Posts Tagged ‘Merge Records’

Lambchop

Kurt Wagner, and his rotating cast of musicians who’ve make up Lambchop at one point or another have been making music since the mid-1980’s and have tried their hand at pretty much every style going. Back in the autumn of 2019, Kurt had an idea, instead of heading out on a financially unviable tour, he would instead invite his current band into the studio to make a covers record. Each member would bring a track of their choosing and in a single day, take control over recording their chosen song. The result is the upcoming album, “Trip”, out in November, and previewed this week in the shape of the band’s take on the Wilco-classic, “Reservations”. Lambchop announced a new covers record. Titled Trip, the album includes six cover songs, each selected by a different member of the band.

In addition to songs popularized by the Supremes, George Jones, and Stevie Wonder, Trip includes “Weather Blues,” a previously unreleased song written by Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew.

Reservations” was picked by Matthew McCaughan, after much stressing about his choice, “I decided I would pick a song that, while I love it, and know it, it wasn’t one that had been on repeat for months at some point in my life, nor was it one that is permanently tied to some memory of my own“. Part of the thinking behind the choice was not so much about the original, but instead what Lambchop could make of it, here Kurt’s vocal is pushed up in the mix, with the fizz and the hum of the original chorus replaced by cooed vocal harmonies and dancing woodwind melodies. What Lambchop’s version hangs onto is the beautiful simplicity of Jeff Tweedy’s lyrics, the line, “I’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about you”, still every bit as wonderful as the first time you heard it. As Kurt says of the project, and his career as a whole, “it’s been a trip”, if they also sound this enticing it’s a journey we’re going to want to make many more times.

Taken from Trip, out November 13th, 2020 on Merge and City Slang.

That kinetic rush of the record’s creation can be felt in first single ‘As Many Candles as Possible,’ which features Al Green’s organist Charles Hodges. On the first of March, 2020, John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, and Jon Wurster, aka the Mountain Goats band, visited legendary studio Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, TN. Darnielle armed his band with new songs and reunited with producer Matt Ross-Spang who engineered last year’s In League with Dragons. In the same room where the Cramps tracked their 1980 debut album, the Mountain Goats spent a week capturing the magic of a band at the top of its game. The result is Getting Into Knives, the perfect album for the millions of us who have spent many idle hours contemplating whether we ought to be honest with ourselves and just get massively into knives.

Getting Into Knives includes guest performance on Hammond B-3 organ by Charles Hodges (of numerous Al Green records) and guest performance on guitar by Chris Boerner (of the Hiss Golden Messenger band). “The track opens with a bristling twist of guitars and rumbling drums before settling into a steady groove. A distorted crunch underpins the primarily acoustic proceedings, helping the song build to a pitch-perfect freakout, featuring Al Green’s organist Charles Hodges.” – Rolling Stone

“The album news arrives with the release of dark, squally lead single “As Many Candles As Possible,” which features Al Green organist Charles Hodges and builds to a churning catharsis.” – Indy Week
“Recorded across a single week in Memphis, the album trades between piano-driven intimacy and stormy bombast, the latter of which is on display in its lead single, ‘As Many Candles As Possible.’ Featuring Al Green’s organist Charles Hodges, the dark and swampy track reflects the Deep South milieu in which it was recorded.” – A.V. Club

“As Many Candles As Possible” by the Mountain Goats from their album ‘Getting Into Knives’ coming October 23, 2020 on Merge Records.

Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) released a new EP, No Horizon, this week via Merge (stream it here and read our review of it here).  They shared the EP’s final pre-release single, “Spitting Image,” but while we do like that song, we actually prefer stirring EP closer “Sky Witness,” which was not a pre-release single.

Prior, to the announcement of the EP, the band has released quite a few other singles not featured on No Horizon. The standalone single “Walk Soft” another standalone single “My Neighbor / My Creator ” . Back in January, they also shared  “Fear of Heights,” . They also recently shared, “Join”, a new mini documentary highlighting the history of the band.

In June Wasner surprise-released Like So Much Desire, a new EP with her Flock of Dimes solo project. It was her first release for Sub Pop.

