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July was shaping up to be a bit of a summer vacation for the fast-and-furious 2013 record release schedule. That is, until Jay-Z put his own twist on how business is done and one-upped everyone else with a masterstroke of state-of-the-art, multi-platform cross-promotion, announcing that his upcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail would be distributed free to the first million to who downloaded an app exclusively designed for Samsung devices—iPhones, iTunes, pre-release leaking, and Billboard chart calculations be damned! Otherwise, July is highlighted by an eclectic range of new albums by artists legendary for very different reasons, including a new Pet Shop Boys disc, David Lynch’s second full-length musical foray, and the first set of all original songs from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in its fifty-year history.


 

 



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Kirin J Callinan

Embracism

(Terrible/XL; US: 2 Jul 2013; UK: 1 Jul 2013)

Kirin J Callinan
Embracism


“Mine is my body,” Kirin J Callinan howls late in Embracism on “Way II War”, and it’s not the only reference to bodies on this record. No wonder, considering just how physical the music itself is, a treatise on so many disconnections—between mind and body, or body and image, or a dozen others—that it is itself constantly coming untethered and reforming into something new. We get the industrial clatter of “Halo” that shifts into the grit-teeth edge and troubling testosterone of the title track. We go from the Springsteen-shout-out-cum-lament-for-America “Come on USA” that sets us up later for album closer “Love Delay”, which returns to the stomp of “Halo”, but then erupts in its own lean approximation of some band from E Street. In between twists on the Boss, Embracism shudders and skitters as much as it soars, and at the center of all these myriad storms of Callinan. His voice can warble with intensity or shout with vitriol or glide with bittersweet beauty. His talents are varied but never quite removed from each other, so that each shift between songs is both utterly surprising as well as thematically and tonally inevitable. Embracism raises big questions and shouts them with rage and zeal and heart, and the music gives us new expectations while it makes us question our old ones. Beyond calling it great, all these other descriptions fall a bit short. Just go hear it yourself. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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Hebronix

Unreal

(ATP; US: 9 Jul 2013; UK: 8 Jul 2013)

Review [14.Jul.2013]
Hebronix
Unreal


When the unwelcome news came down that Yuck frontman Daniel Blumberg left his band, it was at least accompanied by the announcement that he had formed a solo project called Hebronix, with new material on the way. But once you hear Hebronix’s debut Unreal, Blumberg’s career detour makes a little more sense, considering how the winding, twisting, stream-of-consciousness effort sounds like the sort of thing on which no one else is likely to keep up with him. A clear departure from the garage-pop nuggets that put Yuck—and Blumberg—on the map, Unreal’s sprawling soundscapes are all over the place in intriguing and often captivating ways. There are illuminating moments when Hebronix comes on with the otherworldly shimmer of Deerhunter, dabbles in delicate chamber-pop interludes, and throws in a melodramatic string suite—and that’s just on the relatively shorter-and-sweeter piece “Viral”. Elsewhere, Blumberg really stretches out his guitar workouts, going with the flow of the laid-back Malkmus-like groove on “Wild Whim” and channeling some Mascis-lite heroics for the title track. Let’s just hope Blumberg sticks with Hebronix beyond Unreal, because there’s more than enough here for his ample imagination to really go down the road with and develop. Arnold Pan


 

 



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The Mountain Goats

All Hail West Texas

(Merge; US: 23 Jul 2013; UK: Import)

