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LAMBCHOP

Lambchop

Nixon - 2023 Reissue

    Nixon was released in 2000 and immediately enshrined by the British music press. Uncut named it album of the year, Mojo ranked it 10th, and Q was still doing their lists alphabetically. The NME called Nixon “near to perfect” and the Guardian said that the band was “reinventing American music.”

    Meanwhile, most people in America continued to have no idea who Lambchop were. (“I don’t think [Nixon] made much of an impression on anyone over here,” Wagner told a seemingly baffled interviewer in spring, 2001.) Lambchop’s take on America—sly, tender, mysterious but mundane—is less a realist’s portrait than a surrealist’s impression: funnier, more pathetic, more improbable than what actually exists. In 2007 I met a German man named Frank who told me he loved seeing the band overseas because it meant getting to sit in a plush, quiet room while drinking tons of beer and listening to Lambchop, which I guess he imagined Americans were mellow enough to actually do.

    Nixon is still an improbable album. The band never sounds like they’re trying very hard and yet every song breaks some convention or another. Despite its showbiz arrangements, the music is tenuous and weird (a contrast that the band toyed with again on 2012's Mr. M), and Wagner’s falsetto—usually the most vulnerable part of a man’s singing range—sounds less like a Romeo than some karaoke loser scrapping for the mic at last call. He says he regrets ever calling Lambchop a country band, and with good reason: Nixon isn't the music of the people, it's the music of the people who showed up, said hello, stood in the corner and left without saying goodbye. (When an interviewer asked Wagner how he felt about the album’s overwhelming reception in the UK, he said, “I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of. I think there are other things in your life you could be more proud of. Like having kids.”) If there's a connection to country, it's spiritual: Nixon finds its humor in self-deprecation and its soul in things broken and left behind.


    TRACK LISTING

    A1 The Old Gold Shoe
    A2 Grumpus
    A3 You Masculine You
    A4 Up With People
    B1 Nashville Parent 
    B2 What Else Could It Be
    B3 The Distance From Her....
    B4 The Book I Havent Read
    B5 The Petrified Forest
    B6 Butcher Boy

    Lambchop

    Is A Woman - 2022 Reissue

      To those who embraced 2000’s Nixon—Lambchop’s fifth album, whose luscious country soul grooves provided the sprawling Nashville collective with a significant British breakthrough that even found them selling out London’s 2,500-capacity Royal Festival Hall—the deceptively gentle Is a Woman, delivered two years later, administered a quiet but compelling shock. Gone almost entirely was frontman Kurt Wagner’s euphoric, Curtis Mayfield-esque falsetto, replaced by a tranquil, contemplative vocal style; and instead of the joyfully warm brass arrangements that had encouraged Zero 7 to remix “Up With People,” one of Nixon’s standouts, pianist Tony Crow now took center stage, teasing out gentle, ingenious melodies. The contrast was acute.

      To discover the true spirit of Is a Woman, however, one need only listen to the remarkable “My Blue Wave,” one of the band’s finest recordings to date. Here, Wagner depicts a world of helpless tragedy in which comfort can nonetheless be found in the smallest of gestures, as he journeys from the contented sight of his pets—“You lay around the house… Just bones and squirrels inside your head”—to recollections of a devastating phone call from friend and bandmate William Tyler: “And William called and tried to tell me / That his sister’s boyfriend has just died / He’s not sure what to do / And I’m not sure what to tell him he should do / Sometimes William, we’re just screwed / In my blue wave.”

      Fifteen years later, Lambchop continue to confound and astound in equal measures, but this startlingly private song captures the magic of Is a Woman at its most distilled. With their sound consistently shifting and surprising, the band’s line-up has morphed and adapted repeatedly since then, but the lingering mood of lachrymose but compassionate elegance of “My Blue Wave” helps explain why this extraordinary, idiosyncratic record is now considered to be one of the band’s finest. As Wagner himself asks on “Bugs”: “Think of things and how they got this way / Way above the rest / Isn’t this the fucking best?”


      TRACK LISTING

      A1 The Daily Growl
      A2 The New Cobweb Summer
      B1 My Blue Wave
      B2 I Can Hardly Spell My Name
      B3 Autumn's Vicar
      C1 Flick
      C2 Caterpillar
      C3 D. Scott Parsley
      D1 Bugs
      D2 The Old Matchbook Trick
      D3 Is A Woman

      Lambchop

      The Bible

        Kurt Wagner found himself in Minneapolis in the sweltering summer of 2021, in a decommissioned paint factory turned practice space, when everybody was still kind of looking at everybody else as a potential source of disease. He entrusted himself to this piano player, Andrew Broder, and his mad genius of a production partner, Ryan Olson. “Ryan and Andrew, they’re like two sides of my personality,” Wagner says. “And if you put them together as a team, they represent me.” This would be the first time Wagner let somebody else -not to mention somebody else without any sort of a connection to holy, old Nashville - produce a Lambchop record.

