Low / The Invisible Way - SP1030
We here at Sub Pop are honored to have our name attached to The Invisible Way, Low’s tenth album in 20 years as a band. Rather than put together our own, inevitably-inadequate description of the album, we will let Low’s Alan Sparhawk do the talking:
“While driving though Chicago, on tour, we stopped finally to visit Wilco at their studio, The Loft. They had invited us to come check it out several times over the years, but this would finally be the day. It’s a great place—a sea of instruments in a relaxed, open working environment. It’s cool, but what really converted us was hearing the new Mavis Staples tracks they were working on: big, simple, raw, and intimate. Plans were made then and there.
’Don’t break my Grammy streak.’
We have worked with many of the great engineer/producers. Jeff Tweedy has been on our side of the microphone for over 25 years, however with engineer (and fellow Grammy winner) Tom Schick, he has of late become a formidable and eclectic producer. He spoke a language we understood, but then took us effortlessly into the mystery.
We’ve made many records, and you know our M.O.: slow, quiet, sometimes melancholy, and, we hope, sometimes pretty…
How is this different from any other Low record?
- Mimi sings lead on five of the eleven songs (she usually only does one or two, despite being a fan favorite).
- Piano, lots of piano… and an acoustic guitar.
- Songs about intimacy, the drug war, the class war, plain old war war, archeology, and love.
Thank you for your time again and please enjoy what we made. I think it’s beautiful."
Pre-orderers at SubPop.com will receive the CD, The Visible End, a limited-edition companion piece featuring four stunning alternate takes of album tracks. Also, if you pre-order the vinyl LP, you’ll receive the limited-edition colored LOSER edition. Both of these offers are limited quantity, so order soon! While we’re out of the limited, Loser Edition version of The Invisible Way, it will be available at select independent retailers on March 19th. Call your local record store on release day for availability.
Released: March 19, 2013
The Ruby Suns / Christopher - SP1026
Travel through the desert of pop long enough and, no matter the odds, eventually you’ll find an oasis. And it just might be frozen.
When The Ruby Suns’ main mover Ryan McPhun alighted in Oslo, Norway in the winter of 2010, he knew he’d found an artistic haven. He’d always been a musical wayfarer, collecting sounds and styles from his travels around the globe, depositing them into three knockout Ruby Suns albums (2006’s The Ruby Suns, 2008’s Sea Lion and 2010’s Fight Softly). Amidst Scandinavia’s icy architecture, fjords and indomitable gloss-pop, McPhun found the inspiration for Christopher.
Christopher is an album about starting over, but not necessarily moving forward. It’s a breakup album, but not necessarily a sad one. The Christopher referred to in the album title is part of an Auckland-based inside joke that we’re on the outside of. To you and me, Christopher is a metaphor: He’s that awkward, hormonal menace from when you were young and foolish and eager for everything. The story of Christopher mirrors McPhun’s coming of age: After a childhood spent in nerdy isolation, hiding away in his bedroom with his guitar while his older sister hosted high school ragers in their parents’ Ventura, CA home; after leaving home; after splitting from his long-term girlfriend and bandmate, McPhun has stopped thinking so much and joined the party.
McPhun and A-list engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Gang Gang Dance) polished Christopher to an opalescent sheen, yielding the kind of expensive-sounding, future-leaning ear candy typically in the province of Top 40 radio.
Christopher‘s opening song-floating on synths and ecstatic dancefloor energy-details McPhun’s inebriated encounter with his musical crush, Robyn, at a music festival. “Flower among the leaves is what you are,” he sings, his sheepish grin practically bursting out of your speakers, “cold glass of water in the desert of pop.”
Takes one to know one, Ryan.
If you pre-order Christopher, you’ll receive a limited-edition bonus seven inch featuring two very unique remixes of album track, “In Real Life.” Also, if you pre-order Christopher on LP, you’ll receive the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of the record. Both of these opportunities are a while-supplies-last opportunity, so act quickly.
Released: January 29, 2013
Pissed Jeans / Honeys - SP1029
Age and four full-lengths haven’t mellowed Pissed Jeans; they can still unleash a blare that will exfoliate your cochlea. Formed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Pissed Jeans released Shallow, their first album, in 2005 on Parts Unknown Records. The band relocated to Philadelphia seven years ago, and Sub Pop released Hope for Men in 2007, and then King of Jeans in 2009. The latter was recorded by Grammy nominee Alex Newport, who also recorded Honeys.
