News from 4/2016

NEWS : TUE, APR 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Meet The 2016 Sub Pop Loser Scholarship Winners

[Image from ‘Disruptor,’ Lucas Reif’s Zine]

After reading through hundreds of wonderfully thoughtful and inspirational applications, we here at Sub Pop Records have chosen three extraordinarily qualified students for our Sub Pop Loser scholarship.

Our $7000 winner this year is Lucas Reif of Redmond, Washington. Lucas won us over big-time with his explosive poster art for various local all-ages punk shows. His visual art skills were on display through photography, zine creation, web design, screen printing, and a variety of other formats. In the local community, Lucas volunteered at Ground Zero, worked with the EMP Youth Advisory Board, plays in a band called Kids Menu, and supports bands like GAG in our local all-ages spaces. We feel strongly that Lucas has a bright future ahead of him, and although he may think there is a tangible disconnect between him and the cool kids, he is probably one of the coolest and most talented kids to ever apply for our Loser Scholarship. 

Rosabelle Heine will be taking home $5000 this year as a Sub Pop Loser Scholarship winner. From Ashland, Oregon, Rosabelle is one of the most talented and multi-faceted artists we’ve seen in our nine years of looking at Loser Scholarship applications. Her photography, especially the set design, lighting, and thoroughly thought-out concepts really stunned us; her photos are beautifully executed. She is a multi-instrumentalist playing violin, mandolin, busking on the drums, and occasionally making killer beats to rap over. Her community contributions include organizing public youth symphony performances, mural painting, film festival volunteering, building archways in local parks, and fundraising for art lessons for low income students. We love her creative spirit and think that whichever school is lucky enough to have her will be much better off with Rosabelle. Here is Rosabelle’s blog:

Chan Ha Kim will be getting $3000 as a Sub Pop Loser Scholarship winner. Animation and drawing seem to come easy to Chan and they have been her passion since a young age. After immigrating to the Everett area from South Korea, Chan really blossomed as a visual artist and started to win many awards for her very compelling drawings and animations. Not content to just be a stunning visual artist, Chan has helped other Koreans seeking artistic support to find resources in the United States while also hosting volunteer art workshops for children at her home. Wow, her altruistic support of the arts really touched our hearts. But altruism isn’t her only strength, she works on animations and drawings for at least two hours every day and is very dedicated to her craft, volunteering and interning to gain more knowledge at various local organizations. We know there are big things in the future for Chan and her beautiful animations. Here is Chan’s Tumblr:

This year may have been the strongest field of applicants for the Loser Scholarship so far! For those losers who didn’t win this year, thanks for playing, we loved your applications too, and know many of you will go on to inspire us in the future.

Posted by Andrew Sullivan

NEWS : MON, APR 4, 2016 at 7:00 AM

New 7” from GOAT: “I Sing In Silence” b/w “The Snake of Addis Ababa” (out in North America 5/27)

New music from Goat is always a time for celebration, and we are excited to announce the band’s return with a 7” of brand new material.
Last year Goat released the single “It’s Time for Fun” which saw the band experimenting with drum machines, which brought a different pulse to their tribal psych. This desire to explore new sounds continues with their new single “I Sing in Silence.” But instead of plugging in new instruments the band have unplugged and created an addictive groove with mostly un-amped, acoustic instruments. 
Elastic guitar lines, woodblock percussion, and flutes which drive the song are enveloped by one of the strongest vocal deliveries by the bands enigmatic singers, resulting in a powerful and catchy psych-pop number.
The B side, an instrumental called “The Snake of Addis Ababa,” is a looping, North-African mantra played on a teasing, fuzzed guitar, underpinned by a djembi groove. The repetitive riff is disrupted by piano that freely solos over the groove, and a pounding drum lifts the song to a seriously head-nodding conclusion.
This single is further proof that, in a world of similar sounding and similar looking psych bands, Goat are standing completely out on their own and we are all the better for it.

