Husky / Forever So - SP999
You probably haven’t heard of Husky before now. That’s because compared to most musicians in this era of uninterrupted connectivity and non-stop self-promotion, the Australian quartet might as well have crafted their debut full-length atop the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. With its warm, acoustic timbres and carefully crafted songs, Forever So is the sound of a band that from its inception cared more about making one sublime album than acquiring a million followers on Twitter.
Husky is front man Husky Gawenda and keyboard player Gideon Preiss — cousins who grew up together — plus bassist Evan Tweedie and drummer Luke Collins. Though the four band members have disparate tastes, their shared passion for classic sounds, rich harmonies, and artful songwriting points back to the artists they grew up on: Crosby Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan, the Doors, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, the Beach Boys. After playing separately in small local bands, the foursome began playing as Husky in late 2008. In a junk-filled bungalow behind Gawenda’s rented house, using borrowed equipment and siphoned electricity, they cobbled together a studio. They used every corner of the little cottage – bathroom, kitchen, corridors – to preserve the vibe of that unique time and place and give instruments and voices room to breathe, echo and resonate. Forever So is a fullly-realized album that holds up start-to-finish, from catchy opener “Tidal Wave,” with its hum-along harmonies and surprise psychedelic midsection, to the understated, intertwined brass parts that conclude “Farewell (in 3 Parts).”
Husky took their recordings to Los Angeles to be mixed by Noah Georgeson (Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, The Strokes). Shortly after completion, the band entered the track “History’s Door” into a contest conducted by Australia’s Triple J radio network to find the nation’s next great-unsigned band — and won! Before they even had a manager, Husky’s finely-wrought music was being promoted from coast to coast.
And now you’ve heard about Husky. Spread the word.
If you pre-order Husky’s Forever So by July 10th, you’ll receive a free Husky tote bag. Also, if you pre-order the CD or LP, you’ll receive an instant download of the entire record!
Released: July 10, 2012
Debo Band is an 11-member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Since their inception in 2006, the band have toured Ethiopia twice, having appeared at both the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa and Sauti Za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa. In North America, they’ve shared stages with Gogol Bordello, The Family Stone, Tilahun Gessesse (one of the great voices of Ethiopian pop since the ‘60s), The Ex with Ethiopian sax legend Getatchew Mekuria, Group Doueh, and Khaira Arby and Her Band. They’ve also performed at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Fest, globalFEST 2012 at Webster Hall, Joe’s Pub, and World Music Festival: Chicago.
“What’s amazing about Debo Band is that they play that music (Ethiopian pop) without any sort of… precious reverence… They play it like it’s NOW, as music of right now, and they play it with incredible energy and passion and excellence. And it just totally rocks. It’s amazing.”—All Songs Considered, NPR
“A different archival impulse paid off for Debo Band, a Boston group devoted to the Ethiopian funk of the late 1960s and ’70s: fierce, jagged, complex and galvanizing music. With a beefy horn section, biting violins and a lead singer with a convincing Ethiopian quaver, the group brought back a live version of a style that was never recorded as vividly.”—The New York Times
“The Boston-based band Debo Band gives the psychedelic music heard on the Ethiopiques collections a high-spirited revamp.”—Village Voice
“If George Clinton had come from Ethiopia instead of outer space, the result might have been what Debo Band gives you.”—Boston Globe
Released: July 10, 2012
Chappaquiddick Skyline / Chappaquiddick Skyline - SP470
Released Jan. 18, 2000, Chappquiddick Skyline is a collection of songs written by Joe Pernice (the Pernice Brothers, Scud Mountain Boys) and performed by Pernice Brothers band members, which he joked were not worthy of the Pernice Brothers banner.
Released: January 18, 2000
Niki & The Dove / Instinct - SP930
Kaleidoscopic in the studio and a force majeure on stage, it’s no surprise that Malin Dahlstrom (vocals) and Gustaf Karlof (keyboards) of Sweden’s Niki & The Dove’s met while writing music for the theatre. While their roots are in theatre (their live show includes three drummers, a bassist and two dancers flanking Malin’s costumed, exuberant presence), they ultimately straddle the pop and dance worlds with a devastating musical hybrid that incorporates electronics and beats spanning from tribal to synth-pop to R&B. It is a riddle to work out exactly what the pair are-as it should be. “In our heart, we are a soul band, not an electronic band,” says Malin.
