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SADDLE CREEK

Bright Eyes

A Christmas Album

    Originally released in 2002 as a Saddle Creek online store exclusive (with all proceeds benefitting the Nebraska AIDS project) Bright Eyes’ A Christmas Album finally gets its first widespread commercial release.

    The New York Times called the release ‘the saddest, sweetest holiday recording you’ll hear all season’ A Christmas Album features eleven traditional Christmas songs performed and arranged by Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor along with help from… Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova), Gretta Cohn (Cursive), Armand Constanzo, Denver Dalley (Desparecidos), Stefanie Drootin-Senseny (The Good Life, Big Harp), Orenda Fink (Azure Ray), Neely Jenkins (Tilly and The Wall), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and more.

    Stef Chura

    Midnight

      “For most people who create art I would assume there is some kind of deep unanswerable hole in your soul as to why you're making it…” So says Stef Chura ahead of the release of Midnight, her gritty, vehement new album - recorded and produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest - and her first new collection of songs for the Saddle Creek label. Illuminating that search for answers with a fevered sense of exploration, Midnight is a bold leap forward from Messes, Stef’s contagious debut album, with every aspect of her new work finding bold ways to express itself as it rips through twelve restless and relentless new tracks.

      A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance.

      Equal parts thrilling and angsty, Midnight is a testament to the collaborative process, a record that makes the very most of those who came together to make it, but more than that, it’s a firm statement of tenacity and perseverance, of not resting on your laurels but leaping forwards no matter the situation you find yourself in. From out of one day and into the next. 


      At its genesis, social-media platforms posited themselves as new, innovative ways to connect with friends and family. You could share and promote your work, trade insights on the latest pop-culture phenomenon, coo over a friend’s new pet or baby—the possibilities seemed as boundless as the Internet itself had in the early ‘90s. But as one platform begot another, and then another, the proverbial milk started to curdle. Especially in the last decade, as algorithms evolve, Facebook and Twitter have morphed into warped personalized mirrors, where users can gaze at and react to left- or right-leaning news sources, specific-to-them advertisements, and—perhaps most relevant—fiery political opinions. Facebook in particular has become a breeding ground for hate speech and bullying, among other issues.

      This is precisely what troubles Omaha electro-punk pioneers The Faint on their forthcoming seventh studio album, Egowerk. “Social media is turning well-meaning people into self-important cruel monsters,” asserts lead singer Todd Fink. “Egowerk’s focus is on the current social state of the Internet: an amazing world of free knowledge, communication, and opportunity is proving to be a toxic battleground. One where the people most sure of their opinion are quick to take a stand and destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them.”

      His sense of urgency unfurls over the album’s frenetic, cacophonous tracks. Opener “Child Asleep” echoes well-loved Faint singles from the Danse Macabre days, with rapidfire techno beats that sear so hot, your forehead will break into a sweat regardless of proximity to a dance floor. And though the synths should sound familiar to any Faint follower, the song’s monotone message is at once classic and current: “If I was wise, I would see I’m a child still asleep.” Elaborating further, Todd says, “It would be amazing if I could wake up from the world that I think I'm awake in already. If there’s a better way of understanding life, I'd love to be privy to it. You see the wisdom of all Gurus in the East, and you know they're not bothered by this or that. They've attained something, and the rest of us are just kind of banging into stuff, trying to figure out what to do with our lives.”

      But in terms of music creation, the band, which also includes drummer and backup vocalist Clark Baechle, keyboardist Graham Ulicny, and guitarist and bassist Michael “Dapose” Dappen, is very much wide awake. It’s been four years since the Saddle Creek flagship act dropped a proper studio album, and more than two decades since they first tore onto the Midwest scene, alongside area staples Cursive and Bright Eyes, with anxious electro-pop-punk anthems that meshed doomsday themes with thudding dance-floor hooks.

      Now with their latest effort, the group began to construct Egowerk shortly after releasing their 2016 career-spanning record, CAPSULE:1999-2016, with Baechle making frequent trips back to Omaha from his new home in Philadelphia to mix the record. “We came up with the foundation of nearly an entire song each day, every day,” says Fink. “We worked really fast and made a lot of progress at the beginning.”

      “As a band, we did the whole record ourselves,” says Baechle, who also oversaw the production on Egowerk. “We voted to produce it as a band. For me, personally, this was the biggest difference between this album and others.”

      Recording at Enamel Studios in Omaha, The Faint composed 11 blistering tracks that explore society’s current relationship to, well, themselves. “I have work to do on my ego, and so does everyone else,” says Fink. “It's become really noticeable with the state of the world, especially when we're on communications platforms, social media and all that stuff. We have to ask ourselves why we're doing what we're doing. Is it an ego trip? Are we trying to make other people do what we wish we would do? Or are we just trying to feel better than other people and taking people down?”

      Despite The Faint’s nihilistic musings on Egowerk, Fink and Baechle remain optimistic that things can improve if society is willing to absorb dueling perspectives. “The more you learn about any issue, any issue at all, the more you understand that it's more complicated than you think,” Fink says. “I'd like to see people less convinced that they're right about everything all the time. I guess I think we'll figure it out as time goes on.”


