band’s debut. What’s so charming about it is just how out of time it sounds — it could’ve been recorded in any era, and its bubblegum lyrics (“Girl inform me/ All my senses warn me/ Your clever eyes could easily disguise some backwards purpose”) render it beguilingly irresistible.

All of Oh, Inverted World’s songs hang together in an immensely satisfying way. Oh, Inverted World is so full of ideas and emotions, and so fully realized, that it’s hard to believe it’s just 33 minutes long. Whether or not the album lives up to the breathless “It’ll change your life!” claims made about it in Garden State, the less ironic direction of 2000s indie begins here.

The Shins’ 2001 debut, “Oh, Inverted World” did just that. The album is one that went on to shape the sounds of many indie rock acts that existed throughout the naughties. Even today you can still hear its timeless, bittersweet jangle ring out in the music of some the most exiting acts of this decade. While flawed and at times, indecisive, it manages to maintain an astounding amount of cohesion and maturity.

Before “New Slang” was etched in pop culture iconography after its appearance in 2004’s Garden State, it was merely the standout track on one of the finest pure pop records to be released in years. Lyrically enigmatic like early R.E.M., it finds Mercer in a poignant mindset, waxing downcast as he pines, “Turn me back into the pet I was when we met/ I was happier then/ I had no mindset.” When the track was initially released as a single, there was a video for the song directed by Lance Bangs, with the band posed in shots referencing classic albums including Slint’s Spiderland, the Replacements’ Let It Be, the Minutemen’s Double Nickels On The Dimes, and Husker Du’s Zen Arcade, suggesting that, in the divine fire they were playing with at the time, they’d somehow always stood in posterity amongst these epochal giants, like Jack Torrence in the final shot at the Overlook Hotel of The Shining.

Taking cues from The Beach Boys and the Beatles, “Oh, Inverted World” makes typical, sunny rock sombre with darker lyrical themes. From beginning to end, the record never lacks in integrity or truth. Everything feels real and exposed and because of that, it’s by far The Shins’ most honest work.

Oh, Inverted World“, the earth-shattering, indie-rock-redefining 2001 debut album by The Shins, is presented here in its finest form, dressed up all nice for its 20th birthday. The classic tunes get new life by way of a full remastering job under band leader James Mercer’s watchful eye, the art is given a little extra zest via a die-cut jacket and a classy inner sleeve, and the package is rounded off with a big ol’ booklet with vintage photos, handwritten lyrics, and more.

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The music, of course, is obviously essential. Aside from a friendly reminder that this is the album with the smash hit “New Slang,” as heard in the hit movie we just need to note that the remastering job truly makes this the album James Mercer always wanted it to be. Never quite satisfied with the sonics of the original, Mercer has took the 20th anniversary of the album as his opportunity to finally set the (literal!) record straight. And the results sound stellar: great for new fans, and well worth the attention of those already on board!

Capturing a sense of suburban ennui as well as any Big Star number, the sprightly melody of “Know Yur Onion!” belies its cloistered sense of dread, knowing that redemption lies far, far away. As Mercer contemptuously spews the opening line “Shut out, pimpled and angry/ I quietly tied all my guts into knots,” over a curdled guitar line, he eventually finds solace in the minutiae of having “lucked out found my favourite records lying in wait at the Birmingham mall,” only to concede that his “body caves to his whims and suddenly struggles to take flight … three thousand miles northeast.”

For old times’ sake, here’s what we had to say about this record back when it came out: Hailing from Albuquerque, NM, The Shins sprung from the ashes of Flake/Flake Music in 1997 (though those previous incarnations date back nearly a decade) – same members, different instruments, different approach. Counterpoint guitars have given way to a single guitar pitted against calculated keyboard passages; swarming indie rock machinations led to pop-based melodic endeavors (who knew?).

Chutes Too Narrow

The superb follow-up to their universally-adored 2001 debut, Oh, Inverted World. more acoustic than their debut – but it still pops and shakes like the kinks and soars like the Beach Boys. It will make you smile and will make your heart swell. this was one of 2004’s albums of the year.

People don’t fall in love with The Shins because they are this revolutionary, genre-defining band. People fall in love with The Shins because they make the kind of music that you connect with. They make the kind of music that soundtracks a significant time in a person’s life. They make the kind of music that certainly isn’t flawless or smooth but more reflects our state, as deeply imperfect beings.

A pretty slice of melodic grandeur from Chutes Too Narrow, “Saint Simon” has a metronomic cadence that suggests a certain level of catatonia from sheer emotional exhaustion. Mercer sounds bereft as he intones, “I’ll try hard not to pretend/ allow myself no mock defense as I step into the night,” as the song’s lockstep groove gives way to a woozily vertiginous orchestral sway.

Shortly after the release of their 2003 sophomore album, “Chutes Too Narrow“, the band gained a foothold in pop culture via the Zach Braff-directed film Garden State, when Natalie Portman’s character proclaimed that the Shins “would change your life,” before the Inverted World track “New Slang” was played over a particularly maudlin scene in the film. The band had already attained a fairly strong following preceding that shout-out, as the success of Chutes was nearly commensurate with their superb debut. But after that, their profile ballooned, which put an enormous strain on Mercer, who’d had the mantle of life-changer thrust upon him.

“Fighting In A sack” A rollicking number that provides a necessary frenetic yin to the docile yang of the song that precedes it, “Saint Simon,” Mercer’s breathless vocals convey a lucid dream with a certain degree of levity, drifting effortlessly into Neutral Milk Hotel territory. Yet this is sheer vintage Shins, all glistening melodies and opaque lyrics.

Chutes Too Narrow” is the album that makes you realise exactly why people fall in love with this band. The album is wonderfully versatile, ringing with as much gloom as exuberance. “Kissing The Lipless” rips open the record, setting a precedent for the rest of the album. Pure infectious frivolity on the surfaces, as is one of the band’s trademarks, reveals itself to be “the gray remains of a friendship scarred” once you’ve perused the lyrics. It’s often said that eskimos can identify 50 types of snow, and Mercer can identify at least 100 ways love comes to an end, and this number finds him at his most astute as he ruminates, “You tested your metal of doe’s skin and petals while kissing the lipless who bleed all the sweetness away,” at the track’s plaintive denouement.

