Posts Tagged ‘Merge Records’

On It’s Real, the group’s second album, Ex Hex’s commitment to larger-than-life riffs and unforgettable hooks remains intact, but the garage-y, post-punk approach that defined their debut album Rips has grown in scale and ambition. What started as a reaction to the blown-out aesthetic of Rips would test the sonic limits of the power trio and lead the band on a quest for a more immersive and three-dimensional sound. Vocal harmonies are layered ten tracks deep, solos shimmer and modulate atop heaving power chords, and the codas linger and stretch toward new frontiers of sound. On first listen, you might think you’ve unearthed a long-lost LP carved from the space where crunch-minded art rock and glitter-covered hard rock converge, an event horizon at the intersection of towering choruses and swaggering guitars.

Ex Hex were already one of America’s best guitar bands—but on It’s Real, their musical savvy has thrillingly combined with anything-goes curiosity, studio experimentation, and a dedication to refinement, resulting in an album that’s ready to be played at maximum volume.

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From the album It’s Real, out March 22nd, 2019 on Merge Records.

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Mike Krol writes crunchy, windows-open, garage-friendly power-pop songs that unfold with maximum efficiency: His last album, 2015’s Turkey, blew by in only 19 minutes. The new, appropriately titled Power Chords is nearly twice as long, but there’s still never a wasted moment. In “I Wonder,” Krol teams up with Allison Crutchfield for a fuzzed-out, wistful, impressively grown-up look back on a relationship that was never meant to be.

Power Chords, Mike Krol’s new Merge release, It traces Krol’s journey back to punk rock, harnessing both the guitar technique and the musical redemption referenced in its title. He’s wielding the same influences—Misfits, The Strokes, early Weezer, Ramones—but turning up the gravity and the gain. Indeed, Krol has gone somewhere new; yes, he bludgeoned himself with over-analysis and self-loathing, but along the way he stumbled upon a trove of intricate guitar lines and artfully mutating melodies.

Music ruined Krol’s life. And then saved it. In chronicling that process, Krol has made his best record—painful, voyeuristic, and angry, but ultimately transcendent and timeless. It is the sound of Krol giving in to a force greater than himself, as though the chords are playing him rather than the other way around.

From the album Power Chords, out January 25th, 2019 on Merge Records.

Hey, everybody. There are two new Hiss Golden Messenger songs out today: “Everybody Needs Somebody” and “Watching the Wires.”

2018 was a hard year–for myself and, as it turns out, most people that I know–and I was thinking a lot at that time about how to cope with what felt like an unnameable existential crisis: Run for the hills, or hug the nearest stranger? As it turns, I’ve been doing a bit of both. Singing these songs has been helpful to me.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to them. Maybe they’ll speak to you.

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The single, “Watching the Wires” is out now on Merge Records.

In October of 2015, I got an email from Amy Russell, the Director of Programming at Carolina Performing Arts. She told me about a celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday planned for January of 2017 and asked if I would want to be involved somehow—and without knowing what that would entail, I just said “yes.” Soon she proposed pairing a symphonic performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 4, which is based on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, with a rock performance of the Bowie album.

This was an exciting idea, but performing an album straight in its entirety always feels a little boring to me because everyone familiar with the record knows what’s coming next… but in Glass’ case, his symphony does not adhere strictly to the track listing of the original Bowie album, which meant that we didn’t need to, either. I was mostly excited about being able to collaborate with musicians I don’t normally get to play with, and to play this amazing music with them.

Three months later, David Bowie’s death hit everyone hard and we discussed whether to move ahead, but as 2016 progressed, Bowie’s music only seemed more important. When everyone I asked to take part said “yes” immediately even though the concert was a year away and we didn’t know what shape it would take it was a good sign.

Eventually, we settled on a set list that was a combination of Glass’ (which added “Abdulmajid” to the album’s tracks) and our own desire to hear Dan Bejar sing “Beauty and the Beast” and “Joe the Lion,” which Glass left off his.

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Brad Cook, Joe Westerlund, and I got together once or twice to learn the songs because we knew we would only have one real rehearsal with the whole band. When DanWilliam Tyler, and Ken Vandermark descended upon Chapel Hill and Jenn Wasner returned from tour, we had a great day figuring out how to play these songs all together, and convened for the performance the next day in ornate Memorial Hall.

