Posts Tagged ‘Saddle Creek Records’

Listen to Stef Chura’s rowdy, rousing new single “Method Man”

It’s been two years since Michigan’s Stef Chura burst out with her contagious debut LP, Messes. That album was written way back in 2015, long before the Trump presidency and the universe as a whole gave the title an extra edge. So maybe it’s the impending sense of disaster and permacrisis of the past four years that’s led Chura to the freneticism of “Method Man,” the first single from her newly announced Saddle Creek Records debut, Midnight (out June 7th). A pared-down, scratchy, borderline chaotic single — closer to the Two Gallants end of the Saddle Creek roster than the Bright Eyes end, but more freewheeling than either — “Method Man” is a look back at a superior-feeling, over-caffeinated, nicotine-addled man from Chura’s past, by way of Wu-Tang Clan. The song sounds as much like the man’s psyche as it sounds like Chura’s anxiety in his presence.

In a press release accompanying the single, Chura remembered that frustration:

A long time ago I was pondering the literal words “Method Man” while listening to Wu-Tang. There was a person in my life that I had a confusing array of emotions for, sometimes I was in love with him, I admired and looked up to him, I thought of him as superior to me. He was older than me and I was a teenager. At that age I experienced a titanic amount of anxiety that usually expressed itself as silence.

This song was born out of a total frustration regarding a man who seemed “methodical” to me. He was literate. He waxed poetic. Almost someone…how do I say this…that you wanted to be condescending to you? As long as they were talking to you. He drank a lot of energy drinks and had this overall outlook that no one understood him. That he was in on some kind of cosmic secret that I couldn’t get. He smoked so many cigs it stained his fingers yellow.

He was always talking, and I was so enamored with this person. I was always nervous to reply. He would go on and on for hours. He sometimes would look at me and be like “oh maybe you won’t get this…. maybe you don’t get this.” I was too terrified to say much.

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We’re honored to premiere the video for the achingly beautiful and poignant new single from Kevin Morby’s guitarist  Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, taken from their stellar forthcoming LP “Placeholder”, coming soon on Saddle Creek Records. Directed + edited by Vanessa Haddad, the vid stars Meg as a vampire who ponders the painfully real possibility that we’re all cursed with certain deep-seated familial patterns that we’ll never be able to shake.

Meg has never had a problem flooring us with devastating lyrical turns of phrase (the opening line from Hand Habits’ debut LP immediately comes to mind), and the profoundly articulated and relatable conceit at the center of “Can’t Calm Down”  “what if I can’t calm down and i don’t have that in my bloodline?” — is a heartbreaking reflection on what Meg refers to as “ancestral damage”:

“this song took the longest lyrically for me to finish. i started it about 3 years ago and kept it in progress throughout different cycles of feeling. ‘ancestral damage’ and learned behaviors and conditioning to react/hold and place certain emotions are patterns i’m interested in taking part and understanding better. what can one do with rage? with pain? with sadness? and is it is possible to learn how to wipe away completely the knee jerk reactions to situations that are buried deep in one’s dna? and the role models that taught us how to behave, whether directly or residually…are they the ones who should be held responsible or is memory partially to blame?”

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As productive as screaming into the void can be, sometimes the most effective way to air grievances is simply with a sigh. Meg Duffy, who has been the longtime lead guitarist for The Kevin Morby Band, switched her focus to Hand Habits in 2017. Duffy’s second album, “Placeholder”, leads off with the title track, a soft yet scathing lamentation of being secondary.

“If you’ve ever held someone’s seat in a theater, if you’ve been a bench warmer, if you’ve ever placed a reserved sign on top of a tablecloth, if you’ve been an ‘extra’ or a ‘stand in’ for something, you’ve experienced what being a placeholder feels like to some extent. You observe,” Duffy says.

The song wearily recounts the age-old story of being someone’s fallback, with Duffy growing more frustrated throughout the song. Additional vocals from Hannah Read (Lomelda) and wry guitar build, until the narrative is flipped — the agitator is now the proxy.

The Hand Habits project emerged after Meg moved to Los Angeles; it started as a private songwriting outlet but soon evolved into a fully-fledged band with Meg at the helm. Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), was released by Woodsist Records in 2017. The LP was entirely self-produced and recorded in Meg’s home during spare moments when they weren’t touring. Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is a lush, homespun collection of folk songs that found Meg in an exploratory state as an artist moving out on their own for the first time.
Two years later, Hand Habits has returned with their sophomore album, placeholder, due out March 1st on Saddle Creek. To make this album, Meg chose to work in a studio and bring in collaborators, entrusting them with what had previously been a very personal creative process. Over the course of 12 tracks, Meg emerges with new confidence as both a bandleader and singer. This album is as tender and immediate as anything Meg’s ever written, but it’s also intensely focused and refined, the work of a meticulous musician ready to share their singular vision with the world.

Hand HabitsPlaceholder from the album Placeholder

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With the release of breakthrough albums “Masterpiece” and “Capacity”, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has established hers as one of the most powerful voices in music.

Thanks to ongoing ascent of Big Thief, singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker has become one of the most praised indie folk artists of the last five years.” while her output with Big Thief is what brought her music to the attention of most who hold her in such high regard, masterpiece is not the beginning of the story. “my first solo record i made was Hours Were the Birds,” Lenker explains. “I moved to New York and, starting from complete scratch, had nothing to show anybody that was representing what i did, other than stuff i made when i was 13. so, I decided I should record a solo album of my songs that i had been accumulating.”

in 2013 Lenker returned to her hometown of Minneapolis and entered terrarium studios with producer Rob Oesterlin, where she laid down ten songs on acoustic guitar. “it’s basically just like a live solo show,” Lenker describes, “but with an added twist.” she then enlisted nyc friend Andrew Sarlo to mix the album (he would later produce and mix Masterpiece and engineer, produce and mix capacity), and on January 24th, 2014 Hours Were the Birds was released into the world. drenched in beautiful imagery and intimate stories, it is the work of a woman on a journey, conquering new territory with bravery and honesty.

Adrianne Lenker – Disappear from the album Hours Were the Birds Saddle Creek Records

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Three years after their seminal album “Painted Shut”, Philadelphia’s Hop Along returned with their third Saddle Creek-released LP, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, their most cohesive release to date. Few vocalists can evoke the emotion thats packed into Frances Quinlan’s delivery, and it’s on full display on early singles like the epic “Not Abel.” Quinlan’s songwriting has become more self-aware and outwardly present to the mechanisms of the world around her, and Hop Along is as tight a unit as you’ll hear on record.

Hop AlongHow Simple From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Hop Along, who are playing across the UK and Ireland next month, and they’re super treble lush. The video gives a moreish taste of their live show too.

Nov 11th | Nottingham, UK @ Rock City

From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out Now

Band Members
Frances Quinlan (vocals, guitar)
Mark Quinlan (drums)
Tyler Long (bass)
Joe Reinhart (guitar)

The rise of Big Thief has been a charmingly old-fashioned one, built on hard work, word of mouth and wonderful music. The band have become one of the alternative-scenes most loved acts, and done it entirely on their own terms. Continuing that theme of doing things your own way, the band’s vocalist Adrianne Lenker has this week announced, not a new Big Thief record, instead a return to her solo career. Adrianne is set to release “Abysskiss”, the follow-up to 2014’s, Hours Were The Birds, in October and has shared the first taste of it, Cradle.

While much of Adrianne’s work has dealt with her youth, her past if you will, for Abysskiss, she has set out to document the here and now. Much of this record was written on the road and in studios as Adrianne lived the musicians life. It serves as an intimate and immediate documentation of where both her songwriting and life currently stand, in her own words, an attempt to, “archive the songs in their original forms”.Listening to Cradle, you feel like you’re almost listening to a demo, a song still having the life breathed into it as it’s performed; it’s not lo-fi per se, in fact it sounds lush and perfectly unadorned, allowing her unmistakable vocal and gentle backing plenty of room to breath. Lyrically, it seems to dance with half-finished images; there’s an underlying feeling of discontent, yet it seems to be more with an inability to accept the potential for happiness than any underlying sadness. As a snapshot of a songwriter at the peak of their powers, Cradle suggests Adrianne Lenker remains one of music’s most vital voices.

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Releases October 5th, 2018
Performed and written by Adrianne Lenker “Abysskiss” via Saddle Creek Records. 

Sara Beth Tomberlin’s debut album, At Weddings, is an ode to the uncertainty and overall dishevelment of your late teens and early twenties: bogged down by self-doubt, seeking validation from others, rebelling against unsolicited religious beliefs that were pressed upon you as a child (the 23-year-old singer/songwriter was born to strict Baptist parents) and longing for someone even though you know they’re a bad influence.

Much of the record details her shift from a home-schooled daughter of a Baptist pastor, into a young woman striving to find her place in the world and questioning, perhaps rejecting, the faith that shaped her upbringing. At Weddings is released today on Saddle Creek Records, and this week Tomberlin has shared the latest track from it Any Other Way.

Influenced more by hymns than any modern artist, there’s certainly a clarity and power to Tomberlin’s sound more often associated with religious music, as well as a lyrical intensity that comes with those songs of judgement and revelation. Sarah Beth describes the moment she found herself singing in church and realising she wasn’t sure she believed the words in front of her, “I felt nauseous and shaky reading these words I was singing and feeling their intensity. If I did believe this, how could I sing these words without being scared out of my mind? That’s what’s influenced how I write”. On, Any Other Way, Tomberlin offers a candid snapshot of that moment, and the emptiness that came with it, “feeling bad for saying oh my god, no I’m not kidding, gave me a sudden feeling that I didn’t have a place”.

Throughout, atop a backing of muted guitar strums and gentle piano runs, Sarah Beth is struggling for answers, now they’re no longer found in, “a book off the shelf”, and despite others reassuring her it’s a brave decision, you can hear the doubt and the temptation to run back to the world she knows. Tomberlin’s music feels vital, a lifeline to those going through difficult times and wondering if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, “my number one goal with my music is for honesty and transparency that helps other people find ways to exist”, this certainly seems like a very impressive start towards achieving her goals.

Featuring only an acoustic guitar and various keyboards and effects, the record centers on Tomberlin’s Joni Mitchell-esque pipes, loud in their softness and tenderness and unsuspectedly moving you to your absolute core. The naked instrumentation mirrors the transparency of her lyrics and while the songs consist of just a few elements, her overflowing emotions make the tracks feel full and warm. At Weddings is filled with such a powerful, saintly aura that even the most ugly subject matters can spur flawless, beautiful results.

Tomberlin “Self-Help” from the album At Weddings

When her debut album At Weddings made a fleeting appearance on bandcamp late last year, we fell in love with Tomberlin‘s devastating “Self-Help“, an exquisite, achingly intimate inner devotional that was intensely moving and quietly powerful in a way that recalled Seven Swans-era Sufjan. At Weddings will see a proper release this week via Saddle Creek Records, and Tomberlin shares the gauzy Laura-Lynn Petrick-directed visuals for another beautiful, poignant gem from the record, “Any Other Way“.  At Weddings is out this Friday.

Tomberlin – “I’m Not Scared” From the album At Weddings – Out 10th August.

Saddle Creek Records are to release that very debut. It’s called At Weddingsand is due out 10th August. We’ve already gotten two great reasons why it should be on your radar, and now here’s yet another one.

Tomberlin’s new single “I’m Not Scared” is still very much of a piece with the previous ones we’ve heard. It’s a fairly somber track, but once again the voice of Sarah Beth Tomberlin is so striking in its emotive delicacy it’s hard not to get totally wrapped up in it. This song uses mostly piano to create a gorgeous thick layer of atmosphere with its hanging notes that lend to its even pace.

Of the song, Sarah Beth Tomberlin says “It is abrasive, heavy, but packaged delicately. I feel like many people view women as such — shrill and emotionally burdensome but responsible for consistently presenting themselves pleasantly. Gentle and affable – their warmth a tool to heal often with no regard for the state of the body and mind that warmth permeates from. Women, and especially queer, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, have such a capacity for pain. Physical, mental, emotional, psychological pain. This is a hymn-like song in the way that it moves melodically. A reflection on that suffering. I didn’t realize the full meaning when I wrote it. The weight of the song didn’t hit me until I was listening to the final recording. It is kind of like leaving a person or situation that is really abusive and not realizing how much it affects your psyche until you’ve removed yourself completely. You look back and you realize you are strong, even though that is the last word you would use to describe how you feel.”

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released August 10th, 2018

Credits: Music + lyrics by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 
Sarah Beth Tomberlin – guitar, Wurlitzer, vocals
Owen Pallett – guitar, Prophet 6, and background vocals
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Owen Pallett at M’s House + Owen’s House
Untitled 2 recorded on my phone
Album cover art by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 

studious patrons of a specific corner of the internet may already be familiar with Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s stirring At Weddings , released under her own surname last year.  the substance and weight of that album appropriately drew the interest of Saddle Creek Records, who will reissue At Weddings, containing three brand-new songs, on august 10th.

as an introduction (or re-introduction), Tomberlin has shared a new music video for her standout cut “Self-Help,” its meditative, metallic timbre supplemented by hazy footage of Tomberlin taking in an aquarium.  the recurring jellyfish feel like a subtle nod to references of electrocution and overall pain, concepts Tomberlin sifts through with devastating turns of phrase.

Because the music is beautiful to me. Reminds me of Honey Tongue quite a bit, yet it is still a unique acoustic experience that rewards from repeated listening from beginning to end. I am basing my review on the White label that Joyful Noise Recordings released which contained several of the songs on this release.

On her deeply moving debut album At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin writes with the clarity and wisdom of an artist well beyond her years. Immeasurable space circulates within the album’s ten songs, which set Tomberlin’s searching voice against lush backdrops of piano and guitar. Like Julien Baker and Sufjan Stevens, she has a knack for transforming the personal into parable.

Sarah Beth comments, When I wrote a lot of these songs I never thought they would leave my bedroom. These songs are personal, but I think their themes are easily felt from person to person. I hope these songs can be there for you like they were for me when I was writing them. I am extremely excited to finally be able to share this record with you. My first full length record, ‘At Weddings,’ will be out on Saddle Creek Records on 8/10/18.

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Releases August 10th, 2018

Credits: Music + lyrics by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 
Sarah Beth Tomberlin – guitar, Wurlitzer, vocals
Owen Pallett – guitar, Prophet 6, and background vocals
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Owen Pallett at M’s House + Owen’s House