2020's Best New Albums & Reissues (so far)

Not much has really happened so far this year. It's all been a bit uneventful. Let's just hope the rest of 2020 livens up a bit. Some music was released at least. Here's the best of it.

I wasn’t exactly expecting things to get *better* in 2020. After all, this isn’t my first rodeo. However, as the balls dropped on January 1st, I wondered if there might at least be some sort of recalibration, a moratorium on the endless slew of bullshit that came to swallow the planet whole throughout the last decade.

But no! Nope! No way Jose! Actually, things have got a whole lot worse! You can spin it whichever way you want, but the fact of the matter is that the first half of 2020 has been a complete and utter shitshow! I’d like to think things will improve in the second half of the year, but I know they won’t! In fact, it’s probably not going to get better for ages and ages!

Fuck 2020.

Some interesting stuff has happened in Norman-land, all of which you would have been forgiven for missing as life as we knew it ceased to be. We’ve welcomed new members of staff into the fold (hi Tom! hi Sam!). We’ve run more features, including illuminating interviews with Rian Treanor and Gregory Euclide. We’ve worked really hard to get everyone’s records sent to them during the pandemic - well, actually I’ve just been writing snarky copy from the comfort of my own home, but the office crew have put in constantly hard shifts over the past few months. Yes, while the world may have ground to a halt, cogs have kept turning in LS11.

And there’s been lots of music to sell, The release schedules have dropped off a wee bit, but we’ve still had plenty of sonorous tidbits to cram into our lugholes. Let’s have a lil recap.

Besties

One of the year’s most welcome musical reinventions has come from Nicolas Jaar. While he’s always been a whizz on the electronics, rarely can we recall Jaar making work as visceral and vital as ‘2017-2019’ and ‘Illusions Of Shameless Abundance / Alucinao’, the pair of records he dropped earlier this year under the name of Against All Logic. German avant-industrial legends Einstürzende Neubauten are another group whose sonic reinventions caught us a little flat-footed - on ‘Alles In Allem’, their first studio full-length for a generation, Blixa Bargeld et al curdled their once-ferocious style into something shadowy and insidious. Craven Faults also wowed with debut LP ‘Erratics & Unconformities’, the producer’s latest revolution in kosmische.

Even if we couldn’t hit the club for most of 2020 there was still a shedload of great dance music which emerged before the pandemic - and some, defiantly, during it. India Jordan is one of the clubsphere’s breakout stars at the moment, the promise they’ve shown over the past couple of years exploding into the life-affirming club takes of their ‘For You’ EP, while DJ Python made similarly big waves with the gorgeous “deep reggaeton” bath ‘Mas Amable’. Though Emma-Jean Thackray is best known as a jazz polymath, her ‘Rain Dance’ EP featured dancefloor-friendly groovers alongside the horn-tooting. Bassweight bossman Pinch put the young pretenders in their place with long-awaited sophomore LP ‘Reality Tunnels’. Personally I also loved Mutant Joe’s Lil-Ugly-Mane-goes-electro set ‘Operation Chaos’ and the darkside drum ‘n’ bass of Mark and Christoph de Babalon’s spilt EP for A Colourful Storm.

Voyages into rock’s outer regions also threw up some thrilling finds. Horse Lords’ ‘The Common Task’ has been an enduring favourite here at Norman Towers, its fervid instrumentals gutting math-rock for parts and blending them with NYC minimalism, Devo-core and Sahel blues. Rarely does one hear a record at once so utilitarian and so utopian. Karkhana’s "free Middle Eastern music" sounded similarly righteous on ‘Bitter Balls’, as did Slum Of Legs’ eponymous LP of zany noise-pop. Also, we’re not sure if the foreboding drones of Golem Mecanique’s ‘Nona, Decima et Morta’ counts as rock per se, but this record certainly hit with the force one generally associates with metal acts like Sunn O))).

As for rock’s mainstream, The Strokes made a pretty good fist of reigniting old fires on ‘The New Abnormal’ and The Orielles continued their ascent towards the top of the indie pyramid with the upbeat ‘Disco Volador’. Shopping did something similar to The Orielles on ‘All Or Nothing’, though despite including poppier synths and a meatier production style the trio’s music maintained the sense of wiry angst which had so thrilled on previous records. Khruangbin were professionally chill not once but twice, Porridge Radio’s ‘Every Bad’ made good on their years cutting teeth in the DIY punk circuit, and Phoebe Bridgers conquered all with her emo-folk opus ‘Punisher’.

That Bridgers album is just one of several superb singer-songwriter sets to have come to the fore in 2020. Perfume Genius’ ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately’ is the latest collection of fragile, tragic, incredibly beautiful queer-pop ballads in a career full of them. BC Camplight’s ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ was no less affecting but ran his ruminations through black comedy and Wilco-esque struts. ‘Watch This Liquid Pour Itself’, Okay Kaya’s bedroom-pop exploration of sad sex and bad sex, and Pictish Trail’s whimsicial ‘Thumb World’ were equally witty and rewarding outings. Finally, hats off to Sonic Boom, who, on his first album for three decades, combined the spiritualised sonics of his old band Spacemen 3 with some hard-won wisdom.

Lockdown Listening

Regular readers will know that we’ve been keeping tabs on you lot throughout this lockdown. Yes, that’s right, you’re being watched!

