"Cleveland 20/20" (vocal mix)
Today, ALGIERS have released “Cleveland 20/20” a 50-minute expansion and re-imagining of their song “Cleveland.” Listen HERE.
In the original version – included on The Underside of Power (2017) – vocalist Franklin James Fisher used the track’s middle section to invoke the names of Black people killed by police or who died in extraordinarily suspicious circumstances and whose deaths were explained away as “suicide.”
“Cleveland 20/20” serves as a further meditation on the original in the context of the June uprisings and upcoming elections, ruminating on the tragic and perpetual violenc exacted upon Black people in the United States. It updates the recording to include the names of 232 additional victims who have been murdered subsequent to the song’s release as well as the victims of the Atlanta Child Murders which took place from 1979-1981. To accommodate the extension of this memorial, the song's newly re-imagined middle section spirals into a multi-movement collage of rhythm, noise, and sub-bass. Fisher concludes the recitation amid a spare and haunting 15-minute "vocal mix.” All together, “Cleveland 20/20” clocks in at just under an hour. Even with this extended memorial sonic space, the song points to the fact that many more people have been and continue to be killed by police or white supremacist citizens in America than can be said in 50 minutes or recognized in official statistics, including Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and scores others murdered at the intersections of race, gender and class.
In 2018, critic Greil Marcus praised the original version of “Cleveland” as a “monument.” “It has that size and that immovability to it. And these names are being chiseled on that monument. And the community that Algiers are creating in this song is a community of the dead, but a community in a song big enough and good enough – because this is a great song when you listen to all of it –- that in 10 or 20 or even 100 years when all of the people whose names Franklin Fisher chants are forgotten, and when Algiers is forgotten, and when this song is forgotten, and when somebody comes upon it, stumbles upon it and speaks to them as something absolutely new … they begin to go ‘Who are these people? What is this sound? Why does this person sound the way he does? What is being told?’. And that story will continue.”
The band will once again take over Adult Swim’s Instagram account on Tuesday, November 10th at 2pm ET.
stream / download "Cleveland 20/20"
stream/purchase 'There Is No Year'
Algiers Online :
There Is No Year
Stream / purchase ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Perfume Genius Online
(photo : Andy Corrigan)
"He'd Send In The Army" (live, 1981)
preorder Gang Of Four 77-81
"As a kid, I stumbled upon a copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! accidentally and it went on to become one of the most influential records of my life as a producer, lyricist and fan of music in general. Their sparse, unorthodox, riff heavy guitars and nasty, funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section drew me in, but it was their questioning of the world that kept me listening as I grew. I consider them a seminal band, whose influence and effect permeates the music world in a deeper way than many realize. Thank you, Gang of Four, for existing." - EL-P
On December 11th, Matador will release GANG OF FOUR: '77-81'', a stunning, limited edition box set gathering Gang of Four’s influential early work.
The box set contains Entertainment!' and 'Solid Gold' (both remastered from the original analog tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released 'Live at American Indian Center 1980'. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from 'Entertainment!' and 'Solid Gold', and an epic 100-page, full-color hardbound book.
The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never before seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.
Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favoring tense rhythms, percussive guitars, and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance.
This original lineup of the band released two monumental albums, 'Entertainment!' (1979) and 'Solid Gold '(1981). A third, 'Songs of the Free' (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After 'Songs Of The Free', Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released 'Return The Gift' (2005).
Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalog and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.
In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of 'Entertainment!', Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.
(Please note this boxset is ony available in the United States. If you would like to order the boxset from outside of the US please send an email to: [email protected] with your name and email address with the subject line ‘Gang of Four Boxset’ to get the first news about ordering)
At Home We Feel Like Purists
Music, specifically pop music, is as much of a commodity as pork bellies. It's bought, packaged, sold, traded and has as little to do with the Platonic triad of beauty, goodness and truth as, well, pork bellies. And it hasn't just become this way. It's been this way. From its inception to now, its value is what's made it significant in the marketplace. But pressed against a wooden stage in New York at Hurrah's in the late 1970s, what stepped out on stage had nothing to do with any kind of commercial calculus. That I could see.
