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It’s that time of the year when you start thinking about end-of-the-year lists instead of release schedules, when you’re beginning to look back instead of listening ahead. But not quite yet, what with November offering anticipated efforts from Cut Copy and Blood Orange, not to mention new albums from headliners like Eminem, M.I.A., and Lady Gaga. And our last entry of “Listening Ahead” for this year gives you some good reasons for holding off on finalizing your best-of lists for just a little longer, highlighting compelling work by underground up-and-comers Swearin’ and the triumphant return of Throwing Muses.


 

 


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Cian Nugent and the Cosmos

Born with the Caul

(No Quarter; US: 20 Nov 2013; UK: 20 Nov 2013)

Cian Nugent and the Cosmos
Born with the Caul


Cian Nugent is a masterful and versatile musician on his own, as his last great record, Doubles, can attest. But Born With the Caul presents his first full-length with backing band the Cosmos and, well, the scope and expanse of the record suggests that the band is more than up to matching its lofty name. The three tracks here get bigger and bigger, widening their orbits as they go. “Grass Above My Head” is another thoughtful guitar piece from Nugent, until the band kicks it up into a Takoma School stomper. The 16-plus-minute “Double Horse” is shadowy and swampy and spacious, the band creating the kind of hushed, intricate tension you’d expect from the Dirty Three, as Nugent’s guitar wanders over it in fascinating, ever-shifting phrases. Closer “The Houses of Parliament” is the most unruly and exciting thing here: Clocking in over 23 minutes, it twists and turns all over the place, giving us every kind of surprise (including a brief turn to vocals) on its way. Nugent and the Cosmos create and then explore negative space early in the record, stretching into the kind of rippling rock exploration that would make Crazy Horse weep, and eventually twisting itself in its second half into a bluesy rocker that speeds up and unravels beautifully. This is a masterful and brilliant set top to bottom, and Born With the Caul stands as a great document of an already sprung-free player finding even more avenues to explore by finding the perfect, fearless band to back him. Matthew Fiander


 

 


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Royal Trux

Veterans of Disorder

(Drag City; US: 19 Nov 2013; UK: 18 Nov 2013)

Review [23.Jan.2014]
Royal Trux
Veterans of Disorder


Drag City’s reissue project for much of the Royal Trux catalog has been a real gift for fans, and it continues with Veterans of Disorder. The 1999 album followed the great Accelerator, but doesn’t exactly build on that album’s fuzzy impressionist classic rock. Instead, Veterans of Disorder only partly follows suit, and instead presents itself as a two-sided coin, one that borrows from two distinct parts of Royal Trux’s past and pushes them both forward. The first half of the record draws from albums like Accelerator and Thank You with fully realized, even catchy songs like bouncy opener “Waterpark”, the clattering noise-folk of “The Exception”, and the Latin-influenced “Lunch Money”. These are of course twists on pop, turned into barbed shiny things by Jennifer Herrema, Neil Hagerty, and company. But the second half of the record opens up into more blistering, shape-shifting experiments like the wandering dusty rock of “Coming Out Party” and the nearly nine-minute closer “Blue Is the Frequency”, which is the band’s most bizarre and excellent blues-rock experiment, full of moody tones clashing with guitar theatrics and Herrema’s surprisingly restrained vocals. Veterans of Disorder is another great turn by Royal Trux, one as unapologetically theirs as it is unpredictable. It is, like all the other Royal Trux Drag City is pulling back into the light, worth another close look. And then another after that. Matthew Fiander


 

 


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Swearin’

Surfing Strange

(Wichita/Salinas; US: 5 Nov 2013; UK: 4 Nov 2013)

Swearin’
Surfing Strange


The 2012 debut album from Swearin’ was a pure, unfettered bit of punchy rock joy. In a time when we get plenty of rock and punk throwbacks, Swearin’ presented us with a less pretentious, less self-conscious version of the trend that ended up sounding more timeless than revivalist. And now they’re already back with their follow-up, Surfing Strange, and the band has upped the ante again. This record is every bit as zealous in its energy but more diverse in its tempos and textures, more adventurous in its moods and structures. We get wonderful pop-punk sunbursts on “Dust in the Gold Sack” or “Unwanted Place”, but we also get pensive mood pieces like “Loretta’s Flowers” and, perhaps most strikingly, the muscled and wooly rock moments on the thundering “Mermaid” or the grit ‘n gauze of “Glare of the Sun”. This is an album that relates the stunning amount of maturity and chemistry the band has developed over the past year, and the two-headed singing and writing of Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride is weary but open-hearted, cautiously hopeful throughout. It’s been a long year of great rock records, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for another top-notch entry, and Surfing Strange is exactly that. Matthew Fiander


 

 


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Throwing Muses

Purgatory/Paradise (album+book)