Niki & The Dove’s pop and dance sides are both evident from the very first moments of Instinct, their debut album, as the opening track “Tomorrow” unfolds a subtle pulse with pan-Pacific textures underneath Malin’s aching vocal, rising to a series of euphoric peaks as the vocals ramp up the feeling of a tribal ceremony. This was also the case with “DJ, Ease My Mind,” the duo’s debut single released in February 2010. Malin’s vocal has the urgency and vulnerability of epic ‘60s girl-group pop (The Shangri La’s, say) fused to Niki & The Dove’s unique version of joyful dance-floor release. Time and again, Instinct follows the same blueprint of intent-a blend of tenderness, explosion, hypnosis and elation-but never the same routine. Instinct is an exhilarating experience, like stepping into a piece of art.
Is expectation weighing on Niki & The Dove, now that they are receiving international acclaim, including placing in the BBC Sound of 2012 poll? Not according to Gustaf: “It’s wonderful, an extremely big honour, and also unreal. But we just make the music that we want to, and never compromise, so no pressure. It’s not like we can change anything anyway!”
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
If you pre-order Instinct by August 7th, you’ll receive a limited Niki & The Dove tote bag! Also, if you pre-order Instinct on vinyl LP, you’ll receive the limited, Loser Edition version—a colored-vinyl copy of the record, in this case, it’s on crystal-clear colored-vinyl. Sure, clear-colored is kind of an oxymoron, but it’s really cool and limited nonetheless. Both of these things, as we’ve mentioned, ad nauseum, are limited, so first come, first serve—order soon!
Released: August 7, 2012
When Jaill nonchalantly stepped into the room with 2010’s That’s How We Burn, the group had already turned out a small catalog of self-recorded and self-released albums and EPs. Sub Pop first heard the band on an LP bought through the mail, the cover still hot from the Kinko’s copier. And as that record (2009’s There’s No Sky (Oh My My)) demonstrated, Jaill’s Vinnie Kircher is equally comfortable crafting songs that either amble up slyly, or tumble out pell mell, with lyrics that betray his English major background. SPIN said of That’s How We Burn, “What elevates their [Sub Pop] debut beyond your average twee-punk rager is the gentle psych dabblings: extra delay on a guitar solo, an errant ‘ooh-ahh-ooh,’ a dubby Panda Bear flourish, and the swirling noise that murmurs through the background of the cheerful ‘Snake Shakes.’”
Recorded throughout 2011 in Kircher’s crummy, poorly lit basement, with minimal gear and a control room of thrift store afghans, and mixed at NY’s Rare Book Room by Nicolas Vernhes, Jaill’s latest mangled masterpiece is entitled Traps. An acerbic exercise in both humility and aggression that transcends the humble environment of its creation, Traps finds the Milwaukee-based psych-pop three-piece confronting a malfunctioning universe with an inventive, lean and, dare we say, excellent 11-song album.
The Traps vinyl LP comes with a digital download code.
If you pre-order Traps, you’ll get a limited-edition bonus seven inch featuring two songs not on the album!
If you pre-order Traps on vinyl LP, you’ll receive a limited-edition, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of the record [in this case, a bright green] (Sorry, the colored Loser Edition is now sold out.)
Released: June 12, 2012
Beachwood Sparks / The Tarnished Gold - SP784
Some albums were made to be played on a Saturday night. The Tarnished Gold was meant to be played on a Sunday afternoon. Listening to Beachwood Sparks’ first album in 11 years is like being under cobalt blue skies and smelling the night-blooming jasmine on a perfect spring day in Los Angeles.