Filled with gaudy guitars and intimate, strong vocal performances, the remainder of the record goes onto serve as an outlet for Mercer to express some of his built-up frustration about his heartbreaks and setbacks.

Chutes Too Narrow” is their most confident effort, each song feeling even more ambitious than the last. It highlights a definite peak in The Shins’ career and serves as a reminder as to why they are such a loved band.

Wincing The Night Away

A protracted delay occurred between “Chutes Too Narrow” and 2007’s “Wincing The Night Away”, due in part to that strain. By backing away momentarily, though, he may have done a service to his craft. Instead of over-thinking the Shins’ third album — as many bands are wont to do when following break-out successes — the songs on Wincing were left with room to breathe. While they may have lacked the visceral punch that imbued the band’s earlier works, the tracks on Wincing were nonetheless melodically stunning, epicurean crafts.

Wincing The Night Away” is one of The Shins’ greatest masterpieces. The layered, rich and vibrant record was composed in the dark of night and echoes with the tired, hazy attitudes reflective of those times. ‘Under-appreciated’ hardly begins to describe the state of the album. The band pulled off a sound that is polished but still filled with character, creating an amalgamation of the most enticing aspects of their sound.

The Shins had their work cut out for them with the release of the “Wincing the Night Away“. Their previous album, 2004’s Chutes Too Narrow, topped many critics’ Best of the Year lists, and was given a lucky dose of both marketing push and indie credibility by featuring heavily in the film Garden State. It’s good to know that all that success hasn’t gone to their heads. Sure, they’ve managed to bring in heavyweight producer Joe Chiccarelli, who’s worked with both U2 and Beck, but they’re still signed to Sub-Pop Records at this time, crucially, they’re still writing great songs. In fact, Wincing the Night Away is, in some ways, a better album than its predecessor. It’s certainly bigger and more symphonic than Chutes Too Narrow. Album opener “Sleeping Lessons” starts off relatively low-key, with a simple looped keyboard before building to an explosive finish.

First single “Phantom Limb” is their catchiest song yet, packed with reverb-rich vocals and sunny, Beach Boys-inspired harmonies. Throughout, the Shins seem more comfortable and willing to take advantage of their no-doubt bigger recording budget, from the layered, 1960’s-style American pop of “Turn On Me” to the sound loops and samples of “Spilt Needles”. Wincing the Night Away is the sound of the Shins spreading their wings, and it positively soars.

A plaintive number with a tasteful dollop of reverb, “Turn On Me” is a high point on an album replete with low-key, ruminative numbers, more subdued yet no less brilliant than the band’s prior two efforts. Its lyrics are dour, expounding upon a relationship far past its expiration date, culminating with a goose bump-inducing middle eight, before Mercer concedes, “The worst part is over, so get back on that horse and ride,” keenly aware that the cycle’s unlikely to cease anytime soon.

The skeletal and exposed instrumentals are ridiculously refreshing compared to some of the more cluttered and involved ones on previous outputs. Cuts like “Black Wave” and “A Comet Appears” have an emptiness and vacancy laced throughout them, exhibiting an intense and heavy side of Mercer’s songwriting.

Even on the record’s bright and rich cuts, everything feels succinct, purposeful and necessary. The album contains some examples of Mercer’s greatest songwriting and plays seamlessly from beginning to end, it’s hollow indie rarely exhausting.

Port Of Morrow

Mercer jettisoned his entire band prior to the recording of 2012’s Port Of Morrow, claiming he had “production ideas that basically required some other people.” And while it wasn’t akin to R.E.M. losing Bill Berry — as Mercer had always been essentially the band’s sole songwriter, one couldn’t help but feel that a certain innate chemistry had been sacrificed. Nonetheless, “Port Of Morrow” is a damn impressive album (it made our list of 2012’s), their first released outside Sub Pop, on Mercer’s Aural Apothecary Label. It proves that whomever he surrounds himself with, Mercer is one of his generation’s preeminent songwriters. But even with heavy-hitters enlisted, including Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer, Ron Lewis from the Fruit Bats, and Janet Weiss, Morrow feels like something of a transitional album for the band, although you still can’t help but to be dazzled by the grandiose arena-ready cadences of “Simple Song”.

The Shins seem to travel in a new direction with every record, it’s no secret they’re unable maintain satisfaction with one, recognisable sound and completely hone it. On 2012’s “Port Of Morrow“, however, the band weren’t just travelling in a different direction, they were untying their boat from it’s dock and sailing into seas that left some fans in a place of discomfort. ‘Port of Morrow’ is The Shins‘ first new material in four years and in a world where the young ‘uns are dabbling in skew-whiff electronica and art funk ‘jams’ with varying results, this glorious record is a timely reminder of how to craft good old, solid indie rock built on smart storytelling and melodies that head straight for the heart. highly unfashionable, yes, and not a huge departure for the band admittedly, but why deviate from a formula that produces music as swoonsome as opener ‘The Rifle’s Spiral’, buzzing riff-tinged ode to existential angst ‘It’s Only Life’, the skittering and sweet ‘Bait and Switch’ and ‘No Way Down’ and thundering drums-led epic ‘Simple Song’? these are love-on-first-listen songs that have made us fall for the Shins all over again.

As epic as the Shins have sounded to date, “Simple Song” has a title that belies its bombastic nature — locomotive drums and a sinewy guitar figure give way to a minor key shift in a deceptively clever accoutrement. For perhaps the first time, the instrumentation trumps the lyricism in a Shins track, thanks to its sheer production acumen, which is something of a mixed bag. If the rest of Port Of Morrrow had been this memorable, it would’ve been in the conversation of the Shins’ best album.

Allowing the record to be more accessible and hold more pop appeal, the band had a more anthemic and cheerful outlook on “Port Of Morrow“. Leaving some of the darkness explored on earlier records behind, the outfit had a new found love for singing guitars, bouncy beats and catchier choruses.

While what came out of Port Of Morrow wasn’t necessarily game-changing, the record was an outlet for them to dispense some of their most explosive and loud material to date (Bait & Switch, No Way Down). However, embedded within the album’s tidy and concentrated production came a lack of personality and heart, integral parts of their previous outputs. They had misplaced something so important and, in turn, made a record that didn’t feel as authentic.