Age and experience have, however, refined Pissed Jeans. Their ideas and execution have become more subtly focused. The songs on Honeys are direct without being obtuse, evocative without being vague, personal without being indulgent. They also rock like nobody’s business. Forget all the claptrap you’ve heard about other bands delivering the goods. If you want bloodthirsty, you’ve got it… At times Honeys is the sound of being bashed over the head with a snow shovel. At times the band slows down and sounds like waking from a nightmare you can’t quite remember. The songs are catchy, but in a way that would appeal to mental patients who only understand colors.
Honeys stews on the kind of mundane, niggling things that keep you up late at night. It’s an ode to the misery and shackles of being a responsible adult, and the shame of one’s own narcissism. Pissed Jeans trucks in menacing songs about insecurity, and nobody has ever done it better.
Vinyl LP comes with a digital download code inside the sleeve.
*As of 1/24 there are only 50 Loser Editions and 200 Pissed Jeans First Demo left (free with CD or LP orders).*
If you pre-order Honeys, you’ll receive a limited-edition bonus seven inch featuring Pissed Jeans’ long-lost original demos.
Also, if you pre-order Honeys on LP, you’ll receive the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of the record. Both of these opportunities are a while-supplies-last opportunity, so act quickly.
Released: February 12, 2013
METZ / Dirty Shirt - SP1032
This is the digital single for “Dirty Shirt” b/w “Leave Me Out” by Toronto’s very good band, METZ. Both of these songs were previously only available as a limited-edition 7" single.
Released: October 9, 2012
Dum Dum Girls / End of Daze - SP1001
Time heals all wounds, or so the phrase goes. For the dreamers however, time gives them — or maybe demands — the perspective of every angle, every possibility, every opportunity to wring out whatever is born from experience. Simple moments alone can magnify these perspectives, culminating in a deeper empathy, and for a select few, a muse for new artistic expression. Such seems the fate of Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls.
Much has been written of Dee Dee’s personal trials, but no words speak better of her handling of experience than her musical output. End of Daze offers a bracing, daring sonic example of an artist evolving in her understanding of the world.
End of Daze flows from a pair of bombastic opening tracks, through the simmering, plaintive cover of Strawberry Switchblade’s “Trees and Flowers”, to the regretful ballad “Lord Knows”, in which Dee Dee’s voice remains rich yet crystalline, a gorgeous, toned instrument revealing an awareness of fear and misstep. Closing the EP is “Season in Hell”, a raucous and practically joyful closing of the book on past pains, and, perhaps more importantly, a looking forward (“Doesn’t the dawn look divine?”) to the future. It is the last stages of grief and its repercussions, a hopeful awakening somewhere on the other side, caught on tape.
The EP was recorded in 2011 and 2012 with Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes and Dee Dee’s longtime producer Richard Gottehrer, whose track record includes the Brill Building, CBGB, and Sire Records.
Vinyl includes an mp3 download.
The first 350 people who pre-order End of Daze on vinyl LP will receive the limited Loser Edition of the EP on clear-colored (we know, that’s an oxymoron) vinyl.
As of September 7th, we’re plum out of the colored-vinyl Loser Edition of End of Daze. Call your favorite independent retailer on September 25th to find out if you can get one there, or, pick it up in classic black from us on this very web page.
Released: September 25, 2012
Canada’s METZ are a return to everything that’s good about loud, ecstatic live music; a frantic nod to Nation of Ulysses, Shellac, The Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, and Public Image Ltd. at their most vicious, while carving out some heavy new business. METZ have been around for over three years, sharing stages with Mission of Burma, Mudhoney, Oneida, and NoMeansNo. METZ, the band’s self-titled and formidable debut full-length was produced by the band and recorded by Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and Alexandre Bonenfant. Both live and here on this record, METZ articulate with deafening clarity what we’ve known for some time: The world of good music needs a new power trio, and this is it.
The LP will come with a digital download code.
Released: October 9, 2012
METZ White T-Shirt Bundle
METZ “Drums” T-shirt + METZ CD or LP
METZ Black T-shirt Bundle
METZ “Cover” T-shirt + METZ CD or LP
Sera Cahoone / Deer Creek Canyon - SP1005
Sera Cahoone is a long way from home. Growing up the daughter of a dynamite salesman in the Colorado foothills, she got her start on the drums at 11, and at 12 her mom was taking her to dive bars to sit in with the scruffy old bluesmen. By the time she picked up a guitar, she had been so shaped by these things – the dynamite, the blues, the woods and the hills – it’s no surprise she went on to be one of the strongest songwriters in Seattle’s ever-vibrant Americana scene.
Since migrating to Seattle in 1998, she has played with Carissa’s Wierd, Band of Horses, Betsy Olson, and singer-songwriter Patrick Park. She released her solo debut in 2006, and her widely acclaimed Sub Pop debut Only as the Day Is Long in 2008.
