Sub Pop is pleased to announce the new single by Sheltered Workshop Singers, “My Life” (Featuring Bill Frisell) b/w “Dan I Am” and “Bad Memories,” available today worldwide through all digital music services. The release coincides with World Down Syndrome Day, Sunday, March 21st, 2021. The 7” version of the single will be released later this year as part of the subscription-only Sub Pop Singles Club Vol. 6.
Grammy-winning music producer and author Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Zomba Prison Project, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott) grew up in the Bay Area with his older sister, Jane, who has Down syndrome. Just prior to the COVID outbreak, he returned home to visit Jane’s weekday program, where dozens of adults with varying cognitive and ambulatory abilities occupy their weekday hours at a sheltered workshop.
At the workshop, a diverse group of over twenty individuals participated in the musical project that birthed this single. Participants ranged in age from early-twenties to sixties (with the life expectancy of their population still stubbornly flatlining at a mere sixty-years-old). Over half were women. Many were also consigned to wheelchairs or utilized crutches, canes, and braces to walk. None had sung into a microphone before or held a stringed instrument.
The recordings were set up in a narrow, plasterboard-walled room with throbbing Technicolor lights and a disco ball, a place designed to have a paradoxically calming effect on some of the residents.
Brennan believes that there are few more expressive singers than those that are non-verbal. Possessing a limited vocabulary dams up feelings, particularly when what few words are belaboredly uttered are not understood due to a speech impediment. In Brennan’s words: “Whether traveling to more remote places like South Sudan or Cambodia or exploring voices close to home, our goal is not to find the ‘exotic,’ but to de-exoticize and find the emotional common ground throughout the world.”
Possibly Brennan’s most personal work ever, the recordings were made with the involvement of his and Jane’s father, who was in the final stages of his battle with cancer, and who sadly passed just two months later.
Jazz great Bill Frisell (13-time DownBeat Magazine “Guitarist of the Year ” winner) guests on “My Life,” adding an elegiac and gentle layer to vocalist Grace’s intricate melodies and epic emotional investment. Brennan states, “Frisell is such an empathic musician. I can’t think of a more perfect fit for the Sheltered Workshop Singers.”
The famed Jeff Tweedy, Nairobi techno-punk-metallers Duma, and the Pacific NW’s own BNH Deluxe will join John Waters, LIDS, Sheltered Workshop Singers, and more TBA in releasing singles as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club Vol. 6. The Singles Club Vol. 6 continues Sub Pop’s habit of sporadically releasing series of limited-edition, subscription-only 7” singles by artists that we, and hopefully you, like. Subscribe now because these 7”s will be limited to a mere 1,000 copies, and once they are gone, they are gone forever!
On April 30th, 2021, Sub Pop will release Indian Yard, the debut record from Sitka, Alaska project Ya Tseen.
Indian Yard is an intense illumination of feeling and interconnectedness. Following the group’s debut offering, “Close the Distance”, comes the new single and stop-motion animated official video for “Knives.” Directed by Carlos Cruz at Dos Dios productions, the song features guest vocals from Portugal. The Man frontman, John Baldwin Gourley. As described by the group’s frontman, Nicholas Galanin “Knives is a love song about softening a calloused heart and experiencing the edge of magnetic desire, romantic connection, vulnerability, and risk that love opens us up to.”
There will also be a North American deluxe edition on clear vinyl available for preorder in the coming weeks. The deluxe packaging will include a 24-page hardcover LP-sized book with covers featuring a sci-fi landscape populated by a toddler-wearing artist Merritt Johnson’s sculpture Mindset, a VR headset woven from sweetgrass. The interior art was designed by Galanin. This deluxe edition will be available while supplies last.
Ya Tseen Indian Yard
Tracklisting: 1. Knives (feat. Portugal. The Man) 2. Light the Torch 3. Born into Rain (feat. rum.gold and tunia) 4. At Tugáni 5. Get Yourself Together 6. Close the Distance 7. We Just Sit and Smile Here in Silence 8. A Feeling Undefined (feat. Nick Hakim and Iska Dhaaf) 9. Synthetic Gods (feat. Shabazz Palaces and Stas THEE Boss) 10. Gently to the Sun (feat. Tay Sean) 11. Back in That Time (feat. Qacung)
Written and recorded during the 2017 Strange Peace sessions with Steve Albini, these two beloved offerings, initially left on the cutting room floor, were revisited, reworked, and ultimately reinvigorated during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. With “Acid” and “Slow Decay” the Canadian trio continue to break new ground while honing their ever-evolving, nuanced approach to pummeling rhythms and off-kilter melodies. The band describes “Acid” as, “…a song about having a fresh perspective, a newly widened outlook on the world and one’s life. Being shaken awake from a malaise and realizing there is no time for petty bullshit. Love what you love, love who you love! Embrace it and don’t wait.” Indeed, a fresh perspective and a sense of urgency is something METZ always manages to offer. These two songs are available physically on a 7” from Three One G, limited to 1,000 copies, with one side of the vinyl custom printed by The Black Moon Design, and featuring cover art by Jonathan Bauerle. Both songs are also now available for streaming and download from Sub Pop.
World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener, the majestic new album from multimedia auteur Chad VanGaalen, is available today on CD/LP/DSPs worldwide through Sub Pop and in Canada from Flemish Eye. In celebration of this release, VanGaalen has created a video for the single “Starlight.” The song is a “celebration of our cosmic origins” shares VanGaalen, who fused old Super 8 footage of his family from the ’50s and ’60s, circular photos that were taken in his studio, and quick sketches to stylistically create a visual fusion unique to VanGaalen’s body of work.
On Thursday, April 8th, VanGaalen has scheduled a live stream performance from his Yoko Eno studio that will be broadcast through NoonChorus. The show will be available for viewing in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia at 7 PM (local time). Viewers will see and hear things that VanGaalen has historically been unable to incorporate into his in-person live show experience – a heavily modified D-85 Electone organ, his prepared piano, various homemade instruments, and perhaps a shot or two of the skateboard ramp he built in his basement. Even more enticing? A psychedelic flute solo will be performed. Whatever the outcome, the show is guaranteed to be unforgettable. Ticket holders will be able to stream the performance for 5 days following and will also be able to buy merch. You can purchase tickets for this event here.
What people are saying about World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener: “An expansion of VanGaalen’s cult audience is sorely overdue.” [8/10] -Uncut
“No idea is too strange and nearly anything can be used as a musical instrument… Is it incoherent? Absolutely, but that’s all part of the fun.” [8/10] -Exclaim
“A tour de force of all the things that make the Canadian singer-songwriter great, from the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of ‘Starlight’ to the hazy, laid back pop of the single ‘Samuari Sword’.” [8/10] - Loud & Quiet
“The Alberta-based genre jumper has been marching to the (slightly off) beat of his own drum for the last decade, and it’s always a pleasure to hear what he’s been brewing up in his bunker.“ - Monster Children
“Chad VanGaalen‘s mind must be cavernous, where behind every nook and corner a whimsical idea is being generated.” - The Revue
“Tantalising glimpses into his adaptable, genre-fluid musical outlook.” - DIY
“A dreamy, psychedelic folk concoction.” - NARC
“A melody-flecked indie rock jewel” [“Samurai Sword”] - CLASH
“Pure genius.” [“Samurai Sword”] - Folk Radio
“Never anything but beautifully, eccentrically candid.” [“Nightwaves”] - Backseat Mafia
Chad VanGaalen World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener
Tracklisting: 1. Spider Milk 2. Flute Peace 3. Starlight 4. Where Is It All Going? 5. Earth From a Distance 6. Nightwaves 7. Plant Music 8. Nothing Is Strange 9. Inner Fire 10. Golden Pear 11. Nightmare Scenario 12. Samurai Sword 13. Water Brother
Today, Flock of Dimes (aka Jenn Wasner) is sharing the official video for “Hard Way,” directedby Lachlan Turczan. “Hard Way” is another standout from Wasner’s second solo LP, Head of Roses, an album that showcases her ability to embrace new levels of vulnerability, honesty and openness, combined with the self-assuredness that comes with a decade-plus career as a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and prolific collaborator.