      Hand Habits

      Placeholder

        Meg Duffy grew up in a small town in Upstate New York and they cut their teeth as a session guitarist and touring member of Kevin Morby’s band. The Hand Habits project emerged after Meg moved to Los Angeles; it started as a private songwriting outlet but soon evolved into a fully-fledged band with Meg at the helm. Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), was released by Woodsist Records in 2017. The LP was entirely self-produced and recorded in Meg’s home during spare moments when they weren’t touring. Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is a lush, homespun collection of folk songs that found Meg in an exploratory state as an artist moving out on their own for the first time.

        Two years later, Hand Habits has returned with their sophomore album, placeholder. To make this album, Meg chose to work in a studio and bring in collaborators, entrusting them with what had previously been a very personal creative process. Over the course of 12 tracks, Meg emerges with new confidence as both a bandleader and singer. This album is as tender and immediate as anything Meg’s ever written, but it’s also intensely focused and refined, the work of a meticulous musician ready to share their singular vision with the world.

        The name placeholder stems from Meg’s fascination with the undefinable. Their songs serve as openings -- carved-out spaces waiting to be endowed with meaning. As a lyricist, Meg is drawn to the in-between, and the songs on this new album primarily confront the ways in which certain experiences can serve as a stepping stone on the road to self-discovery. “A big aspect of my songwriting and the way I move through the world depends on my relationships with people. The songs on placeholder are about accountability and forgiveness,” Meg says. “These are all real stories. I don’t fictionalize much.”

        Meg describes these songs as their most direct to date, crafted with clear intention, and unlike Wildly Humble (Idle Before The Void), placeholder doesn’t meander. “It’s less of a submerged landscape and more a concise series of thoughts,” Meg explains. Instrumentally, placeholder can be situated alongside some of Meg’s folk-adjacent contemporaries like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, and the guitar work on this album proves that Meg continues to be one of the finest young musicians working today. placeholder is another entry in the Hand Habits songbook, but it’s also a valuable testament of our time. While placeholder inspires a sense of ease, simple questions rarely beget easy answers and Meg honors the indescribable joy and profound sorrow that comes with figuring things out, one step at a time.


        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Adrianne Lenker & Buck Meek

        A Sides And B Sides

          The summer after graduating from Berklee College of Music, Adrianne Lenker moved to New York City. She met Buck Meek the day she moved there, at a corner market called Mr. Kiwi (although, technically they had already played a show together in Boston, so they recognized each other but weren’t sure from where). The two explored the city by bicycle and eventually began to play songs together. "It was one of those friendships that developed extremely fast where suddenly you're each other's best friend," Lenker says. "We hung out every day from the moment we met.”

          Meek’s off-kilter, piercing guitar licks and solos are the perfect juxtaposition to bring Lenker’s melodic and stirring vocals and lyrics to fruition. "I guess what struck me as a songwriter then was that her songs all seemed to be really human, and really emotional, and really honest — vulnerable — but at the same time they all somehow had this ineffable quality," Meek says. "Like, all of that human content was serving as a medium for something beyond.”

          Soon they picked up a white conversion van, named her Bonnie, and made touring their whole lives. In 2014, songs crafted on the road were captured on two EPs released under the Buck and Anne moniker: one called a-sides and one called b-sides. Both warm, acoustic affairs.

          In the ensuing years, Adrianne and Buck joined with Max Oleartchik and James Krivchenia to form Big Thief, one of the most beloved bands in music today. a-sides and b-sides provide an early glimpse at what was soon to come, while standing on their own as documents of a deeply meaningful time in the creative lives of Lenker and Meek.


          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Adrianne Lenker

          Hours Were The Birds

            With the release of breakthrough albums Masterpiece and Capacity, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has established hers as one of the most powerful voices in music. As Consequence of Sound describes it, "Thanks to the swift ascent of Big Thief, singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker has become one of the most praised indie folk artists of the last five years.”

            While her output with Big Thief is what brought her music to the attention of most who hold her in such high regard, Masterpiece is not the beginning of the story. "My first solo record I made was Hours Were the Birds,” Lenker explains. “I moved to New York and, starting from complete scratch, had nothing to show anybody that was representing what I did, other than stuff I made when I was 13. So, I decided I should record a solo album of my songs that I had been accumulating.”

            In 2013 Lenker returned to her hometown of Minneapolis and entered Terrarium Studios with producer Rob Oesterlin, where she laid down ten songs on acoustic guitar. “It’s basically just like a live solo show,” Lenker describes, “but with an added twist.” She then enlisted NYC friend Andrew Sarlo to mix the album (he would later produce and mix Masterpiece and engineer, produce and mix Capacity), and on January 24, 2014 Hours Were the Birds was released into the world.

            Drenched in beautiful imagery and intimate stories, it is the work of a woman on a journey, conquering new territory with bravery and honesty.


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Hovvdy

            Easy / Turns Blue

              Taking inspiration from the original concept behind the founding of Saddle Creek, as an attempt to highlight their home city through music and art, began the Document Series in 2017. Each release featured in the Document Series is comprised of an exclusive record featuring unreleased music from artists outside of the label's roster, along with a specially curated zine created by the artist. The fifth installment in the series comes from Austin, Texas based Hovvdy.

              Hovvdy (pronounced "howdy") is the writing and recording project of Charlie Martin and Will Taylor. The duo, both primarily drummers, first met in the fall of 2014 and quickly bonded over a love for quiet music. Within a few weeks, they had combined songs and began recording their first EP in bedrooms and family homes across Texas.


