Posts Tagged ‘Mercury Rev’

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The National’s Matt Berninger has covered Mercury Rev’s “Holes,” which opens their classic 1998 album Deserter’s Songs, at the NYC Tibet House benefit on Wednesday and now he’s shared a gorgeous studio version of the song that is being released as a single as part of the 7 Inches Vinyl for Planned Parenthood series.

Berninger’s version of “Holes,” produced by Booker T. Jones, is the A-side; a spoken word by lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, called “A Reproductive Rights Call To Action,” is the B-side. Watch a music video for Berninger’s cover below.

Berninger gave the following statement in a press release:

I found myself wasting a lot of time and energy worrying about all the threats to the world and to my kid’s rights. Finally, I just turned everything off and tried to chill. I started listening to a lot of old favorite records and re-reading books. All my energy and optimism came back and I started recording a lot. So many people I know are having this experience and doing their best work right now. Instead of watching everything being destroyed why not have fun and create things that can fight back. I’ve never been happier. Joy is an act of resistance. IDLES said that.

“Holes” originally written and recorded by Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue, Sean Mackowiack, Adam Snyder, and David Fridmann)

Mercury Rev / All Is Dream 4CD deluxe

Cherry Red will release a much expanded, four-CD edition of Mercury Rev‘s All Is Dream album, in November.

The album was the follow-up to the acclaimed Deserter’s Songs and features the singles ‘Nite And Fog’, ‘The Dark Is Rising’ and ‘Little Rhymes’. The album was issued in 2001, breaching the top 20 in both the UK and the USA.

The new four-CD deluxe edition has been “compiled and coordinated” in conjunction with the band’s Jonathan Donahue and Sean ‘Grasshopper’ Mackowiak. As well as the original ten-track album this set offers a bonus disc of 20 B-sides, outtakes and demos, half of which are previously unreleased. The third CD offers previously unissued concert recordings while the final disc delivers a French radio session which was only previously available as a promo CD.

The All Is Dream four-CD set is packaged as a hardcover book with lyrics and sleeve notes by Keith Cameron.

Mercury Rev is an American indie rock group that formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York. A band committed to experimentation and reinvention, their music has run the gambit from neo-psych and noise rock, lush pastoralism, and 4/4 electronica.

It slipped out of a Mississippi of hot biscuits, genteel table manners and working-class sense, suddenly overturned by a grave sinning and suicide. Carried on an evening breeze of strings and a supple, foreboding voice like sensually charged breath, “Ode to Bilie Joe”—Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 debut as a singer-songwriter and a Number One single for three weeks in the late Summer of Love—was the most psychedelic record of that year not from San Francisco or London, as if Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Brian Wilson had conspired to make a country-rock Pet Sounds. Except Gentry, just 23 when she wrote the song, got there first, in miniature.

Gentry’s hit was a revolutionary act, a quietly thorough feminism in vision, deed and success amid the strict, paternal order of the country-music industry. And it was her license to thrill again. In October, 1967, while “Billie Joe” was still in the Top Five, Gentry began recording The Delta Sweete, a connected set of a dozen songs that extended the narrative dynamics of that single with personal reflection and set her folk-siren charisma in a richer frame of dream-state orchestration, swamp-rock guitars and big-city-R&B horns.

In her eight original songs for the album, Gentry drew from her childhood and church life on her grandparents’ farm in Chickasaw County, Mississippi: the girl-ish craving for a beautiful dress in “Reunion”; the rise-and-shine of “Mornin’ Glory”; the stern Sunday lessons in “Sermon,” based on a traditional hymn also known as “Run On.” The covers were boldly chosen: Mose Allison’s chain-gang blues “Parchman Farm”; “Tobacco Road”’s litany of trial; the Cajun pride in Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man”. Gentry also turned them to new purpose and even gender. “Gonna get myself a man, one gonna treat me right,” she sang in Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” with heated assurance.

But The Delta Sweete—released in March, 1968, only three months after Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and right as the Byrds came to Nashville to cut Sweetheart of the Rodeo—was too soon in its precedence. Gentry’s LP, the first country-rock opera, was ignored on arrival, not even cracking Billboard’s Top 100. It was as if Billie Joe had risen out of the Tallahatchie River and thrown that record off the bridge instead.

This Delta Sweete is her long-delayed justice—Mercury Rev’s committed and an affectionate resurrection of an album that anticipated by three decades their own pivotal expedition through transcendental America, 1998’s Deserter’s Songs. From their recording lair in New York’s Catskill Mountains, the founding core of Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper with Jesse Chandler (previously in the Texas group Midlake) honor Gentry’s foresight and creative triumph with spacious invention and hallucinatory air. And they are not alone. Gentry’s stories and original resolve are brought to new vocal life and empowerment by a vocal cast of women from across modern rock and its alternative paths: among them, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval; Laetitia Sadier, formerly of Stereolab; Marissa Nadler; Margo Price, the fiery new country star with a punk-rock heart; and Norway’s Susanne Sundfør, who cuts through “Tobacco Road” with arctic-Nico poise. Phoebe Bridgers, whose first record was a softly stunning 2015 single for Ryan Adams’ PAX AM label, hovers through the acid- western suspense of Gentry’s “Jessye’ Lisabeth” with floating calm, like a comforting angel.

