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Bedouine

Bird Songs of a Killjoy

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When you listen to the love songs of LA-based Bedouine, you will be reminded of Karen Dalton’s world-wise voice or the breathy seduction of Minnie Riperton's vocals, the easy cool of French ye-ye singers, and the poetry of Joan Baez. Her folk is nomadic, wandering across time and space. On first discovery you may ask whether they're dated to 2019, or whether you've uncovered some forgotten classic. It makes sense that singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian's arrival – both musically and personally – on her second record has been influenced by her own wanderlust, displacement, and curiosity.
Bird Songs of a Killjoy is a soundtrack to Spring blossom, to warm air on skin, to the concept of possibility. Some of the songs on this sophomore effort were from that same time period of fruitful creativity as her self-titled debut, which came out in June 2017. She continued her creative partnership with Gus Seyffert (Beck, Norah Jones) who produced them in his studio. For Bedouine, these songs have already served their healing purpose. Now it's time for them to move others. 
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The Mountain Goats

Getting Into Knives

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CD: 4-panel wallet with 16 page booklet


There is always water.

In flowing rivers, in falling raindrops, in waves that will tear us to pieces, in ice cold glasses toasting the living and the dead. Water can carve away at mountainsides over eons, or come crashing over the city in an instant. Animals, fugitives, loners, and crumbling signs of life swim through the depths of the Mountain GoatsGetting Into Knives, due October 23 via Merge. Like an eight-foot swell of blades, John Darnielle, Matt Douglas, Peter Hughes, and Jon Wurster ground the songs in the impermanence of permanence and the certainty of uncertainty, the casual and subtle threat that everything will come to an end.

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Bob Mould

Blue Hearts

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4 panel wallet with 8-panel miniposter-style insert, matte coating on both

An explosive album of pain, rage and fear with some of the most direct and confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career. According to Bob, “This is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting.”

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Caribou

Suddenly

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In 2014, Dan Snaith aka Caribou released Our Love to overwhelming critical acclaim. Caribou returns now with his new studio album Suddenly, a warm, untamable, and constantly surprising record about family and the changes we go through as those relationships evolve. Most prominently, Suddenly refers to the moments of dramatic and unexpected change that occur at points in any life and within any family-universal themes that can catch you off guard and change your life in a heartbeat. Those dramatic moments are part of a slower process. These moments rear their heads, for good or bad, during the everyday flow of life. "There's a tension between those sudden things which blindside you and the more glacial, gradual day-to-day changes," he observes. "We are so caught up in the immediate-the details that require our attention every day-that we can be blind to the bigger forces shaping us. That's why so often when something drastic happens suddenly, it catalyzes all sorts of changes in our lives. Our perspective shifts." Suddenly is in the music, too. This is the most surprising and unpredictable Caribou album to date. Though it retains the trademark Caribou warmth and technicolor, this album is littered with swerves and left turns. "I wanted to balance the familiar-the sound that people associate with my music-against these moments of surprise," Snaith says. As his passion and joy in music-making remains as fresh as ever, Suddenly is the purest example of this yet.

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Will Butler

Generations

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In the five years since Will Butler released his debut album, Policy, he’s toured the world both solo and as a member of Arcade Fire, released the Friday Night live album, recorded and released Arcade Fire’s international #1 album Everything Now, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, hosted a series of touring town halls on local issues (police contracts, prison reform, municipal paid sick leave, voting rights), and spent time raising his three children. 

He also found the time and inspiration to write and record a new album, Generations.

“My first record, Policy, was a book of short stories,” Butler says. “Generations is more of a novel—despairing, funny, a little bit epic… A big chunk of this record is asking: What’s my place in American history? What’s my place in America’s present? Both in general—as a participant, as we all are, in the shit that’s going down—but, also extremely particularly: me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, Mormon, Yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess. What do I do? What can I do? The record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.”

While the songs on Generations contain their fair share of dread and regret, there is ultimately a lightness that shines through Butler’s music. That brightness is at its most intense when he and his solo band—Miles Francis, Sara Dobbs, and Julie and Jenny Shore—perform on stage. Their electricity is palpable throughout Generations, with the bulk of the new songs having been worked out live. Wild synth production—gnarly bass synths with live drums—and anthemic backing vocals as on first single “Surrender” are punctuated by intimate, direct moments: Butler’s voice cracking on “Fine” as he conjures his ancestors, and “Promised,” a meditation on friendship, how lives are built together, and how and why they drift apart.

Generations was recorded and produced by Butler in the basement of his home in Brooklyn. Tracking finished in March 2020, as New York closed down for the pandemic. Half the record was mixed in Montreal by longtime Arcade Fire engineer Mark Lawson, the other half by Brooklyn-based producer Shiftee (who is, incidentally, bandmate Julie Shore’s husband and Will’s brother-in-law).

Generations opens a dialogue with the world. It posits answers—and deals with those answers being refuted. Ultimately, it navigates the conversation as a way to find the truth… or at least a way forward.

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Sweet Spirit

Trinidad

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Trinidad marks the Merge debut of this mighty sextet from Austin, TX. The songs are stripped down yet more intricate than ever before. It's a pop record made by punk rockers-sonically happy but lyrically bitter. Lustful, sassy, and passionate. Touting inspirations as varied as Prince, T. Rex, William Onyeabor, ABBA, Roy Orbison, Shintaro Sakamoto, Francoise Hardy, and Robyn, Sweet Spirit have created an album that pulsates with more LinnDrum and synth than guitar. From the opening riff of "Behold," Sabrina, Andrew, Danny, Josh, Jon, and Jake establish their slightly cynical world of fantasy, hard truths, and all manner of longing. "No Dancing" bemoans the lack of magic in the club, while live favorite "Fingerprints" sets out to "get you away from your lover."

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H.C. McEntire

Eno Axis

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Narratively, H.C. McEntire’s Eno Axis is about finding direction in the natural world, and following love. Sonically, it’s an album shaped enormously by the atmosphere it was recorded in—the crew’s synergy and positivity, the proximity and presence of a band in a room playing with intention. Structurally, it’s a group of songs inspired by the colors and tones of open tunings, by the sacrality of space and instinct. Stylistically, it’s folk-rock leaning into its curious experimental side and moved by the spiritual rawness of classic soul and the simplicity of earnest pop. Eno Axis feels like a confident and mature step forward from her debut album LIONHEART—in tone, arrangement, production, and spirit.

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Elvis Costello

Hey Clockface

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Recorded in Helsinki, Paris and New York, Hey Clockface is the latest Elvis Costello & Sebastian Krys Production, following their collaboration on Elvis Costello and The Imposters GRAMMY-winning album Look Now. Hey Clockface also features contributions from Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and Steve Nieve. “I wanted the record to be vivid, whether the songs demanded playing that was loud and jagged or intimate and beautiful,” Costello said of the project’s emotional and dynamic range.
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James Taylor

American Standard

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It takes an extraordinary artist to re-imagine some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century and make them completely their own. And that's precisely what James Taylor has accomplished with his brand-new album, American Standard. Recalling the best of James' early work, he infuses new sounds and fresh meaning into these timeless works of art. While these 14 carefully chosen interpretations naturally feature James' warm, one-of-a-kind vocal ability and incomparable musicianship, what makes this collection so unique is the inventive way James and his fellow co-producers, longtime collaborator Dave O'Donnell and famed musician John Pizzarelli, approached the project. Unlike most who have tackled similar material, American Standard's beautifully simple, stripped-down arrangements are based on James' skillful acoustic guitar work rather than piano and the affect is mesmerizing.

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Tanya Tucker

Live From The Troubadour

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Recorded October 16, 2019, Tanya Tucker Live From The Troubadour features a cache of her #1 hits, like Tucker's smash first single "Delta Dawn" plus "Strong Enough To Bend," "What's Your Mama's Name," and "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)". With sublime medley of Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" & Cash's "Ring of Fire" and tracks from GRAMMY-winning Country Album Of The Year, While I'm Livin', like "Mustang Ridge," "The Wheels of Laredo," "Hard Luck," and the poignant title track.