Deer Creek Canyon, her third solo album, sees her ruminating on the gravitational pull of home. Titled for the Colorado canyon where she came of age, where her mother still lives, Deer Creek Canyon delves deeper and sees her voice remarkably stronger than on her past albums. Where her previous efforts explored the complicated throes of dark emotions, this album is more richly focused. Home is even present in the more personal songs struggling with various facets of love and friendship (“Worry All Your Life”, “Shakin’ Hands”).
Deer Creek Canyon was recorded in 2012 at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Wash., then headed to LA where Sera co-produced it with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver). True to her sensibilities, she enlisted the talents of her long-time live band – Jason Kardong, Fielder, Jonas Haskins, Jason Merculief, Sarah Standard – plus Tomo Nakayama on piano and organ, and Emily Ann Peterson on cello.
All these things contributed to Cahoone singing from a firmer foundation this time around, trusting the simplicity, bending against the elements like those trees in Deer Creek Canyon. Listen closely, the music feels like home.
Pre-order Deer Creek Canyon on CD or LP by September 25th, and you’ll get a limited edition 7" featuring two non-album tracks,“Dog Song” by Sera Cahoone, and “I Like to Fuck” by Toby and Skeeter (Featuring Sera Cahoone and Jason Kardong). Also, if you pre-order the album on vinyl LP, you’ll receive the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of Deer Creek Canyon. Maybe you picked up on the fact that both of these things are limited, so order quick!
Released: September 25, 2012
The Helio Sequence / Negotiations - SP910
Negotiations, the fifth full-length album written, recorded, and produced by The Helio Sequence, would sound different had it not been for a flood. In 2009, while touring in support of Keep Your Eyes Ahead, singer-guitarist Brandon Summers got an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night. Back home in Portland, OR, the band’s studio/practice space was under nearly a foot of water. Heavy rains had caused the building’s plumbing to overflow like a geyser. But Summers and drummer-keyboardist, Benjamin Weikel, were lucky: All of their best equipment was either on tour with them, or racked high enough off the studio floor to be spared.
Still, the band needed a new home. After three months of searching, Summers and Weikel settled into a 1500-square-foot, former breakroom-cafeteria in an old warehouse. They no longer had to work their recording schedule around loud rehearsals by neighboring bands, but were free to create late into the night in uninterrupted seclusion. With twice the square footage, the space also had room for more gear, a lot more gear. They decided to use this opportunity to try something different.
Summers and Weikel, who started playing together in 1996 and self-produced their first EP in 1999, have always been gearheads. But it wasn’t until the success of Keep Your Eyes Ahead that they could afford to step things up: The duo spent months (and many hard-earned dollars) retooling their studio. They left behind much of the cleaner-sounding modern digital studio equipment and instruments they’d always relied on, and embraced vintage gear that would color their recordings with a warmer, deeper sound: Tape and analog delays, spring and plate reverbs, tube preamps, ribbon microphones, and analog synths.
As the new studio came together, so did the songwriting. It proved to be the most spontaneous, open, and varied writing process they had ever experienced. Weikel, who was listening to minimalist/ambient composers like Roedelius and Manuel Goettsching, had created dozens of abstract synth loops of chord progressions and arpeggios. The two would put a loop on and improvise together with Summers on guitar and Weikel on drums, recording one take of each jam. Other songs like “One More Time”, “October” and “The Measure” quickly formed from rough one-minute sketches by Summers, while the down tempo “Harvester of Souls” was completely improvised musically and lyrically in a single take.
Tempering the free form approach to writing was Summers and Weikel’s meticulous attention to production and arrangement. Taking cues from the spaciousness, subtlety, and detail of Brian Eno and late-era Talk Talk records, they moved forward. Listening to the recorded live jam sessions, they set to work transforming the ditties into actual songs. “Open Letter,” “Silence on Silence”, “Downward Spiral” and the title track — some of the spacier, mesmerizing songs on Negotiations — came together in this way. Summers’ one-minute demos were brought to life in collaboration by Weikel spending weeks working on sound treatments and synth landscapes to enhance the songs.
Lyrically, Summers affirmed the improvised ethos, working deep into the night ad-libbing alone in front of the mic, abandoning pre-written lyrics and instead preferring to create in the moment. His delivery was largely inspired by the starkness and understated romanticism of Sinatra’s Capitol era “Suicide Albums”, imparting a more introspective and personal tone. “I used to view a lyric as a statement,” he says, “Now, I see it more as a letter you’re writing to yourself or a conversation with your subconscious.”
