Posts Tagged ‘Drag City Records’

superwolf matt sweeney and will oldham

You may remember way back in the mid-’00s all new indie bands were required to have the word “wolf” in their names, hence Superwolf, the 2005 collab between Will Oldham and Matt Sweeny. Fifteen years later, Will & Matt brought Superwolf out of retirement to help East Village vegetarian join Superiority Burger and Will’s label, Drag City, with this new jam.

From Superwolf’s home in the sea comes a new, long-awaited exclamation. “You’ll Get Eaten, Too” is a sunbaked song-comet streaking through our suddenly emptied, wide-open skies. Ostensibly a song about meat and the star-crossed destinies of us all, here in the chain of organic life, the song explores affirmations, impermanence and downfall for anything that can evolve and grow (like bacteria….or a virus), in a taut and purposeful three minutes of rock anthem. Atop burgeoning arpeggiation and soaring string bends, Bonnie Billy and Matt Sweeney get ever higher, voicing conflict, contradiction, acceptance and celebration in a manner that invites all to sing with them.

“You’ll Get Eaten, Too” dates from Superwolf’s long middle-period between their initial album release (2005) and the planned release of a new album, which is almost fully rendered, awesome and now awaiting the new world order to be sorted. Will music be marked any more non-essential than it already has? Matt and Bonnie certainly hope so. In the meanwhile, “You’ll Get Eaten, Too” is a (de)commissioned number from a decade back, recorded at the old Rove studio HQ in Shelbyville by Paul Oldham, and with Peter Townsend on hand to round out the sound. With such a message to send, and such energy, “You’ll Get Eaten, Too” has sat it out for too long, waiting to play a role – but the time is now, as a new organic growth spreads unchecked across the nations, truncating life as we know it everywhere. Faced with rallying support on any number of fronts, Bonny and Sweeney are throwing the profit from this single behind NYC’s Superiority Burger, as good a vegetarian/and sometimes vegan option as there is – as well as the beleaguered staff of Drag City, currently facing an uncertain future slinging their own patties. Sing for your support, please! 

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Featuring artwork with a timely new take on the original Superwolf artwork from original artist Spencer Sweeney, “You’ll Get Eaten, Too” is available for consumption on Bandcamp exclusively for 3 days, for $3 or more – and please note the ‘or more’ here, as anything extra you give will benefit disenfranchised workers struggling to get back to making alternative products for the world to consider (and consume).

released March 27th, 2020

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GQ clothes-horse and man who saw a darkness Bonnie Prince Billy has his first album of new songs since 2011. This time, he brings the lightness, with help from a Louisville band including picker Nathan Salsburg, ex-Gary Burton Quartet drummer Mike Hyman and singer-songwriter Joan Shelley. Influenced by songwriters John Prine and Tom T. Hall and inspired by the state of Hawaii, I Made a Place finds Bonny using his considerable powers for good.

“This Is Far From Over” features and was edited by Captain Olivia O Wyatt. She just completed a solo transpacific crossing from San Diego to Hawaii on her 34 ft. boat, Juniper. The voyage lasted 23 days and was chronicled on her blog Wilderness of Waves . From Hawaii, she will sail around the world to destinations guided by humpback whale migration patterns. As Olivia traverses the sea, she is creating an ethnographic film exploring the mystery of humpback whale songs from the perspective of indigenous communities who revere them as deities.

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Track from full-length Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album, available January 31st, 2020.

As on Side 1, the mics open up into the moment preceding the music, letting our ears wander into the room seconds before the song starts. The light that was dappling on “Morning Is My Godmother” is seen from higher up at the top of the flip, as Bill gives us an airplane song in the grand tradition of Lightfoot and Denver, Chuck Berry and Steve Miller. “747” slips easily into cruising altitude, a staunch full band collaboration, while Bill wanders absently through yearning visions of selfhood before landing us on the moon, “like flies on a mule.” The baby’s head first appears here. “Watch Me Get Married” fills in the patchwork like we’re flipping through a scrapbook. This particular marriage is to cosmic oneness (always the best bet to avoid the divorce courts) sounding like the swelling of true happiness, with the gentlest of oom-pah-pahs suggested in the backdrop. Throughout the side, the twinklings of the firmament are represented by instrumental comings and goings, adding shading and color on an almost line-by-line basis. Never one to dwell overlong on a sweet moment, Bill‘s attention turns to “Young Icarus”, whose fate we thought we knew. Here, the story sounds similar to what Bill once wryly termed “the pornography of my past” or, even further back, the tale of “a teenaged Smog.”

