New Releases - 5/31/19
*repeat repeat - Glazed CD/LP (Dangerbird)
On their second album Glazed - produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys - *repeat repeat deliver a batch of songs entirely true to the album's title; sugary and sticky and impossibly shiny, all glistening harmonies and candy-coated hooks. But beneath the gloss lies something more jarring and jagged, a raw vitality generated by the Nashville band's buzzy rhythms and blistering guitar work. Fortified by the distinct creative alliance of husband-and-wife duo Jared and Kristyn Corder, the result is an album that finds an unlikely power in irrepressible sweetness. "We wanted to make a record about seeing the world through a fresh set of colors."
Pip Blom - Boat CD/LP (Heavenly/PIAS America)
Dutch artist Pip Blom's debut album Boat is as energetic as it is infectious. Recorded in a shipping container on the banks of the Thames in East London, its ten songs, alluding to the album's title, ferry you through Pip's headspace via expertly crafted compositions gelled together through their unassuming depth. There's the kinetic combination of guitars from Pip herself and brother Tender Blom, the effortlessly captivating vocal range which can be authoritative and intent like in the driving album opener "Daddy Issues", or soothing and warm as heard in melodic middle track "Bedhead". Then there are the choruses that seem to stop songs in their tracks and lift them into a different stratosphere. Boat is an open book of Pip Blom, delivered via her undeniable knack for writing hook-laden, three to four-minute songs.
L7 - Scatter The Rats CD/LP (Blackheart)
The first L7 album in 20 years, Scatter The Rats embodies everything that made the band so iconic in the first place - the distortion-heavy riffs and headbanging rhythms, sludgy grooves and indelible melodies. And in their lyrics, L7 achieve a direct transmission of raw feeling, often spiked with biting commentary on the chaos of the world today. Duff McKagan - Tenderness CD/LP (Hip-O) Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan's new solo album is a reflection on his experiences traveling the globe over two and a half years on GNR's Not In This Lifetime tour.
Thomas Rhett - Center Point Road CD/LP (Valory)
Fourth studio album by the country music singer. Includes collaborations with Little Big Town, Jon Pardi, and Kelsea Ballerini.
Ian Noe - Between The Country CD/LP (National Treasury)
Ian Noe draws on the day-to-day life of Eastern Kentucky on his debut album, Between The Country. Recorded in Nashville with unhurried production by Dave Cobb, these 10 original songs introduce a number of complicated characters, diverse in their own downfalls but bound together by Noe's singular voice.
Sacred Paws - Run Around The Sun CD/LP+MP3 (Rock Action/Merge)
Sacred Paws have a natural inclination not to take things too seriously. You can hear it all the way through a conversation with its two members, guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Eilidh Rodgers, punctuated by rolls of giggles and thoughtful pauses, and you can hear it in the light touch they bring to their music, a jangly blend of indie pop full of fizzing world rhythms and bright horns. Run Around The Sun brims with upbeat reflections on growing up and looking back. Shimmering guitar riffs dance between snappy beats and swooning melodies that will have crowds committing to far more than a simple head-bob. "I think we'd get bored if it was too slow," Eilidh says. "We'd never want to play something live that people couldn't dance to. It would feel strange to us. It's kind of the whole point." [Limited green colored vinyl pressing.]
Kishi Bashi - Omoiyari CD/LP (Joyful Noise)
Imagine being forced from your home. Imagine being sent to a prison camp with no trial, and no promise of release. Imagine all this happened simply because of the language you speak, the shade of your skin, or the roots of your family tree. For over 120,000 Japanese Americans, this was a reality during World War II. It's a reality that Kishi Bashi seeks to reckon with on his latest release, Omoiyari. The strong conceptual elements of Omoiyari are driven by Kishi Bashi's captivating musical score. Stepping away from his past loop-based production model, he embraced a more collaborative approach when recording, and for the first time included contributions from other musicians, such as Mike Savino (aka Tall Tall Trees) on banjo and bass, and Nick Ogawa (aka Takenobu) on cello. Kishi Bashi's spectacular trademark violin soundscapes are still an essential component of his sound, but the focus of Omoiyari is centered squarely on its songs. [Exclusive indie-store-only colored vinyl pressing.]
