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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 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 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 November 22, 2010 | 4AD

The National have worn a lot of hats since their 2001 debut, but they’ve never been able to shake the rural, book-smart, quiet malevolence of the Midwest. The Brooklyn-groomed, Ohio-bred indie rock quintet’s fifth full-length album navigates that lonely dirt road where swagger meets desperation like a seasoned tour guide, and while it may take a few songs to get going, there are treasures to be found for patient passengers. The National's profile rose considerably after 2007’s critically acclaimed The Boxer, and they have used that capital to craft a flawed gem of a record that highlights their strengths and weaknesses with copious amounts of red ink. High Violet oozes atmosphere, but moves at a snail’s pace. The Cousteau-esque “Terrible Love” hardly bursts out of the gate, and the subsequent “Sorrow” and “Anyone’s Ghost” (despite Bryan Devendorf’s locomotive drumming) lack the hooks to reel anybody in on first listen. The album begins to take shape on “Afraid of Everyone,” a slow-build midtempo rocker that expertly utilizes the Clogs’ (guitarist Bryce Dessner's other chamber pop band) prickly orchestrations, but it’s the punishing “Bloodbuzz Ohio” that serves as High Violet's centerpiece. Built on a foundation that fuses together TV on the Radio's “Halfway Home” and Arcade Fire's “No Cars Go,” its refrain of “I still owe money to the money, to the money I owe” seems both relevant and nostalgic, resulting in a highway anthem that feels like the anti-“Born to Run.” Other standout cuts like “Conversation 16,” “England," and the darkly funny/oddly beautiful closer, “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” trumpet Violet’s second-half supremacy, but even they tremble beneath the "Bloodbuzz" intoxication. Muscular, miserable, mighty, and meandering, High Violet aims for the seats, but only hits about half of them. ~ James Christopher Monger
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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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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
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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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Alternative & Indie - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Deciding to scale back the overly pretty sound on Blue Bell Knoll while experimenting with more accessibility -- -- the Twins ended up creating their best album since Treasure. From the start, Heaven... is simply fantastic: on "Cherry-Coloured Funk," Guthrie's inimitable guitar work chimes leading a low-key but forceful rhythm, while Raymonde's grand bass work fleshes it out. Fraser simply captivates; her vocals are the clearest, most direct they've ever been, purring with energy and life. Many songs have longer openings and closings; rather than crashing fully into a song and then quickly ending, instead the trio carefully builds up and eases back. These songs are still quite focused, though, almost sounding like they were recorded live instead of being assembled in the studio. Due credit has to be given to the Cocteaus' drum programming; years of working with the machines translated into the detailed work here, right down to the fills. "Fifty-Fifty Clown," starting with an ominous bass throb, turns into a lovely showcase for Fraser's singing and Guthrie's more restrained playing. But the Twins don't completely turn their back on Knoll's sound; "Iceblink Luck," has the same lush feeling and a newfound energy -- the instrumental break is almost a rave-up! -- and everything pulses to a fine conclusion. There are many moments of sheer Cocteaus beauty and power, including the title track, with its great chorus, and two spotlight Guthrie solos: "Fotzepolitic," a powerful number building to a rushing conclusion, and the album-ending "Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires." Possessing the same climactic sense of drama past disc-closers as "Donimo" and "The Thinner the Air," it's a perfect way to end a perfect album. ~ Ned Raggett
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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 May 3, 2004 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 30, 1993 | 4AD

Thanks to good timing and some great singles, the Breeders' second album, Last Splash, turned them into the alternative rock stars that Kim Deal's former band, the Pixies, always seemed on the verge of becoming. Joined by Deal's twin sister Kelley -- with whom Kim started the band while they were still in their teens -- the group expanded on the driving, polished sound of the Safari EP, surrounding its (plentiful) moments of brilliance with nearly as many unfinished ideas. When Last Splash is good, it's great: "Cannonball"'s instantly catchy collage of bouncy bass, rhythmic stops and starts, and singsong vocals became one of the definitive alt-pop singles of the '90s. Likewise, the sweetly sexy "Divine Hammer" and swaggering "Saints" are among the Breeders' finest moments, and deserved all of the airplay they received. Similarly, the charming twang of "Drivin' on 9," "I Just Wanna Get Along"'s spiky punk-pop, and the bittersweet "Invisible Man" added depth that recalled the eclectic turns the band took on Pod while maintaining the slick allure of Last Splash's hits. However, underdeveloped snippets such as "Roi" and "No Aloha" drag down the album's momentum, and when the band tries to stretch its range on the rambling, cryptic "Mad Lucas" and "Hag," it tends to fall flat. The addition of playful but slight instrumentals such as "S.O.S" and "Flipside" and a version of "Do You Love Me Now?" that doesn't quite match the original's appeal reflect Last Splash's overall unevenness. Still, its best moments -- and the Deal sisters' megawatt charm -- end up outweighing its inconsistencies to make it one of the alternative rock era's defining albums. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2019 | 4AD

