Tag Archives: Merge

New Mountain Goats: As Many Candles As Possible

Video: the Mountain Goats – “As Many Candles As Possible”

the Mountain Goats - As Many Candles As Possible (Official Lyric Video)

Directed by Lalitree Darnielle. From Getting Into Knives, due October 23 on Merge.

Remember back when the Mountains Goats announced Songs for Pierre Chuvin how John Darnielle causally mentioned that “the entire band was decamped at an undisclosed location working on the next Mountain Goats album” when the pandemic started raging out of control and “the work schedule [they] had planned for spring probably wouldn’t be panning out”?

Well, they apparently got enough done in those first few days of March to make a whole album out of it. And that undisclosed location? Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee. So that’s pretty cool.

“As Many Candles As Possible” is the first single from the project and it’s a good one. I’ve been getting a little discouraged but the lack of guitars and abundance of what I half-jokingly call “jazziness” on recent Mountain Goats studio stuff, but this sounds like a badass rock and roll song with some gnarly lead guitar. It also features howling Hammond B-3 courtesy of Charles Hodges, the legendary Memphis organist who played on all the Hi Records hits recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios.

So yeah, the Mountain Goats are digging into that deep Memphis soil, from the earliest days of rock and roll, through the funky soul of the sixties, all the way to the garage stomp of the Cramps, and beyond.

Seek out a cave by the ocean while you wait out the rain
Dial down the weak bits and crank up the gain.

Yeah!

The Mountain Goats: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bob Mould: American Crisis

Video: Bob Mould – “American Crisis”

Bob Mould - American Crisis (Official Video)

From Blue Hearts, out September 25 on Merge.

Holy shit, Bob Mould’s not fucking around. Nobody like an old punk to articulate existential rage!

Welcome back to American Crisis
No telling what the price is
Wake up every day to see a nation in flames
We click and we tweet and we spread these tales of blame

“‘American Crisis’ is a tale of two times,” says Mould. “Past Time and Present Time. The parallels between 1984 and 2020 are a bit scary for me: telegenic, charismatic leaders, praised and propped up by extreme Evangelicals, either ignoring an epidemic (HIV/AIDS) or being outright deceitful about a pandemic (COVID-19).” Telegenic? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Reagan, maybe. But our current fuhrer is about as physically repulsive as a human can be.

“These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.” Sock it to ’em, Mould!

Drummer Jon Wurster adds, “We cranked this out a couple months ago when everything was only slightly less fucked up. Proceeds go to @blackvisionscollective and @outfrontmn.”

This is exactly what we need right now. More, please!

Bob Mould: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

The Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin

Video: The Mountain Goats – “Until Olympius Returns”

the Mountain Goats - Until Olympius Returns

From Songs for Pierre Chuvin, out now on Merge.

It’s hard not to feel doomed these days. Democracy, empathy, our general welfare: all of these things have been eroding away for the past few years. Longer, of course, but the erosion has ramped up lately like the rising waters of Lake Michigan eating away the shoreline.

Maybe it was inevitable. It’s probably irreversible.

This pandemic and the response to it might be the final nail in the coffin. Will our culture survive?

Our temples are record stores, independent book shops, and small restaurants. Our ceremonies are sweating with strangers in dark clubs with live music. Will any of that even exist in a couple years?

I hope so. We’ll see. Or maybe we won’t.

Do you think the fourth and fifth century pagans throughout the Roman Empire thought about stuff like that while the Christian mobs and Roman armies were systematically wiping them off the face of the earth?

On Songs for Pierre Chuvin, John Darnielle goes back in time to an era that’s hardly recognizable anymore: the 1990s. It was a time when dudes sat on the living room floor and recorded earnest songs about ancient esoterica into boomboxes. They dubbed copies of their cassettes and passed them around to their friends, who dubbed copies and passed them around to their friends, who picked out their favorite songs and compiled them onto mixtapes to impress pals and woo women. The world was physical and the exchange of these artifacts took place in dorm rooms and shitty apartments, face-to-face or delivered to mailboxes.

I first became aware of the Mountain Goats at the tail end of this era. All Hail West Texas was the last album that John Darnielle recorded on his Panasonic RX-FT500 portable cassette player. Since then Mountain Goats albums have gotten gradually more sophisticated, recording in professional studios, adding a bass player, then a drummer, eventually even a saxophone. Darnielle’s compositions have matured as well, as has his musicianship, and several recent recordings feature Darnielle on piano instead of guitar. 2017’s Goths features no guitar at all. It’s jazzy.

Continue reading The Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin

New Waxahatchee video: Lilacs

Video: Waxahatchee – “Lilacs”

Waxahatchee - Lilacs (Official Video)

Directed by Ashley Connor. From Saint Cloud, out March 27 on Merge.

There’s something about the interplay of the guitars on this that reminds me of “Some Kind of Love” by the Velvet Underground. Which is always a good thing.

If I’m a broken record, write it in the dust babe
I’ll fill myself back up like I used to do
And if my bones are made of delicate sugar
I won’t end up anywhere good without you.

Katie Crutchfield talked to Rolling Stone about writing the song. “I was just in a bad mood. Through all of my personal growth and the path that I’ve been on, you have these days where you slip back into bad behavior and patterns of thought. When I wrote that chorus, I was like, ‘All right, we’re going to make this a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.’”

She also recommends watering your flowers with Topo Chico: “Lilacs have a longer lifespan if they drink soda water.”

