Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
June 2020, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for June, 2020. Part one is here, part two is here and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: V/A, The Longest Day – A Benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association (Mon Amie) The Alzheimer’s Association’s yearly fundraiser is called The Longest Day, and this year Mon Amie, the one-woman bedroom label run by Mona Dehghan, has released a compilation on double vinyl, CD and digital with 100% of the profits going to the foundation. Right on, Mona! Those ordering now will be emailed a download starting today (June 19), with physical copies scheduled to arrive by October 1. Here’s the full list of contributors, in sequence: Anna Calvi, Rituals of Mine, Daniel Avery, Cold Specks, TR/ST, Shadowparty, Beach Slang, New Order, HAAi, J. Laser, Sad13, Algiers, Astronauts, Etc., Wolfmanhattan Project (consisting of Mick Collins, Kid Congo Powers and Bob Bert), Hayden Thorpe & Jon Hopkins, Moby, and Rhys Chatham.

Dehghan is also part of the daily operations at Mute Records, specifically the senior director of marketing and project management, which likely helped in landing the second extended mix of New Order’s “Nothing but a Fool,” which makes its vinyl debut here. It sounds quite nice stretching out to over nine minutes, but it’s not even the best track. Those who know me might be guessing I’m giving the honor to Wolfmanhattan Project’s “Friday the 13th,” as I dig all those dudes. It’s a good one, but no. Beach Slang’s nifty cover of The Church’s “Under the Milky Way”? Nope. The anthemic ’80s-esque pop-rock of Shadowparty’s “Marigold”?  It makes me feel young, but nah. Thorpe and Hopkins’ cover of Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” is close, but no cigar. The out-of-nowhere indie folk-tronic goodness of Moby’s “In Between Violence” is even closer, but I’m awarding the standout track to Chatham’s excellent “For Bob – In Memory (2014) for Flute Orchestra.” Dehghan saved the very best for last. A-

ONO, “Kongo” & “Mercy” 12-inch (Whited Sepulchre) Yes, this long-running and inspirational Chicago-based “Avant-Industrial Gospel” outfit received a new release pick in this column back on May 1 of this year for their album Red Summer (released on the American Dreams label), but there are a couple good reasons to spotlight the outfit again so soon. First, these two tracks derive from the Red Summer session and extend that record’s worthiness quite nicely. Second, as pointed out by Whited Sepulchre, the label is releasing this one-sided 12-inch (and three more, all reviewed below) on this day, that’d be June 19, aka Juneteenth, that Bandcamp is donating all of its profits to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. To align a purchase of this fiercely political record (perhaps paired with Red Summer, which is still available in a variety of physical formats) with Bandcamp’s gesture (which, per the company, will occur annually every Juneteenth hereafter) registers as a thoroughly righteous way to exercise freedom of the consumer. A-

Jaki Shelton Green, The River Speaks of Thirst (Soul City Sounds) Speaking of Juneteenth, this is the release day for the debut album from North Carolina’s Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green. Anybody with an interest in poetics with a focus on social justice should seek out a copy, as it’s on vinyl, CD and digital. Green has published eight books of poetry, so while The River Speaks of Thirst is her first recording, it documents a command of language that unwinds with substantial force and beauty. Her work is lacking in tangible flaws.

She’s also been reading publicly for decades and wields an edge that is at times wonderfully theatrical (check out “Letter From the Other Daughter of the Confederacy”). While musical elements and production techniques are heard throughout, most prominently in “A Litany for the Possessed,” they combine well with Green’s readings, as do the handful of guest voices, including Shirlette Ammons on the aforementioned track. However, it’s Green’s own words and delivery that elevate this record to such a rare plateau. Oh, and as Juneteenth is also Green’s birthday, there is a Zoom celebration from 6:30-8 PM today (liked on her Facebook page) for the LP’s release and her arrival date. Happy birthday! A

