November Program Titles Released This Week:
Allah-Las – Lahs CD/LP (Mexican Summer)
On their fourth LP, drummer Matt Correia, bassist Spencer Dunham, and guitarists Miles Michaud and Pedrum Siadatian turn their collective gaze outward and toward the horizon. Simply titled Lahs (a reference to a common misspelling of the band’s name), their new release finds the band turning in their most cohesive and ambitious work yet. The Allah Las seem to be transmitting from a place not found on any map. Those familiar with the band’s work will recognize their skillful melding of melodies and moods, but through that lens we see them venturing into new, exciting territories. Indeed, their growth not just as songwriters, but as performers, arrangers, and producers – is clearly audible. Opener “Holding Pattern” conveys what the title suggests; you’ve almost arrived, you can see the ground, but you’re not quite there yet. Airy, ethereal harmonies chant the title, holding you in suspense – and eventually give way to an entirely different mood just before the fade – as if telling the listener “we’ve landed safely. [Indie store exclusive colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Big Thief – Two Hands CD/LP+MP3 (4AD)
Big Thief had only just finished work on their recently released third album, U.F.O.F. – “the celestial twin” – days before in a cabin studio in the woods of Washington State. Now it was time to birth U.F.O.F.’s sister album – “the earth twin” – Two Hands. 30 miles west of El Paso, surrounded by 3,000 acres of pecan orchards and only a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, Big Thief (a.k.a. Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik, and James Krivchenia) set up their instruments as close together as possible to capture their most important collection of songs yet. Where U.F.O.F. layered mysterious sounds and effects for levitation, Two Hands grounds itself on dried-out, cracked desert dirt. In sharp contrast to the wet environment of the U.F.O.F. session, the southwestern Sonic Ranch studio was chosen for its vast desert location. The 105-degree weather boiled away any clinging memories of the green trees and wet air of the previous session. Two Hands had to be completely different – an album about the Earth and the bones beneath it. The songs were recorded live with almost no overdubs. All but two songs feature entirely live vocal takes, leaving Adrianne’s voice suspended above the mix in dry air, raw and vulnerable as ever.
The Building – Petra CD/LP (Concord)
The Building’s remarkable and intimate new album Petra was written, produced, and performed by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Anthony LaMarca, also known for his role as guitarist in The War On Drugs. Petra – which shares its name with the LaMarcas’ beloved German Shepherd – is a bare-boned, often brutally blunt, new work from a gifted musician-songwriter forced by fate to confront life’s hardest truths and consequences. LaMarca had just begun recording the album when a spell of intense back pain led to his being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Originally, LaMarca was diagnosed in the middle of making his first as The Building, Reconciliation. He immediately started treatment, which brought the disease into complete remission. His disease relapsed in 2018 while in the middle of making Petra. The experience inspired a second meaning to the album’s title, the acronym P-E-T-R-A, or “Peace’s Eternal Truth Renews All”. Moreover, LaMarca’s physical struggle has resulted in the most powerful work of The Building’s still-growing canon, a vivid series of deeply personal songs such as “Purifer” and the LP-opening “Transformed”, made even more impactful through strikingly simple arrangements and raw, heartfelt performance.