This summer the band will be busy writing, recording, and blowing people’s minds across Europe’s greatest stages. Confirmed dates at time of going to press:
Tour Dates
Jun. 01 - Barcelona, ES - Primavera Sound 
Jun. 11 - Eindhoven, NL - Eindhoven Psych Lab
Jun. 12 - London, UK - Field Day
Jun. 17 - Duisburg, DE - Traumzeit Festival
Jun. 19 - Gaou Island/Six-Fours, France - Pointu Festival
Jul. 09 - Liege, BE - Les Ardentes Festival
Jul. 10 - Gent, BE - Cactus Festival
Jul. 22-24 - Barcelos, PT - Milhões de Festa
Sep. 03  - End of the Road Festival / UK

Ticket links reside over here.

Posted by Rachel White

NEWS : FRI, APR 15, 2016 at 2:30 PM

No Fly List: Notes from Sub Pop’s Airport Store: Record Store Day Ed. (April 2016)

Celebrating Record Store Day 2016 at Sub Pop’s Airport Store

For the last few months, I have been one of the few Sub Pop corporate associates lucky enough to open the airport store at 6 A.M. For someone who has considered himself a night owl for his entire life, I’m amazed to see how many fully-alert and seemingly-functional human beings are roaming the airport at this hour. They are already munching on breakfast sandwiches, searching for electrical outlets to charge their phones, and staring at the black early morning sky through a 60-by-350-foot glass wall when I get to work. 

They are also ready to exercise their purchasing power, which brings us to 6 A.M., this Saturday, April 16th, in the year of our lord Grunge, where I will have the special sleep-deprived pleasure of opening our airport shop for Record Store Day (RSD). While other record stores tout their once-a-year early/extended hours, I can’t find any store that will beat our standard 6 A.M. opening time, making us still the earliest-opening record store in the galaxy. (The closest I found on the west coast was the Everyday Music location in Beaverton, OR, which promises to open at 7 A.M. this year for Record Store Day.) 

So, if you were worried about traveling through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Record Store Day, and missing out on all the exclusive buying opportunities, fear not! At press time, we are still unpacking boxes and awaiting shipments, but we will definitely have some choice RSD titles for you to take home and/or on vacation with you this Saturday. I think all of these will fit nicely in your carry on bag.

As always, we’ll have copies of the 2016 Sub Pop RSD titles. If you didn’t know, Sub Pop will release two different split singles this year: There’s one by Low and S. Carey (a.k.a. Sean Carey, drummer for Bon Iver and solo recording artist on Jagjaguwar) where they take on unfinished versions of each other’s songs, resulting in some jammy musical alchemy. And our other split single has METZ and Mission of Burma(!!!) covering each other’s songs. You can read more about these right over here

But that’s not all! This year we also decided to stock some other non-Sub Pop RSD exclusives in the store. Here are a few that I recommend checking out:

-  METZ and Swami John Reis “Let it Rust” / “Caught Up”: With METZ, the singles just keep on comin’. After passing through San Diego whist on tour, they hooked up with John Reis (of Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and Rocket From the Crypt fame) and collaborated on two new songs for this gloriously noisy 7”.

- Green River 1984 Demos: These are the earliest recordings by the world’s first ever Grunge band. Jack Endino recently got a hold of the reel and was able to mix it; he says the band sounds “like a scrappy glam punk version of Mudhoney.”

- The Shaggs “Sweet Maria”/ “The Missouri Waltz”: From our good friends at Light in the Attic (can we ever get enough of them?) this 7” contains the previously unreleased song “Sweet Maria,” along with their (what bounds to be) idiosyncratic cover of the state song of Missouri.

- Ravi Shankar In Hollywood, 1971: This is a never before released recording of a private concert Ravi Shankar had in his very own home, for a small group of guests. Word has it that George Harrison was in attendance, and that this unique performance helped to inspire the largest-ever benefit shows at the Concert for Bangladesh, later that year.

The Thermals “Hey You” / “White Rabbit”: Former Sub Pop band The Thermals just released a new LP this year, We Disappear, over on Saddle Creek Records. This 7” contains a song from that album, along with a sure-to-be-righteous cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

- Various Artists Doused in Mud, Soaked in Bleach: A song-for-song tribute to Nirvana’s Bleach, featuring contributions from Beach Slang, Circa Survive, The Fall of Troy, and more.

