We’re thrilled to announce the signing of Nor’Eastern upstarts LVL UP to what has been best described as a seemingly endless and punishing recording contract. Welcome to the family, fellas!
Lead-off track ”Pain” is a lo-fi indie rock jammer from their forthcoming Sub Pop debut (LVL UP’s third album), Return To Love. The Mike Ditrio-produced record showcases LVL UP’s ability to write incredibly understated indie-pop classics. Pitchfork says of LVL UP: “Homespun, 1990s-indebted indie pop… A uniquely vulnerable songwriting voice makes LVL UP distinct.”
The band is based out of New York, and members’ roots run deep into the DIY scene. (Their Evie Nagy-penned bio is below for your perusal.)
Return To Love is available for pre-ordernow, and LP pre-orders through Sub Pop Mega Mart and independent retailers near you will receive the limited Loser Edition on orange creamsicle swirl vinyl (while supplies last).
LVL UP have also announced a Fall tour, that includes dates with Bear vs Shark, Alex G and Eskimeaux. Details below.
“Hidden Driver,” the opening track of LVL UP’s third album and Sub Pop debut Return to Love, never stops moving. What starts with unassuming guitars and vocals adds new lines, depths, and intensity, until its unrestrained, triumphant finish. “God is peeking, softly speaking,” repeats the chorus, working through the relationship between spirituality and creative inspiration, and introducing a band that is always pushing further.
LVL UP – guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, bassist Nick Corbo, and drummer Greg Rutkin – is a true collaboration, a band that takes the stylistically distinct ideas of four members and brings them together into something new. Caridi, Benton, and Corbo write and sing equally, bringing their work to the group to be fully realized, resulting in an album built on different perspectives but a common drive.
“We have very different inspirations across the board,” says Benton, noting his own admiration for the writer and documentarian Astra Taylor, Corbo’s interest in the mystical and the occult, and Caridi’s attention to personal storytelling. The music itself grows from a shared melodic and experimental sensibility, as well as a nod to iconic influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and Mount Eerie. But each songwriter has a different vision every step of the way, and there isn’t always alignment–it shouldn’t make sense, but in the end it does.
LVL UP was formed in 2011 at SUNY Purchase as a recording project between Caridi, Benton, and their friend Ben Smith, with the original intention of releasing a split cassette with Corbo’s then-solo material. They instead released that album, Space Brothers, as one band, and Rutkin joined shortly afterwards for the group’s first show. Smith left the band for personal reasons just before the release of second album Hoodwink’d, a joint release on Caridi and Benton’s label Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound. DDW also put out records from other artists in the tight-knit community that launched the band.
“There’s not really a town associated with the school, so there’s no bar or club that you could go play in easily,” says Corbo. “But there was a student center on campus that was all student run. That was a great place to play, and also take care of a lot of practical issues like a place to put your stuff and a place to practice weekly. It was almost like an incubator situation for us and a lot of other bands – it gave us a little bit of experience and confidence, so it wasn’t as scary when we decided to go on tour for the first time.”
Also part of that university community was Return to Love’s producer Mike Ditrio, who mixed LVL UP’s previous records and “was basically a fifth member of the band,” says Corbo. “He played a huge role in developing the sound, without butting in too much. He also navigated our personal dynamic really nicely.”
That sound is marked by reverb, harmony and tape distortion, with a keen balance of pop and experimentation. From the fast yet flowing lines of “Blur” to the all-consuming wall of guitar in “The Closing Door,” each song pushes and pulls in compelling, unexpected ways. There’s deliberation as well as spontaneity – the latter developed with the help of a song-a-day project, which pushed Caridi and Corbo to write and record full songs in a single day. Some of that material, including “Naked in the River with the Creator,” made it onto the album.
“I ultimately made this half-drone, half-really loud guitar song, because it was an idea I had floating around in my head but never got around to doing until I had to write a song in a day,” says Corbo. “The thing that pulled me through was grasping onto words and images, but instead of pulling from an infinite sea of all the images that you could pull from, it’s easier to constrict yourself a little bit.”