We could have predicted some of the records which have struck a chord with you all during the past few months. New albums from electronica baes Plone and Dalham were always going to cause excitement in these parts - there was particular glee over the former’s ‘Puzzlewood’, their first full-length for more than twenty years. A critical frenzy around her new LP ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ has seen strong sales for another returning hero Fiona Apple, and who isn’t partial to fresh material from post-rock tinkerers Cavern Of Anti-Matter? Finally, Neil Young has got round to releasing an album called ‘Homegrown’ that’s been gathering dust since the mid-70s, which unsurprisingly has shifted oodles of pre-orders.

Sleaford Mods’ disdain for The General State Of Affairs is evergreen at this point, so their decision to release compilation ‘All That Glue’ during the lockdown both chimes perfectly with isolation moodiness and also reminds one of a world beyond social distancing, one of pub-chat and pints consumed inside rather than out. Speaking of such things, The Chats’ stupid-genius ‘High Risk Behaviour’ LP has also shifted a fair few units since it emerged, beer-soaked and stinking of tabs, in late March.

However, the popularity of some releases has caught us cold. Chief among these is Hania Rani’s ‘Esja’, a surprising success that has sold scores of copies despite offering up the sort of classical piano tinklings that, while pleasant on the ears, don’t tend to sell big. Rina Sawayama’s sort-of-eponymous debut LP kind of came out of nowhere too, but this album of polished and confrontational ultra-pop has been a consistently big seller. Then there’s Squid, a post-punk group tipped for big things for some time now but whose sales of their debut Warp single ‘Sludge’/‘Broadcaster’ suggest they might be on their way to bonafide stardom.

And then there are the reissues - popular at all times, but perhaps even more so now, as we reach for items of familiarity while navigating an uncertain epoch. Mind you, by far and away the best-selling re-releases of this lockdown have been the doom-laden proclamations of Joy Division, followed closely by similarly gloomy forecasts from The National, PJ Harvey and Rowland S. Howard, so maybe we’re wide of the mark with that theory. At least new editions of Joe Hisaishi’s stirring Studio Ghibli soundtracks provide some balance on that front.

Black Excellence

“What would the UK be without grime, garage, old-school jungle?” These words, tweeted out by music journalist Gabriel Szatan, were written on a placard at one of the Black Lives Matter protests held in London in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. Szatan’s unequivocal caption hit the nail on the head; “nothing”.

But not just grime, garage and jungle, of course, and not just the UK either. Two-tone ska, hip-hop, soul, reggae, jazz, dancehall, rock ‘n’ roll - so many of the musical styles that we hold dear are indelibly entwined with black culture and the black experience. As dearly as one may love these sounds, one must never forget the histories that have birthed them - histories which, for all the great art they have inspired, are also intimate with suffering.

Even prior to the explosion of protest this year we had braced ourselves for returns from heroes of politically engaged hip-hop. Run The Jewels have long been at the forefront of this conversation, and while the physical edition of their new LP ‘RTJ4’ may not be in shops for a few weeks yet the streams of the record which went online in early June left us in no doubt that Killer Mike and El-P had delivered another timely masterpiece of righteous invective. Mike also made an appearance on The Coup’s ‘Sorry To Bother You’ - confusingly not a re-pressing of the band’s 2012 record but a new LP presenting the score to bandleader Boots Riley’s film of the same name.

While the RTJ and Coup records burn with the same fires that have always raged in their music, others wore their disgruntlement in more arch ways. JPEGMAFIA’s ‘All My Heroes Are Cornballs’, which emerged in 2019 but made it to vinyl in the new decade, is a fractured noise-rap affair, but dig deeper than the glitching beats and wry lyrics and you'll find real ire to this music. Shabazz Palaces approached things from the other end of the spectrum on ‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’, an LP which gave form and structure to Ishmael Butler’s astral-fonk musings and, in doing so, delivered the project’s best work in years. Somewhere between these poles we found Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Feet Of Clay’, an EP which crammed more substance into seven skeletal tracks than what many artists manage across several albums. 

A couple of full-length link-ups also caught our ear over the past few months. Given how Quelle Chris and Chris Keys’ ‘Innocent Country’ LP has gained cult-classic status in the years since 2015, expectations were unsurprisingly high for the sequel when it dropped back in April. Fortunately this vivid and luxurious set delivered many times over - we should never have doubted them. Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats, two rising stars of U.S. hip-hop, also impressed on their collaborative record ‘Unlocked’.

Lisbon’s Príncipe continued to demonstrate excellence in club music even if the clubs themselves weren’t actually open. Label stalwart Nídia released a whole host of records, quickly following the considered LP ‘Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes’ and its accompanying 7” with an eponymous EP of hard-hitting Batida-techno combos. PML Beatz also came out of nowhere to wow us with their debut release ‘Pedra de 800 Kg’, a whirlwind of potent rhythm. Mind you, as brooding as ‘Pedra de 800 Kg’ could be, it had nothing on the darkness of Nazar’s ‘Guerilla’, a stunning record in which the Angola-born, Manchester-based producer attempted to make sense of the public and personal legacies of his homeland’s civil war through torrid Batida beats. There was a throughline of rhythmic fervour to records from both Nihiloxica and 79rs Gang, though the former blended Bugandan drumlines with techno techniques while the Bayou-based 79rs rubbed the exuberance of Mardi Gras against some ruminative, bluesy lyricism. 

One of the best collections of dance music to emerge from the UK this year in fact contains no music from the modern day. Soul Jazz Records have a reputation for putting together superb compilations of jazz, funk, soul and reggae, but ‘Black Riot: Early Jungle, Rave and Hardcore’ showed that their knowledge of golden-age junglism is also second to none. Bringing things more up-to-date was Josey Rebelle, the Rinse FM DJ’s ‘Josey In Space’ mix demonstrating her impeccable and wide-ranging taste. And space(k) was the place once more as veteran Steve Spacek crafted a set of soulful, jazz-tinged house delights from nothing but apps on the ‘Houses’ LP. 

Speaking of jazz, the British scene maintains the energy that has driven it to the forefront of the global conversation over the past few years. Moses Boyd’s ‘Dark Matter’ LP is surely going to be one of 2020’s headline releases, the album’s spiritual, pulsating milieu making good on the voracious genre-gobbling of the drummer’s earlier records. Alfa Mist also quietly nudged himself to the front of the conversation with the ruminative piano vignettes of ‘On My Ones’. Meanwhile, Shabaka Hutchings kept up his incredible rate of productivity - not only did the the British saxophonist deliver another masterpiece of ancestry-excavating jazz as bandleader on ‘We Are Sent Here By History’, he also contributed to one of of our surprise favourite records of 2020 so far, blowing down the reed on Sibusile Xaba’s superb Zulu folk LP ‘Nigwu Shwabada’.

Across the pond Makaya McCraven paid tribute to a legend with his reworking of Gil Scott-Heron’s classic LP ‘I'm New Here’. While McCraven may be a relative newcomer, veteran Ethio-jazzer Hailu Mergia continued his late-career renaissance with ‘Yene Mircha’. Elsewhere the sounds of Thundercat, Flying Lotus and Wajatta may owe just as much to hip-hop, yacht rock and weirdo-beat as they do jazz, but the chops displayed on the records they released this year were undeniable. Something similar was going on on Kassa Overall’s ‘I Think I’m Good’, though Overall’s collection was also impressionistic and thoughtful in the same way as the most freeform sections of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ - an album which featured contributions from Thundercat and FlyLo, of course.

Overall’s album was just one of a number of singular records from singular artists. J Hus reminded us that he was the kind of Afroswing with the chart-topping ‘Big Conspiracy’. Moses Sumney’s grandiose double-LP ‘græ’ wasn’t all to my taste, but one cannot deny the exceptional craft of this space-soul odyssey. Sumney’s sound was slipped a valium on Yves Tumor’s ‘Heaven To A Tortured Mind’, a record that sounded like Prince if he had discovered black magic, while Naeem’s ‘Startisha’ was a post-Outkast smörgåsbord from the artist formerly known as Spank Rock. There was post-punk murk about both Ghostpoet’s ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ and Algiers’ ‘There Is No Year’, though the former skulked Ian Dury-style while Algiers invoked the fear ala Protomartyr. And then there’s Devonte Hynes, whose superb recent run continued with his ornate score to underground cinema hit ‘Queen & Slim’ - a movie which, in hinging on the racial profiling of a young black couple by a police officer, was to remain tragically, infuriatingly relevant throughout the first half of 2020.

Those who have passed away

We’ve lost some honest-to-God legends of popular music these past six months. It is simply impossible to comprehend the influence of Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider, Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers and Little Richard. Whole genres would not exist without their innovations, and they crossed rubicons of vision and aesthetic which have brought about changes not just in musical styles but in the world at large.

In Tony Allen, Manu Dibango and Joseph Shabalala three giants of African music have left us. If you believe in G.O.A.T.s, Allen surely has a claim for being the greatest drummer who has ever lived - Brian Eno certainly thinks so. From his endless grooves which powered Fela Kuti’s awesome Africa 70 to the limber jazz records of his later years (which included a collaboration with Dibango), Allen’s prowess on the kit was singular.

Dibango’s ‘Soul Makossa’ was referenced (read: literally just copied) by Michael Jackson and Rihanna, but his contributions extend far beyond this cornerstone disco tune into the arenas of jazz, funk and the traditional musics of his native Cameroon. As for Shabalala, he won Grammy awards and helped to soundtrack South Africa’s emergence from Apartheid as leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo - a group you’ll surely know through their involvement in Paul Simon’s incomparable ‘Graceland’.

Others may not be household names but their contributions to music are still mighty. Millie Small’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’ remains a watershed moment in popular culture, its ebullient ska pulse breaking down the door for the small island of Jamaica to take its place as arguably the single most important nation in 20th Century music. As a member of Mazzy Star, David Roback helped to define the sound and look of 90s alternative rock. Then we come to Andrew Weatherall, an artist whose energy, verve and aesthetic fearlessness has had an incalculable effect on alternative music in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Coronavirus, of course, has been behind many of this year’s deaths. Ty, who came close to winning the Mercury Prize with 2003’s ‘Upwards’ LP, passed in London. Everyone knows ‘Stacy’s Mom’, but beyond this iconic paean to adolescent horniness Adam Schlesinger leaves a vast and impressive legacy, from several records of sparky pop-rock as part of Fountains Of Wayne to the artfully crafted songs he wrote for TV shows like ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’. John Prine, another songwriter of rare gifts, was also taken by the virus, as was Dave Greenfield, whose keyboard work for The Stranglers gave us (among many other things) the inimitable ‘Golden Brown’ vamp.

