NEW RELEASES, 9/20: BRITTNEY HOWARD, HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER, CHASTITY BELT, MUDHONEY, NEAL FRANCIS, ANDREW COMBS & more!


HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER, Terms Of Surrender (CD/LP)
Eleven albums in as many years suggest MC Taylor has no issues with writers’ block, that he must be in a constant state of productivity. Yet Terms of Surrender arrived not through clarity, but what Taylor has called a “fog of depression” – he wrote the songs, he said, as therapy, creating “a last will and testament”. That might lead you to suspect Terms of Surrender of being unlistenably bleak, but as often as not, Taylor is searching for hope rather than wallowing in despair. On “Happy Birthday, Baby,” he’s singing to his daughter, and managing not to be painfully mawkish, even when offering up a rhyme he wants her to repeat when he’s far away on the road; he follows that with the road itself, on Down at the Uptown, where the quotidian events of the touring musician – “Someone’s in the bathroom sleeping off a bad one” – make him realise “it was a real live world and I want to live in it”. No one’s listening to Hiss Golden Messenger in hope of hearing Taylor’s take on trap, but Terms of Surrender is a less folky record than he has usually made – “I Am the Song,” or “Domino (Time Will Tell),” from 2017’s Hallelujah Anyhow are the end of the HGM catalog you’ll hear revisited on Terms of Surrender. It’s a fantastic sounding record, which doesn’t appear to be solely the result of the playing or the production (by Taylor and Brad Cook). The mixes – by American backroom stars Jon Low and Tucker Martine – are uniformly fantastic, with electric guitar foregrounded, but not so much it swamps anything, and the folkier elements are incorporated in such a way that they don’t stop the record sounding contemporary. By the time the vaguely War on Drugs-ish “Kary (You Don’t Have to Be Good Yet)” comes around, you wonder if Terms of Surrender might not give Taylor his own breakthrough moment.


BRITTNEY HOWARD, Jaime (CD/LP)

Winners of four Grammy awards across three styles – rock, alternative and roots – Alabama Shakes straddle others besides: gospel, blues, rock’n’roll, soul. But this debut solo album from frontwoman Brittany Howard stretches out even further, casually and unpretentiously, as if on a sofa with a guitar when everyone’s at work.These songs started as melodic scraps and Howard astutely keeps them feeling scrappy. You can feel the torn edges of vocal samples as they rant and repeat, while her own voice will chant or sing over itself; there is plenty of room noise and lo-fidelity, but never in a needlessly fetishistic way. It has the skittish quality of J Dilla, and indeed, Tomorrow, He Loves Me and Goat Head are underpinned by rhythms that sit between hip-hop and neo-soul. There’s something of Gil Scott-Heron’s rangier moments too; the careful, melancholy placement of the notes of Short and Sweet evokes Billie Holiday. The scraps are glued into place and luminously lit by Howard’s brilliant sense of melody, and her searing lyricism. The standout is Georgia, which begins with Howard repeating “I just want Georgia to notice me” in a girlish chant, as if picking petals off a daisy. Soon she is left with just a stalk, and the impossibility of her ardour hits her full-force: the song switches up with a stirring organ motif and becomes intensely moving, two scraps finessed into something whole. The excellent Goat Head lays out the racism her parents faced as a mixed-race couple in the American south, Howard’s lyric written with a child’s blend of clarity and confusion at the injustice. But it’s emotionally as well as musically varied. He Loves Me sees Howard giving up church safe in the knowledge that God is still smiling on her when she’s drinking too much and smoking blunts; she finds herself in a different cloud on Stay High, of bliss that’s perhaps musical, perhaps post-coital, backed by twinkling waltz-time soul. Artists often take on solo projects to get things out of their system before regrouping, but those things are rarely as beautiful as they are here.


