Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.

The Mountain Goats released this live collection, The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 And 2, on Bandcamp today via Merge Records. The recordings come from a pair of virtual concerts the band conducted at Manifold Recording in Pittsboro, North Carolina in August of last year.

The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 And 2 follow The Mountain Goats’ 2020 studio release, “Getting Into Knives”, which arrived in October. The new live collection — featuring John Darnielle (vocals, guitar, piano), Peter Hughes (bass), Matt Douglas (keyboards, guitar, saxophone, piano) and Jon Wurster (drums) — contains 36 carrer-spanning songs the band recorded over the course of two virtual concerts on NoonChorus, which became one of the livestream platform’s highest-attended online concerts to date.

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Mountain Goats mastermind John Darnielle detailed

Like a lot of bands, we thought, we have to figure out some way to play together, it is unnatural for us to not be playing together, it feels weird and wrong, and it also feels weird and wrong to not be playing for the people who dig what we do, that is a huge part of who we are, it’s a circuit, you know, an energy transfer, it’s the coolest thing and we’re lucky to have it and then the pandemic came in to remind us just how lucky. And also there’s the I-try-not-to-be-talking-about-this-stuff issue of how playing live is our paycheck, it is how we make ends meet, it’s the gig. So we booked a studio that had cameras, and I put together a couple of set lists, and we played two shows in two days and then we put the shows up on sale; and the Mountain Goats Massive showed up, in truly humbling numbers, and the whole groove felt really emotional for us—and, it seemed to me, for the audience, too. There is an immense loss for me in this time away from the stages and rooms which are, in many ways for us, home. I miss the people who bring our music to life, so much.

And so a lot of people, like a lot, in the chat during the show, and in various @’s across social media, said, Hey buddy, what if there were a live release of some kind, I’d buy that, and I thought, well, cool, I’ll look into it; and we did indeed do that, and here it is, but I wanted to make it “pay what you like” on release day: because you people who already paid to see these shows, you are the people who literally put food in our children’s mouths this year. If you feel like you’re done paying for these shows, then we are cool with that, zero pressure. But!! if you’re in good shape, and your own job has figured out a way to let you report to the workplace in 2020, and you’re in a position to pay for these shows, then we are deeply grateful, it has been pretty harrowing to be banned from all clubs for a whole year. The news on the wire however is that a vaccine is coming which will unban us from clubs around the world, and, friends, when that viral ban is lifted, please know that there will be few places to hide from the Mountain Goats. We will rock them in the steel towns, and in the coastal towns, too; and on the cities of the plains, and in the oases of the desert, lo, we shall rock them, and then rock them even harder, at serious Deep Purple levels of rocking, the head-nodding, hair-flying style, at which many will say, I have been rocked, and indeed I wondered if my time of rocking were past, but it has returned this day with gale force. May that day speed hither with all due haste! Finally, if you are a reclusive Howard Hughes type reading these words, and thinking, What if “pay what you like” means I just throw an absurd amount of money at the Mountain Goats, well, friend, we’re glad to meet you. Please be assured that your gesture will be met by JD with similarly absurd gestures, as for example fulfilling his dream of commissioning a translation of the book Elfriede Jelinek got the Nobel for, but which still hasn’t been published in English twenty years later, for crying out loud.

Anyway that’s the news! Here’s two shows! We’re proud of them! If you wanna pay us for ’em, we won’t complain! We will see you next year!

Released December 4th, 2020

John Darnielle – vocals, guitar, piano
Peter Hughes – bass
Matt Douglas – keyboards, guitar, saxophone, piano
Jon Wurster – drums

Recorded live in studio at Manifold Recording in Pittsboro, NC, on August 8th & 9th, 2020

Bowerbirds a folk trio, now the recording project of North Carolina singer-songwriter Phil Moore has announced its first new album since 2012. It’s titled “becalmyounglovers” and it arrives April 30th via Psychic Hotline. The new full-length follows a pair of EPs that were released last year, 2020 Singles and Azaleas. Bowerbirds’ last album “The Clearing” marked the band’s final recording with Beth Tacular, Moore’s ex–romantic and artistic partner. The two had a child together prior to the band’s split, as Moore explained in a statement last year. The new album is about his processing of the end of that long-term relationship.