The world has caught up to Beachwood Sparks since they came out of nowhere in 2000 with their self-titled debut album, bringing new life to what Gram Parsons famously described as “cosmic American music,” and recapturing L.A.‘s laidback but vibrant heyday back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. At the time, this kind of harmony-rich, irony-free music was rare. After their second album, 2002’s trippier Once We Were Trees, and the decidedly offbeat 2003 EP Make the Cowboy Robots Cry, Beachwood Sparks called it quits. But during the subsequent half decade, the indie music scene began to change with the appearance, and wholesale acceptance, of multi-voiced throwback groups from Fleet Foxes to Bon Iver to Grizzly Bear. Clearly, the time is right for an album that stands as the purest expression of this hallowed form to appear in the 21st century, as the planets at long last align for this single-minded band.
The Tarnished Gold is the work of the classic Beachwood Sparks lineup: singer/guitarist Chris Gunst, singer/bassist Brent Rademaker, singer/multi-instrumentalist Farmer Dave Scher, and drummer Aaron Sperske, with invaluable support from guitarist and longtime friend Ben Knight (The Tyde). For the sessions, the band added guitarists Knight and Neal Casal (solo artist and former member of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), Dan Horne on pedal steel, Gunst’s wife Jen Cohen, Sparks’ very first drummer Jimi Hey, Brent’s brother Darren (leader of The Tyde) and L.A. indie-rock maestro Ariel Pink. Once We Were Trees producer Thom Monahan returned to his familiar spot behind the console.
The album finds the band, chemistry as strong as ever, pushing themselves to make a truly memorable record. “We’re treading in areas that we never thought we’d go on this record,” says Rademaker. “It’s great to be making the kind of music that I like with my best friends and favorite musicians. The triumph was not only that it came out so listenable and good but also that we made the most of just being together. And if this turns out to be the last Beachwood Sparks record, we can take satisfaction in the fact that we went out on a high note. At any rate, I know I’ll be listening to this record for the rest of my life.”
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
People who pre-order The Tarnished Gold from us will receive a free Beachwood Sparks totebag (while supplies last!).
Also, if you pre-order the LP from us, you’ll receive the very limited, colored-vinyl, Loser Edition of the vinyl LP, in this case, it’s appropriately on tarnished gold-colored vinyl! Act quickly!
Released: June 26, 2012
NY’s K-Holes have returned with Dismania, the group’s second full-length and first for Hardly Art. Dismania comes packed with the same kind of sinister, feverish punk skronk the New York quintet (featuring former members of Golden Triangle and the Black Lips) is known for. It’s a dark, brutal, menacing trip; the sound of escape with the sheen of redemption, fueled by the low, thundering beat of tribal divination. All LPs include a download code.
Released: May 1, 2012
Earth / Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method - SUNN48
Initially seen as something of a curate’s egg on Sub Pop, Earth have gone on to be one of the most influential bands of recent years, spawning the entire dronecore / death metal scene (Sunn O))) etc.) as well as helping to mould the likes of Mogwai, Jim O’Rouke and (if their reverential appearance on the recent ‘Legacy of Dissolution’ LP is anything to go by) even Autechre. Back with their first proper album for 9 years (‘Hex; or Printing In The Infernal Method’), Earth seem eager to discard the overly distorted sound that has come to stereotype them, preferring instead to embark on a journey through “black Americana”… Woooh. Possessing an almost bluesy feel, tracks such as ‘Land Of Some Other Order’ and ‘The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves’ whilst sounding like chapter titles in a Stephen King novel, are nowhere near as skull crushingly intense as Earth’s reputation may have you fearing. Referencing Merle Haggard, Duane Eddy and Roy Buchanan, Earth seem to have hit on a fertile seam, with the overt optimism of the harmonica layered ‘An Inquest Concerning Teeth’ and the bourbon twang of ‘Lens Of Unrectified Night’ testament to their confidence and talent. Unwilling to rest on their laurels, ‘Hex…’ is the sound of a band reshaping their legacy.