Halfway through soundcheck on the day of the performance, we learned that all water in the town of Chapel Hill was deemed unsafe to drink due to a water main break and a pump failure in the great Orange County water system. UNC campus had to be abandoned, and the show was cancelled. We staged a secret last-minute performance at the Pinhook (in Durham, where the water is always safe) just because we wanted to play this record, but the actual show at Memorial Hall was postponed by a month. So the recording you hear is actually our band reunion and the second-ever performance of A Merge Group. And the “Heroes” on the record is our version of Glass’ version of Bowie’s classic record. So much fun to play, and I’m glad there’s a document. From Mac McCaughan:

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Dan Bejar started Destroyer as a solo home-recording project in the early to mid-nineties. Exploring and overturning genres such as glam, MIDI, yacht rock, and even underground Spanish independent artists, Bejar was proclaimed “Rock’s Exiled King” . His is a body of work that consistently flouts convention in favor of musical leaps of faith, statements of purpose cloaked in subterfuge, and the joyous refrain of an optimist’s heart cloaked in cynicism.

Released by :Merge Records Release date: 8th February 2019

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Ex-Hex, the veteran Washington D.C. power-trio, released the second single from their forthcoming album, and it’s a riffy slice of glorious, focused pop. Ex Hex have released the music video for their new song “Tough Enough,” the opening track from their forthcoming album “It’s Real”, due out March 22nd from Merge Records. The riff-forward DIY sound from the Ex Hex trio in “Tough Enough” finds its match with the video’s fuzzed-out, basement-show setting and apocalyptic conflict. As they riff around its low-scale flash, it’s apparent that the power trio’s ability to utilize the noise around them is the true star of the video. The band explain in a statement that the single is “all about three-dimensional power chords interplaying with whammy dive bombs. It’s a song about turning on your tough switch and forging ahead through whatever storms are happening around you ’cause you have no choice.”

From the album It’s Real, out March 22nd, 2019 on Merge Records.

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In the first 15 seconds of his new video, Bob Mould tells the world: “Dictators, terrorists and tech companies have created an apocalyptic surveillance state. The Western world has fallen into a deep state of paranoia and disinformation.”

The video for Bob Mould’s new song, “Lost Faith” cuts to a scene of our protagonist, living in Germany, being interviewed by the media. From Mould’s paranoid point of view, all he can see are drones following him. And when the reporter asks, “What are you running from?” the music kicks in and Mould sings: “I’ve lost faith in everything / Everything, everything.” This could simply be the perfect song for our times, but what Mould does in “Lost Faith” (and elsewhere on his forthcoming album Sunshine Rock) is take the negativity and fear and locate the positive. “I know we all lose faith from time to time,” he sings. “You better find your way back home.”

New album ‘Sunshine Rock’ out Feb 8th, 2019!

Bob Mould is a legend, and his band Hüsker Dü informed a huge swath of music in the ’90s. These days, he is, in fact, living in Germany; it’s been a few years and he says he’s newly inspired. The new album is full of themes of sunshine instead of “black sheets of rain.”

Writing via email, Mould says of “Lost Faith” that “there’s a hint of migration, a dash of border security and a whisper of government surveillance, climaxing across the multicolored canvas of an abandoned NSA listening station perched atop the highest hill in Berlin. But at the end of the day, it’s a high-end music video for a catchy, inspirational, uplifting pop song.”

From the album Sunshine Rock, out February 8th, 2019 on Merge Records.

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Fuzzy garage rock has rarely contained this much wistful heartache. The previous album from Los Angeles-based musician Mike Krol, 2015’s Turkey, clocked in at just 18 minutes, but packed in a year’s worth of rambunctious potency. His new record, “Power Chords”, clocking it at nearly double the length of its predecessor, feels almost indulgent in comparison, but with its added running time comes a bit more thematic focus. Power Chords is a distinctly ugly record, but that’s part of the appeal. Though its sonic palette isn’t wide-ranging by any means, Krol’s grubby rock is better when its knees are scraped, eyes are bloodshot and heart is ripped open. Krol risks overshadowing his angsty songs with his thick, Stroke-like vocal filters, but they bring this angst to life by adding a dimension of teenage nostalgia with its bedroom DIY feel. While the sonics can feel tiresome after a while, Krol ends on a high note with his extremely muddy cut, “The End,” which is nicely offset with a piercing synth interlude.

“Hold me close / Don’t ever let me go / Cause I’ve been waiting / All my life for the moment / To tell you so / With a couple power chords / I’m gonna let you know / That revenge is better / When you come from down below.”

