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Alternative & Indie - To be released October 28, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 4, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Electronic - Released August 28, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 10, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 13, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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The third album from New Zealand's chill-pop outfit Yumi Zouma tenderly pokes at the bruises inflicted by 2020's unsettled times. Singer Christie Simpson —blessed with a down comforter of a voice— has said of the inspiration for single "Right Track/Wrong Man": "I've found myself... unable to work out what makes me happier, left feeling a little lost." This is low-sweat dance floor stuff, with familiar sonic touchstones. "Mirror to the Fire" comes on like Chvrches, while "Magazine Bay" borrows the yacht rock confidence of Tame Impala. Shimmering with assertive '80s-style synth and crisp percussion, the music is inevitably breezy, uplifting, optimistic; the lyrics tend to be indecisive ("Please don't leave me here or let me go," Simpson sings on "Southwark") and self-critical ("I was embarrassed when I knew who I was, so wild and zealous and overly down for the cause," she coos on "Lonely After"). The truth may be fuzzy and unknown, but the consequences remain existentially high. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 14, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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When Chicago's Post Animal made their full-length debut in 2018, it was with an eclectic set of hard-rockin' riffs, tight prog-inspired runs, wistful indie pop refrains, and a warm, affectionate tone that made them lovable through moments of dramatic, "Bohemian Rhapsody"-like bombast. That debut, When I Think of You in a Castle, was produced by the band, and they keep things in-house for the follow-up, Forward Motion Godyssey. It was produced by bassist and founding member Dalton Allison with help from Castle co-mixer Adam Thein. (Fans may want to note that guitarist/singer Joe Keery left the band following the debut to pursue acting opportunities stemming from his role on Netflix's Stranger Things.) If there's anything surprising about the remaining five-piece's second outing, it's that instead of homing in on a sound, they return with more of their oddball, freewheeling mix of styles ranging from classic metal, prog, and psych-rock to a seemingly contrarian indie soft rock. Examples of the latter can be heard on the mid-tempo "Schedule" and, to a lesser degree, "Safe or Not," two synth-aided tunes with a focus on treble clef. But first, they establish their metal chops on the imposing "Post Animal" and launch the record with the trippy, meandering "Your Life Away" ("Don't give your whole life away"). It languidly ponders: "Life's a lot of sleeping, though/I'll get some problems resolved in my dreams." The album on the whole is more contemplative, even on dirtier tracks like "In a Paradise," which philosophizes "We are all just waiting in a line/Forming thoughts we think would never occur to them" alongside low, churning guitars, cowbell-type cymbal pings, and engine-dwelling effects. All told, Forward Motion Godyssey isn't quite as much fun as Post Animal's debut, but they still deliver that characteristic warmth as well as uncommonly sharp hooks, fills, and theatrics of a nature that should delight air guitarists and drummers everywhere. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 17, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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The album cover, which doesn’t resemble any previous covers from the group, is a nod to an obsession of different eras, from the 50s to the 80s. This band from Athens, Georgia progresses further in its artistic line (with ten albums to their name since 1997), by mixing different genres and eras together while moving a step away from the kaleidoscopic psychedelics of their previous work. The album cover perfectly reflects the aesthetic of the music, within which you can recognise the creative extravagance which is inherent to the band’s leader Kevin Barnes (particularly on wacky tracks like Peace To All Freaks and Gypsy That Remains), but also a certain level of serenity, sometimes crossed with saccharine tones and melodies (You’ve Had Me Everywhere and the catchy chorus of Polyaneurysm). On the whole, Of Montreal’s album is a sunny extravaganza of synthetic pop, with occasional rock and psych tendencies (Don’t Let Me Die In America, 20th Century Schizofriendic Revenge-man). If you observe this project superficially, you could easily say that UR FUN does its name justice. But it is worth remembering that this fun sometimes masks certain melancholic and tortured echos, like the song St. Sebastian: here, the use of the minor key beneath the bouncing rhythm is heartbreaking. © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 25, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

