Posts Tagged ‘Polyvinyl Records’

Palehound Black Friday

The very first Palehound songs were acerbic and wired. They could be dark and ugly, even masochistic at times. “Vandalize my body if it helps you sleep soundly,” Ellen Kempner begs on one of her best early tracks. The music she was making back then matched that energy: knotted guitars dripping with sourness and slime. But as Kempner has grown up and settled down, her songs have become less nervy and more quietly assured. Black Friday, Palehound’s third full-length album, is her most accomplished yet. It trades in the slicing guitars that made Kempner so beloved for more pillowy arrangements that sound like something you could fall back on to keep warm. “I think I hate my body/ ‘Til it’s next to yours,” she sings instead here — something once accepting of harm now deserving of love.

Love abounds on Black Friday. At its center is a healthy partnership that feels like a safe bubble, one that isn’t liable to fade away any time soon. “Aaron,” one of Kempner’s most gorgeous songs, is about supporting her partner through his transition, and it’s filled with tender-hearted declarations of devotion that slide out into open air. “You live your life with your back turned to me/ Your body swaying, voice steady in stance,” she sings. “If shutting my mouth will help you/ Turn around, Aaron/ I can, I can, Aaron, I can.” Even more than the specific experience, “Aaron” is about learning how to be comfortable with what we’ve been given, about wanting to feel weightless in the face of life’s burden. “Rid of our bodies, come and float with me,” she beckons. It’s the happiest Kempner has ever sounded in her music, when she’s opening herself up to new forms of love.

Palehound’s last album, A Place I’ll Always Go, had happy songs like this, too, but they were tempered by songs about death. That album was written shortly after Kempner’s grandmother and a close friend passed away in quick succession, and a lot of those songs were dealing with the disconnect that comes with happiness arriving at the most inopportune time. But Black Friday accepts happiness as something that we’re entitled to, that everyone should feel regardless of their situation. “If there’s anything I learned while I was back in town/ It’s that nothing worth loving ever sticks around/ But you,” Kempner sings on the last lines of this album.

Her newfound stability allows her the opportunity for some perspective to explore devotion in all its forms. Some of the most impressive songs are about friendships and partnerships that didn’t work out. On the album’s title track, Kempner reflects on one such friendship where she constantly felt like an afterthought, but a mislaid sense of dedication kept her coming back for more. “I’ll take being the last one on your mind,” she sings. “Still squeeze me in, never cared about waiting on your line.” The album’s title comes from this clever barb: “You’re Black Friday and I’m going to the mall,” a reminder of our tendency to keep doing things that we know are bad for us, like keeping up the ties of an imbalanced friendship or stoking the memories of an old flame, like Kempner does on the anthemic “Stick N Poke.” There she adopts some of her clanging old-school dramatic flair for a shout-along chorus: “I think I’m due for a shitty tattoo! I only have these thoughts when I’m missing you!”

A good relationship will only get you so far away from your demons, though, and Kempner still falls into old patterns of negativity on Black Friday. Love isn’t a cure for self-consciousness and self-loathing. The feeling that you’re never going to be enough is pervasive, that expectation that the worst will happen never really goes away. On “Worthy,” she pokes at that old wound of unworthiness: “I text you late at night/ I’m in the motel bathroom/ Staring at my thighs.” But Kempner leans into that fear, using it to remind herself of how far she’s come already. “At the thought of losing you/ My muscles hum familiar tunes/ And curl me to a naked ball/ Wet on our shower floor/ How do I unfurl from here?” she sings on the album’s closing track. But the difference between then and now is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of another half that understands where you’re coming from and accepts you for who you are.

Black Friday’s central visual motif is a plush puppet mask (created by Gaudmother) that’s featured on the album’s cover art and recurs in its music videos. In the one for “Aaron,” we see this puppet before it assumes its final form. It’s rough-looking, covered in lint and muck, a gigantic outer protective layer that ends up being shed as it runs wildly through the streets, emerging into a cozy and lovable Muppet-like creature, delightful in its awkwardness. Kempner achieves a similar transformation with this album. Her gnarled guitar lines have given way to soft-focus serenity, warm keys stemming the anxiety that once threatened to envelop her. Her bitter edge has opened up to vulnerability and light.

Black Friday is out 6/7 via Polyvinyl Records.

