Forth Wanderers have delivered a pensive new visual for the song “Taste,” from their acclaimed Sub Pop debut, and directed by Everett Ravens.”
In a song review of “Taste” earlier this year, NPR Musichad this to say, “Forth Wanderers thrives in distance. Singer Ava Trilling writes the lyrics in New York, guitarist Ben Guterl builds the backbone of music in Ohio. “Taste,” in particular, came from diametrically opposed places in their young love lives…the distance - emotional and physical - doesn’t undercut the dizzying intimacy of the song.”
Forth Wanderers album has earned “Best Albums of 2018 (So Far)” notices from the likes of Stereogum and FLOOD Magazine. And recently, Ava Trilling was included in Playboy’s “Music’s Women of Summer” feature [read here].
Forth Wanderers’ previously announced U.S. summer tour in support of their album begins this Wednesday, June 27th in Richmond, VA at Strange Matter and ends July 18th in Cleveland at Mahall’s Lockeroom. Along the way the band will play with Illuminati Hotties (July 5th-14th). Following the tour, the band will appear at Shadow of the City in Ashury Park, NJ at Stone Pony on August 28th, and at Philadelphia’s Made in America Festival September 1st and 2nd, 2018.
Jun. 27 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter
Jun. 28 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
Jun. 29 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
Jun. 30 - New Orleans, LA - Pour Boys
Jul. 02 - Dallas, TX - Regal Room
Jul. 03 - Austin, TX - Barricuda
Jul. 05 - Phoenix, AZ - Rebel Lounge*
Jul. 06 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues*
Jul. 07 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo*
Jul. 08 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop*
Jul. 10 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir*
Jul. 11 - Seattle, WA - The Vera Project*
Jul. 13 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court*
Jul. 14 - Denver, CO - Lost Lake*
Jul. 17 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
Jul. 18 - Cleveland, OH - Mahall’s Lockeroom
Aug. 28 - Asbury Park, NJ - Stone Pony
Sep. 01-02 - Philadelphia, PA - Made In America Festival
Forth Wandererswas produced and recorded by Cameron Konner in Philadelphia over 5 days in the summer of 2017. The album is available now on CD/LP/CS/DL through Sub Pop [link here].
What people have said about Forth Wanderers:
“The band inhabits a space that can feel bigger than the sprawling tree-lined streets and byzantine freeways of their local inspiration. Instead, the place Trilling and her bandmates create is more personal, messier, and chaotic. They give musical cues to the growing pains of young adulthood that are relatable but never trite—their songs, like any you might’ve been obsessed with in high school, feel like a mirror held up to the all-consuming triumphs and heartbreaks of your own youth.” [album review] - Pitchfork
“An indie rock record for the ages” [feature] - Stereogum
“Blissful” [feature] - Noisey
“This lot are shooting for the premiership of American indie.” [album review] - DIY
“These might be some of the most well-crafted rock songs you’ll hear all year long.” [album review] - NME
“The joyfully raucous Forth Wanderers bears testament to just how well the distance formula is working.” [album review] - CLASH
“Forth Wanderers is nonetheless a bittersweet and refreshingly candid second record from a band that’s seemingly found its voice.” [album review] - The Line Of Best Fit
“Throughout it’s bursting with the uncontainable energy of glorious garage rock.” [album review] - Loud and Quiet
“Vocalist Ava Trilling’s songs are wistful but rarely self-pitying, and ‘Forth Wanderers’ sparkles with a pensive, but optimistic energy.” [album review] - Dork
“By playing to their strengths – creating tousled, jangly indie rock around argumentative lyrics that beg for resolution – Forth Wanderers aptly illustrate when a band is truly in sync.” [album review] - Gold Flake Paint
There’s no rest for Frankie Cosmos who have announced additional North American dates starting on September 13th in Baltimore, with shows in Durham, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit and Pittsburgh, ending on Oct 7th in their home of New York City. These dates will follow the band’s European shows in July & August and are in support of their latest release, Vessel. See below for a full list of shows.
