LUNA music essentials...

for the week of 27 JANUARY 2017
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>Ty Segall – Ty Segall CD/LP/Cassette (Drag City)
On the prolific songwriter’s eponymous new album Segall is backed by a full band Emmett Kelly, Mikal Cronin, Charles Moothart and Ben Boye “A clean flow; something real for a world that doesn't know what it's holding. Ty keeps us guessing while splashing our collective face with no shortage of astringent tunes of all colors.”
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>Tobin Sprout – The Universe & Me CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Burger)
“Former Guided By Voices multi-instrumentalist Tobin Sprout has lived inside the vast universe of indie rock for most of his adult life, but his sixth solo album deals more with the universe of his own imagination — a sprawling, imperfect place filled with melodic treasures hidden amid waves of glorious distortion.
The Universe And Me is the product of a lifetime of knowledge in more ways than one. Its lyrical content explores the gap between childhood and adulthood, alternating between a kind of sweet naivety and a heartbroken understanding of life’s many tragedies. Its production is similarly all over the place, focusing more on feel than on any kind of unified aesthetic. The result is raw, honest, and oftentimes revelatory.” – Consequence Of Sound
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>Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life CD/LP+MP3 (ANTI-)
Japandroids is a two-piece band from Vancouver, BC., which began in 2006 and consists of Brian King and David Prowse. The duo consists of one guitar, one set of drums, and two vocalizers, yet are maximal in their delivery; a two- piece band sounding like a five-piece band. Like their prior albums
Post-Nothing (2009) and Celebration Rock (2012), Near To The Wild Heart Of Life is comprised of eight songs. This is because eight songs is the standard template for a great rock ‘n’ roll album. “Rock 'n' roll so often boils down to simple pursuits: the search for love, sex, escape, revenge, satisfaction, or some signifier of freedom and home. But for Brian King and David Prowse of Japandroids, that central pursuit is often majesty itself. Japandroids' new album is titled Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, so those themes remain in full effect from the opening drum fills of the title track. But the themes here are a bit more expansive: Released four and a half years after Celebration Rock, these eight songs are clearly the product of reflection, upheaval and the soul-searching that so often comes with travel and time off” – NPR. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
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>MARK EITZELHey Mr Ferryman LP+AUTOGRAPHED POSTER (Merge)
Hey Mr Ferryman is Eitzel’s first full studio album recorded entirely in London. It was made at 355 Studios with Mercury Prize winner Bernard Butler (ex-Suede, McAlmont & Butler), who has produced and/or recorded albums with Tricky, Ben Watt, Bert Jansch, Edwyn Collins, and more. Butler produced Hey Mr Ferryman and played all of the electric guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on the album.

Hey Mr Ferryman features the vivid melodies long associated with Eitzel’s former band American Music Club—which remains a cult favorite to this day—as well as Butler’s distinctive guitar that serves to complement Eitzel’s expressive vocals. Of that voice, Pitchfork once wrote: “If Leonard Cohen’s voice is a story about the passage of time and Levon Helm’s is a story about losing what is most precious to you, Eitzel’s is about the circuitous roads we take in search of ourselves.”
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>Tift Merritt – Stitch Of The World CD/LP (Yep Roc)
Stitch Of The World, Tift Merritt's sixth studio album, was written on a friend's farm in Marfa, Texas, at Merritt's California cabin, and in New York City in the wake of several major changes in her life. The album was recorded in Los Angeles while Merritt was six months pregnant, after which she relocated to her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. Merritt work-shopped the songs on Stitch Of The World with longtime friend Sam Beam of Iron & Wine after bumping into him in an airport. “With wry, talking-blues affection, she contrasts inexperience and scarred worldliness in ‘Dusty Old Man,’ whose shambling groove gains its shape from drummer Jay Bellerose’s pleasingly capricious outbursts. ‘Heartache Is An Uphill Climb’ starts off more gingerly. Once Merritt’s performance gathers steam, the song turns into a strong-willed, AM soul-pop tune that portrays heartache not as a season to be passively endured so much as one to be slowly, strenuously overcome. In “Wait For Me,” one of three tracks that feature Beam’s harmonies, Merritt sings in cursive, cascading lines of two battered souls determined to treat themselves and each other well in a fresh go-round. Disappointment and desire, regret and equanimity coexist in Merritt’s sensuous meditations. Within them, she gives her listeners room to breathe” – KCRW. [CD is available in Regular and Deluxe editions.]
