Son Volt - Electro Melodier - Transmit Sound
2020 was not quite what Jay Farrar was expecting for the 25th anniversary of Son Volt, the band he started in 1995 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo, whose No Depression album helped define the alt-country and Americana genre. The group had just finished an Outlaw Country Cruise when the pandemic hit and sent them into their homes on lockdown. Instead of a triumphant tour marking the illustrious landmark, Farrar was forced indoors by the pandemic, and his “Reverie” during that time helped define Electro Melodier, Son Volt’s 10th studio album – and third for influential Nashville indie Thirty Tigers. The title, taken from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, also describes the disc’s unique blend of folk, country, blues, soul and rock – an electric troubadour with melodies that hit and stick. Social protest songs like “Living in the U.S.A.” and “The Globe,” the former about the promises of this nation gone wrong, the latter referencing the street protests accompanying the Black Lives Matter movement, exist side by side with odes to long-term relationships (specifically his 25-year marriage) in “Diamonds and Cigarettes” and “Lucky Ones.” Once again accompanied by the current Son Volt line up – keyboardist/steel guitarist Mark Spencer, bassist Andrew Duplantis, guitarist Chris Frame and drummer Mark Patterson – Farrar takes a slight turn from 2019’s politically pointed Union to a series of songs that asks questions rather than demanding answers – think of “Living in the U.S.A.” as Farrar’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” or Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power,” an anthem to unite the populace. One listen to Electro Melodier, which opens with “Reverie,” describing Farrar’s contemplative state gazing out his window, enlivened with Mark Spencer’s “Wichita Lineman” guitar riffs and the lush Big Star melodies, and you wonder why no other rock ‘n’ roll bands or singer/songwriters are making albums like this about what we’re all going through. With tour dates scheduled before the end of 2021, Son Volt is ready to return to what they know best after a welcome period of introspection. The songs of Electro Melodier help remind us to be thankful of what we still have – new music from Jay Farrar and Son Volt.
Parker McCollum - Gold Chain Cowboy - MCA Nashville
Parker McCollum will be releasing his major label debut- Gold Chain Cowboy on MCA Nashville on July 30th. He is born and raised in the Houston-TX market and has been based in Austin-TX since he released is first independent single and EP in 2013. He has performed and will headline numerous radio station festivals during the summer. The 10 Tracks on his debut album will feature the #1 Platinum-"Pretty Heart" and his current Top 40 hit- "To Be Loved By You".
Los Lobos - Native Sons - New West Records
Los Angeles based band, Los Lobos, have always been inspired by their surroundings and the place they call home. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. With Native Sons the band set out to showcase all of these influences with their own take on the songs of Los Angeles from some of the cities greatest songwriters. Native Sons features 13-songs from well known LA artists such as Buffalo Springfield, WAR, Jackson Browne and the Beach Boys as well as deep cuts from the Jaguars, The Basters and The Premiers. The album title track is the sole original composition written by the band.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Deep Brown 2LP]
Prince - Welcome 2 America [Deluxe 2 LP / 1 CD / 1 Blu-Ray]
Clay Walker - Texas to Tennessee
Yola - Stand for Myself [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Hot Pink LP]
Torres - Thirstier [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Peak Opaque Red-in-Translucent Yellow LP]
Blues Traveler - Traveler's Blues [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Blue LP]
Naia Izumi - A Residency In The Los Angeles Area
Son Lux - Tomorrows [Limited Edition 3LP]
Grouplove - This Is This
Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space
Needtobreathe - Into The Mystery
Bleachers - Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition LP]
Dee Snider - Leave A Scar
King Woman - Celestial Blues [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Milky Clear w/Gold and Silver Splatter LP]
Slayyyter - Troubled Paradise
Peaches - Pussy Mask [Vinyl Single]
Patrick Page II - If I Fail Are We Still Cool? [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Smokey Translucent LP]
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! - Gone Are The Good Days
Erasure - The Neon Remixed
& More .....
