Chad VanGaalen is a wildly talented artist, illustrator and animator from Calgary. And on May 17th, we at Sub Pop Records have the very great privilege of releasing Diaper Island, Chad’s fourth full-length record for the label. With this new album, Chad has distilled his approach, producing his most sonically cohesive album to date, and the closest thing he has done to a rock album. As with all of his albums, Chad is single-handedly responsible for all of the artistic efforts that went into Diaper Island—from album art to music videos and everything in between. No doubt you see what we were talking about with that “wildly talented” stuff at the beginning of this paragraph. Because we are such great fans of Chad’s art, in all of its manifestations, we’ll be giving the first 200 people to pre-order Diaper Island from subpop.com a free 5” x 6.5”, limited-edition, hand-numbered art print. This print will feature art from Diaper Island and Chad has promised to write or draw something on each of these. That’s for the first 200 people to order this record – when those are gone, that’s it. But! Everyone who pre-orders Diaper Island on CD or LP (and, remember, the LP will come with a coupon for a free, high-quality mp3 download of the album) will receive a couple of free stickers and instant access to a stream of the album in its entirely, providing access to hear the record in the time betwixt ordering and receiving. All of this for you, from us, with affection bordering on the inappropriate.
We at Sub Pop Records will be very thoroughly celebrating Record Store Day this year, with a number of releases and events across the country very nearly beyond our meager ability to count. We’ll have limited-edition Record Store Day exclusive releases from Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes and Lower Dens, a free 19-track Sub Pop sampler, and in-store performances by Obits, Low and The Head and the Heart. Plus, the self-titled debut from The Head and the Heart comes out on CD and LP on April 16th as part of Record Store Day. To find a participating store, go here.
Our 2011 label sampler, comes housed in an embossed, die-cut package, and includes 18 art prints with information about each of the artists and a folded poster. Sub Pop would like to give it to you.
1. Daniel Martin Moore “Dark Road” from the album In the Cool of the Day (SP860), available January 2011
2. Aurelio “Tio Sam” from the album Laru Beya (NXA002), available on Next Ambiance January 2011
3. The Twilight Singers “On the Corner” from the album Dynamite Steps (SP844), available February 2011
4. Mogwai “Slight Domestic” from the “Mexican Grand Prix” 7" single on Rock Action Records, available February 2011
5. Papercuts “Do What You Will” from the album Fading Parade (SP885), available February 2011
6. Dum Dum Girls “Wrong Feels Right” from the He Gets Me High EP (SP917), available March 2011
7. J Mascis “Not Enough” from the album Several Shades of Why (SP859), available March 2011
8. Obits “You Gotta Lose” from the album Moody, Standard and Poor (SP857) available March 2011
9. Low “Try to Sleep” from the album C’mon (SP905), available April 2011
10. The Head and the Heart “No One to Let You Down,” previously unreleased. The album The Head and the Heart (SP915) is available for Record Store Day, April 16, 2011
11. Blitzen Trapper “Maybe Baby” from the “Maybe Baby” 7" single (SP929), available for Record Store Day, April 16, 2011
12. Lower Dens “Deer Knives” from the “Deer Knives” 7" single (SP927), available for Record Store Day, April 16, 2011
13. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues” from the album Helplessness Blues (SP888), available May 2011
14. Chad VanGaalen “Peace on the Rise” from the album Diaper Island (SP871), available May 2011
15. Shabazz Palaces “lost foundling.” This Shabazz Palaces track is not from the album Black Up (SP900), available May 2011
16. Memoryhouse “Sleep Patterns” from The Years EP (SP925), available at some as-yet-undetermined point in 2011
17. Mister Heavenly “Mister Heavenly” from the as-yet-untitled Mister Heavenly debut album (SP926), available August 2011
18. Niki and the Dove “The Fox” From “The Fox” 12" single (SP930), available June 2011
19. Blouse “Shadow” From the “Shadow” 7" single (SP939), available May 2011
Bands Performing in Actual Record Stores The Head and the Heart
Sonic Boom (Ballard), Seattle, WA 3pm (acoustic)
Easy Street (Queen Anne), Seattle, WA 7pm (full band)
Electric Fetus, Minneapolis, MN 4pm
Generation Records, New York, NY time TBC.
