On his latest, producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Bibio blends serene folk pop, lush instrumentation, pastoral guitar instrumentals, nature field recordings, Walt Whitman-esque lyrics and beat-oriented grooves into the perfectly crafted springtime album. Ribbons feels like daydreaming in a garden or out in the woods under a tree or by a trickling stream.
Warm, mellow Scottish folk with lyrics that border spiritual, philosophical, and fantasy themes. The arrangements are a bit stripped down from their lush psychedelia of previous releases, but still feature a good amount of sitar, organ, Irish harp, and violin to add some color to the vocals and acoustic guitar-centric songwriting.
Released in 1969 on Atlantic Format: LP Pressing quality: While this album is a masterpiece, these early pressings/masters sound a … More
Released in 1991 on Touch and Go Records 2000’s pressing Format: LP
Released in 2004 on Constellation Records Format: LPx2
Released on Elektra in 1968 Format: LP
Released in 2003 on Asthmatic Kitty Records Format: LPx2
Originally released in 1967 on Elektra 2012 Rhino Pressing, cut from original analogue masters Format: LP
Exuma’s first album is a powerful and ritualistic masterpiece of spiritual folk from the Bahamas. Exuma, the Obeah Man, is a master storyteller and preacher, sharing visions, myths, and prayers. His expressive, soulful voice takes on many tones as he delivers his musical sermons, from smooth to raspy, soft to confident. A group of singers, percussionists, whistlers, and toads join him and his acoustic guitar, making me imagine them all circled around a large fire in communal worship and grateful that they let us listeners in on it.
Released in 1967 on Columbia Records Format: LP
Released in 1970 on Harvest Records 2014 Pressing Format: LP
Released in 2006 on Warp Records 2012 Pressing Format: LPx2, 180g, 45rpm
On experimental musician/author/professor David Grubb’s first album as singer-songwriter, he synthesizes technical bluegrass banjo and fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing with imaginative arrangements, abrupt stylistic shifts, philosophical questioning lyrics, improvisation, drones, and an eclectic cast of musicians, including drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake), bassist Josh Abrams (Natural Information Society), and drone violinist Tony Conrad.
Released in 1970 on Transatlantic Format: LP Original UK pressing
Released in 1968 on Warner Bros.
Released in 2015 on Sargent House
Released on Stones Throw in 2004 2006 repress Format: LPx2
A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.
Released in 2014 on Stones Throw Format: LPx2
After 20+ years of using his introspective songwriting as a playground for psychedelic lo-fi experimentation, underdog hero Emil Amos hands the production reins to John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) for his most polished album yet, capturing the best aspects of 70’s rock classics without ever feeling cliché. The hi-fi analogue production brings a newfound clarity and depth that allows Amos’ songwriting and instrumental performances to bloom; the choruses are anthemic, the atmospheres are darkly psychedelic, and his lyrics are just as philosophical and contemplative as ever.
Released in 1969 on Elektra Records
No Other is a masterpiece of Cosmic Americana from Gene Clark (Ex-Byrds). Here his amazing songwriting is complemented by lush instrumentation, psychedelic production, and grandiose choir arrangements.
Originally released in 1974 2018 Earth Records Pressing Digitally Remastered Format: LP
The Whole Thing is Just There is another beautiful and life-affirming release from Young Jesus, the second with the current L.A. iteration of the band. Their inter-band chemistry seems stronger than ever, with telepathic improvisations, symbiotic catharses, and a mutual love for each other that is easily felt from a listener’s perspective. The lyrics deal with self-exploration and one’s relationship with the world around them, finding solace in spirituality, existentialism, literature, and the ethos of free jazz. Stylistically the music seems rooted in late-90’s indie rock and emo, with seamless but adventurous detours into post-rock, noisy post-hardcore, and free improvisation. Excited to see where these guys go next.
Released in 2018 on Domino Records Format: LPx2 Includes 12″x12″ glossy lyric and photo booklet
Released in 2018 on P.W. Elverum & Sun Records Format: LP
Released in 2018 on Thrill Jockey Records Format: LPx2, Metallic Silver Vinyl
Released in 2018 on Columbia Records Recorded September and December, 1974
Eric Chenaux’s gentle falsetto is the most constant, tangible element on an album characterized by a permanent state of flux. The guitars are warbly and unsteady with their fluctuating tones, volume, and pitch. Yet, despite their experimental nature, they never sound abrasive and, together with some mellow Wurlitzer, create a soft, pillowy environment for Chenaux’s romantic crooning about the nature of love, the moon, and warm nights.
Released in 1974 on Virgin Records Original U.S. Pressing, Promo Copy
Released in 2010 on 4AD Records Format: LP, white vinyl
Originally released in 2002 on Secretly Canadian 2014 deluxe reissue Format: LPx2 (full album on first LP and demos on … More
Released in 2014 on RCA Records Format: LPx2 Includes 12″x12″ lyric booklet
Categorization and comparison are the least of lojii’s worries, instead prioritizing creative expression and finding spiritual truth and power in this dimly lit dystopia. He delivers his prophetic words with a focused, unwavering determination, while the beats are gritty and nocturnal with their open percussion, eerie synths, and negative space. Don’t miss out on this one.
Released in 2011 on Sub Pop Records Produced by Phil Ek and Fleet Foxes Format: LPx2 Includes large foldout poster
On this mournful offering, Cave’s poetic reflections on loss, longing, and loneliness slowly float down a river of gloomy synth drones, somber strings, and sparse piano. While not exactly uplifting, the album has a sense of peace and beauty that continues up through the repeating final refrain, “and it’s alright now”.
“Four relentless bouts of inspired fire music forged from the true spirit of free jazz, driven by searing poetic narrations of Black trauma, survival and power” (from press release)
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Originally released in 1995 on Mute Records 2015 Pressing
Lushly cinematic folk-rock draped in sweeping string arrangements and spacey synth atmospheres. Damien’s reverbed falsetto recalls Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Bon Iver as he softly sings of God, “spaceships”, and other imagery blending Christian themes with science-fiction.
For fans of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, and Beck’s Sea Change
Released in 1988 on Parlophone Records 2012 Pressing
Released in 2006 on Drag City Records Format: LPx2
Released in 2015 on People Teeth Format: LP
Released in 2002 on Arts & Crafts Records Format: LPx2
Information Released in 1973 on Columbia Records Recorded between 1936-1958
Poliça’s brooding, atmospheric trip-hop/synth pop consists of the passionately dynamic vocals (from co-leader/lyricist Channy Leaneagh), prominent, groovy basslines, driving double drums, and occasional string and horn arrangements all run through effects and mapped into intricate, quantized webs of programmed beats and synthesizers by co-leader/producer Ryan Olsen. Lyrically, the album centers around themes of isolation, fading love, and even addressing on police violence on “Wedding”.
For fans of Portishead, The Knife
“What I’m asking you to do is take some risks. Stop paying war taxes, refuse the armed forces, organize against the air war, support the strikes and boycotts of farmers, workers and poor people, analyze the flag salute, give up the nation state, share your money, refuse to hate, be willing to work…in short, sisters and brothers, arm up with love and come from the shadows”
Information: Originally released in 1963 on Columbia This pressing was released in 2001 on Sundazed records Format: LP, 180g, Mono
British singer-songwriter John Martyn fuses folk, jazz, and psychedelic experimentation to create an album that is both eclectic and cohesive, tied together by his flowing voice and virtuosic acoustic guitar fingerpicking.
FFO Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Ryley Walker
Album Information: Released in 2003 on Saddle Creek Format: LPx7, box set Includes 5 Bright Eyes releases between 1997 and … More
Kendrick travels through the history of African-American music and into the future, taking inspiration from P-Funk, G-Funk, jazz, trap and everything in between. His lyrics display an acute awareness of someone battling with the weight of fame, institutional racism, and his own depression. This album is simultaneously personal and universal, and nothing short of revolutionary.
Lush, beautiful psych-folk with a spiritual jazz fluidity that comes from Larkin inviting her close musician friends to improvise over her passionate songs with harp, trumpet, strings, woodwinds, etc. Think Tim Buckley meets Alice Coltrane
Julie Byrne’s gentle new-age folk is so light and airy it’s easy to miss its depth, but repeated listening shows that it’s strength lies in its weightlessness. Her soothing voice and delicate fingerpicking are enveloped in warm string arrangements, all tied together by soft reverb and pristine production that makes for an inviting, peaceful listen every time.
The singer makes an album dealing with the grief and eventual acceptance that followed her sister’s suicide. The style is reminiscent of the spacey lounge-pop of her previous band, Stereolab, although much lighter and dreamier.