See, in 1979, after a steady diet of The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Klaus Nomi, fer chrissakes, and on the strength of the name alone, a single, the press and the locale, the Gang of Four was a must see. But wrapped in the earlier vaudevillian aspect of punk rock, new wave, no wave, and a sort of well-meaning but very extant schtick, expectations were in keeping with what had already been seen. But what had been seen would in no way prepare you for what you were about to see.
Four Brits, no leather jackets, no make-up, and outside of an opening song with about two minutes of unremitting feedback, no schtick.
"We all grew up around vaudeville. It was part of the zeitgeist," said drummer Hugo Burnham, from outside of Boston where he toils in academia and presently makes his home. But Gang of Four? "It was anti-schtick. And it was somewhat deliberate because we were serious about what we were doing but we weren't dour. We didn't go as far as the shoegazing thing."
Which is almost right. Gone was the clever art school quirk of Talking Heads or the mordant rumble of a Joy Division, musicians framing what we were understanding about new music at the time. Replaced instead with something that was equal parts both cool and hot, and when they tore into their set that night it was with a life-changing brio.
No "Hello Cleveland!" No foot on the front wedge rock god posturing, just songs and songs played like those that were playing them meant it. It, here, being coruscating takes on very precisely what it was we were doing while we were doing it. Again: not by accident. But very specifically, deliberately.
"We sat in pubs and talked about it," Burnham said. Right down to things like, "No fucking feet on the monitors."
What Burnham fails to mention and this is an amusing Rashomonesque feature of chatting with the three members still living – Burnham, singer/lyricist Jon King, and bassist Dave Allen – is that the no-feet-on-the-monitors "chat" didn't happen in a pub. King, in a call from London, offers an alternate scenario.
"It happened backstage after a show in what used to be Yugoslavia," King laughs. "And it involved a fistfight." So Gill and Allen settled things the old-fashioned way and while it's unknown who won, at the Hurrah's show there were no feet on monitors.
What there was though after the generalized sexlessness of punk rock -- from Johnny Rotten declaring sex "boring" and for "hippies" and Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye singing that he didn't fuck – was music and performance of said music that was as somatic as all get out and that very directly addressed love, sex, the politics of both, and their wider intersection with politics in total.
But first a little historical political perspective and a sense of the tableau upon which whatever Gang of Four was, was created. In the late 1970s in the U.K., there was 14 percent inflation, 18 percent in 1980, one in five adult males were out of work, interest rates were 14 percent, and there was massive industrial unrest.
"In '78 and '79 it was called the Winter of Discontent," King said of the hellscape that England had been even before Thatcher dug in. "There were piles of garbage four meters high in the street, people weren't going to be buried because there was a strike of mortuary workers and grave diggers, there were dozens of IRA terror attacks in mainland UK, there were plotters looking to pull a coup d'etat, plus Russian SCUD missiles in eastern Europe and Americans sending Pershing missiles to NATO, so threats of nuclear attack. Songs like 'In the Ditch' on Solid Gold? That was the context we were working with."
And given that context, a steadfast mark of Gang of Four's genius that they didn't zig into what was a popular pose at the time (and still really) and try to pull off the working class hero crap that had smart people dumbing down in the name of some sort of shopworn idea of what was authentic. That is, the Gang of Four were driven and obsessed with what middle class art school students should be obsessed with: making great music and art in and of the times they are living, fully realizing that you can't fake authenticity.
Which is when King zags and contemporizes it all. Like he does. Like Gang of Four did. "What's interesting is buying a cup of coffee now: they ask you 'what's your name?' and they insist on knowing what it is. These fake relationships masquerading as real relationships when we all know it's a masquerade."
"Look, in looking back I have decided I really like this sort of troublesome 21-year-old me who wrote these totally un-commercial songs," said King. But the charm, at least for the creator, is that "there's nothing in it that is an attempt to pander to people. And it may sound kind of stupid but I kind of thought of us as like a blues band."
"So I tried to avoid cliché, but it's quite difficult trying to not write about things that everyone else was writing about," King explains." But there's a reason hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world now and that's because it's got some authenticity about it; it talks about things that are actually happening. The world is a shit show now. To not write about it is a remarkable evasion of responsibility."
Something that wasn't missed in 1979 New York either with crime at an all-time high and the city collapsing financially. So mid-set when King dragged a metal crate on stage – "we later switched to a microwave," Burnham said – and started blasting it with a drum stick it was both the sound of the city and the times all at once.
