LULU'S JANUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER
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THE LULU’S GUIDE FOR LISTENERS OF TOWNES VAN ZANDT
LULU’S TOP RELEASES OF 2020
Happy new year babes; hope it was as nice as possible 4 u all. We’ve been flat out over the past month working to keep the Lulu’s machine running as slick as possible over the end of 2020 (hence the lack of physical newsletter last month), and chipping away at some exciting personal projects (that u can find out more about below).
This bumper edition of the Lulu’s newsletter features our regular batch of record reviews, alongside news on aforementioned Lulu’s crew personal projects, 2020 best-of lists from the crew, and a special Townes Van Zandt record guide for those not quite sure where to start with the big man.
It’s been a wild, fucked year, and we couldn’t be more proud of the community that’s built up around this space and the way everyone has looked out for each other. We love you all, here’s to 2021. Lulu’s xoxo
'All In The Same Breath' is the record Loke Rahbek has been hinting toward since Croatian Amor met Lust For Youth, since ecstasy happened to Posh isolation. The early Croatian Amor cassettes featured muted, watercolour renditions of the harsh power electronics Rahbek was delivering with Damien Dubrovnik. Croatian Amor was introverted, occasionally bristling or ominous, and over the years gradually becoming brighter, brighter and brighter and rich with texture, and most notably, opening up.
The 2016 album 'Love Means Taking Action' marked a complete departure from the sound of Rahbek's earlier introversion as CA stepped from pissing in the alley outside of your club to marching through the back door... taking their place in the private lounge of your club, at a dimly lit booth, fishing around in an ice bucket crowded with champagne, black pearls and oligarch-preferred vodka... overloaded with manic sensations at one moment before becoming focused with meditative precision on a single gesture or flourish of tone, and always stretching the sound, sometimes to breaking point... as when a tight rubber band is expanded and begins to pale and splinters form in the pale, Croatian Amor is saturated with the sonic equivalent of this pale, splinters, fragments, fractures... as when tar-thick honey is stretched and each side pulls on the other, and the final break occurs, Croatian Amor documents the sound of sweet honey as it snaps, curls back on itself and begins to sink back into itself, absorb itself... this sound has carried through Croatian Amor, including collaborations with Varg and Scandinavian Star which have provided a sharpness to Rahbek's percussive breaks... opulent, ecstatic... 'All In The Same Breath' deserves your companionship and urges wonder.
If you haven't had the masochistic pleasure of being rampaged by this slab of NYC gremlinism courtesy of Rigorous Institution you've gassed it. This is what it's all about. Don't bother replacing guitar strings. Let your savage side shine. Find a rhythm section that loves Amebix's Winter EP as much as you do. Grow your hair. Let all that's wrong with the world sit in it's place for a few minutes with a slab of toxic tonic like this to cleanse your ramshackle aura. Survival. Despotism.
Never ones to stop the hustle, local heroes Anti-Fade round out another stellar year of releases with the solo debut of Tom Ridgewell (Woollen Kits, Constant Mongrel & Calamari Girls) under the moniker ‘TB RIDGE AS THE DIRECTOR’.
A humorous twisted skewering of born out of time nostalgia off-setting classical rock instrumentation with drum machines, samples and autotune whilst The Director himself waxes lyrical on the predicaments facing the true rock n roller in the modern age.
Whether it’s a stop gap or the beginning of a new project the Lu Cru highly recommends and is looking forward to the Director’s next feature presentation.
Spoke n Roll electrox pox for the Fallen by Melbourne artist Oscar Perry. The guy wrote a book before he wrote an album, so you'll probably need your reading glasses and thesaurus for this one. It's clever and humble, and perhaps precisely the potion for your perfunctory, parturient permanence.
Lulu's is beyond excited to be offering copies of Swiva; the brand new fourth album from Japanese ambient pioneers Inoyama Land.
In their first completely new work since 1998's Music For Myxomycetes, Swiva is described by the band as a collection of twelve "sound poems" that return to the same reflections of imagined space the band first explored on their 1983 debut; the Haroumi Hosono produced Danzindan-Pojidon.
Working together continuously since their first meeting in 1977, Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita's Inoyama Land project has seen them collaborate on sound design for avant-garde theatre, museum exhibits, architectural firms, and new age "relaxation tapes" amongst countless other small projects and digressions.
Mostly ignored by Western fans and critics of ambient music for decades, the recent (and long deserving) re-appraisal of Japanese Kankyō Ongaku (Environmental Music) by the west has finally seen Inoyama Land, and their contemporaries such as Hiroshi Yoshimura, Midori Takada and Toshifumi Hinata, given the credit and respect they had always deserved as pioneers of the genre.
