Posts Tagged ‘Merge Records’

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Cable Ties, a trio from Melbourne, blasts a coruscating onslaught of punk mayhem, guitar scrambling madly in a scrubby, discordant fury, drums banging, bass pumping pick-driven clangor into the mix and, above it all, Jennie McKechnie wailing in an exposed nerve kind of way about apathy, sexism, LGBTQ acceptance, income inequality and activist politics. The sound is supercharged, ear-ringing, tight; the fast chug of the bass line in stellar “Tell Them Where to Go,” has a nearly tactile force, while the guitar howls like careening sirens. The easy thing would be to compare McKechnie’s vibrato-zinging vocals with those of Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker or her verbal agility to Courtney Barnett, but the blunt force and agile violence of the music, brings to mind post-punk bands like the Wipers, Protomartyr and Eddy Current.

Cable Ties formed in the mid-teens and has one self-titled and a clutch of singles and splits in its catalogue so far. Far Enough is the first of this band’s albums to get a wide U.S. release, and it’s a doozy, no question. McKechnie may be the band’s focal point, but bassist Nick Brown defines Cable Ties’ ragged power. The rough-sawed churn of “Lani” starts and finishes with his abrasive, insistent bass playing that boils like magma under urgent, trilling vocals. Drummer Shauna Boyle is pretty great, too, banging out aggressive beats, that are passionate not sloppy, trance-like but never tuned out.

Band members are active advocates for women’s and LGBTQ rights. McKechnie co-founded Wet Lips, a Melbourne festival focused on inclusion of female, gay and non-binary musicians, and both she and Boyle volunteer for Girls Rock, an organization that promotes opportunity for women, trans and gender diverse musicians. Far Enough engages in these issues through the lyrics, especially in “Tell Them Where to Go,” where between murderous bass and clanging guitar chords, McKechnie sings about empowerment. “Are you stuck in your bedroom? With your stereo on? Thinking you’ll never play that way cos you’re too weird or too young/Why don’t you walk out your bedroom/and steal your brother’s guitar/ Go see the folks who took rock back from blokes and who get who you really are,” she wails, and you can see a hundred kids squaring their shoulders and heading out there.

Later, “Self-Made Man” launches an incendiary blow at the rich, skewering people who “work hard and don’t share,” in a hard bumping, intricately lyric’d song that vibrates with rage, and elsewhere “Sandcastles” pokes a rusty nailed prod at the politics that strangle otherwise well-meaning activist organizations. (“You don’t do anything because you know that people like you they just don’t do anything but tear each other down”). And right at the beginning in “Hope,” the band addresses boomer complacency on climate change, as McKechnie warbles, “My uncle Pete’s he’s complaining about the greenies, he says they’ve gone too far, I say Pete, they don’t go far enough.”

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And yet while not a moment on this album fails to engage in issues, the vibe is brash, celebratory, undeniably a gas. This is no over-earnest diatribe. It’s a series of party anthems about stuff that matters. One drum flattening call to arms insists that “Anger’s Not Enough,” and that’s right, there’s a lot more here. But it’s a really good place to start.

Released March 27th, 2020

Fronted by the ferocious Jenny McKechnie, Cable Ties are a three-piece from Melbourne who have built themselves a reputation as the saviours of contemporary Australian punk.

With a razor-sharp edge, they deconstruct the ragged aggression of stadium rock bands like AC/DC, the minimalism of post-punk pioneers Au Pairs, and synthesise them into bellowing anthems of discontent that are distinctly their own. Jenny screeches like a bogan banshee (or Siouxsie), Shauna pounds the drums like they owe her money (they do), and the Verlaine-thin bassist Nick Brown boogies like he’s hearing Blondie for the first time.