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We have been fans of Wye Oak since the very beginning, admiring the group as the duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack gears up to release their latest collection of music—the “No Horizon” EP, out this Friday on Merge Records—we’re showcasing the band’s latest single, “Spitting Image.” 

The tune is a lovely and thrilling piece, slowly building from incidental sounds to a billowing swirl of harmonies, the aural equivalent of a sunrise. Wye Oak created the song, along with the rest of the new EP, as part of a collaboration with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the choir’s soaring voices lend an almost operatic bombast to the fluttering rhythms and Peter Gabriel-like instrumentation. The cascading sense of awe it generates is very much of a piece with the song’s message. “‘Spitting Image’ is about trying to manage the sheer volume of information we are expected to absorb to exist,” Wasner tells us. “As naturally curious creatures, the idea of seeing everything at once initially sounds intriguing, but of course we quickly reach the limits of what we can consume, and are forced to contend with how little we can actually control. This song was an attempt to emulate the feeling of emotional and psychological overload as the waves of excess exceed the limit of our capacity to absorb them.”

The band has shared No Horizon’s invocation “AEIOU” along with its lyric video featuring artwork by Eva Claycomb and animated by Bradley Hale. Watch it today, and pre-order the No Horizon 12-inch EP on pink vinyl housed in a printed clear plastic sleeve in the Merge store, or wherever records are sold. Rough Trade UK also has an exclusive signed edition on purple vinyl.

The song “AEIOU” is about the inadequacy of language. It was written around the time that those currently in power took it upon themselves to think that they could minimize the existence of certain people by removing the words that we currently use to define them—like transgender—from use. Language is bigger than the powers that try to control it, but we are so much bigger than language. We are so much more than anything that can be suggested with words.

No Horizon, the forthcoming EP featuring five new songs WYE OAK recorded with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, is available everywhere July 31st.

From No Horizon, out July 31st, 2020, on Merge Records.

BOB MOULD has released another track from his forthcoming album “Forecast of Rain” and an accompanying lyric video off of his explosive upcoming album Blue Hearts, which arrives via Merge Records on Friday, September 25.

“Forecast of Rain” is the second song released from Blue Hearts and follows provocative first single “American Crisis” from June. That song garnered great attention from the press, with Rolling Stone writing that it “vibrates with urgency,” NPR saying the song is “pure punk fury” and Paste describing the song as a “scabrous, pissed-off screed against the ‘fucked-up USA’ we’re living in.”

The 14-song album, will be Mould’s 14th and the follow-up to 2019’s Sunshine Rock, is due out September. 25th on Merge Records on LP, CD, something called “tri-color Peak Vinyl” and digital formats. “Forecast of Rain” was preceded by the fiery lead-off single “American Crisis.”

Of “Forecast of Rain,” Mould says:

“As a child, my mother took me to Sunday Mass. I’ve written many songs around religion. In the 2000s, I went back to the Catholic Church for three years — but I did not find my place. I recognize the importance of religion for those who believe: the worship, the rituals, the community; loving thy neighbour, following commandments, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. In short, be nice to people, help however you can, and don’t steal stuff. But right now, I’m having a hard time understanding how certain religious sectarians can support the behaviour of those who occupy the People’s House. How can you endorse their disregard for truth? How can you tolerate the incessant vindictiveness? How can you stand by your man while people are teargassed to clear a path to the Lord’s House? I’m not good at quoting scripture, but I can manage two words: Jesus wept.”

The 14-song album, will be Mould’s 14th and the follow-up to 2019’s Sunshine Rock, is due out September. 25th on Merge Records on LP, CD, something called “tri-color Peak Vinyl” and digital formats. “Forecast of Rain” was preceded by the fiery lead-off single “American Crisis.”

