Soundgarden / Screaming Life/Fopp (2013 Reissue) - SP1065
From the depths of the Sub Pop archives comes a reissue of Soundgarden’s thunderous opening salvo, Screaming Life, plus bonus tracks from the Fopp EP and Sub Pop 200 compilation. This reissue marks the first time these tracks will be available digitally, and their first appearance on vinyl since the original, late-80s pressings (notwithstanding a long-gone, late-’90s repress of Screaming Life). All tracks have been remastered by Seattle studio wizard and producer of the original Screaming Life and Sub Pop 200 sessions, Jack Endino, who had this to say about it:
“Ah, Screaming Life, Soundgarden’s debut, and one of the first real records I made for anyone outside my own band. I already knew Soundgarden pretty well, since they and Skin Yard had shared the stage many times in Seattle’s tiny club scene circa 1985-1986. Soon after opening Reciprocal Recording in July 1986, there I was with Soundgarden, trying to make the most of our eight tracks. Somehow, we found room for all of Matt Cameron’s ‘bonus tubs,’ Hiro’s primordial Fender bass, and a whopping four tracks to share between Kim Thayil’s mad guitar psychedelia and Chris Cornell’s still-expanding voice. ‘Nothing To Say’ was the song that made us all look at each other and go, ‘uh, holy crap, how did we do this?’
Stuff started happening. A&M came calling. SST agreed to put out their next record. But Soundgarden was not finished with Sub Pop. They contributed ‘Sub Pop Rock City,’ about Seattle’s then-rising ‘grunge’ scene, to the Sub Pop 200 comp; and they threw everyone a curveball with Steve Fisk-produced Ohio Players and Green River covers on the Fopp EP.
The glorious vistas of a major label future awaited them. To quote Kim from an old interview, ‘It was karma, it was dogma, it was dog breath.’"
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: 2013-11-26 (2xLP), 2013-11-26 (CD), 2013-11-26 (2xLP + t-shirt adult xs bundle), 2013-11-26 (2xLP + t-shirt adult s bundle)...
Screaming Life/Fopp (2013 Reissue) CD/LP + Fopp White Shirt
Soundgarden’s “Screaming Life/Fopp” (2013 Reissue) CD or LP + “Fopp White” Shirt
Screaming Life/Fopp (2013 Reissue) CD/LP + Screaming Life Black Shirt
Soundgarden’s “Screaming Life/Fopp” (2013 Reissue) on CD or LP + “Screaming Life Black” Shirt
Soundgarden / Hunted Down/Nothing to Say - SP012
You suck without this. Heavy!!!
Released: 1987-10-01 (CD), 1987-10-01 (CS), 1987-10-01 (LP), 1987-06-01 (7 inch)...
Shearwater / Fellow Travelers - SP1050
Fellow Travelers is the new, upcoming album from Shearwater. Here’s what Shearwater’s own Jonathan Meiburg has to say about it:
Fellow Travelers wasn’t supposed to be a full-length record, so I’m a little surprised to admit that it’s my favorite Shearwater album so far. Somehow it slipped under the door.
It was meant to be a small thing, maybe a home-recorded EP, to release between Animal Joy and the next full-length (for which we’re in the studio right now). But it took on a life of its own. Re-imagining and renovating songs by the bands we’ve toured with was like leafing through a scrapbook, and brought back the highs and lows of a decade of touring, from dives in Oklahoma and squats in Slovenia to the Fillmore West, the Bataclan, and the MGM Grand (ask me about that one sometime).
Audiences never see most of touring life, and it’s the hidden moments that came to mind while we were recording. I thought of Chris Martin, pacing nervously in the bowels of the LA Forum, before the first show of a tour for an album on which EMI had staked its existence; of Brian Campbell, Clinic’s indomitable bassist, muttering “I hate these f_____ things” before donning a grimy surgical mask for the thousandth time; of David Thomas Broughton wandering into an audience in Brussels mid-song, knocking things over and falling down, then slipping us a half-smile offstage; of Xiu Xiu hiding stuffed animals and candy in the stacks of a university library for their devoted fans to find; of Sharon Van Etten playing us the rough demos for the album that would put her on the map while she drove our van through the snowy Idaho mountains.