Here’s what they say about it:
“Hi there. I’m pleased to share that the new Bowerbirds record (and first Bowerbirds album since 2012!) will be out on April 30th. We’re also doing a special limited run of the violet swirl vinyl, which will come with a signed poster of the cover artwork. The new single “Moon Phase” is out everywhere now, along with a music video I made.

I wrote and recorded becalmyounglovers in bits across six years, with help from a lot of friends, including Matt McCaughan, Alex Bingham, and Libby Rodenbough, with additional group vocals by Chessa Rich, Joseph Terrell, and Wood Robinson. Drums were recorded by Ari Picker at Goth Construction Studio, and the record was mixed and mastered by Zach Hansen at April Base out in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I can’t wait for you to hear the whole thing. In the meantime, you can watch/listen/pre-order at the link in my bio.”

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Releases April 30th, 2021

Al Riggs is back today with the new single “American Pencil” off of his upcoming album “I Got A Big Electric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep” from the opening notes there is a sense that this song is going to be full of dread. Those guitar chords are full of doom, the organ that comes in is haunting, and the drums are powerful. Al’s thoughts on what an artist is in today’s world are biting and stick with you long after you’ve listened to the track.

There is a big, honking, humming box fan in the bedroom of our barely-insulated century-old Durham house. Like most meaningless noise, it is white.

Noisier than this fan are the earworms that pervade the space. They’re in the walls, the floorboards, and even the couch cushions. The earworms–let’s call them Strum, Kick, and Wail–nest in our second bedroom: a de facto recording studio. I try not to interrupt the work. But upon hearing the demos for piano-powered “America’s Pencil” and the rhythmically elusive “Emo Revival,” I kicked the door in and, wearing little more than a handful of shaving cream, proclaimed “that’s the hit!” But they knew that already.

Al speaking about the song: “This is a song about being delusional and in your twenties and thinking you’re discovering poetic bitterness for the very first time. You sort of make every single thing in your life interesting for the sake of hopefully putting it in a song one day. Eventually some people learn that no one really cares about the sandwich you ate or the girl at the bookstore with the cool hair, and then some people just write ‘Universal Themes’.”

Those we know and/or love are present and accounted for. A.C. Niver’s pure tones make “Wishing and Clapping” a Three Stooges-esque harmonic casserole while Chuck Johnson’s pedal-steel witchery makes “Blighted By the Light” as dreamlike and borderless as a Carolina Country Night. Neither queer nor country enough in their own right, Al booked two of the gayest fabric samples in the business Patrick “Lavender Country” Haggerty and Paisley Fields to plug up the holes in “Ragged But Right.”

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Like shuffled pages from random chapters of a yet-to-be-finished novel about being an old queer married couple (in our 20s and 30s yet), the sonic scraps have been dropping clues to what was to come: I Got A Big Electric Fan to Keep Me Cool While I Sleep

Releases April 2nd, 2021

Merge Records is an independent record label based in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1989 by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan. It began as a way to release music from their band Superchunk and music created by friends, and has expanded to include artists from around the world and records reaching the top of the Billboard music charts.

We live in North Carolina, where a racist Republican legislature has worked for a generation to undermine democracy through unprecedented voter suppression. Our neighbours in Georgia have successfully fought back, through the efforts of Fair Fight and other organizations. The voters who turned Georgia blue in November can now elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, take back power in the Senate, and make true progress possible in this country.

The Merge Records artists on this comp came together quickly, recording in various quarantine situations, to pay tribute to their favourite artists from Georgia, or maybe just record their favourite songs with “Georgia” in the title, and to support those working hard in Georgia to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

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Released December 4th, 2020

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

Merge Records is an independent record label based in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1989 by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan. It began as a way to release music from their band Superchunk and music created by friends, and has expanded to include artists from around the world and records reaching the top of the Billboard music charts.

We live in North Carolina, where a racist Republican legislature has worked for a generation to undermine democracy through unprecedented voter suppression. Our neighbours in Georgia have successfully fought back, through the efforts of Fair Fight and other organizations. The voters who turned Georgia blue in November can now elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, take back power in the Senate, and make true progress possible in this country.

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The Merge artists on this comp came together quickly, recording in various quarantine situations, to pay tribute to their favourite artists from Georgia, or maybe just record their favourite songs with “Georgia” in the title, and to support those working hard in Georgia to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

“Azaleas” is the sound of Bowerbirds’ Phil Moore wrestling with uncertainty; it’s a succinct examination of how Bowerbirds’ hopefulness endures, in spite of itself. Written and recorded in just a few weeks at Moore’s North Carolina home during quarantine, on these songs, Bowerbirds’ subtle, tender folk rails against capitalism and complacency, rippling with the frustration of wanting to push back against the world at large.

