Rich with Beach Boys style harmonies, Roy Orbison reverbs and orchestra, Pink Floyd's pacing and Freddy Mercury's falsetto, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse is a luxurious foray into sound and music. This is the second record by The Besnard Lakes, Montrealers by way of Western Canada. Their independently released previous record, Volume I, came out in 2004, and it was noticed by critics but was largely overlooked by the public at large. On both records, The Besnard Lakes have shown that they are masters of finely-honed experimental pop songs that invoke the eerie Lynchian setting as aided and abetted by the music of Julee Cruise. But, on The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, the band throws into the mix a mad dash of Fleetwood Mac proportioned swagger and ambition. Not so incidentally, the Besnard Lakes have created a masterpiece that will resonate within all quarters, amongst critics, casual and not-so-casual rock listeners, garden variety pop fans and headphone junkies.
Banshee brings The Cave Singers back to their original 3 piece lineup and also their approach to songwriting: an exchange of Derek sending Pete a riff and Pete responding with vocal ideas. From there, the songs come together. The album was recorded live in July 2015 over 6 days with producer Randall Dunn. The record is warmly anchored in the members' creative familiarity with one another. Yet there is a new thirst to Banshee, one that can be attributed to the combination of the band taking a year off to work on other projects - Pete Quirk's solo album and the Kodiak Deathbeds debut record - and their return to songwriting from a distanced correspondence.
On Naomi, The Cave Singers have charted new territory for the band, both musically and spiritually, while remaining true to their distinctive brand of brushfired folk. After some time in the dark wealth of the unknown, they have returned to the light with a revitalized purpose.
The Cave Singers spend a good deal of time beyond the darkened edges of Seattle, in the mist and mystic, among the wolves and redwoods. And their songs, at least on record, have always been like beautiful, faded grayscale photos of this hinterland. Now, these photos are injected with hot blood and technicolor, a ferocity and bite we've yet to see from the band.
By all accounts, No Witch is The Cave Singers' rock record. Laid to tape with dark wizard producer Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn O))), Boris), No Witch is grander and more lush than The Cave Singers' previous efforts. It's also a nervier, scrappier affair: greasy guitars buck and rear up; Eastern-influenced blues snake through songs; gospel choirs rise up like tidal waves. There are big, grinning nods to Beggar's Banquet-era Stones, the best of Mellencamp ("Clever Creatures") and the juke joint legends of Mississippi like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside ("Black Leaf" and "No Prosecution If We Bail"). Of course, it's all filtered through that particular, magical Cave Singers formula: Pete Quirk's reedy, behind-the-beat delivery and existential wordplay, Derek Fudesco's lyrical guitar runs and drummer Marty Lunds' no nonsense rhythms.
No Witch is a newfound sheen to the aura that made The Cave Singers' music so special to begin with. All told, there's treasure to be found here for the biker gang weekender, the double rainbow chaser and all that falls in the valley between them.
The Lord Dog Bird is the solo recording project of Colin McCann, guitarist for Jagjaguwar artists, Wilderness. While the band was on extended hiatus, McCann kept at it, documenting his feelings about life and music at home on his four track. The result is a gritty, tactile document of a time spent in self-exploration and flux.
It’s been 8 years since the first Skygreen Leopards' record was released. Since then the boys have maintained their singular aesthetic while managing to dabble with faux-folk, avant garde pop, reverb-drenched lo-fi psychedelia, plastic country and blurry ballads. This latest effort finds them collaborating with Jason Quever (Papercuts) to create a melancholy world overflowing with itinerant dandies, urban streets, suburban teens, and more girls' names than I care to count, all set to melodic shuffles featuring harmonies, frail piano, and romantic guitars.
As always with the Leopards the rhythms refuse to be bridled, the boys resist the urge to jam, and they won’t ever learn to sing properly. This will frustrate the expectations of some. Others will find a sweet shadowy hiding place in these songs -- 3 minutes to hang out with girls who race horses, boys who never learned to dance, and a dirty uncle who steals your cigarettes.
With Life & Love in Sparrow's Meadow, The Skygreen Leopards expand on their strange pastoral folk-pop and enter center stage as one of the most unique voices in the new folk movement. The Skygreen Leopards are Donovan Quinn (Verdure) and Glenn Donaldson (Thuja, Blithe Sons, Franciscan Hobbies, Birdtree, Ivytree, etc.). Formed in 2001, Quinn and Donaldson met while responding to a cryptic ad in the paper looking for Lumberjack players (little wooden dancing men you play on a board for percussion and visual interest). After being bested by an Appalachian man, Donovan and Glenn began studying the stars together where Glenn, while tracing his finger along Orion, said, "Donovan, we are the Skygreen Leopards", and so they were.