Sinkane - Dépaysé CD/LP (City Slang)
Sinkane is unique in that he is one of few artists that has a real, tangible stake in our current cultural and political climate, and it shows in the music. For the new album Dépaysé (a French word meaning "to be removed from one's habitual surroundings") Ahmed Gallab didn't just write a few protest songs in the style of the familiar Sinkane sound. Rather, you can feel the difference, the change that has taken place in the art. The falsetto of the earlier records is almost entirely gone in favor of an aggressive, clearly stated tenor. There is almost nothing in the lyrics that is ambiguous or even difficult to understand, and even the music's poppier moments are confrontational and bombastic. And while the album is reflective of what the band has become musically, a wild raging force to be reckoned with live, it is at its heart about what real frustration feels like and what real change could require.
Apex Manor - Heartbreak City CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
Requiring less than two weeks of studio time to complete, it's accurate to say that Apex Manor's Heartbreak City was captured more than it was recorded due to the "everybody in the same room" live sessions featuring songwriter Ross Flournoy on guitar and vocals, Dan Allaire (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) on drums, and Rob Barbato on bass and production duties. The raucous result is a sonic spectacle that cleverly balances aggressive Dinosaur Jr-esque guitars with dreamy synth work that's reminiscent of The Cure, all mixed together with spirited instrumental performances, nuanced melodicism, and lyrics that swing wildly between being cryptic and being profound. In short, it's everything there is to love about early '90s pre-commercialized alternative rock but with a refreshingly modern absence of pretense or nostalgia. [Limited red colored vinyl pressing.]
Samana - Ascension CD/LP (Fat Cat)
Samana inhabit a musical space somewhere between Weyes Blood, Nico, Beach House and PJ Harvey, yet they possess a unique spirit born out of their nomadic existence. Each song is written with its own distinct weight and significance, born from the interpretation of dreams, the philosophies of ancient rituals and personal experience of love, loss and death.
Frank Iero and The Future Violents - Barriers CD/LP (UNFD)
For Frank Iero, making music has always been a coping mechanism. But it's also much more than just a way of dealing with the hardships of life - it's a means of stepping back to take in the hurricane that is life, both in all its glory and devastation and acknowledging the things you could, and maybe should, have done differently. Regret flows through Barriers, Iero's third solo record, more than anything he's ever made before.
Urochromes - Trope House CD/LP (Wharf Cat)
On their first long player, Urochromes complement their catchy-as-f**k punk bangers with colorful experimental rock that choogles forth like the waters of the Mississippi River Delta where it was recorded. Daniel Knox - Chasescene CD/LP (H.P. Johnson Presents) Murder ballads met by Shakespearean tragedy against a backdrop of Lynchian contemporary America. Guests on Chasecene include vocals from Jarvis Cocker and Nina Nastasia, the late saxophonist Ralph Carney (Tin Huey, Tom Waits), David Coulter, Jason Toth of The Handsome Family, and more.
Fujiya & Miyagi - Flashback CD/LP+MP3 (Impossible Objects)
After the ambitious three EP trilogy Impossible Objects Of Desire in 2017, Fujiya & Miyagi release their seventh full length album. "Flashback started life as our funk record," says Fujiya & Miyagi's David Best. "Yet once we got into the production stage our embryonic funk songs moved closer to electro in feel. Although this is our funkiest album to date and the funk is deliberate." [Limited red colored vinyl pressing.]
Eluvium - Piano Works CD/LP+MP3 (Temporary Residence)
Pianoworks is Eluvium's first solo piano album since his sophomore album, An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death (2004). Inspired by the quiet thoughts and solitary observations of children - and the evolution/dissolution of that ephemeral, uncorrupted wonder of simple joy - Pianoworks begins with a song about children's piano lessons, and culminates with an etude driven by the struggle to hold onto innocence and imagination as adulthood settles in.
Rosie Lowe - YU CD/LP (Wolf Tone)
"The smoky-voiced R&B multi-instrumentalist charts the ups and downs of a relationship with the help of guests like Jay Electronica and Floating Points. Lowe is only growing as an artist, and YU heralds a bright future." - Pitchfork
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - The Traveler CD/LP (Concord)
We are all travelers. And for the last quarter-century, riding shotgun with Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been one of the greatest road-trip in rock 'n' roll. Gone is the young Louisiana gunslinger who erupted onto the early-'90s scene with his burn-it-down guitar solos and gut-punch songcraft. Now 41, Shepherd is even more magnetic, still pushing his Fender Strat where others fear to fret while diving deep into human truths and global concerns with an honesty that only comes with wisdom. The Traveler was recorded in Neptune Valley, Los Angeles, where the production team of Shepherd and Marshall Altman led a crack-squad studio band and sculpted a track listing that can be both savage and soothing.