Guccihighwaters - Joke's On You - Epitaph
Guccihighwaters is the artistic persona of 21 year -old, artist/producer, Morgan Murphy. Since his debut single in 2017, Murphy has exploded in the cloud rap community and his music has been streamed over 200 Million times. His new album, Joke's On You, is his debut for Epitaph Records and will be his first available on vinyl. Guccihighwaters is the keystone to the label's dedication to this sound that we feel is the future of Alternative music. Spending his formative years growing up in rural Ireland, Murphy was shy and when his family returned to their native New York, that shy 15 year-old turned to home recording/bedroom production and starting making his own beats. He began to indulge his musical vision by exploring community on the internet, finding a place to belong that he had not found prior. As a singer, Murphy was a bit of an outsider to the SoundCloud rap world he'd begun to orbit. "I was grouped in because of the time and place and platform," he says. His use of original piano with a classic touch and his angelic singing gave him an original voice within the scene's crowded world. Even if he wanted to blend in, he didn't know how. With Jokes On You, he says, "basically my goal was to make it sound like me. " Some members of that community, like Powfu and nothing, nowhere, feature on the album, adding their voices to Murphy's signature sound. Guccihighwaters is a top digital artist in the Indie Pop/Cloud Rapspace, releasing his music on vinyl for the first time. Album features include lo-fi sensation powfu , top emo rapper Convolk and popular alt/hip hop artist, nothing, nowhere. For Fans of powfu, Lil Peep, nothing, nowhere and Lund
Brian May - Back To The Light: Remastered - UMe
The original album newly remastered by Bob Ludwig from the original master tapes and personally overseen by Brian May. The CD is presented in a 6 panel digipak with a 24pg booklet containing rare photos and album notes. The second disc, Out of the Light, contains alternative versions, B-Sides and live tracks. The LP is presented in 180g heavyweight white vinyl in spined sleeve with printed inner bag. The whole package comes in a 12” lift lid box with 2 X CD in wallets and enamel badge.
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass: Remastered - Capitol
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is being celebrated with a suite of new releases highlighted by a stunning new mix of the classic album by Grammy Award-winning mixer/engineer Paul Hicks, overseen by executive producer Dhani Harrison.
Paul McCartney - McCartney III Imagined - Capitol
Hailed upon its release last year as "vital and comfortable taking new chances” (Rolling Stone) and “cheery, resilient, forever looking forward” (The New Yorker), Paul McCartney’s McCartney III, which topped album charts across the world, is now literally moving into the future in the form of McCartney III Imagined. Personally curated by Paul, McCartney III Imagined features an A-List assortment of friends, fans and brand new acquaintances, each covering and/or reimagining their favorite McCartney III moments in their own signature styles. The result is a kaleidoscopic reinterpretation of an album Rolling Stone accurately tagged “an inspiration to us all”—one that serves as an extension of the instantly beloved McCartney III while standing on its own as brilliant and adventurous milestone in the McCartney discography.
Descendents - 9th & Walnut - Epitaph
Formed in L.A.’s South Bay in 1978, Descendents began as a power trio featuring bassist Tony Lombardo, drummer Bill Stevenson, and guitarist Frank Navetta (d. 2008). The band recruited vocalist Milo Aukerman in 1980 and began establishing themselves as major players in the Southern California Punk movement. Over the years, the band has sustained a potent chemistry and shared vision, further cementing them as punk legends. In 2002, the original four-piece lineup — Frank Navetta, Tony Lombardo, Bill Stevenson, and Milo Aukerman — got back into the studio to finally record their first-ever songs. The songs were written by the band from 1977 through 1980, before recording the Fat EP (1981) and the Milo Goes to College LP (1982). Put simply, this is the DESCENDENTS’ earliest material, representing a “lost” pre-MGTC album. Most of these songs have not been heard—until now. Every element of DESCENDENTS’ genre-creating sound is here: Stevenson’s hyper-caffeinated surf-beats, Lombardo’s intrepid bass, Navetta’s crunching attack, Aukerman’s impassioned, infinitely relatable singing—and all those great melodies and harmonies.