Bobbie Gentry, 1968 (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

On the 1968 LP, Gentry opened with a call to jubilant order, “Okolona River Bottom Band,” like she was leading a barn-dance union of the early Rolling Stones and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. Norah Jones takes that entrance here with her own sultry command, like Sarah Vaughan at the head of a slow-blooming choir. In “Sermon,” Price—who has known real struggle up close—sings like a survivor through Mercury Rev’s explosion of color and groove: a specialty throughout the band’s history as recently as 2015’s The Light in You, going back through All Is Dream in 2001, the whirling iridescent soul of 1995’s See You on the Other Side and the sumptuous turbulence of the 1992 single “Car Wash Hair.”

Gentry is still very present in the changes. Her seesaw of pride and hurt in the melancholy blur of “Penduli Pendulum” (“When goodbye serves as/My one amusement”) is even more explicit with the seasoned intimacy of Vashti Bunyan—a once-elusive voice from Britain’s psychedelic-folk boom—set against the younger, brighter arc of Kaela Sinclair, now in the electronic project M83. And in “Courtyard,” a despairing finale of strings and guitar arpeggios on Gentry’s LP, Mercury Rev build a striking Delta Krautrock in which the English singer Beth Orton wanders, like Gentry, through a ruin of profound loss and treasured memory.

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“Ode to Billie Joe” was not on the ‘68 Delta Sweete. But Mercury Rev go back to that dinner table with Lucinda Williams of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and it is an inspired bond, calling up the ghosts and questions of a South still very much with us. Indeed, Gentry—who retired from recording and performing in the Seventies—reportedly lives only a couple hours’ drive from the bridge that made her famous, while the spirits she set loose in The Delta Sweete are as restless and compelling as they were 50 years ago. This album is a loving tribute to that achievement, one of the greatest albums you have never heard. It is also a dozen new ways to walk that land.

releases February 1st, 2019

Mercury Rev is an American indie rock group that formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York. A band committed to experimentation and reinvention, their music has run the gambit from neo-psych and noise rock, lush pastoralism, and 4/4 electronica. In 1998 Mercury Rev delivered the unexpected, a hit album. Deserter’s Songs, the fourth studio long player from the New York-based band not only delivered three UK Top 40 singles, but also struck cultural pay dirt across the globe that still resonates today.

Fully cementing Mercury Rev’s rebirth as purveyors of a cosmic brand of the popular American songbook, Deserter’s Songs is an album of grandiose proportions. Merging jazz, folk, sweeping orchestration, and a dose of 60’s rock, the album was intended as the band’s swan song and therefore made with utter abandon. However, it became the band’s most acclaimed platter and remains one of the essential records of the past 25 years. Deserter’s Songs was released to huge worldwide acclaim and went on to be named album of the year in 1998 by NME, MOJO and many other publications, quickly propelling the legendary iconoclasts into living rooms worldwide and pioneered the launch of a new genre of music, heard today in bands like Arcade Fire and Beirut. Originally released on V2 Records, Deserter’s Songs was chosen as the first release on our new imprint, Modern Classics Recordings. Modern Classics’ Deserter’s Songs is the first LP reissue of this landmark album, long overdue if you ask us. Beautiful audio re-master comes courtesy of co-producer and original Mercury Rev member David Fridmann 

Deserter’s Songs is at once a lullaby, a trip, and a triumph.”
-9.3/10 – Pitchfork (Top 100 Albums of the 1990’s)

“A modern classic.” – NME

Mercury Rev announce “Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited”

Mercury Rev have announced the release of Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited, available 8th February via Bella Union. The album is a reimagining of Bobbie Gentry’s forgotten masterpiece and features an incredible cast list of guest vocalists including Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval, Beth Orton, Lucinda Williams, Rachel Goswell, Vashti Bunyan, Marissa Nadler, Susanne Sundfør, Phoebe Bridgers, Margo Price, Kaela Sinclair, Carice Van Houten and Laetitia Sadier. Mercury Rev have today shared the track “Sermon”, featuring Margo Price on vocals.

Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited is Mercury Rev’s committed and affectionate resurrection of an album that anticipated by three decades their own pivotal expedition through transcendental America, 1998’s Deserter’s Songs. From their recording lair in New York’s Catskill Mountains, the founding core of Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper with Jesse Chandler (previously in the Texas group Midlake) honour Gentry’s creative triumph with spacious invention and hallucinatory flair. And they are not alone. Gentry’s stories and original resolve are brought to new vocal life and empowerment by a vocal cast of women from across modern rock and its alternative paths: among them, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval; Laetitia Sadier, formerly of Stereolab; Marissa Nadler; Margo Price, the fiery new country star with a punk-rock heart; and Norway’s Susanne Sundfør, who cuts through “Tobacco Road” with arctic-Nico poise as the Rev’s trademark technicolor orchestration sweeps us towards the penultimate poignant love lorn wash of Beth Orton’s “Courtyard” and into the melancholy mystery of “Ode to Billie Joe” from America’s other grand southern belle Lucinda Williams.

