CIMS Indie Fresh
In the lush tobacco fields of North Carolina where BJ Barham was raised, people work hard. Families stay nearby, toiling and growing together. BJ loves those farms and his tiny Reidsville hometown, but he had to run off and start American Aquarium, a band now beloved by thousands. BJ couldn’t stay. But he couldn’t really leave, either: he’s still singing about the lessons, stories, and lives that define rural America––and him. Recorded at 3CG Records in Tulsa, Oklahoma, American Aquarium’s seventh studio album, Things Change was produced by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter John Fulbright and features cameos from Americana standouts including John Moreland and Jamie Lin Wilson. Stacked with BJ’s signature storytelling––always deeply personal but also instantly relatable––Things Change questions and curses current events, shares one man’s intimate evolution, and leaves listeners with a priceless gift: hope. BJ’s candor has fueled American Aquarium’s runaway appeal, visible most clearly in consistently sold-out shows across the country and throughout Europe - between 200 and 250 dates a year. Much has changed for the band and BJ since their acclaimed last effort, Wolves. In 2017, every American Aquarium member save BJ quit the group. American Aquarium has featured about 30 players since BJ founded the outfit in 2006, and while each member has left indelible marks, the band has always been anchored by the literary songs and sometimes roaring, sometimes whispering, drawl of BJ Barham. Featuring a new band lineup that includes Shane Boeker on lead guitar, drummer Joey Bybee, bassist Ben Hussey, and Adam Kurtz on pedal steel and electric guitar, as well as a reinvigorated frontman in BJ, Things Change is American Aquarium’s first release on a label after selling thousands of records on their own.
Producer/singer/songwriter Neko Case has won a large and loyal audience for her smoky, sophisticated vocals and the downcast beauty of her music. Now more than 23 years into her musical calling, Case is the consummate career artist--fearless and versatile, with a fierce work ethic and a constant drive to search deeper within herself for creative growth.
On June 1st, Anti- will release Neko Case’s ‘Hell On,’ an indelible collection of colorful, enigmatic storytelling that features some of her most daring, through-composed arrangements to date. Produced by Neko with help from Bjorn Yttling (Peter Bjorn & John), ‘Hell On’ is simultaneously the most accessible and most challenging album in a rich and varied career that’s offered plenty of both. Rife with withering self-critique, muted reflection, anthemic affirmation, and her unique poetic sensibility, the 12 tracks of ‘Hell On’ — which features collaborations such as Joey Burns, Beth Ditto, Kelly Hogan, KD Lang, AC Newman, Paul Rigby, Laura Veirs, and more.
7 is our 7th full-length record. At its release, we will have been a band for over 13 years. We have now written and released a total of 77 songs together. Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live. On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel. For 7, we built a "home" studio, and began all of the songs there. Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a “proper” recording studio and finish recording them there, in the process shortening the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song (of the album’s 11 songs, 8 were finished at Carriage House in Stamford, CT and 2 at Palmetto Studio in Los Angeles). 7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. James Barone, who became our live drummer in 2016, played on the entire record. We also worked with Sonic Boom (Peter Kember), who became a great force on this record by shedding conventions and helping to keep the songs alive, fresh and protected from the destructive forces of recording-studio over-production/over-perfection. The societal insanity of 2016-17 was also deeply influential, as it must be for most artists these days. Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source. In a more general sense, we are interested by the human mind's (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny. While the title is simply a number that represents our seventh record, the number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart or “semi-first.” Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in "Seventh Heaven.” At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that. Much Love, Beach House
Bombino is an internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger. His music frequently addresses Tuareg geopolitical concerns and is sung in the Tuareg language of Tamasheq. Deran is Bombino’s (Omara "Bombino" Moctar) follow up record to 2016’s Azel. Deran was recording in Casablanca, Morocco and will be released on May 18th, 2018. Previously Bombino has worked with producers such as Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors). This album sees a return to his African roots while still pioneering and exploring a new style of Tuareg music which he affectionately calls ‘Tuareggae’ – a sunny blend of Tuareg blues/rock, reggae one-drop and bounce.