Rodney Crowell - Triage - RC1 Records
'Triage' offers a rare look inside of the songwriter. This album finds Rodney Crowell introspectively looking for answers and for healing, resulting in what he has called his most personal record yet. This new collection of songs was written during the great political, environmental and economic upheaval that has marked recent years. The noise of that chaos encouraged Crowell to look inward for solace and answers. The result is this series of songs that contend with these themes, but approaches them from a place of healing, love and solution. That they are being released while we find ourselves walking through a global pandemic, is a gift of perfect timing.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Molly Burch - Romantic Images [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Coke Bottle Clear LP]
David Crosby - For Free
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Butterfly 3000
Lacuna Coil - Live From The Apocalypse [CD/DVD]
Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Alternate Cover LP]
Jackson Browne - Downhill From Everywhere
Taylor Swift - folklore [Beige 2 LP]
Pennywise - Land Of The Free [Red LP]
2pac - Until The End Of Time [4 LP]
Erika de Casier - Sensational
Various Artists - Bills & Aches & Blues
Darkside - Spiral
Piroshka - Love Drips And Gathers [Limited Edition Red LP]
Glen Campbell - Live From The Troubadour
R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe: Original Hib-Tone Single [7in Single]
Spice Girls - Wannabe 25 [Silver Cassette]
Anika - Change [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Red & Silver Galaxy LP]
Page McConnell/Trey Anastasio - December [Barn Board LP]
Mudhoney - Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: 30th Anniversary [Deluxe Edition 2LP]
Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts [2LP]
Brothers - March 10, 2020 Madison Square Garden
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - 662
Joshua Radin - The Ghost and the Wall
& More .....
RSD Drops is back this Saturday and we are super excited to celebrate and thank you for supporting Indie Record Stores. Now is the time for you to look over those lists and see what you will be spinning this weekend. Check out the list of titles available here and of course hop over to RecordStoreday.com for more details.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
John Mayer - Sob Rock
Clairo - Sling [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Dark Green LP]
Ida Mae - Click Click Domino [Indie Exclusive Mystery Melt LP]
Cautious Clay - Deadpan Love [LP]
T.A.T.U. - 200 km/h In the Wrong Lane [Coke Bottle Clear LP]
J. Cole - The Off-Season
Aesop Rock - Appleseed [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Clear & Black Smoke LP]
Acid Dad - Take It From The Dead
Tedeschi Trucks Band - Layla Revisited
Wavves - Hideaway [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Orange LP]
Barenaked Ladies - Detour De Force
Opeth - Blackwater Park: 20th Anniversary Edition [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Silver 2LP]
Chet Faker - Hotel Surrender
A Place To Bury Strangers - Hologram
Bob Mould - Distortion: Live [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Signed 140-Gram Clear Splatter 8LP Box Set]
Nathaniel Rateliff - Red Rocks 2020 [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition 2CD]
Willow - lately I feel EVERYTHING [Red LP]
Tones and I - Welcome To The Madhouse
Lonelady - Former Things
The Allman Brothers Band - Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival July 3 & 5, 1970
Various Artists - Space Jam: A New Legacy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Luke Combs - The Trilogy [10in Single]
Various Artists - Dark Nights: Death Metal Soundtrack [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Electric Smoke 2 LP]
Rise Against - Broken Dreams, Inc. (DC - Dark Nights: Death Metal Version) [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Red 7in Flexi Disc + Comic]
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything (DC - Dark Nights: Death Metal Version) [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition 7in Flexi Disc + Comic]
Denzel Curry/PlayThatBoiZay - Bad Luck (DC - Dark Nights: Death Metal Version) [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Yellow 7in Flexi Disc + Comic]
Black Pumas - Capitol Cuts - Live from Studio A [Red LP]
& More .....
