Release Date : May 4th 2010
- Myriad Harbour UK SINGLE
Release Date : October 1st 2007
Release Date : August 21st 2007
- Twin Cinema
Release Date : August 23rd 2005
- Mass Romantic REMASTERED
Release Date : October 7th 2003
- Electric Version
Release Date : May 6th 2003
- Together - OLE-891 - 2010-05-04
- Myriad Harbour (uk single) - OLE-782 - 2007-10-01
- Challengers - OLE-770 - 2007-08-21
- Challengers: Executive Edition - OLE-774 - 2007-08-21
- Twin Cinema - OLE-621 - 2005-08-23
- Twin Cinema - OLE-621 - 2005-08-23
- Mass Romantic REMASTERED - OLE-540 - 2003-10-07
- Electric Version - OLE-551 - 2003-05-06
- Moves (Record Store Day Exclusive) - OLE-959 - 2011-04-16
- Togetherness: The New Pornographers Play Outrageous Cherry - OLE-934 - 2010-05-04
- High Art, Local News - OLE-682 - 2005-08-23
- Letter From An Occupant - OLE-541 - 2002-04-15
We Are Together, by Rick Moody
For what purpose the popular song? Does the popular song have a purpose? Is it just a sequence of auditory gestures, desperate acts, adrift in the bigger broader silence of an unforgiving cultural landscape? In what follows, we will assume that the purpose of the popular song is to unite warring disputants and to repair the manifold puncture wounds of life, so that life is revealed, again, as less accursed than it appears. And let’s assume that we go on listening to the popular song, which in the vast majority of its iterations is a failure, because we are chronic in our need for this rehabilitation of our puncture-wounded selves. Take any fine example, take “All You Need Is Love,” by the Beatles, or “Walk Away, Renee,” by the Left Banke, or “Tears of a Clown,” by Smokey Robinson. Try listening to these songs. Almost immediately, your suppurations begin to clot.
Into this tryingly difficult history of the popular song stride The New Pornographers, into a period in which it has to be acknowledged that the medium is mostly dead, is passed, is no longer a uniting force, but, more frequently, a medium of division, one entirely controlled by the Ownership Society and made profitable according to shareholders who don’t give a fuck if your puncture wounds are healed over as long as the product ships. The New Pornographers, stunningly, do not seem to understand that the popular song is dead, is passed, and The New Pornographers, despite their complete and nearly monastic understanding of the Secret Knowledge of the popular song, will themselves into being, characterized by a uniform devotion to the great history that precedes them by only a couple of decades, and their coming into being in a somewhat unlikely place, Vancouver, not previously noted for a unvarying profusion of rock genius, is particular not only for uniformity of purpose but because they manage, in this uniformity, to bring a considerable cast of local adepts all as one into the tent. The cast of adepts is now well known, but includes at least two startlingly good songwriters, three spectacularly good singers, one of the very best drummers in all of contemporary music, an in-house filmmaker—and that is merely to scratch the surface on the question of bench strength, the shocking amount of bench strength in a band in which everyone seems to be able to produce quality audio emanations from any instrument and to sing, and in which the studio is an instrument as it is in few bands.
Their first album is great, and is power pop, power pop, and more power pop, their second album (Electric Version) refines the form and tinkers, with more studio brilliance on display, the third, viz., Twin Cinema, is an artier thing and a proggier thing, revealing a breadth of confidence, and a breadth of confidences, both senses, and a command of lyrical nuance and anthemic talents that display themselves in unusual spots, in songs that don’t begin anthemically, but which then reveal urgencies; Challengers, the fourth, has some quieter annunciations on it, seems to come from a place of adulthood, from a recognition that urgency can be in the theme, and the affirmation of the song is not in the lyric necessarily, but in the commitment, in the commitment to the sonnet-like cadences of the popular song, and the title song herein, “Challengers,” a miniature about a romantic entanglement that literally walks past the narrator, takes us far beyond the adolescences of the popular song into the adult spot where really great songwriters begin to ply their craft.
Which brings us to the ineradicable present, which is the moment when The New Pornographers have already done everything they can do, in some senses; they have had songs in films and on television, they have toured the world, they are respected and covered and well reviewed and lionized, and everyone in the band has a justifiably earned reputation for excellence and admirability, chief among them A. C. Newman, first among equals with respect to these musical bulletins, Neko Case, the singer who never met a line of lyrics that she could not in same way make indelible, and Dan Bejar, the stealth member and interpretation-resistant Mandarin troubadour.
