LUNA music essentials...

for the week of 10 NOVEMBER 2017
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>Michael VM – The Happiest Man On Earth LP (Suah Sounds)
"Much like the juxtaposition of life with The Everymen (MVM's previous band), these songs were borne of a voice and a guitar, pensive, pained, hurting, yet they soon became dressed up in the joy and happiness of making music with your closest friends. As such the album is a reflection of the healing process I went through in the wake of losing my best friend, the darkness of death and loss, while at the same time honoring the lightness of love, the falling in love with the woman who would become my wife, in family and, of course, in the unfaltering, unwavering, unabashed oneness of true friendship."-MVM 2017
for the week of 22 SEPTEMBER 2017
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>HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER - Hallelujah Anyhow (Black Vinyl Edition) LP (Merge)
“The stellar Hallelujah Anyhow often feels like a restless fever dream. Taylor’s elegant lyrics scan like stream-of-conscious poetry: Historical nods and ethereal characters (e.g., Jenny Of The Roses, Rhode Island Red) combine with real-life references, giving the songs a mythical quality. Although Hallelujah Anyhow hints at unrest and feeling lost—‘When the poets called for gasoline, I knew my days in the kingdom were numbered,’ Taylor sings at one point—the record’s allusions to finding silver linings are stronger. ‘If it’s up to me, a little love would go a long way,’ Taylor sings on ‘Harder Rain,’ while on ‘Jaw,’ he proclaims, ‘No more dancing like the world’s whipped forever.’ In a further nod to Hallelujah Anyhow’s urgent genesis, Taylor’s mix of alt-country and indie-folk is loose and extroverted. The soul-rock shimmy ‘Domino (Time Will Tell)’ possesses Rolling Stones-esque swagger, courtesy of freewheeling guitars and barnstorming saxophone, while the insistent folk-rock highlight ‘I Am The Song’ boasts repetitive strumming that matches a forceful vocal delivery. Even the songs that hew toward Heart Like A Levee’s stripped-down vibe—the piano-dappled ‘Caledonia, My Love’ and the low-lit folk gem ‘When The Wall Comes Down’—are more elaborate. – A.V. Club
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>GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR - Luciferian Towers (180 GRAM Black Vinyl) LP
"..this long-playing record, a thing we made in the midst of communal mess, raising dogs and children. eyes up and filled with dreadful joy - we aimed for wrong notes that explode, a quiet muttering amplified heavenward. we recorded it all in a burning motorboat."
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>The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful CD/LP (Island)
Recorded with producer Jacknife Lee and longtime collaborator Stuart Price during sessions in Las Vegas and Los Angeles,
Wonderful Wonderful is bursting with all of the blazing choruses and arena-filling anthems that make The Killers one of the world's biggest rock bands.
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>METZ – Strange Peace CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
“The best punk isn't an assault as much as it's a challenge — to what's normal, to what's comfortable, or simply to what's expected. Teetering on the edge of perpetual implosion,” NPR wrote in their glowing review of METZ’s 2015 second album,
II. The band’s follow-up and third album, Strange Peace is a distinct artistic maturation into new and alarming territory, frantically pushing past where the band has gone before, while capturing the notorious intensity of their live show. The album was recorded in Chicago live off the floor to tape with Steve Albini and was finished up with longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Graham Walsh. Strange Peace isn’t merely a collection of eleven uninhibited and urgent songs. It’s also a kind of sonic venting, a truculent social commentary that bludgeons and provokes, excites and unsettles. With all the pleasurable tension and anxiety of a fever dream, it is equal parts challenging and accessible. It is this implausible balancing act, moving from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, that only a band of METZ’s power and capacity can maintain: discordant and melodic, powerful and controlled, meticulous and instinctive, subtle and complex, precise and reckless, wholehearted and merciless, brutal and optimistic, terrifying and fun.