Released: January 25, 2007
King Tuff is the new record from King Tuff—his first for Sub Pop and his second album overall. Was Dead, King Tuff’s 2008 debut, captured the attention of the rock underground and quickly blew through its limited pressing (it now resides on ebay, being snatched up for hearty sums). His gem of a new album was produced by Bobby Harlow, of The Go and Conspiracy of Owls, and recorded during a furious two-week run in Detroit. And Bobby has the following, among a great many other things, to say about it:
“After investigating Was Dead I realized that, with his latest offering, King Tuff’s songwriting was stretching far beyond the thrill of the immediate dance-floor reflex and now revealed a songwriter with a keen eye inside everyone. That was the stuff that I was interested in. Embarrass me! I don’t give a fuck about your ex-girlfriend.
We’ve created something here. King Tuff should not be inspected or even listened to with critical ears. Cut your ears off. Rock & Roll is meant to be blasted into your cells, penetrated, and absorbed. It’s a visceral experience. Seek solace in solitude when you’re dead. If you aren’t able to recognize the genius in this epic album, then you’re already dead. Kill yourself. Or get a job. Your choice."
Please do not really cut off your ears or kill yourself. These are rhetorical devices meant to convey some variation on the following: King Tuff might just save your life AND your ears. All hail the King.
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
The first 300 people who pre-order King Tuff will receive a limited edition King Tuff patch! Also, we’ve got a limited number of the colored-vinyl, Loser Edition of the LP, in this case, a splattered Red, White and Blue LP! First come, first serve on all this stuff.
Released: May 29, 2012
Jaill / There's No Sky (Oh My My) - 4089199
The debut LP from Milwaukee’s Jaill. On Burger Records. Includes a digital download of the entire record.
Released: July 26, 2010
The Shins / Port of Morrow - 4055097
Port of Morrow is the fourth studio album by The Shins, released on March 20, 2012 on Aural Apothecary and Columbia Records. Co-produced by Greg Kurstin and frontman James Mercer, it is the band’s first studio album in five years, following the release of 2007’s Wincing the Night Away, and their first since the departure of founding members Dave Hernandez (bass, guitar), Marty Crandall (keyboards) and Jesse Sandoval (drums).
Primarily a collaboration between Mercer and Kurstin, the album features contributions from former members, Dave Hernandez, Marty Crandall, Eric D. Johnson and Ron Lewis, alongside current drummer Joe Plummer, and other studio contributors including Janet Weiss and Nik Freitas. The album has a more slick and polished sound than the band’s previous efforts, with a much greater emphasis on electronic instrumentation while still retaining elements of the melodic indie pop style the band originally made their name with.
Released: March 20, 2012
La Sera / Sees the Light - SBL-73051
The second LP from La Sera is ten new tracks of peppy break-up pop brimming with defiance and bitter sweetness, recorded with Rob Barbato (The Fall, Darker My Love) in California. Where the first La Sera album was super-dreamy in its layered vocals, Sees The Light is more direct, more aggressive; almost a soundtrack to a lost drive-in movie classic. This is not an album for half-hearted partakers in the heartache scene: just an all-consuming love for punk as pop and pop as punk. All LPs include a download code.
Released: March 27, 2012
Black to Comm / Earth - 4000379
Most of the Black To Comm’s 7th LP EARTH was composed under the influence of heavy pain killers while recovering from a broken leg. It’s unfortunate to have to blow those on actual, physical pain, but EARTH was built on broken bones. The music (like the film) is about slowness and decay, states of unconsciousness, sleeping and waking up, dying and being reborn. The film is basically a post-apocalyptic collage based on paintings by classical European painters (Caravaggio, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Géricault) — the music tries to translate that concept employing similar collage-based sampling techniques using loops made from vintage vinyl and shellac records combined with acoustic and electronic instrumentation and voice. EARTH puts me in mindset similar to that evoked by Gifts era Loren Connors and Scott Walker’s Tilt, and we’re as excited to be working with Marc as you will be to spin EARTH.
Released: March 6, 2012
Beach House / Bloom - SP965
Bloom is the fourth full-length album by Baltimore-based Beach House. Like their previous releases (Beach House in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010), it further develops their distinctive sound yet stands apart as a new piece of work. Bloom is meant to be experienced as an ALBUM, a singular, unified vision of the world. Though not stripped down, the many layers of Bloom are uncomplicated and meticulously constructed to ensure there is no waste. Bloom was recorded in 2011 at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, TX and mixed at Electric Lady in NYC. The band co-produced the record with Chris Coady.