Touring is an expression of faith—in yourself, in your friends, in the hope that the world has a place for you. In that spirit, I invited all the bands we covered to play on Fellow Travelers, with the caveat that you couldn’t play on your own song. Almost everyone rose to the bait: Chris from the Baptist Generals turned Clinic’s “Tomorrow” into a bewildered, stomping incantation, while Clinic, in turn, infected the Generals’ “Fucked Up Life” with drum machines, radio signals, and their trademark combo organ. I added recordings I made of birds and waves in the Falklands to David Thomas Broughton’s “Ambiguity,” and he sent us a tape he made of sparrows, bulbuls, and the clanking shovels of highway workers in Pyongyang, North Korea (long story), which we spliced into our rock-anthem version of Xiu Xiu’s “I Luv the Valley OH!!” And Jenn from Wye Oak, who, like us, had also toured with Lou B, added vocals to “Natural One,” our most straight-up reading of the bunch, since I couldn’t think of a better way to honor a perfectly-constructed song.
Leon Trotsky, who gave the words “fellow travelers” their political aura, once wrote that “a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work.” Maybe that’s why these songs seem like they belong together, to me. Listening back, I get a feeling of common effort, of common purpose, among all of our different musical paths; we’ve all tried to defy or transform reality in small ways with our music, and to prove it with our performing lives. Playing these songs felt like riding a wave.
– JM, NYC, March 2013
PRE-ORDER DETAILS & RELATED NEWS
—>If you pre-order Fellow Travelers from us here at Subpop.com, you will receive a bonus 7" with 2 tracks not on the record. Those songs are going to be “This Year” by the Mountain Goats and “Black River Song” by Angels of Light.
→-Customers who pre-order the LP will receive the limited, colored-vinyl “Loser Edition” of the album.
All of these items are on a first come, first served basis and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Order now to secure all of these limited-edition items!
LOSER EDITIONS ARE NOW SOLD OUT. THANKS/SORRY!
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: 2013-11-26 (CD), 2013-11-26 (LP), 2013-11-26 (CD + t-shirt adult s bundle), 2013-11-26 (CD + t-shirt adult m bundle)...
Fellow Travelers + Baby Lantern Tshirt
Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers LP or CD + Baby Lantern T-shirt
Fellow Travelers + Travelers Cover Shirt
Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers LP or CD + Travelers Cover Shirt
The Head and the Heart / Let's Be Still - SP1060
In 2010, Virginia native Jonathan Russell and California transplant Josiah Johnson formed the core songwriting partnership of The Head and The Heart in their new hometown of Seattle. The band was quickly rounded out with the addition of drummer Tyler Williams, keyboardist Kenny Hensley, vocalist/violinist Charity Rose Thielen and bassist Chris Zasche. Their 2011 debut album on Sub Pop became one of the label’s best-selling debut releases to date. In a few short months The Head and The Heart went from playing open mic nights to selling out San Francisco’s Fillmore, Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, New York’s Terminal 5 and more, building a loyal fanbase across the country.
The new album, Let’s Be Still, is a snapshot of a band that didn’t exist just four short years ago. The album was recorded at Seattle’s Studio Litho with assistance from prior production collaborator Shawn Simmons. Later, the band traversed the country to mix the album in Bridgeport, CT, with Peter Katis, revered for his work with bands such as the National, Interpol, and the Swell Season.
LOSER EDITION VINYL IS ALL SOLD OUT. THANKS FOR PLAYING!
Limited edition postcard sets are still available for now though! All of these items are on a first come, first served basis and once they’re gone, they’re gone!
