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Tom Waits
Glitter and Doom Live

This is Tom Waits' third live album since his arrival on the music scene in 1973. His first two, Nighthawks at the Diner, a live album of new material, and Big Time were both brilliant retrospectives of his evolution and Glitter and Doom is no different; pulling the majority of the material for this album from his work in the 2000s. As if his so...view item »

Tom Waits
Small Change

Small Change was a significant leap forward in Waits’ career, a varied batch of songs that  balance humour and pathos and are full of character. It opens with the mournful classic Tom Traubert's Blues. Then there’s the burlesque romps Pasties and a G-String and Step Right Up, the painfully hilarious The Piano Has Been Drinking (...view item »

Tom Waits
The Heart Of Saturday Night

The second Tom Waits album is still in relatively earnest singer-songwriter territory, but with an extra injection of jazz into the mix. It’s the work of an artist still trying to define his identity, but coming out with plenty of impressive songs in the meantime. Diamonds On My Windshield wears the beatnik influence on it...view item »

Tom Waits
Closing Time

This is Tom Waits debut album. It is much more, shall we say, normal than his later crazy but brilliant albums. Straight forward songs, but what brilliant songs they are. You can picture him sitting at a piano in an empty bar singing his heart out to these. "Ol '55" was covered by the Eagles, make of that what you...view item »

Deafheaven
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Yes, the black metal darlings of Pitchfork are back with their answer to Stereophonics' Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, and thank goodness. They follow up New Bermuda with their first LP for ANTI-, offering a more romantic, smitten sound than ever that we hope will chug at least somewhat. ...view item »

Tom Waits
Nighthawks At The Diner

Waits’ third album is arguably the pinnacle of his early beatnik barfly persona. Taking a different approach to his more mannered previous albums, the 1975 LP was recorded live in a pseudo small club setup. It’s jazzy and deceptively loose and boozy, though Tom knows exactly what he’s doing, whether delivering jokey banter or v...view item »

Tom Waits
Blue Valentine

This 1978 release is a real mixed bag that displays the contrasting extremes of Waits’ muse at the time. The album is bookended by a widescreen orchestral version of Bernstein’s standard Somewhere, and the smoky jazz guitar of the understated title track. In between there’s the tragicomic Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneap...view item »

Tom Waits
Foreign Affairs

1977’s Foreign Affairs is Tom Waits at his most big budget and nostalgically cinematic. The filmic feel is exemplified by the forties style epic Potter’s Field and Bette Midler duet I Never Talk to Strangers. It's heavily string and brass laden when the singer’s not mostly alone at the piano, a...view item »

Tom Waits
Heartattack And Vine

Waits’ sixth album was his last non-soundtrack work before his reinvention on Swordfishtombones, but it’s already a shade less polished than his previous few outings.  Standouts include the raw blues of the title track, later adopted by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and future Springsteen hit Jer...view item »

Neko Case
Hell-On

Ace songwriter, musician, producer and member of The New Pornographers, Neko Case has enlisted the help of Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John to co-produce her new album, Hell-On. She’s called in a few favours for guest appearances by the looks of things too - Joey Burns (Calex...view item »

Neko Case
Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule

Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule is an 8-LP box set by Neko Case. The collection contains all 8 of her studio albums from 1997’s The Virginian, which appears on vinyl for the first time, to 2013’s The Worse Things Get, the Harder I fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You and her 2002 cla...view item »

Glen Hansard
Between Two Shores

If the name Glen Hansard sounds familiar, odds are you’re a fan of The Commitments which he starred in back in 1991 or a fan of his band the Frames. In 2018 he’s releasing Between Two Shores, a new solo album of lushly self-produced and heart-wrenching folk with the wonderful Anti-....view item »

Tom Waits
Blood Money

Blood Money was Tom Waits 2002 album which featured songs written for the play Woyzeck. It was originally released simultaneously with the album Alice, another album with songs written for a play. Blood Money contains some of Waits best melodies but as always they come from the dark underbelly of existence.&nbs...view item »

Tom Waits
Alice

This is a great late-night-drinking-alone-in-the-dark album, with varied soundscapes and incredible poignancy. The production is textured and focused. Waits' voice alternates between sensitive and gruff - he shows off his amazing singing powers, sometimes even sounding like his earliest stuff. The album may be a difficult listen for someone who ...view item »

Curtis Harding
Face Your Fear

Atlanta’s Curtis Harding turns in an album of hard-bitten funk and soul that bears great reverence for the titans of 70s American black music. Shuggie Otis, Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye are obvious touchstones for Face Your Fear, and Harding’s fabulous vo...view item »

Girlpool
Powerplant

The Girlpool records prior to this one have Ruled Hard, which is a phrase I don’t use lightly, or really at all. I never say that, in fact. But for Girlpool it fits; I dunno how exactly they made music so jubilant and anthemic without the kindly thrash of a drum. Here on ‘Powerplant’ the band return, hard ruling still in tact, ...view item »

