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Alternative & Indie - Released January 22, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Pitchfork: Best New Music
With their album-length 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway, backwards-looking concept rockers Foxygen arrived with so many classic rock reference points you could have made a bingo card out of the various nods to various heroes contained in their still somehow undeniably hooky songs. Proper full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is even more stuffed full of familiar sound cues and convincing '60s and '70s pop star mimicry, this time with heightened production from Richard Swift taking the album out of the lo-fi realm, and more personal lyrics adding some character to the artifice. Picking apart the blatant, intentional references to different classic songs that cycle verse-to-verse throughout the album is a fun game for record collector types; from the nod to the intro of Sgt. Pepper's on album-opener "In the Darkness" to the bold-faced Dylanisms (and less overt but equally strong Al Stewart-isms) of the incredible, big city lament "No Destruction." Bowie, Lou Reed, all eras of Mick Jagger, specific doo wop songs, and even moments of the Band; no oldies are safe from Foxygen's pure-hearted appropriation. Their reconstructive surgery of various influences is an interesting approach for a band made up of kids in their early twenties circa 2013, but it isn't the entire formula for what makes this record so great. Lots of bands before Foxygen have dealt with quick changes and sonic patchworks of older influences, but few have managed to craft songs as moving and catchy as these. The thick accents and psychedelic swirl of "San Francisco" walk the line of being patronizingly nostalgic until the hook-heavy chorus comes in, distant guest vocals from Jessie Baylin and Sarah Versprille answering singer Sam France's "I left my love in San Francisco" with refrains of "That's okay, I was bored anyway" and "That's okay, I was born in L.A." This one move disarms any cloying elements of the song and reminds the listener that Foxygen are in complete songwriting control, not just throwing back-dated pop culture references at the wall and hoping something sticks. In their earliest days, Of Montreal had a similar knack for updating their favorite records with their own personalities, as did many artists of the Elephant 6 collective, but WAT21CAOPAM is more tuned in, clear-headed, and full of intent than any of Foxygen's more immediate predecessors. It's a gorgeous and non-stop convergence of ideas, some borrowed, some original, some refurbished, and some outright stolen. In the end, however, the album's coherence comes in its incredible architecture of all these ideas, and the way the band sells them with everything they've got, taking what could be incredibly obtuse music back into the realm of pop from which it was born. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Soul - Released May 10, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Qobuzissime
What is my purpose? What will come of the legacy of those who have influenced me? And what will I leave behind? These are all the big questions that Jamila Woods asks herself going into her second album suitably named Legacy! Legacy!, a Qobuzissime album! Three years after the release of Heavn, the soul sister from Chicago brings together twelve songs all named after the artists that influenced them. Musicians, painters, writers, activists, poets, they’re all there! And the lucky few are: Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler and James Baldwin. There is nothing obvious or didactic here as the young African-American who is ever-so attached to her native Chicago never does out-and-out covers but less subtle “in the style ofs” all while retaining her own distinct style. A poet one day (she acts as artistic director for YCA, a center dedicated to young poets) and a musician the other, she is even a teacher on bank holidays! As the worthy heir of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, all her words are wrapped around ultra-slick grooves with a modernized nu-soul twist. When it comes to features, Jamila Woods helps her local economy by inviting along friends that, for the most part, come from the underground scene of the Windy City: the trumpetist Nico Segal, MC Saba, Nitty Scott, theMIND, Jasminfire. Chance the Rapper’s protégé has mixed intelligence and class, commitment, enjoyment and groove into 49 minutes. Perfect. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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i,i

Alternative & Indie - Released August 9, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
