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UPCOMING RELEASES

Latest Additions:

Old Crow Medicine Show - Remedy (7/1)
South Rail - Stars EP (5/6)
PHOX - S/T (6/24)
Sara Lowes - The Joy of Waiting (TBA)
Johnossi - Transitions (4/29)
Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean (5/20)
Birdy - Fire Within (6/3 U.S.)
The Milk Carton Kids - Live from Lincoln Theatre DVD (4/29)
Bebel Gilberto - Tudo! (7/29)
Sara Swenson - Runway Lights (Summer TBA)
Challenger - Back to Bellevue (5/27)
Jay Brannan - Always, Then, and Now (7/15)
The Shilohs - S/T (5/13)
Wilsen - Magnolia EP (5/19)
Amber States - Saratoga EP (4/28)
Mimicking Birds - Eons (5/13)
Mark Chadwick (Levellers) - Moment (6/16)
Mary Gauthier - Trouble & Love (6/10)
You Are Wolf - Hawk to the Hunting Gone (5/6 UK)
Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks (5/26)
Beverly Craven - Change of Heart (6/17 UK)
Lonely the Brave - The Day's War (6/3)
Eleanor McEvoy - Stuff (5/12)
Heather Peace - The Thin Line (6/9 UK)
George Ezra - TBA (6/23 UK)
James Taylor - TBA (8/19)
Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie (6/10)
Meshell Ndegeocello - Comet, Come to Me (6/3)
Paul Weller - More Modern Classics (6/3)
Daughter - Live @ Air (4/15)
Imelda May - Tribal (7/29)
The Roots - And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (5/19)
Phillip Phillips - Behind the Light (5/19)
Nick Mulvey - First Mind (9/16 U.S.)
The Peach Kings - Mojo Thunder EP (6/3)
Ed Sheeran - x (multiply) (6/23)
Puss N Boots (Norah Jones) - No Fools, No Fun (7/15)

April 15

Afghan Whigs - Do To the Beast
Amatorski - From Clay Figures
Amaya Laucirica - Sway (4/18 AUS)
Bobby Bare Jr. - Undefeated
Bruce Springsteen - American Beauty EP (4/19)
Dan Wilson - Love Without Fear
 Daughter - Live @ Air
Dinah Thorpe - Lullabies & Wake Up Calls
Elizaveta - Hero EP
Emerson Hart (Tonic) - Beauty In Disrepair
Horse Thief - Fear In Bliss
Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) - Homo Erraticus
Ingrid Michaelson - Lights Out
Jessica Lea Mayfield - Make My Head Sing...
Jim Kroft - Lunatic Lullabies (UK)
Justin Currie - Lower Reaches
Justin Nozuka - Ulysees
Marika Hackman - Deaf Heat EP
Matthew & The Atlas - Other Rivers (UK)
Needtobreathe - Rivers In the Wasteland
Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love (UK)
Ramona Lisa (Chairlift's Caroline Polachek) - Arcadia
Rodney Crowell - Tarpaper Sky
The Bee Gees - The WB Years 1987-1991 Box
The Both (Aimee Mann, Ted Leo) - S/T
The Secret Sisters - Put Your Needle Down
Thee Oh Sees - Drop
Vaudeville Etiquette - Debutantes and Dealers
Wallis Bird - Architecture (UK)
Woods - With Light & With Love

April 22

Black Prairie (Decemberists) - Fortune
Dwight & Nicole - Shine On
EELS - The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
Fear Of Men - Loom
 G. Love & Special Sauce - Sugar
Hedley - Wild Life
Justin Rutledge - Daredevil (Tragically Hip Songs)
Keb' Mo' - BLUESAmericana
Little Daylight - TBA
Little Feat - Live in Holland 1976
Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos - Sling Shot to Heaven
Sharon Corr - The Same Sun
The Madden Brothers (Good Charlotte) - TBA
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Days of Abandon
To Kill A King - Cannibals With Cutlery (U.S.)
Tom and Hebron - Zoyugo

April 29

Amber States - Saratoga EP
Archie Powell & The Exports - Back In Black
Ben Watt - Hendra
Brigitte DeMeyer - Savannah Road (4/29)
Broken Twin - May
Caitlin Park - The Sleeper (5/2 AUS)
Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Phosphorescent Harvest
Curtis Stigers - Hooray For Lovers
Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) - Everyday Robots
Dave Keller - Soul Changes
Edward David Anderson - Lies & Wishes
Fiona Bevan - Talk To Strangers
Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon) - Midnight Sun
Hafdis Huld - Home
Johnossi - Transitions
Little Hurricane - Gold Fever
Pink Mountaintops - Get Back
Prefab Sprout - Crimson/Red (U.S.)
Rodrigo y Gabriela - 9 Dead Alive
Sam Morrow - Ephemeral
The Currys - Follow
The Howlin' Brothers - Trouble
 The Milk Carton Kids - Live from Lincoln Theatre DVD
The Old 97's - Most Messed Up
Tommy Malone (Subdudes) - Poor Boy
Wye Oak - Shriek 

April TBA

Imogen Heap - Sparks
Neil Young - A Letter Home

May 6

Ben Harper/Ellen Chase-Verdries - Childhood Home
Brian Eno/Karl Hyde - Someday World
Current Swell - Ulysses
Gabrielle Aplin - English Rain EP (U.S.) 
  Gregg Allman & Various Artists - All My Friends (CD/DVD)
Gruff Rhys - American Interior
Jenny Scheinman - The Littlest Prisoner
Kina Grannis - Elements
Leisure Cruise (Dave Hodge, Leah Segal) - S/T
Liam Finn - The Nihilist
Lily Allen - Sheezus
Luke Elliot - Provisions
Lykke Li - I Never Learn
Natalie Merchant - S/T
Nikki Lane - All or Nothin'
Pacifika - Amor Planeta
Papercuts - Life Among the Savages
Rachel Taylor Brown - Falimy
Rae Morris - Do You Even Know? EP (UK)
Ray LaMontagne - Supernova
Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) - Seven Dials (UK)
Sarah McLachlan - Shine On
South Rail - Stars EP
The Horrors - Luminous
Thomas Dybdahl - What's Left Is Forever (US)
Tiny Ruins - Brightly Painted One
tUnE-yArDs - Nikki Nack
Willie Watson - Folk Singer, Vol. 1
Wooden Wand - Farmers Corner
You Are Wolf - Hawk to the Hunting Gone (UK)

May 13

Amen Dunes - Love
Braid - No Coast
Carrie Elkin & Danny Schmidt - For Keeps
Collin Herring - Some Knives
Eleanor McEvoy - Stuff
Jake Bugg - Messed Up Kids EP (UK)
Jeremy Fisher - The Lemon Squeeze
Jesse Denaro - Dear, Love
Joseph Arthur - Lou (Lou Reed Tribute)
Kris Delmhorst - Blood Test
La Sera - Hour of the Dawn
Little Dragon - Nabuma Underground
Megson - In A Box 
Mimicking Birds - Eons
Mirah - Changing Light
Molly Beanland - Night Dreams
Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband
Nick Mulvey - First Mind
Owen Pallett - In Conflict
Rhodes - The Morning EP (5/11 UK)
Swans - To Be Kind 
Sylvan Esso - S/T
The Black Keys - Turn Blue
The Shilohs - S/T
The Trouble With Templeton - Rookie
Tom The Lion - Sleep
Tori Amos - Unrepentant Geraldines
Walter Martin (The Walkmen) - We're All Young Together

May 20

Bry Webb - Free Will
Cara Dillon - A Thousand Hearts (UK)
Coldplay - Ghost Stories
Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) - Upside Down Mountain
Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean
Haley Bonar - Last War
Hundreds - Aftermath
Jolie Holland - Wine Dark Sea
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Going Home
LCD Soundsystem - The Long Goodbye: Live @ Madison Sq. Garden
Malka Spigel - Gliding EP
Nightmare & The Cat - Simple
Oasis - Definitely Maybe 20th Anniv. Ed.
Phillip Phillips - Behind the Light
Smoke Fairies - S/T
Syd Arthur - Sound Mirror
The Roots - And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
Wilsen - Magnolia EP (5/18)
Yann Tiersen - Infinity

May 27

Amy LaVere - Runaway's Diary
Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks
Challenger - Back to Bellevue
John Fullbright - Songs
John Illsley (Dire Straits) - Testing the Waters
Little Barrie - Shadow
Madison - The Bright Light EP
Matthew Barber - Big Romance
Miniature Tigers - Cruel Runnings
moe. - No Guts, No Glory
Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
Teleman - Breakfast
The Ghost Wolves - Man, Woman, Beast
Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers - World of Strangers

May TBA

Bridie Jackson & The Arbour - New Skin
Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience) - Legao
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

June 3

Alice Boman - EP II
BANKS - Goddess (Full Length Debut) 
Birdy - Fire Within (U.S.)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Only Run
Echo & The Bunnymen - Meteorites (4/28 UK)
Ethan Johns - The Reckoning (Prod: Ryan Adams)
Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) - Black Hours
Howling Bells - Heartstrings
James - La Petite Mort
JD McPherson - TBA
Joe Henry - Invisible Hour
Josh Record - Pillars (UK)
Kan Wakan - Moving On
Lonely the Brave - The Day's War
Matisyahu - Akeda
Meshell Ndegeocello - Comet, Come to Me
Paul Weller - More Modern Classics
Peter Murphy - Lion
Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour
Sleep Party People - Floating
The Donkeys - TBA 
   The Peach Kings - Mojo Thunder EP
The Pierces - Creation
The Shoe (w/ Jena Malone) - I'm OK

June 10

Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin
Cowboy Mouth - Go
First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
Glass Aniimals - Zaba
Got A Girl - I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now
Heather Peace - The Thin Line (UK)
Jose James - While You Were Sleeping
Jack White - Lazaretto
Mary Gauthier - Trouble & Love
O.A.R. - The Rockville LP
Passenger - Whispers
Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie
The Who - Quadrophenia Live In London
Tomas Barfod - Love Me

June 17

Beverly Craven - Change of Heart (UK)
Glass Towers - Halcyon Days
Lewis Watson - The Morning
Mark Chadwick (Levellers) - Moment
The Antlers - Familiars
The Felice Brothers - Favorite Waitress      

June 24

Ed Sheeran - x (multiply)
George Ezra - TBA (UK)
PHOX - S/T

Beyond

Allen Stone - TBA (Summer)
As Animals - S/T
Bebel Gilberto - Tudo! (7/29)
Ben Ottewell (Gomez) - Rattlebag (TBA)
Charlene Soraia - Love Is The Law (TBA)
Dear Plastic - The Thieves Are Babes (TBA)
Deluka - BONDS EP (Spring TBA)
Don Henley - Cass County (TBA)
Ellis Paul - Chasing Beauty (TBA)
Empires - Orphans (TBA)
Haroula Rose - Here The Blue River (TBA)
Imelda May - Tribal (7/29)
James Taylor - TBA (8/19)
Jay Brannan - Always, Then, and Now (7/15)
Jonah Tolchin - Clover Road (Summer TBA)
Kite Club - Fresh Air for Humans (TBA)
Kris Delmhorst - Blood Test (Spring TBA)
Little Daylight - TBD (7/15)
Miranda Lee Richards - Echoes of the Dreamtime (TBA)
Morrissey - World Peace Is None of Your Business (Summer)
  Nick Mulvey - First Mind (9/16 U.S.)
Old Crow Medicine Show - Remedy (7/1)
Peter Himmelman - The Boat That Carries Us (TBA)
Puss N Boots (Norah Jones) - No Fools, No Fun (7/15)
Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) - The Ceaseless Sight (TBA)
Sara Lowes - The Joy of Waiting (TBA)
Sara Swenson - Runway Lights (Summer TBA)
Sasha Siem - Most of the Boys (TBA)
Scott Matthews - Home Pt. 1 (TBA)
Slow Club - Complete Surrender (7/14)
The Felice Brothers - Favorite Waitress
The Good Natured - Prism (Summer TBA)
The Vespers - Sisters and Brothers (TBA
Tiny Ruins - Brightly Painted One (TBA)
Toby Lightman - Every Kind of People (TBA)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye (Summer TBA)
Wakey! Wakey! - All It Takes Is A Little Love (TBA)
Winterpills - Echolalia (Covers) (TBA) 
Woman's Hour - Conversations (7/15)

All titles and dates subject to change! Correction? Addition?

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Wednesday
Jan022013

Villagers - {Awayland}

"I sure as hell don't want to lose any intimacy in the music," says Conor J. O'Brian, the pensive visionary and creative force behind Ireland's Villagers, "but I need to take this intimacy into a more vibrant place." That place is {Awayland} (January 14 U.K., April 9 U.S.), an adventurous and striking follow up to 2010's tour-de-force, Mercury-prize-nominated debut Becoming A Jackyl. It's also a rediscovery of the power of electronics, a disciplined but interactive band effort and an instructive primer on raising the bar for the definitive and daunting "second album" mindset. Crossing that creative abyss can challenge the best writers and performers but O'Brien's attitude was less about extension than reinvention: "I felt like I needed to flip on its head the idea of what music is for myself," he says. The cerebral folk poetry explored on Jackyl still dominates the Villagers playbook with tracks like the bare bones opener "My Lighthouse" and tropical-flavored "The Bell". But O'Brien's rekindled affinity for beats and electronic soundscapes takes on a new role on "The Waves", "Earthly Pleasure" and many of {Awayland}'s brightest moments flirt confidently with a more rhythmic core, from the anthemic "Nothing Arrived" to the hot pulse of "Grateful Song". Bottom line: a brash, brilliant triumph we'll be talking about again at the end of 2013.

Villagers - 'Nothing Arrived' (from Awayland) '
Villagers - 'Passing A Message' (From Awayland) '

A sense of curiosity and wonder shoots through the layers of Villagers’ new album {Awayland} like radiant lightning.  It provides illumination and starkness, a clash palpable on a song like 'Earthly Pleasure', with its furious percussion and splintered-sounding guitars, or 'Grateful Song' which begins delicately, tentatively, before building up to a release of howls. This howl is present, but tempered on 'In a Newfound Land You Are Free' - a different kind of lullaby sung to a "newborn child", the child that is all of us, with the song, heavy with regret, containing a promise not to "betray" the child's "gentle repose", it is a song full of rich conflation, as all of {Awayland} is.

 

"I tried to write everything from the perspective of a newborn baby; given the gift of language, what would he or she say? For a while I thought the record would be called Birth, and the album cover is an image of a little boy looking out to sea, but I think that the album is about reclaiming that sense of curiosity and wonder which we have when we are children and we often lose over the years," says Conor J. O’Brien.

 

"I felt like I needed to flip on its head the idea of what music is for myself, if I was going to continue making it, and I didn't know that I would. After two years of touring I recognised the cycle, so I sat down and thought about that, and I started feeling like the worst writer in the world. I felt like I was lying to people - there is no way you can sing "my love is selfish" a hundred times in a year and it continue to feel pure and true - it seemed somehow performative. I started writing on the acoustic guitar and it sounded terrible, so I began to make musical landscapes, and listened to lots of widescreen instrumental music like Lalo Schifrin, David Axelrod and Jean-Claude Vannier and lots of krautrock and funk music - there is something about the repetition of rhythms that really hit me - 'Passing a Message' came from one of those soundscapes, as lots of the songs did. The lyrics were very much secondary in creation of this album; they were a servant to the music. I think they benefit from this.

Yet the language O'Brien uses retains its poetic reach - on 'Nothing Arrived' he sings "Savanna scatters and the seabird sings / So why should we fear what travel brings? / What were we hoping to get out of this? / Some kind of momentary bliss? / I waited for Something, and Something died / So I waited for Nothing, and Nothing arrived / It's our dearest ally, it's our closest friend / It's our darkest blackout, it's our final end". This paradoxical way of living and seeing is something O'Brien continues to explore, and while there is a simplicity of language, he imbues it with a poetic clarity, a willingness to sing what cannot perhaps be spoken. "For me, 'Nothing Arrived' is a joyful song, but it is presented in a downbeat manner. I felt like I wanted to write something that was secular yet spiritual, because I've been gravitating gradually towards both of those things in my general outlook on life, I guess".

 

This spiritual curiousity ("And we've got to keep the wheels in motion / And we've gotta get the kids before they grow / God forbid they retain their sense of wonder" he sings on the jangly, satirical 'Judgement Call') permeates the whole record, breathing through every note, containing an even greater searching quality than Villagers first record Becoming a Jackal.  This is partly because, unlike the previous album, the collection of musicians; O'Brien, Cormac Curran, Danny Snow, James Byrne, and Tommy McLaughlin had a greater sense of collaboration on this record, a record which swells with each listening.

 

"We had toured together so much that it felt completely natural to record the album together. I sent them my finished demos, so they all learnt the parts initially, but after that we all went to Tommy's place and kicked the songs around a little bit. It felt really good. The first record is a strong album, but with this record, I can feel how much it has benefited from the band being involved.  Cormac's orchestral arrangements really came to the forefront this time round as well. The whole trip was exciting, and very obsessive. I suppose that's why it is coming out two and a half years later."

 

In these two and a half years, O'Brien has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, won an Ivor Novello Award, shared the stage with artists like Neil Young, Tindersticks and Fleet Foxes, and contributed to A Harbour of Songs, a record and project curated by The Unthanks pianist, producer and arranger Adrian McNally - which is the most natural of projects for O'Brien, growing up, as he did, in the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, with the nautical world as a natural touchstone of inspiration and imagery. It has always been there, but on this record emerges through the deep tones of the piano on 'The Bell', which register like a submarine foraging through azure coloured waters, or through the spare beauty of 'My Lighthouse', with the harmonies as a soothing response to the "violent moonlight" O'Brien sings of.

 

'The Waves', a coda of sorts to 'My Lighthouse' with its driving beats and lush soundscapes, brings to mind that rhythmic, constant lope of nature. The song is as epic as the sea and just as mysterious; folding in beautiful "invented words", talk of "well-insulated dignitaries screaming of / the memory of a human love" into an electronic musical landscape that takes in brass and driving beats, immersing you through its traveling nature. And yet, while O'Brien continues his search for a "rounder, more deep" feel to render nature true, 'The Waves' filters an appreciation of electronic music to reach its own understanding.

 

"I felt like I was reintroduced to electronic music in the last year and a half. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with artists like Aphex Twin, Portishead, ADF, Tricky and Björk - she was a huge influence when I was growing up and I listened to all of that alongside guitar-based music, I guess. Then I got much more into songwriting in the traditional sense and still am, but a night out dancing in Berlin inspired me to listen exclusively to techno for a couple of months - Plastikman, Drexciya, that early Detroit sound. I liked that aesthetic for a while. Then I heard Nosaj Thing and through him Flying Lotus and Caribou - just music which is really imaginative and forward thinking. Then I moved onto more minimal ambient/glitchy stuff like Oval and Monolake. It just really appealed to me. I think I was attracted to being emotionally gratified by something that was less about the expression of the individual ego, and more about the textural sensation of having a collective experience."

 

There is definitely a different kind of movement on {Awayland}, perhaps borne out of the necessary stillness after relentless touring and traveling, an exploration of what O'Brien felt was most important, yet not immediately obvious. Trees, birds, the sea - all recurring images in O'Brien's work that provide a kind of metaphor for living and dying, that sense of soaring otherness, with his own understanding gaining greater depth with this record, buoyed by his acute sense and interest in the natural world - its beauty and instability.

 

"When I was writing the album, it was around the time of the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan, and was some of the most terrifying footage I have ever seen. Beyond the absolute powerlessness and sadness you feel when you see something like that, it also serves as a reminder that we are not as important as we sometimes think we are. But when you say an absolute truth like that and tackle ideas of scales of importance, then its opposite must also true; you come full circle. I have been reading a bit of Carl Sagan's writings on the evolution of human intelligence. He condenses history of the universe into one day, so he takes billions of years, and puts them into a calendar year - on the 24th of December the dinosaurs appear, with humans appearing at 10:30pm on December 31st. It is an amazing way to look at it, because it starkly shows that we have only been on this planet for such a small amount of time, and when you are writing it is a very helpful and inspiring thing to keep in mind. I wish I had a scientific mind but I really don't, so I write songs instead".

 

O'Brien's songs become the lighthouse he sings of; a way to navigate, using a deeply philosophical impulse to uncover truths. "I am singing the things I am not able to say, yet I think that my favourite song on the album is the one with no words - '{Awayland}', because it is the purest thing I have ever written".  Indeed, it possesses a beautiful echo that emerges as if from the sea; '{Awayland}' like a lost, sad, mermaid - lost, but full of wonder.

 

"I always end up writing with an imaginary person in mind, and they always end up being the most pummelled one.  'Grateful Song' is about going through tough times; though you might be at your lowest, you really can take a lot out of that - in fact, they can be the most fulfilling moments in the great scheme of things, if you're strong enough to stay off the crutches".

 

This heavy weight is tempered by a record that is as possessed with a playful joy as it is with devastation, with layers of surprising instrumentation that include more full-sounding string arrangements and dreamy, shapeshifting percussion; as well as a filtering of disparate influences - the quiet elegance of Nick Drake, and the sensuality of Curtis Mayfield. It is, as Kurt Vonnegut might have put it "intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd" (Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 6)- life, in other words.

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