        It was in that decommissioned paint factory in Minneapolis, watching a bunch of burnout freaks play their instruments, that Wagner found his way to writing The Bible. The sessions reminded him of those long-ago days at the Springwater Supper Club in Nashville, when he first brought the afterparty back to his house. But maybe because he wasn’t the one making the afterparty rules this time, the music on The Bible is more unpredictable than it’s ever been on a Lambchop record. Jazz careening into country, into disco, into funk, and back to country. This is Lambchop’s new album - born in a new place, but out of a process that he first discovered back home in Nashville, the one that helped him find his own voice in the first place. Amen. This is The Bible.

        TRACK LISTING

        A1. His Song Is Sung
        A2. Little Black Boxes
        A3. Daisy
        B1. Whatever, Mortal
        B2. A Major Minor Drag
        B3. Police Dog Blues
        C1. Dylan At The Mousetrap
        C2. Every Child Begins The World Again
        C3. So There
        C4. That's Music

        Side D. Etching (No Music) 

        Lambchop

        Mr. M

          MR. M is Lambchop’s eleventh album on City Slang and documents the band at its best, it encapsulates one of the most profound moments in Lambchop history. Kurt Wagner turned away from music and picked up his brushes to paint his way out of a funk that followed the premature death of friend Vic Chesnutt, who the band backed on 1998’s The Salesman and Bernadette. Incidentally the paintings, thickly layered black and white portraits forming a series called Beautillion Millitaire 2000, feature on the album sleeve and throughout the full artwork-

          “As I worked, I was approached by Mark Nevers (former full time band member & producer for the likes of Andrew Bird and Will Oldham) with the idea of making another Lambchop record. He had a concept of a sound and a method that worked with the tone of my writing. His idea was a kind of ‘psycha-Sinatra’ sound, one that involved the arranging of strings and other sounds in a more open and yet complex way. It was a studio creation, not a type of recording based on band performance, and this was a radical approach for us. I felt Lambchop had one more good record in us, and this time I was going to do things as directly and true to my desires as possible.”

          The resulting album stretches out as sonically as promised. It was recorded at Nevers’s Nashville Beech House studio cum bungalow with the usual core of musicians- Scott Martin (drums), Matt Swanson (bass), Ryan Norris (guitar, organ), Tony Crow (piano), William Tyler (guitar). Guests include original cofounder Jonathan Marx, Cortney Tidwell (who shared vocals on 2010’s KORT project) and fiddler Billy Contreras (who has worked with all from Charlie Louvin to Laura Cantrell) - spectacular string arrangements shared between Peter Stopschinski and Mason Neely.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. If Not I'll Just Die
          2. 2B2
          3. Gone Tomorrow
          4. Mr. Met
          5. Gar
          6. Nice Without Mercy
          7. Buttons
          8. The Good Life (is Wasted)
          9. Kind Of
          10. Betty's Overture
          11. Never My Love

          So much has changed since Kurt Wagner first led Lambchop out of his downstairs basement where they used to rehearse, at his house in a quiet Nashville suburb. Back then they were a ramshackle outfit, a charming drinking buddy collective taking the music they heard around them in Music City – the butt of jokes amongst the critical elite at the time – and mixing it with the music that they loved, Wagner topping it all off with his weird, abstract lyrics. They were a curiosity: the fact that anyone would want to release the album they recorded as great a surprise to the band as anyone. Perhaps, if it had not been picked up by a small group of fervent fans and critics seduced by what the band archly called 'The New Sound Of Nashville', it would have been their only album. Yet now, almost two decades later, Lambchop return with their tenth, "OH (Ohio)" which continues the Lambchop tradition, where each successive record represents a new stage in the evolution of their distinctive sound. It's a natural process which has seen them progress from their shambolic early recordings on "Jack's Tulips" / "I Hope You're Sitting Down" to the off kilter pop experimentalism of "What Another Man Spills" on to the joyful soul of "Nixon" and then, pointedly, its polar opposite, the piano-led minimalism of "Is A Woman". Most recently "Damaged" saw Wagner leave the porch from which he had viewed the world for so long and start looking inside himself, his dark meditations on mortality and human frailty matched by a band capable of taking delicacy to delicious new heights. "OH (Ohio)" finds Kurt delving deeper into himself – the songs were road-tested on a Wagner solo tour of the UK and Europe in 2007. This time, Wagner has chosen not to highlight the album's lyrics so as to preserve the integrity of the songs as whole entities, not parts.

