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
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.
No Fly List: Notes From Sub Pop’s Airport Store (November 2015)
Unthanksgiving at the Airport
Welcome to another dispatch from the Sub Pop store. The months of October and early November bring a relative downtime at the airport, in-between the busier summer vacation and holiday travel seasons. One might assume that we would use this opportunity to re-group, develop plans for improving the store, and/or stockpile winter-wear goods. Instead, I’ve used the lull to stew about all the regrets and perceived slights I’ve experienced this year. In honor of Thanksgiving, I decided to type out some things that I am particularly ‘unthankful’ for, because sometimes it’s necessary and cathartic to express your gripes, in order to see how petty/inconsequential/ridiculous they might be. I also strong-armed a few of my co-workers to join me in giving ‘unthanks’ this year. Enjoy!
Here at the store, I am unthankful for the following things:
-Dust bunnies that look like dreadlocks.
-Canadian coins in the cash register.
-Only being able to play a few seconds of Eugene Mirman’s ”full-hearted 45-minute cry-a-thon” in the store before I am overcome by emotion and have to change it.
-Not recognizing the following people until immediately after they left the store:
- Wayne Coyne
- Sherman Alexie
- Jaron Lanier
- The members of Poison Idea
-Customers who ask, “Will this t-shirt fit my son/daughter/wife/husband/niece/nephew/dog?”
-The sounds that emanate from occupied stalls in the men’s bathroom(s).
-The man wearing shorts who insisted on showing me his recent jellyfish stings on his legs.
-The question, “Now that Sub Pop has a store in the airport, does that mean they have officially sold out?”
-Waking up early to make a lunch and then forgetting it at home.
-The father who talked on his cellphone for 10 minutes about the consistency/texture/color of his new baby’s bowel movements.
In my personal life, I’m unthankful that my favorite baseball player, Juan Uribe, is no longer employed by my favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And also that this much-needed scientific device has not been released yet.
Let’s turn it over to some of my co-workers!
“I’m unthankful for:
- The Seattle Mariners
- Ben Carson’s fully functional vocal cords
- Rain but no snow
- No parks to speak of in Parkland (I know right?)
- Traffic (how original)”
“Here we are again, at the eleventh hour, and of course, I show up at your “E” door-step in my sweatpants and curlers, yielding yet another untimely and, probably unusable, contribution to this months monthly news such and such. I am very sorry of course, but I can grant you no guarantee that this will not be the last incident of this sort, most likely all submissions will arrive in your “in” basket around 6pm of the afternoon following day any deadline given.
So you have asked for us to submit a list of some of the things things for which we were not so thankful for this year, leaning in the direction of funny. I am afraid my friend that I cannot grant you the wish that you desire. For, after an exceedingly large quantity of pondering, and a few glasses of Tang drink, I can’t, for the life of me, conjure up even one thing that I am unthankful for. I seem to busting at my pant legs with a sort of humble Gratitude for all, and all of my existence and the universe, and all of the whatnot of this sometimes crazy world we all have to live in. So apologize, I can’t fulfill this months request, at least not with this stupid brain.
I can however list a few of the wonderful things from this year that I, so very graciously, give thanks for. For example, I am overwhelmingly grateful for my family. This time of year you can’t avoid thinking about family. I always remember all of those good times we had while we were growing up, all of the holidays we spent together, and the summers too. How lucky am I to have been born into such a loving and caring group of individuals? I do kind of wish Randy was dead though.
I can no longer submit to useless negative emotions that can overwhelm you and withhold the marvelous wonders and joys that life has to give, such as, cats! What furry, kind and, beautiful beasts, so cute and small but bigger than rats and not as loyal as a dogs. Our cat, Tab, turned 5 this year and although I am deathly allergic to her fur and dander, and I really wish she would use the scratching post instead of the couch. I am really grateful the vet has the means to fight off her cancerous lesions thereby sustaining her life for a mere $500 dollars a session, ensuring that my wife and I will have a furry friend who tracks it’s cat bathroom sand throughout our once odor free home, for many years to come.