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Odd details and signature changes trace this path, a synth flashing peripheral commentary as the old ways of “Ballad of the Hulk” are glimpsed in their death poses. The brevity of these melodies are a microcosm of the album; flowing moments of honey that turn, smoothly abrupt, into other sweet moments, leaving a track in the listener’s mind that grows wider with time. Suddenly, dark clouds blow in. Like a flashback within a flashback, “Released” cracks and groans with mounting angst, a struggle in vacuous space, with Bill spitting out a sharp and disgusted “get fucked” as he silently watches the horsemen of the Apocalypse advance on their trail of corruption.

The acoustics palpably breathe: keyboards suddenly appear, hang translucent in the air, then wink out, and the stretching and crackling of skin acts as a part of the arrangement. At 2:22, this would be the shortest song on a Bill Callahan album, but on Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, it is one in a series of epic miniatures; small moments composed of even smaller moments, all fluidly sliding into the next. Bringing us to quintessential side-ender, and one of the barest moments on the album, “What Comes After Certainty.” Over a guitar duet, Bill ruminates on love, lyrically revolving on a carousel that touches on his honeymoon and the dreams of his life and career, opining that they are not magic, but a part of unknowable destiny, and adding, “God’s face on the water/though plain to see/still hard to read.” When the honeymoon is over, this is what we’re left with at best. And for anyone who’s married well, it is very good.

 

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David Berman, the former head of Silver Jews, spent his entire 40s rarely leaving the house, barely doing more than reading and sleeping. If it’d been any other artist, I would’ve been suspicious towards those kind of press infos. But not with Berman. For everyone not familiar with his work yet: Silver Jews were the epitome of brilliant, literate, freak americana solitude – a legend for the outsider music scene in America. In 2009, Berman decided to end all that. He quit music alltogether and celebrated his retreat as relentlessly as he created his music before. The reason for him to pick up the guitar again was the death of his mother. And it culminated in one of the essential tracks of this comeback record as Purple MountainsI Loved Being My Mother’s Son. A sparse but still pars-pro-toto-track for Purple Mountains. Backed by indie rock band Woods, Berman crafted some of his best songs ever on this record and imprinted them with a new-found wisdom of the finite.

David Berman died by suicide only a month after Purple Mountains was released and it’s actually pretty devastating, that he had to remember us first how much he and his music will be missed. But then again, it feels appropriate for the way Berman approached his artistic life with. His songs have always been stubborn, sardonic observations of his own complicated depression and the havoc it wreaked regarding his relationships. Purple Mountains develops that. At the heart of it: I Loved Being My Mother’s Son: A crushing statement of helplessness in light of death.

Apart from all the witty, tattoable one-liners (if no one’s fond of fucking me, maybe no one’s fucking fond of me – a line that mirrors the dialectics of 2008s My Pillow is The Threshold: first life takes time than time takes life), Purple Mountains is Berman at his most vulnerable and can’t be unread as a final statement now that he’s dead.

When the dying’s finally done and the suffering subsides/All the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind“. But, and that’s the last lines David Berman gifted us: „I’ll put my dreams high on a shelf/I’ll have to learn to like myself/Maybe I’m the only one for me/on holidays“. It is that time of the year to reflect on that. Putting on Purple Mountains once in a while might help learning.

Jessica Pratt On Your Own Love Again

“On Your Own Love Again” opened what was destined to be a very lonely year for me, so I can personally attest to its comforting properties. Listening to this album is healing, like a hug or a cup of tea is; it’s outwardly simple but deeply complex when examined further. Pratt has a voice that exists outside of time — and I’m convinced it always has — a scratchy soprano hiccup that floats and fills each song like a gentle ghost. The standout is “Back, Baby,” a reflection on time and loss that listens easy as an old Dylan song. Though there’s plenty of comparisons to be made between Jessica and Bob, she’s far more mystical than he was, even when he tried. And her mysticism comes all on her own.

On Your Own Love Again released through Drag City Records 27th January 2015.