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>Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound CD/LP+MP3 (Carpark)
Dylan Baldi maintains simple, admirable standards in quality. “A thing I like to do with all of my records is drive around with them,” the 25-year-old Cloud Nothings frontman says. “In high school, I would listen to music for hours like that: just driving through the suburbs of Cleveland. And if it sounds good to me in that context and I can think of high school me listening to it and saying, ‘That’s okay,’ I feel good about the record. This is the one that’s felt best.” “This” is
Life Without Sound, the radiant, far-far-better-than-okay fourth full-length his rock outfit has recorded since he began writing and releasing songs on his own under the Cloud Nothings alias in 2008. You can hear it in the aerodynamic guitar pop of album tracks “Modern Act,” and feel it in the devastating wisdom of “Internal World,” a lullaby-like howler that dwells on “the fact that being yourself can be uncomfortable and even potentially dangerous at times.” “Generally, it seems like my work has been about finding my place in the world,” Baldi says. “But there was a point in which I realized that you can be missing something important in your life, a part you didn't realize you were missing until it's there—hence the title. This record is like my version of new age music,” he adds. “It’s supposed to be inspiring.” It is. [Limited green marbled color vinyl edition also available.]
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>Sleater-Kinney – Live In Paris CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
Live In Paris is the first official record of Sleater-Kinney’s famously blistering stage performance. The thirteen-track album, which features Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and touring member Katie Harkin, was captured on March 20th, 2015 at the Paris’s historic La Cigale venue, during the band’s sold-out, international tour in support of their acclaimed eighth album, 2015’s No Cities To Love. Live In Paris includes songs from nearly every Sleater-Kinney album, including No Cities To Love, The Woods, One Beat, The Hot Rock, Dig Me Out, and Call The Doctor. [Limited translucent vinyl pressing also available.]
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>Allison Crutchfield – Tourist In This Town CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Merge)
Alabama native Allison Crutchfield has immersed herself in music since her teenage years, forming notable bands such as P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana (both with her twin sister Katie of Waxahatchee). In 2012, she co-founded Swearin’—the band in which she would truly begin to formulate and understand her full potential as a songwriter.
Tourist In This Town recorded with Jeff Zeigler, who is known for his work with Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn, and Mary Lattimore, among others. His synthesizer collection and related expertise proved an alluring draw for Crutchfield, who had started incorporating synths into her work when she branched off into a solo career. “This album marked a sonic transition in the way I think about the element of space in music, and I attribute that mainly to Jeff,” says Allison. “His arsenal and knowledge of analog synths, along with his ear for spatial addition and subtraction within a song, really sculpted this album and impacted me artistically forever.” “Tourist In This Town is completely made up of heightened anxiety and became a clearly defined puzzle that I slowly put together over the course of a year,” says Crutchfield. “It’s a record about change—change of scenery, of partner, of band, of home, of friends, of outlook—and how that change can cause a temporary panic but ultimate triumph in most of us.”
for the week of 20 JANUARY 2017
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>Tycho – Epoch CD/LP+MP3 (Ghostly International)
An epoch is defined as an extended period of time typically characterized by a distinctive development or by a memorable series of events, and Scott Hansen, leader of the band Tycho, has named their new album
Epoch with that in mind. The last installment in a trilogy, Epoch is the culmination of more than a decade’s work that has seen the band evolving and maturing through two sublime releases Dive (2011) and Awake (2014), and developing from featuring Hansen as a delicate solo performer into the iconic frontman of a powerful multi-layered live band performing on the world’s largest stages. “Dive was where the whole thing crystallized,” said Hansen. “I found that crossover space between what I was doing before, which was more IDM electronic stuff, and the rock music that reflected more of what I was listening to and not necessarily what I was making. Awake was a prototype of pushing it as far into the rock realm as I was comfortable with. Epoch is basically coming full circle. All the lessons of Dive and Awake were applied and then expanded upon. Epoch leverages the sonic aesthetic of Dive’s down-tempo vintage-style synthesizers and beautiful melodies while drawing on the kinetic energy of Awake’s progressive composition and organic instrumentation. [A limited red vinyl edition with bundled slipmat is also available.]