- Man Man Six Demon Bag: This year marks the 10th anniversary of Man Man’s second album, Six Demon Bag. The band, whose frontman Ryan Kattner is also in Sub Pop’s own Mister Heavenly, originally released this record as a double 10”, and it is now available as a 12” LP for the first time ever.

Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks: The title says it all. Eerie yet beautiful music, from the greatest T.V. show to ever take place in Washington state, that will dance creepily into the red room of your consciousness. 

- And many more titles to choose from!

I’d also be remiss not to mention that today, the day before Record Store Day, Sub Pop has just released the excellent Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop collaboration, Love Letter for Fire, and the airport store still has some smoke-colored vinyl Loser Editions. 

On the subject of Loser Editions, make your RSD more artful with these limited color LPs still available at the airport store:

Doldrums - The Air Conditioned Nightmare (clear vinyl)

Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion (white swirl vinyl - only one left in the store!)

Mass Gothic - Mass Gothic (orange vinyl)

Mike & the Melvins - Three Men and a Baby (custom dust sleeve and white vinyl - sold out everywhere else!)

So Pitted - Neo (white vinyl)

And we can’t forget colored vinyl options from Hardly Art. We still have Gazebos Die Alone (clear with yellow), Grave Babies Holographic Violence (blue and purple), Shannon and the Clams Gone by the Dawn (green and white) and Tacocat’s brand new release, Lost Time (black and blue), available on LP. 

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking, “Hey, I’m not flying through Sea Tac airport tomorrow, and it’s totally impractical for me to buy a plane ticket on such short notice.” Don’t worry. If you visit the Sub Pop Airport Store anytime this spring, every day can be your own personal Record Store Day (while supplies last, a.k.a, until we sell-out of this stuff). 

Posted by Jackson Hathorn

NEWS : MON, APR 25, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Listen to Kyle Craft’s ‘Dolls of Highland’ in its entirety via SPIN + Killer Pitchfork 8.0/10 Review

Time for you to not miss hearing all 12 songs from Kyle Craft’s Dolls of Highland; Kyle’s forthcoming Sub Pop debut is streaming now (5 days before release!) exclusively via
SPIN says of Dolls of Highland: “Kyle Craft is a 27-year-old singer/songwriter from Louisiana, who in his past life was either a glam-rock idol or frontman for a power-metal band. His sound is a swampy ’70s boogie that splits the difference between Dr. John and David Bowie…but his voice is a captivating, armor-piercing howl that gives his first album Dolls of Highland its own character, and keeps it from ever feeling explicitly retro. The engrossing LP, recorded in Portland with two members of Sub Pop veterans Helio Sequence helping to mix, has more of an out-of-time quality to it, with the moseying piano shuffle of “Eye of the Hurricane” and the chilling Spectorian balladry of “Lady of the Ark” existing as standards in some alternate-universe classic-rock canon (see feature April 25th).”
Meanwhile, Pitchfork, in its excellent (8.1 out of 10!) review of Dolls of Highland, offered this: “…Melds the voodoo-infused mythology of the South with rambunctious glam rock, and Kyle Craft summons you into its world like a carnival barker wooing customers into a funhouse…vivid, immersive storytelling and sharply focused, fat-free songs that have the lived-in feel of 40-year-old FM-radio favorites. And he can dial down the irreverence and deliver the drama on more sobering turns like “Trinidad Beach (Before I Ride)” (where Craft forges a spiritual kinship with another southern Anglophilic misfit, the late Chris Bell of Big Star), and the astounding “Lady of the Ark,” a strummed-out song for a silenced siren that’s launched heavenward atop Spectorized drum crashes and sleigh-bell rattles (8.1/10, review April 25th).”

Kyle Craft’s previously announced U.S. tour schedule in support of Dolls of Highland spans April 28th in Seattle, WA at the Sunset through May 30th in Salt Lake City, UT at Kilby Court. There will be additional live dates announced soon. (Current dates below.)

