Shearwater / Fellow Travelers - SP1050
Fellow Travelers is the new, upcoming album from Shearwater. Here’s what Shearwater’s own Jonathan Meiburg has to say about it:
Fellow Travelers wasn’t supposed to be a full-length record, so I’m a little surprised to admit that it’s my favorite Shearwater album so far. Somehow it slipped under the door.
It was meant to be a small thing, maybe a home-recorded EP, to release between Animal Joy and the next full-length (for which we’re in the studio right now). But it took on a life of its own. Re-imagining and renovating songs by the bands we’ve toured with was like leafing through a scrapbook, and brought back the highs and lows of a decade of touring, from dives in Oklahoma and squats in Slovenia to the Fillmore West, the Bataclan, and the MGM Grand (ask me about that one sometime).
Audiences never see most of touring life, and it’s the hidden moments that came to mind while we were recording. I thought of Chris Martin, pacing nervously in the bowels of the LA Forum, before the first show of a tour for an album on which EMI had staked its existence; of Brian Campbell, Clinic’s indomitable bassist, muttering “I hate these f_____ things” before donning a grimy surgical mask for the thousandth time; of David Thomas Broughton wandering into an audience in Brussels mid-song, knocking things over and falling down, then slipping us a half-smile offstage; of Xiu Xiu hiding stuffed animals and candy in the stacks of a university library for their devoted fans to find; of Sharon Van Etten playing us the rough demos for the album that would put her on the map while she drove our van through the snowy Idaho mountains.
Touring is an expression of faith—in yourself, in your friends, in the hope that the world has a place for you. In that spirit, I invited all the bands we covered to play on Fellow Travelers, with the caveat that you couldn’t play on your own song. Almost everyone rose to the bait: Chris from the Baptist Generals turned Clinic’s “Tomorrow” into a bewildered, stomping incantation, while Clinic, in turn, infected the Generals’ “Fucked Up Life” with drum machines, radio signals, and their trademark combo organ. I added recordings I made of birds and waves in the Falklands to David Thomas Broughton’s “Ambiguity,” and he sent us a tape he made of sparrows, bulbuls, and the clanking shovels of highway workers in Pyongyang, North Korea (long story), which we spliced into our rock-anthem version of Xiu Xiu’s “I Luv the Valley OH!!” And Jenn from Wye Oak, who, like us, had also toured with Lou B, added vocals to “Natural One,” our most straight-up reading of the bunch, since I couldn’t think of a better way to honor a perfectly-constructed song.
Leon Trotsky, who gave the words “fellow travelers” their political aura, once wrote that “a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work.” Maybe that’s why these songs seem like they belong together, to me. Listening back, I get a feeling of common effort, of common purpose, among all of our different musical paths; we’ve all tried to defy or transform reality in small ways with our music, and to prove it with our performing lives. Playing these songs felt like riding a wave.
– JM, NYC, March 2013
PRE-ORDER DETAILS & RELATED NEWS
—>If you pre-order Fellow Travelers from us here at Subpop.com, you will receive a bonus 7" with 2 tracks not on the record. Those songs are going to be “This Year” by the Mountain Goats and “Black River Song” by Angels of Light.
→-Customers who pre-order the LP will receive the limited, colored-vinyl “Loser Edition” of the album.
All of these items are on a first come, first served basis and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Order now to secure all of these limited-edition items!
LOSER EDITIONS ARE NOW SOLD OUT. THANKS/SORRY!
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: 2013-11-26 (CD), 2013-11-26 (LP), 2013-11-26 (CD + t-shirt adult s bundle), 2013-11-26 (CD + t-shirt adult m bundle)...
Fellow Travelers + Baby Lantern Tshirt
Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers LP or CD + Baby Lantern T-shirt
Fellow Travelers + Travelers Cover Shirt
Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers LP or CD + Travelers Cover Shirt
Shearwater / The Golden Archipelago - 4095799
Shearwater continue to explore the beauty, menace, and fragility of the natural world – and that increasingly rare species, the indivisible album – on The Golden Archipelago, the band’s most absorbing and accomplished work to date. The new record is the third panel of a triptych that includes 2006’s enigmatic Palo Santo and 2008’s acclaimed Rook, albums linked by themes of environmental and personal decay and humans’ impact on nature. In The Golden Archipelago, Shearwater turn to a portrait of life on islands – a world of alternating lushness and austerity, numinous silences and sudden cataclysms, and the strange flowerings of plant, animal, and human life that only arise in isolation. These are intimate subjects for songwriter Jonathan Meiburg. As a researcher, he’s camped on islands at the edges of the world, including the Falklands, Tierra del Fuego, the Galapagos, Madagascar, Nunavut, and New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, and once spent a few surreal months in a remote Aboriginal settlement in northern Australia. Adding his grandfather’s WWII experiences as a radio operator in the South Pacific to these travels gave Meiburg plenty of fodder for the songs of The Golden Archipelago, in which he weaves these times and places together with common feelings of wonder, grief, and defiance. The Golden Archipelago opens with the first strains of the anthem of Bikini Atoll, sung by Bikinians in exile on the islet of Kili, where they’ve lived since atomic tests left their home uninhabitable. It’s a fitting introduction to the gentle, eerie “Meridian”, with its depiction of an air raid on an island garrison. From there, Shearwater take us on an island-hopping journey of spectacular contrasts, from the distant heights of “Landscape at Speed” to the snowy expanses of “Hidden Lakes”, from the manic, shuddering confines of “Corridors” to the isolated vistas of “Castaways”. It’s an album of lofty goals and great risk, but Shearwater have never been afraid to dream in widescreen. Like Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, Husker Du’s Zen Arcade, or Pink Floyd’s polarizing opus The Final Cut, The Golden Archipelago’s beautifully and strangely-wrought musical textures summon a majesty, drama, and individuality that few current records attain, or even attempt. The band worked for months with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Black Mountain, Polyphonic Spree, Explosions in the Sky) to capture the thrilling dynamics that have always marked their live performances, burnished by subtle orchestrations and cascades of mallet percussion. The results are singular, revelatory, and demand to be appreciated as a whole. Islands under siege, islands of impenetrable solitude, islands of the world and islands of the mind – all are here in The Golden Archipelago, whose shores and reefs flicker and beckon, even as they crumble under rising seas.
