Posts Tagged ‘Dead Oceans Records’

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

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Among the best albums of 2016 was singer songwriter Mitski, She has now announced her fifth studio LP, “Be The Cowboy”, out on August. 17th via Dead Oceans Records. The acclaimed indie rock singer-songwriter has also shared a video for lead single “Geyser,” directed by Zia Anger.

Whereas Mitski’s previous work has been characterized as emotionally raw and confessional, Be The Cowboy,  recorded with her long-time producer Patrick Hyland, “introduces a persona who has been teased before but never so fully present until now a woman in control,” per a press release.

Mitski herself explains, “For this new record, I experimented in narrative and fiction,” creating characters including “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.”

As for how “Geyser” fits into that narrative, the album opener “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.” Anger’s cathartic visual accompaniment finds Mitski alone on a secluded beach under gray skies, beginning with thrumming synths and exploding in sound at its halfway point, as the singer takes off running down the shore.

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

Phoebe Bridgers is an Music favorite she’s already been one of our ones to watch.  Her ” Stranger in the Alps” was one of last year’s best debuts. Singer Songwriter Noah Gundersen has spent the last decade breaking out slowly and steadily, releasing a long string of well-received albums and EPs.

Last fall, Bridgers opened for Gundersen on a tour that stopped in the latter’s Seattle hometown. The two actually go way back she used to sell merch at his shows — so sharing a stage gave them the idea to visit Seattle’s Studio X and record an eight-minute medley of their songs with help from Gundersen’s sister Abby. It’s remarkable how well their voices and songwriting blend as they swap verses and share choruses: Bridgers’ “Killer” stuns in any setting, and Gundersen’s “The Sound” is a revelation in their collective hands. Performed back to back, the two songs sound hauntingly beautiful.

Bridgers is one of Gundersen’s biggest fans: “I’ve been a fanatic Noah fan since I was a teenager,” she writes via email. “He changed the way I write music, made me more comfortable with being honest in my songs. Getting to sing with him was like getting pulled onstage by your favorite band during a show.” The feeling, it turns out, is mutual.

“I’m just a big fan of her work,” Gundersen writes. “I listened to her record obsessively and I wanted to make something with her. This was recorded on our last day of tour together, when we all had a few spare hours in the afternoon.”

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Phoebe Bridgers’ debut albumStranger in the Alps, is out now via Dead Oceans Records. Noah Gundersen’s new record, White Noise, is out now via Cooking Vinyl.

Lump is a collaboration between singer songwriter Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay, the founding member of Tunng and Throws. Their self-titled album will be released on 1st June via Dead Oceans Records.

The record is a heady blend of wonked-out guitars, Moog synths and pattering drums, set against droning, coiling clouds of flutes and voices.

The duo have shared the first track from the record. A somewhat cynical examination of the new age,  Curse Of The Contemporary has a steady, pulsing bassline and divines a road snaking off towards the horizon, which gives a sense of gazing out of a car window as mountains and palm trees rush by.

Watch the excellent video below and the single will also be available for Record Store Day on hyper-limited 12” translucent green vinyl.

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Bleached dropped the title track from their new EP ‘Can You Deal?’ (out on Dead Oceans Records) at the start of the month. Now to close out February, the LA garage-punk threesome share the second of the EP’s four tracks. The chugging riffs of the sunny ‘Flipside’ comes in typical Bleached three-minute form

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“Flipside” off of ‘Can You Deal?’ by Bleached, out on Dead Oceans Records

Marlon Williams Album Cover1

The 24-year-old New Zealander already having fronted Christchurch outfit The Unfaithful Ways’ debut LP and co-helmed weird-country triptych Sad But True Vols I – III (with Delaney Davidson), Williams‘ solo debut was overdue. The former chorister delivered on every promise, summoning the vocal performance of the year with an antique penny thrown into a haunted mineshaft: see “When I Was a Young Girl”, Williams‘ desolate take on American folk standard “One Morning In May”. From Western TV-theme charge “Hello Miss Lonesome” to “Dark Child” – a flaying indie-rock elegy for a youth destroyed and birthright forfeited – to haunted house phantasy “Strange Things” (‘she left me alone in a seven-bedroom home built upon the bones of fallen soldiers’), Williams shrouds so much timeless country-folk brilliance in the same creeping, lingering sense of disquiet.

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The question being asked is Can you really deal with women making music? Bleached follows up 2016′s acclaimed Welcome To The Worms. For whatever reason, I didn’t connect with that release when it came out. So when they announced this EP, it was met with very little fanfare on my part. Well, it is connecting now. The EP is outstanding and I’ve been making amends with “Welcome To The Worms”.

The LA based punk band rocks and to that point, the title track of EP deals with that. They were tired of being pigeon-holed or labeled due to them being fronted by females. As someone who spent a good chunk of the day watching the ladies rock at the She Shreds party at SXSW, I could’nt care less who’s fronting the band; as long as it’s good. And this is excellent.

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“Can You Deal?” off of ‘Can You Deal?’ by Bleached, out March 3rd, 2017 on Dead Oceans Records

Marlon Williams - Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore

Marlon Williams recently released his new single “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore” from the upcoming album Make Way For Love set to be released early this year. This single is a duet with fellow New Zealand singer/songwriter Aldous Harding and it feels a lot like we have dipped our ears into their conversation. The two voices blend seamlessly as the title becomes a mantra between them in the chorus. This guitar-driven ballad is timeless and melancholy as it muses over themes of defeat and surrender.

Marlon Williams“Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore” (with Aldous Harding) (Official Video) Album Make Way For Love available February 16th, 2018 on Dead Oceans

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Shame thrives on confrontation. Whether it be the seething intensity crackling throughout debut LP Songs of Praise or the adrenaline-pumping chaos that unfolds at Shame’s shows, it’s all fuelled by feeling.

Comprised of vocalist Charlie Steen, guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist John Finerty, and drummer Charlie Forbes, the London-based five-piece began as school boys. From the outset, Shame built the band up from a foundation of DIY ethos while citing The Fall and Wire among its biggest musical influences. Utilizing both the grit and sincerity of that musical background, Shame carved out a niche in the South London music scene and then barreled fearlessly into the angular, thrashing post-punk that would go on to make up Songs of Praise, their Dead Oceans debut. From Gold Hole, a tongue-in-cheek takedown of rock narcissism, to lead single Concrete detailing the overwhelming moment of realizing a relationship is doomed, to the frustrated Tasteless taking aim at the monotony of people droning through their day-to- day.

The notion, however, that a scrappy post-punk band may have to deal with old-school rock stardom isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. They’re as ferocious as their acknowledged inspirations the Fall; even when the guitars aren’t turned up to a jet roar, Steen’s furious sneer gives them urgency (“My voice ain’t the best you’ve heard / And you can choose to hate my words / But do I give a fuck?” he asks on One Rizla). Best of all, though, they have huge, anthemic tunes to go with the anger.

I think the idea of the leather jacket-wearing, womanising, drug-fuelled rock star should be burned,” says Charlie Steen, the 20-year-old singer of Shame, who are 2018’s angriest, shoutiest young British guitar band.

“Destroyed for ever,” says the 21-year-old drummer, Charlie Forbes. “But at the same time,” adds Sheen, “with a lot of people I’ve grown up loving, like Bowie or Iggy Pop, there’s an attraction to someone who lives a lifestyle you’ll never be able to live, and you couldn’t live, because it’s so dysfunctional and damaging to you as a person. You can almost live your life through them.”

Steen thinks for a moment, then outlines the simple reason why Shame won’t become rock stars. “That lifestyle could only exist because of money. Bands can’t go out now and get a kilo of coke or drive to Las Vegas in a Ferrari. Now it’s get a gram of speed and sit in a Travelodge. That’s the reality of it.”.

Shame formed when the five members were in their mid-teens and bumped along anonymously for a while, part of a nascent south London scene of bands drawn together through mutual friends that also included HMLTD, Goat Girl and Dead Pretties. Over the past year, all four bands transcended their free-party origins, getting signed, getting acclaimed and forming the nucleus of something that’s been missing in British music for some time: an exciting, youthful guitar scene whose participants are not grimly fixated on securing their slice of the post-Britpop lads-with-lagers crowd.

The scene, they say, was more the result of necessity than anything else: when few of their friends liked guitar bands, those who did would group together. “It was weird to meet people the same age as you who liked the same music,” Steen says. “Lots of people we knew at school were into popping pills and going to techno nights. But then we started meeting these people who were engaged with something we didn’t think existed.”

Shame formed around the Queen’s Head pub in Brixton, the former headquarters of the Fat White Family. Forbes’s dad was a friend of the landlord, who let the young band rehearse in an upstairs room (“Every day,” Forbes says. “Just hop on the bus to the after school club”). There they met assorted luminaries and recidivists of the south London music scene, but managed to avoid the worst excesses of the Fat Whites and their friends, largely through being too young to realise they were hanging around with committed hard drug users (“We were oblivious,” Forbes says).