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>Bash & Pop - Anything Could Happen CD/LP (Fat Possum)
“Tommy Stinson formed Bash & Pop after the Replacements broke up in the early 1990s, then abandoned the project after one album. Now, B&P is back with the ragged but right rocked-out
Anything Could Happen, which captures a measure of the 'Mats' offhand grace.” – Philly.com
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>Joan Of Arc - He's Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands CD/LP+MP3 (Joyful Noise)
“Twenty years now there's been this thing, our band, Joan Of Arc. Sometimes we forget about it and let it fizzle out for a year while we tend to our lives. Sometimes we cling to it for a year and wake up surprised and exhausted every day for months on end, given walking tours of old Italian towns, browsing dreary British pedestrian malls or barefooted organic grocers on the Pacific coast. We know how lucky we are. The less we feel like a band -- the more we can continue to be a band, but escape that feeling of doing all those shitty, corny things expected of bands -- the truer to ourselves we feel. And you all know it, everyone knows it even if everyone has to bury it to get on with their day-to-day: the truer to ourselves we feel, the better everything gets. This time, finally, we trusted each other enough to throw all the songs away, to even throw away every preconceived idea about which one of us should take position at which instrument. We hit Record and played, and our collective tastes emerged. And they, our tastes in the moment, were the only standards in all the expanse of the stupefying and beautiful unknown universe, that we regarded as relevant in the least.”
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>Foxygen – Hang CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Jagjaguwar)
Foxygen is the Big Bang of two combusting minds. It's the splayed Galaxy of polar geniuses Sam France and Jonathan Rado. It's a handshake with a knife behind your back. A sleepless night in a five star hotel. You listen to
Hang properly. You take in each moment. Each new melody that threads forward from the fingertips of one of this generation's finest piano men in Jonathan Rado. And you fall in line behind Sam France's sprawling and reckless lyric. Witness his mastery. Feel them struggle against the walls of their own creations. Follow them there. To the perimeter. To the exit sign. Notice that the two young guys aren't there anymore. They're outside looking for another joint to haunt. They're already out of sight. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
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>Kid Koala featuring Emilíana Torrini - Music To Draw To: Satellite CD/2xLP (Arts & Crafts)
An uncharted journey for the legendary scratch DJ, producer, and composer, Kid Koala’s fifth studio album is an emotional work of expansive instrumental soundscapes and chilling vocal ballads. A record of many firsts for Eric San, the inaugural volume in the
Music To Draw To series finds Kid Koala collaborating with a singer, writing lyrics, and producing and performing all instruments. Satellite is the renowned audio-collagist’s first non-sample-based record, using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, basses, strings, turntables, noisemakers, and inventive recording techniques to create its celestial atmosphere. Written during the gelid Montreal winter, Music To Draw To: Satellite tells a heartrending tale of discovery and loss through the lens of lovers separated by a one-way space mission to Mars. The album’s eighteen spacious movements are threaded with eight lyrical songs written by Kid Koala in collaboration with Icelandic singer Emilíana Torrini.
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>Austra – Future Politics CD/LP+MP3 (Domino)
“The notion of Utopia doesn't have a lot of currency these days, but that hasn't stopped Katie Stelmanis. The creative force behind the Canadian electronic outfit Austra, she's used the project's new album,
Future Politics, to foment a kind of radicalism in an age of doom and gloom: making music that questions, confronts and uplifts without scaremongering or sugarcoating. She's also not being shy. ‘Utopia,’ the album's lead single, telegraphs her intent with unabashed optimism. Amid sculpted beats and soaring melodies, Stelmanis sings of urban life and alienation in an era of social division and injustice. But she's militant about lining those dark clouds with silver — or, as she puts it, ‘I can picture a place where everybody feels it, too / It might be fiction, but I see it ahead.’ Whether cloaking itself in code, dipping into metaphor or flying proclamations up the flagpole, these 11 songs offer a bracing, coolly tuneful vision of tomorrow that refuses to submit to inertia. In an era when simply resisting dystopia can seem idealistic, Future Politics dares to hope big.” – NPR
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>Mick Harvey – Intoxicated Women CD/LP (Mute)
Fourth volume of Serge Gainsbourg covers from Mick Harvey (The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party).
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>Tim Cohen – Luck Man CD/LP (Sinderlyn/Captured Tracks)
On
Luck Man, The Fresh & Only's and Magic Trick frontman's first solo record for Sinderlyn, Cohen has created a lush, insular world that deals with the uneasiness of accepting life's inherent flaws. Recorded in his attic and at El Studio in San Francisco after recently moving back to a city he longed called home, Luck Man is a personal statement distilled from Cohen's own experiences.
for the week of 13 JANUARY 2017
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>The xx - I See You LP (Young Turks)
'I See You' is marked by a tonal shift to something close to pure, crisp pop structure, adorned by unusual crescendos that echo a dextrous DJ inching their dancer toward climax without ever quite lifting the house lights. Its lyric sheet moves from the danger and hopelessness of love to its deliciousness and rapture; a move into a more outward looking proposition.

'I See You' is recognizably still The xx but is now powered by the voluble ambition of its three perfect counterweights to one another starting to not just realize but harness their full potential. You might even want to think of the decisive move from Joy Division to New Order here, too.
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>Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3 CD/2xLP (Run The Jewels Inc.)