              Adrianne Lenker

              Abysskiss

                Adrianne Lenker has been writing songs since she was 10 years old. Her "back story" has been well documented in various interviews and profiles for Big Thief over the last 3 years. Despite, or more likely because of the constant touring and studio work, the last few years have been some of the most prolific for Lenker as a writer. Songs pop out at soundcheck. They pop out on late night drives between cities. They pop out in green rooms, hotel stairwells, gardens, and kitchens around the world.

                In the hands of Lenker song writing is not an old dead craft. It is alive. It is vital. With little regard for standard album cycle practice or the idea of resting at all, Lenker set out to make a document. Songs can be slippery and following a 2+ years on the road with Big Thief, Lenker felt a growing need to document this time in her life in an intimate, immediate way. The result is her new album, Abysskiss.

                "I want to archive the songs in their original forms every few years,” explains Lenker. "My first solo record I made was Hours Were the Birds. I had just turned 21 and moved to New York City where I was sleeping in a warehouse, working in a restaurant and photographing pigeons. Now five years later, another skin is being shed."

                Following a two-week road trip through the southwestern United States, Lenker headed into the studio with long-time friend Luke Temple. Temple put on his loosely fitting, bright orange, 100% wool producer hat and for one week they made music. The songs chosen for this collection were the songs that felt the most alive in the room. These are not castaways or B-sides. Some of these songs have been alive for years while some were written just days before the session. Some will appear in different future forms, some will not. The thread that connects these songs is not something that can easily be put down in words. Intuition connects these songs. They are a record of a time.

                With this collection, Lenker further illuminates to the listening public what those close to her already know; here we have a songwriter of the highest order, following her voice and the greater Voices that pass through her with an unflinching openness and clarity of translation.


                FORMAT INFORMATION

                LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                Black Belt Eagle Scout

                Mother Of My Children

                  “Having this identity—radical indigenous queer feminist—keeps me going. My music and my identity come from the same foundation of being a Native woman.” Katherine Paul (aka KP) is Black Belt Eagle Scout, and Mother of My Children is her debut album. Recorded in the middle of winter near her hometown in Northwest Washington, Paul’s connection to the landscape’s eerie beauty are palpable throughout as the album traces the full spectrum of confronting buried feelings and the loss of what life was supposed to look like. Paul reflects, “I wrote this album in the fall of 2016 after two pretty big losses in my life. My mentor, Geneviève Castrée, had just died from pancreatic cancer and the relationship I had with the first woman I loved had drastically lessened and changed.” Heavy and heartbroken, Paul found respite from the weight of such loss in the creation of these songs that “are about grief and love for people, but also about being a native person in what is the United States today.”

                  On Mother of My Children, the songs weave together to capture both the enduring and fleeting experiences of loss, frustration, and dreaming. The structures are traditional, but the lyrics don’t adhere to any format other than what feels right in the moment. Mother of My Children begins with lead single “Soft Stud,” which Paul describes as her “queer anthem.” It’s “about the hardships of queer desire within an open relationship.” It’s followed by “Indians Never Die,” a call out to colonizers and those who don’t respect the Earth. As Standing Rock was happening, many people in Paul’s life were coming together to fight for the most basic necessity to sustain human life: water. “Our treaty rights weren’t being honored. Imagine hearing on the news that the government doesn’t support you as a human being and never has. They don’t care about the water, they don’t care about how they are destroying what is around them. Indigenous people are the protectors of this land. Indians never die because this is our land that we will forever protect in the present and the afterlife.”

                  Paul grew up in a small Indian reservation, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, surrounded by family focused on native drumming, singing, and arts. From an early age, Paul was singing and dancing at powwows with one of her strongest memories at her family’s own powwow, called the All My Relations Powwow. Paul reminisces, “When I was younger, my only form of music was through the songs my ancestors taught the generations of my family. Singing in our language is a spiritual process and it carries on through me in how I create music today.” With the support of her family and a handful of bootleg Hole and Nirvana VHS tapes, Paul taught herself how to play guitar and drums as a teenager. In 2007, she moved to Portland, Oregon to attend college and get involved with the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls eventually diving deep into the city’s music scene playing guitar and drums in bands while evolving her artistry into what would later become Black Belt Eagle Scout.

                  Mother of My Children is a life chapter gently preserved. The access listeners have to such vulnerability feels special and generous.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Sam Evian

                  You, Forever

                    As it has been said: no matter where you go, there you are. With his new album You, Forever, Sam Evian, the project of New York-based musician, songwriter, and producer Sam Owens, is here to add some eternity to that sentiment.

                    “This is you, forever,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible for you, that you’re in charge of your actions. Everything you do affects others and yourself, so, no matter what you choose to do, be there and learn from it.”

                    It’s a mantra that powers self-starter Owens, a producer and sound engineer by trade who entered the scene with his debut Sam Evian full-length, Premium, in the fall of 2016. The notion takes on a dual meaning that is echoed across You,Forever.

                    “There’s a ton of romance on the record,” he says. “Maybe it’s all romance.”