Andrew Elaban, “Variegated Tributary” & “Woven Crescent” (Whited Speulchre) Cleveland native and Cincinnati-based Elaban, who works with modular synths in a context fairly well-synopsized as experimental-ambient with tendencies of drone, released his debut on the Hollow Eyes label in 2016, a cassette (it’s sold out) holding two tracks like here, except those each lasted for 19 minutes and some change. I haven’t heard them (or the batch of digital releases he dropped on Bandcamp a couple months back), but these selections, which are both six minutes and one second long, establish Elaban as an assembler of sound as precise as he is engaging. That the above release was a cassette is fitting for Elaban’s thing, as what’s here reminds me of the sort of post-Industrial soundscapes that were often distributed on tapes. While neither of these cuts are what I’d call disruptive, there’s just a little too much ordered disorder for this to fit the descriptor of post-New Age. I certainly do dig it. B+

Fruit LoOops, S/T 5-song 12-inch (Whited Sepulchre) Like Elaban, Fruit LoOops also hang their hats in Cincinnati, formed by frontperson Jackie Switzer with the intent to crosspollinate Skin Graft/ Load Records-style art punk-noise rock with conceptual-Situationist in-your-face-ism in the mode of Macula Dog and fellow Ohioans Devo. To this end, the outfit features Patrick Apfelbeck on drums, Eric Dietrich on saxophone, Kevin Hall on keys and electronics, and Sam Jayne with the “theatrical assistance.” Jayne’s credit reinforces a performance focus, though the tracks land a series of powerfully rhythmic punches sans guitar as Switzer’s presence is felt throughout. Maybe it’s just in combination with the saxophone, but her art attack puts me in an X-Ray Spex/ Essential Logic frame of mind; I thought of San Francisco’s Noh Mercy, as well. And the wiggle-spazz-skronk definitely recalls those wild noisy days of u-ground rock yore. It takes a few spins to get its hooks in, but then won’t let go. Fuck. Fuck? Fuck! B+

Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Joel Futterman, William Parker, Hamid Drake, A Tribute to Alvin Fielder, Live at Vision Festival XXIV (Mahakala Music) The great and undersung drummer Alvin Fielder, a key Chicago guy by way of Mississippi (to which he returned in 1969), an alum of Sun Ra’s group of ’59-’60 and a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (he was also a pharmacist by trade), passed away on January 5 of last year. Fielder’s relationship with saxophonist Kidd Jordan began not long after his move back south, and in the ’90s they began playing with pianist Joel Futterman, eventually releasing five discs between ’97-’11; Fielder and Futterman also dished four releases in trio with saxophonist Ike Levin, while Fielder and Jordan cut two with the late German bassist Peter Kowald. Notably, Fielder, Jordan, Futterman and bassist William Parker are the band on New Orleans Festival Suite, credited to the Kidd Jordan Quartet and issued in ’99 on the Silkheart label.

Fielder, Jordan and Parker are also half of the sextet Dopolarians, who released Garden Party last year, also on Mahakala Music (reviewed very positively in this column). For this recording, captured in NYC at Roulette on June 12 of 2019 as part of the Vision Festival’s annual showcase of avant-jazz, Hamid Drake plays drums with the exceptional skill that’s brought him widespread acclaim (he’s been featured a few times in this column, always positively), fitting right into this tribute alongside individuals who worked with Fielder extensively. As a tribute, this long flowing multifaceted piece works on a variety of levels, exemplifying the form of jazz Fielder helped pioneer (he plays on Roscoe Mitchell’s essential ’66 LP Sound), but also integrating elements of earlier styles that he loved (e.g. bop and New Orleans) and ultimately standing as a high quality work celebrating his memory. Drake and Parker are an expressive rhythmic team, Futterman dishes high energy thunder, and Jordan blows with passion and beauty. A

