Posts Tagged ‘Dead Oceans Records’

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Nobody makes airy, folk-leaning ballads quite like Phoebe Bridgers. Her track “Scott Street” from her debut album Stranger in the Alps is crushingly beautiful—it hurts as much as it heals. However, its Alex Lill-directed video does its very best to lift our spirits and it more than accomplishes this task. “Scott Street” sees a crowd of Bridgers lookalikes, each dressed in black and with silvery-blond wigs, lip-synch, ride a mechanical bull and a double decker bus, hop on trampolines and take whacks at a Bridgers pinata. It’s like watching the greatest birthday party ever held and given those hijinks and the fact that it concludes with a boat ride with the real-life Bridgers under the moonlight, we hope we get the invite for next year’s bash

“Scott Street” from ‘Stranger In The Alps’ is out now on Dead Oceans

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It’s hard to do Shame any justice by writing about their wild live shows. The way I can best summarize the aftermath of going to see Shame is that you’ll suddenly feel like you’ve been christened with the ability to perform some act of superhuman physical strength. Though the melodic, fervent post-punk of their debut album Songs of Praise needs no polite introduction, it’s not an angry “in your face,” it’s more like an “in your face” that’s beaming with happiness and with an overflowing passion that can’t be depleted. Their sweaty, bare-chested frontman Charlie Steen’s stamina and powerful presence is felt, but it’s not overbearing. He consistently reminds the crowd, “Smile! This is entertainment” while bassist Josh Finerty engages in a comical gymnastics routine and guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith embodies his guitar’s vigorous shredding with a similar vibrating fit of energy. By this point, Steen is an experienced crowd-surfer and as long as his motor is running, expect the unexpected at a Shame show.

Shame performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded February 20th, 2018.

Songs: Dust On Trial Concrete One Rizla Friction The Lick

This new number from the Auckland via Dunedin, NZ singer-songwriter’s ‘Two Hearts and No Brain’ album, released last year, is definitely not bad at all. The alt-rock guitar track with grungey overtones is, he says, “kind of an intense, sort of heavy, dark sounding song, instrumental but the lyrics are kinda positive.  I was in the record store the other day and did a double take as they played this album. Was it a lost Brendan Benson album? Jason Falkner? maybe It’s been a while since a pop album so immediately seduced me with its melodies and lyrics.

Beauty in simplicity and yet such a large collection of complexities that elude my understanding. Utterly captivating through each and every melody, while exploring emotions that feel all too familiar. A winning blend of careful precision and mercurial abandon, Kane Strang’s new album ‘Two Hearts and No Brain’ is constantly surprising. With a penchant for melodic earworms to rival those of the world’s best pop songwriters, the New Zealand artist’s glittering hooks twist and turn in perfect synch with meticulous band arrangements.

Strang’s proclivity for writing smart, anthemic guitar pop shines brightest now that he has moved away from the bedroom and into the studio. Showcasing his new collaborative approach to recording and writing with his band, the four-piece twists Strang’s melodies upside down and pushes his hooks inside out. ‘Two Hearts and No Brain’ proves emotive and playfully laced with a tongue-in-cheek nostalgia – timelessly old and new in the same breath.

“It’s Not That Bad” from ’Two Hearts and No Brain’ by Kane Strang, out now on Dead Oceans

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Hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock following the breakout success of 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski returns with her new album Be The Cowboy, via Dead Oceans Records.

Mitski’s carefully crafted songs have often been portrayed as emotionally raw, overflowing confessionals from a fevered chosen girl, but in her fifth album, Mitski introduces a persona who has been teased before but never so fully present until now a woman in control.

“For this new record, I experimented in narrative and fiction,” comments Mitski. Though she hesitates to go so far as to say she created full-on characters, she reveals she had in mind “a very controlled icy repressed woman who is starting to unravel. Because women have so little power and showing emotion is seen as weakness, this ‘character’ clings to any amount of control she can get. Still, there is something very primordial in her that is trying to find a way to get out.”

In Be The Cowboy, Mitski delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, how it can feel so much like being no one. Lead single “Geyser” introduces us to a woman who can’t hold it all in any more. She’s about to burst and unleash a torrent of desire and passion that has been building up inside. While recording the album with her long-time producer Patrick Hyland, the pair kept returning to “the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room. For most of the tracks, we didn’t layer the vocals with doubles or harmonies, to achieve that campy ‘person singing alone on stage’ atmosphere.”

There is plenty of buoyant swagger on Be The Cowboy, but just as much interrogation into self-mythology. Throughout these 14 songs, the music swerves from the cheerful to the plaintive. Mournful piano ballads lead into deceptively uptempo songs. “I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time. A lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski.