This simultaneously bright-eyed and jadedly anti-capitalist approach is the first thing you’ll notice on their new record Far Enough. From the way early single ‘Tell Them Where to Go’ harkens back to the cover of Sonic Youth’s Goo: ‘Are you stuck in your bedroom with your stereo on? Why don’t walk out your bedroom? And steal your brother’s guitar!?’ To the way ‘Sandcastles’ jumps back and forth like a fever dream, Far Enough is a stunning sophomore effort.

‘Sandcastles’ is the most concise song I’ve heard from you guys. Given you’re mainly known for stretching out punk songs beyond their limits, that’s a pretty big deal. How come it’s so much more concise?

Cable Ties are preparing to unleash their towering wall of ’70s hard rock and proto-punk to the world with the release of their second album (and Merge debut!) Far Enough on March 27th. As a final preview to the record, the Melbourne trio recently shared “Hope,” the opening song and lyrical centerpiece of Far Enough.

Singer-guitarist Jenny McKechnie says “Hope” serves as the record’s mission statement of sorts, touching on environmental, feminist, and anti-colonist themes explored in greater depth on “Sandcastles,” “Self-Made Man,” “Tell Them Where to Go,” and the rest of Far Enough.

We wrote that song when we had a weekend away writing, and we spent the whole time doing something which never ended up on the album. It was one of those weekends where it got too convoluted, and we had to start again. And right at the end of the weekend, we had two hours where we wrote ‘Sandcastles’ pretty much in one go. We just had a really good crack at it where… it felt like it was what it needed to be. It was straight to the point. Focussed. Like, when we write a song we start with a riff and if we can’t play that same riff over and over again for like half an hour, and enjoy it and really sink into it, sort of like feel it in our bodies in this cathartic way, we don’t think it’s worth making into a song.

On ‘Pillow’ you sing about feeling like you’ve fucked up and can’t go back. How do you cope with that feeling?

That feeling is something that I struggle with in music a lot, to be honest. Like, I did my undergrad arts degree in politics, and then I tried to go to Law School like, ‘I better do something that’ll get me a job,’ and I dropped out. Then I tried to do honours, and dropped that too. That feeling is me being like, ‘Why do I think that I’m so special that I can spend all my time playing music?’ And really beating myself up about it, which I would never do to anyone else, but for some reason, I still do it to myself. It’s still in my head that art’s a waste of time and that I should do something useful. So, that song was me convincing myself that it’s ok, what I’m doing. And that the voices in my head telling me that I’ve fucked up aren’t actually mine, in a way.

On ‘Tell Them Where to Go’ you sing about the aspirational component of being in a band. Is that your narrative? Are you singing to yourself?

That song was actually written when we were going to play at Girls Rock in Melbourne. It’s this program that gets young girls between 12 and 18 and puts them in bands. And they have to write an original song in one week and then perform it, and we were like ‘that is amazing.’ We were thinking about our own writing process like, it takes us months, we would never be able to do that! So we were like, ‘righto, we’re playing girls rock, let’s write a song for it. If they can do it then we should be able to.’ So that song is written for those kids. And also thinking about myself, and how much I would’ve loved to have something like that when I was growing up.

You sing very unapologetically. Was there any insecurity involved in finding your voice when you first started singing?

I first started playing music in [giggles] folk bands! So the stuff that I used to do was really quiet and sweet and I didn’t think that I could project my voice at all. But then when we started rehearsing we were really loud and I couldn’t get my voice over the sound of the amp. So the way that I’m singing was just a result of me really trying to be heard over the sound of everything. By the time that we were playing in venues where I could actually hear myself, I realised that I was doing this thing with my voice that I’d never thought I could do. Actually projecting and singing loud and high and just going for it. Cutting loose

At the end of ‘Anger’s not enough’ there’s a sound that sounds like a rooster. Is it a rooster?

