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Rock - Released November 8, 2019 | 4AD

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Though wildly misunderstood when first released (like most art that’s ahead of its time), Gene Clark's third solo album—his most focused and intricately-produced shot at musical immortality—is now revered as something of a lost masterpiece. Expectations were high for the former Byrd, who had signed a solo deal after he’d been the bright spot in the band’s abortive 1973 reunion. Clark seemed poised to write and record a blockbuster that could power his solo career; the studio was filled with choice players like Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, percussionist Joe Lala, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman on mandolin, Steve Bruton, Jesse Ed Davis, Danny Kortchmar on guitars and Claudia Lennear on vocals. Instead, No Other busted its recording budget, disappointed its label and perplexed fans—an expensive commercial flop that hung over Clark’s career until his death at 46 in 1991. Remastered with a brighter, more multidimensional sound for its 45th anniversary reissue, the original eight tracks are supplemented by twenty extra takes from sessions that show the songs’ evolutions, including a slow, loopy version of Clark's earlier hit, "Train Leaves Here This Morning," co-written by Bernie Leadon and later recorded by The Eagles. Producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye (aka Tommy Kontos) grew close to Clark during the sessions and came to share his vision for the project. Their collaboration proved to be the doubled-edged sword at the heart of No Other, one that fashioned a mystical, multi-layered, intricately-arranged singer/songwriter album with forward looking psychedelic and R&B touches. The strongest tracks, the menacing synth-backed folk of "The Silver Raven" (written about his wife's shoes), the fragile melody of the seemingly anti-drug themed "From A Silver Phial" (which speaks of "a mind that sleeps inside tomorrow,") and the glorious title track, with its sinuous changes and low keyboard line doubling the vocal choruses, are among the best of Clark's short career. And his singing throughout is extremely moving. He clearly believed in this project. And yet the overdubbed production confounded many. Slow ballads and mid-tempo songs predominate, and as Chris Hillman points out in the liner notes, Clark refused to tour, do interviews or participate in any promotional efforts, essentially dooming an ambitious project to failure. Original label Asylum refused to employ any marketing muscle and the album was deleted from the label's catalog within two years. Genius or a colossal miscalculation? This confounding prism continues to turn. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 8, 2019 | 4AD

Though wildly misunderstood when first released (like most art that’s ahead of its time), Gene Clark's third solo album—his most focused and intricately-produced shot at musical immortality—is now revered as something of a lost masterpiece. Expectations were high for the former Byrd, who had signed a solo deal after he’d been the bright spot in the band’s abortive 1973 reunion. Clark seemed poised to write and record a blockbuster that could power his solo career; the studio was filled with choice players like Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, percussionist Joe Lala, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman on mandolin, Steve Bruton, Jesse Ed Davis, Danny Kortchmar on guitars and Claudia Lennear on vocals. Instead, No Other busted its recording budget, disappointed its label and perplexed fans—an expensive commercial flop that hung over Clark’s career until his death at 46 in 1991. Remastered with a brighter, more multidimensional sound for its 45th anniversary reissue, the original eight tracks are supplemented by twenty extra takes from sessions that show the songs’ evolutions, including a slow, loopy version of Clark's earlier hit, "Train Leaves Here This Morning," co-written by Bernie Leadon and later recorded by The Eagles. Producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye (aka Tommy Kontos) grew close to Clark during the sessions and came to share his vision for the project. Their collaboration proved to be the doubled-edged sword at the heart of No Other, one that fashioned a mystical, multi-layered, intricately-arranged singer/songwriter album with forward looking psychedelic and R&B touches. The strongest tracks, the menacing synth-backed folk of "The Silver Raven" (written about his wife's shoes), the fragile melody of the seemingly anti-drug themed "From A Silver Phial" (which speaks of "a mind that sleeps inside tomorrow,") and the glorious title track, with its sinuous changes and low keyboard line doubling the vocal choruses, are among the best of Clark's short career. And his singing throughout is extremely moving. He clearly believed in this project. And yet the overdubbed production confounded many. Slow ballads and mid-tempo songs predominate, and as Chris Hillman points out in the liner notes, Clark refused to tour, do interviews or participate in any promotional efforts, essentially dooming an ambitious project to failure. Original label Asylum refused to employ any marketing muscle and the album was deleted from the label's catalog within two years. Genius or a colossal miscalculation? This confounding prism continues to turn. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 2019 | 4AD