The Mountain Goats
All Hail West Texas


Any number of earlier, harder-to-find Mountain Goats albums would be worthwhile candidates for reissuing, but All Hail West Texas probably tops the wish list. It’s not only because it wasn’t originally released on vinyl (which is remedied by this new version) or that the 2002 effort finds John Darnielle at a crossroads as the last completely home-recorded album on which the other major player in the Mountain Goats was the boombox recorder accompanying him and his acoustic guitar. No, what should be the real reason All Hail West Texas is prime for a second coming is that the record finds Darnielle at the height of his powers, before and after, where his storytelling became more vivid than ever and his mode of address more intimate than his full-band affairs later. All Hail West Texas is as poignant and tender as Darnielle has ever gotten, whether he’s embracing the huddled masses on the generous “Color in Your Cheeks” or paying tribute to making ends meet on “Riches and Wonders”. Scouring the byways and the highways of the Lone Star State, Darnielle is at his wisest and most incisive here with complex sketches that redeem his flawed characters by simply telling their stories, be it the misunderstood teen dreamers of “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” or the living-beyond-their-means schemers of “Fault Lines” or the disenchanted couple trying to run from their problems on “The Mess Inside”. Adding another seven tracks from Darnielle’s secret stash that fit with the thematic and aesthetic of All Hail West Texas, especially fan-favorite “Waco” and the warmly reclusive “Midland”, the reissue documents a uncommonly prolific period of an uncommonly prolific artist. Arnold Pan


 

 



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Robert Pollard

Honey Locust Honky Tonk

(Guided by Voices, Inc.; US: 9 Jul 2013; UK: 1 Jul 2013)

Review [17.Jul.2013]
Robert Pollard
Honey Locust Honky Tonk



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Teenage Guitar

Force Fields at Home!

(Guided by Voices, Inc.; US: 9 Jul 2013; UK: Import)

Teenage Guitar
Force Fields at Home!


All right, so maybe a new Robert Pollard solo record isn’t exactly new. Heck, he’s even released two albums on the same day before. But these two records due out in July are something just a bit different from ol’ Bob. Honey Locust Honky Tonk is another fine solo set, one that is as quickfire and scattershot as anything he’s done, but it expands on the bright pop center of its predecessor, Jack Sells the Cow, to make a brilliant combination of experiments and pure, unadulterated hooks. It also features a few sounds we’re not used to from Pollard, like the excellent folk dust of “I Killed a Man Who Looks Like You” or the shift from gentle acoustics to moody crunch on “He Requested Things”. The album can cast a long shadow, with pulsing tunes like “Strange and Pretty Days” or the death-minded “Who Buries the Undertaker”, but even when a brief lark like “I Need to Drink” bails us out, there’s still some deep pathos working its way through these songs, something that has become stronger and more consistent in Pollard’s recent solo work. This is a set that may give you what you expect, but once again Pollard still finds ways to catch you off guard.




Meanwhile, Teenage Guitar’s Force Fields At Home! is a lo-fi gem that finds Pollard playing guitar and piano under his vocals, along with players Greg Demos and Joe Patterson. It sends Pollard off the deep end a bit more than the solo record does—see the ringing dissonance of “Come See the Supermoon” or “It Takes a Great Promise”—but it still delivers the brittle goods. Those moments give us Pollard at his most pensive and contrast nicely with the buzzing rock of “Court of Lions” or the power-pop blast of “Strangers for a Better Society”. You also get cuts like “Alice and Eddie (Fabulous Child Actors)” that display Pollard’s bittersweet piano chords ringing out into space. Pollard certainly goes out into the musical wilderness plenty—with side-project Circus Devils especially—but this tops the heap of his more eccentric jaunts. It’s a curiously thorny counterpoint to Honey Locust Honky Tonk, and together they mark another great step in Pollard’s marathon career. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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Scud Mountain Brothers

Do You Love the Sun

(Ashmont; US: 9 Jul 2013; UK: Import)