From the album Blue Hearts, out September 25th on Merge Records

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Mikal Cronin experienced a creativity boom in late 2018/early 2019, inspired in part by the massive wildfires in Southern California that forced him to evacuate from the Idyllwild cabin where he’d been writing songs. Upon his return to Los Angeles, he recorded two full albums: Seeker, released in October 2019, and its electronic counterpartSwitched-On Seeker”, which is out digitally June 30th and on vinyl August 29th via Record Store Day Drops. Mikal  Cronin experienced a creativity boom in late 2018/early 2019, inspired in part by the massive wildfires in Southern California that forced him to evacuate from the Idyllwild cabin where he’d been writing songs. Upon his return to Los Angeles, he recorded two full albums: Seeker, released in October 2019, and its electronic counterpart Switched-On Seeker, which is out digitally now and on vinyl August 29th via Record Store Day Drops.

While Cronin’s self-assured vocals and the overarching theme of destruction and rebirth unite Seeker and Switched-On Seeker, everything else about the two albums is different. Support your local record store on August 29 to experience the songs from Seeker in a whole new way!

Playing garage-accented pop, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Mikal Cronin was raised in Laguna Beach, CA, where as a teenager he developed a passion for both surfing and rock & roll. While attending Laguna Beach High School, he fell in with a handful of like-minded music fans, many of whom he still collaborates with to this day.

On July 1st, Cronin will perform a “Switched-On” set from Zebulon in Los Angeles, on Zebulon’s YouTube channel.

The idea for Switched-On Seeker, whose title was inspired by a series of early electronic music records by Wendy Carlos playing classical music on an early Moog system, arose from Cronin’s interest in synths and electronic music, and he set out to record the songs of Seeker track by track using only his collection of synthesizers and drum machines. Alone in his garage, Cronin made the album with a variety of synths including Arturia DrumBrute, Moog Sub 37, Moog Mother-32, Hohner String Performer, Mellotron, Omnichord, various little Casios, Roland SH-01A, Korg R3, and classic drum machine samples.
While Cronin’s self-assured vocals and the overarching theme of destruction and rebirth unite Seeker and Switched-On Seeker, everything else about these two albums is different. Support your local record store on August 29th to experience your favourite songs from Seeker in a whole new way!

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Limited edition companion piece to Mikal Cronin’s 2019 Seeker album, Switched-On Seeker is a completely synth-based, full-length reworking of 2019’s Seeker in the vein of Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On” series.Mikal Cronin will continue his world tour across the calendar in 2020, including a confirmed BBC 6 Music session with Marc Riley at the end of February.

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Hiss golden messenger let the light of the world open your eyes

Limited edition on black vinyl. North Carolina folk rockers Hiss Golden Messenger re-record two of their original songs, “Cat’s Eye Blue” (from their critically acclaimed 2019 album Terms of Surrender) & B-side “Standing in the Doorway” at Spacebomb Studios with contributions from their in-house orchestra.I t’s the latest in the Alive at Spacebomb Studios series.

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Released June 26th, 2020

M.C. Taylor: lead vocals, electric guitar, tambourine
Cameron Ralston: electric bass
Pinson Chanselle: drums, tambourine
Alan Parker: electric guitar
Daniel Clarke: piano
Angelica Garcia: background vocals
Kenneka Cook: background vocals
Erin Rae McKaskle: additional background vocals on “Cat’s Eye Blue”
Matt Douglas: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone

Violins: Adrian Pintea, Stacy Matthews, Meredith Riley, Treesa Gold
Violas: Molly Sharp, Wayne Graham
Celli: Jason McComb, Stephanie Barrett
String arrangements by Trey Pollard
Strings contracted by Treesa Gold

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The Mount Moriah frontwoman’s solo debut. streaked with warm, yet wistful, Americana hues, it glowed throughout 2018. we’ve fallen even harder for her follow-up, ‘eno axis’.

Sonically, it’s an album shaped enormously by the atmosphere it was recorded in – the crew’s synergy & positivity, the proximity & presence of a band in a room playing with intention. structurally, it’s a group of songs inspired by the colours & tones of open tunings, by the sacrality of space & instinct. Stylistically, it’s folk-rock leaning into its curious experimental side & moved by the spiritual rawness of classic soul & the simplicity of earnest pop.