          Lambchop

          I Hope You're Sitting Down / Jack's Tulips (Reissue)

            Back in 1994, when Lambchop first lurched lackadaisically into public view, they seemed to many people freakish, outlandish, destined at best for the pages of photocopied fanzines and the graveyard hours of specialist radio stations. A sprawling collective of Nashville musicians —eleven were credited on the sleeve of I Hope You’re Sitting Down / Jack’s Tulips, one of them apparently responsible for “open-end wrenches” —they’d named themselves after a sock puppet, inexplicably given their album two titles, and stuck a painting on the cover of a small, barefooted child holding a dog whose cock and balls are on proud display. Perhaps to counteract this bold depiction of canine masculinity, the inner sleeve offered a black-and-white shot of what the more refined sometimes call a “lady garden.” The back cover offered a painting detail of a wedding dress. So far, so weird.

            Where Lambchop brought us was somewhere so singular and bewilderingly gripping that — to perhaps no one’s greater surprise than the band themselves, whose homeland remained baffled for quite some years to come — the album ended up in British music paper NME’s Top 50 Albums of the Year. In case anyone were to consider this an anomaly, France’s similarly influential Les Inrockuptibles placed it at number 25 on their own list. Not bad for a band who had gathered since the mid-1980s, once a week, purely for pleasure, in that smoky, dimly lit basement. Not bad, either, for a record whose sessions were initially only expected to produce enough material for a handful of 7 -inch singles. Disheveled yet tender, anarchic yet intricate, I Hope You’re Sitting Down / Jack’s Tulips instead provided the springboard for a career — still ongoing, despite repeated reinventions, and still compelled by stubbornly freakish, outlandish intentions — during which Lambchop’s ever-changing line-up has continued to confound expectations. Wagner, meanwhile, remains one of our most cryptic but crucial voices, an authentic poet of the magical banal. Sure, it was weird here, but it was wonderful, too. Over a quarter century later, it still is.

            TRACK LISTING

            A1 Begin
            A2 Betweenus
            A3 Soaky In The Pooper
            A4 Because You Are The Very Air He Breathes
            B5 Under The Same Moon
            B6 I Will Drive Slowly
            B7 Oh What A Disappointment
            B8 Hellmouth
            C9 Bon Soir, Bon Soir
            C10 Hickey
            C11 Breathe Deep
            C12 So, I Hear You're Moving
            D13 Let's Go Bowling
            D14 What Was He Wearing?
            D15 Cowboy On The Moon
            D16 Or Thousands Of Prizes
            D17 The Pack Up Song

            Lambchop

            Showtunes

              Kurt Wagner's signature brittle baritone is back, but that doesn't mean we're going to get a nostalgic Alt Country album. Showtunes is a continuation of Lambchop's explorations of new sound worlds and opens up another chapter. Each track is an exciting journey with an uncertain destination.

              With Showtunes, as he has done so many times throughout his varied and fascinating career, Kurt in late 2019 was experimenting with something new. He took simple guitar tracks and converted them into midi piano tracks. It was a revelation that from those conversions he was able to manipulate each note and add, subtract, arrange the chords and melody into a form that didn't have any of the limitations he had with his previous methods of writing with a guitar.

              Removing these limitations led to a surprising new sound, something akin to showtunes but with edges sanded down and viewed through Kurt's own specific lens. it's a genre he was none too fond of with the exceptions of a few Great American Songbook type of stuff or some of the works of artists like Tom Waits, early Randy Newman or even Gershwin or Carmichael. “I’d always wanted to make songs with a similar feel but my skills were limited until now” says Wagner.

              “Anyone can be in Lambchop (so long as they behave themselves)” - Kurt Wagner.


              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Another wonderfully mournful, rich outing from lambchop here, leaning heavily on the slow-country roots of their early work but imbued with a heartbreaking tentative unease. Jazzy horns and slow upright bass licks help to lend a levity to proceedings, but still results in a thoroughly beautiful and unsettling whole.

              TRACK LISTING

              A1. A Chef's Kiss
              A2. Drop C
              A3. Papa Was A Rolling Stone Journalist
              A4. Fuku
              B5. Unknown Man
              B6. Blue Leo
              B7. Impossible Meatballs
              B8. The Last Benedict

              Lambchop

              Trip

                In the fall of 2019, Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner had a unique idea: In lieu of going on what would become an economically disastrous tour, he would invite the band to Nashville to make a record as a way to provide them with similar financial support and realize something tangible in the process. Each band member was tasked with choosing one song for the band to cover, and leading the recording session to completion each day. Wagner says, “My idea was to see what might happen if I removed myself from the process and the content as much as possible. In doing so, what surfaced were elements that have always been there but maybe got overshadowed by my songwriting and process.”

