As we reach the end of 2018, it would not be an exaggeration to say we’re in the midst of many difficult moments in human history. The icecaps are melting. America is on the brink of a constitutional crisis. You can’t walk 15 feet in any major metropolis without breaking your neck on a discarded scooter. Your personal data (including everything we collect in this campaign) is being used for nefarious means. Nearly 15% of the public believes we actually told someone to “sound more like Adele.” Nearly $40 million was spent to produce “The Hurricane Heist”
All of that said, there is still beauty, mystery, and grandeur in what’s left of the fine arts. And when you’re done with the fine arts, there’s Matador’s incredible array of 2018 titles from Belle and Sebastian, Body/Head, boygenius, Car Seat Headrest, Lucy Dacus, Iceage, Interpol, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Liz Phair, Snail Mail, Kurt Vile and Yo La Tengo. Will these records help you sort out a world gone mad? hey, they’re great, but not THAT GREAT. Almost certainly, and that’s why your friends at Matador —a label as magnanimous as it is humble — are offering an unprecedented 25% OFF when you use the code, “terribletimes” thru December 13. Orders of $40.00 and above receive a free tote bag and take it from me, a tote bag skeptic, you’re way less likely to drop shit all over the sidewalk when you have a stylish bag.
Today marks the digital release date for Car Seat Headrest’s ‘Twin Fantasy (Mirror To Mirror)’, the original 2011 recordings once again available via all streaming/download providers. As mentioned earlier in this space, the 2XLP white vinyl edition, previously released for Record Store Day 2018, is coming back in print and can be found in stores next Friday, November 9.
Car Seat Headrest’s set at the Paris edition of Pitchfork Music Festival is being webcast today at 2:30pm eastern time.
Interpol returned to “Later… with Jools Holland” (BBC) this week with a striking performance in black & white of “The Rover”, from their critically acclaimed new album ‘Marauder’. Alongside, the band have released a new version of “If You Really Love Nothing” by Pêtr Aleksänder, the duo of London musicians Tom Hobden and Eliot James, which sees the anthemic song reimagined as a transcendent, string-laden opus.
Steve Gunn’s long awaited new album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, will be released on January 18. Following the guitarist/vocalist’s 3-night residency at Brooklyn’s Union Pool this month and next, Gunn will tour with a full band throughout the US and Europe in 2019 (full dates below)
For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one of American music’s most pivotal figures – conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other people’s stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. The lyrics evoke voyages, tempests (actual and emotional), and a rich cast of characters met along the way — the work of an artist finding a place of calm in the midst of a storm. Produced by frequent collaborator James Elkington and engineered by Daniel Schlett, the immaculately recorded ‘Unseen’ forces a reassessment of Gunn’s standing in the pantheon of the era’s great songwriters.
Getting to ‘The Unseen In Between’ itself was not easy for Gunn. In the summer of 2016, Gunn released ‘Eyes On The Lines’, his winning and elliptical debut for Matador. It should have been a triumphant moment, but exactly two weeks later, Gunn’s father and namesake died following a two-year struggle with cancer. During his sickness, he and his son had connected as never before, listening to one another’s experiences and understanding one another’s perspectives; they became not father and son but real friends.
This experience yielded the emotional centerpiece of the album. “Stonehurst Cowboy” is a duet for Gunn’s raw acoustic guitar and spare basslines by Bob Dylan’s musical director Tony Garnier, whose featured throughout the album. The song distills the lessons Gunn learned from his father and it is a solemn but tender remembrance, a tribute to his father’s reputation as a tough, wise, and witty guy from far west Philadelphia.
A sense of musical renewal and emotional complexity fits the new songs perfectly; “Luciano” seems to be about the chemistry between a bodega owner and his cat, an unspoken romance of gentle obedience and quiet gestures. But Gunn peers below the relationship’s surface and wonders about the owner’s lonely future once the cat is gone, a devastating meditation wrapped in soft strings. And then there’s “Vagabond,” Gunn’s graceful attempt to humanize a rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray, wanderers who live outside of society’s modern safety net, who pursue “a crooked dream” in spite of what the world expects. Supported by the perfect harmonies of Meg Baird, Gunn finds something lovely in the unloved.
