Posts Tagged ‘Hand Habits’

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“Dirt” is the latest EP from Hand Habits, the songwriting project of Meg Duffy. Comprised of two songs, “4th of july,” a simmering swell of chaos and beauty and “I Believe In You,” a favourite of Duffy’s from the Neil Young canon, the EP finds the songwriter exploring themes of growth and finding ways to let go of the parts of their past that no longer serve them.

Dirt showcases an artist returning to the fertile creative ground of their home. However, this time around home-recording didn’t necessarily mean working in isolation. Duffy had relocated to a shared living situation in Los Angeles with musicians Sasami Ashworh and Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), which also housed Thomas’ studio. The resulting songs showcase this creatively collaborative environment, with Ashworth co-producing the lead single and Thomas co-producing “I Believe In You,”. Such is the strength of this relationship, in fact, that this new single just may serve as a bridge toward a greater body of work the three will ultimately create together.

The resulting EP illuminates the songwriter’s attempts to evolve beyond the confines of their past. As they put it, “‘4th of july’ feels like trying again, rolling around in the wreckage of the past and finding new ways out of the maze of memory.” The sonic texture of the song complements this lyrical journey, with a simple and sparse introduction marked by a slow burn crescendo hinting at the rupture to come, followed by an ecstatic wail of transcendent emotion. Fittingly, it concludes with a reprise of the beginning but this time altered by new sounds, suggesting a new perspective.

Similarly, Duffy breathes new life into the Young staple, adding a foreboding weight and impact to the long-familiar words. For Duffy, the process of recording and the song’s themes of growth through trust dovetailed perfectly.

“dirt” is the latest EP from Hand Habits, the song writing project of Meg Duffy. Sometime guitarist with Kevin Morby

Comprised of two songs, “4th of July,” a simmering swell of chaos and beauty and “I Believe in You,” a favourite of Duffy’s from the Neil Young canon, the EP finds the songwriter exploring themes of growth and finding ways to let go of the parts of their past that no longer serve them.

After cutting their teeth in the upstate New York d.i.y. music scene and several years of session and touring guitar work for Kevin Morby, and a long list of other artists, Duffy released their debut album “Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)”, a home-recorded, self-produced work that announced the project as a full-time affair.

While their follow-up album “placeholder” saw them working with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studios and garnering praise from such outlets as NPR which called the work “their most fully realized statement” and the Los Angeles Times which praised the work as a “virtually seamless country rock album, with verses moving fluidly into choruses that travel unimpeded across sparkling, architecturally sophisticated bridges.” dirt showcases an artist returning to the fertile creative ground of their home.

However, this time around home-recording didn’t necessarily mean working in isolation. Duffy had relocated to a shared living situation in Los Angeles with musicians Sasami Ashworh and Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), which also housed Thomas’ studio. The resulting songs showcase this creatively collaborative environment, with Ashworh co-producing the lead single and Thomas co-producing “I Believe in You.” Such is the strength of this relationship, in fact, that this new single just may serve as a bridge toward a greater body of work the three will ultimately create together.

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The resulting EP illuminates the songwriter’s attempts to evolve beyond the confines of their past. As they put it, “‘4th of july’ feels like trying again, rolling around in the wreckage of the past and finding new ways out of the maze of memory.”

The sonic texture of the song complements this lyrical journey, with a simple and sparse introduction marked by a slow burn crescendo hinting at the rupture to come, followed by an ecstatic wail of transcendent emotion. Fittingly, it concludes with a reprise of the beginning but this time altered by new sounds, suggesting a new perspective.

Similarly, Duffy breathes new life into the Young staple, adding a foreboding weight and impact to the long-familiar words. For Duffy, the process of recording and the song’s themes of growth through trust dovetailed perfectly.

As they note, “There’s a foundation, and when there’s a foundation there’s opportunity to reimagine structures; physical and otherwise.”

Also check out this Session Meg Duffy performed for “Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe” 

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Releases February 19th, 2021

Sylvan Esso is Amelia Randall Meath and Nick Sanborn. A Band. With the swift demise of concerts as we know them this year, the live album has taken on a significance it’s not enjoyed for the better part of a half-century. So lucky were we that Sylvan Esso released “With” and its accompanying concert film a month into what felt like the end of everything good. Calling on a row of musician-friends hailing from Landlady, Hand Habits, Bon Iver, Mountain Man, and Mr Twin Sister, the already-great-live duo burn through a jaw-dropping set that recasts their catalogue with the warmth of eight further beating hearts, giving fans less of a reason to mourn the shows that could not be, but rather a glimmer of those to look forward to yet. 