                Recorded December 2–7, 2019, at Battletapes in Nashville, TN, and produced, engineered, and mixed by Jeremy Ferguson (with the exception of “Reservations” which was co‐mixed by Ferguson and Matthew McCaughan), TRIP sounds like a culmination of the band’s older work and current work. There’s a looseness and freedom that recalls their older sound mixed with a group sophistication and innovation derived through the process of playing together for so long. The title TRIP refers to the circumstances surrounding its creation and the endeavor of “touring” itself. “It also seems to describe a life in music and the situations we created in our life as a band over the years,” Wagner adds. “It’s been a trip…”

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Some absolutely classic tracks here, and all presented in Lambchop's trademark moroose melodicism. It's equally haunting and tender, a brilliant illustration of how refined the band's processes have become, and most of all, a great listen.

                TRACK LISTING

                Side A:
                1. Reservations (13:00)
                2. Where Grass Won’t Grow (6:24)

                Side B
                3. Shirley (4:35)
                4. Golden Lady (6:42)
                5. Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone (3:28)
                6. Weather Blues (3:26)

                To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Lambchop’s 1998 album ’What Another Man Spills’ has been pressed to vinyl for the first time after it’s original release 20 years ago! Remastered from the original DAT and featuring refreshed artwork.

                What Another Man Spills (1998) represents a milestone in Lambchop’s career, but not in the modern sense of a ‘landmark’ release. Building on foundations that had once sounded almost literally creaky, it expands upon the tentative manoeuvres they’d undertaken with the previous year’s Thriller (1997) and gestures confidently towards its brassy successor, Nixon, which would arrive in 2000 to wild acclaim and previously unimaginable commercial success.

                Liner notes by Kurt Wagner himself.

                TRACK LISTING

                A1. Interrupted
                A2. The Saturday Option
                A3. Shucks
                B1. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)
                B2. Life #2
                B3. Scamper
                C1. It’s Not Alright
                C2. N.o.
                C3. I’ve Been Lonely For So Long

                Lambchop are back! Their new album, For Love Often Turns Us Still (in short FLOTUS … yes FLOTUS), arrives just in time for the bands' 30th Anniversary and in time for one of the most tumultuous years in history; not least in American history. Kurt Wagner is still painting musical miniatures as well as dramatic landscapes like no-one else right now. Though this year something is different, the fragile songs are as much about the tiny details of living in a struggling neighborhood in Nashville, which faces new challenges, as it is about the grand scheme of things without naming them.

                Musically, the devil is in the details. The stylistic sound of Lambchop is thriving but it’s made out of pieces unheard of before. 2016 is a new chapter for a lot of people and a lot of bands and is certainly a new chapter for Lambchop, returning with their most ambitious and important record to date. Be surprised and be carried away by this quiet and beautiful masterpiece where it’s intensity rings louder than sirens.


                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: A slightly more electronic sound on this newest one from Lambchop, while retaining the same languid vibes and hazy-day melodies. Vocoders and smooth synths nuzzle up next to drifting ambience, silky drums and echoing guitar plucks. While their delivery has changed a little, this is all still clearly the Lambchop we know and love. Turn it up and get the (winter) barbecue out.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. In Care Of 8675309
                2. Directions To The Can
                3. Flotus
                4. JFK
                5. Howe
                6. Old Masters
                7. Relatives #2
                8. Harbour Country
                9. Writer
                10. NIV
                11. The Hustle

                Lambchop

                Is A Woman - City Slang Classics

                The ever-modest Lambchop boss presented ‘Is A Woman’ to Cityslang with these words: "Here's my new album. I hope you'll like it. It's a bunch of samey, downtempo stuff that doesn't really seem to go anywhere." Little did he know. Is A Woman broke Lambchop to the same place on the European continent where Nixon had previously taken the band in the UK. It was instantly recognized as a modern classic and described by one famous German critic as "one of the best albums ever made". We couldn't agree more.

                PRESS: quotes from original release:

                ‘Another mature masterpiece from America's finest.’ AOTM 5/5 – Uncut

                ‘It's a brave and curious record that, as on 'Bugs', occasionally resembles Willie Nelson fronting Labradford.’ 8/10 – NME

                ‘A strange delight of a record.’ 8/10 – Popmatters

                ‘A record that urges you to lean closer to the speakers in order to fully hear everything that is being played and sung.’ – The Wire

                ‘These gradual pleasures fly in the face of today's pop/rock hardsell, for sure, but inexorably you are drawn into Kurt's world.’ 4/5 - Mojo

                TRACK LISTING

                1. The Daily Growl
                2. The New Cob Web Summer
                3. My Blue Wave
                4. I Can Hardly Spell My Name
                5. Autumn's Vicar
                6. Flick
                7. Caterpillar
                8. D Scott Parsley
                9. Bugs
                10. The Old Matchbook Trick
                11. Is A Woman


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