This collection of shimmering, reverb-heavy songs is a meditation on those inner dialogues (hence, Negotiations) with solitude, memory, misgivings, loss, atonement, acceptance and hope. Most of all, it’s a record that serves as a testament to the beauty, blessing, and excitement of a fresh start.
Vinyl includes an mp3 download.
If you pre-order Negotiations from SubPop.com or buy it from select retailers on CD or LP, it will come with a quadrophonic companion CD called Aces. Aces is meant to be played simultaneously with Negotiations on two different stereo systems to create an enhanced spatial experience.
Also, if you pre-order the LP from SubPop.com (or pick it up a select independent retailers), you’ll receive the Loser Edition of the record, a limited, colored-vinyl version of the record. In this case, clear with gold flecks. Both Aces and the Loser Edition are limited, so get on it!
Released: September 11, 2012
Brooklyn resident, comedian and really great guy (and Russian immigrant) Eugene Mirman has, among a great many other things, released two previous albums: Suicide Squeeze Records’ The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman (voted best of 2004 by Time Out New York and The Onion) and the 2006 genre-bending (not really) follow-up En Garde, Society! on Sub Pop Records (which Eugene thinks reached an Amazon ranking of about 2,045 in music!). Now, three years later, The Mirm (that’s what the crew on the Flight of the Conchords tour called him) is releasing the possibly offensive, but most likely charming God Is a Twelve-Year-Old Boy with Asperger’s. Recorded live in Chicago (the city where Abraham Lincoln lost his virginity) at the Lakeshore Theater (an intimate alt-comedy theater) in super-late 2008, this album is a collection of Eugene’s funniest new stuff.
Released: October 6, 2009
Poor Moon is a band comprised of longtime friends Christian Wargo, Casey Wescott, and brothers Ian and Peter Murray. And Poor Moon is the title of their full-length debut. Before there was a band or a record, there was a series of songs forged by Christian Wargo over several years. That’s one of the things that makes Poor Moon sound so special: this band grew out of the songs, not vice-versa.
“I’ve known Christian for so long, and have loved his songwriting as long as I’ve known him,” says Wescott. The two men previously played together in Pedro the Lion and Crystal Skulls; both are members of Fleet Foxes.
Assorted timbres decorate these ten originals-marimba, harpsichord, fretless zither-but this isn’t everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arranging. Thoughtful, impassioned vocal harmonies further reinforce the myriad musical bonds at play. And while these songs cover some of the most tumultuous episodes in Wargo’s life, they handle even the heaviest topics, including death, addiction, and spirituality, with a certain lightness. “There’s often a paradox between what a song sounds like and what we’re actually talking about,” adds Ian Murray.
Poor Moon was produced and recorded by the band at Highland House, Fastback Studios and Avast! in Seattle, Washington. The album was engineered and mixed by Jared Hankins and mastered by Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Queen, Prince).
All LPs come with a download code.
If you pre-order Poor Moon, you’ll receive a limited edition Poor Moon 7"! While the supply of these things lasts!
Released: August 28, 2012
David Cross / Bigger and Blackerer - SP882
The new David Cross album and DVD Bigger and Blackerer was taped during two shows, back-to-back on the same evening at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. As will be obvious by the packaging (and maybe some of the words here), this title applies to both a CD and a DVD; separate releases in separate formats with the same name. Though both media are housed on a shiny, silver five-inch disc, each is an entity unto itself. And while there is some overlap, each is full of material that appears solely on one or the other. Only by watching the DVD will you learn of Cross’ unique relationship with the deaf community, share his canny insights into the editorial machinations behind the Bible, and marvel at how well a bald, middle-aged white guy can fill out a pair of jeans. Yet one must listen to the CD in order to hear about gastro-intestinal misadventures with his dog Ollie Red Sox, or sing along with “The Sultan’s Revenge,” the swinging, Vegas-style opening number composed by Cross and his good friend Mark Rivers (author of the theme to Mr. Show).
During his illustrious career, David Cross has played recurring roles on the TV programs Arrested Development and The Colbert Report, and won an Emmy Award for his contributions to The Ben Stiller Show. He has also starred in such films as Waiting for Guffman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the Bob Dylan fantasy I’m Not There (in which he portrayed Allen Ginsberg), and Kung Fu Panda. Bigger and Blackerer is both David Cross’ third album and second DVD on Sub Pop Records, preceded by the albums It’s Not Funny (2004) and Shut Up, You Fucking Baby! (2002), and the 2003 DVD tour documentary Let America Laugh. He is currently living in exile in the UK, working on the show The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (to be broadcast on IFC in the USA this fall).