Various Artists - Almost Famous: Soundtrack - Geffen
Celebrating 20 years of the Academy Award winning film by Cameron Crowe, the Grammy® winning Almost Famous soundtrack is reissued as a deluxe 2CD with 35 songs from the film including Stillwater, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and many more. Unreleased songs: “Tiny Dancer (Almost Famous Version)” with Elton John & cast and the unique mix & edit for The Who’s “Amazing Journey / Sparks (Almost Famous Version).” Newly expanded artwork includes unreleased photos and an introduction by Cameron Crowe. Also Available: 2LP and coming 8/20: Super Deluxe 6LP and Super Deluxe 5CD
Half Waif - Mythopoetics - Anti
With her musical project Half Waif, Nandi Rose dives deep into the waters of artistic expression by layering evocative vocals and synths to create a powerful form of pop music. On Mythopoetics, Rose ex- plores a full spectrum of sounds that sparkle with memorable hooks, otherworldly production and uplifting grooves. “This is the record I’ve been trying to make for 10 years,” Rose says. Previous albums The Caretaker (2020) and Lavender (2018) garnered acclaim for their compelling journeys through solitude, desire and the search for independence. Half Waif declares a new chapter on Mytho- poetics, a collection of 12 new songs – mythical stories that transcend time, each sung with a glorious contralto wrapped up in synths and electronic percussion, and her lyrical piano serving as the backbone. It is an essential reminder that we have the power to shape the stories we tell and the myths we make of our lives. This is music that you feel.
The Flatlanders - Treasure of Love - Rock'em Records
Almost 50 years after the sessions that would make them an “accidental Texas supergroup” (Rolling Stone), The Flatlanders have returned with Treasure of Love, their first new album in more than a decade. Completed during COVID-19 lockdowns with the help of longtime friend and collaborator Lloyd Maines, the record finds the iconic trio of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock in classic form, serving up a rollicking collection of twang-fueled, harmony-laden performances full of wry humor and raw heartbreak. While a few songs here are never-before-heard originals, the vast majority of the tracklist consists of tunes the band picked up during their half-century together, some stretching as far back as the group’s earliest performances in the honkytonks around Lubbock, TX, where you might have spotted Willie Nelson or Townes Van Zandt in the audience.
Marco Vezzoso and Alessandro Collina - Italian Spirit In Japan - ITI Records
Marco Vezzoso and Alessandro Collina, the jazz duo that has conquered the countries of the Rising Sun! Italian Spirit In Japan collects 10 of the most beautiful songs of Italian music reinterpreted in a refined instrumental version for trumpet, piano, and percussion. The artists offer a skilful reinterpretation of unforgettable pieces, creating a generational bridge between pop music and jazz. This live version is also a tribute to the artistic partnership between Vezzoso and Collina, which began in Japan and reached China via Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In the 'Italian Spirit live' project we decided to invite the percussionist Andrea Marchesini. Andrea is a highly talented and experienced musician who, like us, loves contamination between genres. It was therefore easy for us to integrate Andrea's artistic vein, who adapted very well to our playing. Indeed, he did much more, enriching the pieces with rhythmic details, sometimes almost melodic, without ever being invasive.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
The Wallflowers - Exit Wounds [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Purple LP]
clipping. - WRIGGLE (EXPANDED) [LP]
Damon Locks - Black Monument Ensemble - NOW
Oliver Wood - Always Smilin' [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Clear LP]
Anthrax - I Am The Law, Discharge, Madhouse, Time [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition 3in Bundle]
BTS - BUTTER
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Teenage Gizzard [Magenta & Yellow w/Yellow Splatter LP]
The Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang Live On Copacabana Beach [2 CD/Blu-ray]
Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul - Summer of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre
Mayhem - Atavistic Black Disorder/Kommando EP
Inhaler - It Won't Always Be Like This
Muse - ORIGIN OF SYMMETRY: XX Anniversary RemiXX [2LP]
Andrew Lloyd Webber - Cinderella: The Musical (Original London Cast Recording) [3 LP]
Two Feet - Max Maco Is Dead Right? [Limited Edition Opaque Light Blue LP]
Spacehog - Resident Alien [Limited Edition Pink 2LP]
Lucinda Williams - Lu's Jukebox Vol. 2 - Southern Soul: From Memphis To Muscle Shoals
The Infamous Stringdusters - A Tribute To Bill Monroe
The Monkees - The Monkees [Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP]
The Goon Sax - Mirror II
& More .....
