Are you tired of that same old song? Tune into any alt-rock robo-jock frequency on the FM dial and you’ll know what I mean. Somewhere along the way, nostalgia curdled, and it feels like we’re doomed to hear the same boring souls for eternity. But don’t ask California sons Allah-Las—they wouldn’t know a thing about it. “The Stuff,” which opens the band’s fifth LP, Zuma 85, lays it out:
“I don’t listen to the radio/They keep playing that song again/And the deejay’s a computer.”
As the glammy, electronic strut of the song indicates, Zuma 85 signals the start of a new era for Allah-Las, and finds the band reinventing itself in defiance of the algorithmic categorization and robotic sterility. Recorded in the midst of the shift from the Old World to whatever branch of reality we’re on now, it’s a return, too: The album will be released October 13th on their own label, Calico Discos, in partnership with Innovative Leisure, which released early defining statements like Allah-Las (2012) and Worship The Sun (2014).
For the last 15 years, Allah-Las have alchemically melded surf rock washes with folk rock jangle and rock, building up their lauded music podcast, Reverberation Radio, and record label, Calico Discos, in the process. But a lot has changed since Matthew Correia (drums/vocals), Spencer Dunham (bass, guitar, vocals), Miles Michaud (guitar, organ, vocals), and Pedrum Siadatian (guitar, synth, vocals) first bonded over psych rock vinyl in the back room at Amoeba Records in the late aughts. Zuma 85 finds the quartet facing a new world with a wealth of new sounds, drawing from an eclectic mix of progressive rock, prog, kosmische, and Eno-esque art rock, scuzzy Royal Trux riffs, and detouring into tones and textures that call to mind ‘90s and 2000s pop.
The album was born, like so much else these days, out of the downtime of 2020-2022. For most of the band’s existence, Allah-Las adhered to a year to album year/tour year schedule, logging serious hours on the road. When the shutdown of 2020 put everything on hold, it opened up space for each member to focus on their own lives and interests, and time to re-envision what creative processes could look like.
When it came time to reconvene, that sense of looseness proved pivotal. Instead of bringing finished songs to the studio, they entered the picturesque Panoramic House recording in Stinson Beach (a space co-owned by John Baccigaluppi of Tape Op magazine) with sketches, ideas, and riffs. Working with co-producer Jeremy Harris (White Fence, Devendra Banhart, Sam Gendel) they shaped and crafted the new songs in real time over three sessions, which were then mixed in Los Angeles by frequent collaborator Jarvis Taveniere (Woods, Avalanches, Purple Mountains).
It was clear from the get go the bucolic environment—observed through picture windows overlooking Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay—would be conducive to creating the first statement from Allah-Las 2.0. “We got in real late that first night of the first session,” Michaud says. “It was around midnight. We had a quick intro and Jeremy had a bottle of wine. We had a little and he said, ‘You wanna start recording?’”
They did. And when the group reassembled the following morning to listen back, they found the sparkling and stutter--stepped “Right On Time” mostly done. It was unlike anything the band had ever recorded but felt entirely natural. “Everything just worked,” Michaud says. “That studio just pulls it out of you.”
Despite the habitat where Zuma 85 was crafted, these songs represent the Allah-Las departing familiar beachy territory for off the map expanses, embracing the influence of late-era Lou Reed and John Cale, the ‘70s mutant pop of Peter Ivers and early Eno and Roxy Music, and textures borrowed from Japanese pop and loner-folk obscurities, There are kosmische zones, like the Popol Vuh-evoking “Hadal Zone,” anthemic and electronic boogies like “The Stuff” and “Sky Club,” and arch prog on tunes like “GB BB” and “Smog Cutter.” On the instrumental title track, “Zuma 85,” field recordings and chimes precede Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra)-style guitars, which drift aquatically over a motorik rhythm and hazy synths.
Sharing a name with that song is a photo of an abandoned house by California photographer John Divola. Selected by Correia, the band’s resident photography head and album art designer, it juxtaposes a visage of man-made chaos against the natural beauty of the West Coast. It served as an unspoken reference point for the album, a symbolic totem indicative of a new era. A decade and a half into their run as Allah-Las, Correia, Dunham, Michaud, and Siadatian continue on an evolutionary path. Are you tired of the same old songs? So are they. So blow it up and let it rip.
INFINITY CLUB finds BAMBII building on her already-impressive sonic repertoire, encapsulating the sound of a generation of Caribbean diaspora youth living between two worlds. On the heels of bringing her kinetic production style to Kelela's recent album Raven, this debut EP establishes BAMBII as a trailblazing voice in the intersecting worlds of electronic and Caribbean music as jungle, dancehall and r&b collide alongside guest features from Aluna (Aluna George), Ragz Originale, Lady Lykez & Sydanie.
The project opens the door to a limitless space that blurs the lines between memories and dreams, anchored by ecstatic production by BAMBII that centers on the solace one can find in the middle of a crowded dance floor. In BAMBII's telling, INFINITY CLUB soundtracks an anonymous space holding a community of bodies all flowing to the same rhythm: "INFINITY CLUB knows no age, or social construct. It's for everyone, everywhere. In all ways, always."
Limited Edition White Label Vinyl Pressing (200 Copies). Each record comes in a jacket w/ a stenciled front cover image of the eyes from the digital artwork.
In the past, Mapache recording sessions have been pretty laid-back affairs, with friends coming and going, the sessions starting and stopping at the band’s discretion—as relaxed a process as the immaculately sunny vibes that their four albums would suggest. But on their dynamic and ambitious fifth album of cosmic-folk, Swinging Stars, Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch decided to take a trip and hunker down somewhere particularly special.
“It’s a pretty impactful place,” Finch says of the Panoramic House, the artist retreat where SwingingStars was recorded. “It’s kind of dramatic. It’s a castle-y building on a hill, way up overlooking the Bay.”
Located in Stinson Beach in Marin County, California, the Panoramic House has recently hosted acts like My Morning Jacket, the War on Drugs, and Cate Le Bon, and was the ideal combination of scenic beauty and self-imposed confinement to allow Mapache to settle in for their most cohesive album yet. “That environment yields itself to a higher level of focus because everybody’s together for a week,” says Finch, explaining that the band stayed there during the process, sharing every bit of their time and energy on a shared vision. “We were all captive. No one could escape,” he laughs.
Swinging Stars, an album of calm, second-nature swagger, is the natural result of a band that’s existed in one form or another for its founders’ entire adult lives. Finch and Blasucci first met as students at La Cañada High School, just north of Los Angeles, where they both had a guitar class: “There wasn’t much supervision or anything,” remembers Blasucci. “It was really nice. And we got to just play guitars together.”
The two stayed friends through their college years—Finch went to Chico State and Blasucci spent two years as a missionary in Mexico—and eventually they ended up back in L.A., spending their days playing guitar together once again, just like old times. Working with producer/engineer Dan Horne (Cass McCombs, Allah-Lahs), they recorded four albums —2017’s Mapache, 2020’s From Liberty Street, 2021’s 3, and 2022’s Roscoe’s Dream. Often trading solos, and occasionally switching from English to Spanish, Finch and Blasucci are perfectly in sync together.
But the duo have also been developing their own personal voices in recent years as well—partially the result of the two of them living in separate cities for the first time in years. (Blasucci now lives in Ojai, and Finch in Malibu.) As Finch explains, that means the “meat and potatoes” of the songs were cooked up more on their own than they had been in the past. “What a Summer,” a slow-burn that sounds something like Bob Weir fronting Crazy Horse, is unmistakably Finch, for instance; “French Kiss,” with its Toussaint swing and Parsons shine, is Blasucci all the way. “Swinging Stars was probably the first Mapache record where each of us really leaned into our personal, distinct styles,” Blasucci explains.
Still, many of the songs on Swinging Stars are the result of a significant amount of group work on the road, sharpening and refining them, getting them just so before hitting the studio with their trusted collaborator Horne, who produced the set. Swinging Stars is also notable for its introduction of drummer Steve Didelot as a formal member of the band, with him playing on every track, and contributing an original song as well—“Reflecting Everything,” a cowboy-chord ballad sparkling with Finch and Blasucci’s guitars, and with Horne’s impeccable slide guitar.
There are also two special features: one from the Allah-Lahs’ Spencer Dunham, who plays bass on “French Kiss,” and another from David Rawlings, who graciously took the call to play acoustic guitar on the album’s finale, “Where’d You Go,” recording his part remotely. “He’s someone who Sam and I look up to in a pretty serious way,” Finch says. “So it was cool to have him.”
Mapache is so easygoing that their vibe belies their prolificness at times. Swinging Stars is their fourth album in as many years, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Blasucci chalks it up partly to the fact that, when you have two principal songwriters in a band, “the songs come in quickly and they stack up quickly.” It helps, too, that they’re just in the right place to be making music. “We’re just trying to make hay while the sun shines,” as Finch puts it. “None of us have any babies or anything and we’re all pretty committed to playing as much music as we can. And really focused on making something beautiful.”
Swinging Stars T-Shirt
Mapache Swinging Stars T-Shirt
Printed on Gildan Softstyle - Color: Natural
Mapache Raccoon T-Shirt
Mapache Winter '21 Tour T-Shirt
Allah-Las beverage insulator made of PVC, Plastic, & Foam. Beer not included.
I Love My Dog T-Shirt
Mapache t-shirt in grey
tds bem Global
Infectious like a pandemic, music follows the path of least resistance, oblivious to national or natural borders: tds bem Global = all too Global. dadá Joãozinho’s debut solo album careens across musical universes like a psychedelic fever-dream in 13 distinct, yet porous movements shoplifting from dub reggae, hip hop, punk, and samba, while inventing a few future styles in the process.
João Rocha moved from Niterói (the city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro) to São Paulo in 2020 with his bandmates from ROSABEGE, the artistic collective he formed with a few hometown friends in 2017. With promotion plans paralyzed by the pandemic, he looked inward, retreating into his alter ego dadá Joãzinho, the “dadá” an homage to a special creature and “zinho” meaning “little.” This provocative persona allowed Rocha to “be open to possibilities, other ways of singing, other sources of courage.”
Moving to the biggest city in South America at the age of 23 during a phase of intense isolation and toxic politics, dadá lost interest in the beautiful and naive Zona Sul (Rio’s southern neighborhood’s famous for inventing the bossa nova) influences channeled by his earlier group ROSABEGE. His newmusic “needed to feel more intense,” in contrast to the lighter sounds from previous releases. The “Brazilian Utopia” of seventies Música Popular Brasileira “didn’t make sense anymore.” This project needed to reflect the darkness. Bad Brains and Bob Marley at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio kinda dark, Gilberto Gil and Jards Macalé exiled in rainy London during Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship dark.
Resisting the darkness, dadá yearned to feel alive, for music that stimulated his body to “move differently.” Playing nearly all the instruments: electric and acoustic guitar, organ, electronic production, drum programming and “other things,” tds bem Global is definitely a solo album, but he made it inspired by and in collaboration with countless musical friends. “I wanted to get people together around the music.”
Unfolding like a genre-agnostic mixtape, the album is front-loaded with irresistible and effortless rhythms, funky, off-kilter and jagged like “Ô Lulu” which rides a dubby acoustic groove peppered by organ stabs, hand drums and glancing guitar ballistics, like if Arthur Russell and Lee Perry co-owned a recording studio.
“Cuidado! (feat. Alceu, Bebé)” introduces dadá’s hip hop chops as the analog synth and drum machine track weaves like a commuter in São Paulo during rush hour - catching every green light, sidestepping sidewalk potholes with a glide in their stride. Hip hop, latin and baile funk flavors jockey like illegal drag racers across the city streets.
Layered with stacked vocals, imposing horn stabs, organic and inorganic beats “VEJA (feat. JOCA)” would be heartbreaking if it weren’t so powerful, like Milton Nascimento in the zone. Dadá chases the darkness into the psychedelic dungeon of “Minha Droga,” a synopated mantra that disintegrates as it unspools.
Spent from the emotionally exhausting four-song sprint that starts the album, “Outro Momento,” is areverb-laden reprieve from the rhythm nation, sounding like a lost Money Mark bossa nova ditty. “Pai e Mae” is the most obviously Brazilian song on the album, a sweet experimental samba worthy of Tom Zé.
“Desire for freedom was the north star of this record,” dadá insists. He explains that he needed to “feel free about artistic decisions - that I didn’t have to play the instruments in a certain way to sound good, I didn’t have to sing in a certain way to sound good, and I didn’t have to write in a certain way to make sense and reach people’s feelings.”
Birthed amidst a vibrant artistic community fragmented and dislocated through the pandemic, tds bem Global is a message in the bottle blasting from a street-party sub-woofer encouraging others to make their art. “This is just for inspiration as I hear my friends are inspired by it, inspired to take their own paths and take risks on their music or art. This is what I wanted.”
It was somewhere in remote Alaska that Michael Gold—who records and performs pop–infused psych-rock as Mirror Tree—began to realize that he was officially on the road less traveled. “I was flying around between all these native villages and all these little, muddy gravel air strips in a single-engine Cessna, in and out of snowstorms, and landing on ice-covered runways,” says Gold, who worked for several years as a pilot in the Last Frontier, and currently is based out of Los Angeles, and flies a 737 for a major airline. “Being a musician to me always felt like the path of least resistance a little bit, you know? And when I touched down in a place like Bethel, Alaska, I felt very firmly off of the path of least resistance.”
Until Gold decided to fly away from the world he knew, music was always right there in front of him. Gold’s mother, Sharon Robinson, is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who collaborated extensively with the late Leonard Cohen, co-writing some of his classics like “Everybody Knows.” Robinson was close friends with Cohen, and Cohen was Gold’s godfather: “He was definitely a big part of my world growing up, for sure,” Gold explains.
Raised in L.A., Gold was formally trained in classical and jazz piano, and the wonders and possibilities of music seeped into him. He continued pursuing music in college, studying jazz piano at nearby CalArts, where he lived in a barn in the remote town of Val Verde, which was at one point known as the “Black Palm Springs.” Around this time, he joined the indie-disco band Poolside as a keyboardist/vocalist, bouncing around the world on tour with them, as well co-writing songs like the disco-rock-fusion epic “Feel Alright.” (18 million streams on Spotify and counting.)
But the call of the wild never stopped pulling Gold—driven in large part by adventures he would go on as a kid with his dad to places like the Mojave Desert. And, after getting his pilot’s license, he decided to trust his instincts (and some good advice from a fellow pilot) by heading to Alaska. “I basically just bought a plane ticket, and knocked on all of [the local airline services’] doors with my resume in hand,” he laughs. For the first time in years, Gold wasn’t thinking like a musician anymore, and went back to enjoying some of his favorite bands—like Stereolab and Broadcast—solely as a listener. “It just kind of changed the way I heard music,” he explains. “I wasn’t analyzing it for the purpose of learning, for the purpose of becoming a better musician anymore. I was just kind of feeling it.”
But he couldn’t stay away from making music for long. After coming back to L.A., Gold began writing and recording again, and soon teamed up with former Poolside bandmate Filip Nikolic to develop his sound—something like a mishmash of Supertramp and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. When the two were honing in on the vibe they were going for, tapping into Spaghetti Western soundtracks and Tropicália, they realized they would ideally need a Farfisa organ, which Gold conveniently happened to have in storage—but hadn’t ever used before, and wasn’t sure would even work. Sure enough, though, “We plugged it in and it fired right up,” Gold marvels. “And that just became the backbone sound of that whole album.”
With Gold serving as the main writing and performing force of Mirror Tree, and Nikolic producing the set, while co-writing and performing on some tracks as well, Mirror Tree took flight. Gold would demo out songs and at his home studio, and then bring them to Nikolic’s studio, where they would work together to create grooves worthy of ELO for the chillwave generation. Songs like “300 Miles” and the title track “Mirror Tree” take the vintage Farfisa reverb and twist it into something modern, infused with a non-Western sensibility and a simultaneous Western accessibility. On rippers like “See It Through” and “Echoes Competing,” Gold combines his virtuosic keyboard abilities with earworm choruses and subtle poetics: “Cigarette thrown in the wind,” he sings in his falsetto on the latter track. “Mirror shows the glow / Driving on alone.”
As the project went on, the image of the Mirror Tree stuck with Gold—a metaphor for the way that light and life bounces off of people and things around us. Soon he realized that it was the appropriate title for the album and the band at large—and served as an ethos for everything that brought him to where he is today: “I’m not a super spiritual person, but whenever someone dies, I really get a lot of comfort that they are just kind of being constantly reflected on everyone,” he says. “Their presence—you get to keep it through the people that they affected.”
Off My Stars
Sam Blasucci is best known as one half of Mapache, a Southern California roots-rock duo just as instantly recognizable for their elegant, intertwined guitar parts as they are for their devoted, Nudie-Suit wearing fanbase. But when Blasucci was writing the songs that would become his debut solo record, OffMyStars, he found himself less focused on the guitar and more gravitated toward a different instrument: piano.
The mother of Clay Finch, his Mapache bandmate, was getting rid of one, and so Blasucci took the piano, carefully transporting it to his home in Ojai, California, with the help of a few strong friends, including Farmer Dave Scher of Beachwood Sparks (and a Mapache collaborator). “Farmer Dave wasn’t even wearing shoes,” Blasucci remembers, laughing. Once the piano was safely in there, he became deeply attached, playing on it multiple hours a day: “It’s changed the way I think about music, having all the keys laid out in front of me,” he explains. “Having that sort of changed everything.”
Also inspired by his recent time riding out the pandemic in New Orleans, where the clubs may have closed but the music never stopped, Blasucci used that piano to start writing one of the most inspired batches of songs of his career thus far. New gems like “Turn Yourself Around” and “Sha La La” were developing with a Southern swing and classic songbook sparkle, and when assessing the growing stack of music he was working on, Blasucci realized that there was something about these tunes that wasn’t quite suited for a Mapache record.
Infused with an honest, personal perspective about settling into adult life—about developing as a person and a partner and a family member—these songs were straight from the heart, a clear window, recently Windexed, into the life of one of the most talented members of the L.A.-area underground rock scene. Using just as much inspiration from the music of Ronnie Wood and Sade as the films of Ingmar Bergman and the writing of Brian Doyle, Blasucci started to see a vision of songs that are all “fully autobiographical.”
Blasucci reached out to songwriter and producer Johnny Payne, and the two decamped to Dan Horne’s Lone Palm Studio, the home/studio where Mapache has in the past both recorded and abided in. Blasucci’s direction to Payne—acting as producer and as multi-instrumentalist, performing on everything from shaker to “guitar pancake”—was simple: no pretense, no affect, no Mr. Cool. This approach is most evident through covers on the record—like a stripped-down, achingly beautiful version of Dido’s ubiquitous “Thank You,” or a New Orleans-porch-worthy version of the Cranberries’ classic “Linger.” “There was nothing ironic or gimmicky about wanting to do those,” notes Blasucci. “I just really, really love those songs.”
Also covered on OffMyStars is a raw take on Jimmy Fontana’s timeless ballad “Il Mondo,” sung in its original Italian by Blasucci, who belts it in a performance that ends with him giving it all he has, his voice cracking as he reaches the song’s epic finale. “Il Mondo” is a song that Blasucci particularly wanted to do as a means to get more in touch with his Italian roots—and this wouldn’t be the only way he’d tap into family on the album.
On “Proud of You Dad,” Blasucci dug into his archives for a song that’s he had for some time, originally having written and recorded it just for his father, David Blasucci, a musician who was at one time a touring member in the band Toto, and who has performed and acted in Christopher Guest movies like A Mighty Wind. “If I ever told you this while we were in the same room / I know you would cover your ears and run,” Sam sings over a rustic, campfire acoustic progression. As Sam explains, David was a crucial influence on his taste: “A lot of the underlying styles that influenced the rest of the songs on the record definitely come from what he introduced me to,” Sam says.
But Sam is his own man now, writing the new chapters of his own life with an aw-shucks tone that belies his prolific workload. Even through the pandemic—and even with the ongoing backlogs at pressing plants—Blasucci has still managed to put out beloved Mapache records in each of the last three years, and he and the band have no plans to slow down anytime soon. “I’m definitely the type of artist that is constantly creating,” Sam says, matter of fact. “And I can’t seem to really stop.”.
What's Life (Idjut Boys Remix) White Label 12" Vinyl Single
Dan Tyler and Conrad McDonnell, aka Idjut Boys, are an English duo whose dub-heavy home songs incorporate their playful love of life. The duo met in the late '80s in Cambridge discovering that they shared a passion for similar music. Soon after, both moved to London and established the U-Star parties. The Idjuts' fusion of dub, house, and techno soon caught on and landed them gigs DJing all over the world.
McDonnell and Tyler established U-Star Records in 1993, releasing their debut 12" Idjut Boy. They continued releasing numerous 12"s throughout the 90's up to the current period consisting of original productions, along with remixes & re-edits of obscure and not-so-obscure material by other artists and a handful of DJ mixes. A proper Idjut Boys studio album, Cellar Door, was released on Smalltown Supersound in 2012. This was followed by Versions, an album of reworks of material from throughout the duo's career, in 2015.
On this 12" vinyl, the Idjuts remix a single, "What's Life" from De Lux's most recent Do You Need A Release.
Iguana Death Cult
After the pandemic hit, and the people of the world suddenly grew wary and suspicious of one another, Iguana Death Cult, one of Europe’s most exciting rock exports, became more than just a band to its members—it became therapy. “I think for the first ten times we went to jam,” says guitarist/vocalist Tobias Opschoor, speaking about the process of making the new album Echo Palace, “we just drank wine and talked about it, and just kept on talking for hours—and then were like, ‘OK, I have to go because I have to work tomorrow.’”
Taking place at frontman Jeroen Reek’s apartment in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, these gatherings slowly shifted from talking about this surreal chapter of their lives—the days of quiet streets and cramped buildings—to making music about it. “I was living in a really crappy, leaky, ready-for-demolition apartment,” explains Reek, “with just one heat source—like a really old-school, gas stove kind of thing.” Working on cold nights, they had to gather around that heater together—a cozy approach that ultimately got their creative flow going, fast.
Armed with the talents of Justin Boer on bass and Arjen van Opstal on drums, and tapping the keys work Jimmy de Kok for the first time on album, the band took their trademark melodic garage-rock style and expanded it out to make it vibier and looser, with each member contributing ideas to develop the sound palette in full. “We all get into this sort of blender and then everybody gives a little bit of a flavor to it,” says Opschoor.
The sounds they started to make tapped into the band’s acerbic bite established on their first two LPs, 2017’s The First Stirrings of Hideous Insect Life and 2019’s Nude Casino—albums that sometimes felt like Parquet Courts colliding with Super Furry Animals. (Paste described Nude Casino as evoking “the colorful mischief of nights out where even a humdrum accountant can feel like a Clint Eastwood desperado.”) Their explosive performances of these records turned them into a cult live act among psych fans, who have thrashed to the band everywhere from Amsterdam to Austin. (It was during a particularly bananas set at SXSW that the band won over Innovative Leisure.) But working on this new album, huddled together as the world split apart, everything began to flutter like Remain in Light.
Echo Palace may be the Iguana Death Cult music that’s most overtly about the strange cause and effect of groupthink, but the theme has been lurking there since the very beginning, when the band was first formed by childhood friends Reek and Opschoor over ten years ago. The name of Iguana Death Cult is a partial nod to Reek’s fascination with cults in general—and the “Iguana” part is a nod to Iggy Pop, whose first band was the Iguanas. Watching the pandemic paranoia and conspiracy theories steeping across their country, Reek wrote lyrics reflecting the scene in front of him: “Purple, veiny soccer mommies,” he sings in a deep, foreboding voice on the song “Echo Palace,” “Sharpening their guillotines.” It’s a cut so infectious that it betrays the density of its lyrics, which were adapted from a poem Reek wrote about the repercussions of “shutting yourself off from everyone outside of your own ideology.”
When it came time to record the full set, the band headed to PAF Studio in Rotterdam, and then had the self-produced album subsequently mixed by Joo-Joo Ashworth (Sasami, Dummy) at Studio 22 in Los Angeles and mastered by Dave Cooley (Tame Impala, Yves Tumor). As the instruments swirl and trade solos on “I Just a Want House,” a funky millennial nihilist anthem, you can practically hear the growth of a group that’s been pushing itself further and further with every tour and every Belgian-stove fuelled jam session. The album is a big swing, stretching Iguana Death Cult beyond its garage rock origins and taking them to a new realm. It’s the type of project that warranted having legendary Dutch saxophonist Benjamin Herman stop by to add to the squall on tracks like “Oh No” and “Sensory Overload,” heady thrashers that morph into calculated freakouts; that warranted Reek and Opschoor knowing when screaming their guts out on tracks like “Pushermen,” and Boer and van Opstal knowing when to bring the rhythm section to a jazzy simmer on tracks like “Paper Straws.” =
The end result of Echo Palace is an appropriately worldly album from a group breaking past the confines of its home country. That’s not to say that Iguana Death Cult aren’t proudly Dutch; the group takes from the trademark hard work ethic of their Rotterdam base and applies it to their approach with music. But it’s 2022, and we’re less defined by our borders than ever before. “When we play in other countries, for me that gives the same amount of pleasure—or even more—than when we play in the Netherlands,” says Opschoor.
“We’re not just little countries anymore, everything is global,” adds Reek, speaking about society at large—but he might as well be speaking about Iguana Death Cult itself. “We’re turning into a global thing.”
The title of the sixth album from Californian singer-songwriter Nick Waterhouse is more than just the name of one of its tracks. The Fooler is both a clue and a red herring. The Fooler is the observed and the observer, narrator and subject, truth and lie. The Fooler is the shadow and reflection of a city the artist knows sufficiently well to wander with his eyes closed, and a place which very possibly never even existed. The Fooler is not so much an unreliable narrator as a constantly shifting perspective.
The Fooler is the new album by Nick Waterhouse, and it’s a lot. Recorded by Mark Neill (Black Keys; Los Straightjackets; Dave Cobb) in Valdosta, Georgia, it’s a song-cycle of sorts, the arc of the album telling a tale of a city and its denizens. “Many of the stories come from a feeling of plasticity,” says Waterhouse. “What is memory? What is time? What is love between two human beings like in this imaginary city? A phase shift occurred writing this record. I had a breakthrough in how to tell stories in songs, like an epiphany. I started realising how I could bend time in a lot of the things that weave through the record. I have a perspective as a narrator now, instead of being the occupant of the songs.”
Waterhouse released his debut album, Time’s All Gone, in 2012. His last record, Promenade Blue, came out in 2021. In his music you will hear echoes of things you might think you know, or believe you remember, filtered through the lens of a unique artistic perspective. You will hear rhythm and blues, garage rock, radio soul and wee-small-hours balladry – but reconfigured, made new. In Waterhouse’s music, the time is both now and then. The past is the present is the future. The sound is classic yet unclassifiable.
The Fooler was produced by Neill in his Soil of the South studio in Valdosta, Georgia. A former room in a ballet school, Soil of the South is in the great tradition of American studios such as Chess and Sun. “Not the place that looks like a spaceship, more like the place that looks like a dentist office in 1965,” says Waterhouse. They tracked the album fast near the end of 2021. A further handful of days for overdubs and mixing early in 2022 and it was finished. “Making this record was like going to see the kung fu master on the mountain,” says Waterhouse. “You can probably draw a through line from my first record to this one, but this is something else entirely. The sonic landscape Mark designed is so much further into space, with reverb and depth.”
The result is a record that offers up new riches and fresh perspectives with every spin. From the hidden corners of ‘Hide & Seek’ and the roadhouse soul of ‘Play To Win’ to the primitive, attitudinal, chugging two-chord thrill of ‘Late In The Garden’, it builds inexorably to the drama of the title track and pulsing roll-and-rock of the final pay off, ‘Unreal, Immaterial’. Play it once and it sounds immediately like a collection of great songs. Play it again – and you will – and it feels like a novel or film slowly unveiling its secrets, kaleidoscopic in its narrative complexity. “Especially during this record, I started just becoming what Allen Ginsberg called a pure breath,” says the artist. “I was becoming pure breath with my ideas.”
“Music is soft power, it’s a form of diplomacy, it’s a way to unite.” For RarelyAlways a sense of purpose is rarely far from the surface. That’s been true in everything he’s done, as a musician across a huge range of scenes and sounds, as a writer, as an entrepreneur and youth worker – but now, with his debut solo album Work on the horizon, it’s really coming into focus. He may have “always been a shapeshifter” as he puts it, and Work be full of a dazzling array of sounds, but at the same time he has always retained a creative and ethical core to all he does. And as he steps up to take the microphone, on stage as much as in the studio, that is coming to the fore. With his already deep and broad musical and life experience, he’s in a unique position to offer something entirely new to UK music – and you’d better believe he has something to say.
From the youngest age, RarelyAlways knew that music had functions beyond just entertainment. London born to a West African family, he was raised by his single father who was a drummer, playing mainly gospel. As well as this showing him the ecstatic communal experience of hours-long services, he got to learn the power of playing for playing’s sake: his dad would regularly hire practice spaces for the pair of them to “beat the hell out of the drums” for an afternoon.
Musically he absorbed everything around him as a kid. Motown, reggae and Afrobeat from his family; Gorillaz, The Streets, Estelle and grime from his peers; and a personal fascination with the function of music in films that started young “and got me open minded, got me into orchestra stuff.” Though it was a different sort of film music that set him on the path he’s on now: the classic sounds in School of Rock. "Not going to lie, that film got me playing bass," he says, "and it set my tastes: I'm an old head." Led Zeppelin and Bob James led him into old funk like Brothers Johnson – and he gravitated to modern acts with that classic feel, notably Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley.
His talents took him to The Brit School, and thence to the South London gig circuit. He played trip hop and heavy rock, and found himself in the orbit of artists like King Krule, Henry Wu and the Tomorrow’s Warriors jazz collective. Very quickly he got a sense of interconnectivity and the opportunities that present when you’re open to other voices. “I learned there’s good people everywhere, not everyone of course but enough that you can find who’s worth listening to, who’s worth having as your running mate.”
But that constant openness to new ideas and new culture was always counterbalanced by a strong sense of self - shored up further by his work helping at-risk youth. “You've got to have that inner self that you can never let burn out. I think you've got to call to a place that is together and use that as an anchor. It's not possible to help other people become stronger or better if you're not trying to become stronger or better. They're going to believe you if you're authentic, so you've got to call from a place that's firm and upright and happy, it's the only way.”
With each successive RarelyAlways release that’s become more and more evident. A solo EP and one with Black Keys collaborator Hanni El Khatib, as well as collaborative tracks with the likes of Shabaka Hutchings, showed a fully developed rapping and singing voice. The tone was often dark, often mysterious, but crucially was able to roam freely outside the prescribed structures of hip hop, jazz or anything else, becoming conversational or abstract as the song’s message demanded it. And with the latest tracks, that personality is being futther revealed: “It’s about taking off the armour. It's about not being scared to show my vulnerabilities. A lot of tracks are quite soft, quite innocent and really not what you might expect.”
That emergence is built around increased confidence in standing centre stage. “I play every chance I get,” he says, “and in the studio, I’m always thinking of that too. The most important thing is I have to be able to project it on stage or I don't see the point.” But it’s also about confidence in his place within the wider network. As he says in Work’s title track “I’m directing this, new show, new cast.” There are some established names that show RarelyAlways as plugged into the endlessly fertile UK underground, but just as importantly he’s nurturing “new monsters” – young instrumental talent from jazz and beyond – making this album truly a communal creation. But make no mistake: it is also the arrival of a truly singular voice, one which is fast becoming an unmistakeable presence in UK music.
L.A. Cowboy / Katie Dear / Last Thing On My Mind 7"
"Lonesome LA Cowboy" repressed now on Calico Discos/Innovative Leisure in Calico Discos branded printed paper sleeve. Big hole 45 RPM.
Love Is Hard Work
"Love Is Hard Work" is a continuous 29 minute recording and something that Sean Guerin from De Lux has been wanting to make for a while. According to Guerin: "Before De Lux, I used to write long songs, but never really finish them. Written and recorded in mid 2021 for two months, it felt like a breeze to make 'Love Is Hard Work' because I had been thinking and talking about it for so long. Influenced by a lot of artists from ‘79-‘82, like Peter Gordon, Electric Mind, Evans Pyramid or Dizzy K, the track is intended to feel like a continuous flow of dance music. Instead of a stream of consciousness in lyricism, this is more of a stream of consciousness in instrumentation and songwriting; where ideas flow from one to the other without too much thought."
Listening to Tim Hill’s new album, Giant—a rugged, tasteful batch of cowboy tunes and Americana ballads that feel forged out of the embers of a desert campfire—you might assume that he’s been working on a ranch his whole life. You’d be half right: Hill is indeed a rancher, working in the Orange County, California, area of Silverado, but he’s actually a relative novice when it comes to tasks like tending to horses and driving a tractor. He only just got the job since the pandemic started, inspired on something of a whim: “I always kind of thought I could work on a ranch,” Hill says. “So I just looked around for some jobs and they had an opening.”
Hill is based in Whittier, California, where he was born and raised, and music has always been his guiding force. The son of a music teacher, Hill grew up playing various instruments in a formal manner, but eventually carved a niche for himself in local punk bands, before finding himself as an in-demand touring musician for artists like Nick Waterhouse and the Allah-Las. When the Las—one of Los Angeles’s most beloved psych-rock bands—decided to start Calico Discos, their record label, they knew just the guy for its inaugural release: Hill’s solo debut, a 7-inch for the 2018 song “Paris, Texas,” introduced him as an alt-country act to be reckoned with—and hisfull-length debut, 2019’s Payador, was an underground hit, with copies of the sold-out first run having gone for as much as $100 on Discogs.
Payador was “a simple and honest attempt at a first record,” according to Hill, which was done entirely at home on a four-track. When the project was finished, the fact was made quite cosmically clear: “It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds after the last take, the last overdub, the last cassette, that smoke began to billow from behind the four-track recorder,” Hill explains. So for his sophomore album, he decided that maybe it was time to upgrade the approach a little bit. Taking a drive down the 605 to Long Beach, Hill set up shop at Jonny Bell’s Jazzcats Studio, where he played all of the instruments himself, with the exception of two outside players—one for pedal steel and one for violin.
The result is a record steeped in affection for artists like Randy Newman, Warren Zevon, and Neil Young, but reimagined through the lens of the modern cultural melting pot that Hill lives in. (“I feel like I'm always trying to just rewrite [Young’s] “Out on the Weekend” in some way or another,” says Hill, “just because I like that feel so much.”) The choice of covers on the album speaks multitudes: Giant features a heartbreaking take on Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place to Fall,” a festive, authentic take on José López Alavez’s “Canción Mixteca” (which was notably covered by Ry Cooder and Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas), and two impressive takes on part of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “French Suites,” referred to by Hill as “French Sweet,” naturally. “My dad only listened to classical growing up,” Hill explains, “so it didn’t really mean anything to me then. But now I love it. I can listen to, like, Glenn Gould all day.”
But Hill’s original songs are the sturdy pickup-truck engine of Giant—songs like “Calico,” a dreamy ride into the center of the sun, and the opener, “The Clock’s Never Wrong,” a waltz that would get even the drunkest person at the bar to stand up and start dancing along: “I miss the good ole time when girls used to ask what car you drive,” Hill croons in that latter song, “and leave you with a hole in your heart.” On “Candlestick,” he takes his graceful chords and melody and applies them to a poem written by his friend, the artist Ry Welch. “It was just one of those things where I didn’t have to move any word around,” Hill notes. “I didn’t have to cut anything out. It just fit perfectly in that music.”
Of course, there’s also Giant’s title track, an operatic piano piece that presents a brief, episodic tale of the culture clash that occurs in so many forms in the U.S. these days. The song was inspired by the 1956 George Stevens film of the same name (itself adapted from Edna Ferber’s 1952 novel); Hill was enamored by the movie, and by James Dean’s performance in particular, in which he plays a ranch hand in Texas in the 1920s. “I really identify with that character now,” Hill explains.
Giant was the last movie Dean filmed before he died, and Hill has inherited a fitting ethos for what he’s trying to do with his album named after it—and with his whole career: “Like the string quartet on the deck of the Titanic,” he says, “I’d like to play something beautiful before the ship goes down.”
portrait of a dog
JonahYanois the Hiroshima born, Montreal based singer-songwriter, whose journey into music began with recording music using his cellphone in 2016. Having played piano and guitar as a child, it wasn’t untilYanomoved from Vancouver to Toronto in 2016 that he began putting his songs online, catching the eyes of Toronto’s thriving local music scene. Spending the next couple of years obsessively songwriting and practicing vocals, and learning technical skills, he collaborated with Toronto duo MONEYPHONE on the 2018 song “On Lock” which became an underground success. Shortly after,Yanoreleased his first solo single “Rolex, the Ocean'' with producer Joseph L'etranger. Once he began writing his full EP, he was introduced to frequent collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, who are featured on the EP’s title track, “nervous”. Following the “nervous” EP,Yanoand BADBADNOTGOOD released a highly praised cover of the Majestic’s “Key to Love (Is Understanding)” along with another well received collaborative track with BADBADNOTGOOD titled “Goodbye Blue”. In July of 2020Yanoreleased his debut LP titled “souvenir” which features production from Monsune, Jacques Greene, frequent collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, and lastly his father, Tatsuya Muraoka, whoYanoreconciles and reconnects with in the music video or the album’s final track “shoes”.Yano’s work has garnered praise in major music publications like The Fader, Billboard, Complex, and Exclaim and the attention of the late Virgil Abloh, Gilles Peterson, and Benji B along with millions of streams on Spotify and Apple Music.
Following a highly acclaimed 2020 which included the release of the debut LP souvenir, collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD, a double feature on COLORS, and industry praise from The Fader, Billboard, High Snobiety, NME, KCRW and Exclaim,Yanoquietly released a cover of Jessica Pratt’s “This Time Around” and took some time away from releasing music to write and record his forthcoming LP, set to release in January of 2023, titled “Portrait of a Dog”.Yanowas recently announced as the opening act for the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Clairo for the last leg of her North American and entirety of her EU/UK tour dates.
Yano’s sophomore LP, Portrait of a Dog, set to release in January of 2023 on Innovative Leisure, is a 12 track exploration of themes present throughout most ofYano’s catalogue – identity as a part of the Japanese-Canadian diaspora, contemplation of different family dynamics, and the intricacies of interpersonal relationships. Portrait of a Dog is a clear departure fromYano’s previous recordings – having established a clear sonic identity throughout the LP’s 12 tracks to tell a clear and succinct collection of stories guided by clear and intentional instrumentals. The LP is produced entirely in collaboration with BADBADNOTGOOD and features guest work from Slauson Malone, Sea Oleena, with string arrangements by Eliza Niemi, Leland Whitty, andYanohimself.
From Liberty Street
“This record is about as close to the sound of home as you can get,” says Mapache’s Sam Blasucci. “We recorded it with a bunch of our friends in the house where we were living in a neighborhood that we loved. It’s a family vibe through and through.”
It made perfect sense, then, for Mapache to name their new album in honor the place at the heart of it all: Liberty Street. Produced by longtime collaborator Dan Horne (Cass McCombs, Allah-Lahs), From Liberty Street captures Mapache at their finest, weaving airtight harmonies around stripped-down, organic arrangements that blur the lines between past and present, between retro and modern, between traditional folk and cosmic country. The songs here draw on everything from Mexican boleros and Hawaiian-steeped surf to Bakersfield twang and lonesome cowboy campfire tunes, and Blasucci and his musical partner, Clay Finch, deliver them with the kind of easygoing charm and natural intuition usually reserved for blood brothers or married couples. It’s an instantly engaging chemistry they share, a captivating musical bond that mirrors the comfort, closeness, and camaraderie of the album’s homespun roots.
Repress of Mapache's self-titled LP ......
Mapache consists of Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci. Born and raised in Glendale, California, the duo's breathtaking harmonies and heartfelt sound verges on cosmic West Coast Pop Americana. Their sound is not an exercise in pop nostalgia, but rather a distinctly independent link in a chain that stretches far behind and ahead of them.
Some of the greatest artists in the 20th century have beenmulti-instrumentalists – cue Prince, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Todd Rundgren and Paul McCartney. That expansive understanding of composition, technique and sound changes how artists approach musicians has inspired LelandWhitty’s approach on his new recordAnyhow. BADBADNOTGOOD’s LelandWhittyhas also worked with artists including Charlotte Day Wilson, Kali Uchis, Kendrick Lamar, Ghostface Killah, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Earl Sweatshirt, and Kaytranada.
Whitty’s current solo project is a departure from the improvisation focused collaborative band that has made his name. Anyhow began in 2020 afterWhittyhad finished working on several film score projects including Disappearance at Clifton Hill (Albert Shin) and Learn to Swim (Thyrone Tommy). That focus on narrative fed into his own work, which combined elements of cinematic composition with jazz and rock like he has created in the past.
His latest album AnyhowfeaturesWhittyon guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds,production, composition and strings. Narrative is built into each ofWhitty’s tracks in some way. Rather than a specific story, he drew from photographic or cinematic sources. The aim was for theproductionand arrangement to imply the kind of structural narrative found in jazz improvisation.Whitty’s compositions emerged from voice notes and short loops, for example guitar riffs that he would feed into Ableton and flesh out into larger arrangements.
In his perpetual quest to discover new ways of perceiving the real, the French artist Yves Klein once declared that he wrote his name on the “far side of the sky.” In the six decades since, the shock of the original has gradually become a distant ideal. Tedious nostalgia and microwave immediacy have become commonplace. Shattering boundaries becomes more difficult when anything goes and nearly everything has been done.
But if a narrative through line exists throughout Jimmy Edgar’s work, it’s his gift at deconstructing convention, whether through sound design, fine art, or live performance. In an era increasingly bereft of surprise, the Detroit-bred iconoclast’s career has been refreshingly unpredictable; he’s an escape artist capable of wriggling out of any predictable trap or rote cliché, a fearless seeker eternally leaping into the void.
His latest release for Innovative Leisure, LIQUIDS HEAVEN, is a psychedelic canvas of future R&B, euphoric bass, mutant tear-the-club-up rap, foundation-splintering noise, and gossamer soul. On a surface level, it is a starburst of avant-garde fusion, collecting a diverse cast of eccentric geniuses and re-configuring them into an anthology of nü musique concrete. But as with all of his work, there is a deeper and subversive intent.
The record’s early gestation spawned from Jimmy’s explorations of “material” in the digital world. Despite their apparent intangibility, he realized that they do possess a certain physicality, in some sense. If the experiments in materiality conducted by Klein and other 20 th Century conceptual artists began by placing everyday objects in galleries, the new millennium calls for the next advancement. The album is part of Jimmy’s broader ambition to change belief and intention in the digital realm – a pseudo-invisible way to summon novel realities by infusing his ultra-sleek aesthetic into transformative conceptual art.
LIQUIDS HEAVEN is the ultimate culmination of the idea of “phases of matter.” Asking “what would liquid desire?”, Jimmy conceived the sculpture on the album cover. Depicting a surgical medicine cabinet with rubber tubes inside, the image simulates a heaven that liquid could enjoy and love – a fluid playground. The sound is its own mesomorphic fluorescent magma, all-powerful, holding the shape of its containers, infinitely evolving. Sculpture by invisible electronic air pressure.
Do not mistakenly believe, however, that LIQUIDS HEAVEN is merely a technicolor dream of ethereal abstractions. It bangs as hard as anything to ever bump from a subwoofer. Over a polychromatic blast of crunk, 10KCaash and Zelooperz bounce on “Everybody” like a rap rave inside a 31 st century space station. “Bite That 2” finds Trinidad James spitting flames over booty-shaking, wall-crumbling bass. On “Ya,” 645AR chirps over a metallic chassis of booming industrial funk.
But for all the high energy propulsion, there is a counter-balance of melancholic beauty. The album’s opener, “Euphoria” features a Liz Y2K vocal that levitates with plaintive longing. The Milk-aided “Dreams 1000000” sounds like the chimerical soundtrack to a manga utopia that needs to be imagined. Milk also appears on the finale, “Never Leave,” which captures a bittersweet sadness, the wistful emotion of the tide slipping away.
It would be more surprising if LIQUIDS HEAVEN wasn’t surprising. Jimmy’s career has been a series of fascinating left-turns. Signed to Warp Records as a teenage electronic music prodigy, his body of work needs a scholarly bibliography to properly assess. He’s recorded for the world’s most respected imprints (Warp, K7, Hotflush, Innovative Leisure and his own New Reality Now). Raised in Detroit, there have been stints soaking up inspiration in Berlin, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York. His list of close collaborators includes the most innovative musicians of the millennium, including Hudson Mohawke, Danny Brown, SOPHIE, DAWN, Mykki Blanco, Vince Staples, and several full projects with Machinedrum as J-E-T-S.
Most recently, he has become a prolific and celebrated artist in the digital art space, which has become an integral part of his canon. With the goal of expanding the possibilities of conceptual art, Jimmy has used digital and internet native files to create single pixel magenta artwork. Screenshots are likened to paint strokes, meme images are re-contextualized. Dyson vacuum cleaners are hermetically sealed in plexiglass.
Jimmy is currently exhibiting a solo show of his digital works at Los Angeles’ Vellum gallery. Another upcoming project features 100 digital images where he deconstructed a surgical operating room and photographed the parts in a studio on a non-glare acrylic floor. This radical approach has been applied to his new live show too – which is a conceptual performance where Edgar isn’t physically present. Instead, Maija Knapp, an experimental dancer performs in front of his abstract visual animations.
The genius of LIQUIDS HEAVEN is that for all its cerebral intent, it remains replete with raw and visceral emotion. Out of sadness comes courage. Water, liquid, and light evaporate, become transparent, disappear peacefully. Nothing less than the sound and look of liquid are transmuted into powerful new sculptures – which are best experienced at a high volume on the far side of the sky.
Do You Need A Release?
After writing, performing, recording, and producing three albums themselves, DeLux have traded their typically hermetic recording process at their Burbank studio for a more collaborative experience. The result is their most dynamic record yet, titled Do You Need A Release? Founding members Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco invited their live band to record to tape at Jonny Bell’s Jazzcat Studio in Long Beach, CA. While DeLux has always been able to write immediately danceable and quirky pop songs with a strong dose of wit, these recordings get the sonic boost they deserve to match the quality and camaraderie of their intense and acclaimed live performances.
On DeLux’s first two albums the duo tackled the innocence of youth and generational anxiety. More Disco Songs About Love flipped the switch to create an ambitious party record not about youthful musings and insecurity, but reflection and gratitude for the things and people they love. This go-around Sean and Isaac are still funny and profound and their sound remains easy to groove to, but the band is more influenced by the fun 80’s new wave of the Tom Tom Club and the experimentation and imagery of The Clash’s “Sandinista!” than cerebral DFA era disco.
Do You Need A Release? Is DeLux at their poppiest, their prettiest, danciest, but also their most abrasive. The record is built on an uncomfortable bed of tension which when released is immediately satisfying in unpredictable and surprising ways. The verses often pummel you with aggressive beats and grooves only to blossom into open, encouraging, and even angelic refrains. Or the other way around, like in “New Summers”, where the choruses don’t resolve and the drums are a never ending build up that disorients you—reminding you that summer will never be the same again. Similarly on the title track, a relentless glitch of a guitar chord repeats over a drum beat that sounds like it’s trying to break into your house. The band finally breaks the tension with a simple mantra: “Open, open you’re ready now.” These ebbs and flows are embedded in their new approach to songwriting which owes itself to another new variable: a Yamaha P2 upright piano made of walnut.
DeLux’s sound has been built on iconic synths such as the Juno and Dx 7 and while those instruments are still trademarks of their identity, Sean wanted a place to sit without plugging in to write songs he could construct more organically. Playing the piano allowed him to create more emotive performances, playing with the give and take of the piano keys which lead to the new album’s organized mess of often beautiful but dissonant song structures. On the album’s opener, “They Call This Love”, it sounds like the band is announcing a special bulletin report for the upcoming apocalypse. Arpeggiated synths weave through beautiful vocal harmonies behind Sean’s urgent warning to beware of controlling lovers and then drops into an almost EDM like jam only to end with a gentle piano chord progression. Like a glimmering rainbow after a raging storm.
The piano also reveals Sean at his most vulnerable: there are two shockingly pretty ballady tunes on the LP that feature Sean’s unique style of piano playing and his strange sense of melody and bizarre lyrical subject matter. “Morning Misses Me” is a song as seemingly silly as waking up too late, but it puts goose pimples on your goose pimples, making your eyes wet with its honesty and clarity. It’s a track about trying your hardest to be someone different, but ultimately deciding to accept who you are and always have been. It ends with a question mark of a chord just like the title of the album.
Sean says that the record is filled with questions and not answers, but each riddle is its own answer as pseudo philosophical as that can sound… Hislyricsare at once filled with uncertainty and affirmation. The irony is that the grooves are as solid as they’ve ever been and the band is pushing themselves harder than they ever have. Striving to make something danceable and beautiful and important.DeLux matters because they make music to dance to and be inspired by—they exist to ask us the questions we’re often too afraid to move our bodies to. That may sound hyperbolic but their ambitions are not an exaggeration. With no pun intended, Do You Need A Release? comes out this September 23rd via Innovative Leisure.
Dendrons hit the road before they even knew exactly where they were headed. On New Year’s Day 2018, Dane Jarvie and Zak Sprenger first convened in Chicago to start a new project, recording a demo at home by the seat of their pants, and almost immediately after, began to play shows. “I would just email as many people as possible,” says Jarvie. “I’m like, ‘Can we open this?’ It didn’t matter if it was in Dallas or New Orleans or Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was like, let’s go.”
With a band name chosen by flipping through books in the library (“Dendron” is Greek for “tree”) and a sound and lineup in healthy evolution as they bounced around North America, Dendrons were finding who they were in front of a live audience. Over the course of 2018 and 2019, they were developing a propulsive, acerbic rock style both reminiscent of midwestern peers like Deeper and Dehd and reaching beyond to develop an unmistakable aura all their own. They put out their debut, 2020’s Dendrons, and were packing their bags for a full European tour before it had to be abruptly canceled when borders closed and venues shut down around the world. Suddenly, a band that cut their teeth on the road had to get comfortable staying at home.
“It was out of necessity,” says Jarvie, who started brainstorming ideas for a new album back at his family’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, just after the pandemic took hold. When he returned to Chicago a few months later, the full band of Jarvie (vocals/guitar/synth), Sprenger (synth/guitar), Matt Kase (bass/synth/vocals), John MacEachen (guitar/samples), Nick Togliatti (drums), and Stef Roti (drums) formed a bubble to get together and work out what would prove to be their highly ambitious and meticulously crafted second album,5-3-8. “It was just like, well, we can’t tour, we can’t do anything,” Jarvie remembers. “So we might as well just stick together and really create something.”
Meeting three or four times a week, and ultimately rehearsing almost 40 song ideas, Dendrons began to methodically whittle down the batch to a set of songs that weaved through one another intricately, with lyrical and musical motifs dancing around a swirling rock arrangement. Taken on their own, tracks like “Vain Repeating” and “Octaves Only” tap into the manic energy and wit of bands like Wire and Stereolab—but in the context of the album’s full vision, they come together to paint an album informed by post-truth spectacle, and a desire for optimism in the face of isolation.
The lyrics paint those emotions with subtlety, having been put together partially through a cut-up method, grabbing words and phrases from places such as CNN and CSPAN. “That was a real intention with this record was to try different techniques in terms of how words are coming together—stringing together sentences through collage,” Jarvie explains. On “New Outlook 1,” he sings in his direct, almost Stephen Malkmus-like style: “Soon we’ll be stooped over laughing / Watching ourselves high on a vision.”
When it came time to record5-3-8—the title being a reference to the lyrical refrain that appears at a few points of the album of “Fifths, thirds, octaves only”— Dendrons decamped to Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, and did additional recording at Highland Recording Studio in Phoenix, Arizona,producingthe album with Tony Brant and Sonny DiPerri. A far cry away from where they started as two friends doing everything themselves, from the recording to the booking to even the graphic design, the band is now an eagerly collaborative project. And they’re already thinking about what’s to come.
“You’re always gonna leave a record feeling like there is something more to be said,” Jarvie says. “I don’t believe in a magnum opus. Art is contextual, and exists for the specific time and circumstance it was created in. Every record is a conversation with the last.”
Halfway to Eighty
Tijuana Panther's latest album "Halfway To Eighty"
Roscoe is a road dog. The 14-year-old Boston Terrier has been there for the whole ride of Mapache, Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci’s band, which has grown from being the casual project of two longtime buds to one of the most formidable cosmic-folk acts around. “Roscoe’s been through a lot of shit,” says Blasucci, the dog’s formal owner. “He’s been all around the country, come on tour a little bit.” With some bemused pride, Finch points out that, for a few years, he and Blasucci bunked together in a room in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that was just big enough to fit two twin beds. “It was the two of us and the dog,” he laughs.
Naturally, Roscoe has found himself the subject of a good handful of Mapache songs in the past—and on Roscoe’sDream, the band’s upcoming third LP of originals, he takes center stage. (That’s him in quilt form on the album cover.)
Maria Chiara Argirò
Maria Chiara Argirò (pronounced ma-REE-ah key-AH-rah r-gee-ROW) has been quietly weaving her way around the UK jazz, classical and electronic worlds since she moved to London from Rome 11 years ago. A pianist from the age of nine and a key player in the capital’s multi-national jazz scene, she’s lent her skills to indie band These New Puritans, lush jazz troupe Kinkajous and, more recently, collaborations with Jamie Leeming – their 2020 album Flow was nominated for one of the albums of the year in the Jazz Revelations Awards and was the Guardian’s jazz album of the month – and beat-driven duo Moonfish.
But with her new album, Forest City, she finds a glistening thread between these movements: it marks her out as an exciting rising electronic artist, where jazz meets Kelly Lee Owens, Jon Hopkins and Radiohead. It’s a concept record, about the “duality of nature and city”, and where organic sounds and textures seem to flow above the urban sprawl.
Maria had finished writing the album before the first lockdown of 2020 but the enforced isolation helped to give the music a sense of urgency, a longing to be immersed in the natural world and the buzz of the city at the same time. The songs always start as something she can play acoustically, that would work without the bells and whistles, and then she layers the atmosphere around them. “The music needs to stand on its own, a melody has to be strong,” she says.
But though the album has dark undertones, it’s not all doom and gloom: in her earthy metropolis, a certain optimism glows through. “It’s about being conscious of the world we live in and how careful we need to be,” Maria explains. “At the end of the day, there is hope”.
Opening track ‘Home’ sets up the shadowy textural claustrophobia of the city, its melancholic piano evoking raindrops on crowded pavement; then the album evolves into a mesmeric journey spanning downbeat trip-hop, all skittering drums and warped trumpet (‘Forest City’), dream-like, folkier songwriting (‘Greenarp’, which was named after the arpeggios she created on her beloved Organelle synth), galvanising dance floor heaters (the warm, house-inflected ‘Bonsai’), shoegazey alt-pop, punctured by poignant brass solos (‘Blossom’) and beguiling jazztronica that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Jamie XX set (‘Clouds’).
The musician’s biggest influence growing up was her mother, a dance teacher, whose passion for ballet and contemporary dance inspired Maria to start piano lessons when she was a child. But by her early teens she’d discovered jazz “and that became an obsession,” she says. She started listening to the likes of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, then expanded out to Seventies prog (Pink Floyd) and folk (Nick Drake) – sounds which were at odds with the strict classical world. “I wanted to be a rebel,” she says.
When she was starting out in Rome, Maria continues, she was one of the very few women in jazz she could think of. “All my life I’ve been surrounded by men,” she says. “But when you’re 15, you don’t really think about being the only woman. Now I see many more women in jazz and electronic music but back then, it wasn’t the case at all.” She moved to London over a decade ago to immerse herself in the music scene; in Italy, she says, “jazz is still seen as the older generation’s music. I wanted to find my own path.”
In London, she studied at the London Centre of Contemporary Music and then took a jazz degree at Middlesex University. The day after her last exam was the day she went on tour with experimental post-punk group These New Puritans. “Then I was locked in a rehearsal space with the guys, it was crazy.” She says the group has hugely informed her own approach to music. “They’re not too worried about being commercial,” she says, “and they mix genres freely.”
A show in Los Angeles, when These New Puritans opened for Björk, was a particular highlight – the Icelandic musician is another major influence on Maria. “It’s her artistry that inspires me,” she explains, “how she’s always pushing boundaries, thinking about the details and working with strong collaborators.” Like Björk, she also has a penchant for exploring non-western instruments and she studied djembé, playing in bands led by Senegalese percussionists like Sena M’Baye and Ady Thioune.
Maria has released a few solo records before but Forest City feels like the turning of a page. The past 18 months provided the respite that she needed to hone her own sound, as she liberated herself from the structures of jazz on her laptop and adding dense thickets of electronic texture and beats. She recorded and self-produced the album between her bedroom and her studio with the precious help of her longtime collaborators and electronic producers, In a Sleeping Mood and mixing engineer Alex Killpartrick. And, crucially, she is singing for the first time, too – her airy, otherworldly vocals on ‘Blossom’ and ‘Clouds’ especially resemble Emiliana Torrini or a singer in a smoky, late-night club, alone under the spotlight on the stage.