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This week Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) announced a new album, Anak Ko, and shared its first single, “Superbike,” via a video for the track. She has also announced some tour dates.

For “Superbike,” Duterte’s aim was to merge Cocteau Twins and Alanis Morissette for a song that in a press release she says lets “loose over swirling shoegaze. I came up with the vocal melody while chopping onions during a rare snowstorm in Joshua Tree, definitely one of my favorite memories from making the album.”

Anak Ko is the follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed Everybody Works, also on Polyvinyl Records . Duterte was based in the Bay Area, but relocated to Los Angeles prior to recording the new album. She recorded Anak Ko at home as the sole producer, engineer, and mixer. A press points out that “in some songs, you can hear the washer/dryer near her bedroom.” Although it wasn’t a completely solitary affair, the album also features plenty of guests, including Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko, Chastity Belt’s Annie Truscott, Justus Proffit, and Boy Scouts’ Taylor Vick, as well as her touring bandmates Zachary Elasser, Oliver Pinnell, and Dylan Allard.

The album’s title is pronounced “Ah-nuh Koh,” which means “my child” in Filipino. It was inspired by a text message from Duterte’s mother, who often addresses her as “anak ko.” “It’s an endearing thing to say, it feels comfortable,” Duterte says in a press release.

In the press release Duterte says the album is about the importance of patience and kindness and that those concepts have helped her growth as an artist. “In order to change, you’ve got to make so many mistakes,” she says. “What’s helped me is forcing myself to be even more peaceful and kind with myself and others. You can get so caught up in attention, and the monetary value of being a musician, that you can forget to be humble. You can learn more from humility than the flashy stuff. I want kindness in my life. Kindness is the most important thing for this job, and empathy.”.

Back in February Jay Som shared a brand new song, “Simple,” that was released as part of the Adult Swim Singles series. That song is not featured on the new album. Last year Jay Som teamed up with Justus Proffit for a collaborative EP, Nothing’s Changed.

“Superbike” is taken from Jay Som’s new album, Anak Ko, out August 23rd, 2019. via Polyvinyl. 

The Dodo’s have shared a brand new song, “The Surface.” The stand alone single is out today via Polyvinyl Records. Singer/guitarist Meric Long had this to say about the song in a press release: “Back in the fall after finishing our first tour in what seemed like ages, a bunch of ideas that were floating around seemed to converge, and this song ‘The Surface’ is the first result of that. For those guitar nerds out there, I recently acquired a Recording King parlor guitar, it doesn’t look like much on paper but it is magical and I am squeezing it like a life raft through the next batch of songs. Perhaps it is age, or just compounded cynicism, but there is an overwhelming gratitude that I feel when any small bit of inspiration sheds it’s light, and the path ahead seems relatively clear.”

Band Members
Meric Long, Logan Kroeber

The Dodos released a new album, Certainty Waves, last year via Polyvinyl. The band also features percussionist Logan Kroeber.

“The Surface” is the new single from The Dodos, out everywhere March 29th, 2019.

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American Football have just released a new single, “Uncomfortably Numb,” ahead of their forthcoming third album, American Football (LP3). This newest track features accompanying vocals from Hayley Williams of Paramore, who pops up on the impending album’s tracklist alongside Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell. LP3, due out March 22n via Polyvinyl Records, is the band’s second release since their 2014 reunion, and offers a contrast from their previous records. Notably, the album will not feature cover photography of the Urbana, Ill., home that has appeared on the band’s previous album covers so famously as to spark fan pilgrimages and photo ops. Rather, the band has opted for imagery (still by photographer Chris Strong) of Urbana’s misty hillsides. This conscious visual break signals American Football’s move in a bolder, more unfamiliar direction.

“Uncomfortably Numb,” featuring Hayley Williams, is taken from American Football’s third self-titled album, out March 22nd, 2019.

Band Members
Steve Holmes,
Mike Kinsella,
Steve Lamos,
Nate Kinsella,

 

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David Bazan’s been reliably releasing music and touring under his own name for nearly a decade; his most recent record, Care, came out last year. But before that, he was Pedro the Lion. He retired the name in November 2005, and after that, it felt off-limits: For Bazan, that designation belonged to a band, even if he was its only constant. Although Bazan was writer, arranger and principle player on all the Pedro the Lion records, he performed with a full band on tour. His self-titled material, however – whether recent synth-based pop experiments or acoustic reflections on big-picture questions – was often played solo.

“Yellow Bike,” the first single from Phoenix.The song begins with Bazan recollecting a childhood Christmas scene in his warm, worn tone. The titular gift under the tree makes his heart race, a kick drum thump animating the excitement. Over insistent bass and ascending guitar, he connects those childhood bike rides to an adulthood on the road. Its lived-in video, rendered in washed colors and grainy textures .

For both fans and Bazan himself, there was a sense of resolution in the reclamation and return to that name, which explains the excitement last year when he announced a handful of Pedro the Lion tour dates, a full U.S. tour. And now, there’s Phoenix, the first new Pedro the Lion record in 15 years. Out January 18th, Bazan recorded the album joined by Erik Walters on backing guitar and vocals and Sean Lane on drums.

Phoenix comes out January. 18th via Polyvinyl Records.

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Sydney rock trio Phantastic Ferniture released their self-titled debut album this summer via Polyvinyl Records and it’s so freaking good that you’ll be willing to forgive their crimes against the English language in their band name. Across the album’s nine tracks, the band excels with their danceable garage-pop and indie-rock, and frontwoman Julia Jacklin’s charismatic lead vocals will please fans of retro pop songs, modern rock and even the blues and folk crowds as the remnants of her past folk music endeavors still reverberate in her voice. On “Dark Corner Dance Floor,” Jacklin’s swaggering vocals call to mind a badass Western film, and her voice is hypnotizing enough to convince you to steal a muscle car for her and drive away victoriously into the desert sunset.

It’s an annual tradition for Polyvinyl Records to host a SXSW showcase, but this year we’re more excited than ever because we’re teaming up with stellar Brooklyn-based label Double Double Whammy!
We’ll be partying with our new friends from dusk till dawn at Cheer Up Charlie’s, with performances from Jeff Rosenstock (his only SXSW appearance!), White Reaper, Post Animal, Anna Burch, Hovvdy, Hatchie, and Lomelda.
This is also a great time to announce that PV and DDW have officially partnered up–with PV lending a hand in distribution, mailorder, and more–so stay tuned for many exciting things to come!

“Over the past few years, several of us at Polyvinyl have been fans of Double Double Whammy,” says PV co-founder, Matt Lunsford. “Last year when we met Mike and started discussing a partnership, the connection was immediate – DDW has a strong independent sprint and a passion for working together with artists they believe in.”

If you’re not familiar with Double Double Whammy, catalouge do yourself a favor and check out their incredible roster and catalog of releases!

Anna Burch is an anxious person,. the former Frontier Ruckus and Failed Flowers member sounds overwhelmed by everything that goes into releasing a solo album. Aside from writing every song on Quit the Curse, the singer/songwriter also handles the business side of the project.

“Every time I open my socials I’m so overwhelmed by how many notifications there are,” she says with a nervous laugh. “It’s been a little source of anxiety, for sure.” When it comes to the record itself, though, Burch was not by herself. With the help of producer Paul Cherry and engineer Collin Dupuis, along with numerous studio musicians, she was backed by a strong team. But the album is still hers, and for a woman who’s used to putting out records with bands, it’s a little intimidating.

“I’m feeling more vulnerable,” she admits. “[Quit the Curse is] under my name and my words and choices are being scrutinized—even though, of course, it was a collaborative effort. Other people helped make the record and played on the record, but it’s still under my name and any criticism is going to be completely directed at me.”

Fortunately, the album’s initial responses have been nothing but positive, and for that Burch is thankful. “I’m really overwhelmed by all the positive responses,” she says humbly. “It’s more than I expected—it feels great.”

That feeling is more than deserved; Burch’s musical journey has been a long one. From becoming a touring musician at the age of eighteen to getting burnt out and quitting music altogether to focus on grad school, her adult life has been a whirlwind. She’s dealt with toxic relationships, family drama, and substance abuse, and moved forward from it all. And despite being relatively new to the world of writing her own music, the Detroiter is pretty damn good at creating what she likes to call “bummer pop”—music that juxtaposes buoyant instrumentation with heavy subject matter.

“Thinking about writing those songs in a very melancholic, singer/songwriter way doesn’t seem cathartic or helpful to me,” she explains. “I wanted to make music that made me happy and that I would want to listen to.”