In the video – which was shot in Joshua Tree, CA, outside in the freezing dark on a windy winter’s night – Wasner’s face acts as a canvas for an array of pulsing patterns of light. It turns something as straightforward as a first-person delivery into something deeper and more disorienting than it first appears.
Wasner says of the song, “Although I didn’t fully understand when I wrote it, this song is an example of the power of the subconscious mind to hide truths from ourselves that we’re not yet ready to see. When I wrote this song I was still in the throes of new love, and I thought I was writing a straightforward, earnest love song. But when I tried to record it, something about the tone of it was eerie, strange, a bit darker than I would have expected. It wasn’t until long after I wrote it that I became aware of its odd foreshadowing of what was to come—that something I intended to be bright and hopeful in the moment was floating on top of a deep current of unease.”
Head of Roses, and singles “Two” and “Price of Blue,” have seen praise from outlets like The Guardian, who say, “Her solo album out in April is superb. This sweetly shuffling [“Two”] is so rich in charm.” The New York Times had this to say, ‘Can I be one? Can we be two?’ Jenn Wasner asks on her stirring new single…‘Two’ is driven by an irregular beat, as if to mirror the hesitant questioning of its lyrics. Even when she’s being somber or ruminative, Wasner has a touch of gallows humor, as when she muses memorably, ‘We’re all just wearing bodies like a costume til we die.’” Stereogum offers this, “Between the restrained LIke So Much Desire EP last year and the bubbly, infectious ‘Two,’ the lead single from her forthcoming album Head of Roses, it’s become clear that Flock Of Dimes has room for whatever songs Wasner wants to write and whatever stories she wants to tell. So that brings us to “Price of Blue,” a breakup reckoning that finds Wasner tapping into the autumnal, reflective rock sound that’s always been such a mesmerizing side of her songwriting.” Meanwhile, PASTE calls “Price of Blue” a “six-minute masterpiece of psychedelic guitar riffs and haunting vocal…,” and Guitar World raves, “Jenn Wasner is a bewitching guitarist… Head of Roses will find Wasner elevating her already otherworldly playing to new heights.”
Flock of Dimes’ Head of Roses, which features “Two,” “Price of Blue,” “Hard Way,” and “One More Hour,” will be available on CD/CS/DSPs on April 2nd, 2021, and on LP April 30th, 2021. The album was produced by Nick Sanborn (Sylvan Esso) and Wasner at Betty’s in Chapel Hill, NC, engineered by Bella Blasko with additional engineering by Sanborn, mixed by Ari Picker and Blasko, and mastered by Huntley Miller. The album features appearances from guitarist Meg Duffy, Bon Iver’s Matt McCaughan, Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, and Landlady’s Adam Schatz. Head of Roses follows the release of Like So Much Desire, her acclaimed digital EP released June 2020 on Sub Pop.
“Wasner sounds stunning here as she sways between swaths of keys and bursts of tone.” [‘Two”] - Closed Captioned
“A bright, gauzy song awash in clarity and the desire for connection” [‘Two”] - Indy Week
“…Her robust delivery is accompanied by lush meadows of harmonies.” [“Price of Blue”] - Consequence of Sound
“She digs deep and takes you on the journey through a sound as immense as it is engaging.” [“Price of Blue”] - Closed Captioned
“‘Price of Blue’ sees Wasner’s dreamy vocals on a pivot toward a more rock-oriented sound compared to “Two”. This six-minute composition sees Flock of Dimes at her most vulnerable, over a distorted guitar, including an impressive guitar solo.” [“Price of Blue”] - MXDWN
“‘…Be ready to keep this one on repeat as you absorb its intensity and brilliance.” [“Price of Blue”] - The Revue
Flock of Dimes Head of Roses Tracklisting: 1. 2 Heads 2. Price of Blue 3. Two 4. Hard Way 5. Walking 6. Lightning 7. One More Hour 8. No Question 9. Awake for the Sunrise 10. Head of Roses