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Mitch’s Pitches (Nov 2021)

The year is coming to a close, but this ain’t no “best of 2021” list! There are still too many great releases pouring through the shop (and more to come) to start eulogising the year that was….

Styrofoam Winos – Styrofoam Winos (Sophomore Lounge, 2021) —and the rest of the Sophomore Lounge catalogue….

After selling out super quick the first time around, it’s been great to see Styrofoam Winos come back in stock. An album that I first heard through friends in Nashville earlier in the year, the first batch we got in flew out of stock. Like Nashville’s answer to Dick Diver, Styrofoam Winos are a three piece with a straight up democratic approach where all three core members of the group swap songwriting/vocal/instrumental duties, creating a set of varied but cohesive songs that range from short folkier tunes to sprawling tracks with references to urban gentrification, mundane jobs, or more allegorical/oblique writing. An album that draws from country tinged songwriting with hints of kraut a la Yo La Tengo or 90s-00s Wilco but is more than just another indie rock LP. One to play alongside contemporaries like Rosali, Goon Sax, State Champion, Simon Joyner, even those Dutch groups like The Avonden.

Hell, there are heaps of other exciting new titles on Sophomore Lounge that seem to exist outside of genre trends and fall outside of short attention span of the 2021 press/hype cycle. Roadhouse’s two albums—Aladdin Sales and Supernatural XS  —of wigged out beats and sprawling instrumentals full of tape switching and breakneck proggy changes have kept me both puzzled and intrigued. The label’s reissue of Warmer Milks’ 2008Soft Walks’ LP also broaches this weird in-between territory, with folk or country rock songwriting being filtered through some early 2000s free improv/underground lens with passages of psychedelic improv, weirdo-synth dispatches, Henry Flynt-esque violin drone. Haven’t had the time to properly wrap my head around the latest Equipment pointed Ankh record yet, probably will have something more to say about it soon, but judging by the wheelhouse of those players, it’ll be a killer one!

Low Life – From Squats To Lots: The Agony And XTC Of Low Life (LSD Club, 2021)

Low Life are back, baby! An epic new LP that sees the group keep their signature buddy-rock meets post-punk stylings, but this time with an expanded sonic palette (catch those strings!!!). And not a single swear word on the entire LP—one for the whole family to enjoy!

Mountain Movers – World What World (Trouble In Mind, 2021)

Another release from the prolific New Haven shredder scene, the new LP from Mountain Movers features the kind of heavy exploratory psych that we’ve come to know and love from the group!

Expansive jams that evoke Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Can, or something on PSF. There’re songs here but they sprawl and seem to extend endlessly into space only to be wrapped up by fade-outs—gotta fit them on the disc somehow I guess?

In my opinion, everything Kryssi Battalene features on is gold, and this is no exception! A bit of a superlative I know, but I reckon I’d be willing to die on the hill that says that Battalene is the best contemporary guitarist. Something about her playing sounds like she’s wrangling the electricity that courses through the instrument—both feedback heavy and tonal at the same time. A shredder like no other!
-Mitch

Jackie Leven – Straight Outta Calendonia (School Daze/Night School Records, 2021)

I knew of the late Jackie Leven as a prolific Scottish singer-songwriter with slightly baroque leanings but have loved having my perception of him as an artist shattered by this “hits” comp!

Collecting tracks from his solo career between 1994 and 2011, the tracks range from shoulda-been new wavey hits, to neo-soul bangers, outsider pop masterpieces, and Celtic-inflected folk, all underpinned by Leven’s top shelf songwriting, crystalline baritone, and underrated guitar playing. The kind of music that seems like the middle ground between Arthur Russell’s pop output and the UK folk-rock of John Martyn, Sandy Denny, and the Thompsons.

Only available on CD at the moment, but back in stock on LP soon!