Closer to home, we lost beloved figures from Leeds music scenes past and present. Andy Gill made his name through his work in Gang Of Four, the band’s combination of jagged punk-funk and acerbic leftwing lyricism going from LS1 to the world in the 70s and 80s. Gill’s jackknife style of guitar playing influenced generations of musicians, some of whom - Red Hot Chili Peppers, Killing Joke, The Jesus Lizard, The Young Knives, The Futureheads - he would go on to produce albums for.

Alex T, who passed away in January, was a DJ who worked at Tribe Records in Leeds city centre and put on club nights across the north. He very much put in the work, constantly championing music he loved and turning people onto new sounds. If you went to a dance around Leeds, chances were that you’d find him there, either behind the decks or front left. A fund has been set up in his memory and a party is scheduled to be held in his honour later this year. He is missed.

Some artists from the U.S. were taken by some of that country’s endemic tragedies. Pop Smoke, a rapper with a voice so gravelly he made 50 Cent sound like Cliff Richard, was well on his way to becoming one of the country’s biggest pop stars when he was shot dead at the age of just 20 back in February. A couple of months later another rising rapper, Chynna Rogers, died from a drug overdose - the same cause of death that claimed the life of her friend and mentor A$AP Yams five years earlier.

And let us not forget that George Floyd was a musician. While he may have been killed in Minneapolis, Floyd made some considerable moves in the Houston hip-hop scene of the late-90s and early 2000s. He ran with the legendary DJ Screw, laying down bars under the name of Big Floyd as part of Screw’s Screwed Up Click, and also made the LP ‘Block Party The Album’ with his group Presidential Playas. He was friendly with Trae Tha Truth and moved in the same circles as Bun B. Listen to his words, and say his name.

In no particular order, here are the best things we've heard in this cursed year so far.

DJ Python
Mas Amable

Sold out - sorry!

Yves Tumor
Heaven To A Tortured Mind

'Heaven To A Tortured Mind' is the fourth LP by Yves Tumor, aka American experimental electronic producer Sean Bowie (no relation). It is the follow-up to their critically lauded 2018 album 'Safe In The Hands of Love' - incidentally also their debut release for Warp. Warp thought that record was so good that they’d let Tumor make another, and we're delighted they did. It’s worth noting that he has also performed under the name Yvsie Ray Vaughan.

Clarice Jensen
The experience of repetition as death

Cellist Clarice Jensen has already collaborated with the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson amongst others on earlier work but for her second album goes it alone on a record which uses the cello and nothing else as a sound source. The album uses the instrument to create loops and electronica that veer far in the direction of more dance-orientated practitioners like Actress. Seems she's doing for the cello what Colin Stetson has done for the sax. 

Horse Lords
The Common Task

Baltimore quartet Horse Lords have been seen as kind of wandering minstrels of experimental music. Taking in influences as disparate as Albert Ayler, the Ex and Glenn Branca they follow an idiosyncratic path marked by a strong political ideal. The Common Task is their fourth album and continues the studio experiments and hypnotic rhythms of 2016's acclaimed Interventions. 

Sibusile Xaba
Ngiwu Shwabada

Guitarist and singer Sibusile Xaba hails from South Africa. He makes his own take on Maskandi (Zulu folk music) music, mixing it with the avant-garde. Ngiwu Shwabada his new album. It translates as I Am with Shwabada, Shwbada being a spiritual lineage. Features an 18 minute improvised track recorded with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings of Sons of Kemet and Shabaka & the Ancestors.

BC Camplight
Shortly After Takeoff

Philadelphia-born Brian Christinzio, the man behind the BC Camplight moniker rounds off his ‘Manchester Trilogy’ with Shortly After Take Off, an album he believes to be his best to date. The trilogy has told of his move to Manchester, his deportation, leaving loved ones behind, mental health struggles and now, although settled back in Manchester, the sudden death of his father and alcohol abuse. He writes about everything with heart-breaking honesty and with a certain amount of gallows humour.

Shopping
All Or Nothing

Rachel Aggs has had a good 2019, releasing brilliant albums with Trash Kit and Sacred Paws. She now returns to Shopping for their fourth album, All or Nothing. As the band are now split between LA and Glasgow it meant they had to find time when they could get together. The album came out of an intensive two week writing and recording sesh. Expect their usual bold, post-punk sound, but this time with added pop sensibilities.

Nihiloxica
Kaloli

Ancient Ugandan Bungdan drumming meets techno on Kaloli by Nihiloxica. The group is a collaboration between Spooky-J & pq from the UK and the Ugandan-based Nilotika Cultural Ensemble along with input from the Ugandan label Nyege Nyege tapes. This heady cultural mix of electronics and tradition is intended to make you dance. On Crammed Discs.

Gil Scott-Heron
We're New Again – A Re-imagining by Makaya McCraven

We’re New Again is a reworking of Gil Scott-heron’s final album, I’m New Here, by jazz musician Makaya McCraven. Makaya’s principal instrument is the drums but he can turn his hand to production too, so getting stuck into this was right up his street. I’m New Here has already been given an alternative spin when Jamie xx remixed it in 2011. This jazz take is most intriguing.

JPEGMAFIA
All My Heroes Are Cornballs

JPEGMAFIA aka rapper Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks. All My Heroes Are Cornballs is his third album. It follows the critically acclaimed Veteran (2018). The album is experimental hip-hop taking in influences from glitch, ambient, industrial and noise music. It even finds the Baltimore-based rapper screaming, when rapping or singing just won’t cut it. 
  • Vinyl Double LP (2812118685)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Molchat Doma
Этажи

Sold out - sorry!