Tom Petty - Angel Dream (Songs From The Motion Picture She's The One) - Warner Records
Angel Dream is a special reimagining of the album She’s The One to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original release. This also brings to a close the celebration of Tom Petty’s masterpiece Wildflowers, as most of the songs on this album were recorded during the same time period. She’s The One included some songs that were left off the original Wildflowers album, recently included in the Wildflowers & All The Rest re-issue. To take the place of those songs, four previously unreleased songs have been added here – two Petty originals (“105 Degrees” and “One of Life’s Little Mysteries”), a cover of JJ Cale’s “Thirteen Days”, and the instrumental “French Disconnection”. An extended version of “Supernatural Radio” is also included. The album has been remixed & remastered and brand new cover art commissioned – emphasizing that this is a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album, rather than a soundtrack album.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Carlos Nino & Friends - More Energy Fields, Current
The Go! Team - Get Up Sequences Part One [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Turquoise LP]
Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth - Utopia Ashes
At The Gates - The Nightmare Of Being [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Bone LP]
Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones: Tenth Anniversary Edition [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Opaque Yellow 2LP]
Chris LeDoux - Wyoming Cowboy: A Retrospective
Vince Mendoza - Freedom Over Everything
Bella White - Just Like Leaving
Bebe Rexha - Better Mistakes
Jeremy Zucker/Chelsea Cutler - brent ii
Marina Allen - Candlepower
Steve Marriner - Hope Dies Last
Joni Mitchell - The Reprise Albums (1968-1971)
Laura Mvula - Pink Noise
Wanderlust - All A View
& More .....
T. Hardy Morris - The Digital Age of Rome - New West Records
Heading into the spring of 2020, T. Hardy Morris had 12 demos that he thought would make-up his next album, then, everything changed. The world took a break and so his plans to record did as well. As we all watched and waited out the storms; viral and societal, we seemed to wake up scrolling through a whole new century, a time Morris began to refer to as The Digital Age of Rome. He scrapped the demos and began a collection of songs in quarantine where the unprecedented times and topics were unavoidable. He wanted to document the era sonically and lyrically in some way. “I wanted it to sound like how the world felt to me in the second half of 2020. Uncomfortable and chaotic, dystopian but still beautiful.” The Digital Age of Rome was recorded in a deserted downtown Athens, Ga. With long-time collaborator / producer Adam Landry.
Gary Allan - Ruthless - EMI Nashville
Gary Allan releases a brand new album of all new material this week. Ruthless is Gary's first studio album in over 8 years. Overall, Allan's nine studio and greatest hits albums have produced 26 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, including the number one hits "Man to Man", "Tough Little Boys" (both 2003), "Nothing On but the Radio" (2004), and "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" (2013). Seven more of his singles have reached the Top 10 on this chart as well: his debut single "Her Man", "It Would Be You" (both at #7), "Right Where I Need to Be" (at #5), "The One" (at #3), "Best I Ever Had" (a cover of a Vertical Horizon song) (at #7), "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" (at #4), and "Watching Airplanes" (#2).
Lightman Jarvis Ecstatic Band - Banned - Anti
Yves Jarvis and Romy Lightman are a pair of idiosyncratic and restlessly creative artists. In the past decade, Jarvis’s ever-expanding swatch have earned international acclaim, while Lightman’s twin-sister-led band Tasseomancy has transfixed listeners since the late 2000s. The Lightman Jarvis Ecstatic Band marks the duo’s first collaboration, slingshotting both musicians out of their comfort zones into spellbinding territories of lysergic folk and impressionistic rock. Banned was recorded in the tranquil environment of the Tree Museum, an outdoor art gallery in rural Ontario, Canada, hosting residencies for contemporary sculptors over the past 20 years. The pair credit its 200 acres of natural spaces intermingling with human-made creations as the fuel for their unfettered process. Recorded over two weeks in a free-flowing stream of improvisation, the album finds Lightman on synthesizer with Jarvis on drums and guitar, as their voices weave together into an electrified pastoral tapestry.