Inspired by contemporary artist Walter De Maria’s Dia Art Foundation-affiliated installation of 400 stainless steel poles atop the high desert of New Mexico, “Lightning Field” considers what we get out of art when it doesn’t work, when lightning does not light up the night for visitors. Opener “New Moon” may begin in the mode of a deep track from Astral Weeks or Fred Neil, with its upright bass and sparse tremolo guitar. But during the song’s final minutes, strings double the melody, and then the guitar rushes headlong, pulling ahead in a wave of ecstatic deliverance. It is a brief but liberating solo, an instant release of tension from the fraught scene Gunn has built, complemented by one of his most arresting vocal performances.
In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water, Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt encapsulation of ‘The Unseen In Between’, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance. It is a revelatory and redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short supply.
Car Seat Headrest is excited to announce a newly confirmed run of headline tour dates for 2019. Kicking off on Valentine’s Day in Boston, the tour makes its way down the East Coast, making multiple stops in Florida, a first for the band, and winds its way through Texas, culminating in San Antonio on March 2nd. Car Seat Headrest’s electrifying seven-piece live band, including members of Naked Giants, has been on the road for the past month in the States, playing grandiose, sold-out shows in support of the recently released ‘Twin Fantasy’, the re-recorded and re-imagined return to the band’s 2011 Bandcamp classic. Previously only available physically as a Record Store Day exclusive, the remastered 2011 version of ‘Twin Fantasy’ (dubbed ‘Twin Fantasy – Mirror To Mirror’) will be available on all digital services on November 2nd and on vinyl on November 9th.
(Video by Marisa Gesualdi
Original Footage directed by Aurora Glassock)
Weeks of speculation come to an end today as details of the new Kurt Vile album can finally be confirmed: One of the most critically and commercially acclaimed artists of the last decade will release ‘Bottle It In’ on October 12th. Today’s announcement is accompanied by the release of a new song titled “Bassackwards”, the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world: “I was on the ground circa Planet Earth, but out of sorts,” he sings over a gently psychedelic bed of backmasked guitars. “But I snapped back, baby, just in time to jot it down.”
Kurt Vile has also confirmed a lengthy run of worldwide tour dates for 2019 with backing band The Violators, in addition to previously announced tour dates coming up this fall. The 2019 North American shows traverse a multitude of East Coast, Midwest, Southwest, and Southern cities, with support from The Feelies. A special hometown show in Philadelphia has been added for December 29th 2018, which will take place at the newly rehabilitated historic Metropolitan Opera House (aka The Met Philadelphia) as part of their opening week celebration. The full list of tour dates can be found below.
Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.
Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music—not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”
These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters.
In April 2017, he trekked out to Indio, California, to catch the Stagecoach Festival and sit in with his friends the Sadies (“my favorite modern band”). Inspired by Willie Nelson’s epic set, Vile spent a few days in Los Angeles working with producer Rob Schnapf at his Mant Sounds studio. The two had previously worked together on “Pretty Pimpin,” the leadoff track on b’lieve that became a number-one AAA radio hit. Their second collaboration was similarly inspired: Featuring backing vocals from Cass McCombs, the eleven-minute title track is full of ominous bass rumbles, hazy-steady drumbeats from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, delicate harp stabs from Mary Lattimore, and what sounds like chewy distortion leaking out of a David Lynch flick.
Months later, when a lengthy Violators tour ended in Salt Lake City, Vile let the momentum carry him further west, where he recorded several more songs with engineer/producer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, the War on Drugs) at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles. Other songs were put to tape during sojourns to Portland, Oregon, and to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where fellow Violator Rob Laakso co-produced. The bulk of Bottle It In was bottled up at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Peter Katis (Interpol, the National) engineering and producing. Bottle It In captures the spontaneity of these impromptu sessions, revealing Vile as a diligent and singularly determined musician.