Ever wonder what it would be like to co-write an album with a band? Now you have the chance to find out. Loosely inspired by conceptual artist, Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings, Frankie Cosmos front person, Greta Kline has created An Induced Album. Moved by the idea that LeWitt’s artwork can still be installed in new forms even after his death, Kline sought to create a version of this for her songwriting. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever made that I feel is incomplete until it is out in the world” says Kline. “Releasing recorded music is great, but I have never felt an excitement quite like this one– that once I release this, it really changes what it is. It’s not done until the audience participates, which really excites me (or actually, maybe it’s never “done”). It’s also very out of my control once I release it, unlike a finished recorded album, so that’s scary, but fun.”
You can access all the details to co-pilot your own Frankie Cosmos album at www.frankiecosmosband.com.
Frankie Cosmos Tour Dates + Ticket Links
Jul. 14 - Madrid, ES - Mad Cool Festival
Jul. 15 - Port of Menteith, UK - Doune The Rabbit Hole
Jul. 27-29 - Denver, CO - Underground Music Showcase
Aug. 17 - Paredes de Coura, PT - Vodafone Paredes de Coura
Aug. 19 - Brecon Beacons, UK - Green Man Festival
Aug. 21 - Belfast, UK - Voodoo
Aug. 22 - Galway, IE - Roisin Dubh
Aug. 23 - Dublin, IE - Button Factory
Sep. 13 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
Sep. 14 - Durham, NC - Motorco
Sep. 15 - Asheville, NC - The Mothlight
Sep. 16 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
Sep. 17 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn
Sep. 19 - New Orleans, LA - Gasa Gasa
Sep. 20 - Houston, TX - Satellite Bar
Sep. 21 - San Antonio, TX - Paper Tiger
Sep. 22 - Austin, TX - Barracuda
Sep. 23 - Dallas, TX - Deep Ellum Art Co.
Sep. 24 - Oklahoma CIty, OK - Tower Theatre
Sep. 26 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line
Sep. 27 - Milwaukee, WI - The Back Room @ Colectivo
Sep. 30 - Detroit, MI - El Club (Outside)
Oct. 01 - Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop
Oct. 02 - Pittsburgh, PA - Cattivo
Oct. 03 - Harrisburg, PA - HMAC Stage on Herr
Oct. 05 - Jersey City, NJ - White Eagle Hall
Oct. 06 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
Oct. 07 - New York, NY - The Bowery Ballroom
[Photo Credit: Angel Ceballos]
What The People are saying about Frankie Cosmos:
“It’s a dreamy rock album with lyrics that face unsatisfying relationships and inner turmoil with realism and flashes of warped humor.” [Vessel] - Paste
“The album is less about the epic poem of New York than about how the brain and the heart are connected by nerves and blood—less about Kline’s place in the world, than her place within herself.” [Vessel] - Pitchfork
Kline has a keen, quick grip on the back-and-forth of modern uncertainty, swinging high from triumph to low-lit sorrow. It’s why she’s such a comfort to return to.” [Vessel, 8/10] - Crack
“While intimacy has found a large pop audience in the social-media era […] Kline’s disclosures are striking because they feel genuinely homespun…nobody does it better currently”[Vessel, 4/5] - Q
“Slight but powerful indie-pop” / “There’s great charm to these yearning tunes”. [Vessel, 8/10] - Uncut
“Completely enchanting, it’s further proof that the band are one of the best” [Vessel] - Wonderland
Now watch their incisive take on the gentrification and “sceneism” of today, in the official video for “Give You Game” [NSFW], a new song featuring Stas The Boss (THEESatisfaction).
Knife Knights is a new collaboration from Ishmael Butler and musician/producer Erik Blood. The first offering from the union comes in the form of new [and somewhat NSFW] visual for “Give You Game,” directed by Justin Henning.