(It Books; US: 12 Nov 2013; UK: 11 Nov 2013)

Throwing Muses
Purgatory/Paradise


There’s never been much precedence for a pathbreaking band like Throwing Muses, so it’s only natural that Kristin Hersh and co. have returned from a decade-long layoff with an ambitious multimedia project like Purgatory/Paradise. Yet while it’s meant to go hand-in-hand with an art book designed by drummer David Narcizo, the music for Purgatory/Paradise stands up well on its own, with a good helping of full-length songs accompanied by shorter pieces that don’t feel like snippets or interludes. Moving breathlessly from piece to piece over 32 tracks and an hour-plus of material, Purgatory/Paradise messes with what you expect from the album format, while giving you enough to hold onto and letting you into an immersive world that the beloved trio creates here. Indeed, all the ineffable qualities of Hersh’s inimitable songwriting grab you as viscerally as ever, the whole thing feeling both hauntingly surreal and impossibly personal at the same time. You notice it in the otherworldly folk strum of “Smoky Hands” and the imposing melodies of “Sunray Venus”, but especially when Hersh sounds possessed like only her voice can as she lets loose on “Lazy Eye” and “Quick”. But in this unadulterated, unabridged form, what really comes through is the breadth of Throwing Muses’ hallmark sound, ranging from the gossamer shimmer of “Dripping Trees” to the deeply resonant “Clark’s Nutcracker”, from the prettiness of “Terra Nova” to the harrowing intensity of the reverby “Curtains 1”. And when you experience Purgatory/Paradise, you start to wonder whether maybe this is the best way to experience appreciate the sensory overload of Throwing Muses, everything all at once. Arnold Pan


 

 


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Mick Turner

Don’t Tell the Driver

(Drag City; US: 19 Nov 2013; UK: 18 Nov 2013)

Mick Turner
Don’t Tell the Driver


When you’re associated with such a distinctive aesthetic as guitarist Mick Turner is with Dirty Three’s sound, it wouldn’t be completely surprising if you found yourself in the odd position of not entirely having your own musical identity, even when working under your own name. But that’s not the case with Turner’s solo effort Don’t Tell the Driver, even if his minimalist melodies and improvisational, slip-sliding play on it can’t help but recall his contributions to his celebrated trio. That’s because there’s a different feel and tone to Don’t Tell the Driver, as Turner’s go-to moves step out front and center with more room to roam and more space to breathe, sans Dirty Three compatriots violinist Warren Ellis and drummer Jim White. So while you might be used to hearing him in the churning roil of a tumultuous art-rock trance or at eerie peace in the eye of a instrumental storm that’s just passing, Turner sounds at ease here stretching things out, coming up with a pastoral air to Don’t Tell the Driver that’s as wide open as the artwork he painted for the album’s cover. New contexts and combinations foreground the tones that have always distinguished Turner’s guitar work, particularly how his gypsy-ish strains are embellished by piano and horns on “The Navigator” or the way his proficient picking winds its way through low, cavernous male vocals and higher-pitched female vox on the patiently building epic “Over Waves”. Here, Turner’s contributions aren’t as much about fitting into a tuned-up, well-established partnership as Dirty Three obviously is, but more about drawing out his own signature style, as it should be when your name is on your work. Arnold Pan


 

Selected Releases for November and December 2013
(Release dates subject to change)


November 5


Aloa Input, Anysome (Morr)
Anoraak, Chronotropic (Grand Blanc)
Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee)
Chris Biesterfeldt, Urban Mandolin
Blessed Feathers, Order of the Arrow
Botanist and Palace of Worms, Split LP (The Flenser)
David Bowie, The Next Day Extra (Virgin)
Butchers of Sky Valley, Butchers of Sky Valley
Cabaret Voltaire, #8385: Collected Works 1983-1985 box set (Mute)
Cold Beat, Worms/Year 5772 EP (Crime on the Moon)
Laurent Coq, Dialogue (Sunnyside)
Cut Copy, Free Your Mind (Modular/Loma Vista)
Trent Dabbs, The Way We Look at Horses (Ready Set)
Kris Davis, Massive Threads (Thirsty Ear)
Ejecta, Dominae (Driftless)
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Interscope)
Sore Eros & Kurt Vile, Jamaica Plain EP (Care in the Community)
Freya, Paragons of the Crucible (Holy Mountain)
Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix Experience: Miami Pop Festival (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)
Kitchens of Distinction, Folly
Avril Lavigne, Avril Lavigne (Epic)
Le Trouble, Reality Strikes EP (Lava)
Tor Lundvall, Structures and Solitude (5-CD set) (Dais)
Luscious Jackson, Magic Hour (City Song)
M.I.A., Matangi (Interscope)
The Melodic, Effra Parade (Anti-)
Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Ipecac)
Midlake, Antiphon (ATO)
Connan Mockasin, Caramel (Mexican Summer)
Clara Moto, Blue Distance (In Finé)
My Midnight Heart, Chest of Hearts EP (MNRCH)
Sapphire Slows, Allegoria (Not Not Fun)
Seasick Mama, Tip Top Shape EP
The Sounds, Weekend (Arnioki/INgrooves)
Sqürl (Jim Jarmusch), EP#2 (ATP)
Tennis, Small Sound EP (Communion)
The Thing, Boot! (The Thing)
White Fence, Live in San Francisco (Castle Face)
Steven Wilson, Drive Home EP (Kscope)