                    You, Foreveris Owens’s first foray into a more soul-baring sensibility and places the artist directly in the sightlines and heartlines of his listeners. The album (as well as 2017’s “Need You,” a collaboration with the multi-hyphenate musician Chris Cohen) was written on the heels of his experience touring Premiumwith his band and was recorded across the latter half of last year. The tours—which included opening shows for bands like Whitney, Teenage Fanclub, Luna, Nick Hakim and Lucius—taught him much about feel and interaction. Further fueled by a desire to escape from the glow of screens and to embrace a sense of limitation, he quickly developed a new set of instrumental songs written for a band rather than just himself and recorded them on a Tascam four-track cassette recorder in his parents’ house in North Carolina.

                    “Just like most people, my recording studio day job had me staring at a computer eight hours a day,” he says. “I just needed to get away from the glowing rectangle. The only way to do that was to work on tape. The four-track is so limiting; you’re forced to get only the bones of the song down. You can’t do any overdubs, so it was fun to work on that with the experience of the live band behind me. And something about playing my family’s instruments in the garage where I grew up spurred a set of songs that became the new record.”

                    Inspired by these limiting techniques, Owens borrowed an eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder from a friend, rented a house in upstate New York, and took his band – Brian Betancourt (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), Adam Brisbin (guitar), and Hannah Cohen (backup vocals) – there to record the new album in July of 2017. Focusing on instrumental grooves and the vibe he had achieved on the original four-track recordings, Owens found the process so enlightening he decided to up the ante yet again by banning tuning pedals from the house.

                    “Tuning pedals make it so easy to sound good together, so when you eliminate them it takes everything back to the ’60s, which is when all my favorite records were born,” he says. “It makes everything more questionable, weird, and unruly in a really simple way.”

                    Dreamy album opener “IDGAF” explores the notion of embracing one’s passions and pursuing one’s goals no matter the impositions in their path. On one hand a subtle stand against the current political climate and on another a call to be responsible, Owens calls it a romantic song that embodies his act of self-mixing his record: “I had to put myself aside and let the music happen.”

                    “Health Machine” is a crunchy, slow-burning but deliberate stomper glowing with warm electric guitar noodling, saxophone wailing, and Owens’s reverb-laden lyrics that he says detail an abstract version of how he relates to his own physical form. “It’s about the unattainable health that I would like to imagine for myself on tour. The line ‘We slither out on a Tuesday feeling tired and hopeless’ is such a hilarious picture: four people in a minivan slithering out of Atlanta, Georgia, stopping at a CVS and getting a bunch of Zicam. Health is your job if you’re touring as a musician, although it’s a job I don’t do so well.”

                    “Country” is a fleet, nimble driving song written after Owens and his girlfriend (Hannah Cohen, who also sings throughout the album) took a cross-country road trip and encountered what they perceived to be a dust storm in rural Nevada. “For a hundred miles we didn’t see a person or even a tree, then all of a sudden this giant dust cloud appeared which turned out to be ten cowboys on horses lassoing cows. It was the most real thing I’ve ever seen.” In fact, Owens wrote every song on the album with the act of driving-while-listening in mind, and says many of the lyrics came together following that life-changing road trip—the only time he has ever driven across America without anyone waiting on him to show up for a soundcheck. But despite the allure of the transient life, his heart belongs to one place.

                    “The record is about romance, and about my love for living in New York and trying to separate myself from any idea I had previously of living in New York,” he says. “I’ve kind of designed my own world there.”

                    Whether behind the wheel in the dust bowls of America, navigating the bustle of his adopted home, playing festival stages with rock legends, or getting back to basics in his parents’ garage, no matter where Sam Evian goes, there he is…forever.

                    Stef Chura

                    Messes

                      Stef Chura’s debut studio album, Messes, is born of her years of experience playing around the Michigan underground, setting up DIY shows in the area, and moving around the state. “Right when it starts to feel like home/It's time to go," she sings on its opening cut, 'Slow Motion', a twisty, dim-lit guitar pop song where she curls and stretches every word. There are worlds of emotion in the ways Chura pronounces phrases with twang and grit, alternatingly full of despair, playfulness, and abandon. Chura calls her music “emotional collage,” eschewing start-to-finish storylines in favour of writing intuitively about feelings, drawing from experiences and references related to a certain sentiment.

                      Originally from Alpena, Michigan, Chura moved to the Ypsilanti area in 2009, where she began playing shows before ultimately moving to Detroit in 2012. Chura has been home-recording and self-releasing her songs for six years, playing bass in friends’ bands as well. With a trove of demos and 4-track home recordings, some of which she’d released on small runs of cassettes over the years, Chura says she wasn’t sure what to do with her life before heading into the studio. “One of my best friends passed away and I thought, what do I have to do before I die? I have to at least make one record.”

                      She recorded the entire album with Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good To Me) throughout 2015. Thomas plays bass on most of the record, and a bit of guitar and drums. Drummer Ryan Clancy of Jamaican Queens and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. adds the bulk of the drums. Through intricate guitar work and warm, textured production, Messes finds her trying to make sense of life’s ups and downs. “It’s about emotional mess, not physical mess,” Chura says. “The title track is about knowing that you are going to do something the wrong way, but you’re doing it anyway because you want that experience. I’ve had to do a lot of things the wrong way in order to figure out how to live my life.”

                      Palehound

                      YMCA Pool

                        The fourth release in the Saddle Creek Document series, where they aim to highlight artists and music scenes from around the world that they’ve fallen in love with, but aren’t necessarily already part of the Saddle Creek family, is the YMCA Pool 7-inch from Boston’s Palehound.