The William Loveday Intention, “My Love for You” b/w “A La Mort Surbite (Sitting in Jacques Brel’s Seat)” (Damaged Goods) If you’d just stumbled onto this single and only spun its Morricone-esque gal-voxxed A-side, well, you might have no clue it was a new outfit featuring the talents of Billy Childish. But that’s the situation, and it’s a good spot in which to spend a little time. As the years have elapsed, I’ve made no secret of my diminishing interest in spaghetti western-tinged atmospheres, but “My Love for You,” with singing by Julie Hamper (Billy’s wife), trumpet from Tom Morley, and comportment that’s appealingly raw, goes down OK. But it’s really the flip, with Childish at the mic (the dead giveaway) and a instrumental scheme that hits me a bit like Loaded-era Velvets merged with ‘60s Texas garage punk and a tendency that’s decidedly Dylan, but further deepened with recollections of time spent in a Brussels watering hole that was once haunted by the late great Jacques Brel, that’s the sweet left-field gem. A-

Mounika, “I Need Space” (IOT) Based in Poitiers, France, Jules V. is Mounika, and this 9-track 24-minute mini-album is his second release, out June 19 in a limited numbered edition with a signed insert (there is also a CDR and straight digital available). Without dipping back to his debut How Are You? (there is also a string of digital-only singles and EPs starting in 2013), I can still ascertain that Mounika is an excursion into post-trip-hop electronica, but with a wide range of styles inside the parameters. The use of piano emphasizes melody (often quite pretty), “oBli” flaunts an R&B-ish angle, “Tender Love” (with the Victoria, British Columbian duo Ocie Elliott as guests) establishes a folktronica vibe, and “Feeling Good” briefly reminded me of a demo Negativland might’ve made for Astralwerks around 1993 or so, which leads me to the observation that “I Need Space” consistently hits the ear with a home-recorded sense of scale. This is appreciated. I also appreciate that its maker calls this a transitional work. B+

Rabies Babies, S/T 10-inch (Damaged Goods) This UK-based label has become something of a fixture in this column, which is tribute to sustained quality since kicking into gear back in 1988. This consistently comes partly through focus as the discography is loaded with raw no-frills punk, snotty and snarly, both contemporary and in reissue. This new 6-song set from the Rabies Babies fits into Damaged Goods’ equation but also expands it a little, as these UK feminist garage anarcho punks (who’ve been at it since 1999) bash out a racket that would’ve fit just fine on one of the Kill Rock Stars comps or perhaps on a 7-inch in K Records’ International Pop Underground series. To get a little more contemporary, they could easily end up on a future volume in the Emotional Response label’s Typical Girls endeavor.

Rabies Babies divide their record into halves by mood, with the first side angry, opening with the inspired screed against victim-blaming “Rape Is Rape, Even If the Rapist Is in a Band That You Like.” They also tackle casual sexism in cycling in “On Your Bike” and being trapped in a madhouse (which sucks) in “Madhouse.” The flip is the fun side, as “Party,” “La La La” and “I Fought the Floor and the Floor Won” illuminate that Rabies Babies like to enhance their good times with booze. Cheers! The musical glue that holds it all together is rough-throated with beaucoup amp gunk, so that not only did Riot Grrl come to mind more than once and specifically Bikini Kill’s “Suck My Left One,” but also a few spots (like “Madhouse”) pointed back to the ’80s Cali hardcore scene. A stirring blast, short and sweet at 12 minutes. A-

claire rousey, “Tufuhhoowaah” & “Bday Shots” (Whited Sepulchre) The label tersely relates that San Antonio-based claire rousey is “a person who performs and records.” Cool. Additionally, her “performances and recordings explore queerness, human relationships, and self-perception through the use of physical objects and their potential sounds.” Even cooler. Elsewhere, she’s tapped a wide range of collaborators in performance including Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten, Ken Vandermark and Charalambides’ Tom Carter, but she goes it alone here (as on most of her prior recordings, nearly all on tape), with her physical object of choice the smart phone. The results blend sustained electronic tones (drones) with snippets of speech, some of it loosely chatty, other bits perhaps fairly described as platitudes (“I miss you,” “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me”), but notably no conversational interaction, plus some humorous AI speech toward the end. The most intriguing of the Whited Sepulchre bunch. A-

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