“There’s similarities and tributaries through all the Bon Iver records leading to this one and that still flow through this one. It’s an expansive sound”. This is how Justin Vernon, the driving force behind Bon Iver, defines his fourth studio album. 12 years of his life have passed, during which his project went from the wintry solitude of For Emma, Forever Ago, to the chamber-pop spring of its eponymous record, to the feverish summer glitch storm of 22, A Million. This fourth season didn’t come easy, either. The promotional tour for the aforementioned third album ended abruptly, due to Vernon’s struggle with anxiety and depression. i,i was created in that aftermath, as a synthesis of his career – a multi-layered autumn where sonic landscapes flow one into the other, and impressionistic instrumentals, glitchy samples and vocal harmonies pile on top of each other seamlessly, before being torn away to reveal the bare bones canvas lying beneath. This retrospective approach to his music is interlaced with cryptic lyrics that seem to ponder Vernon’s misanthropic tendencies: “I should've known / That I shouldn't hide/ To compromise and to covet/ All what’s inside “ he mourns on the electro-folk crescendo of Faith, undercut by growling bass and haunting background vocals. On the album closer RABi, which is a play on the words “I could rob, bye bye”, Bon Iver seems to find peace at last, in a side nod to listeners: “Sun light feels good now, don't it? And I don't have a leaving plan/ But something's gotta ease your mind/ But it's all fine, or it's all crime anyway “. It’s a cathartic finish, for a troubled artist who seems to have temporarily fought off his demons, as well as the audience – we who’ve followed him and applauded him since the beginning. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 4, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Three years after My Woman, an album which saw her move even further away from her main influences (Cat Power, Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey) as she pursued her grungy indie folk (which incorporated Americana and vintage sounds) Angel Olsen has signed a more silky, shimmering and even luxurious production here. There are no commercial compromises in All Mirrors, just a clear desire to soak her music in less troubled waters… The sound is bigger, the arrangements more elaborate and the instrumentation even includes strings, again impeccably measured. Much like Annie Clark a.k.a. St Vincent, Olsen blends a powerful explosion of fury and strong self-acceptance, boosted by impressive melodies. The American is also at ease in moving from dark atmospheres to almost playful sequences. A stylistic richness that becomes even greater each time you listen to it. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2020 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Beck lent him his songwriting. Sufjan Stevens covered his songs. James Blake, Bon Iver, Flume and Andrew Bird invited him onto their albums. And Solange Knowles, St. Vincent and Erykah Badu hang out with him: Moses Sumney is a powerful and fascinating magnet. The futuristic soulman’s aura was confirmed in 2017 on his debut album Aromanticism, an impeccable work of lustful, intelligent R&B carried by a gospel-soaked voice and a strong yet troubled personality. Underscoring the duality of his daily life and his struggles with schizophrenia, Moses Sumney sees double with Græ. He has created this ambitious second album (released in two parts, three months apart) by dipping his brush into a wide-ranging palette: soul, pop, jazz, rock, R&B, folk. Even the title - neither black nor white - amplifies the feeling of being in-between...Now based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Californian (who lived in Accra, Ghana between the ages of 10 and 16) articulates ideas in two-headed sounds. His sexuality as his origins, his virility as his fragility, his falsetto as his hoarse voice, luxury as purity, acoustic guitar as synths, it’s all there. The first part is lyrical, grandiloquent and warm, bordering on baroque soul. The second is more peaceful and weightless. He flits from one thing to another with such ease that it’s never confusing or disorientating. As Sumney said in an interview, pop culture has made the patriarchy waver to the point that we forget masculinity is not necessarily a bad thing: Græ proves it in a whirlwind of eclecticism where his voice serves as a solid common thread. Like on Gagarin, where he revisits From Gagarins Point of View by E.S.T., the late Swedish jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson’s trio. Or when he invites Jill Scott to sing (recite) the intro to jill/jack. James Blake and Daniel Lopatin a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never appear in this vast symphony, one so rich that you hear something new each time you listen. It would be too simplistic to consider Græ the album of Prince 2.0, since he feeds on a thousand sounds. In this grey area, Moses Sumney already has his own crown. And his reign has only just begun... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Sharon Van Etten waited five years before releasing a follow up to Are We There, her 2014 album on which she brilliantly juggled between the legacies of Cat Power, Nick Cave, John Cale, Joan As Police Woman, St Vincent, Feist and Fiona Apple. It’s a record on which she was, above all, herself. She confirms this with Remind Me Tomorrow which was conceived when her schedule was overflowing between a role in the series The OA, the writing of the soundtrack for Katherine Dieckmann’s film Strange Weather, the music for comedian Tig Notaro’s show, preparing for a psychology degree, an appearance in the series Twin Peaks and the birth of her first child!Energy is at the heart of this 2019 vintage record on which John Congleton handled the the arrangements. The producer is without a doubt at the forefront of the more rhythmic sequences rather than the more accustomed ones, such as the single Comeback Kid. With less minimalist reflections and more assertive affirmations, Sharon Van Etten hasn’t lost her uniqueness along the way. And what she has added here doesn’t alter the original taste too much. Congleton knew how to find the perfect sound texture to make the singer’s gothic folk universe all the more powerful and charming. With this album one of the most talented artists of her generation continues to grow. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
