Posts Tagged ‘Saddle Creek Records’

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Stef Chura sings “If only you can hear me scream” 10 full times on “Scream” before she, well, screams. Bizarrely, it’s one of the few instances on Midnight, Chura’s sophomore release and first full-length release on Saddle Creek, where she shows restraint, a fleeting respite for her vocal chords that take hit after hit throughout the entirety of the record’s 43 minutes. Howling throughout with a confident vibrato, it’s perhaps the most impressive raw vocal performance since Hop Along last put out an album, reminiscent at times of a young Karen O. A major step up from her 2017 debut Messes (which was reissued in 2018 by Saddle Creek), Midnight is the complete realization of the Detroit-based artist’s solo project, chock full of perfectly fuzzed-out guitars on one of the best-recorded DIY-leaning records in quite some time. That’s thanks in large part to Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo, who helps mold Chura’s songs into ones that sound like his own. “Scream” resembles the song structure of Teens of Denial’s “Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An),” though potentially even exceeding it as Chura’s guitar solo provides a fist-in-the-air moment before she brings the house down for one final chorus. Chura has been one of the more buzzed-about rising artists in the indie rock community for quite some time; Midnight more than delivers on that initial hype, surpassing virtually all expectations en route to becoming one of her genre’s biggest breakouts.

This an indie record for the ages, a wonderful listen where each song is completely essential to the project as a whole. Midnight is an incredible record, owing, but in no way indebted to her pitch perfect partnership with Toledo, one that’s further catapulted by Chura’s distinctive voice and extraordinary songwriting chops.

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Stef Chura’s Saddle Creek Records debut is resonating with several sites in our following. On this standout release, the Detroit musician wields “leg-cutting words, a six-string axe, and burnt electric production from Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo that twists rusty riffed bombast through flaming red hoops.”

Michigan’s Stef Chura is a formidable triple threat: She is a intense singer, A bracing guitarist, and a revelatory songwriter. You can hear Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in her side-eyed snarl, Cat Power’s coiled intimacy in her quieter moments, Jack White and PJ Harvey in her modernist take on primitive instrumental violence and Nineties guitar-twisters like Silkworm, Pavement and Modest Mouse in the way her songs can often mutate and stretch beyond where you expect them to end up. But chalking up Chura to the sum of any sonic signposts doesn’t nearly do her second album justice. In every chirp, croak and holler, in every athletically mangled solo, she’s discovering her own voice, finding her own way to rewrite her world, and fool it too.

Stef Chura – Method Man from the album Midnight

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Released in September of 2018, Mother of My Children was the debut album from Black Belt Eagle Scout , the recording project of Katherine Paul. Heralded as a favorite new musician of 2018 by the likes of NPR Music, Stereogum , and Paste , the album was also named as a “Best Rock Album of 2018” by Pitchfork , and garnered further end-of-year praise from FADER , Under The Radar and more.

Arriving just a year after that debut record, At the Party With My Brown Friends is a brand new full-length recording from Black Belt Eagle Scout. Where that first record was a snapshot of loss and landscape and of Katherine Paul’s standing as a radical indigenous gay feminist, this new chapter finds its power in love, desire and friendship.

At the Party With My Brown Friends is a profound and understated forward step. The squalling guitar anthems that shaped its predecessor are replaced by delicate vocals and soft keys, sentiments spoken and unspoken, presenting something shadowy and unsettling; a stirring of the waters. The end result presents a captivating about-face that redefines KP’s beautifully singular artistic vision.

Black Belt Eagle ScoutAt the Party from the album “At the Party With My Brown Friends” Out August 30th, 2019!.

End Your Week With Stef Chura's Beautifully Melancholic Single "Sour Honey"

“If only you could hear me scream,” Stef Chura sings at one point during her sophomore release, “Sweet Sweet Midnight”, her first full length album release for Saddle Creek Records. She makes good on her promise and does quite a bit of screaming throughout, even channeling a modern DIY Karen O at times. Produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, “Midnight” takes everything you love from his band and applies it to Chura’s transfixing voice, a perfect match for this rising act from Detroit. She’s long been building up buzz in the indie rock community; Sweet Sweet Midnight may launch her to stardom, a jump that’s been long overdue.

“For most people who create art I would assume there is some kind of deep unanswerable hole in your soul as to why you’re making it…” So says Stef Chura ahead of the release of her gritty, vehement new album – recorded and produced by Will Toledo ofCar Seat Headrestand her first new collection of songs . Illuminating that search for answers with a fevered sense of exploration, Midnight is a bold leap forward from Messes, Stef’s contagious debut album, with every aspect of her new work finding bold ways to express itself as it rips through twelve restless and relentless new tracks.

A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance. “I’m usually dealing with the context of what I can’t say or haven’t said,” . “This album has a depth to it and a particular sound because of Will,” Stef states regarding Toledo’s input, whose spiky nuances can be found across the length and breadth of Midnight, the record presenting an exhilarating rush of sound and colour as Stef’s spirited vocal finds and signature guitar sounds unravel alongside in a thrilling meeting of ideas and influences; dispelling demons, song by song.

“With this album I wanted it to be clearer and more listenable, in a number of ways,” Stef says. Proof of this outlook can be found on the edgy lead track ‘Method Man’, a boisterous three-minutes that melds jagged, skewed guitars with a distinctive voice that has a new-found sense of confidence, whether spitting spoken-word mantras during the exhilarating percussive coda or simply letting loose amid the squalling bluster of guitars.