The Skygreen Leopards originate from the Bay Area-based Jewelled Antler forest of bands. Donaldson co-founded the Jewelled Antler label in 1999, which has since released over 25 CD-R's ranging from straight field recordings & outdoor improv-folk to noise & fractured pop music. The Skygreen Leopards are without a doubt the most structured and accessible of these projects. Much of the Jewelled Antler music is recorded live outdoors on mini-discs & boomboxes while the Skygreen Leopards primarily focus on a surreal form of multi-layered folk-pop recorded on an old reel-to-reel housed in a moldy trailer on the back of a horse ranch. 12-string guitars, banjos, dulcimers, Jew's harps, organs, maracas, mandolins, harmonicas, ocarinas & reed flutes harmonize with the field-recorded songs of birds, barnyard animals & insects. This hedge of sounds is the backdrop for Quinn & Donaldson's mythological rants & hazy melodies.
Saturday Night, the first proper solo album from Tim Darcy (Ought), comes from one of those crossroads-type moments in life where one has to walk to the edge before knowing which way to proceed. Each track is woven to the next in a winding, complex journey through a charged, continuous present. There are love/love lost songs like the standout, almost-New Wave "Still Waking Up" in which a Smiths-esque melody builds upon an underbrush that recalls 60s AM pop and country. Darcy's unmistakable, commanding voice and lyrical phrasing are, as they are in Ought, an instrument here: vital to the entire affair. There's a line in "Tall Glass of Water," the album's Velvet Underground-nodding opening track, where Darcy asks himself a rhetorical question: "if at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?" He barely pauses before the answer: "Yes, surely I will stay, and I am not afraid. I went under once, I'll go under once again." That river shows up again and again in the lyrics of Saturday Night. It's about how wonderful it can be to feel in touch with that inner current. It's about how good it feels to make art, and how terrifying; how you don't always get to choose whether you're swimming or drowning as we grow and move through life, just that you're going to keep diving in. That's the impulse that links all the songs on Saturday Night, makes them glow.
For the last decade, Tim Heidecker (along with his comedy partner Eric Wareheim) has proven to be one of our cult-comedy greats with his Adult Swim series "Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!" and "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories." He's starred in indie films and played sold out stand-up sets around the world.
But who is Tim Heidecker? Is he a real man with all the regular feels? Well, yes, of course he is. He resides on a hill in Glendale, CA, up to his armpits in diapers, bills, his mortgage, in the workaday life of a writer. It's this pedestrian side of his life from which Heidecker pulls the fodder for the aptly titled In Glendale, his first earnest collection of songwriting under his full name.
In Glendale shows Heidecker shifting deftly from the mundane to the idiosyncratic; from the sentimental to the caustic; from the earnest to the humorous. His knack for crafting catchy tunes amid curious subject matter pops up in spades across In Glendale. "Ghost In My Bed" is a lovely little number about cutting off someone's head, sticking it in a plastic bag and burying it beneath the Hollywood sign.
After an album's worth of songs about Hollywood murder fantasies, diaper changes and even a cameo from director David Gordon Green, you're left desperately trying to wipe the smile off your face.
It's Trevor Sensor's voice you notice first. A deep bubbling black tar pit of a sound, it's a voice whose unique timbre resonates far beyond the constraints of the songwriting format. It demands the listener reaches for a new vocabulary.
The 23 year old's debut album Andy Warhol's Dream is part of a literate folk lineage that runs from Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan through Tom Waits and onto the likes of Bon Iver, Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens today. It’s an unflinching honest album, transcendent in its exploration of self and sonically a collision between the classic and the forward-thinking.
Sensor's debut EP for the label, 'Texas Girls and Jesus Christ', was written on a borrowed acoustic guitar and took him out into the world. 2016 saw him tour Europe before hitting the road in the US for tours with Foy Vance and The Staves.
Andy Warhol's Dream was recorded to tape at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio and produced by both Jonathan Rado of Foxygen (The Lemon Twigs, Whitney) and songwriter/producer Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Foxygen). His backing band featured members of Whitney.