Vincent Neil Emerson - Vincent Neil Emerson - La Honda Records
Vincent Neil Emerson is a torchbearer of the Texas songwriter tradition. He channels the straightforward truth-telling and resonance of his songwriting heroes in Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle into something fresh and distinctly his own. Where his 2019 debut Fried Chicken and Evil Women proved that he is one of the most reverent students of country and Western musical traditions, his follow-up LP, the masterful Rodney Crowell-produced Vincent Neil Emerson, which is out this week via La Honda Records/Thirty Tigers, is a brave step forward that solidifies his place as one of music's most compelling and emotionally clarifying storytellers. His songs are cathartic and bluntly honest, never mincing words or dancing around uncomfortable truths.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Valiant [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Red & Black Inkspot LP]
Lucy Dacus - Home Video [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Clear LP]
Hiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Metallic Blue LP]
Modest Mouse - The Golden Casket [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Deluxe CD]
Caroline Shaw - Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part
Anthony Ramos - Love And Lies
Dance Gavin Dance - Tree City Sessions 2
Josh Turner - Your Man: 15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Nina Simone - Nina Simone: The Montreux Years
Etta James - Etta James: The Montreux Years
The Roots - Do You Want More?!!!??!: 25th Anniversary Edition [Deluxe LP]
Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?: The Platinum Pleasure Edition
Ceramic Dog - Hope [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition 2LP]
Selena Gomez - Revelacion EP
Devin Townsend - Devolution Series #2 - Galactic Quarantine [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Silver 2LP]
Beartooth - Below
The Mountain Goats - Dark In Here [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Blue 2LP]
PJ Harvey - White Chalk
PJ Harvey - White Chalk - Demos
Justin Bieber - Justice
Elvis Costello - La Face de Pendule à Coucou EP [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Neon Coral Vinyl]
Motorhead - No Sleep 'til Hammersmith: 40th Anniversary Edition
DMX - Greatest Hits [Limited Edition Splatter LP]
& More .....
To call 2020 an odd year would certainly be an understatement. A stressful election, the sad state of race relations and a global pandemic have put most of us in a sour mood to say the least. Many of us have turned to recorded music as a coping mechanism, or for hope, or as an escape from harsh reality. I happen to be a fan of physical media (and work at a record store so definitely biased!) and am glad more people are buying records. It supports the artist, your local record store and a bunch of people in between. And you become the proud owner of a physical manifestation of recorded music that can be enjoyed over a lifetime.
Here are ten records from the year that have help me contextualize the news and bring joy to my daily existence. Compared with previous year’s lists, the ones I connected with are a little darker, more emotional and with one exception (Sufjan’s Ascension) not very poppy. I love a good beat and a hooky chorus but for as much as I was looking forward to a new Tame Impala, it rarely made it to the turntable. These ten though were on high rotation…
I’m a longtime fan so this is no surprise. His song “Ex-Con” from 1997’s Smog – Red Apple Falls served as inspiration for my current band’s name. Gold Record may not be his finest work but there are clearly moments of brilliance. There are a few turds in there too though.
Jazz guitarist most known for his role in post-rock titans Tortoise, Parker has and is continuing to create significant music, releasing material with Makaya McCraven, clipping, Andrew Bird and Rob Mazurek all in 2020! As well as his own fantastic record that exists in its own stylistic space; Parker’s curiosity allows him to create satisfying modern music built upon the rich vocabulary of jazz guitar.
Sufjan has had many high points in his career: 2004’s banjo heavy folk on Seven Swans; 2005’s wide screen progressive pop on Illinois; 2006’s perennial holiday bangers on Songs for Christmas; 2010’s sound collage extravaganza The Age of Adz, and the 2015 tender hearted, personal confessions Carrie & Lowell which scaled back the sonic pyrotechnics in lieu of relatively simple acoustics (kinda like his For Emma, Forever Ago except coming later in his catalog). All the way and until now he’s been working with other artists and releasing his own more experimental (electronic, symphonic, new age, piano scores for dance!) projects and Ascension aims to be yet another high point. Time will tell. It’s certainly a large statement with 15 tracks and a 1 hour 21 minute running time (side C gets a little long in the tooth…) overall he is successful in dialing in his grandiose musical constructs to leaner arrangements and messaging that really stick. His lyrical inspiration has moved from historical, to personal, to now on this one, systemic themes in modern America (what’s not to talk about?!) These might be the only hot jams of 2020 that actually matter.
As I’m typing this, I’m wondering why it’s not number one on my list?!? (really, from here on out, it’s a 7-way tie for first place). Part of the attraction for me is the mysterious nature of his art. I hear some of his influences (his vocal style is unique but I could imagine an updated Marvin Gaye’s falsetto) but his guitar work which I think is how he writes and arranges (even if it doesn’t appear in the final mix) employs chord melodies and voicings from a pallet I’m not yet familiar. Ultimately, his songs seem to be liberated expressions and beautiful to behold. Fun fact: he lives just up the road in Asheville!