The king of rock, pop, teenage dreams, psych, the new wave and and future genres yet to be defined, Tim Presley is gearing up for sum shows in the East Coast, Chicago and then keeping Austin weird in November! Hot on the heels of “I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk”, this succinct jaunt will be the first opportunity to see/hear Tim Presley’s White Fence in the U.S. following the release of IHTFLH, which is a big fucking deal.
Playing cuts old and new and under various monikers, who knows what this bitches brew will ferment!
Now, dig the official video for I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk highlight, “Indisposed”:

Song from Tim Presley’s White Fence’s 2LP/CS/CD “I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk,” released on January 25th, 2019 from Drag City Records.

Ty Segall

If First Taste is your, well, first taste of Ty Segall, it might be easy to brush him off as self-indulgent noise rock. The album is overly-produced and as gaudy as a paisley shirt, sure, but it’s also immensely compelling, inventive and fascinatingly unhinged, all while still maintaining a tight control and an understanding of how to reign it all in to create an actual song from the mire of noise

“Ice Plant” is Segall at his most sparing. Gone are the fuzzy freak-fests and instrumental meltdowns; here are the airy vocal harmonies. Shannon Lay, the newest member of the rotating Freedom Band, duets with Segall on the track. Her voice is a lovely match for Segall’s, together imbuing the repeated refrain “Let your love rain down on me” with a disarming affect. Simple percussion and pianos bookend the song, which is otherwise entirely vocal.

On the toes of a 10-week residency at the Teragram Ballroom and the release of his brand new album, “First Taste”, Psych/Garage Rock virtuoso Ty Segall came by the KCRW Studio for his 5th MBE Session! 5 sessions in almost as many years and something like 15 albums, not including albums from other bands he plays with and/or is a part of, Ty Segall is like a cosmic beam of pure rock-n-roll energy.

With his Freedom Band mates – Emmett Kelly, Ben Boye, Charles Moothart, Mikal Cronin and Shannon Lay – plus a deep set up with doubles of everything, from two drum kits and bass guitars to kotos, omnichords and bazukis, Segall played all new work from First Taste for almost 40 mins.

Although the new work is undeniably Ty Segall, the instrumental set up pushes the boundaries of the fuzzy, more traditional Garage sound into a hazy world psychedelic and proto-prog rock vibe.  Like, for all the T.Rex and Stooges action and Hawkwind nods.

A number of KCRW friends and colleagues watched the performance from the Mezzanine while absolutely face-melted and slack-jawed. I know for a fact that I was making a really gross stank face for most of the set because the grooves were so disgusting and the bass, drums, and SAX were gut churning. It was a beastly trip and I LITERALLY CANNOT emphasize this enough…GO SEE THEM.

They opened the set with a full on ripper, “Taste,” and followed it up by leaning into a loping, skronky groover “Whatever” before getting to the first of our live highlights, “Ice Plant.”

Possibly one of the loveliest tracks in this dude’s oeuvre, “Ice Plant,” which has serious Marc Bolan meets Syd Barrett in Strawberry Fields vibes, wistfully floats on a mellotron-ish mist of keys and Ooos and Aahs before exploding into a super glammy freak-out. Like finding a lit firecracker in your banana split.

The set kept steam rolling through everyone’s faces and guts with “The Fall” and “I Worship The Dog,” during and after which the preternaturally boy-faced Segall kept panting and occasionally barking. He’s a grown ass man, but so help me, if I could’ve, I would’ve pinched his cheeks. They then went into “The Arms” which is probably the most straight-ahead Psych/Garage tune they played, however the high pitched Bazuki phrases really lit the track up with Turkish Psych vibes that made me wanna lay down on the carpet and go for a ride. It was really, really nice.

The band kept in that mode with “I Sing Them” before closing with the seriously heady “Self Esteem,” which I imagine is what you’d get if you crash landed a plane on a desert island with a bunch of marching band kids and they had nothing to eat but psychedelics and Can and Yes records. It was a riot and made me wish I could watch it all over again immediately.

Drag City Records. Released on: 23rd July 2019.

If there was any concern that David Berman had lost any of his stunning acuity with language in the 11 years since the last Silver Jews record, the record is set straight right out of the gate: “You see the life I live is sickening/ I spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion/ Day to day, I’m neck-and-neck with giving in/ I’m the same old wreck I’ve ever been.” The musical milieu may be different this time out—lush indie rock that feints frequently toward Americana—but Berman’s knack for weaving evocative narratives shot through with hope, doubt, and self-destruction are as strong as they’ve ever been. The album feels like a gift: when Berman blew up Silver Jews in 2008, he disappeared entirely; the long silence that followed made it seem like things might stay that way. Purple Mountains rewards the patience of his ardent followers with some of his strongest melodic songwriting to date, and also has enough clean hooks and clever barbs to reel in a few new ones.