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Anamanaguchi have reached unprecedented levels of success for an act rooted in the chiptune scene. During the mid-2000s, the band uploaded Weezer covers to MySpace and released music through netlabel 8bitpeoples, and less than a decade later, they were releasing Billboard-charting albums (including their score for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game) and appearing on national television, performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and being featured in several commercials. After the "fake leak" rollout of a video game called Capsule Silence XXIV (which caused a minor backlash within the gaming world and the group's fan base), the band's collaboration with virtual pop star Hatsune Miku, and headlining virtual music festivals conducted entirely in Minecraft, Anamanaguchi finally released their long-promised third studio album, [USA], in 2019. When the band first announced that they were working on the album in 2014, they stated that it would be a departure from the chiptune sound. This turns out to be partially true, as the familiar 8-bit tones are unmistakable on most of the album's tracks, but more accurately, it seems like the group's aesthetic has shifted a bit. While there's plenty of sugary, fantasy-driven bitpop, the group face the harsh realities of the world on songs like "Lorem Ipsum (Actic Anthem)," which is informed by environmental issues yet doesn't directly address them. The track's synthetically sung vocals consist of the Latin text commonly used as a default in typesetting, and it contains some of the most soaring, anthemic music the band has ever created, before curiously segueing into an extended dark ambient coda. The group throw several other unexpected twists into these songs, including further style switches and glitchy interruptions, but the second half of the album contains their most unabashedly pop material to date. Obvious single "On My Own" could easily be covered by Paramore, and the more J-pop-sounding "Up to You" is a reminder that there's no escape from reality. Even though it's not as long as the 76-minute Endless Fantasy or both combined parts of the Capsule Silence soundtrack, [USA] feels like Anamanaguchi's most ambitious, emotionally varied work. It's a more challenging listen than their others, to be sure, but it fits with the album's theme of coming to terms with the real world, and it's filled with triumphant, transcendent moments. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 20, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

The return of the Vivian Girls in 2019 seemingly came out of nowhere. Since they broke up, each member of the group had struck out on her own and forged a path free and clear of the band and their reputation. Their friendship brought them back together to record Memory, and fans of the band and their brand of spooky, hooky noise pop should be glad. The three bandmembers apply the musical growth they experienced in other projects -- Cassie Ramone in the Babies, Katy Goodman in La Sera, and Ali Koehler in Upset -- to this record, and working with producer Rob Barbato, they deliver plenty of songs that add the noise of punk to the sweetness of pop, sounding tough and more focused than ever. About half of the record is made up of songs that sound like the Angels fronting Dead Moon, their harmonies sweetly haunting and Ramone's guitar throwing off fierce sparks. There's not much of the ramshackle wandering of earlier records here though. "Waiting in the Car" hits like a sledge, "Most of All" stalks like a big cat on the prowl, and "Sick" is a headlong dash of a song with beautiful vocal harmonies in the chorus. If these kind of ripping jams were all the band did, Memory would have been a great comeback. The other half of the album adds great value and helps it become something even better. "Your Kind of Life" is a jangling, atmospheric C-86 ballad, "At It Again" sounds like a Beat Happening song played merrily through a wind tunnel, "I'm Far Away" is another tightly wound rocker that betrays the band's worship of the Wipers, and "Mistake" is a restrained and melancholy girl group indie made special by their vocal harmonies and the guitar blowouts. While those songs are all very bright and cheerful by Vivian Girl standards, they also take a left turn into grungy guitar muck on the overdriven and heavy "Sludge." They pull this off just as well as they do the lighter tunes, and it's a good marker of their growth that they can. This reunion isn't tossed off and the band doesn't fall into the nostalgia trap; they've taken the things that made them good and refined them to a sharp point. Memory isn't just their best record, it makes good on all the promise they displayed early on and will hopefully shut their critics up once and for all. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 19, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