On these 11 songs Sensor doesn't so much wear his heart on his sleeve as flings it out in the darkness of the front rows that sit beyond the glare of the single blinding spotlight. This is the sound of one man’s soul laid bare, facing life head on.
From the first moments of Trevor Sensor's debut EP for Jagjaguwar, Texas Girls and Jesus Christ, the Illinois-born 22-year-old singer/songwriter's distinctive burr of a voice sounds aged decades beyond his years. The rest of the young talent's music follows suit, too, with timeless-sounding melodies and a sense of songwriting that exudes maturity while still feeling fresh.
Sensor wrote the music featured on Texas Girls and Jesus Christ on a borrowed acoustic guitar that he has yet to return, composing songs that sound deeply felt and from a place of truth and honesty. "If I'm trying to do anything, it’s to be sincere," he says about his songwriting approach. "A lot of singer/songwriters today are oriented in irony. It's cooler to be lackadaisical rather than to try to be compelling."
And Sensor's music, above all else, is compelling: the proclamatory howls that close out the piano-led "Pacing the Cage," the dark desolation of "Satan's Man", and the dynamic blowout of the EP's title track grab your attention and refuse to let go. With Texas Girls and Jesus Christ, Sensor's presented his own little worlds for listeners to explore - with many more to follow.
While recording Unknown Mortal Orchestra's latest release, Sex & Food, Ruban Nielson, his longtime collaborator Jacob Portrait and his brother Kody Nielson, found themselves in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi playing and recording with local musicians at Phu Sa Studios. The studio, normally used for traditional Vietnamese music, found the band jamming on sessions dubbed IC-01 Hanoi: exploring the outer edges of the band's influences in Jazz, Fusion and the avant-garde. The musicians pitched in with ____ and Ruban and Kody's father ___, a Jazz musician in his own right, helped lay down the saxophone lines heard throughout. At its core Hanoi is a record of exploration, finding its closest antecedent in Miles Davis' experimental On The Corner – itself a record full of nods toward avant-garde composers and Jazz outsiders alike. Hanoi finds Ruban amplifying and stretching out on lead guitar, with a blown-out and wandering fuzz tone that slinks throughout the sessions. Kody and Jacob match Ruban's melodic diversions with aplomb, mining their talents to finding as easy a role in the fusion of funk as they do in the more ambient and abstract tangents on Hanoi.
Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson's fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex & Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Neilson and his band visited pitching in throughout.
Sex & Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of "Hunnybee" to the stomping flange of "Major League Chemicals." "If You’re Going to Break Yourself" and "Not in Love We're Just High" chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics "Ministry of Alienation" drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the song's structure.
The modern world, and all the thorny complications that come with living in it, loomed large on Ruban's mind while making Sex & Food. Though he's not afraid to get topical throughout, as evidenced on the surprisingly boisterous "American Guilt" or the roomy-disco medication-meditation "Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays".
A statement of selflessness, to be sure - but make no mistake: Sex & Food reaffirms the vitality of Ruban's voice in today’s musical landscape.
The threads of our past never unravel, they hover like invisible webs, occasionally glistening due to a sly angle of the sun. On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together.
Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band's already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson's vocals reach powerful new heights. "It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artist is today, a curator," he says. "It's more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren't quite like anyone else's. I think that’s much more subversive."
While legions of artists show fidelity to the roots of psychedelia, Unknown Mortal Orchestra shares the rare quality that makes the genre's touchstones so vital: constant exploration.
"I only started playing the acoustic guitar last year. I'd always preferred the idea that the guitar converts a sound into voltage and then becomes really loud. I thought the acoustic guitar was a little bit too twee for me or something. But after being offered some opportunities to play various acoustic sessions to promote the new record, in situations where it wasn't possible to record the whole band, I decided to treat it like a challenge to try and play acoustic and not have it be lame. After all I was really into Arthur Lee's ability with an acoustic and started wondering if I could make it sound convincing. Anyway, after being somewhat forced to develop some skill on the acoustic through these various radio sessions and things like that I decided to record some songs acoustically and release them since people seemed to be liking the way I was doing it. Everything was recorded straight to tape in my basement with a one mic set up." — RUBAN NIELSON, UMO
II builds on the break-beat, junk-shop charm the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ruban Nielson came to be renowned for following Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled 2011 debut, and signals the solidification of the band's position as an endlessly intriguing, brave psychedelic band. UMO is unafraid to dig deeper than the rest to lock into their intoxicating, opiate groove and bring rock’n’roll’s exaggerated myths to life. Written during a punishing, debauched touring schedule during which Nielson feared for both his sanity and health, II illustrates the emotional turmoil of life on the road, painting surrealist, cartoonish portraits of loneliness, love and despair.
