Little-known fact: In this very building, I am only one of TWO high-powered record label bigwigs with the title General Manager. And my vain interest in keeping this little-known fact little-known is, it turns out, only outweighed by my interest in convincing someone else to take Selective Listening out for a spin this month. And so, the following notes from the desk of the very competent and congenial Sarah Moody, the OTHER General Manager, up/down/over at Hardly Art Records!
Generally Managing Managers Generally
view outside is clouded and grey as I type this missive from the penthouse of
4th and Lenora, high atop the salty streets of downtown Seattle. From the
stunning windowed heights of our office (a collaboration with Renzo Piano, if
you must know), we can truly see it all. To the North: the lauded Space Needle; to
the South: Mount Rainier, off in the distance; to the East, the mighty Cascade
mountain range; and to the West, the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Closer to
home, however, I can peer over the lip of our rooftop garden into the other
proverbial garden of downtown: the parking lot behind our office, filled with a
variety of activity that seems to mine only the darkest depths of the human
condition. On any given day, you might be fortunate enough to spot its activity
in full bloom (if you
will), which could include but not be limited to: people shooting up,
smoking crack, peddling wares, screaming about this or that, and, most
recently, actively shitting next to cars. Also below our modern belfry are the
offices of Sub Pop Records. (They might have you believe we have been relegated
to the second floor of this same building—don’t be fooled by their
then, I suppose I should set aside my robe and smoking
pipe and tell you who is typing here. Much like my esteemed colleague
and your usual Selective Listening author, Chris Jacobs, I too manage a vast
swath of employees who work and toil in the name of music. All two of them. But
I am pleased to report that they are two of the most highly coveted
demographic: the elusive Millenial
Male. What do they have to say about this fact? Let’s take a visit to their
corner offices and find out.
Publicist: We live and breathe content. It is all about CONTENT. <types furiously>
Sales and Digital Media: I’m just glad I’m not working at Sub Pop. <dons
General Manager: You are both beautiful snowflakes and I am so proud of you.
<returns feet to ottoman>
month is it, anyway? November? Great. Here’s what we have coming up in
to say it has been a good year for the Hardly Art empire, which just wrapped
last month with the most recent release from Protomartyr, The Agent
They will take leave from Detroit and escape the US paparazzi by spending their
November on tour overseas.
wondrous troupe of Shannon
and the Clams, meanwhile, just wrapped a US tour with Shopping and
will be headed overseas later this month in support of their latest, Gone
by the Dawn. (You sense a theme here?)
feminists (“Who isn’t a feminist these days?!” “I know!”) Chastity
Belt are on the road again in support of their acclaimed sophomore
effort, Time to Go Home, including a number of shows opening for
Death Cab for Cutie. Seattle party?
I’d say so.
Luz are doing nothing in November but resting on their laurels (I hope) as they
just wrapped a 12-week tour between the US and Europe in support of Weirdo
Shrine. That is, in two words, pretty baller.
you are looking to extend your celebration of Halloween, might we suggest Holographic
Violence by local brooders Grave Babies? Or if you need a soundtrack
to your worldly toke, perhaps try I Want to Grow Up by Colleen
Green? “Another hit record?!” you ask. We know, we know. We have it all for
you, here at our lavish HQ.
if that wasn’t enough, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a chart-topping single
from each of the above releases (and a few more) into an inaugural sampler. Not
only a sampler, a real life CD
SAMPLER. They’ll be available at finer record stores across the pond, as
well as with all orders placed with the fine web store of hardlyart.com, from now until they run
out. We encourage you to hunker down with it as you prepare to bundle up
other labels may claim to strive for World Domination, we here at Hardly Art
merely aim for Sub Pop Domination. After the year that was 2015, I daresay we
are close. While we wait out the final verdict, below you will find a brief
soundtrack to our days of endless champagne and caviar. I think I can… manage
Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love is the second full-length album released by legendary indie rock band Built to Spill. (stream the album here) It was originally released September 13, 1994 on the Up Records label. The line-up for the album was Doug Martsch, bassist Brett Nelson, and drummer Andy Capps, with Phil Ek producing. The album features the enduring singles “In the Morning,” “Car,” and “Distopian Dream Girl.”