Following 2018's State Dogs: Singles 2017-2018, New Orleans duo Generationals return with their sixth album, 2019's hooky and melodic Reader as Detective. While technically a compilation, State Dogs featured ten new songs Generationals recorded and released as standalone singles over a two-year period starting in 2017. That process purportedly helped shake up the way bandmates Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner thought about making an album and brought a welcome sense of creative freedom to the material. That renewed vigor also seems to have been carried over to Reader as Detective, as the record offers a decidedly vibrant and eclectic mix of songs. Cuts like "I Turned My Back on the Written Word," "A List of Virtues," and "Deadbeat Shiver" are buoyant anthems, rife with a mix of fuzzy keyboards, twangy guitars, and swirling percussion. It's a sound that conjures a fantasy laptop collaboration between MGMT, Bruce Springsteen, and '80s disco mastermind Giorgio Moroder. Similarly evocative, "Breaking Your Silence" has a driving, mid-tempo groove and yearning melody that evokes a similar Springsteen or perhaps Tom Petty vibe. Elsewhere, Widmer and Joyner slide into the falsetto, Casio sensuality of "Dream Box," and draw on the Killers' emotive new wave uplift on the shimmering "Save This for Never." In fact, as with the opening "I've Been Wrong Before," much of Reader as Detective finds Generationals striking a perfect balance between a thoughtful, folk-rock intimacy and colorful, '80s pop production palette. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 19, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

Following two albums of glittery, strutting psych-pop as alter ego Diane Coffee, Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming dims the spotlights and turns up the fluorescents for the technology-inspired Internet Arms. Still playful and off-center but with a more thoughtful, anxious tone, it embraces synthesizers and electronic drums to reflect themes of alienation in a digital world. (It's his first album to be recorded digitally instead of to tape.) Inspired by the idea of social-media versions of self, the glistening, midtempo "Simulation" contrasts the problem-free life of a facsimile with "a state of vegetation in my personal isolation." Other lyrics carefully consider a made-to-order lover. Processed vocals in various states of mechanical distortion give the impressions that the narrator, too, is at one with the machines. Though that song temporarily kicks into double time, there are only a few legitimately uptempo songs sprinkled throughout the track list here, including "Like a Child Does" and "Doubt," which layers lush synths, dense vocal harmonies, guitar, and driving drums in the choruses. The anthemic "Work It" is another rouser replete with drums fills and lyrics like "You can be anybody/Whoever you like/It's a matter of progress/A matter of time." Elsewhere, tracks like "Lights Off" and ballad "Company Man," with its processed harmonies and tinny, high-volume electric piano timbres, evoke the slick '80s pop/rock production of chestnuts like "Take My Breath Away" and "I Want to Know What Love Is." Taken together, these songs aren't quite as fun as Coffee's prior material, but Internet Arms commits to its concept and palette, and nonetheless delivers catchy set with doses of sex and poignancy. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 7, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Though technically a compilation album, 2018's State Dogs: Singles 2017-2018 is essentially the fifth full-length album from New Orleans' Generationals. Following 2014's full-length Alix, the duo of Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer found they had become frustrated with the slow recording and release process normally associated with making a studio album. Subsequently, rather than issue a complete recording, they decided instead to issue a bevy of standalone tracks over a two-year period. Showcasing those nine songs, as well as an added tenth, State Dogs brings all of those separate tracks together in one place. These are buoyant, somewhat idiosyncratic productions that touch upon the duo's long standing touchstones including off-kilter '80s new wave, '60s psychedelia, and their own brand of lo-fi melodicism. The opening "Keep It Low" brings to mind the twangy, '80s guitar pop of Dwight Twilley, while "Catahoula Man" sounds like a lost Teardrop Explodes song. Similarly, "Mythical," with its driving bassline and moody synth, evokes the college rock atmosphere of band's like the Psychedelic Furs and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Elsewhere, tracks like "It May Get Bad When You're Lonely and Cold," and "Silent Ocean," mix bright piano riffs, xylophone, and buzzy guitars, bringing to mind the work of similarly inclined contemporaries like Vampire Weekend and MGMT. Though recorded at different times, the songs on State Dogs hold together quite well, and make for a rather unified collection that fits nicely alongside the band's other studio albums. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 9, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Following 2015's Individ, the Dodos took some open-ended time off before deciding to reconvene for their seventh LP. In the interim, drummer Logan Kroeber returned to his day job and guitarist Meric Long lost his father, saw the birth of his first child, and ended up making a solo album under the moniker FAN. The latter was inspired by spending time with synthesizers he inherited from his father. After those experiences, Long brought along with him a conscious effort to free the band of expectations. Arriving in 2018, the resulting Certainty Waves is still recognizable as the Dodos but updates their sound, most notably by way of Long's continued experimentation with synths and electronics. Rather than getting more synth-poppy, they extend boundaries in terms of textured noise, something they did on 2008's Visiter but not as aggressively. In fact, the duo completely ditches the indie folk label here, embracing harsher and more distorted sounds while retaining its trademark rhythmic and melodic qualities. These developments are especially pronounced on tracks like the clattering "IF" and electronic-acoustic closer, "Dial Tone," with its siren-like wails and jumble of rhythms, timbres, and time signatures. All the while, Long's wistful, elongated vocal melodies remain intact, providing an even more marked contrast to all the activity down below. There are still segments of acoustic guitar and drums, or acoustic guitar and subtle electronics, as on "Center Of," but they don't stick around too long, and, in context, they seem more metallic than "pastoral." As a result, lyrics like the closer's "No more listening today" and "No one left here today" may apply to some returning fans, but the invigorated approach to production, arrangements, and, in many cases, performances makes for a still highly listenable set that's at least as likely to excite as to challenge. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Continuing in the direction of Fred Thomas' previous two albums, the equally outstanding All Are Saved and Changer, Aftering is filled with vivid descriptions of particular moments from throughout the prolific songwriter's life, as well as more general encapsulations of the bleak, uncertain feelings clouding the landscape of late-2010s America. The album is split between concise, adrenalin-spiked garage-pop tunes and more sprawling experimental pieces which sometimes recall Flashpapr, the slowcore group Thomas formed back in the mid-'90s. Throughout the album, numerous past collaborators and tourmates pop up like memories in order to contribute vocals, strings, horns, and additional instruments and textures. Following the sun-soaked drift of opener "Ridiculous Landscapes," which touches on tour experiences and the news of two past acquaintances' marriage, "Alcohol Poisoning" kicks off a block of fuzz-heavy rock songs themed around nostalgia, regret, and confusion (not to mention drinking). Without making specific references to anything, "Good Times Are Gone Again" is a direct, uncomplicated expression of the realization that we are in the midst of a grim state of being, and the simpler, more joyful days are long behind us. "House Show Late December" begins the album's more expansive second half, describing in great detail the bemoaning of a passing bad year at a noise show in someone's basement. While there's hope for the new year, there's still the reality that a lot of terrible, wrong things are never going to go away, so it's hard to escape the negativity. Even darker is the harrowing "Slow Waves," an ambient tone poem where Thomas recollects pointless arguments and seethes rage against an unnamed celebrity. Concluding everything is "What the Sermon Said," a fascinating story recalling an easily relatable awkward childhood incident, and a handy summation of what makes Thomas' music so unique. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 3, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Named for the building that served as the bandmembers' longtime base before life events took them to separate residences, Bell House is the nostalgic second LP by Kansas City's Shy Boys. It follows their promising 2014 debut by four years. In the meantime, the indie pop group expanded from a three- to a five-piece, signed with Polyvinyl, and opted for higher-fidelity production that spotlights their lush, '60s-styled vocal harmonies. To underscore this, they even open the album with an a cappella number bathed in hot sand and pastels, though the song is about what was growing outside the bedroom window. They swap the Beach Boys harmonic influence for a Crosby, Stills & Nash one on "Tragic Loss," but throughout these and other musical hat-tips, they continue to establish a Polyvinyl-worthy, contemporary sound of their own. It's one that's anchored in an immediate guitar pop with an intimate feel and persistently sweet but discontented melodies. The bouncy "Basement," for instance, claps along to lyrics like "Got a wife and a dog and I'm living in my mom's basement," while reflecting its self-consciousness in nuanced chord progressions. They make room for diversions, too, settling into a more sinuous indie rock on "Take the Doggie" (about a neglected neighbor dog), and slowing things down for the plaintive grievances of "Disconnect," a piano-based track. Even the hazier songs have a melodic and harmonic allure, though, a trait that bodes well for any band. With ten tracks coming in at under 25 minutes, Bell House almost goes by too fast for its richness, like sample-sized bakery treats that deserve a full course. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

HAWAII marks Collections of Colonies of Bees' return to Polyvinyl, 14 years after the under-appreciated Customer, but it might as well be in name only, as nearly everything about the group has changed since then. The unit originally began as a more abstract side venture for guitarist Chris Rosenau and percussionist Jon Mueller, then of post-rock group Pele, back in the late '90s, and they explored a captivating middle ground between glitchy electronics, rambling acoustic folk, and jazz improvisation. Through the gradual addition (and replacement) of other musicians, they became more of a rock band, with a greater emphasis on melody and post-minimalist rhythms. Flash forward to 2018, and Rosenau has remained the group's only constant member, with guitarist Daniel Spack the only other member present on the group's previous album, 2014's Japan-only release Set. HAWAII is a major shift for the group, as it's their first effort to include lyrics, which are mostly sung by new recruit Marielle Allschwang, sometimes as a duet with Spack. The lyrics are poetic, impressionist, and generally quite optimistic and encouraging, but not delivered in a richly expressive tone. While these aren't pop tunes, the vocals do help frame the songs, making them accessible while still maintaining a steady flow, and the average track time is down a few minutes compared to the group's previous few records. The group haven't abandoned the glitchy effects of their earlier recordings, and here they help add a bit of an otherworldly touch to the vocals and guitars. The song's rhythms are somewhere between a gentle pulse and a strong drive, and there's plenty of space left for breathing room. Overall, HAWAII feels like the next step for Collections rather than their magnum opus, but their integration of vocals feels natural, and doesn't sacrifice the free spirit of their music. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

Following six albums by his guitar-and-drums duo the Dodos, Barton's Den is the debut of FAN, the solo project of Meric Long. It will come as a surprise to many that FAN adds synthesizer textures to the off-balance indie guitar rock Long is known for, even emphasizing them. It was an unplanned project that came about while the Dodos were on hiatus following the death of Long's father, and then the birth of his first child. He inherited two synthesizers from his father and found himself reflecting on childhood influences like Brian Eno, Devo, and Nintendo soundtracks, while also reflecting on his relationship with his dad. By his account, the shift from guitar didn't come without adjustments, but he began piecing together solo recordings from various locations as circumstances allowed (a blizzard in Portland, Oregon; a trip alone to Galicia, Spain; late nights in his soundproofed garage in Oakland, nicknamed Barton's Den after Long's middle name). The album's only guest is Ji Tanzer, whose live drums were recorded separately. The synth timbres are new for Long, but what remains are a distinctive combination of hooky and serpentine lines, a simmering energy, and a typically pensive tone. The driving "Fire" contains all of these, if the energy is at a full boil during outbursts of distorted guitar and manipulated snare and cymbal textures that cut and rattle. Pulsing synth tones and unsettling effects ratchet up the disquietude, even in sparer passages of the song. Later, the new wavy "What a Mistake" borders on synth pop, and "Gorgoroth" features some of those video game influences, though on both, distorted and off-balance elements remain. Accompanying the album's jagged edges and rhythmic intensity are lyrics like "Nothing is continuous/Where's my exit plan?" and "I'm feeling stuck and I can't free myself." For an unintended album, it's an ambitious one, where synth, guitar, and even drum tones work together to create a set that's consistently both uneasy and infectious. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo