Tag Archives: 4AD

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter - Halcyon DigestpgDeerhunterHalcyon Digest (4AD)

The prolific output of Deerhunter should at least get you to notice them, but it’s the band’s consistency that will convert you. They’re one of a select few that is able to combine successfully their art-rock tendencies with melodic fortitude.

Normally, this sense of melody comes in the form of reverberated cavestomps that sound like fractured, Nuggets-era musings on death, drugs, and disturbing characters.

Continue reading Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

The National – High Violet

The National - High VioletThe NationalHigh Violet (4AD)

I didn’t think a band was supposed to work this way in these times: follow up the most successful album of your career with one that could potentially become the least likely to succeed.

But I can’t say enough about High Violet, the National‘s fifth album and most ambitious release to date, not only in terms of how its woe ultimately takes the wind out of any momentum that Boxer may have provided it, but how focused, smart, and goddamn good it sounds in those dark corners of personal abyss.

Continue reading The National – High Violet

Beggars Group Knows What’s Up

BeggarsI’ve known for a while that the Beggars Group has its shit together. This might be “inside baseball” but as the publisher of an online music zine, I’ve been very impressed with how their publicity department deals with us. Each release from their four labels (Matador, 4AD, XL, and Rough Trade) is promoted with a free, easily shareable MP3, and review copies are distributed far more simply than any other label. It is no coincidence that we review more stuff from Beggars than from other labels; they make it easier for us, and we’re kinda lazy—sometimes too lazy to even send an email requesting a promo.

Now, after reading this interview with Beggars founder and chairman Martin Mills, I realize why they’re great: the dude running the show is hella smart.

“You read the industry is 60 per cent of the size it was ten years ago. But that 40 per cent that has gone is almost entirely the cream at the top. Records that sold two million now sell 500,000 – that’s where that’s gone. At the same time it’s easier to sell those slightly smaller levels.

“What’s called pejoratively ‘the new middle class’ is someone like, say, Calexico or Midlake, who can sell 100,000 plus records every time they put out a record; they can play to 3-4,000 people in 30 or 40 cities around the world. And they can make a pretty good living out of that, doing what they love doing, and can do it on their own terms, and that’s fantastic. We’ve got a bunch of bands like that, they’re not necessarily seeking stardom or riches. That’s incredibly healthy.”

You just don’t expect to read quotes like that from a music exec. It’s refreshing. Mills has lots of insightful opinions on a variety of topics, and he makes a shitload of sense. He wants his artists (and his labels) to get paid, but acknowledges that “some of our best purchasers are also pirates.” It’s a complex world we’ve got here, but this guy reminds us that it’s a great time to be a smart independent label.

Continue reading Beggars Group Knows What’s Up

Serena-Maneesh – SM2: Abyss In B Minor

Serena-Maneesh - SM2: Abyss In B MinorSerena-ManeeshSM2: Abyss In B Minor (4AD)

Quite possibly, the most accurate interpretation of My Bloody Valentine‘s Loveless since Kevin Shields submitted the invoice to Creation Records for the recording fees from that landmark album.

Yes, I’m aware that I’ve penned a number reviews that active use Loveless as a handy reference point, but Serena-Maneesh‘s second album, SM2: Abyss In B Minor, is such a spotless reinterpretation of Shields’ shoegaze classic that I’m inclined to tell everyone waiting for a My Bloody Valentine reunion album to pitch the idea and lend your support behind these Norwegian sound manipulators.

Continue reading Serena-Maneesh – SM2: Abyss In B Minor

Efterklang – Magic Chairs

Efterklang - Magic ChairsEfterklangMagic Chairs (4AD)

Love it or hate it, Arcade Fire‘s Funeral has reached international proportions to the point that even the second-tier bands can be found in such far reaching places like the Netherlands.

Here’s the thing, when Efterklang began making records before Funeral, the records sounded a lot more like Sigur Ros. Whether or not the change in sound was a factor in the band getting signed or the result of it, Magic Chairs is yet another entry in orchestral pop world that began when people stopped smelling like teen spirit and began incorporating their friend with the cello into their rehearsals.

Continue reading Efterklang – Magic Chairs

The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love

The Big Pink - A Brief History Of LoveThe Big PinkA Brief History Of Love (4AD)

A better title would be “A Brief History Of Shoegaze,” but because not a lot of bands today are doing this type of music with such stunning accuracy, we’ll give the Big Pink a pass.

Let’s clarify a bit: A Brief History Of Love is nowhere near the same level as Psycho Candy or Loveless, but it could fit in nicely beside any Catherine Wheel record and is infinitely more hooky than anything Ride ever released. It is a pop record at its core—fueled by specific sections of a record store that stocks every Creation Records ever released on the merits of the label itself.

Continue reading The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love

The Mountain Goats on Jimmy Fallon

Video: The Mountain Goats – “Genesis 3:23” (Jimmy Fallon, Jan. 19)

We wrote about this song when 4AD first gave away the MP3 back in July. It’s still my favorite song on the album, and this live version is pretty great. Interesting to see John Darnielle standing behind the keyboard with Perry Wright from the Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers filling in on guitar. The rhythm section of Peter Hughes and Superchunk‘s Jon Wurster is as badass as ever. Fallon is a goof, but what can you do?

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Genesis 3:23”

The Mountain Goats: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come

The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To ComeThe Mountain GoatsThe Life Of The World To Come (4AD)

More religious than Songs The Lord Taught Us and halfway towards “No Shit?” CCM territory, The Life Of The World To Come finds John Darnielle tip-toeing around religious topics without letting the gospel touch his pen. This is spiritual music only in the sense that Darnielle is in the dumps and thinks of religion as a way to add solemn tones to his songbook.

“1 Samuel 15:23” kicks Life Of The World off in fine fashion, if not for the blue-balls feeling you get at the end of the song’s tense four minutes. During that entire time—indeed, throughout the album—you get the feeling that something great is just about to take place. But it never does. The song exemplifies the rest of the album, most of it recreating a slow build only to have it get stuck on the way up to something memorable.

“There’s more like me where I come from,” he sings on “Samuel”, and boy, he ain’t foolin.

Continue reading The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come

New Mountain Goats video: Ezekiel 7

Video: The Mountain Goats – “Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace”

Just John Darnielle and a piano, alone in an empty auditorium, encircled by camera track. Directed by Rian Johnson.

The Mountain Goats: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

Continue reading New Mountain Goats video: Ezekiel 7

Tune Yards – Bird-Brains

Tune YardsBird-Brains (4AD)

DIY don’t mean shit if you ain’t got the chops to back it up. I’ve got boxes full of “DIY” cassettes in my storage room of captured crap, but thanks to limited ability, you won’t be hearing any of my collected “works” anytime soon.

You should, on the other hand, spend a few moments checking out the project of Merrill Garbus’ Tune Yards, a collection that deserves more than finding a resting place in the storage room or on the oxide of the tapes she sells at shows.

Continue reading Tune Yards – Bird-Brains