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Sylvan Esso

Free Love

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Free Love thrives on collaborative frisson—two people pushing one another into new territories with the shared assurance of knowing they’re in good company, a sort of trust fall in reverse. Yes, these 10 songs are some of Sylvan Esso’s most direct. And most delicate. And most intricate. And most urgent. Free Love carries the confidence of two people delighted to be all those things, together, at once.

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Margo Price

Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman

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In 2018, Margo Price claimed her rock star status at the Mother Church of Country Music. She was headlining the Ryman Auditorium for the first time ever, in a sold-out run of three nights that she had admittedly spent more time planning than her wedding. Now, Margo revisits the career-changing residency with the release of a new live album, Perfectly Imperfect at The Ryman. With special guest appearances from Jack White, Emmylou Harris and Sturgill Simpson!

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Grace Potter

Daylight

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2019 release. Over the course of her acclaimed career, Grace Potter has carved out a flourishing yet unconventional place among the best songwriters and singers in rock and roll. The Waitsfield, Vermont native has released six albums, guested with everyone from Kenny Chesney to The Rolling Stones, created her own music festival (Burlington's Grand Point North) and become one of the most admired live performers in contemporary music. Now, after a four-year hiatus, Grace returns with Daylight.
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Nathaniel Rateliff

And It's Still Alright

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Nathaniel Rateliff has written and recorded his first solo record since the explosive debut of his work together with The Night Sweats. And It's Still Alright, is an intensely personal 10-song album of vibrant country-blues, badland ballads, ornate Americana and jazz-inflected R&B. Rateliff's warm baritone, ranging from gently hushed to a guttural howl, imbues these superbly drawn character studies with raw, naked emotion.


And It's Still Alright was produced by Rateliff, Night Sweats' drummer Patrick Meese and James Barone of the indie band, Beach House and primarily recorded at National Freedom in Cottage Grove, Oregon, the studio formerly owned by the late Richard Swift (who produced both Night Sweats recordings). While Rateliff, Meese and Barone handled much of the album's instrumentation, several friends make contributions including Night Sweats' guitarist Luke Mossman; bassist Elijah Thomson (of the indie band Everest); keyboardist Daniel Creamer (of The Texas Gentlemen); steel guitarist Eric Swanson (touring musician for Israel Nash) and renowned string arranger Tom Hagerman (of the instrumental vocal ensemble DeVotchKa), whose delicate orchestrations beautifully complement the album's deep emotional terrain.
 
And It's Still Alright's many highlights include album opener ''What A Drag,'' which sketches a vivid portrait of a disconnected relationship, ''Tonight #2,'' a haunting, end-of-the-world waltz, ''Time Stands,'' detailing an epic, desperate struggle for love and the elegiac ''Rush On,'' a heart-breaking requiem for Swift.

Unguarded and unflinchingly real, Nathaniel Rateliff's And It's Still Alright expands on the sounds and styles he's used to great affect across both his band and solo careers. It's a commanding next step in Nathaniel's evolution into one of America's most vital and essential songwriters.

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Marilyn Manson

WE ARE CHAOS

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As chaos envelopes the world, Manson penned the perfect prescription. The aptly titled WE ARE CHAOS was written/produced by Manson & Shooter Jennings. Rock & roll icon and painter, Manson continues to infiltrate fashion, film, and music, leaving his fingerprints on modern culture. "Making this record, I had to think to myself: Tame your crazy, stitch your suit, try to pretend that you are not an animal. But I knew that mankind is the worst of them all.

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The Avett Brothers

The Third Gleam

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The Third Gleam marks a return to the Avett Brothers’ roots, both sonically and with Seth & Scott playing as a trio with longtime bassist Bob Crawford. The eight tracks capture their personal experiences and perspectives on undeniably timely, universal themes: isolation, gun violence, incarceration, historical prejudice, mortality, resilience, love, hope, redemption. 12 years in the making, this is the third installment of the brothers’ ongoing Gleam series.

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Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes

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Seattle's Fleet Foxes traffic in baroque harmonic pop. They draw influences from the traditions of folk, pop, choral, gospel, sacred harp singing, West Coast music, traditional music from Ireland to Japan, film scores, and their NW peers. The subject matter ranges from the natural world and familial bonds to bygone loves and stone cold graves.
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Beach House

Depression Cherry

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Beach House is Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. We have been a band for over a decade, living and working in Baltimore, MD. Depression Cherry is our 5th full-length record. This record follows the release of our self-titled album in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010 and Bloom in 2012. Depression Cherry was recorded at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana from November ’14 through January ’15. This time period crossed the anniversaries of both John Lennon’s and Roy Orbison’s death. In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role.
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METZ

Atlas Vending

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2020 release. "Change is inevitable if you're lucky," says guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins while talking about Atlas Vending, the fourth full-length album by Toronto's METZ. "Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We've always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we've accomplished something that pushes us forward." The music made by Edkins and his compatriots Hayden Menzies (drums) and Chris Slorach (bass) has always been a little difficult to pin down. Their earliest recordings contained nods to the teeming energy of early '90s DIY hardcore, the aggravated angularities of This Heat, and the noisy riffing of AmRep's quintessential guitar manglers, but there was never a moment where METZ sounded like they were paying tribute to the heroes of their youth.

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clipping.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned

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In the horror genre, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Last Halloween, Los Angeles experimental rap mainstays Clipping ended their three-year silence with the horrorcore-inspired album There Existed an Addiction to Blood. This October, rapper Daveed Diggs, and producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson return with an even higher body count, more elaborate kills, and monsters that just won’t stay dead.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned is less a sequel than it is the second half of a planned diptych. It turns out, Clipping took to the thematic material of horrorcore like vampires to grave soil. Before the release of There Existed an Addiction to Blood, Clipping and Sub Pop Records divided the material up into two albums, designed to be released only months apart. However, a global pandemic and multiple canceled tours pushed the release of the project’s “part two” until the following Halloween season.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned contains sixteen more scary stories disguised as rap songs, incorporating as much influence from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker, and Shirley Jackson as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Brotha Lynch Hung. Clipping’s angular, shattered interpretations of existing musical styles are always deferential, driven by fandom for the object of study rather than disdain for it. Clipping reimagine horrorcore—the purposely absurdist hip-hop subgenre that flourished in the 1990s—the way Jordan Peele does horror cinema: by twisting beloved tropes to make explicit their own radical politics of monstrosity, fear, and the uncanny.

The album features a host of collaborators: Inglewood’s Cam & China, fellow noise-rap pioneers Ho99o9, Tortoise guitar genius Jeff Parker, and experimental LA drummer Ted Byrnes. The final track, “Secret Piece,” is a performance of a Yoko Ono text score from 1953 that instructs the players to “Decide on one note that you want to play/Play it with the following accompaniment: the woods from 5am to 8am in summer,” and features nearly all of the musicians who appeared on both albums.

Since their last album, Daveed Diggs—the group’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning rapper—has starred in the TNT science fiction series, Snowpiercer, voiced a character in Pixar’s Soul, and portrayed Frederick Douglass in Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird. Writer Rivers Solomon’s novella based on Clipping’s Hugo-nominated song “The Deep” has been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, and won the Lambda Literary Award for best LGBTQ SF/Fantasy/Horror novel. Clipping’s song “Chapter 319”—a tribute to George Floyd (AKA Big Floyd) the former DJ-Screw affiliated rapper who was murdered by police officers in May of 2020—was released on Bandcamp on June 19th and raised over $20,000 for racial justice charities. A clip of the song also became a popular meme on TikTok, generating over 50,000 videos in which teenagers rapped the song’s lyrics (“Donald Trump is a white supremacist, full stop...”) directly into the frowning faces of their conservative parents. The band also contributed a Skinny Puppy-esque rework of J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” to Save Stereogum: An ‘00s Covers Comp.

