So, I suppose I am now allowed to say that a few months ago, on a side street off South Congress on an oppressively muggy evening, the Pinkster and I had a long, long conversation with frontman Jonathan Meiburg about the future of Shearwater? And that I told him the following, right after sort of crumpling into tears as I tried to express how important his band was (is! still is!) to me:
1) if Matador shows interest, sign with them
2) ...but whomever you sign with -- compel them to let y'all release a new version of Palo Santo the way you originally envisioned it
And look! Shearwater's on Matador! And there's a new deluxxe version of Palo Santo due April 10. New art! Vinyl version! Extra tracks! I'm glad to see people occasionally listen to my rants and blatherings. Heh. Doesn't get much better than all this -- save maybe the fact that they're touring with Xiu Xiu and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. (Brilliant! SERIOUSLY. This is going to be the most gut-wrenchingly emotional show OF ALL TIME.)
The neatest thing about this whole process, though, (because, after all the weirdness and strife and now relief, there's got to be a papertrail somewhere...) is that we now have THREE versions of one of the best songs on the album -- "Red Sea, Black Sea" -- that serve as an interesting object lesson in the evolution of a track from demo form to well, utter perfection.
Remember the demo version, back when the song was called "Turn Your Transmitters Off?" It was so jangly and I loved the tiny windchimes. It was so evocative of standing on a high cliff, overlooking the sea -- out into the wide nothingness as giant waves crash beneath your feet. Being able to see as far as the eye could see in all directions. I remember one reader in particular loved this version more than the Palo Santo one -- but I think she'll be pleased with the re-done version. The Palo Santo version was so processed and distant and compressed -- it made you feel as if you were inside a squeezebox -- not that that was a particularly bad thing per se, but I sometimes felt that this wasn't quite what the band had in mind for the finished product. Which is something that's confirmed on the new version -- the grandness of the demo is back -- and it's bigger and more ominous and massive and there's a storm on the horizon now and it's chasing you down. The band shrieks and howls and rumbles like the winds ripping around you and the flash floods crashing through empty canyons down, down, down to the sea.
This is the eerie, unsettling, and gorgeous music we knew was lurking inside those deceptively gentle and unassuming people. Shearwater has arrived.
Shearwater -- Turn Your Transmitters Off (Red Sea, Black Sea demo version)
Shearwater -- Red Sea, Black Sea (Misra version)
Shearwater -- Red Sea, Black Sea (Matador version)
Shearwater -- Mountain Laurel (remember when this was the first 'evil' Shearwater song?)
Shearwater -- My Good Deed
Shearwater -- Mistakes
Shearwater -- I Can't Wait
Have I mentioned how much I love this band lately? No?
I fucking love this band.