Posts Tagged ‘Dead Oceans Records’

Kevin Ratterman and I first met when his incredible band Twin Limb opened for us on tour. Instant friendship. But the real kicker came about a week into tour and I asked him about previous bands he’d been in. He said a few and then mentioned off the cuff that he was the drummer of Elliot. My mind was completely blown. Not only did I love the music but it was at an Elliot show where I first saw Sue. At Kevin’s concert, 15 years ago I saw who was going to be the love of my life. If that doesn’t align the starts than nothing will. From there we talked music and recording and I just continued to discover how talented Kevin was in the studio. So when everything came together to make Eraserland, it was Kevin who truly brought it all together. We would get up every morning and have coffee and map out our day, then work about 14 hours, then after everyone would leave we stay up till about four in the morning just talking, laughing, planning and just really growing so close as friends. I’ve spent a lot time in the studio but I’ve never seen someone work harder but somehow float on air and make everyone involved feels so relaxed and inspired. I think everyone would agree, that Kevin was the boss, in the best of ways. When we would finish a live take all together (sometimes a nine minute song), there would be a stillness in the air of all us waiting to hear over the headphones if we got the take. That 15 seconds felt like a lifetime, especially when Kev would casually say “Let’s get another one”. Partnerships like this don’t come around often, or maybe ever, and for the first time in my life I was smart enough to recognize that and appreciate every second I got to spend with Kevin, and be around his magic.

Eraserland is the first record I’ve ever written where the majority of the songs started with a bass part. I needed to switch a lot of stuff up in my life and writing songs on a different instrument really proved beneficial. I feel like Oaks was becoming a “shred” band and at the time I wanted to be as far from that as possible. If you build songs from a bass line you start from an extremley centered and structured place, and that is exactly what my chaotic mind needed. Long story but all that work was then put into the hands of Tom Blankenship. Hanging with Tom was like going on a spiritual retreat so much thoughtfulness, kindness, observation, listening or to put it simply the ingredients that make a PERFECT bass player. When we recorded Eraserland, we tracked all the parts live together. Even with my songs which definitely aren’t prog anthems, it can be tough to get a complete take out of five individuals. But Tom NEVER messed up, I’m serious, NEVER messed up. Just quietly in the zone and constantly coming up with something fresh that somehow worked in the arrangement even better than his last take. It was amazing to talk with everyone and quickly find out that this is just Tom, he is the rock that holds everything together.




“Weird Ways” off Strand of Oaks’s new album “Eraserland” out March 22nd on Dead Oceans

This record wasn’t supposed to be here. I had thought for a moment Strand of Oaks might be over until a text from my friend, Carl Broemel, changed all that. Unbeknownst to me, four members of My Morning Jacket and Kevin Ratterman booked studio time to record songs I didn’t think I’d ever write. But they believed I could and pulled me back from the brink. At last, the songs came–and quickly morphed into everything I’ve ever worked toward as this band. These ten songs are about existing and continuing on, a testament to the hope that even if we feel like we are disappearing, there is that glimmer of light. You may not come out the same person you started as, but that’s okay. I’m glad this record is here now for whoever chooses to find it. Welcome to Eraserland, where we all can start again. ~tim



Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst (Nik Freitas)

The mysterious band name Better Oblivion Community Center is not only now officially a new project by Phoebe Bridgers & Conor Oberst, their full album, they now have finally revealed that it is the title of their new band and album. Better Oblivion Community Center out via Dead Oceans. The new duo recently performed on the opening credits of Colbert they played “Dylan Thomas” on Colbert.

The album, produced by Bridgers, Oberst, and Andy LeMaster, features Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ guitarist Nick Zinner (on “Dylan Thomas” and “Dominoes”), Carla Azar (drums on half of the album), and Dawes’ rhythm section Wylie Gelber and Griffin Goldsmith (on the other half). Christian Lee Hutson contributes guitar and Anna Butterss provides bass.

Conor Oberst sang on “Would You Rather” from Phoebe Bridgers’ 2017 debut “Stranger in the Alps”. His latest album, “Salutations”, came out that same year. Last year, Bridgers also recently teamed up with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus for the boygenius EP.

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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


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,