There are no more interesting rock and roll bands, you know, there are opiate-addicted white boys who cannot play very well and who are unwilling to turn down the amplifiers so as to be heard, and there are machines and auto-tuned fembots, and there are hip hoppers with public-relations simulated gangster simulations, and there are working-class guys with a lot of tattoos who can play really, really fast. But there are no more interesting rock and roll bands, and there are no longer songs that make you want to get out of bed. Still, The New Pornographers are unable not to behave like underdogs of yearning, like a united front of yearning, and they are also unable, it seems, to resist the challenge to make a perfect album, a form so dead that it is on its seventh wave of maggotry, and so they have an eye on history, and they do love a windmill, they love to charge, and they do not know how to do otherwise now, which means that theirs is a contagious form of yearning, and if in part their longing is postmodern, which is to say that they often writes songs that are about other songs (“Crash Years,” e.g., is about “You” by George Harrison, and “Moves” is, in part, about “25 or 6 to 4,” by the beleaguered Chicago), they are not able to treat the form simply as a kind of commentary (which has caused others fatefully to go awry), but also as a surgical intervention for puncture-wounded civilians everywhere, as a joy delivery-system, and in this joy-delivery system there are new and interesting twists, for those who are curious about what the ineradicable contemporary moment sounds like, sound-wise, and the twists on this new album, have to do with strings, really, and with a sort of chamber pop orientation, lots of cello, that is, of a sort that calls to mind the amazing Sister Lovers LP by Big Star, around whose open wounds A. C. Newman has orbited in the past but more fearfully than now.
Fewer keyboard flourishes, and fewer things that sound like they necessitated a good computer programmer, and more things that sound like A. C. Newman and the rest of the band playing in a room. This is probably an illusion, this playing together, but it is an illusion with a purpose, because there are at least two songs on this album that use togetherness as the assembling cement, the epoxy of their composition. The first of these is a big rock song, “Your Hands (Together),” and as you would expect the putting of hands together also occasions a silver bullet, of the mortally inflicting variety, which is the paradoxical sort of thematic approach that we would expect from songwriters who are no longer young, and who are willing to write a couplet that answers the question “What’s love?” with the response: “What turns up in the dark.” All of this is perforation for the tearing away of the final track, “We Get Together,” in which the hook, the title, is at the very end, buried in the mix, and the whole is about familial dynamics, much in the way that “Oh, Sister,” from Bob Dylan’s Desire is about familial dynamics, which is to say not at all, and more about the injunction to “do damage” than it is about familiar unity, “I’m for damage, sweet damage,” Newman and Case sing, and the cellos come back around, with their genteel bolshevism, with a hint of the early Electric Light Orchestra, and Carl goes in and out of his falsetto as he does when he’s winding up like a violent debater, and they hold back on the drumming, which is what they do, until it’s absolutely necessary, and that is a big advantage when the drummer is this great, and then we come to the out chorus, in which Case seems to be singing “ma ma ma ma,” as if to mislead you into thinking that the song, is about familial dynamics, and Newman sings “we end up together,” and then there is guitar feedback. End credits.
What does he mean about ending up together? What would it mean for a popular song, while clearly supporting an aesthetic palette devoted to “sweet damage,” nonetheless to support the idea of ending up together? Is it, paradoxically, about the kind of romantic failure that makes for all the best popular songs? Is it a recognition that the only unifying that can come from the contemporary popular song is the kind of togetherness that recognizes the truth of human life, namely that all is apartness, and all is lonesomeness, and this even if the principle songwriter in the band is recently married, and, by all evidence, reasonably content? Yes, it’s all about the ship going down, and the rats leaping from the sinking vessel, the vessel of the popular song, and there is nothing to do but to celebrate a recognition of this rats-going-down business, and, nonetheless, to view the articulation of same as a joy and a responsibility, such that the best joy-delivery system is the song itself, so that the medium is dead and yet is being used to celebrate its death, and it’s in our mutual recognition of apartness that we are most together. (The band setting is no different, in this way, from quotidian human life. It is a triumph over the entropic energy that would drive it, the band, apart.)
This is an eschatological approach, and, indeed, some of what you are hearing on Together, by the New Pornographers, is a band of ghosts who are mining their fin de siècle imagery for all its worth, even though we are at the beginning of a century. They are from Vancouver (mostly), they still believe that they have something to say, they are adults, they don’t use drum machines, they are not emcees. What could they possibly have going for them? Everything they stand for is over, they are the last iteration, they are the bitter end, the sweet aftertaste of something intoxicating. And yet they believe in doing it, still, together. We are so much the better for it
News From The Matablog
(above : this is either a promotional still from "The Walking Dead" or a photo from last April's Record Store Day --- I can't find my notes!) TONIGHT ON AMC : you can hear AC Newman's version of Bill Fay's "Be Not So Fearful" on season 4, episode 15 of "The Walking Dead". 'The Walking Dead Original Soundtrack, Vol. 2' is out Tuesday on Republic Records.
Left to right: Josh Huculiak, Kathryn Calder, Brooke Gallupe, Brent Hodge, Luke Kozlowski, John Diemer. Photo by: Jenna and Tristan Shouldice. Friend of the family, Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers, needs your help! A Matter Of Time - An ALS Documentary THE STORY Imagine finding out your mother has 2-3 years left to live. Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers was faced with this gut-wrenching revelation when she learned that her mother had been diagnosed with ALS, taking her down a path few could endure. ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the US and Motor Neurone disease in the UK) is a fatal disease, which attacks the neurons in the brain and spinal cord, progressively impairing one's ability to walk, talk or feed themselves. The cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure. Before the bad news hit, Kathryn was relishing in a beautiful adventure. A few years prior, her mother, who was adopted, had found her birth mother, and thus a whole other family for Kathryn. Relatives emerged, loved ones multiplied overnight. And all the more spectacular, her new found long lost uncle, Carl Newman, happened to be the front-man behind an indie rock super group called The New Pornographers. With this serendipitous revelation, a new realm of musical collaboration and opportunity spawned and prospered. Then the news about her mother's illness crashed right through the newly lit family home. As a result, Kathryn decided to move back into her childhood home to become her mother's full time caregiver. It was during this turbulent period, that Kathryn became inspired to write and record her first solo album; a parting gift for her biggest fan. She recruited a producer and converted her mother's living room into a recording studio. As her mother's condition steadily worsened, Kathryn's challenge became clear: she needed to complete the album in time for her mother to hear it. A Matter of Time illustrates the bravery and compassion that can bloom from struggle. How even the most enduring battles can conjure unimaginable feats of strength and triumph against unexplainable forces. This is an inspirational story about courage in the face of disease. It’s about letting difficult experiences meet artistic impulses and making a positive difference through music. DONATE If you would like to help Kathryn finish the film and make the documentary a reality, please head over to her Kickstarter page and donate. You'll even get a special gift ranging from a download of the soundtrack (featuring The New Pornographers), a meet and greet with The New P's at a concert, OR even a personalised song written by Kathryn. All this dependent on how generous you can be, so dig deep.
It's out October 9, but today you get a first listen at A.C. Newman's third solo effort ‘Shut Down The Streets’ Do yourself a favor and check out what in our completely unbiased opinion we believe to be 10 of the best songs ever put to tape. Then, do your friends a favor and send them this link. Carl, via a blogging on the Huffington Post, sez: Here is my album, Shut Down The Streets. Maybe you know me from The New Pornographers, and you may recognize Neko Case's voice in these songs, you may even think "This one sounds so much like a New Pornographers song" and you may ask yourself "Who the hell are the New Pornographers?" All that aside, this album is all about birth, death, happiness and sadness, chronicling a time in my life where all those things had to learn to coexist side by side. There was that and a sudden obsession with the song "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty. That led to an obsession with the psychedelic sounds of the late 70s singer songwriter. So my most personal songs ever somehow made the most sense when I played them in a mutated version of an outdated style from my childhood. That's just how things go. You can own ‘Shut Down The Streets’ on the LP, CD or digital formats next Tuesday. Grab it at The Matador Store (first 300 LP’s are on green vinyl) or at your favorite music retailler. See it live: 10/8 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Rock Shop (FREE RECORD RELEASE PARTY - a live performance, full album playback, drink specials, album giveaways, + more!) 10/21 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series) 10/22 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom 10/23 – Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall 10/24 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s 10/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church 10/26 – Washington DC @ Black Cat 10/27 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall 10/28 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl 10/29 – St. Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill 10/30 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle 11/1 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club 11/2 – Winnipeg, Canada @ West End Cultural Centre 11/5 – Edmonton, Canada @ Starlite Room 11/6 – Calgary, Canada @ The Republik 11/8 – Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore Cabaret (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series)* 11/9 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile* 11/10 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge* 11/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent* 11/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex* 11/14 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah* *with special guest Harriet A.C. Newman at Facebook @acnewman – Twitter ACNewman.net (official site) (‘Shut Down The Streets’ is coming out in
