It’s the end of 2015 as we know it, and I feel fine…
Somewhat unbelievably we, your close personal friends at Sub Pop Records, seem to have survived another year mostly intact. Between new, full-length albums, reissues, singles, and box sets, we are fairly certain that we managed to put out a total of something like 42 releases this year (one of which was a 7-LP box set, a robe and also a chair…). It’s been busy, strange and great.
Thanks for what we assume to be your sustained attention to these efforts. We’re incredibly fortunate to work with a roster of such obvious and varied talent. In an effort to commemorate the year that we’ll soon only dimly recall, we’ve put together a collection of wholly subjective lists of things deemed great by the folks we invited to participate (and who got back to us…).
Here’s hoping you find something great here yourself!
Happy holidays, gang.
Heron Oblivion will release its self-titled debut worldwide March 4th via Sub Pop. Heron Oblivion is now available for preorder on CD / LP / DL / CS from the Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Bandcamp.
LP preorders from megamart.subpop.com will receive the limited “Loser” edition on clear vinyl with a white swirl (while supplies last).
The album, which includes highlights “Oriar”, “Beneath Fields”, “Your Hollows” and “Sudden Lament”, was produced and mixed by the band in San Francisco at The Mansion.
Stereogum says of “Oriar”: “Expressive guitar lines laced with feedback sprawl out again and again without trailing away too far. Meg Baird’s serene voice harkens back to ’60s folk singers, subdued in a way that lends special gravity without being bombastic. Frankly, the group sounds exactly like what psychedelic rock should sound like (see premiere December 15th).”
Heron Oblivion will appear at Austin’s Levitation Festival April 29th-May 1st, and additional live dates will be announced soon.
Kim Gordon included Heron Oblivion on her “Best of 2015” list in the December issue of ARTFORUM and had this to say: “A five-minute sound check, but the best sounds of the night. The rudimentary PA system kept their Pentangle-meets-Bardo-Pond (but with more precision) sound swirling nicely, creating a humming musicality without the sharp edges ever bringing it down to earth.”
[Photo Credit: Alissa Anderson]
More on Heron Oblivion from WFMU’s Brian Turner:
Pastoral pummel. Listening to Heron Oblivion’s album feels like sitting in a lovely meadow in the shadow of a dam that’s gonna heave-ho’ any minute. Members of this new San Francisco combo have put in time in both raging and relatively tranquil psychedelic sound units—this is the premise and the synergy behind this very unique and special new album.
On the West Coast side, Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmonson were together in the mighty Comets on Fire, who spent a large chunk of the mid-2000s playing unbridled, blistering rock worldwide, fueled by a steady dietofamphetaminized Crazy Horse, High Rise, MC5, Chrome, and Fushitsusha. They were molten and melting down at all times—with twin-guitar blowtorch jams inflectedwith Noel’s careening electronic infusions, and songs and structures holding on to the wheel (barely) while destruction ensued. Noel did time afterwards with Sic Alps and Six Organs ofAdmittance, while Miller settled into a new level of interactions with Howlin’ Rain and Feral Ohms. Charlie Saufley resided at the psychedelic pop fringes with his band Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound (kindred spirits to Comets to be sure.) He was joined in California by Meg Baird of Philadelphia’s Espers. The East Coast connection, Baird was an already-established leading light in the modern psych-folk canon both in Espers and as a solo artist (most recently releasing the gorgeous Don’t Weigh Down the Light LP on Drag City,) as well as original drummer for Philly’s post-hardcore degenerates Watery Love.
Ethan and Noel were loosely jamming in an improvisational unit called Wicked Mace at this point. Via osmosis, Charlie and Meg came floating in for weekly hangs that still resided in a somewhat free zone. “We just did pure improv’ for a few months under no pressure to ‘be anything’ or ‘be a band’”, says Miller, “I think Noel and I sort of pushed for the idea of Meg on drums, me on bass, and Noel and Charles on guitars just to mix it up a bit, get outside our usual mold a little.” Though Noel and the newfound rhythm section took roles with instruments they were familiar with—but not particularly known for—ideas bubbled up quickly, and each member contributed to the songwriting process. “As expected, Charles and Noel had killer guitar chemistry, incredible fuzz sounds, symbiotic interplay,” Miller recounts. Though a multitude of other parallel musical projects kept the pace slow for the foursome, it moved steadily forward—and down paths much less trodden and familiar for the players involved. It was something new, unfamiliar, and invigorating to say the least. Eventually, seven songs were tracked at Eric Bauer’s San Francisco studio “The Mansion,” and the results are stellar.
Three shades of light run through Heron Oblivion: Baird’s rich, beautiful vocal approach, the locked-horns bass and drums of her and Miller’s streamlined-but-motorik rhythm section, and a twin guitar tapestry that both aligns with the dreaminess of the songs and crackles out of containment to froth over the rim.It’sa seamless but pronounced thing: “Oriar” sports dramatic spires of solos that fly high out of the gate, slowly settling in to lilting verses then exploding again, “Rama” drifts like an Opal/Fairport wedding with more tumbling, syrupy electric lines all around.
