Georgian rippers Arbor Labor Union’s “Mr Birdsong” is a 7-minute, psychedelic, joyful rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut that opens I Hear You, their forthcoming Sub Pop debut.
London’s NME premiered the track and had this to say, “It’s seven-plus minutes of stodgy desert rock delivered with a southern drawl that recalls QOTSA’s more groove-based moments, as well as cult Swede act The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. “Go ahead and say out loud: ‘I AM NOT INSANE!!!’” screams singer/guitarist Bo Orr at one point, sounding both insane and hell-bent on alerting the white coat brigade. It’s a swirling, motorik and wilfully heavy beast (see premiere April 25th).”
Arbor Labor Union’s previously announced U.S. tour in support of I Hear You, begins May 14th in West Columbia, SC at New Brookland Tavern and ends June 17th in Athens, GA at the 40 Watt. (Complete tour dates below.)
The album features highlights “Radiant Mountain Road,” “Belief’d,” the aforementioned “Mr. Birdsong” and “Volume Peaks.” I Hear You was produced and recorded by Randall Dunn and Arbor Labor Union in the fall of 2015 at Avast Studio in Seattle, WA and mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering.
Tour Dates May 14 - West Columbia, SC - New Brookland Tavern May 15 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle Back Room May 16 - Washington, DC - DC9 May 18 - Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie May 19 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge May 20 - Cambridge, MA - Club Bohemia May 21 - Buffalo, NY - The Leopard Lounge at Town Ballroom May 22 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop May 24 - Chicago, IL - Schubas May 25 - Madison, WI - The Frequency May 26 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry May 27 - Iowa City, IA - The Mill May 28 - Omaha, NE - Milk Run May 29 - Denver, CO - Lost Lake Lounge May 31 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court Jun. 02 - Nampa, ID - Flying M Coffee Jun. 03 - Seattle, WA - Barboza Jun. 04 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios Jun. 06 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop Jun. 07 - Santa Ana, CA - Constellation Room Jun. 08 - Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg Hi-Fi Jun. 10 - San Diego, CA - Hideout Jun. 11 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar Jun. 13 - Austin, TX - The Mohawk Jun. 14 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada Jun. 15 - Houston, TX - Rudyard’s Jun. 17 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt
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 ShankarIn 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 Thermalsjust 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 ArtistsDoused 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 ManSix 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 GazebosDie Alone (clear with yellow), Grave Babies Holographic Violence (blue and purple), Shannon and the ClamsGone 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).
Their beautiful new video for “Every Songbird Says” was directed by Nacho Rodriguez and Sara Lopez (www.mistercoo.com). Stereogum says of the animated visual, “The clip…segues from rapidly shifting illustrations of Beam and Hoop into a range of colorful, earthy animations, all culminating in a joyous fireside celebration (see video premiere April 14th).”
Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop’s previously announced 2016 North American and European headlining tour (with full band) spans May 17th-September 11th. Preceding the tour, the duo has scheduled a few instore performances: A solo appearance by Jesca Hoop on April 16th in Brooklyn at Rough Trade Records, and as a duo on May 2nd in Long Beach, CA at Fingerprints. (complete tour dates below.)
Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop have also scheduled radio performances including New York’s WFUV (airdate TBA), KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” (May 2nd) and KCSN (May 3rd) in Los Angeles, “The Current” in Minneapolis (June 9th), and “Acoustic Cafe” (airdate TBA).
Love Letter for Fire is available on CD / LP / DL / CASS via Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Bandcamp and at an independent retailer near you. The limited Loser edition on Smoke-colored vinyl is available from the duo on tour and at independent retailers near you (while supplies last, and we’re almost out of Losers!).
The thirteen-track album was produced, recorded and mixed by Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, Decemberists, Neko Case) at Flora Recording & Playback in Portland, and mastered by Richard Dodd in Nashville. Love Letter for Fire features Beam and Hoop on vocals and guitar along with Robert Burger (keys), Eyvind Kang (violin, viola), Glenn Kotche (drums, percussion), Sebastian Steinberg (bass) and Edward Rankin-Parker (cello).