Scud Mountain Brothers
Do You Love the Sun


As reunions go, the Scud Mountain Boys return was pretty modest—a few shows in 2011 and that was about it. Until now. Now we’ve got their first album in 17 years, since the excellent Massachusetts, and Do You Love the Sun is a perfect return. It reminds us of all the charms of earlier Scud Mountain Boys work without falling into mere repetition of past success. There’s still a thin coat of dust on these songs—especially “Crown of Thorns” and the fantastic “Double Bed”—and there’s still the band’s signature kitchen-table intimacy. But there’s also an expansion of their sonic palate. “Learn to Love Him” starts as just piano and the bittersweet whisper of Joe Pernice’s voice, but it blooms out into a lush pop landscape. “She Falls Apart” warms with subtle pedal steel work, shadowing Pernice’s worried lyrics, while “The Mendicant” whips up into a darkly funny romp. You can feel the 17 years between records—not to mention Pernice’s work in the Pernice Brothers—pushing these songs, expanding them beyond what we might too easily call folk-pop or alt-country and into something more fluid, harder to pin down, and far more satisfying. Do You Love the Sun is remarkable because it brings back a much-loved band, and follows up an underground classic. But strip away all that baggage and it’s remarkable for a much more immediate reason—because, for ten songs, it’s varied and sweet and sad and surprising and, well, excellent. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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White Fence

White Fence

(God?/Drag City; US: 16 Jul 2013; UK: Import)

Review [16.Jul.2013]
White Fence
White Fence


It’s only been three years since White Fence’s debut was first released on Woodsist, but as Tim Presley has refined his project’s sound—most recently on the excellent Cyclops Reap—it’s worth looking back at his first, scattershot set of lo-fi pop tunes. Sure, it plays like a list of ‘60s-pop influences, but every turn still sounds like a puzzle piece of Presley’s musical mind: So while you may see the seams between the gooey, bittersweet pop of “Sara Snow” and the garage-rock oddity of “Baxter Corner” or between the bright acoustic strum of “I Need You” and the echoing experiments of “Sick Doctor Blues”, the tangents Presley takes here seem to cohere a bit more in retrospect. It’s as exciting and wide-open as anything Presley has offered since and perhaps even better for its youthful zeal, its bright sense of discovery. This is, make no mistake, the sound of a project finding itself, but in Presley’s hands that unknowing is a virtue, a kindling under these warm pop songs. Tim Presley may have found some focus since then, and crafted some great records, but White Fence is eponymous for a reason—it gets at the pop curiosity that makes Presley’s tunes work, that keeps them fresh even as the path gets clearer. Go back to this one and hear him get lost, in all the best ways possible. Matthew Fiander


 

Selected Releases for July 2013
(Release dates subject to change)


July 2


A Great Big Pile of Leaves, You’re Always on My Mind (Topshelf)
About Group, Between the Walls (Domino)
The Builders and the Butchers, Western Medicine (Badman)
Maya Jane Coles, Comfort (Kobalt)
Editors, The Weight of Your Love (Play It Again Sam)
Iration, Automatic (3 Prong)
The Leisure Society, Alone Aboard the Ark (Full Time Hobby)
Nations Afire, The Ghosts We Will Become (Hardline Entertainment)
Nocona, Nocona (self-released)
Tom Odell, Long Way Down (Sony)
Owen, L’Ami du People (Polyvinyl)
Rathborne, Soft (self-released)
Relient K, Collapsible Lung (Stereo vs. Mono)
Shortcircles, Between Waves (Plug Research)
TRAAMS, Ladders EP (Fat Cat)
Various Artists, Kitsuné Soleil Mix 2 (Kitsuné)
Walton, Beyond (Hyperdub)