Adding percussive elements in and from trash, well in advance of Einsturzende Neubaten and even Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo who Burnham initially thought they had lifted it from ("No," corrects King), this was a perfect sweat-drenched statement of intent: Gang of Four absolutely were not fucking around.
And it was perhaps this quality specifically that drew the heavy. "We were political with a small P," said bassist Dave Allen who followed a post-Gang of Four career with music tech gigs at both Apple and Intel, which is how he ended up in Portland. "But we were fighting Nazis. The fascists that came to the shows. They would jump onstage when we were playing in London, skinheads, and they had knives." Allen, in general soft spoken, neither laughs nor smiles in the retelling. "The security guards would all run away. Having a big heavy bass in this instance helped quite a bit."
But before reforming in 2005, Allen was the first to leave Gang of Four, in 1981, and his leaving was part of that whole not fucking around piece and almost perfectly Gang of Four-ish. "EMI were always pushing us. They wanted us to make 'hits'. Be on the radio. Top of the Pops," Allen sighs. "That's not what we do. We don't make pop songs. But they had all of these pretty boys. Duran Duran…so I just felt like I had done enough."
And despite the fact though that 25 percent of the band is dead, 25 percent is talking to me via video chat, and 50 percent of the band is in America, the claim that there are no second acts in American lives? Clearly bullshit and so not a surprise at all when Allen says, "we need to find a guitarist."
The 2005 reunion only lasted a few years, but Andy Gill continued with replacement musicians and died right in the midst of touring with them. He left giant shoes to fill. But even considering trying to fill them? A straight-up damn the torpedoes move. To which they are well matched.
"When you try to audition a guitar player they just can't do it," Allen winds up. "They come in blasting thinking it is punk, but we were post-punk. It was us and Wire…"
It certainly was.
And in 1979 when the show at Hurrahs concluded, and they stood on stage for the briefest of moments, drenched in sweat, not smiling as they regarded us the audience, also drenched in sweat, and said "goodnight", it felt like marching orders. And they were.
For? For a murderer's row of people whose music not only kills but lives on in our cars, houses, phones, heads: The Pixies, Nirvana, Shellac, REM, Mission of Burma, Bush Tetras, Savage Republic, 10,000 Maniacs, Mark Stewart, Henry Rollins, Steve Shelley, Sofia Coppola, and more too numerous to name but no less deserving.
Now draw a family tree that across the past 40 years of influencing just about anyone making music, film, or art who proudly claims and proclaims some sort of spiritual connection to the Gang of Four and what have you? A veritable bildungsroman of the greatest things to just about ever happen to your fucking ears. Believe me. I know.
– Eugene S. Robinson (Oxbow)
A2. Natural’s Not In It
A3. Not Great Men
A4. Damaged Goods
A5. Return The Gift
A6. Guns Before Butter
B1. I Found That Essence Rare
B4. At Home He’s A Tourist
B6. Love Like Anthrax
A2. What We All Want
A3. If I Could Keep It For Myself
A4. Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time
A5. Why Theory?
B2. The Republic
B3. In The Ditch
B4. A Hole In The Wallet
B5. He’d Send In The ArmySingles
A1. To Hell With Poverty
A2. It’s Her Factory
A3. Armalite Rifle
B1. Capital (It Fails Us Now)
B2. History’s Bunk!
B3. Cheeseburger (Live) *
B4. What We All Want (Live) **Live at Hammersmith Palais
Live at American Indian Center 1980
A1. Not Great Men
A3. Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time
A4. Damaged Goods
B1. He’d Send In The Army
B2. Guns Before Butter
C2. It’s Her Factory
C4. Natural’s Not In It
D1. At Home He’s A Tourist
D3. Return The Gift
SIDE A -The Early Demos (Various)
I) Rehearsal Room – Leeds, 1977-78
The Things You Do
What You Ask For
Love Like Anthrax
Silence Is Not Useful
II) Cargo Demos – Cargo Studio, Rochdale
iii) The Tapes – Poiydor Studios, Jan 1978
Return The Gift
Corked Up With The Ether
SIDE B – Abbey Road DemosFrom 5th January 1981 - (single track from cassette)
Gang Of Four / Matador Records
[caption id="attachment_35649" align="alignnone" width="537"] Photo by @WillByington[/caption]
(photo : Will Byington)
"The Boy With The Arab Strap"
(video by Wide Eyed)
"My Wandering Days Are Over"
(video by Wide Eyed)
On December 11th, we're releasing Belle and Sebastian’s 'What to Look for in Summer', a live double album gathering choice selections from the band’s 2019 world tour, including last summer’s epic “Boaty Weekender” cruise.
