There is a closeness at the heart of Turnover’s aptly titled new album, ‘Altogether.’ Though it’s the first collection the trio has written while living on opposite coasts, the record actually represents the group’s most collaborative and connected work to date, showcasing the intuitive, near-telepathic relationship frontman Austin Getz has developed over the years with his bandmates.
“Instead of making things more difficult, being far apart helped us learn to appreciate each other even more,” says Getz. “As a band, we’re closer now than we’ve ever been before.”
Recorded at Philadelphia’s Studio 4 with longtime creative foil Will Yip at the helm, ‘Altogether’ finds the group breaking new ground on a number of fronts. Pop sensibilities inform the writing for the first time, with elements of funk, jazz, lounge, and disco mingling alongside the band’s trademark indie grit and punk energy. Lush melodies and infectious hooks reflect the newfound freedom and confidence that have inspired Getz since his cross-country move to northern California, while adventurous recording techniques and instrumentation lend a fresh perspective without sacrificing the kind of precise detail and rich intricacies that have come to define the band’s recent studio output. The result is an album that boasts both sonic sophistication and emotional accessibility in equal measure, a major leap forward in sound and vision that reveals time apart as the true key to togetherness.
The title is fitting in another way as well, according to Getz. “On this record, more than in the past, we wanted to keep in mind the beauty of writing ‘popular music,’” he explains. “By that I mean music for people who don’t have the time to delve into the niches and find fringe artists, music for those of us who are busy with work or our families or whatever problems might be around. Music is real magic that can change people’s days and lives, and the more people listening and loving, the better.” Turnover first emerged roughly a decade ago in Virginia Beach, VA, but the group’s critical and commercial breakthrough didn’t arrive until six years later, when they cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart with their acclaimed sophomore album, ‘Peripheral Vision.’ The band—which consists of Getz, his brother Casey on drums, and their childhood friend Danny Dempsey on bass—followed it up in 2017 with ‘Good Nature,’ a streaming smash that racked up roughly 40 million plays on Spotify alone and which Vice proclaimed to be “their best album yet.” Reviews were similarly glowing around the world (Pitchfork praised the record’s “rhythmic propulsion and harmonized guitar sparkles,” while Exclaim! hailed its “shimmering instrumentation and luscious harmonies,” and The Line of Best Fit swooned for its “plush production” and “subtle maturity”), and the album earned the band headline dates everywhere from Brooklyn Steel to The Fonda Theatre along with their first appearance at Coachella.
“With ‘Peripheral Vision,’ I was starting to experiment with psychedelics, and I was feeling alienated from a lot of the things I’d been raised to believe and accept,” Getz reflects. “That album asked a lot of questions, and I felt like ‘Good Nature’ was my attempt to find the answers to those questions. This time around, though, I found myself in a very different place, both literally and metaphorically.”
Parquet Courts’ thought-provoking rock is dancing to a new tune. Sympathy For Life finds the Brooklyn band at both their most instinctive and electronic, spinning their bewitching, psychedelic storytelling into fresh territory, yet maintaining their unique identity.
Built largely from improvised jams, inspired by New York clubs, Primal Scream and Pink Floyd and produced in league with Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Hot Chip, David Byrne), Sympathy For Life was always destined to be dancey. Unlike its globally adored predecessor, 2018’s Wide Awake! – a Top 30 hit here and an album of the year everywhere from Spin and The Skinny to NME and Australia’s Double J – the focus fell on grooves rather than rhythm.
“Wide Awake! was a record you could put on at a party,” says co-frontman Austin Brown. “Sympathy For Life is influenced by the party itself. Historically, some amazing rock records been made from mingling in dance music culture – from Talking Heads to Screamadelica. Our goal was to bring that in to our own music.
“Each of us, in our personal lives, has been going to more dance parties. Or rather, we were, pre-pandemic, which is when this record was made.”
Before sessions began at Brooklyn’s The Bridge studio in autumn 2019, as ever, the quartet (Brown and Savage plus bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage) took time out to work on ideas separately. For co-frontman A Savage, that meant a trip to Italy armed with Mad Hatter acid.