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In 2015, two years after Monomania, Bradford Cox and his men signed off on Fading Frontier, a surprising seventh album that offered up new perspectives for Deerhunter. The Atlanta gang used to play muffled sonic pop with an impressive melodic mastery. A fascinating type of music inherited from My Bloody Valentine’s sound wall. This dreamlike rock was still more or less on the agenda with Fading Frontier but Cox leaned towards more purity, more melodies, and more pop, like on the frenetic and groovy single Snakeskin...Four years later, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? proves that Deerhunter have not yet completed their metamorphosis. The richness of this eighth album, which is even further removed from the shoegaze spirit of their early days, shows that Bradford Cox's brain is still in turmoil. From the harpsichord of Death in Midsummer, reminiscent of The Kinks (as well as No One's Sleeping, which is also in the spirit of Ray Davies) to the futuristic/synthetic sound of Greenpoint Gothic (it's like David Bowie's Berlin period led by Brian Eno) and the exhilarating and catchy power pop of Futurism, the album dares to do just about everything. But that’s not to say that there’s no common thread. Bradford Cox, Lockett Pundt, Moses Archuleta, Josh McKay, Javier Morales and, as a guest on three tracks, Cate Le Bon always find a plan, a melody, a punchline, an atmosphere or an unexpected digression to impress their audience. Amazing and captivating. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 21, 1988 | 4AD

"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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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

Dead Can Dance's final album Spiritchaser was something of an unusual release - it's not as much of an anomaly as the first album, but one can hear the duo wanting to stretch a bit more, however subtly. Perry and Gerrard's personal and creative tensions didn't stop them from creating another fine album, though there's a strong sense the group had finally reached a logical end. Essentially, Spiritchaser is a summing up rather than a push forward; it features all the usual elements of a Dead Can Dance album instead of further explorations to see what else could be done. Toward the Within contributors Ronan O'Snodaigh and Lance Hogan, as well as previous collaborator Peter Ulrich, appear on some tracks here, most specifically on the opening "Nierika" and "Dedicace Outro." Both are laden with lots of percussion -- unsurprising when one realizes that five performers are creating the drumming! Outside of Turkish clarinet by Renaud Pion on the Beatles-sampling "Indus," it's nothing but Perry and Gerrard throughout the album, with another combination and arrangement of multiple influences coming to bear. Both Perry and Gerrard are in fine voice throughout, their strong singing still the centerpiece of their work, but there's almost an air of predictability to their approaches at this point (perhaps explaining Perry's greater experimentation on his solo debut years later). Interestingly, overtly rock elements like Morricone-styled electric guitar appear at points amid the usual melange of various percussion instruments and arrangements. It works surprisingly well, indicating where the duo might have gone had they continued on. Spiritchaser ends on a strong note, the gentle, mysterious "Devorzhum," a Gerrard-sung number that makes for a grand conclusion. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | 4AD

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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Early punk backgrounds and the like behind them, Perry and Gerrard created a striking, dour landmark in early-'80s atmospherics on their first, self-titled effort. Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like the Cocteau Twins and the Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as goth as it gets in many places. Perry and Gerrard's wonderful vocal work -- his rich, warm tones and her unearthly, multi-octave exaltations -- are already fairly well established, but serve different purposes here. Thick, shimmering guitar and rumbling bass/drum/drum machine patterns practically scream their sonic connections to the likes of Robin Guthrie and Robert Smith, but they still sound pretty darn good for all that. When they stretch that sound to try for a more distinct, unique result, the results are astonishing. Gerrard is the major beneficiary here -- "Frontier" explicitly experiments with tribal percussion, resulting in an excellent combination of her singing and the rushed music. Then there's the astonishing "Ocean," where guitar and chiming bells and other rhythmic sounds provide the bed for one of her trademark -- and quite, quite lovely -- vocal excursions into the realm of glossolalia. Perry in contrast tends to be matched with the more straightforward numbers of digital processing and thick, moody guitar surge. The album ends on a fantastic high note -- "Musica Eternal," featuring a slowly increasing-in-volume combination of hammered dulcimer, low bass tones, and Gerrard's soaring vocals. As an indicator of where the band was going, it's perfect. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2015 | 4AD

