Merge

Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud” (Merge)

2020-03-20T19:56:15+00:00March 19th, 2020|

What do we hold on to from our past? What must we let go of to truly move forward? Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield spent much of 2018 reckoning with these questions and revisiting her roots for answers. The result is Saint Cloud, an intimate journey through the places she’s been, filled with the people she’s loved.

Written immediately in the period following her decision to get sober, the album is an unflinching self-examination. This raw, exposed narrative terrain is aided by a shift in sonic arrangements as well. While her last two records featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise, and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Crutchfield’s voice and lyrics. The result is a classic Americana sound with modern touches befitting an artist who has emerged as one of the signature storytellers of her time. Many of the narratives on Saint Cloud concern addiction and the havoc it wreaks on ourselves and our loved ones, as Crutchfield comes to a deeper understanding of love not only for those around her but for herself. This coalesces most clearly on Fire, which she says was literally written in transit, during a drive over the Mississippi River into West Memphis, and serves as a love song to herself, a paean to moving past shame into a place of unconditional self-acceptance.

Over the course of Saint Cloud, which was recorded the summer of 2019 and produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver), Crutchfield peels back the distortion of electric guitars to create a wider sonic palette than on any previous Waxahatchee album. It is a record filled with nods to classic country, folk-inspired tones, and distinctly modern touches. To bolster her vision, Crutchfield enlisted Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox, both of the Detroit band Bonny Doon, to serve as backing band on the record, along with Josh Kaufman (Hiss Golden Messenger, Bon Iver) on guitar and keyboards and Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby) on drums and percussion. Saint Cloud marks the beginning of a journey for Crutchfield, one that sees her leaving behind past vices and the comfortable environs of her Philadelphia scene to head south in search of something new. If on her previous work Crutchfield was out in the storm, she’s now firmly in the eye of it, taking stock of her past with a clear perspective and gathering the strength to carry onward.

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Caribou “Suddenly” (Merge)

2020-03-13T20:33:47+00:00March 5th, 2020|

Suddenly is the most surprising and unpredictable Caribou to date. Though it retains the trademark Caribou warmth and technicolor, this album is littered with swerves and left turns. Songs drop out and morph into something else entirely just as they’re hitting their stride, samples chopped up beyond all recognition burst out of nowhere. Suddenly refers to the moments of dramatic and unexpected change that occur at points in any life and within any family—universal themes that catch you off guard and change your life in a heartbeat.

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Destroyer “Have We Met” (Merge)

2020-01-31T04:30:09+00:00January 31st, 2020|

In his 25 years performing under the Destroyer moniker, effusive art-rocker Dan Bejar has made some stone cold classics. Albums like Destroyer’s Rubies (2006), Kaputt (2011) and Ken (2017) have garnered huge love from critics and fans alike (Kaputt most recently being named one of the Top 25 Albums of the Decade by Pitchfork). His latest album features elements from all three of those albums with gauzy saxophones and synthesizers floating under Bejar’s razor-sharp wit. But the roots of his new album bloomed out very un-Destroyer influences like period-specific Björk, Air, and Massive Attack!

Thirteen albums in, Have We Met manages to meet somewhere between trademarks and new territory – atmospheric approximations of feeling and place, wry gut-punches of one liners, and the deluge of energy meets a thematic catharsis of modern dread, delivered with an effortless, entrancing directness. But, no need to expound any further. He’s got it all spelled out for you in the music.

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Mikal Cronin “Seeker” (Merge)

2019-10-25T03:42:55+00:00October 25th, 2019|

Seeker is Mikal Cronin’s fourth and finest full-length to date. Recorded live with a crew of close friends and engineer Jason Quever at Palmetto Studios in Los Angeles, it finds Cronin pushing his often devastating power pop into darker territory.

“Fire—specifically its cycle of purging and reseeding the landscape—is a central theme to the record. Death and rebirth,” says Mikal. “I was looking for something: answers, direction, peace. I am the seeker.”

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Redd Kross “Beyond the Door” (Merge)

2019-08-16T03:41:45+00:00August 16th, 2019|

Redd Kross invite you to explore Beyond the Door, an album inspired by the band’s “total commitment to having the best f*cking time we can have while we’re all still here” (what they like to call “the Party”). It’s a rock and roll record and a celebration of everything brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald love, from cultures both high and low. Musically, it’s guitars, bass, and drums topped with a generous portion of sweet vocal melodies often delivered with an ambiguous edge.

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Superchunk “Acoustic Foolish”(Merge)

2019-06-28T04:15:04+00:00June 28th, 2019|

We’re so excited to share with you the second of our special 30th Anniversary releases.

The band that started it all, Superchunk, is back with a surprise new studio album! Acoustic Foolish is a complete re-recording of their classic 1994 album, Foolish. Long considered to be one of the most tender and well-received albums in their storied history, the band was interested in re-exploring what the songs mean to them 25 years later. To quote bandleader Mac McCaughan, don’t expect some kinda “acoustic demos recorded 25 years after the fact” thing here…. This is full-band with new arrangements and contributions from some heavy hitters. Guest vocals are contributed by Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes) and Allison Crutchfield (Swearin’, P.S. Eliot). Owen Pallett (the Mountain Goats, Frank Ocean, Arcade Fire) provides lush string arrangements while Peter Holsapple (The dB’s, R.E.M.) plays piano and Matt Douglas (the Mountain Goats) is on saxophone.

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Titus Andronicus “An Obelisk” (Merge)

2019-06-07T02:59:13+00:00June 7th, 2019|

An Obelisk is the sixth album from Titus Andronicus, which finds the noted rock band under the stewardship of producer and legendary rocker Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar, et al.). This trans-generational meeting of the minds has yielded the most immediate, intense, and unadorned Titus Andronicus record to date. Clocking in at a brisk 38 minutes and change, it is also the shortest. Recorded over six breathless days at Steve Albini’s world-renowned Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, An Obeliskpresents the sound of Titus Andronicus, rock band, at its most irreducible, as monolithic as the album’s titular monument.