Mitski’s discography is a series of scrambled sonic cinematic reels spliced together by one of the most talented lyricists of our generation. Her fifth album, Be The Cowboy, is a new era for Mitski, carrying with it the same impossibly ripped-open emotional nudity that Mitski’s built her legacy upon over the past six years.

After a nearly five-year hiatus, Phosphorescent, the musical project of Matthew Houck, is returning this October with a new album called C’est La Vie.

You can hear the project’s lead single,” New Birth In A New England,” below.

The album was recorded in Nashville, in a studio Houck built by hand after relocating to Music City with his family after a long stint in New York. C’est La Vie, which enters the world on October 5th via Dead Oceans, was mixed by Houck and Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Arctic Monkeys).

‘New Birth in New England’ from Phosphorescent’s new album ‘C’est La Vie’, out October 5th on Dead Oceans.

“Nobody” is the second track from Mitski’s upcoming album Be the Cowboy, due out August 17th on Dead Oceans. Following the earlier “Geyser” which plays into her deep and breathy sound from Bury Me at Makeout Creek, “Nobody” shifts to a  funkier groove unlike her previous songs. Working with longtime producer Patrick Hyland, the track is a roller coaster of key changes that only Mitski could streamline into a dance-ready ode to loneliness.

Cymbals ready the song pushing along her signature soft and sigh prone voice. “Venus planet of love was destroyed by global warming/did its people want too much too?” she sings, the dark lyrics contrasting against the song’s deceivingly hopeful beat to emphasize humanity’s never ending capitalistic void. The song continues to swell until the chorus hits leveling out the tempo. “For most of the tracks, we didn’t layer the vocals with doubles or harmonies, to achieve that campy ‘person singing alone on stage’ atmosphere,” she has said.

The stripped down approach is magnificent, the song’s humility only making it grander. The second half of the song really exercising key changes but it never feels like its bragging. The band leaves for the second chorus then returns, slows down then picks up again, then it all trickles off into a fuzz-fueled recording of the hook. You would think a song made up of someone looping the word “nobody” over and over is doomed to fail but Mitski manages to turn kitschy into catchy without being overwrought. “I’ve been big and small and still nobody wants me,” she groans. Nobody is immune from loneliness—a candid realization we can all take comfort in.

Mitski’s “Nobody” from ‘Be The Cowboy’. Out August 17th on Dead Oceans.

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Be The Cowboy, is the much anticipated follow-up to Puberty 2, won’t be out until August 17th. But the first single “Geyser” has the sweep of an album, building from a quiet murmur to an arena-rock roar in just about two-and-a-half thrilling minutes. Mitski has hinted in interviews that Cowboy might be a departure, but “Geyser” is just as rousing as her signature song, “Your Best American Girl.”

I think this is one of my vaguest songs,” Mitski says in this conversation about her new song, “Geyser.” “Usually my songs have a narrative of some sort. But this song is all feeling.

“Geyser” is the leadoff song on her new album Be the Cowboy. And there’s nothing vague about the music — it builds with a powerful precision. Mitski has an intense desire to write songs. “I will be whatever it needs me to be. I will do whatever it needs me to do in order for me to continue to be able to make music.”

Mitski’s “Geyser” from Be The Cowboy. Out Aug 17th on Dead Oceans Records.

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Japanese Breakfast’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet is less of a concept album about space exploration so much as it is a mood board come to life. Over the course of 12 tracks, Michelle Zauner explores a sonic landscape of her own design, one that’s big enough to contain her influences. There are songs on this album that recall the pathos of Roy Orbison’s ballads, while others could soundtrack a cinematic drive down one of Blade Runner’s endless skyways. Zauner’s voice is capacious; one moment she’s serenading the past, the next she’s robotically narrating a love story over sleek monochrome, her lyrics more pointed and personal than ever before. While Psychopomp was a genre-spanning introduction to Japanese Breakfast, this visionary sophomore album launches the project to new heights.

Boyish from Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Out now on Dead Oceans

Michelle Zauner goes for sci-fi New Wave, expanding the introspective tunes she wrote on last year’s Psychopomp into trips like the six-minute “Diving Woman,” where she vanishes under the sea to be alone with her scary self, or the shoegaze doo-wop of “Boyish.” “I can’t get you off my mind/I can’t get you off in general”  could that be 2017’s answer to Lit’s “You make me come/You make me complete/You make me completely miserable”? (Probably not.)

Japanese Breakfast performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded February 15th, 2018.