What people are saying about Love Letter for Fire: “Love Letter for Fire was, at least in part, inspired by the pair’s desire to make songs that function as conversations rather than soliloquies, and their work backs that up…With the help of producer Tucker Martine and a smart, subtle band, the two achieve a fine balance — of songwriting sensibilities, of time in the spotlight — in the service of songs that feel at once fresh and timeless [“First Listen’] - NPR Music
“The musical magnetism between first-time collaborators Jesca Hoop, California songwriter and adopted Manchester resident, and cult folk artist Sam Beam of Iron and Wine, allows for space and nuance, more two friends lamenting late into the night than tussling theatrics.” [4/5 stars] - The Guardian
“The result is Beam’s best release since In The Reins, with a far more dynamic batch of songs, and a wider introduction to Hoop’s compelling and naturally chameleonic songwriting style.” [B+] - The AV Club
“This pairing of Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam with Jesca Hoop is indie music’s most intriguingly fruitful alliance since Isobel Campbell got in touch with Mark Lanegan…There’s a curious congruence to the duo’s harmonies that brings their songs to unique life.” [4/5 stars] -The Independent
“Love Letter for Fire shows what can happen when two near-strangers explore each other’s deepest emotions and private pains in song: They may still ultimately remain strangers, but they’ve created something profound in the process.” - American Songwriter
“Love Letter for Fire is a triumph of rustic minimalism and unforced, chamber-pop poise, with charm by the skipload” [8/10] - Uncut
“Beam and Santa Rosa folk singer Jesca Hoop pass the love-stricken vocal baton with real charm, typically trading individual lines before converging for stirring harmonies” - Q Magazine
“Duets naturally arrive at a conversational, kinetic charm that solo songs can’t. With Love Letter for Fire, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam and singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop aim to channel the rapport of Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton or George Jones/Tammy Wynette classics—where two singular voices merge in a dialogue that deepens the atmosphere. Each musician boasts a skill the other doesn’t—with Hoop’s vivacious, multi-hued sweetness brightening Beam’s smoky rumble and croon. Blending their voices in harmony, call-and-response and unison, they sing of love, spirituality and world-weary perseverance, often all at once…Love Letter for Fire is built on this elegant give-and-take—it’s the rare A-list collaboration more compelling than the sum of its parts.” - Relix
“Their musical tastes overlap, as their former collaboration on Hoop’s “Hunting My Dress” song from her last album showed, so there was no reason to doubt that a full-length album between them would be nothing short of excellent. However, not only do Beam and Hoop meet those high expectations, they shatter them on Love Letter for Fire by crafting some of their best songs to date.” [9/10 stars] - PopMatters
“Two vocalists creating openhearted love songs could prove to be a risk for unlistenable, saccharine material….Beam and Hoop convey their emotions sweetly, offering their own imperfect glimpses of an old theme told in new ways.” - Consequence of Sound
Tour Dates May 17 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Ark* May 18 - Toronto, ON - The Danforth Music Hall* May 20 - New York, NY - The Town Hall* May 21 - Washington, DC - The Lincoln Theatre* May 22 - Boston, MA - The Wilbur Theatre* May 24 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer* May 26 - Atlanta, GA - The Buckhead Theatre* May 27 - New Orleans, LA - The Civic Theatre* May 28 - Dallas, TX - The Kessler Theater* May 30 - Tucson, AZ - The Rialto Theatre* May 31 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre* Jun. 02 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall* Jun. 03 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater* Jun. 04 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre* Jun. 05 - Boise, ID - The Egyptian Theatre* Jun. 07 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater* Jun. 08 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown* Jun. 09 - Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater* Jun. 10 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall Ballroom* Jun. 11 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall* Aug. 28 - Edinburgh, UK - Edinburgh International Festival Aug. 29 - Bangor, UK - Marine Court Aug. 30 - Dublin, Ireland - Olympia Theatre Aug 31 - Manchester, UK - Royal Northern College of Music Sep. 01 - London, UK - Union Chapel Sep. 02-04 - Salisbury, Larmer Tree Gardens, UK - End of the Road Festival Sep. 07 - Berlin, DE - Passionskirche Sep. 08 - Cologne, DE - Kulturkirche Sep. 09 - Brussels, BE - Botanique-Orangerie Sep. 10 - Groningen, NL - Take Root Festival Sep. 11 - Amsterdam, NL - De Duif * w/ Marlon Williams
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!).
R&B TRANSMOGRIFICATION (MARCH 25TH, 1997) 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 onfuzz 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
FEATURING “BIRDS” (APRIL 20TH, 1998) 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 firsttime 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
FIELD STUDIES (SEPTEMBER 7TH, 1999) 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 otherband), 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
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: http://sublimeclementine.com/
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: http://verrou.tumblr.com/
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.