These recordings are the destinations, but the journeys were just as important, whether they gave him time with his wife and kids or an opportunity to get some writing done. “For a while I was terrified of flying, so I would be listening to whatever country songs I was obsessed with. I’d have George Jones blasting in my ears. Or, I would be reading something about country music. Or, I would start writing songs in that flash of being afraid, being swallowed by life. I’m up there on a plane drinking wine because like everybody else I’m afraid to die. And I wrote ‘Hysteria’ up there.” That new song, with its woozy guitar fanfare, captures mid-flight queasiness well, as Vile daydreams about escaping the flight: “Stop this plane ‘cause I wanna get off,” he sings. “Pull over somewhere on the side of a cloud.”
Bottle It In is about place only insofar as it is about the people in those places: friends and family, bandmates and music heroes, colleagues and collaborators. There’s a lot of love in these big-hearted songs, a lot of warmth toward everyone in Vile’s orbit and even toward those whose paths he’s yet to cross. “Loved you all a long, long while,” he sings on “One-Trick Ponies.” “Looked down into a deep dark well, called all of your names.” The jangly country-rock tune serves as a valentine to… he won’t say, but he and Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher deliver a beautifully sympathetic sing-along chorus that invites every one of us one-trick ponies to join in.
As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.” – Stephen Duesner
01 Loading Zones
03 Yeah Bones
05 One Trick Ponies
06 Rollin With The Flow
07 Check Baby
08 Bottle It In
10 Come Again
11 Cold Was The Wind
12 Skinny Mini
13 (bottle back)
The rumors are true: boygenius, the band of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus will release their self-titled EP debut on November 9th on Matador. The illustrious trio is comprised of the most exciting and visionary young songwriters in independent rock, whose critically acclaimed albums were all released in the past year (‘Turn Out The Lights’, ‘Stranger In The Alps’, and ‘Historian’, respectively). To celebrate today’s announcement, boygenius has released a captivating triumvirate of new songs titled “Stay Down,”“Me & My Dog,” and “Bite The Hand,” which can be heard HERE.
Baker and Bridgers will hit the road in North America this fall for a co-headline tour, with Dacus opening. Each artist will play her own individual set of tunes, but fans just might be able to hear some boygenius songs along the way – though that’s another rumor we can’t yet confirm. The tour kicks off at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on November 4th, and hits major markets in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast, culminating at The Wiltern in LA on November 30. The full list of tour dates, as well as each individual artist’s itinerary, can be found below.
The Wire’s Stewart Smith opines that “Kim Gordon and Bill Nace’s Body/Head is the most compelling project to have emerged from the ashes of Sonic Youth,” (“Gordon and Nace have become increasingly interested in texture and space, creating a free psychedelic music that’s attuned to the play of shadow and light”), and while we’re not encouraging comparison or competition between post-SY endeavors, I think we can all agree that today is a VERY GOOD DAY for The Wire’s Stewart Smith, as Body/Head’s 3rd Matador album, ‘The Switch’ is officially available via all finer record shops and digital platforms.
Pitchfork’s Marc Masters calls ‘The Switch’, “as mesmerizing as a hypnotist’s swinging clock,” (“no matter how far they stretch, their tones and rhythms always cohere…in Nace and Gordon’s hands, these unchartable sounds combine like well-defined movements in a symphony. Their guitars rhyme as if they were trading chord changes rather than thick swaths of noise,”) and as much as we anticipate you’ll agree with him 110% upon experiencing the album in your preferred listening environment, we also wholeheartedly encourage you to catch Body/Head on tour starting tonight at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge.
“Marauder is a facet of myself. That’s the guy that fucks up friendships and does crazy shit. He taught me a lot, but it’s representative of a persona that’s best left in song. In a way, this album is like giving him a name and putting him to bed.” -Paul Banks
Months of speculation come to an end today as details of the new Interpol album can finally be confirmed: One of the most critically acclaimed bands of this generation will release their sixth album, Marauder, August 24th on Matador Records.