Like Bowerbirds earlier 2020 EP, Endless Chase: 2020 Singles, Azaleas mines Moore’s memories for inspiration – but here, that collides sharply with existential malaise. These six songs exist in the strange, stark chasm between the dread of the present and the warmth of nostalgia, teetering between now and then.

The bookends of Azaleas contain Moore’s thesis in its purest form. Opener “Home Wrecker” unfolds with him wondering, What’s it all worth in the end? As long as there’s lives left, there’s lives left to waste, trying to push back against the weight of how fucked we all are. But by the end, he’s come back around –closer “No One Left in the Garden,” written for Moore’s son, is sanguine and inherently forward-looking. He’s buoyed by his faith in the person his son is becoming, and how he seems better off with handling hardships than his father. It’s like leaving places better than we found them –it’s the cyclical nature of how and why we come around to believe in the future again, even when the odds seem against it.

The new Bowerbirds EP ‘Azaleas’ is out everywhere now, along with the lyric video and visuals I made for “Home Wrecker.” I wrote and recorded all of the songs on this EP during a just few weeks at home during this unprecedented time… Including some 4am drum tracking (sorry, neighbours.) This is an EP about feeling frustrated with the world at large and not knowing how to push back against it. It’s also about finding hope, in spite of everything.

Home Wrecker” from the new EP by Bowerbirds, Azaleas, out now on Psychic Hotline. released October 30th, 2020

There’s nothing like a near-fatal car accident for resetting a person’s perspective. Two years ago, not long after the release of Mipso’s fourth album, Edges Run, three members of the indie-Americana quartet—vocalist and guitarist Joseph Terrell, vocalist and fiddle player Libby Rodenbough, and touring drummer Yan Westerlund—got in a car accident that left Terrell bloodied on the asphalt. Their new record Mipso puts Terrell front and centre for the most part but accords more space to Rodenbough, mandolinist Jacob Sharp, and bassist Wood Robinson, the chief players in the North Carolina four-piece.

Even when they’re on lead, they share the spotlight with their peers, which means that harmony takes on the fullest meaning of the word over the course of the album. Terrell, Rodenbough, Sharp and Robinson sing in accordance with each other, sure, but they’re also singing about their collective shock and grief at having come so close to suffering losses, whether from breaking up or losing their lives.

Jacob: “Hourglass” is about shedding the imposed expectations of life we all carry and what it means to arrive at a destination you had convinced yourself you needed to go and find the same emptiness you were surrounded by on the journey to get there. More about getting off a treadmill than finishing a race. On this album I hoped we would collaborate and write together in a different way than we had previously. This song represents that process and accomplishment so well. I had a verse and a howl and knew I needed help stitching it all together. Libby had a chorus, Joseph quickly found a second verse, and Wood and Yan settled into a groove that brought it to a sonic territory we hadn’t been together before. And it all gave more meaning to the nuggets of the song than I knew it to have on my own. Joseph: I love when two totally separate ideas fit together unexpectedly. Not like puzzle pieces, which were made for each other, but in the way two ingredients create a new flavour.

Sometimes one person’s song is just one taste, and it needs someone else’s idea to gain some context, to allow some tension between the two of them, to pose a question. Libby: This song began as an experiment, combining an orphan verse Jacob had written and an orphan chorus I had kicking around. The verse was about the frantic feeling of always trying to beat the clock; the chorus was about realizing the things you were once striving for don’t exist anymore, or maybe they never did. It occurred to us that these two somewhat converse kinds of unease often go together: our anxiety about running out of time morphs into an anxiety about “the times.” Both our sections of song lent themselves to an uptempo pop groove, which felt appropriate for the kind of electric paranoia in the lyrics, though it was somewhat unfamiliar territory for the band. Wood and Yan fell into that groove very naturally, and the rest of the band fell in behind them.

For nearly three decades under the Mountain Goats moniker, John Darnielle has been honing his craft as a songwriter and story-teller, shifting from those early direct-to-boombox recordings to elaborate concept albums about Professional Wrestling and Dungeons & Dragons, and generally finding a way to do whatever he wants. His latest project manifests in the new album, 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”. The album was laid to tape in the legendary Sam Phillips Recordings studio, an attempt to capture the spirit of the touring show that has blossomed with their current four-piece band.

