Barry Adamson --Memento Mori

If the post-punk era produced a renaissance man, it's Barry Adamson. He was an integral member of Magazine and the founding incarnation of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. He played on synth pop albums by Visage and Pete Shelley. He's written and arranged for Nitzer Ebb, Ethyl Meatplow, Scott Walker, and Simple Minds, to name a few, and has contributed music to soundtracks like Derek Jarman's The Last of England, David Lynch's Lost Highway, Allison Anders' Gas Food Lodging, and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. Adamson has also directed films, including the acclaimed 40-minute feature film noir Therapist. Along the way, he's released nine studio albums as well as singles and EPs. Memento Mori looks back on his 40-year career that, while astonishingly consistent, has branched off in several musical directions. Of these 17 tracks, all but two are culled from his solo catalog: Magazine's "Parade" and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' "From Her to Eternity." Adamson is a pioneer in the "imaginary soundtracks" genre. The tunes are sequenced aesthetically, creating a seamless -- though jarring -- listening session. While the closing cut from his widely acclaimed 1989 debut Moss Side Story  opens this set; it's followed by the Atticus Ross-produced "Jazz Devil" from 1998's As Above, So Below with its swinging B-3 and horns accompanying Adamson's humorous Beat and lounge lizard narrative. "007, A Fantasy Bond Theme," from 1992's Soul Murder, combines fat swinging brass, West Indies-patois narration, skanking reggae and ska rhythms, and razor-wire surf guitars, woven through a warped take on the original Bond theme. Adamson took three selections off 1993's Oedipus Schmoedipus in various spots, including its hit single "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis," a string-laden, psychedelic, gospelized fingerpopper co-written with and featuring Jarvis Cocker. Other highlights include the whomping junglist funk of "The Snowball Effect" from The Negro Inside Me (1994) and the Bowie-esque rock that is "The Sun and the Sea" from 2012's I Will Set You Free. Memento Mori serves as a fitting retrospective of -- as well as a brilliant introduction to -- one of the most enigmatic musicians of the last half-century. ~Thom Jurek,


John Coltrane -- Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album

"This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid."--Sonny Rollins

Yes, this is not a reissue, not a live album, not an album of outtakes. In 1963, Coltrane recorded a studio album that has remained unknown and unheard until now. It was recorded at Van Gelder Studios, the "Abbey Road" of jazz, with Coltrane's classic Quartet: McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison & Coltrane, at the height of his career. The music represents one of the most influential groups in music history, performing in a musical style it had perfected and reaching in new, exploratory directions that would affect the trajectory of jazz from then on. In short, this is the holy grail of jazz. There is a regular CD & Deluxe CD, and a regular & Deluxe LP. Deluxe versions include the seven found tracks and 7 alternate takes.




The Internet -- Hive Mind

Explicit and subtle themes of shelter, comfort, and shrugging off the weight of the world are threaded throughout The Internet’s Hive Mind.  All three are hinted in the opener with "What we gon' do?" and "They gon' get us to come together," with the second line repeated, gradually intensifying in force and volume to the point where it becomes a statement of resistance. Foremost is a carefree roller-skating jam named "Roll (Burbank Funk)," where Patrick Paige wraps a vigorous funk bassline around the oft-sampled break from Gaz's Salsoul nugget "Sing Sing."  Syd Bennett remains the prevailing voice, whispery and easy on the ear yet always heartfelt and often seductive. She continues to grow as a vocalist, sounding sweeter -- more Janet-like than ever -- on the quietly moving "It Gets Better (With Time)," while in the background of "Look What U Started" evoking the lower-end vocal of Brandy's "Baby." Hooks are not as common, sometimes concealed, rewarding listeners who don't mind delayed gratification. Just as "Mood" starts to wear out its welcome with common ingredients -- an off-the-cuff rhythm tied into a knot, plus bristly spaced-out guitar from Steve Lacy -- Bennett casually pulls out one of her most persuasive hooks like it's nothing. ~Andy Kellman,