Lee "Scratch" Perry - Rainford CD (On-U Sound)
The mighty Upsetter returns with nine brand new tracks recorded with longtime friend and collaborator Adrian Sherwood. Rainford is the culmination of over two years work and recording sessions that span Jamaica, Brazil and the UK. Determined to craft a work of lasting power, Sherwood likens to the album to the work that Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash on the American Recordings series, a deeply personal work (the album title refers to Lees birth name) and arguably the strongest batch of original material that Perry has released for many years. From the atmospheric field recording and wah-wah guitar of album opener "Cricket On The Moon", to the gothic cello embellishment on "Let It Rain", the chopped-and-compressed horn section of "Makumba Rock", to the layered, carefully arranged backing vocals like a heavenly chorus throughout the record, this is an album with true love, care and attention poured into its every groove. [Limited gold colored vinyl pressing.]
Carousel Kings - Plus Ultra CD/LP (Victory)
On Plus Ultra, Carousel Kings go far behind the limitations of pop-punk, adding a deeper and subtle, diverse selection of material, including a whopping ten guest appearances. Death Angel - Humanicide CD (Nuclear Blast) Ascending from the depths, the almighty Bay Area thrash metal stalwarts are back with their ninth album, Humanicide. A return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality are what fuel the powerful themes erupting from these fresh death metal anthems. In a modern capitalist society where selfishness reigns and communal help and survival are things of the past, Death Angel produce sounds and symbols that point out the truths of attempting to exist safely in the present day. The title itself describes a plain in which humans, after generations of violence, regression, and hate, have finally extinguished themselves into dust. The wasteland they left behind is populated only by those creatures that passionately depend on their pack for survival: the wolves. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available for special order.]
Darkthrone - Old Star CD/LP (Peaceville)
The longstanding duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto return with their first studio album since 2016's Arctic Thunder. Old Star displays a mastery of the art of the riff, with its six epic tracks taking in the best of the old school of heavy and extreme metal combined with a large dose of doom channeled through the grime of the underground.
Gaahls Wyrd - Gastir: Ghosts Invited CD/LP (Season Of Mist)
The infamous Gaahl (Gorgoroth, Wardruna) is a grim and imposing personification of black metal's iconoclasm. Now he returns with his new band Gaahls Wyrd and their massive debut album, Gastir: Ghosts Invited. Borne out of a project honoring the legacy of his first band Trelldom, Gaahls Wyrd continues on the left-hand path that has defined his music for the past 25 years. As "From the Spear", "Ghosts Invited" and the epic "Carving The Voices" illustrate, his ghastly vocals are the cutting edge of a full-strength assault of pure Norwegian black metal. Gaahls Wyrd is one of the best new metal bands to arise in the last decade, and Gastir: Ghosts Invited is a towering monument of black metal malevolence and majesty.
Compilations, Best Of's & Sundry Collections
Buck Owens and The Buckaroos - The Complete Capitol Singles: 1971-1975 2xCD (Omnivore)
The third and final volume in a series chronicling every one of Buck's historic Capitol singles from the '50s, '60, and '70s. Taken from the original stereo masters, The Complete Capitol Singles: 1971-1975 collects the A- and B-side to all 21 singles from that period, including 9 Top Ten hits, in their original, chronological form.
Rory Gallagher - Blues CD/3xCD/2xLP (UMe)
A collection of rare and unreleased recordings of Rory Gallagher playing strictly blues material. It ranges from previously unreleased tracks from Rory's archive, special guest sessions that with legendary blues artists (Muddy Waters / Albert King), lost radio sessions and more.
DVDs and Bluray
The Police - Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out DVD/Blu-ray (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Everyone Stares is a first-person account of The Police's ascent from obscurity to worldwide fame as well as an astute and sometimes hilarious commentary on the pop culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Culled from over 50 hours of Super 8 movies Copeland shot during the acclaimed trio's heyday, the film offers an insider's perspective on touring, the other band members and the adoring fans that puts the audience in the drummer's seat.
New on Vinyl
Khalid - Free Spirit 2xLP+MP3 (RCA)
Recently released on CD - now available on vinyl. Khalid's music is primarily R&B and pop. He sings in both the baritone and tenor ranges, effectively rendering him a baritenor. Khalid cites Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Father John Misty, Frank Ocean, Grizzly Bear, Chance The Rapper, Lorde, India. Arie, and James Blake as influences. Free Spirit is his second album.