You can find it elsewhere too, in fact it runs right through the heart of Midnight’s twelve tracks. Take the sweeping brilliance of ‘Jumpin’ Jack’, a somewhat more refined three-minutes that bursts into a thrilling finale, or ‘Sincerely Yours’, a brooding four-minutes initially gives deserved space to Stef’s voice and words more than ever before, before bursting into life with with a pent-up energy that positively roars from within.

Equal parts thrilling and angsty, Midnight is a testament to the collaborative process, a record that makes the very most of those who came together to make it, but more than that, it’s a firm statement of tenacity and perseverance, of not resting on your laurels but leaping forwards no matter the situation you find yourself in. From out of one day and into the next.

The Detroit-native indie rocker Stef Chura also released a Record Store Day release on April 21st. The song, titled “Sour Honey,” follows the double-sided vinyl’s previous release, a-side “Degrees.” Check out that first track’s lyric video below

Stef Chura – the album Midnight out June 7th!

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For the past two years Saddle Creek Records have been doing their part to support the DIY community beyond their Omaha scene with the Document Series, an ongoing collection that shines a light on the radiant pockets of indie rock throughout the country. They’ve previously featured Posse, Palehound, Hand Habits, Hovvdy, etc. and now New Orleans’ Treadles are the next in line. One of our favorite new bands from the Crescent City, the quartet released “Bees Are Thieves Too” back in 2017, their first release as a full band. The years since have found KC Stafford (guitar, vocals) busy as a member of experimental doom metal favorites, Thou, but some point they found enough time to record a few new Treadles songs. Their return is triumphant on “Cold b/w Iron”, the new 7” single handpicked by Saddle Creek, is due out May 24th.

“Cold,” the single’s A-Side is a procession of textures both gentle and raw, from the warm picked intro into the deep plodding bass line. Stafford and Emily Hafner offer a gorgeous harmony, their voices a perfect pairing to sink into hazy emotional atmosphere, punctuating the pull of gravity as they sing “morning comes with the sun but I can’t pick me up from off this dirty ground.” Ian Paine-Jesam casually works an entrancing floor tom and snare rhythm as the band break toward ethereal clarity in the song’s bridge, shifting toward a knotted progression, one that weaves itself tighter as it evolves. The intensity eventually boils over with the structure erupting yet remaining impeccably tight. Treadles work themselves into the oncoming chaos with grace, becoming ever so unglued as they “try not to think about it.”

TreadlesCold from the Saddle Creek Records Document 7″ vinyl Cold b/w Iron Out May 24th 2019!

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“‘They’ll Never’ picks up where its predecessor ‘Method’ left off, combining grunge-y guitar with a surf rock sort of fervency. In this same manner, its visual counterpart (dir. Fidel R Ruiz-Healy & Tyler Walker) follows suit, meshing the bright with the dirty, the colorful with the muted and dilapidated.”

This June, the underrated Stef Chura is releasing her sophomore album, Midnight. We’ve already heard its incisive lead single “Method Man.” For its follow-up, Chura falls back into the twangy spark that filled the Michigan musician’s 2017 debut. “They’ll never tear this place apart,” she sings, a song that both romanticizes and repudiates the place that Chura called home.

She explains:

I wrote this song while living in a building in Ypsilanti, MI that was not up to code. No one cared about it. The kitchen was moldy, the carpets were dirty and the house was generally unfinished. This place existed in an odd realm. “Sideways from grace the angles lost” This means that at a certain angle and in the right light you can see what is amiss. No one really cared for it, and yet people would go on living in it and subsequently it would be a home. No one cared enough to take care of it and no one cared enough to notice it and destroy it or hold the people who lived there accountable for keeping it up to code.

It’s also about looking into the future, that when life hands you less and circumstances aren’t what you thought they were. “They sold you love, this chalk’s just dust.” Wanting something you can’t have. Having expectations that don’t go the way you think they should. How what you bought isn’t in the box and you have to start over. There is only a memory of what is left represented by a shell of what was there. A conversation on how you can never really own anything. And life goes on even if your house is moldy and you don’t speak the same language as the drunk old man you live with who steals your potted plants and plants them in the yard for you.

Stef ChuraThey’ll Never

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Katherine Paul’s Black Belt Eagle Scout has released a purposeful new track and corresponding video titled “Loss & Relax,” which will be released on a 7-inch vinyl alongside “Half Colored Hair” on April 26th from Saddle Creek records. Highlighted Black Belt Eagle Scout as one of 2018’s best new bands, praising Paul’s “knack for making very specific, personal anecdotes feel universal.”

Paul said of the prideful composition dedicated to her history in a statement: As I was writing the guitar line, I kept seeing the water of the Salish Sea and the local ferries drifting people in and out of place. Ferries are such a beautiful part of my childhood and served as a major form of transportation. Thinking about my home and how canoes have turned into ferries is a sad, but also beautiful thought. Nowadays with Canoe Journeys, canoes are alongside ferries, roaming our waters to lands, sharing customs and culture. That is what I think about now when I listen to the fully recorded version of the song. I see a strong and fierce community of my people continuing to thrive in whatever comes our way. That is how I feel about myself, a survivor and thriver of this land, a water protector, a woman, the future.

The video for “Loss & Relax,” was directed by Angel Two Bulls, it follows Paul on her journey home as she goes through the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Samish Indian Nation.

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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