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Alternative & Indie - Released September 27, 2010 | 4AD

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Inspired by the flyer culture of punk and college rock bands of the '70s and '80s, Deerhunter introduced Halcyon Digest with an "interactive Xerox art project" in which fans photocopied an old-school flyer made by Bradford Cox, pasted it around their towns, photographed it, and sent the results back to the band. Besides being a clever viral strategy to drum up interest for the album, it speaks to the way Deerhunter approaches how fleeting and important memories can be on these songs. Given how prolific Cox and crew have been together -- and separately, with his Atlas Sound project and Lockett Pundt's Lotus Plaza -- since 2007's Cryptograms, it's not surprising that they took this opportunity to look back. Halcyon Digest reveals a quieter, sometimes gentler Deerhunter than expected, and while Cox doesn't exactly sound tired, there's an occasional rasp in his voice that wasn't there before. Instead of emphasizing sonics that spiral out into the stratosphere as they did on Microcastle or Rainwater Cassette Exchange, the band focuses on the dream part of their dream pop. Halcyon Digest gets off to a sleepy start with "Earthquake," where sluggish beats, looping guitars, and reminiscences of "waking up on a dirty couch" feel like being awoken from a dream, or maybe going deeper into one. "Sailing" is a reverie on a pier, so whispered and intimate that it sounds like it belongs on a Cox solo album. Despite its delicacy, Halcyon Digest is some of Deerhunter's most down-to-earth music, and offers some of the band's most thoughtful songwriting. Cox is more interested in playing with layers of nostalgia than layers of sound, expressing his yearning by channeling the music of youth and rebellion of decades past. "Don't Cry" and "Basement Scene" evoke the eternally teenage sound of the Everly Brothers, filtered through a fever dream; the excellent "Memory Boy" cherishes "the smell of loose-leaf joints on jeans" with sparkling Anglophilic '60s pop. This may also be Deerhunter's most emotionally varied album, spanning the jubilant sax on the Strokes-like "Coronado" to "Helicopter"'s heartbreaking chamber pop, which embodies the lonely side of memories. The band saves just enough room for two quintessentially Deerhunter tracks: Pundt's gorgeous "Desire Lines" is a standout, taking flight halfway through into a glorious guitar excursion, while the transporting final track, "He Would Have Laughed," is all the more poignant for its dedication to Jay Reatard. It's not as immediate as previous Deerhunter albums, but Halcyon Digest has an appeal all its own: It's as difficult to grasp -- and as hard to shake -- as a memory lingering at the back of your brain. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 6, 2013 | 4AD

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5/6 de Magic - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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 July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 12, 2011 | 4AD

