Posts Tagged ‘Hand Habits’

Quarter-Life Crisis is a collaboration between Ryan Hemsworth and various artists who’ve come to prominence over the past couple of years, many of whom got their start playing scrappy DIY shows. The self-titled debut EP released on December 4th, 2020 features contributions from Frances Quinlan (Hop Along), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Charlie Martin (Hovvdy), Yohuna, and Claud. It showcases Hemsworth in a new phase of his career, one that is perhaps a bit less indebted to the nightclub dance floor. “It’s always been a goal to mix, like, 25% electronic sounds and 75% live indie rock sounds,” he says. Collaboration is paramount to Hemsworth’s process, and though he produced all of the instrumentation on the album, he left the lyrics and intention of the song up to the contributors. The resulting collection shapeshifts from track-to-track, taking on new personalities as it moves between artists.

releases December 4th, 2020

Hand Habits, the working sobriquet of Meg Duffy, first entered our sphere in 2015 backing Kevin Morby at a house party. Their weapon of choice is the guitar, an instrument they wield with aplomb. However, to focus too heavily on this one attribute is to miss the greater whole of the songwriter. On the eve of their sophomore lp, Placeholder, Duffy cut a three-track Lagniappe Session for Aquarium Drunkard. Recorded over a three month period in Los Angeles and New York City, the selections simultaneously echo Hand Habits roots and aspirations. The artist in their own words, below …

Hand Habits :: Albatross (Fleetwood Mac)

People love to either forget about Peter Green or love to say they only like Fleetwood Mac for the early Peter Green records. Of course Christine and Stevie, along with all the various iterations, hit hard song after song. But it’s this record and song that really prove to me that the essence (swirls scotch around in glass) of Fleetwood Mac was conceived long before “Dreams” was dreamt. The lyricism of the guitar is extremely crushing. It feels symphonic and hopeful. When I was learning this tune, I realized that there’s an ‘hour long loop’ of “Albatross” on youtube…and the song really allows for repetition. Recorded with Chris Nelson and Branden Stroup in downtown LA.

Hand Habits :: Only Living Boy In New York (Simon And Garfunkel)

To me, this song is perfect. The second time I heard it was (fittingly) via a cover, courtesy of a band that used to exist in Albany called The Red Lions. They covered it in a packed out attic, and at the time I thought it was the best band I’d ever heard in person. The show exists in my memory as a warm, teary picture of nostalgia. A very good friend of mine who has since passed on was there, and we both just stood smiling in awe of the harmonies during the song’s closing. Gigantic and everlasting. This recording, my cover, was done in NYC with Sam Owens right before he moved out of his place in the city to live upstate. It felt right — a freezing cold Sunday in NY — just me, Sam and Lina Tullgren and a tape machine.

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Hand Habits :: When The Devil’s Loose (AA Bondy)

The first time I heard AA Bondy’s When The Devil’s Loose coincided with a lot of other firsts in my life. I had just moved to Albany after living in Schenectady. I got my first job bar-backing at a venue. And I started writing songs of my own after having backed many other songwriter’s bands. I sang along with this record many a night in my tiny brick bedroom with a window that faced a brick wall. My good friend Emily Sprague showed it to me and we would harmonize along with the songs. The rhythm section crushes me with its simplicity. When I first moved to Los Angeles, listening to this record felt like an old friend; complete with a housemate in the basement putting up with my singing along. I found out that Bondy was living outside of the city, looked him up, and had the pleasure of sharing some of my songs with him. He’s a mystery to me, still. I made this recording in my old bedroom in Glendale. I think you can hear my upstairs neighbours walking around.

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

Hand Habits, in partnership with Saddle Creek Records and Bandcamp, will be donating all of the profits raised from the EP to the Amazon Conservation Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, that has been protecting the Western Amazon for almost 20 years.

“Being a touring musician 8 months out of the year, you are exposed to a lot of varying degrees of climate change effects in a short period of time. From the gasoline that’s used to fuel touring vehicles, to the massive amount of plastic waste at the end of every show, to the carbon emissions released into the air by all the travel, it’s often not the most environmentally conscious career. I wanted to contribute, even if in a small way, to the efforts at work by the people at the Amazon Conservation Association for being dedicated to preserving such a vast and heartbreakingly crucial part of our ecosystem that has been threatened by wildfires, deforestation, and the effects of climate change.

