Now Hear “Furr (Live at KCRW)” + “War Is Placebo,” then read more about their upcoming tour performing Furr in its entirety.
On September 14th, Sub Pop will release the newly expanded and 10th-anniversary edition of Blitzen Trapper’s Furr, the group’s classic fourth album.
In 2008, the Portland, Oregon-based experimental country and folk rock band released Furr its breakthrough and label debut for Sub Pop. The album was met with universal acclaim, earning praise from the likes of The Guardian, Pitchfork, Paste, AV Club, and Rolling Stone, who in it’s 4 star review called it “an engaging album full of rootsy beauty.” The album would go on to earn the no. 13 spot on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2008,” later that year.
For the newly expanded deluxe edition of Furr, Blitzen Trapper have compiled two LPs worth of material: The original album and twelve rare and previously unreleased tunes. All of these songs were from the same recordings that became Furr, with the exception of the “Live at KCRW “ tracks, which were recorded during the Furr tour.
After the success of the album, unreleased songs “War is Placebo,” “Booksmart Baby,” and “Maybe Baby” appeared as limited edition singles for Record Store Day in 2009 and 2011 and now appear here. The reissue also features a new liner note from Eric Earley reflecting on the album and what it means now, as well as a track by track description of the bonus songs, and a Q&A with the stage & screen actor, and Blitzen Trapper fan, Rainn Wilson (of The Office and Six Feet Under fame).
Furr (Deluxe Edition) is now available for preorder through Sub Pop right here. LP preorders through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser edition on Clear vinyl with gold swirl(while supplies last). The album features updated cover art, and will be available in the following formats:
Cassette (Furr only)
Blitzen Trapper Furr: Deluxe Edition Tracklisting
1. Sleepytime in the Western World 2. Gold for Bread 3. Furr 4. God & Suicide 5. Fire & Fast Bullets 6. Saturday Nite 7. Black River Killer 8. Not Your Lover 9. Love U 10. War on Machines 11. Stolen Shoes & a Rifle 12. Echo/Always On/Easy Con 13. Lady on the Water 14. War Is Placebo ** 15. Simple Tree * 16. Booksmart Baby ** 17. Heroes of Doubt * 18. Maybe Baby ^ 19. Ballad of Bird Love * 20. Hard Heart * 21. Other People’s Money * 22. On My Way to the Bay * 23. Rent-a-Cop * 24. God & Suicide (Live at KCRW) 25. Furr (Live at KCRW)
* = Previously unreleased ** = 2009 Record Store Day single ^ = 2011 Record Store Day single A-side
Blitzen Trapper Tour Dates + Ticket Links
Blitzen Trapper will support the release of Furr (Deluxe Edition) with a massive fall North American tour, beginning September 13th-15th at Victoria’s Rifflandia Festival and ending November 17th-18th with a two-night stand at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge. These fall shows will find the band playing Furr in its entirety, followed by a set of fan favorites from throughout the band’s discography. Tickets for the fall shows are on sale Friday, June 22nd at 10am (local time).
Preceding the Furr anniversary dates is the band’s summer tour schedule, which currently runs June 22nd-July 21st, and includes two PNW dates with Sub Pop labelmate Father John Misty (July 20th-21st).
