New vinyl pressing — Detroit pop-rockers Mac Saturn announces their highly anticipated debut album Hard To Sell, set for release on January 26, 2024, on their own label, Saturn Sounds. The announcement comes alongside the official studio release of the fan-favorite track, “Get On The Phone.” Powered by a slinking bass line and glittering synths, “Get On The Phone” is a quintessential Mac Saturn jam – a sultry character study that’s equal parts glamorous and gritty – and a perfect introduction to the neo-noir vignettes that make up Hard To Sell.
“ELO songs were always coming on the radio when I was growing up. They were a reliable source of pleasure and fascination (except for “Fire On High” which scared the heck out of me). With this album of covers I wanted to get my hands deep into some of the massive ‘70’s hits but I am also shining a light on some of the later work (“Ordinary Dream” from 2001’s “Zoom” album, “Secret Messages” and “’From The End Of The World”, both from the ‘80’s).
Thematically, I identify with the loneliness and alienation and the outerspace-iness in the songs I chose. (I have always felt like I am part alien, not fully belonging to or in this Earth world.) Sonically, ELO recordings are like an amusement park packed with fun musical games with layers and layers of varied, meticulous parts for your ears to explore; production curiosities; huge, gorgeous stacks of awe-inspiring vocal harmony puzzles. My task was to try and break all the things down and reconstruct them subtly until they felt like mine.
Overall, I stuck pretty close to the originals’ structures while figuring out new ways to express or reference the unique and beloved ELO string arrangements. An orchestra would have been difficult or impossible for me to manage to record, nor did I think there was any point in trying to copy those parts as they originally were. Why not try to reimagine them within my zone of limitations? In some cases, I transposed string parts onto guitars, or keyboards, and I even sung some of them (as in “Showdown” and “Bluebird Is Dead”).
Recording the album was a kind of complicated and drawn-out process since I was doing all of my tracks at home in my bedroom (drums and bass were done by Chris Anzalone and Ed Valauskas, respectively [in their own recording spaces]), and I kept running into technology problems that would frustrate me and slow me up. But eventually I got it all done. A labor of love.” -Juliana
An award-winning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, film composer, producer, and solo artist, Abby Posner is a multi-tasker at heart. She shines a light on the full spread of her creative abilities with Second Chances, an album that uses modern American roots music as a springboard for a bigger, bolder sound. Influenced by everything from punk/rock to electronic music, Second Chances is every bit as diverse as the artist who made it. Inspired by a life-changing breakup and the introspective soul-searching that followed, the album deals with themes like resilience, patience, acceptance, self-awareness, and rebuilding. Posner calls it “a queer love story,” but she clarifies that Second Chances is more about self-love than the affection we receive from others.
“I wrote the songs about my own journey,” she explains. “It’s less about the one who got away, and more about discovering there’s something better awaiting you. That’s why I called it Second Chances. I’m getting into the second act of my life, chasing down something new.” Something new, indeed. Second Chances carves out it’s own genre-fluid identity, funneling Posner’s influences into a sound that’s entirely her own. “Quiet on Sunset” begins as an acoustic folk ballad before moving into electronic territory. “If You Wanna Love” bridges the gap between Posner’s punk/rock past and Americana present. “Darkest Hours”-one of three songs to feature contributions from a full band-is a late-night soul song punctuated by bluesy fretwork. The indie-pop textures of “We’ve Come So Far” nod to modern influences like Phoebe Bridgers, while the hushed vocal harmonies in “Moving Back to Denver” evoke Elliot Smith’s iconic bedroom recordings.
Like Smith, Posner recorded the bulk of Second Chances at home, playing all of the instruments herself while pulling triple-duty as songwriter, performer, and producer. She also pieced together a band to perform three songs-“Darkest Hours,” “Night Train,” and “Simple Life”-during a short live-in-the-studio session. “I wanted to revisit the old-school mentality of capturing a song with one take, without any bells and whistles,” she says of the songs that feature other musicians. “Then I paired those full-band recordings with the rest of the record, where I’m exploring plug-ins, production techniques, and a wider canvas of sound by myself.” The eclectic career of Posner is reflected throughout Second Chances and Posner has never sounded so resolute. Dynamic, melodic, virtuosic, and proudly idiosyncratic, Second Chances reintroduces Abby Posner as a music industry veteran who’s still chasing down new horizons.
