New vinyl pressing! Welcome to the world’s first (and only) post-punk-industrial-trance-psychedelic-surf album! The fact that it took so many adjectives to describe Tragic Figures lets you know just how unique of an album it is. Sure, there are echoes of other artists, like krautrock legends Can, post-punkers Public Image Limited (Savage Republic opened for PiL on their 1982 West Coast dates), avant-garde guitar players like Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, scrap metal industrialists Einstürzende Neubauten, and Bay Area sludgecore nihilists Flipper—but really, this unlikely product of (mostly) UCLA undergrads sounds like no other record before or since.
For its 40th anniversary edition, Real Gone Music worked with Bruce Licher to preserve and expand on the magical, talismanic quality of the initial release. The original album has been remastered from the original tapes by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision, while both the CD and LP editions both boast an extra disc of largely unreleased rehearsal recordings taped in the bowels of UCLA parking garages, where the band used to practice to take advantage of the extended reverb afforded by all the concrete surfaces (imagine being an unwitting undergrad happening upon this unearthly din coming out of nowhere)! Richie Unterberger’s liner notes feature interviews with band members Licher, Philip Drucker, and Jeff Long, and the LP comes with the original cover graphics expanded into a gatefold jacket pressed in heavyweight “chipboard” paper stock. Clear your calendar and set aside a couple of hours to listen to Tragic Figures…you won’t end up where you started.
New Vinyl Pressing: Sam Hall’s new album as Ghost Orchard, Rainbow Music, is a collage of patience and meditation. It’s filled with nuances as quietly imperceptible as the seasons, or the profound movement of time, where one day looking back you realize your whole spirit has shifted. Where 2019’s critically revered Bunny was a love letter to a romantic relationship, Rainbow Music documents the culmination of Hall’s first personal experience with loss in several forms. At the end of 2020, his longterm childhood pet passed away, and with it the last continuing threads of familiarity between being a kid and adulthood. Still based in the Grand Rapids, Michigan town he’d grown up in, the static ease of familiar living seemed to be coming apart at the seams, as friends moved on to bigger cities, relationships shapeshifted and in a short period of time, another kitten he’d adopted passed away prematurely, leaving Hall to question the trajectory in which he himself was headed.
Like “songs in the key of life,” the title ‘rainbow music’ refers to the myriad of colors and qualities within Hall that are refracted throughout. It’s a symbolization of hope and the aftermath, the flickering light at the end of the tunnel (or “when a rainbow shows up after a big storm”). “Wish I could have fun anymore,” Hall ruminates on “dancing”, as well as confessing he “wish he made more upbeat bangers.” But reality packs more of a punch, and this collection of songs sees him finally be at peace with the current state of affairs. Relatable to anyone who has contemplated what it means to settle down, or even just catch your breath in an era where anguish is commonplace, the release of ‘rainbow music’ is a happy ending in its own right, a marker of survival that remains close to the bone.
Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Alpenglow is the Minnesota-based sextet’s tenth album. The album, named after the optical phenomenon that takes places when the sun casts a reddish glow across the mountains at dawn and dusk, opens with the wistful beauty of “It’s So Hard To Hold On”. The narrator contemplates the passing of time and how imperative it is to savor it while you have it.
10 of the 11 tracks on Alpenglow were written by lead singer Dave Simonett, whose introspective and literate songwriting is the foundation of the unwavering connection the group’s music has with its fervent and ever-growing audience. “On The Highway” expresses a longing to wander but struggles with the value in maintaining roots. “Central Hillside Blues” addresses nostalgia and loss while “Quitting Is Rough” deals with having inner strength to not lose sight of what is real, with its beautiful and inspiring refrain “climb out, climb out, climb out” The Tweedy-penned “A Lifetime To Find” features a simple back-and-forth dialogue with Death, which ends as one might expect.
Coming soon in October from Cincinnati-based Happy Families — Sorry Eric is propelled by blue collar midwestern modernity, Eric turns it all to gold. Beautiful NZ influenced indie rock that’s too lame to be cool.
Our hearts are heavy learning of the loss of Abdul Wadud. He was an extraordinarily talented musician, opening the ears and eyes of the world to a sound and sight never before encountered, and we are honored to have known and worked with him.