Heartworms and The Worm’s Heart

Heartworms” is The Shins’ most experimental record to date. Playing around with abrasive electronic sounds that are relatively out of character for the band, they don’t hold anything back. Completely stripping away distortion-tinged guitars, once a vital part of a Shins record, they explore uncharted territory and their sound in more depth on Heartworms.

The Shins released their fifth studio album, “Heartworms”. In contrast to 2012’s Port of Morrow, Heartworms ushers in a return to the handmade. Heartworms is, as always, entirely written by James Mercer, with exception of “So Now What” (produced by band member Richard Swift). Heartworms is the first Shins album to be self-produced by Mercer since Oh, Inverted World in 2001. Heartworms features Mercer’s most diverse lyrical palette to date. The result is a cohesive, yet genre defying album marked by Mercer’s distinct voice and melodic composition. Unified by his singular vision, Mercer creates a sound that is both familiar – a nostalgic nod to the album’s predecessors – and distinctly new. The album’s first single, “Name For You”, is a resounding call for female empowerment inspired by Mercer’s three daughters.

Alike to “Port Of Morrow“, they aim for a more appealing sound with memorable hooks aplenty. However, instead of reaching their hand into the world of indie rock to create peppier feel, they dive into the electro-pop sphere, taking inspiration from bands like The Dirty Projectors. The 80s influence certainly isn’t absent on the record either.

Heartworms is a bright and warm return for The Shins after a five-year break.

Wormsheart

When James Mercer was recording his latest Shins LP Heart Worms as a creative exercise he decided to re-record the songs in the opposite way of the originals. Songs that were more rock and uptempo became more acoustic and slow, and songs that were acoustic and slow in tempo became more upbeat. They were flipped. The result of those sessions he calls, The Worms Heart. What began as an exercise in song writing transformed into a commentary on what it means to be a songwriter. After writing the first track for Heartworms (released 10th March 2017), James Mercer decided to recreate each song from scratch. Driven by its malleability, its ability to be foundationally identical, yet aesthetically and sonically utterly new, Mercer continued experimenting until he had two complete albums: one original and one “flipped”. Mercer’s ability to create two totally divergent albums from the same underlying compositions not only highlights his immense capability as a song writer, but also functions as a reminder of what it means to be an artist, how an artist acts as both the master and facilitator of his artistic product.

The Albums;

  • Oh, Inverted World (2001)
  • Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
  • Wincing the Night Away (2007)
  • Port of Morrow (2012)
  • Heartworms (2017)
  • The Worms Heart (2018)
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The Shins had a Live Album on the way via Jack White’s Third Man Records label,

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The Shins put out Heartworms, their first new album in five years, earlier this year and a video for “Half A Million” has been released.

Filmed on a white backdrop, edited, then printed out. “Half A Million” was created with 5,566 stickers, hand cut from the 4,868 frames and animated by sticking them down on top of each other at each of the 40+ locations.

The Worms Heart is a complete re-work of The Shins critically acclaimed March, 2017 album ‘Heartworms’. The album offers new reworked versions of the ‘Heartworms’ album original tracks, and the sequence is flipped as well. The album is available digitally, on all formats.

When James Mercer wrote, produced, and recorded the Heartworms album, he had this desire for an alternate version, an opposite version. The album’s slow songs would be flipped and re-recorded as fast songs, and vice versa. The reasoning was to showcase the versatility and strength of his songwriting, and the result is The Worm’s Heart. This ‘flipped’ collection is produced by Yuuki Matthews, Jon Sortland, & James Mercer; and is a must for any fan of The Shins

Broken Bells - Good Luck

Danger Mouse and James Mercer have reunited on “Good Luck,” a fatalistic new single that broods on the desolation of our current day and age. A pounding bass sits at the forefront while Mercer sings of looking “the face of evil” in the eye. “Head up, dead lamb,” he sings, acknowledging that our sacrifice has already been made. Upon declaring that “there’s no divine right,” lines like “In time, it ends” then feel like a promise for a light at the end of the tunnel. While Danger Mouse collaborated with Karen O for Lux Prima earlier this year, Mercer has been mostly quiet since The Shins’ 2018 surprise release of The Worm’s Heart, a reworking of their fifth album Heartworms.

In a joint statement, the duo officially announced an upcoming LP. “We always drift back to one another as Broken Bells,” they stated in their press release for the single. “Right now it’s happened in the form of writing and recording sessions for the third Broken Bells album.”

Richard Swift

Richard Swift, a former member of indie rock greats, The Shins and The Black Keys has passed away at age 41.  Swift had been suffering from an undisclosed “life-threatening condition”, in which a GoFundMe page was launched last month to help cover his medical bills.

Swift was an essential figure in the indie rock scene, releasing music as a solo artist as well as contributing as an instrumentalist and producer to a slew of other bands. Swift played with The Shins from 2011 to 2016 and was the touring bassist of the Black Keys in 2017.  Dan Auerbach confirmed. Swift, a multi-instrumentalist, had been a member of side project the Arcs, and also a studio owner, producer and film-maker.

“Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know,” Auerbach said via Instagram, alongside a picture of the pair together. “He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.” A post on Swift’s official Facebook page confirmed his passing, adding, “And all the angels sing ’Que Sera Sera.’”

He played drums in the Arcs and keyboards for Starflyer 59. Swift also lent his production talents to bands Foxygen, Guster, the Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Pure Bathing Culture and founded the National Freedom recording studio.
A sad day in the world of music: the sudden passing of Richard Swift. Great producer, instrumental to so many strong artists, but also a wonderful songwriter himself. Hear his double opus “The Novelist / Walking without effort”. He will be missed and heard for times to come.

A post on Swift’s Facebook page reads, “And all the angels sing, “Que Sera Sera”, with tributes from his peers pouring out over social media. The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach took to Twitter to say, “Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know. He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.”

Talented musician and producer Richard Swift lost a battle with an undisclosed serious illness on July 3rd, and today the nature of that illness was revealed via this letter:

An update:We are grateful to the many fans, friends, artists and collaborators who have shared their thoughts, love and support this week. It has been a bracing force for many of us.