The fact that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured, over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it? With Sparkle Hard, Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. It’s light ’n’ breezy, head-down heavy, audacious, melancholic and reflective, goodtime and bodacious, and it pulls off the smartest trick: it’s both unmistakeably The Jicks and – due to the streamlining of their trademark tics and turns, plus the introduction of some unexpected flourishes (Auto-Tune! A fiddle! Guest vocalist Kim Gordon! One seven-minute song with an acoustic folk intro!) – The Jicks refashioned. If 2014’s Wig Out At Jag Bags balanced the lengthy prog workouts of Pig Lib with Mirror Traffic’s sparky pop moments, then Sparkle Hard bears less obvious direct relation to what’s come before. It also has turbocharged energy and enthusiasm by the truckload.
Written largely in New York between summer 2016 and winter 2017, Josh Tillman’s fourth Father John Misty LP, God’s Favorite Customer, reflects on the experience of being caught between the vertigo of heartbreak and the manic throes of freedom.
God’s Favorite Customer reveals a bittersweetness and directness in Tillman’s songwriting, without sacrificing any of his wit or taste for the absurd. From “Mr. Tillman,” where he trains his lens on his own misadventure, to the cavernous pain of estrangement in “Please Don’t Die,” Tillman plays with perspective throughout to alternatingly hilarious and devastating effect. “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)” is a meditation on our inner lives and the limitations we experience in our attempts to give and receive love. It stands in solidarity with the title track, which examines the ironic relationship between forgiveness and sin. Together, these are songs that demand to know either real love or what comes after, and as the album progresses, that entreaty leads to discovering the latter’s true stakes.
God's Favorite Customer was produced by Tillman and recorded with Jonathan Rado (Foxygen), Dave Cerminara (Jonathan Wilson, Foster the People, Conor Oberst), and Trevor Spencer (FJM). The album features contributions from Haxan Cloak, Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, longtime collaborator Jonathan Wilson, and members of Misty’s touring band.
As it has been said: no matter where you go, there you are. With his new album You, Forever, Sam Evian, the project of New York-based musician, songwriter, and producer Sam Owens, is here to add some eternity to that sentiment. “This is you, forever,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible for you, that you’re in charge of your actions. Everything you do affects others and yourself, so, no matter what you choose to do, be there and learn from it.” It’s a mantra that powers self-starter Owens, who debuted his first Sam Evian full-length, Premium, in the fall of 2016. The notion takes on a dual meaning that is echoed across You, Forever. You, Forever is Owens’s foray into a more soul-baring sensibility and places the artist directly in the sightlines and heartlines of his listeners. The album (as well as 2017’s “Need You,” a collaboration with the multi-hyphenate musician Chris Cohen) was written on the heels of his experience touring Premium with his band and was recorded across the latter half of last year. The tours—which included opening shows for bands like Whitney, Big Thief, Teenage Fanclub, Luna, Nick Hakim and Lucius—taught him much about feel and interaction. Further fueled by a desire to escape from the glow of screens and to embrace a sense of limitation, he quickly developed a new set of songs for his band and recorded them on a Tascam four-track cassette recorder at his parents’ house in North Carolina. Owens then borrowed an eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder from a friend, rented a house in upstate New York, and took the band – Brian Betancourt (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), Adam Brisbin (guitar), and Hannah Cohen (backup vocals) – there to record the new album in July of 2017. The limitations of the method - Sam even banned tuning pedals - focused the recording process on the vibe he had achieved on the original four-track recordings. Whether driving across America, navigating the bustle of his adopted NYC home, playing festival stages with rock legends, or getting back to basics in his parents’ garage, no matter where Sam Evian goes, there he is...forever.
4-panel wallet with matte coating.
Tracyanne & Danny is a new collaborative project between singer-songwriters Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura) and Danny Coughlan (Crybaby). Tracyanne hails from Glasgow, Scotland. London-born Danny is based in Bristol, England. Their paths first crossed in 2013 when introduced by mutual music industry pals. Tracyanne dug Danny’s Crybaby album (released on Helium Records) and invited him to open some Camera Obscura shows in the UK. Mutual artistic respect led to the swapping of song ideas, but tentative plans to work together were set aside while Camera Obscura wrote, recorded, released, and promoted their fifth album Desire Lines. Following the death of Camera Obscura’s Carey Lander, all band activity stopped. Time passed. Tracyanne and Danny revisited the idea of collaborating. A pool of songs were honed and crafted. On the suggestion of their manager (and Teenage Fanclub drummer) Francis Macdonald, they recorded at Clashnarrow, a studio in Helmsdale in the highlands of Scotland owned by the esteemed Edwyn Collins.