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
Released: May 15, 2012
Beach House / Beach House - 4084599
Beach House is the debut album by Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House and was released in October 2006. The album was included at number sixteen in Pitchfork’s list of the best albums of 2006.
Released: 2012-03-15 (CD), 2006-10-03 (LP)
Beach House / Devotion - 4084598
Devotion is the second full-length record by Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House.
Released: February 26, 2008
Father John Misty / Fear Fun - SP970
When discussing ‘Father John Misty’, Tillman paraphrases Philip Roth: ’It’s all of me and none of me, if you can’t see that, you won’t get it’. What I call it is totally arbitrary, but I like the name. You’ve got to have a name. I never got to choose mine."
He goes on, “‘People who make records are afforded this assumption by the culture that their music is coming from an exclusively personal place, but more often than not what you hear are actually the affectations of an ’alter-ego’ or a cartoon of an emotionally heightened persona,” says Josh Tillman, who has been recording/releasing solo albums since 2003 and who recently left Seattle’s Fleet Foxes after playing drums from 2008-2011. “That kind of emotional quotient isn’t sustainable if your concern is portraying a human-being made up of more than just chest-beating pathos. I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humor and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plain-spoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like ‘Misty’. I mean, I may as well have called it ‘Steve’”.
Musically, Fear Fun consists of such disparate elements as Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Russell, “All Things Must Pass,” and “Physical Graffiti,” often within the same song. Tillman’s voice has never been better and often sounds like Roy Orbison, “The Caruso of Rock”, at his most joyous, while the music maintains a dark, mysterious and yet conversely playful, almost Dionysian quality. Lyrically, his absurdist fever dreams of pain and pleasure elicit, in equal measures, the blunt descriptive power of Bukowski or Brautigan, the hedonist-philosophy of Oscar Wilde and the dried-out wit of Loudon Wainwright III.
The album began gestating during what Tillman describes as an “immobilizing period of depression”, in his former Seattle home. “Songwriting for me had always only been interesting and necessary because I saw it as this vehicle for truth, but I had this realization that all I had really done with it was lick my wounds for years and years, and become more and more isolated from people and experiences. I don’t even like wound-licking music, I want to listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it. I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about.”
He continues, "I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.
“It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time, and kind of had this musical ‘Oh-there-I-am’ moment, identical to how I felt when I was writing the book. It was unbelievably liberating. I knew there was never any going back to the place I was writing from before, which was a huge relief. The monkey got banished off my back.”
Tillman brought the demos to LA producer/songwriter/pal Jonathan Wilson, and in February 2011 began recording at his home-studio in Echo Park. "Initially, the idea was to just kind of recreate the demos with me playing everything, since they were pretty fleshed out and sounded cool, but a place like LA affords you a different wealth of talent, potential, etc than just about anywhere else. I realized what was possible between Jonathan’s abilities, and the caliber of musicians that are just hanging around LA, pretty quickly. People were coming in and out of the studio all day sometimes, and other days, it would just be Jonathan and I holed up, getting stoned, and doing everything.
“I was honest with myself about what music actually excites my joy-glands when I was considering the arrangements and instrumentation,” says Tillman. “As opposed to what’s been enjoyable to me in the past – namely, alienating people or making choices based on what I think people won’t like or understand. Pretty narcissistic stuff.”
When asked about Laurel Canyon, where he eventually ended up living in the aforementioned tree-house with a family of spiders, Tillman says, “My attitude about it all is pretty explicit in the record. Given my fairly adversarial personal attitude about the music and aesthetic that comes from that place, it’s kind of a huge joke that I live in a former hippie-fantasy land. I have a really morbid sense of humor.”
Phil Ek (who everyone knows has worked with Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes) heard the rough versions of the album in May 2011 and offered his services to mix. “Phil and I have known each other for a while by virtue of Fleet Foxes, so he was familiar with my music, but we had never discussed working together. I think he immediately recognized the shift in my writing and singing from a producer and friend’s standpoint. His excitement is really evident in mixes, I think.”
