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Spring Releases

Things have been quiet here for a bit, but we assure you no one has been resting.  We are happy to announce a few new records that we’re putting out that we are super excited about.  Some have been long in gestation, others are simply new statements in line with the last.  We’ll give you a little step by step:

JONAH PARZEN-JOHNSON Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow

Saxophonist/Composer Jonah Parzen-Johnson is one of the most original musicians out there.  He plays solo music, it’s simple, it’s songs, it’s beautiful, it’s challenging.  He sometimes says he wants his music to be like listening to old American folk field recordings.  When you see him live, sometimes the most compelling parts of his performance are his monologues in between songs, which are just as eloquent as his musical compositions.  He’s our favorite kind of artist; honest, simple, innovative, devilishly attractive.  Catch him on tour this summer.

 

LAND OF LELAND Home/Away Vol. I & II

Land of Leland’s Justin Keller has been a part of Primary Records since day one.  He’s a member of Pony Of Good Tidings, has been a part of Names of War’s live iterations, and now brings us his newest recordings.  Home/Away is a lush, pop-tending collection about leaving his home in New York, living in rural New Hampshire, getting older, confusion, clarity…all the stuff we all deal with and hate to deal with.  It features tons of great musicians as well as Keller’s own multitasking skills.

 

STEVEN LUGERNER Gravitations Vol. II (feat. Fred Hersch)

Bay area woodwind virtuoso Steven Lugerner has brought us another installment of his Gravitations series.  The concept is that he recorded different musicians improvising and then has gone and composed new material based on and around those improvisations, or gravitations as he calls them.  They are short vignettes that leave you with a personal sense of both musicians and their voices.  The first installment was with Angelo Spagnolo.  This time we hear Lugerner with jazz great, Fred Hersch, with whom Lugerner performed Fred’s ‘My Coma Dreams’.  There is also a visual accompaniment to this new record.  Watch it here.

 

NAMES OF WAR The Guest Room

Though Andrew Carlson has been performing as Names Of War for a few years, and this album was recorded a while ago, it is just now seeing a release.  There are many reasons, but you could also see it as completely in line with the subject matter of the album and as a more abstract expression of the meaning of the songs.  Carlson says of the record:

“This record is about catharsis. This isn’t to say that this is what makes this collection of songs unique; most music, at least in my experience, is based on some sort of catharsis. However, this album is about a slow one. The kind that comes out of the task of diligently unpacking a decade of repression disguised as compromise, conflict called by other names, and grieving in all its forms. All stemming from a single event, a single question:
What happens to a family when, suddenly, a member of that family is gone?
This record does not answer that question. This record couldn’t really be an answer to the question. This record is one example of the great and terrible things family can be. This record is one example of the stories we tell ourselves about our upbringing; distorted by the act of reflecting on reflecting on a reflection. This record is one attempt at packing all of it back up and handing it over, so that someone might make some use of it, might find some relief in it.”

 

Andrew is one of our favorite songwriters and a complete artist (he’s as brilliant behind a camera and as an analog color photo printer as he is with music).  We hope you enjoy this album, and our other new releases, as much as we do.

Gym Deer, Other Creatures


“Power is not brute force or money. Power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It’s what your ancestors, your old people, gave you. Power is in the earth. It’s in your relationship to the earth.” -Winona LaDuke

When I was asked if I wanted to play some songs with Rob Lee I wasn’t sure what to expect. I only knew him as a saxophone player, so my mind went to thoughts of a jazz guy who could now strum an acoustic guitar. But when Rob sent me his home recordings (which would end up becoming ‘Other, Ways’) it wasn’t what I thought it would sound like. In fact it didn’t sound like much I’d heard before; pretty lo-fi bedroom experiments in Garageband using nothing but his voice and whatever he could hit as percussion. He didn’t even have a proper mic. The closest thing I could compare it to was Arthur Russell. Rob said he didn’t know who that was, and that he described it as Nick Drake plus Bobby McFerrin. And he was correct, in the strangest and best way possible.

We performed those songs live quite a bit, with myself using a few small clip on mics as percussion (trying to mimic Rob’s recordings), Mallory Glaser singing, and Rob playing bass on a micro-korg. Angelo Spagnolo played guitar and both Ross Gallagher and Matt Wohl played upright bass at various points. It was a great band. It was a weird band. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of it. And the best part about it is that Rob and Mallory are the least weird people you could hope to meet. This isn’t experimental music to them. This isn’t ‘out’. These are just songs that are personal and beautiful that they want to share in an honest way.

Rob had talked a lot about wanting to make a recording of the live band, just to have a document of what we had done. He had a few new songs as well. The opportunity finally came in April 2013 to book a day of recording, a week or two before Rob and Mallory planned on moving from New York City to Eugene, Oregon, where they were going to study and teach permaculture, go off the grid a bit. We did one day at Pat Dillet’s studio in midtown with our friend and engineer, Jon Altschuler. We focused mainly on the four new songs Rob had and then did a couple of passes of our live versions of some of the ‘Other, Ways’ songs. It was a pretty remarkable experience to take this music that had previously lived in a home recorded, lo-fi setting and take it to a completely Neve/SSL hi-fi world. It was also great because a lot of the new songs didn’t have arrangements yet, so there was a lot of freedom to try new things and not have them be compared to expectations of what they should sound like. We left there with some fairly finished tracks and a couple skeleton tracks too. The less finished ones I worked on at home with Rob, and ultimately the four new songs were mixed by Jon.

The new EP is called ‘Other Creatures’. It is just those four new songs, written and recorded before Rob and Mallory left for Eugene. You can tell in the lyrics that these are people ready to leave the mess that is New York, ready to live a little closer to the ground and interact more intimately with their world. The quote at the top sums up the spirit of these compositions completely. It’s a charged and exciting farewell, and hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Gym, Deer.

– Anthony