Stereogum had this to say about the video, “Channeling albums like David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and the Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, the band’s lead singer and songwriter Jonathan Meiburg has used this new record to add some polished experimentation and drama to the band’s ever-evolving sound. Director Alex Rapine’s video matches that aesthetic shift with a sleek, dark color palette, flickering lights, and a besuited Meiburg showing off his best evil grin (see premiere January 21st).”
Shearwater’s Jet Plane and Oxbow is earning the group some of its best reviews to date, from outlets on both sides of the Atlantic. Highlights include:
NPR Music: “Fussed-over sounds abound — one track finds room for both synthesizer and dulcimer — which helps render Meiburg’s songs both unsettling and majestic. The terrific “Quiet Americans” checks many of the band’s boxes right away, as the synths peal through static, while Meiburg’s vocals bark, swoop, soar and swoon in tune with the moment. From there, the palette expands and contracts to include booming, stadium-sized urgency (“A Long Time Away”); a persistently rumbling, exploratory epic worthy of Wilco (“Filaments”); and a ballad that sneaks in some of Meiburg’s favorite themes (“Wildlife In America”). Of course, that big, elastic voice remains at the center of these songs, but so too does a mandate to fill the surrounding air with big, bold ideas.”
MOJO: “A defiant moody exploration of the magic and menace of technology.” [4/5]
Uncut: “Meiburg’s finest album to date.” [8/10]
Rolling Stone: “It’s refreshing to hear them switch things up on this, their seventh full-length release, by writing more immediate pop songs without sacrificing their rich, thoughtfully placed instrumentation.”
Consequence of Sound: “Jet Plane and Oxbow can’t be locked into a single place or time, instead patching together its own alternate past. They leave room for their glossy influences and the gritty present to communicate with each other, threading catchy hooks through more complex backgrounds. The prime example is “Quiet Americans”, a dark track that transforms relatively quickly into a comfortable earworm.”
EXCLAIM: “The sense of velocity and flight, paired with Meiburg’s dramatic vocals, delivered with Bowie-like flair here, making Jet Plane and Oxbow a natural progression for Shearwater, and a nice departure from their typical offerings.”
PopMatters: “Jet Plane and Oxbow is a remarkably polished, alluring, and dignified accomplishment.” [8/10]
The Skinny: “The band’s punchiest and most populist work to date.” [4/5]
Shearwater’s 2016 North American and European tour schedule in support of Jet Plane and Oxbow begins February 3rd in Austin, TX at North Door and currently ends March 26th in Portland, OR at Mississippi Studios. Main support will come from Barsuk recording artist Laura Gibson (March 16th - 19th). (see dates below)
More about Shearwater: This is definitely Shearwater’s biggest and loudest record—it’s easy to imagine these songs roaring from the stage—but it’s also their most detailed and intricate one. Front man Jonathan Meiburg and producer/engineer Reisch (who also recorded 2012’s Animal Joy and the off-the-cuff collaborations of 2014’s Fellow Travelers) spent two years crafting Jet Plane and Oxbow with help from drummer Cully Symington, longtime Shearwater associates Howard Draper and Lucas Oswald, and tourmates Jesca Hoop, Abram Shook, and Jenn Wasner.
But their secret weapon this time is film composer and percussionist Brian Reitzell, whose soundtracks include The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring, and 30 Days of Night. Reitzell’s arsenal of strange instruments emphasizes Jet Plane and Oxbow’s cinematic depth and scope, and reflects the band’s choice to anchor the record in the era when digital technology was just beginning to transform the world of recorded music. In Shearwater’s hands this doesn’t feel like nostalgia; the racing synths and hammered dulcimers of heart-pounding opener “Prime” or the addled motorik of “Radio Silence” sound more like a metaphor for our own bewildering moment (read more at Sub Pop).
Tour Dates Feb. 03 - Austin, TX - North Door (w/ Marmalakes) Feb. 04 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada (w/ Marmalakes) Feb. 06 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (w/ Jib Kidder) Feb. 10 - Berlin, DE - Frannz Club Feb. 11 - Copenhagen, DK - Loppen Feb. 12 - Hamburg, DE - Molotow Feb. 13 - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Noord Feb. 14 - Brussels. BE - Botanique Feb. 16 - Lille, FR - L’Aeronef Feb. 17 - London, UK - Islington Assembly Hall Feb. 18 - Bristol, UK - The Fleece Feb. 19 - Leeds, UK - The Brudenell Social Club Feb. 20 - Glasgow, UK - King Tuts Feb. 21 - Newcastle, UK - The Cluny Feb. 23 - Dublin, IE - Button Factory Feb. 24 - Manchester , UK - Night & Day Feb. 25 - Brighton, UK - The Haunt Feb. 26 - Paris, FR - Point Ephémère Feb. 27 - Zurich, CH - Bogen F Feb. 28 - Fribourg, CH - Nouveau Monde Mar. 04 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent Mar. 05 - Los Angeles, CA - Roxy Mar. 10 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel Mar. 12 - Brooklyn, NY - Bell House Mar. 16 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe** Mar. 17 - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern** Mar. 18 - Ferndale, MI - The Loving Touch** Mar. 19 - Chicago, IL - Schubas** Mar. 22 - Minneapolis, MN - Turf Club Mar. 25 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile Mar. 26 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios ** w/ Laura Gibson
We’re now hoping to add another thing for you to know about Sub Pop…
We’ve made (and plan to continue to make) a podcast! Finally, you can hear the stories from inside, outside, and adjacent to Sub Pop, straight from this particular horse’s mouth. We’ll be bringing you conversations with our artists, people who work at or with Sub Pop, and anyone else who will talk to us. And, we’ll be doing much of this same sort of thing with the artists and people related to our sibling label Hardly Art Records.