Fear Fun is available May 1, 2012 from Sub Pop and Bella Union, in the US and UK/EU respectively.
Interviews by Richard Metzger and Casey Wescott
Written by Paula Zabrey, Jan. 2012
Vinyl includes mp3 download code.
Released: May 1, 2012
Fear Fun CD/LP + Rope Type shirt
Fear Fun CD or LP + Rope Type shirt
Fear Fun CD/LP + Fear Fun Cover shirt
Father John Misty’s “Fear Fun” on CD/LP + “Fear Fun Cover” shirt
THEESatisfaction / awE naturalE - SP960
THEESatisfaction are Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White. The pair live/laugh/love/dance and create in Seattle, WA. They write, produce and perform their own material: funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics with the warmth and depth of Black Jazz and Sunday morning soul, frosted with icy raps that evoke equal parts Elaine Brown, Ursula Rucker and Q-Tip. Immediately embraced for their singular sound, unflinching commentary, and immortal groove, Stas and Cat made friends, fans and family from coast to coast via their own immaculate grind; a combo of sharp digital hustle and self-booked, self-financed tours that connected them to like minds everywhere. Even crowds with nary a right foot between them find the steps when indoctrinated with THEESat’s unorthodox but right-on-time rhythms. Like their comrades Shabazz Palaces (you may have heard these two on the 2011 Shabazz Palaces album Black Up), THEESatisfaction came upon the scene with lovingly handmade CDs of their self-released mixtapes, the first of which was 2008’s That’s Weird. All has been in preparation for the album they’ve envisioned for years, their debut full-length on Sub Pop Records, awE naturalE.
If you pre-order awE naturalE by March 27th, you’ll receive a free THEESatisfaction tote bag! We’ve got a limited quantity of these things, so please act fast. Just sayin’.
Released: March 27, 2012
Yellow T-shirt + awE naturalE Bundle
THEESatisfaction Yellow T-shirt + awE naturalE Bundle
Type T-shirt + awE naturalE Bundle
THEESatisfaction Type T-shirt + awE naturalE Bundle
Mark Lanegan / Blues Funeral - 4006198
Blues Funeral is the seventh studio album by Mark Lanegan. The album was recorded with producer Alain Johannes throughout early 2011 and Johannes, as well as other musicians including Greg Dulli and Jack Irons, contributed to the recording process.
Released: March 7, 2012
Mark Lanegan / Bubblegum - 4006199
Bubblegum is an album by Mark Lanegan, released in 2004 on the Beggars Banquet label under the name “Mark Lanegan Band”.
The release features a prominent cast of guest musicians, among which are PJ Harvey, Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, and Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin of Guns N’ Roses. Also appearing on Bubblegum is Lanegan’s ex-wife, Wendy Rae Fowler. The favorably reviewed album is his most commercially successful to date, reaching number 39 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart.
Released: March 7, 2012
Low / Long Division - 4064388
Plain Recordings 180 gram vinyl re-issue of Low’s classic album. Get it!
Released: March 7, 2012
Hunx / Hairdresser Blues - SBL-73052
Hairdresser Blues is the first solo record from front man Hunx, and features all Hunx, all the time (minus drums, played by Daniel Pitout). Listen in as Hunx sings on about love, hairspray, and rollers, all backed by contagious pop melodies with streaks of glam, garage, and the Dunedin Sound in its hair. Recorded with Ivan Julian (Richard Hell & the Voidoids) in NY. All LPs include a download code.
Released: February 28, 2012
Father John Misty / Year in the Kingdom - 4097098
J. Tillman’s Year In the Kingdom on Western Vinyl Records.
Released: February 24, 2012
Papercuts / Mockingbird - 4088596
Released in 2004, Mockingbird was the first proper Papercuts album release (following 2000’s long out of print Rejoicing Songs, from Owen Ashworth’s Cassingle USA imprint) and introduced the world to the genius of songwriter and studio wizard Jason Quever.
Based out of Quever’s Panamerican Recording Studios, the Papercuts band has served as an incubator for songwriters and performers over the years, and the version of the band that collaborated for Mockingbird includes Matt Popeliuch (on keyboards and backing vocals) and Luke Top (on drums), themselves later the bandleaders of Los Angeles’ Foreign Born and Fools Gold respectively.
