Posts Tagged ‘Saddle Creek Records’

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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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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