Centerpiece “Margaritas at the Mall” likens the futility of human existence in the face of a silent God with day-drinking at a shopping center: “See the plod of the flawed individual, looking for a nod from God/ Trodding the sod of the visible, with no new word from God/ We’re just drinking margaritas at the mall/ That’s what this stuff adds up to after all.” The melody in the chorus sounds triumphant; the lyrics are anything but. The album is dusted with traces of pedal steel, barroom piano, and string-like keys, but—as it should be—the centerpiece is always Berman. “If no one’s fond of fucking me/ then maybe no one’s fucking fond of me/ Maybe I’m the only one for me,” he sings wryly in the album’s closing number. Berman may feel alone, but his legion of disciples cheer his return—and hang on every word.

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David Berman comes in from the cold after ten long years. His new musical expression is a meltdown unparalleled in modern memory. He warns us that his findings might be candid, but as long as his punishment comes in such bite-sized delights of all-American jukebox fare, we’ll hike the Purple Mountains with pleasure forever.

Released July 12th, 2019

2019 Drag City Inc.

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Ty Segall presents a new single “Radio,” from his forthcoming album, “First Taste”, due August 2nd! Just in time for the July 4th festivities (such as they are), “Radio” should satisfy all our barely-subsumed bloodlust and immutable desire to rule while also providing a majestically boomboxable anthem to revel along with at the cookout.

“Radio” sizzles with koto by Segall, saxophone and piano by Mikal Cronin, bass by Emmett Kelly, percussion and drums by Segall and Charles Moothart, and back up vocals by Shannon Lay.

“‘Radio’ is a science non-fiction song,” says Segall. “We live in a Cronenberg film. It has Videodrome saxoheadphones. I am a slave to the new radio and so are you.”

First Taste is an introspective set for Ty Segall after the extroversions of 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin, yet just as steeped in hard beats. These twelve songs form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound. Throughout, Segall reflects on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures, and hits on oneness, self-esteem and the parents, while reaching outward, feeling for a shared pulse in the world around him.

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Segall will play First Taste in full, alongside select albums from his expansive catalogue, in LA, New York, and select European cities with residencies starting this month and going through the end of the year.

A first taste of Ty? Hardly, but First Taste erects extreme new sonic skylines for Segall to soar over. His natural state of urgency is paired with a thirsty contemplative vibe as Ty examines both sides now, twisting some of his best songs and production wack into hard left turns both sweet and hot.
Releases August 2nd, 2019

There’s breakup records. There’s apocalypse records. Then there’s the Purple Mountains  record! This new musical expression from David Berman is his most to-the-bone yet, very frankly confessing to a near-total collapse from the word go, before delving into the sorry subtext with twin lasers of personal laceration and the saving grace of a professional songwriter’s natural remove. Our unofficial Gen X poet laureate has written a collection of songs that cries to be understood in the misbegotten country that made everything great about Purple Mountains to begin with.

Clearly, America’s fate is that of its treasured freedom icons: the cowboy, the outlaw, the card sharp and the riverboat gambler all face sheer resignation in the end. There are no perfect crimes. Berman‘s poet-thief of so many precious moments, now stripped and chastened, recalls his latest lowest moments in perfect detail, hovering ghostly above a tumescent production design with tragic majesty, evoking the defeated-king era of late Elvis, southern-fried and sassy STILL on his countrypolitan way down, and somehow still solid-gold (no, silver!) even at rock’s bottom.

The second single conjures [the prelude to] a cathartic night on the town, bathed in magic glow : this is how the light of David Berman’s life leaves him behind, enmeshed in desolation and regret. Purple Mountains approach existential perfection with a somehow joyful lament in “Darkness and Cold” as plaintive harp and backing vox cast long shadows over a dancey rhythm n roots shuffle.  Watch (above) and listen to the fervent new single from none other than your new favorite band, Purple Mountains.

Song from the self-titled Purple Mountains album, out on LP, Cassette, and CD on July 12, 2019 from Drag City Records