(of course, by "out now", we mean "out October 9") As mentioned in this space a few weeks ago, on October 9 Matador will be releasing the 3rd A.C. Newman album, 'Shut Down The Streets'. The '70's folk/pop-inflected masterpiece was dubbed "an album of understated elegance and strength" by one of our more insightful (and good-looking) executives, and here's another example of Carl''s musical & lyrical brilliance to whet your appetite : "Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns" (192 kbps MP3) There's further recognition, by the way, for one of the continent's great songsmiths (or, if you prefer, songwriters). Though I'm sworn to secrecy by a colleague (who is so many thousands of miles away, what's she going to do, yell at me?), I'm told one of your favorite New Pornographers songs will be heard next month as the intro theme music for a popular new television comedy that may or may not feature group therapy as a central theme in the show. It's not that new Charlie Sheen thing either, so let's not get into that. There's loads of other places on the internet if all you want to do is complain about Charlie Sheen. He was alright in "Platoon" --- you think you could do better? Pre-order 'Shut Down The Streets' on the LP, CD or digital formats from The Matador Store (first 300 LP's are on colored vinyl) on tour this Autumn : 10/21 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series) 10/22 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom 10/23 – Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall 10/24 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s 10/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church 10/26 – Washington DC @ Black Cat 10/27 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall 10/28 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl 10/29 – St. Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill 10/30 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle 11/1 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club 11/2 – Winnipeg, Canada @ West End Cultural Centre 11/5 – Edmonton, Canada @ Starlite Room 11/6 – Calgary, Canada @ The Republik 11/8 – Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore Cabaret (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series)* 11/9 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile* 11/10 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge* 11/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent* 11/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex* 11/14 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah* *with special guest Harriet A.C. Newman at Facebook @acnewman - Twitter ACNewman.net (official site) ('Shut Down The Streets' is coming out in Canada on Last Gang and in the UK on Fire Records)
(photo by Noah Kalina) On October 9, we'll be releasing the 3rd album from A.C. Newman, 'Shut Down The Streets' (LP/CD/digital) the most powerful and personal solo work to date from the New Pornographers founder. While Newman long ago staked a claim for being one of this continent's finest pop craftsmen, 'Streets' represents a change in tone and a bigger change in subject matter. I'm not about to give the whole thing away (not when we've commissioned a bio writer to do that, anyway), but a year of joy and sorrow in the Newman household has inspired an album of understated elegance and strength. The bar was already set pretty high where this songwriter is concerned, but this isn't nearly so simple as one of your longtime favorites having delivered 10 great new songs. Fantastic lyrical chops and musical invention aren't new territory for Carl, but writing so directly about the most important events in his adult life certainly are. Recorded in Woodstock, NY (and featuring longtime colleague Neko Case), 'Streets' bears the influence of classic ‘70s folk and pop songwriters ranging from Gerry Rafferty to “Daylight Katy”-period Gordon Lightfoot, Summoning lush sonics with sweeping string & synth backgrounds that are miles away from The New Pornographers' signature sound, 'Shut Down The Streets' is brutally honest, open and affecting in a way Newman has rarely been in the past. "I'm Not Talking" (192 kbps MP3) Track Listing: 1) I'm Not Talking 2) Do Your Own Time 3) You Could Get Lost Out Here 4) Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns 5) There's Money In New Wave 6) Strings 7) Hostages 8 ) Wasted English 9) The Troubadour 10) They Should Have Shut Down The Streets Pre-order 'Shut Down The Streets' from The Matador Store (first 300 LP's are on colored vinyl) on tour this Autumn : 10/21 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series) 10/22 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom 10/23 – Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall 10/24 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s 10/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church 10/26 – Washington DC @ Black Cat 10/27 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall 10/28 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl 10/29 – St. Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill 10/30 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle 11/1 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club 11/2 – Winnipeg, Canada @ West End Cultural Centre 11/5 – Edmonton, Canada @ Starlite Room 11/6 – Calgary, Canada @ The Republik 11/8 – Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore Cabaret (Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series)* 11/9 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile* 11/10 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge* 11/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent* 11/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex* 11/14 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah* *with special guest Harriet A.C. Newman at Facebook @acnewman - Twitter ACNewman.net (official site) ('Shut Down The Streets' is coming out in Canada on Last Gang and in the UK on Fire Records)