November 8
Cronian, Erathems (Season of Mist)
Dalgish, Niaiw Ot Vile (PAN)
Endstille, Kapitulation (Season of Mist)
Envious, Liminal (Season of Mist)


November 12


Agony Aunts, Big Cinnamon (Mystery Lawn)
Ancient Sky, All Get Out (Wharf Cat)
Avatism, Adamant (Vakant)
Alan Blackman, The Coastal Suite
Daniel Bortz, Patchwork Memories (SUOL)
The Brother Kite, Model Rocket (Clairecords)
Ane Brun, Rarities (Balloon Ranger)
Emerson Lake & Palmer, Live in Montreal 1977 (2 CDs) (Shout! Factory)
ERAAS, Initiation (Felte)
Erasure, Snow Globe (Mute)
Flume, Flume 4-CD deluxe reissues (Mom+Pop)
Josephine Foster, I’m a Dreamer (Fire)
Gap Dream, Shine Your Light (Burger)
Sebastian Grainger and the Mountains, Yours to Discover (Last Gang)
Grass House, A Sun Full and Drowning (Marshall Teller)
Hilary Hahn, In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores (2 CDs) (Deutsche Grammophon)
Heidecker & Wood, Some Things Never Stay the Same (Little Record Co.)
The Hunt, The Hunt Begins (Sacred Bones)
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Demons EP (Instant)
Patrick Higgins, String Quartet No. 2 + Glacia (Ex Cathedra)
Ills, Hideout from the Feeders (Aloe)
Ital Tek, Control (Planet Mu)
Christian Kjellvander, The Pitcher (Tapete)
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (Interscope)
Latyrx, The Second Album (Latyramid)
Cate Le Bon, Mug Museum (Wichita)
Less Than Jake, See the Light (Fat Wreck)
Mansions, Doom Loop
Mount Eerie, Pre-Human Ideas (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Obliteration, Black Death Horizon (Relapse)
William Parker, Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006–2012 (8-CD set) (AUM Fidelity)
Passafire, Vines (Easy Star)
James Plotkin & Paal Nilssen-Love, Death Rattle (Rune Grammofon)
Psapp, What Makes Us Glow (The state51 Conspiracy)
Ravenna Woods, The Jackals (RavWoo)
Vex Ruffin, Vex Ruffin (Stones Throw)
Scarlet Youth, The Everchanging View (Saint Marie)
Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co. 10th Anniversary Edition) (Secretly Canadian)
Soviet Soviet, Fate (Felte)
Starlings, TN, All the Good Times (Chicken Ranch)
State Faults, Resonate/Desperate (No Sleep)
Stornoway, You Don’t Know Anything EP (Almanac)
Stückenburg, Novella
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, Under The Covers Vol.3 (Shout! Factory)
Tartit With Imharhan, Live from the Sahara (Clermont)
Tei Shi, Saudade EP
Sebastian Tellier, Confection
Tindersticks, Across Six Leap Years (Lucky Dog)
Tough Age, Tough Age (Mint)
Vaadat Charigim, The World Is Well Lost (Burger)
Various artists, Inside Llewyn Davis (Nonesuch)
Various Artists, Peru Maravilloso: Vintage Latin, Tropical, and Cumbia (Tiger’s Milk)
Various Artists, Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero)
The Who, Tommy Limited Edition Super Deluxe Edition (Geffen)
Keller Williams, Funk
Wooden Shjips, Back to Land (Thrill Jockey)