Today, the band release new videos with the audio of live renditions of their classic songs “The Boy With The Arab Strap”, in a special near 8-minute version featuring the band in their respective Glasgow locations and a clip for “My Wandering Days Are Over,” (both above)
presave/preorder 'What To Look For In Summer'
stream/download "My Wandering Days Are Over"
All live records are a time capsule to some extent, but Belle and Sebastian’s 'What To Look For In Summer' is perhaps a bit more evocative than originally planned.
“We'd been badgered by our fan base to put out recordings of the shows,” frontman Stuart Murdoch teases. So they began multi-tracking their 2019 tour, including all three sets from the “Boaty Weekender” festival, which took place on a cruise ship. Which of those things feels more like an out-of-reach fantasy right now, simply seeing some live music, a festival, or getting on a cruise ship?
Whatever your answer, What To Look For In Summer takes you there. With COVID-19 cancelling not only 2020 live shows, but Belle and Sebastian’s plans to make a new record in Los Angeles, what started out as a between-albums, “for-the-heads” release wound up getting a bit more care and attention.
“It was something to focus on,” says Stevie Jackson. “That was very, very nice.”
“It was quite nice to be doing that when we couldn't even see each other,” echoes Sarah Martin.
When Murdoch polled Belle and Sebastian fans on Twitter, most said that their favorite live LPs were of a single concert. But hey, the fans don’t get to make the set list either. The band decided picking the best recordings from different shows was the way to go, taking their inspiration from such live albums as Yes’s Yessongs' and Thin Lizzy’s 'Live and Dangerous.
“For a while, the working title of the record was Live and Meticulous,” Murdoch says. “The record company really wanted it to still be called Live and Meticulous. But I don't like derivative things really.”
Neither a retrospective nor a back-door greatest-hits, What To Look For In Summer is the sound of a band that’s always moving forward, a picture of Belle and Sebastian in 2019 that gives equal weight to early days (“My Wandering Days Are Over,” “Seeing Other People”) and recent years (“Poor Boy,” We Were Beautiful”), with a track selection Murdoch says was almost random. “I’m a Cuckoo,” #2 on the band’s Setlist.FM stats, didn’t even make the cut. But you get three songs from 2000’s Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (which the band played in full at the Boaty Weekender).
You also get a full picture of a group that’s always been built around Murdoch’s songs, but has three other writers in Jackson, Martin and guitarist Bobby Kildea (with all songwriting credits shared by the entire band). Martin, in particular, has become more and more prolific as a songwriter and lead vocalist over the past decade - her “I Didn’t See It Coming,” with its indelible refrain (“make me dance/I want to surrender”) is always a highlight, as is her show stopping vocal on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John,” originally sung by Norah Jones on 2010’s Write About Love. “It's always a little bit of a moment when she steps up and goes into the song,” says Murdoch.
Once a more introspective live group (Stuart's staying in and he thinks it's a sin/That he has to leave the house at all,” they sang on 1998’s “This is Not a Modern Rock Song”) Belle and Sebastian’s live shows for the past two decades have featured both an incredibly high level of musicality and a bit of a variety-show vibe. At one point on the album, Murdoch wonders why the band stopped its tradition of having someone bring gin cocktails to the stage mid-set.
“It just feels like you're having your friends around for dinner and you want everything to be right,” he says. “No matter how miserable your songs are - maybe most of the fans have learned to love these songs in a bedroom or a kitchen - when you come out to a show, it's a different thing. You just want everybody to feel good.”
Never is that more true than towards the end of every show. “The Boy With The Arab Strap” is both Belle and Sebastian’s “Born To Run” - they’re never not gonna play it - and their “Dancing in the Dark” to the nth degree, as scores of fans end up on stage for a bit of participatory dancing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime highlight for the kids, an occasional nightmare for the band’s production manager, and the greatest bit of fun for everybody else. Sometimes Jackson has to fight his way through the dancers to get back to the mic for his harmony vocals, while Martin gets a close-up view of people surrounding Murdoch on stage, or sometimes even hijacking the song. “I kind of enjoy it when people overstep the line,” Martin admits. “But not with me!”
Murdoch never gets tired of playing it “I genuinely look forward to it,” he says. “If the concert’s going great, it just feels like a natural vibe. And if the concert’s going okay - maybe it's a Sunday night and everybody’s a little bit flat, or still in their seats - it’s definitely the time to send it home.”
He also never gets tired of playing, period. “Touring the band is something that I never thought we'd do. It’s turned into the thrill of a lifetime, really, in a manifest, physical way. It's just the nicest experience that I think I've had in my life.”
— Jason Cohen
1. The Song of The Clyde £ >
2. Dirty Dream Number Two *
3. Step Into My Office, Baby *
4. We Were Beautiful +
5. Seeing Other People %
6. If She Wants Me @
7. Beyond The Sunrise &
8. Wrapped Up In Books +
9. Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John $
10. Nice Day For A Sulk (digital only) #
11. I Can See Your Future *
12. Funny Little Frog ^
13. The Fox In The Snow+
14. If You’re Feeling Sinister*
15. My Wandering Days Are Over*
16. The Wrong Girl #
17. Stay Loose%
18. The Boy Done Wrong Again #
19. Poor Boy%
20. Dog On Wheels%
21. The Boy With The Arab Strap+
22. I Didn’t See It Coming+
23. Belle And Sebastian #
£ recorded Banchory Studios, Glasgow, August 6th, 2020 (digital version)
> recorded by Kenneth McKellar (vinyl + CD versions)
* The Boaty Weekender, August 10th, 2019
+ Royal Oak Theatre, Michigan, July 21st, 2019
% Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA, July 12th, 2019
# House Of Blues, Boston, MA, July 13th, 2019
^ M-Telus, Montreal, QC, July 15th, 2019
@ Carnegie Hall - Pittsburgh, PA, July 18th, 2019
& House Of Blues, Cleveland, OH, July 19th, 2019
$ Auditoria Baluarte, Pamplona, Barcelona, November 4th, 2019
Belle & Sebastian online
Available on December 11th, Interpol have announced new editions of Antics on white vinyl and Our Love To Admire on sky blue vinyl. The limited run can be found on the Matador webstore through the links below, available for pre-order now.
Stream Antics / Pre-order white vinyl
Stream Our Love To Admire / Pre-order sky blue vinyl
(photo : Michael Lavine)
As we mark today's eagerly awaited formal release of Chavez' 1995 classic, 'Gone Glimmering', we'll take a brief break from posting front-row videos of their performances to instead showcase Gordon Withers' interpretation of the band's "You Faded". Though this performance is not found on the 'Gone Glimmering' reissue (just being thorough here -- you wouldn't believe the stupid questions we're asked all the time), more information on Withers' work can be found here.
stream/preorder 'Gone Glimmering' (25th Anniversary expanded edition) -
Chavez Online :
Chavez at Bandcamp
Chavez at Matador
"Faith Healer" - directed by Daniel Henry
(photo by Alysse Gafkjen)
Julien Baker will release her third studio album, 'Little Oblivions', on February 26. Today she reveals the first look at the album via “Faith Healer.” She says, “Put most simply, I think that ‘Faith Healer’ is a song about vices, both the obvious and the more insidious ways that they show up in the human experience. I started writing this song 2 years ago and it began as a very literal examination of addiction. For awhile, I only had the first verse, which is just a really candid confrontation of the cognitive dissonance a person who struggles with substance abuse can feel-- the overwhelming evidence that this substance is harming you, and the counterintuitive but very real craving for the relief it provides. When I revisited the song I started thinking about the parallels between the escapism of substance abuse and the other various means of escapism that had occupied a similar, if less easily identifiable, space in my psyche."
“There are so many channels and behaviors that we use to placate discomfort unhealthily which exist outside the formal definition of addiction. I (and so many other people) are willing to believe whomever-- a political pundit, a preacher, a drug dealer, an energy healer-- when they promise healing, and how that willingness, however genuine, might actually impede healing.”