RTJ3 is essentially the Run The Jewels manifesto, an outpouring of rage and defiance that never loses sight of the objectives: rallying the troops, holding all accountable, and toppling oppression. [It] is a well-timed, finely tuned rap epic that confronts the ruling class (here addressed as ‘the masters’) with deadly precision; it’s rap as resistance. With a demagogue waiting in the wings to assume the presidency, their particular Molotov mix of explosive sh*t-talking and unfiltered insubordination feels vital. Their interplay is instinctual this time around; the songs move and shuffle with its MCs intuitively trading bars, filling the gaps in each others’ phrases, and feeding off each others’ energies, using their booming voices to cut through the startling noises of a future dystopia. The key to RTJ3 is closer ‘A Report To The Shareholders,’ which is plainspoken about the duo’s message and intent: ‘Maybe that’s why me and Mike get along / Not from the same part of town, but we both hear the same sound coming / And it sounds like war.’ Seconds later, Killer Mike goes full Malcolm X: ‘Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon’ win / It could all be over tomorrow, kill our masters and start again.’ This is the ire of a group that’s tired of saying I told you so.” [Best New Music/8.6] -- Pitchfork
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>Bonobo – Migration CD/2xLP+MP3 (Ninja Tune)
Simon Green aka Bonobo returns with his sixth album, the masterful, magisterial
Migration -- a record which cements his place in the very highest echelons of electronic music and beyond. By turns lush, manic, beautiful, melancholy, joyful, and packed with both emotion and technical skill, this is perhaps his most ambitious attempt yet to capture the very textures of human existence in his work, as Green says of the broad dynamics on the album, “Life has highs, lows, loud and quiet moments, beautiful ones and ugly ones. Music is a reflection of life.” In particular, there is a theme here of migration, eruditely put by Green as “The study of people and spaces,” he expands, “It's interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of new places evolve.” It is a theme with a personal as well as a sociological aspect to it. Opener and title track “Migration” sets the tone for the record -- a shifting, gradually building combination of complex electronic programming (Green programmed a special algorithm to create the drum sequencing) and live piano playing, the sense of movement in the music is palpable.
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>The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody CD/LP+MP3/2xLP+MP3 (WB)
Produced by The Flaming Lips and their long-time producer Dave Fridmann,
Oczy Mlody is the follow-up to their 2013 album, The Terror. The album is available in several configurations: a 12-song CD, a 12-song double-LP vinyl edition (pressed on purple and orange color vinyl) and an 11-song single-LP vinyl edition (both of which include a digital download card of all 12 songs. “Rightly cast as sonic extremists, The Flaming Lips have spent three decades mining the depths of noise rock, bubbling electronica, and heady psychedelia. They're just as thematically extreme, shifting from the fantastical euphoria of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots to the dystopian fever dreams of their last two releases, most notably 2013's claustrophobic The Terror. It's finally on Oczy Mlody where the band combines its sober and whimsical sides, extolling the weird virtues of unicorns and fairies not with abandon, but with intent. This tempered approach gives Oczy Mlody the unnerving and absurdist charm of a neon parade accidentally routed through a patch of scorched earth, making it the realest encapsulation of the whole Flaming Lips universe. It stands clearly as a curious thing of its own, a masterstroke of rhythm and tone that neither trips head-on into bliss nor spins into dismay.” – Slant
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>Flo Morrissey / Matthew E. White – Gentlewoman Ruby Man CD/LP (Glassnote)
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White team up on a new album of covers. Features renditions of songs originally written/performed by James Blake, The Velvet Underground, Frankie Valli, Frank Ocean, Leonard Cohen, and more.
for the week of 06 JANUARY 2017
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>Brian Eno – Reflection CD/2xLP+MP3 (Warp)
Reflection is the latest work in a long series. It started (as far as record releases are concerned) with Discreet Music in 1975… The pedigree of this piece includes Thursday Afternoon, Neroli (whose subtitle is Thinking Music IV) and LUX. I’ve made a lot of thinking music, but most of it I’ve kept for myself. Now I notice that people are using some of those earlier records in the way that I use them -- as provocative spaces for thinking -- so I feel more inclined to make them public. Pieces like this have another name: they’re GENERATIVE. By that I mean they make themselves. My job as a composer is to set in place a group of sounds and phrases, and then some rules which decide what happens to them. I then set the whole system playing and see what it does, adjusting the sounds and the phrases and the rules until I get something I’m happy with. Because those rules are probabilistic (often taking the form perform operation x, y percent of the time) the piece unfolds differently every time it is activated. What you have here is a recording of one of those unfoldings.”