Pitchfork recently reviewed There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, giving the album “Best New Reissue,” and had this to say: “With its focus on childhood, the nature of existence, and the search for meaning, it’s possible to hear There’s Nothing Wrong With Love in the terms of “What if there was another universe in my fingernail?” - style stoner dorm-room philosophy. But Martsch’s open heart keeps you on his side…To borrow one last line from “Car”, on this album Martsch remembered when he wanted to see “movies of his dreams.” For the vast majority of us that wish is never fulfilled, but There’s Nothing Wrong With Love is a celebration of the desire itself, the vulnerability that comes with allowing yourself to imagine possibility (see October 23rd review).
Sharpen Your Teeth is the underground classic and lone offering from Ugly Casanova. (stream the album here) The long, out-of-print vinyl edition will come with the original 13 track album and 4 bonus songs: “Babies Clean Conscience,” “Diggin Holes,” “Roads to Go to Roads to Go to…“ (which were available as limited edition singles around the album’s release); And the unreleased “They Devised A Plan to Fuck Forever,” recorded during the Sharpen Your Teeth sessions. The album, which was co-produced by Brian Deck and Isaac Brock at Glacial Pace Studios (Oregon), features guest appearances from John Orth (Holopaw), Tim Rutili (Califone, Red Red Meat), Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession), and a handful of like-minded collaborators.
Ugly Casanova is Isaac Brock, of Modest Mouse. Or, possibly, it is a mysterious savant named Edgar Graham, who imposed himself on Modest Mouse at the Denver show of the band’s 1998 tour, introduced himself as Ugly Casanova, and, through a haze of unnerving instability, shared some rough songs with the band. His songs, though delivered hesitantly… shamefully, even… displayed unmistakable talent. By the end of Modest Mouse’s tour, Casanova, with much reluctance, was persuaded to record some of these songs and hand them over to record labels for issue as singles or parts of compilations. Predictably, immediately after he had done so, he disappeared (read more about Ugly Casanova here).
Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and Ugly Casanova’s Sharpen Your Teeth are now available for purchase through Sub Pop Mega Mart and fine independent retailers everywhere.
“Whether he’s signing up for Christian Mingle or forced into using an unfortunate password at a bar, it’s the latest entry in Mirman’s absurd discography.” - AV Club
“His third comedy album, I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome), is an absurd nine-volume, seven-LP opus ranging from “A Guided Meditation to a Thoughtful Body” to an “Introduction to Spoken Russian” to “Over 45 Minutes of Crying,” which features him—you guessed it—crying for over 45 minutes.” - Newsweek
“…Mirman’s subversive, brilliant comedy justifies the sumptuous settings.” [B+] - Consequence of Sound
Eugene Mirman’s I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) is a hilarious 9-volume, 7-LP comedy album that’s now available worldwide as a lavish, 7-LP box set or digitally via Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, and Amazon. Additionally, limited-edition embroidered robes are also available to purchase from megamart.subpop.com (while supplies last). As for the chair with built in audio player, the option is currently sold out.
I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) is the culmination of a long-time dream of Eugene’s. It includes a vast array of sounds that can be described as varyingly poignant, erotic, practical, romantic, mind-altering, educational, and humorous. Need to learn Russian? Eugene provides. Meditation sounds? Eugene provides. The sound of a grown man crying? Eugene provides. Oh, also, this release contains a full set of live standup recorded at Columbia City Theater in Seattle, WA June 6, 7, & 8, 2014.
Eugene Mirman begins the I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) tour tonight, October 30th at Brooklyn’s Bell House and ends November 19th in Boston at the Paradise. Support will come from Derrick Brown and Josie Long (details + dates below).
I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) has earned praise from the likes of The AV Club, Noisey, Mashable, Newsweek, GQ, Consequence of Sound, The Observer, PASTE, Exclaim, Village Voice, New York Magazine, and more.
I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) contains the following collection of tracks on 7 LPs:
LP1 - Live In Seattle At The Columbia City Theater
Good-humored noticings from America’s “Master of the Noticing!”
LP 2A - A Guided Meditation For The Thoughtful Body
A calming meditation to cheer and sooth the cluttered mind, the injured heart and the anxious body
LP 2B - Fuckscape
An erotic soundscape for lovebirds and adventurous friends
Beach House’s Thank Your Lucky Stars, the group’s second album for 2015, is available now on vinyl and digitally in North America through Sub Pop Mega Mart, Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes and your local record stores, with the CD version hitting shelves tomorrow, October 30th.