As you read this, Interpol is currently revealing all details (Themes! Making-of! Album art! Producer! Visuals!) to a convergence of their most fervent fans and media, live from General Prim 30 in Mexico City via a live-streamed press conference. (Update: see the archived video of Interpol’s press conference below)
Interpol have also confirmed an initial run of worldwide tour dates, in addition to previously announced appearances at London’s BST Hyde Park with The Cure, Glasgow’s TRNSMT Festival, NYC’s House of Vans and Chicago’s Riot Fest. Those that preorder Marauder directly from the Interpol store will get first access to ticket presales for the new shows, which include London’s Royal Albert Hall, New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. The full list of tour dates can be found below.
1. If You Really Love Nothing
2. The Rover
4. Flight of Fancy
5. Stay in Touch
6. Interlude 1
7. Mountain Child
10. Number 10
11. Party’s Over
12. Interlude 2
13. It Probably Matters
(photo by Jamie-James Medina)
Special Vinyl Editions
The standard black vinyl edition of Marauder will be available from the Matador Store, Interpol band store, and all good independent music retailers.
The red vinyl edition is only available through the Matador Store or the Interpol band store.
The cream vinyl edition will only be available for purchase through independent retailers.
It finally happened; somebody called the cops on Interpol.
The long arm of the law caught up with Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, and Sam Fogarino in 2017, as they worked on a new album inside the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ rehearsal space in Manhattan. Even in its infancy, Marauder was shaping up to be a beast; an early practice session was so vigorous, it resulted in Sam hitting the drums so hard that he busted his kick drum. “That rarely happens, even with heavy-hitters,” says Sam.
Eventually, the trio were playing with such force and volume, that a neighbor called the boys in blue on the boys in black, forcing them out of the practice space. “We ruined it for everyone,” reflects Daniel. “It seemed like you’re picking on the wrong rock band,” adds Sam with a laugh. “It’s not like we’re Mastodon. I mean, in certain circles, we’re considered wimps!”
If that was ever the case, the Interpol captured on their sixth album are nothing of the sort. While many fans took time over the last 18 months to read about the band’s vital part in New York City’s early 21st century rock renaissance, or bask in the glory of their hugely successful 15th anniversary tour celebrating the seminal 2002 debut Turn On the Bright Lights, the trio have been quietly (sorry, LOUDLY) working on making sure they’re not just a cultural timepiece for music historians to study. The result is Marauder: an album that sways as well as it seduces, that pounds as well as it pouts, and that batters as well as it broods.
They’ve had some help along the way. For the first time since 2007’s Our Love to Admire, Interpol have opened themselves up to the input of a producer. For two-week spells between December of 2017 to April of 2018, they travelled to upstate New York to work with Dave Fridmann – famed for recording with Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, MGMT, Spoon, Mogwai, and countless more.
The New Yorkers arrived at his remote and frequently snowbound Tarbox Studios with most of Marauder tightly rehearsed and worked out. Fridmann made sure that their meticulous work in crafting a virile and visceral set of songs didn’t get flattened during recording. It was his suggestion to skip the Pro Tools, and record directly two-inch tape. “That meant there was a limitation to the amount of things you could track,” explains Daniel. “You couldn’t add more overdubs because you would have to erase something else. You couldn’t really over-think too much of it.” It’s a decision that allows a leaner and more muscular Interpol to flex throughout the album.
In the run up to writing and recording, Sam found himself immersed in soul drummers such as Al Jackson Jr (Otis Redding’s drummer) and 80’s funk producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “How can I make shit swing?” was the question Sam repeatedly asked himself, and the answer is in the striding gallop of opener “If You Really Love Nothing,” the embellished skip ‘n’ bounce of “Stay in Touch” and the R&B swagger of closer “It Probably Matters.” Interpol have always been world-beaters at creating a feeling, but Marauder is where the feel is just as crucial. – Hardeep Phull
On July 13, we’re releasing the new album from BODY/HEAD, ‘The Switch’. The duo of Kim Gordon and Bill Nace recorded their 2nd studio album for Matador last summer in Western Massachusetts with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato and the results are equal parts dizzying & intense. Summer & Autumn U.S. dates are listed below, with several of the shows in question already on sale.