Meg’s gorgeous singing resides within an untouchable domain and never struggles, nor has to combat the avalanche of guitars that ebb and flow. The only other record this could be remotely compared to maybe is the Slap Happy Humphrey record on Japan’s Alchemy label years ago, where female vocal melodies combat sick walls of noise guitar. But inthiscase a definite West Coast style reigns—where elements meld rather than stand as opposing black-and-white walls: Even the heights of guitar destruction on Heron’s “Faro” build steadily and organically from the beginning to end.
The group first properly gigged in April of 2014 opening for War On Drugs. They finished the record independently, then inked a deal with Sub Pop in early 2015. Most recently they toured the West Coast with Kurt Vile and Cass McCombs.
What people are saying about Heron Oblivion:
“…A raging new psych band.” - Uncut
“Not much of HO’s music lives online at the moment, but what’s there suggests a group— Ethan Miller, Noel V. Harmonson, Meg Baird, and Charles Saufley—who like to jam for long durations in the fuzzy, fiery guitar-laden zone where Neil Young’s Zuma meets Joe Walsh-era James Gang. (One track is called “Funeral Funk 49,” and while it’s not as funky as James Gang’s 1970 hit, it takes you deeper into trance land.) Heron Oblivion also claim influences from the Japanese power-psych label PSF and UK electric folk rock, and Baird’s vocals counterbalance the swarming sound with a dulcet breeziness. - The Stranger
San Francisco band Heron Oblivion (who just signed with Sub Pop) opened the night. Fronted by singer/drummer Meg Baird of the Espers (and a Philly ex-pat who’s sung backing vocals for Vile), the band set the tone for the night with some moody psych-folk/noise rock that was made all the more impressive when paired with Baird’s powerful, haunting voice. - Three Match Breeze
Hold on to yer butts: METZ have shared their official video for “Spit You Out”, a standout from II, their acclaimed 2015 album. This thrilling, frenetic video, directed by the band and edited by Scott Cudmore (“The Swimmer,” “Wasted,” “Wet Blanket”), features effects-laden live footage and presents a visceral representation of the band’s sound and deft power in performance.Get Yer METZ:
Noisey calls “Spit You Out” “a menacing track off of II that pits hypnotic noise punk against the grungey godheads of the Pacific Northwest” (see December 7th premiere).
METZ “Eraser” b/w “Pure Auto” single, will be available January 22nd, 2016 on 7” vinyl from Three One G and digitally from Sub Pop. The “Eraser” / “Pure Auto” single will come pressed on both green and white colored vinyl and each run is limited to 1,000 copies. It’s now available for preorder through Three One G and the Sub Pop Mega Mart (while supplies last). The single will also be available digitally through megamart.subpop.com, iTunes, and Amazon.
And because you always need more METZ: “Can’t Understand,” their contribution to the 2013 installment of the Adult Swim Singles Series, and is now available to purchase via Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, and Amazon.
METZ’s extensive 2015/16 headlining world tour in support of II resumes January 9th in Cambridge, MA at The Sinclair and currently ends February 20th in Bejing, CN at Mao Livehouse. Tour highlights include: a short east coast/midwest US tour January 9th-16th (with Bully); January 29th in Tokyo at Fever; January 30th-February 14th at the multi-city Laneway Festival, held in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand; and appearances in Taiwan and China (February 17-20). (see complete dates below).
METZ II has earned acclaim from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, The AV Club, SPIN, Treble, and more. IIscored the band its highest chart position in the U.S. to date, entering at #98 / Billboard Top 200. In Canada, the album debuted at #27 on the Top 200 albums chart. II also peaked at #8 on theCMJ Top 200 chart.