                        Led by fierce vocalist and prolific creative force Ellen Kempner, Palehound formed in 2014 and has since taken their plainspoken, techniqueheavy indie rock from the basements of Boston to festivals around the world.

                        Kempner described the origin of the tracks found on YMCA Pool in saying, "I've had these songs laying around forever and could never really find a place for them on a record. After we toured with Bully, Alicia Bognanno offered to record some stuff for me at her house in Nashville, which seemed like a great opportunity. We spent two days hiding from the heat in her house recording... and also at Dave and Buster's. I love Alicia she is truly the best."

                        Young Jesus

                        Young Jesus

                          Young Jesus, an indie rock quartet from Los Angeles, looks to communicate the tensions between proximity and distance, chaos and order. On their upcoming record S/T, to be released by Saddle Creek, the band focuses on seemingly small moments in everyday life: phone calls with Mom, landscapes along the highway, crows in a tree. Yet with time these strange intimacies add up to a life. A life full of anxiety, confusion, sadness, joy, boredom, and ultimately wonder.

                          Young Jesus mixes the emotional intensity of bands like Slint, Pile, and Built To Spill with the quiet contemplation of Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, and Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk. They give themselves to moments of aggression and volume, balanced alongside near-silence.

                          Influenced by the writings of Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, Wang An-Shih, Wang Wei, Joy Williams, and Marilynne Robinson, singer/songwriter John Rossiter hopes for a making-do with what we have, a sometimes wide-eyed learning process. Life may be too massive to grasp, but that does not mean we should shy away from it. Rather, Young Jesus tries to look toward the complexity and imperfection. “As ever, the questions Rossiter and co. raise are too big to expect any sort of clear answer, but Young Jesus offer a model of coping, a way to remain hopeful and human within their jaws” (Various Small Flames).

                          Rossiter states, “the ethos is to push each other to express things that are not common-- like ideas of love and trust within friendships-- through being extremely vulnerable and making mistakes. Hopefully those mistakes become framed as an important and necessary part of process. It's about communication between four people. Hopefully it is the sound of four very good friends who want to let other people into that space.” These may be small things, but observed with thought and care they come to make the world of Young Jesus

                          Bright Eyes

                          A Christmas Album

                            Originally issued in 2002 as a Saddle Creek store exclusive, the aptly titled Christmas Album begins with a piano, flute, ambient noise, and musical saw-driven version of "Away in a Manger," which will help weed out your basic yule jam fans who were just drawn in by the generic name, from the Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst disciples who know that the warmth of the holiday season is trumped only by its potential for melancholy. What follows is a sort of half-comforting, half-sad jamboree with Oberst and a small army of friends at his house playing through Christmas standards like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem," the latter of which, when delivered with Oberst's trademark tremble, sounds more like a lament from a filthy, near-suicidal pauper locked outside of the city's walls than it does a hymn of ecclesiastical joy. That said, the fragile, homespun, and largely insular vibe that permeates much of the album, provides a nice bit of contrast to other, less sonically humble seasonal offerings, and oddly enough, is probably more aligned with the true spirit of the season.

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Barry says: It's a familiar thing, isn't it. Band brings out Christmas album near Christmas, it's full of your old favourite classics, recreated without straying too far from the feel of the OG, but with your favourite artists voice. Yeah, this isn't that. Hauntingly melancholic, beautifully meditative and a welcome change from the standard Christmas fare.

                            The trails that Brooklyn’s Big Thief -- Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums) -- take us down on Capacity, the band’s highly anticipated second record out 6/9 on Saddle Creek, are overgrown with the wilderness of pumping souls. After last year’s stunning Masterpiece, Capacity was recorded in a snowy winter nest in upstate New York at Outlier Studio with producer Andrew Sarlo. The album jumps right into lives marked up and nipped in surprisingly swift fashion. They are peopled and unpeopled, spooked and soothed, regenerating back into a state where they can once again be vulnerable. Lenker’s songs introduce us to a gallery of multifacted women and deal with the complicated matters of identity — at once dangerous and curious, though never unbelievable. Lenker shows us the gentle side of being ripped open. Tricked into love, done in and then witnessing the second act of pulling oneself back together to prepare for it to all happen again, but this time to a sturdier soul, one who is going to take the punches better than ever before and deal some jabs and roundhouses of their own. The album is thick with raw, un-doctored beauty: most of the songs on Capacity were played for the first time in the studio and were recorded the same day. “There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker explains. “The songs search for a deeper level of self-acceptance, to embrace the world within and without. I think Masterpiece began that process, as a reaction from inside the pain, whereas I feel Capacity examines the pain from the outside.”

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Laura says: Following on from their aptly titled debut "Masterpiece", this Brooklyn four piece once again bring us a stunning collection of heartfelt songs. It's a beautiful album, at times sounding quite stripped back, with gently strummed guitars over crisp drum patterns, but it's the gentle intensity of Adrianne's vocals that really sets it apart.

                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                            Wilder Maker

                            New Streets

                              Welcome to our new series, Document, where we aim to highlight artists and music scenes from around the world that we’ve fallen in love with, but aren’t necessarily already part of the Saddle Creek family. Our second release in the series is the New Streets 7-inch from Brooklyn’s Wilder Maker. Urban pastorals unfold in the music of Gabriel Birnbaum, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and writer behind the songs of Brooklyn’s Wilder Maker. Wilder Maker’s songs keenly observe landscapes of desire and abandon,_lled with colorful characters and street revelations, in a musical setting as boldly diverse as their NYC home base.

