On The Turntable

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    Ty Segall

    Ty Segall :: Segall Smeagol

    Ty Segall is an inspired interpreter. With a previous collection of T. Rex covers and a deep-fried take on Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner” under his belt, he reaches a high noon stand down on this new six-track quarantine collection of covers culled from Harry Nilsson’s 1971 lp, Nilsson Schmilsson. The source material jittery and depraved as it already is, Segall twists it further inward, practically taking a trip to the Overlook Hotel on wholly villainous rides at “Coconut,” “Gotta Get Up,” “Early in the Morning,” and the like. Dripped in psychedelic sludge, sometimes you’ve just got to fight crazy with crazy.

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    Brother Theotis Taylor

    Brother Theotis Taylor :: Brother Theotis Taylor

    Mississippi Records’ new compilation Brother Theotis Taylor, mines the private archives of the Georgia minister and singer. These solitary songs of praise and contemplation extend an offer to join Taylor in spiritual reverie.

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    Dougie Poole

    Dougie Poole :: The Freelancer’s Blues

    Dougie Poole is the patron saint of millennial malaise. On The Freelancer’s Blues, the Brooklyn-based country slacker sings about familiar tropes: vaping on the job, trying Buddhism for a week, considering a move out west, and finally, giving up to hang out at the bar with his buddies. Playing with common woes, pop sheen, and sideways humor, Poole invests his particular blues with a wink and a crooked smile.

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    Woods :: Strange to Explain

    Rather than existing at odds with the disturbing energy of the pandemic, and the eerie silences that accompanied the quarantine, Woods feel profoundly present. Their balmy psychedelia reckons with the world rather than seeking to escape it. Reflecting on and reasoning with death, they ask, “I see old friends when I sleep…Where do you go when you dream?” In a momentary flash, we see children age and gardens grow.

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    Beverly Glenn-Copeland

    Beverly Glenn-Copeland :: At Last!

    This fall finds the release of Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland—a collection of the wildly idiosyncratic and brilliantly singular catalog of a pioneering transgender artist. Perhaps most exciting, is its introduction of a heretofore unknown EP from 1983, entitled At Last!. Daring and jazzy, and not without a touch of danger, Glenn-Copeland crafts something of a more straight-forward “rock” here, filling the extended player with soaring guitar lines, muscular rhythms, and power ballads. It works.

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    David Darling & the Wulu Bunun

    David Darling & the Wulu Bunun :: Mudanin Kata

    This 2004 collaboration between cellist David Darling and the Wulu Bunun singers of Taiwan is nothing short of a miracle. With the Bunun singers’ a capella vocal recordings of indigenous folk songs at the core, their joyous, polyphonic harmonies coalesce with Darling’s luminous, delicate, and occasionally bluesy compositional tones. Together, they brighten and blossom amongst ambient sounds of nature, resulting in something truly spectacular and life-affirming. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful record deserving of far wider recognition.

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    Shirley Collins

    Shirley Collins :: Heart’s Ease

    There are voices. And then there are Voices. With “Wondrous Love,” Shirley Collins reminds us she’s in the latter category, bringing fresh humanity this early 1800s Sacred Harp hymn (with roots stretching back even further to the British isles).

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    Trees Speak

    Trees Speak :: Ohms

    On their new album, Ohms, Trees Speak evoke the heavy weirdness of the deep desert but from a Krautrock connoisseur’s viewpoint, folding in elements of post-punk, noir soundtracks, analog synth-music and contemporary psychedelia.

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Alex Izenberg :: Caravan Château

Izenberg’s unpredictable song structures and weary vocal lines are his and his alone. The ride is a wild—almost terrifying—one at times, but as soon as you start to feel a little turned around, Izenberg is there to pick you up and dust you off.

Unearthed, Vol. 11 :: UnLoaded

Loaded has been rightly celebrated plenty over the decades, but what the hell, let’s celebrate it a little more. This latest Unearthed mix cobbles together an alternate version of the LP via some tasty live recordings, rehearsal tapes, backstage jams and other obscurities. Recording quality varies wildly, performance quality is great throughout. Heavenly wine & roses await.

Jason Molina :: Eight Gates

It’s been a little over seven years since the untimely death of Jason Molina, and despite his relatively prolific output with Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., his story still feels like one with missing parts, especially towards the end. Enter: Eight Gates.

Big Search and Chris Cohen :: Infinite Mirror

When Matt Popieluch of Big Search began writing the song “Infinite Mirror,” he heard musician’s musician Chris Cohen’s voice in his head. That dream becomes a reality with the duo’s gorgeous harmonies guiding a piano-led tune, swelling in splendor with wordless vocals and warm jets of guitar while drifting towards its conclusion.

The Positive Force & Ade Olatunji :: Oracy

Jazz comp aficionados might know The Positive Force with Ade Olatunji’s “The Afrikan In Winter” from Jazzman’s essential 2008 collection, Spiritual Jazz – Esoteric, Modal And Deep Jazz From The Underground 1968-77. But it’s hardly the only remarkable composition on the hyper-rare private press album it was pulled from, 1977’s Oracy. An invigorating blend of spiritual jazz, funk rhythms, and socially-conscious poetry, this incandescent document of the independent Black art scene of ’70s Detroit has recently been reissued by New Zealand label Rain&Shine.

Words and Actions :: Fontaines D.C.’s A Hero’s Death

With everything falling apart around us, the need for honest sounds is great. On A Hero’s Death, Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C. offer up “anthems full of sulking, threatening poetry.” Guest reviewer Ken Layne of Desert Oracle weighs in on their punk rock poetry and fervor: Irish poetry and literature mixed with “post punk” sounds like a formula that would be pretty well worked over by now, but Fontaines D.C. make it sound alive and kicking, a brilliant new idea.

Transmissions :: The Microphones

It’s hard to sum up Phil Elverum’s story, but in a weird way, that’s kind of what he does on his new record, The Microphones in 2020, which features one, 44-minute long song. It’s his first time using the Microphones name since 2003, and to hear him express it, it’s kind of an album about identity. While it’s no less autobiographical than his recent records, it’s a step in a different direction, temporal poetry about transience and the way a person becomes a different person—but somehow, it’s also how they stay the same person. Once again, we’re dabbling in paradox and contradiction. This week on Transmissions, he opens his (virtual) door and invites us in to discuss the new album, personal history, identity, and Weird Al.

Unearthing A Miracle: The Steve Elliott Story

Timing is everything. In the case of musician Steve Elliott Sloan nothing could be more true. Born in 1950, Steve is a self taught musician, producer, songwriter, and a pioneer of DIY bedroom recording. Between 1981 – 1982 he self-recorded and released two records. At the time of release, he only sold about 15 copies of each. Last year, both albums were remastered and reissued by New Zealand’s Rain and Shine Records.

Gillian Welch :: Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1

The first of three collections that gather together a whopping 48 songs recorded in late 2002, in between Time (The Revelator)Soul Journey. An astounding cache of previously unheard Welch/Rawlings music, made even more astounding by the fact that these four-dozen tunes were laid down in the space of just a few days.

Cedric Noel :: Nighttime (Skin)

Cedric Noel is a one-man song factory. From his home base in Montreal, he’s bounced from genre to genre, producing emotionally driven indie-rock, ambient synth music, and romantic electro-pop under his Special Solace alias. His latest moves into a heavy reverb-drone rock sound. “Nighttime (Skin)” showcases both his knack for heartrending melodies and Dinosaur Jr.-sized riffs and lyrics that explore the concept of identity.