Offset - Father Of 4 2xLP (Quality Control)
Recently released on CD - now available on vinyl. The debut studio album by rapper Offset features guest appearances by J. Cole, Cardi B, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, Big Rube, Gunna, CeeLo Green, Quavo and Gucci Mane.
Tate Tucker - Shangri La 10" (Harvest)
LA-based recording artist Tate Tucker is one of the best rappers that you may not have noticed (yet).
Operators - Radiant Dawn LP (Last Gang)
Operators is a Montreal based project created by Daniel Boeckner, (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Divine Fits), Devojka, and Sam Brown (Divine Fits, New Bomb Turks). Radiant Dawn features nine tracks which meld raw analog hardware with Boeckner's distinct voice to create an immersive cinematic sound. Interspersed between the tracks are instrumental intertitles that amplify the album's 1970s sci-fi dystopian feel.
JR JR - Invocations/Conversations 2xLP (Love Is EZ)
New album from the band formally known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. [CD edition due June 21.]
Frank Turner - Poetry Of The Deed [Reissue/2009] 2xLP (Xtra Mile)
Limited tenth anniversary double-LP vinyl reissue of the third studio album by the English singer-songwriter.
Resina - Traces - Remixes 12" (Fat Cat)
Warsaw-based cellist Resina follows up last year's brilliant Traces album with a new EP featuring one of its standout tracks, "Trigger", plus a set of remixes from four of her favorite artists: Ben Frost, Lotic, Abul Mogard and 130701 labelmate, Ian William Craig.
Ancient Pools - Cosine LP (Feeding Tube Records)
Shimmering dream pop readymades are the heart of Cosine, the debut release by Ancient Pools. Vocalist Anna Jeter is from Pensacola, where she was in a folk-tinged pop band called 100 Watt Horse, and Kevin Christopher remains the bassist for a more rockist Northwest quartet called Oh, Rose. But Ancient Pools has an intimate, electronics-dappled approach to minimalist pop-tones. Gently struck drums and quiet strings emerge through a hazy wave of vocals and synth that recall the dreamy grace exuded by the duo version of Yo La Tengo, right about the time Georgia started singing. The effect of listening to Cosine on repeat is like sinking into sweet cloud of sound, baked by the sun, with sounds of nature piping themselves into your system on a subliminal level.
Rainer Veil - Vanity 2xLP (Modern Love)
After a five-year pause for breath, Rainer Veil return with their debut full-length, an immersive, kinematic tumble through electronic forms from hyper trance to tape dub experiments and loose polyrhythms -- a summoning of 'ardcore spirits in flux. A hypnotic sound world tempered by weighty bass and angular construction, Vanity discards the foggy filters and guitar pedals that were the signature of their first two EPs in pursuit of a more loose-limbed and swung ideal. Ferociously asymmetric warehouse swerve gives way to an uncanny, nighttime vision of suburban bass riddled with tension and bliss. Tracing rapidly mutating electronic forms, from ringtone hooks to latinate rhythms and Razor synth edits, Vanity explores an instinctive swell of ideas and influences in perpetual and unstoppable forward motion.
Juan Wauters - La Onda De Juan Pablo LP (Captured Tracks)
Juan Wauters - Introducing Juan Pablo LP (Captured Tracks)
Not long ago, Wauters released La Onda de Juan Pablo, an album that allowed him to reinvent himself and start writing a separate chapter in his exciting career. Now, as a companion and as a prequel, he releases Introducing Juan Pablo. La Onda de Juan Pablo was a travelogue of sorts, with its anthropological efforts, its parade of Latin American musicians and its choice to only feature Wauters' native tongue. Introducing Juan Pablo, on the other hand, goes back and forth between Spanish and English. It is, in short, more faithful to the inter-culturalism that Wauters experiences daily.
Sasha Sloan - Loser 12"+MP3 (RCA)
The second EP from the rising Russian-American singer/songwriter.
Neal Francis - These Are The Days 7" (Karma Chief)
Liberated from a self-destructive past and born anew in sobriety, Francis has captured an inspired collection of songs steeped in New Orleans rhythms and Chicago blues.
Jerry Garcia - Almost Acoustic [Reissue/1988] 2xLP (ATO)
Almost Acoustic is a live album by the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. Held in high esteem by fans for superb sound quality and fine musical selection, it contains songs that were recorded from late November to early December of 1987 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco and the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.
Traffic - The Studio Recordings 1967-1974 6xLP (Island)
50 years after Steve Winwood jumped ship from chart toppers The Spencer Davis Group and quit the bright lights in favor of the countryside and jam sessions with Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason and Chris Wood, we celebrate Traffic's influential legacy with this limited edition Island records studio collection. Boasting all six studio albums recorded for the label remastered from the original tapes and presented in their original and highly collectible 'first' Island pressing form (gatefold sleeves, pink eye labels etc.), the set also includes a related and super rare facsimile promo poster for each album.
Azymuth - Águia Não Come Mosca [Reissue/1977] LP (Mr. Bongo)
Golden-era Brazilian jazz-funk-fusion featuring lush Rhodes, soaring synths, fusion guitars and the inimitable drum grooves of Ivan Mamao Conti.
Various Artists - Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil, 1984-1996 2xLP (Music from Memory)
This second volume of Outro Tempo picks up where the first left off, shedding light on a new wave of experimentalism that emerged in Brazil in the late 1980s and 1990s. The twenty tracks collected uncover another area of Brazilian music that looked to the future for inspiration. This time it drifts beyond the rainforest and into the pulsing heart of Brazil's great cities, where it meets a generation of young artists eager to radically change the face of contemporary Brazilian music. In Outro Tempo II, the avant-garde and pop worlds meld in a haze of percussion and electronics. It presents another uncompromising and magnetic reinterpretation of the limits of Brazilian music. Outro Tempo II is compiled again by John Gómez and features original artwork by Alice Quaresma.
3RA1N1AC - Electro-Shock For President [Reissue/1997] 12" (Touch & Go)
Brainiac began in 1992 as the basement experiments of Dayton, OH natives Tim Taylor (vocals, synth), and Juan Monasterio (bass), who first met playing cello in fifth grade. Upon completing the lineup with Michelle Bodine (guitar) and Tyler Trent (drums), they released two full-lengths and toured vigorously, establishing themselves as the latest peg in Ohio's diverse musical timeline. Jim O'Rourke produced 1997's Electroshock For President EP, which found Brainiac continuing their transition into a more electronic rock band. On May 23, 1997, only weeks after the EP's release, Tim lost his life in a car accident. He was 28. A feature length documentary exploring Brainiac's music, legacy, and loss, entitled Transmissions After Zero is due this year.
Sex Gang Children - Blind! [Reissue/1985] LP (Cleopatra)
Limited blue colored vinyl reissue of the 1985 album by the goth rock band.
Cosmonauts - Star 69 LP+MP3 (Burger)
Calling their distorted, amped sound drug punk, Cosmonauts are a California-based garage punk band known for their simple, physically powerful songs and punishing stage volume.
Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow [Reissue/1975] LP (Friday Music)
Limited edition 180gm gold colored vinyl pressing.
Billy Joel - The Bridge [Reissue/1986] LP (Friday Music)
Limited edition 180gm red and orange colored vinyl pressing.
Gas - Königsforst 3LP (Kompakt)
Following the 1997 release of Zauberberg, Wolfgang Voigt's GAS project returned with Königsforst in 1998, a full-length that has stood the test of time as a template for introducing fundamentals of '90s techno into the principles of contemporary electronic music. Originally released in 1998 on the iconic Frankfurt imprint Mille Plateaux, and then reissued in 2016 as a part of GAS Box (KOM 370LP), Königsforst is now released on Voigt's own label, Kompakt, as a 180 gram, triple-LP vinyl in its original artwork. Königsforst brings glimmers of light into Voigt's dark, magnificent forest. Melodic strings and brass are added to his signature layers of ominous intensity. The forest path is laid out by muffled kick drums as classical music loops incessantly swirl with no direction. Includes download.
Not Glass (Not Waving + Jay Glass Dubs) - Forma LP (Ecstatic)
The debut collaboration between Not Waving and longtime correspondent Jay Glass Dubs, paying tribute to Latin and Greek authors Ovid and Heraclitus in a suite of dramatic electronics and cryptic rhythms comparable to a theatrical soundtrack. The album's concept centers around key quotes from the legendary poet/philosophers, who hail from the artists' respective homelands of Italy and Greece. The results are in effect a spellbinding attempt to transmute those notions within the collaborative, contemporary framework of their music, using patented palettes of hardware, vocals, and FX to render and reflect core classical mythological and philosophical ideas about drama, love, metaphysics, cosmology and the "unity of opposites". The artists operate at their most open-ended and subtly suggestive, amorphously shapeshifting from gloaming shadow plays of synth and keys to investigate arcane percussive impulses and iridescent ambient whorls.