On “Give You Game,” Butler and Blood weave their distant voices through a landscape of synthesizers and drums that bubble up sporadically, like geysers. Marquetta Miller and former THEESatisfaction member Stasia Irons soon join, their round tones lacing around those sounds and giving them shape. It is an abstract anthem to astral love. “Give You Game” also features a guest appearance from guitarist Thaddillac.
Recorded during fertile sessions interrupted by Shabazz Palaces tours and Blood’s recording projects, “Give You Game” marks an exciting new chapter in the creative partnership, realized at the crossroads of Butler’s and Blood’s mutual enthusiasms. Their shared interests have been split into pieces and fused together with enviable imagination.
Trust us when we say: now is the time to follow Knife Knights everywhere in the known (and unknown) universe, and also on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp | Spotify | Apple Music | and here on subpop.com.
I’ve Tortured You Long Enough will be available worldwide August 31st through Sub Pop
Mass Gothic have shared the official video for “J.Z.O.K.,” a new single and standout from I’ve Tortured You Long Enough, the group’s forthcoming second album.
The “J.Z.O.K.” visual captures both the optimistic and romantic nature of the song and finds members Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri cavorting through city streets in the wee hours of the night. The video was helmed by returning director Addison Post of Loroto Productions (who also helmed Mass Gothic’s “Every Night…” & “Nice Night” visuals).
Even when you’re married and you’re best friends and you’ve spent a lifetime collaborating with each other, it’s not often obvious what’s staring you right in the face. I’ve Tortured You Long Enough is the tongue-in-cheek title of Mass Gothic’s second album for this reason, among several others. Husband/Wife duo Heroux and Zambri have always dipped in and out of each other’s creative spaces, advising on their respective outputs and supporting one another. But never had they before completely committed to doing an entire album as a duo, sharing an equal load. The time had come. And thank goodness. They have dreamed up a record packed with the tension, chaos and beauty of a fluid and cathartic two-way conversation. In a universe increasingly threatening our abilities to work hard on communication and coexistence, their creative union isn’t just inspired but important. “Why did it take us so long?” laughs Heroux.
Live, Mass Gothic expands to a four-piecewith multi-instrumentalistCristi Jo Zambri and drummer Joe Stickney, who also play on the album. ITYLE was co-produced by the band and Josh Ascalon, mixed by Chris Coady and mastered by Heba Kadry.
I’ve Tortured You Long Enough features the aforementioned “J.Z.O.K.,” and the previously released lyric video for “Dark Window” [see here], and will be available on CD/LP/DL/CS worldwide August 31st through Sub Pop [buy here]. Preorders of the album through megamart.subpop.com, select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser edition on marbled black and white vinyl (while supplies last)
I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
1. Dark Window
2. Call Me
4. Keep On Dying
5. How I Love You
6. I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
7. New Work
8. The Goad
9. Big Window
Mass Gothic Tour Dates
On Friday, August 10th, Mass Gothic will join labelmates The Afghan Whigs and Yuno to kick-off SPF30: Sub Pop’s 30th Anniversary weekend with a show at Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre. Additional live dates will be announced soon.
More on Mass Gothic by Eve Barlow:Even when you’re married and you’re best friends and you’ve spent a lifetime (18 years is a lifetime, right?) collaborating with each other, it’s not often obvious what’s staring you right in the face. I’ve Tortured You Long Enough is the tongue-in-cheek title of Mass Gothic’s second album for this reason, among several others. Husband/Wife duo Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri have always dipped in and out of each other’s creative spaces, advising on their respective outputs and supporting one another. But never had they before completely committed to doing an entire album as a duo, sharing an equal load. The time had come. And thank goodness. They have dreamed up a record packed with the tension, chaos and beauty of a fluid and cathartic two-way conversation. In a universe increasingly threatening our abilities to work hard on communication and coexistence, their creative union isn’t just inspired but important. “Why did it take us so long?” laughs Heroux from their home in Queens, New York.