Out of all the artist on this list, Dirty Projectors are the music I crave. It’s modern, it’s creative, it’s progressive, the vocals are like candy, the concepts are heady but not essential for listening. I crave potato chips too. Just because I want more of this in my ear hole doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good or that I should welcome it into the tender parts of my psyche. I’m not implying that their music will enflame your colon, only that I usually I reach outside my comfort zone for new music and am often rewarded for doing so. But with these guys it’s like pass me the Kettle Chips.
YES! There’s a bunch of modern jazz recordings that I truly cherish, like Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch, Sun Ra’s Visits Planet Earth, Anthony Braxton’s New York, Fall 1974. Let’s be clear Mazurek is and has always been looking forward and making new music but he’s building upon the rich legacy of creative American black music. That’s a Herculean task to do well but I’m telling you Dimensional Stardust is the work of a jazz hero.
I admit I was late to the party with Big Thief. I heard a few tracks and wrote them off as just another Saddle Creek band. But the two records they released last year just whapped me over the head. They are the best rock band playing today! Except no rock bands are playing today. In 2020, they should have been on tour supporting these two fantastic albums but Covid 19 shut that all down. Lenker, their singer, retreated to a remote cabin in Massachusetts to track these 11 songs with only acoustic guitar and vocals plus 35 additional minutes of instrumental improvisation. The result is simply stunning. Lenker attended a prestigious music school which kinda explains her high level of her playing, but between us, I’ve heard lots of music school grads… She has used those skills to express something true and beautiful: a portrait of a human existence seeking perspective and harmony.
We often think of a “singer songwriter” as somebody that strums chords and sings a melody, but with Bejar, his process of writing lyrics then hearing them come out of his own mouth is only part of the process; the rewriting to get the phrasing dialed in can’t be understated. I think this can be said of Dylan or any great “singer-songwriter” but this fluidity allows for further development, blurring the role of writer and performer. If his ultimate goal is to make a great record, my guess is he’s willing to sacrifice original concepts if it leads to something greater. Part of my curiosity about his process is that his use of language since 2011’s Kaputt has become so abstract; surely he realizes that listeners have their own personal interpretation of his lyrics and I expect that’s part of the fun.
2. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
Killer Mike and El P are back doing what they do: dropping critical beats and brutally honest lyrics. They’re upset. They don’t like what they see. And finally in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed, mainstream America is starting to scratch it’s collective head and realize that this is not ok. RTJ4 is not a mantra but both Mike and El-P are on the front line speaking truth to power. They are quick to point out injustice in their lyrics and the fact that RTJ is a mixed race duo, creative partners as well as great friends, they offer us a working model of hope.
Like I said earlier, I could have put just about any of these records in the “top spot” but I choose Torres. Yes, 2020 was about politics, race, the pandemic and the struggle of living in a divided tribal country that can’t fix problems because our collective hearts are full of greed and hate. But even in this tsunami of a shit storm, we must not forget that we are walking this earth for brief time and what we all want/need is love. People loving people. The heartbreak and longing that Torres describe is even more powerful than the strongman rhetoric that leads us to this point, seeking to divide us for their own benefit. Maybe Torres’ Silver Tongue can soften a sea of hard hearts and remind us that we all hurt. Why not love?! Sounds like an updated Kate Bush, masterfully melding lyrics and melody. See Gracious Day for case in point.
Missing live music?!? So are we. That's why we are stoked for these live sets on vinyl. Austin City Limits have captured amazing performances and the sound is fantastic! These are great stocking stuffers for live music fans on your list* Get the Truckers here. Get Widespread here.
*must have wide calvesRead more...
Sufjan has delivered his sleeper, synth pop masterpiece and we are all about it if you haven't noticed. Kinda like Carrie & Lowell but looking out instead of within. And with vintage drum machines! We still have some of the limited clear vinyl. Get yours here!Read more...