I believe that writing and performing music can be a healing force, used for good, and not always for capitalizing on emotions and commodifying a personality or lifestyle. People need to be able to relate to each other, in times of joy, and especially in times of sorrow or struggle. The Wildfire Compilation, in partnership with Bandcamp and Saddle Creek, will be donating all of it’s funds raised to the ACA in hopes to lend a helping hand to those on the front lines of fighting climate change in places that may seem inaccessible to those of us unable to travel at length.
I chose 5 artists, Tara Jane O’Neil, Lomelda, John Andrews, Angel Olsen, and Kacey Johansing to interpret and cover my song “wildfire” that I wrote during the California Wildfires in 2017. All of these artists are dear friends and have all taught me a lot about the complexity of emotions in music.”
Released December 25th, 2019

yr heart

Welcome to our new series, Document, where we aim to highlight artists and music scenes from around the world that we’ve fallen in love with, but aren’t necessarily already part of the Saddle Creek family. Our third release in the series is the “yr heart” 7-inch from Los Angeles’ Hand Habits.

Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Upstate New York. She has been putting her time in on the road and in the studio over the past two years with pacific northwest band Mega Bog, and the Kevin Morby Band, making an impression on everyone she comes across with her natural charisma and uncharted talent as a multi-instrumentalist.

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Release Date: August 25th, 2017

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Five artists cover Meg Duffy’s “placeholder” song, with all proceeds going toward the Amazon Conservation Association. Meg Duffy aka Hand Habits has announced the “Wldfire Covers” EP, which sees five artists cover Duffy’s placeholder song “wildfire.” The EP, which is led by Hand Habits’ original, features covers by Angel Olsen, Lomelda, Kacey Johansing, Tara Jane O’Neil and John Andrews & The Yawns.

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releases December 25th, 2019

Meg Duffy wrote “wildfire” during the California wildfires in 2017. In a statement, they said:

Being a touring musician eight months out of the year, you are exposed to a lot of varying degrees of climate change effects in a short period of time. From the gasoline that’s used to fuel touring vehicles, to the massive amount of plastic waste at the end of every show, to the carbon emissions released into the air by all the travel, it’s often not the most environmentally conscious career. I wanted to contribute, even if in a small way, to the efforts at work by the people at the Amazon Conservation Association for being dedicated to preserving such a vast and heartbreakingly crucial part of our ecosystem that has been threatened by wildfires, deforestation, and the effects of climate change. I believe that writing and performing music can be a healing force, used for good, and not always for capitalizing on emotions and commodifying a personality or lifestyle. People need to be able to relate to each other, in times of joy, and especially in times of sorrow or struggle. The Wildfire Compilation, in partnership with Bandcamp and Saddle Creek, will be donating all of its funds raised to the ACA in hopes to lend a helping hand to those on the front lines of fighting climate change in places that may seem inaccessible to those of us unable to travel at length. I chose five artists, Tara Jane O’Neil, Lomelda, John Andrews, Angel Olsen, and Kacey Johansing to interpret and cover my song “wildfire” that I wrote during the California Wildfires in 2017. All of these artists are dear friends and have all taught me a lot about the complexity of emotions in music.

You may have seen Meg Duffy in the past, shining on stage as Kevin Morby’s touring lead guitarist. But with Hand Habits, Duffy has shown their own polished arsenal as a songwriter and their sophomore record, placeholder, dropped today on Saddle Creek Records. Hand Habits’ music gives rise to calming evenings and humble wanderings of the mind. Duffy’s sweet melodies provide a solace for a troubled heart and a salve for a heavy conscious. The gently operatic “What Lovers Do” and the wonderfully reprised version of “Yr Heart” are notable doses of what Hand Habits doe’s best: provide sheer comfort through song.

Meg Duffy describes the songs on their second full-length release, and first for Saddle Creek, as their most direct to date, crafted with clear intention.  Instrumentally, Placeholder can be situated alongside some of Meg’s folk-adjacent contemporaries like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, and the guitar work on this album proves that Meg continues to be one of the finest young musicians working today. Placeholder is another entry in the Hand Habits songbook, but it’s also a valuable testament of our time.

Meg Duffy - Five Favorite Records

Los Angeles via upstate New York songwriter and guitarist Meg Duffy has been involved in many great indie rock records of the past decade. She has recorded guitar and slide guitar on The War On Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding, William Tyler’s Goes West, Weyes Blood’s Front Row Seat to Earth, and their former touring mate Kevin Morby’s City Music. But with Duffy’s solo vessel Hand Habits, the virtuosic guitarist steps away from the sidelines for their best work yet. On the just-released Placeholder, Duffy’s second album under the moniker, the patiently composed songs are filled with sharp emotional acuity, like on the title track, which looks back on a dissolved relationship, or the intimate and vulnerable

Hand Habits is Meg Duffy’s solo project assisted by a “continuous amoeba” of friends when performing live. She has spent the last few years touring in both Mega Bog and The Kevin Morby Band, and created Hand Habits as an outlet for her own interests and self-exploration. The result is a collection of droney tunes that languidly lumber to their conclusion with Meg’s soft, reassuring voice and sparse, echoing instrumental work.