“I took a lot of acid with me and started working out,” he says. “I call it trippy lifting. I would trip and work out during the day, then write songs at night. Three or four of the songs that made it on to album began there – Walking At A Downtown Pace, Pulcinella, Trullo. Most of my ideas for the artwork formed at that time too. I had a big piece of paper taped to the wall that read “CAN, CANNED HEAT, & THIS HEAT”. That was the sound I wanted to find.”
Back home, the jamming began.
“Most of the songs were created by taking long improvisations and moulding them through our own editing,” explains Brown. “The biggest asset we have as artists is the band. After 10 years together, our greatest instrument is each other. The purest expression of Parquet Courts is when we are improvising.”
Dreamy lead single Plant Life, released in June, was edited to 10 minutes from a 40 minute-plus jam and almost halved again for the album. Digital disco-punk anthem Marathon Of Anger, which began as a largely electronic jam inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, was painstakingly snipped from 41 minutes to a neat four and a half.
In between was where the hard work occurred.
“More than any of our albums, this one was about the process,” says Brown. “It was about viewing the themes through a dance music lens and our own filter to discover where it would take us. Seven albums in, the pressure is on to do something new, but still sound like us.”
Key to the complex process was working with McDonald, first at The Bridge, then for an intense fortnight at The Outlier Inn, a sprawling, bucolic studio in the Catskills, where 2014’s Sunbathing Animal was recorded.
“I met Rodaidh when I was DJing in LA,” notes Brown. “I brought my records to his house and we spent days talking about what we wanted to do and sampling stuff from both of our collections for references. When he came to New York to record, we mashed up some of those samples to make beats and grooves and jammed over the top.”
Links: Website | Bandcamp
As the Brontë sister wrote, “The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine.” Shovels & Rope, the musical duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, embody that bond. Married for a decade, their covenant extends to blood and beyond: as parents, bandmates, and creative collaborators who can now add the pursuits of festival curators, film subjects, and children’s book authors to that mighty list. Having released four studio albums and two collaborative projects (Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 & 2) since 2008, Trent and Hearst have built their reputation on skill, sweat, and, yes, blood. Now, with the tough and elegant new record By Blood, as well as their High Water Festival in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, “Shovels & Rope: The Movie”, and the picture book “C’mon Utah!”, Shovels & Rope are primed for their biggest year yet.
Accomplished musicians in their own right prior to dedicating themselves full time to Shovels & Rope in 2011, Trent and Hearst have made a career together by seizing opportunities and never resting on their laurels or being complacent in doing something just because. Carving out a niche in the music world with strong, roots/indie/folk/rock-inspired efforts like 2012’s O’ Be Joyful, 2014’s Swimmin’ Time, and 2016’s inward-looking Little Seeds, as well as their powerful live show, far-reaching tours, and myriad TV and festival appearances, Shovels & Rope have earned the right to follow their own muse. And so, in an effort to satisfy their numerous creative interests and adapt to a changing industry, Trent and Hearst have firmly planted their flag in realms beyond recording and releasing albums.
The third annual High Water Festival curated by the band will be held over a weekend in April and will bring 10,000 fans to a park in North Charleston to witness a lineup of artists comparable to some of the best in the country—including Leon Bridges, The Head & The Heart, Lord Huron, Jenny Lewis, Mitski, and Shovels & Rope themselves. High Water benefits select organizations and water conservation charities in Charleston and aims to avoid the feeling of corporate inundation and discomfort that plagues many big-name music events. Trent and Hearst work with production companies and agencies to book acts, then serve as on-site hosts in addition to performing throughout the weekend.
“Shovels & Rope: The Movie” is a performance film that has been expanded into feature-length with an external narrative weaving through and connecting the live performances. Directed by their frequent visual collaborator, Curtis Millard, the ‘live show’ portion of the filming took place over two nights at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, during the tour for Little Seeds. The rest of the film was shot in various locations in and around the Southeast. The result can be described as a David Lynch meets John Hughes (a fun, silly, and tongue-in-cheek film for fans to enjoy that also represents the band at the peak of their live power.)
The children’s book, “C’mon Utah!”, sets the lyrics from the new song of the same name to illustrations by the artist Julio Cotto. It is an inspirational story, set in the future aftermath of the building and subsequent destruction of the southern border wall. The separated and displaced families are figuring out how to start to put the pieces back together. Communities form to organize and support each other.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube