LovelandRegular price Sale price $21.98 Save $0.00
CD is a 4 Panel Digipack.
LP is Gatefold & comes w/ Digital Download Card.
There’s so much that went into French psychedelic trio Wall of Death’s new album Loveland. There’s the band itself: Gabriel Matringe, the guitarist and ex-cello player, and Brice Borredon, who grew up in the country in the south of France and who dedicated himself completely to the piano at age 6, and Adam Ghoubali, who taught himself drums after hearing the Doors. Then there’s Innovative Leisure’s Hanni El Khatib, the genre-smashing guitarist who shares songs with GZA and who’d devote his most ambitious production work yet to Wall of Death. There’s the giant stack of vintage equipment—organ, synthesizer, electric piano and a positively luscious Mellotron. There’s the live chicken named Chickpea, who guarded the outside of the Jazzcats studio in Long Beach and wouldn't let anyone pet her except Borredon. (“We directly understood and respected each other,” he explains.)
And of course there are the decades of inspiration and dedication that push Loveland past the limits of what “psychedelic” means in 2015—a connection that sparks to life with 60s groundbreakers like Soft Machine and King Crimson and leaves a comet trail across Creation Records on its way to Radiohead (and past Tame Impala!) to a destination beyond the horizon. With able and agile studio help from El Khatib and engineers Jonny Bell (also of Innovative Leisure’s Crystal Antlers) and Sonny DiPerri, Wall of Death have created a dense and deeply individual album that makes an instant into a lifetime and more: “Loveland is like the last steps you do in the desert,” says Matringe. “Dry and exhausted, one minute before dying.”
Produced by Black Angels compatriot (and BBQ expert) Texan Brett Orrison, their 2012 debut Main Obsessions on France’s Born Bad label was like if Ennio Morricone had taken over for John Cale on that first Stooges LP—an album as desolate as it was heavy. But for their new album, Wall of Death wanted something ... well, new, in every way. They wanted to take that extra step—to make modern music with the most exquisitely vintage equipment possible, explains Ghoubali, and to seek out a new producer with unfamiliar ideas to make it happen. The idea, says Matringe, was pure and simple: “I was interested in getting lost in some uncomfortable ways.”
Enter Hanni El Khatib, who met Wall of Death on tour in 2013. El Khatib was then fresh off his Head In The Dirt album and full of his own ideas about music production, thanks to particularly instructional sessions with Dirt producer Dan Auerbach. That same year, he’d do his first official production work on California psych-garage band Feeding People’s LP, and then in the spring of 2014, he’d lock himself in L.A. studio the Lair for 30 days and emerge with his ferociously experimental and album Moonlight. While on tour, he discovered that Wall of Death were just as ready to break the rules, he says: “I saw a fresh group that was open-minded and ready to do something drastically different. They talked about risk and experimentation and that’s what drew me to working on this record.” And when Wall of Death heard Moonlight, that sealed the deal: “It’s hard sometimes to let people touch your music,” says Matringe. “But he found what we were looking for.”
And so Loveland became a psychedelic album, but in its own irreproducibly unique way—and not like the usual bled-dry psychedelic albums of 2015, which smear reverb across almost everything and put fuzz on whatever’s left. Instead, Loveland is a work of art or even architecture, a castle-slash-cathedral built on catacombs and caverns and secret passages, where the way in is also the way out. Precisely one minute into Loveland, Matringe’s vocals suddenly explode into infinity, and then the bottom drops out of the song—and from there, Wall of Death dive into the void. There are no brutish garage ragers here, and no plotless jam sessions, either. Loveland is the definition of a slow-burn, with cinematic pace and limitless space and a mellotron that’s practically another member of the band. The idea, says el Khatib, was to make Loveland sound like a dream come true: “Although I played quite a great deal on this album, I wanted to make sure that first and foremost it sounded like Wall of Death. This wasn’t about me trying to put my personal stamp on it, but rather to help my friends make an album they were dreaming about in their heads
If there’s one album everyone in Wall of Death owns, they say, it’s Pink Floyd’s transcendental Meddle, and that underwater sound—as depicted on Meddle’s famous album cover—is everywhere on Loveland, especially on nod-along songs like “For A Lover” or “Blow The Clouds.” (They probably all also own the soundtrack to trip-out film extraordinaire La Planéte Sauvage, too.) But then there’s suddenly an unexpected Terry Riley-style synthesizer fractalization, and then suddenly an unexpected Pink Fairies-style guitar-break, and then the song itself powers down to make space for “Dreamland,” which plays like This Heat miraculously allowed to remix slivers of My Bloody Valentine. (Yes, it’s as hypnotic as the title promises.) Listen close and hear how the final moments of closer song “Memory Pt. 1 and 2” slip seamlessly into the title-track opener—that means this album is endless, if you’d like it to be. And in between, says Matringe, is exactly everything Wall of Death knew they really needed on this album: “The sound between love, paradise and fantasy,” he says, “with songs about love, freedom, youth and hope. For me, it’s the spectrum of what we love.”
Flowers in the SpringRegular price Sale price $19.99 Save $0.00
LP is Standard Jacket w/ Printed Inner Sleeve + Insert + Download Card.
CD is 4 Panel Digipack.
First, let’s meet back up with the Molochs—you remember them, right? Their America’s Velvet Glory was the earliest burst of light and energy to hit in 2017, an album of electrified rock ‘n’ roll like Dylan and Lou Reed by a band named after the Ginsberg-ian glutton god who demanded the sacrifice of all things good and pure. But now it’s 2018 and Moloch himself is fatter and happier than ever, so the Molochs couldn’t just make another record. After Glory showed the world who they were, they needed to make an album that showed what they could do. So Flowers In The Spring is where the Molochs worked harder, thought harder and fought harder to be the kind of band that the times demand: “I like to think the world just needs some good solid songs out there,” founder Lucas Fitzsimons says. “It’s simple. It’s not easy … but it’s simple.”
America’s Velvet Glory, their first-ever record for L.A.’s Innovative Leisure label, had sparked their first-ever U.S and European tours, first-ever festival sets, first-ever international press and more. (Top music mag Mojo even said they’d made one of the year’s best albums—“Any year!”) Follow-up Flowers bloomed almost exactly a year later at Long Beach’s Jazzcats studio between December of 2017 and January of 2018, where Fitzsimons and longtime band member Ryan Foster had recorded Glory. By the time they’d returned, they had a slate of songs that had come to Fitzsimons in flash moments, written on nerve-wracking transcontinental flights or on isolated nights in an L.A. apartment, captured at once in bursts of insight or rescued from almost-abandonment in discarded notebooks.
As on Glory, inspiration from Syd Barrett, Dylan, Nikki Sudden and kindred spirit Peter Perrett of the Only Ones was at work, but the Molochs are endlessly (appropriately?) ravenous when it comes to things to read and listen to and learn from. On Flowers they’d refine and recombine their sound, working in that long tradition of poets who cover (or discover) themselves in pop songs. “To Kick In A Lover’s Door” blows Flowers open with the wit and precision of the Go-Betweens, and “I Wanna Say To You” draws more from some of Creation Records’ dreamiest dreamers than it does from any esoteric 60s howlers. “Flowers In The Spring” and “Pages Of Your Journal” could be two lost Kinks singles from two different Kinks eras—that Ray Davies-ian venom stays the same, of course—and the charming/disarming “Too Lost In Love” makes feeling down sound like cheering up, just like the Clean did.
Yes, they do have their first-ever string section here, and that could confuse some people. (“People go, ‘Wow, it sounds more mature.’” says Fitzsimons. “What kind of boring shit is that?”) But Flowers isn’t a grown-up album or a show-off album or a break-up album or a just-had-to-make-another-album album because the Molochs don’t pick targets that tiny. Love and disgrace and life and death blur and bleed into each other, but at the core of Flowers is a story about standing against the inhuman by being more human, however messily honest that needs to be. (Or like Fitzsimons sings at the end of the record: beware that “determination by a whole / to destroy the human soul.” Funny how that comes in a song where he claims he can’t explain everything that happens to him, because he sort of just did.) So consider their new Flowers In The Spring a meticulously plotted counterattack against all things Moloch-ian, with clear, concise, immediate, undeniable, simple, direct pop songs, says Fitzsimons, each sharpened enough to cut through anything it touched. That’s what he needed to do, he says, because that’s what felt most true. Maybe it really was that simple, even if it wasn’t easy. Like he’d explain in a song with just seven words: “There’s something I wanna say to you.”
New ChantsRegular price Sale price $18.99 Save $0.00
LP is Standard Jacket + Download Card.
First 15 LP orders come with Limited Edition Custom Booklet.
Traps PS are a band that breaks “less is more” all the way down to “less is everything.” You get it: like the Minutemen, the songs are short because they don’t need to be long. And like the Minutemen, sixty seconds of Traps PS hits harder and resonates longer than five-ten-twenty sloppy minutes from somebody else. Or like Gang of Four, who got it from James Brown, who is a fundamental Traps PS inspiration—Traps PS cares about discipline, rhythm and clarity. Says drummer Miles Wintner: “We don’t waste time.” They’ve always been unafraid to do what needed to be done, this practically telepathic trio of Wintner, bassist/backing vocalist Danny Miller and singer/guitarist Andrew Jeffords. They recorded and released records on their community-oriented/community-involved label Papermade and played any space they’d fit—lost all ages institutions like L.A.’s Pehrspace or not-exactly legal “guerilla” shows on city streets and in dusty Inglewood oil fields. But with their first full-length in three years coming into focus, they found L.A. independent label Innovative Leisure ready to amplify that DIY capability:
“We’ve done so much in our own bubble that it was exciting to explore another aspect,” says Jeffords. “I’m enjoying inviting people into our family. By the time they walked into Long Beach’s Jazzcats studio—where label mates like Hanni El Khatib and the Molochs recorded with producer Jonny Bell—they had more than twenty songs nearly fully finished, trimmed to their most necessary components and rehearsed only enough to sharpen the original inspiration. That was the most important part, says Jeffords, to capture that ecstatic lightning-strike instant that sparked a song in the first place, and to make sure it never fizzled out. “If we didn’t have that feeling,” he adds, “the song would have never made it out of the rehearsal studio.”
Their last full-length was about energy, says Jeffords, an echo of the helicopters that shook the walls in his old apartment and the car crashes in the street. New Chants would be darker in tone and color, he thought—about people and their machines, and the blurring relationship between them. Like the way you can sometimes see your reflection in a TV screen—maybe you lose track of where the media starts and you begin. If “Fourth Walls” didn’t make it obvious, the black border around their cover art does: Traps PS knows there’s always a frame around the image.
This is where the real spirit of that first wave of post-punk is at work on New Chants. It’s that uneasiness with the future and the unpredictable effects it brings, and an effort to make an unpredictable new music to meet it. (Possibly related: there’s actually one of the Jazzcats studio cats playing piano on this album, but not where you’d think.)
New Chants is an album about watching and being watched, about white noise and negative space, about how what’s undone or unplayed or unsaid is just as deliberate and meaningful as everything else. Jeffords even perforated his lyrics sheet with “…” ellipses—negative space in the language itself. So think Wire’s precision minimalism, antidote to the over-the-top spectacle of punk and pop both. You’ll hear it in “Seven Voices” or the album’s title track. Think Public Image and that caustic, corrosive—and purer for it—dissonance.
You’ll hear it in “Two Truths,” with its ragged semi-chorus of “Emmmmmmbrace …” Think the Contortions, who tore out everything in their songs except the rhythm and discovered there wasn’t much else they’d needed anyway, except for some saxophone used more as flamethrower than musical instrument. You’ll hear that as “Fourth Walls” falls in on itself. And then think about Traps PS, who thought about what they didn’t need and then threw it out, and who made an album only out of what they felt mattered most: “Let it be what it is,” says Jeffords. New Chants is barely twenty minutes long—but it’s got everything.
Nude CasinoRegular price Sale price $9.99 Save $0.00
LP is Gatefold Jacket + Download Card.
CD is 4 Panel Digipack.
Rotterdam’s Iguana Death Cult hasn’t exactly been shy about causing havoc on whatever stage they set foot. That’s likely been the one constant since establishing their giddy brand of protopunk and garage rock on debut LP The First Stirrings Of Insect Life. Iguana’s pending follow-up Nude Casino marks a swift and sobering departure from the miasma of psychedelics they purvey so fervently. But no less intense: this band has been sharpening their tools, reemerging from their concrete cavern with a ragged and convulsive post-punk attack akin to Devo, The Gun Club, and Richard Hell.
Nude Casino sporadically evokes Iguana Death Cult’s more hedonistic tendencies, but the album’s crisper, more unvarnished sonic makeup illustrates a seething skepticism as a counterbalance. Frontman Jeroen Reek finds himself teetering in demented neurosis between vivid dream states and stark reality. The album’s beating heart is ‘Tuesday’s Lament’, an arresting five-chapter monologue that wrestles with the strains of mortality and belief. As Reek narrates the invasion of existing evils into his phantasmagorical, aquatic dream world, somehow, Iguana Death Cult manage to jam it all into a belter of a melodic hook: “Swimming upstream for the sake of paradise, it’s up there still.” A bashful resolution, albeit one that balances on the edge of fatalism.
Adding a touch of sobriety, both sonically and lyrically, hasn’t stifled Iguana Death Cult daredevil ways the slightest. The mighty triptych of ‘Nude Casino’, ‘Bright Lights’ and ‘Lorraine’ was pretty much written simultaneously, a testament to the off-the-chain chemistry the Dutch quintet has developed over the years. Axe-wielder Tobias Opschoor once again brandishes his resourcefulness for licks that penetrate the skull with charm and impertinence. He is the brains behind Nude Casino’s manic, climax-building pinnacle ‘Nature Calls’, a juggernaut of a track that ironically captures a yearning to drift away from the civilized world. Though more grounded in reality, sonically speaking, ‘Nature Calls’ might be the closest kin to the more surrealist pronouncements of First Stirrings.
Playing an abundance of shows – at small clubs, squats and festivals such as The Great Escape, Lowlands, c/o pop, Plissken and Reeperbahn – has whipped Iguana into even more ferocious live band, and that experience carries over in the recordings. The tandem of Justin Boer (bass) and Arjen van Opstal (drums) is still the engine that drives the group’s helter-skelter horsepower. Jimmy de Kok adds a new melodic dynamic, assaulting the neurons with feverish organs and synths. With yet another erratic element in the fold, Nude Casino invokes something more claustrophobic and barren, tackling themes like sleep paralysis (‘Half Frisian’) and lost innocence (‘Castle In The Sky’).
Indeed, Iguana Death Cult isn’t gleefully surfing that mighty tidal wave anymore, but giving in to destructive currents that enwrap everything in chaos. Nude Casino is an intrusive, spastic affair, streamlined into a propellant, hook-heavy yomps, never more obvious than the cadaverous disco pulse of ‘Carnal Beat Machine’. Like The Clash and Minutemen before them, Iguana Death Cult have embraced the art of rocking the fuck out with all senses and impulses up to eleven. Rapturously sinking in their claws, and never letting go.
Joy Comes In SpiritRegular price Sale price $9.99 Save $0.00
2LP is Gatefold Jacket, Custom Inner Sleeves + Download Card.
CD is Jewel Case.
In a world where art is compromised and commodified, shrunk down and boxed in, Vicktor Taiwò wants us to open up. The vibrant young singer-songwriter traffics in subtle hints and soaring melodies, slow creeps and grand climaxes. Taiwò is on a mission to collect something from himself, and it’s a journey worth following.
It is the frigid winter of the year 2000 and Vicktor Taiwò, an eight year old, accompanied by his mother and siblings, arrive in East London after leaving behind the visceral warmth of Abeokuta, Nigeria behind. Raised in a Christian home, his exposure to performing music came as it does for many with gifted vocal ability; honing skills and crafting harmonies in church choirs.
Years forward and disillusioned by his decision to study Law & Business at university, Vicktor Taiwò makes a choice that alters the course of his life permanently. After encouragement from friends and a brief stint as a frustrated photographer, Taiwò decides on January 1, 2012 precisely - as he does with most things - that he would make music his medium.
Once he started uploading his songs online, listeners caught on quickly. Without label or publisher, he found himself synced on shows like Girls and Dear White People. JUNO, Vicktor’s self-released debut EP, was met with praise by the likes of Vice, Billboard, and Okayplayer for its lean, focused approach to song structure, and for its withering, poetic lyrics.
Even at such an early stage in his development, Taiwò was finding angles that most songwriters would neglect. “At this point, all I really think there is for humans to do is to explore detail,” he says. “To see how infinite an infinitely expanding universe really is, and how small the smallest particle really is.”
His debut album, Joy Comes in Spirit, is at once experimental and comforting – collected shards of soul and style reassembled into something entirely new. Due out on Innovative Leisure, the record introduces a bold new artist willing to take musical and lyrical risks, and to bare himself to an international audience. The result is an arresting, unforgettable work that shrugs off the expectations we have that musicians fit easily into recognizable molds.
A fearless writer, on “Letters I Wrote,” Taiwò opens with a remarkable scene: “If you never see sunlight again / And the sun turns black and makes you so afraid / Can you find the light within to fight the night?” It’s a note to self of course; from Joy Comes in Spirit’s first note, Vicktor is mining his own psyche for its dark depths and hidden crevices, demanding from himself the sort of emotional reaction his work incites in others.
Songs like “Subducta. Psalm 69,” a seven-minute, multi-part epic, echo contemporary hip-hop; “tDS (Surf)” seems designed to be sung around campfires in the distant future; “Supernatural Women” traces 808s & Heartbreak back to its Zappian roots. And “Summon,” one of the record’s highlights, is like if you trapped a troubled spirit in a GameBoy Colour.
Vicktor Taiwò is emotionally complex. His album’s beautiful closer, “Morning Joy,” is redemptive, an optimistic look toward better days. It’s hard not to be optimistic in the face of Taiwò’s talent, the kind of which is rarely harnessed so seamlessly, and at such a young age. He’ll be an artist of consequence for years to come, no matter what outside forces threaten to block his path.
EXHIBITIONISTSRegular price Sale price $12.99 Save $0.00
In the summer of 2010, Superhumanoids was birthed under the hazy air and bright blue skies of Los Angeles. A fascination for electronic sounds, instruments, pedals, and more, aesthetically united Max, Sarah, and Cameron. Like a petri dish growing each day, the band spent their time together intertwining and experimenting with their R&B upbringings and love for pop music.
Exhibitionists is the soundtrack to the last moments of dusk in LA. With swooning guitars, glimmering air, soaring melodies, the setting sun, and melting keyboards, something about the whole thing makes your breath stop short. With each synth and guitar sound being completely made from scratch, the record brings a homegrown feel that encapsulates the thumps of the beating heart and lulls of swaying palm fronds from LA. Despite being wrapped in an electronic blanket, the trio unravels each songs core to take the listener on a journey that highlights the living R&B undertones and driving groove that brings to light the soul of the record. What is found in the sticky air of the city of angels is found here in Exhibitionists, to ease between the spaces of your body, make you dance, and bring you home.
Island UniverseRegular price Sale price $12.99 Save $0.00
Beyond the real deal is the unreal deal, and therein lies Feeding People, a band of teenagers making some of the heaviest psychedelic around decadesafter the 13th Floor Elevators declared their hallucinatory sense of purpose. Feeding People was founded and is headed by nineteen-year-old JessieJones who channels the raw power of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Janis Joplin at her most primal as she leads with strong, almost viciousvocals, bellowing blasphemies as if possessed by spirits with a masked sweetness reminiscent of Billie Holiday. Her siren call reeled in Chris Alfaro ofFree the Robots who produced some of the band’s earliest recordings, all of which were written acoustic and recorded electric in a single take in a’ 6’x10’ walk-in closet with a 4-track recorder and mic stands made of broom handles taped to fire extinguishers.After playing only a couple shows, Feeding People became the second band ever invited to play storied electronic music club Low End Theory, wherethey shared the stage with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. This is the full length LP recorded andproduced by Jonny Bell of The Crystal Antlers and Hanni El Khatib.
Do You Feel Ok?Regular price Sale price $12.98 Save $0.00
CD is a 4 Panel Digipack.
LP comes w/ Digital Download Card.
Do You Feel Ok? It’s a question you can answer with a shake of the head or an hour-long tangent. For Superhumanoids, it’s the title of their sophomore album, but it goes deeper than that.