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Reigning Sound “Abdication..For Your Love” (Merge)

2019-05-02T22:16:09+00:00May 2nd, 2019|

When he was approached by Scion in 2011 to make an album for the music promotion arm of the car company, Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright found himself unable to refuse—despite his band’s tenuous existence at the time. “Several line-up changes had ensued after the original Memphis quartet disbanded, and I found myself considering the possibility of shedding the Reigning Sound moniker,” muses Cartwright. “I had decided to take a break to work on production for other people and write songs for The Parting Gifts, my upcoming collaboration with Coco Hames.” But now, Reigning Sound had an offer on the table, and there was no band. Besides Cartwright, the one constant of Reigning Sound’s previous three years was keyboardist Dave Amels, who was moonlighting in The Jay Vons, the Brooklyn soul combo formed by Long Island natives Michael Catanese, Benny Trokan, and Mikey Post. Sometimes Amels would even pull double duty at gigs where Reigning Sound and The Jay Vons shared a bill. When The Parting Gifts released their outstanding album Strychnine Dandelion in 2010, The Jay Vons opened shows for them on a brief tour. A few months later, Scion came knocking. Around the same time, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who provided guitar for the Parting Gifts record, had just moved to Nashville and wasbusy putting the final touches on a private studio. “Dan was eager to do some work in the new studio in preparation for an upcoming session with Dr. John, and he offered us some studio time as well as his production assistance. Tentative arrangements with Nashville players evaporated one after another due to prior engagements or last-minute snafus. “There I was, twiddling my thumbs in a Nashville studio, the clock ticking, with no band. On a long shot, I phoned Brooklyn and made a Hail Mary pass to The Jay Vons—and they said yes. I called Scion and asked for three plane tickets and hotel rooms, and in a matter of hours, the band were on their way to Nashville. In two days, we cut five songs. I paired these five with three outtakes from the previous Reigning Sound LP Love and Curses which featured Lance Wille on drums and Dave Gay on bass,” recounts Cartwright, adding, “The Greg and Jay Vons line-up of Reigning Sound continues to this day.”

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Mountain Goats “In League With Dragons” (Merge)

2019-05-02T22:16:09+00:00May 2nd, 2019|

The Mountain Goats Are John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, And Matt Douglas. They have been making music together as a quartet for several years. Three of them live in North Carolina and one has moved back to Rochester. Their songs often seek out dark lairs within which terrible monsters dwell, but their mission is to retrieve the treasure from the dark lair and persuade the terrible monsters inside to seek out the path of redemption. As Axl Rose once memorably asked, in the song Terrible Monster: “What’s so terrible about monsters, anyway?” This is the question The Mountain Goats have been doggedly pursuing since 1991. They will never leave off this quest until every option has been exhausted. Thank You. The album was recorded at Blackbird Studio in Nashville TN and produced by Owen Pallett. Album illustration by Elton D’Souza of Perth Australia.

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Ex Hex “It’s Real” (Merge)

2019-03-22T03:33:01+00:00March 22nd, 2019|

When EX HEX exploded onto the scene with their unfettered brand of rock and riffage, the power trio for our generation had finally arrived. Made up of MARY TIMONY, BETSY WRIGHT and LAURA HARRIS, the group’s debut Rips was a gleaming collection of tightly wound gems that scored Best New Music honors from Pitchfork, the top spot on Magnet Magazine’s Best of 2014 list, and No. 11 in that year’s Pazz & Jop critics poll. Touring throughout 2015 and 2016 established the band as a force to be reckoned with: an audacious three-piece distilling rock music to its essence with formidable skills and a reputation for frenzied and unabashedly fun live shows. On It’s Real, the band’s second album, Ex Hex’s commitment to larger-than-life riffs and unforgettable hooks remains intact, but the garage-y, postpunk approach that defined Rips has grown in scale and ambition. What started as a reaction to the blown-out aesthetic of Rips would test the sonic limits of the power trio and lead the band on a quest for a more immersive and three dimensional sound. Vocal harmonies are layered ten tracks deep, solos shimmer and modulate atop heaving power chords, and the codas linger and stretch toward new frontiers of sound

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Lambchop “This (is What I Wanted To Tell You)” (Merge)

2019-03-22T03:32:41+00:00March 22nd, 2019|

The shift is so subtle and unassuming, you may never notice it happens. But 42 minutes into LAMBCHOP’s fourteenth studio album—the disarming but intimate confessional called This (is what I wanted to tell you)—KURT WAGNER steps forward, his voice newly unadorned. With the Auto-Tune gild of recent Lambchop records momentarily leached away, his voice is as open and honest as the acoustic guitar and lonesome harmonica that traipse beneath it. The feelings practically pour between the cracks of his stunning baritone, raw for the first time in years. This is what he wanted to tell you, plain and simple and pure. In tone poems that link poignant snapshots of everyday scenes with koan-like reflections about what it takes and means to stay alive in these modern times, Wagner limns a world that seems to be falling apart.