We're proud to release the soundtrack to the acclaimed indie film Drinking Buddies on Jagjaguwar. Written and directed by Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Alexander the Last, V/H/S), the film stars Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy, Rush), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Safety Not Guaranteed), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect), Ron Livingston (Office Space, Boardwalk Empire) and Jason Sudeikis (We're the Millers, SNL). The film was music supervised by Jagjaguwar's very own Chris Swanson, Grant Manship and Kathleen Cook, and features Jag artists Foxygen and Richard Youngs, as well as The Amazing, Richard Swift, Plants & Animals, Here We Go Magic and Phedre, among others.
Jagjaguwar is proud to present the soundtrack from director Rick Alverson's provocative film "The Comedy." The film focuses on Swanson (Tim Heidecker), who whiles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Desensitized and disenchanted, he strays into a series of reckless situations that may offer the promise of redemption or the threat of retribution. A scathing look at the white male on the verge of collapse, Rick Alverson's carefully observed portrait provokes and disorients; a cautionary fable for the autumn of the American Era. With his similarly-minded friends, ("Tim and Eric" co-star Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsytem frontman James Murphy and comedian Gregg Turkington a.k.a.“Neil Hamburger") in games of comic irreverence and mock sincerity. As Swanson awaits a large inheritance from his father’s estate, he grows restless of the safety a sheltered life offers, and he begins to test the limits of acceptable behavior, pushing the envelope in every way he can.
Alverson worked with Jagjaguwar to create a soundtrack of eerie, bittersweet and mystic pop songs from the "autumn of the American Era," featuring artists from the present (GAYNGS, Gardens & Villa, Here We Go Magic) and the past (Donnie & Joe Emerson, Bill Fay, Amanaz). Markedly, the soundtrack features excerpts from William Basinski's groundbreaking The Disintegration Loops, one of the most powerful manifestations of the inevitable cycle of life ever committed to tape, even as it documents the inevitable decay of all that is committed to tape.
It’s been four years since the first Volcano Choir album, Unmap, provided a glimpse into the collaborative mindset between a singer and a band that inspired him. Ideas were minted, written at a distance and realized in the studio; edges sanded back and flaps tucked in, the craftsmanship of the endeavor bearing evidence of the craft itself, and the technology used to assemble it. Unmap strove to find strands of life between the ones and zeroes - a carefully constructive narrative that showed the listener through its darkest passages like a tour guide leading their wards through a cave, with nothing but a slack length of rope and the senses of sound and touch. Just as importantly, it brought these people together, setting an expectation: be your own band. Achieve transference. Learn how to play these songs in the live setting. Tour Japan. Do some dates in America. Pull the life from the record and share it with tiny segments of the world.Repave brings Volcano Choir into sharp focus. The glitch-laden, cautious presentation of the band’s previous work serves as points of both reference and departure across these eight songs, the product of growing conviction and trust, of a fully-operational rock band, gifted in shading and nuance, and rumbling with power. It’s the sound of the creative process as it evolves and ultimately explodes, the seamless interleaving of electronic and acoustic/amplified instruments, multithreaded with the timbre and technology of the human voice as it enters and exits the equation. Moreover, Repave is the sound of confident musicians extending their reach to anthemic peaks and pulling back to reveal moments of real vulnerability, sure enough of themselves to let them stand on their own.
If Repave reminds you of other kinds of records from the past decade or so, it’s done so on the bonds between the members of Volcano Choir, how their friendships were fortified over the years-long process of writing and recording these songs. There is an openness to this work that won’t be taken for granted – real, moving tales of change, sadness, loss and truth grace the wordplay of these tracks, an account of life between the fringes of poetry and reality. With each verse you can sense that someone, somewhere is listening to this music and getting stronger, feeling better, learning to open up their soul.
Volcano Choir is Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Matthew Skemp, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon and Thomas Wincek
Volcano Choir is an assembly of Wisconsinites Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon, and Thomas Wincek. You might find these old friends also frequenting records and stages under different monikers, Collections of Colonies of Bees and Bon Iver. The collaboration predates the meteoric rise of Justin Vernon's Bon Iver project, with original songwriting dating back to the summer of 2005, right around the time the Bees first toured with Vernon's previous band DeYarmond Edison.