July 4


Jay-Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail via Samsung app


July 9


AraabMUZIK, The Remixes, Vol. 1 (Ultra)
Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk, Think Tone (Fire Talk)
Bell X1, Chop Chop (Belly Up)
Big B, Fool’s Gold (Suburban Noize)
Bird, La Notte (Lost Metropolis)
Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers, Nothing Can Stop Us (Strut)
CFCF, Music for Objects EP (Paper Bag)
Ciara, Ciara (Epic)
COFFINS, The Fleshland (Relapse)
Darnell Boys, Darnell Boys (Twin)
Deep Forest, Deep Africa (BIG3)
Daughn Gibson, Me Moan (Sub Pop)
David Markey & Heavy Friends, Volume Infinite (Thick Syrup)
Demon Queen, Exorcise Tape (Rad Cult)
Ekha, Bcwtiot (Daylight Curfew)
Ensemble Economique, Fever Logic (Not Not Fun)
Erimha, Reign through Immortality (Victory)
Fat Freddy’s Drop, Blackbird (The Drop/!K7)
Freddie Gibbs, ESGN: Evil Seeds Grown Naturally (self-released)
Skylar Grey, Don’t Look Down (Interscope)
Housemeister, OP-1 (Boysnoize)
Gregory Alan Isakov, The Weathermen (Suitcase Town)
Isis, Celestial reissue (Ipecac)
The Last Hurrah, The Beauty of Fake (Rune Grammofon)
letlive., The Blackest Beautiful (Epitaph)
Lone, Airglow Fires 12” (R&S)
Lonewolf, The Fourth and Final Horseman (Napalm)
Lord Dying, Summon the Faithless (Relapse)
Lustmord, The World as Power (Blackest Ever Black)
LX Sweat, City of Sweat (Not Not Fun)
Maps, Vicissitude (Mute)
The Mother Hips, Behind Beyond (ATO)
Mount Eerie, Live in Bloomington, September 30, 2011 (Crossroads of America)
Night Birds, Born to Die in Suburbia (Grave Mistake)
The Octopus Project, Fever Forms (Peek-a-Boo)
Henry Plotnick, Fields (Holy Mountain)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, That’s It! (Legacy Recordings)
Royal Forest, Spillway (Mollusc)
Salvia Plath, The Bardo Story (Weird World/Domino)
These Hearts, Yours to Take (Victory)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Get Lost VI (Crosstown Rebels)
Trampled Under Foot, Badlands (Telarc)
Twin Peaks, Sunken (Autumn Tone)
Unkind, Pelon Juuret (Relapse)
Various Artists, 50 Weapons of Choice #30-39 (50 Weapons)
Various Artists, Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil—Hip-Hop, Beats, Afro & Dub (Mais Om)
Various Artists, Sweet Relief III: Pennies from Heaven (Vanguard)
Venomous Maximus, Beg Upon the Light (Napalm)
Whirr, Around EP (Graveface)
Wiretree, Get Up (self-released)


July 16


Maria Bamford, Ask Me About My New God! (Comedy Central)
Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest (Epic)
Beach, In Us We Trust (Short Story)
Bitchin Bajas, Bitchitronics (Drag City)
Body Language, Grammar (Lavish Habits)
Cassettes Won’t Listen, CWL (Daylight Curfew)
Andrew Cedermark, Home Life (Underwater Peoples)
Chance, In Search (Paradise of Bachelors)
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, White Teeth Black Thoughts (Space Age Bachelor Pad)
Chris Brown, X (RCA)
Eric Copeland, Joke in the Hole (DFA)
Court Yard Hounds, Amelita (Columbia)
The Cult, Electric Peace (Beggars Banquet)
Meyer Hawthorne, Where Does This Door Go? (Universal/Republic)
Dead Boots, Véronica (self-released)
Desert Stars, Habit Shackles (self-released)
George Duke, Dreamweaver (Heads Up)
Ensemble Novo, Blue Night (Frosty Cordial)
Ezra Furman, The Year of No Returning (Bar/None)
Gauntlet Hair, Stills (Secretly Canadian)
The Icarus Line, Slave Vows (Agitated)
Andy Kaufman, Andy and His Grandmother (Drag City)
La Machine, Phases & Repetition reissue (Castle Face)
Olivier Libaux (Nouvelle Vague), Uncovered Queens of the Stone Age (Music for Music Lovers)
David Lynch, Big Dream (Sacred Bones)
Sarah Miles, One (Rock Ridge)
Matt Nathanson, Last of the Great Pretenders (Vanguard)
Pangaea, The Anatomy of Frank (self-released)
Pet Shop Boys, Electric (X2)
Pony Bwoy, Pony Bwoy (Totally Gross National Product)
Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Lickety Split (Blue Note)
Scraper, Scraper EP (God?/Drag City)
Seabird, Troubled Days (Tone Tree)
Soft Metals, Lenses (Captured Tracks)
Street Corner Symphony, Southern Autumn Nostalgia (UnPractice)
Patrick Sweany, Close to the Floor (Nine Mile)
Doc Watson, The Definitive Doc Watson (Sugar Hill)
White Dove, The Hoss, the Candle (RSRCH & DVLP)