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Bob Mould “Sunshine Rock” (Merge)

2019-02-22T03:11:12+00:00February 22nd, 2019|

The cliché circulated after the 2016 election foretold a new artistic golden age: Artists would transform their anger and anxiety into era-defining works of dissent in the face of authoritarianism. Yet BOB MOULD calls his new album Sunshine Rock. It’s not because Mould likes the current administration. His decision comes from a more personal place—found in Berlin, Germany. “Four years ago, I made plans for an extended break,” Mould explains. “I started spending time in Berlin in 2015, found an apartment in 2016, and became a resident in 2017. My time in Berlin has been a life changing experience. The winter days are long and dark, but when the sun comes back, all spirits lift.” Three years in Berlin would quite literally shed new light on Mould’s everyday mindset. This being Bob Mould, Sunshine Rock still has darker moments. “Lost Faith,” for example, has him quietly lamenting, “I’ve lost faith in everything.” The Mould of 1990 may have wallowed in the feeling, but the Mould of 2018 jumps into a hooky, bombastic chorus where he sings, “Really gotta stop this now, this is your / Last chance to turn around, I know we / All lose faith from time to time, you / Better find your way back home.” Those cathartic moments in “Lost Faith” foreground a surprising element of Sunshine Rock: Mould’s rawest vocals since his throat-shredding days in HUSKER DU.

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Tyler William “Goes West” (Merge)

2019-02-22T03:11:12+00:00February 22nd, 2019|

Receive a 7.8 rating from Pitchfork.  WILLIAM TYLER’s “new record, Goes West, is the best music that he’s ever made. I’m sure of this because I know and love all of his music intimately, and this album moves me the most, and the most consistently. The first time I heard it was in the late spring in the Texas Hill Country, rolling between limestone and scrub. I was on a cleanse then—no alcohol, no drugs, no evil thoughts—and was astonished at the emotional clarity that the album held. It offered up a model for what I wanted my head to feel like. Goes West marks a sort of narrowing of focus for William’s music; it sounds as though he found a way to point himself directly towards the rich and bittersweet emotional center of his music without being distracted by side trips. Perhaps this is down to the fact that William only plays acoustic guitar on the album, a clear and conscious decision considering that he is one of Nashville’s great electric guitarists. The band that performs Goes West alongside William—including guitarists MEG DUFFY and BILL FRISELL, bassist and producer BRAD COOK, keyboardist JAMES WALLACE, drummer GRIFFIN GOLDSMITH, and engineer TUCKER MARTINE—is the best and most sympathetic group of players that William could have assembled to play these songs…”—M.C. Taylor, Durham North Carolina

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Sneaks “Highway Hypnosis” (Merge)

2019-01-25T04:57:31+00:00January 23rd, 2019|

SNEAKS aka EVA MOOLCHAN, emerges from the male-dominated Baltimore- Washington punk scene, joining the resistance forged by queer black feminists who create, explore, empower, conquer, and play bass. Highway Hypnosis combines bewitching beats and invented words, to produce what Clash Magazine described as “stripped down hip-hop, skeletal postpunk, and extra-dimensional pop music.” Highway Hypnosis was co-produced by CARLOS HERNANDEZ (of Ava Luna), TONY SELTZER (Princess Nokia), and Eva Moolchan herself. A glimmering anthem shrouded in an atmosphere of darkness, her first single “Beliefs” drops its bass along with a call to arms for all non-believers whose mantra is assigned: “Remove your beliefs and start again / ’cause all I wanna do is start again.” Among laughter samples and charming vocals featured on the album lie one club banger, your little sister’s anti-meat school lunch protest song, a 55-second epic bass surprise, and a JACKKNIFE LEE (Taylor Swift, Bat for Lashes, R.E.M.) production credit on “Hong Kong to Amsterdam.”

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Redd Kross “Teen Babes From Monsanto” (Merge)

2018-12-14T15:52:21+00:00December 14th, 2018|

A little drums, a little atmosphere, and it wails like this! Hotter than anything printed by a Hearst daily, the 12-song Version Especial of Redd Kross’ Teen Babes from Monsanto – all art, no filler, direct from the source, pure from the tap – will be reissued by Merge Records on December 7. Available on CD or engraved on your choice of virgin black vinyl or limited-edition translucent pink Peak Vinyl, the album features specially designed packaging that allows you to choose between two different front covers with just a flip of the wrist! Experience vintage teenaged Redd Kross as presented by Monsanto: 100% genuine, chemically inspired brilliance fueled by processed junk food

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Spinanes “Manos” (Merge)

2018-12-07T00:10:44+00:00December 7th, 2018|

THE SPINANES were Portland OGs singer-guitarist REBECCA GATES and drummer SCOTT PLOUF, who met via mutual friends and started playing music together a few months before their performance at the legendary International Pop Underground Convention in Olympia, WA, in 1991, and were snapped up by Sub Pop in the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy. Gates was a guitar manipulator more artful and poetic and sensual than her peers, with a voice full of emotion and warmth—a deep, distinct standout among the samey girly-girls. Plouf was a powerhouse drummer, exact and on-point, with a giant collection of shades and enough mod swagger to make Paul Weller proud. Their urgency was soft but they pummeled us hard. Like slightly scruffy, slightly glam thrift-store siblings, the Spinanes came off as smart and serious. When they recorded their debut album, Manos, with BRIAN PAULSON at AmRep in Minneapolis, they brought a ridiculous amount of energy: Few acts manage to capture that live spark in the studio. A college radio hit, Manos was characterized as indiepop or indie rock or “alternative,” but also had a touch of art rock, folk, emo, math rock, postrock, even jazz, nearing the same spiritual space as ’90s bands like Unrest, Sebadoh, and Versus. Named after a misheard Jesus Lizard lyric, Manos is just that: It sounds like smoky venues and dance parties at punk houses: woozy, tight, fraught, wrought, tense, intense, swoony, breathy, fast, worldly/weary—sophisticated and primitive, stressful and soothing. Manos was an original in a crowded market in 1993, and the Spinanes seemed to be everywhere. All hail its reissue, one quarter century later.