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Bully

SUGAREGG

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SUGAREGG roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener "Add It On" zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing band leader Alicia Bognanno's newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of "Where to Start" and "Let You" are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky. A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative. Indeed, the third Bully album, SUGAREGG, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way. The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. "Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it," she says, pointing to the sweet, swirly "Like Fire" and slower, more contemplative songs such as "Prism" and "Come Down" as having been born of this new headspace. Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning "made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people." An unexpected foray into the film world also helped set the table for SUGAREGG when Bognanno was asked to write songs for the 2019 movie Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as the frontwoman of the fictional rock band Something She. The experience was cathartic, infusing Bognanno with new energy for songwriting, and she dove into making the new album. Having engineered both previous Bully albums herself, Bognanno freed herself to focus on the songs by handing production and engineering duties to Grammy-winning producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, The War on Drugs, Modest Mouse), and who worked with her on SUGAREGG at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls in Bognanno's home state of Minnesota. (Nirvana's In Utero, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me and Superchunk's Foolish were recorded at Pachyderm.) With contributions from longtime touring drummer Wesley Mitchell and bassist Zach Dawes (Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey), and two additional songs recorded at Palace Studios in Toronto with Graham Walsh (Alvvays, METZ, !!!), SUGAREGG was finally complete. Ultimately, SUGAREGG is a testament that profound change can yield profound results - in this case, the most expressive and powerful music of Bognanno's career. "This is me longing to see the bigger picture, motivated and eager for contentment in the best way," she says. "I hope the happy go lucky/f***-it-all attitude shines through some of these songs because I really did feel like I was reentering a place I hadn't been to in a while and was excited to be back there."

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Washed Out

Purple Noon

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2020 release. Washed Out is Atlanta-based producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene. Over three enchanting, critically-lauded albums and an EP, his music has proved both transportive and visual, each release inviting listeners into immersive, self-contained universes. With Purple Noon, his fourth album, and his return to Sub Pop, he delivers the most accessible Washed Out creation to date. For Purple Noon, Greene again wrote, recorded, and produced the entirety of the album, with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen (Paracosm, Within and Without). Production of the album followed a brief stint of writing for other artists (most notably Sudan Archives) which enabled Greene to explore genres like R&B and modern pop. These brighter, more robust sounds made their way into the songs of Purple Noon and mark a new chapter for Greene as a producer and songwriter. The vocals are front and center, tempos are slower, beats bolder, and there's a more comprehensive depth of dynamics. Capism of Washed Out's oeuvre, taking the music to dazzling new heights.

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Sideways To New Italy

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After years spent looking out at landscapes and loved ones and an increasingly unstable world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have turned their gaze inward, to their individual pasts and the places that inform them, on their second full-length, Sideways to New Italy. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, the guitar-pop five-piece returned home to Australia after the relentless touring schedule that came following their critically regarded 2018 debut Hope Downs. Feeling the literal and metaphorical ground under their feet had shifted, the band began grasping for something reliable. For Keaney, that translated into writing "pure romantic fiction" and consciously avoiding the temptation of angsty break-up songs, while Russo looked north to a "bizarre place" that captured the feeling of manufacturing a sense of home when his own had disappeared. The New Italy of the new album’s title is a village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers – the area drummer Marcel Tussie is from. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like alien souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallels to the way the band attempted to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road was apparent to Russo. "These are the expressions of people trying to find a home somewhere alien: trying to create a utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world." The record's geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – that came from being slingshotted all over the world, playing sold-out headline tours and festivals including Coachella, Governors Ball, Primavera Sound, All Points East, and Pitchfork Music Festival. The notion of crafting, in Russo’s words, “a utopia of where your heart’s from,” permeates Sideways to New Italy, in which early attempts at writing big, high-concept songs about The State of the World were abandoned in favor of love songs, and familiar voices and characters filter in and out, grounding the band's stories in their personal histories. There’s something comforting, too, in knowing the next time they’re buffeted from stage to stage around the world, they’ll be taking the voices of their loved ones with them, building a new totem of home no matter where they end up.

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Lisa Loeb

A Simple Trick To Happiness

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For the entirety of her nearly three-decade-long career, globally acclaimed singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb has been exploring a variety of styles of music, moving seamlessly between creating family-friendly albums, including her 2018 Grammy-winning Feel What U Feel, and adult-focused studio albums like Tails, Firecracker, and The Way It Really Is. It is her latest release, her fifteenth record to date, A Simple Trick To Happiness, that finds Loeb putting forth her most poignant and profoundly personal album in an exceptional body of work.

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Thundercat

It Is What It Is

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Thundercat is set to release his new album It Is What It Is on Brainfeeder Records on April 3, 2020, and shares the first music; 'Black Qualls (featuring Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington). The album, produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. It Is What It Is follows his game-changing third album Drunk (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. 'This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,' Bruner says. 'It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don't necessarily understand' some things just aren't meant to be understood.'

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Westerman

Your Hero Is Not Dead

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2020 release. Your Hero Is Not Dead is an album about empathy and compassion, struggle and release, and all the ways we contradict and battle within ourselves. The project is full of supremely crafted, groove-hinged songs about moral, political, and ethical grey areas, that find Westerman attempting to resolve external issues by looking inward.

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Pottery

Welcome to Bobby's Motel

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The 11 songs on 'Welcome to Bobby's Motel' ' Pottery's debut album - don't just invite you to move your body; they command you to. Fusing reckless, manic energy with painstaking precision, the record is part post-punk, part art-pop, and part dance floor acid trip, hinting at everything from LCD Soundsytem, Devo, Parquet Courts, and Gang of Four as it boldly careens through genres and decades. The music is driven by explosive drums and off-kilter guitar riffs that drill themselves into your brain, accented with deep, funky grooves and rousing gang vocals. The production is similarly raw and wild, suggesting an air of anarchy that belies the music's careful architecture and meticulous construction. The result is an album full of ambitious, complex performances that exude joy and mayhem in equal measure, a collection that's alternately virtuosic, chaotic, and pure fun.

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Sufjan Stevens

The Ascension

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The Ascension is the eighth studio album from singer, songwriter and composer Sufjan Stevens and is the long awaited follow-up to Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell. One of the most acclaimed albums of 2015, The New York Times praised Carrie & Lowell as “restrained and meticulous” while Pitchfork declared it “a masterpiece.”

In the time between Carrie & Lowell and the forthcoming The Ascension, Stevens also released Oscar-nominated music for the Luca Guadagnino film Call Me By Your Name; a collaborative album entitled Planetarium with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner (The National) and James Mcalister; The Decalogue, a solo piano work performed by Timo Andres; and scored several works for ballet: Reflections (Houston Ballet) and Principia (NYCB).

The Ascension is musically expansive and sweeping in thematic scope.

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Phoebe Bridgers

Punisher

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Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t write love songs as much as songs about the impact love can have on our lives, personalities, and priorities. Punisher, her fourth release and second solo album, is concerned with that subject. To say she writes about heartbreak is to undersell her blue wisdom, to say she writes about pain erases all the strange joy her music emanates. The arrival of Punisher cements Phoebe Bridgers as one of the most clever, tender and prolific songwriters of our era.

Bridgers is the rare artist with enough humor to deconstruct her own meteoric rise. Repeatedly praised by publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, The Fader, The Los Angeles Times and countless others, Bridgers herself is more interested in discussing topics on Twitter, deadpanning meditations on the humiliating process of being a person, she presents a sweetly funny flipside to the strikingly sad songs she writes. Fittingly, Punisher is fascinated with, and driven by, that kind of impossible tension. Whether it’s writing tweets or songs, Bridgers’s singular talent lies in bringing fierce curiosity to slimy and painful things, interrogating them until they yield up answers that are beautiful and absurd, or faithfully reporting the reality that, sometimes, they are neither.

Bridgers pulls together a formidable crew of guests, including the Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Christian Lee Hutson and Conor Oberst as well as Nathaniel Walcott (of Bright Eyes), Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jenny Lee Lindberg (of Warpaint), Blake Mills and Jim Keltner as well as her longtime bandmates Marshall Vore (drums), Harrison Whitford (guitar), Emily Retsas (bass) and Nick White (keys). The album was mixed by Mike Mogis, who also mixed Stranger In The Alps.

On the album’s epic, freewheeling closer, “I Know The End,” Bridgers orchestrates wails and horns, drums and electric guitar into a sumptuous doomsday swirl, culminating in her own final whispered roar. This is Punisher in a nutshell: devastating elegance punctuated by a moment of deeply campy self-awareness. 

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Bright Eyes

Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

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Sometimes it feels like you hear a Bright Eyes song with your whole body. From Conor Oberst’s early recordings in an Omaha basement in 1995 all the way up to 2020, Bright Eyes’ music tries to unravel the impossible tangles of dissent: personal and political, external and internal. It’s a study of the beauty in unsteadiness in all its forms – in a voice, beliefs, love, identity, and what fills up the spaces in-between. And in so many ways, it’s just about searching for a way through.
 
The year 2020 is full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors was released 20 years ago this May, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning both turned 15 in January. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities. On the title track and throughout the record, Oberst sings about body counts in the newspaper, televised wars, the bottomless pit of American greed, struggling to understand the world alongside one’s own turmoil. In its own way, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning carved out its place in the canon of great anti-war albums by being both present and prophetic, its urgency enduring 15 years later.
 
In 2011 the release of The People’s Key, Bright Eyes’ ninth and most recent album, ushered in an unofficial hiatus for the beloved project. In the time since, the work of the band’s core members – Oberst, multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott – has remained omnipresent, through both the members’ original work and collaboration.
 
In recent years, Mogis produced records for beloved folk acts First Aid Kit and Joseph, among others, as well as mixed the fine-spun ennui of Phoebe Bridgers’ breakthrough 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps. Mogis and bandmate Walcott also teamed up to write the original scores for The Fault in Our Stars, Stuck in Love, and Lovely Still, and Walcott worked as a solo composer scoring number of independent feature-length films. Walcott spent extensive time on collaboration; in addition to his arrangement work for Mavis Staples, First Aid Kit, and M. Ward, he contributed studio work to artists ranging from U2 to jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, and also toured heavily as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 
 
Oberst, who’s nearly 30 years into a prolific musical career, spent the last decade in similarly productive fashion. Across three years he released a string of solo albums: Salutations (2017), Ruminations (2016), and Upside Down Mountain (2014), as well as guested on records by First Aid Kit, Phoebe Bridgers, and Alt-J. His punk band, Desaparecidos, emerged from a 13-year hiatus in 2015 with the thunderous sophomore LP, Payola, a white-knuckled disarray of hollered political fury. And at the top of 2019, Oberst and Bridgers debuted their new band, Better Oblivion Community Center, digitally dropping the critically-lauded eponymous debut LP alongside a surprise performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
 
The heart at Bright Eyes’ songwriting still looms culturally, in films and TV shows and through re-imaginings by other artists. Mac Miller covered both “Lua” and “First Day of My Life”; Lorde’s version of the penultimate The People’s Key track, the funereal-waltz “Ladder Song,” was a focal point of The Hunger Games’ soundtrack; The Killers covered “Four Winds” for their Spaceman EP; and Lil Peep’s “Worlds Away” samples “Something Vague” while Young Thug’s “Me Or Us” samples “First Day of My Life.”
 
Bright Eyes’ expansive catalog has traversed genre, sound, and countless players; unpolished demos or fuzzy folk, electrified rock or country twang. The sharp songwriting and musicianship is all anchored in Bright Eyes’ singular ability to flip deep intimacy into something universal. For so many, for so long, listening to Bright Eyes has been like hearing yourself in someone else’s song – a moment of understanding or illumination, knowing you’re on the same team looking for a way to move through of all this shit.
 
And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.

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Hailu Mergia

Yene Mircha

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It's been a long, winding road to Hailu Mergia's sixth decade of musical activity. From a young musician in the 60's starting out in Addis Ababa to the 70's golden age of dance bands to the new hope as an emigre in America to the drier period of the 90s and 2000s when he mainly played keyboard in his taxi while waiting in the airport queue or at home with friends. More recently, with reissue of his classic works and a re-assessment of his role in Ethiopian music history, Mergia has played to audiences big and small in some of the most cherished venues around the world. With 2018's critical breakthrough "Lala Belu" Mergia championed himself and consolidated his legacy, producing the album on his own and connecting with listeners through the sheer creative power of his version of modern Ethiopian music. His subsequent performances revealed an artist who is in no way stuck in the nostalgia for the "golden age" sound. The press agreed, including the New York Times, BBC and Pitchfork, calling his music "triumphantly in the present" in it's Best 200 Albums of the 2010's list.
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Bob Dylan

Rough And Rowdy Ways [2CD]

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‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ is Bob Dylan’s first album of original material in 8 years and his first since becoming the only songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2016. Its 10 tracks include the three new songs released this spring: the album’s lead-off track, “I Contain Multitudes,” the nearly 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul” and “False Prophet.”

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The Chicks

Gaslighter

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Gaslighter is the brilliant 2020 album from The Chicks, and is the fifth studio album to be released by the band. It is The Chick's first new album since 2006's Taking The Long Way, which won five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. Gaslighter is produced by Jack Antonoff with The Chicks. Superstars, renegades, innovators, heroes, villains, and moms, The Chicks have grown from a band into a cultural phenomenon. Since the release of their debut album, Wide Open Spaces in 1998, The Chicks' music has stirred emotions in fans across the world, making them one of the biggest and most influential bands of our time.

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HAIM

Women In Music Pt. III

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2020 release. Women in Music Pt. III is the third studio album by American band HAIM. Released through Columbia Records. It was produced by Danielle HAIM, Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid, and was preceded by the singles 'Summer Girl', 'Now I'm in It' and 'Hallelujah'.

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Fiona Apple

Fetch The Bolt Cutters

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2020 release. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple. It is Apple's first release since The Idler Wheel... in 2012. The album was recorded from 2015 to 2020, largely at Apple's home in Venice Beach. It was produced and performed by Apple alongside Amy Aileen Wood, Sebastian Steinberg and Davíd Garza; recording consisted of long, often-improvised takes with unconventional percussive sounds. Rooted in experimentation, the highly percussive album resists genre categorization. While conventional instruments, such as pianos and drum sets, do appear, the album also features prominent use of non-musical found objects as percussion. Apple described the result as "percussion orchestras". These industrial-like rhythms are contrasted against traditional melodies, and the upbeat songs often subvert traditional pop structures.

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Three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams unabashedly takes on some of the human, social and political issues of our day with her boldest and most direct album to date, Good Souls Better Angels. During the course of her celebrated four-decade, pioneering career Williams has never rested on her laurels as she continues to push herself as a songwriter. On Good Souls Better Angels, she has much she needs to get out. On Good Souls Better Angels, Williams changes course and chooses to forgo the personal and narrative-based songcraft that has become synonymous with her name and instead speaks to some of the injustices permeating our society. Williams recorded Good Souls Better Angels backed by her remarkable, long time band, featuring Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass). The rock-solid unit propels the music with both fire and finesse. Good Souls Better Angels marks the first time Williams' husband/manager Tom Overby is credited as a co-writer on many of the new songs. The album was co-produced by Williams, Overby and Ray Kennedy, who last worked with Williams on her 1998 landmark album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.

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Halsey

Manic

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GRAMMY Award-nominated, multi-Platinum artist and alternative pop maverick Halsey returns with her third full-length album Manic featuring her 5x Platinum hit "Without Me" and "Graveyard." The success of "Without Me" has made Halsey the first and only female artist to have at least three songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100. It now ranks as the longest-running Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit by a female artist of this century.

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Katy Perry

Smile

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One of the best-selling musical artists of all time, Katy Perry releases her studio album, Smile. Features hit singles "Daisies", "Harleys In Hawaii" and gold-certified "Never Really Over" as well as the title track, "Smile".

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Paul McCartney

McCartney III

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50 years following the release of his self-titled first solo album McCartney, featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, Paul McCartney will release McCartney III on December 11th. Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II. Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. McCartney III spans a vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between — captured with some of the same gear from Paul’s Rude Studio used as far back as 1971 Wings sessions. And Paul's array of vintage instruments he played on the new album have an even more storied history, including Bill Black of Elvis Presley's original trio's double bass alongside Paul's own iconic Hofner violin bass, and a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles recordings, to name but a few. Just as McCartney’s 1970 release marked Paul’s return to basics in the wake of the biggest band break-up in musical history, and the 1980 avant-garde masterpiece McCartney II rose from the ashes of Wings, McCartney III finds Paul back on his own, turning unexpected circumstances into a personal snapshot of a timeless artist at a unique point in history.

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Sam Smith

Love Goes

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Sam Smith continues their all-conquering journey to super stardom as they move towards the release of their third album ‘LOVE GOES’ in October 2020. This follows an incredible run of global smashes including ‘Dancing with a Stranger’, with Normani which has amassed over 13 million copies and over 2.5 billion streams, became the #1 airplay in the US & UK and has achieved platinum status in 15 countries. ‘How Do You Sleep?’ and the accompanying game-changing video has already reached sales of over 8 million and remained in the Spotify Global Top 20 after 4 months. 2018 also saw Smith release their global hit with Calvin Harris ‘Promises’ which the pair performed at the BRIT Awards; Sam reached 13 million YouTube subscribers – one of only 8 UK artists to achieve this accolade – and they ended 2019 peaking at 8 on the Global Spotify monthly listeners chart. They have over 10 billion total streams on Spotify alone, with 2 singles (Too Good At Goodbyes and Stay With Me) being one of only 100 tracks to ever achieve over 1bn total streams on Spotify. During their career Sam has sold over 28 million albums worldwide and notched up seven UK No. 1 records to date including ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ – the first Bond theme to reach the position, gaining them a Guinness World Record. In addition, Sam has also received four Grammy Awards, three BRITs and an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song (Writing’s On The Wall).

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Niall Horan

Heartbreak Weather

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Capitol Records recording artist Niall Horan returns with his highly anticipated sophomore album "Heartbreak Weather." Featuring his new single "No Judgement" and up tempo record "Nice To Meet Ya," this body of work showcases his unique musicianship and magnetic vocal range. The singer/songwriter has earned platinum certification or greater in 18 countries, achieved global critical acclaim and amassed 3 million adjusted album sales and 3.5 billion streams worldwide.

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EOB

Earth

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‘Earth’ is an album of rediscovery and adventure by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, being released under the moniker EOB. Written and recorded over five years during any possible break from the making and touring of Radiohead’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, the album deftly veers from moments of delicate folk to euphoric house, its songs seamlessly pinned together by unswerving melodic hooks and candid lyricism. A spirit of collaboration runs through 'Earth' from the production team of Flood, Catherine Marks, Alan Moulder and Adam ‘Cecil’ Bartlett to the extraordinary musicians O’Brien assembled to bring these tracks to life; bassist Nathan East, drummers Omar Hakim and Glenn Kotche, and The Invisible’s multi-instrumentalist leader David Okumu. Portishead’s Adrian Utley appears on two tracks, whilst Laura Marling duets with O’Brien on stirring closer “Cloak of The Night.” But every group of collaborators needs a leader, and Earth is all O’Brien’s vision. “I wanted to make a record from the heart,” he says. “I wanted to make something direct. I wanted to talk about love, your family in the immediate and the wider sense, where we are on the planet, the bigger picture, life and death. I wanted to make a big hearted, warm and colorful album… something hopeful and full of love.” Featuring the singles “Shangri-La”, which sways between syncopated beats and twisted rock, and “Brasil”, a track that morphs from a tender opening into a heightened-state rhythmic banger, ‘Earth’ marks a new beginning for Ed O’Brien.

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Norah Jones

Pick Me Up Off The Floor

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Norah Jones’ seventh solo studio album Pick Me Up Off The Floor features collaborators from Brian Blade to Jeff Tweedy, and grew out of her acclaimed singles series of the past 2 years as the songs she hadn’t yet released unexpectedly congealed into an album of tremendous depth and beauty connected by the sly groove of her piano trios, lyrics that confront loss and portend hope, and a mood that leans into darkness before ultimately finding the light.

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Disclosure

ENERGY

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GRAMMY®-nominated U.K. duo Disclosure will release their new album, ENERGY on the August 28th. A global spectrum of talented artists grace the album – and, for the first time, this includes rappers. Appearances from Mick Jenkins, ChannelTres, Aminé and slowthai sit comfortably alongside the legend that is Common. Other features include the inimitable Kelis, who opens the album, and Fatoumata Diawara, who the boys have also linked up with previously. Cameroon’s Blick Bassy brings his own flow to the table while a powerhouse team of Kehlani and Syd ease the pace with their contribution. Disclosure have worked diligently to produce environmentally responsible products by focusing on a number of recycled and sustainable materials across all formats. These include forgoing plastic hard-cases for both the CD and cassette formats, utilizing vegetable and water-based inks and varnishes and opting for a mixture of recycled and FSC-approved cardboard, which extends to two of the three vinyl options. This year marks 10 years since Disclosure debuted with the single “Offline Dexterity.” In that decade, the brothers, who are still in their 20s, have released two albums – Settle (2013) and Caracal (2015) – clocked up 4.5 billion streams and 4.5 million album sales, received five GRAMMY nominations, sold 500,000 tickets to their headline shows and topped festival bills all over the world, something they do with ease while also enjoying playing to packed-out sweaty clubs whenever they can.
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Luke Schneider

Altar Of Harmony [LP]

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This recording, which can justifiably be described as "new age" in the most essential sense, represents a radical new approach to the versatile and cosmic instrument of the steel guitar. This is something new under the sun, a total reinvention of an iconic instrument. Quite literally, there has never been anything else quite like it. All of the sounds heard on this album were made with a 1967 Emmons Push/Pull pedal steel guitar by Luke Schneider, a popular session musician in Nashville, Tennessee. Luke has been an important band member for artists such as Caitlyn Rose, Margo Price, and Orville Peck.

Altar Of Harmony is extraordinarily cinematic, an epic musical devotional to higher realms — booming music of the spheres. Regardless of its origins, the expression unmistakable. This is the sound of Valhalla, of heaven, planetary alignment, of total eclipse. This is the sound of an angelic army roaring into battle. This is the heavy metal thunder of the future we were promised. Music for the end of the world. At very least, music of transformation. Sunset on the old way of life, sunrise on the new.

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North Americans

Roped In [LP]

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Patrick McDermott began his North Americans project with two albums: 2013’s No_No, and 2015’s Legends. Both records were dense affairs, with blocks of sound shifting and moving like melting glaciers to create a gorgeous, impenetrable, collection of digital drones. Though they sounded nothing like what would come a bit later, both records showcased McDermott’s understanding of mood and composition. On 2018’s Going Steady, McDermott blended his love of American Primitive guitar playing with playful pieces that never overstayed their welcome. He also began collaborating with a wide range of artists: from Julianna Barwick to guitar prodigy Hayden Pedigo, as well as Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi, and more.

Now, two years later, McDermott is releasing Roped In, a gorgeous, intimate, and often spare album that pulls back from the collaborative nature established on Going Steady for a collection of fragile drone pieces anchored by McDermott’s intricate but direct guitar playing and haunting pedal steel work from Portland, Oregon’s Barry Walker.

Where Going Steady was brimming with ideas and micromovements, Roped In is relatively sparse, built on patience and the kind of once-in-a-lifetime collaborative energy between McDermott and Walker, and accented by occasional collaborations from harpist Mary Lattimore and guitarist William Tyler. “I wanted to focus on the simplicity of the music,” McDermott says. “I didn’t want to be beholden to this massive goal of [making music] to see how progressive and experimental it could be. I was attempting to cherish the pureness of this type of music.”

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Bedouine

Bird Songs of a Killjoy [LP]

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When you listen to the love songs of LA-based Bedouine, you will be reminded of Karen Dalton’s world-wise voice or the breathy seduction of Minnie Riperton's vocals, the easy cool of French ye-ye singers, and the poetry of Joan Baez. Her folk is nomadic, wandering across time and space. On first discovery you may ask whether they're dated to 2019, or whether you've uncovered some forgotten classic. It makes sense that singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian's arrival – both musically and personally – on her second record has been influenced by her own wanderlust, displacement, and curiosity.
Bird Songs of a Killjoy is a soundtrack to Spring blossom, to warm air on skin, to the concept of possibility. Some of the songs on this sophomore effort were from that same time period of fruitful creativity as her self-titled debut, which came out in June 2017. She continued her creative partnership with Gus Seyffert (Beck, Norah Jones) who produced them in his studio. For Bedouine, these songs have already served their healing purpose. Now it's time for them to move others. 
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Vanessa Carlton

Love Is An Art [LP]

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Vinyl LP pressing. 2020 release. Vanessa Carlton is a musician, singer and songwriter. Upon completion of her education at the School of American Ballet, Carlton chose to pursue singing instead, performing in New York City bars and clubs while attending college. Three months after recording a demo with producer Peter Zizzo, she signed with A&M Records. Her sixth studio album Love Is Art, produced by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, Flaming Lips).

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Elvis Costello

Hey Clockface [2LP]

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Recorded in Helsinki, Paris and New York, Hey Clockface is the latest Elvis Costello & Sebastian Krys Production, following their collaboration on Elvis Costello and The Imposters GRAMMY-winning album Look Now. Hey Clockface also features contributions from Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and Steve Nieve. “I wanted the record to be vivid, whether the songs demanded playing that was loud and jagged or intimate and beautiful,” Costello said of the project’s emotional and dynamic range.

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Sylvan Esso

Free Love [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Sky Blue Opaque LP]

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Free Love thrives on collaborative frisson—two people pushing one another into new territories with the shared assurance of knowing they’re in good company, a sort of trust fall in reverse. Yes, these 10 songs are some of Sylvan Esso’s most direct. And most delicate. And most intricate. And most urgent. Free Love carries the confidence of two people delighted to be all those things, together, at once. LP pressed on Sky Blue Vinyl.

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In 2018, Margo Price claimed her rock star status at the Mother Church of Country Music. She was headlining the Ryman Auditorium for the first time ever, in a sold-out run of three nights that she had admittedly spent more time planning than her wedding. Now, Margo revisits the career-changing residency with the release of a new live album, Perfectly Imperfect at The Ryman. With special guest appearances from Jack White, Emmylou Harris & Sturgill Simpson! Limited Indie Clear w/ Red Splatter 2LP.

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Orville Peck

Pony [LP]

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Combining the lulling ambience of shoegaze with the iconic melodies and vocal prowess of classic American country music, enigmatic outlaw cowboy - Orville Peck, croons love and loss from the badlands of North America. The resulting sound is one completely his own, taking the listener down dusty rose-colored desert highways, through a world where worn out gamblers, aloof road-dogs and lovesick hustlers drift in and out of his masked gaze. Orville’s upcoming debut album, Pony, delivers a diverse collection of stories that sing of heartbreak, revenge and the unrelenting tug of the cowboy ethos. Warm lap steel guitars and echoing drums move through dreamy ballads, campfire lullabies and sometimes frantic buzzsaw tunes, all the while paying homage to his country music roots. Orville’s music has been featured by Nylon magazine, ID mag, Vice, The Needle Drop, as well as numerous Apple Music and Spotify playlists. He has also had magazine features in New York’s Hello Mr. and the UK’s Notion.

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Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes [Vinyl]

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2008 album from this Seattle based quintet. Fleet Foxes are, for lack of an imminently more marketable descriptor, a group trafficking in baroque harmonic pop. And the joy they derive in doing so is palpable. We feel it too. They are, self-described, not much of a rock band. With the help of credit cards, minimum wages, tip money, friends and family, Fleet Foxes crafted their first demo, and subsequently the Sun Giant EP and this debut full-length album, with family friend Phil Ek manning the rudder. Drawing influence from the traditions of folk music, pop, choral music and gospel, sacred harp singing, West Coast music, traditional music from Ireland to Japan, film scores, and their NW peers, Fleet Foxes ranges in subject matter from the natural world and familial bonds to bygone loves and stone cold graves.
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Beach House

Depression Cherry [Vinyl]

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Beach House is Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. We have been a band for over a decade, living and working in Baltimore, MD. Depression Cherry is our 5th full-length record. This record follows the release of our self-titled album in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010 and Bloom in 2012. Depression Cherry was recorded at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana from November ’14 through January ’15. This time period crossed the anniversaries of both John Lennon’s and Roy Orbison’s death. In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role.
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METZ

Atlas Vending [LP]

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Vinyl LP pressing. 2020 release. "Change is inevitable if you're lucky," says guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins while talking about Atlas Vending, the fourth full-length album by Toronto's METZ. "Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We've always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we've accomplished something that pushes us forward." The music made by Edkins and his compatriots Hayden Menzies (drums) and Chris Slorach (bass) has always been a little difficult to pin down. Their earliest recordings contained nods to the teeming energy of early '90s DIY hardcore, the aggravated angularities of This Heat, and the noisy riffing of AmRep's quintessential guitar manglers, but there was never a moment where METZ sounded like they were paying tribute to the heroes of their youth.

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clipping.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned [2LP]

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In the horror genre, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Last Halloween, Los Angeles experimental rap mainstays Clipping ended their three-year silence with the horrorcore-inspired album There Existed an Addiction to Blood. This October, rapper Daveed Diggs, and producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson return with an even higher body count, more elaborate kills, and monsters that just won’t stay dead.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned is less a sequel than it is the second half of a planned diptych. It turns out, Clipping took to the thematic material of horrorcore like vampires to grave soil. Before the release of There Existed an Addiction to Blood, Clipping and Sub Pop Records divided the material up into two albums, designed to be released only months apart. However, a global pandemic and multiple canceled tours pushed the release of the project’s “part two” until the following Halloween season.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned contains sixteen more scary stories disguised as rap songs, incorporating as much influence from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker, and Shirley Jackson as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Brotha Lynch Hung. Clipping’s angular, shattered interpretations of existing musical styles are always deferential, driven by fandom for the object of study rather than disdain for it. Clipping reimagine horrorcore—the purposely absurdist hip-hop subgenre that flourished in the 1990s—the way Jordan Peele does horror cinema: by twisting beloved tropes to make explicit their own radical politics of monstrosity, fear, and the uncanny.

The album features a host of collaborators: Inglewood’s Cam & China, fellow noise-rap pioneers Ho99o9, Tortoise guitar genius Jeff Parker, and experimental LA drummer Ted Byrnes. The final track, “Secret Piece,” is a performance of a Yoko Ono text score from 1953 that instructs the players to “Decide on one note that you want to play/Play it with the following accompaniment: the woods from 5am to 8am in summer,” and features nearly all of the musicians who appeared on both albums.

Since their last album, Daveed Diggs—the group’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning rapper—has starred in the TNT science fiction series, Snowpiercer, voiced a character in Pixar’s Soul, and portrayed Frederick Douglass in Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird. Writer Rivers Solomon’s novella based on Clipping’s Hugo-nominated song “The Deep” has been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, and won the Lambda Literary Award for best LGBTQ SF/Fantasy/Horror novel. Clipping’s song “Chapter 319”—a tribute to George Floyd (AKA Big Floyd) the former DJ-Screw affiliated rapper who was murdered by police officers in May of 2020—was released on Bandcamp on June 19th and raised over $20,000 for racial justice charities. A clip of the song also became a popular meme on TikTok, generating over 50,000 videos in which teenagers rapped the song’s lyrics (“Donald Trump is a white supremacist, full stop...”) directly into the frowning faces of their conservative parents. The band also contributed a Skinny Puppy-esque rework of J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” to Save Stereogum: An ‘00s Covers Comp.

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Bully

SUGAREGG [LP]

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SUGAREGG roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener “Add It On” zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing band leader Alicia Bognanno’s newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of “Where to Start” and “Let You” are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky. A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative. Indeed, the third Bully album, SUGAREGG, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way. The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. “Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it,” she says, pointing to the sweet, swirly “Like Fire” and slower, more contemplative songs such as “Prism” and “Come Down” as having been born of this new headspace. Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning “made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people.” An unexpected foray into the film world also helped set the table for SUGAREGG when Bognanno was asked to write songs for the 2019 movie Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as the frontwoman of the fictional rock band Something She. The experience was cathartic, infusing Bognanno with new energy for songwriting, and she dove into making the new album. Having engineered both previous Bully albums herself, Bognanno freed herself to focus on the songs by handing production and engineering duties to Grammy-winning producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, The War on Drugs, Modest Mouse), and who worked with her on SUGAREGG at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls in Bognanno’s home state of Minnesota. (Nirvana’s In Utero, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me and Superchunk’s Foolish were recorded at Pachyderm.) With contributions from longtime touring drummer Wesley Mitchell and bassist Zach Dawes (Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey), and two additional songs recorded at Palace Studios in Toronto with Graham Walsh (Alvvays, METZ, !!!), SUGAREGG was finally complete. Ultimately, SUGAREGG is a testament that profound change can yield profound results — in this case, the most expressive and powerful music of Bognanno’s career. “This is me longing to see the bigger picture, motivated and eager for contentment in the best way,” she says. “I hope the happy go lucky/fuck-it-all attitude shines through some of these songs because I really did feel like I was reentering a place I hadn’t been to in a while and was excited to be back there.”

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Washed Out

Purple Noon [LP]

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Vinyl LP pressing. 2020 release. Washed Out is Atlanta-based producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene. Over three enchanting, critically-lauded albums and an EP, his music has proved both transportive and visual, each release inviting listeners into immersive, self-contained universes. With Purple Noon, his fourth album, and his return to Sub Pop, he delivers the most accessible Washed Out creation to date. For Purple Noon, Greene again wrote, recorded, and produced the entirety of the album, with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen (Paracosm, Within and Without). Production of the album followed a brief stint of writing for other artists (most notably Sudan Archives) which enabled Greene to explore genres like R&B and modern pop. These brighter, more robust sounds made their way into the songs of Purple Noon and mark a new chapter for Greene as a producer and songwriter. The vocals are front and center, tempos are slower, beats bolder, and there's a more comprehensive depth of dynamics. Capism of Washed Out's oeuvre, taking the music to dazzling new heights.

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Sideways To New Italy [LP]

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After years spent looking out at landscapes and loved ones and an increasingly unstable world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have turned their gaze inward, to their individual pasts and the places that inform them, on their second full-length, Sideways to New Italy. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, the guitar-pop five-piece returned home to Australia after the relentless touring schedule that came following their critically regarded 2018 debut Hope Downs. Feeling the literal and metaphorical ground under their feet had shifted, the band began grasping for something reliable. For Keaney, that translated into writing "pure romantic fiction" and consciously avoiding the temptation of angsty break-up songs, while Russo looked north to a "bizarre place" that captured the feeling of manufacturing a sense of home when his own had disappeared. The New Italy of the new album’s title is a village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers – the area drummer Marcel Tussie is from. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like alien souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallels to the way the band attempted to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road was apparent to Russo. "These are the expressions of people trying to find a home somewhere alien: trying to create a utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world." The record's geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – that came from being slingshotted all over the world, playing sold-out headline tours and festivals including Coachella, Governors Ball, Primavera Sound, All Points East, and Pitchfork Music Festival. The notion of crafting, in Russo’s words, “a utopia of where your heart’s from,” permeates Sideways to New Italy, in which early attempts at writing big, high-concept songs about The State of the World were abandoned in favor of love songs, and familiar voices and characters filter in and out, grounding the band's stories in their personal histories. There’s something comforting, too, in knowing the next time they’re buffeted from stage to stage around the world, they’ll be taking the voices of their loved ones with them, building a new totem of home no matter where they end up.

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Lisa Loeb

Simple Trick To Happiness [RSD Drops Aug 2020]

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RSD Exclusive Aug


For the entirety of her nearly three-decade-long career, globally acclaimed singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb has been exploring a variety of styles of music, moving seamlessly between creating family-friendly albums, including her 2018 Grammy-winning Feel What U Feel, and adult-focused studio albums like Tails, Firecracker, and The Way It Really Is. It is her latest release, her fifteenth record to date, A Simple Trick To Happiness, that finds Loeb putting forth her most poignant and profoundly personal album in an exceptional body of work. The Record Store Day exclusive deluxe vinyl release of 'A Simple Trick To Happiness' features a deluxe tip-on jacket, poster insert, and 180-gram vinyl pressing.

1. Doesn't It Feel Good (feat. Michelle Branch) 2. Skeleton 3. Another Day 4. This Is My Life 5. For The Birch 6. Most of All 7. Shine 8. Sing Out 9. I Wanna Go First 10. The Upside 11. Wonder

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Thundercat

It Is What It Is [Red LP]

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Thundercat is set to release his new album It Is What It Is on Brainfeeder Records on April 3, 2020, and shares the first music; 'Black Qualls (featuring Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington). The album, produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. It Is What It Is follows his game-changing third album Drunk (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. 'This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,' Bruner says. 'It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don't necessarily understand' some things just aren't meant to be understood.'

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Thundercat

It Is What It Is [Deluxe Clear LP]

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Thundercat is set to release his new album It Is What It Is on Brainfeeder Records on April 3, 2020, and shares the first music; 'Black Qualls (featuring Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington). The album, produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. It Is What It Is follows his game-changing third album Drunk (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. 'This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,' Bruner says. 'It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don't necessarily understand' some things just aren't meant to be understood.'

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Westerman

Your Hero Is Not Dead [LP]

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Vinyl LP pressing. Includes digital download. 2020 release. Your Hero Is Not Dead is an album about empathy and compassion, struggle and release, and all the ways we contradict and battle within ourselves. The project is full of supremely crafted, groove-hinged songs about moral, political, and ethical grey areas, that find Westerman attempting to resolve external issues by looking inward.

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Pottery

Welcome to Bobby's Motel [Hot Dog Yellow LP]

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The 11 songs on 'Welcome to Bobby's Motel' ' Pottery's debut album - don't just invite you to move your body; they command you to. Fusing reckless, manic energy with painstaking precision, the record is part post-punk, part art-pop, and part dance floor acid trip, hinting at everything from LCD Soundsytem, Devo, Parquet Courts, and Gang of Four as it boldly careens through genres and decades. The music is driven by explosive drums and off-kilter guitar riffs that drill themselves into your brain, accented with deep, funky grooves and rousing gang vocals. The production is similarly raw and wild, suggesting an air of anarchy that belies the music's careful architecture and meticulous construction. The result is an album full of ambitious, complex performances that exude joy and mayhem in equal measure, a collection that's alternately virtuosic, chaotic, and pure fun.