When Heroux put out 2016’s self-titled Mass Gothic record, he was necessarily doing so as a solo entity. Mass Gothic was born as a necessary project for his workings following the aftermath of Hooray For Earth’s end. Plagued by his own insecurities and anxieties, Heroux wasn’t yet ready to deal with putting his trust and confidence into another shared project. He wasn’t in a place to take on the burden of those responsibilities with another individual, especially not an individual so fundamental to his existence. So what changed? He can’t exactly pinpoint when the phrase I’ve Tortured You Long Enough came to him. It was before a single song of this record was written. But it became a mantra, almost a premonition. Says Heroux, “It just popped into my head,” explains Heroux. “You can say it to a loved one, or to a friend. Or you could wish someone say it to you. It covers so many bases but it’s taken on extra meaning in the past couple of years while everybody is at each other’s throats; frustrated and confused all the time.”
The most important application of the phrase, however, was upon Heroux himself. He had tortured his own psyche long enough, and was particularly in need of forcing himself out of his comfort zone and letting go of that prior stubbornness. “I’ve struggled greatly with telling myself that I can’t do things, or that things aren’t good enough.” he says. Then in the Fall of 2016 circumstances led him to face his biggest fears head on, because he physically had no other choice. “We rented a small tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. We put ourselves away and worked on music all day, wondering what it would feel and sound like,” explains Zambri.
It began with Zambri penning the first iterations of ‘Keep On Dying’, a synth-laden call-to-arms that recalls the frantic energy of Animal Collective and the celestial torch-bearing of Bat For Lashes. Zambri had the melody and lyrics, and Noel arranged the chords to finish the song. Then things started snowballing. While the writing may have begun in New York, it relocated to LA while their lives became totally in flux. They threw caution to the wind last January and got rid of their Brooklyn apartment. Not only that, they also purged all their belongings, except the bare bones for making an album: instruments and recording equipment.
They bought a car and lived out of a duffle bag of clothes for an entire year. They drove to LA, lived with their co-producer Josh Ascalon, and wrote and wrote and wrote. “The entire record from start to finish was done without having our own place to live,” marvels Heroux now. “Maybe we wouldn’t have been able to do it if we were anchored at home. We were forced into it. Jess was trying to open me up and if we could have just sat on a couch and thrown on the TV it probably wouldn’t have worked.”
The partnership has distinctly evolved the project’s sound. “Mass Gothic” was a far more diverse debut, and as the most successful debuts do it was just Heroux by himself, throwing a hundred different ideas at the wall. He describes it now as “the hellish sounds” of his own brain. Its follow-up therefore is a far more intentional meeting-of-minds. Their openness to work with one another had to come without rules as neither of them could afford to hold back.
Last Spring, for instance, when they thought they’d done all the work and had a fully mixed album, they realized separately that it had way more potential. While they were preparing to go on tour with Zambri’s sister, Cristi Jo, and her sister’s boyfriend Joseph Stickney, Heroux woke up one morning, turned to Zambri and said: “Oh god, we have to fucking re-record the whole album.” The rehearsals were the equivalent of pre-records, and they knew the tracks could accomplish so much more. Although he was afraid to say it out loud, they both agreed it was what was required.
The final ten days took place in the studio in Brooklyn where they laid it down from start to finish with Rick Kwan (Chris Coady mixed the record and Heba Kadry mastered it). “It was too pristine before,” says Zambri. “We wanted it to be perfect but it wasn’t breathing. Even if there would be tension, we wanted it to flow like water.” On that front they’ve achieved a remarkable arc. Bookended by the tracks ‘Dark Window’ and ‘Big Window’, it begins from a place of uncertainty, overwhelming disquiet and self-doubt, and it works towards a feeling greater than the individual. Via an optimistic number of romantic love songs (‘Call Me’, ‘J.Z.O.K.’, ‘How I Love You’) the record basks in the acceptance of co-dependence. Even though the works are intensive, there’s an element of ease to their overall message. The chords and beats may feel squeezed and claustrophobic at times, but expansive guitar tones and electronics allow the listener to deep dive into a chasm of potential.