Creative alchemy doesn’t just happen in the studio or in the practice space; so much of it is the product of solo time with one’s instrument, learning how body and wood and electronics fuse, and of subconscious processes as one lives one’s daily life—picking up the ambient noise of the world outside, listening to others’ work, talking through ideas with friends. For Kim Gordon and Bill Nace, time together these days is limited to live performances and recording, so they’ve got to bring all their magic to every encounter. Lucky for us, these are two experimental sorcerers of significant renown.
Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’, from 2013, was more of a rock record—heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. T’he Switch’ is their second studio full-length, and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity. Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’), but much of it happened purely in the moment. Working in the same studio and with the same producer as ‘Coming Apart’, here Body/Head stretch out, making spacious pieces that build shivering drones, dissonant interplay, Gordon’s manipulated vocals, and scraping, haunting textures into something that feels both delicate and dangerous. Less discrete songs than one composition broken up into thematic movements, a slow-moving narrative that requires as much attention and care from the listener as it did from everyone involved in its creation, it is a record that sticks around after it’s done playing.
This is Nace’s favorite of Gordon’s guitar work; she’s truly come into her own as a guitarist, having built up her confidence through solo shows. The way the duo work together, you’d never know they spend so much time apart; on ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified. If Coming Apart was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin, and that binaries—black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head—are made to be broken open, and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
After a wait some might describe as “interminable”, or perhaps even “long”, ‘Sparkle Hard’, the latest & greatest album from Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks is now available to purchase or download. If you’re in the Seattle area this coming Tuesday, consider making your way to KEXP’s Gathering Space at noon AND NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE IT’S A LOVELY SPACE FOR GATHERING(S).
As a few of you sleuths (professional and otherwise) doubtlessly figured out from the earlier tour announcement and debut of “Middle America”,there’s a new album from Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks on the way May 18, and it’s called ‘Sparkle Hard’. Produced by Chris Funk, the album’s prerelease track, “Shiggy” can heard today on all relevant / responsible streaming platforms.
Modesty and plain good manners might prevent them from saying so themselves, but the fact that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it?
Meeting that issue head on in the run up to The Jicks’ seventh record involved some “navel gazing”, according to singer, songwriter, and guitarist Malkmus and not only in terms of what it means to be releasing music in 2018. If, like him, you’re a voracious consumer of all kinds of culture and feel the need to interact with it, rather than just react, then inevitably “there’s a world that prompts you to put your best foot forward”. With Sparkle Hard Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. And they hit the ground running – on air treads.
It’s light ’n’ breezy, head-down heavy, audacious, melancholic and reflective, goodtime and bodacious, and it pulls off the smartest trick: it’s both unmistakeably The Jicks and – due to the streamlining of their trademark tics and turns, plus the introduction of some unexpected flourishes (Auto-Tune! A fiddle! Guest vocalist Kim Gordon! One seven-minute song with an acoustic folk intro!) – The Jicks refashioned. If 2014’s ‘Wig Out At Jag Bags’ balanced the lengthy prog workouts of ‘Pig Lib’ with ‘Mirror Traffic’’s sparky pop moments, then ‘Sparkle Hard’ bears less obvious direct relation to what’s come before. It also has turbocharged energy and enthusiasm by the truckload.
Malkmus started writing ‘Sparkle Hard’ in 2015. He’d upgraded his home-recording equipment and bought some electronic drums and had been working on the Netflix series ‘Flaked” (he penned the incidental music and the end theme song). Demos were done in one day in April of 2017 and then in May, The Jicks started recording at a new studio in Portland called Halfling, which is managed by multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk of The Decemberists, who produced the album.
Self-indulgent escapism has never been The Jicks’ bag, but on ‘Sparkle Hard’, the reality of modern life sits closer to the surface, communication cutting to the chase whether it’s a proto-punk grind or a back-porch country duet doing the talking. A cleaner burn for dark and complex times. – Sharon O’Connell
On June 8, we’re releasing ‘Lush’, the eagerly awaited debut album from Baltimore, MD’s SNAIL MAIL, aka Lindsey Jordan, whose 2016 ‘Habit’ EP for Sister Polygon lit up the universe (ours, anyway). Produced by Jake Aron and recorded last year, ‘Lush’ is a dramatic, ultra-confident leap forward from a songwriter & guitarist that couldn’t possibly be more-in-the-moment. The video for single #1, “Pristine” can be found above. Preorders for the LP & CD versions of ‘Lush’ (with or without a t-shirt bundle) start today.