Dead Can Dance-- Dionysus

The follow-up to the pioneering Australian art pop duo's 2012 comeback LP Anastasis, Dionysus dispenses with the more song-oriented approach of its predecessor in favor of an atmosphere-driven bacchanalian oratorio inspired by the Greek god of wine and ecstasy. Split into two tracks with a sum of seven movements, Dionysus unfurls like a guided ayahuasca trip; a curl of aromatic smoke that develops into a roaring, pre-Byzantine bonfire replete with primeval chants and ancient rites. Opener "Sea Borne" tracks the outsider God's arrival via a slow build of tribal beats and a sinewy, unfolding melody that suggests "Misirlou" by way of "Kashmir" -- the album continues to eschew the European folk proclivities of the duo's early work in favor a more Mediterranean and North African aesthetic. Brendan Perry's considerable arsenal of exotic weaponry is given a wide swath of sonic landscape, with stringed (oud), wind (fujara), and percussion (davul) instruments leading the charge. When paired with Lisa Gerrard's powerful voice, the effect is intoxicating, especially on more Gerrard-forward pieces like "The Invocation" and "Dance of the Bacchantes," the latter of which works itself into a particularly dervish-esque lather. Field recordings of Swiss goatherds, South American bird calls, and New Zealand beehives add more than just atmosphere, delivering evocative segues that invoke the pagan gods of old and the primordial forests and oceans they governed. Perry and Gerrard, who have long looked to mythology for inspiration, recognize that those foundational tales are largely immune to cultural disparity -- after all, who doesn't love an epic party? As an unofficial soundtrack for ritual madness, religious ecstasy, sex, winemaking, and song, Dionysus excels.~ James Christopher Monger



Cat Power -- Wanderer

On Wanderer, Chan Marshall focuses her production and arrangements on her voice, which has become the instrument her songs have always needed. A little raspier than before and as remarkably emotive as always, it's so full of living that no flashy accompaniment is needed on songs such as the title track. One of the album's briefest and most beautiful moments, "Wanderer's" heart-melting harmonies grace a song that could be an eternal lament handed down for generations. Throughout the album, Marshall feels completely in command of the folk, blues, and soul that have lurked around the margins of her music since the beginning and made up the heart of The Greatest. She subtly modernizes these traditions while tapping into their timeless power: "Black" is another in her series of songs about friends who have died, and the way Marshall contrasts folk- and blues-based mythologizing with a very modern streak of survivor's guilt makes it one of her most spellbinding. "Robbin Hood," with its vicious cycle of literal and spiritual theft, could have been written in the shadow of the Great Depression or the Great Recession. Conversely, Marshall also incorporates 2010s touches in ways that sound classic and, above all, genuine. On "Woman," she and Lana Del Rey bid a liberating goodbye to others' expectations, their voices combining in an evocation of the spirit of womanhood. As tender as it is uncompromising, Wanderer is exactly the album Marshall needed to make at this point in her career and life. It's some of her most essential music, in both senses of the word. ~ Heather Phares,

Mountain Man -- Magic Ship

In the eight years that have passed between 2010's Made the Harbor and 2018's Magic Ship, Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath have been exploring divergent paths, with the latter teaming up with Nick Sanborn for the stylish electropop project Sylvan Esso, and the other two pursuing solo careers. Little has changed musically for the trio (they never officially disbanded), who, on album number two from Nonesuch, continue to weave their unembellished voices around old Appalachian folk tunes, rustic originals, and the occasional cover (Michael Hurley's "Blue Mountain" and Ted Lucas' "Baby Where You Are"). Like its equally austere predecessor, Magic Ship delivers a listening experience that's akin to eavesdropping. So unadorned are these largely a cappella songs, both on the production and execution side of the sonic equation, that it feels a bit like somebody stuck a microphone through a cracked door and caught Sarle, Sauser-Monnig, and Meath unawares. The ones that stand out, like "Slow Wake Up Sunday Morning," "Rang Tang Ring Toon," and "Baby Where You Are," usually have some softly strummed acoustic guitar in the background, but even with accompaniment Magic Ship feels ephemeral. That said, it's understated vibe can be transfixing, and its intimacy disarming. It's like having your own private house show, only the performers have no idea you're in the same room with them.~ James Christopher Monger,












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