“Overall it’s a conversation between the two of us,” explains Zambri. It isn’t autobiographical to the point of alienating its listener though. It’s important that the songs provoke. It’s a record that concludes with the comfort in knowing that you can be both independent and successful in a relationship, which speaks quite literally of the pairs’ experience giving in to this process with one another.
Now Hear “Furr (Live at KCRW)” + “War Is Placebo,” then read more about their upcoming tour performing Furr in its entirety.
On September 14th, Sub Pop will release the newly expanded and 10th-anniversary edition of Blitzen Trapper’s Furr, the group’s classic fourth album.
In 2008, the Portland, Oregon-based experimental country and folk rock band released Furr its breakthrough and label debut for Sub Pop. The album was met with universal acclaim, earning praise from the likes of The Guardian, Pitchfork, Paste, AV Club, and Rolling Stone, who in it’s 4 star review called it “an engaging album full of rootsy beauty.” The album would go on to earn the no. 13 spot on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2008,” later that year.
For the newly expanded deluxe edition of Furr, Blitzen Trapper have compiled two LPs worth of material: The original album and twelve rare and previously unreleased tunes. All of these songs were from the same recordings that became Furr, with the exception of the “Live at KCRW “ tracks, which were recorded during the Furr tour.
After the success of the album, unreleased songs “War is Placebo,” “Booksmart Baby,” and “Maybe Baby” appeared as limited edition singles for Record Store Day in 2009 and 2011 and now appear here. The reissue also features a new liner note from Eric Earley reflecting on the album and what it means now, as well as a track by track description of the bonus songs, and a Q&A with the stage & screen actor, and Blitzen Trapper fan, Rainn Wilson (of The Office and Six Feet Under fame).
Furr (Deluxe Edition) is now available for preorder through Sub Pop right here. LP preorders through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser edition on Clear vinyl with gold swirl(while supplies last). The album features updated cover art, and will be available in the following formats:
- Cassette (Furr only)
Furr: Deluxe Edition
1. Sleepytime in the Western World
2. Gold for Bread
4. God & Suicide
5. Fire & Fast Bullets
6. Saturday Nite
7. Black River Killer
8. Not Your Lover
9. Love U
10. War on Machines
11. Stolen Shoes & a Rifle
12. Echo/Always On/Easy Con
13. Lady on the Water
14. War Is Placebo **
15. Simple Tree *
16. Booksmart Baby **
17. Heroes of Doubt *
18. Maybe Baby ^
19. Ballad of Bird Love *
20. Hard Heart *
21. Other People’s Money *
22. On My Way to the Bay *
23. Rent-a-Cop *
24. God & Suicide (Live at KCRW)
25. Furr (Live at KCRW)
* = Previously unreleased
** = 2009 Record Store Day single
^ = 2011 Record Store Day single A-side
Blitzen Trapper Tour Dates + Ticket Links
Blitzen Trapper will support the release of Furr (Deluxe Edition) with a massive fall North American tour, beginning September 13th-15th at Victoria’s Rifflandia Festival and ending November 17th-18th with a two-night stand at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge. These fall shows will find the band playing Furr in its entirety, followed by a set of fan favorites from throughout the band’s discography. Tickets for the fall shows are on sale Friday, June 22nd at 10am (local time).
Preceding the Furr anniversary dates is the band’s summer tour schedule, which currently runs June 22nd-July 21st, and includes two PNW dates with Sub Pop labelmate Father John Misty (July 20th-21st).