The point Is, who am I to complain when there is so much suffering out there and I have so much in my life like, tinnitus, my illiterate mail man who doesn’t really “get” what numbers mean, and what about traffic?
Life is a gift and I have no complaints, only gratitude.
If this is too long just put “White Sauce,” why does everybody put it on everything? What’s the deal with that?
[Photo Courtesy of the Artist]
Sub Pop is pleased to announce the signing of Arbor Labor Union, the Athens/Atlanta, Georgia band, who will release its label debut worldwide in the spring of 2016.
The group (who formerly performed under the moniker Pinecones) released their debut record, Sings For You Now (listen here), in May, 2015 on LP format via Athens, GA label Arrowhawk Records. The band, comprised of Brain Atoms (Guitars), Ryan Evers (Bass), Ben Salie (Drums) and Bo Orr (Vox/Guitar) create angular and unapologetic rock and roll.
You can hear various singles from their LP Sings For You Now right over here.Arbor Labor Union have scheduled a show supporting In The Red recording artists Wand tomorrow night, November 17th in Athens, GA at the 40 Watt. Additional live dates will be announced very soon.
More on Arbor Labor Union:
Once upon a time rock n roll music was insane. Several times before you have heard and perhaps proclaimed that “music is the truth.” This band called Arbor Labor Union honors this notion. I’ve been in an audience and seen them sneak their music close to the truth. The atom has reviewed their songs and said “this band speaks to the core” and “on this we are not divided”.
Guitar player Brain Atoms always wears green and taps his foot to the stage in hopes it turns into a porch. Bass player Ryan Evers pumps the tonal artery and stirs the cosmic dirt with his welcome grin. Singer and Guitar player Bo Orr sings the wisdom of unknowing and kicks through blind dimensions. Drummer Ben Salie invokes the shaman beat and whips layers of lava lamp cymbal vibrations. All of these men have agreed and that is beautiful. If you pay attention, you might notice all of their songs are about their songs, and that is beautiful. They believe in handshakes, repetition, and friendship. They are lifelong friends, and they play that sound.
What people are saying about Arbor Labor Union (fka Pinecones):
“Listening to the interplay between physical, spiritual, and musical existence hammered out across these 11 tracks is one of the most challenging, intriguing tasks I’ve undertaken this year. Few albums demand your attention and interaction the way Sings For You Now does.” - Stereogum
“It’s not so much a sounds, there’s no twang or drawl, but an attitude. Their dooming riffs and impassioned rambles carry smolder like the heat of the southern sun.” - Consequence of Sound“I’m not sure how to describe the group’s raspy, repetitious rock and roll other than to say it is no goddamn joke. It’s also tremendously exciting. The songs on Play Cosmic Hits cull from bands like Lungfish, Wire and The Ex but feel exhilaratingly fresh” [Pinecones Play Cosmic Hits] – Flagpole Magazine
This coming December 5th at Seattle’s Showbox Theatre at The Market, Sub Pop joins forces with KEXP in support of the 4th Annual SMooCH (Seattle Musicians for Children’s Hospital) Benefit.
The first two acts on the bill were announced Nov. 6th - The Afghan Whigs and Sir Mix-A-Lot.
JUST ADDED: Mary Lambert is now on the bill!
This amazing event sells out every year, so don’t sleep! Get your tickets here: http://www.showboxpresents.com/events/detail/294340.
VIP and GA tickets are still available, and 100% of all proceeds benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital Uncompensated Care Fund.
SMooCH was founded by Pete and Brandy Nordstrom, and contributes to an essential program that fulfills Children’s founding promise to provide care to every infant, child and teen in Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho who needs their help — regardless of insurance coverage or financial circumstances.
If you can’t attend, please consider donating to the cause so families are able to care for their sick child and not worry about whether they’ll have to choose between their child’s health and their financial health.
Thank for helping us support this great cause!