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Hiss Golden Messenger “Haw” (Merge)

2018-11-23T04:50:35+00:00November 23rd, 2018|

‘Haw’ is an album of eleven songs about family, faith, and an ill-prophesied future, an artifact almost as archaic, lovely and seldom heard today as directional commands for beasts of burden. Lyrically and musically multifarious and freshly urgent, Haw represents Hiss Golden Messenger’s most ambitious and challenging work yet. For fans of Will Oldham and Bill Callaghan.

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Hiss Golden Messenger “Bad Debt” (Merge)

2018-11-23T04:50:35+00:00November 23rd, 2018|

M.C. Taylor recorded this spiritually devastating, austere antecedent to the widely celebrated Hiss Golden Messenger albums Haw (2013) and Poor Moon (2011) direct to a portable cassette recorder at the kitchen table of his pine-entwined home in rural Piedmont North Carolina in 2010. It was the dead of winter and the pit of the financial crisis, a moment when the dire ramifications of debt—in its economic, political, and personal senses—had assumed a rank immediacy and terror for many working people around the world, not least of all in the American South. Taylor, his one-year old boy Elijah sleeping in the next room, was compelled to chart the sacred valences of debt, doubt, and family in fresh ways, in the process stripping bare and reinventing his songwriting idiom. In his own words: Bad Debt comes from ten dense acres of oak, cedar, and apple trees in Pittsboro, North Carolina, directly south of the Haw River. The house where it was made was built in the early 1970s by a hippie cohort that settled along Brooks Branch; though this may sound like some kind of brag, I offer this to explain just how cold it was during the fall and winter when this record was conceived. Most hippies—except for the most famous one, of course, and probably a few others—are shit carpenters. The record is about my God: that is, whether I have one, and whether there is a place for me in this world. I don’t go to church, and I am not saved. I can party too. I can do a saxophone now and again, bang the drum. Bad Debt was my revelation, and there are many for whom I’ll never make a record better than this one. Ruminating on the riddle of faith, a firstborn son, and thorny existential questions large and small, the album laid the lyrical and compositional foundations for HGM’s critically acclaimed releases to come. Half of these domestic devotional songs appear elsewhere in the HGM discography in radically reinvented arrangements and permutations—Taylor’s writing practice revealed itself following Bad Debt as essentially iterative, the deliberate enunciation and re-articulation of koans—but they exist here in germinal, psalmic purity and economy, as unadorned and plain and perfectly ragged as the cedar floorboards in that Brooks Branch cabin. Bad Debt remastered by Chris Boerner at Kitchen Mastering. Artwork reimagined by Sam Smith (Lateness of Dancers).

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Hiss Golden Messenger “Poor Moon” (Merge)

2018-11-23T04:50:35+00:00November 23rd, 2018|

13 tracks of skewed, country-soul greatness from Hiss Golden Messenger— Composed and arranged by Head Messenger M.C. Taylor at his home in the rural Piedmont mill town of Pittsboro and recorded with longtime collaborator Scott Hirsch in New York, California and North Carolina, Poor Moon offers a moving culmination of the spiritually-charged song cycle commenced on the critically acclaimed album Bad Debt. Treading a red-clay road between Bad Debt and Country Hai East Cotton in sound and sentiment, it is the first fully electric ensemble recording since the highly limited Hiss Golden Messenger live release Root Work in 2010. Featuring contributions from Terry Lonergan, Nathan Bowles (Black Twig Pickers; Pelt), Hans Chew (D. Charles Speer & the Helix), Matt Cunitz (Brightblack Morning Light), Tom Heyman (The Court & Spark), and others, Poor Moon represents both an elaboration and inversion of previous Hiss Golden Messenger efforts, proposing an America at perpetual sundown, wracked by devotion, wrecked by celebration. Named in homage to the Canned Heat track penned by the immortal Blind Owl, Poor Moon conjures the unsteady experience of soul at home in the wild, and it stands as a captivating document of Southern songcraft. Poor Moon remastered by Chris Boerner at Kitchen Mastering. Artwork reimagined by Sam Smith (Lateness of Dancers).

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Waxahatchee “Great Thunder” (Merge)

2018-09-14T01:27:33+00:00September 14th, 2018|

KATIE CRUTCHFIELD’s ever-shifting musical project WAXAHATCHEE returns with the Great Thunder EP. Featuring a collection of songs written with now-dormant experimental recording group GREAT THUNDER while Crutchfield was also writing the Waxahatchee albums Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp, the original recordings have mostly faded into obscurity. Unearthing and reimagining them with producer BRAD COOK at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin was a cathartic experience, she says. On the heels of last year’s critically acclaimed Out in the Storm, Crutchfield found herself looking to take a sharp turn away from the more rock-oriented influences of her recent records towards her more folk and country roots. Some of the songs on Great Thunder, like “Chapel of Pines” and “Singer’s No Star,” stayed the same and will be recognizable to those intensely familiar with Crutchfield’s catalog to date, while closer “Takes So Much” was built back up on piano from the bones of the original version.

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Crooked Fingers “Red Devil Dawn” (Merge)

2018-07-19T16:46:58+00:00July 19th, 2018|

Love songs abound on 2003’s Red Devil Dawn, but most of the love is dead or dying or at least dirty. That makes sense: Just a few years after his split with indie stalwarts ARCHERS OF LOAF, ERIC BACHMANN had forcefully forged a new identity and sound with CROOKED FINGERS, and he quickly amassed a catalog of gorgeous, poetic songs about weary losers and broken lives. This is the album that gave their desperation its most pointed, perfectly detailed homes. Red Devil Dawn was the third Crooked Fingers album inside of four years, and in hindsight it feels like both the pinnacle and the end of Crooked Fingers Phase One. Bachmann had perfected the art of darkness, of finding his characters and stories in solitude and then adding or subtracting sounds and players to make them come alive. Limited LP version of red vinyl.

