Posts Tagged ‘Buck Meek’

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In 2016 the indie rock band Big Thief, comprised of former students of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, released their first album. They’ve since released two more albums, including their latest, “Two Hands,” and they’re beginning a world tour. James Krivchenia, Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek and Max Oleartchik joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to perform the song “Not.”

Big Thief’s fourth studio album Two Hands was released earlier this year, and following a stretch of recent tour dates throughout North America the band stopped by CBS This Morning to play as part of the show’s ongoing “Saturday Sessions” performance series.

As with other CBS This Morning performances, the group played a short three-song set, which here included the songs “Two Hands,” “Not,” and “Forgotten Eyes,” all of which appear on their latest album. While “Not” and “Forgotten Eyes” were both released as singles, the title track was later released as a standard track on the album. Two Hands is the second Big Thief album in less than a year following the excellent U.F.O.F. which was released this past May. “It has been two years [since their second album], and in that time Adrianne [Lenker] had just written so many songs,” guitarist and vocalist Buck Meek said in a recent interview with Stereogum “For a month we went through every song and built arrangements and hashed them out.”

The indie rock band Big Thief, James Krivchenia, Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek and Max Oleartchik joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to perform the song “Forgotten Eyes.”

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In the years since Big Thief released Masterpiece, they have become enormously popular, touring at a near-constant clip. Sophomore album Capacity was critically lauded for its ability to tell small stories that spoke to a universal truth, and lead songwriter Adrianne Lenker is now widely regarded as one of the most technically skilled and lyrically incisive musicians to emerge over the past five years. Her affect is often described as “mystical,” and her songs have the predictive quality of an oracle,  she can tell the story of an entire life in under five minutes.

Cycles fascinate Lenker. Her most recent solo album, 2018’s abysskiss, opens with “Terminal Paradise,” a song about energy transference or reincarnation. “See my death become a trail/ And the trail leads to a flower/ I will blossom in your sail/ Every dreamed and waking hour,” she sings. A reworked version of the song appears on Big Thief’s new album, U.F.O.F., as does abysskiss track “From.” This is Big Thief’s first album for 4AD Records and it’s being billed as their most collaborative to date, but the re-imagining of two of Lenker’s solo tracks emphasizes how inextricably tied to her vision this band really is.

Though Lenker, guitarist Buck Meek, and bassist Max Oleartchik all attended the prestigious Berklee School Of Music, both Masterpiece and Capacity favored deceptively simple song structures over noodly, dense arrangements. U.F.O.F. maintains that sense of ease, but it is more impressionistic and more exploratory than the band’s previous work. Opening song “Contact” is slow and somber from the outset, but it descends into chaotic improvisation soon after. This album is, to put it plainly, loose and jammy at certain moments, which is the result of so much time spent on the road. Lenker is prolific, and writing on tour is as much a necessity as it is a method of self-preservation. “I’m not nervous to open up into that place,” she said of writing in front of her band mates during in-between moments on tour. “If I couldn’t write in front of them, I’m not sure how much I would write at all, because I’m always with them.”

It’s a crisis of capitalism that in order to flourish as a musician one must endure a relentless touring schedule, but through Lenker’s gaze, there’s something unquestionably romantic about her vagabondish lifestyle. On “Century,” she captures memories in short, bright flashes while James Krivchenia’s drums pitter patter like a gentle storm: “Dogs eyes/ In the headlights on the driveway/ Cool autumn rain/ Bugs died/ On your windshield on the freeway/ Wonder if you’ll be the same.” Still, transience means saying goodbye over and over again, and there is a sadness underlying many of the songs on U.F.O.F. The title track’s melody shifts with the changing wind as Lenker bids farewell to a “UFO friend,” her words dripping out in rapid succession, like a leaky faucet. Lenker’s best songs can often read as wordy on paper, a little bit overstuffed. When she sings, though, they tumble forth as if conjured from someplace outside of the atmosphere. It’s hypnotic.