The Drums
Abysmal Thoughts

The Drums have shed members as if having actual people in bands has gone out of fashion (it has). They now consist of just Jonny Pierce all on his todd with Jacob Graham having left to 'concentrate on his puppetry' which is one of the most inventive band split explanations I've heard in recent years. No pals then but if you like the Drum...view item »

Sean Rowe
New Lore

Sean Rowe is a singer-songwriter in a vintage style, travelling the road and playing shows wherever they appear. Especially notable is his deep deep voice, which sounds like it’s really seen some things man. New Lore is a powerful set of American songs. Released by Anti and Epitaph, working together to bring this ...view item »

Cameron Avery
Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams

Cameron Avery, best known as the bass player in Antipodean psych-rock outfit Tame Impala, presents some solo work. It turns out that Avery has a lovely deep voice and a skill for writing smooth soft-rock tunes as well as a dab hand at playing the bass. Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams is releas...view item »

Japandroids
Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

Today, for reasons unbeknownst though secretly knownst, we listened to Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’. In the office. For a while. And while you have now stopped reading this review, I would like to go on to say that I never realised how loud it is. Overdriven, chuggy and as unleashed as Britpop ...view item »

Springtime Carnivore
Midnight Room

Singer-songwriter fun-bringer Greta Morgan makes a new one as Springtime Carnivore and my goodness is it nice. A dreamy lounge pop record with a thousand excitements, it disconcerts with its straight-up acoustic strums before setting up an unravelling treasure chest of washy synths, remotely produced pianos, War On...view item »

Cass McCombs
Mangy Love

I don’t know what it is with Cass McCombs. I own and enjoy several of his records yet when he releases a new one I’m not all that bothered and as I place the needle on his latest opus I am somehow surprised that it sounds really good. I should know this by now to trust him but there’s something about Cass t...view item »

Daniel Lanois
Goodbye To Language

Daniel Lanois produced Goodbye To Language using his pedal steel guitar, with a little support from Rocco Deluca on lap steel. The playing and processing techniques must be considerable though, as this music is frequently far abstracted from the expected Americana atmospheres. Gorgeous stuff. Goodby...view item »

case/lang/veirs
case/lang/veirs

A songwriter supergroup, then, how about it? Usually you assemble the band from bits and pieces here and there, in all traditional components towards playing the music, but this trio involves three excellent solo writers going at songs together. The first is twang legend Neko Case, the second is consummate pro ...view item »

Beth Orton
Kidsticks

Beth Orton drafted in Andrew Hung of Fuck Buttons to Co-produce Kidsticks. Whilst her voice is familiar, the music pushes the singer/songwriter genre to the limit. Beth Orton broke new ground mixing acoustic and electronic music on her debut album Trailer Park back in 1996, On ...view item »

Dr. Dog
The Psychedelic Swamp

Dr. Dog are at last releasing their long-schemed big concept album: and so, The Psychedelic Swamp. For a taste of just how psychedelic the record is, just take a look at the cover art… In fact, the band somewhat recall The Flaming Lips here, both in sound and in grand sweeping ambition. CD and &l...view item »

Prism Tats
Prism Tats

Prism Tats release their debut full-length album, a groovy rock thing. Garett van der Spek‘s vocals are bold and soft at once, mixing up the vocal traditions of rock and R&B to compelling effect. Behind him, the band follow suit with a sound that struts and pulses. This self-titled record is out on the...view item »

Sturgill Simpson
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

Sturgill Simpson has deep country heritage, not to mention a premium country band backing him, but third record A Sailor’s Guide To Earth isn’t quite a straightforward country album. For one thing there is the cover of Nirvana...view item »

Deafheaven
New Bermuda

Here’s the little album that couldn’t: a black metal/shoegaze hybrid that failed to garner even a modicum of love from any of our staff. Deafheaven already made us squirm back in 2013 with the earnest and aspirational ‘Sunbather’, an album that proved them to be the Explosions In Th...view item »

Wilco
Star Wars

Wilco have been goofing off for like five albums now, so we can probably consider it their primary mode of operation at this point: we had their challenging records in the glitched Americana of ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ and the wannabe drones of (the also secretly very goofy) ‘A Ghost Is Born’, and now we’re dealing wi...view item »

Glen Hansard
Didn't He Ramble

Contrary to what you might believe if you’ve been paying any attention to him over the years (which is not a prerequisite for living your life), Glen Hansard was a musician first and an actor later. Dramatic folk crew The Frames existed prior to dramatic not-folk film The Commitments, but Hansard’s mu...view item »

Doe Paoro
After

Doe Paoro is a bright new voice in the indie electro-pop world. Working with past associates of Bon Iver and The Tallest Man On Earth, she has built up a series of dense productions infused with original 80’s synth-pop spirit. Just as well suited to a road trip montage in a film or to a ya...view item »