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Sufjan Stevens

The Ascension [2LP]

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The Ascension is the eighth studio album from singer, songwriter and composer Sufjan Stevens and is the long awaited follow-up to Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell. One of the most acclaimed albums of 2015, The New York Times praised Carrie & Lowell as “restrained and meticulous” while Pitchfork declared it “a masterpiece.”

In the time between Carrie & Lowell and the forthcoming The Ascension, Stevens also released Oscar-nominated music for the Luca Guadagnino film Call Me By Your Name; a collaborative album entitled Planetarium with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner (The National) and James Mcalister; The Decalogue, a solo piano work performed by Timo Andres; and scored several works for ballet: Reflections (Houston Ballet) and Principia (NYCB).

The Ascension is musically expansive and sweeping in thematic scope.

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Phoebe Bridgers

Punisher [LP]

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Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t write love songs as much as songs about the impact love can have on our lives, personalities, and priorities. Punisher, her fourth release and second solo album, is concerned with that subject. To say she writes about heartbreak is to undersell her blue wisdom, to say she writes about pain erases all the strange joy her music emanates. The arrival of Punisher cements Phoebe Bridgers as one of the most clever, tender and prolific songwriters of our era.

Bridgers is the rare artist with enough humor to deconstruct her own meteoric rise. Repeatedly praised by publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, The Fader, The Los Angeles Times and countless others, Bridgers herself is more interested in discussing topics on Twitter, deadpanning meditations on the humiliating process of being a person, she presents a sweetly funny flipside to the strikingly sad songs she writes. Fittingly, Punisher is fascinated with, and driven by, that kind of impossible tension. Whether it’s writing tweets or songs, Bridgers’s singular talent lies in bringing fierce curiosity to slimy and painful things, interrogating them until they yield up answers that are beautiful and absurd, or faithfully reporting the reality that, sometimes, they are neither.

Bridgers pulls together a formidable crew of guests, including the Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Christian Lee Hutson and Conor Oberst as well as Nathaniel Walcott (of Bright Eyes), Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jenny Lee Lindberg (of Warpaint), Blake Mills and Jim Keltner as well as her longtime bandmates Marshall Vore (drums), Harrison Whitford (guitar), Emily Retsas (bass) and Nick White (keys). The album was mixed by Mike Mogis, who also mixed Stranger In The Alps.

On the album’s epic, freewheeling closer, “I Know The End,” Bridgers orchestrates wails and horns, drums and electric guitar into a sumptuous doomsday swirl, culminating in her own final whispered roar. This is Punisher in a nutshell: devastating elegance punctuated by a moment of deeply campy self-awareness. 

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Sometimes it feels like you hear a Bright Eyes song with your whole body. From Conor Oberst’s early recordings in an Omaha basement in 1995 all the way up to 2020, Bright Eyes’ music tries to unravel the impossible tangles of dissent: personal and political, external and internal. It’s a study of the beauty in unsteadiness in all its forms – in a voice, beliefs, love, identity, and what fills up the spaces in-between. And in so many ways, it’s just about searching for a way through.
 
The year 2020 is full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors was released 20 years ago this May, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning both turned 15 in January. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities. On the title track and throughout the record, Oberst sings about body counts in the newspaper, televised wars, the bottomless pit of American greed, struggling to understand the world alongside one’s own turmoil. In its own way, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning carved out its place in the canon of great anti-war albums by being both present and prophetic, its urgency enduring 15 years later.
 
In 2011 the release of The People’s Key, Bright Eyes’ ninth and most recent album, ushered in an unofficial hiatus for the beloved project. In the time since, the work of the band’s core members – Oberst, multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott – has remained omnipresent, through both the members’ original work and collaboration.
 
In recent years, Mogis produced records for beloved folk acts First Aid Kit and Joseph, among others, as well as mixed the fine-spun ennui of Phoebe Bridgers’ breakthrough 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps. Mogis and bandmate Walcott also teamed up to write the original scores for The Fault in Our Stars, Stuck in Love, and Lovely Still, and Walcott worked as a solo composer scoring number of independent feature-length films. Walcott spent extensive time on collaboration; in addition to his arrangement work for Mavis Staples, First Aid Kit, and M. Ward, he contributed studio work to artists ranging from U2 to jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, and also toured heavily as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 
 
Oberst, who’s nearly 30 years into a prolific musical career, spent the last decade in similarly productive fashion. Across three years he released a string of solo albums: Salutations (2017), Ruminations (2016), and Upside Down Mountain (2014), as well as guested on records by First Aid Kit, Phoebe Bridgers, and Alt-J. His punk band, Desaparecidos, emerged from a 13-year hiatus in 2015 with the thunderous sophomore LP, Payola, a white-knuckled disarray of hollered political fury. And at the top of 2019, Oberst and Bridgers debuted their new band, Better Oblivion Community Center, digitally dropping the critically-lauded eponymous debut LP alongside a surprise performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
 
The heart at Bright Eyes’ songwriting still looms culturally, in films and TV shows and through re-imaginings by other artists. Mac Miller covered both “Lua” and “First Day of My Life”; Lorde’s version of the penultimate The People’s Key track, the funereal-waltz “Ladder Song,” was a focal point of The Hunger Games’ soundtrack; The Killers covered “Four Winds” for their Spaceman EP; and Lil Peep’s “Worlds Away” samples “Something Vague” while Young Thug’s “Me Or Us” samples “First Day of My Life.”
 
Bright Eyes’ expansive catalog has traversed genre, sound, and countless players; unpolished demos or fuzzy folk, electrified rock or country twang. The sharp songwriting and musicianship is all anchored in Bright Eyes’ singular ability to flip deep intimacy into something universal. For so many, for so long, listening to Bright Eyes has been like hearing yourself in someone else’s song – a moment of understanding or illumination, knowing you’re on the same team looking for a way to move through of all this shit.
 
And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.

Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Transparent Red/Orange 2LP]
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Hailu Mergia

Yene Mircha

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It's been a long, winding road to Hailu Mergia's sixth decade of musical activity. From a young musician in the 60's starting out in Addis Ababa to the 70's golden age of dance bands to the new hope as an emigre in America to the drier period of the 90s and 2000s when he mainly played keyboard in his taxi while waiting in the airport queue or at home with friends. More recently, with reissue of his classic works and a re-assessment of his role in Ethiopian music history, Mergia has played to audiences big and small in some of the most cherished venues around the world. With 2018's critical breakthrough "Lala Belu" Mergia championed himself and consolidated his legacy, producing the album on his own and connecting with listeners through the sheer creative power of his version of modern Ethiopian music. His subsequent performances revealed an artist who is in no way stuck in the nostalgia for the "golden age" sound. The press agreed, including the New York Times, BBC and Pitchfork, calling his music "triumphantly in the present" in it's Best 200 Albums of the 2010's list.
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Lucinda Williams

Good Souls Better Angels [LP]

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Three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams unabashedly takes on some of the human, social and political issues of our day with her boldest and most direct album to date, Good Souls Better Angels. During the course of her celebrated four-decade, pioneering career Williams has never rested on her laurels as she continues to push herself as a songwriter. On Good Souls Better Angels, she has much she needs to get out. On Good Souls Better Angels, Williams changes course and chooses to forgo the personal and narrative-based songcraft that has become synonymous with her name and instead speaks to some of the injustices permeating our society. Williams recorded Good Souls Better Angels backed by her remarkable, long time band, featuring Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass). The rock-solid unit propels the music with both fire and finesse. Good Souls Better Angels marks the first time Williams' husband/manager Tom Overby is credited as a co-writer on many of the new songs. The album was co-produced by Williams, Overby and Ray Kennedy, who last worked with Williams on her 1998 landmark album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.

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