After four years of silence, Zach Condon puts the wheels in motion once again for his Beirut project. This time, the multi-instrumentalist delivers another slice of immaculate, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pop in the form of his new record: No No No. On this, Beirut’s fourth album, the American continues to transform his knowledge of Hispanic folklore into his own, highly distinctive, high-flying pop. Condon pushes the template forward in a few areas, though, putting some of Beirut’s winsome folksiness on hold in favour of ramshackle, raucous mischief. Renewal is, indeed, a major concern of the record, and on No No No Condon manages to renew himself, and his music, while still maintaining the magical singularity of his musical universe. Brass and percussion are still (happily) dominant. A cheap joke, but one that is too hard to resist: we say ‘Yes Yes Yes’ to No No No! © MD/Qobuz
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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

Perry and Gerrard continued to experiment and improve with The Serpent's Egg, as much a leap forward as Spleen and Ideal was some years previously. As with that album, The Serpent's Egg was heralded by an astounding first track, "The Host of Seraphim." Its use in films some years later was no surprise in the slightest -- one can imagine the potential range of epic images the song could call up -- but on its own it's so jaw-droppingly good that almost the only reaction is sheer awe. Beginning with a soft organ drone and buried, echoed percussion, Gerrard then takes flight with a seemingly wordless invocation of power and worship -- her vocal control and multi-octave range, especially towards the end, has to be heard to be believed. Nothing else achieves such heights, but everything gets pretty darn close, a deserved testament to the band's conceptual reach and abilities. Slow plainsong chants such as "Orbis De Ignis" mix with the harpischord and overlaid vocals of "The Writing on My Father's Hand" and the slow build and sweep of "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings." Two of Perry's finest vocal moments occur here. The first, "Severance," is a slow, organ/keyboard led number that showcases his rich, warm vocals exquisitely -- it's no wonder that Bauhaus chose to cover it some years later on its reunion tour. "Ullyses," the album's closing track, makes for a fine ending as much as "The Host of Seraphim" did an opening, Perry's delivery almost like a reading from a holy book, the arrangement of strings and percussion rhythmic, addictive and lovely. ~ Ned Raggett
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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

A large reason that Dead Can Dance tours and performances were so praised by hardcore fans lay in the band's welcome preference for unknown and otherwise unheard material, rather than simply rehashing expected numbers. Bootlegging of these tracks and performances was understandable and widespread, so involved and passionate was the band's following. Recorded at a Los Angeles performance from the Into the Labyrinth tour, the astounding Toward the Within shows that the band's magic was clearly not simply something created in studio. Both lead performers are simply in excelsis, their vocal abilities hardly diminished by the rigors of the road -- if anything, they sound even more inspired as a result. The range of instruments tackled is testimony to the group's breadth, from the yang ch'in, a Chinese equivalent to hammered dulcimer, to a wide range of drums. As for the songs, only four of the fifteen had been officially released before, including fine takes on "Cantara," "Song of the Sibyl" and "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)." As for the numerous new delights, Perry has a number of solo or near-solo tracks he performs with acoustic guitar. These include the lovely "American Dreaming" and the mystical set-closing "Don't Fade Away," calling to mind Tim Buckley's sense of scope and vision. Gerrard's unquestioned highlight is the combination of "Tristan" and "Sanvean," the latter of which is an awesome, widescreen number that became an undisputed highlight on her solo debut The Mirror Pool. Perhaps the most astonishing numbers are "Rakim," featuring a striking intertwining of Perry and Gerrard's singing, and a version of Sinead O'Connor's "I Am Stretched on Your Grave" that redefines passionate drama. ~ Ned Raggett

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