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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 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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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
U.S. Girls isn't as much a band as an ever-mutating organism. Begun by experimental songwriter Meg Remy in the late 2000s as a noisy solo act backed by reel-to-reel tapes, the project grew into a monolith of larger-than-life pop. 2018's In a Poem Unlimited was one of Remy's finest moments, with her polymathic songwriting bending disco-funk, glam rock, and ambient composition into new forms. Heavy Light expands on the colorful complexities of In a Poem Unlimited, with Remy dipping her toes in different styles on almost every song but retaining the experimental intensity that has always been at the core of U.S. Girls. Album opener "Four American Dollars" juxtaposes a light, summery soul instrumental with lyrics about destitution, poverty, and the inevitability of death. It's one of several moments on the album where Remy is joined by a host of powerful backing vocalists, a technique that's been flirted with on previous albums but is utilized to its fullest on these songs. This shows up in the form of girl group melodrama on eerie, beautiful songs like "IOU" and "Denise, Don't Wait" and theatrical synth-heavy glam rock on "The Quiver to the Bomb." The brief spoken interludes that showed up a few times on In a Poem Unlimited are swapped out here with several similar pieces, this time various voices stacked on top of each other answering survey questions about childhood memories. These interludes underscore themes of nostalgia and painfully looking back that become central to Heavy Light. "Woodstock '99" mulls over a stream of melancholic younger memories over a syrupy lite rock instrumental borrowed from late-'60s AM radio hit "MacArthur Park." Looking back also takes the form of several songs revisited from the U.S. Girls back catalog being reworked to various degrees of reinvention. Album standout "Overtime" takes on new life with the dramatic emphasis of newly added backing vocals, and album closer "Red Ford Radio," originally a dark smear of distorted vocals and looped drums on 2010's Go Grey, becomes a shockingly clear statement of fear and intensity. Remy takes a personal inventory throughout Heavy Light, sometimes contemplating the present but oftentimes remembering or returning to different threads from the past. It's another huge step forward for the uncontainable U.S. Girls organism, one that skillfully combines the immediacy of personal memories with Remy's uncanny ability to inject her singular creative voice into every sound she touches. ~ Fred Thomas
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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 February 1, 2019 | 4AD

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Zach Condon quickly realized that he wasn’t always going to be able to wander through the subway carriages with his brass band. That even his hardcore fans would eventually grow tired of him and stop handing him their spare change... On his 2015 album No No No, the brain behind Beirut beautifully transformed his experience in the Balkan folk/Mexican scene into brilliant high-flying pop tracks. He sculpted a more artisanal sound and renewed himself while keeping the dreamy, magical singularity of his universe that’s dominated by brass and percussion.Condon is a true citizen of the world: he was born in Albuquerque, lives in Berlin and writes in New York as well as in Puglia, Italy. It is there that one finds Gallipoli, a coastal city that lends its name to this fifth album. Condon has a voice that’s characterised by a wistful lyricism, giving his songs an undeniably melancholic feel. Sat behind his Farfisa organ or his Korg synthesizer, and surrounded by Nick Petree on drums, Paul Collins on bass, Ben Lanz on trombone and Kyle Resnick on trumpet, Condon builds his songs like Russian dolls. There’s a playful side which is largely amplified by the Farfisa. And through his world music and lo-fi melodies, Gallipoli covers the entire range of everything that Beirut has generated in just over ten years. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 20, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2019 | 4AD

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

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 2018 | 4AD

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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.