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: October 15, 2013
Let's Be Still + Gold LBS Shirt
Let’s Be Still on LP or CD + Gold Let’s Be Still Shirt
Let's Be Still + Royal Blue LBS Shirt
Let’s Be Still LP or CD + Royal Blue Let’s Be Still Shirt
Let's Be Still + Heather Black THATH Shirt
Let’s Be Still on LP or CD + Heather Black THATH Shirt
Let's Be Still + Indigo THATH Shirt
Let’s Be Still LP or CD + Indigo THATH Shirt
Obits / Bed & Bugs - SP1058
Obits are a four-piece band who currently live in Brooklyn, NY, and whose music is probably considered an occupant of the rock music genre, specifically in the areas of garage, punk, surf, surf-punk, and garage-punk (though, not surf-garage). On this new album, they’ve also covered a song (“Besetchet”) from volume 23 of the excellent Ethiopiques series; so much for tidy categorization. The album for which this clumsy biographical dispatch has been prepared is entitled Bed & Bugs and it is the third full-length album by Obits, following their 2011 album Moody, Standard and Poor, which itself followed their 2009 album I Blame You, which we in the professional music industry refer to as the band’s “debut.” Bed & Bugs was recorded somewhere in Arlington, VA at an unnamed recording studio, simply and rather unhelpfully described as “upstairs.” This recording was accomplished by Nikhil Ranade, and the resulting songs were later mixed, variously, by this same Nikhil Ranade as well as Eli Janney and Geoff Sanoff.
On listening to Bed & Bugs, the discerning listener may well note more than a passing similarity to such bands as Hot Snakes, Edsel, Drive Like Jehu, Girls Against Boys, Pitchfork, possibly Television or the Wipers. This is un-coincidental! With the exception of those last two, Obits share members with all of those bands.
Less flippantly: There are scenes and there are connections; trending hashtags and experiences. It’s cool, these are not either/or propositions and there’s no need to postulate any us vs. any them, the kids today and the back in my day. Much of what’s best about any music, all art, across genres, within and beyond the latest craze, is the way it speaks to some definition of “us.” Proving, as Obits sing in Bed & Bugs’ “Receptor,” that “You ain’t the world’s lone receptor,” is deeply valuable. Because we’re all headed to the same place: me today, you tomorrow. And, in that waning interstitial space, let’s go ahead and have what we want. No need to choose: make ours both Bed & Bugs.
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: September 10, 2013
Bed & Bugs + The Obits Cursive Black T-shirt
Obits’ Bed & Bugs CD or LP + The Obits Cursive Black T-shirt Bundle
Bed & Bugs + Obits Pocket Bug White T-shirt
Obits’ Bed & Bugs CD or LP + Obits Pocket Bug White T-shirt Bundle
Bed & Bugs + Obits Pocket Bug Black T-shirt
Obits’ Bed & Bugs CD or LP + Obits Pocket Bug Black T-shirt Bundle
His Electro Blue Voice / Ruthless Sperm - SP1054
Ruthless Sperm. What’s in a name? A whole hell of a lot, actually. Sperm can ruin everything. Persistent little shits that fight their way to the prize. If just one soldier gets ahold of its egg of choice, things will break apart, bubble and mutate. A microscopic violence that leads to thirty plus pounds of sludge and flesh. Still, beauty tends to be the outcome after all this splashy mess and most parties find a happy, rewarding ending. Most parties. To the unfortunate others, the outcome can be more terrifying than anything dreamed up in a Polanski flick.
Italy’s His Electro Blue Voice follows a similar path to creation. Once the choice is made, it’s guaranteed the trip will be violent and unrelenting. Only the band doesn’t tell you up front which crooked path is gonna lead you to the finish line (at first, they may not even know). But whether it’s slathered in a thick glaze of neo-gothic guitar, an unexpected electronic pulse or leveled under a death trip full of panic inducing terror shrieks, His Electro Blue Voice have become masters at building soundscapes that leave brave listeners spent, soiled and with nothing positive on their mind.
On Ruthless Sperm – His Electro Blue Voice’s debut full-length, after a string of collectible singles/EPs and an appearance on the Sub Pop 1000 compilation – they set their trajectories on a Kraut-driven rhythm; a haunting, cinematic wash or a mechanically-sound industrial thump. Thirty-plus minutes of shock-horror blasts, blaring cyber-synth attacks and that gloriously-repetitive Stoogeoid-meets-Killing Joke throb. The end result is a platter that’s as direct as it is deadly. Yet for all the bombast and bummer, His Electro Blue Voice still bring forth euphoric hooks and shards of shoegaze, if only to leave them strewn about within the mechanical wreckage. You can almost hear the sounds of the early 4AD roster in the grooves, left teetering between warped indie sensibility and creepy-crawl madness. Crazy sounding, but damned if it doesn’t stick in your head.