Mockingbird serves as a calling card for the trademark Papercuts sound: Velvety baroque pop with production that mines the rich middle ground between Phil Spector and Kevin Shields and a distinctive groove like your favorite early pop/r&b single playing at 33 rpm. Lush arrangements and biting lyrical content (try “Pan American Blues Pt. 2,” or “A Fairy Tale”) are reminiscent of Scott Walker or more recent practitioners of gloom such as Red House Painters, Okkervil River or Rufus Wainwright (minus all the bombast) but are given a unique urgency by Quever’s reverb-soaked falsetto. A classic album.
Released: February 24, 2012
Spoek Mathambo / Father Creeper - SP975
Johannesburg’s Spoek Mathambo (real name: Nthato Mokgata) first hotwired our world with a series of collaborative projects—Sweat X, Playdoe—that placed his smart, dirty vocals on top of electro-rap bangers that activated dance floors across the globe. Things went darker and deeper with his 2010 debut album, Mshini Wam, a record which took Spoek’s love affair with South African culture and his coined “township tech” as a starting point. As always, he pulled those influences in a direction all his own (incl. a pitched-down wobble-house cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”).
With the arrival of his second album, Father Creeper, Spoek Mathambo makes the Afro-futurists look old school. Each song arrangement is a statement in and of itself. Rock moments swerve electronic. The crisp, changing rhythms of Mathambo’s live drummer go cyborg with drum machine beats. Guitar lines snake and ripple across the album, ranging from summery highlife melodies to amped-up rock riffs. Soulfully sung choruses shift up into double-time rap choruses as video game bleeps splash through Mathambo’s gutturals. Lyrically, Father Creeper flips the concerns of mainstream rap by embracing a deep sensitivity for a traumatized society where the fucked-upedness is real, the optimism stubborn and the booty ripe. The more you listen to Mathambo’s world, the more it makes sense. The big picture shows us a musician hitting his stride with enough confidence and vision to craft songs as robust and challenging and attractive as life in our electrified, apocalyptic 2012.
Released: March 13, 2012
feedtime / the Aberrant years - SP980
With the Aberrant years, Sub Pop finally realizes our goal of releasing feedtime, a longtime staff favorite and a huge influence on the label’s early artistes. From 1978 or 1979 (dates are hazy) until the breakup of their classic lineup in 1989, Sydney, Australia’s feedtime—no, that’s not a typo, the ‘f’ is lowercase—shoved their mutant fusion of early American blues, stripped-down hard rock and minimalist punk on an often-hostile music scene. Their raw vision of rock music and disdain for trendy music-biz maneuvering earned them little in the way of mainstream success, but it did get them a rabid underground following (notably Sub Pop’s very own Mudhoney) and the support of seminal Aussie indie label Aberrant Records, Amphetamine Reptile Records and Rough Trade US.
The sound of feedtime was like nothing else in Australia: a vintage blues swagger via roots rock and the late ‘70s that didn’t come from an established clique, a pure strain of rock and roll with a relentless mechanical propulsion. It was the perfect symbiosis of syncopation, minimalist rock that carried a thunderous atmosphere of reckless intoxication and intense personal pain but with a self-assured “ease” amongst the chaos. The sound was both Zen-like transcendence and a form of self-defense from psychic scum. Impenetrable, yet welcoming. Guitar noise you could dance to with lyrics cut straight from experience, tradition and dead crazy urban confusion.
the Aberrant years collects the entire output of feedtime’s 1978-1989 lineup, including their self-titled debut, shovel, Cooper S and suction, plus gobs of rare bonus tracks and a full-color booklet with extensive liner notes by band biographer Leon O’Regan.
This is perfect sound and pure art. Avant-garde pub-rock. All hail the concrete urban blues.
Available as a 4 LP or 4 CD box set. The vinyl version includes a download of all the rare single and compilation tracks that are included on the CD version as well.