After a prolific career as a noise/improvisational/experimental guitarist and a few forays into folk and chamber pop, Jim O’Rourke surprised his audience with an album closer to straightforward rock than his audience could have ever expected of him. Yet underneath it’s catchy, cheery, and polished exterior, his lyrics are full of humorously bitter resentment. Like his debut singer/songwriter album Eureka, Insignificance is full of the meticulous and lush arrangements that Jim would become known for.
Album Information: Released in 2009 on Frenchkiss Records
Album Information: Released in 1972 on Reprise Records 2009 reissue, mastered from original analog tapes
Album Information: Released in 2000 on Motown Records 2016 pressing on Motown Format: LPx2
Acoustic-shredder/singer-songwriter ventures out of the jazz-inflected folk-rock territory explored by his last few albums to create something that feels fully himself. Deafman Glance is full of angular left turns, complex structures, airy flutes, jazz detours, and psychedelic atmospheres. A balance of great songwriting, jazz musicianship, and experimental/art-rock tendencies. Recommended to fans of Tortoise’s Standards, Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, and King Crimson’s Red. (Click for full review).
Album Information: Released in 2010 on Drag City Records Produced by Joanna Newsom Arranged & Conducted by Ryan Francesconi Recorded … More
Album Information: Released in 2017 on Sub Pop Records Format: 2xLP on gold and silver vinyl, Deluxe Edition with 4 … More
Album Information: Released in 1996 on Matador Records
The first side features Dylan going electric for the first time, including classics such as She Belongs to Me and Maggie’s Farm. Side 2 features the acoustic storytelling and surrealist lyrics Dylan had been perfecting up to that point.
Album Information: Released in 2017 on RCA Records
Album Information: Released in 2011 on Partisan Records Produced by Emil Amos Jeff Stuart Saltzman recorded tracks B1, B3, B5 … More
Country-tinged love songs that feel like a continuation of Harvest
Album Information: Released in 2002 on Nonesuch Records Produced by Wilco Mixed by Jim O’Rourke Recorded at the Loft, Chicago … More
Inner Gatefold (Left)Inner Gatefold (Right)Back Cover Vinyl Etching Album Information: Released in 2017 on Ipecac/Deadverse Format: LPx2 with side D … More
Album Information: Originally released in 1993 on Creation Records This pressing was manufactured in 2011 by Music on Vinyl for … More
18 years after their last album, golden-era hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest return with a fresh, progressive take on their signature sound. Featuring André 3000, Talib Kweli, Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, and Busta Rhymes
Album Information: Released on Palace Records in 1999
Progressive alt-rock that prioritizes dynamics and atmosphere over flashy solos or superfluous complexity. Recommended for fans of Oceansize, Deftones, Mogwai, or the last two Isis albums.
Charming 70’s AM Pop vibes with elaborate string and horn arrangements and a jazzy rhythm section, including the legendary Brian Blade on drums. Great songwriting from Sam Beam, as usual.
Blue Afternoon continues the flowing jazz-folk of Tim’s previous release (Happy Sad) while starting to detour into the avant-garde atmospheres that would manifest more fully on his next two albums, Lorca and Starsailor. The songs and lyrics refuse to be boxed into one category as “joyful” or “lonely” or “sad” and instead reflect the intangible multi-dimensionality of feeling.
Jazz Fusion-inflected Folk Rock with poetic lyricism, ethereal atmospheres, spacey synths, and a lot of fretless bass.
An anxious, eccentric celebration of the mundane informed by post-punk, noise, no wave, and drone.
On his Warp Records debut, the eccentric rapper crafts an album of shadowy hip-hop that expresses a unique creative vision. His bipolar, extremely personal lyrics fluctuate from paranoid agoraphobia and self-deprecating reflection to uninhibited hedonism and braggadocios swagger, sometimes in the course of a couple lines. Highly recommended for fans of Busdriver, Aesop Rock and other psychedelic hip-hop artists
“Sometimes it’s hard doing anything”. Somehow Jason Molina knows how to perfectly express what depression feels like without ever succumbing to hopelessness. His music has been a friend and a voice of encouragement when I need it most, reminding me to persist and not beat myself up when I feel unproductive or lazy or unmotivated. “The real truth about it is no one gets it right. The real truth about it is we’re all supposed to try”
A cohesive, intimate collection of chamber pop songs, ornate with colorful arrangements, lush production, and some bluesy guitar licks.
Album Information: Released in 1971 by Tamla/Motown