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– A Sentimental Education CD/LP (Double Feature)
– A Place Of Greater Safety 10” (Double Feature)
In 2015, Luna reunited for a world tour after a 10-year absence. And now the beloved indie rock band returns with not one but two releases in 2017: an LP of covers entitled
A Sentimental Education and a 10" EP containing six new Luna instrumentals entitled A Place Of Greater Safety. The former finds Luna covering the Cure, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Mercury Rev and others.
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>Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun CD/LP+MP3 (Sargent House)
While past albums operated on the intimacy of stripped-down folk music (
The Grime And The Glow, Unknown Rooms), or the throbbing pulse of supplemental electronics (Pain Is Beauty, Abyss), Chelsea Wolfe's sixth album wrings its exquisiteness out of a palette of groaning bass, pounding drums, and crunching distortion. Recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), Hiss Spun was conceived as an emotional purge, a means of coming to terms with the tumult of the outside world by exploring the complexities of one's inner unrest. “I'm at odds with myself,” she explains. “I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.” The album features contributions by Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, SUMAC) and Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens Of The Stone Age, Failure).
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>Ted Leo – The Hanged Man CD (Super Ego)
The Hanged Man is Ted Leo's first solo album in nearly a decade, following his 2014 Aimee Mann collaboration The Both and 2010's The Brutalist Bricks with The Pharmacists. The 14-track collection was recorded at a home studio in Wakefield, Rhode Island with the singer/songwriter manning almost all of the instruments. The streamlined LP features Leo's familiar sharp bursts of skinny-tie pop-punk offset with an adventurousness in both tone and structure. The Hanged Man features contributions from Chris Wilson (The Pharmacists), Aimee Mann (The Both), Jean Grae and Jonathan Coulton and is ushered in by the urgent lead single “You're Like Me.” [Vinyl edition due September 29.]
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>Lights – Skin & Earth CD/LP (WB)
“Concept albums are nothing new, but it’s the lengths to which Lights takes her fourth album
Skin & Earth that sets it apart. After introducing herself as the comic book alter-ego Captain Lights in 2008, the electro-pop artist (real name: Valerie Poxleitner) further colors outside the lines by pairing her latest LP with a comic book series that brings the music’s narrative to life. ‘I’ve always found a way to connect comics and music, but never so directly,’ she says. Three years in the making and inspired by female heroines like Wonder Woman, the project -- written pre-President Donald Trump but ‘definitely with some commentary on this part of the world,’ she says -- tells the story of a girl named En in search of hope in a post-apocalyptic world. In the lead-up to the album, Lights released monthly comic book issues starting in July alongside corresponding songs. ‘As of now there are only six issues, and that completes the record,’ she says. ‘But I don’t think it’ll end there. I’m not just letting it go.’” -- Billboard
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>Cut Copy – Haiku From Zero CD/LP/Cassette (Astralwerks)
Cut Copy returns with their first proper studio album in nearly four years.
Haiku From Zero showcases a band in full command of their powers to move people both emotionally and physically. Written and recorded at studios around the world (Melbourne, Copenhagen, Washington, DC, New York, Atlanta), the 9-tracks present a united sonic front, due in no small part to the guiding ear of producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Neon Indian). Songs like “Counting Down” and “Living Upside Down” offer glimpses of beauty in a state of disco-fueled flux. And single “Standing In The Middle Of The Field” announces a theme that percolates throughout Haiku From Zero – the need to cut through the noise, a desire to focus. Amid a backdrop of loping kalimbas, cowbells and bubbly synths, lead singer Dan Whitford's plaintive voice offers some emotional advice in the lyrics, “You gotta give up the things you love to make it better.”
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>Acetone – 1992-2001 CD/2xLP (Light In The Attic)
The first anthology of the trio's music. Counting their early years in the scuzz-rock band Spinout, whose sole self-titled release came out in 1991 on Delicious Vinyl, guitarist Mark Lightcap, bassist Richie Lee, and drummer Steve Hadley played together for a total of 15 years. They disbanded in July 2001, when Lee committed suicide in the garage next to the house where the trio practiced. Against a rising tide of post-Nirvana grunge and slipshod indie rock, Acetone tapped into a timeless Southern California groove by fusing elements of psychedelic, surf, and country.
