Posts Tagged ‘Fat Possum Records’

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These three friends from central Indiana, each one a distinctive singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, had reached a point where years of hard work and creativity were just starting to pay off. They were hailed as one of the most inventive young bands around, with comparisons to Guided by Voices, My Bloody Valentine, and the Radio Dept., and that’s exactly when they broke up the band.

Following a short but necessary break, during which the Indiana band had the opportunity to explore their own creative endeavors, Hoops have reunited and announce their incredible sophomore album “Halo” today. Recorded at Bloomington’s Russian Studio and produced by the band’s friend Ben Lumsdaine, “Halo” is an album defined by musical exuberance, full of gratitude and generosity, and, simply, sounds like a lively conversation amongst close friends. Halo will be out on October 2nd via Fat Possum.

To celebrate their album announcement, Hoops share Halo’s lead single and first song the band has ever written together, “Fall Back.” Auscherman had started “Fall Back” about a long-distance relationship, but he fleshed it out with Krauter and Beresford, who added jangly guitars, a buoyant rhythm section, and a swooning chorus: “Fall back in my arms again, just the way it should have always been.” Like many songs on Halo, it wasn’t written specifically about his bandmates but nevertheless addresses similar emotions about their musical partnership.

Hoops released their critically-acclaimed debut album Routines in 2017, and, soon after, announced an indefinite hiatus. The trio – friends, singers, and multi-instrumentalists Drew Auscherman, Kevin Krauter and Keagan Beresford – had been making music together for almost half of their lives, but the band had begun to feel more like a burden than an outlet, so they decided to call it quits. “I think we had lost a lot of steam,” explains Krauter. “Hoops wasn’t moving forward organically. It was being dragged along.”

“They Say”, out now on Fat Possum Records. Reaching this point nearly destroyed the band, but Auscherman, Beresford, and Krauter emerged stronger and closer for their time apart. “This record is a more honest representation of our influences and interests as musicians,” says Auscherman. “We’ve grown a lot in four years, as people and as listeners. We’re starting to sound more like ourselves.”

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Los Angeles was a much different place when released its debut album, Los Angeles, named for the city that the band had adopted. Forty years ago, Los Angeles still had a reliably seedy link to its noir roots, which was catnip to people like John Doe, who fled the East Coast for L.A.’s sunny days and debauched nights. Doe found kindred spirits in Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and D.J. Bonebrake, and with X they helped establish the West Coast’s punk scene. With 1980’s Los Angeles, they became a nationally recognized leading voice on the scene.

They were a motley bunch. Doe and Cervenka were writers and poets. Zoom was a session guitarist who had trained as an electronics repairman and played a dozen instruments, fluent in both big band jazz and Gene Vincent. Bonebrake had studied classical music and played a mean jazz vibraphone as well as he drummed. All except Bonebrake were from somewhere else.

But in the sordid backwash of Hollywood and the near-nuclear fallout of the Ramones and Sex Pistols, they transformed into X. As we celebrate the 40th birthday of the band’s debut album, Los Angeles has lost none of its power, fury or artfulness, and remains a showcase for how the spirit of punk can be filtered through the familiar lens of rock and roll that had come before.

The heart of “Los Angeles” is clearly punk; Zoom’s lethally precise power chords and Bonebrake’s metronome-on-steroids drums propel the songs at a breakneck pace while Cervenka’s unhinged vocals speak to one of punk’s central tenets: Anyone can do it. But there’s a higher level of musicianship at work here. Zoom is an encyclopedia of roots-rock guitar and he tosses in echoes of Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore. Doe is the Paul McCartney of punk bassists, always finding inventive ways to melodically underpin the songs without losing intensity, and his smoked honey of a voice in harmony with Cervenka’s squall is one of the band’s signature sounds.

Doe and Cervenka filled Los Angeles with lyrics straight out of a poetry workshop — elliptical, evocative, blunt, beautiful and violent, like if Dashiell Hammett did slam poetry — and the combination of bohemia, musicianship and aggression made Los Angeles soar. And if Ray Manzarek seems an unlikely producer, consider that The Doors were legends in L.A. and he had considerable street cred.

X begins with a triple shot of “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not,” “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” and a cover of the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.” Of the three, “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” is quintessential X, a seamy narrative about drugs, rape and possibly (probably?) murder.