Lindsey Jordan is on the brink of something huge, and she’s only just graduated high school. Her voice rises and falls with electricity throughout ‘Lush’, her debut album as Snail Mail, spinning with bold excitement and new beginnings at every turn.
“Is there any better feeling than coming clean?” sings the eighteen-year-old guitarist and songwriter halfway through the sprawling anthem that is “Pristine,” the album’s first single. You can’t help but agree with her. It’s a hook that immediately sticks in your head—and a question she seems to be grappling with throughout the record’s 10-songs of crystalline guitar pop.
Throughout ‘Lush’, Jordan’s clear and powerful voice, acute sense of pacing, and razor-sharp writing cut through the chaos and messiness of growing up: the passing trends, the awkward house parties, the sick-to-your-stomach crushes and the heart wrenching breakups. Jordan’s most masterful skill is in crafting tension, working with muted melodrama that builds and never quite breaks, stretching out over moody rockers and soft-burning hooks, making for visceral slow-releases that stick under the skin. – Liz Pelly
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Liz Phair’s landmark debut Exile in Guyville. On May 4th Matador will release a comprehensive box set: 7 LPs or 3 CDs cataloging the Guyville era in an edition of 1900, including the first official restored audio of all three 1991 Girly-Sound tapes. The tapes were meticulously restored from original copies of the cassettes, traded from hand to hand at the time, by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters. Also available on double vinyl and regular CD for the first time in years: the original Exile in Guyville, remastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge.
Buyers have the option of purchasing the remastered Exile in Guyville on 2xLP / CD or purchase the box set which includes Exile in Guyville as well as the Girly-Sound tapes Yo Yo Buddy Yup Yup Word To Ya Mutha, Girls! Girls! Girls! and Sooty. The box set also includes a book featuring essays by Ann Powers (excerpted below), Liz Phair, and an extensive oral history of Phair’s collaborators compiled by Jason Cohen. The vinyl edition of the book also includes never before seen photos, artwork, and ephemera.
Both sets will also be available via all digital retailers and streaming services on release date.
If a 7 LP set is not enough (and when is it ever, really) the 3 Girly-Sound tapes, restored by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters, will be released as replica cassettes in a limited edition of 345 copies. The cassettes will be available as a premium exclusive for those ordering the box set on vinyl or CD through the Matador webstore.
An excerpt from TALKING BACK IN GUYVILLE by Ann Powers
Back in the 1990s, when everybody in a certain corner of the punk scene was reading feminist theory and making mixtapes, people used to go on about “speech acts.” You might wonder, what the hell is a speech act? How is it different than plain old speech? Every time you open your mouth, you’re spraying out your point of view like viral spit. Pointing this out seems a little redundant.
Yet people can easily forget that their words don’t just fall on empty air; they hit people and have the power to infect. “It was nothing,” a guy says, after he’s told a woman her ass looks good in those jeans, or she might hurt herself if she carries something heavy, or it’s kind of a shock that she’s so good at playing guitar. One thing feminists do is point out that the little jokes men make, the condescending asides, even the well-meaning compliments (you’re so pretty, little girl) are epidemic. They keep women an invisible quarantine, away from their own subjectivity, away from power. Or, as Liz Phair says in one of the songs on her immortal Exile in Guyville, “When you said I wasn’t worth talking to, I had to take your word on that.”