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Rock*a*teens “Sixth House” (Merge)

2018-06-22T18:02:11+00:00June 22nd, 2018|

Born in Cabbagetown, Georgia, the ROCK*A*TEENS carved their signature echo-wrapped, wounded-heart music on the edges of the Atlanta music scene more than 20 years ago. Led by songwriter and lead singer/guitarist CHRISTOPHER LOPEZ, the band released a handful of reverb-drenched singles and full-lengths on the independent Daemon and Merge labels in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Following their reunion at the Merge 25 festival and the reissue of their last LP Sweet Bird of Youth (Merge, 2000), the group returned to touring and playing live. Restless with the need to move forward, the band began writing and recording new music. Guided by a batch of home recordings and demos, Lopez, guitarist JUSTIN HUGHES, bassist WILLIAM R. JOINER and drummer BALLARD LESEMANN convened with TIM DELANEY at Electron Gardens Studio and RAFAEL PEREIRA at Tribo Studios to shape their ideas into the glorious, bombastic new album Sixth House. Sixth House stands out as the band’s most musically distinct, vibrant, and soulfully rendered album of its career. Limited edition LP version pressed on green vinyl with a 24×24 foldout poster.

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Destroyer “City Of Daughters” (Merge)

2018-05-18T17:43:02+00:00May 18th, 2018|

REISSUED ON VINYL!!! The second full-length from DESTROYER, originally released 20 years ago documents DAN BEJAR’s evolution from lo-fi bedroom tyro to bona fide master of the rock album, it also contains a massive percentage of superlative Destroyer “classics.” 1998’s City of Daughters features some of the first steps out of the demo-tapey experimentation of earlier recordings, with songs like “Comments On The World As Will” refining the sound of that stripped-down earlier work, and the seminal “No Cease Fires” offering us the first taste of just what a full-band Destroyer might conjure. Pressed on opaque red vinyl and limited to 3,000 copies for the world.

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Destroyer “Thief” (Merge)

2018-05-18T17:45:51+00:00May 18th, 2018|

REISSUED ON VINYL!!! The third album from Vancouver-based songwriting craftsman DANIEL BEJAR. A sweet, but not too sweet blend of poetic folk, and simple pop driven by gorgeous melodies, deep lyrics, and blackmail. Features keyboard work from JASON ZUMPANO. Pressed on orange vinyl and limited to 3,000 copies for the world.

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Wye Oak (limited Edition) “The Louder I Call, the Faster it Runs” (Merge)

2018-04-12T22:57:04+00:00April 12th, 2018|

The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs—the triumphant fifth album by WYE OAK—begins with an explosion. For a few seconds, piano, drums, and a playful keyboard loop gather momentum; then, all at once, they burst, enormous bass flooding the elastic beat. The moment declares the second coming of Wye Oak, a band that spent more than a decade preparing to write this record—their most gripping and powerful set of songs to date, built with melodies, movement, and emotions that transcend even the best of their catalogue. Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each track diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song’s subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked. LP housed in gatefold jackets/ Limited edition LP pressed on beige/blue split vinyl.

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Tracey Thorn “Record” (Merge)

2018-03-16T21:37:26+00:00March 16th, 2018|

Received an 8.0 rating from Pitchfork. As ever, the personal has often been political in TRACEY THORN’s work. Across four decades, her songs and writing have offered up a clear-eyed woman’s view of the immediate world around her, from the acerbic teen love songs of her first early ’80s band MARINE GIRLS through sixteen years as one-half of articulate multimillion-selling duo EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, to her recent acclaimed memoirs and journalism. On Record, the synth-driven tracks arrive and leave with a punchy sub-three-minute directness. For all its no-fuss pop brevity, the album revolves around “Sister,” a dubby nine-minute Compass Point-style disco jam featuring an all-female crew as Tracey is backed by WARPAINT’s rhythm section and joined by CORINNE BAILEY RAE on glorious backing vocals. The song was inspired by the 2017 Women’s March (Don’t mess with me / Don’t hurt my babies / I’ll come for you / You’ll find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew). Vinyl housed in gatefold jackets. Limited edition vinyl version pressed on red & black vinyl.

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Titus Andronicus “A Productive Cough” (Merge)

2018-03-01T19:54:38+00:00March 1st, 2018|

Since debuting in 2008, TITUS ANDRONICUS (hereafter [email protected]) has been conditioning faithful listeners to expect only the unexpected. With A Productive Cough, [email protected] has executed the most shocking departure yet—but only if, as ever mercurial singer-songwriter PATRICK STICKLES insists, “you haven’t been paying attention.” In a move that may infuriate the black-denim-and-PBR set, A Productive Cough sets aside leadfooted punk anthems in favor of a subtler, more spacious approach that pushes Stickles’ soul-baring songwriting to the fore, creating an intimacy between artist and audience with which previous [email protected] efforts had only flirted.

Features guest contributions from veteran pianist RICK STEPH (Cat Power, Lucero, Hank Williams Jr.), esteemed cellist JANE SCARPANTONI (R.E.M., Bob Mould, Lou Reed), listeners Brooklyn singer MEGG FARRELL, and many others. Limited edition LP version is pressed on blue-gray swirled vinyl.

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Ought “Room Inside the World” (Merge)

2018-02-23T22:53:55+00:00February 23rd, 2018|

Ought’s third album and their first for Merge—growing up doesn’t mean mellowing out so much as it means learning to pay attention, listening carefully and openly, staying somewhere long enough to really understand where you are. Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Silver Jews), Room Inside the World explores themes that have always concerned the band—identity, connection, survival in a precarious world—but with a bolder, more nuanced sound palette. Vibraphone, justly intonated synthesizers, drum machines, and a 70-piece choir suffuse the precise post-punk breakdowns that spangled Ought’s first two albums, giving rise to an emotional complexity that pushes their characteristically taut sound to greater depths.