July 23


Kyle Andrews, Brighter Than the Sun (Elephant Lady)
Baroness, Live at Maida Vale, BBC (Relapse)
James Bay, The Dark of the Morning EP (Republic)
Black Tusk, Tend No Wounds (Relapse)
Bombadil, Metrics of Affection (Ranseur)
Travis Bretzer, Making Love EP (Mexican Summer)
The Cairo Gang, Tiny Rebels (Empty Cellar)
Guy Clark, My Favorite Picture of You (Dualtone)
Coke Weed, Back to Soft (self-released)
Counterparts, The Difference Between Hell and Home (Victory)
Drug Church, Paul Walker (No Sleep)
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (Vagrant)
Filligar, Hexagon (self-released)
Fuck Buttons, Slow Focus (ATP)
The Garden, The Life and Times of a Paperclip (Burger)
Gogol Bordello, Pura Vida Conspiracy (ATO/Casa Gogol)
Selena Gomez & the Scene, Stars Dance (Hollywood)
Grumbling Fur, Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey)
Harm’s Way, Blinded EP (Deathwish Inc.)
Grant Hart, The Argument (Domino)
Sara Hickman, Shine (Kirtland)
Hunx & His Punx, Street Punk (Hardly Art)
Junior Astronomers, Dead Nostalgia (Broken Circles)
Aidan Knight, Small Reveal (Outside)
Leftover Cuties, The Spark & the Fire (self-released)
Lord Dying, Summon the Faithless (Relapse)
The Love Language, Ruby Red (Merge)
The Memories, Love Is the LawBurger
PAS Musique, Abandoned Bird Egg (Alrealon)
Quest Of Aidance, Misanthropic Propaganda (Pulverised)
Otis Redding, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection (Shout! Factory)
Jackson Scott, Melbourne (Fat Possum)
Nadine Shah, Love Your Dum and Mad (R&S/Apollo)
Smashing Pumpkins, Aeroplane Flies High box set (Virgin/Universal)
Sombear, Love You in the Dark (Trans-)
Stargroves, Stargroves (self-released)
True Widow, Circumambulation (Relapse)
Truth & Salvage Co., Pick Me Up (Megaforce/Sony RED)
Wallpaper., Ricky Reed Is Real (Epic/Boardwalk)
Weekend, Jinx (Slumberland)
The Winery Dogs, The Winery Dogs (Loud & Proud)


July 30


Backstreet Boys, In a World Like This (BMG)
Ken Camden, Space Mirror (Kranky)
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris (Odd Future)
Etran Finatawa, The Sahara Sessions (Riverboat/World Music Network)
Vince Gill & Paul Franklin, Bakersfield (MCA Nashville)
Buddy Guy, Rhythm & Blues (RCA)
Heaven, Telepathic Love (Goodnight)
Ikonika, Aerotropolis (Hyperdub)
Joan of Arc, Testimonium Songs (Polyvinyl)
Earl Klugh, Hand Picked (Heads Up/Concord)
Larry & His Flask, By the Lamplight (Cascadian/Xtra Mile)
The Mallard, Finding Meaning in Deference (Castle Face)
Moreland & Arbuckle, 7 Cities (Telarc)
Kendra Morris, Mockingbird (Wax Poetics)
T. Hardy Morris, Audition Tapes (Dangerbird)
RocketNumberNine, MeYouWeYou (Smalltown Supersound)
Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines (Star Trek/Universal)
Various Artists, The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Bollywood (World Music Network)

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