CHASTITY BELT, Chastity Belt (CD/LP)
Chastity Belt’s music has become progressively self-reflexive over the years, the wry smile of their 2013 debut, No Regerts, giving way to a broader, deeper exploration of twentysomething anxiety on Time To Go Home and I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Annie Truscott, and Gretchen Grimm are still learning how to navigate adulthood on their new self-titled effort, but where before they resisted change, here they begin to come to terms with it, and lean on each other for strength and comfort. With production assistance from Jay Som, Chastity Belt presents a tangible thickening of the band’s sound, with the introduction of strings on “Effort,” “Rav-4,” and “Half-Hearted” and keyboards on “Split” adding texture to their characteristic fuzzed-out guitar arrangements. Each melody and every drum fill feels intentional, and the group’s shared vocals and light-as-air harmonies seem like a meaningful statement of where they are as a band—and as friends. Nostalgia for times gone by winds its way through the album. The sparse opener “Ann’s Jam” pulls into focus an image of golden-hour driving while “singing along to scratched CDs,” as does the dreamy “Rav-4,” on which Shapiro reminisces about “going to the bar in her Rav-4.” The group basks in circuitous guitar melodies and the soft glow of memory, longing for something lost: On “Ann’s Jam,” the golden light of the drive fades (“Now there’s a thick fog/Around everything I’ve learned”), while “Rav-4” undermines that remembered bar as a place of possibility (“Lost my mind and much more, but who’s keeping score?”). There’s a sense of a cycle, too, on “Elena,” whose title is a reference to Elena Ferrante, author of the four beloved Neapolitan novels that excavate a female friendship across multiple generations. The band has said that they read the books together, finding parts of themselves in Ferrante’s characters. Our stories are always the same, they seem to be saying, the cycle always repeats. It’s hard to move forward, whether it be from a relationship on “Apart” (“Can’t move beyond the should and should nots”) or with life and career on “Half-Hearted” (“Half-heartedly trying to get somewhere, but I feel I’m just catching dust”). A simple resolution to the problem of growing up evades the band. The most optimistic sentiment on Chastity Belt comes from the mouth of someone else on “Pissed Pants”: “You said so casually, ‘Everything just works out/In time we’ll all be surrounded by what guides us.” Left to their own devices, Chastity Belt aren’t so sure: “Nothing ever turns out right,” Shapiro worries on “Elena.” Elsewhere, though, the atmosphere is more hopeful, as on “It Takes Time.” If all we need to come to terms with adulthood is time, then who better to spend it with than your best friends? Shapiro, Lund, Truscott, and Grimm work through their issues in a space they’ve created specially for themselves.


NEAL FRANCIS, Changes (CD/LP)

“I just wanted to be honest about everything, from my musical influences to my story,” muses Neal Francis. After years of dishonest living — consumed by drugs, alcohol, and addiction — such sincerity is jarring from the 30-year-old Chicago-based musician. 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. His music evokes a bygone era of R&B’s heyday while simultaneously forging a new path on the musical landscape.

ANDREW COMBS, Ideal Man (CD/LP)

M83, DSVII (CD/LP)

MUDHONEY, Morning In America (LP)

 