Ha! I wish it was. But no, it’s not. I’m very glad that you can hear that though. The sound at the end of ‘Anger’s Not Enough’ is me with two guitar amps, and – I hate to get all spinal tap on this – they’re both turned all the way up to 10 and just pushed into overdrive. I also had this pedal from Newcastle called ‘when the sun explodes’—it’s like a reverb pedal where you can also get some really interesting feedback things going on. So its that looped over and over—I guess about three different tracks of me just messing with the guitar making crazy sounds. So if you can hear a rooster in there, I’m happy.

Burnished by nostalgia, “Can’t Do Much” beams an easy warmth, and it’s the easygoing brand-new single from Waxahatchee. The track is taken from her upcoming album “Saint Cloud”, Katie Crutchfield’s  due out on March 27th, you can pre-order coke-bottle-clear-vinyl, black-vinyl and CD versions of it from Merge Records

WAXAHATCHEE (aka Katie Crutchfield) is gearing up to release her highly anticipated new album Saint Cloud, album out March 27th worldwide. Critics are already hailing Saint Cloud as a career-defining album with Crutchfield’s songwriting front and center.

Previously released songs like “Fire” and “Lilacs” have set the stage for what fans can expect from this release, and this week, Crutchfield has released another track and video for, “Can’t Do Much,” which she says is the first song she wrote for the album. Waxahatchee tells us, “It’s meant to be an extremely unsentimental love song, a love song with a strong dose of reality.”

From the album Saint Cloud, out March 27th on Merge Records

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Wye Oak’s special Join tour, which begins next week, will see the duo expand to a quintet and perform music across not only their catalog but songs from Andy Stack’s and Jenn Wasner’s respective solo projects, Joyero and Flock of Dimes. The Wye Oak Join band will include Buke and Gase’s Arone Dyer, Landlady’s Adam Schatz, and Pinson Chanselle from Richmond’s Spacebomb collective, all accomplished multi-instrumentalists in their own regard.

Adam Schatz leads the band Landlady and produces records out of his Ditmas Park studio The Chamber of Commerce. Whenever able and not too hungry or tired, he’s playing assorted instruments with the likes of Sylvan Esso, Japanese Breakfast, Hand Habits, This Is The Kit & others.

 “Walk Soft” delves into trepidation and risk. When I was younger I used to work at a stable taking care of horses. I thought they were the most beautiful animals on earth, and seemingly so gentle, so it took me a while to learn that they could also be dangerous, if only because they were so much bigger than I was. Love is like this, too—the bigger it feels, the more power it holds. True beauty should be frightening.

In anticipation of these exciting shows, Wye Oak is sharing a soaring new song titled “Walk Soft.” Lyrically, it picks up right where preceding standalone single “Fear of Heights” left off by asking a string of questions: “What is the view?/ Does it belong to you?/ Do you see the same blue as I think I do?” From there, themes of trepidation and risk are escalated by the band’s sonic prowess until a satisfying coda of closure is reached.

Also arriving today is a short documentary about the band featuring interviews with Wasner and Stack as they discuss their history, their dynamic as performers and collaborators, how that has been perceived by their audience over the years, and how their upcoming Join shows will differ from any previous Wye Oak performance.

In addition to our new single, there’s also a new Wye Oak mini-doc out today! In it, you can hear us talk about our history, explain our dynamic as performers and collaborators, and share a bit about what you can expect from our upcoming Join shows.

The Wye Oak JOIN singles are out now on Merge Records

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Australian trio Cable Ties recently shared “Self-Made Man,” another thrilling preview from their second album and Merge Records debut, “Far Enough”, out March 27th. The track arrived alongside an Oscar O’Shea-directed music video featuring performances from the band and their community.

Cable Ties are a fierce, tense rock’n’roll trio. They take the three-minute punk burner and stretch it past breaking point to deliver smouldering feminist anthems. Post-punk and garage rock hammered together by a relentless rhythmic pulse. Jenny McKechnie channels her struggles into songs that resonate deeply, giving voice to feelings often buried in modern life. Shauna Boyle and Nick Brown are a rhythm section anchored in Stooges primitivism—relentlessly hammering out a bedrock for McKechnie’s guitar pyrotechnics and vocal wallop. Three friends summoning a rhythmic tide to deliver anthems that turn latent anxieties into a rallying cry.