Surprise! Our new “With Love” EP, featuring songs from the extra special From The Satellite performance, is available for streaming. Like its sister record “With” this album reimagines Sylvan Esso’s works as a full band, adding new layers and textures to these classic songs. The live version of “Free” at the end of this is hauntingly, intimately perfect. Twenty minutes and fifty eight seconds of sublime joy. The big band Sylvan Esso vibe is the finest thing there is.

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This tour existed only to exist, not to promote a new album or celebrate a milestone. No, Sylvan Esso simply wanted to do something fun. For themselves, for their fans, and for us, their friends, who got easily roped into being in the ten piece band. We were all sent the song list in advance, with just a few written ideas of what some of us could do on each song, but largely it all remained open for interpretation and when we convened in the house to rehearse in Durham for the first time. On the first day we played the song “Wolf,” checking the pulse of the band, how would we sound together, how would we arrange together, and how much homework did everyone actually do? The first take of that song put everyone immediately at ease and also turned up the temperature. Because it went really well. We knew how good this could sound, how different it could be from the original recordings and how special that would feel for the crowd, and for us. “Wolf” ended up being the first song in the set. “Wolf” became the anchor, before the rocket ship would take off each night. Yes I know I made a boat analogy early. And now I’ve shifted to space. That’s an accurate representation of how this show ended up.

The first four days we would just keep chipping away at songs, written on a large piece of butcher paper on the wall in fat marker, and we’d cross them off one by one as we hit them. The first day was a dream because we learned five songs and they all sounded great. The second day was impossible, because we had to learn five more songs, and then suddenly the songs from the first day weren’t so perfect anymore. That’s the big problem with getting better. Your ceiling goes up, the standards rise, and the goods can always keep improving, which means, in more pessimistic terms, it can always also keep sounding worse. There were twenty songs to learn, so there was a lot of bucking and bobbing back and forth between feeling over-confident and supremely challenged. Sometimes that had to do with how hungry we were.

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After the family style rehearsals concluded, we headed to Los Angeles for tech rehearsal. To get there involved thirteen of us, band and crew, flying on an airplane. Thirteen people each checking three bags. Thirteen people moving through the airport together is insane. It’s like a school trip. After the tour was done Nick and Amelia remarked on how ridiculous it was that we didn’t do any warm-up shows, how insane it was that we jumped into the fire at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a Frank Gehry designed space for the LA Philharmonic where a portion of the audience sits behind you. But we did it. For over two thousand people on night one, we did it, and we did it surprisingly well. We had our expectations set to cautious, because sometimes the first show can be a true disaster, it almost is supposed to be, but everyone cared so much and worked so hard and the stakes felt so high that somehow a meltdown just didn’t happen. 

The last two shows were homecoming shows in Durham, a little different feeling from the classic theatres, and these were the shows that were filmed for what you’re seeing here and now. I’m excited to watch it just so I can see the light show from the front. We were so sad when it ended but there wasn’t a formal goodbye. Folks trickled off to go home, and a bunch of us watched a movie the next day. It’s implied that we will be together again, we’re just not sure how or when. Those of us who don’t live in North Carolina feel ourselves threatening ourselves to move there, but I don’t see it happening for me. I like being called to serve and being swept into the vortex, then returning home to wait for the next vortex to assemble

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.

Quarter-Life Crisis, Ryan Hemsworth’s new collaborative project, today shared another new track from their self-titled EP:  “You & Me” featuring Claud. Quarter-Life Crisis’ debut EP also features collaborations with Frances Quinlan (Hop Along), Charlie Martin (Hovvdy), Hand Habits, and Yohuna. Collaboration is paramount to Hemsworth’s process, and though he produced all of the live instrumentation on the album, he left the lyrics and intention of the song up to the contributors. The resulting collection shape-shifts from track-to-track, taking on new personalities as it moves between artists.

Of the track, Claud said “Ryan sent me a bunch of really pretty guitar tracks around the time I had just moved to New York… it was a new city, I was alone, and I was definitely deep in my feels. The song sorta turned into a yearning winter love song. When I sent it back to him after I wrote it I asked him not to laugh at me for the corny-ness of the lyrics… sometimes lyrics just need to say it like it is.”

A newly released track “You & Me” featuring Claud. Taken from the Debut EP from Quarter-Life Crisis, the new project from Ryan Hemsworth, out December 4th. Featuring Frances Quinlan of Hop Along, Hand Habits, Charlie Martin of Hovvdy, Claud, & Yohuna.

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