Summer Tour Dates Jun. 22 - Louisville, CO - Louisville Street Faire Jun. 23 - Livingston, MT - Pine Creek Lodge Jul. 14 - Seattle, WA - Ballard Seafood Fest Jul. 15 - Spokane, WA - The Bartlett Jul. 17 - Missoula, MT - Top Hat Lounge Jul. 18 - Boise, ID - Neurolux Jul. 20 - Jacksonville, OR - Britt Pavillion* Jul. 21 - Troutdale, OR - Edgefield Amphitheatre*
Furr Fall 2018 Tour Dates Sep. 13 - 15 - Victoria, BC - Rifflandia Festival Sep. 15 - Vancouver, BC - The Commodore Sep. 16 - Nelson, BC - Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel Sep. 17 - Calgary, AB - Festival Hall Sep. 18 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite Room Sep. 19 - Saskatoon, SK - Amigos Sep. 20 - Toronto, ON - RBC Echo Beach** Sep. 21 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe Sep. 22 - Indianapolis, IN - Holler On The Hill at Garfield Park Sep. 24 - 25 - Chicago, IL - Schubas Sep. 27 - Hamilton, ON - Mills Hardware Sep. 28 - Ottawa, ON - The 27 Club Sep. 29 - Montreal, QC - Le Ministère Oct. 01 - Allston, MA - Great Scott Oct. 02 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg Oct. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - The Foundry at The Fillmore Oct. 05 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel Oct. 06 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle Oct. 07 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl Oct. 08 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East Oct. 10 - St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill Duck Room Oct. 11 - Kansas City, MO - Record Bar Oct. 12 - Lincoln, NE - The Royal Grove Oct. 13 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre Nov. 08 - Chico, CA- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Nov. 09 - Reno, NV - Offbeat Music Festival Nov. 10 - Novato, CA - Hopmonk Tavern Nov. 11 - Sebastopol, CA - Hopmonk Tavern Nov. 12 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern Nov. 13 - Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room Nov. 14 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent Nov. 16 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile Nov. 17 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge *w/ Father John Misty ** w/ Shaky Graves, The Sheepdogs
[Photo Credit: Tyler Kohlhoff]
More on Blitzen Trapper’s Furr:
It was on September 23, 2008 that Blitzen Trapper, after putting out three albums on its own label, released its fourth full-length album, Furr, via Sub Pop. At that time, it was a record that captured exactly where the band’s frontman, Eric Earley, found himself, both literally and metaphorically, geographically and existentially. Not that the Portland-based musician actually remembers much about the creation of the record’s 13 intriguing, spellbinding songs. Or, more specifically, what its songs actually mean, either now or then. Instead, Furr, stands as a kind of tribute and elegy to the city that inspired it, but that, a decade later, no longer exists.
“What I was trying to do with those recordings,” explains Earley, “was capture this kind of atmosphere that I was feeling and which pervaded the city at that time. I think I was attempting to capture what Portland was at the time and what it felt like to me. That city is gone now. Old Portland, we call it, but Old Portland has disappeared. But this record gives me the feeling of those times and this city— when it was poor and dumpy and really drug-addled. And it also captures the magic of the outlying rural areas that has slowly changed as well.”
That magic can be heard in each of these songs, and while the city may have vanished from sight – replaced by a newer, richer, shinier and bigger version of itself – its elegance and fractured beauty is preserved within the bones of this record. These songs exist as vivid snapshots of that time, ones that recall the city as it was. At the same time – and while Earley insists he was only trying to capture what Portland was at the time – there’s a mythology within the lyrics and the music, an imagined, semi-fictional vision of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, a kind of parallel universe to the one that actually exists.
“Back then, the city was this really weird place,” says Earley. “It was really bizarre. Weird stuff would happen. And it was much poorer and much smaller. It wasn’t as structured and rich as it is now. It was a totally different place. That’s why it’s funny when people talk about Portland – I’m like well, if you didn’t live here back then you’ll never experience what that was like but if you listen to this record you’ll get a little taste of it. So in that sense, it feels very real and non-mythical to me.”
That said, that doesn’t mean these songs are all based in reality. There are glimpses of God – and of American Christianity – throughout them, not least in the mournful folk narrative of “Black River Killer” and “God & Suicide.” The former is a made-up tale about an anonymous murderer on a killing spree which Earley cites as being about “the mindless violence that Americans consume every single day – in film and books and everything – and what does it mean for us to consume that content and make it a part of us?” The latter is a shimmering, more upbeat track that’s an attempt to commit to tape an ineffable feeling that Earley felt within him but which, after all these years, he’s still unable to pinpoint exactly.
“I can’t tell you what that song’s about,” he says. “I know what it feels like, but I don’t know what it actually literally means. But the words and the music gave me this feeling as I was writing it that made sense at the time. I feel like there’s a feeling of longing that accompanies this record somehow, and there’s this weird longing to be set free. I feel that’s what kind of pervades this record – a melancholic longing for something that we can’t obtain. In “God & Suicide” it’s almost like—and it’s me obviously—but it’s almost like whoever is saying those words is saying to himself ‘Well I’ve got two choices. Either I kill myself or I somehow make my peace with whatever God is.”
Not all the songs have such existential explanations. The soft acoustic jangle of the title track is full of wistful longing, while the plaintive, poignant piano of “Not Your Lover” is a forlorn love – or loss of love – song full of tender sadness. That’s one of a few songs that wouldn’t actually exist had the band—completed at the time by Brian Adrian Koch (drums, vocals), Michael Van Pelt (bass), Erik Menteer (guitar, Moog), Drew Laughery (keyboards) and Marty Marquis (guitar, vocals, melodica)—not found an old warped piano in the hallway of Sally Mack’s School Of Dance, the Portland building which housed the band’s studio. Needless to say, the discovery definitely helped shape the direction of the record.
“That song,” says Earley, “wouldn’t exist, I don’t think, without that piano. I remember sitting at that thing when I first pulled it in and tinkering with it and just sort of writing that one right away. So it probably would have been a slightly different record. A lot of the songs I wrote on piano and I wouldn’t have because I didn’t have one.”
That’s also partly because Earley admits he wasn’t trying to write an album at that time, but write songs to perfect the recording technique he’d been honing when making the band’s previous full-length, 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation. As such, around three albums’ worth of material was recorded during the sessions for Furr, and it’s a selection of those that comprise the bonus material for this anniversary edition of the record. From the dulcet, chugging tones of “War Is Placebo” to the carefree, summer whimsy of “Ballad Of Bird Love”—a song driven by that same piano—and the melancholy folk tale waltz of “On My Way To The Bay”, the ten outtakes included here offer even further insight into Earley’s creative mindset and the feeling—whatever it is, exactly—that sits at the center of these songs. Written largely between the hours of 11pm and the morning—something that was possible because, in between tours, Earley was living in the studio building—Furr is a very nocturnal album, full of the wonder and the mystery of the night.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the fact Earley wasn’t trying to make a record per se, Furr—is an impressively cohesive album, and its counterpart bonus tracks are as well. Much of that is down to Earley’s fastidious recording techniques, using old analogue equipment to create a sound that was inherently nostalgic but also, at the time, anyway, entirely unusual.
“At the time,” he says, “I was going for a very specific sound. And it’s funny, because it’s a sound that you hear so much nowadays—bands have this recording aesthetic that’s very, very lo-fi and almost exactly what I was doing back then, but I was doing it with machinery that was meant to do that as opposed to bands now, who are doing it with modern digital plug-ins. At the time, I was just making what I’d like to hear and I didn’t know if anyone else will like it. It sounds old and distorted—the sound I’d hear in my head when riding my bike around town at 2 in the morning.”
Those days (and nights) may have faded into the past, but they’re very much present within the fabric of Furr. A decade on, they sound just as magical and mystical.
Not, of course, that the band is just relying on the past glory of this record. Far from it. A decade on from the release of Furr, has released five more critically acclaimed and achingly beautiful records. The band hasn’t loosened its ambitions, either. In 2017, the band put together Wild And Reckless a full-production theater event that ran for a month at Portland’s Center Stage theater and which also spawned last year’s full-length of the same name. There are plenty of plans for the future in the works, too. But for now, just for a little while, it’s time to revel in the joy and sorrow of a time and place that no longer exists—except of course, in a few hearts and minds, and in these wonderfully wistful songs.
2018 international tour dates resume this Sunday, June 24th with a headline appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.
Emma Elizabeth Tillman directs and Josh Tillman stars in the new Father John Misty video for “God’s Favorite Customer,” the title track from his acclaimed new album. The new visual for the song (which features a glorious duet with Sub Pop labelmate Weyes Blood) finds Tillman wandering the dark, early morning streets of New York City.