Ruthless Sperm by His Electro Blue Voice: subtle as a construction site and precise like a leather gloved killer. This is the apocalypse. This is end times. Thankfully we get a decent soundtrack to go with it.
Also worth noting, pre-orders of the LP will receive the limited, RED colored-vinyl Loser Edition of the record. These things are governed by a while supplies last type of law, so order soon to ensure your obtainment of such wonderful things.
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: August 20, 2013
These relationships are built into An Object at every level. In collaboration with friend and Grammy-nominated designer Brian Roettinger (5 E.P.‘s, Nouns, Losing Feeling, Everything In Between), the band prepared and assembled the physical packaging of An Object, including jackets, inserts, and labels, fusing the roles of manufacturer, artist, and musician into one. It is this sense of the total work of art that underlines An Object as the culmination of two years of touring, writing, and performing, finding No Age moving into new terrain at the height of their powers.
An Object was recorded by longtime No Age collaborator Facundo Bermudez and No Age at Gaucho’s Electronics in Los Angeles.
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: August 20, 2013
An Object + No Age Bleach T-shirt
No Age’s An Object CD or LP + No Age Bleach T-shirt Bundle
An Object + An Object White T-shirt
No Age’s An Object on CD or LP + White An Object T-shirt Bundle
An Object + An Object Black T-shirt
No Age’s An Object CD or LP + Black An Object T-shirt Bundle
Washed Out / Paracosm - SP1055
The music recorded by Ernest Greene as Washed Out has been nothing if not dreamy, and on his second full-length, Paracosm, he takes the dreamlike, otherworldly atmospheres of his music a huge leap further.
The title refers to a phenomenon in which people create detailed imaginary worlds, and the idea of escaping is all over Paracosm’s music and lyrics. Paracosm finds Greene reaching beyond the computers and synths that filled Washed Out’s previous recordings, expanding his sonic palette to include over 50 different instruments, the most significant of which turned out to be old keyboards like the Mellotron, Chamberlin, Novatron, and Optigan.
“I’ve grown as a songwriter to the point where I want to have more involved arrangements, and that’s really hard to do with sampling,” says Greene. “These machines were kind of a happy medium: The sounds have a very worn, distressed quality about them, much like an old sample. But they also offer much more flexibility because they’re playable.”
Following two years on the road in support of the critically-acclaimed Within And Without, and the lauded Life Of Leisure EP (which can still be heard during “Portlandia’s” opening credits), he and his wife, Blair (who plays in the Washed Out live band), relocated from the big-city hubbub of Atlanta to a house outside Athens, where Greene could shut out the real world in favor of an alternate universe of his own making. Listeners will be immediately struck by Paracosm’s seamless melding of organic and synthetic sounds, and its lighter tone. Greene says: “I knew from the beginning I wanted this record to be optimistic, very much a daytime-sounding album. I think the last record felt more nocturnal in some ways. This one I just imagined being outside, surrounded by a beautiful, natural environment.”
With its gorgeous execution and uplifting attitude, Paracosm is primed to be this year’s summer record. And it promises to do what its name suggests: take listeners to a better world.
Paracosm was recorded at in Atlanta with Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Gnarls Barkley, Washed Out – Within and Without) at Maze Studios.
MP3 download included with all vinyl releases
Released: August 13, 2013
Paracosm LP or CD + Cream Washed Out Shirt
Paracsom CD or LP bundled with cream-colored Washed Out t-shirt
Paracosm LP or CD + Navy Washed Out Shirt
Paracsom CD or LP bundled with navy blue Washed Out t-shirt
Daughn Gibson / Me Moan - SP1010
Me Moan is Daughn Gibson’s second full-length record, and his first with Sub Pop.