A number of questions have come up surrounding Swift’s life, his work and his death, and we’d like to answer some of them candidly, here:

Yes, Richard Swift suffered from alcohol addiction, and it’s ultimately what took his life. With the support of family and friends and the assistance of MusiCares, Richard had checked himself into rehab for multiple stays over the past two years, but his body gave out before he could overcome the disease. He was diagnosed with hepatitis and liver and kidney distress in June. Multiple hospitals worked to help stabilize him over the course of that month, but his body was unable to heal and, per his wishes and with his family’s consent, he was moved to hospice care. Richard passed in the early morning of July 3rd, 2018 in a hospice facility in Tacoma, WA. He is survived by his wife Shealynn and their three children Madison, Adrian & Kennedy.

Yes, Richard was working on new music, originally planned for release in November of this year. We do not have a timeline for its completion yet, but we hope to share it with you sooner than that.

With love,

The Swift family, Secretly Canadian & Next Wave Management.

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This week releases include First Aid Kit’s newest outing, with swooning folky rock refrains, sliding guitars and beautiful two-part harmonies abound. Speaking of folky rocking guitars, yer’ man Ryan Adams has produced the debut outing from frankly terrifying youngsters, Starcrawler. they’re terrifically talented, and they trade in very concise and punky indie-rock territory. Great stuff. What else? Well, lots of stuff. the new Liminanas LP is out and again, superbly reminiscent of their earlier work whilst bringing things up to date. New (reversed) Shins, and reissues from The Residents,

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The Limiñanas – Shadow People

French psych duo The Limiñanas have announced their new album ‘Shadow People’ which will be released on 19th January on Because Music. One of France’s most beloved treasures, The Limiñanas are Marie (drums/vocals) and Lionel (guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals). Hailing from Perpignan, the duo straddles the boundary between psych, shoegaze, and yé-yé. With hazy, reverb-laden hooks, combined at times with noisy distortion, and fronted by effortlessly cool vocals, reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, the band is at once timeless and quintessentially French.

Wormsheart

The Shins –  The Worms Heart

When James Mercer was recording his latest Shins LP Heart Worms as a creative exercise he decided to re-record the songs in the opposite way of the originals. Songs that were more rock and uptempo became more acoustic and slow, and songs that were acoustic and slow in tempo became more upbeat. They were flipped. The result of those sessions he calls, The Worms Heart. What began as an exercise in songwriting transformed into a commentary on what it means to be a songwriter. After writing the first track for Heartworms (released 10 March 2017), James Mercer decided to recreate each song from scratch. Driven by its malleability, its ability to be foundationally identical, yet aesthetically and sonically utterly new, Mercer continued experimenting until he had two complete albums: one original and one “flipped”. Mercer’s ability to create two totally divergent albums from the same underlying compositions not only highlights his immense capability as a songwriter, but also functions as a reminder of what it means to be an artist, how an artist acts as both the master and facilitator of his artistic product.

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Shopping  –  The Official Body

Their first release since 2015’s Why Choose and their second album to be released on FatCat Records, Post-Punk trio Shopping return with an album that fans of their earlier records will undoubtedly find satisfying. Recorded over 10 days by Edwyn Collins, the latest album stays true to the minimal dance-punk ethos of Shopping’s previous efforts, but seeks to”amp up the party vibe”.

Coming off the back of an unrelenting cycle of touring, having made their way across the UK, Europe, and the US, the band found themselves without a natural home as the band’s London rehearsal and writing space closed down. Then their drummer, Andrew Milk, relocated to Glasgow, and the band could suddenly no longer spontaneously get together to practice or write. The distance added an element of pressure: “As a band that only ever writes collaboratively, it’s essential for us to actually be together in the room before any songs start to formulate. It can be a little daunting when we all turn up, and we only have an afternoon to pull a song out of thin air”. Add to that a sprinkling of Brexit, Trump, a principally imploding world, and you’ve got yourself The Official Body— Shopping’s second album to be released on FatCat Records.

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First Aid Kit  –  Ruins

Swedish siblings Klara & Johanna Soderberg, release their eagerly anticipated new album “Ruins” via Columbia Records. This will be the girls’ 4th studio album & a follow up to the critically acclaimed breakthrough album “Stay Gold”, released in 2014. “Ruins” is a 10 song album, recorded in Portland, USA & produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Laura Veirs). Collaborators include Peter Buck (REM), Glenn Kotche (Wilco) & McKenzie Smith (Midlake).

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Starcrawler  –  Starcrawler

Starcrawler are a Los Angeles rock band who formed in 2015 when 18-year-old lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde first met guitarist Henri Cash at their Echo Park high school. Shortly thereafter they were joined by the rhythm section of Austin Smith (drums) and Tim Franco (bass). The foursome play with squalling riffs and thundering beats, and their incendiary live shows, fronted by de Wilde’s otherworldly magnetism, are truly captivating. Gigwise (UK) recently stated that “Starcrawler are simply the most exciting – and best – band Rough Trade have signed in years.”

Recorded by Ryan Adams on analog tape at his Pax-Am studio, the 10 songs on the album prove that yes, they ARE making rock and roll exciting again! Ryan has been tweeting up a storm about them saying things like “This starcrawler record is gonna peel the paint off your brain!” and “Starcrawler are so fucking insanely good. Soon they will rule this galaxy.”

The first single from the album is “I Love LA” and the video, directed by famed music photographer Autumn de Wilde (AKA Arrow’s mum) is a fun and feisty homage to the city of dreamers

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After signing to Rough Trade earlier this year, they quickly released their debut single “Ants”, which caught the ear of Elton John who played the track on his Beats 1 radio show. Soon after, they were on the cover of LA Weekly – their hometown paper. The headline was “With Fake Blood and Frenetic Songs, Starcrawler make rock feel dangerous again”. In the article, Arrow describes that “bands are boring nowadays” and that “there’s no mystery”. That helps explain a little bit of why their shows have become the stuff of legend. They also recently played LA’s CalJam Festival, which is curated by Dave Grohl (Starcrawler was the first band he reached out to, and he raved about them the next day on KROQ.) Gerard Way is also a fan, describing them as a “mix of 70’s theatricality and Stooges electricity.