Perfume Genius
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

Partnering up once again with Blake Mills on production, Mike Hadreas heads in a slightly different direction with his latest Perfume Genius album. Identifying and subverting traditional tropes of masculinity, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately playfully channels more American musical influences, from Elvis to Cyndi Lauper, into something distinctly his own. 

Dalham
Alderson Loop

Sold out - sorry!

Pinch
Reality Tunnels

Bristol producer Rob Ellis releases his fifth album under the Pinch moniker. The three albums that followed his 2007 debut have been collaborative efforts, so Reality Tunnels is his first proper solo album for 13 years. Bristol’s famous trip hop, maximised jungle and future techno all feature as Pinch reshapes sound with experience and flair. Vinyl includes exclusive track. on Tectonic.

Golem Mecanique
Nona, Decima et Morta

You may not know of Karen Jebane (aka Golem Mecanique) but reading the words of Stephen O'Malley in the press release you may want to explore her music further. She uses voice, organ and a form of hurdy-gurdy to make music that O' Malley describes as deeply moving and bonechilling and seemed to take him into another world entirely. It sounds utterly fascinating and perhaps life changing and for those who can't get to Le Saix in Haut-Ales to see her perform, this vinyl is perhaps the next best thing. 

Emma-Jean Thackray
Rain Dance

Emma-Jean Thackray launches her new label, Movementt, and along with it her new EP, Raindance. She is a musician, composer, DJ and bandleader. She has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and Makaya McCraven. All this should tell you that she care not for genre boundaries and just makes the music she feels is right.

Sonic Boom
All Things Being Equal

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, formerly of Spacemen 3 and Spectrum, and if you’ve forgotten all about him, that’s probably understandable because he released his one and only album, Spectrum, as Sonic Boom in 1990. He is back, however, with All Things Being Equal, an album that he was encouraged to make by Stereolab’s Tim Gane. Well, I’m excited, what about you?

Kate NV
Room For The Moon

Kate NV is a Moscow-based producer, songwriter and composer with a background in post-punk. She was a member of Russian band ГШ, or GS for those who can’t read Cyrillic (like me!). Her latest album, Room For The Moon, follows-up  для FOR and sees her manipulated vocals woven into a fabric of xylophone, guitars, sax and synth. 

India Jordan
For You

For You is a very personal EP by Doncaster-born and London-based producer and DJ India Jordan. It is Jordan’s journey, growing up as a LBGTQ+ person in the North of England, expressed through music. She draws on all of her musical experience here, mixing sample-heavy house, emotionally charged techno and speedy drum ‘n’ bass. On Local Action

Pictish Trail
Thumb World

Scottish producer Johnny Lynch prepares the release of his eighth album as Pictish Trail, following four years on from his Scottish Album of the Year-winning Future Echoes. Probably his weirdest and most collaborative work yet, Thumb World was forged alongside visual artist Swatpaz, a process that had them both imagining that the music was taking place in a retro ‘80s arcade game world. 
  • Vinyl LP (FIRELP558X)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Coloured vinyl
  • Limited edition
  • Indies-only
  • Last copy

Against All Logic
2017-2019

Nicolas Jaar has been well known for his improvisational electronic recordings but since 2012 has been separately working on his Against All Logic project on which he explores his love for house, soul and funk. His previous 2012-2017 collection has proved to be a favourite amongst discerning fans of the genre. His playful approach has won him many fans who will be delighted at this further volume spanning 2017-2019.
  • Vinyl Triple LP (OP053)
  • In stock and ready to ship

The Soft Pink Truth
Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?

Concerned with the insidious rise of populist / far-right politics across the world, Matmos’ Daniel Drew continues his solo project The Soft Pink Truth. Exploring dynamics and textures outside of Matmos’ regular range, Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? features guest spots from friends such as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors) and Jana Hunter (Lower Dens). 

Craven Faults
Erratics & Unconformities

Well hopefully by now you've picked up the stunning trilogy of EPs Netherfield Works, Springhead Works and Nunroyd Works by Craven Faults so you should be impressed enough to get this, the first full length missive from the reclusive producer. The vibe with all these releases seems to be West Yorkshire kosmische  - a kind of rugged, rural take on the synth explorations that emerged out of 1970s Germany.

Phoebe Bridgers
Punisher

Despite Punisher being only Phoebe Bridgers second solo album, and first for three years, she hasn’t really stopped working in that time. There was Boygenius, the 2018 collaboration with Lucy Dacus and Julian Baker, and Better Oblivion Community Center, her fab 2019 project with Conor Oberst. It’s great that she’s back with new solo material because her debut, Stranger In The Alps, was ace. 

In no particular order, here are the best things we've heard in this cursed year so far that were released in cursed years gone by.

The National
High Violet (Expanded Edition)

High Violet is arguably the best album by The National. It was originally released in 2010 and has been expanded for this 10th anniversary edition. It’s spread over three LPs with the original album taking up the first records. The third LP is made up of alternate takes and live tracks that have never been released on vinyl before. Bloodbuzz Ohio, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks and Terrible Love are among the tracks on this classic album.
  • Vinyl Triple LP (4AD0244LPX)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Coloured vinyl
  • Last copy

GAS
Oktember

Following the box-set release from a few years back, there’s now a stand-alone vinyl re-issue for Oktember, the mythologically hard-to-find 1999 mini-album from German musician Wolfgang Voigt, also known as Gas. It’s a two-track album featuring side-long compositions constructed from sampled strings and was originally released on Mille Plateaux in 1999.
  • Vinyl LP (KOMPAKT3704)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Sugar
Copper Blue

Sold out - sorry!