                              Bright Eyes

                              LIFTED Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground - Remastered

                              Inherent in youth is a kinetic energy, vitality and passion that has the potential to move masses. Every new generation picks a voice that will offer them something to identify with - something to prove to them that the crazy things they're feeling, and the anger that they're having, and the disillusionment that's plaguing them is normal. Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst is that voice.

                              Born 1980 in Omaha, and recording since he was 13, Conor Oberst owns a voice that quakes with the tumultuous energy that only youth can produce. Oberst's incredible ability to tell stories with his songs and paint intricate pictures with his words is reminiscent, without being derivative, of mid-period Dylan. And his gift for composing and delivering those songs is pure poetry. As the mastermind behind the acclaimed Bright Eyes collective, Oberst's genius is found in a pretense-free, orchestral approach to songwriting. His most recent, most musically vigorous and rockin' project, Desaparecidos, toured the nation and released Read Music/Speak Spanish to enormous amounts of critical acclaim.

                              LIFTED or The Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, is the latest, most significant release from Oberst and the notable cast of Bright Eyes players. Oberst's mainstay production team of Mike Mogis and Andy Lemaster (Now It's Overhead) lend performances on the record along with other noteworthy Omaha musicians including Todd and Clark Baechle (The Faint), Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor (Azure Ray), Matt Maginn and Clint Schnase (Cursive), and Jiha Lee (The Good Life).

                              The Bright Eyes tour in spring of 2002 saw Oberst take the stage in a powder blue suit, surrounded by six beautiful female musicians, his sense of bona fide showmanship entrancing his audience. At his two sold-out Bowery Ballroom performances in New York City, you could have heard a pin drop between songs as hundreds of fans and new converts fell under his delicate spell - proof of Oberst's virtuosity as the consummate performer.


                              Bright Eyes

                              The Studio Albums 2000-2011 Box Set

                                Albums Include:
                                Fevers and Mirrors 2xLP (Gatefold - Maroon Vinyl)
                                LIFTED or The Story is in The Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground 2xLP (Gatefold - Black & Yellow Swirl Vinyl)
                                I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (Light Yellow Vinyl)
                                Digital Ash in a Digital Urn 2xLP w/ D-Side etching (Gatefold - Light Blue Vinyl)
                                Cassadaga 2xLP (Gatefold - Clear Vinyl)
                                The People’s Key (Orange Swirl Vinyl)


                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                LP Box Set Info: VINYL BOX SET EXCLUSIVES:
                                • Limited Edition of 5000 Worldwide
                                • COLOURED VINYL (Coloured vinyl is exclusive to this box set. BLACK vinyl reissues available in November, details below.)
                                • Foil stamped linen wrapped box
                                • Twelve 8x10 photo prints by Butch Hogan
                                • Essay by Nathaniel Krenkel

                                FREE SHIPPING This item has FREE UK shipping!

                                Premium is the glistening debut album from New York-based Sam Evian. Sam describes the album as; “an analogue dream in a digital world.” Like flowing water, its cool surface entices and refreshes - then reveals hidden emotional depths. The sound of Premium recalls a sunbaked cassette of Pet Sounds or All Things Must Pass, composed with glowing guitar chords, aching pedal steel, Wurlitzers and iconic 20th-century synths. Inspired by the soulful classic sounds of Jackson Browne, Shuggie Otis, Sly and the Family Stone and The Band, as well as contemporary influences such as Cass McCombs, Broadcast, Cate Le Bon, and Chris Cohen, this is music meant for a close-up experience; spacious, dreamy, fun, and disarmingly open and honest.

                                The music came together quickly when Sam found himself in what he calls, “a premium set of circumstances.” An engineer and producer as well as in-demand guitarist, Sam befriended the founders of Brooklyn’s Figure 8 Studio, Eli Crews and the enigmatic and inspiring Shahzad Ismaily. After helping them to build and wire the studio, Sam explains how he found himself at the centre of a musical community; “I was surrounded by endlessly talented and fun musicians in a beautiful recording environment that I helped build. I felt confident and happy, so the music came together easily.”

                                That musical community included the group that recorded Premium. The album’s nine songs reflect the casual, relaxed atmosphere Sam created for himself at Figure 8, gathering his friends to record in o¬ff hours, capturing moments of o¬ffhand inspiration and laughter. There was Austin Vaughn on drums (Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple), a long-time friend from North Carolina School of the Arts, and Brian Betancourt on bass (Hospitality, Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple). They were joined by Michael Coleman on keys, a prolific player and producer, as well as being Figure 8’s studio manager. Pedal steel was provided by Dan Iead (Cass McCombs), and recorded at New York’s legendary Magic Shop studios in the days just before it closed. The tracks were some of the very last recordings in the room that had witnessed sessions by David Bowie, the Ramones, Blondie, Real Estate, Kurt Vile and generations of others. Other guest performers include vocalists Cassandra Jenkins and Hannah Cohen, Shahzad Ismaily, Eddie Barbash (the saxophonist on the Colbert show) and Steve Marion (aka Delicate Steve)


                                Big Thief's music, rooted in the songs of Adrianne Lenker, paints in vivid tones "the process of harnessing pain, loss, and love, while simultaneously letting go, looking into your own eyes through someone else's, and being okay with the inevitability of death," says Adrianne.