While entirely a studio record, the collection doesn't suffer from the overburdens of a digital pile up or over-thinking. Rather it breathes and convulses in equal measure, radiating an inherent dynamism found only in the voluntary bondage of intimacy. With influences ranging from David Sylvian and Steve Reich to Mahalia Jackson and Tom Waits, it might be more accurate to say the group's influence is music itself. You can hear it in the care and real love generously applied to each moment of Unmap. With the vibe of some intimate backwoods gospel, plus a spirit of patience and thoughtful repetition, the music of Volcano Choir is as dynamic as it is lovely.
Unmap ultimately came together over a weekend in November 2008 in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, at Justin and Nate Vernon's recording studio. And while it is at its heart a record about the allure of being with people you need and making something with them, it is also a document created by musicians with rare gifts getting together to exorcise their ideas about beauty. This scaffolding of loops and off grid tempos for choral style vocals offers a state of continual surprise, call it unexpectation.
Unmap marks the debut full-length from Volcano Choir, the collaboration between Collections of Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Wilderness's third full-length album entitled "(k)no(w)here" was conceived as one musical piece, and the impetus for this composition came from an invitation to collaborate with renowned visual artist Charles Long at Long's exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in Spring of 2008. The eight identifiable parts of "(k)no(w)here" are not readily separated from each other, such is the flow from and into each part. Created in ways different than the previous Wilderness self-titled album (2005) and the Wilderness "Vessel States" album (2006), "(k)no(w)here" still retains the Wilderness sound, with some evolution. On the new album, James Johnson is sometimes joined vocally by Colin McCann (aka The Lord Dog Bird, whose self-titled debut was released by Jagjaguwar in the Summer of 2008). And, as on previous albums, McCann performs on guitar, Brian Gossman on bass, and William Goode on drums, but the resulting community of all these parts comes across as more dynamic, and the perceived space they inhabit seems more vast.
Ruins is Wolf People's new album, and its over-riding theme is that of nature reclaiming the land. The transcendence of life over politics, plants over people. It asks: where are we going and what comes next? If culture is history's narration, then Wolf People are custodians and conduits; electrified sages, if you will. Through them runs a time-line of a nation rising from bloody glory to existentialist confusion. Yet within Ruins, their album proper, lies a spirit of hope too, it is a reminder that society is no match for the mighty power of music and nature working in perfect symbiosis. Wolf People are time travellers, their tools mythology, history, hauntology, big riffs, bigger beats, electricity. Recorded in Devon, Isle Of Wight and London, Ruins is their most direct and instinctive work yet, simultaneously reaching back into a fecund past to tell us who we are today, while harnessing the power of modern technology and ideas to ponder unknown futures. Lyrically Ruins imagines how the planet might appear when society has finally fallen to dust and ash, and the creeping vines and nettles have reclaimed the land. It is the product of letting go of conceit, contrivance and, indeed, a career plan. Influences upon Ruins come in all shapes, size, contours and hues: the discovery of proto Sabbath/Zeppelin Scottish band Iron Claw, the lesser known landscapes of rural Bedfordshire, backstage Taekwondo stretches, Scandinavian psychedelia, fleeting rural epiphanies, Dungen, Trees, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, a group holiday on a remote Finnish island, and Jagjaguwar flipping out after seeing them play in Bloomington, Indiana and insisting it was time they made their Back In Black...
Following Wolf People's critically acclaimed 2013 release, “Fain,” comes this 4-track 12" featuring two of the album’s most accomplished songs and two brand new tracks. "When the Fire is Dead in the Grate" has quickly been established as a fan-favorite throughout venues during their European tour. Stewart Lee described the song as ".... the album’s first stone classic, a funky folk-metal workout that trails off into a compellingly extended coda, both guitarists circling and dovetailing and spiraling." A brand new track, "Become the Ground," breaks new ground for the band, being, perhaps, their most obviously folk-influenced song to date. It’s a beautiful duet between lead singer Jack Sharp and guest vocalist Nicola Keary before the song breaks into a swirling psychedelic jam. The B-side of the 12” is made up of the first track fans heard on Fain, "All Returns", but now coupled with "All Returns Part II", the song’s original extended outro. It’s Wolf People at their best, locking into a masterful groove, razor-sharp guitars lines interlocking and intertwining.