Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

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

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and night

 

Recorded across the year 2010 at Mana Recording Studios, St. Petersburg, Florida; Fidelitorium, Kernersville, North Carolina; Q Division, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Mission Sound, Brooklyn, New York

with: Bob Barrone – steel guitar / Yuval Semo – organ; piano on outer Scorpion Squadron / Yoed Nir – cello / Gillian Rivers – violin / all string arrangements by Yuval Semo / vocals on High Hawk Season arranged by Daniel Perry and performed by the North Mountain Singers: Daniel Roihl, Daniel Perry, and Darrick Yee

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Damn The Vampires, Prowl Great Cain, For Charles Bronson, and Never Quite Free produced and mixed by John Congleton; High Hawk Season produced and mixed by Brandon Eggleston; Birth of Serpents, The Autopsy Garland, Beautiful Gas Mask, and Sourdoire Valley Song produced by Erik Rutan and mixed by Brandon Eggleston; Estate Sale Sign, Age of Kings, Outer Scorpion Squadron, and Liza Forever Minnelli produced and mixed by Scott Solter

all song lyrics and music by John Darnielle

The Mountain Goats:
John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster

“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.

The track represents a somewhat different approach to writing for al, as they explain, “the song was a collection of lines and ideas I had for other songs…I started putting them together and it felt like creating a thrift store or pawn shop out of these ideas, so the song became about a pawnshop”. After an initial scepticism at its originality, Lauren Francis came to love the track, “at first I was like, damn this sounds like This Year by The Mountain Goats, but that’s a good thing. I wanted to make it our own…this has since become my favourite track because it’s so simple“.

Musically, like the best collaborations, this feels like the coming together of two musical worlds. Al’s background as an acoustic songwriter merges with Lauren’s contributions of guitar, piano, and, as she explains, after the pair debated the introduction of full- drums, “I added the bass drum loop just to give it some momentum”. The resultant track seems to exist in almost two different paces, al’s easy vocals and the meandering piano line seem to watch the world go round, while the prominent pulse of bass-drum throughout adds a certain urgency to proceedings.

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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).

Love is An Old Bullet will to some be a beautiful introduction, and to those who know already, a further reminder that the combination of Al and Lauren might just have made one of the year’s most compelling records.

“Bile and Bone” is out September 18th via Horse Complex Records

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. Roughly four months to the day that Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle dropped Songs For Pierre Chuvin, his first “boombox” LP since 2002, the songwriter’s back with a new Goats’ LP. Called “Getting Into Knives”, it’s described in a press release as “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.” We are those millions, readers. 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. 

The Mountain Goats have announced their new studio album Getting Into Knives. The LP arrives October 23rd via Merge Records and is led by the new single “As Many Candles as Possible.” Take a listen to that below. Getting Into Knives is the follow-up to April’s Songs for Pierre Chuvin, which John Darnielle recorded alone on his boombox.

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On New Year’s Day 2019, now a distant world away, Maggie Smith, author of “Good Bones,” tweeted a plotline for an imaginary buddy movie about a divorced woman driving around the US with her wedding dress, taking it all around the country. I thought to myself: what if she’s taking it to places she didn’t go when she was married, what if she’s showing her dress the life she didn’t live? I hunkered down and a couple hours later I’d written “Picture of My Dress.”

In March of 2020, also now a distant world away, we recorded the tune with Matt Ross-Spang at Sam Phillips Studio in Memphis. Playing on the track are the Mountain Goats John, Peter, Jon, and Matt — plus Bram Gielen and Chris Boerner for that extra sweetness. We were assisted in the studio by one hell of a nice guy named Matt Denham, who died unexpectedly this week and we are all torn up about it because he was a real one so I am sending this out to you, bud. Everybody else give an extra head-nod while you listen to the studio attaché with the gentle way, a song like this can only be the result of everybody in the room being on the same wavelength and his contribution was a special energy that this world will miss but the next one is presently richer for. Enjoy!,

Releases October 23rd, 2020

“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

Folk trio and a capella angels Mountain Man—aka Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath, Daughter of Swords’ Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Molly Sarlé have released a new live album called Look at Me Don’t Look at Me” recorded in November of 2018 at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. It contains songs from their 2018 studio album Magic Ship, as well as covers of Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife” and Michael Hurley’s “Blue Mountain,” which you can hear below.

The Look at Me Don’t Look at Me Tour was our first tour together in 10 years – it was a wild and magical ride and we are excited to share a live recording from a show we played at a beautiful verbed out church in Seattle! One of our favourite things in life is singing together to a bunch of people in a room. We hope this recording brings you some of the joy you may have been missing until the next time we can all be together.

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There are a lot of songs but also a lot of banter, and also a Fiona Apple cover, from Look At Me Don’t Look At Me, releases August 7th, 2020,

Image may contain: text that says 'MOUNTAIN MAN දදදෑද * LOOK AT ME DON'T LOOK AT ME Out now on Nonesuch Records'

Indie pop darlings Sylvan Esso have revealed they will drop their third album “Free Love” on September. 25th. Sylvan Esso is Amelia Randall Meath and Nick Sanborn. What started out in LA with Jon Hill and was finished back in North Carolina at Sylvan Esso’s home studio, Free Love asks major questions about self-image, self-righteousness, friendship, romance, and environmental calamity with enough warmth, playfulness, and magnetism to make you consider an alternate reality. These are Sylvan Esso’s most nuanced and undeniable songs—bold enough to say how they feel, big enough to make you join in that feeling.

“It’s a record about being increasingly terrified of the world around you and looking inward to remember all the times when loving other people seemed so easy, so that you can find your way back to that place,” the duo explained of the new LP in a press statement. This week, electronic duo Sylvan Esso announced their third studio album Free Love, out September. 25th via Loma Vista Recordings. Lead single “Ferris Wheel” is lush and bouncy—with synths keeping the song at a fun pace.

To give fans a taste of what to come, Sylvan Esso shared the lead single “Ferris Wheel” with the heat-wave appropriate opening lines, “August in the heat/ Sweaty in the street.”

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Releases September 25th, 2020