The Frames
Longitude

Irish band The Frames celebrate their 25th anniversary with a new compilation, Longitude. The songs were chosen by the band and features new versions of fans favourites Revelate and Fitzicado. There is a brand new song too, None But I. The Frames were formed in 1990 by ...view item »

Christopher Paul Stelling
Labor Against Waste

‘Labor Against Waste’ is modern day troubadour Christopher Paul Stelling’s debut album following a character building four hundred shows in three years. His melodic, blues influenced finger-picking style carries his dramatic and deeply personal storytelling baritone vocal, accompanied by stomps, claps, french horn, flugelhorn, ...view item »

William Elliott Whitmore
Radium Death

It’s folk-punk time. What a great crossover. William Elliott Whitmore gives us some gravelly voiced, thumping guitar blues. Radium Death is proper storytelling to a fast beat which requires a few stomping hillbillies, a couple of barrels of something strong and a few tyres for the kids to play with. Electr...view item »

Simian Mobile Disco
Whorl

Odd how Simian Mobile disco emerged out of the now forgotten leftfield rock band Simian but you can't really argue with the enormous success they've had since with loads of sales all over the world and curly haired James Ford becoming a sought after producer of note. Incredibly on this album they swapped laptops for one synth and sequencer each ...view item »

Tweedy
Sukierae

On 'Sukierae', dad rock gets literal: initially set to be his first solo record, Jeff Tweedy enlisted his son Spencer on drums, making the record an ensemble Tweedy affair. The record recalls the light, airy folk rock of latter-day Wilco records, especially 'The Whole Love', while retaining some of their weight and complexity. 'Sukierae' is a wi...view item »

Sean Rowe
Madman

Sean Rowe makes elegiac, uplifting folk music with ornate arrangements on guitar and piano, supplemented with Wilco-esque soft drumming and his own soft, deep voice. 'Madman' is his latest record for Anti Records, and focuses less on knotty lyricism than it does on simple, cyclical songs that become more layered over time. It makes for a hy...view item »

Saintseneca
Dark Arc

Saintseneca are an emo-tinged indie rock and folk act from Ohio, with principle songwriter Zac Little leading the way. Their Americana reflects the ambitions and uncaring attitude of folk punk artists old and new. 'Dark Arc' is their first record for ANTI-, and adds more flourishes and orchestrations into the mix, for good measure....view item »

Kronos Quartet & Bryce Dessner
Aheym

Dessner is an avant-garde classical composer, he is known mainly for being a rock guitarist and improviser. Little riffs of his guitar can with a new perspective evolve into such repeating and embellished phrases as "Little Blue Something" (my favourite track), which was influenced by Early Music and European folk tunes. Its abstraction and mant...view item »

Neko Case
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

Latest album from former New Pornographers singer-songwriter Neko Case, winning the award for longest album title of the year so far (let’s call it 'TWTGTHIFTHIFTMILY'!) and a pretty straightforward pop/rock album from a usually more folk/country kinda girl. Neko offer...view item »

Tom Waits
Bad As Me

It's an exciting day for us at Norman Towers v2.0 today. Tom Waits's brand new LP just showed up! This is his first studio outing in seven years, but Waits is still yet to disappoint with his oft-imitated-but-never-improved-upon trademark gravelly growl taking the fore in these gnarled m...view item »

Wilco
The Whole Love

I was under the impression that Wilco had called it a day after their 2011 offering “The Whole Love” but it turns out I was wrong and they saw fit to release “Star Wars” for free a couple of weeks ago. Opener “Art Of Almost” is an okay song, but then... five minutes in it all goes quiet and an almost k...view item »

Tricky
Antimatter

Tricky has a new single out called Animatter. Yep that crazy dude from Bristol is back on Anti recs (offshoot of Epitaph). Led by lady vocals this has a rather upbeat and pleasant groove. Not depressing or morbid in anyway shape or form. Quite like this. On clear vinyl 12" or enhance...view item »

Bob Mould
Life And Times

This album is a big improvement over District Line - the electronics are less prominent in the mix and the addition of Jon Wurster of Superchunk behind the kit has added to the sound. Bob seems re-energised by the simplicity of the songs and the production has been stripped down to fewer elements when held up aga...view item »

Tom Waits
Real Gone

Tom Waits, as usual, has produced another classic. It should be noted, however, that "Real Gone" is a really gritty, avant-garde effort. The sonic texture of the album is akin to some of the tunes on "Bone Machine" with a tinge of the sweaty grit of the more raucous parts of "Mule Variations" (e.g., the texture found on the rough and funky "Fili...view item »

Tom Waits
Mule Variations

Mule Variations, whilst being typical of Tom Waits later work -- mixing experimental sounds, stomping percussion, jazz and beautiful songwriting, is also a high watermark in his career. Notable tracks include the mournful ballad "Georgia Lee", the creepy and original "What’s He Building In There?" and the gravel-edged blue...view item »

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