That Big Thief were inspired by New Age music while writing this album is no great surprise. The natural world, and the forces that guide it, have always been of interest to this band, and though many of their songs address anonymous women (Jodi, Betsy, Caroline, Violet, and Jenni in the case of this album) they invoke Mother Earth with unrelenting regularity. Single “Cattails” contemplates nature’s steadfast hold, the elements that remain long after someone beloved passes away. In grief, it is only human to seek out places that remind you of the person you lost, and Big Thief lean into that instinct here: “With your wrinkled hands/ And your silver hair/ Leaving here soon and you know where/ To where the cattail sways/ With the lonesome loon/ You’ll be riding that train in late June.”

Death is the only constant, and as much as Big Thief languish in the beauty of the surrounding world, fatalism grounds this album in an unsettling certainty. “Orange” is a love song arranged simply on acoustic guitar that contemplates the inevitable death of a partner. As Lenker’s sights grow darker — hound dogs howl at the stars, pigeons fall like snowflakes — she works herself up to a climactic realization: “Fragile is that I mourn her death/ As our limbs are twisting in her bedroom.” On the hazy “Open Desert,” you hear Meek’s fingers slide across the fretboard as Lenker contemplates another ending, picturing the “white light of the waiting room/ Leaking through the crack in the door.”

These are the preoccupations that keep people up at night, but Big Thief don’t wallow in angst on U.F.O.F. Moments of bliss eclipse the sorrowful. The fact that this album was recorded live off the floor gives some tracks an in-the-moment, improvised quality. “Strange” is a jaunty funhouse of a song that unwinds like a twisted nursery rhyme, as Lenker sings about seeing a luna moth cry “lime green tears/ Through the fruit bat’s eye.” As Big Thief tunnel further into this psychedelia, the accompanying arrangement starts to lose its footing; Oleartchik’s bass bubbles up from below, Lenker’s voice reverberates outward, and a synthetic sighing mist descends. Something similar happens toward the end of the arid, hallucinatory “Jenni,” when Meek suddenly breaks free to play the same sustained chord over and over again, to be eventually overtaken by Krivchenia’s thundering drums.

Big Thief get weird on U.F.O.F., to great effect. On the earlier Masterpiece and Capacity, they were making folksy rock songs U.F.O.F. isn’t an outlier, not exactly, but it isn’t as conventional, and it’s exciting to consider the directions Big Thief might go in from here. Lenker has been putting out music since she was a teenager, and while it’s long been established that she’s a formidable songwriter, U.F.O.F. documents a band coming into their own, messing around with new ideas and having fun doing it. Listening to it feels like sharing in that experience.

U.F.O.F. is out 3rd May via 4AD Records.

Big Thief Share Second <i>U.F.O.F.</i> Single "Cattails," Expand Fall Tour

The next new single from Big Thief’s forthcoming effort “U.F.O.F.” (Due May 3rd on 4AD Records) has landed: the rustic “Cattails,” which follows on from the album’s gorgeous title track, released alongside its announcement in late February. “Cattails” opens on Adrianne Lenker’s jangling, finger-picked guitar and James Krivchenia’s steadfast drums before it’s later built out with a slow-rising synth hum and gleaming piano stabs. “Going back home to the great lakes / where the cattail sways / with the lonesome loon / riding that train in late June / with the windows wide by my side,” sings Lenker, her thoughts in transit somewhere between civilization and nature—she later insists, “you don’t need to know why / you don’t need to know why / when you cry,” deferring to the mysteries that run deep within the human heart.

Lenker recalls how the band’s new single came together in a statement:

“Cattails” came about while we were at the studio in Washington in the pine forest. Writing it was just one of those electric multicolored waves of connectivity just sweeping through my body. I stayed up late finishing the song and the next morning was stomping around playing it over and over again. We thought why not just record it, so James sat at the drums and we practiced, and by the time we’d finished practicing, Dom Monks—our engineer—had already sneakily set up mics and recorded it. It was beautiful that he’d captured it right away because when James and I were playing, it felt like a little portal in the fabric had opened and we were just flying. Listening back to it makes me cry sometimes.

‘Cattails’ by Big Thief, from the new album ‘U.F.O.F.’, released May 3rd on 4AD.

