Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
July 2021, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for July 2021. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Anika, Change (Sacred Bones) Anika is the recording and performance moniker of British-German musician Annika Henderson, who is probably best known for her self-titled full-length debut from 2010, a record that featured three members of Beak>, including Geoff Burrow (also of Portishead). Although recordings have been plentiful since (EPs, singles, guest spots, the band Exploded View, longer collabs including with techno producer Dave Clarke and more recently Shackleton), this is her proper follow-up to Anika, and its nine tracks are thoroughly inspired. As Change combines electronic textures (she is currently based in Berlin) with rock muscularity and edge (specifically post-punk and ’90s Alternative), that this record lacks any serious missteps is borderline extraordinary. Another big plus is how Anika’s socially conscious lyrics avoid the trite, which shouldn’t be surprising as prior to music she was a political journalist. Uninitiated listeners into PJ Harvey and Jehnny Beth should investigate, though Anika is firmly in command of her own musical voice. A-

Celia Hollander, Timekeeper (Leaving) Prior to putting out music under her full name (of which this is her second release, following last year’s “Recent Futures” EP, also on Leaving), Los Angeles-based electro-acoustic composer Hollander used the moniker $3.33 for a handful of releases, mostly on cassette and digital. But Timekeeper is on vinyl (as was “Recent Futures”), either on limited black (400) and even more limited temporal blue (100), and it’ll be of particular interest to listeners attuned to experimentation that’s methodically rendered. Each of the dozen tracks has a time of day for a title, as Hollander has set out to chart how energetic and emotional fluctuations form a sense of time that’s in constant flux. Utilizing acoustic recordings and digital synthesis, there are three compositional types here: temporal fields (which are expansive and unpredictable), waves (swelling momentums), or ropes (singular linearity). As the record plays, it is surely ascertainable which compositions are which, but the progress is never transitionally jarring. To the contrary, thematic cohesiveness is abundant. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Alice Coltrane, Kirtan: Turiya Sings (Impulse! /UMe) Aficionados of the late and very great keyboardist, composer, bandleader and teacher Alice Coltrane might know of Turiya Sings, the extremely rare collection of devotional music she recorded in 1982. It was released on cassette in a small number by the Avatar Book Institute after Coltrane fulfilled her Warners contract and essentially retired from the commercial music scene. But this is not that tape. Indeed, Turiya Sings has never been officially reissued (it has been bootlegged and unsurprisingly circulates online; originals are expensive). However, Kirtan: Turiya Sings does derive from the same period, and in fact offers the same songs in the same sequence, but with Coltrane singing and playing Wurlitzer organ only (the ’82 release version added synthesizer and strings). It’s been a long time since I listened to Turiya Sings, and while I considered seeking it out for a compare and contrast, the warmth and beauty of this set brought on a quick reevaluation of my priorities. Another layer of Alice Coltrane brilliance is revealed. A

The Gun Club, Fire of Love Deluxe Edition (Blixa Sounds) Originally released in 1981, Fire of Love stands as The Gun Club’s finest record. I’ve already opined enthusiastically on its contents for this website in a full review easily findable by searching the archives, but this set delivers an extremely worthwhile expansion, though the specifics differ a little by format. Blixa Sound’s 2LP pairs the original album with the never before released live set from Club 88 on March 6, 1981. The 2CD sequences five alternate versions and five four-track demos (all ten previously unreleased) after the album’s 11 selections on the first disc and drops the live show onto the second. But the vinyl includes a download with the CD’s extras, so fret not; you’ll get to hear it all. And it’s a cinch that any fan of this band will want to spend quality time with whole shebang, as those versions and demos are totally worthy and the live set, with good sound, truly rips. Featuring Jeffrey Lee Pierce in prime form and produced by Chris D., the core album is a potent batch of twisted roots magnificence, an essential part of any punk collection. A+