Vinyl pressing: Unavailable on vinyl since its initial release on Cadabra Records in 2017, the Bleak December adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is yet another essential recording for fans of classic horror fiction. As with other audio dramas produced by Bleak December’s players, this was adapted by longtime Cadabra collaborator Anthony D.P. Mann, who also plays Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, and features an abridged take on Stoker’s century-old masterwork.
Of course, as this is Dracula, who plays the titular villain? None other than horror icon Tony Todd, whose deep and rumbling tones are perfectly suited for the mesmeric exhortations of the bloodsucking fiend. One does not hear what he’s saying so much as feeling it within your head, much as if Todd’s count is communicating with you as he does with Lucy Seward.
His work here follows in the footsteps of other icons who’ve guested in Bleak December’s work, such as David Warner as Karswell in Casting the Runes or The Wicker Man with Brian Blessed as Lord Summerisle, wherein an instantly-recognizable voice is used to superb effect to raise the already rock-solid work of the cast.
Speaking of the regular cast, one especially worth noting in Dracula is regular Bleak December player Nikolas Yuen, whose portrayal of Renfield manages to rise to the level of mania exhibited by Dwight Frye in the same role over 90 years ago. Frye’s work in Todd Browning’s Universal Pictures adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic is legendary, but the shuddering, maniacal work Yuen brings to his few minutes in the role result in genuinely hair-raising terror evoked within the listener.
Regular composer for these works, Brent Holland, once again brings the deftest of touches to the music here in Dracula. The opening overture is resplendent with deep, bass-laden strings and a wordless choir, giving the production precisely the introduction it needs after the equally sonorous tones of Todd’s vampiric opening. The strings and choir provide the musical through-line which connects this abridged take, and briskly moves the story along.
Vinyl Pressing: Newvelle Records Unveils First Exclusive Series in More Than Two Years — The Renewal Collection is a four-album series affirming the resilience of music through the anguish and loss of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Newvelle’s community of jazz patrons have come together year after year to support some of the most talented artists on the scene and help bring their music to the world. With plans to press only 500 copies of this limited-edition collection – Newvelle’s first new series release in two years – our long time listeners (you!) will once again play a critical role in ensuring that we can continue to record and release music with the care and attention that we’re known for.
A pre-order not only secures copies of these records, lovingly captured on 180-gram vinyl (pressed with GrooveCoated stamper technology), for your own collection. You’ll be supporting musicians who have presented a wide range of musical reflections and celebrations on what it means to be jazz artists in this moment, and guaranteeing that their art gets to be heard.
New vinyl pressing from Chris Lugan – The Real Thing.
“Iʼve been going at this music thing for a long time”, says Lujan. “But, it wasnʼt until a few years ago that I started getting some real traction going.” – Chris
Chris Lujan, Bay Area born and raised, has been churning out the jams playing bass behind various projects since the early-90ʼs. Itʼs been a long time coming. But, itʼs finally time for him to step out front. And, in a big way.
With this new album, The Real Thing, from Chris Lujan & Electric Butter, Lujan has proved himself a masterful producer/engineer/musician. “Iʼve gotta do all this shit myself. I ainʼt got the money to pay anyone else to do it. So, I have no choice other than to step up to the plate myself and show my ass.”
With the addition of vocalist Andre Cruz, this album truly shines as one of the best from this new soul scene! Andre, performing on nine of the ten tunes, really brought this project to life. “Before Andreʼs collaboration, this album was kind of just a mish-mash, “best of” (what Iʼd done before) kind of affair. Once I started working with Andre, the true album started to take shape.”
At times moving, fiery, and jubilant, this album is, as Jose Valle (Raza Del Soul) puts it, “Soul with a heavy heart.”
New vinyl pressing! Auburn Lull’s classic debut now available on vinyl for the first time. Originally released on Burnt Hair Records in March, 1999, this reissue marks the 20th anniversary of Darla’s CD reissue in February, 2002.
Auburn Lull was formed in the mid-90s by four rural mid-Michigan teens with their ears tuned to the overseas sounds of Slowdive, Seefeel, The Verve, Eno, and Flying Saucer Attack, to name just a few. The band quickly became associated with other like-minded Michigan bands, particularly Mahogany, with whom they split their recorded debut The Dual Group EP on the now legendary Burnt Hair Records in 1997. Released in 1999 to critical acclaim, Alone I Admire was the band’s first full-length and remains the band’s touchstone. Though their recorded output comes at a snail’s pace, Auburn Lull continue to evolve, surprise, and push their sound into uncharted territory.