Good tip!

Waxahatchee: web, twitter, amazon, wiki.

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New Torres video: Dressing America

Video: TORRES – “Dressing America”

TORRES - Dressing America (Official Video)

Directed by Ashley Connor. From Silver Tongue, out January 31 on Merge.

Wow! Remember a couple years ago when Mackenzie Scott was dropped by 4AD for “not being commercially successful enough”? Well now she’s been signed by Merge and this is the first video from her new album.

She talked to Billboard back in July about her new home. “I’m glad to have found a label in Merge that’s actually run by artists and touring musicians.”

So glad she’s back and didn’t let the music business beat her down. “Three Futures” was one of the best songs of 2017 and “Dressing America” picks back up where she left off.

I tend to sleep with my boots on
Should I need to gallop over dark waters
To you on short notice

She’s from Georgia after all, so that cowboy hat and those boots are not cultural appropriation, ha ha.

Warning: The video features pastie-covered breasts so if that’s something that offends you (or your employer), you might want to hold off on playing the video.

TORRES: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Ex Hex video: Rainbow Shiner

Video: Ex Hex – “Rainbow Shiner”

Ex Hex - Rainbow Shiner (Official Music Video)

Directed by M. Wartella. From It’s Real, out now on Merge.

It might be easy to hear this is as just a rifftastic throwaway jam but listen closely.

I got to shine on
Through all the black and blue I got from you
It hits so hard with all the colors that there are

That’s pretty heavy. Or…it’s just a tribute to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” Either way, Mary Timony, Betsy Wright, and Laura Harris are real tough cookies with a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me.

Ex Hex: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Ex Hex video: Tough Enough

Video: Ex Hex – “Tough Enough”

Ex Hex - Tough Enough (Official Music Video)

Directed by Brandon Herman. From It’s Real, out March 22 on Merge.

Mary Timony, Betsy Wright, and Laura Harris prove they will still be rocking out long after the rest of have been obliterated by a nuclear apocalypse.

Won’t you meet me out downtown?
We’ll watch the moon spin around
Looking for trouble everywhere
Gonna pull it out of the air.

The band says the song is “all about three-dimensional power chords interplaying with whammy dive bombs. It’s a song about turning on your tough switch and forging ahead through whatever storms are happening around you ’cause you have no choice.”

In recording the album, Mary Timony broke out her Rockman amp: “It’s only about the size of a Walkman and takes eight AA batteries, but it sounds massive. We read that parts of [Def Leppard’s] Hysteria were tracked through it, and when we finally plugged it in, it blew our minds!”

The Rockman was developed by Tom Scholz as a portable amplifier that can achieve the “Boston guitar sound” and has been used by rock luminaries such as Rush, the Go-Go’s, ZZ Top, Megadeth, and the Meat Puppets.

Mary Timony knows how to get a gnarly sound out of a guitar.

Ex Hex: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Tracyanne and Danny video: Cellophane Girl

Video: Tracyanne & Danny – “Cellophane Girl”

Tracyanne & Danny - Cellophane Girl (Official Music Video)

From Tracyanne & Danny, out now on Merge Records.

Another globetrotting video from Tracyanne Campbell and Danny Coughlan, this one featuring lead vocals from Coughlan who says, “I worked in a plastics factory for a while in my teens, and there was a woman, I guess in her late twenties, who would turn up for her shift looking like a film star despite the hair net, white wellies, and love bites on her neck. We all had crushes on her and adored her. I guess it’s a fond look back at a simpler time of adolescent infatuations.”

Tracyanne and Danny: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Escape-ism video: Bodysnatcher

Video: Escape-ism – “Bodysnatcher”

Escape-ism - Bodysnatcher (Official Music Video)

Directed by Alexandra Cabral. From The Lost Record, out September 7 on Merge.

Another minimalist disco jam from the twisted funkbone of Ian Svenonius. The video features the subtle but enticing dance moves of Svenonius and collaborator/director Alexandra Cabral as they get down on the craggy shore of a tropical island…or maybe Big Sur.

Ian Svenonius says, “‘Bodysnatcher’ takes its name from the paranoid classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which cast communist influence as an outer space invasion. The body snatcher is a kind of mythic folk figure who represents the threat or the allure of total romantic or ideological takeover and surrender.”

Body snatch me, baby!

Escape-ism: bandcamp, fb, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Waxahatchee video: Chapel of Pines

Video: Waxahatchee – “Chapel of Pines”

Waxahatchee - Chapel of Pines (Official Music Video)

From the Great Thunder EP, out September 7 on Merge.

Waxahatchee’s “Silver” was one of the best songs of 2017. And now Katie Crutchfield is back with a stripped down acoustic collection recorded at Bon Iver’s studio in Wisconsin.

Crutchfield says the new stuff “is a complete 180 from the last record: super stripped-down, quiet, and with me performing solo, it’s a throwback to how I started. Overall, the EP is a warm, kind of vibey recording.”

Great Thunder was originally the name of Crutchfield’s project with former Swearin’ bassist Keith Spencer, and they released a couple of cassettes on Stupid Bag Records and then a double album on Salinas Records in 2013. The original Great Thunder recordings of all of the songs on the new EP (except “Slow You Down”) can be found on those releases, but only Groovy Kinda Love is currently available on streaming services.

Waxahatchee: web, twitter, amazon, wiki.

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