Half Japanese – Volume 3: 1990-1995

With the still-fresh Volume 2: 1987-1989 set, Fire bottled-up three of the most accessible and distinctive Half Japanese albums (with associated archival off-cuts) for novices to find an easy way into the most sprawling branch of Jad Fair’s vast discography.  The newly-released Volume 3: 1990-1995 is a far gnarlier collection that takes a braver … [Read more...]

Artists On Albums: AOA#34 (Yo La Tengo’s James McNew on Seizure)

James McNew (Yo La Tengo and Dump) on… Chris Knox’s Seizure (Flying Nun Europe, 1989) In the late 80s, Homestead Records released domestic versions of several records originally issued on the Flying Nun label from New Zealand.  It was the way I (and lots of people) first heard The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines, and the Tall Dwarfs. I … [Read more...]

FAO#33: Land Observations & Dead Rat Orchestra

Although instrumental music is so intrinsic to our daily life, whether it’s deadly lift muzak or the enthralling score to an on-screen drama, it’s still considered somewhat of an oddity for your average music fan to stock up on releases with a wordless voice-free remit.  Which is a shame, as good instrumental music can often be a life-line for … [Read more...]

Antietam – Tenth Life

Like her part-time collaborator – Eleventh Dream Day’s Rick Rizzo – Tara Key could quite easily and understandably have packed away the guitars some time ago, content in the knowledge that a lengthy ongoing struggle had yielded a commendable body of work.  Since the late-‘70s, through the Babylon Dance Band, solo recordings, cross-pollinations with … [Read more...]

Rick Rizzo & Tara Key – Double Star / Eleventh Dream Day – Riot Now!

With its sheer volume of releases and increasingly vinyl-centric tilt, it’s arguable that the current workings of Chicago’s pioneering Thrill Jockey label are straining fans’ finances as well as running the risk of over-supply and quality-control lapses. No such concerns can, however, be raised when a less-prolific elder statesman on the books … [Read more...]

Fuzzy Lights – Twin Feathers

With such instant progeneration through the musical conduits of the internet, the pressure on uncommercial fledgling acts to deliver definitive statements early on is perhaps equally as heavy as when major labels expect instant ‘hit’ status for an opening release from mainstream music peddlers.  Thus, it still falls to relatively old-fashioned … [Read more...]

Fuzzy Lights – Helm EP

Although Fuzzy Lights’ 2008 debut LP, A Distant Voice, was certainly an impressive introduction, its somewhat austere and inconclusive character didn’t welcome as many return visits as it first seemed open to.  However, this newly-cut 4-track EP does feel like a far more engaging and welcoming creature, even if it comes with the disclaimer of being … [Read more...]

Valleys – Sometimes Water Kills People

If the title of this Montreal duo’s debut is any indication of the moods contained therein, this is probably not the album to spin at your next cocktail party or day at the beach. Valleys – the moniker donned by collaborators Marc St. Louis and Matilda Perks – specializes in a ghostly and frequently unsettling blend of psychedelic folk and hazy … [Read more...]

Yo La Tengo Release New Album in September

Popular Songs to be released September 7th 2009. Also Yo La Tengo playing Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on June 15th. There's an old saying at Matador HQ, the only thing predictable about Yo La Tengo albums is their high level of excellence and crazy amount of musical ground covered.Trouble is, even if you believe we really have an old saying … [Read more...]

Condo Fucks – Fuckbook

According to Yo La Tengo's official website, they hope their new album will be out in the fall. They then request support for their "friends," Condo Fucks, and their hit debut, Fuckbook, a disjointed collection of noisy, lo-fi, and scrappily-composed covers. It doesn't take a careful ear to quickly realize that these friends are in reality, Yo La … [Read more...]