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Superchunk “What A Time To Be Alive” (Merge)

2018-02-23T22:25:57+00:00February 19th, 2018|

The urgency of current events after the demoralizing 2016 election gave Mac, Laura, Jim, and Jon of Superchunk the momentum to make something new sooner than later. “It would be strange to be in a band, at least our band, and make a record that completely ignored the surrounding circumstances that we live in and that our kids are going to grow up in.” Enter What a Time to Be Alive, Superchunk’s first album in over four years. It’s a record, says Mac, “about a pretty dire and depressing situation but hopefully not a record that is dire and depressing to listen to.”

Indeed, like so much of Superchunk’s music in the band’s nearly three decades together, the songs on What a Time to Be Alive meet rage and anxiety head-on with the catharsis and exhilaration of loud punk fire and vulnerable pop energy. Like 2013’s I Hate Music, which focused on death, loss, and the role of music in an aging life, this new record brings spirit to the frontlines of pain—it’s as defiant as it is despairing, as much a call to arms as a throwing up of hands.

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Escape-ism “Introduction To Escape-ism” (Merge)

2017-11-14T23:50:37+00:00November 14th, 2017|

Introduction to Escape-ism by ESCAPE-ISM is the first “solo” record by IAN SVENONIUS—of groups THE MAKE-UP, CHAIN & THE GANG, XYZ, WEIRD WAR, NATION OF ULYSSES, etc., and author of underground bestsellers such as The Psychic Soviet, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ’n’ Roll Group, and Censorship Now!!—and as such, it’s profound, prophetic, perverse, and poetic. It’s introverted glitter, violence against the state, obsessive desire; it stomps on convention, shreds constitutions, clobbers pre-conceived notions of what a record can be. Yes, that’s right: a single-person performance by I F Svenonius—recognized by Performer Magazine as the “greatest performer on the planet”—Introduction to Escapeism is a bite into a one-banana bunch. A drum box, a guitar, a cassette player, and a single slobbering, sinful voice singing out… for a way out. Escape-ism’s Introduction to Escape-ism isn’t just the soundtrack for a late-night drive on a lonely interstate, or a platter played to incite abandon at a pajama party with one’s pals. It’s also a tunnel to tomorrow. It’s a mineshaft to the motherlode.

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Destroyer “Ken” (Merge Records)

2017-10-22T00:00:12+00:00October 21st, 2017|

Dan Bejar’s 11th Destroyer LP arrives six months after the New Pornographers released their first album without him (April 2017’s Whiteout Conditions). Busy preparing his follow-up to 2015’s Poison Season, the songwriter instead turned all attention to Ken. The title doesn’t refer to a person, but rather the original title of the Suede classic “The Wild Ones.” Bejar didn’t offer much in the way of explanation for the choice other than that the 1994 song comes from a time “when music first really came at me like a sickness.” Sparer than the epic Poison Season but still recorded with members of his band, if in a more piecemeal manner, Ken takes on a synth-heavy post-punk complexion. Acknowledging a worldview that references places like Berlin, Barcelona, Vancouver, and Rome, the album seems to make oblique allusions to the sociopolitical tensions of the period on tracks like the melancholy opener, “Sky’s Grey.” Anxious, helicopter-like pulses and claves lead into a cinematic sophisti-pop that unleashes midway through the song. Its lyrics include remarks like “Bombs in the city/Plays in the sticks” and “I’ve been working on the new Oliver Twist.” He presents a more Bowie-like rock on “In the Morning” and an ominous, pulsing synth pop on “A Light Travels Down the Catwalk.” In true Bejar fashion, “I can’t pay for this, all I’ve got is money” opens “Sometimes in the World.” It dispenses cautionary maxims through passages of heavy guitar distortion and sleeker moments of acoustic guitar and synths. Taken together, his typical existential outlook combined with a heavier presence of New Order-like industrial timbres make this a somewhat darker album, but still delightfully Destroyer.

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The Clientele “Music For The Age Of Miracles” (Merge)

2017-09-30T22:21:48+00:00September 30th, 2017|

THE CLIENTELE return with Music for the Age of Miracles, their first release of new music since 2010’s Minotaur EP. After The Clientele released Minotaur, ALASDAIR MACLEAN, singer and principal songwriter for the band, made two wonderful albums with Lupe Núñez- Fernández as AMOR DE DIAS, issued a Clientele best-of called Alone and Unreal, oversaw reissues of Suburban Light and Strange Geometry, and played shows. He and Lupe have also been raising a family, so the prospect of a new Clientele record seemed to be diminishing. It seems fitting, then, that a chance meeting with a ghost from the past/future is what led to Music for the Age of Miracles, the first album of new Clientele songs in seven years. MacLean and ANTHONY HARMER knew one another and played music together in the mid-1990s but had lost touch. “I had often wondered what had happened to Anthony since,” writes MacLean. “It turned out—he told me—he’d studied the Santoor, an Iranian version of the dulcimer, and over decades become a virtuoso, at least by my standards. He suggested we have a jam together. Ant and I now lived three streets away from each other, it turned out. He started to arrange my songs. He let me write and sing them, and he came up with ideas for how they should sound. This carried on until we had an album. I called up JAMES and MARK and asked them if they wanted to make another Clientele record. They did, and this is it.” LP includes a download.

