Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky – most renowned for her work in Rachel's, the groundbreaking chamber-rock ensemble that introduced an entire generation of underground rock fans to the unexpected similarities and appeal of neoclassical music. Grimes has toured the world as a solo pianist, and as a collaborator with chamber ensembles such as Portland Cello Project, astrïd, Cicada, The Amsterdam Sinfonietta Trio, and Orchestra Kandinskij. Unhurried, at times fleeting, and stretching into the sky, The Clearing is a winding path of transient moments exploring personal memory, relationships, and mystery from a deeply internal place. Vinyl version due July 10.
Eilen Jewell – Sundown Over Ghost Town CD/LP (Signature Sounds)
As hard as it is to categorize Jewell's music -- terms like alt-country, roots-rock, countrynoir, and Americana get used a lot -- it's even harder not to become thoroughly enraptured by the singer/songwriter's powerful versatility, musical stories, and images. And that gorgeous voice makes you feel like she's singing just for you, out on the breezy back porch or by a crackling campfire.
Little Wings – Explains CD/LP (Woodsist)
Latest release from the long-running and eclectic folk artist, with previous releases on K Records, Friends & Relatives, Rad.
Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes CD/LP (GBV Inc.)
Faulty Superheroes has a tossed-off, effortless magnificence for which the rash of indie-whatevers trailing in his wake from Bee Thousand to the present constantly strive, and fail to achieve. The constant sense of surprise, of wonder, of discovery that one routinely finds in superbly structured instant bomp classics like “Faster The Great” is not something that can be taught, or learned, or imparted, or copied. Pollard largely abandoned the four-track 20 years ago and still gets tagged as “lo-fi,” which is a word that makes even less sense now in the days of digital recording than it did then in the days of occasionally tape-hiss smothered coulda-shoulda-been hits. Are there bum notes here and there? Recording-accidents-on-purpose left in like crushed empty beer cans strewn around the miniature, glimmering pop/rock/psych/prog construction sites left standing in the wake of each finished/unfinished songs? You betcha.
So Stressed – The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art CD/LP+MP3 (Honor Press)
So Stressed initially began in Sacramento, CA as a largely improvisational noise project that included the band’s three members (Morgan Fox, Andrew Garcia and Kenneth Draper). Over time, the lineup was refined and their sound coalesced into what's heard on Unlawful Trade, a technically meticulous but anxiety ridden and sometimes terrifying cry which calls to mind everything from Q And Not U to No Trend and The Minutemen. At times, Fox's lyrics bring to mind the emotional distress and social reservation seen in Wire and Wall Of Voodoo.
Swans – Filth [Reissue/1983] 3xCD (Young God)
Expanded reissue package constitutes a definitive picture of Swans in the years 1982-1983/4. Disc One feature the Swans' original debut LP Filth from 1983, with the line up of M.Gira, Norman Westberg, Roli Mosimann, Harry Crosby, and Jonathan Kane. Also features versions of “Strip/Burn,” “Heatsheet,” “Blackout,” “Clay Man,” “Stay Here,” and “Weakling,” all recorded live. Disc Two includes Body To Body material comprised of various studio outtakes and live recordings 1982-85, with a nine-minute version of “Raping A Slave,” recorded live in Berlin, 1984 (originally released with Filth on YGD-11) while Disc Three features the Debut 12'' EP #1, originally released in 1982, plus additional live performances from NYC and London.
Thee Oh Sees = Mutilator Defeated At Last CD/LP (Castle Face)
New album from the San Francisco-based garage rockers. Here we have nine muscular tunes primed to pummel. Last year's Drop was more schizophrenic, ranging from heavy to whimsical and back; Mutilator Defeated At Last has more in common with the monolithic hugeness of Floating Coffin. Synths and acoustic guitars wind throughout the album like veins of gold through granite. Any and all that stands in its way will be devoured and assimilated.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love CD/LP (Jagjaguwar)
On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together. Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band's already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson's vocals reach powerful new heights. (For you collectors: limited copies were pressed on pink vinyl.)
Vaccines – English Graffiti CD/LP+CD (Columbia)
The British alt-rock band's first album in three years was produced David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, MGMT) and Cole MGN (Ariel Pink, Beck). “Just about everything here is utterly catchy, making English Graffiti feel like a truly transitional moment for The Vaccines. Why else write a song like the ropey, sun-dappled ‘(All Afternoon) In Love,’ which could have been performed by Leo Sayer or Air Supply in a different time? There's more to this transformation than the group lets on, and the answers are hidden throughout this pleasant, surprising, melancholy album.” -- NPR
Valet – Nature CD/LP (Kranky)
Recorded at home over the course of a year, Nature evolved as a collaboration between Honey Owens, Rafael Fauria, and drummer/bassist/keyboardist Mark Burden. The album finds the trio crafting enveloping layers of guitars, synthesizers, and reverb to create a shimmering, wide-open sound. It's a restrained, direct style, but tying it all together is a lulling, dreamy melodic sense that is distinctively Valet. At the center stands Owens' ethereal voice, which has transitioned from evoking trippy fantasies to creating space for honest contemplation.
Various Artists – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton CD/LP (Tompkins Square)
Karen Dalton (1937-1993) recorded two studio albums during her lifetime, neither of which contains any songs she wrote. By the good graces of legendary guitarist Peter Walker, who oversees Karen's Estate, we are gifted with these lost lyrics, now given voice by other great women of song, including: Sharon Van Etten, Patty Griffin, Diana Cluck, Julia Holter, Lucinda Williams, Marissa Nadler, Laurel Halo, Larkin Grimm, Isobel Campbell, Tara Jane O’Neil, and Josephine Foster.
Red Red Meat – Bunny Gets Paid [Reissue/1995] 2xLP+MP3 (Jealous Butcher)
"At the time, I felt like we'd made a classic rock record," Red Red Meat main-man Tim Rutilli (Califone) says. "I was like, 'This is our Astral Weeks.'" But listening back 20 years later, Rutilli recognizes the band's ambition, a desire to break songs down to their barest, most primitive elements to "see what survives." Arguably the band's most complete album, the record pairs Stones-indebted blues-rock roots with beautiful songs, sounding miles removed from the era's grunge and radio-friendly alternative rock tropes.