Band Members
Keven Lareau – Bass
John Andrews – Drums and Backup Vocals
Meg Duffy – Guitar and Vocals

Session Tracklist
1. Flower Glass
2. The Book On How To Change
3. Actress
4. All The While

Meg Duffy’s music seems to exist in miniature, but it’s not for brevity or lack of complexity. Just the opposite, in fact: Recording as Hand Habits, Duffy pays scrupulous attention to detail in songs that function like intricate dioramas.

On Placeholder, the singer (who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns) contemplates the fragility of human relationships and the hard-to-stomach reality that many of the people, experiences and places we’ve loved are only stepping stones on a journey of self-discovery.

“A big aspect of my songwriting and the way I move through the world depends on my relationships with people,” Duffy writes in a statement about the album. “The songs on Placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness. I don’t fictionalize much.”

After a string of bedroom demos made their way to Bandcamp in the early 2010s, Duffy became a fixture on a burgeoning Hudson Valley DIY scene alongside acts like Florist and Bellows. (Duffy was raised in Albany and attended college in Schenectady.) With momentum building, they chose to place Hand Habits on hold, leaving the Northeast for Los Angeles to play guitar with songwriter Kevin Morby’s live band. After several years of touring, Duffy signed to indie label Woodsist and, in 2017, released Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)a tender, captivating solo debut.

A gorgeous progression from Wildly Idle, Placeholder captures Duffy’s transfixing intimacy in elevated form. While their earlier work was entirely self-produced, Placeholder was recorded at Justin Vernon’s Wisconsin studio. Duffy’s vocals find new confidence amid gentle guitar strumming and warbling pedal steel, blending into a haze of dreamlike Americana. These songs evoke waves of warm, pop-driven nostalgia, with equal doses of melancholy and optimism.

The album’s title track captures the musings of someone scorned but not dejected. Duffy displays an adept ability to see their own duplicity, never resolving to pin blame on someone else: “Oh, but I was just a placeholder / A lesson to be learned / Oh, but now you’re just a placeholder / For someone wasting time.”

In “yr heart [reprise],” Duffy sings of a phone call to a distant lover with an almost Patsy Cline-like lilt: “And you are far but not that far / I can feel you push your fingers / Through the fabric of all my thoughts.”

The record’s furthest sonic wandering point arrives in a minute-long brass interlude in “the book on how to change part II.” Duffy leaves us with a proverb that doubles as a euphoric moment of clarity: “The book on how to change / Wasn’t written in one day / The book on how to change / Never taught me anything.”

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Meg Duffy of Hand Habits wrote their forthcoming record as wildfires burned through Southern California. For an album about love and relationships, it’s a fitting setting; there’s something inherently destructive in making space within yourself to bring someone else in. the new track is premiering “What Lovers Do,” the newest single from Placeholder ( via Saddle Creek Records) and a lulling, frank revelation on the complexities of desire.

Over gentle guitar, Duffy muses about the attraction between lovers, describing it as “halfway with your hands into the fire of my desire.” As the song plays out, it’s clear the relationship isn’t a smooth one, and feels more like a series of games. But the draw between the two continues to feel magnetic, and Duffy nonetheless, sounds sweet and warm in the retelling.

“Hesitation, revelation, and repetition-aspects of the story you can identify easily, and must be the witness and the participant,” Duffy writes via email. “When the shame baton gets passed back and forth between parties, who is the fool? I could never claim to have a complete understanding.”

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We’re honored to premiere the video for the achingly beautiful and poignant new single from Kevin Morby’s guitarist  Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, taken from their stellar forthcoming LP “Placeholder”, coming soon on Saddle Creek Records. Directed + edited by Vanessa Haddad, the vid stars Meg as a vampire who ponders the painfully real possibility that we’re all cursed with certain deep-seated familial patterns that we’ll never be able to shake.

Meg has never had a problem flooring us with devastating lyrical turns of phrase (the opening line from Hand Habits’ debut LP immediately comes to mind), and the profoundly articulated and relatable conceit at the center of “Can’t Calm Down”  “what if I can’t calm down and i don’t have that in my bloodline?” — is a heartbreaking reflection on what Meg refers to as “ancestral damage”:

“this song took the longest lyrically for me to finish. i started it about 3 years ago and kept it in progress throughout different cycles of feeling. ‘ancestral damage’ and learned behaviors and conditioning to react/hold and place certain emotions are patterns i’m interested in taking part and understanding better. what can one do with rage? with pain? with sadness? and is it is possible to learn how to wipe away completely the knee jerk reactions to situations that are buried deep in one’s dna? and the role models that taught us how to behave, whether directly or residually…are they the ones who should be held responsible or is memory partially to blame?”