What people are saying about METZ II:
“Metz colors outside the lines—obliterates them, really.” - New York Times
“The record twitches with the flying-off-the-rails urgency of the band’s live shows as Metz sandblasts the industrial precision of their first album into a nastier, more shambolic attack.” - Rolling Stone
“These mild-looking Canadians revive the golden age of early Nirvana and ’90s grunge with 10 walloping noise-rockers—but there are surprising hooks amid all the Sturm und Drang.” -Entertainment Weekly
“The record is all killer, no filler.” - AV Club
“II is looser and fuzzier than its predecessor… one of 2015’s standout records.” [8.5 / 10] - MAGNET
“This isn’t just purgative music hell-bent on bloodletting and catharsis; it’s also carefully composed, with loving attention paid to fine detail and immaculate precision.” [“First Listen”] - NPR Music
“Creating a soundscape of claustrophobic, ravenous guitar riffs awash in feedback and distortion, with drums that never let you catch your breath. You’ll feel it in your stomach as much as you hear it.” [First Play] - CBC Music
“Album of the Week” - Stereogum
“Hits like a concussion grenade, and you’ll revel in the damage long after the room’s been cleared.” [4/5]- Alternative Press
“II, like the record that preceded it, is still a seasick and unyielding document of brutalist experimentation. But because the trio is willing to explore different avenues, there’s more corners to get lost in.” [8/10] - SPIN
“Album of the Week” - Treble
“A direct gut-punching affair.” [5/5] – DIY
“Bigger, faster, louder, stronger - in many ways II is everything the band’s second record ought to be.” [8/10] - Loud & Quiet
“Bold, unsympathetic and brutally effective.” [8/10] – NME
“Raucous, filthy and hummable in equal measure.” [8/10] - Rock Sound
“A second volume of string-bending, amp-busting noise-punk…Awesome.” [4/5] - Time Out London
“II is what Metz do best: brazenly truculent hardcore.” - The Guardian
“Few bands anywhere do this sort of thing this well.” - The Quietus
“With II, Metz have done more than enough to cement themselves as the new kings of transgressive hard rock, and that’s a crown which is going to be difficult for anyone to wrestle from them.” [8.5/10] - The Line of Best Fit
“This album has achieved a seemingly impossible feat by sounding even more aggressive than the one that preceded it.” [8/10] - The 405
“The whole record is a dizzy, punk joy - taking itself far less seriously than most proper hardcore bands, whilst sounding twice as aggressive as any of them, and with better tunes.” [8/10] -Drowned in Sound
“II almost feels like Metz wanted to push the boundaries to see just how dark and dirty they could play while still carrying a tune and continuing to draw listeners in with unconventionally gripping arrangements - and good on them, they pulled it off!” [10/10] -Louder Than War
Jan. 09 - Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair # ^
Jan. 11 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel # ^
Jan. 12 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church # ^
Jan. 13 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom #
Jan. 14 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg #
Jan. 16 - Chicago, IL - Metro #
Jan. 29 - Tokyo, JP - FEVER
Jan. 30 - Singapore, SP - Laneway Festival
Feb. 01 - Auckland, NZ - Laneway Festival
Feb. 05 - Adelaide, AU - Laneway Festival
Feb. 06 - Brisbane, AU - Laneway Festival
Feb. 07 - Sydney, AU - Laneway Festival
Feb. 10 - Sydney, AU - Oxford Art Factory
Feb. 12 - Melbourne, AU - The Corner**
Feb. 13 - Melbourne, AU - Laneway Festival
Feb. 14 - Perth, AU - Laneway Festival
Feb. 17 - Taipei City, TW - The Wall Livehouse
Feb. 19 - Shanghai, CN - Yuyintang
Feb. 20 - Bejing, CN - Mao Livehouse
* w/ My Disco, The Low Life
** w/ My Disco, Deaf Wish
# w/ Bully
^ w/ So Pitted
It’s that time of year again where we thank you for being the best customers imaginable in the world of music-buying peoples far and wide.
In an effort to show our unending appreciate of you, we’ll now attempt to coerce you into spending even more of your hard earned shekels with us this holiday season… by offering 20% off on all* Sub Pop Mega Mart orders over $30 starting today and going all the way ‘til 11:59 pm on January 3rd.
Thank you in advance for your impending (wildly overzealous, we hope) gift buying spree.
*All current pre-orders, the Mark Lanegan boxsets and Eugene Mirman bathrobes are excluded from this 20% off sale. These items do, however, count towards reaching your $30 qualifying order total.
This Friday, November 27th marks the release of the “Red Sun” b/w “Echo” single, a new collaboration between 4AD group Merchandise and Sub Pop recording artist Dum Dum Girls. If you’ve yet to hear “Red Sun”, have a listen on YouTube or Soundcloud now.
The exquisite, two-track offering, is currently available for preorder on on 7” / DL through Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, and Amazon. Vinyl preorders through megamart.subpop.com will receive a limited edition version of the 7” pressed on clear purple vinyl (while supplies last).
“Red Sun” and “Echo” were both written after midnight. “Red Sun” is the story of love, power, and weakness. A 3 minute narrative about the mystery of human attraction and its hold on the psyche. “Red Sun,” played by Dee Dee, is half siren and half desert wanderer. She’s the temptress and the God of War the body of a girl who can make all men her victim. “Echo” takes place in the streets of Berlin. In “Echo” our narrator is lost in the madness of regret and lost love. In the warm streets of summer he’s frozen by his thoughts as if it were winter already.
[Photo Credit: Catie Laffoon]
What people are saying about “Red Sun”:
“A moody track that rests on a pulsing, sinister synth line and arid guitar.” - Stereogum
“Evoking Ennio Morricone by way of Bauhaus, “Red Sun” is a doom-laden, synthed-out siren song in which DDG’s Dee Dee plays the titular role….The track is a pulsing three minutes of goth grandiosity in which Merchandise’s Carson Cox is ultimately the one consumed. “I walked into the Red Sun” he croons, sounding both beaten and happily done in.” - Pitchfork
“…Merchandise and Dum Dum Girls have done you the favor of teaming up to give you a killer track in “Red Sun.” Both bands work off each other to churn out a track that’s super gothy and infectious.” - Noisey
“The song is a gothic, synth-driven number that’s filled with syncopated beats and spacious guitar textures. Dum Dum Girls leader Dee Penny lends her noir-ish vocals to the verses, while Merchandise’s Carson Cox swoops and brightens things up somewhat for the catchy chorus.” - Exclaim
“The result of this team up is a happy marriage between both bands’ sounds, finding an edge in dark, atmospheric pop.” - DIY