Narratively, H.C. McEntire’s Eno Axis is about finding direction in the natural world, and following love. Sonically, it’s an album shaped enormously by the atmosphere it was recorded in – the crew’s synergy and positivity, the proximity and presence of a band in a room playing with intention. Structurally, it’s a group of songs inspired by the colours and tones of open tunings, by the sacrality of space and instinct. Eno Axis feels like a confident and mature step forward from her debut album Lionheart – in tone, arrangement, production, and spirit.

Stylistically, it’s folk-rock leaning into its curious experimental side and moved by the spiritual rawness of classic soul and the simplicity of earnest pop.

‘eno axis’ feels like a confident & mature step forward from her debut album ‘Lionheart’ – in tone, arrangement, production & spirit. for fans of courtney marie andrews, margo price. joan shelley, first aid kit, the be good tanyas.

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Releases August 21st, 2020

Produced by H.C. McEntire, Luke Norton, and Missy Thangs
Lyrics by H.C. McEntire except where noted

Performed by:
H.C. McEntire (vocals, guitar)
Luke Norton (guitars, keys, backing vocals)
Casey Toll (bass)
Daniel Faust (drums, percussion)
Nathan Bowles (banjo)
Allyn Love (pedal steel)
Mario Arnez (backing vocals)
Justin Morris (backing vocals)

Endless gratitude to Merge Records, Missy, Sarah, all our families and friends and animals.

We last heard from Torres, the musical moniker of Mackenzie Scott, back in 2017 around the release of her sublime third album, Three Futures. That album was in many ways an exploration of physicality, a lusty collection in contrast to the more cerebral tones of her break-out record, Sprinter. Some two years later, after finding a new home on Merge Records, Torres is set to make her next artistic statement with the January release of her fourth album, Silver Tongue, which was previewed this week in the shape of new single, Good Scare.

If Torres’ music up until now has existed largely inside Mackenzie, whether that be body or brain, perhaps Silver Tongue is a step into the wider world of connections, desires and other people. Take Good Scare, this is a track about embracing the fears, and resultant bravery, that come with infatuation, as Torres explains, using a caving analogy, the superman crawl: “when certain passages are too narrow, a person has to hold one arm against the body and the other above the head, all while trying to crawl forward. When you fall in love with someone, it’s scary like the Superman’s crawl, but you have no choice but to keep moving forward even though you have no idea what’s ahead of you”.

Good Scare is Silver Tongue’s opening track, a sort of leap into the unknown, chasing your dreams, without any sort of back-up plan in place, “you might give me a good scare for a minute there, but I’ll say “Well, I’ve seen that look from you before”, when you start eyeing all the exits”. Musically too, this is a fine return; the dense primal pound of drums rattles around the headphones, contrasted with bright guitars, warm electronic tones and Mackenzie’s prominent, gently distorted vocal, as arrestingly wonderful as ever. A welcome return from one of the world’s most fascinating musical voices, Torres might just be the sound of 2020.

Performed by
Mackenzie Scott: vocals, guitar, synths, drum machines
Erin Manning: Moog, synths
J.R. Bohannon: pedal steel
Bryan Bisordi: drums

“Silver Tongue” is out January 21st via Merge Records. 

It isn’t like Katie Crutchfield to slow down. For the past 15 years, the 31-year-old artist has been a member of four different bands, starting with the Ackleys when she was still in high school. The moment one project ended, Crutchfield always seemed hard at work beginning a new one, churning out an endless quality of music with bands like Bad Banana, P.S. Eliot, and Great Thunder.

In 2017, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfeld quite literally blew the music world away. Her record Out in the Storm, one of the best albums of that year, displayed a whole new side of the singer. Gone were the fortified bedroom pop of 2015’s Ivy Tripp, the rock-tinged freak-folk musings of her 2013 stunner Cerulean Salt and the brainy lo-fi recordings of her 2012 debut American Weekend. Out in the Storm sounds like its title suggests: loud, windy, chaotic and emotionally intense—a tried-and-true breakup album and a throwback to Crutchfield’s punk roots. While she was already beloved among indie circles, that release took her to the next level—new fans, considerable press buzz, a massive tour starring her and her twin sister Allison.

