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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - Released December 7, 2018 | 4AD

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Alternatif et Indé - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The first Cocteaus album to feature a full-band lineup since Treasure was also their first full studio record released in America, resulting from the group's stateside deal with Capitol. Much to longtime fans' surprise, the Twins in fact were much more content with Capitol than 4AD, hinting at their eventual full departure from that label. This was all well and good, but the trio's new inspiration didn't fully translate into their work, unfortunately. While Blue Bell Knoll has some striking moments that are pure Cocteaus at their best -- the opening title track is especially lovely with a keyboard loop leading into Fraser's ever-wonderful vocals, a light rhythm, and a great final Guthrie solo -- it's still the band's least noteworthy release since Garlands. The feeling throughout is of a group interested in dressing up older approaches that have served them well, but aren't as distinct; the quite-lush arrangements by Guthrie are fine but the songs are a touch more pedestrian. Blue Bell Knoll has enough initial steam, however, to ensure that there are reasons to listen, happily. "Athol-Brose" has the inspirational feel that the Twins can easily create. "Carolyn's Fingers," the clear album standout, is perhaps the strongest individual Cocteau song since "Aikea-Guinea," with Fraser singing against herself over a rough, hip-hop-inspired rhythm while Guthrie peels off a fantastic main guitar melody and Raymonde contributes some supple bass work. After that amazing opening, things slowly but surely slide back a bit; most of the rest sounds okay enough to listen to, but the heartgripping intensity that defines the Twins at their best isn't present. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - Released December 7, 2018 | 4AD

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Alternatif et Indé - Released October 16, 2015 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Two years after Monomania, Bradford Cox and his band of merry men sign off their seventh album, which offers some radical, altogether new perspectives for Deerhunter. The group, hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, originally drew us towards their sonic chloroform through an amazing melodic mastery. Their shoegaze guitars fascinated, hailing, above all, from the great Irish group My Bloody Valentine. This dreamlike, hypnotic brand of rock is still, more or less, on the Fading Frontier programme. But Cox diverges by giving in to a more purified pop sensibility this time around. Deerhunter have not sold their soul to the devil; in fact, the fundamentals of the group are so strong, that these melodic addendums could never alter the core DNA of the music. In this respect, the insane and very groovy single ‘Snakeskin’ shows off this perfect balance. In short, we might ask, has the serious car accident (and narrow escape from death) of the Deerhunter frontman mellowed this charismatic, formerly vitriolic leader? Impossible to say… Anyway, Fading Frontier confirms that Deerhunter remain one of the most interesting American indie-rock groups of the past decade. © MD/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released July 17, 2015 | 4AD

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After having built up a considerable reputation in the U.K. and Europe, the Cocteaus first fully reached America via this compilation, cherry-picking some of the group's finest moments for this trans-Atlantic co-release between home label 4AD and then-stateside label Relativity. None of the ten tracks had been released in America before, but whoever assembled the release knew exactly what they were doing in terms of whetting appetites. The only absolute rarity on the disc was "Millimillenary," originally turning up on a compilation tape given away by New Musical Express. It's a fine number, recorded soon after Raymonde joined the group -- a good mix of the Cocteaus' instrumental lushness and Fraser's vocal acrobatics. The version of Garlands' "Wax and Wane" included here is slightly remixed and arguably even better than the original, bringing out everything a little more clearly and powerfully. A sage decision was the inclusion of all three tracks from the Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops EP; as flawless as that was, all deserved inclusion, while beginning the compilation with "The Spangle Maker" was also inspired. Other cuts include "Hitherto," "From the Flagstones," "Lorelei," and the then-recent single "Aikea-Guinea." Concluding with the similarly album-ending "Musette and Drums" from Head Over Heels, The Pink Opaque is a lovely taster for anyone wanting to discover the peerless early years of the Cocteaus. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternatif et Indé - 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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Alternatif et Indé - Released April 26, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternatif et Indé - Released April 7, 2017 | 4AD

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Pop - Released February 19, 2019 | 4AD

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Alternatif et Indé - Released March 24, 2014 | 4AD

After a solid run of albums that showed growth each time, Future Islands explode into greatness on their fourth album, and first for 4AD, 2014's Singles. Streamlining their synth-heavy, experimental, almost danceable sound of the past into something laser-focused, new wave familiar, and very, very immediate, the album is a great leap forward that's filled with intensely catchy songs and allows vocalist Samuel T. Herring to shine like the star he's always been. His David Thomas of Pere Ubu meets David Prater of Sam & Dave singing style is both more expansive than ever and more restrained. He ducks and bobs around the pulsing disco beats and glittering synths like a boxer, sometimes knocking you out with histrionic growls and deep-throated snarls, sometimes setting you up with lightly crooned pleading that hits like a heart punch. It's a masterful performance that's matched by Chris Coady's expert production and the work of bassist/guitarist William Cashion and guitarist/synthist J. Gerrit Welmers (as well as session drummer Denny Bowen). Coady smooths the group's sound out without sacrificing any punch, then layers in horns, backing vocals, and keys until the album shines like a well-polished diamond. Cashion's bass work is the key supporting player, rumbling like a propulsive motor and laying down melodic lines he must have learned through hours of studying Peter Hook's best work. Welmers' keyboard work isn't far behind, as he always drops in the right fills and uses the perfect colors to fill in behind the action. It's a perfectly constructed sound that gives Herring the freedom to spill his guts without fear, and in the end works to make the record's title sound truer than they probably even imagined. Every song sounds like a past, present, and future hit single, with ringing hooks, grooves that won't leave your hips alone, and the kind of cutting emotional depth that will leave blood pooling around your feet as it slashes you again and again. Pick any song, like the achingly pretty "Seasons (Waiting on You)" or the understated "Light House" or the after-hours Roxy Music-inspired "Like the Moon," and it'll be the kind of song that will stop people in their tracks in a crowded bar, the kind that you play over and over when you run across it streaming on a website, the kind that you tell all your friends about. A whole album of songs like that feels like a dream come true. It's real, though, and the vocals, the songs, the music, and the production work together to make Singles a one-of-a-kind experience that's nearly perfect. ~ Tim Sendra

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