Beautiful World Syndicate , Philadelphia 2pm
“Not Enough” video + song trivia: Chad VanGaalen is the mastermind behind this great video and none other than Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses can be heard singing with J Mascis on the song. That’s a Sub Pop three-fer-one right there!
Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the private world of this reclusive and enigmatic songwriter. With Diaper Island, VanGaalen distills his approach, producing his most sonically cohesive album to date, and the closest thing he has done to a rock album.
While VanGaalen’s three previous records were made in a cramped basement studio, a move to a larger recording room offered space to develop and refine his sound. Fresh from producing Women’s critically lauded Public Strain, VanGaalen decided to avoid the comfort of working on previous ground, and apply some of the recording techniques and sonic ideas that emerged from those sessions. For the first time, multi-tracked and often overdriven guitar is the instrument at the centre of the songs, which are often spartan and free of the melodic details that embellished previous albums. With this focus on guitar, combined with a beloved vintage tape machine determining the sound, VanGaalen moved towards a leaner, no-frills approach—one that more closely resembles the music that influenced him as a teenager, while continuing the arc laid out in his previous work.
The paradox of trying to assert control in a climate of helplessness winds through the album, whether in the existential pondering on life and death that often pervades VanGaalen’s songs (“Do Not Fear,” “Replace Me”), or in the conflict between control and creativity (“Freedom for a Policeman,” “No Panic, No Heat”). At the album’s heart is “Sara,” a simple and celebratory paean that gorgeously praises the ability of VanGaalen’s partner and muse to nurture his creativity in the face of this uncertainty, and captures the songwriter at his most sincere and powerful.
At this point Chad VanGaalen may perhaps be better known for his illustrative rather than his musical output. As was the case with all of his previous albums, VanGaalen has illustrated all of the art for Diaper Island himself. He’s also in the midst of animating a music video as well. His past videos have been collectively viewed well over a million times on youtube. He’s also animated music videos for folks like J Mascis, Guster, and Holy Fuck.
VanGaalen has been quietly building a catalogue of songs, illustrations, and animations that invite listeners to gently explore his distinctive creativity. Diaper Island extends the adventure into deeper territory, tapping into VanGaalen’s lifeblood and mining the richness of his mind with sharper tools.
Discography 2004Infiniheart 2006Skelliconnection 2008Soft Airplane 2011Diaper Island
Click here for all things Chad VanGaalen. Get stoked people.
Please help us in welcoming our friend, Mat Brooke, lead singer from Seattle’s own Grand Archives, who has graciously agreed to guest edit our 7th installment of “For the Record”! “For the Record”, as you may recall, is our semi-regular web feature wherein we (or the kind people who we can convince to do so) reflect on a favorite record from the Sub Pop catalog and in turn we then drastically discount said record for the following 48 hours.
So now that you know how this all works, let’s get into it and see what Mat has to say about Chad VanGaalen’s Infiniheart!
Even though I’ve never lived in Canada, Chad VanGaalen’s Infiniheart has the comfort of home to me. The urgency of the jangly guitar intro in the opening track, “Clinically Dead”, starts the whole album with an immediate hook. From that point on the songs continue to ebb and flow with a perfect cinematic-like cohesion. The tales, narrated in a flawless wavering falsetto, create Infiniheart’s timeless sound. When Sub Pop re-released this album in 2005, the CD stayed in my player on repeat for days. So much, that now when re-visited, it’s almost like catching up on old times. “1000 Pound Eyelids” is the song that really sticks. The lyrics vaguely depict the terror of a car accident, with an innocent, almost calming charm. That is where Chad really prevails. His humble charm, blended with his style of hauntingly honest music. It just sounds like “home”. But don’t take my word for it, what the hell do I know? I’m not a record reviewer. Try buying it.
yours truly -mat
For the next 48 hours, you can get Infiniheart at our FTR sale price of $6 CD/$4 Mp3 here!
Mat’s band, Grand Archives, just released their second record, Keep in Mind Frankenstein this week. We think you should check that record out too. Here, we’ll help you: go HERE for more on Grand Archives.