God’s Favorite Customer is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, earning “Best Albums of the Year (So Far)” notices from the likes of Rolling Stone, Stereogum, and Consequence of Sound.
Pitchfork gave the album “Best New Music” status (8.5/10) and said, “He has the ear of Jeff Lynne and the vowels of Elton John as he casts his words into the sky and lets them hang there to be marveled at, plainspoken and myth-free.” Rolling Stone offered this, In its piano-ballad gait, baroque-pop raptures and confessional sting, Josh Tillman’s fourth album as the darkly antic Father John Misty often sounds like it was made more than 40 years earlier under yet another name: John Lennon. It’s as if Tillman wrote and arranged these songs under the sumptuous, despairing spell of Lennon’s early-Seventies solo records, with time off for the late-Sixties Zombies and the Beach Boys’ Sunflower (4/5).”
Entertainment Weekly adds, “God’s Favorite Customer sounds as lush as anything he’s done — a rich tapestry of AM-radio jangle and strum (Grade: A-).” Stereogum raved, saying, “Given the nature of the album, it feels almost crass to point out that Tillman pulled it off again. But he did, in making another stunning Father John Misty album.” USA Today gave the album a perfect score (4/4) and offered this, “Four albums in, he’s never been better than on God’s Favorite Customer.”
God’s Favorite Customer also marks Father John Misty’s third top 20 entry on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart (#18). The album was also #1 on the Alternative, Americana, and Vinyl album charts.
Father John Misty’s tour dates in support of God’s Favorite Customer resume Sunday, June 24th with a show at the Hollywood Bowl and run through November 18th in Lausanne, Switzerland at Les Docks. Father John Misty will also headline Red Rocks August 15th (with TV on the Radio).
Jun. 24 - Hollywood, CA - Hollywood Bowl * Jul. 13 - Louisville, KY - Forecastle Festival Jul. 20 - Jacksonville, OR - BrittPavilion ! Jul. 21 - Troutdale, OR - EdgefieldAmphitheatre ! Jul. 22 - Seattle, WA - Capitol Hill Block Party Jul. 27 - New York, NY - Panorama Music & Arts Festival Jul. 28 - Newport, RI - Newport Folk Festival @ Jane Pickens Theater [Official Aftershow] Jul. 29 - Portland, ME - Thompson’s Point ^ Aug. 01 - Raleigh, NC - North Carolina Museum of Art Park Theater ^ Aug. 02 - Washington, DC - The Anthem *** Aug. 03 - Pittsburgh, PA - Stage AE *** Aug. 04 - Toronto, ON - Historic Fort York & Garrison Commons Aug. 10-12 - San Francisco, CA - Outside Lands Festival Aug. 12 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory Concert House % Aug. 13 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Union % Aug. 15 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre ** Aug. 17 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater @ Aug. 17-19 - Omaha, NE - Maha Music Festival Aug. 22 - Mexico City, MX - El Plaza Condesa Aug. 25 - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Queremos Festival Aug. 26 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - Teatro Memorial Aug. 29 - Buenos Aires, Argentina - La Trastienda Club Sep. 01 - Santiago, Chile - Espacio Riesco Sep. 09 - Vancouver, BC - SKOOKUM