We’re also offering a discounted combo-pack of both the Bigger and Blackerer CD AND DVD right here!
The deluxe, double LP version of Bigger and Blackerer comes packaged with the Bigger and Blackerer DVD! That’s genius comedy for 2 of your senses! Also, this very DVD-accompanying LP comes with a luxurious black velvet sleeve that is printed with gold leaf!*
*Not actual gold leaf, but, you know, gold ink.
Released: May 25, 2010
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
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
Poor Moon is Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls), Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards). The band, named for frontman and primary songwriter Christian Wargo’s favorite Canned Heat song, began four years ago as a long-distance project while Wargo and Wescott were touring in support of the Fleet Foxes 2008 self-titled debut and Ian and Peter were living in the Bay area. Their first shows were at intimate Seattle house parties where they used playful throwaway monikers like Rabbit Kingdom and Cookie Mask. It wasn’t until the band opened up for Deakin at Seattle’s Neumos (under the name Peppermint Majesty) that things began to really take form. Recording began soon after. We at Sub Pop are immoderately proud to be releasing Poor Moon records. Illusion, Poor Moon’s first release, was recorded in a variety of bedrooms, practice spaces, the Murray residence, and at AVAST! and Fastback studios in Seattle, with the help of engineer Jared Hankins and guest performances by many musician friends. Poor Moon’s debut full-length will be out on Sub Pop in August 2012.
Released: March 27, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Kinski / Kinski / Acid Mothers Temple - SP626
A four-song split release from Kinski and their friends Acid Mothers Temple, limited to 5000 copies on CD and 1000 on double-LP. After a December 2001 Japanese tour together, the two bands did a bit of home-recording together. Kinski’s Chris Martin in the record’s liner notes: “Months and months later, I sat down with the tapes and began mixing what seemed to be the most interesting 10 minutes of the session, which became ’It’s Nice to Hear Your Voice.’ Kawabata [Makoto] wanted to overdub onto my mix (along with Tsuyama, Acid Mothers’ bassist, who wasn’t at the original sessions) and the results are ‘Planet Crazy Gold.’ ‘Fell Asleep On Your Lawn’ and ‘Virginal Plane 5:23’ are new Kinski and Acid Mothers Temple tracks (respectively).”
This CD is limited to 5000 copies in the US.
1. Fell Asleep On Your Lawn (Kinski)
2. It’s Nice To Hear Your Voice (Kinski and Acid Mothers Temple)
3. Planet Crazy Gold (Kinski and Acid Mothers Temple)
4. Virginal Plane (Acid Mothers Temple)
Released: October 7, 2003
Kinski’s 2002 debut Sub Pop release (not counting their 2001 contribution to the v.2 of the Sub Pop Singles Club), the Semaphore EP includes the song “Semaphore,” which later appeared on the band’s Jan. 2003 full-length Airs Above Your Station, a cover of “Point That Thing Somewhere Else” by The Clean, and two otherwise unreleased tracks.
Released: October 8, 2002
Niki & The Dove / The Drummer - SP986
Niki & The Dove, the Swedish duo of Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf who NME recently referred to as “…one of Europe’s most exciting bands,” return with this new, digital-only EP called The Drummer. Four of the seven tracks here (“The Drummer,” “Last Night,” “Mother Protect,” and “Manon”) will appear on the band’s forthcoming and as-yet-unscheduled 2012 full-length debut. Along with their June 2011 single for The Fox, this new EP provides plenty of reasons to look forward to in 2012.
NME (these guys again…) had the following to say about “The Drummer”:
“Niki & The Dove continue distilling the elemental into cautionary, unpredictable electronic shapes on this, perhaps their most gleaming pop moment to date.”
Released: October 18, 2011
Spoek Mathambo / Put Some Red on It - SP982
Put Some Red on It is Sub Pop’s first release from South Africa’s Spoek Mathambo. Here’s SPIN magazine on Spoek’s cover of Joy Division’s “Control” in a recent “Songs You Must Hear Now” section: “Slo-mo vocals plunge into the sepulcher as drum machines ricochet and synths snake on this ‘darkwave township house’ cover of Joy Division.”
Produced by Spoek in collaboration with Copenhagen-based future-bass artist Chllngr, Put Some Red on It is a 6-song digital-only EP featuring two tracks (“Put Some Red on It” and “Dog to Bone”) that will also appear in some form on Spoek’s as-yet-unscheduled 2012 debut full-length, plus remixes of those tracks and a brief intro piece. We’re just ridiculously excited about the music Spoek’s making and this EP provides a glimpse at a album we hope you’ll soon look forward to as much as we do.
Released: September 27, 2011