Renowned for their incendiary live shows, Cable Ties make their American debut next month with dates in LA (including the recently announced Burgerama 2020), NYC, and at South by Southwest, followed by a European tour in April. Stay tuned for the band’s full SXSW schedule.

In case you missed it, watch Cable Ties’ previous equally potent Far Enough single “Sandcastles” and order the album today on CD, LP, and translucent amber and black swirl Peak Vinyl in the Merge Records store,

Waxahatchee shares

Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) has shared “Lilacs,” the latest single and video from her highly anticipated new album Saint Cloud, out March 27th worldwide. “Lilacs” received a Best New Track nod from Pitchfork who also announced Waxahatchee as part of their 2020 Pitchfork Festival line-up.

Of the song, Crutchfield says:

“Lilacs” was the last song I wrote for the record, and it’s mostly just about obsessive/negative thought patterns. It’s about backsliding into old behaviors that don’t serve you and sort of letting your worst self get the best of you. I think that when people are in that mindset, they can really try to turn the blame onto other people, so the song sort of plays out like a conflict you’d have with someone you love. It’s meant to capture that moment of heat that happens right when you realize you’re wrong or that your issue is more with yourself than with someone else—being flawed and fragile, but making progress inch by inch. The chorus serves as a sweet little resolve. I wanted it to feel like the light at the end of the tunnel and the reminder that it can always and often does get better.

Watch the previous glowing video for “Fire” which stars Katie and was co-directed by her and Andreina Byrne.

Saint Cloud is available for order on CD, standard LP in a single jacket, and coke bottle-clear Peak Vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket (both vinyl editions include a large full-color poster) in the Merge Records store,

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Not with a fizzle, but with a bang. Lyricist of Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield has taken this notion to heart with latest emotionally blazing track Fire. It is our first taste of her newest and fifth full-length album “Saint Cloud”, which will be released on the 27th of March via Merge Records.

Crutchfield’s inspiration is derived from her experiences and journey through life. This ties in well with the band’s name which was inspired by the Waxahatchee Creek, Crutchfield’s hometown in Alabama. Latest track ‘Fire’ captures the sun setting on the Mississippi River while Crutchfield drove from Memphis into West Memphis, AR.

The indie-folk track is a revisitation to stripped-back simplicity. Crutchfield perfectly describes it as a “personal pep talk”, as the album was written quickly following her choice to become sober. The vocals remain central throughout, with only a feather-light touching of keys, tapping drums and a shining strumming guitar. Crutchfield always has a knack for painting a picture with words, and her flair adds a sublime and luminous quality to the track. With lyrics such as “If I could love you unconditionally/ I could iron out the edges of the darkest sky”, and “It’s not as if we cry a river, call it rain/ West Memphis is on fire in the light of day.” Musically it’s a return to her roots such as her EP Great Thunder released in late 2018, and leaves any excessive instrumentals at the door.

From the album “Saint Cloud”, out March 27th on Merge Records

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With 2017’s Out In The Storm, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield topped herself yet again with a roaring collection of songs worthy of one of the best projects to come out of the last decade. She revisited some older songs for 2018’s lovely Great Thunder EP, and in March, Waxahatchee will release her fifth full-length album.

It’s called Saint Cloud, and Crutchfield wrote the songs after committing to getting sober. Naturally, Saint Cloud is a potent examination of the behavior that springs from addiction and what it can feel like to be truly in tune with yourself. Crutchfield recorded Saint Cloud at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX, and Long Pond in Stuyvesant, NY, and it was produced by Brad Cook .

