Past Releases

Jesse Malin "The Fine Art of Self Destruction"

From the Rolling Stone:

JESSE MALIN TAKES a page out of Taylor Swift’s book and re-records his 2003 solo debut, The Fine Art of Self Destruction. Due Feb. 17 on the MNRK Heavy label, the updated version of the LP features fresh versions of fan favorites like “Riding on the Subway,” “Downliner,” and “High Lonesome.” Some, like “Brooklyn,” have been retitled as well: Malin premieres a video for “Brooklyn (Walt Whitman in the Trash)” today.

Directed by Malin’s longtime bass player Cat Popper and photographer Vivian Wang, the video finds the Lower East Side songwriter reminiscing on a New York that no longer exists. A scene from The Honeymooners (a frequent reference in Malin songwriting) opens the clip, with Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden saying, “I’m sorry, and I hope you forgive me,” before Malin, seated at the bar at Bowery Electric, shuffles through old photos.

“‘The last car on the line’ refers to me and my hardcore friends like Jimmy G. from Murphy’s Law, meeting at the junction of two different subway lines, Flushing and Astoria.  When we were younger, the big dream was to come into the old Apple, New York, and make it happen,” Malin tells Rolling Stone. “We left our small boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn to live on our own and make our lives. We used to see people packing up stuff, throwing away their books and records, not having time to sell them or give them away. In this song, the character has to turn around and go backwards. It’s funny, because now Brooklyn is the first stop where kids come to make the art happen. Things change but the sentiment stays the same.

Along with the “Brooklyn” video and re-release, Malin will celebrate the LP’s 20th anniversary by performing the album with special guests like Lucinda Williams, Tommy Stinson, and Butch Walker at Webster Hall in New York on March 25th. Other performers include the Pogues’ Cait O’Riordan, Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner, Johnny Pisano, and Catherine Popper. Fantastic Cat, the all-star group of Don DiLego, Anthony D’Amato, Brian Dunne, and Mike Montali open.

The updated version of The Fine Art of Self Destruction, produced by Malin’s bandmate Derek Cruz and engineered by Geoff Sanoff, will be available on limited-edition vinyl. Earlier this year, Malin re-released his out-of-print album Glitter in the Gutter, which features the Bruce Springsteen duet ‘Broken Radio.'”

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs "Land of Sleeper"

“I’ve always liked the quote: “Sleep, those little slices of death – how I loathe them.”

So reckons Matt Baty of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, vocalist and lyricist of a band as comfortable wading through the darker quarters of their subconscious as they are punishing ampstacks.

Whether dwelling in the realm of dreams or nightmares, the primordial drive of the Newcastle-based band is more powerful than ever. Land Of Sleeper, their fourth record in a decade of riot and rancour, is testimony to this: the sound of a band not so much reinvigorated as channelling a furious energy, which only appears to gather momentum as the band’s surroundings spin on their axis.

“Shouting about themes of existential dread comes very naturally to me, and I think because I’m aware of that in the past I’ve tried to rein that in a little” reckons Matt. “There’s definitely moments on this album where I took my gloves off and surrendered to that urge.”

Whether this means Pigs, a band once associated with reckless excess, have taken a darker turn to match the dystopian realm of the 2022 everyday, is open to debate. The band themselves aren’t necessarily convinced; “Sobriety does funny things to a man” reckons guitarist Adam Ian Sykes wryly.

“I know from my perspective, I was trying to write some much heavier and darker music” says guitarist and producer Sam Grant. “But this was an aim more as a counterpoint to earlier material, as opposed to any sort of political or social commentary. I still very much see these heavier moments as musically euphoric, and emotionally cut loose or liberating.”

“For obvious reasons, the anticipation for the writing of Land of Sleeper was unlike anything we’d felt before” Adam adds. “These sessions were an almost religious experience for me. It felt like we were working in unison, connected to some unknowable hive mind.”

The intensity of feeling is writ large right from the pulverising drive of opener ‘Ultimate Hammer’, and its rallying cry “I keep spinning out, what a time to be alive”. Yet, whilst ‘Terror’s Pillow’ and ‘Big Rig’ are rich with the band’s trademark Sabbathian power, there’s scope this time around that supercedes anything they’ve previously attempted. Matt’s duet with the traditional folk vocals of Cath Tyler on the closing lament ‘Ball Lightning’, for example, is one particularly potent illustration of their expanded horizons.

In terms of emotional impact, a pinnacle on Land Of Sleeper is ‘The Weatherman’. Replete with devotional rapture and radiant intensity, the band’s attack slowed down to a mantric and mesmeric crawl, it marks a collaboration with the ululatory tones of Bonnacons Of Doom vocalist Kate Smith and a choir including Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington. The resulting tumult constitutes a sound not unlike The Stooges ‘We Will Fall’, reinvented and adrenalised as an invigorating sermon for the zeitgeist.

“This one presented an opportunity for me to do something completely unbridled. I wanted to surrender to the weight of the song, so the lyrics came about in much the same way I imagine a frenzied artist might throw paint at a canvas.” relates Matt “I just wanted the lyrics to present an uncontrollable energy.”

For all that the last few years have seen Pigs’ stature rise in the wake of triumphant festival slots and sold-out venues alike, this remains a band, consummated by bassist John-Michael Hedley and returning drummer Ewan Mackenzie, who are fundamentally incapable of tailoring their sound to a prospective audience, instead standing alone and impervious as a monument of catharsis.

“Writing and playing music is often surprising and revealing, it can be like holding up a mirror and seeing things you didn’t expect to see” reckons Mackenzie. “For me, the darker tracks on the record hold in common a determination not to lose faith, despite the odds.”

The better to unite slumber and waking, Land Of Sleeper is no less than an act of transcendence for Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – new anthems to elucidate a world sleepwalking to oblivion

Maps "Counter Melodies"

From Mute Records:

Mercury-nominated artist Maps, aka James Chapman, presents his fifth studio album, Counter Melodies.

Maps’ music has always embraced melancholia, but with Counter Melodies Chapman has produced an album of upbeat and uplifting dance tracks. The album is a new adventure through the familiar emotional terrain of the Maps sound, while also transporting you to more resolutely optimistic and hopeful places. The album will be released in two parts; the first half will be available digitally from 26th October 2022, followed up by the full physical album release in early 2023.

M(h)aol "Attachment Styles"

From the Guardian:

Seven years after their exciting, abrasive debut single Clementine, Irish post-punks M(h)aol (pronounced male) have finally released their debut album, Attachment Styles. It’s a series of fearless moments that centre on intersectional feminism and reclamation of power, underpinned by a soundtrack of clattering drums and jagged, dissonant guitars.

The result is a record that is equally vulnerable, triumphant and cathartic. “I’m just the dumb bitch that left the party with you,” vocalist Róisín Nic Ghearailt sing-speaks on spicky opener Asking for It, which unflinchingly tackles rape culture. As the track builds, the guitars become thick and gluey and Ghearailt’s voice rises to a roar: “My whole life won’t be defined by you.”