“Faith Healer” introduces the exhilarating, widescreen musical palette and infectious spirit of risk-taking found on Little Oblivions, a transformative sonic shift from Baker’s more spare and intimate previous work. Engineered by Calvin Lauber and mixed by Craig Silvey (The National, Florence & the Machine, Arcade Fire), both of whom worked with Baker on 2017’s 'Turn Out the Lights', the album was recorded in Baker’s hometown of Memphis between December 2019 and January 2020. Baker’s tactile guitar and piano playing are enriched with newfound textures encompassing bass, drums, synthesizers, banjo and mandolin, with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker. The album weaves unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and often hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for starkly galvanizing storytelling to breathtaking new heights.
If you are lucky enough to have a future where the present anxieties of distance become romantic memories, I hope there are people who turn this album over in their hands years from now and remember the world it tumbled into. A world that, in whatever future moment exists, will likely be defined by the work people undertook and the fights people continued to show up for. But it will also be a world defined by how many of us exist on the other side of distance.
In the moment, here is a new Julien Baker album that arrives as a world comes to newly understand its relationship with touch, with distance. At the time of this writing, I shouldn’t want to run into the arms of anyone I love and miss, and yet I do. In an era of hands pressed on the glass of windows, or screen doors. An era of hands reaching back. An era where touch became an illusion. If we have been unlucky enough, our own lifetimes have prepared us for the ever-growing tapestry of aches.
To wrestle with the interior of one’s self has become a side effect of the times, and will remain a side-effect of whatever times emerge from these. The first time I ever heard Julien Baker, I wanted to know how an artist could survive such relentless and rigorous self-examination. I have been lonely, I have been alone, and I have been isolated. There are musicians who know the nuances between the three. What whispers in through the cracks of a person’s time alone. Julien Baker is one of those artists. A writer who examines their own mess, not in a search for answers, but sometimes just for a way out. A lighthouse to some newer, bigger mess.
It is hard to put into words what this feels like. Little Oblivions is an album that steps into that feeling and expands it. Sonically, from the opening swells of sound on “Hardline” rattling the chest, loving but persistent jabs to the way “Relative Fiction” spills into “Crying Wolf,” which feels like speeding down a warm highway that quickly turns into a sparse landscape, drowning in a hard rain. Lyrically, too, of course. There are writers who might attempt to bang at the doors of their listeners, shouting their particular anguish of the hour. And there are undoubtedly times when I have needed that to get from one sunrise to the next. But there are also writers who show up assuming anyone listening already knows what it is to crawl themselves back from one heartbreak, or to shout into an enduring darkness and hear only an echo. Little Oblivions is an album that details the crawling, details the shouting. An album that doesn’t offer repair, or forgiveness. Sometimes, though, a chance to revel in the life that is never guaranteed. Yes, the life that grows and grows and is never promised. How lucky to still be living, even in our own mess.
The grand project of Julien Baker, as I have always projected it onto myself, is the central question of what someone does with the many calamities of a life they didn’t ask for, but want to make the most out of. I have long been done with the idea of hope in such a brutal and unforgiving world, but I’d like to think that this music drags me closer to the old idea I once clung to. But these are songs of survival, and songs of reimagining a better self, and what is that if not hope? Hope that on the other side of our wreckage – self-fashioned or otherwise – there might be a door. And through the opening of that door, a tree spilling its shade over something we love. A bench and upon it, a jacket that once belonged to someone we’d buried. Birds who ask us to be an audience to their singing. A small and generous corner of the earth that has not yet burned down or disappeared. I can be convinced of this kind of hope, even as I fight against it. To hear someone wrestling with and still thankful for the circumstances of a life that might reveal some brilliance if any of us just stick around long enough.
Julien, how good it is to hear you again. And now, in all of our anguish and all of our glory. I miss the way the outside world reflected myself back to me. Now, I make mirrors out of the walls. I am so thankful for a better noise than the howling of my own shadows. Julien, you have done it again. You expert magician. You mirror-maker. Thank you for letting us once again watch you maneuver through all of your pleasant and unpleasant self-renderings. If there is a future, there will be people in it who might not remember how this album came at a time when so many hungered for a chance to put themselves back together. When the imagination of a person, a city, a country, was expanding. When, despite all of that, in the quiet moments, there were people who still wanted to be held by someone they maybe couldn’t touch. Thank you, Julien, for this comfort. This glass box through which a person might better be able to see a use for their own grief. This kingdom of small shards of sunlight, stumbling their way in to disrupt the darkness.