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Buck Meek’s songs are for the lost dogs of honest mechanics, good guys and girls born into a life of crime, runaways, snow spirits, the ghosts of Central Park, unsung diving-board stars, the affection shared through gambling, and so on. Bred in Texas, more bread in New York City, Meek spins outlaw ballads and quotidian fairy tales into a yarn,

Songwriter and guitarist Buck Meek has released his first bit of new music since putting out his self-titled solo debut on Keeled Scales last year. The song, titled “Halo Light,” is a sweet, folky rumination on eternal love and loss that finds Meek moving in a softer, more contemplative direction, recalling the slow, measured cadence of early Leonard Cohen and the pastoral quality of Harvest-era Neil Young. Before releasing his debut album last year, Meek put out a solo EP in 2015 called Heart Was Beat. He was also the lead guitarist and backup vocalist in Big Thief, and he released a pair of collaborative records with bandmate Adrianne Lenker in 2014 titled “a-sides and b-sides”. 

“Halo Light” is a gently rumbling rumination on “the afterglow of loss, humanity’s ephemera, and the eternal nature of love.” Written by Alexander Buckley Meek,

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U.F.O.F. is the highly anticipated third record by Big Thief, set to be released on 3rd May 2019 via 4AD Records.

U.F.O.F. was recorded in rural western Washington at Bear Creek Studios.  In a large cabin-like room, the band set up their gear to track live with engineer Dom Monks and producer Andrew Sarlo, who was also behind their previous albums.  Having already lived these songs on tour, they were relaxed and ready to experiment.  The raw material came quickly.  Some songs were written only hours before recording and stretched out instantly, first take, vocals and all.

“Making friends with the unknown… All my songs are about this,” says Lenker; “If the nature of life is change and impermanence, I’d rather be uncomfortably awake in that truth than lost in denial.”

Band Members
Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, James Krivchenia, Max Oleartchik

‘UFOF’ by Big Thief, from the new album ‘U.F.O.F.’, released May 3rd on 4AD Records.

Buck Meek - Ruby

Buck Meek, is the lead guitarist and founding member of Big Thief, just released he has a second single, “Ruby,” off of his solo album which is set to be released in full on May 18th. “Ruby” is a laid back alt-folk track that is filled to the brim with country-influenced guitar and charming lyrics. This two minutes and thirty three seconds is that small blip in time with a lover that seems to feel infinite. Buck Meek stretches this moment by guessing names, noticing lights left on, tasting strange Coca-Cola and having sudden existential thoughts, “Ruby, I’m too young to die.” This song explores every corner of a moment, leaving no stone unturned, allowing us to be there with him (and Ruby) completely. Buck Meek is already a much-loved member of Big Thief but is proving to be a true force on his own, and we cannot wait to be submerged in the rest of his story.

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Wimberley, Texas is about 45 minutes out from Austin by car or truck — far enough to allow a music scene independent of Austin’s own to thrive in that hill country. Alexander Buck Meek grew up in that scene, among the jazz manouche, blues and outlaw country guitarists of the region. Even though Buck Meek’s work with Big Thief has taken him far away from his Texas home,

Buck Meek’s self-titled debut album comes out on May 18th via Keeled Scales

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It’s heartening that a new voice can still come along that requires you to stop everything, take notice and listen. The owner of these beautiful vocals is Adrianne Lenker, singer and guitarist with Big Thief, a four-piece from New York, who have more than delivered on their early potential.

As the front cover may allude to (it features vocalist Adrianne Lenker being held by her young Uncle), Big Thief’s sophomore album delves deep in to family history. There are stark accounts of death, domestic abuse as well as guttural romances themes littered throughout the LP. Though the true theme lie in the duality of life and the continued fight between the two. It’s a piece of work that sees Lenker and Co. at the height of their powers.
Intense yet generous, Capacity makes you wonder what the big deal is with second albums. That just 14 months separated the release of Masterpiece and Capacity ensured the band wouldn’t overthink their next move, but there’s more to it than prolificness. Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics and the music they inhabit rarely subvert each other via the more familiar way of placing words and melody at opposite emotional poles. Equally fluent in metaphor and memoir, Lenker blurs the two in a way that resists strict autobiography, while still inviting you into her worlds.

