On The Turntable

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    Sandro Perri

    Sandro Perri :: Impossible Spaces

    Sandro Perri entered the new decade on an elevated plane of sound and vision. Impossible Spaces marked a massive departure from the languid, lo-fi, dusty folk of his previous records, lightspeed jumping into astral jazz-pop. With songs exceeding the ten-minute mark and often changing keys, tempos, and melodies without warning, Perri hasn’t stopped experimenting with and deconstructing his songwriting craft since.

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    Bill Callahan

    Bill Callahan :: Apocalypse

    At its root, the word apocalypse doesn’t signify a climactic ending so much as an uncovering or revealing. For Bill Callahan, those revelations play out in both wide open spaces and quiet moments. He paints monuments to both on Apocalypse, and in the details, he tugs at the concerts of our age. His loping “Drover”—the strong, silent type—winks at the deep shadows of this “wild wild country” as he passes through, and songs like “America” and “Riding for the Feeling” slyly forecast the nightmarish malaise that is always so close at hand in 2019. “Everyone’s allowed a past/They don’t care to mention,” he sings. Are they?

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    Radiohead

    Radiohead :: A Moon Shaped Pool

    However reasonable or unreasonable it was (hint: it was very unreasonable), it seemed that expectations were a little more tempered for the future of Radiohead after The King of Limbs failed to change the world the way that In Rainbows did. But when A Moon Shaped Pool arrived, on Mother’s Day in 2016, it was immediately back to business as usual: Radiohead will save the Earth. Both a showcase of the band at its most restrained (“Daydreaming”) and in full Super Saiyan mode (“Ful Stop”), it’s one of the most stunning collections the band has ever put to tape, capturing everything about them that’s special while also pushing them somewhere new as well. No alarms and no surprises.

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    ANOHNI

    ANOHNI :: Hopelessness

    Poetry of the Anthropcean. How does one begin to reckon with the profound violence of drone warfare, environmental collapse, and worldwide torture? Perhaps like this, with music so heightened and overwhelmingly beautiful that it forces all attention toward it, rendering the listener unable to turn away. ANOHNI has always sung about the immensity of human experience, here she builds monumental epics to the idea of life itself being snuffed out. Over the blissful electronic swelling of the album’s final song, “Marrow,” she sings, she envisions humanity itself as a cancer afflicting the Earth. “We are, we are, all Americans now,” she intones, a quiet and terrifying admission of guilt and unfettered consumption.

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    Charlotte Gainsbourg

    Charlotte Gainsbourg :: Rest

    Sung mostly in her native French, and penning the majority of the album’s lyrics, Rest finds Charlotte Gainsbourg in top form throughout. While the album’s lyrical context and content are shadowed by the tragic 2013 death of her sister, they are coupled with the lush production of French producer/dj SebastiAn. Her fourth album in twenty years, Rest marks the multi-disciplinary artist’s best work to date.

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    Jim O’Rourke

    Jim O’Rourke :: Simple Songs

    The life and work of Jim O’Rourke has proven to be difficult to wrap your head around—and that’s likely by design, given that he’s rejected almost every traditional approach to having a career in music. (He’s gotta be the only post-’80s member of Sonic Youth who could likely stroll through a record store undetected.) Rourke has spent the last decade releasing a staggering number of dense experimental releases, but the appeal of Simple Songs is, well, simple. All candy-sweet melodies and impeccably engineered guitar squalls, it’s a breeze to listen to. But then he sings, “I’m hard figure out,” on “Friends With Benefits,” and we’re back where we started.

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    Ought

    Ought :: Sun Coming Down

    Ought split ways last year, but not before leaving behind a small treasure trove of sound, namely its raw, kinetic and utterly consuming sophomore record, Sun Coming Down. With vox like the second coming of Mark E. Smith, the band brought a fierce urgency to the configuration of guitar/bass/drums. And they did so with style. An unmoored, yet controlled, display of the zeitgeist’s underlying atmosphere—one of ennui, frustration, and uncertainty—Sun Coming Down eschews logos for pathos. As vocalist Tim Darcy exclaims on the title track, “just like that it changes!,” and as stream of consciousness missives go, album highlight “Big Beautiful Blue Sky,” may encapsulate the latter half of the decade’s waning mood more than any other: “’I’m no longer afraid to dance tonight /Cause that is all that I have left.” Yes.

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    Julien Gasc

    Julien Gasc :: Kiss Me You Fool!

    Largely known outside of Europe through his involvement with Stereolab and Aquaserge, Toulouse troubadour Julien Gasc released a savvy pair of solo records mid-decade via the Paris based Born Bad Records. The second of these, Kiss Me You Fool!, expands on the venn diagram of influences outlined on his debut, ably juxtaposing orchestral pop, folk and subtle flourishes of psychedelia. It’s a rakish affair elegantly flanked by guests Laëtitia Sadier, John Linger and Cathy Lucas. Nous sommes excités pour plus!

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The Lagniappe Sessions :: The Districts

Save the date: March 2020 — the return of The Districts via their fourth lp, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere. Gearing up for the release, the Pennsylvania based quartet donned their Santa caps for this month’s installment of the Lagniappe Sessions unpacking a bag of covers ranging from OMD, Tusk era Fleetwood Mac, Psychic TV & more.

Eve Maret :: OFO

Experimental artist and composer Eve Maret’s new track and video, “OFO,” is a meditation on being present. The sprawling, instrumental track was recorded live initially as an experiment with a new synth, then during mixing Maret overdubbed processed breaths as a sort of padding that swells throughout […]

Pan•American :: Catching Up With Mark Nelson

Though largely instrumental, “A Son” wrestles with the concept of home, the influence of the past and the frightening shifts in American culture and discourse. Nelson spoke to Aquarium Drunkard about his new album, the music and events that shaped it and the challenges of removing clutter from already serene and uncrowded sounds.

Frozen Fingers :: An American Primitive Holiday Meditation

Fingerpickers can’t seem to resist uncovering (or just plain inventing) the folk-blues roots of these timeworn melodies. Whatever the motivation, it’s always nice to have an alternative to the treacly seasonal music that is inescapable this time of year. Frozen Fingers is playlist of (mostly) acoustic wintry music that’ll put a little wonder into the most wonderful time of the year…