The master of fuzzy folk and melancholy country, Justin Vernon showed his genius when For Emma, Forever Ago, his first album produced under the Bon Iver moniker, came out in 2008. This ghostly, entirely mad and haunting folk masterpiece was dreamt up after he isolated himself in the depths of winter for three months in a Wisconsin cabin! The harmonic cathedrals, the mystery of the organ possessed by true grace: everything was miraculous. But Vernon quickly shook off his folk convictions to try out a range of electronic experiences. These changes were apparent on Bon Iver’s second album, simply called Bon Iver, which contained nods to minimalists Steve Reich and Philip Glass and tracks on which the intriguing bearded artist thought himself more a Brian Eno than a Brian Wilson... Five years after this eponymous record, and having worked through some surprising and fascinating collaborations (James Blake, Kanye West, Travis Scott and St Vincent), the updated Mr Bon Iver is re-emerging with 22, A Million. It is this  third album which finally brings together all his experience right from the start. And whether the result is a folktronica carbon copy or not, Justin Vernon succeeds more than ever in merging the worlds of folk and electronic music without either of the two sides managing to tug too hard in their own direction. As for the singing, his falsetto is still just as affecting even when manipulated and tinkered with. And when he uses openly abrasive sounding tones and elements more from soul, the result is impressively dreamy. Like a melancholy, meditative symphony at the heart of an immense cathedral. To add to this fascinating mystery, Justin Vernon has enjoyed giving his ten new compositions unpronounceable (or almost unpronounceable) titles. An experience unlike any other. © MD/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2016 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Soul - Released August 16, 2017 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Before it was given a proper showcase on this debut solo album, the voice of Jamila Woods was heard fronting the "adventure soul" of Milo & Otis and supporting tracks by fellow Chicago artists including Chance the Rapper, Saba, Donnie Trumpet, and Kweku Collins. In early 2016, Woods helped close out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "White Privilege II," courageous enough to assert "Your silence is a luxury" at the pair's overwhelmingly white fan base. Around the time that song came out, Woods released her own "Blk Grl Soldier." A muscular Jus Cuz production served as the backdrop for a characteristically soft and sweetly melodic vocal, rich in pride and fortitude, with substance packed into each line: "Look at what they did to my sisters -- last century, last week/They make her hate her own skin, treat her like a sin/They love how it repeats." Months later, the perseverance anthem appeared smack in the middle of the sanguine HEAVN. On the title song, Woods floats over a rolling groove, quoting the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and then twisting it a bit, beaming "I don't wanna run away with you/I wanna live our life right here." She later sings "I don't belong here" and "I'm an alien from inner space" in "Way Up," and dreams of leaving this planet in "Stellar," but Woods otherwise isn't one to promote escapism, not when she's sustained by friends, family, and fellow musicians -- including most of the above-mentioned -- who inspired and/or helped create this album. Some moments regard an intimate relationship and independence, occasionally both at once, like when she affirms "Nobody completes me" in "Holy." A larger portion concerns communal matters like survival, resistance, sisterhood, and how to thrive in conditions designed to perpetuate oppression. The resolutely nurturing and buoyant qualities make it easy to miss out on some of the wisdom and stirring lines such as "Grandma loved granddaddy even after he forgot our names," related over Nico Segal's trumpet and the kaleidoscopic swirl of Stereolab's "The Flower Called Nowhere." Originally a digital-only release from Closed Sessions, HEAVN was expanded and reissued a year later by Jagjaguwar, made available on physical formats with a track list that added six interludes and a thick reprise of "Holy." The interludes, especially the one in which children recite an Assata Shakur quote -- inserted as a brilliant setup for "Blk Grl Soldier" -- are not extraneous. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2017 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