They stumbled over lucky break after lucky break. Not just getting a free rehearsal space for 15 months, until the Queen’s Head was converted into a gastropub, but meeting people who then gave them studio space, and getting free advice from musicians who had been chewed up and spat out by major labels. What they learned was the importance of keeping as much control as possible over their decisions, which led them to sign to indie imprint Dead Oceans for their debut album, Songs of Praise. They also think the very grime of the Queen’s Head shaped them into being Shame: “I don’t think if we had started in a squeaky clean studio it would have been the same,” Forbes says.

‘We started meeting these people who were engaged with something we didn’t think existed’ ... Shame.

They are less interested in offering comfort than demanding resolve: “We like to confront those who have committed acts of injustice, by writing snippy songs about them,” Forbes says. Just before last year’s general election they released one such song about the prime minister, Visa Vulture. “With each day the vacuous Mrs May steers our country closer and closer into the darkness and confusion that is Brexit, no doubt securing the best deal for herself and her cronies in the Conservative party,” they wrote on YouTube. “We would like to take this opportunity to humiliate and debase her frankly evil political record even further with this, the world’s worst love song.”

But given they’re still so young – all five members are 20 or 21 – they sometimes haven’t worked out where their principles are taking them. So there’s a mild disagreement between Forbes and Steen over whether they would let their music be used in a TV advert by some particularly awful company.

“No chance,” Forbes says. “No chance.” Then Steen recalls the Fat Whites turning down £100,000 from easyJet. “They wanted to use Whitest Boy on the Beach. Lias [Saoudi, the Fat Whites’ singer] said the biggest mistake of his life was not taking the hundred grand. But until we have to make that decision …”

Forbes interrupts, surprised that Steen is deciding band policy on his own. “Oh no, there’s no way.”

The pair keep taking extreme positions, then realising they have to pull back from them, that their principles are racing away from practicality. When asked how they will respond when their crowd starts to include the beered-up geezers who tend to follow popular and boisterous guitar bands, Forbes says: “If I ever looked down from the stage and saw that, I would probably quit.”

Steen interrupts: “We wanna get rid and dissolve …” Forbes interrupts back: “Dissolve is too nice a word. Incinerate.”

And then Steen realises that suggesting pre-emptive incineration of their fans is, perhaps, a bit much. “We’re not going to discriminate against any person who comes to our show unless they do something unjust. But we don’t want to project any image of laddish behaviour. I’ve spoken to girls who feel that if they go into the pit they are going to get knocked about by older guys. And when that happens, you have to make a point to the crowd. We don’t want to stop anyone having fun, but we don’t want anyone to be hurt or harassed in any way.”

Their instinct for confrontation might make that a tightrope act. In one French TV appearance Steen, dressed in a T-shirt reading “Je suis Calais”, strutted across the presenters’ table and licked an audience member’s face – pick the wrong person for that, and he might well find himself called out on social media for the very things Forbes says the band want to avoid.

It’s oddly charming listening to a band working out what they think as they go along. For all the apparent certainties of Songs of Praise, for all their reputation for provocation – and the thrilling, tumbling rush of their music – they are very well aware of the limitations of being a rock band and of how damaging to mind and body it could be.

Last month, as Shame finished their year with a jaunt around Germany as a support slot, Steen had to call a stop to things. He was getting panic attacks; he wasn’t digesting his food; he was vomiting 15 times a day. “In that month we toured America, Canada, I did eight press days in Europe and London, played a show in Paris and then went on tour in Germany. Sitting in a van in the pitch black, and you’re in Hanover surrounded by snow and nothing else, and there’s only indistinguishable meat available … it can get you down.”

Over the next 12 months, Shame will take Songs of Praise around the world, to more and more people who will force them to confront their self-image as the band who are against things, whatever things happen to be on their minds. A band this exciting aren’t going to be allowed to sit still for long – in the weeks before they go to Australia at the end of January they are writing for their second album, because there will be no chance once the touring begins. They had better get used to the idea of more cans, more pitch black and even more indistinguishable meat, and not just in Hanover.

So might they become rock stars after all? Forbes suggests the very notion is “quite incredibly dated”, and Steen chips in. “Offensive as well, in a lot of ways. It will be a white male, skinny, perfect hair, who sleeps with women daily.”

That’s your principled position – but wouldn’t you really like to be rock stars, given the chance? “I’d just like a house with a pool table,” Steen says.

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Songs of Praise is released on Dead Oceans on 12th January.