Kyle Craft will release Dolls of Highland on CD / LP / DL / CASS worldwide April 29th through Sub Pop, and is now available for preorder from Sub Pop Mega Mart,iTunesAmazonGoogle Play, and Bandcamp. The limited “Loser” edition on pink with black-swirled vinyl is already sold out via the Megamart, SO… grab it from the artist at shows on tour AND at independent retailers near you (while supplies last).

The twelve track album features the singles “Lady of the Ark,” “Eye of a Hurricane,” “Pentecost,” and “Future Midcity Massacre.”  Dolls of Highland was written, recorded and produced by Craft, mixed by Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel of The Helio Sequence at the Old Jantzen Building in Portland, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.

What people have said about Kyle Craft:
“A swamp bar jukebox loaded with British glitter and Seventies Southern rock; a crawfish boil aboard ELO’s spacecraft.” [10 New Artists You Need To Know] - Rolling Stone
“Craft admits his voice sounds a good deal like Bob Dylan’s, and that his muse has come to him many, many times. Still, “Lady of the Ark” hints that Craft’s music is so full of its own weird singularity that he’s on to something far beyond idol worship.” -  Billboard
“Louisiana’s answer to Jobriath; a big hair and a voice shrill enough to pose a threat to amalgam fillings, Craft’s nostalgia for junk shop glam and ‘70s pianopomp reaches teenage peak rampage here.” [“Eye of a Hurricane”] - MOJO
““Eye of a Hurricane” starts Dolls.. with a sudden jolt of energy, courtesy of the song’s ragtime piano lick. The keys continue to drive the track, as the distorted guitar works to add a sense of eeriness to the song. All the while, Craft displays the full prowess of his vocal range, hitting high notes that hark back to glam rock vocals of the ’70s.” [“Eye of a Hurricane”] - American Songwriter 
““Pentecost” sees Kyle Craft…return to his hometown in Louisiana, haunted by the ghost of a friend who took his own life. Paired with his knack for great melodies, it demonstrates Craft’s emotional power as a songwriter.” [“Pentecost” / “All Songs Considered”] -NPR Music
“With inviting, yet imperfect vocals and a jangly guitar melody, “Lady of the Ark” is a sweeping goodbye to a long-term relationship. It’s somehow warm, melodic, and rough at the same time.” [The Weeks Best Tracks”] - FLOOD
“Like many artists from the South, Craft has a conflicted relationship with the region’s cultural duality, a topic he tackles on “Lady Of The Ark.” Shrouded in guitars and organ, he caustically wails, “Swing low, low sweet heathen / Swing for the wretch and the rock and roll kid,” a line he says he wrote in response to the “shame, shame thing that ‘church folk’ tend to do so often,” and which doesn’t sit well with Craft. “Roam this earth repeat it / All this sin until this wicked world makes sense in time,” he defiantlygrowls near the song’s end. Craft’s roaming days may be done for now, but “Lady Of The Ark” shows his music as wild-eyed and restless” - [“Lady of the Ark” / “Songs We Love”] -  NPR Music
“It’s thrilling. It’s the sort of music that can only come from a somewhat unique musical outlook, a track that instantly sounds like nobody other than Kyle Craft. The huge sound of pounding drums, the almost mariachi handclaps, the frankly bizarre fairground-organ interlude, the lyrics than hint at a complex incestuous web of lives and lies, and all that before you even get to the voice…he has said that listening to Bob Dylan inspired him to embrace his voice and make the most of it. Kyle has suggested he shares atone with Bob, but to our ears it’s more like the love child of Withered Hand and Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, and that’s a very good, if slightly divisive, place to be.” - For The Rabbits
“Hard to believe given the innate sense of pop heritage that blossoms from every ounce of his fruitful, endearingly scorched lead vocal but it wasn’t until Craft stumbled upon a David Bowie that he began to take an interest in music. Lucky for us that he did – debut track ‘Lady Of The Ark’ is astormy, rugged gem, led by one of the most distinctly impressive new voices in the game. A mighty fine introduction.” - Gold Flake Paint

Tour Dates
Apr. 28 - Seattle, WA -  The Sunset
Apr. 29 - Portland, OR - Jackpot Records in store (Solo)
Apr. 29 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir (late)
Apr. 30 - Seattle, WA - Urban Outfitters Capitol Hill
May 05 - Portland, OR - NextNW (Solo)
May 19 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent*
May 20 - Los Angeles, CA - Roxy*
May 21 -San Diego, CA - Casbah*
May 22 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar*
May 24 - Austin, TX - Parish*
May 25 - Dallas, TX - Three Links*
May 26 - Shreveport, LA - Bears on Fairfield
May 29 - Denver, CO - Lost Lake Lounge**
May 30 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
*w/ Fruit Bats
** w/ Arbor Labor Union

Posted by Rachel White

NEWS : FRI, APR 15, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Quasi’s Up Records Label Discography Is Back In Print On Vinyl (Finally)

Up Records, in partnership with Sub Pop, has repressed Quasi’s classic label discography – R&B Transmogrification (1997), Featuring “Birds” (1998), and Field Studies (1999) – on vinyl.

This repress also marks the first time that R&B Transmogrification is available as a stand-alone vinyl release (it was previously available as a bonus LP, packaged with the release of Featuring “Birds”).  All three titles will be available in the U.S. on May 27th through Up Records (via Sub Pop), and are now available for preorder at Sub Pop Mega Mart and independent retailers near you. 

LP preorders for each release will be available on black vinyl, in addition to three limited-edition colors: R&B Transmogrification on light green; Featuring “Birds” on light blue; and Field Studies on white (while supplies last, so don’t sleep!).  

Revisit each of these fantastic records (or listen for the first time maybe?) right now via YouTube:  R&B Transmogrification - Featuring “Birds” - Field Studies

Quasi’s (pronounced KWAH-zee) primary instrumentalist Sam Coomes played in the Donner Party before starting Motorgoat in 1992 with drummer Janet Weiss. After the dissolution of Motorgoat in 1993, Sam and Janet continued as Quasi, which grew from a side project that took in songs that didn’t fit under Motorgoat’s roof into a larger part of Sam and Janet’s lives, eventually resulting in Quasi’s 1995 debut, Early Recordings. Despite Sam joining Heatmiser and Janet taking over the drums for Sleater-Kinney, Sam and Janet continued to develop Quasi, eventually crafting enough songs for a new album.

On R&B Transmogrification Quasi comes further out of the Northwest woodwork with an album that rolls some of the most intense pop numbers up with the saddest lyrics you’ve ever heard. Recorded in a cold, Portland, OR basement during the winter of 1996, R&B Transmogrification serves as an almost exact representation of the duo’s amazing live sound.

With a heavy emphasis on
fuzz piano and “kinetic” drumming, guitars chime in spare and harmonious throughout the songs, showing the soulful grace hidden behind a thin veil of cacophony. This all lays the foundation for lyrical explorations of the apparently inexhaustible themes of death and the failure of love. But never have the two morose subjects sounded so beautiful and harmless.

“Quasi fashion an exuberant noise in unique settings…The playing is intuitive, sonic, and playful; arrangements are incredibly distinct and imaginative.” - Your Flesh

R&B Transmogrification is a fully realized nugget of indie rock, not just an indulgent side project.” - Seattle Times

“Sam Coomes’ and Janet Weiss spill woeful tales over backdrops of guitar fuzz and unpredictable arrangements.” [5/5] - Alternative Press

On this, Quasi’s third album (their second for Up Records), Quasi’s transformation is possibly complete. They have succeeded in writing a perfect pop album while maintaining the tension and dramatic joy of their past releases. Sam Coomes (formerly of Heatmiser, Donner Party) and Janet Weiss (also of Sleater-Kinney) are the only two individuals alive who can make it ok to be happy about singing along to the ideas of suicide and lost love. They can do it because you dearly want them to, and because no one else has ever dared to try. These themes have become necessary inclusions for the band, and on Featuring “Birds” they are even accompanied by notions of love renewed. Quasi turns a new leaf?

