On an all-new episode of Transmissions: Ken Shipley of Numero Group. October has arrived, but the storied Chicago label was still in the midst of its September ‘90s month celebration of reissues from Codeine, Karate, Current, and Unwound when we taped this conversation. Shipley and host Jason P. Woodbury discuss how the label has evolved, aesthetics, the new Blondie boxset, Shipley’s midwest emo roots and pre-Numero days at Rykodisc and Tree Records, and more.
A year after Lee Perry’s passing, King Scratch: Musical Masterpieces from the Upsetter Ark-ive gathers 40 top-shelf Upsetter productions that serve as an ideal introduction to Perry’s sublimely bizarre oeuvre for the uninitiated, or an immaculately curated retrospective for the already enlightened.
Desire Choir, the forthcoming debut from Oakland’s Non Plus Temps, first hit our radar last month with the release of album opener “Continuous Hinge,” a disorienting and groovy cut of post-punk pairing vocalist Amber Serano’s ESP-inspired spunk with sawing throbs of electric viola. With this month’s release of album track “Warm Launderette,” our anticipation skyrockets.
Common One was the album Van Morrison had been trying to make for ten years. It would mark the furthest he had moved away from the sounds of Astral Weeks, while still maintaining the sonic and literary craftsmanship of the legendary session. The blues and soul records that shaped Morrison’s musical upbringing were still present. It was definitely a rock and roll record. And the astral folk leanings for which the critics had held on to the singer for so long, ran through the entirety of the nearly hour-long affair.
To celebrate the release of the jazzy and deft Big Time Things, Office Culture brings a mixtape of influences encompassing neo-soul, spiritual jazz, and singer/songwriter fare. “Often we think about a very specific element of an artist’s approach—a rhythmic cadence, a weird production choice, or a vocal approach—and wonder how it could work in an unlikely context. Hopefully you find something new you like.”
Total anarchy from Boston’s underground scene of the early 1980s.
First up, we’ve got Dredd Foole & The Din’s Songs In Heat 1982, the first volume in the Unheard Dredd Series from the Corbett vs. Dempsey label.
As thoroughly unpolished as Foole & The Din are, they’re practically Steely Dan compared to 4 Letter Words. These kids can barely play — and it sounds fucking great.
Culled from Black Solidarity Presents String Up the Sound System, a compilation of tracks released by the Jamaican based Black Solidarity reggae label, Eddie Constantine’s “Strawberry” is a booming, dancehall rendition of Miriam Makeba’s “Love Tastes Like Strawberries,” a sneaking cut of spiritual soul from her 1962 lp, The Many Voices of Miriam Makeba.
An American expat based in Paris, Frank Maston crafts sonic worlds of singular origin. Reminiscent of the deepest crates of library music and vintage Italian film scores, Maston’s output (four LPs to date beginning with 2013’s Shadows) feels at once widescreen and cinematic, yet intimate. Following up last year’s collaboration with Swiss septet L’Eclair, Souvenir, this month sees the release of Panorama via the London based Be With Records. To accompany the album’s release, Maston laid down his first Lagniappe Session in Paris, paying tribute to Dutch popper Alice Deejay, along with a tune via a 1966 episode of Star Trek.
For the uninitiated Tommy McLain’s music has been categorized as Swamp Pop. A term that was popularized by author John Broven in his wonderfully enthusiastic and extremely well researched book about the depth and range of the music of the Bayous of Louisiana entitled “South To Louisiana”. His songs have the emotional feel of soul music, the distinct melodies of the back country and certainly the rhythms of New Orleans R&B. But when he starts singing his voice grabs your attention, draws you in and you don’t want to be any where else.
Following the mind-altering fuck-folk of Indian War Whoop and The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders, Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber reined in their psychic troubadour ambitions and embraced melody once more. 1971’s Good Taste is Timeless finds an expanded Rounders digging into the annals of American goodtime music for inspiration. That is, until we near the end of the first side. As the band tiptoes into “Spring of ‘65” there is a familiar cadence in the delivery—this time from across the North Atlantic.
Lee Baggett’s Just a Minute, released earlier this year, marks his first outing under his own name after decades in the West Coast underground. For his first-ever Lagniappe Session, he breaks out selections from Def Leppard, The English Beat, and Van Halen, reflecting on the cuts as he goes along.
Turning mistakes in magic dust. Lambchop mastermind Kurt Wagner joins Aquarium Drunkard correspondent Al Riggs to discuss the band’s 16th full-length, the sprawling The Bible.
Long time reader, first time caller? Welcome to Mailbag, our new monthly column in which we dig in and respond to your questions. Got a query? Hit us up at email@example.com. We’re gonna keep it loose!