After twenty-five years of waiting, New York City cult indie favorites The Van Pelt return on March 17th with their upcoming fourth studio full-length, Artisans & Merchants. This is not a reunion album. This is vindication. This is a stand-alone album with incredibly vital songwriting, and for lovers of The Van Pelt, listening to Artisans & Merchants is like hearing the voice of a dear friend you haven't seen in years. The album was recorded and mixed in Summer / Fall 2021 by Jeff Zeigler (The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile) at Uniform Recording in Philadelphia, PA, and features guest appearances by Nate Kinsella and Ted Leo among others.
Listen to the premiere of the new single "Punk House" today at BrooklynVegan, along with a brand new music video. Pre-orders are available now on limited edition vinyl and digital as well as an exclusive t-shirt bundle. All pre-orders include an instant download of the new single
Jonathan “Jono” Diener works well with a lot on his plate. As a music and comics writer, a co-owner of Rootless Coffee Co., holding down a full-time job in marketing, and a drummer for multiple bands, he always has many plates spinning.
His newest project is 84 Tigers, where he is joined by brothers Mike and Ben Reed, who have made a stamp with their band Small Brown Bike. The trio’s 10-song debut LP, Time in the Lighthouse, arrived on October 21st via Spartan.
Recorded with Marc Jacob Hudson in Michigan at Rancho Recordo, the sound of Time in the Lighthouse is a modern take on the kind of post-hardcore that originally came from the early 1990s. Think Quicksand and Helmet and add a melodic touch with a punk feel.
Previously, Diener spent many days and nights with The Swellers, Baggage, and BRAIDEDVEINS. Now with juggling a variety of jobs and bands, he has the time to play live shows with 84 Tigers and No Trigger.
In the past, Diener has publicly written about the struggles of being a musician and the realities of what you come back home to. He’s in a much more stable situation now.
“It’s the first time in my life I didn’t have to have a shitty job to have a good music life,” he says. “The joke was always if you’re in a band, you’re a barista.”
Thanks to his full-time gig allowing remote work, he doesn’t have to fret about having money in the bank on tour or off it. “Now I’m not afraid to buy dinner,” he says. “That’s the first time I’ve felt like that.”
Diener has seen a lot in his travels and has plenty of stories. But it’s about what’s ahead instead of what’s behind for him. He’s not one to sit back at a bar, recalling his high school days and how his football team could’ve gone to the state finals. He has a healthy attitude about moving forward with things.
“The first driver is anxiety,” he laughs, but he’s serious. “Ever since I was a kid, I was a person who would do my homework the second I got it so I could enjoy myself the rest of the time. I would always focus on, ‘There’s this thing I have to accomplish or else.’ Early on, I tied so much of my identity with The Swellers in particular; not only was I a drummer, but was also one of two songwriters. When that eventually broke up, that was a bizarre thing. There was a break in my reality; I finally had to go, ‘What is my identity? What do I actually want?’ And more importantly, ‘How do I get it?’”
He’s a creative person first and foremost.
“My constant is getting to be creative and making something from nothing,” he says. “Once I turned that switch on in my brain, as long as I get to do that in some capacity, that is my happy spot.”
As a band, 84 Tigers started in January 2021 as a COVID remote band project. Mike Reed sent Diener an email out of the blue, asking if they would like to make music together. Diener was already a fan of the Reed’s work with Small Brown Bike and Able Baker Fox, and freaked out (in a good way) at the chance to create with them.
Mike had over a dozen tracks as demos and Diener thought it would be an acoustic album. Diener had free range to do whatever he wanted with the drums when he recorded. But as soon as he heard the fully-fledged tracks with Ben Reed’s basslines, he knew this would not be some low-key solo album from Mike Reed.
Thus it led to Time in the Lighthouse.
Given the schedules of all three members, playing shows is tough, but they do happen.
“When we get enough time and sanity, that’s the next priority thing,” he says of more recordings planned with 84 Tigers. And what a start this great band has had.
Spartan Records proudly presents Everything, the debut solo LP from Allen Epley (Shiner, The Life and Times). As a child, Epley spent hours imprinting his parents' record collection on his psyche. Giant headphones secure, he would pore over the cover art and liner notes and enter the world wrought by the giants of AM Gold — Bread, James Taylor, Carol King, Three Dog Night, Blood Sweat and Tears, 5th Dimension. Yet the music he would make in the 90’s and 00’s with his highly influential bands doesn’t reveal these easy-listening origins. Shiner and The Life and Times reflected more opaque images of bands like Swervedriver, Slint, early Smashing Pumpkins and Failure. The smooth grooves and discernable lyrics about love -- found and lost -- of the 70’s songsters of his adolescence hadn’t come back into view for him until 2018. While working on a batch of compositions for film/tv, Epley realized these ghosts had never left him but instead had embedded themselves in his subconscious. The result of this retrospective journey is Everything, a record that begs and rewards repeated listenings. It’s a rich production that echoes the AM Gold of his childhood but reaches into artistic territories that were generally reserved for Elliott Smith and Sea Change-era Beck.