Seeing Alvvays for the first time, without knowing anything about the band, also helped Burch realize the direction she wanted to take her music. “I was pretty blown away,” she gushes. “And I think seeing that kind of band—electric guitars, drums, vocals—it struck me very deeply. So I was kind of like, ‘Yeah, I think I want a pop rock band backing up [my] songs.’ It was so elating, but also very emotional.”

Writing about hard times is also a therapeutic exercise for Burch. “I try to dig back into what I was feeling, and it kind of feels like there’s this weird split mentally,” she recalls. “It’s hard to tap back into that stuff in some ways, and critically think about the emotions and writing process.” And when she hits the stage, she feels that release even more. “It’s still fun performing [the songs],” she says. “I feel like I’m able to emote properly onstage without getting lost in this reverie of being overwhelmed by emotions. I think writing the songs really did the work of helping step back and be able to look in from almost an outsider’s perspective.”

Since the move to Detroit, Burch has put the past behind her. After a “messy” adjustment period, her life has slowed down a bit. “I stay in a lot—I have a steady partner that I’ve been with for three years,” she says, with a sense of peace. “Things are very different.”

So what will the future bring for Anna Burch? “I’m hoping to tour this record really hard and then get to a point where I can make the best record I can the next time around,”she says—and it’s easy to cheer her on.

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Anna Burch is an indie pop singer-songwriter working out of Detroit. Years ago, she was the front of a band called Failed Flowers, and she had been in other bands, but she took some time away from music to go to grad school. After that, she moved to Detroit and started a solo career. She got a big break when she was spotted by fellow Michigander Fred Thomas, who was once a member of His Name is Alive, and was also the front of the indie pop band Saturday Looks Good to Me. Thomas has also put out a few solo records and contributed to dozens of albums across many genres. As the story goes, he sent her demo to Polyvinyl Records with a note that said “This is not a drill. You need to hear this”. They liked it, and they quickly signed her. Her debut album “Quit the Curse” will be out on February 2nd

This has all happened very quickly. Thomas sent the demos in the summer of 2017. She had a bunch of songs written, and she had also caught the ear of Collin Dupuis, who has mixed records by Angel Olsen, Mynabirds, The Black Keys, Grant-Lee Phillips, and many others. He helped her fine-tune those songs, and the end result is Quit the Curse. Only six months passed from the time Thomas said “listen to this” to the time Polyvinyl said “We’re putting this record out”. They announced the signing in late October and started promoting the album in November. I’ve been getting emails about a couple of the songs, and with the release date just a couple of weeks away, it’s time.
Some say she sounds like the brilliant no-fucks-given mid-90s indie rock of Liz Phair. Some people say she’s like Courtney Barnett. I get that, but I hear other things like the precision, power and punk-lite beauty of That Dog combined with the gritty and angular but silky smoothness of Julie Doiron. Boil all of that down, add a dash of Mitski, and I get Anna Burch. I love all of her songs that I’ve heard, but I love this one the most:

“Tea-Soaked Letter” is taken from Anna Burch’s debut album Quit the Curse, out 2/2/18.

jay som everybody works Top 50 Albums of 2017

Jay Som is the project of 23-year-old Melina Duterte, who has been creating music for the past 10 years or so on a multitude of instruments, from guitar to trumpet. Though she played every instrument on her newest record Everybody Works, her touring band here at the Tiny Desk gave a rougher edge to some of the more premeditated sounds on her wonderful album. Multiple-instrumentalist Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som) rode her production and recording acumen on debut LP, Turn Into, to a deal with indie major label Polyvinyl for Everybody Works.

Of the three songs they chose to bring to the Tiny Desk, one was a personal favorite from Everybody Works: “The Bus Song,” which is a perfect swirl of stream-of-consciousness: In what can only be described as bedroom maximalism, Duterte dug her lyrics into the granular, banalities of existence and aimed her production at expansive soundscapes. On “The Bus Song”, Duterte sings, “I can be whoever I want to be,” and that’s exactly who she is on Everybody Works.

It’s lyrics on this, alongside the comfy, no-frills directness of Duterte’s delivery, which make Jay Som feel so welcoming and refreshing. “Everybody Works” is available now:

Setlist;
“The Bus Song”
“Baybee”
“I Think You’re Alright”

Musicians
Melina Duterte (vocals, guitar); Oliver Pinnell (guitar); Zachary Elsasser (drums); Dylan Allard (bass)