If you pre-order Me Moan from your good friends here at Sub Pop, you’ll receive at no extra charge, a limited-edition Daughn Gibson seven inch featuring the songs “Every Night I Fall in Love” b/w “Brandy and Daughn”. Daughn himself describes the single this way: “Way back in the year 2002, I produced two R&B singles for a teenage sister group called No Option out of a small recording booth located in a ballerina studio. As payment I received a Korg D1600, and these two songs were among the first solo things I ever recorded on it.” As you can surmise, this is likely going to be a rare piece in future record collections. We’re also going to be giving people who pre-order Me Moan on LP the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition. Such is the nature of limited-edition things, when they’re gone, they’re gone, so get your order in quickly!
Released: July 9, 2013
Rose Windows / The Sun Dogs - SP1053
The notion that there is nothing new under the sun can be both a blessing and a curse to musicians. On the one hand, it absolves artists from any nagging sense that they have to reinvent the wheel with every new project. On the other, it makes innovation seem like a fool’s errand. Seattle songwriter Chris Cheveyo embraces this blessing, but, with his compatriots in Rose Windows, he also defies the curse. The band follows Western traditions in their instrumentation, using the basic tools employed in past decades of American and British rock music. Elements of The Band’s folk-infused rock, The Doors organ-driven psychedelia, and Black Sabbath’s blues-based dirges can be heard in Rose Window’s debut album The Sun Dogs. But the septet’s curiosity goes much further than a few well-chosen classic rock records. The band devoured Persian, Indian, and Eastern European music, and incorporated the revelations learned into Rose Windows’ sound. The Sun Dogs challenges the assumption that all creative territories have been mapped out and charted. While Rose Windows aren’t interested in making music of the future, one reviewer was wise enough to note “a sound like this would not be possible in any other time.”
Rose Windows began in late 2010 in a house in Seattle’s Central District, where Cheveyo found himself tiring of the limited palette of his prior heavy, post-rock project. Starting with a few rough demos by Cheveyo alone, Rose Windows took shape as the band amassed members from their circle of musician friends. Rose Windows began playing out, fluidly sharing the stage with underground art-metal bands one night and popular indie Americana acts the next.
In November of 2011, the band began working on The Sun Dogs with local producer Randall Dunn (SunnO))), Boris, Earth, Master Musicians of Bukkake). Dunn’s penchant for musical anthropology proved the perfect match for the band, with their mutual curiosity and artistic ambition broadening the scope of the album. Dynamics were expanded. Boundaries were pushed.
Rose Windows have toured the West Coast several times, and with the release of The Sun Dogs, the band plans much more. In the meantime, they continue their search—delving into archives of long-lost albums, learning more about their craft from renowned local musicians, and charting their own path in an ancient art.
Released: 2013-06-25 (CD), 2013-07-26 (2xLP), 2013-06-25 (CD + t-shirt adult s bundle), 2013-06-25 (CD + t-shirt adult m bundle)...
Still Corners / Strange Pleasures - SP1035
Greg Hughes, the driving force behind London’s Still Corners, is not one to rest on his laurels. Despite the critical plaudits hurled at the band’s 2010 debut Creatures of an Hour (“indulgently seductive” opined NME; “an astounding debut” purred Drowned in Sound), Hughes is blessed with the kind of inexorable ardor for refreshing and sharpening his muse that is common to expert sculptors of elegant pop music. “I’ll never be satisfied with any of it, I need to keep trying new things,” he concedes. “Still Corners is The Enterprise, for me.”
Riding that insatiable kinesis over the last two years has resulted in Hughes, along with singing accomplice Tessa Murray, fashioning Strange Pleasures, a devastating sophomore album which is destined to usher Still Corners to a deserved place at dream-pop’s high table. The album was captured in Hughes’ Greenwich studio, with the protean multi-tasker handling all the instruments and penning most of the lyrics. Where its predecessor soared on sugared layers of shoegazing-infused retro-futurism, Strange Pleasures proffers a leaner, more acute extrapolation of ’80s-suffused song and studio craft, navigating a sinuous trajectory between velveteen Angelo Badalamenti noir-pop torch song sophistication, ethereal Cocteau Twins beauty and the glacial, mellifluous territory mapped by Modern English, The Cure and The Passions.