It’s an inquiry that they kept asking each other throughout recording—a meditation on indecision, the infinite paths available, the dubious and righteous choices you’ve made, the changes in your own life that don’t always parallel those closest to you. It can be an obvious “yes” or “no,” or an existential inquiry without easy answers.
Since their 2013 Innovative Leisure debut, Exhibitions, the LA trio sound like they’ve traveled 30 years forward. Whereas their first album elicited comparisons to artists from the 1980s, Do You Feel Ok? reflects the present in all the power and clarity possible with modern technology.
The synths are phosphorescent. Lead singer Sarah Chernoff’s vocals are sleek, ethereal, and ignore gravitational limitations. With propulsive drum machines and feathery hooks, the band blends futuristic electronic textures with classic regard for songwriting. Superhumanoids are singular, but their grace at switching between dance music and rock recall similar hybrids, Darkside and Caribou.
“In the middle of recording, we went on tour with Erasure and realized that the songs we’d written weren’t achieving the energetic atmosphere we hoped for,” says Max St. John, the band’s synth programmer. When we got home we made the necessary changes to create that energy. We wrote additional songs, we sped up tempos, and made changes to the production that we felt were more exciting.”
All three members, Chernoff, Cameron Parkins, and St. John share writing credits and display a rare chemistry. But the durability of their bond comes from both an inherent connection and having been repeatedly tested.
“When we released our first record we had a lot of expectations, some of which weren’t met. The ensuing disappointment caused strain on our relationships as band mates and friends,” says Parkins, Superhumanoids’ guitarist.“When we got together again to start making music for the second album, our friendships felt re invigorated and our eyes were open as to what to ‘expect’ from releasing an album.”
Their debut found Pitchfork hailing them for their “sleepily epic dream-pop.” The Fader praised their “luxurious radio-friendly songs.”The New York Times' T Magazine called "So Strange" a candidate for song of the summer. But with their second album, they’ve ascended to a different elevation—retaining their pop infectiousness but adding an experimental edge.
Do You Feel Ok? is the leap that comes when a band figures out who they are, how to trust each other, and how to create a sound of their own. It’s fluid, full of movement, and capable of pushing people emotionally. If you’re exhausted from the monotony of Internet consensus and homogenous bands, press play. This can soundtrack summer pool parties or the drive home—when you feel okay and when you don’t.
ParallelsRegular price Sale price $9.99 Save $0.00
LP comes with Custom Inner Sleeve +Download Card.
CD is Jewel Case.
Parallels is the fourth full album released under Jason Chung’s distinctive moniker, Nosaj Thing. Masterfully dimensional, Parallels represents the acclaimed Los Angeles-based electronic producer/composer/performer’s most diverse, vital work yet. As such, Chung sees Parallels represents a kind of redemptive rebirth.
The album’s compellingly elusive, uncategorizable sonics developed out of what he terms a personal & musical “identity crisis.”
According to Chung, working with a group of collaborators on Parallels that combined both longtime friends and new creative partners added “new energy which pushed me not to limit myself. Everything felt fresh and alive.” The title Parallels in fact evokes the intense, intimate duality Nosaj Thing and his collaborators share. Chung is known specifically for his innovative, unexpected musical pairings: Kid Cudi hit up on Nosaj Thing via his MySpace page in 2006, resulting in Chung producing Cudi’s autobiographical classic “The Man on the Moon.” Kendrick Lamar flowed over Nosaj’s ethereal boom bap to create the YouTube gem “Cloud 10”; Chance the Rapper, meanwhile, freaked a Nosaj beat for his 2013 breakout masterpiece “Paranoia” and appeared on Nosaj Thing’s previous LP, 2015’s Fated. Chung and Blonde Redhead vocalist Kazu Makino are also longtime creative partners on each other’s work; her voice appears on Parallels as an otherworldly spirit animating the icily ‘80s-synthetic “How We Do.”
Lazer SwordRegular price Sale price $10.99 Save $0.00
The debut album from Lazer Sword consisting of Lando Kal and Low Limit. With guest appearances by Antipop Consortium’s M. Sayyid, Freestyle Fellowship MC Myka 9, bizarro funk crooner Zackey Force Funk and Bay area hyphy don Turf Talk. Packaged for Double LP and CD format in a futuristic landscape gatefold by Swedish designer, Kilian Eng.