Festival Sep. 16 - Chicago, IL - Riot Fest Sep. 18 - Madison, WI - Orpheum Theater $ Sep. 20 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater $ Sep. 21 - Indianapolis, IN - MacAllister Amphitheater at Garfield Park $ Sep. 22 - Cleveland, OH - Agora Theatre $ Sep. 25 - Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater $ [Sold Out] Sep. 26 - Charlotte, NC - The Fillmore $ Sep. 28 - Miami Beach, FL - The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater $ Sep. 29 - Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Live $ Oct. 01 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre $ [Sold Out] Oct. 02 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre $ Oct. 03 - Birmingham, AL - Iron City $ Oct. 06 - New Orleans, LA - Civic Theatre Oct. 05-07 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival Oct. 09 - Knoxville, TN - The Mill & Mine $ Oct. 10 - Oxford, MS - The Lyric Oxford $ Oct. 11 - Oklahoma City, OK - The Jones Assembly % Oct. 12-14 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival Oct. 26 - Gateshead, UK - Sage Gateshead ^^ Oct. 27 - Liverpool, UK - Olympia ^^ Oct. 28 - Portsmouth, UK - Portsmouth Guildhall ^^ Oct. 29 - Leicester, UK - De Montfort Hall ^^ Oct. 30 - Bath, UK - The Forum Bath ^^ Nov. 01 - Antwerp, Belgium - De Roma ^^ Nov. 02 - Eindhoven, NL - Effenaar ^^ Nov. 03 - Groningen, NL - TakeRoot Festival Nov. 05 - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso ^^ Nov. 06 - Darmstadt, DE - Centralstation ^^ Nov. 07 - Berlin, DE - Huxleys Neue Welt ^^ Nov. 09-10 - Weissenhäuser Strand, DE - Rolling Stone Weekender Nov. 11 - Gothenburg, SE - Konserthuset ^^ Nov. 14 - Budapest, HU - Müpa Budapest, Béla Bartók National Concert Hall ^^ Nov. 15 - Vienna, Austria - Arena Wien ^^ Nov. 16 - Rust, DE - Rolling Stone Park Nov. 17 - Zurich, CH - Rote Fabrik ^^ Nov. 18 - Lausanne, CH - Les Docks ^^
! w/ Blitzen Trapper * w/ Gillian Welch, Big Thief ** w/ TV on the Radio *** w/ Bully ^ w/ Jenny Lewis % w/ Lucy Dacus @ w/ David Beeman $ w/ King Tuff % w/ BRONCHO ^^ w/ Bedouine
An automobile takes a late night drive in Beach House’s mysterious new video for “Black Car.” Director Alistair Legrand takes the dark and atmospheric track, which rides an undulating bassline along a building, arrhythmic pulse, and delivers a gorgeously shot black and white visual for the song.”
7 is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, earning Beach House “Best Albums of 2018 (So Far)” placements from the likes of Stereogum (#1), Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Consequence of Sound, and more.
Pitchfork gave 7 “Best New Music” status (8.9/10) and called it “their heaviest and most immersive-sounding of their career.” The Guardian raved in its 4-star review, “the sounds are glorious.”NY Timessays of the album, “A beguiling new pop gloss…The effect is as transcendent as ever. “ And Vulture says 7 is “their best yet.”
7 also debuted at #20 on the Billboard Top 200. The album also spent three weeks at no. 1 on the NACC Top 200 chart.
Beach House’s massive worldwide tour in support of 7 resumes July 24th in New Haven, CT at College Street Music Hall and continues on through October 20th in Dublin, IE at Vicar Street.