  • Marantz TT1060 semi-automatic turntable
    Here’s a nice entry level table that will severely outperform any newer table even close to it’s price point. The Marantz TT1060 is a semi-automatic table which means the tonearm will return to rest at the end of play. […]
  • Technics TT SL 1800 turntable
    Technics SL-1800 full manual direct drive turntable, circa 1977. This table is a heavy beast with a very strong motor. A new stylus has been installed on the Stanton cartridge and sounds fantastic. All tonearm features have been set correctly and the stylus tracks at a recommended 3 grams […]
  • Realistic Lab 430 Direct Drive Turntable
    Very nice inexpensive table with the benefit of direct drive (no belts to change) and auto return. The table has been thoroughly gone through and all features work as they should. A new elliptical stylus has been mounted on the Shure cartridge and balanced correctly. […]
  • Sonamp 260 from SONANCE
    Soooo nice! This super nice, modestly priced 100 watt per channel power amp has been all checked out and works great. It’s cost effective way to run lots of power! […]
  • Technics SL-210 full manual turntable
    The table has been thoroughly inspected and gone through with all features working correctly. This is a full manual table, simply turn the table on and move the stylus to the record surface, no auto features to adjust or be concerned with. The new stylus sounds great, is readily available and super affordable. A nice survivor from 1978! […]
  • SANSUI FR-D35 SEMI-AUTOMATIC DIRECT TURNTABLE
    A new stylus has been installed on the vintage AT cartridge and all features of the table work perfectly! […]
  • EPI A110 SPEAKERS: 2-way, classic bookshelf charmers! Sound great, woofers rebuilt like new!
    2-way, classic bookshelf charmers! Sound great, woofers rebuilt like new. Circa 1980’s Epicure Productions vintage feature 8”woofers. Critically acclaimed in their day and still sound good, audiophile delivery without the high dollar price. Full-on ready, great sound, woofers rebuilt like new! […]
  • TASCAM 102 CASSETTE DECK!
    So fresh and so clean! This deck is in great shape and sounds like a champ. Bust out those old bootlegs and mixed tapes. […]
  • VINTAGE RARE SAE MARK XXXI SOLID STATE STEREO POWER AMPLIFIER WORKS GREAT! SOUNDS GREAT!
    Unit is in really nice physical condition. Recently gone through, tested and checked, all functions have been tested and work great! ready to rock with a pre-amp! […]
  • ADVENT LAUREATE Mini Tower Speakers
    amazing sound, brilliant natural refined listening experience. woofers on both speakers just completely rebuilt better than new! The Advents, both large and small, sounded pretty good and gave excellent value for the money. The company was one of a long string of companies that descended from the original Acoustic Research (AR). Advents eventually lost their enormous popularity and nearly faded away. International Jensen, a company based in the Chicago suburbs, rescued Advent and resurrected it. The Advent model we tested deserves a Ph.D. Advent appropriately names it the Laureate. The Laureate overwhelmed my skepticism that a modestly priced floor-standing loudspeaker could deliver good sound […]
  • SANSUI SR-525 DIRECT DRIVE TURNTABLE
    Excellent working and sounding Sansui SR-525 full manual direct drive turntable. A new stylus has been installed, and the cartridge has been properly aligned in the headshell according to Sansui specifications. This is a very heavy table with great Sansui build quality. […]
  • YAMAHA NATURAL SOUND A-700 INTEGRATED STEREO AMPLIFIER
    A classic “hoss” circa 1983/84. 100 watts per channel! Has phono input. […]
  • Fisher REC 727 AV Receiver
    This Fisher A/V receiver has phono input, remote and 200 watts! Fire it up bro! […]
  • Marantz REC SR 225
    This super vintage budget receiver is the perfect starter unit for someone wanting to explore the world of hi fidelity sounds. It’s been all checked out and has a clean bill of health; and with phono input so it’s good to go with any classic turntable. […]
  • Sansui SPEAKERS SP 2000
    These Sansui SP-2000 speakers from the 70s are some awesome vintage rockers! These big boys have a four way/six driver configuration plus a bass port. They have been tested and sound great. […]
  • BOZAK CS4000 mod speakers, omg!! these big-boys ROCK!
    8 tweeters, 1 midrange and 2 woofers per. all original, very clean. extremely rare and VERY AMAZING sound! […]
  • BOSE 901 SERIES V SPEAKERS WITH BOSE 901 SERIES V ACTIVE EQUALIZER
    The essentially crossoverless design gives the 901 an unmistakable coherence, the model’s greatest strength. Its incredibly wide dispersion comes in a close second. The Bose 901s sound great anywhere in the room, After extensive listening, the Bose 901s strike me as being damn good. They have some limitations, but don’t all $1,400 speakers? For that matter, what $10,000 speakers are perfect? They are so smooth and musical. […]
  • Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers, 2 way plus bass port
    You can enlarge your sound while shrinking the speakers with a reliable bookshelf system. The Polk Audio T15 speakers can blend into the background while delivering impressive tone quality. It can be a superior system that offers balanced drivers and tweeters for a wide response with low distortion. […]
X