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Fleetwood Mac  –  Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac reissue their 1975 eponymous album. This album was the first of the most successful incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, where Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie to form the legendary band who continues to be highly successful to this day. The album introduced a smoother more radio-friendly sound and a new beginning and by 1977 the emotional monolith of Rumours would make them one of the biggest bands on the planet.

CD – Newly remastered version.

2CD – Expanded edition. The first CD features the original album with newly remastered audio, as well as single mixes of Over My Head, Rhiannon, Say You Love Me and Blue Letter. CD2 features an alternate version of the album comprised of unreleased outtakes for each track, as well as previously unreleased live versions from 1976.

5CD – Deluxe 3 CD / 1 DVD and 1 LP Set. Comes packaged in a 12×12 embossed sleeve with rare and unseen photos along with in-depth liner notes written by David Wild, as well as new interviews with all the band members. The deluxe editions features a newly remastered version of the original album along with single mixes for Over My Head, Rhiannon and Say You Love Me. Also included is a second disc with an alternate version of the complete album comprised of unreleased outtakes for each album track, plus several unreleased live performances from 1976. The third disc includes even more unreleased live recordings, including stellar performances of Landslide, Oh Well and World Turning. Also included in the deluxe edition set is the original album pressed on 180-gram vinyl, as well as a DVD featuring 5.1 Surround Sound and high-resolution 24/96 Stereo Audio mixes of the original album and four single mixes.

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The XX  –  On Hold (Jamie XX Remix) / A Violent Noise (Four Tet Remix)

Limited 12″ featuring Jamie’s own Remix of On Hold. It’s comes across like Daft Punk dropping Homework on a Ibiza terrace. Four Tet is on the flip with a fresh re-rub of A Violent Noise. Mr Hebden takes the track to Berghain and drops it at 4am.

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Moon Duo  –  Jukebox Babe / No Fun

Following the resounding success of their two-volume, Yin-and-Yang song cycle Occult Architecture, the Portland psych heroes in Moon Duo return with a limited edition 12″ paying tribute to two of their musical heroes — Iggy Pop and Alan Vega. Moon Duo’s versions of these classic songs push them into bold new sonic territory, and show that Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s expansive musical imaginations are still firing on all cylinders.“We started playing No Fun after BBC6 Radio asked us to record an Iggy song for his 70th birthday. We added it to our set to work it out for the session and kept playing it every night because everyone loves that song. We worked up a version of Jukebox Babe because our sound engineer Larry got it stuck in his head and was singing it all the time. We figured, we may as well play it if we’re going to hear it all the time. The Stooges and Iggy, and Suicide / Alan Vega / Martin Rev, are all huge influences on us. But we never want to do faithful covers of great songs, because what’s the point? So we tried to push both of the tracks in less obvious directions, incorporating other influences, like California psych and cosmic disco, giving them more of a summer vibe. We knew Sonic Boom was working outside of Lisbon, so we asked him to produce the tracks, recording them in August for maximal summer heat.”

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Slothrust  – Show Me How You Want It To Be EP

A collection of unexpected and inventive takes on classics by icons as diverse as Al Green and Britney Spears, Marcy Playground and Louis Armstrong. Led by guitarist and vocalist Leah Wellbaum, with bassist Kyle Bann and drummer WiIl Gorin, Slothrust form one of the most exciting and agile trios in recent memory. The selections on Show Me How You Want It To Be showcase the diverse and discerning musicianship that has earned Slothrust an army of admirers that first began building with their song 7:30 AM, featured as the theme song for 4 seasons of the FX Network show You’re The Worst.

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Belle and Sebastian  –  How To Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2)

Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Janeand 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light), Belle and Sebastian release three new EPs under the umbrella title How To Solve Our Human ProblemsJust as those three early EPs are at the very heart of the Belle and Sebastian canon, so these three new releases deserve to be treated not as a stopgap, but as definitive releases in their own right. How To Solve Our Human Problems is both an era of its own, and part of a long, rich history. How To Solve Our Human Problems is, if you like, Belle and Sebastian Redux.

The Shins lead singer James Mercer, pictured in the band's new video for song Mildenhall. Picture: The Shins

James Mercer gives a country-ish story song the Shins treatment, complete bubbling sound effects and a big entrance by a skating rink organ. The sound is comfy and relaxed, but the sweet storytelling is the star. Mercer recounts the details of his musical awakening as an Air Force brat – bonding with the cool kids over shoes, concerts and a tape by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

An American indie rock band with roots in Suffolk has released a tribute to Mildenhall as its latest single.

The Shins latest release, Mildenhall, reflects on leader singer James Mercer’s time living at RAF Mildenhall as a teenager. The musician moved to the airbase aged 15, after his dad was stationed there. The lyrics say: “At 15 we had to leave the States again, dad was stationed at an RAF station they called Mildenhall.

“Black moss on a busted wall, the cobblestones made it hard to skate I thought my flattop was so new wave, Until it melted away in the Suffolk rain. Well god damn, you miss the USA.”

The song, featured on the band’s Heartworms album, talks about watching bands down the corn exchange and his sister’s time at the local tanning salon. “I wonder where my sister was that night, back at home under the tanning bed lights, “I can still see the glow, strange rays from her window each night, as I was skating home.

“Started messing with my dad’s guitar, taught me some chords just to start me off, “Whittling away on those rainy days “And that’s how we get to where we are now.”

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The Shins  released the album “Heartworms” earlier this year, and with its synth-heavy foundation and experimental melodies, it’s definitely proven to be the band’s most danceable album yet. “Cherry Hearts” is one of the more playful tracks that make up the record, and today, the band has shared a video to match.

Directed by Stefano Bertelli, the stop-motion clip for “Cherry Hearts” is made entirely of paper, depicting the happenings at an amusement park. A rollercoaster ride takes a passenger past a dinosaur, grasshopper and blood-splattered monkey before launching him into space and at some point, into a game of Pong. Cupid and a legless lady also make guest appearances in the surrealistic animation.