Mama Doom, Ash Bone Skin N Stone (Majestic Mountain) Based in Newburgh, NY, Mama Doom is a trio of the metallic persuasion. The vocals and keyboards are handled by High Priestess D. Lolli, and the drums (and occasional singing) are the responsibility of a gent named Smak. The bassist? They call him Chuckie Rumbles. That means no guitar, though as you might’ve gleaned from Chuckie’s surname, there is no absence of low-end crunch on Mama Doom’s second full-length (as Mr. Smak also earns his moniker). In fact, after numerous digital spins, I missed the addition of a six-string not at all. And those keyboards add distinction without faltering into overuse, or put another way, the instrument is well-integrated into the mix (rather than tacked on). Maybe best of all is that D. Lolli’s hearty voicings add value. The songwriting is solid, and in a couple instances, such as the standouts “Vodka” and “Indigo,” is quite terrific. At a smidge over 27 minutes, this is a tidy LP, and it’s apparently already sold out on vinyl, unless copies will be available in stores. There is also a digipak CD and digital. B+

Montezuma’s Revenge, S.W.I.M. (DTH Records) S.W.I.M. is the third album from this Moscow-based sludge metal outfit, but it’s the first I’ve heard, and it’s a doozy. But it’s release on July 23 looks to be digital only, which is a shame, particularly as the record is stated as having a side A – side B concept, divvied up four track each. What would be the first side brings the heavy something fierce and with a spectacular avoidance of hackneyed form moves. At a few points, it almost attains psych-blues-stoner levels; discerning listeners should definitely take note. What would be side two spreads out stylistically a considerable bit, though you can’t keep these pummelers down for long. Monte’s Revenge also fold a few audio clips into the mix, with opener “Soyux-111 (Terrore Su Venere)” beginning and ending with a mysterious one, in fact. Smartly, they don’t go to audio clip well too often. Dexterous without showing off, they can also extend a bit without running out of inspirational gas. The textures in the latter portion of “Weekend Valhalla” are sweet. And so are the synths in “COTS (Reprise).” Vinyl, please! A-

Ora the Molecule, Human Safari (Mute) From Oslo, Norway, Ora the Molecule is the project of Nora Schjelderup, with Human Safari her debut. “Multinational avant-garde pop group” is the bold descriptor in the bio, which is laying it on a bit thick, methinks. But this album is a heaping helping of electro-pop, most certainly, and even as Schjelderup can intone icily, like she’s trenchcoat-clad in a light drizzle and smoking a cig in a Euro ’80s dystopian crime flick, Human Safari isn’t very angsty. It’s more geared toward dance battles, in basements and on football fields. Speaking of which, there are a couple of rugby-esque vocal chants. Additionally, a few spots brought back memories of Martika (she of “Toy Soldiers” fame), a fleeting pop figure who hasn’t crossed my mind in a long goddamned time. That means lengthy stretches of this reside elsewhere than in my bag, but I did enjoy the occasional mingling of new wave and smooth pop, and I did laugh a few times, especially when Schjelderup says, “give me some sugar.” Relatable lyric of the week: “Please don’t eat me alive/I’d like to survive.” B

Libby Weitnauer “Sixteen Kings’ Daughters” b/w “Fond True Lover (Libby Weitnauer Music) Fiddler, singer and songwriter Weitnauer is based in Nashville, but hails from East Tennessee with a background in traditional music. This 45 is her solo debut, though alongside Jake Blount (whose Spider Tales was one of 2020’s best LPs) she is notably half of the terrific Tui, who released the very strong Pretty Little Mister in 2019. All this background places Weitnauer amongst an inspirational wave of musicians who approach old-time sounds with respect that never falters into the imitative nor succumbs to the overly polite. Here, Weitnauer offers two trad tunes, the first detailing a struggle against a male attacker, the flip focusing on “heartbreak and abandonment,” invigorating the vitality and thematic relevance of the sources through non-period specific stylistic twists (atmospheric guitar feedback, pedal steel), with the essence of the root retained. Weitnauer has a voice, pretty but frequently pushing away from fragility, that’s perfect for these songs, and her fiddle playing remains superb. A-

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