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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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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 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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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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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 July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 26, 2019 | 4AD

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The element of surprise has inevitably been lost but the magnetism remains; this girl is unstoppable. Hannah Toop aka Aldous Harding reinterprets a tried and tested formula. Accompanied again by John Parish, PJ Harvey’s producer, the New-Zealander favors eccentric harmonies that are as rugged as they are stirring to create a sublime sound that distinguishes her from other songwriters. After her breakup with Marlon Williams, Aldous delivers a painstakingly melancholic opus that, at times, exhibits a darker side (Pilot) as well as lighter tones (The Barrel) through tracks that are packed with raw emotion despite the blunt and unfiltered lyrics. After an eponymous first album and the revelatory Party released on 4AD, Harding has realized a third success with the very succinct Designer. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 20, 2020 | 4AD

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Garlands, the first album by the Cocteau Twins published in September 1982 by the 4AD record label lay the groundwork for that unique post-punk, shoegaze and dream pop combination that the Scottish band would develop until the early 90s. Liz Garland imposes a totally atypical vocal bolstered by a dreamy charisma and which would later see dizzying acrobatics, to which Robin Guthrie adds a wall of sound: his reverb-filled guitar paints electric and often impressionist landscapes. Guthrie also pilots the machines, notably an omnipresent TR-808 which offers a nice balance against the dreamlike guitar/voice solo. On the bass is Will Heggie, who would leave the adventure in due course, replaced in 1984 by Simon Raymonde who is more inspired in this field. In hindsight, even though Garlands remains one of the greatest albums of the 80s, these Cocteau Twins appear to still be searching for some identity, too stuck in the same universe as The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees. However, Liz Garland and Robin Guthrie would eventually cut their ties with the cold wave and broaden the colour of their sound to deliver gems such as Treasure (1984), Victorialand (1986), Blue Bell Knoll (1988) and Heaven or Las Vegas (1990). ©️ Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 17, 2020 | 4AD

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The shoegaze revival is upon us, so a revisit of the classics can only do a world of good. The first Pale Saints album, which came out in February 1990, is precisely a milestone record in the dream pop and shoegaze movement. For its 30th anniversary, it is being rereleased in a remastered deluxe version, in 24-Bit Hi-Res quality, adorned with never-before-heard demos. At the time, the 4AD label was living a sort of golden age with the establishment of the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Throwing Muses, This Mortal Coil and of course Pixies. The record label headed by Ivo Watts-Russell kept their roster fresh by signing bands such as Belly, Lush and Pale Saints. The Leeds-based group, formed in the late-1980s, based the originality of their sound in the duality of singer Ian Masters’ delicate voice and the wall of sound created by the guitars carrying fairly pop melodies. Evanescent fury, raging daydreaming… in a way, this is the dichotomy of shoegaze. Gil Norton, who made a name for himself by producing Ocean Rain by Echo & the Bunnymen and Doolittle by Pixies, is in the mixing booth for five of the tracks, with John Fryer from This Mortal Coil covering the other half of the album. Once the album starts, the sound of this first Pale Saints opus is unmistakably Cocteau Twins or Jesus & Mary Chain. Some may even draw comparisons with My Bloody Valentine, despite their iconic Loveless coming out only a year and a half after Comforts of Madness in November 1991. More of a cult figure than he is given credit for, Ian Masters is more than just a run of the mill shoegaze singer: he knows how to orchestrate different rhythms and especially how to compose often-perfect pop songs, stringing them together so that the project as a whole feels like one single composition. This feeling is amplified by the absence of any gaps between the eleven tracks. Thirty years later, this masterpiece has not only not aged a bit, but stands out amongst its contemporaries. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Electronic/Dance - Released April 7, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 6, 2020 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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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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Electronic/Dance - Released April 3, 2020 | 4AD

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Having described it as “A quest for comfort, the search for a resting place”, it almost sounds like Canadian duo Purity Ring are searching for a place to die in their new album, but the title Womb, is instead more of an invitation to stay safe at home and enjoy the life we’ve been given. Megan James and Corin Roddick came out of the shadows in 2012 following the release of their album, Shrine, and have since been endorsed by the likes of Jon Hopkins and Danny Brown. Their artistic approach hasn’t changed all that much and their synthetic pop is still blossoming and finding its fullness and depth in this third studio album which may even surpass the work of their fellow compatriot Grimes, who has a similar style. Roddick’s production is as compelling as ever here and James, with her vocals sounding less and less human, is an expert in making catchy choruses. The duo from Edmonton have released a whole load of potential hits, (notably the ballad rubyinsides, built on layers upon layers of synthesizers, as well as the future pop in sinew and the single stardew), and shown great skill in this album. An amniotic haven that definitely lives up to our expectations. © Smaëm Bouaici/Qobuz
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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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Alternative & Indie - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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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 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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Alternative & Indie - Released June 5, 2020 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 7, 2018 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | 4AD

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  • 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.