Thank Your Lucky Stars entered the charts at #38 on the Billboard Top 200, with 11,125 scanned. Additional chart placements include: #1 / Vinyl; #4 / Alternative Albums; #6 / Independent; #7 / Internet; #24 / Current Albums; #24 / Digital.
Beach House’s 2015/16 worldwide tour in support of Thank Your Lucky Stars and Depression Cherry is underway, with a show tonight, October 29th in Paris for Pitchfork Music Festival. Their 2015 dates end with a sold-out 3-night stand December 17-19 in San Francisco at The Fillmore. Then, they’ll kick-off 2016 dates on January 30th in Singapore at Laneway Festival and continue through to a sold out, two-night stand March 18th-19th at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer. (tour details below)
Beach House’s Depression Cherry (released Aug. 28, 2015) earned the group its second consecutive top 10 album, coming in at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Meanwhile, in the UK, the album also entered at #17 on the Top 200 Albums chart. At radio, Depression Cherry has now spent 5 weeks at #1 on the CMJ Top 200. Depression Cherry is also available in North America from Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.
Beach House’s Thank Your Lucky Stars and Depression Cherry were recorded during the same two-month span, and produced by the band and Chris Coady at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
What people are saying about Beach House:
Thank Your Lucky Stars
“The temptation to view this album as a sequel to Depression Cherry is strong, but the two albums stand apart: Where the earlier album reveled in the bittersweet implications of its title with lush, layered arrangements, Stars is a purer vision of the realities of love, balancing the rush of romance with the burdens that can come along with it.” - Rolling Stone
“’Elegy to the Void’ from Thank Your Lucky Stars, the band’s second album in two months, is engulfing, ethereal and entrancing — as all voids should be.” [“Elegy to the Void”] - NPR Music
“’Elegy to the Void’ creeps in slow, circling on the twilight axis of Victoria Legrand’s deep voice and a low string section. Its effect is like a gravitational vacuum, gently pulling you into a world of vast uncertainty with a ‘black clock looming.’ …A familiar drum chugs in, a guitar rips through with heavenly scratches of feedback, and suspended grief becomes pummeling light. With that, “Elegy to the Void” turns from an ode-to-emptiness into a crucial instructive: thank your lucky stars for everything.” [“Elegy to the Void”, “Best New Track”] - Pitchfork
“Thank Your Lucky Stars is melancholy beauty. It’s music for late nights, for falling adrift in slow dark waters and gazing numbly at the glowing moonlight.” [9/10] - PopMatters
“The idea that you can have too much of a good thing is thoroughly debunked with Thank Your Lucky Stars, such is the beauty of the songwriting and their uncanny ability to create an all-consuming mood.” [8.5 / 10] - The Line Of Best Fit
“..the full sonic and emotional weight is tremendous.” [B +] - AV Club
“This album is not like anything they have ever done, and gives music fans reason to be thankful.” [B+] - Consequence of Sound
“Beach House’s releases to date have come fogged by intoxicant, nostalgia, and hypoxia, but Thank Your Lucky Stars does what their work has begged for all along and wipes the dew from their rearview mirror. You’re going to like what you see.” [8/10] - SPIN
“Companion album or not, it does nothing but further cement Beach House’s legacy of consistent beauty and quality.” - Under the Radar
“Singer Victoria Legrand has a refreshingly unshowy croon that’s one of the most seductive in pop, and her gorgeous synth drones and guitarist Alex Scally’s effects-laden riffs are exquisite.” [A -] - Entertainment Weekly
“Reliable, virtually misstep-proof conjurers of a distinct and desirable mood, Legrand and multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally have accumulated the accolades, connections and festival appearances of an unmistakably cool band. But for Beach House, coolness is just another word for calm, for a sound that’s engineered to settle jangled nerves and transport listeners to a warmer, softer, easier place.” - NPR Music
“Anyone who doesn’t fall for Depression Cherry’s hypnotic splendour probably just isn’t a Beach House fan, or didn’t live with the album long enough. But those who do will recognize this album as the sweeping, grand gesture they’ve been working up to giving us for the last nine years.” [9/10] - Exclaim!