Released: March 13, 2012
Memoryhouse / The Slideshow Effect - SP925
Memoryhouse formed some five years ago in the depths of Southern Ontario, Canada, in a mid-size town called Guelph as a collaborative project meant to serve as an artistic outlet for composer Evan Abeele and photographer Denise Nouvion. Evan, a dedicated student of classical music and a pop-music encyclopedist, intended Memoryhouse to be a multimedia art project, pairing his instrumental compositions with Denise’s photographs and short films. Testing ways to blur the boundaries between genres, to weave a synthesis of music and photography, they experimented with themes, lyrics and multiple layers of instrumentation. Nouvion’s soft, ethereal voice anchored the frozen textures of Abeele’s compositions with frank sentimentality—a unique approach towards humanizing the electro-pop compositions they were creating. The results, at once timeless and new, were impressive and in September 2011 we at Sub Pop released a fully re-recorded, remixed and re-mastered version of the band’s 2010 self-released, digital-only EP, The Years.
The new album is called The Slideshow Effect and its title speaks to what hasn’t changed for Memoryhouse: their continuing interest in the synthesis of the aural and the visual. It refers to the photographic/cinematic technique of zooming and panning to animate still images, often used in documentary film making to give movement to archival photographs. The 10-track album, produced by Abeele, with assistance from friend, collaborator, and occasional Memoryhouse bassist Barzin Hassani Rad, finds Memoryhouse heading toward a new clarity in composition as well as sound; a more organic direction for artists who are, in their own words, transitioning from a “bedroom recording project” into a fully realized band. Nouvion’s voice has never been more present than on the new album, which finds her stepping away from Memoryhouse’s past reverbed sound in favor of a more upfront, and intimate vocal approach. They half-seriously refer to their new sound as “Taylor Swift with Built to Spill as her backing band.” However The Slideshow Effect might be described, we fully-seriously love it.
Loser edition is sold out. LP is on standard black vinyl.
Released: February 28, 2012
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
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
Music freaks world-wide know now know Michael Yonkers as one of the most exciting sounds in psychedelia. However, although Michael Yonkers has been making music since the early 1960s, until the release of Microminiature Love by DeStijl Records in 2002, he was a relatively obscure figure in the Minneapolis music scene. That might have been different if Sire Records would have released his psych classic Microminiature Love in 1968, as planned, but that was not to be. Shelved for decades, the world – or a small handful of the world – got to hear folk offerings like Grimwood.
Things changed when Clint Simonson of Destijl stumbled on one of Michael’s records – Border of My Mind – in the late 90s. Brothers Jim & Mike Blaha also lucked their way into Michael Yonkers world by a chance encounter with a 7” put out by Get Hip Records. All three set off to find this fascinating musician…and they did. While Simonson heard, fell in love with, and finally released Microminiature Love, the Blaha brothers and their band The Blind Shake chanced into a jam session with Yonkers. That jam was to lead to a fantastic collaboration by Michael Yonkers with the Blind Shake entitled Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons.
Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons is not only a great collection of punk-induced psychedelia, as heavy as anything can be without sludging to death; it was also the best thing Yonkers had done since Microminiature Love, and a high point of the Blind Shake. A few years later Yonkers and the Shake got together for a brief split/collaborative album on Learning Curve Records. Good stuff but not quite as powerful as the two aforementioned monsters. Now comes Period, Michael Yonkers and the Blind Shake’s first full album together since Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons and their best yet.
Like Yonkers and the Shake’s previous work, Period is tuneful and heavy and punk and psychedelic, but there is also something more. The album has an energy which is dark but not sinister. Yonkers’ lyrics are intense, even painful, but his voice is strong. The swirl of sound created by his homemade guitar is other worldly, and when woven into the guitar/baritone guitar/drum throb and punch created by the Blind Shake, Period is nothing less than great. Seriously, after six straight months of listening to Period, I think it is a classics of heavy weirdness – a melding of Von Lmo’s Future Language, High Rise II, and Monoshock’s Walk to the Fire. Period is even worthy of a listen next to Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum. Yeah, it is a pretty good record. Vinyl copies of Period are housed in a Stoughton “old style” tip-on sleeve.
Released: January 4, 2012