Directed by Arturo Baston. From Sublimation, out March 10 on Saddle Creek.
Remember a couple weeks ago when we said that Shalom’s “Happenstance” featured the perfect way to start a song? Oops, she did it again:
I did a bunch of drugs before I turned 21
Ate two tabs once a week for a whole month straight.
Don’t worry, mom. She eventually figures things out.
Shalom Obisie-Orlu says, “This song is about a time in my life that I used to be very upset and embarrassed about, but now I’m like, wow, I feel so much better after writing this song. It’s called ‘Soccer Mommy’ because I got my driver’s license in late 2019 and spent my first year on the road listening to Color Theory and thinking about my 20-year-old self who didn’t deserve the things that happened to her. I love Soccer Mommy. I’m terrified of driving, but I always felt brave listening to ‘Circle The Drain’ on 287 south.”
Be bold! Be strong! For Sophie Allison is with you!
Directed by Alex Free. From Sublimation, out March 10 on Saddle Creek.
This is a perfect way to start a song:
I’m waiting for the day that I can finally walk away from all this bullshit
Sitting in my room practicing how to be cool but I can’t do it
I tried hard enough with my roommate and she’s mean for a nurse but anyway…
Her roommate is mean (for a nurse)! That’s awesome. And so is this song.
Directed by Ambar Navarro. From Midnight, out now on Saddle Creek.
Stef Chura grew up in Alpena, a small town on Lake Huron way up north in Michigan. For fans of Michigan garage rock Alpena is best known as the birthplace of Dick Wagner and his bands, the Bossmen and the Frost. Wagner went on to play with Alice Cooper and Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal-era Lou Reed.
Alpena is also the home town of Matt Southwell of Bang Sugar Bang. Before that, Southwell played with my pals the Vantrells.
So Alpena’s rock and roll bonafides are legit.
And now we’ve got Stef Chura, who was an Alpena cheerleader in eighth grade. “I kept the skirt,” she told the Detroit Metro Times. She was also a wrestler, and that dichotomy shows up in “Scream” which features classic Detroit muscle as well as chirpy exuberance.
She moved to Detroit in 2009 and told Rolling Stone, “I feel like it’s not like it was. There was a golden era with the garage-rock stuff and Jack White and the White Stripes but…do I relate to the current scene? There’s definitely a scene that I’ve played music in for a long time. So I do relate to that.”
Chura’s new Saddle Creek album was produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, who came to Detroit and recorded at Tempermill Studios.
Directed by Madeline Kenney. From Placeholder, out March 1 on Saddle Creek.
When I was a teenager my parents had a sailboat we kept on Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds and the experience is more accurately reflected in this video from Meg Duffy, guitarist in Kevin Morby’s band. Her project is called Hand Habits and the video could be me around 17. A kid wandering the marina with a great haircut but bored senseless playing with (but not kissing–gross!) fish heads and making shadow puppets. Maybe staring at a bit of trash floating in the harbor. It wasn’t a bad way to spend your teens.
A new album called placeholder is out March 1 via Saddle Creek. In a press release, Duffy writes, “The songs on placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness. These are real stories. I don’t fictionalize much.”
Directed by Zach Xanders. From At Weddings, due August 10 on Saddle Creek.
You always say that I look so tough
But it’s because I’m tough
Sarah Beth Tomberlin is a 23 year old songwriter from Kentucky who records for Saddle Creek. Her dad’s a strict Baptist pastor. She was homeschooled. One of the first secular albums she owned was Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. And now she writes her own lovely acoustic songs about love and connection.
She told the Fader: “The whole point of music is to be honest with people and tell stories and bridge a gap that maybe shouldn’t be there. No matter where you stand religiously or politically or socially, people interact with all sorts of art. I’m based in Louisville now, but I wasn’t when I was writing the stuff. I kind of just felt like, There’s no way this will ever get to anybody. I’m not a part of a scene. I’m not in Brooklyn or Philly or Chicago. I was just doing music for myself. I legitimately never thought a lot of these songs would come out. I was doing it to become a better writer and to process my experience.”
At Weddings was originally released last year on Joyful Noise as part of their 2017 White Label series limited to 500 hand-numbered vinyl copies. Saddle Creek is giving it a wider release and adding three brand new songs.
“Seventeen” is one of those new songs (along with “A Video Game” and “I’m Not Scared”), and it’s really good.
I like this song. It’s got cool guitar tones and an easy listening, lite rock vibe that works nicely with the boy/girl vocals and lyrics about “ice cream on the porch swing” and staying up too late, “the world on my screen.”
Over on NPR’s Monitor Mix Blog, Carrie Brownstein rounds up a bunch of people who run indie labels and gets them to talk about how the role of the record label has changed over the past decade. It’s a fascinating conversation that touches on everything from iTunes to filesharing to artist development to vinyl to Pitchfork to licensing… Here’s my favorite part:
Chris Swanson (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): Are many of you guys having luck making money on singles? Or is it primarily an artist-development tool? Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): Singles for us are always about development. Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars): A weird thing for us is that, no matter what song off an album we give away as a free MP3, that song is always the most-purchased song off that album. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): Same here, Portia. Gerard Cosloy (Matador): Same thing happens to us. Darius Van Arman (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): We have the exact same experience. Mac McCaughan (Merge): That’s “the single” to people. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): So we should just all give away all of our albums! Carrie Brownstein (NPR): Problem solved! Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): We do; we can’t help it.
The funny thing is that we’re noticed that same trend even on our small scale with Glorious Noise Records. The songs we give away for free are consistently the ones that sell the most via iTunes and emusic. (Well, that was true anyway until Riviera‘s “Golden Lies” was used in an episode of a show on A&E. Since July, we sold over 60 copies of that song via iTunes alone, which is about ten times more than any other song we’ve released.)
Cursive has a new Daytrotter session featuring “What Have I Done?” off of Mama, I’m Swollen and “The Casualty” from the band’s previous album Domestica, in addition to covers of The Cure‘s “Love Cats” and David Bowie‘s “Modern Love”, both of which had recently become staples in the band’s live shows on their July/August tour.
‘NOW’ Remains No. 1 As Bright Eyes Debuts High: “Bright Eyes…earns its best sales and charting week as Cassadaga bows at No. 4 with 58,000 units. The Conor Oberst-led group had previous bests with the simultaneous 2005 release of a pair of albums, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, which debuted at No. 10 and No. 15 respectively. Wide Awake started with 56,000 and has since moved 394,000 copies.”
Not as strong as recent first-week sales from Arcade Fire (92,000), the Shins (118,000), or Modest Mouse (129,000), but still respectable. Saddle Creek apparently doesn’t quite have the same… um… muscle as Merge, Sub Pop, or Epic… Or something.