“Depression Cherry has four masterful set pieces, staggered to hit as odd-numbered tracks, each deepening the pervasive sense of rediscovered romance.” [8.5 / 10] - MAGNET
This past July, Sleater-Kinney delivered a blistering headlining set to a sold-out crowd at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival in support of No Cities To Love, their critically acclaimed 2015 album. One of the performances captured that night was the live highlight “Modern Girl” - from The Woods, the group’s 2005 album - and you can watch it now: youtube.com/watch?v=7Lepy_rq4T8
Earlier today, Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein released her deeply affecting memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl via Riverhead Books. Read more about the book via her interview via Pitchfork today (see October 27th post).
Sleater-Kinney’s previously announced 2015 tour schedule resumes November 21st-22nd in Mexico City’s Corona Capital Festival. Then from December 4th-16th, Sleater-Kinney will embark on a Midwestern-East Coast U.S. (details below).
Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love is one of the best reviewed albums of the year with “Best of 2015 (so far)” notices from the likes of Time, USA Today, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The AV Club, The Guardian, Complex, NME, Stereogum, PASTE, and SPIN. No Cities To Love is available worldwide from Sub Pop, and you can stream it here.
What are “They” saying about No Cities To Love? Read the good words:
“America’s fiercest punk band….10 songs in 33 minutes, not a dud in the bunch, all surging in uptempo stomp-down-the-door mode. There’s more low-end thud to their sound than before. The whole album crackles with the palpable excitement of three rock lifers in a room, eager to see what happens when they plug in and let it rip.” [Best Albums of 2015 (so far)] - Rolling Stone
“The trio still snap and crackle on their first set since 2005. No Cities… might sound chaotic at first, but each element—Corin Tucker’s sweet snarl, Janet Weiss’ rugged beats, Carrie Brownstein’s noisy solos—is exactly in its right place.” [Best Albums of 2015 (so far)] - Entertainment Weekly
“…33 minutes of unbridled ferocity” [Best Albums of 2015 (so far)] - Time
“Hurtling, bristling, densely packed, white-knuckled songs that are all taut construction and raw nerve… The first great album of 2015” [Review] - New York Times
“…beautiful algebraic equations that solve problems that researchers never even knew existed, moving logically yet filled with left-turn riff maneuvers.” [Review] - LA Times
“The skeptic may be suspicious when I say that, after “All Hands on the Bad One” (2000), the new album, No Cities to Love, is my favorite Sleater-Kinney record, but it is: the musicians pull it off. The songwriters’ ability to create general but urgent scenarios is both more substantial and more insistent than before.” [Review] - The New Yorker
“The hardest-hitting thing they’ve ever done.” [Review] - Vulture
“As fresh and vitals as a debut, but also as nuanced and skillful as the work of three players with a decade-long inimitable report betwixt them” [First Listen] - NPR
“Their return is not a victory lap. It is a re-declaration of all they were, all they built… We still need Sleater-Kinney” [Review] - Pitchfork
“They were always tumultuous – a storm of longing, fury, aspiration, solidarity, and indomitable emotion” [Feature] - Billboard
The finest living rock band… Extraordinary” [9/10, Review] - SPIN
“Vociferous as ever” [Feature] - Nylon
“Hitting new chords and exploring structures with glee, with that same crucial energy” [Review] - LA Times
“The best rock band on the planet… [they] genuinely dominate, breaking down walls, rules and egos with nimble poise and savage fury” [Feature] - Noisey
“A perfect fusion of musical personalities, a spiky and sparkling rock ‘n’ roll machine” [Feature] - Slate
“As fresh and surprising, as unlikely and as unsatisfied… Promising that this part of the Sleater-Kinney story is only at its start” [Real Life Rock Top 10] - Greil Marcus
“Even their punchy, brief songs carry the weight of epics… genius lyrics and hook after inescapable hook” [A-, Review] - Consequence of Sound
“Roiling and erupting, building up tension and then releasing it gloriously” [Review] - Stereogum
Nov. 21 - 22 - Mexico City, MX - Corona Capital Festival Dec. 04 - Indianapolis, IN - Egyptian Room at Old National Centre Dec. 05 - Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall Dec. 06 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart’s Dec. 08 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre Dec. 09 - Cleveland, OH - Masonic Auditorium Dec. 10 - Buffalo, NY - Asbury Hall at Babeville Dec. 12 - Brooklyn, NY - Kings Theatre Dec. 13 - New York, NY - Terminal 5 Dec. 14 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza [SOLD OUT] Dec. 15 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg [SOLD OUT] Dec. 16 - Brooklyn, NY - Market Hotel [SOLD OUT]