It’s important to note here that when we say that “we” have made a podcast, we actually mean people here at Sub Pop Records. Hosted by Alissa Atkins (actual, long-time Sub Pop employee!) and Arwen Nicks (actual, albeit part-time and only recently hired, Sub Pop employee!), the Sub Pop Podcast is entirely self-produced and not something pitched to us by shifty entrepreneurs, or created in response to any real, discernible demand or marketing analytics. We have approached this in much the same way we approached starting the label: we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and we’re pretty pleased with ourselves by the results.
And somehow, unrelated to any current or past contractual obligations, we convinced an impressive array of folks to talk with us for this thing. Here we are referring to such revered figures from the wide world of entertainment as: King Tuff! Cat from THEESatisfaction! Jon Benjamin! Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses! Jonathan Meiburg from Shearwater! And eventually, we’re fairly certain, if we can pin him down, Mark Arm!
In the spirit of tell and show, you can listen to the trailer for the podcast at subpop.fm RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can subscribe (in iTunes or anything) right now, too. The first episode will be available Wednesday, February 3, and new episodes will be delivered weekly until April 2016 (at which point the first season will end).
SO! Visit subpop.fm to listen to the trailer, subscribe to the podcast, sign up for the podcast mailing list, or to get in touch with us.
The Sub Pop Podcast: Absolutely nothing sounds better.
Do your ears a favor and click on over to Noisey where you can hear Mass Gothic’s self-titled album (in its entirety!) a full seven days before release. Mass Gothiccomes out next Friday, February 5th, and the band’s previously announced 2016 headlining tour in support of the album begins Thursday, February 4th in Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s and currently ends March 19th in Austin at SXSW. (See dates below.)
Noisey says of the album, “Don’t let the name Mass Gothic trick you into thinking the record is a spiral into sadsackism. Each song carries its own weight unreliant and wholly different from the track that came before it, creating a collection of different modes of music and feeling. Songs like “Nice Night” carry an unwavering heaviness and compliment the reflective nature of the lyrics, while the track “Territory” creates a variety of different electronic textures that all stay dancy and catchy. The record is a trip into a variety of different vibes and reasons to listen to music, forming into a wholly memorable and engaging listen. It warps what you think pop, rock, and punk can do when bleeding into each other, one song to the next (see album premiere January 29th-February 5th).”
Mass Gothic also recently shared an official video for “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me”, the iridescent lead single. This exuberant visual, directed by Addison Post (Colleen Green, Solvey), follows group members Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri on a night out in Manhattan.
Village Voice had this to say about the video: “The four-minute clip follows Heroux as he wanders Chinatown, the East Village, and SoHo, karaoke mic in hand, lip-syncing to the track and going nowhere in particular. Along for the ride are his bandmate (and wife) Jessica Zambri, some random passerby, a few cab drivers, and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman…The laid-back feel of the video matches the content (if not the upbeat sound) of the song, which covers Heroux’s feelings of alienation and depression when he was making music that didn’t resonate within. Mass Gothic is an honest record, and its lead single needed an honest video where Heroux could exhale and act naturally”. Watch the video here.
Mass Gothic was also named one of Vulture’s “20 Artists You Need To Know in 2016” and said: “Noel Heroux started off working alone on a four-track, and after nine years and mild success with his old band, dance-rockers Hooray for Earth, he’s gone back to the way he used to do things. This became a necessity, really — a way of dealing with his depression — but the results capture something quintessential about the emotional experience at hand: There are definite highs, and there are definite lows on his self-titled debut as Mass Gothic for Sub Pop. Sometimes Heroux, who’s accompanied at turns by his wife Jessica Zambri, sounds like he’s trying to kick down the doors of his own brain with the sheer force of distorted riffs and heavy echoes and sharp turns. Other times, he’s just trying to shake off the bad stuff with a dance party where the playlist’s almost exclusively synth-pop.”
Meanwhile Q Magazine had this to offer: “Tracks such as the exhilarating “Nice Night” - layered stinging distortion - offer a cathartic energy that’s it’s hard not to be pulled in by. Other highlights include the crisp modern doo-wop of “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me” an the pulsating digital clatter of “Want To Bad”. The sound of a man finding freedom, it’s an impressive reincarnation.”
[Photo Credit :: Shawn Brackbill]
Mass Gothic will be available on CD / LP / CASS / DL worldwide February 5th through Sub Pop. The self-produced effort was mixed Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio) and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Preorder is available now from Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and Google Play. LP preorders from megamart.subpop.com will receive the limited “Loser” edition on banana yellow while supplies last (and they’re going fast!).
Feb. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s* Feb. 05 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop* Feb. 06 - Chicago, IL - Schuba’s Tavern* Feb. 08 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry* Feb. 11 - Boise, ID – Neurolux* Feb. 12 - Seattle, WA - Columbia City Theatre* Feb. 13 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar* Feb. 14- San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop* Feb. 16 - Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg* Feb. 18 - Denver, CO - Lost Lake* Feb. 19 - Kansas City, MO - Riot Room* Feb. 21 - Louisville, KY – Zanzabar* Feb. 22 - Cincinnati, OH - MOTR Pub* Feb. 23 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Café* Feb. 25 - Allston, MA - Great Scott* Feb. 26 - Providence, RI - Columbus Theatre* Feb. 27 - Brooklyn, NY – Palisades* Mar. 10 - Washington, DC - Black Cat Mar. 12 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Stopover Mar. 16 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 17 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 18 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 19 - Austin, TX – SXSW *w/ Mazed