Moon Duo
Escape (Expanded Edition)

The duo of Sanae Yamada and Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson, Moon Duo’s debut album Escape has been out of print since its release on Woodsist a decade ago. However, to mark its tenth anniversary, Sacred Bones re-issues the record in an expanded vinyl version, including three bonus rare tracks that capture the band in an even earlier, rawer form. 

Various
Black Riot: Early Jungle, Rave and Hardcore

Black Riot: Early Jungle, Rave and Hardcore is a new compilation from Soul Jazz Records. It brings together a bunch of seriously dark and heavy ragga-infused hardcore jungle tracks from the start of the 1990s. Acts such as Levictus and Krome & Time, Babylon Timewarp, Trip One and Rhythm for Reason feature. Initial copies come with a mini graphic novel (be quick if you want one of those).

African Head Charge
Songs Of Praise

Songs of Praise, the 1990 classic by African Head Charge, gets a welcome reissue on double LP. The album sees the band backing reverent chants with African dub production and some exquisite musicianship,  complex hand percussion and searing lead guitars. Includes double sided poster. on Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound.
  • Vinyl Double LP (ONULP50)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Bernard Parmegiani
L’Œuvre musicale en 12 CD

Sold out - sorry!

Espers
The Weed Tree

The Weed Tree was the second Espers album which featured several covers by the likes of Nico, Blue Oyster Cult and Michael Hurley as well as some interpretations of traditional tracks. It was a grab bag assortment from the psych/folk band who had released their hugely acclaimed debut album the previous year. Now re-issued on Drag City.  

Guided By Voices
Alien Lanes

Sold out - sorry!

Saint Etienne
Words and Music by Saint Etienne

Words and Music was the 2012 album by long running dance pop collective Saint Etienne. Like a lot of their latter day albums it features a concept which this time is based around how music affects your life and can help you in bad times. Therefore the album has a very nostalgic and melancholic feel informed by the band's deep knowledge of classic pop. 

Biosphere
Dropsonde

First released in 2006, Biosphere's Dropsonde was part of his catalogue of deep ambience. Though beloved of listeners of aquatic, immersive techno, Biosphere also found his music regularly heard in TV adverts and idents. Nothing that should put you off delving into this re-issue which adds seven previously unreleased recordings to the package. Otherworldly bliss throughout.  

Pole
1 2 3

Pole is German electronic musician Stefan Betke. His first three albums, prosaically titled 1, 2 and 3 were originally released between 1998 and 2000 on American indie label Matador. Here we have the three albums repackaged as a 7LP and 3CD box set by British institution Mute. The music has been described as glitch, dubtronica, damaged dub minimalism and ambient electronic minimalism. However you decided to label it, we’d say it’s classic, essential stuff. 

Polvo
Today's Active Lifestyles

Sold out - sorry!

Fairuz
Maarifti Feek

The reissue of the rare 1987 album Maarifti Feek by Lebanese diva Fairuz follows WEWANTSOUNDS reissue of the 1979 classic Wahdon in 2019 which gave the label a thirst for Lebanese music. Ziad Rahbani composed and orchestrated the album in his own inimitable jazz / funk way. It includes the track Overture 83.

John Frusciante
The Empyrean (10 Year Anniversary Issue)

The last Frusciante reissue we got in - 2005's 'Curtains' - ended up being our surprise best seller of 2019, such is the almost cult-like devotion his solo work enjoys and the sheer demand for it on vinyl. Originals of 2009's 'The Empyrean' sometimes fetch similarly silly prices over on Discogs, and so we're expecting this latest reissue - featuring contributions from Jonny Marr and RHCP bandmate Flea - to fly off the shelves too. Be quick!
  • Vinyl Double LP (RCM101120LP)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Robert Forster
Calling From A Country Phone

I was still crying about the demise of the Go-Betweens when Robert Forster released his first two solo albums Danger in the Past and Calling From A Country Phone in the early '90s so didn't really give them due attention amongst the tears. Now perhaps is a good time to evaluate them and the second of those records now comes remastered with liner notes and a bonus 7" featuring two tracks that were hidden tracks on the initial CD run.  

Rowland S. Howard
Teenage Snuff Film

Teenage Snuff Film was the first solo album by the legendary Rowland S. Howard. It was originally released in 1999.  There’s a cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding and Bad Seed Mick Harvey contributes his instrumental talents. Of Course, Howard had a rich musical history behind him by this time with The Birthday Party, Crime & The City Solution, These Immortal Souls and various collaborations with the likes of Lydia Lunch and Fad Gadget. Reissue on Mute.

Dawan Muhammad
Deep Stream

Not much is known about Dawan Muhammed's Deep Stream  - a 1979 era private press album now re-issued on High Jazz. A Google search reveals very little but listening through the album it is immediately clear that this is a beautiful work of spiritual jazz that needs to reach a wider audience. It features seven glistening tracks of piano, sax and cool vocal harmonies. A beautiful ride. 
  • Vinyl LP (HJLP010)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Limited edition
  • Last copy

Bon Iver
Blood Bank (10th Anniversary Edition)

Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon followed his one-man-in-a-shed acoustic debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago in 2010 with an EP, Blood Bank. The EP marked a change in sound, introducing new techniques and textures. It is this more experimental sound that has been built on since, as he breaks new ground with every recording. Time to take a look back with this expanded 10th anniversary edition which includes brand new live recordings of all of the tracks.