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>Van Morrison – Roll With The Punches CD/2xLP (Caroline)
Roll With The Punches, the Belfast legend's 37th album, sees him simultaneously hand-picking a selection of rhythm 'n' blues classics (by the likes of Bo Diddley, Mose Allison, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Lightnin' Hopkins) and recording a set of new self-written numbers. Raw, intimate reinterpretations of cornerstone cuts like “Goin' To Chicago,” “Ride On Josephine” and “Automobile Blues” sit alongside compelling originals “Transformation,” “Fame,” “Ordinary People” and the titular song co-written with Don Black. Van commented: “From a very early age, I connected with the blues. The thing about the blues is you don't dissect it – you just do it. I've never over-analyzed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that's the way the blues works – it's an attitude. I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing – people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”
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>Leon Russell – On A Distant Shore CD (Palmetto)
“Leon Russell’s final album,
On A Distant Shore, is a career highlight recorded over his last living year and released 10 months after his November 2016 passing. According to his wife, Russell considered his last set of recordings his favorite. On A Distant Shore has similar feelings of finality as last year’s Leonard Cohen farewell, You Want It Darker. ‘Sounds like a funeral for some person here,’ Russell sings on the title track in his trademark trill. ‘And I might be the one.’ Meanwhile, his daughters, Sugaree Noel Bridges and Coco Bridges, add some ‘dip do waddy waddy’ backing vocals and the instrumental track validates the lyrics — ‘I hear the sound of violins /Is this how the story ends? / And I’m lost on a distant shore.’ Taking inspiration from the great American jazz and pop standards for the new tunes, Russell also reinterpreted three of his best-known songs — ‘This Masquerade,’ ‘Hummingbird’ and ‘A Song For You’ — with orchestral arrangements by Larry Hall. Other high points include the bluesy ‘Black And Blue,’ the epic ‘On The Waterfront’ and ‘Love This Way,’ which is easy to imagine sung by former Russell associate Joe Cocker. Time will tell if any of these songs become standards or at least perennial favorites, but whatever distant shore he’s on, Leon Russell should be smiling proudly.” – The Washington Post
for the week of 15 SEPTEMBER 2017
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>Ariel Pink – Dedicated To Bobby Jameson CD/LP (Mexican Summer)
The title of Los Angeles's prodigal songwriting son Ariel Pink’s eleventh studio effort makes a direct and heartfelt reference to a real-life L.A. musician, long presumed dead, who resurfaced online in 2007 after 35 reclusive years to pen his autobiography and tragic life story in a series of blogs and YouTube tirades. Building upon his singular vision of pop songcraft, established by such seminal records as
The Doldrums, Worn Copy, House Arrest, Loverboy, Before Today, Mature Themes, and Pom Pom, Pink revisits themes that have haunted his sonic cinemascapes since the late 1990s: mismanaged dreams, west coast mythologies, itinerant criminals, haunted boulevards, Hollywood legends, the impermanence of romance, bubblegum artifice, movie stardom, childhood terror, acceptance of self, and narcissism projected through a celluloid filter of controversion. Standout tracks here include "Feels Like Heaven," a lovelorn insta-classic paying tribute to the promise of romance, "Another Weekend," which encapsulates the lingering euphoria of a regrettable weekend over the edge, "Dedicated To Bobby Jameson," a rah-rah psych romp paying homage to L.A.'s punk history, and "Time to Live," an ironic anti-suicide anthem that promotes survival as a form of resistance before devolving into a grungy, "Video Killed the Radio Star"-style breakdown that supposes life and death as being more or less the same fate and embraces the immortal anarchy of a rock song as an alternative to the prison of reality.
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>FOO FIGHTERS - Concrete and Gold (Black Vinyl Edition) LP
Foo Fighters are jamming harder than ever on their ninth LP "Concrete and Gold!" Combining hard rock extremes and pop sensibilities, this one is sure to be quite the sonic journey..
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>Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Choir Of The Mind CD/2xLP (Last Gang)
Choir Of The Mind is the first release from Metric singer Emily Haines' Soft Skeleton solo project in a decade. Haines recorded the album over several weeks in September and October of 2016, more or less alone in Metric's Toronto studio with a borrowed 18-foot grand piano built in 1850. Her longtime musical partner/Metric bandmate, James Shaw, helped flesh out the sonics with various instruments and rhythmic elements. [Limited colored vinyl pressing available.]
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>Antibalas – Where The Gods Are In Peace CD/LP (Daptone)
Antibalas new studio album is an epic Afro-Western Trilogy searching for solace from American political opportunism, greed and vengeance. Through its battle cry of resistance against exploitation and displacement, Antibalas long-form compositions investigate oppression in 1800s America that eerily mirror the current state of the country. Three explosive original arrangements cultivate an urgent call to heal a broken system. Ultimately, the sonic excursion lands on an island where love is our first instinct. A new ideology is born opening our hearts to the possibilities of living as one unified people, where all gods are equal and together we prevail.
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>The Lone Bellow – Walk Into A Storm CD/LP (Sony Masterworks)
Walk Into A Storm is the third studio effort from The Lone Bellow featuring Zach Williams (guitar, lead vocals), Kanene Donehey Pipkin (mandolin, bass, vocals) and Brian Elmquist (guitar, vocals). The album was helmed by Grammy Award-winning go-to-producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell), and was recorded in Nashville, TN. NPR notes that fast rising lead single, "Time's Always Leaving," "leans heavily into the rootsy, big-hearted warmth that has made The Lone Bellow one of the most sure-footed crowd-pleasers in the business." Walk Into A Storm follows-up the band's victorious 2015 album Then Came The Morning which was produced by The National's Aaron Dessner. In the years since the release the band left their beloved adopted home of Brooklyn, NY and moved to Nashville, TN.
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>Rostam – Half-Light CD/LP (Nonesuch)
Half-Light is the debut album from Grammy Award–winning songwriter and producer Rostam Batmanglij, a kaleidoscopic 15-song collection written, produced, and performed by Rostam in his Los Angeles, CA home studio. Rostam produced three gold records with Vampire Weekend before announcing his departure from the group in the beginning of 2016. By the end of that year he had contributed songwriting and production to several of the most important albums of the year including Frank Ocean's Blonde, Solange's A Seat At The Table, and a collaborative full length with The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. "It wasn't until I had almost finished this album and I was trying to decide what I should call it that I took the time to look up the word 'half-light,'" Rostam says of the album's title. "That lyric, and a large part of that song, had come to me in a stream of consciousness sitting in front of a piano, years ago, captured in a voice memo on my phone. I had never stopped to figure out what that word meant exactly. But when I read its definition, and found that it had a double meaning – that it referred to both dawn and dusk – I started to think of how those times of day are part of so many lyrics on this album."
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>Lee Ranaldo – Electric Trim CD/2xLP (Mute)
Electric Trim was recorded in New York City and Barcelona in collaboration with producer Raül "Refree" Fernandez and extends the work of Lee Ranaldo's solo canon, the most recent being his 2013 album, Last Night On Earth. Through his collaboration with Fernandez, Ranaldo moves into some rich new sonic territories and production techniques, experimenting with electronic beats and samples alongside live players. In addition to Fernandez, he worked with several special guests including Sharon Van Etten who sings on six of the tracks and duets on "Last Looks" and Kid Millions (aka Man Forever) as well as longtime friend and collaborator Nels Cline (Wilco). In addition, the album features Ranaldo's band The Dust (fellow Sonic Youth member Steve Shelley, guitarist Alann Licht, and bassist Tim Luntzel). Ranaldo collaborated with award-winning New York author Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude) for lyrics on six of the songs. The American artist Richard Prince, who previously painted the sleeve for Sonic Youth's 2004 album Sonic Nurse, created the artwork.