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Mountain Goats “Goths” (Merge)

2017-05-20T21:59:30+00:00May 20th, 2017|

The theme this time around is goth, a subject closer to my heart perhaps than that of any MOUNTAIN GOATS album previous. And while JOHN writes the songs, as he always has, it feels more than ever like he’s speaking for all of us in the band, erstwhile goths (raises hand) or otherwise, for these are songs that approach an identity most often associated with youth from a perspective that is inescapably adult. Anyone old enough to have had the experience of finding oneself at sea in a cultural landscape that’s suddenly indecipherable will empathize with Pat Travers showing up to a Bauhaus show looking to jam, for example. But underneath the outward humor, there is evident throughout a real tenderness toward, and solidarity with, our former fellow travelers—the friends whose bands never made it out of Fender’s Ballroom, the Gene Loves Jezebels of the world—the ones whose gothic paths were overtaken by the realities of life, or of its opposite. It’s something we talk about a lot, how fortunate and grateful we are to share this work, a career that’s become something more rewarding and fulfilling than I think any of us could have imagined. We all know how easily it could’ve gone the other way, and indeed for a long time did. —Peter Hughes, February 2017,

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Superchunk “Cup Of Sand” (Merge Records)

2017-04-29T21:46:14+00:00April 29th, 2017|

On April 22, 2017 (a.k.a. Record Store Day), Cup of Sand, the 2003 compilation of Superchunk singles, b-sides, and rarities, was released on vinyl for the first time ever. The original 25-song, double-CD package has been expanded to a triple-LP gatefold edition that showcases Laura Ballance’s original album art and features three additional tracks culled from out-of-print compilations, along with accompanying song notes from the band. This limited-edition pressing will be available exclusively at independent record stores.

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Sneaks “It’s A Myth” (Merge)

2017-04-08T22:42:52+00:00April 8th, 2017|

It’s a Myth builds on Sneaks’ playfully stark approach to post-punk, which, as her hometown City Paper described it, causes listeners to go “from curious to provoked to hungry.” Hungry, in part, because the new album clocks in at just 18 minutes of 10 taut, captivating tracks (but still a feast compared to Gymnastics’ 14 minutes). It also adds Jonah Takagi and Ex Hex/Helium frontwoman Mary Timony, who recorded the album at Timony’s D.C. studio. “She’s got art in her brain,” Timony has said of Moolchan. “Her brain is making beautiful stuff.”

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Coco Hames “Coco Hames” (Merge)

2017-04-08T22:38:08+00:00April 8th, 2017|

As the frontwoman and indomitable force behind beloved garage-pop combo The Ettes, Coco Hames blazed a memorable trail across the ’00s underground. Last summer, she began work on her solo album at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville. “It was this massive leap of faith for me,” she admits. “After being in a band for so long, this time I was on my own—no gang to hide behind or fall back on.” Hames co-produced the record with Andrija Tokic, who’d helped sire career-making albums for Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and others. Playing guitar, piano, and electric harpsichord, Hames was aided in her effort by bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), drummer Julian Dorio (The Whigs), and lead guitarist Adam Meisterhans (The Weight). Other contributors include veteran keyboard/organ wizard Dave Amels of Reigning Sound and vocalists Carey Kotsionis (Bobby Bare, Jr.) and Lillie Mae Rische (Jack White).

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Lambchop “Is A Woman” (Merge)

2017-03-12T01:17:40+00:00March 12th, 2017|

2017 Reissue! Just in time for its 15th anniversary, Lambchop’s 2002 album Is a Woman is available on vinyl in North America for the first time ever. The 2-LP set in a gatefold sleeve will allow Lambchop fans to fully appreciate the lovely album art. As a bonus, the reissue will include eight digital bonus tracks recorded during the Is a Woman sessions.

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The Clean “Getaway” (Merge)

2016-12-15T00:14:40+00:00December 15th, 2016|

2001’s Getaway maybe best illustrates whatever mercurial, inexplicable musical power animates The Clean. After the band’s initial rush of activity between 1978 and 1982, the trio lay dormant until the end of the ’80s, when a string of reunion shows inspired the Kilgours and Scott to start recording again. After three well-received albums in the first half of the nineties-1990’s Vehicle, 1994’s Modern Rock, and 1996’s Unknown Country-The Clean disappeared again until the end of the decade, when another tour inspired another record. Speed and spontaneity defined Getaway. Robert says, “I remember writing ‘Silence or Something Else’ while the others went for a long walk. It was done by the time they got back. I probably would have gone for a straighter version, but I still like it.” David remembers, “Hamish wrote the instrumental ‘Jala’ in about five minutes in a motel outside of Turangi.” At one point in the process, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley were visiting from America, and they ended up on the record too. A live version of the pulsing, soaring “Stars”-along with a couple of other Getaway songs and Clean classics like “Fish,” “Side On,” “Quickstep,” and “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”-appear on the rare 2003 album Syd’s Pink Wiring System. That record is included with the Getaway reissue, along with the more experimental, piano driven EP Slush Fund, from the same era. These bonus tracks reinforce the idea of the Getaway-era Clean as especially plugged in, generating inspired and beautiful music almost on instinct.

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Magnetic Fields “Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees” (Merge)

2017-10-01T20:18:53+00:00December 15th, 2016|

The Magnetic Fields’ first two albums, The Wayward Bus and Distant Plastic Trees, make their debut appearance on vinyl, packaged together as a two-LP set.

Distant Plastic Trees, the Magnetic Fields’ first album, was originally released in England and Japan in 1991. Merritt’s accordion player, the novelist Daniel Handler, later noted that “this tinny and intimate recording, in quiet defiance of the reigning roar of pop music, recalls both the early, scratchy field recordings of folk music and the first experiments in electronic music—precisely the sort of stylistic balance the Magnetic Fields liked to achieve.” The album includes the early-’90s college radio single “100,000 Fireflies” which had earlier appeared as a single on Harriet Records and was later covered by Superchunk.