9/9 - Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5
9/10 - Raleigh, NC @Hopscotch Festival
9/11 - Washington, DC @ DC9
9/20 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
9/21 - Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal (Bar Le “Ritz” PDB) ~
Mass Gothic’s official video for “Nice Night” - a standout track from their acclaimed self-titled album - premiered this morning via the fine folks at Stereogum. The stark new visual stars band members Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri, and was shot in a single take over an evening in June by returning director Addison Post (“Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me”).
Stereogum had this to say, “The self-titled release is a delightfully genre-hopping collection of songs that range from Kraftwerk-esque synth meditations (“Territory”) to exuberantly bright indie-pop (“Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me“). Lead single “Nice Night,” however, always felt like the most fitting of Heroux’s stylistic costumes — a simultaneously sludgy-yet-shimmering reflection that finds him first singing, then later shouting about depression as an avalanche of distortion arrives to bury him. In the new Addison Post-directed video for “Nice Night”…Heroux sits in the center of a white backdrop dispassionately mouthing along to his song as Zambri accompanies him on the bass. Post also helmed the clip for “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me,” which captured too the pair’s innate chemistry, one that’s immediately apparent here even as they rarely catch one another’s eye. It’s a simple visual, but it’s one that lets the power of Heroux’s words come across undistracted (see premiere July 11th).”
Mass Gothic’s summer tour schedule begins later this week, with a show at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences on July 14th. The group will also hit the road with labelmate Kyle Craft for a short east coast tour, which begins August 9th in Montreal at La Vitrola and ends August 13th in Philadelphia at Boot & Saddle. (Complete tour dates below.)
Late last night, Clipping dropped their official video for “Wriggle,” the title cut from their just-released EP. (Which is out now and available for your purchasing pleasure here.) Hear the full EP here; see more of Clipping’s eye-assaulting visuals here.
The frantic clip - directed by Rodney Ascher - pairs performance footage of Clipping’s Daveed Diggs edited into a barrage of GIFs and we CAN’T STOP WATCHING.
After starting the year as an early-rising store opener, I’ve begun working closing shifts this month. One feature of closing that I’d forgotten about is the fugue state of the airport late at night. In the morning, people are hopped up on caffeine (or rushing towards its nearest source), moving at a brusque pace, hurtling towards their destinations, and reckoning with the reality of a 6AM flight.
At night, people walk slower. Flights have been delayed, and some folks have a long night ahead of them. Most people are trying to stay awake just long enough to board their plane. When you ask these wanderers “Hi, how are you?” the most common response you’ll hear is “I’m just killing time.” Eyeballs gaze over every single item for sale, as if in an effort to consume the most time as possible. But after one lap around the store, most of them exit to explore the next corner of the airport, with the deliberate restlessness of a tumbleweed.
For the rare travelers that decide to hang out in the store, more often than not, they park themselves at our listening station bench. From here, they can sample different Sub Pop albums for sale, and also flip-through/write in our guestbooks. And after reading through our guestbooks for the first time in months, I found some entries that were too good to not share with the whole Sub Pop Interweb audience, who aren’t lucky enough to make it to the airport frequently.
So please enjoy these assorted pages from our 2-year-old guestbooks, and make sure to write your own entry next time you visit us!
(Before Sleater-Kinney reunited and played for the first time in Spokane, WA, we had our fair share of far-flung fans stop by the airport store en route to the show. I think these S-K fans from Great Britain made the longest trip.)
(“Making layovers somewhat passible since 1988” and a heartfelt message from Garrett.)
(Not to be out-done, thanks, Nora!)
(Naturally, rock star portraits abound in the guestbooks.)
(Once we got real celebrities to sign our guestbook. I don’t know why someone crossed out your name in this entry, but thanks, TacocaT!)
(Sometimes state rivalries play out amongst the pages, with the eloquence of a bathroom stall. Here are Alaska and Texas duking it out.)
(Followed by Portland getting roasted.)
(Bottom left corner: “Y’all are super hipster. Nice!”)
(This is my favorite one. All of us at Sub Pop are very honored to be your favorite band from Portland.)
Pacific Northwest rippers So Pitted will support Hardly Art’s Chastity Belt on their forthcoming west coast tour, beginning August 10th in Portland, OR at Doug Fir and ending August 27th in Seattle, WA at Neumos. You’ll also find the band performing at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival September 2nd-4th. (Tour dates below.)
So Pitted recently visited 90.3 KEXP for a live performance; see/hear them tear through neo highlights “cat scratch,” “pay attention to me,” “woe,” and a NEW track titled “no name #4.” [it’s right here].
You can also watch the band’s recent (+very official) video for “feed me” here. This humorous visual, directed by Eleanor Petry, is loosely inspired by Jane Child’s late 80s pop classic (+ video) “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love.”
So Pitted’s neo is currently available on CD / LP / DL / CASS, and at fine independent purveyors of recorded music.
Tour Dates Aug. 10 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir* Aug. 12 - Reno, NV - Holland Project* Aug. 13 - Las Vegas, NV - Bunkhouse Saloon* Aug. 14 Phoenix, AZ - Rebel Lounge* Aug. 15 - Tucson, AZ - 191 Toole* Aug. 17 - San Diego, CA - Casbah* Aug. 18 - Pomona, CA - Acerogami* Aug. 20 - Oakland, CA - Starline Ballroom* Aug. 21 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop* Aug. 23 - Eugene, OR - Boreal* Aug. 27 - Seattle, WA - Neumos* Sep. 02 - 04 - Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot *w/ Chastity Belt
There are at least five good reasons to ride your bike all the way from rainy Seattle to Portland, OR, and the number one reason is to raise money for a worthy cause.
Next month, Sub Pop Records employees will join in the 204-mile Seattle to Portland (STP) Bicycle Classic held on July 16 -17, 2016. Now in its 37th year, the STP is the largest multi-day ride in the Northwest with up to 10,000 riders making the journey through Western Washington and Oregon.
Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in January of 2013, our Co-Founder and fearless leader Jonathan Poneman has done everything he can to show others that there is life beyond Parkinson’s. In a 2013 Seattle Times article, he states, “I accept that I have this disease, but that doesn’t give me the right to be passive.” He actually explains it as sort of a blessing. Parkinson’s has allowed him to “recalibrate” important values. “As ironic as it sounds, I am truly grateful to the disease,” and he explains further that, “My love of life and its precious elements became more vivid at the thought of seeing them fade away.”
This year, as we prepared to begin this fundraising effort, JP decided to share a more personal side of his story. Here, in his own words:
“I was sitting in a New York City recording studio, having completed listening to final mixes of Beach House’s then-new album, Bloom. It was getting time to mosey, but I couldn’t get up off of the couch. I mean, literally: my body refused to follow very simple, familiar commands. It was weird, it was embarrassing. Most of all, however, it was frightening. As I look back to that time now, I clearly recognize the mounting indicators that something was very wrong with me: rigidity in my body, a generalized, unshakable slowness that was accompanied by tremor. I thought that I was losing my marbles. Up until that point in my life, I had figured that I could bluff my way in or out of any situation. The voice in my head started trying to bullshit the rest of me. “Maybe it’s a food allergy, or stress or a curse from a past life!” Yeah, well maybe. But this time, I wasn’t buying it. I went to three different neurologists. They all told me basically the same thing: each diagnosed me with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). In their respective ways, they all gave me hope. They were also able to prescribe drugs that, for me, reduced the symptoms of the condition to a manageable state. Yay, drugs! As I learned more about PD, I also discovered an underground community that rivals anything that I’ve known in nearly 30 years of peddling Indie Rock. It’s “underground” in that we, the diagnosed, walk (albeit sometimes slowly) among you with something that binds us together, even though PD can vary dramatically in how it’s expressed from individual-to-individual. That variable quality makes finding a uniform cure much more challenging. And like any community, we take care of each other. But we also need your help. On July 16th and 17th, Team Loser will join Team Parkinson’s in the annual 204 mile STP bike ride from Seattle to Portland, to benefit the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation (NWPF). NWPF is a resource and a lifeline, not just to the Northwest Parkinson’s community, but to those who seek comfort and reliable, upbeat information about lifestyle options and the breakthroughs that will one day make PD yesterday’s news.”