                                Masterpiece, Big Thief's debut album, is filled with characters and visceral narratives, songs that pivot in the space of a few words. Adrianne's voice and guitar playing speak of rich emotional territory with grace and insight. In her words, the record tracks "the masterpiece of existence, which is always folding into itself, people attempting to connect, to both shake themselves awake and to shake o¬ the numbness of certain points in their life. The interpretations might be impressionistic or surrealistic, but they're grounded in simple things.”

                                Adrianne met her longtime musical partner, guitarist and singer, Buck Meek, in Brooklyn a few years ago, and they quickly formed a creative bond tempered by the experience of traveling and performing for months on end in old dive bars, yards, barns, and basements together. They recorded a pair of duo albums (A-Sides and B-Sides), and Adrianne showcased her songs on a solo album, Hours Were The Birds.

                                Now, as a full rock and roll band, with Buck on guitar, Max Oleartchik on bass, and James Krivchenia on drums, they bring a steady wildness, giving the songs an even deeper layer of nostalgia. "These guys feel like a pack of wolves at my back," says Adrianne, "they make the songs howl and bark with a fierce tenderness that gives me courage."
                                After spending last July in an old house that they turned into a studio on Lake Champlain with producer Andrew Sarlo, the resulting collection soars on what Big Thief fan Sharon Van Etten calls "...a real journey, with intelligent stories and twist-and-turn melodies.


                                The Mynabirds

                                Lovers Know

                                  After touring the world as a member of the Postal Service in 2013, Laura Burhenn (The Mynabirds) took a year to get lost. She drove across the US twice, toured South Africa solo, made her first appearance in London (also solo), and trekked all over Europe with William Faulkner’s words ringing in her ears: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” Finally she found herself in Los Angeles with a suitcase of songs to fill a whole new album. Lovers Know, The Mynabirds’ third full-length release, was produced by Bradley Hanan Carter (Black English) and recorded over a yearlong period in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Nashville, and Auckland, New Zealand.

                                  It’s definitely new territory for Burhenn, forging into 80s, 90s and futuristic soundscapes, recalling Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and even 90s hip hop and R&B. The album may be loaded with a fresh palette of new sounds (swarms of synths, gauzy electric guitars, and electronic drums), but her brooding, unmistakable voice leads the way. Lyrically this is her most personal and confessional work to date, and also her most accessible. Whereas her last album, GENERALS, watched from a wide angle to understand the world at a distance, Lovers Know pulls in close.

                                  “There’s something about wandering the world over,” Laura says, “that makes you realize how similar we all are – everyone searching for something, so often the same thing: love. It may sound trite, but it’s true. Love – or the lack of it – is the thing we all have in common. It can destroy us. It can break us open and let the light in. And it’s also the thing that can make us sing.” Burhenn has released two previous albums as The Mynabirds on Saddle Creek, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (2010) and GENERALS (2012), both of which were produced by Richard Swift and met by critical acclaim.

                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                  2xLtd LP Info: Double vinyl with etched 4th side.

                                  Cursive release an expanded, deluxe reissue of their 2003 breakthrough album The Ugly Organ via Saddle Creek. This deluxe remastered edition is available on double CD and 180g double vinyl, with eight additional tracks on the accompanying disc. These tracks – written during the same sessions as and originally intended for The Ugly Organ – were previously found across the band’s 8 Teeth To Eat You split with Eastern Youth, their ‘Art Is Hard’ and ‘The Recluse’ singles, and the Saddle Creek 50 compilation.

                                  The packaging for both The Ugly Organ (Deluxe Edition) [Remastered] 2xCD and 2xLP includes a booklet with extensive liner notes comprised of rare photos, original artwork drafts, handwritten lyrics, a list of all tour dates from the era, and an introduction written by Kyle Ryan of The AV Club. 

                                  From the maniacal opening notes and carnival barker howl that launch the album, The Ugly Organ wasted no time searing itself into a listener’s ears and quickly established Cursive as a musical force with which to be reckoned. The album arrived three years after the underground success of their 2000 LP Cursive’s Domestica, which introduced frontman Tim Kasher’s particularly confessional and conceptual songwriting style, and saw him delving even further into and refining that craft. A self-aware examination of artistic constraints (or lack thereof), relationships, sex, and the intersection of all three, The Ugly Organ wowed critics and audiences alike with its cerebral, cathartic blend of songs that are alternately hushed and restrained, riotous and dissonant. Fiercely intelligent and cohesive – the liner notes laid the songs out like a play, complete with stage directions – across its diverse sonic landscape, the album landed Cursive on the Sunday Arts & Leisure section cover of The New York Times (which also called it “a marvelous collection of riddles and left turns, conceived as a single piece of musical theater”) and earned accolades from Rolling Stone (“a brilliant leap forward”), Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Alternative Press (★★★★★), MAGNET (“The best punk record you’ll hear all year”), Esquire, and SPIN, among many others, as well as a place on numerous year-end best lists.

                                  The Ugly Organ feels as vibrant and vital today as it did upon release more than 10 years ago. A landmark album, it not only catapulted the Omaha, NE-based band from the simmering indie underground to the forefront of a genre, and was the second Saddle Creek album to break the 100,000 sold mark, but also served to inspire a host of young bands in its wake.