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 2011 | 4AD

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 18, 2011 | 4AD

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
Merill Garbus' home-made patchwork of recordings and loops was so crucial to the success of her first tUnE-yArDs album, Bird Brains, that it seemed like lo-fi sounds were integral to her style. However, she recorded the songs that became W H O K I L L in a professional studio with an engineer and a crew of musicians, and the results are not only as vital and distinctive as what came before, they find Garbus coming into her own. Instead of confining herself to conventionally nice-sounding arrangements and techniques, Garbus sounds like a kid in a candy store, exhilarated by all the possibilities afforded to her. As on Bird Brains, she makes noise-pop of a completely different flavor. She tosses jazz, folk, R&B, hip-hop and whatever else strikes her fancy into fascinating collisions that are as melodic as they are abrasive, and as globally minded as they are distinctly urban. “Gangsta” is a dense crush of brass and beats topped with sirens and samples that make it sound like it’s unfolding on the street, while “Bizness”'s rippling layers evoke a futuristic hybrid of gamelan and Afro-pop. It’s Garbus' voice, however, that defines W H O K I L L. One moment, her singing is so unbridled it sounds like field recordings. The next, she hits a remarkable high note or turns a phrase with a torchy lilt like she does on “Powa,” where she sounds sexy, innocent, and demanding all at once. Her messages come through even louder and clearer than they did on Bird Brains, and they’re just as bold and complicated as their surroundings. Throughout the album, Garbus tackles violence, power and identity, shaping “America” into a love-hate anthem of her own on “My Country” and confessing her secret feelings about a policeman on “Riotriot”: “You had come to put handcuffs on my brother/I dreamt of making love to you.” Yet as clearly as she sees danger and corruption, she still leaves room for hope and innocence on the dark, delicate lullaby “Woollywollygong.” W H O K I L L is a tour de force of sounds and ideas that are as intimate as a conversation and as striking as a manifesto, and shows that Garbus is capable of just about anything. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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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Electronic/Dance - Released February 21, 2020 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Rising from the darkness of the Canadian rave scene at the start of the 2010s, Grimes quickly made her way up the ladder of success. Her synthetic hit Vanessa allowed her to amass a fanbase that was obsessed with her post-teenage voice and elfish look, and at the end of the 2010s, Pitchfork named Oblivion (written following a sexual assault and taken from her 2012 album Vision) the second-best song of the entire decade. It’s this kind of distinction that reminds us that she is an artist that knows exactly how to transcribe emotions into songs, and not just the girlfriend of multi-billionaire Elon Musk. Miss Anthropocene sees Grimes morph into a climate supervillain, a ‘goddess of plastic’ that’s here to take some of the heat off climate change. Musically, Grimes has not drastically changed, with a signature synth-pop sound that borrows from rock on My Name Is Dark, drum’n’bass on the excellent 4ÆM or trip-hop on So Heavy (I Fell Through the Earth), which reminds you of Massive Attack or Transglobal Underground. Well inspired, Grimes continues to hit the mark. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 1989 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the shock of Surfer Rosa, fans des Pixies found a tighter, less abrasive, but happily no better-behaved second album. The opening punch of Debaser, the saintly nonchalance on I Bleed, the enlightened surf pop of Monkey Gone To Heaven, the gag of La La Love You: Doolittle, released 1989 stored up all manner of gems, some troubling, others fascinating, others still surprising (everything that happens in the two mere minutes of Waves Of Mutilation is mind-bending), without ever looking like just another production of the times. This fusion of punk rock, surf music and pure pop achieves perfection here. After a record like this, we can have a better idea of where Pavement and Nirvana (Cobain named the Pixies as his favourite group) got their inspiration from...© Marc Zisman
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
UFO we understand. But UFOF? The additional F is for Friends according to Big Thief. UFOs and friends then? The band’s singer Adrienne Laker gives us a loose explanation: “Making friends with the unknown… All my songs are about this” With the guitarist Buck Meek, the bassist Max Oleartchik and the drummer James Krivchenia, Laker releases her third album. The Brooklyn quartet’s music is a sort of folk mixed with indie rock. Without sounding too much like them, this 2019 album sometimes contains the DNA of Sonic Youth (such as on Jenni). The result is alluring, almost shimmering. But upon a closer look, “UFOF” is a bizarre and strange, almost abnormal record. And like the late Elliot Smith (Laker’s idol that one recalls on Betsy), the beautiful melodies and tremendously artisanal guitars hide an evident melancholy and unusual, unnerving situations. Perhaps that would explain the UFOs? A less ‘polished’ and luxurious record than Masterpiece (2016) and Capacity (2017), UFOF shows a group ready to question itself and evolve its art. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 6, 2020 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 30, 1998 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
"Seeking fans of Peter, Paul & Mary and Hüsker Dü". It was this simple small-ad that saw Frank Black, then going by "Black Francis" find his Pixies band-mates, surely the most innovative adventure in rock of the late 1980s. Teetering on an unstable bridge linking the wildest, most de-structured punk and the most joyful pop, the Boston quartet shook things up with their changes in rhythm and other bizarre dissonances. For their first recordings from 1987 and 1988, everything and anything was grist to the mill of their genius: surf music, bubblegum pop, art rock, angular post-punk – each great swerve madder than the last. Joey Santiago's guitar is wild with electric shocks; Kim Deal is bouncing off the walls, and Black Francis belches out the craziest stories. A simply spellbinding first album! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 8, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Best New Reissue
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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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording
With a regular American deal in place for the first time ever, thanks to 4AD's linkup with the WEA conglomerate, Dead Can Dance made a splash on commercial alternative radio with "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove," the first single from Into the Labyrinth. Raga drones, a strange clattering beat, a haunting wind instrument, orchestral shading, and Perry's ever-grand voice make it one of the more unlikely things to be heard on the airwaves in a while. It all begins with yet another jaw-dropper from Gerrard, "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)," with keyboards and her octave-defying voice at such a deep, rich level that it sweeps all before it. Wordless as always but never without emotional heft, the song slowly slides into a slow but heavy percussion piece that sounds a bit like "Bird" from A Passage in Time, but with greater impact and memorability. As the album slowly unwinds over an hour's length, the two again create a series of often astounding numbers that sound like they should be millennia old, mixing and matching styles to create new fusions. Perhaps even more impressive is that everything was performed solely by Perry and Gerrard -- no outside guests here, and yet everything is as detailed, lush, and multifaceted as many of their past albums. New classics from the band appear almost track for track: Gerrard's a cappella work on "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," the gentle beauty of "Ariadne," the rhythmic drive and chants of the title song. The conclusion is a slightly surprising but quite successful cover -- "How Fortunate the Man With None," an adaptation of a classic Bertolt Brecht tune about the turn of fortune's wheel. Given a restrained arrangement and Perry's singing, it brings Labyrinth to a satisfying end. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Electronic/Dance - Released April 7, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2017 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
When John Parish, PJ Harvey's producer, takes the time to sit down behind the console to work on a record, people tend to take notice. To see why, take a look at Party, Aldous Harding's second album, which we might swiftly (or hastily?) categorise as cerebral folk: it is neurasthenic, and spellbinding. Only, behind these reductive labels, the young New Zealander commands a much broader musical spectrum. On the model of the Living The Classics/Party series: on the former track, Harding is gentle and almost evanescent, before mutating on the latter into a baleful imp.  No effects, no instrumental chicanery is needed to win the crowd's ear. Because even if we can see that she knows the classics (Kate Bush, Joan Baez, Linda Perhacs, Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan...), it is the very personal tone of her voice and her songs that makes this second album an impressive moment of intimacy and revelation... © MZ/Qobuz
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Electronic/Dance - Released November 6, 2015 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Her album Visions illuminated 2012. With her 4th studio album Art Angels, Grimes succeeds once again - excelling in the field of electro pop and ferverish eclecticism. This time the Canadian rounds off a few more angles, producing a range of melodies that are undeniably more 'pop', but also irresistibly catchy. The result is a diluted and diverse experience compared with past efforts, but without losing her unique identity and artistic singularity. Indeed, Grimes does not do electro pop like her counterparts. Each song from Art Angels comes with a slight twist or the vital dose of quirkiness necessary to makes it a fascinating composition. Note the presence of Janelle Monáe on one of the tracks. © MD / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 6, 2012 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

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4AD in the magazine
  • Sohn who?
    Sohn who? British Electro Soul... Tremors is the new album from Sohn released at 4AD earlier this week and frankly, we love it.