Being in lockdown, says Maria, gave her the freedom she needed to explore her voice. “I thought, ‘I’m going to do exactly what I want to do, without boundaries,” she says. With that sort of limitless outlook, who knows what she’ll do next.
Producer and multi-instrumentalist BenMarc, who’s emerged as a key figure of London’s cutting edge jazz scene, has just announced his debut full length, a follow up to last September’s widely acclaimed Breathe Suite EP (heralded by NPR, Pitchfork, The Wire, The Guardian, and more). Glass Effect is an assured and accomplished 13-track realization of a singular vision that unifies a multitudinous profusion of influences (free-jazz, broken beat, hip-hop, electronica and beyond) into a sublime whole, underscoring the evolution of his quest for a distinctive sound: lambent, low-key, and yet dizzyingly intricate.
It’s a rare talent that can link Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke, Afrofuturists Sun Ra Arkestra, and grime legend Dizzee Rascal, but Marc has long blurred musical worlds and criss-crossed boundaries. One of the reasons that he started writing Glass Effect, says Marc, was going to nightclubs in Ibiza and experiencing the heady sun-dappled euphoria of a summery dancefloor, as well as the beat-driven production of artists like Four Tet, Bonobo, Machinedrum, DJ Shadow, and Madlib.
Raccoons enamel pin
Monterey b/w Straight Love Affair 7"
“Monterey” is a ‘lost’ track from the song book of Nature Boy himself, Eden Ahbez.
There existed only a demo acetate recording of a member (John Harris) of the cult Los Angeles doo-wop group the Rivingtons which made its way to my ears via my Californio brethren Matt Correia (Allah-las).
In a way, it feels divined to have been delivered to me by these means, cut at the historic Western 2 studios in Hollywood, and played with such esteemed and familiar musical company - the rhythm section of Brian Lang on bass and Eric Jackowitz on drums, pianist Lee Pardini, second guitar John Anderson, and lead tenor saxophonist Mando Dorame. Pay close attention to the undertow pull as the band crests and the pre-solo bars drop into Mando’s loamy lead. I hope it takes you far away, but not too far from shore…
Backed with a 45 version of "Straight Love Affair"
Shortly after having their North American tour canceled due to Covid in March 2020, Sam, Clay & their close friend and producer Dan Horne decided to hunker down and use the time to work on an album of covers. Ranging from songs by close friends like Allah Las & Little Wings, to classics by Stevie Wonder & the Beach Boys, what resulted is an effortless & touching take on songs you may or may not be familiar with. Other artists include: Sade, Babe Rainbow, Peter Rowan, The Louvin Brothers
BADBADNOTGOOD's new album Talk Memoryis theband's first album with XL Recordings in partnership with Innovative Leisure. The album features musical contributions from Arthur Verocai, Karriem Riggins, Terrace Martin, Laraaji and acclaimed harpist Brandee Younger.
Talk Memory is a heartfelt expression of joy for the music and community the band inhabits. Focused on collaboration and the magic of improvised live performance.
Artwork & packaging designed by Virgil Abloh's studio Alaska-Alaska™
LP is Standard Jacket + Download Card.
CD is 4 Panel Digipack.
Maston released his debut album, Shadows, in 2013, and moved from his native Los Angeles to Amsterdam for a several year stint sitting in with Dutch musician Jacco Gardner’s band. It was during this period that Maston wrote and recorded his second album Tulips (2017). Influenced by European film and library music, the largely instrumental Tulips was released to critical acclaim, garnering comparisons to Ennio Morricone, Sven Libaek, & Piero Umiliani. The record was accompanied by several 16mm films directed by Maston, and the LP’s limited private press release on his own Phonoscope label has become highly sought after among crate diggers and collectors alike.
Following Tulips, he began producing and mixing records for other artists, including his collaboration with Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) as PAINT, whose first two LP’s were produced and recorded by Frank. In April 2021 Maston released his third album, Panorama, on the legendary library music label KPM, bringing his soundtrack influences full circle and firmly cementing himself as a contemporary composer.
LP is Standard Jacket w/ Download Card, Printed Inner Sleeve & Foldout Poster.
CD is 4 Panel Digipack.
Consider the power of the vibe. After all, the power of positive vibes transcends simple categorization or a Sopranos meme. A good vibe is a cool breeze and ice cream on a sweltering afternoon. It is the athlete whose sixth sense and unselfishness makes everyone on the court play better. It is those Bob Ross videos where with a gentle voice and a few quick brush strokes, the painter conjures arcadian beauty. Good vibes are something that the modern world desperately needs. Graciously, such benevolent energy can be found on ‘LionelBoy’, the Innovative Leisure self-titled debut LP fromLionelBoy, the Oahu-bred singer-songwriter.
In the case ofLionelBoy, the native Hawaiian sense of the Mahalo spirit is inextricable from the art. And like the word “Mahalo,” there is a deeper meaning to the music beyond superficial translation. Mahalo literally translates to “thank you,” but it’s an entire approach to life: it encompasses the value of thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude. While those might easily interpret it as indifference and apathy, it is a product of profound connectivity and three-dimensional perspective. Few things are more difficult than making a work of art appear effortless. The airy, jazz-cracked, electronic pop ofLionelBoybelies a wistful romanticism, a careful observational streak, and a meditative fixation on life and death.
A famous John Keats quote holds that you shouldn’t write poems unless the words come naturally as leaves falling from a tree. In a slightly different sense, you can use this notion to trace the trajectory ofLionel’s career. For most of his life, the apostle of chill bornLionelDeguzman was a skater kid. The pursuit taught him the value of individuality -- in the sense that there are myriad ways to ride a skateboard and you find your own way by figuring out your own natural style -- a singularity that sets you apart from everyone else who can do a backside 180. It’s this attitude with whichLionelapproaches music. Even then, this evolution had a streak of serendipity.
In the summer of 2018,Lionelfirst entered a studio in Long Beach with two close friends (he’d moved to the West Coast port city several years prior). The recording session started by shouting obscenities into the microphone. But inspiration slowly took root and theLionelBoyvision began to manifest. That same year,Lionelbegan working with the celebrated producer Jonny Bell on an unrelated project. The strength of the artistic kinship eventually led him to produce theLionel’s first single, “Are You Happy Yet,” and the Who Is Dovey? EP, released on Innovative Leisure.
Flash forward, a few years later, and the creative union has led to ‘LionelBoy’, an electric synthesis ofLionel’s sounds -- which FADER previously hailed as “slacker pop” (alternate ascription: “liquor store pop.”). It’s a warm and mellow album built to keep you company on long drives. IfLionel’s artist DNA stems from a classic singer-songwriter tradition, it’s been subtly transposed with the influences of the rappers, beatmakers, and R&B singers that dominate his listening habits. “Kam Highway” sounds like a breathless moonlit torch ballad laced with a touch of inspiration derived from Boi-1da’s kicks on “Mob Ties.” With “Tides,”LionelBoyupdates Jack Johnson and Ben Harper for a generation in dire need of expansive and endearing mood music. “Mango Michelada” reimagines the synth sounds often used by Frank Ocean to create a song that comes off as refreshing and tropically chill as its namesake.
Despite being recorded during the pandemic,Lioneland Bell somehow managed to create an antidote for the anxiety. They’d visit each other several times a week, slowly fleshing out the demos thatLionelrecorded at home, aided by a squadron of highly gifted virtuosos (Fred Garbutt, synthesizers; Bell, Nic Gonzales, Andrew Pham and Sam Wilkes, bass; Brett Kramer, drums; Sarah Hinesly, keys, and Andres Renteria on percussion). ‘LionelBoy’ is soulful and easy-going, both introspective and laissez faire. Extremely mellow but never soft-headed.
For a moment fraught with stress and chaos, this album is a relaxed exhale of joy. Yet it refuses delusion. These are real-life circumstances that play out with thought and concern. After all, there is a subtlety to the art of the vibe.LionelBoyisn’t just playing a series of chords to create a serene mood. It’s at the essence of his being. Something that can’t be forced or faked. A timeless cool apart from momentary trends, eternal as the tides rolling in and out.