Released: December 15, 2011
Shearwater / Rook - 4095797
Cut ’n Pasted from the Matador site:
Hailed as “almost impossibly majestic and beautiful” (NPR “album of the year”), Shearwater’s Palo Santo (2007, Matador), a suite of ethereal but oddly disquieting art-rock songs loosely centered around the life and death of singer Christa Paffgen (aka Nico), marked the Texan quartet’s debut on the national stage. Several publications, including The New York Times, named it one of the year’s best, and the band’s singular combination of sonic abandon and restraint, spun around the soaring, otherworldly voice of part-time ornithologist Jonathan Meiburg, drew comparisons to late-period Talk Talk and both the lovely and anxious moments of Eno’s early solo work.
This year’s much-anticipated Rook takes the band into realms both richer and stranger. Though a similarly haunted, elegaic mood – punctuated by flashes of dread and menace – pervades the album, Rook is its own animal, at once more accessible (the near-title track, “Rooks”, anchored by Thor Harris’ thunderous kick drum, a booming organ, and a stately trumpet line, could almost be mistaken for radio-friendly) and more accomplished than its predecessor, with a depth and grandeur that seem improbably packed into the album’s tidy 35 minutes. Squalls of feedback have largely given way to sudden gusts of strings and woodwinds, though the band’s fondness for unusual instrumentation remains intact – harp, hammer dulcimer, and a curiously carved metal box all take featured roles. Each song is a mini-epic, from the in-medias-res opening of “On the Death of the Waters” to the pounding (but drumless) urgency of “Leviathan, Bound”, the abrupt rock of “Century Eyes”, the crystalline depths and heights of “I Was a Cloud” and “The Snow Leopard”, and the final, elegant flourish of “The Hunter’s Star”. Rook is unlike any other album you’ll hear this year – or any year. It has the vividness and ineffability of a waking dream, the strange beauty and internal logic of a fairy tale, and above all, evokes a vanishing world that may or may not be our own.
Released: December 15, 2011
Shearwater / Palo Santo - 4095796
Shearwater has transformed itself to the point of reinvention on Palo Santo, the band’s fourth album. The first Shearwater release to be made up entirely of songs by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg, Palo Santo resembles previous Shearwater albums only incidentally. It’s a thrilling, paradoxical record—icily warm, welcoming and threatening, sloppy and immaculate—and one which NPR called “impossibly majestic and beautiful” in naming it the best record of 2006.
Released: December 15, 2011
Shearwater / Animal Joy - SP957
We at Sub Pop are exceedingly proud to present Shearwater’s Animal Joy, our first album by the band and their eighth overall. Led by Jonathan Meiburg, and featuring drummer Thor Harris, and bassist Kimberly Burke, Shearwater has been a favorite at Sub Pop HQ for many years. Why? Fellow Shearwater fan Gerard Cosloy puts it nicely:
“It’s been suggested—by fans, detractors, even by the band’s founder—that Shearwater and whatever we call underground/indie/whatever-rock in this part of the century are not an obvious fit. And that’s true. So much of what we hear these days (the lousy stuff, anyway) is willfully insular; Jonathan Meiburg’s songs, by contrast, have constantly tackled bigger questions and been propelled by massive musical ambitions.
We’re in an era in which minimalism and lower-than-low-tech have come in vogue. By contrast, Shearwater’s recordings—the epic “Island Arc” trilogy of Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago in particular—have been expansive in a fashion like none of their contemporaries. On Animal Joy, Meiburg has opted to ditch an approach that paid huge artistic dividends over his last three Matador albums for a record that seems shockingly direct, immediate and intensely personal. He’s no stranger to lush, crafted recordings, but this one sounds like no prior Shearwater incarnation.
Someone’s bound to label this Shearwater’s transitional album, but to these ears, it sounds like a thrilling artistic rebirth. Just give ’em the fucking Grammy already!"
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
BLACK VINYL (red LOSER edition is sold out!)
Released: February 14, 2012
Animal Joy + Gray T-Shirt
Animal Joy CD or LP + Gray T-Shirt
Animal Joy + Natural T-Shirt
Animal Joy + Natural T-Shirt