— Hanif Abdurraqib
03. Faith Healer
04. Relative Fiction
05. Crying Wolf
09. Song in E
11. Highlight Reel
stream / download "Faith Healer"
presave / preorder "Little Oblivions"
Julien Baker Online
"Hack The Sides Away", live 1995
"The Nerve", live in Columbus, OH 1995
"Repeat The Ending", live 1995
All videos courtesy Chris Wilcha.
stream/preorder 'Gone Glimmering' (25th Anniversary expanded edition) - out October 23
Chavez Online :
Chavez at Matador
"Break Up Your Band", live at PS 122
(courtesy Chris Wilcha)
"Nailed To The Blank Spot" (courtesy Chris Wilcha)
(Germany radio interview, courtesy Chavez)
More gold from the vast (?) Chavez archives, above.
stream/preorder 'Gone Glimmering' (25th Anniversary expanded edition) - out October 23
Chavez Online :
Chavez at Matador
(photo : Noah Kalina)
The new Yo La Tengo EP, 'Sleepless Night' is available today on all streaming services and one-sided 12.
Blues Stay Away
Wasn’t Born to Follow
Roll On Babe
It Takes a Lot to Laugh
Smile a Little Smile for Me
In addition, our friends at Japan's BeatINK have augmented Matador's Revisionist History Campaign with deluxe CD reissues of ‘Electr-o-pura’, ‘I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One’, ‘And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’ and ’Summer Sun.'
Yo La Tengo online:
The second episode of the 'Gone Glimmering' guitar tutorials, featuring Sadie Dupuis (Sad13, Speedy Ortiz) and Chavez' Matt Sweeney and Clay Tarver can be viewed above.
stream/preorder 'Gone Glimmering' (25th Anniversary expanded edition) - out October 23
Chavez Online :
Chavez at Matador
(art by Robert Beatty)
(photo : Cem Misirlioglu)
stream / download "Chismiten"
Matador Records is thrilled to announce the addition of prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar to its roster.
A once-in-a-generation artist backed by an unstoppable rhythm section, Mdou’s music has roots in both traditional Tuareg melodicism and Eddie Van Halen’s daredevil majesty. Today we offer you “Chismiten,” the white-hot ripper that will kick off an expansive new full-length due to hit down next year. “The song is about how people in a relationship lose their sense of self, they become jealous and envious of others,” explains Mdou. “It is not about one specific person, but about all people in the world. I turn to Allah for guidance not to be that person.”
The song is accompanied by a video that blends illustrations by artist Robert Beatty with animation and cellphone footage shot in Niger, capturing wedding performances by the band, their friends and family, the markets in Niamey and Agadez, and the famous Agadez Mosque.
It’s possible that you’re already familiar with Mdou via his leading role in "Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai", the first Tuareg language film – a retelling of Prince’s P"urple Rain". Otherwise, you may have spent time with last year’s monumental 'Ilana: The Creator' (Sahel Sounds), the guitarist’s first true studio album recorded alongside his live band. Indeed, it was this album and the band’s explosive concerts that brought them to Matador’s attention.
Mdou and his group – bassist and producer Mikey Coltun, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane -- have toured ceaselessly throughout the world, evolving into a ferocious ensemble that can rock a Tuareg wedding as easily as they can scorch a festival stage.
At present, their live energies are unparalleled and their range immense, capable of evoking both the mesmeric boogie of Masters of Reality-era Black Sabbath and Black Uhuru’s sublime electrified grooves. “At our concerts we never talk about the music we are going to play, never write out a setlist, it's whatever comes to my head that I'm feeling,” says Mdou. “My band is always with me listening.”
This is all evident on “Chismiten,” where Mdou’s whirling riffs embroider and illuminate the band’s hypnotic grind, kicking up a noise that is at once elemental and undeniably transcendent.
Mdou Moctar online:
Track List :
Speed of The Sound of Loneliness
How Lucky (with John Prine)
'Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)' is out digitally now. A physical edition will arrive January 15 on pink-colored vinyl and CD.
presave/preorder 'Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)'
Stream/Purchase Bottle It In
Kurt Vile Online