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 31, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2019 | 4AD

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Less than six months after releasing their highly acclaimed third album, U.F.O.F., the Brooklyn indie-folk band Big Thief returns with Two Hands. While its Irish twin sounds incredibly controlled and labored over, the majority of Two Hands are one-take recordings (tracked live in the middle of a Texas desert) with no overdubs, capturing the arresting beauty of their live performances. Lead single "Not" is the loudest and most intense Big Thief song to date. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker’s croon is pushed to a panting rasp during the track’s teetering climax, and its second half is overtaken by a gangly, drawn-out guitar solo gracelessly deconstructing into ringing noise. However, despite the crashing drum fill that kicks off the record, "Not"’s striking diversion from their signature serenity is the album’s only moment of its kind. The main difference is that here, Big Thief sound looser and less concerned with painstaking prettiness. Instead, they let the tape roll and see what happens. Perhaps the most commendable aspect is that even without the benefit of studio wizardry, this band can still make magic happen. © Eli Enis / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2019 | 4AD

Less than six months after releasing their highly acclaimed third album, U.F.O.F., the Brooklyn indie-folk band Big Thief returns with Two Hands. While its Irish twin sounds incredibly controlled and labored over, the majority of Two Hands are one-take recordings (tracked live in the middle of a Texas desert) with no overdubs, capturing the arresting beauty of their live performances. Lead single "Not" is the loudest and most intense Big Thief song to date. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker’s croon is pushed to a panting rasp during the track’s teetering climax, and its second half is overtaken by a gangly, drawn-out guitar solo gracelessly deconstructing into ringing noise. However, despite the crashing drum fill that kicks off the record, "Not"’s striking diversion from their signature serenity is the album’s only moment of its kind. The main difference is that here, Big Thief sound looser and less concerned with painstaking prettiness. Instead, they let the tape roll and see what happens. Perhaps the most commendable aspect is that even without the benefit of studio wizardry, this band can still make magic happen. © Eli Enis / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 10, 2019 | 4AD

Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 20, 2019 | 4AD

Known for their neo-classical, experimental post-rock, Danish trio Efterklang reached a career high with their ambitious fourth album, 2012's Piramida, an icy masterstroke rooted in eerie, field-recorded sounds the band captured at a deserted Russian settlement on a remote Norwegian island near the North Pole. Following it up would be no simple task, and they managed to avoid doing so for nearly seven years while bandmates Casper Clausen, Mads Brauer, and Rasmus Stolberg focused on different projects, including co-writing an opera with composer Karsten Fundal and forming a new band, Liima, which sounded very much like a more synth-heavy pop version of their main outfit. Released in 2019, Altid Sammen is Efterklang's fifth studio album and their first to be sung entirely in their native language. Spacious and celestial, there is a feeling of scaled-down majesty as they deliberately strip away many of the dense arrangements of previous outings and allow the breeze to gently blow through the gaps. As mood setters, Efterklang deftly set the field, creating an intimate, inviting world of warmly burbling synth arpeggios, nimbly picked guitars, clean basslines, and soft trumpet tones, while Clausen, singing in Danish, dips in and out of his airy falsetto, evoking quiet wonder on tracks like "Vi Er Uendelig" and "Uden Ansigt." Here and there, strings or brass sections puff up certain tracks, recalling some of the lushness of Piramida, but without its wintry sheen. The lovely "Hænder der Åbner Sig" builds ever so slowly from an understated vocal and organ drone into a crystalline crescendo of harp and muted brass, making for one of the more unabashedly beautiful tracks the band has recorded. Likewise, Altid Sammen's two lengthiest cuts, the seven-plus-minute "Under Broen der Ligger Du" and "Hold Mine Hænder" take a similar misty path, unfolding at their own sweet pace, at times recalling the elegant synth pop of the Blue Nile interspersed with moments of ECM-label acoustic ambience and shimmering reverence. The only thing that really holds the album back is its consistently glacial pace, which tends to blur its nine ample tracks into one ongoing movement. Still, the amount of detail and craft that goes into Efterklang's music is deeply appealing and, slow moving as it may be, listening to Altid Sammen in its entirety is time well spent. ~ Timothy Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 20, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 10, 2019 | 4AD