John William Polidori’s The Vampyre is the first English-language story written about the vampire as we know it, preceding Bram Stoker’s Dracula by nearly 80 years. Emanating from the same storytelling game at Lake Geneva which also produced Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Polidori’s tale bears the Romantic hallmarks of its Byronic influences, but stands wholly on its own despite drawing from Lord Byron’s own “Fragment of a Novel.”
Read here by Laurence R. Harvey and scored by Chris Bozzone, Cadabra Records‘s adaptation leans strongly into the modernity of this very British tale. While Stoker’s Dracula is wholly original in its epistolary form and construction, the elements extant in this early 19th century tale set the form for what would become the foundation of nearly every vampire story for the next two centuries. Lord Ruthven walks among the elite as one of them, not a mysterious figure in the shadows. None but the villagers suspect what’s going on. The vampire stalks young and lovely women, acting as much as a seducer as a monster, but a creature of the night no matter how you might perceive him.
New vinyl pressing – on Halloween 1971 night—captured on this three-sided double-LP—the Grateful Dead played the most ethereal, dreamy, and, yes, spooky version of “Dark Star” ever recorded; it’s almost as if Jerry Garcia was communing with his ancestors (and maybe John Coltrane) for the first seven minutes of his beautifully structured, contemplative and yearning solo. Then, after the vocal verse, Garcia, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and bassist Phil Lesh take turns suggesting a new improvisational theme before the band telepathically picks up on a two-note theme and Garcia launches into some of the most ecstatic guitar playing ever captured on tape anywhere (labeled by some the “Tighten Up” jam after the Archie Bell & the Drells song; others hear an embryonic “Eyes of the World”). The rest of the show keeps flying high; the whole band is on fire during “Sugar Magnolia,” a rare, early-‘70s performance of “St. Stephen” (the final live version until 1976) swaggers like it should, and a great “Not Fade Away”/ “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”/ “Not Fade Away” medley rounds out the show…a “hallowed” performance indeed.
New Vinyl Pressing! Pat Van Dyke – Falls To Pieces. Elegant and effortless, dreamy and dusty. Falls To Pieces is a natural progression emerging from the organic textures explored on Pat Van Dyke’s stellar 2018 LP Hello, Summer–which received heavy praise from Pitchfork, Flea Market Funk, and more. The new LP broadcasts a more concise, deliberate, and refined sound that combines elements of jazz and golden era hip-hop with today’s electronic music.
New vinyl pressing! Years in the making – Battleship Potemkin was composed for a live scoring of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 cinematic landmark silent film of Soviet military mutiny and Odessa civilian slaughter, first performed live at Flux Factory in Astoria, Queens on June 14, 2015 and recorded from 2016 to 2020.
New vinyl pressing! Portland’s Collate play music that recalls late ’70s/early ’80s minimalist post-punk, and loops through the styles and genres influenced by that music a million times until you end up with a sound that is evocative of the past but also modern—kind of like when you photocopy and re-photocopy something until it distorts and becomes something new and weird. The lyrics are sometimes blatantly political but always wry and clever. There are still plenty of the danceable, catchy bass-forward kind of songs you heard on their previous recordings, but in songs like “Stocks,” there’s a hint of more straightforward punk and it starts to kinda ROCK. Just a bit. But in the end, Collate always handles themselves with cool restraint, even when frustration, anger, and joy are palpably bubbling under the surface. (Courtesy of Rachel Courtney)
New vinyl pressing — Mike Clark – Kosen Rufu With Eddie Henderson.
Outstanding Drummer Mike Clark unites with Blue Note trumpeter Eddie Henderson, fellow Headhunter Bill Summers, Skerik, Wayne Horvitz and Blackjazz Records legendary bassist Henry Franklin for an amazing new release on Wide Hive Records.
Kosen Rufu is 10 well crafted compositions that are drawn together by awesome musicianship and a classic version of Erik Dolphy’s Hat and Beard. Mike Clark is one of the most sampled drummers in history. Here he reunites with Bill Summers; both were in many bands together and most notably Herbie Hancock’s Thrust and Man Child. Joining the rhythm section is Henry Franklin on stand up Bass; known for his work with Hugh Masekela, Stevie Wonder and his eponymous release on Blackjazz Records. Also is the band are Skerik on saxophone (Galactic) and virtuoso pianist Wayne Horvitz.