Its lead single, “Fire,” is about straddling between borders — physically, the border between Tennessee and Arkansas (as Crutchfield explains below) but also emotionally. It’s groovy and intricately layered and warm, unlike anything Crutchfield has put out with this project before. “If I could love you unconditionally, I– / Could iron out the edges of the darkest sky,” she sings. “For some of us, it ain’t enough.”

Crutchfield returns to that physical border in the video for “Fire.” Here’s her statement about the song:

The idea and melody for ‘Fire’ was dreamt up while driving over the Mississippi River from Memphis into West Memphis, AR, sun reflecting off the water which literally made West Memphis glow. The song’s written by me, to myself. It’s about the internal dialogue of shame surrounding mistakes you’ve made in the past and how we spiral and beat ourselves up when we slip. It’s meant to be a bit of a personal pep talk. If I can love myself unconditionally, then I can move through the world a little easier. If I can accept that I only have a partial view of the universe, and that I can’t know everything or control much of anything, then I can breathe a little easier, take better care of myself, and be closer to my own truth.

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Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) have shared a brand new song, “Fear of Heights.” It follows “Fortune,” a new song they shared back in November . “Fear of Heights” is a bit more subdued than “Fortune” but soars on the strength of Wasner’s always sublime vocals.

Wasner had this to say about “Fear of Heights” in a press release: “This song’s central metaphor likens the deepening of a relationship to the feeling of ascending to the top of a very tall place. There’s something to be seen (or learned, or experienced) once you arrive, but for some there is also a fear that increases with every step upwards. You say it’s worth it for the view, but it’s impossible to know if that’s true until you get there to see it with your own eyes.”

For the first time since 2012, Wasner and Stack are now both living in the same city together, Durham, NC (home to their label Merge Records), which has allowed for renewed creativity and led to the band recording last summer. There’s no word yet on a new album.

Wye Oak released their last album, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, back in April 2018 via Merge.  Since their last album, Stack launched his solo project, Joyero, releasing his debut album as Joyero, Release the Dogs, in August 2019 via Merge. Wasner, meanwhile, has been touring as part of Bon Iver’s band. A previous press release promised that the JOIN tour dates will feature an expanded live band and will find them not just performing Wye Oak songs, but also ones by Joyero and Wasner’s Flock of Dimes solo project.

The single, “Fear of Heights,” is out now on Merge Records.

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This summer, Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott) announced that she was readying an album with her new label, Merge Records, after being dropped by 4AD in 2018 for “not being commercially successful enough.

The return of Torres, the project of New York-based musician Mackenzie Scott, might just be one of the most exciting events of the musical year. While never quite hitting that break through moment, Torres is a songwriter we’ve always loved, and with each new single she shares, her upcoming album, “Silver Tongue”, just seems to get all the more exciting. Possibly the best to date came this week in the shape of the sublime, Dressing America.

“Dressing America” is a track that seems to gently unfurl itself, as the initial strum of muted guitar gradually blossoms, into a Bowie-like slice of hypnotic New Wave glamour, resplendent with motorik rhythms and Mackenzie’s strikingly commanding vocal delivery. Lyrically, it seems to set Mackenzie as a wannabe romantic-hero, a macho cowboy, who might not understand the subtleties of the human heart, yet is ready and waiting to go rescue a damsel in distress, “you’re always telling’ me I don’t know who you are, come on, woman, I tend to sleep with my boots on should I need to gallop over dark waters to you on short notice”.

From the singles delivered, Silver Tongue already feels like Torres’ most immediate release to date, a study of infatuation, lust and human connections, that might just end up being her break-out moment.

Along with the Silver Tongue album announcement, Scott released the lead single, LP opener “Good Scare.” Like the material on Three Futures, “Good Scare” melds oceanic guitar, percussion and synth, offering a lush and layered complement to Scott’s gravelly lows and tender falsetto. The new track takes up the stops and starts of a budding romance, when the prospect of love feels both terrifying and predestined.

Silver Tongue is out January 31st via Merge Records.