SHEARWATER – ” Jet Plane and Oxbow “

Posted: December 3, 2016 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

Jet Plane and Oxbow

Okkervil River members Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff began Shearwater as a channel for some more subdued songs they were working on together. Meiburg, whose master’s thesis at the UT geography department was on a subspecies of falcons common to the Falkland Islands, took the name from a class of migratory seabirds. Beyond his interest in ornithology, Meiberg’s prolific creative output includes writing (he’s a contributor to the literary magazine The Believer), and releasing Shearwater’s ninth(!) studio album.

Jet Plane and Oxbow, which was released on Sub Pop last month, has a particularly early 80s sound to it. Think Scary Monsters era David Bowie meets early Peter Gabriel. The new album receives an extra boon from film composer and percussionist Brian Reitzell, whose work includes the soundtracks for several Sofia Copolla films like The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Jonathan Meiburg with Emily Lee on keys, Sadie Powers on bass, Josh Halpern on drums, and Lucas Oswald on guitar came into Studio 1A today..

Shearwater’s eighth record, will be one of 2016’s most slept-on, and that’s a shame, because this is far and away the strongest thing the band has released since 2008’s Rook, and one of their best records to date. Masterful drummer Thor Harris has departed, which is perhaps one of the reasons there are a few more electronics and programmed beats here, but the band still hits hard, with some shimmering, towering songs like “Quiet Americans” and “Filaments,” with the thundering “A Long Time Away” being quite a high watermark for the band. As usual, Jonathan Meiburg and co. know when to tone it down, as on the beautiful “Only Child” and the closing track. Meiburg’s voice is, as ever, able to be forceful and gentle, often within the same song, going from rough to tender and back again. I hope people find this record while catching up on 2016’s music output, because it would be a small tragedy for a surprisingly good record, from a band who some have sort of turned away from, went unnoticed.

Shearwater 2.3.16

In addition to a couple different nifty t-shirts, some leftover copies of Missing Islands, and of course the new album in various formats, we have TWO exclusive tour releases. You’ve heard about the Complete Island Arc digital box set before (more details and pictures at the link), but we will also have something brand new: Safe Houses, an instrumental “deconstruction and reimagination” of Jet Plane and Oxbow by our producer Danny Reisch (buy the code now, download available February. 15th). Both releases are digital, but both come with physical art objects hand-manufactured by us.

Tonight we get to see you from the stage! And vice-versa, I suppose. Let me introduce you to the band, and the band to you. At left, on keys, is Emily Lee, also of Snake Oil fame. Besides running our Instagram account, she does a mean Ozzy Osbourne. Long-time guitarist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and heartthrob Lucas Harrison Oswald and our leader Jonathan Meiburg surely needs no introduction.
To the right of JM is bassist Sadie Powers, also of Dead Fame and her own doom ambient duo project Discipline, whose secret Bowie tribute “Dolphins” is really worth hearing.
This selfie’s auteur, front and center, is our drummer Josh Halpern, whom you might have met before – he’s also a member our Austin friends Marmalakes (who are opening for us at the two Texas shows).
Not onstage but a very powerful presence: our long-time friend, sound man Jay Demko.
If you’ve seen us before, you may notice that our stage design is a little more impressive than usual – we’re doing our best to live up to the cover of Jet Plane and Oxbow.

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