The album will arrive on Merge at the end of next month, and this week they’ve shared the latest single from it, Get Famous.

While anyone who has even cast a flitting eye in the direction of The Mountain Goats’ music will probably realise, the thought of actually getting famous has never been top of their to-do-list. Instead here the idea is presented like acid in John’s mouth, spitting out his words at fame hungry stars, “light up the sky like a comet, make yourself want to vomit, shine like a cursed star, show everybody exactly who you are”. He even throws in a reference to Wesley Willis, the cult singer-songwriter, diagnosed with schizophrenia who was in some ways the antithesis of fame itself, to the point he was noted for greeting his fans with a headbutt. Like most of the best moments of The Mountain Goats, the playful lyricism is combined with some genuinely fabulous music, here they seem to channel the spirit of The Swampers or the Spacebomb House Band, combining virtuoso musical talent with a sense of undeniable fun, from the howling organ to the bright brass flourishes, surely destined for choreographed performances once you’re allowed enough people on a stage at one time. A band who know exactly what they’re doing and are at the top of their game, The Mountain Goats might never have sounded better, let’s just hope for their sake they don’t get famous because of it.

The day I wrote this song I knew the wait to share it would be excruciating AND IT HAS BEEN but today! is! the! day! across all platforms right now! Get Famous!. John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.

“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.” – Brooklyn Vegan

“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

Limited Edition salmon vinyl, tapes, and pins are almost sold out,

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releases October 23, 2020

RECORDED AT
Sam Phillips Recording, Memphis, Tennessee March 1–6th, 2020

John Darnielle: vocals, guitars, piano
Peter Hughes: electric and upright bass
Matt Douglas: keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, accordion, backing vocals
Jon Wurster: drums and percussion

JOINED FOR THE OCCASION BY
Bram Gielen: piano, guitars, keyboards
Chris Boerner: guitars
Charles Hodges: Hammond B-3
Sam Shoup: Mellotron
Tom Clary: horns
Reba Russell: backing vocals
Susan Marshall: backing vocals

“Bile and Bone” is the new album from songwriter al Riggs and guitar annihilator Lauren Francis.

Two years in the making, and in between countless side-projects, singles, side-albums, and a premiere at Hopscotch Music Festival 2019, Al and Lauren recorded this nine-song album in two different New York apartments, an apartment in Durham, a house on the other side of Durham, and additional recording in yet another house on yet another side of Durham.

Produced by Francis and mixed/mastered by Alli Rogers (recently an engineer on Bon Iver’s “i,i”), Bile and Bone is a culmination of familiar themes and tropes in Riggs’ songwriting (horror movie monsters, queer politics, puns) taffy-pulled into a widescreen format by Francis’ production and arrangement. Swaths of strings and electric piano are cut through by chunky acoustic guitar that sometimes teeters on the intrusive. Flirtations with soft rock (“Werewolf”) motorik pop (“Boyfriend Jacket”) and Eno-esque ambient balladry (“Apex Twin”) sit snugly against the ghosts of Fahey (“Dying Bedmaker Variations”) and the dust-clogged remnants of a pawnshop (“Love Is An Old Bullet”).

The title track is a shuffling climax of held-back fury, summarizing the overall air of the album with volatile lyricism (“I should not be in a place/where I am on my knees each night/praying for my leaders/to be shot down on sight”) with classic pop harmonies provided by Rook Grubbs (Vaughn Aed).

The end result is a patchwork of beauty with claw marks. Possibly cat, possibly wolf-person, definitely lovely.

“At the very end of the opening track, a sound is heard, a warped deviation, and you might, for a moment, think that it was Satan. Not the Satan our parents’ parents rejected in recordings, but rather a new, much improved Satan 2.0, leading by example of sensitivity and risky business, no longer mutually exclusive. Do not fear it. Give in and go forth and enjoy.”
-Adam Schatz (Landlady, expert on Satans)

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“It is their best and most compelling record yet, Riggs singing songs about self-realization during a moment that badly wants to beat you into preordered shapes, delivered with both tenderness and intensity over matching acoustic picking. A work of clarity and reckoning, it is the album that Riggs has been building toward for this busy past half-decade.”

Released September 18th, 2020

BIle and Bone is an album by Al Riggs and Lauren Francis

All words by al Riggs
All music by Al Riggs and Lauren Francis