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Electronic/Dance - Released September 5, 2019 | 4AD

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R&B - Released August 30, 2019 | 4AD

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The new pretender to the throne of experimental and indie R&B Jeremy Nutzman, a.k.a. Velvet Negroni, is the perfect representative of his time. With an ambient synth piano, downtempo percussion and a captivating voice, the African-American from Minneapolis, who was adopted by a family of white evangelical Christians, split his formative years between classical piano lessons and late night jam sessions. This duality has clearly influenced Neon Brown, a record that looks as much to contemporary urban soul as it does to indie rock. Following a tour with his friend Bon Iver and a single released on the New York label b4 in 2018, Velvet Negroni saw his work sampled by Kanye West and Kid Cudi on their joint album Kids See Ghosts. On i,i, Bon Iver invited him to sing on the track iMi and sampled from his track Waves. This time, for his debut album, Nutzman surrounds himself with producers Psymun (Young Thug, Juice WRLD, The Weeknd) and Elliott Kozel a.k.a. Tickle Torture and reveals songs that sweep away stereotypes. The harmonies of his gentle R&B blend into each other over intense rhythms. Soft dub follows electro soul. And his androgynous voice makes the tracks all the more mysterious. Merging the influence of Prince in the 80’s, The Weeknd’s futuristic R&B and Bon Iver-style electro folk, Velvet Negroni enchants us with the eclecticism of this brilliant album. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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R&B - Released August 30, 2019 | 4AD

The new pretender to the throne of experimental and indie R&B Jeremy Nutzman, a.k.a. Velvet Negroni, is the perfect representative of his time. With an ambient synth piano, downtempo percussion and a captivating voice, the African-American from Minneapolis, who was adopted by a family of white evangelical Christians, split his formative years between classical piano lessons and late night jam sessions. This duality has clearly influenced Neon Brown, a record that looks as much to contemporary urban soul as it does to indie rock. Following a tour with his friend Bon Iver and a single released on the New York label b4 in 2018, Velvet Negroni saw his work sampled by Kanye West and Kid Cudi on their joint album Kids See Ghosts. On i,i, Bon Iver invited him to sing on the track iMi and sampled from his track Waves. This time, for his debut album, Nutzman surrounds himself with producers Psymun (Young Thug, Juice WRLD, The Weeknd) and Elliott Kozel a.k.a. Tickle Torture and reveals songs that sweep away stereotypes. The harmonies of his gentle R&B blend into each other over intense rhythms. Soft dub follows electro soul. And his androgynous voice makes the tracks all the more mysterious. Merging the influence of Prince in the 80’s, The Weeknd’s futuristic R&B and Bon Iver-style electro folk, Velvet Negroni enchants us with the eclecticism of this brilliant album. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Not

Alternative & Indie - Released August 13, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
This eighth album from The National is refreshingly different, somewhat modifying the well-oiled mechanics of this American band. First and foremost, this is achieved through the presence of several female singers who support the leader Matt Berninger on most of the tracks. The most memorable are the performances of Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie’s bassist) on Had Your Soul With You, as well as the particularly poignant performances of Lisa Hannigan and Mina Tindle on So Far So East and Oblivions respectively, the latter being especially moving. Why this sudden feminine presence for an exclusively male band? It’s likely because the album was conceived after filmmaker Mike Mills asked The National to put his short film I Am Easy to Find into song form - a film which happens to be centred around a woman. It’s this relationship to images that has somewhat upended the Brooklyn band’s pop formula. There are a few references to some classics of cinema, chiefly Roman Holiday by William Wyler (1953). But apart from the new cinematic release, fans of The National will still find the legendary melancholy of the group in both the lyrics and the music. The presence of heart-wrenching strings on all the tracks (with the exception of the staccato violins on Where Is Her Head) as well as a recurring introspective piano (notably in the beautiful Light Years) will particularly be remembered. Bryan Devendorf’s singular rhythms plays on contrasts, occasionally making striking jerks (Rylan, The Pull of You) as well as adding a sensual flair (Hairpin Turns, I Am Easy to Find). © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz  

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