It is within this context that Inoyama Land finally, with Swiva, makes a return to music intended for home listening. Building upon their decades of professional work in the Environmental Music field, Swiva's sparse soundscapes, peppered with the humour and flashes of theatricality that have always set Inoyama Land apart from their contemporaries, create entire worlds within their melodies.
Featuring artwork by world-renowned multimedia artist Osamu Sato (creator of cult classic Playstation game LSD: Dream Emulator, amongst his impressive and expansive oeuvre), Swiva is another important chapter in the history of Inoyama Land, Japanese ambient music, and the ambient genre as a whole.
THE LULU’S GUIDE FOR LISTENERS OF TOWNES VAN ZANDT:
FOR THE SAKE OF THE SONG (1968) - after garnering a cult following trawling through coffee houses and dive bars Townes Van Zandt’s debut was poorly received by folk purists with its grandiose production overshadowing the songwriting and leading to an instant flop. However time has been kind to FTSOTS, with its cosmic arrangements landing somewhere between 60’s contemporaries Lee Hazlewood, Buffalo Springfield and a Morricone soundtrack. For the die-hard fans looking for something different in Townes catalogue.
KEY TRACKS: Waitin’ Around To Die, All Your Young Servants & Sixteen Summers Fifteen Falls.
OUR MOTHER THE MOUNTAIN (1969) - burned by the experience and reception of FTSOTS TVZ’s second effort mines similar territory but manages to avoid all the pitfalls of his debut. Here the strings and orchestral arrangements are stripped back to compliment the drama of TVZ’s songwriting resulting in the first in a streak of unparalleled masterpieces. Dark poetic cinematic ambient epics exploring love, desire, seduction and identity. If you are looking for an entry point this is it right here.
KEY TRACKS: Kathleen, Our Mother the Mountain, St John the Gambler, Why She’s Acting This Way. All of it really.
TOWNES VAN ZANDT (1969) - his second for 1969 is the antithesis of OMTM’s cinematic scope and the first step towards the more minimal approach TVZ desired. Built around four tracks re-recorded from his debut ’TVZ’ is his definitive folk record and one that showcases his unparalleled talents as a songwriter. Here there is some low-key hope amongst the darkness.
KEY TRACKS: For The Sake of The Song, Waitin’ Around To Die, Lungs, None but the Rain.
DELTA MOMMA BLUES (1971) - a true grower and over-looked gem in his catalogue DMB is true to its namesake and the abrupt shift towards the deeper blues his fanbase wasn’t ready for maintaining the minimal precedent set on S/T and stripping it back further in favour of starker slow-burning arrangements. The cracks are beginning to show with musings and cautionary tales of addiction, mortality and religion underpinning one of his bleakest affairs.
KEY TRACKS: Where I Lead Me, Tower Song, Rake, Nothin’
FLYIN’ SHOES (1978) - by 1973 the wheels had well and truly come off the whole operation but it was a legal battle over personal differences between managers and producers that finally side-lined TVZ’s recording career for years. With the tapes lost or stolen TVZ picked up where he left off on return to the studio finally delivering what was meant to be the follow up to ‘The Late Great’ with the resulting record one of his strongest to date, not to mention as straight up and down a country record as TVZ was probably capable of. Full of pedal steel swells, brutal piano balladry and some sun-scorched psychedelia this is a late career highlight and masterpiece from beginning to end.
KEY TRACKS: Loretta, No Place to Fall, Flyin Shoes, Snake Song.
LIVE IN BRUNSWICK (2019) - Check Sam’s excellent write up on the website as this two-hour performance during a one year bout of sobriety comes in a close second to the definitive ‘Live At The Old Quarter’ (currently out of stock) but an essential entry into the catalogue.
THE BEST OF 2LP: Fat Possum RSD 2019 Best Of. A great selection of studio tracks spanning TVZ's entire career. Limited to 2000.
IN THE BEGINNING: A collection of previously unreleased studio demos recorded in Nashville 1966. Essential for die-hard fans.
REARVIEW MIRROR: Sitting somewhere between a best-of and live album RM was intended to be a re-recording of his lost classics for an anthology. There is something special about this set though with the backing band adding the appropriate gravitas and breathing a new energy into the material that comes off like a menacing take on Dylan’s ’Desire’.
SKY BLUE: A collection of recently unearthed demos, live recordings and musings released in 2019 which is possibly TVZ at his rawest.
