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$11.99

Electronic/Dance - Released July 11, 2011 | 4AD

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Disque Roi VoxPop
Titled in reference to Zomby’s father, who passed away during its completion, Dedication can be taken simply as another release from the enigmatic producer. From 2007 through 2009, Zomby issued a deeply concentrated yet somewhat whimsical blast of singles and EPs on Ramp, Hyperdub, and Brainmath. He also released an album of breakbeat rave-not-rave on Werk Discs, the label operated by the equally hard to classify producer Actress. His next move, then, could have gone in a number of different directions without being the least bit startling. On the other hand, Dedication is something of an event. After that flurry of activity, Zomby was mostly silent throughout 2010, so there was some suspense, and it intensified once news broke of his contract with 4AD. Furthermore, this is the producer’s most subdued and melodic set of tracks, in addition to his most developed work, despite keeping it as succinct (16 tracks, 35 minutes) as ever. It’s accessible to listeners who cannot be bothered to discern the differences and similarities between dubstep, wonky, and bass, yet it’s all too detailed and moving to be heard as some form of artistic compromise. A handful of the most effective productions are closer to liquid dancehall than his 2008 track of the same name, offering amiable bashment with plinking keyboards over slippery beats. Two of the most emotive Zomby tracks come with the hallucinatory “Natalia’s Song,” featuring softly jutting vocal samples from a female Russian vocalist, and “Basquiat,” a pensive piano-and-string-drone piece. Although it wasn't the intent, they’re more in the spirit of old-school 4AD -- Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, the Hope Blister -- than the majority of the label’s releases across the past ten years. The technicolor pellets over rat-a-tat snares return through “Things Fall Apart,” featuring a disjointed vocal from Panda Bear (the album’s only misstep), and the cycling “Mozaik,” which abruptly cuts off, and ends Dedication, shortly after the three-minute mark. Whether this is a one-off or a bridge to something more substantial, it's satisfying in the present and will likely increase in stature as years pass. ~ Andy Kellman
$11.99

Alternative & Indie - Released March 7, 2011 | Matador

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Disque Roi VoxPop
Philly-based singer/songwriter Kurt Vile lit up the indie rock radar in 2009 with his cynical, lo-fi, classic rock-meets-N.Y.C. proto-punk Matador debut. Fans of the visceral, D.I.Y. fuzz-folk that dominated Childish Prodigy may be taken aback by the production upgrade on Smoke Ring for My Halo, but the cleaner sound doesn’t mean that the floors aren’t still filthy. Channeling everyone from the Dead to Mellow Gold-era Beck to Lou Reed, Vile comes off as malcontent, but there’s an oddball warmth behind his laconic sneer that echoes the late slacker comedian Mitch Hedberg; for every “I wanna write my whole life down/burn it there to the ground” ("On Tour"), there’s an “If it ain’t workin’, take a whiz on the world” ("Runner Ups"). Sweeter and a little more soulful than Prodigy, Halo leans harder on the urban folk side of Vile's disposition (the album opens with a straight-up love song), but tracks like the churning “Puppet to the Man” and “Society Is My Friend” pick up where Prodigy stompers like “Freak Train” and “Overnight Religion” left off. Vile's guitar work remains predictably strong, especially on the fingerpicked “Peeping Tomboy” and the shimmery title cut, but it’s his efforltess, serpentine melodies and amiable, burnout wisdom that keep the listener so enthralled. In an age where angst is delivered with the subtlety of a laser light show, it’s nice to hear some good, old-fashioned, smokin’-and-drinkin’-cheap-beers-on-the-porch-with-your-friends-style pessimism. [The two-disc, deluxe edition of Smoke Ring for My Halo adds six bonus cuts to the set, including "The Creature", "It's Alright", "Life's a Beach", "Laughing Stock", "Downbound Train" and "(so outta reach)". ~ James Christopher Monger