Songs: Diving Woman, Road Head, The Body Is A Blade, Boyish,

A solo moniker for Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast began as a month-long, song-a-day writing challenge during a break from her indie rock band Little Big League. The result was 2013’s June, an intimate set of melodic, electric guitar-accompanied lo-fi tunes issued on cassette by Ranch Records. She continued to write solo and with her band, with Japanese Breakfast’s self-released Where Is My Great Big Feeling? and the Seagreen Records cassette American Sound both following in the summer of 2014 before Little Big League’s Tropical Jinx arrived that October. With a varied palette including markedly bigger, synth-boosted sounds that bridged lo-fi and indie pop, Japanese Breakfast’s Yellow K Records debut, Psychopomp, was released in the spring of 2016.

The album dealt with the emotional fallout of her mother’s death, and was, in Zauner’s mind, the one and only Japanese Breakfast record. She soon changed her mind, signed with Dead Oceans (which re-released Psychopomp to a wider audience), and began work on another album with the help of producer Craig Hendrix, who had also helmed Little Big League’s debut album. The pair played the bulk of the instruments on the album and went for a much bigger sound, taking the project out of the bedroom and into a much bigger space. An expansive mix from indie pop alchemist Jorge Elbrecht made it sound even larger as Zauner delved into themes like grief, dead pop stars, outer space, and moving on. Soft Sounds from Another Planet was released by Dead Oceans in July of 2017

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The Lord Huron song “The Night We Met” found its way into the massively popular, albeit oft-maudlin, series, 13 Reasons Why with a new take on their hit song featuring the noir-ish indie songstress Phoebe Bridgers. 

“The Night We Met” is a track from Lord Huron’s 2015 release, the spacey indie-folk travel log “Strange Trails”. Bridgers’ vocal contribution expands the song’s already-haunting melody to encompass a deeper sense of melancholia, something she also comfortably emits on her critically adored 2017 LP Stranger in the AlpsLord Huron’s Ben Schneider and Bridgers are likely collaborators, too: Each have traversed the spectrum of indie-folk sounds, though Bridgers says she isn’t yet committed to a confined style.

Lyrically, her gorgeous 2017 debut album Stranger in the Alps – which she recorded independently before being signed to the Dead Oceans label – grapples a lot with death. The late Lemmy from Motörhead and David Bowie are both referred to, while the song Funeral was inspired by a boy Bridgers knew who died of a heroin overdose. “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time and that’s just how I feel, always have and always will,” she sings, the mournful mood recalling the late American miserabilist Elliott Smith.  Yet, in person, Bridgers could hardly be sunnier. “I didn’t realise there was such a heavy theme on the record until I started recording the album.

The standout single from Stranger in the Alps, was “Motion Sickness” it has amassed more than half-a-million views on YouTube and is an exquisite evisceration of a former lover. “I faked it every time,” she sings, before landing another blow to the solar plexus: “And why do you sing with an English accent?/ I guess it’s too late to change it now.”

The song, she tells me, is about the Grammy-nominated singer- songwriter Ryan Adams, whom she met in 2015. “A mutual friend in LA was like, ‘Ryan would like you’. He really was just trying to get me recording and trying to get Ryan to hear me, but Ryan was like, ‘Let me see a picture of her’.” Bridgers says that she and Adams “ended up hanging out all night and recording a song together called Killer. Then, a couple of weeks later, he was suddenly trying to hook up with me. I was super-down and had just broken up with my high-school boyfriend. We slept together on his 40th birthday and I’d just turned 20.”

She wrote Motion Sickness after they broke up. What did he think of it? “We were back on good terms by then but after I sent him the song he didn’t talk to me for 24 hours. Then he sent me a sweet text saying ‘it’s a great song’,” she says. “Yes, interesting character…”

Bridgers wrote “Smoke Signals” in a cabin outside Ketchum, Idaho, last spring. It finds her somberly emoting against a backdrop of guitar chords and orchestral swells. Sometimes her words are poetic: “I wanna live at a Holiday Inn where somebody else makes the bed/ We’ll watch TV while the lights on the street put all the stars to death.” Other times she’s more straightforward but just as powerful: “All of our problems, I’m gonna solve them/ With you riding shotgun, speeding ’cause fuck the cops.” References to Bowie, the Smiths, and Motörhead might capture your attention, but the recurring image of trash burning on the beach is what will linger with you.

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“Smoke Signals” is out digitally and available as a 7″ backed by “Motion Sickness (Demo)” at Bridgers’ upcoming shows.

Phoebe Bridgers