Killer Mike and El-P are back! RTJ4 might be the soundtrack to 2020. Yankee and the Brave! We still got some of the indie-exclusive vinyl, get it here!Read more...
Deluxe reissue of Petty's 1994 Wildflowers, including all 25 songs from the sessions with Rick Rubin. Yes, it's essential and lucky for you we've still got a few copies! Get yours here.Read more...
We just couldn't help ourselves... Yes, we are not promoting the usual RSD events that draw the big crowds during the pandemic but we couldn't pass up the oppertunity to stock some of of the exclusive titles that appeal to our diserning Horizon shoppers. Click here to see what titles we have available right now!Read more...
The year was 1970. America was going throw some stuff and the music was fantastic.Read more...
Coming October 2020, limited indie only pressings of cherished rock records. Shop them in store or you can get them in our webshop by clicking hereRead more...
We love some home cookin' You down with the local sound?! Click here then!Read more...
if you are reading this, there's a good chance you know Gene. He's the owner/operator of Horizon Records and he's kind of a geek about classical in all its many forms, and especially about piano music, things from ECM Records , and lately about what he calls late moderns (ambient, minimalists, and the generally bliss-ed out edges of classical)... I've heard that some days that's the only thing that gets played in the back room. Even Renaissance and Early choral music, omg Poor Luci.Read more...
Wanna be in with the in crowd? Well, all the cool people are rocking Horizon Records merch even if they are stuck at home...Read more...
Car Seat Headrest - Making A Door Less Open - Matador Records
Making A Door Less Open, the new album from Car Seat Headrest and the first set of brand-new songs since 2016's Teens Of Denial, is available this week on vinyl and CD featuring distinct tracklists and mixes for each format. Created over the course of four years, Making a Door Less Open is the result of a fruitful 'collaboration' between Car Seat Headrest, led by Will Toledo, and 1 Trait Danger, a CSH electronic side project consisting of drummer Andrew Katz and Toledo's alternative persona, 'Trait.' To realize this, the band recorded the album twice: once live with guitars, drums and bass, and once in a MIDI environment using purely synthesized sounds. During the mixing process, the two approaches were gradually combined using elements of each, with additional overdubs.
Damien Jurado - What's New, Tomboy? - Mama Bird
2020 release from the Seattle-based indie-folk veteran Damien Jurado. What's New, Tomboy? is his third album in three years, following 2018's Secretly Canadian swan song The Horizon Just Laughed and 2019's Mama Bird debut In The Shape Of A Storm.
Chicano Batman - Invisible People - ATO Records
Chicano Batman release their new album, Invisible People, via ATO. The LA-based quartet made up of Eduardo Arenas, Carlos Arévalo, Bardo Martinez and Gabriel Villa, follow-up the critically acclaimed breakthrough Freedom Is Free with their most sonically varied and cohesive album to date. Mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett (Beck, Alabama Shakes) the 12-song set accentuates the group's high-spirited synthesis of Tropicália, west coast psychedelia and late-'60s/early-'70s soul.
Due to the current circumstances RSD 2020 has once again had to adapt and here is the latest information from Record Store Day:
Since 2008, Record Store Day has grown into the world’s largest single-day music event, shining a light on the culture of the indie record store across the globe. In 2020, that world is different, so Record Store Day will be too. RSD is now scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October.
Record Store Day will look very different this year, but supporting indie record stores may be more important than ever. We don't know what sort of rules will be in place, or what sort of gatherings people will be in the mood for this year, so we're focusing on the music and getting the really great titles on the RSD Official List this year into the stores and into your hands, in the most financially and socially responsible way.
The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops: August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. The new version of The List, with newly assigned RSD Drops dates will launch on June 1 so check back here for a look at when you'll be able to pick up the titles on your RSD 2020 wishlist at your local record store.
There's never a bad time to get or give a Horizon Records Gift Certificate. But if you get one now, you are helping us get through a rough patch!Read more...
Our love for Jazz is not a secret. We like the old stuff, the new stuff, swing, be-bop, dixieland, modern, big-band, vocal... This graphic shows three new reissues of sessions led by drummers. They're great and we've got em'.Read more...
Good things come to those who wait... click here to see this year's releasesRead more...