That’s the chorus of the first song, “Power Chords,” on my new album of the same name, which is released into the world today. Touring for my previous album, “Turkey,” ended in December of 2015, and by February of 2016, I found myself without an apartment, without any money, and had just ended a 3 year relationship. I put all my belongings in a storage unit in Glassell Park, and got a one-way ticket to Wisconsin to move back in with my parents. I was 31. Completely disillusioned and frustrated with “music as a career,” I began searching for the spark of what made me excited about songs in the first place. I sat in my old childhood bedroom, with a guitar in hand, trying to fall in love with music again. Eventually I saved up enough money to move back to LA, got a new place to live, met new people, had new experiences, and slowly but surely I started to compile the songs that would make up this album.

Music is a crazy thing. It can make you feel a range of emotions within a few seconds. It can transport your mind instantly back to a person, a place, a time, or a memory, as soon as you hear the first notes. Find something that makes you feel invincible, that gives you hope, and changes your life. To quote my press release, “Music ruined Krol’s life. And then saved it. In chronicling that process, Krol has made his best record—painful, voyeuristic, and angry, but ultimately transcendent and timeless. It is the sound of Krol giving in to a force greater than himself, as though the chords are playing him rather than the other way around.”

Power Chords is much more lyrically mature and musically adept than your average garage rock record, and its teenage sheen might urge you to fanatically scroll the lyrics on your notebook or bedroom wall of choice.

“Power Chords” is OUT NOW on Merge Records:

Goes West

A vividly painted instrumental album, there is a beauty and tranquility that surrounds ‘goes west’, a sense of magic in the way that it captures both the heart, and the imagination, in equal amounts – close your eyes and you are transported immediately deep into rural america for a gripping, captivating musical journey full of personality, reminiscent of gustavo santaolallo’s gorgeous ‘brokeback mountain’ score.

The music of William Tyler, the south is not apart from america; the south is america condensed. ‘goes west’ marks a narrowing of focus, a way to point himself directly towards the rich and bittersweet emotional centre of his music without being distracted by side trips. surprisingly for one of Nashville’s finest electric guitarists, he only plays acoustic guitar throughout, allowing his band the space and freedom with which to explore new worlds of sound and movement. “melodies that convey messages on emotive and spiritual levels.” – popmatters, “invigoratingly sunny” – mojo, “constantly twisting and turning…rewards repeat listens”

From the album Goes West, out January 25, 2019 on Merge Records.

M. Ward is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who rose to prominence in the Portland, Oregon music scene.

2019 release from the acclaimed singer/songwriter, his first studio album since 2016’s More Rain. “What A Wonderful Industry” takes on a subtler shade of music industry beef, writing about the heroes and villains he’s encountered over 20 years.

M. Ward: “This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down.” M. Ward’s solo work is a mixture of folk and blues-inspired Americana analog recordings; he has released nine albums since 1999, primarily through independent label Merge Records. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of pop duo She & Him and folk-rock supergroup Monsters of Folk, and also participates in recording, producing, and playing with multiple other artists.

Over the last decade Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums, as well as six LPs with Zooey Deschanel in the duo She and Him. Ward is also a member of the group Monsters of Folk alongside My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis, as well as a producer on albums for
Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster.

Via Ward: “This is a record inspired by people in the industry I have known – heroes and villains in equal measure. There’s some beautiful moments when you travel for a living, and I’m grateful for being part of an industry that’s taken me around the world so many times – but you quickly learn there’s a perfectly imperfect balance of cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in the zoo. This record visits the most memorable characters. There’s a lot of very inspirational people I’ve had the pleasure to work with but there are also a few I wish I’d never met. It all tragically ends with an imaginary Griffin Mill-
inspired murder ballad. This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down. Anyway I hope you like it. All names have been changed to protect the innocent”.

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Washington DC power rock group Ex Hex came onto the scene in 2014 with their excellent, loud debut Rips. Filled with big, raucous waves of guitar, the album embodied the type of rock ‘n’ roll that genre devotees were hungry for, which made sense; Mary Timony, founder of the influential ‘90s riot grrrl group Helium, helms the group alongside Betsy Wright on guitar and Laura Harris on drums. Their second studio album, It’s Real, which arrives March 22nd via Merge Records, along with the premiere of “Cosmic Cave” a guitar-shimmering single that Timony calls “Old style Ex Hex.” It’s lively garage rock with a bittersweet swirl of a chorus and cavernous-sounding embellishments, best experienced beyond the boundaries of headphones.

Timony and Wright explained that It’s Real found its form through the deliberate collaboration between the pair  their knack for continuous refinement feeding into their tightness in sound, execution, and their will to experiment. Whether it’s recording with ten amps at once or indulging in the weird effects of an old ‘80s headphone amp, Ex Hex are fully devoted to crafting the best sounds for blaring at maximum volume.

From the album It’s Real, out March 22nd, 2019 on Merge Records.