The singular talents of Moses Sumney were already apparent in a couple of early EPs and guest spots with Solange and Sufjan Stevens, but his stellar debut album, Aromanticism, still comes as a slow-motion shock. First of all there is his concept of "aromantic," defined by Sumney as someone incapable of experiencing romantic love, coupled with the struggle to fit into a world where love is almost an imposition and its negation an aberration. Unsurprisingly for an era so obsessed with body politics, most of the commentary surrounding this critically acclaimed album tended to focus on Sumney's manifesto, conveniently ignoring that many before Sumney have been suspicious about the commodification of romance, for instance political art rock bands such as Gang of Four or the whole straight-edge hardcore movement. What is different here, and the main reason Aromanticism is such a beguiling record, is the tension between content and form. While the bands mentioned above took pains to create music as unromantic as possible, Sumney's is explicitly sensual, his yearning for detachment as convincing as Al Green's or Maxwell's longing for the polar opposite. Juxtaposition lies at the very fabric of these tracks, which contrast spacious, spectral electronic textures against lush organic sounds such as harp, guitar, and strings. Furthermore, while most of the record keeps to a chill downtempo, climax and release occur at key moments in the shape of sudden bursts of acceleration and volume, most noticeably on the coda to the album's centerpiece, "Lonely World." As meticulously impressive as the arrangements are, everything takes a back seat to Sumney's heavenly falsetto surrounded by a swirling spiral of his own background vocals. This is no small weapon: not since Antony has a voice evoked such wonder. The results are startling and difficult to categorize (groove ambient music? art soul?), and nonetheless uniformly exceptional. Aromanticism may have developed from a peculiar and attention-grabbing concept, but it ultimately triumphs on account of the utterly original and exquisite craft of its productions and performances. The sterling list of collaborators includes fellow sonic adventurers such as Thundercat, Paris Strother (King), Matt Otto (Majical Cloudz), Ian Chang (Son Lux), and Nicole Miglis (Hundred Waters). © Mariano Prunes /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 18, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 18, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 7, 2007 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Okkervil River broke away from the crowded indie rock pack with 2005's superb Black Sheep Boy, a ragged but ornate barroom romp that drank its way to the top of countless year-end lists by finding that thin vein that separates triumph and desperation and hammering as many nails into it as they could in under 50 minutes. Fans used to Will Sheff's visceral, lo-fi caterwauls may be disappointed in the bruised and elegant Stage Names upon first listen, but further spins reveal BSB as more of a stepping-stone than a peak. "It's just a life story/so there's no climax," from the rousing opener "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe" sets the tone, and its floor tom gallop and volatile whoops sound like an unholy combination of My Aim Is True-era Elvis Costello and Transformer-era Lou Reed spilling out of an old player piano. Sheff has proven himself again and again to be a gifted wordsmith, and Stage Names features some of his finest parlor room romanticisms and slacker-poet observations to date. "Plus Ones," a studied rumination on some of popular music's most beloved numerically titled tracks ("96 Tears," "99 Luftballons," "Eight Miles High," "TVC 15," "7 Chinese Brothers," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" etc.) adds an unnecessary integer ("Not everyone's keen on lighting candle 17/The party's done/The cake's all gone/The plates are clean"), cleverly illuminating pop culture's insatiable thirst for sequels and remakes. It's a trick that could easily turn trite in less capable hands, but one of the band's many strengths is its ability to mirror Sheff with arrangements that match the earnestness, wickedness and occasional pomp of the lyrics. Those talents are used most effectively on two of the record's other highlights, the soft and broken "Girl in Port" and the alternately heartbreaking and hysterical "John Allyn Smith Sails," the latter of which chronicles the suicide of poet John Berryman and manages to integrate the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" so seamlessly that you'd swear it had never existed before. It's not all winsome ballads about backstage passes and gutter bound writers though, as Sheff and company open up the full sneer on "Unless It's Kicks," "You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man" and "A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene," making Stage Names less of a metaphor for the cinematic lives we wish we could have and more of a reminder that it's us who make the films. [The first 5,000 copies of Stage Names (the "deluxe" edition) came with a bonus disc featuring all of Sheff's demos for the record.] © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 20, 2015 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2009 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Anyone thinking that Volcano Choir are going to be anything like Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago just because Justin Vernon is involved is in for a bit of a shock. Yes, Vernon's otherworldly vocals grace most of the songs on Unmap, but there are no real songs to speak of, no hushed backwoods folk grandeur or heartbreakingly soulful sounds. Instead, Vernon and his friends from the post-rock band Collections of Colonies of Bees have crafted a defiantly experimental album that relies on Vernon's vocals as just another color in the paint box, not the main focus. The tracks are largely free-floating post-rock jams that drift and flow without great purpose but often sound intensely emotional, as on the driving climax of "Seelpymouth" or the segment of "And Gather" when Vernon's massed vocal overdubs join together in a hurricane of sound. Elsewhere, the group conjures up the dreamy, almost dancy post-shoegaze sound of A.R. Kane (on the album's best -- and most songlike -- song, "Island, Is"), dives headfirst into the kind of atonal modern composition Scott Walker favored in the 2000s on "Mbira in the Morass," and drifts into almost new agey soundscapes on the album-closing "Youlogy." A few tracks aren't miles away from Vernon's work with Bon Iver, especially the opening "Husks and Shells" and "Still," which is basically a rewrite of "Woods" from the Blood Bank EP, using the same vocodered vocals but inserting them into an almost rocking backwoods jam. Unmap won't scare off hardier Bon Iver fans who might find its experiments intriguing enough to get past the lack of songs. It will also please those who were worried that Vernon might be content to just repeat the BI formula until it became clichéd. Despite the occasional flaws, the album shows that Vernon (along with the guys in Collections of Colonies of Bees) has not only the desire to branch out but also the necessary skills. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 10, 2011 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
Fresh from backing the legendary Roky Erickson on 2010’s triumphant True Love Cast Out All Evil, Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff decided to head home to his native New Hampshire to carve out the meat of the group’s sixth long-player. The resulting I Am Very Far, which was produced by Sheff, feels both transitory and triumphant, successfully integrating the Austin, Texas-based collective’s penchant for lovelorn, indie Americana with the wild abandon of 21st century pop music’s increasingly blurry genre borders. Elements of Wilco, the Flaming Lips, Springsteen, Talking Heads, Arcade Fire, and even the Fixx burn through I Am Very Far, down lightning rods affixed to the myriad studios procured by Sheff and crew throughout the record’s intentionally sporadic recording schedule. Production styles vary from track to track, which in lesser songwriting hands, could spell disaster, but Sheff's a gifted lyricist and his melodies have always been sneakier than they appear upon first listen, which makes the transition from a cut like “The Valley,” with its motor-mouthed, electro-apocalyptic pulse, into the late-night, Bowie-esque soul jam “Piratess” feel surprisingly natural. Elsewhere, stand-out cuts, such as the soaring “Rider,” the lovely and languid “Hanging from a Hit,” the ramshackle “Your Life as a Blast,” and the rousing first single “Wake and Be Fine” stand up to anything on 2007’s near-classic Stage Names, and while they may not share that record’s remarkable sense of place, they each confidently occupy a space of their own making. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 24, 2010 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 5/6 de Magic
While adhering to their indie rock lo-fi grit, Women broadened its horizons for its follow-up. Two years in the making, Public Strain is more drastic than the debut in that the darker parts are more abrasive, the releases of tension are more pleasing, and the shimmering, steel-plate melodies are more evocative. There’s a huge sense of depth to the album, especially for one locked in a genre that tends to be minimal. Jarring, jangly guitar chords are stacked upon countless layers of vocals, bass, drums, and cello, all dripping with distortion and reverb. In an era where every third lo-fi act sounds like they’re emulating an ‘80s teen-romance soundtrack, this is closer to an art-house horror soundtrack scored by Deerhunter or Deerhoof. The arresting amount of noise can be off-putting (return producer Chad Vangaalen admitted to throwing out certain tracks because they sounded too pretty, and used dirt-filled, cassette recorded takes instead), but if you stick with the album and listen to it in its entirety -- as it’s made to be heard -- the inherent beauty grows clearer. A discordant cello sawed in the background of "Narrow with the Hall,” serves only to strike fear into its '60s pop heart. Elsewhere, Reimer, Wallace, and the Flegel brothers take “Drag Open” from one extreme to another -- from a grating, stressful post-punk number, to a Thurston Moore-inspired, custom-tuned dreamscape -- before the claustrophobic “Eyesore” opens up to a chamber doo wop harmony as a gorgeous finale. At the surface, the temperature is icy. But like a cold lake’s waters, the music of Public Strain becomes less drastic; comforting even, given time. © Jason Lymangrover /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2010 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 3 étoiles Technikart
It’s a cliché to say that a band’s early work, when its music is in its roughest, rawest state, is best -- but in Small Black’s case, it’s true. The group’s self-titled EP fused longing, noise, and melody into a handful of exquisite lo-fi pop songs that fit into the chillwave trend, as well as a larger indie tradition of bedroom maestros insulating their heartbreak with homespun sounds. On New Chain, the band trades the static and hiss of cheap recording equipment for a much cleaner sound; the haze around Josh Kolenik's voice comes from dense electronic swirls instead of signal overload. Choosing better sound quality isn’t inherently a bad thing for Small Black, but too often the album feels like the flipside of their EP: Instead of strong songs presented in a crudely beautiful fashion, New Chain’s polished approach lets the songwriting and melodies fade into the background. Ironically, tracks like “Camouflage” somehow sound even older minus the lo-fi approach, with synth toms and pads that hark