- Jonathan Poneman
In response to this, and in support of the many individuals and families affected by PD every year, Sub Pop Records employees will be raising money for the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation (NWPF) by undertaking the fabled STP bike ride.
[Sub Pop Team Photo, STP 2015]
What We Need & What You Get
Our goal is to raise $25,000 for the foundation. We need your help! Please donate today, and help us by spreading the word.
In appreciation of your generous support, we’ll be giving away five incredible prize packages that include a wide assortment of new releases and rare collectible albums on colored, limited edition vinyl, a classic Sub Pop Logo T-shirt and a navy canvas tote to carry it all in style.
Newbury Comics is one of the most notable and highly recognized music distributors from New England. Founded in 1978, Newbury Comics has been a music platform for CDs, LPs, DVDs, and our very own Sub Pop releases. Not only does Newbury Comics carry a unique collection of its own, but has for years been a special part of Sub Pop history with our limited edition Newbury x Sub Pop vinyl collaborations.
This year, our STP Team is giving FIVE lucky people an exclusive collection of Newbury x Sub Pop vinyl as part of the super special prize package. Each was limited to 1000 copies and is now sold out: we are including Nirvana’s Sliver/Dive Single, Band of Horse’s Everything All The Time, and the Fleet Foxes acclaimed self-titled album in addition to some of our hand-picked favorites from Sub Pop. With a donation of $100+ towards Parkinson’s care and research you will be qualified and entered to win this one-of-a-kind collection.
Remember, your contribution makes a big difference as we continue our journey to offer care to people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Your support is needed now more than ever before. Please take a few minutes now to visit our Sub Pop Team page and make an online donation. Under ‘Honour Roll Options’ please select ‘Other (Custom)’ and include in your donation “Sub Pop Giveaway (6/30/16).” Winners will be notified soon after the STP weekend. Thanks for being a part of our team!
Your DONATION will go directly to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. NWPF is the only independent regional Parkinson’s organization serving Washington State, and aims to establish optimal quality of life for the Northwest Parkinson’s community through awareness, education, advocacy and care.
Located in Seattle, NWPF proudly invests every dollar in local programs to support the Northwest Parkinson’s community. The organization plays a vital role in helping people with Parkinson’s live meaningfully with the disease. In addition, NWPF provides information that gives patients and their families the tools they need to find quality medical care, better manage their disease and take charge of their daily lives.
Sub Pop has a long history of supporting non-profit organizations around the globe but prefers to focus on local organizations in the Pacific Northwest. We have been involved in fundraisers for the uncompensated care for Seattle Children’s Hospital, donated food and funds to Northwest Harvest, given time, support, and funds to the all-ages music venue ‘The Vera Project’, supported the campaign for marriage equality in Washington state, among many more. We believe in supporting the community that has always supported us. The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation is an organization we feel proud to be riding for.
Other Ways You Can Help
You can also (please) go to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation main website (www.nwpf.org) and give directly to the foundation through a gift at a different time if you are not able to help now.
Or simply get the word out about our campaign! Share our story and spread some awareness for Parkinson’s Disease. While science looks for a cure, the NWPF is looking out for the Parkinson’s community. We are grateful for anything you can do to help.