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>Son Little – New Magic CD/LP+MP3 (ANTI-)
Son Little, the singer and songwriter born Aaron Livingston, is the easygoing musical alchemist of our time. He is a conjurer, and much like those of his heroes Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, his songs are deconstructions of the diaspora of American R&B. Deftly he weaves different eras of the sound—blues, soul, gospel, rock and roll—through his own unique vision, never forced, always smooth, each note a tributary on the flowing river of rhythm and blues. And now, with his second full-length album,
New Magic, he has delivered a profound statement, a cohesive creation that captures the diverse spirit of American music in a fresh and modern way. The song that serves as the album’s true centerpiece is “Blue Magic,” a Philly Soul inspired number deconstructed almost like a rap song or the best of production savants like J Dilla or Madlib, complete with chiming glockenspiel bells and old school female backing vocals. The song has the appeal of an instant classic.
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>Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos [Reissue/1972] 2xCD/LP+MP3 (Omnivore)
After co-founding Big Star, the world only received two tracks of new music from Chris Bell during his lifetime—a 1978 single on the Car Records label run by Chris Stamey (dB’s, Sneakers) titled “I Am The Cosmos” b/w “You And Your Sister.” He would tragically be killed in a car accident later that same year. However, those were not the only tracks Bell had recorded in his post-Big Star years. In 1974–1975, Bell worked in the famed Château D’Hérouville near Paris, France, and later recorded at both Shoe Studios and Ardent Studios in Memphis. Some of that material arrived in 1992 as
I Am The Cosmos to great acclaim. An expanded 2009 release nearly doubled the track listing, adding alternate mixes, as well as some of Bell’s pre-Big Star recordings. With those early recordings now taking their proper place on Looking Forward: The Roots Of Big Star (released in July 2017), it is now time for the definitive version of I Am The Cosmos. In addition to the bonus material found on the 1992 release and 2009 reissue, this new double-CD adds ten tracks, eight of which are previously unissued and two making their CD debut. [Limited clear vinyl pressing with an accompanying download of the bonus material is also available.]
for the week of 01 SEPTEMBER 2017
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>LCD Soundsystem – American Dream CD/2xLP+MP3 (Columbia)
American Dream is a gorgeous f**king record. Compared to the other three LCD albums, I expect that it’ll be a slow-bloomer; there’s very little of the sharp, immediate urgency that you could hear in some of those older records. The frenetic clatter of ‘Movement’ or ‘Us V Them’ is almost entirely gone. Instead, it’s an album of textures and sighs. It’s not a slow or pretentious or boring album; Murphy wouldn’t allow himself to make one of those. Murphy’s control-freak tendencies are well-documented; his whole career is almost a fascinating thought-experiment about what might happen if a bandleader as stubborn and dictatorial as, say, James Brown applied himself fully to making record-nerd esoterica. So he makes good and certain that every sound on American Dream is fully on-point. Every drum kicks hard, every synth hums with physical electricity, every guitar twitches just so. But American Dream is still a heady, expansive album. No song is shorter than five minutes. And it sounds like he’s pursuing infinity on some of these tracks — like he’s actually setting controls for the heart of the sun, not just singing about it.” – Stereogum
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>Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – The Punishment Of Luxury CD/LP (White Noise)
“OK, let’s get this out of the way: anyone expecting a new Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark full-length filled back to front with songs tailor-made for radio are going to be sorely disappointed. However, if you are looking for a classic OMD album that blends commercial pop smarts with their darker experimental side are going to be over the moon.
The Punishment Of Luxury is that album and so much more! While their 1983 release Dazzle Ships may have pushed the experimental envelope too far for some of their fanbase, TPOL strikes the perfect balance between synthpop maestros and electronic music pioneers. Leaders Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys are smart chaps, and on TPOL they go full-frontal experimental on nearly half the album without losing any of their knack for a keen melody. For a band that hit their commercial peak some 30 years ago, OMD remains one of the most vital pop bands of our time. As I said in my review of English Electric, ‘This is not a band trying to break away from their past - OMD are a band embracing everything that came before and reminding us why they mattered then... and now.’ Still taking chances nearly 40 years into their career, one can only hope OMD continues to make music for 40 more.” – Discussions Magazine
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