On the 1968 LP, Gentry opened with a call to jubilant order, “Okolona River Bottom Band,” like she was leading a barn-dance union of the Rolling Stones and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. Norah Jones takes that entrance here with her own sultry command, like Sarah Vaughan at the head of a slow-blooming choir. In “Sermon,” Margo Price sings like a survivor through Mercury Rev’s explosion of colour and groove: a specialty throughout the band’s history as recently as 2015’s The Light in You going back through 1995’s See You on the Other Side.

Gentry is still very present in the changes. Her seesaw of pride and hurt in the melancholy blur of “Penduli Pendulum” is even more explicit with the seasoned intimacy of Vashti Bunyan set against the younger, brighter arc of Kaela Sinclair, now in the electronic project M83. And in “Courtyard,” a despairing finale of strings and guitar arpeggios on Gentry’s LP, Mercury Rev build a striking Delta Krautrock in which the English singer Beth Orton wanders, like Gentry, through a ruin of profound loss and treasured memory.

“Ode to Billie Joe” was not on the ‘68 Delta Sweete. But Mercury Rev go back to that dinner table with Lucinda Williams, and it is an inspired bond, calling up the ghosts and questions of a South still very much with us. Indeed, Gentry—who retired from recording and performing in the Seventies—reportedly lives only a couple hours’ drive from the bridge that made her famous, while the spirits she set loose in The Delta Sweete are as restless and compelling as they were 50 years ago.

Mercury Rev will on tour in the UK next month celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic album Deserter’s Songs. Full Dates here.

Mercury Rev have announced the release of Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited, available 8th February 2019 via Bella Union.

Mercury Rev celebrates ‘Deserter’s Songs’ 20th Anniversary with a very special acoustic and intimate performance…

An intimate, acoustic evening featuring many of the stories and songs surrounding the Mercury Rev’s heartbreaking 1998 classic ‘Deserter’s Songs’. Performed in the fragile ‘whisper and strum’ way they were originally written, this promises to be an extraordinary glimpse into the forces that nearly destroyed a band and the strange events leading toward a most unexpected return. Mercury Rev’s influential orchestral rock landmark from 1998 has been reissued in 2xCD form, with an extra disc of demos and rarities.

Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs were mailed out to press in a cardboard-replica postal packet, complete with a stamp and a postmark advertising its release date. This was no random act: In 1998, a new Mercury Rev album could have felt like a postcard from a long-lost, old friend. Unlikely beneficiaries of the post-Nirvana major-label cattle call, Mercury Rev initially overcame the inter-band acrimony that fueled their first two brilliantly frazzled albums (1991’s Yerself Is Steam and 1993’s Boces), only to slip further into oblivion with the more refined but commercially ignored 1995 release, See You on the Other Side. A subsequent improvised recording released under the name Harmony Rockets (1995’s Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void) suggested the band was forsaking populist ambition to delve deeper into the psych-noise underground. Aside from a songwriting credit for Rev ringleader Jonathan Donahue on the Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole, by 1997, Mercury Rev had effectively vanished.

The arrival of Deserter’s Songs on the nascent V2 label was a brow-raiser in and of itself; but that sense of pleasant surprise turned to dumbstruck disbelief once the CD was dropped in the player. Mercury Rev had flirted with symphonic flourishes and sentimental balladry before, but usually delivered them in a haze of distortion (Boces’ “Something For Joey”) or cheeky, irreverent arrangements (See You on the Other Side’s “Everlasting Arm”). Deserter’s Songs’ opening track, “Holes”, however, was something else entirely: Never before had Donahue left his helium-high croon so vulnerable and exposed, and never before had the band’s densely textured arrangements been deployed to such moving emotional effect, with the song’s eye-welling surge of orchestration and weepy bowed-saw lines perfectly complementing Donahue’s crestfallen lyrics.

And while there were always themes of New York state iconography running through the band’s disjointed discography– the Coney Island Cyclone, the Rockettes, Bronx cheers– Deserter’s Songs projected an especially vivid sense of place, casting a set of intimate, romantic narratives against the staggering natural beauty of the band’s upstate New York surroundings. Credit producer/bassist Dave Fridmann for foregrounding certain agrarian classic-rock influences– namely, Jack Nitzsche-era Neil Young, the Band, and Brian Wilson– that were heretofore buried behind the band’s wall of squall; Mercury Rev even went so far as to solicit guest contributions from Levon Helm and Garth Hudson for some authentic Big Pink flavor.

This unmissable event takes place at Glee Club Birmingham on 10th December 2018.