back to the pristine-bordering-on-sterile ‘80s. Elsewhere, the sheer amount of sound burying Kolenik’s vocals on “Hydra” prevents an emotional connection -- what was a cocoon on Small Black is a wall here. The band does break through this sonic barrier a few times. “Photojournalist”’s stop-start rhythms and “Panthers”’ emphasis on Kolenik’s voice add the emotion and momentum missing in too many of these songs. There are some purely sonic delights here as well: the warping and fizzing synths on “Goons” provide some lush electronic dream pop, and “Invisible Grid” closes the album with a luminous soundscape that evokes underwater wildlife. Indeed, New Chain is never less than pretty -- it’s just not all that engaging. Small Black haven’t quite mastered balancing their newfound polish with memorable songs, but New Chain’s sound is so appealing that it could be considered one of the first chillwave albums aimed at the mainstream. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Begun in 2011 at the Montreal dream pop act's own Breakglass Studios, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO is the Besnard Lakes' fourth full-length and keeps to their habit of releasing a dense, lovingly crafted album awash with crunching guitars and hazy strings every three to four years. Led and formed by the husband/wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, it's clear that Breakglass is the key instrument when defining the Besnards' sound. While 2007's The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse was a step up both sonically and commercially from their Smashing Pumpkins-influenced low-key 2004 debut, Vol. 1, each subsequent release has in turn seen the band steadily broaden its palette. Released in 2010, the aptly titled The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night saw them accentuate both their progressive and soft rock sensibilities, and these are most certainly retained for Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. The band has classified writing and recording as being much the same process for quite some time, an approach that sets its indie rock apart from the many "verse/chorus/verse" worshiping acts that pervade the field. Although the dramatic "People of the Sticks" is the closest thing to a traditionally structured track on this release, even at the point when the verse edges into a chorus, it feels like you're listening to a subtle and natural mood change. While it could easily have sat on the revered Roaring Night, it's the material here such as "And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold" and "Catalina" that effectively hints at a new chapter for the band. Both betray a foggier take on that string-laden, psychedelic stage musical sound that Dave Fridmann found for Mercury Rev in the late '90s. Elsewhere, "46 Satires" -- the beautiful and pulsing Spiritualized-nod that opens the album -- floats from section to section before presenting a tastefully brief, but blistering, guitar solo from Lasek and eventually drifting into an almost gospel-like coda. While Goreas' father sadly passed away during the sessions for this album, you can't help but think that she has him in mind when tenderly ending the song with the line "Three rainbows arched over the valley where you lay." There is also a sense of reassurance and understanding from her husband that permeates the ghostly, Beach Boys-inspired track "The Specter." Here, when Lasek sings the equally tender refrain "Close your eyes," he invokes the same sentiment as the classic Wilson/Asher composition "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)." Touching moments such as these can be found across the album, offering a glimpse of pure heartfelt emotion that was sometimes lost amongst the abstract imagery of spies and soldiers that dominated previous albums. All in all, UFO is another valuable addition to their canon, completed with skill and affection in equal measure. © James Wilkinson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2003 | Jagjaguwar

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Jagjaguwar's reissue of Julie Doiron's Broken Girl adds the four-song single Dog Love, Pt. 2 from 1993 and three-song single Nora from 1994 to the album's original running order. When she recorded those two singles she was still a member of Eric's Trip. 1995's Broken Girl was her first post-split record and it a very good one. The songs are all memorable and the melodies are very strong. Doiron's sweet voice, the hushed nature of the recording (most of the songs are just her vocals and guitar) and the melancholy of the subject matter combine to make this the kind of record that sounds really good on an autumn day, preferably one where the cool breeze carries with it the smell of burning leaves. Like Lou Barlow, Doiron makes the very personal sound universal on songs like "Taller Beauty" and "Soon Coming Closer" by opening up her fragile heart and bravely letting us take a peek. The record is a very fine debut made even better with the addition of the single tracks. Unlike the album, the songs feature amateurly played drums but carry the same intimate and brokenhearted feeling. Songs like "Five" and "Dance Music" wouldn't sound out of place on a Spinanes or Lois record. And that is high praise indeed. Fans of Doiron, which should be anyone who likes smart, emotionally honest without being too messy about it music, will be thrilled that this impossible to find material is now readily available. [This release contains bonus tracks.] © Tim Sendra /TiVo