Summer Tour Dates
Jun. 22 - Louisville, CO - Louisville Street Faire
Jun. 23 - Livingston, MT - Pine Creek Lodge
Jul. 14 - Seattle, WA - Ballard Seafood Fest
Jul. 15 - Spokane, WA - The Bartlett
Jul. 17 - Missoula, MT - Top Hat Lounge
Jul. 18 - Boise, ID - Neurolux
Jul. 20 - Jacksonville, OR - Britt Pavillion*
Jul. 21 - Troutdale, OR - Edgefield Amphitheatre*
Furr Fall 2018 Tour Dates
Sep. 13 - 15 - Victoria, BC - Rifflandia Festival
Sep. 15 - Vancouver, BC - The Commodore
Sep. 16 - Nelson, BC - Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel
Sep. 17 - Calgary, AB - Festival Hall
Sep. 18 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite Room
Sep. 19 - Saskatoon, SK - Amigos
Sep. 20 - Toronto, ON - RBC Echo Beach**
Sep. 21 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe
Sep. 22 - Indianapolis, IN - Holler On The Hill at Garfield Park
Sep. 24 - 25 - Chicago, IL - Schubas
Sep. 27 - Hamilton, ON - Mills Hardware
Sep. 28 - Ottawa, ON - The 27 Club
Sep. 29 - Montreal, QC - Le Ministère
Oct. 01 - Allston, MA - Great Scott
Oct. 02 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
Oct. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - The Foundry at The Fillmore
Oct. 05 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
Oct. 06 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
Oct. 07 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
Oct. 08 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East
Oct. 10 - St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill Duck Room
Oct. 11 - Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
Oct. 12 - Lincoln, NE - The Royal Grove
Oct. 13 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
Nov. 08 - Chico, CA- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Nov. 09 - Reno, NV - Offbeat Music Festival
Nov. 10 - Novato, CA - Hopmonk Tavern
Nov. 11 - Sebastopol, CA - Hopmonk Tavern
Nov. 12 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
Nov. 13 - Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room
Nov. 14 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
Nov. 16 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
Nov. 17 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
*w/ Father John Misty
** w/ Shaky Graves, The Sheepdogs
[Photo Credit: Tyler Kohlhoff]
More on Blitzen Trapper’s Furr:
It was on September 23, 2008 that Blitzen Trapper, after putting out three albums on its own label, released its fourth full-length album, Furr, via Sub Pop. At that time, it was a record that captured exactly where the band’s frontman, Eric Earley, found himself, both literally and metaphorically, geographically and existentially. Not that the Portland-based musician actually remembers much about the creation of the record’s 13 intriguing, spellbinding songs. Or, more specifically, what its songs actually mean, either now or then. Instead, Furr, stands as a kind of tribute and elegy to the city that inspired it, but that, a decade later, no longer exists.
“What I was trying to do with those recordings,” explains Earley, “was capture this kind of atmosphere that I was feeling and which pervaded the city at that time. I think I was attempting to capture what Portland was at the time and what it felt like to me. That city is gone now. Old Portland, we call it, but Old Portland has disappeared. But this record gives me the feeling of those times and this city— when it was poor and dumpy and really drug-addled. And it also captures the magic of the outlying rural areas that has slowly changed as well.”
That magic can be heard in each of these songs, and while the city may have vanished from sight – replaced by a newer, richer, shinier and bigger version of itself – its elegance and fractured beauty is preserved within the bones of this record. These songs exist as vivid snapshots of that time, ones that recall the city as it was. At the same time – and while Earley insists he was only trying to capture what Portland was at the time – there’s a mythology within the lyrics and the music, an imagined, semi-fictional vision of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, a kind of parallel universe to the one that actually exists.
“Back then, the city was this really weird place,” says Earley. “It was really bizarre. Weird stuff would happen. And it was much poorer and much smaller. It wasn’t as structured and rich as it is now. It was a totally different place. That’s why it’s funny when people talk about Portland – I’m like well, if you didn’t live here back then you’ll never experience what that was like but if you listen to this record you’ll get a little taste of it. So in that sense, it feels very real and non-mythical to me.”
That said, that doesn’t mean these songs are all based in reality. There are glimpses of God – and of American Christianity – throughout them, not least in the mournful folk narrative of “Black River Killer” and “God & Suicide.” The former is a made-up tale about an anonymous murderer on a killing spree which Earley cites as being about “the mindless violence that Americans consume every single day – in film and books and everything – and what does it mean for us to consume that content and make it a part of us?” The latter is a shimmering, more upbeat track that’s an attempt to commit to tape an ineffable feeling that Earley felt within him but which, after all these years, he’s still unable to pinpoint exactly.