The album artwork on both Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus was created by watercolorist Wendy Smith. Her beautiful wrap-around paintings, now printed in a larger format, along with remastered audio make this two-LP set an exciting addition to the Magnetic Fields discography.

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Will Butler “Friday Night” (Merge)

2016-09-19T01:32:01+00:00September 19th, 2016|

Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Will Butler returns with Friday Night, an album of live performances from the tour in support of his solo debut album, Policy. Recorded mostly at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on June 4, 2015, Friday Night includes five brand-new songs, five from Policy, and two songs he wrote for The Guardian newspaper last year. Capturing the energy of the dynamite Will Butler band was the major inspiration for this release. Miles Arntzen (EMEFE, Antibalas) played drums (standing up at a full kit – he didn’t use a hi-hat pedal, so he could stand on that leg while working the kick drum with the other), Julie Shore played synth bass, and Sara Dobbs played synth leads and Mellotron pads. Everybody sang backing vocals. Featuring artwork by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, Friday Night is the perfect companion to Policy and an exciting look ahead to what we can expect from Will Butler in the future.

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Destroyer “Poison Season” (Merge)

2015-08-25T00:51:25+00:00August 23rd, 2015|

“On August 28, Destroyer returns with a new full-length, Poison Season. In addition, a two-song 12-inch that includes a remix of album track “Forces From Above” and the orchestral version of “Times Square, Poison Season” will be released as a companion to the record.

Poison Season opens with Vancouver native Dan Bejar swathed in Hunky Dory strings. He’s a dashboard Bowie surveying four wracked characters—Jesus, Jacob, Judy, Jack—simultaneously Biblical and musical theatre. This bittersweet, Times Square-set fanfare is reprised twice more on the record—first as swaying, saxophone-stoked “street-rock” and then finally as a curtain-closing reverie.”

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Waxahatchee “Ivy Tripp” (Merge)

2015-06-01T00:00:54+00:00May 10th, 2015|

Waxahatchee, the solo musical project of Katie Crutchfield, is named after a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Ivy Tripp drifts confidently from its predecessors and brings forth a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield has currently found herself. The lament and grieving for her youth seem to have been replaced with control and sheer self-honesty. “My life has changed a lot in the last two years, and it’s been hard for me to process my feelings other than by writing songs,” says Crutchfield. “I think a running theme [of Ivy Tripp] is steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.”

Recorded and engineered by Kyle Gilbride of Wherever Audio at Crutchfield’s home on New York’s Long Island—with drums recorded in the gym of a local elementary school—Ivy Tripp presents a more developed and aged version of Waxahatchee. “The title Ivy Tripp is really just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents. I have thought of it like this: [Waxahatchee’s last album] Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas.”

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Caribou “Our Love” LP (Merge)

2015-05-10T01:19:11+00:00December 3rd, 2014|

You reach a point in life where the question of how to stay at the top of your game looms, with the only real solution being: you change the game. Our Love, the new album from CARIBOU, is the sound of DAN SNAITH doing just that Our Love is the fifth studio album from Caribou. Our Love is formed around a mixture of digital pop production, hip hop-inspired beats, muted house basslines, and a love of shuffling garage that can be traced all the way back to the time of Start Breaking My Heart—all of which are, of course, filtered through Dan’s own unique perspective. The warm analog sounds of classic soul should not be overlooked either, for they weave themselves most intensely into the record’s DNA. In fact, Our Love is probably Caribou’s most soulful record to date, with tracks like “Back Home” whose heartfelt lyrics—dealing in tired relationships and a weary kind of love—and organic nature cut through the bubbling synths and blissful euphoria of their synthetic constructions. It’s not all downbeat of course; while some thoughts linger on mortality, loss, and letting go, there is always an element of celebration.

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Reigning Sound “Shattered” LP (Merge)

2015-05-31T23:48:35+00:00August 14th, 2014|

Shattered will be Reigning Sound’s first album for Merge and the first full LP by the group since 2009’s Love and Curses.
The band’s principal songwriter/member is Greg Cartwright, who’s been leading the shifting cast of characters since 2001. You may be familiar with some of the band’s work, as this album is preceded by five studio efforts as well as numerous EPs and live records. Or perhaps some of Greg’s other projects have been on your musical radar: The Oblivians, Parting Gifts, Compulsive Gamblers, 68 Comeback, Deadly Snakes, Detroit Cobras.
Regardless, as far as Reigning Sound is concerned, this is as good a place to start as any because through many line-up changes and mood swings, the central, constant feature is the way Greg writes songs. This particular embodiment of the band includes longtime keyboardist Dave Amels, who joined the band seven years ago when Reigning Sound recorded an album, consisting mostly of Cartwright’s songs, with former Shangri-Las lead singer Mary Weiss.
Dave proved to be key in putting together the current line-up as well. About three years ago, Greg was asked to make a promotional EP for Scion. Recordings were set to take place in Nashville where he had lined up two local friends to round out the band, but as fate would have it, both had to bow out at the last minute. Luckily, Mike Catanese, Benny Trokan, and Mikey Post—Dave Amels’ bandmates in Brooklyn soul group The Jay Vons—were up for the task. The four flew to Nashville, learned the songs, and recorded them with Greg in a couple of days. Thus was born the group that you hear on Shattered. They’ve been touring and playing together ever since, and Shattered proves that the musical union is both exciting and consistent for fans of Cartwright’s songwriting.

The album was recorded at Daptone’s Brooklyn studio (where drummer Mikey works in the office) and masterfully engineered by Wayne Gordon. The recordings are warm and punchy, a mixed bag of rockers, ballads, and something in between. There are only 11 songs on the album, but the band reckons it’s just right.

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