Posts Tagged ‘Drag City Records’

Bill Callahan

Knaresborough-raised troubadour Bill Callahan returns with “Gold Record”  – an album made whilst he was preparing to tour his previous album Shepherd In A Sheep’s Vest. A lot of the album is culled from tracks he’d written over the years for other artists to sing  – all recorded on the hoof in an intuitive and creative burst with some good friends helping flesh the sounds around that rich, warm baritone vocal.  Called Gold Record and it’s out September 4th via Drag City Records. The 10-song album features a new version of “Let’s Move to the Country,” from Smog’s 1999 album Knock Knock, and a track named after Ry Cooder.

It’s the Gold Record we always knew Bill Callahan had in him! Last summer, he returned from a silence of years – now, he’s raring to go with another new one already. The abiding humanity of latter-day Callahan is highlighted by dark plumes of caustic wit upending standards of our everyday life and the songs that celebrate it: the job, the wife, the TV, the neighbors. Bill slips easily into his characters, whether they’re easy people or not – and the cross-hatch of their light and shadow is unpredictably entertaining in the manner that belongs only one singer in this whole wide world: we’re still talking about Bill Callahan.
His first record in….uh, well, just over a year, Bill Callahan gives us a Gold Record. They might not all be gold, and fortunately, they’re not all six years apart either. You could probably ALSO call it “Gold Records”: the songs all have a stand-alone feel, the way singles do, for you to have a deep encounter with ’em all of a sudden, a whole relationship, from the start of the song to the finish. And what do you got when you have a record full of singles – and let’s face it, hit singles, at that?.

For Bill, preparing to tour for Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest meant considering being away from home for long stretches of time – months, seasons, maybe as much as a year, who knew? Feeling his oats, Bill pulled out a few sketches from the notebooks and finished them up some. Before he knew it, he was recording them, and in the shuffle, new songs started popping up too.

It happened fast. Basics were recorded live, with Matt Kinsey playing guitars, guitars, guitars and Jaime Zurverza holding it down (then letting it go) on bass. Drums and horns were brought in for a couple songs. Spirits were high! Six out of the ten tunes were done first take; overdubs, when needed, came equally quickly. Listening, one hears the intuitive cohesion coming together richly, back of Bill’s titanic voice spread across the stereo spectrum: the gentle-yet-spirited conversation of Bill and Matt’s guitars, the subtle percussing of bass and drums and oddments of trumpet, woodwind and synth, striking notes decorous and discordant, sounding for all the world like the naturally occurring sound meant to accompany and express lives lived everywhere.

We know how you feel right about now, over midway through this tumultuous year: another week, another…. oh hold up, wait – it’s another Bill Callahan song! With 2020 chock-full of unprecedented, fundamental shifts, it’s only fitting that modern day Bill C would tackle the Gold Record reveal with a similarly conceptual yet seriously positive approach!. Bill’s latest offering, “Protest Song” details a singer-songwriter aghast at the unreality of the musical guest’s cartoonish protest POV on late night TV, leading to a protest song of its own kind. An apex of faux-noir, brooding in bluesy atmosphere up to his armpits, Bill flies in a touch of Bowery Boys-style comedic elevation to let everyone in on the joke, through song.

Releases September 4th, 2020 , Drag City Inc

Gold Record is the follow-up to last year’s Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, which marked Callahan’s first album in six years. He recorded Gold Record with guitarist Matt Kinsey and bassist Jamie Zurverza.

Bill Callahan will share a new song every week leading up to the full album’s release. The tracks arrive on Mondays, starting on June 29th.

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L.A. noise-punk outfit No Age have shared Goons Be Gone, the full-length follow-up to 2018’s Snares Like a Haircut, which described as “motion, motion, motion, noise, noise, noise” and “the musical equivalent of burying your head in the sand.” Goons Be Gone is exactly the kind of layered, invigorating clamour we’ve come to expect from No Age, but it still feels fresh. Their offbeat, self-recorded samples mingle seamlessly with their rugged human elements—it’s a cacophonous album, for sure, but don’t discount the grace of its rhythms and mindfulness of its construction

Track from “Goons Be Gone,” available on LP/CS/CD/Digital from Drag City on June 5th, 2020.

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No Age have shared a new driving, blissfully energetic punk anthem in their new single “Head Sport Full Face.” The song is accompanied by a video that uses archival footage shot by Aaron Rose (director of 2008’s Beautiful Losers) of the band from a decade ago—stitched together into a nostalgic ode to the blistering, anxious sentiments that still pulsate in their music.

“Head Sport Full Face” finds some cathartic escape in its virulent riffs and raw percussiveness, while singer Dean Spunt’s fading cries dip in and out of a pining dreaminess.

Based in Los Angeles, No Age is the noise rock creation of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Spunt, the former being the one who first pieces together the video when Rose emailed them out of the blue the archived video clips. The result is a poignant blending of the band’s past antics and the current uncertainty of pretty much everything around them—and yet the shots of them blasting through punk tracks under dim venue lights to equally voracious crowds is exactly the kind of tonic for such a mess.

“Head Sport Full Face” is already delirious with grimy-meets-melodic soundscapes, but the newly “discovered” video attached to the song pieces together an appropriate reminder of the kind of energy now missing from the world—of crashing together against the heady weight of that wall of sound with a crowd of people around you.

“He said he was going through old hard drives and he found a folder labeled “No Age”. He opened it and found all this footage from 10 years ago. Maybe he was thinking of making a video for us but never did? He sent us a a link to a whole bunch of footage and he had shot on a small hand held digital video camera. I edited it together for the video. After a few round of notes from Dean and Aaron, this is the video.”

How “Head Sport Full Face” music video was made:

Dean and I have known Aaron Rose for years, we played the wedding procession at his wedding.

A few weeks into the Covid 19 quarantine we got email out of the blue from Aaron. He said he was going through old hard drives and he found a folder labeled “No Age”. He opened it and found all this footage from 10 years ago. Maybe he was thinking of making a video for us but never did? He sent us a a link to a whole bunch of footage and he had shot on a small hand held digital video camera. I edited it together for the video. After a few round of notes from Dean and Aaron this is the video.

Los Angeles noisepunk duo No Age will release their new album, “Goons Be Gone”, on June 5th via Drag City and here’s the Fall-esque “War Dance” that may leave your ears ringing till the record’s actually out.

Drag City Inc. Track from “Goons Be Gone,” available on LP/CS/CD/Digital from Drag City on June 5th, 2020.

discogs-indie-label-dig

Online music marketplace Discogs has just launched the Discogs Daily Dig, an initiative to support indie record labels during the coronavirus pandemic. Each day they will focus on a different indie label that will sell rarities, test pressings, out-of-print releases, and back catalouge through Discogs. It started today (5/5) with Numero Group and here’s the first week’s schedule:

  • Tuesday, May 5 – Numero Group
  • Wednesday, May 6 – Captured Tracks
  • Thursday, May 7 – Burger Records
  • Friday, May 8 – Trouble In Mind
  • Saturday, May 9 – Stones Throw
  • Sunday, May 10 – Drag City
  • Monday, May 11 – Third Man 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.