New Releases - 3/10/17

Buzzcocks – Time’s Up! [Reissue/1976] LP+MP3 (Domino)
Time’s Up is Buzzcocks' 1976 album of demos originally released as a bootleg. Featuring the founding line-up of Howard Devoto (vocals & songwriter), Pete Shelley (guitar & songwriter), Steve Diggle (bass guitar) and John Maher (drums), Time’s Up was recorded at Revolution Studios in Stockport, England on the October 18th, 1976. The session preceded the recording of Buzzcocks' groundbreaking debut Spiral Scratch, and features demos of the EP's four tracks -- an EP now recognized as one of, if not the, most important records of the punk explosion.

Damaged Bug – Bunker Funk CD/LP (Castleface)
Urgent falsetto morbidities detail Damaged Bug’s most rhythmically adventurous offering yet: Bunker Funk -- syncopating lush landscapes with moon-shot death rays. “Fans of Terry Riley's Shri Camel (1980) or Julianna Barwick's The Magic Place (2013) will like this one . . . meditative synth drones and soundscapes that sound almost sacred in places.” -- Faris Badwan (The Horrors, Cat's Eyes)

Elliott Smith – Either/Or: Expanded Edition 2xLP (Kill Rock Stars)
Either/Or is widely regarded as Elliott’s best album, and remains his best-selling. To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of this masterpiece, Kill Rock Stars proudly presents Either/Or: Expanded Edition. This album features the original tracks carefully remastered from original tapes under the supervision of Larry Crane, owner of Jackpot! Studios and archivist of the Estate of Elliott Smith. The additional content features five live multi-track recordings from the Yo Yo A Go Go Festival in Olympia WA in 1997, as well as three previously unreleased studio recordings and one B-side gem. [The double LP vinyl edition is packaged in a gatefold jacket that includes an insert of the original liner notes, a postcard of the original master tapes, and several never-before seen photos. A limited yellow color vinyl pressing is also available.]

Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator CD/LP (ATO)
"The first words still had roots, like a James Brown syllable,’ the late New York poet Sekou Sundiata once wrote. He was talking about how language is undergirded with sound, how the beats underneath every sentence intertwine, connecting every tongue from Africa to the South Bronx. In the many albums she's recorded as Hurray For The Riff Raff, Alynda Segarra has told her own stories through the various idioms of American roots music, mastering folk declarations, country's laments, and the secret histories embedded in the blues. But Segarra heard something else beneath all the choruses she learned: a rhythmic reality, the history of her own people in shifting time signatures. These word roots are what she uncovers in her rich, courageous new album, The Navigator. For this project, she's enlisted new collaborators, notably the versatile guitarist Jordan Hyde and several percussionists, including Juan-Carlos Chaurand and Norka Hernández-Nadal. Relating the saga of a particular wandering woman – Segarra's alter ego, Navita Milagros Negron – and of a people displaced through exile, segregation and gentrification, The Navigator repositions roots music as an anti-nostalgic tool: a truth-telling device. And it does so through the undercurrents of Cuban son, Puerto Rican bomba, and Nuyorican salsa, interwoven with doo-wop, rock and gospel soul” – WHRO

Las Rosas – Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want LP (Ernest Jenning)
A combination of wit and humor with sneering, whip-smart garage rock. “Luminous, moon-eyed pop vibes, delivered with authority and muscle.” -- Pitchfork

Laura Marling – Semper Femina CD (More Alarming Records)
“English singer-songwriter Laura Marling’s latest offering to British folk is Semper Femina (translates from Latin to Always A Woman), her sixth album since 2008 and a quietly bold ode to womanhood. ‘I started out writing Semper Femina as if a man was writing about a woman…And then I thought it’s not a man, it’s me’ was the heavily re-quoted tagline from Marling preceding the album’s release, explaining the near-exclusive female subjects and perspectives in every song. Semper Femina makes both delightful and thought-provoking listening. The variance of third and first person in the lyrics makes a refreshing change from the voices of pop, who are by and large rather self-centered sounding, and makes for a less-than-straightforward exercise in lyrical interpretation. Marling leads us away from the naming and shaming culture so often seen in pop; for example the ‘she’ of The Valley who ‘mourns the morning’ could be Marling, the listener, or a fictional character. For an album of relative track-to-track sameness – a commendation rather than a criticism, since a sonically cohesive body of work requires great dexterous sensitivity – it traverses emotional landscapes, inducing tears in one song, smiles the next. These are conscientious songs that contain a whole host of sensibilities, and paint a multitude of emotional colours upon a canvas of homely, English acoustic folk instrumentation.” – The Sphinx

Neko Case – Live From Austin TX [Reissue/2006] LP (New West)
This debut Austin City Limits performance on August 9, 2003 captures songs from Neko Case’s three seminal solo releases at the time, combining elements of country, gospel and punk for a very unique sound. Available for the first time on 180gm vinyl.

The Shins – Heartworms CD/LP+MP3 (Columbia)
“Get ready to have your life changed all over again. Heartworms, The Shins’ first full-length release since 2012’s Port Of Morrow, has been done for some time, but was delayed to give the music-industry fat cats at Columbia Records more time to promote the album (and lead singer James Mercer to tinker with it, as he told Portland radio station KBOO last summer). The result of all this tinkering, according to the press release announcing the album, is a ‘return to the handmade,’ lest you were concerned that The Shins were losing their twee edge. Overall, this album sounds like an earnest, personal effort for Mercer, who produced all the album tracks except for penultimate song ‘So Now What.’ The first single from the album, ‘Name For You,’ is a ‘resounding call for female empowerment’ inspired by Mercer’s three daughters.” – A.V. Club

Soundgarden – Ultramega OK [Reissue/1988] CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
Hailed as grunge innovators, Soundgarden redefined rock music for a generation. In the ‘80s, the band -- singer/guitarist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Hiro Yamamoto, and drummer Matt Cameron -- combined a punk ethos, brutal metal soundscapes, and Cornell’s ravenous roar to capture the attention of the masses. Jagged and ferocious, their music was deeply at odds with the synth-pop and hair metal which dominated the ‘80s airwaves. This remixed and expanded reissue of Ultramega OK is a long-planned “correction” of the legendary band’s Grammy-nominated debut full-length. After worldwide success, a breakup, a reunion, and many albums and tours, Soundgarden acquired the original multi-track tapes to the album and handed them over to longtime friend and engineer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard) to create this fresh mix. The band also dug out six early versions of songs recorded in 1987, raw bonus tracks the band now refers to as Ultramega EP.

Steve Earle – Live From Austin TX [Reissue/2008] 2xLP (New West)
Earle’s first appearance on Austin City Limits captures the excitement and free spirit of his seminal debut album, Guitar Town, which was nothing less than a collection of personal odysseys. Available for the first time on 180gm vinyl.

Thundercat – Drunk 4x10” (Brainfeeder)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat returns with his follow up to 2015s The Beyond / Where he Giants Roam. Produced by Flying Lotus, Drunk features vocal performances by Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell.

Valerie June – The Order Of Time CD/LP (Concord)
Unfolding like a novella, June sketches detailed, three-dimensional portraits of real people struggling with dreams, defeat, hope and life, in this 12-track song cycle. Musically, the genre-defying singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has redefined herself again, infusing inspirations like Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen and Fela Kuti into her unique blend of folk, blues, gospel and soul. As in life, a harrowing bite of bitterness can surely be felt in many of these songs and on others; June's ethereal soundscapes prove the perfect setting for her honeyed, childlike voice as she pleas for simplicity and a better world.


Daniel Drinkard