A lot of dudes had said a lot of things to Liz Phair by the time she was 23. After college and a year of fucking around in San Francisco, she was back in her parents’ house in the Illinois suburbs, semi-secretly writing and recording songs on a 4-track. She was also running with some guys who loved to tell her how much they knew about rock and roll and what it took to be a real musician. They tended to be startled when they discovered her ambition. When she gave her tapes to a couple of them, they recognized that she was brilliant, but by the time she got a record deal with a cool indie label, many were wondering how and why. “Guyville is wrapped up in how the songs were written and in the way it was created and came about: It’s that girl, that girl having people say you can’t do this, you aren’t good enough to do this, you don’t know what you are doing,” Phair told the journalist Jessica Hopper in a 2013 oral history of her absolutely brilliant, groundbreaking, stereotype-defying debut album Exile in Guyville.
To preview the release of Girly Sound to Guyville, Phair has released a track from Girly-Sound: an early version of the Guyville highlight “Divorce Song” originally heard on Yo Yo Buddy Yup Yup Word To Ya Mutha.
Liz will kick off the “Girly Sound To Guyville Tour,” performing material from the newly reissued set, this Spring with select dates across the U.S. Tickets are on sale next Friday March 23rd at 10am ET.
“Girly Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set” Tracklist
Exile In Guyville
2. Help Me Mary
4. Dance Of The Seven Veils
5. Never Said
6. Soap Star Joe
7. Explain It To Me
10. Fuck and Run
11. Girls! Girls! Girls!
12. Divorce Song
15. Johnny Sunshine
18. Strange Loop
Yo Yo Buddy Yup Yup Word To Ya Mutha
1. White Babies
3. 6 Dick Pimp
4. Divorce Song
5. Go West
6. Don’t Holdyrbreath
7. Johnny Sunshine
8. Miss Lucy
9. Elvis Song
10. Dead Shark
11. One Less Thing
13. In Love w/Yself
Girls! Girls! Girls!
1. Hello Sailor
3. Fuck And Run
4. Easy Target
5. Soap Star Joe
6. Ant In Alaska
8. Polyester Bride
10. Miss Mary Mack
12. Love Song
5. Open Season
9. South Dakota
Just another elbow in the ribs reminding you that Lucy Dacus’ incredible 2nd album, ‘Historian’, is available today at the planet’s best record shops and via the streaming or download platform of your choice. Dacus’ show tonight at Brooklyn’s Music Hall Of Williamsburg is sold out, and while that’s certainly frustrating for those who snoozed on tickets, she’ll be back in the region before long. AND THERE’S OTHER REGIONS (allegedly).
Copenhagen’s Iceage — Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals, lyrics), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), and Johan Wieth (guitar) — will release their fourth album, ‘Beyondless’, on May 4th. After returning last month with ‘Catch It’, their first new material since 2013’s ‘Plowing Into The Field of Love’, Iceage now share Beyondless’s “Pain Killer”, featuring Sky Ferreira (the first guest vocalist to ever be featured on an Iceage song). Additionally, the band is announcing March residencies in New York and Los Angeles and dates in Japan in April, with their previously announced European and North American tours to follow in May and June.
The album was produced by the band with Nis Bysted, and recorded all-analog by Mattias Glavå at Kungsten Studios in Göteborg, Sweden, and mixed by Randall Dunn at Avast Studios in Seattle. The album was played entirely by Iceage with additional performances by Nils Gröndhal (violin), horns by Kasper Tranberg (trumpet), Lars Greve (saxophones) and Morten Jessen (trombone).
I can totally imagine myself as a kid lying in my closed-door room in the dark, listening to this band and getting what I need, the way a band can make a person feel seen and bring confidence, sometimes even represent an ideal. Or maybe I’m already all defiant and self-certain, and I identify with Iceage because they are too, and they’re who I want to represent me in music. It’s a weird combination of qualities that a rock and roll band and their recordings presents to their young crowd, imparts to them. The music being pure emotion, the strong emotions of youth—anger, sadness, contempt, longing—as well as energy and sex, and the band’s demonstration that it gracefully owns and provides those things, consoling their followers in all the confusion.