Lungbutter - Honey LP (Constellation)
Montreal noise rock trio Lungbutter combine rich layers of Melvins-style guitar distortion, muscular drums and mantric sung-spoken vocals reminiscent of Life Without Buildings. Arresting, abstract and visceral.
King Hobo - Mauga LP (Weathermaker Music)
King Hobo - the side project featuring Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch), Per Wiberg (Opeth, Spiritual Beggars), and Thomas Andersson (Kamchatka) - return with their awaited follow-up to their eponymous 2008 debut.
Om - Live LP (Outer Battery)
Inspired by classic 70's bootlegs, Al Cisneros from Om wanted to capture the raw live feel of their 2013 European tour on vinyl.
Live & in Concert
Lisa Hannigan & Stargaze - Live In Dublin CD/LP (PIAS America)
Mercury Prize nominated Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan is reminiscent of introspective folk artists such as Nick Drake, while delving into the eccentric impulses of musicians like Kate Bush. Reissues & Compilations...
Hootie & The Blowfish - Cracked Rear View [Reissue/1994] 2xCD2xCD+DVD (Atlantic)
25th Anniversary edition. The digitally remastered and expanded 2xCD edition is packed with rare recordings including early versions of many of their biggest hits recorded in 1990 and 1991 and only available previously on cassettes sold at their live shows; the band's five-song 1992 Kootchypop EP; and other unreleased and rare studio tracks. The Deluxe 2xCD+DVD edition adds includes a live recording of the band's February 3, 1995 concert at Nick's Fat City in Pittsburgh, PA. [Vinyl reissue is due June 21]
Team Dresch - Personal Best [Reissue/1995] CD/LP+MP3 (Jealous Butcher)
Team Dresch - Captain My Captain [Reissue/1996] CD/LP+MP3 (Jealous Butcher)
Team Dresch - Choices, Chances, Changes: Singles & Comptracks 1994-2000 CD (Jealous Butcher)
Combining the brazenness of Riot Grrrl with the angst dirge of grunge, Team Dresch didn't just raise the stakes of queercore: They created two near-perfect albums about longing, freedom, and belonging over guitar riffs as epic and intense as Jody Bleyle and Kaia Wilson's poetic couplets.
Karen Tongson - Why Karen Carpenter Matters BK (University of Texas Press)
In the '60s and '70s, America's music scene was marked by raucous excess, reflected in the tragic overdoses of young superstars such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. At the same time, the uplifting harmonies and sunny lyrics that propelled Karen Carpenter and her brother, Richard, to international fame belied a different sort of tragedy-the under-consumption that led to Karen's death at age thirty-two from the effects of an eating disorder. In Why Karen Carpenter Matters, Karen Tongson (whose Filipino musician parents named her after the pop icon) interweaves the story of the singer's rise to fame with her own trans-Pacific journey between the Philippines-where imitations of American pop styles flourished-and Karen Carpenter's home ground of Southern California. Tongson reveals why the Carpenters' chart-topping, seemingly whitewashed musical fantasies of "normal love" can now have profound significance for her-as well as for other people of color, LGBT+ communities, and anyone outside the mainstream culture usually associated with Karen Carpenter's legacy. This hybrid of memoir and biography excavates the destructive perfectionism at the root of the Carpenters' sound, while finding the beauty in the singer's all too brief life.
Robert Hilburn - Paul Simon: The Life BK (Simon & Schuster)
For more than fifty years, Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most beloved artists in American pop music history. Songs like "The Sound of Silence," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Still Crazy After All These Years," and "Graceland" have moved beyond the sales charts and into our cultural consciousness. But Simon is a deeply private person who has said he will not write an autobiography or talk to biographers. Finally, however, he has opened up for Robert Hilburn-for more than one hundred hours of interviews-in this "brilliant and entertaining portrait of Simon that will likely be the definitive biography" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). The result is a deeply human account of the challenges and sacrifices of a life in music at the highest level. In the process, Hilburn documents Simon's search for artistry and his constant struggle to protect that artistry against distractions-fame, marriage, divorce, drugs, record company interference, rejection, and insecurity-that have derailed so many great pop figures. Now available in paperback.