Jul. 24 - New Haven, CT - College Street Music Hall Jul. 26 - Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre Jul. 27 - Raleigh, NC - The Ritz Jul. 28 - Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theatre [Sold Out] Jul. 30 - Dallas, TX - Bomb Factory Jul. 31 - Austin, TX - ACL Live at the Moody Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 02 - Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theatre Aug. 03 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery [Sold Out] Aug. 04 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery [Sold Out] Aug. 05 - San Diego, CA - The Observatory at North Park [Sold Out] Aug. 07 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 08 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 10 - Portland, OR - Keller Auditorium [Sold Out] Aug. 11 - Seattle, WA - SPF30: Sub Pop’s 30th Anniversary Concert on Alki Beach Aug. 12 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum Theatre Aug. 14 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot [Sold Out] Aug. 15 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 17 - St. Paul, MN - The Palace Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 18 - Chicago, Il - Chicago Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 19 - Detroit, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre Aug. 20 - Toronto, ON - Sony Centre Aug. 22 - New York, NY - United Palace Theatre Aug. 23 - Brooklyn, NY - Kings Theatre [Sold Out] Aug. 24 - Boston, MA - House of Blues [Sold Out] Aug. 25 - Washington, DC - The Anthem Sep. 25 - Lisbon, Portugal - Coliseu dos Recreios Sep. 26 - Porto, Portugal - Teatro sa da Bandeira Sep. 27 - Madrid, ES - La Riviera Sep. 28 - Barcelona, ES - Razzmatazz Sep. 30 - Lyon, France - Epicerie Moderne Oct. 01 - Köln, DE - Gloria Oct. 02 - Berlin, DE - Huxleys Oct. 04 - Lund, SE - Mejeriet Oct. 05 - Gothenburg, SE - Trädgar’n Oct. 07 - Oslo, NO - Rockefeller Music Hall Oct. 08 - Stockholm, SE- Münchenbryggeriet Oct. 09 - Copenhagen, DK - Forum Black Box Oct. 11 - Hamburg, DE - Kampnagel Oct. 12 - Utrecht, NL - TivoliVredenburg Oct. 13 - Brussels, BE - AB [Sold Out] Oct. 15 - Paris, FR - Olympia Oct. 17 - London, UK - Troxy Oct. 18 - London, UK - Troxy [Sold Out] Oct. 19 - Manchester, UK - Albert Hall [Sold Out] Oct. 20 - Dublin, IE - Vicar Street [Sold Out]
Sculptor will be available worldwide July 13th from Sub Pop, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand from Mistletone
Luluc has shared “Spring,” the beautiful new single and opening track from Sculptor, their forthcoming album. Singer Zoe Randell offers this on the song: “Broadly speaking, with these new songs I was interested in the difficulties that life can throw at us - what we can do with them, how they can shape us, and what say we have. That potential that is there for everyone, the different lives that are open to us. That’s what I love in Ise’s poem ‘Spring Days and Blossom’ - which form the lyrics to “Spring” - the brimming sense of spring and it’s cycle, the enormity of what’s possible and the beauty.”
Luluc will release Sculptor, their gorgeous third album worldwide on July 13th from Sub Pop, with the exception of New Zealand and Australia through Mistletone. The new long-player featuring the aforementioned “Spring,” along with “Heist,” and “Kids,” was produced and recorded by Luluc. The album also includes guest appearances from J. Mascis, Aaron Dessner (The National), Jim White (The Dirty Three), Dave Nelson (The National, Beirut) and Matt Eccles (Weyes Blood, Connan Mockasin).
UK Magazine Uncut just named Sculptor its “Album of the Month” (8/10) and said, “Quietly devastating….when Luluc really want your attention they don’t shout, they whisper. The strongest and most assured record of their career. The songs dig deep emotionally – but critically their aesthetics are well-balanced, the voice and instruments perfectly calibrated. While its predecessors had a tendency for introspection, Sculptor is wide open.” And NPR Music’s Bob Boilen raves, “I can’t stop listening…I’ve waited for years for this record (see All Songs Considered mix, May 29th).”
Sculptor will be available on CD/LP/DL through Sub Pop and Misteltone. Preorders from megamart.subpop.com will receive the limited Loser edition on magenta vinyl. There will also be a new T-shirt design available.
On September 14th, in the faithfully defiant fashion of their 25-year career, Low will release Double Negative, its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album. As a prelude to the full-length album, Low presents a triptych video for the opening songs of the album. Each video can also be watched independently:
Directed by Mark Pellington - Edited by Jen Kennedy
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the adventurous producer who in recent years has made records with Bon Iver, Lizzo, and Francis and the Lights. Returning once again to Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (where they recorded 2015’s Ones and Sixes) Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds: they wanted to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do with their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative co-writers, building the pieces up and breaking them down until their purpose and force felt clear.