What is it that Iceage in particular brings? A large number of extraordinary things. (Poetry! But more about that later.) The band members were childhood friends, which is always good news. They’re like a small urban gang, faithful to each other, suspicious of outsiders (of which music journalists like me are the most suspect examples). At the same time, they seem mature and competent, which is almost too much to hope for. They not only play and compose well, but the production of their records, from the very beginning, and at the music’s most chaotic, is impeccable. Their presentation is as hardcore anarchic as any, but much better played, mixed, and recorded than most.
And then there’s the poetry and the intelligence. The members of Iceage are not only smart but hyper literate. Interviews with E. Rønnenfelt, the lead singer and lyricist of the band, find him mentioning Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter; Georges Bataille, Story of the Eye; Peter Shaffer’s Equus; Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea; Genet’s Thief’s Journal and Miracle of the Rose; The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbeau; Henry Miller on Writing; and James Agee’s A Death in the Family, and that’s in a total of four interviews. It’s not that he flaunts it; he’s simply honest and naturally acknowledges it.
The lyrics of Iceage songs have the most sophisticated vocabulary I can remember finding in rock music. Here’s a favorite example, from “Pain Killer” on the new album:
“Praying at the altar of your legs and feet /Your saliva is a drug so bittersweet / I’ll arrogate what’s there to take. In an evanescent embrace.”
…“Arrogate”??? I half know the word, but I had to look it up to be certain. It means “to claim or seize without justification.” It’s funny because its Latin root also underlies the word “arrogant,” which one might be tempted to apply to Rønnenfelt for the contempt he shows for people who try to understand him. But I sympathize. It is extremely annoying to be characterized by other people. And the shading of meaning of the word “arrogate” brings a subtlety to those lyrics of his that “take” or “seize” or “claim” wouldn’t. Frankly, though, what I really like about those lines is the concept of praying to his lover’s feet. That’s good. It makes me think of a similar instance in another poet, Charles Baudelaire, who wrote in his “Hymn to Beauty”:
“Who cares if you come from paradise or hell, appalling Beauty, artless and monstrous scourge, if only your eyes, your smile or your foot reveal the infinite I love and have never known?”
Perhaps you recall our mid-January premiere of 4 songs from Yo La Tengo’s forthcoming album, ‘There’s A Riot Going On’? And perhaps you don’t — who are we to make assumptions about your attention span and capacity for detail? THE IMPORTANT THING is that we’re sharing another of the album’s standout tracks, “For You Too” in advance of the album’s March 16 release.
On March 2, Matador is releasing the hotly anticipated 2nd album from Richmond, VA’s Lucy Dacus, ‘Historian’, the followup to her unanimously hailed 2016 debut, ‘No Burden’ that established her as one of modern music’s top new voices & songwriters. The album’s first single, “Night Shift”, can be heard above.
‘Historian’ is a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent that finds Dacus unafraid to take on the big questions — the life-or-death reckonings, and the ones that just feel that way. It’s a record full of bracing realizations, tearful declarations and moments of hard-won peace, expressed in lyrics that feel destined for countless yearbook quotes and first tattoos.
Dacus and her band recorded the album in Nashville last March, re-teaming with ‘No Burden’ producer Collin Pastore, and mixed it a few months later with John Congleton. The sound they created, with substantial input from multi-instrumentalist and live guitarist Jacob Blizard, is far richer and fuller than the debut — an outward flowering of dynamic, living, breathing rock and roll. Dacus’ remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving ‘Historian’ the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers, on a new level of truth-telling and melodic grace.
The past year, with its electoral disasters and other assorted heartbreaks, has been a rough one for many of us, Dacus included. She found solace in crafting a thoughtful narrative arc for Historian, writing a concept album about cautious optimism in the face of adversity, with thematic links between songs that reveal themselves on repeat listens — touching on everything from systemic racism to creative burnout to the death of her grandmother. “It starts out dark and ends hopeful, but it gets darker in between; it goes to the deepest, darkest, place and then breaks,” she explains. “What I’m trying to say throughout the album is that hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff.”
As mentioned earlier this week, Spoon’s omnipresence in the commercial and public broadcast realms continues tomorrow with an appearance on “CBS This Morning” (7am eastern), followed by a broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion”, live from NYC’s Town Hall at 6pm eastern.