“I can’t tell you what that song’s about,” he says. “I know what it feels like, but I don’t know what it actually literally means. But the words and the music gave me this feeling as I was writing it that made sense at the time. I feel like there’s a feeling of longing that accompanies this record somehow, and there’s this weird longing to be set free. I feel that’s what kind of pervades this record – a melancholic longing for something that we can’t obtain. In “God & Suicide” it’s almost like—and it’s me obviously—but it’s almost like whoever is saying those words is saying to himself ‘Well I’ve got two choices. Either I kill myself or I somehow make my peace with whatever God is.”
Not all the songs have such existential explanations. The soft acoustic jangle of the title track is full of wistful longing, while the plaintive, poignant piano of “Not Your Lover” is a forlorn love – or loss of love – song full of tender sadness. That’s one of a few songs that wouldn’t actually exist had the band—completed at the time by Brian Adrian Koch (drums, vocals), Michael Van Pelt (bass), Erik Menteer (guitar, Moog), Drew Laughery (keyboards) and Marty Marquis (guitar, vocals, melodica)—not found an old warped piano in the hallway of Sally Mack’s School Of Dance, the Portland building which housed the band’s studio. Needless to say, the discovery definitely helped shape the direction of the record.
“That song,” says Earley, “wouldn’t exist, I don’t think, without that piano. I remember sitting at that thing when I first pulled it in and tinkering with it and just sort of writing that one right away. So it probably would have been a slightly different record. A lot of the songs I wrote on piano and I wouldn’t have because I didn’t have one.”
That’s also partly because Earley admits he wasn’t trying to write an album at that time, but write songs to perfect the recording technique he’d been honing when making the band’s previous full-length, 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation. As such, around three albums’ worth of material was recorded during the sessions for Furr, and it’s a selection of those that comprise the bonus material for this anniversary edition of the record. From the dulcet, chugging tones of “War Is Placebo” to the carefree, summer whimsy of “Ballad Of Bird Love”—a song driven by that same piano—and the melancholy folk tale waltz of “On My Way To The Bay”, the ten outtakes included here offer even further insight into Earley’s creative mindset and the feeling—whatever it is, exactly—that sits at the center of these songs. Written largely between the hours of 11pm and the morning—something that was possible because, in between tours, Earley was living in the studio building—Furr is a very nocturnal album, full of the wonder and the mystery of the night.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the fact Earley wasn’t trying to make a record per se, Furr—is an impressively cohesive album, and its counterpart bonus tracks are as well. Much of that is down to Earley’s fastidious recording techniques, using old analogue equipment to create a sound that was inherently nostalgic but also, at the time, anyway, entirely unusual.
“At the time,” he says, “I was going for a very specific sound. And it’s funny, because it’s a sound that you hear so much nowadays—bands have this recording aesthetic that’s very, very lo-fi and almost exactly what I was doing back then, but I was doing it with machinery that was meant to do that as opposed to bands now, who are doing it with modern digital plug-ins. At the time, I was just making what I’d like to hear and I didn’t know if anyone else will like it. It sounds old and distorted—the sound I’d hear in my head when riding my bike around town at 2 in the morning.”
Those days (and nights) may have faded into the past, but they’re very much present within the fabric of Furr. A decade on, they sound just as magical and mystical.
Not, of course, that the band is just relying on the past glory of this record. Far from it. A decade on from the release of Furr, has released five more critically acclaimed and achingly beautiful records. The band hasn’t loosened its ambitions, either. In 2017, the band put together Wild And Reckless a full-production theater event that ran for a month at Portland’s Center Stage theater and which also spawned last year’s full-length of the same name. There are plenty of plans for the future in the works, too. But for now, just for a little while, it’s time to revel in the joy and sorrow of a time and place that no longer exists—except of course, in a few hearts and minds, and in these wonderfully wistful songs.