Recorded at Portland’s Jackpot Studio by Mr. Larry Crane (editor ofTape Op magazine) in November of 1997, Featuring “Birds” is an expansion of Quasi’s technical and musical boundaries. For the first time, they have recorded in a professional studio, and for the first
time they have used more than eight tracks (16, this time around). The songs date from late ’96, when Quasi was just recording their last album, up to the moment they entered the studio for this album. The sole guest musician on the album is Charlie Campbell of Pond, who wrote and played guitar on “Tomorrow You’ll Hide.”

“Coomes’s electric harpsichord has a sham-dignified sound twisted and distorted to its fraying point and Weiss’s slashing beats and sour-sweet harmonies tense it up even more.  These are the songs of smart people trying to find some way out of corrosive despair-indie rock’s Rumours.” [Top 20 Albums Of The Year, 1998] - SPIN

“The third release from this Portland, Oregon, ex-husband-and-wife duo hides gut-wrenching heartache and despair inside sugary vocal harmonies and catchy-succinct songwriting.” - Rolling Stone

Quasi stretch out yet further on Field Studies, their fourth album, and easily justify their recent status as one of the foremost purveyors of underground pop. Every element that made their previous album, Featuring “Birds”, so widely acclaimed – concise songwriting, arching melodies, and dead- on harmonies atop occasionally clamorous and always- propulsive rhythms – is further developed on Field Studies. The tonal palette has expanded to include strings, church organ, theremin, and various electronic instruments, in addition to the keyboards, guitars, and drums that have always been their mainstays.

Somehow, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss manage once again to play nearly all the instruments on the record themselves. They accomplish this task despite spending the better part of 1999 on the road performing either as Quasi, with Sleater-Kinney (Janet’s other
band), or as part of Elliott Smith’s touring band. Quasi returns the favor to Elliott in kind on Field Studies, enlisting his prowess onbass guitar on several songs.

Field Studies was mostly recorded at Jackpot! Studio in Portland, OR with Larry Crane (of Tape Op magazine); a couple of songs were recorded in Seattle with Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes), one was recorded in Portland’s Old Church, and another was recorded at Janet’s home, where Quasi recorded their entire first album.

“Like their heroes the Kinks, Coomes and Weiss have found an expert way of channeling dark, questioning sentiments into pop music…” - The AV Club

On their fourth album, drummer Janet 
Weiss and multi-instrumentalist Sam Coomes broaden what had been a rather insistent focus on the Roxichord keyboard pounding to include guitar and piano interludes. The result is the band’s most varied effort yet:  A collection of pop songs whose lovely vocal melodies and lush sonic textures-makes us home that Coomes is just kidding when he sings, “This may be the year I will disappear.” - Rolling Stone

Oh, and perhaps you’d like to see Quasi on Tour:

May 14 - Portland, OR - St. John’s Bizarre
Jun. 24 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s
Jun. 25 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
Jun. 26 - Jersey City, NJ - Monty Hall
Jun. 27 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel

Find ticket links right over here.

Posted by Rachel White

NEWS : FRI, APR 8, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Sub Pop Showcase + Pop-up Shops Coming to Seattle in April

Urban Outfitters is celebrating 25 years in Seattle with a month-long celebration, and they invited us to join the party!

Throughout the month of April you’ll find Sub Pop pop-up shops in all three Seattle Urban Outfitters store locations: Capitol Hill, Downtown and University Way. We think they look pretty great!

The birthday revelry culminates on Saturday, April 30th, when artists from the Sub Pop family — Portland’s Kyle Craft, Olympia’s Strange Wilds, and Hardly Art’s S — perform at the anniversary bash in UO’s Capitol Hill store at 401 Broadway E, from 6-8 PM.  Come for the music; stay for the birthday treats (and opportunities to buy stuff).

Oh hey, we also made a playlist to mark the occasion. Have a listen here:

Posted by Rachel White