Following summer shows in the UK, Germany, and Poland, the band will embark on a first leg of touring in support of the new album with a two-night stand at National Sawdust in New York City. See below for a full list of tour dates, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Tour Dates: Jun. 19 - Leeds, United Kingdom - Brudenell Social Jun. 20 - London, United Kingdom - Queen Elizabeth Hall (Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival) Jun. 23 - Duisburg, Germany - Traumzeit festival Jun. 25 - Munich, Germany - Ampere Jun. 26 - Dresden, Germany - Beatpol Jun. 29 - Bialystok, Poland - Amphitheater of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (Halfway Music Festival!) Sep. 20 - New York, NY - National Sawdust Sep. 21 - New York, NY - National Sawdust Sep. 29 - Lisbon, Portugal - Lisboa ao Vivo Oct. 1 - De Compostela Santiago, Spain - Sala Capitol Oct. 2 - Madrid, Spain - Sala But Oct. 3 - Barcelona, Spain - Fabra i Coats Oct. 5 - Milan, Italy - Teatro Dal Verme Oct. 6 - Zurich, Switzererland - Bogen F Oct. 8 - Leipzig, Germany - Conne Island Oct. 9 - Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg Oct. 11 - Brussels, Belgium - Orangerie (at Botanique) Oct. 12 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso Oct. 13 - Paris, France - La Gaîté Lyrique Oct. 15 - Bristol, UK - Trinity Oct. 16 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Cathedral Oct. 17 - Manchester Cathedral - Vicar Street Nov. 02 - St. Paul, MN - The Fitz Nov. 03 - Davenport, IA - Daytrotter Nov. 05 - Detroit, MI - El Club Nov. 06 - Toronto, ON - Great Hall Nov. 08 - Montreal, QC - La Sala Rosa Nov. 09 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall Nov. 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts Nov. 12 - Washington, DC U Street Music Hall Nov. 13 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Funhouse Nov. 14 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop Nov. 16 - Chicago, IL - Rockefeller Chapel Nov. 17 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Pre-orders of Double Negative through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser Edition on crystal clear vinyl with an enclosed full-color flat of album artwork. The album cover for Double Negative was created by longtime collaborator, English artist, Peter Liversidge.
Double Negative Tracklisting: 1. Quorum 2. Dancing and Blood 3. Fly 4. Tempest 5. Always Up 6. Always Trying to Work It Out 7. The Son, The Sun 8. Dancing and Fire 9. Poor Sucker 10. Rome (Always in the Dark) 11. Disarray
[Photo Credit: Shelly Mosman]
More on Low’s Double Negative by Grayson Currin: In 2018, the band Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion.
During the immersive “Dancing and Blood,” Parker slowly comes into focus, as if singing from the wind-ripped mouth of a cave. Parker appears to beat back disaster for “Fly,” her soulful vocals curving into and above Garrington’s bold bassline as Sparhawk’s own signal cuts in and out. Elsewhere, though, songs like “Always Trying to Work It Out” and “Tempest” threaten to swallow the pair whole, their overwhelming quakes of dissonance aiming to silence them once and for all. Sometimes, Sparhawk and Parker are stuck in the Sisyphean middle, capable of neither failing nor forging ahead. During the brilliantly conceived “Poor Sucker,” written in large part by Garrington, their voices suggest skiffs stuck on some turbulent sea, falling beneath and rising above the cacophony with seasick irregularity. In this frustrated song of self-defeat, Low lists all the ways they could have made their lives matter. It is a eulogy of could-have-beens for a time that won’t really let you be.
As “Rome (Always in the Dark),” a march that forces its way through the din with damn-the-torpedoes tenacity, fades toward a rare silence, a pulse sculpted from a shard of noise emerges, flashing from a distance like the safety of a life raft. It rises into a steady thump, with Sparhawk and Parker floating above it in crystalline unison: “Before it falls into total disarray/You’ll have to learn to live a different way,” they sing, their melody forming a tightrope of despair and delight. In some ways, it’s a warning of the bad times to come. But it’s also a promise that we’re more powerful and adaptable than madness itself, that we have the ability to persevere. During the song’s back half, Sparhawk and Parker don’t say anything. They instead lock into august harmony and glide between notes, Parker’s purely ascendant tone pulling Sparhawk’s falsetto skyward. It is an exquisite and triumphant moment, an exhalation after all the damage and din.
In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?