Pixies
Bossanova

'Bossanova' is the third proper full length album from indie outfit Pixies, the legendary band from Boston who made some great records back when I was a lad. To try and follow up the triple whammy of 'Come On Pilgrim', 'Surfer Rosa' and 'Doolittle' is quite a daunting and challenging task, but they managed to shape a great record which stands out with its sci-fi themes and surf rock guitars. Features 'Dig For Fire', 'Allison' and 'Velouria'.

Gil Scott-Heron
I'm New Here (10th Anniversary Expanded Edition)

Gil Scott-Heron released I’m New Here in 2010. It sadly turned out to be the legendary musician and poet’s final album. The album at least matches his previous work in terms of boundary-pushing and musical quality, so it's well deserving of a 10th anniversary reissue. This version comes with a previously unreleased cut from the original sessions and a cover of Handsome Johnny, originally by Richie Havens, which turned out to be the last song Scott-Heron ever recorded. There’s a bunch of other rare tracks dating from the original album sessions too. 

Various
Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986

As always with Light In the Attic you get carefully created compilations of sought after tracks housed in lavish packaging. This second edition of their Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie brings together another batch of rare tunes you won't have heard unless you were in Japan between 1972 and 1986. It's all here  - AOR, soul, funk, disco, tropicalia and everything in between for that veranda-ready playlist of rare things. 
  • Vinyl Double LP (LITA1791)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Luomo
Vocalcity (20th Anniversary Remaster)

A 20th anniversary re-issue for Vocalcity, the debut album from Vladislav Delay under his Luomo moniker. Previously renowned for dealing in dub-influenced techno, the album was a surprise to his fans, revealing a set of soulful deep house featuring Johanna Livanainen’s occasional vocals. It now gets a new life on this triple-vinyl set. 
  • Vinyl Triple LP (RIPATTI011)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Coloured vinyl
  • Limited edition

Jon Gibson
Songs & Melodies, 1973-1977

American minimalist composer Jon Gibson is a contemporary of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Terry Riley and La Monte Young. He has also worked with Arthur Russell, Barbara Benary and Julius Eastman. It is the later trio of musicians who feature on this collection, Songs & Melodies 1973-1977. A very worthwhile listen.

The Divine Comedy
Casanova

Originally released in 1997, Casanova was the commercial breakthrough for Neil Hannon’s The Divine Comedy, housing three UK Top 30 hit singles including ‘Something For The Weekend’.  It now gets a re-issue as part of the band’s 30th anniversary celebrations, with the CD edition including a bonus disc of B-sides, demos and alternate takes. 

Here's some stuff that nearly made the Top 25 in this cursed year. But didn't. Random order.

Mark Lanegan
Straight Songs Of Sorrow

Mark Lanegan has been rather prolific over the last few years. Straight Songs of Sorrow is an album based on his life, a soundtrack to his autobiography Sing Backwards and Weep. The songs take us through a story of rock ‘n’ roll life, or grunge ‘n’ roll. It documents his battle with hard drugs, the Seattle grunge scene he was at the centre of and his general ups and downs, all told with some humour and hope.. 

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
Texas Sun

Texas Sun is the intriguing collaboration between soul / R&B singer Leon Bridges and wayward psychedelic types Khruangbin. Both artists hail from Texas but represent different ends of the state’s musical heritage, here, they bring them together on an EP that has every chance of being an absolute cracker.

The Orielles
Disco Volador

Written and recorded in double-quick time to strike while the iron’s still hot following the success of last year’s debut Silver Dollar Moment, The Orielles return with their sophomore album. Inspired by their time on the road, Disco Volador benefits from the addition of a fourth member on keyboards and the drones and delays brought to the mix by producer Marta Salogni. It should be another triumph for a band who’ve marked themselves out as one of the country’s finest newcomers. 

Shabaka & The Ancestors
We Are Sent Here By History

Reed player Shabaka Hutchings is known for being the band leader in the highly rated jazz outfit Sons Of Kemet. Shabaka and the Ancestors, which finds Hutchings fronting a band of South African jazz players, released their debut album, Wisdom of Elders, in 2016. Here we have their much anticipated new one, We Are Sent Here By History, which deals with the weighty subject of human extinction. Powerful stuff.

Okay Kaya
Watch This Liquid Pour Itself

British singer and frequent King Krule collaborator Kaya Wilkins presents her sophomore album under her solo Okay Kaya. Out in late January 2020 via Jagjaguwar, Watch This Liquid Pour has been described as “Sade for nihilists” - an accurate description of her melancholy, gauzy bedroom-soul. 

Einstürzende Neubauten
Alles In Allem

Blixa Bargeld’s band of merry men, Einstürzende Neubauten, return with their new album Alles in Allem, which translates to All in All. It’s the experimental German band’s 12th album in a career that’s lasted 40 years. It’s also the band’s first proper studio album in 12 years. It comes as standard vinyl and CD editions or as a deluxe box set including vinyl and CD, a 164 page book and an exclusive multimedia CD.
  • Vinyl LP box set (5196001)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Limited edition
  • Vinyl LP (5195991)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Tongues Of Mount Meru
The Hex Of Light

Lasse Marhaug & Jon Wesseltoft make up Norwegian drone duo Tongues Of Mount Meru (Important Records, The Tapeworm). The Hex of Light is their third album. The two pieces that make up the record are precise, slowly shifting and ultimately blooming, but they do it in their own time and space. On Moving Furniture Records. 
  • Vinyl LP (MFR078)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Limited edition

The Necks
Three

New work from the always fascinating and increasingly legendary Australian trio the Necks. Now existing for an incredible 33 years with exactly the same line up, the band blend piano, drums and bass into a cathartic improvised sound that is like longform improvised minimalist jazz... but much more interesting than I've made that sound. Three is their first album since they performed 135 feet underground at a Polish salt mine.   