For Hughes, an Austin native whose plans to move to Brooklyn were sidetracked when he fell in love London’s worldly charms, the new album is more than just a stylistic progression from Creatures of an Hour. “Musically, Creatures… was soft and relaxing but it was a massively cathartic record for me. I was destroyed after being in a relationship; it’s all in there, suicide… all that stuff. I needed to calm my soul and Creatures… did that for me. Strange Pleasures is more of an adventure out toward the open seas. It’s an exploring type of record: strange new lands, strange new love…”
Presaged by the soaring “Fireflies” single (Pitchfork’s Best New Track of 9/28/2012), Strange Pleasures brings the Still Corners story up to date.
The vinyl LP comes with a digital download code of the entire record.
People who pre-order Strange Pleasures on CD or LP from SubPop.com will receive a limited-edition scrap book featuring pages taken directly from Still Corners’ lyric book as they were writing the record as well as images from the recording process.
People who pre-order the record on LP will receive the colored-vinyl, limited Loser Edition version of Strange Pleasures. And as is the nature of limited things, the sooner you order, the better, as they will run out!
Released: May 7, 2013
On The Baptist Generals’ sophomore album, the word “heart” repeats eight*** times. The Denton, TX band, known for its haunting, claustrophobic take on drunken folk, needed ten full years to bare its hearts—one of which is in the album title, Jackleg Devotional to the Heart, a name that songwriter Chris Flemmons conjured shortly after he recorded, and then trashed, the album’s first attempt in 2005.
Flemmons goes so far as to call this his “love album,” and it’s an apt description—though love through The Baptist Generals’ eyes is plenty complicated. Jackleg‘s hearts don’t resemble valentines. No smooth curls into a final point. The band’s vibraphones, guitarrons and ambient feedback combine like a mess of ventricles, aortas and veins—not to mention, from the sound of it, all of the blood spilled while Jackleg lurched for years toward an eventual finish line.
Call it a love record, then. It’s the kind of love Flemmons had to figure out in the ten years since The Baptist Generals’ critically-acclaimed 2003 full-length debut No Silver/No Gold, a period in which he admits he’s fallen in love with a wild spectrum of music—the Ethiopiques series, saxophonist Archie Shepp, film scorer Meredith Willson, and plenty more. That wide spectrum only befits Jackleg‘s repeated need to buck genre; in fact, the 2005 version of the album hit the trash heap because “it sounded like any other indie rock-type band,” Flemmons admits. Co-produced by Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, The Walkmen, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes) and the band’s Jason Reimer, Jackleg Devotional to the Heart sounds like exactly no one else.
Pre-orders come with a limited-edition, one-sided 7" flexi-single featuring the Baptist Generals track “Fly Candy Harvest”, currently not available to hear elsewhere! Also, if you pre-order the LP, you’ll receive the colored-vinyl, limited Loser Edition. Both of these things are LIMITED, so a while supplies last type of thing applies here. Order now.
Released: May 21, 2013
Mudhoney / Vanishing Point - SP1020
25 years in, Vanishing Point decisively affirms that, even in an age where only the newest of the new can survive (and even then, only for a few weeks at best), Mudhoney still have plenty to say and more to offer. These are songs written from the rare vantage point of a band who went through the rock ‘n’ roll meat-grinder and not only lived to tell such a tale, they came out full of the wisdom and dark humor such a journey provides. Vanishing Point is filled with dread, psychoanalysis and Nuggets-on-fire riffs; the sort of real, uninhibited rock music that is harder and harder to locate these days. With Vanishing Point, Mudhoney make it easy.
Released: April 2, 2013
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."
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.
TAKE NOTICE! The colored Loser edition seen in some photos above is long gone, but the glorious black vinyl is still available & worth your hard-earned cash all the same!
Vinyl LP comes with a digital download code inside the sleeve.
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.
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
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
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