“Sex and Dying in High Society” reads like a film noir treatment about a woman who has sold herself for the security of a connected marriage. Not an incredibly original premise, but the details are what make it work, especially the bit where the woman makes her maid use a curling iron to burn her back just to feel something. Manzarek spices the song with a perfectly placed flourish of synthesizer. “The Unheard Music” is an efficient summation of punk culture, ominously set to a dirge-like metal riff. “Friends warehouse pain/Attack their own kind/A thousand kids bury their parents” conjures the desperate physical release of a mosh pit, teenagers cutting themselves loose from families they don’t want to be with the family that they choose.

“The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss,” besides being a rare example of the proper use of a semi-colon, is also a love song that doesn’t back down from how terror and wonderment walk hand in hand when two people try to make a life together. It comes off as an update of 1950s teeny-bopper love songs with Zoom busting out his best Berry licks behind Cervenka and Doe’s anti-harmonies.

The album’s best-known song is the muscular title track, which is intoxicating in its ferocity and concision. As political correctness has grown into a casual hobby, there have been efforts to paint the song as racist, which is at best a ridiculous argument. It’s clearly about a racist, not to mention a homophobe, and the song’s impact and meaning would be neutered by euphemisms that dance around the truth. That truth is what makes the song so powerful, as well as the sledgehammer authority with which Zoom, Bonebrake and Doe attack every second of the brief 2:25 it lasts.

The album’s overall effect and impact is visceral, literary and uncompromising. X went on to make six more studio albums, embracing more of the band’s folk, country and rockabilly roots as the years passed. The first four albums are considered classics, but “Los Angeles” remains the gold standard.

Clean original Slash pressings of Los Angeles have been climbing in price but the record has been remastered and reissued several times by Rhino, Porterhouse, Music On Vinyl and most recently Fat Possum; other than the acclaimed Porterhouse pressings, the consensus seems to be that they’re all roughly equivalent to an original.

Whichever one you track down, you need to own it — assuming you have a thing for punk, or just good music — as it’s a touchstone of the genre and a keeper for any well-curated collection.

The band recognized the significance of Los Angeles with the surprise release of a new album, Alphabetland, nearly 40 years to the day after their debut. It’s the band’s first studio album since 1985 to feature the original quartet, which was fractured when Zoom left following Ain’t Love Grand. His return brings X full circle as Alphabetland is classic Los Angeles-era X: hard, fast, uncompromising.

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Debut EP from new Fat Possum signing, Ellis and a Rough Trade Shops tip for 2019. Canadian bedroom dream pop, The six-track release presents an uncommonly fully-realized aesthetic to match the strength of Siggelkow’s songwriting. Built from simple instrumentation, but deftly arranged to lend a grandeur and devastating scale to Siggelkow’s skillfully rendered laments, the release is a resounding statement from a young artist who is poised for a reception that equals the scope of her remarkable gifts. Ellis, who, after generating buzz in her local scene on the back of opening stints with the likes of Soccer Mommy, Gabby’s World, Chastity, Palehound, and Free Cake For Every Creature, garnered international acclaim with the release of a series of singles, earning comparisons to Mazzy Star, Alvvays and Slowdive from outlets like Pitchfork, Noisey and Stereogum, who marked her out as one of “a new generation of exciting songwriters.”

official video for ‘the drain’ by Ellis, from the ‘the fuzz’ EP

Alphabetland by X album artwork cover art

Punk legends X have surprise released a brand new album called “Alphabetland”. Better yet, it’s the band’s first full-length featuring all of its original members in 35 years. Formed in 1977, X quickly established themselves as one of the best bands in the first wave of LA’s flourishing punk scene; becoming legendary leaders of a punk generation,

X’s Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom, and DJ Bonebrake recorded five songs for the record back in November 2018 — one of which was a redo of “Delta 88 Nightmare” — with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck). In January of this year, they reunited with Schnapf to record seven more songs. And thus, an album was born. According to The Los Angeles Times, the album was originally due out in August, but the band chose to move up its release due to the COVID-19 crisis. “When your heart is broken, you think every song is about that,” John Doe said in a statement. “These songs were written in the last 18 months and it blows my mind how timely they are. We all want our family, friends and fans to hear our records as soon as it’s finished. This time we could do that. Thanks to Fat Possum and our audience.”