Luminous Bodies
Nah Nah Nah Yeh Yeh Yeh

Sold out - sorry!

John Chantler & Johannes Lund
Andersabo

John Chantler is an Australian-born Stockholm-based electronic musician who is known for his improvised and experimental works. Johannes Lund is a Danish sax player. Andersabo is their second album together. Here they mix acoustic - pump organ and sax - and electronic instruments with field recordings creating drones, howls and all sorts of goings on.
  • Vinyl LP (Johs & John 1)
  • £18.99 £16.14 (saving: £2.85)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Limited edition
  • Last copy

J Hus
Big Conspiracy

Following its digital release back in January, whereupon it reached the top of the UK charts and attracted universal acclaim, the second studio album from British rapper J Hus comes to vinyl. On the heels of his Mercury-nominated debut Common Sense and his much-publicised stint in jail, Big Conspiracy is a career-defining moment. 
  • Vinyl Double LP (19439733471)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

MSYLMA
Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum

Sold out - sorry!

Karkhana
Bitter Balls

Karkhana are a supergroup from the Middle-East made up of members from Dwarfs Of East Agouza, A-Trio, Konstrukt, Chicago Tentet, Land Of Kush and a few other bands. Among their contemporary and oriental free jazz, western improvised prog rock and electric and acoustic sounds, they are also known to play ‘distorted unrock’, which sounds like a beautiful thing, doesn’t it? Bitter Balls is their latest album.

The Strokes
The New Abnormal

It’s been seven years since The Strokes released an album, but they’re back with album number six, The New Abnormal. The news of the the new album swept through the internet with (almost) the pace of Jennifer Aniston’s Friends reunion photo on Instagram. Lead single, At The Door, is a spacey, synth-led, drumless ballad - quite different, but still retaining a certain quality that The Strokes are known for.

Nídia
Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes

Sold out - sorry!

Hamilton Leithauser
The Loves Of Your Life

Following the critical and popular success of his 2016 collaboration with former Vampire Weekend genius Rostam Batmanglij, The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser returns with another solo record. Titled The Loves of Your Life, it’s billed as a collection of songs inspired by real people he’s met over the years living in NYC. 
  • CD (GLS-0279-02)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela
Rejoice

Two long-time associates of the legendary Fela Kuti come together on Rejoice. Afrobeat drumming pioneer Tony Allen and the (now sadly departed) South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela got together in 2010 when their touring schedules allowed, with the unfinished sessions laying in an archive until last summer when producer Nick Gold applied the finishing touches. 

Andrew Weatherall
Unknown Plunderer / End Times Sound

Sold out - sorry!

Algiers
There Is No Year

Algiers hail from Atlanta, Georgia, apart from drummer, Matt Tong, who comes from Bloc Party. They mix disparate styles such as post-punk and gospel into one rocking sound. The band also take influences from non-musical sources such as southern Gothic literature and politics. There Is No Year is their third album.

Slum Of Legs
Slum Of Legs

Slum of Legs are a self described queer noise - pop band who make danceable music perfect for a night down Wharf Chambers. They come from Brighton (natch) and blend a fragmented cut up approach to their music with a similar aesthetic to their artwork. This is their debut full length which is as melodic as it is experimental and as compassionate as it is furious with the ways of the world. Think the Shaggs, Erase Errata, ESG. 

Porridge Radio
Every Bad

Heavily tipped newcomers Porridge Radio announce their debut studio album Every Bad, following exposure from BBC 6 Music and Radio X among others. Formed around an initial solo project by now-lead singer Dana Margolin and her bedroom-composed tracks, their thoughtful, DIY indie approach has made them one of the most exciting new bands in Britain. 

Against All Logic
Illusions Of Shameless Abundance / Alucinao

Against All Logic is an alias used by electronic composer Nicolas Jaar. Illusions Of Shameless Abundance/ Alucinao is a two track 12”. Side one features New York no wave artist Lydia Lunch whilst the flip features FKA Twigs and Estado Unido. Released through Jaar’s own Other People imprint.
  • Vinyl 12" (OP057)
  • In stock and ready to ship
  • Last copy

Nazar
Guerrilla

Inspired by the ugly realities and hardships of war in Angola, Nazar confronts his family's issues around extreme violence and injustice with 'Guerrilla'. He does so by channelling his emotions through his typically glitchy and sample-heavy electronic sounds. An immersive digitalisation of a man and a nation's struggle.

Helen Money
Atomic

Helen Money is actually Alison Chesley one of the most sought after and respected cellists at work today. Her latest album Atomic is her most minimal and stark work to date showcasing a much more direct take on her playing which takes in dark ambient, neo-classical and black metal. Always an emotional ride, this could be her most affecting work yet.  

Finally, here's a big ol' playlist of some of the choicest cuts from this cursed year. Enjoy!