Rats Leaving Sinking Ships Sing Beautiful Songs

I have so many things to tell you.

Today I offer two.

Shearwater has partially re-recorded their (and my) best-of-2006 album Palo Santo, which might strike some as tinkering with something that ain’t broke. From these two tracks, I can’t really tell what their aims are (within the re-recording – the idea of doing it was Matador’s, and prob because now the Misra version won’t be sold or easily bought) maybe something more akin to their live sound, certainly something more accessible, like Overkill River, and less expansive and moody like Talk Talk’s final two albums. Meiburg explores a wider range of pitch and octaves here, and while he’s successful, his falsetto-soprano is much more enjoyable than his tenor rage. Just sayin’. I’ll still be using this new version to hold me over before their next effort.

Kudos to Matador for stealing them away from the now-Universal distro-ed Misra, or kudos to Shearwater for jumping ship because there’s better chance of their records getting into the right stores via Matador. Universal makes no sense for them (or Misra, but that’s another matter, and I hope the label owners/heads make some cash, because they put out good stuff.)

Ps – all my tracks expire after 3 days. Buy the goddamn record April 10.

Shearwater – Seventy Four, Seventy-Five (from Palo Santo: Expanded Edition)

Shearwater – Hail Mary (from Palo Santo: Expanded Edition)

Bright Eyes’ new album Cassadaga deserves the hype surrounding the cd version’s artwork. Copies come with (or at least this promo did) a wicked-accurate facsimile of a low-quality church bulletin, a yellow paper brochure promoting the “Bright Eyes Spiritualist Lyceum” with the “Rev Conrad Oberman, Founder” including a poorly re-produced black and white photo of a 1920s dude (relation?) complete with a bullshit “Map of the Vibrations” and meaningless text spouting all sorts of pseudo-science. You can see the lines where they hand-pasted the text and xeroxed copies. Although the photos suggest pre-copy-machine era. (“Ha-ha” -Nelson)

I’m still not crazy about the music, but I always try.

Expect the last gasps of the CD to continue to produce a spurt of wonderful art work and creative packaging (like recent Menomena, Beck, Low) that will be one of the few fringe benefits of the ultimate sovereignty of digital downloads.

Rats leaving sinking ships always sing the most beautiful songs. The ecstasy of tortured saints, etc.


4 thoughts on “Rats Leaving Sinking Ships Sing Beautiful Songs

  1. I know you know that the story is more complicated than that re: Shearwater, Misra, and Matador. If you and I ever get to sit down and have a beer or two sometime, I’ll tell you all about it. (Furthermore, are you coming to the show Sunday? Please say you are!) So there’s this: As much as I love Shearwater, and even though Palo Santo was my favorite record of 2006, I always felt there was something wrong with the recording, technically — well, specifically the mastering of a few tracks. ( I could hear this … buzzing flare out at the top end of the sound spectrum.) Turns out I was right, and on the simply remastered tracks, all it took to make them better was a bit of knob twiddling (I’m oversimplifying, but not by much…).Anyway, I for one am glad that they were able to re-record these particular tracks. I strongly, strongly suggested to Jonathan in the midst of Misra “crisis” this summer (and no, I’m not saying this to sound more important or anything…) that if they were picked up by someone bigger and better that they seriously consider re-recording what they could — especially after hearing tell of the budgetary horrors of the original process. I don’t flatter myself, really, in thinking that I convinced him that it needed to be done, or anything — but I will let people know that they can certainly hold me responsible if they don’t like the new versions. So there. (;


  2. Thanks for the lowdown – I should have emailed you for in-blog commentary; my loss; thanks. And just fyi- the shearwater site does say it was matador’s idea to re-record it; you ought to scold him, because I recall your street showdown with JM. I’ll have to go back to the old recording to hear the lacking mix. Shearwater would certainly benefit from finding the right church and recording the next album live with minimal overdubs. A la the first (and really only) Cowboy Junkies album.The Sun night show is a maybe, as the Athletic Activity takes place that afternoon, and it’s a school night for me, and it’s in Manhattan, meaning a deadly subway ride etc etc excuse excuse.


  3. There’s a key element of the story that you need to know that I don’t discuss publicly that you’ll probably find amusing … perhaps. Or, at least, you’ll probably appreciate it more that most bloggers or blog readers, given what I’ve been able to extrapolate about your, uh, position and history with/in the industry. (And yeah, I know the site says that — technically, I guess it <>was<> Matador’s idea, but SW <>could<> have said no. Ha! So I guess what that really says is that, um, I have something in common with Chris and Gerard? THAT’S HYSTERICAL!!)re the show: I forgot to add that really, in addition to the Shearwater awesomeness (and yes, the new tracks really do capture more of the “live” sound of the band) — is there anything more deliciously profane that seeing Xiu Xiu on EASTER SUNDAY? I don’t think so, dude.Anway, it’s a school night and a deathly subway ride for me too, but I will be there with bells on. Well, not literally, but I’ll be that overdressed girl standing detached from a massive group of friends looking like a proud Indie Rock Den Mother and dabbing a delicate lace-edged hankie to my overly made-up eyes.(OMG, I was just thinking about how great that Cowboy Junkies album was the other night as I perused a few of Pinkie’s old issues of <>Sassy<>… it must be in the collective consciousness these days.)


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