November 19


A Perfect Circle, Three Sixty (Universal)
Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe (Domino)
The Bottle Rockets, Bottle Rockets and the Brooklyn Sides (2-CD reissue) (Bloodshot)
Boys Noize, Fabriclive72 (Fabric London)
Jake Bugg, Shangri-La (Island)
Alex Cuervo, Espectrostatic (Trouble in Mind)
The Deltahorse, The Deltahorse EP
The Entrance Band, Face the Sun (Beyond Is Beyond Is Beyond)
Nils Frahm, Spaces (Erased Tapes)
Ghost B.C., If You Have Ghost EP (Loma Linda)
Gliss, Langson Dans deluxe edition (Modern Outsider)
Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica Quartet, Where Here Meets There
Elko Ishibashi, Imitation of Life (Drag City)
itsnotyouitsme, This I (New Amsterdam)
The Knells, The Knells (New Amsterdam)
The Limiñanas, Costa Blanca (Trouble in Mind)
Magik Markers, Surrender to the Fantasy (Drag City)
Jeffrey Novak, Lemon Kid (Trouble in Mind)
Orange Yellow Red, A Rose Made of Galaxies (Saint Marie)
Roswell Rudd, Trombone for Lovers (Sunnyside)
Dave Sharp’s Secret 7, Worlds (Vortex Jazz)
Trouble Books, Love at Dusk (MIE)
Various Artists, I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990 (Light in the Attic)
Randy Weston / Billy Harper, The Roots of the Blues (Sunnyside)
Yo Gotti, I Am (Epic)
Yo La Tengo, Fade Deluxe (Matador)


November 26


A Perfect Circle, A Perfect Circle, Featuring Stone and Echo (4-CD set and live DVD)
Beachwood Sparks, Desert Skies (Alive Naturalsound)
Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, Foreverly (Everly Brothers tribute) (Reprise)
Eric Clapton, Give Me the Strength: The 1974-1975 Recordings (6-CD set) (Universal)
Fire Iron Frenzy, Engine of a Million Plots (Dept. of Geophysics)
Heartsick, Re-engineering (PAN)
The KVB, Minus One (A)
Kevin Morby, Harlem River (Woodsist)
NC Music Love Army, We Are Not for Sale: Songs of Protest (Redeye)
One Direction, Midnight Memories (Columbia)
Shearwater, Fellow Travelers (Sub Pop)
Soundgarden, Screaming Life/Fopp reissue (Sub Pop)
Barbra Streisand, Back to Brooklyn (Live) (Columbia)
Teengirl Fantasy, Nun EP (This Is Music)
Thee Oh Sees, Singles Collection, Vol. 3 (Castle Face)
Tower of Power, Hipper Than Hip (Live) (Razor & Tie)
Various Artists, I Need You Bad (Polyvinyl)
Peter Walker, Has Anybody Seen Our Freedom? (Delmore)
The Warlocks, Skull Worship (Zap Banana)
Lewis Watson, Some Songs with Some Friends EP (Warner)


November 29


Brendan Benson, You Were Right (Readymade)
Destroyer, Spanish Songs EP (Merge)
Josh Tillman (Father John Misty), The History of Caves Soundtrack (Sub Pop)


December 3


15-60-75 (The Numbers Band), Jimmy Bell’s Still in Town (reissue) (Existencil)
Barnett + Coloccia, Retrieval (Blackest Ever Black)
Beastmilk, Climax (Svart)
bEEdEEgEE, Sum One (4AD)
Chris Brown, X (RCA)
Burning Jet Black, Rascals EP
Marley Carroll, Sings
Dengue Fever, Girl from the North EP
Graze, Edges (New Kanada)
Magic Trick, River of Souls (Empty Cellar)
Moon Honey, Hand-Painted Dream Photographs
Mutual Benefit, Love’s Crushing Diamond (Other Music)
Britney Spears, Britney Jean (RCA)
Synkro, Lost Here EP (R&S)
The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Edition (Universal)
Wolf People, When the Fire Is in the Grate 12” (Jagjaguwar)


December 5


Dam-Funk & Snoopzilla, 7 Days of Funk (Stones Throw)
Gloom Balloon, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster/Fix The Sunshine Pts.1-7 (An Ode to Bill Doss) (Maximum Ames)
Their/They’re/There, Analog Weekend EP (Topshelf/Polyvinyl)


December 10


Childish Gambino, Because the Internet (Glassnote)
FRKWYS Vol 10: David Van Tieghem x Ten, Fits & Starts (RVNG Intl)
R Kelly, Black Panties (RCA)
Robert Pollard, Blazing Gentlemen (GBV)


December 17


Aquariana, Aquariana (Drag City)

Related Articles
22 Jan 2014
With Veterans of Disorder, Drag City continues it's reissue campaign for '90s legends Royal Trux. Like much of the Trux's best music, the album sits halfway between emulation and complete deconstruction of classic rock.
20 Nov 2013
Expecting the unexpected has always been a good way to go about experiencing Throwing Muses' music. But if there's a constant to the beloved band and its leader Kristin Hersh, it's that she follows her own, well, muse, as she explains in an interview with PopMatters.
11 Nov 2013
While this epic album/book combo borrows from all eras of the band's long history, it's got its own tense seething, its own structure, its own curiosities and, finally, its own impact.
By PopMatters Staff
25 Oct 2013
Throwing Muses are back with their first album of new material in more than 10 years. Wow. Check out "Sunray Venus" as a first taste from Purgatory/Paradise releasing 11 November.
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