The Shins  will release a bundle for the single on October. 13th, which will include the original album recording, a flipped version and the RAC remix. Watch the “Cherry Hearts” video below,

Spectres

Spectres release their second album Condition via Sonic Cathedral. The follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 debut, Dying, it was recorded by Dominic Mitchison in the band’s adopted home city of Bristol and mastered by Frank Arkwright (Mogwai, 65daysofstatic) at Abbey Road in London. It’s louder and more abrasive than their debut, but also a real progression. It sounds huge and adds a genuinely innovative and confrontational edge, partly inspired by last year’s remix album, Dead, which saw everyone from Factory Floor to Richard Fearless instructed to “kill” the songs from Dying. “There were discussions about experimenting with electronics, but the idea soon petered out when we realised we still wanted to experiment with guitars,” reveals singer and guitarist Joe Hatt. As a result tracks such as End Waltz have a relentlessly pounding, almost techno structure, in contrast to the kinetosis-inducing dirge of Dissolve – the first single from the album that came with a suitably stomach-churning video late last year. Elsewhere the almost restrained (by Spectres’ standards) white noise and wordplay of A Fish Called Wanda and the sprawling Colour Me Out are counterbalanced by brutal assaults such as Neck and Welcoming The Flowers, which keeps threatening to drown itself in its own roiling diamond sea.

LP – Limited-edition Black vinyl LP in a Gatefold sleeve, featuring lyrics and artwork by Laurie Lax and photography by Stephanie Third.

LP+ – Limited-edition Cream vinyl LP in a Gatefold sleeve, featuring lyrics and artwork by Laurie Lax and photography by Stephanie Third.

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Semper Femina is Laura Marling’s sixth album – an intimate, devoted exploration of femininity and female relationships, and among her finest work to date. Written largely on the tour that followed 2015’s Short Movie and recorded in Los Angeles with production from Blake Mills, it is at once a distinctive and musically compelling collection of songs, run through with Marling’s fierce intelligence; a keen, beautiful and unparalleled take on womanhood.

2LP+ – Limited Deluxe 2LP Edition including Bonus Material Live tracks and digital download card.

2LP – Standard Version with Download.

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‘It’s the Buzz, Cock’. Howard Devoto read this headline from a January 1976 Time Out review of ‘Rock Follies’, the 1970s TV musical drama following the ups and downs of the fictional female rock group, ‘Little Ladies’. Adapting and appropriating it as the name for his new band that he had just formed with Pete Shelley having realised what a Sex Pistol was before anyone else. Buzzcocks formed having witnessed firsthand the white-heat of the early Sex Pistols. Howard and Pete went about organising the now infamous 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs that brought punk to the provinces and galvanized the new Manchester music revolution. The plan was to simply play support to the Pistols and then see what happened next…Featuring the original line-up of Howard Devoto (vocals and songwriter), Pete Shelley (guitar and songwriter), Steve Diggle (bass guitar) and John Maher (drums), Time’s Up was recorded at Revolution Studios, Bramhall Lane Stockport on the 18th of October 1976. The session, recording Buzzcocks’ live set at the time, cost £45 and was engineered by Andy MacPherson.

LP – The long-out-of-print Time’s Up 12” Vinyl LP, re-pressed on heavyweight black vinyl with a printed inner sleeve.

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In early 2016, the release of Talk Tight put Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on the map with glowing reviews from Spin, Stereogum, and Pitchfork, praising them as stand-outs even among the fertile landcape of Melbourne music. Chock full of snappy riffs, spritely drumming and quick-witted wordplay, Talk Tight was praised by Pitchfork “for the precision of their melodies, the streamlined sophistication of their arrangements, and the undercurrent of melancholy that motivates every note.” The band was born from late night jam sessions in singer / guitarist Fran Keaney’s bedroom and honed in the thrumming confines of Melbourne’s live music venues. Sharing tastes and songwriting duties, cousins Joe White and Fran Keaney, brothers Tom and Joe Russo, and drummer Marcel Tussie started out with softer, melody-focused songs. The more shows they played, the more those driving rhythms that now trademark their songs emerged. Since then, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever rode that wave from strength to strength. Touring around the country on headline bills and festival slots all the way to Bigsound, the entrenched themselves with their thrilling live shows while prepping their next release. The French Press levels up on everything that made Talk Tight such an immediate draw. Multi-tracked melodies which curl around one another, charging drums and addictive bass lines converge to give each track its driving momentum. Honed through their live shows, this relentless energy carries the record through new chapters in the band’s Australian storybook. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s songs have always had all the page-turning qualities of a good yarn and The French Press is no different. Somewhere between impressionists and fabulists, lyricists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White often start with something rooted in real life – the melancholy of travel on French Press, having a hopeless crush on Julie’s Place – before building them into clever, quick vignettes. The result is lines blurred between fiction and reality – vibrant stories which get closer at a particular truth than either could alone. Blending critical insight and literate love songs, The French Press cements Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever as one of Australia’s smartest working bands.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download.

LP+ – Limited Loser Clear Coloured Vinyl with Download.

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This remixed and expanded reissue of Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK is a long-planned correction of the legendary band’s Grammy®-nominated debut full-length. The album was originally recorded and released in 1988 on SST Records. While the band enjoyed working with the original producer, Drew Canulette, they soon realized they weren’t quite happy with the final mix. Thus, shortly after the album’s release, the band decided to remix the album for subsequent pressings. However, success intervened: the band rapidly scored a deal with A&M and began work on their major-label debut, Louder Than Love, and the Ultramega OK remix project fell by the wayside as Soundgarden climbed their way to (ultra)mega-stardom. In 2016, after worldwide success, a breakup, a reunion, and many albums and tours, the band finally acquired the original multi-track tapes to Ultramega OK and carved out time to dig into the remix. They handed the tapes over to longtime friend and engineer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard), who worked with the band to create a fresh mix of the album that, for the band, ties up this persistent loose end and remedies the sound of their debut full-length. While they were at it, the band dug out six early versions of tracks that wound up on Ultramega OK. The songs were recorded in 1987 on 8-track tape by Jack Endino and Chris Hanzsek at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, and mixed by Jack Endino in 2016. These versions feature the band in raw, powerful form – sonically closer to the band’s Endino-recorded six-song debut, Screaming Life – and provide a fascinating window into the development of songs that eventually became staples of the band’s set. The six songs comprise what the band refers to as Ultramega EP, and they are included in this reissue. Hailed as grunge innovators, Soundgarden redefined rock music for a generation. In the late ‘80s, the band – singer Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Hiro Yamamoto, and drummer Matt Cameron – combined a punk ethos, brutal metal soundscapes, and Cornell’s ravenous roar to capture the attention of the masses. Jagged and ferocious, their music was deeply at odds with the synth-pop and hair metal which dominated the ‘80s airwaves. Early indie releases, including seminal Screaming Life and Ultramega OK, quickly led to a dedicated indie following as the band toured on both sides of the Atlantic. Subsequent albums, including Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside, achieved multi-platinum sales and launched the band to international fame.

2LP – Double Black Vinyl in Foil-stamped Gatefold packaging with custom dust sleeves plus Download.

2LP+ – Limited Double Loser Blue Marbled and Violet Coloured Vinyl in Foil-stamped Gatefold packaging with custom dust sleeves plus Download.

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The husband and wife duo of Alaina and Patrick, otherwise known as Tennis, return with Yours Conditionally, their new album on the band’s own label Mutually Detrimental. Building on their dreamy combination of perfect melodies and classic songwriting, Yours Conditionally sees a full circle return to their nautical roots of sorts, with the duo even writing part of the album while sailing at sea, what Alaina calls “a grandiose gesture”, a necessary venture of revisiting the past to reinvigorate the present. However, the pair dig deeper and darker this time round, with the resultant album wedding discussions of identity and self-sacrifice to some of their most pristine and infectious hooks yet. Achingly beautiful lead single In the Morning I’ll Be Better, written about the “precariousness of our lives”, sums up this paradox completely, with gorgeous melodies belying its subject matter of Riley seeing a family member through a serious illness. Please Don’t Ruin This For Me and Fields of Blue also deliciously straddle the light / dark divide, while others, like Ladies Don’t Play Guitar and the divine swoon of Modern Woman hit the pop bullseye square on the nose while unpacking conflicting themes of feminism and industry archetypes. Taken in toto, Yours Conditionally sees a band at maturation point, looking fondly to the past while also staring down the uncertainty and confusion of the future without flinching. This is Tennis at their contrary, compelling best.

LP – White Vinyl.

Shins

The Shins release of their fifth studio album, Heartworms. In contrast to 2012’s Port of Morrow, Heartworms ushers in a return to the handmade. Heartworms is, as always, entirely written by James Mercer, with exception of So Now What (produced by band member Richard Swift). Heartworms is the first Shins album to be self-produced by Mercer since Oh, Inverted World in 2001. Heartworms features Mercer’s most diverse lyrical palette to date. The result is a cohesive, yet genre defying album marked by Mercer’s distinct voice and melodic composition. Unified by his singular vision, Mercer creates a sound that is both familiar – a nostalgic nod to the album’s predecessors – and distinctly new. The album’s first single, Name For You, is a resounding call for female empowerment inspired by Mercer’s three daughters.

LP – 180 Gram Vinyl with Download.

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Cameron Avery has arrived as a new breed of nocturnal crooner, a train-wreck romantic creating timeless, ambitious music for the modern age. Utilizing his soulful wit, shrewd arrangements, and a deep, husky baritone, Avery harnesses the dark power and humor of artists like Nick Cave, Scott Walker, and Tindersticks to expertly walk the fine line between vulnerable and venerable. Hailing from the late 2000’s-era Perth, Australia, a healthy scene of hard-hitting garage rock bands, including a long stint as the drummer of Pond, Avery found his musical footing while playing with friends but sought the reward of his own outfit. Encouraged by his friend Kevin Parker of Tame Impala to record on his own, Avery started The Growl as his solo project in 2007, making an EP and an album of aggressive, distorted psychedelic rock and roll. When Parker asked him to join Tame Impala as its touring bassist in 2013, Avery jumped at the chance and rose with that band to the top of the psych-rock heap, but all the while remained focused on carving out his singular identity as an artist and following his own muse. On a break from touring, Avery decided to head to the US to work on his album. He would settle in Los Angeles at the behest of Jonathan Wilson, the Echo Park musician and producer who also encouraged Avery to shine a spotlight on his baritone singing voice, unlike the snarling, obscured vocals of The Growl. It was a lofty idea, but one to which Avery aspired, encouraged by the challenge. Melancholic machismo is written into the very DNA of Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams. From the classical, finger-picked guitar on the opener A Time and Place and the orchestral vamping of Do You Know Me By Heart? to the bombastic, self-assured swagger of Dance with Me. He takes an emotive page from the Leonard Cohen songbook-of-longing on Big Town Girl just as naturally as he thumbs an aggressive note of Bad Seed strut and Cramps rut on Watch Me Take It Away. And by the time he purrs that earnest refrain of “Baby, it’s you” on the album’s closer C’est Toi, Avery has surely mastered that drunken tightrope dance. Now a resident of New York City, Avery looks to continue his search for the ultimate sensations from a fresh vantage point.

LP – With Download.

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Throughout years of traveling, John Andrews has documented his life with his home recordings. His first record, Bit By The Fang, found him living in the amish country of Lancaster, PA. On his latest record, Bad Posture, he waves farewell to Pennsylvania and greets the wooded hills of Barrington, NH. These songs were written slowly and quietly throughout the winter, usually late at night next to the wood stove. It was recorded in Andrews’ barn with the doors ajar, welcoming the springtime — inviting the outside noises in. You can hear the crickets chirping and the occasional truck driving by. The songs themselves lend their hand like slow backwoods Beatles demos covered in a thin blanket of tape hiss. Andrews’ band, The Yawns, has been crystallized with staples from the New England freak scene: Rachel Neveu and Lukas Goudreault (MMOSS / Soft Eyes) and Joey Schneider. The album was mixed with headphones at the foot of Emma Critchett’s grave, who lived in the Yawns’ house during the 1800s. The record is an ode to her and all who have lived there. It paints a picture of living in the “freecountry” on the precipice of a rapidly changing political climate.

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Sonic Jesus is an Italian musical project lead by multi-instrumentalist Tiziano Veronese. Since signing to Fuzz Club, the project has released a split single with The Black Angels and been remixed by Sonic Boom aka Pete Kember. Their internationally acclaimed debut Neither Virtue Nor Anger; an industrial barrage of hypnotic, dark psychedelia. Sonic Jesus’ new album Grace goes beyond the past boundaries, pushing towards enthralling melodic horizons and modern pounding beats, delivered by a new-found pop sensibility. There’s still a darkness brooding beneath the noise but these new tracks see the project take on a magnificent and insatiable new form.

Available on 180gm white vinyl and CD.

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From adversity can come triumph, and from catharsis inspiration. Such has been the case for Gnoomes, the threesome hailing from Perm, Russia, whose second release for Rocket Recordings, Tschak! arrives in the wake of considerable turbulence and tumult within their personal lives and society itself, all of which has only been fuel for a creative epiphany that has seen them create a deeply evocative work rich with vibrant experimentation and saturated in a widescreen sense of wonder. It may only have been eighteen months since Ngan!, the band’s first release for Rocket, whose self-styled ‘stargaze’ approach marked a glorious collision between melodic sweetness, skysurfing guitar experimentation and motorik magnificence, yet the band have already moved on to a sonic landscape still more adventurous and ethereal on Tschak!, not to mention an emotionally resonant approach that’s bewitching to witness. Taking in torrents of guitar noise and electronic extrapolations both blissfully kosmische and aggressively abrasive, it exists outside of all or any convenient genres, a vivid and singular work by three dreamers-at-heart forced to manifest their vision into a psychic defence to the circumstances surrounding them. Working in splendid isolation thanks to a studio space provided by their work for a local radio station, the band had time and space for the alchemical process of creating Tschak! entirely on their own terms. Central to the this were a collection of Russian synths that they gathered, whose eccentric arpeggios and analogue textures form crucial ingredients on songs like Severokamsk and the title track, arriving at a sound that forms a star-crossed and timeless marriage between the experimentation of krautrock and the lineage of Warp Records. Forging forth into unknown realms both physical and metaphysical, Gnoomes recently completed a UK tour – including an appearance at Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia. Yet with the dreamlike radiance of the potent and otherworldly Tschak! on their side, this adventure is already well on its way.

LP – Limited Green Vinyl with Download.

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Psych-pop masterpiece from two of the best to ever do it. Los Angeles native and weirdo-pop enthusiast Ariel Pink joins forces with lo-fi pop pioneer R. Stevie Moore in a crazy freak-out extravaganza. Back in 2012, two leaders of the modern psych scene colluded together in making a 60+ track album. Here, we have the definitive collection of songs from ‘Ku Klux Glam’. Re-mastered and compiled by R. Stevie Moore, this is a presentation of this record in it’s clearest form.

Tape – Double 63 Track Tape.

Today marks the release of The Shins new album “Heartworms”. However, the record may actually just be the first taste of something more to come, as the band has revealed that they recorded an alternate, “flipped” version.

According to a press release, James Mercer undertook a songwriting exercise in which he rewrote each song “from scratch” until he had two completely different albums. “Mercer’s ability to create two totally divergent albums from the same underlying compositions not only highlights his immense capability as a songwriter,” explains the press release, “but also functions as a reminder of what it means to be an artist, how an artist acts as both the master and facilitator of his artistic product.”

Our first listen to what this “parallel reality” album sounds like comes thanks to the twin videos for “Name For You”. the band have released the album version of the track. Directed by The Shins’ drummer Jon Sortland, the video follows skateboarders Savannah Headden and Samarria Brevard on a lo-fi day in Southern California.
Now take a listen to the “flipped” version, which is a far darker, new-wave take on the catchy single. The video for this version was directed by Zaiba Jabbar with help from Sortland and Mark Watrous, and it stars Transparent actress Trace Lysette. If you head to The Shins’ website, you can play both videos simultaneously, seamlessly switching back and forth with an interactive switch. There’s no word yet on when we might get a listen to the entire alternate versions of Heartworms, so lookout for more details .
In addition to the videos and new music, The Shins have expanded the itinerary for one of the most anticipated tours this year .

The Shins are normally focused on the future, but “Heartworms”, their first album in five years and fifth since 2001, takes a small step into the past. From the first notes of opening track “Name for You”, we get a hint that this album may not stray too far from its predecessors. The nicely placed “Mildenhall” hearkens back to old Shins music. We hear an acoustic guitar and distant, gentle electronic beats accompanying James Mercer as he shows off his lower range. In a Willie Nelson-esque singing style, he remembers being a lonely boy, moving around the country because his father, a member of the Royal Air Force, had to transfer locations. After a classmate passes Mercer a tape, he finds a passion for music and, as he sings: “That’s how we get to where we are now.”

Fans respect artists who evolve, improve, and explore new sounds, or some combination of those. And it’s not always pretty, but it’s admirable as long as done valiantly and with curiosity. The Shins tried to do that; they attempted to step out of their comfort zone with Heartworms.

Another lyric that takes us down memory highway surfaces in “So Now What”. After introducing the song with a mini-me of the iconic synth in The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”, The Shins put the most memorable melody of the album in the chorus of this song. “I had this crazy idea,” Mercer sings. “Somehow we’d coast to the end/ Change lies in every direction, tonight/ Guess we’ll just begin again.”

Besides these two songs, the record’s other high point is “Painting a Hole”, a song with a contagious beat and somewhat ominous la-las. The synth-keyboard sound pulses while the bass runs, sliding up and down the neck. Once you hit the chorus, Mercer shows off his edgier falsetto. Fortunately, the album sends us off with the best song, the “The Fear”. It begins with a kick-ride-rim shot combo, joined by a mandolin and violins, Even though most of the song consists of two chords, it quickly proves itself to be the perfect ending to decent collection of songs.

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The Shins are releasing their new album “Heartworms” next week, and have shared another of its tracks, ‘Painting A Hole’. The new record is the first in five years from James Mercer and co, and they’re set to tourthe album around Europe later this month, after making their comeback at last year’s “End Of The Road” Festival .

Talking about the new track, Mercer says: ”People create beliefs or inherit them and those beliefs very rarely reflect the reality we live in every day. Like a coyote in a cartoon, painting a hole in the side of a cliff then falling through it, I think these belief systems are just about as ridiculous as that.”

The track follows previous “Dead Alive, Name For You, and Mildenhall in previewing the album, the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Port of Morrow’.

Listen to ‘Painting A Hole’. The Shins will also be playing the Glasgow, O2 Academy (BBC6 Music Festival).