                                  Cursive has also announced a new run of tour dates early next year, beginning February 10th in Salt Lake City and wrapping up on March 21st with a hometown show in Omaha. The tour also includes a show at The Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA on February 20th and two nights at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY on March 10th and 11th. Each night’s setlist will feature songs culled from across the band’s seven albums – including their most recent, 2012’s I Am Gemini – in addition to drawing heavily from The Ugly Organ. A cellist will also accompany the band throughout the tour to perform on all The Ugly Organ-era songs. A current itinerary is below.


                                  Kludge idiosyncratically captures life as it exists in our weird almost future world of flying robots, cancer from food, cell phone wire taps, metadata, $7.25ish minimum wage and $15.50 an hour endless choice buffets. Yet, the album possesses that inherent sense of timelessness that exists in all great music. Thanks to its combination of addictively fetching rock ‘n’ roll and Daniel Pujol’s lyrical brilliance, the end result proves yet again that Daniel Pujol is, first and foremost, a songwriter.

                                  Examining well-worn subjects like love, death, authenticity, identity, alienation and society, Pujol applies a filter completely his own and brings these ideas to a place they’ve never existed before. His words examine the world with his signature brand of skepticism, humor, idealism, and an unmistakable earnestness and sincerity. Lead single “Circles” perfectly illustrates this with lines like “Show me that your sacred heart’s the human kindness kind / Show me more than 3D printers drawing skulls and knives / Show me more than kleptocratic demagogue control/Show me that you ain’t a lizard, show you’ve got a soul.”

                                  Rural Alberta Advantage

                                  Departing

                                  After a breakthrough 2009 that saw them earn comparisons to Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel, capture SXSW buzz playing on a bill with Grizzly Bear, sell out a tour, sign to Saddle Creek, and score a ‘Breaking Out’ featuring in Spin Magazine, The Rural Alberta Advantage are poised to explode in 2011 with the "Departing".

                                  With The Rural Alberta Advantage’s new album, the band further refines the exuberant guitar work; everything-on-the-table singing; songwriting full of conviction and detail; and majestic, keyboard-sprinkled arrangements that have won them so many fans. "Departing" strings together themes of small towns, Canadian fall and winter, breakup, and redemption and serves as a companion piece to their beloved debut album "Hometowns". Highlights include the affecting "North Star", the stark regret of "Tornado", and the storming, percussive surge of "Stamp", all of which vividly set the scene.

                                  The group consists of singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, also the chief writer in the group; Paul Banwatt, whose raucous percussion pushes the songs into overdrive; and multi-instrumental Amy Cole, who provides keys, percussion, and backing vocals. Edenloff grew up in rural Fort McMurray, Alberta, and draws on his experiences there in his songwriting.

                                  Rural Alberta Advantage

                                  Drain The Blood

                                  “Drain the Blood” is the first single from the band’s album “Hometowns” and includes the B-side cover of “Eye of the Tiger”. The Rural Alberta Advantage was born out of singer/songwriter Nils Edenloff’s exodus from the province that inspired the band’s name and many of the songs from their enthralling debut album, “Hometowns”. To cope with the homesickness and isolation of his move from Edmonton to Toronto, the shy songwriter penned a series of odes to his former home, celebrating the country’s wild rose, the purple skies and the “deathbridge in Lethbridge”.

                                  Two Gallants

                                  Two Gallants

                                  The eagerly anticipated follow up to 2006's "What The Toll Tells" is here. Two Gallants feel that this album so perfectly captures their sound that they could only name it "Two Gallants". Touring schedules that would break many lesser bands have helped the duo refine and hone their sound. Recorded by Alex Newport (At the Drive-In, The Locust) in Two Gallants home town of San Francisco, the bands electric side is in full effect after the well received "Scenery Of Farewell" EP from earlier in 2007.

                                  The 12 tracks that make up "Places" are pure pop bliss that look towards the future but are undeniably rooted in music from generations past. "Places" is fresh, but also timeless, distinguishing Georgie James from their indie rock counterparts and setting the stage for a series of artistic triumphs. Comprising John Davis (formerly of Q and Not U) and Laura Burhenn and mixing up evocative production, inventive songwriting and multi-part harmonies with the duo's passion for 60s and 70s pop music such as The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson, The Jam, Simon & Garfunkel and "Shake Some Action"-era Flamin' Groovies. John switches between drums, bass and guitars, whilst Laura takes turns at the Wurlitzer and the piano.

                                  Known for their aggressive, electric live shows, Two Gallants have fostered a dual musical personality by occasionally recording and playing songs with a more stripped down sound. Following on from 2006's acclaimed "What The Toll Tells", the duo showcase this different side to their music on "The Scenery Of Farewell", a five track mini-LP. Since the bands extensive touring schedule left little time for proper rehearsals, some of these songs, that were always meant for an album, evolved in such places as sound checks and radio show appearances, where it was more conducive for them to be performed. This release will be followed by a full-length album by Two Gallants in September 2007.

                                  "Noise Floor" collects selected Bright Eyes singles, one-offs, unreleased tracks, collaborations and covers recorded between 1998 and 2005. Variously recorded to cassette four-track, minidisc, reel-to-reel tape machine, ADAT and computer, these songs trace Bright Eyes' evolution from basement project to band of international repute. Many of these gems previously lost to out-of-print obscurity are hereby resurrected.


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