Ok, I love listening to community radio. You don’t know what you’re going to learn about some obscure genre of music and culture, unless you’re specifically tuning into a certain show. The downside is that unless you’re tuning in when it’s live, you’re only other option is to go to the website and listen afterwards, and sometimes that’s not even possible.
Podcasts are still finding their feet. In some cases it seems like there’s too many boring ones on the same subject, and in others you just can’t find what you’re looking for. If you’re reading this newsletter then I think you might dig this one. It’s a new podcast out of Melbourne called “Modern Australian Underground”.
The gist of it is in the name. What is happening in underground music around Australia right now? Although there’s a bit more of a focus on punk and hardcore in its most umbrella form, it peeks into the subcultures of metal, electronic, club music, noise, hip hop, drill and whatever new is worth exploring.
You listen to 80’s hardcore? Cool. Memphis horrorcore, NZ Flying Nun, Swedish Crust? It all plays a part. But what’s happening in Australia right now that is going to play a part in years to come?
Modern Australian Underground is done through a radio show style episode one week, rotated with an interview style episode the next. Check it out, and if you have music you want Modern Australian Underground to check out, contact them via Litmus.Media
Lulu's affiliates DX and Mahmood Fazal have launched a new publishing company called Mont Publishing House, and a podcast called Mont Icons. Mont speaks to artists, musicians, writers, activists and outsiders about the meaning and purpose of counter-culture.
The first batch of episodes include conversations with arthouse filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson, punk tattooist Spider Death, artist Stanislava Pinchuk (MISO), anarchist journalist Andy Fleming (SlackBastard) and HTRK's Jonnine Standish.
LULU’S TOP RELEASES OF 2020
BRADFORD’S 2020 PICKS
The Annihilated CS
United Mutation Reissue
AC TOP 5
ITCHY BUGGER - “DOUBLE BUGGER” LP
ANARCHY AND VIOLENCE
5. BURIAL - ALL NEW TRACKS
YS TOP FIVE
I can’t really remember much about 2020. Like, I know a lot happened, but I’m not really sure when or in what order. So, in keeping with that sentiment, here is a list of 5 releases from 2020 that I do remember. In no particular order;
Thibault – “Or Not Thibault” LP (September 2020)
Soundtrack for artisanal bread lines. Suffering in silence, softly.
Nightclub – “Private Party” LP (April 2020)
Dance in your bedroom, you’re trapped inside.
Oily Boys – “Cro Memory Grin” LP (June 2020)
I don’t know why I fought liking this for so long. I miss hardcore shows.
Various - “A Long Time Alone” CS (June 2020)
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
Traffik Island – “Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam” LP (February 2020)
Ever been so iconic you create a dance? I didn’t think so.
Honourable mentions: Roly – One Milion Horses, Brain Drugs – ST, Green Child – Shimmering Basset, Brickhead – ST, Oscar Perry – Silver Shadow, Scott And Charlene’s Wedding – Live At The Tote, World War Four – WW4 Dance Mix 2020, The Red Engine Group – 2, Algara – Enamorados Del Control Total
A SOFT TOUCH FOR 2020, A RALLYING CRY FOR 2021
Best pop album of 2020; beats out the first (extremely good) LP in nearly every way. A treat for every occasion, sun up or sun down.
A glimpse into the history of THE biggest freaks going; what could have been an informative but dry history lesson is instead a surprisingly engaging and charming story of a bunch of lovable weirdos that couldn't find a place to fit so made one for themselves. Inspiring and enlightening.
Coco called it "Spoke n Roll electrox pox" which is very funny and also very accurate. This tape is also very funny and heartfelt and sweet and it fuckin grooves when it wants to. Biggest and sweetest surprise of 2020; there are lines on this cassette that are successfully extremely hot whilst also being extremely funny at the same time which is a very dangerous tightrope to walk. My dude Oscar is the man on lyrical wire; molto bene.
There's a whole review also in this newsletter, but in short; my boys are back and they've still got it.
A high point that just keeps getting higher; this record stole my heart in 2020 and we are very much in love. No other music makes me feel this good and special and seen and loved. This one is just for us.
Honourable mentions; best reissue goes to THE TOMS' "1979 SESSIONS" LP, best bootleg was LOU REED'S "WE'RE NOT PLAYING" CS, best new hardcore was OILY BOYS' "CRO MEMORY GRIN" LP, best old hardcore was GRAVE NEW WORLD'S "GRAVE NEW WORLD" LP, best comp was the "WOUND WITHOUT A TEAR" 2xLP, and the best pornography of 2020 was PATRICK COWLEY'S "MECHANICAL FANTASY BOX" book.