Only formed in 2015, the band are already onto their second album – Capacity is the follow-up to last year’s well-received debut Masterpiece – and the band have long been championed by BBC 6 Music.

The album’s cover – Adrianne Lenker’s uncle cradling her when she was a baby – gives a clue to the themes of family explored on the record. Standout track Mythological Beauty, recalls a childhood accident that almost killed Adrianne, considering the impact it had on her mother. In an interview reflecting on the familial story-telling, she reveals “I’m not quite sure if I’m writing the songs from myself to my future child, or to my inner child, or from my mother to me.”

Expect to hear more from this group as 2017 continues to unfold. They’ll be visiting the UK for gigs .

Wimberley, Texas is about 45 minutes out from Austin by car or truck — far enough to allow a music scene independent of Austin’s own to thrive in that hill country. Alexander Buck Meek grew up in that scene, among the jazz manouche, blues and outlaw country guitarists of the region. Even though Buck Meek’s work with Big Thief has taken him far away from his Texas home, the lead single from his self-titled debut album sounds as if it echoes out from the state’s hill country.

“Cannonball!” is a blast of dry heat — a sly easy-going number led by Meek’s crackling guitar work and his cock-eyed vocals. The song is a thrilling elaboration of all the things that make Meek’s guitar playing so compelling in Big Thief, where he serves as guitarist alongside lead singer and songwriter Adrianne Lenker. His playing in both projects is driven by a love for the sounds that make a guitar distinct — its grumbling string noise; its equal propensity to pop, slide and sigh. When he plays live, he channels the tension of his body into his dynamic playing, which is jumpy and electrifying as an ungrounded wire. Here, he matches that dynamism with his voice’s own odd inflections and a twisted yarn of a story. That carefree, mischievous sound and song title befit Meek’s great gift — the easy exuberance that underlies his every note.

Meek is ably matched by his co-conspirators on the track. Mat Davidson of Twain is an old touring buddy and here spurs the song on with a jaunty bass line. Guitarist Adam Brisbin delivers an at once searing and laconic slide solo at the song’s mid-point. Dylan Meek, Buck’s brother and an accomplished keyboardist, fills out the atmosphere with a Wurlitzer run through a Roland space echo that recalls Garth Hudson and ably complements drummer Austin Vaughn’s Helm-indebted light mid-tempo pocket. All together, the band sounds like a man working out a persistent crick in the neck — a shrugging, loosening groove. In less than three minutes, “Cannonball!” evokes a lifetime of listening at the source of a certain kind of American music, twisted up and then unfurled into a strange new musical world.

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Buck Meek’s self-titled debut album comes out on May 18th via Keeled Scales.

Big Thief

It takes nerve to title your debut album “Masterpiece”. As we noted on the midyear list, the Brooklyn band Big Thief has an awful lot of nerve. What is more important is that the group has excellent songs, which run on smoky, vulnerable vocals and superb melodies. Led by the midnight twang of Adrianne Lenker’s voice, Big Thief’s songs capture the rural desperation of a freight trainyard romance (“Paul”), a motel-screen movie marathon (“Vegas”) or an abusive family (“Real Love”). It is a taut, emotionally resonant collection of songs with a killer climax in “Parallels.” And among the group’s many recently converted fans is Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco fame, who tweeted: “Great guitars, great lyrics, great melodies…. What more could you possibly want?” It’s just that simple.

Big Thief’s Masterpiece is a shared experience. It was an album I’d put on riding in a car with friends, travelling to festivals and gigs . For their album debut, Big Thief added heft to these whispery tales. And that often comes in the form of Buck Meek’s guitar, as he underpins Adrianne Lenker’s chilling voice. I’ve listened to this album more than any other in 2016. It’s just about perfect. Calling your album “Masterpiece” is a bold statement, but Big Thief get closer than you’d think on the title track to their debut for Saddle Creek Records. Against a backdrop of beautifully ragged guitars, frontwoman Adrianne Lenker describes what sounds like a late-night bar crawl, always one drink ahead of loss and grief: “There’s only so much letting go you can ask someone to do.”