Alphabetland comes with some warped, colorful album artwork, which you can find below alongside the tracklist. As it turns out, that drawing is by none other than Wayne White, the set designer for the legendary Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

“When your heart is broken you think every song is about that. These songs were written in the last 18 months & it blows my mind how timely they are,” explained John Doe. “We all want our family, friends & fans to hear our records as soon as it’s finished. This time we could do that. Thanks to Fat Possum & our audience.” The bands record label, Fat Possum, listened and agreed. Plans were quickly set in motion to release the new music via Bandcamp and have said they’re working to get the record available elsewhere as quickly as possible.

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Released April 22nd, 2020

The Band:
Billy Zoom; guitar, saxaphone, piano
DJ Bonebrake; drums, percussion
Exene Cervenka; vocals
John Doe; bass, vocals

Additional guitar on All The Time In The World: Robby Krieger
Rob Schnapf, additional guitar

Pre-orders for Alphabetland are currently ongoing. In addition to a digital download on Bandcamp, the album is available on CD, black vinyl, and special vinyl variants like green (limited to 500), red (limited to 300), and yellow (limited to 200). The latter two colours have already sold out, so act fast if you’re trying to own a special vinyl version.

The release of Alphabetland coincides with the 40th anniversary of X’s debut album, Los Angeles, this weekend.

X Alphabetland band new album music song, photo via Facebook

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Singer-songwriter Coutney Marie Andrews shares the latest single from her forthcoming album Old Flowers, the beautifully melancholy “Burlap String.” The single is accompanied by a music video, featuring Andrews hiking a nature trail, picking flowers and laying in fields as the sun eventually sets.
You can’t water old flowers. Yes, you fall in love, you make mistakes, and so do they. You run through blackberry fields in the summer of your youth, dream in passenger seats gazing past towns and fields, imagining a future life where everything works out. I fell head over heels in love at nineteen. The kind of love where you call up your best friend and say, “I think I’ve found my soulmate.” The pull towards that first true love is strong. It consumes you, makes you question your own dreams.

We taught each other, grew up together, we were family. We fit just right, for a time. Then one day, after a long and rocky nine year road, life changed and became a complicated mess too hard to untangle. We couldn’t get our love back, no matter how many dreams that shadowed this hard truth. We grew resentful, selfish, harboring past mistakes and holding them up like armor from every blow. We grew up and our paths diverted.

‘Old Flowers’ is about heartbreak. There are a million records and songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with. It’s about being afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is alone, but okay with that, if it means truth.
This was my truth this year – my nine year relationship ended, and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to know herself.

These songs came to me alone, late nights in Bisbee, Lisbon, Nashville, and London. Sometimes I’d just cry and sing, and a song would come out. I drank too much wine while writing this record, lit too many candles. You could say this was my attempt to summon the muse, but that’s bullshit, because she was just standing there naked looking me in the eyes. So I told her the truth.

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Gauzy dream pop has made a nice little renaissance for itself over the past few years, to which this reviewer, who wrapped himself in its progenitors’ plush layers during his formative years, offers a hearty “Huzzah!” Of course, the flip side of this is the droves of like-sounding bands proffering this sound that is, admittedly, ripe for accusations of peddling nostalgia. Austin, Texas quartet Why Bonnie started out as one of those bands, offering perfectly fine and wistful shoegazey fare across their first pair of EPs. Their third, Voice Box, however, breaks the band from this mould.

While lead track, “Bury Me”, fits squarely in the dream pop aesthetic, its production is sweeping and cinematic, country miles beyond the band’s previous work. Furthermore, the title track’s concretizing a woman’s voice as her literal voice box to illustrate frustration with expression lends the proceedings a welcome depth typically absent from a sound known more for its style over substance. While thematically, “Voice Box” is the spoke around which the entire EP revolves, the heady whiplash pairing of “Athlete”s skulking, vampirish dissonance followed by “Jetplane”s diaphanous fingerpicking are the prime exhibits of Why Bonnie’s growth. Pulling elements from their bread and butter and pushing them toward their boundaries elevates Voice Box above merely enjoyable dream pop.

Really, there’s one quibble and one thing left to say – we need more, Why Bonnie, bring on the LP.

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released April 10th, 2020

Written performed by Why Bonnie
Blair Howerton – Vocals/Guitar
Kendall Powell – Keys
Sam Houdek – Guitar
Chance Williams – Bass
Mitchell Lamon – Drums

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Linnea Siggelkow, the Ontario singer/songwriter better known by the moniker Ellis, today shares her debut LP Born Again through Fat Possum Records. “March 13” followed the singles “Fall Apart” and “Embarrassing,” which were released earlier this year. “‘March 13’ plays right after the last single ‘Embarrassing’ on the track listing, and is a reflection on a night that I did embarrass myself,” Siggelkow said in a statement. “I acted badly and put someone I cared about in an unnecessary and uncomfortable situation, but refused to admit at the time that I was out of line.” While Ellis won’t be able to embark on a planned tour with Ratboys due to the coronavirus pandemic, she hopes that the record helps those who feel alone—which is a much-appreciated sentiment, now more than ever in the time of social distancing.