But 2018 was different. Crutchfield had spent years trying to quit drinking, but after a raucous European tour with Waxahatchee, she decided to commit to the decision. “I was telling everyone around me, ‘I’m just gonna take a break,’” she says “Then in my head, I was like, ‘I am done.’”. “For a while, I completely didn’t recognize myself,” she continues. “When you’re in kind of a bad way on tour, there’s just nothing worse than going on stage.”

The decision was part of a larger plan to slow down in general. Where she used to rush to process her feelings through songwriting, Crutchfield now found herself pausing to take care of herself first, to use therapy to work through her emotions before considering them as material for her songs.

 

Crutchfield’s fifth album as Waxahatchee, is the result of Crutchfield taking that time to breathe. It’s an album about seeking security in relationships, whether they’re romantic or platonic. Throughout, there’s a beautiful simplicity to Crutchfield’s writing. “When you see me, I’m honey on a spoon,” she sings on “Can’t Do Much,” a folky love song built on big, strummed guitar. There are also moments of self-doubt and weakness, the kind that cuts right to the big questions that hang over relationships like storm clouds. “We can try to let the stillness be,” she states cautiously on “The Eye,” “But if I spin off, will you rescue me?”

I feel like in the past I’ve been like, ‘You’re doing this and you’re doing that,’ like—pointing the finger,” Crutchfield says, jabbing the air. “At times, that’s been important and good for me to do. But with this record, I’m really pointing the finger at myself, and loving my people unconditionally.

In the past, the music Crutchfield made as Waxahatchee was defined by a kind of jagged quality—her soft vocals offsetting a crunchy, wall-of-sound indie rock (“chaotic and claustrophobic,” is how she describes her last full-length, Out in the Storm). But there’s a startling clarity on Saint Cloud, which traffics in a minimalist, Americana sound that makes Crutchfield’s voice sound naked in comparison to her previous work. “[My producer] Brad Cook was like, ‘We follow your voice,’” Crutchfield says. “He would help me build songs around the way that I was strumming, the way that I was singing. That was the first time a producer had done that. In the past people were either not paying attention or trying to shape it.”

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That clarity is also the sound of Crutchfield settling into a genre she admits, to some extent, she’s been fighting her whole career: country music. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Crutchfield was raised on artists like Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn, and she emulated them as a child. But when she discovered punk as a teenager, she rejected country in a fit of textbook rebellion.

“I began to fight with those tendencies, and I think that resulted in some really cool music on my early records—fighting with my more traditional sounding voice or saccharine melodies,” she says. “But I’m kind of reaching this point where I’m like, no, this is a really big part of who I am. And it’s always been a part of the way I tell stories and the people who influenced my storytelling. It’s almost like this weird self-acceptance.” The way Dolly Parton wrote about frustrating relationships—what Crutchfield calls her “fun, jaunty” approach to them—influenced the song “Hell.” Borrowing some of Parton’s over-the-top intensity from songs like “Jolene,” Crutchfield sings: “I hover above like a deity, but you don’t worship me.” “I wanted to write a song that’s a little bit psycho,” Crutchfield says. “Everybody feels that way sometimes.”

Nostalgia for the music she grew up with soon became a kind of general nostalgia for the South. A Philadelphia resident for nearly eight years, Crutchfield decided she was going to move back to Alabama and buy a house. “Then I got to Birmingham and realized there were a million reasons why I left,” she says. She ended up settling in Kansas City after spending long stretches of time there with resident and boyfriend Kevin Morby. “I live such a relaxed life right now,” she says. “We have a sauna at our house,” she says, laughing.

Talking about Saint Cloud, it’s clear Crutchfield has completely retooled her relationship with music and touring. “In the past I’ve been a pusher, just kind of rushing and compromising a lot just to get it done,” she says. “I forced myself to slow down.”

Every time you make a record, you have a vision, but it’s a bit of a crapshoot how it’s actually going to turn out,” she says. “You just get on the bus and hope it gets you to your destination. And I’ve never hit the bullseye more than I did with this.”

Saint Cloud, Crutchfield’s fifth album under the Waxahatchee alias out Friday, March 27th on Merge Records

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