“march 13” from Ellis’s debut album ‘Born Again’ (out now)

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A deeply personal album for bandleader Rob Grote – all of the songs were written in his bedroom as a means of coping with struggles he was facing at the time with no intention of them putting them on a record. He wound up with 32 songs during that writing session, of which he and the band chose the 11 featured on the new record. The new album was produced by the band and frequent collaborator Keith Abrams, and mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Spoon, MGMT, Tame Impala).

Rob has said: “You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere” is born into the world today. I’m so super proud of this record. It feels like we’ve come full circle in a sense from where we began. We started this thing with ambition, attitude, and no clue what we were doing. It was always just feeling our way through the dark. From being a bunch of young kids thinking we were gonna “make it,” to feeling like we definitely weren’t, to not giving a fuck either way, I’m super lucky to have continued creating waves of sound with my favorite people forever. A depth of understanding and consistently always having each other’s backs has been the throughline of it all. This record is a departure and return, a paradox like the many lives we’re always trying to reconcile as one, and it feels amazing that you can hear it all today. I hope you feel something in it that is yours as much as it is ours.

Birthed from the ether of imagination and now in physical form, we present to you, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere Thank you so much to everyone involved and everyone who’s ever believed in us. I hope it keeps you company through the madness of the world and when it all gets to be too much, you can turn to it and escape.

Cheap Regrets from The Districts 4th album ‘You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere’
In stores March 13, 2020 on Fat Possum Records

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EllisHamilton, Ontario’s Linnea Siggelkow—announces her breathtaking debut album, “Born Again”. Produced by Jake Aron (Snail Mail, Solange, Grizzly Bear) and recorded partly at Aron’s Brooklyn studio, Born Again arrives as the follow-up to Ellis’s debut EP The Fuzz—out now on Fat Possum Records.

In a departure from the viscerally charged dream-pop of The Fuzz, Born Again unfolds with a mesmerizing subtlety, gracefully spotlighting Ellis’s unhurried melodies, starkly confessional lyrics, and luminous vocal work.  Born Again takes place in spaces both intimate and vast, ordinary and near-mythic: warm beds and lonely church pews, restless cities and desolate forests and the furthest reaches of the cosmos. Throughout the album, those spaces serve as the backdrop to Ellis’s sharply detailed and sometimes-painful experience of self-discovery, as well as the life-changing transformation echoed in the album’s title.

Ellis takes on a heart-crushing vulnerability, laying bare her longtime struggle with anxiety and its impact on her most precious relationships. She says of the song: “This is really just an honest reflection of my struggle with anxiety and how I can’t hide it from the people closest to me. It’s about the feeling the first time someone you admire sees you in your most vulnerable state, about putting in the work to get better but still having moments of weakness. My anxiety comes over me like a tidal wave, and it feels like I am spiraling out of control. I am finding better and healthier ways to cope, to talk myself down when I can feel myself starting to fall, but it still happens sometimes even though I wish that it didn’t.”

“Fall Apart” from Ellis’s debut album ‘Born Again’ out April 3rd on Fat Possum Records.

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A faint voice and a fervent guitar make their match in a cluttered bedroom, each song finding itself in a growing folder of recordings stamped by initials “L.S”. Ellis is the music project of Linnea Siggelkow.

Linnea Siggelkow named her debut EP “The Fuzz” after the static on a TV screen between channels, and that hazy liminal space is exactly where her music resides. She makes dream-pop songs born of sadness and ambivalence that envelop you like a cool gray fog, unfolding patiently but with all the force of a gathering squall. And now that she’s signed to Fat Possum Records and reissued her EP on her new label, all we have to wait for is more lightning on the horizon.

Having already made her mark as a solo performer in the Toronto DIY scene, the project has evolved into a 4-piece band, inspiring a grittier take on the same solemn refrain.

She released her anticipated debut EP, The Fuzz.  The EP arrived following several months of excitement building behind Ellis, who, after generating buzz in her local scene


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