Listen to the debut single "Thousand Yard Stare" at BrooklynVegan and pre-order / pre-save the album on limited edition vinyl. The first pressing is limited to only 300 copies on random color swirled vinyl and no two copies are alike!
We’re thrilled to announce Unwed Sailor's new album “Mute The Charm” which will be released everywhere on February 10th. In many ways, the new album represents an exercise in addition by subtraction – creating a layered emotive experience through more organic means. At its core, it is a pop rock record with chiming guitars, melodic bass, and rock solid drums – more aligned with the accessible sides of artist influences ranging from The Sundays, Joy Division, and The Stone Roses to Led Zeppelin, Lungfish, and 90’s indie rock band, Seam, than the band's previous and more ambient releases.
“Mute The Charm” is all-at-once a love letter to specific cities and scenes, a longing retrospective on relationships with people and the past, a nod to formative artists and trailblazers, and a hopeful look ahead towards a less tumultuous future. Listen to the new single “Windy City Dreams”and pre-order / pre-save the album on limited edition LP / CD / Digital or as part of a t-shirt bundle.
Pohgoh reactivated as a band back in 2016, and they’re prepping to release a new 12-song album on November 4th through Spartan called du und ich. Its first single, “Weeds,” was inspired by frontwoman Susie Ulrey’s life with multiple sclerosis and life in the COVID-19 pandemic, and turned out to be another poppy gem from the Florida-based act. The interesting thing is, the final part of “Weeds” was written many years ago, back when Susie, her husband/bandmate Keith Ulrey, and Matt Slate formed a short-lived band called The Maccabees (not to be confused with a UK band of the same name). Their song “Blameless” would be partially resurrected for the three-minute wonder of “Weeds.”
Working with the great J. Robbins on the album at his Magpie Cage studio, du und ich is yet another grand entry in their extensive back catalog. We spoke with Susie directly about this song, why they brought back part of “Blameless,” and how the band usually works.
What's the story on bringing back a Maccabees' riff for "Weeds"? Was it discovered on an old tape or a riff that never left your mind?
When I was trying to come up with an ending for "Weeds," the chord progression reminded of an old song I'd written in 2000 called “Blameless." After struggling lyrically with the ending, I dropped the outro lyrics of "Blameless" in on a whim and it just felt right.
How much of the new LP was written from scratch versus riffs you've had before?
Pretty much the entire album was written between 2019 and a couple of months before entering the studio in the fall of 2021. "Not Cool" was written in 2017 almost immediately after recording our last album, Secret Club, that fall. The ending of "Weeds" is the only true moment of reaching back in time.
In writing riffs for the new LP, did you save tidbits on your phone or computer, or did you write them out?
We write two different ways. I either bring a song lyrically and on guitar to the band and we then arrange it together or Matt and Brian will show us a riff or pattern they've been working on and we'll sort of jam out parts until they fit, I then add lyrics after the fact. When I'm writing a complete song myself, I tend to record a simple demo on my phone.
J. Robbins once said some of the bands he works with only need to set up microphones and hit Record, while other bands need some guidance, but he wants the band to be who they are. What was it like for the new Pohgoh record?
The songs are, for the most part, as they were written. J. definitely gave us his two cents on a few arrangements, as well as additional instrumentation ideas, vocal harmonies, etc.
Watch 84 Tigers' new music video for "Great Basin" now at No Echo. The band's debut album Time in the Lighthouse is out everywhere October 21st and available for pre-order now on limited edition vinyl or as part of an exclusive bundle that includes a t-shirt, Oxford Pennant, and an 84 Tigers x Spartan Rootless Coffee collaboration.
Calm Collpase is the new band featuring Doug Lorig (Roadside Monument) and Rob Smith
(Traindodge, Museum of Light). We’re thrilled to release the band’s
debut album “Mirrored Nature” on November 25th. Listen to the premiere
of the new song "Positive Greed" at Decibel
and pre-order the album on limited edition vinyl to get an instant
download of the song now. Play it loud!
Welcome Seattle's Calm Collapse to the Spartan family. The band is the collective sum of historic parts and features Doug Lorig (Roadside Monument), Rob Smith (Traindodge, Museum of Light), and Jon Pease (Medicine Bows). Look for the first single off their Matt Bayles (Botch, Mastodon, Minus The Bear) produced debut album “Mirrored Nature” next week!
We’re thrilled to announce the brand new album from revered indie/emo outfit, Pohgoh. In the middle of a global pandemic, the band entered the studio with acclaimed producer J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) to record their third full-length album du und ich, easily the foursome’s most ambitious outing yet. Listen to the premiere of the new song “Weeds” at BrooklynVegan and pre-order the album on limited edition vinyl or as part of an exclusive t-shirt bundle. The first 250 pre-orders also receive a custom Pohgoh mini-beach ball!
Rocky Votolato’s new single "Little Black Diamond" is streaming everywhere now! It’s a song about loyalty and how much keeping your word and telling the truth means to the ones closest to you. Get more info about the song at Rocky's Instagram profile and listen to it everywhere you get music here.
Please welcome Seattle indie-folk hero Rocky Votolato to the Spartan Family! We’re beyond excited to release Rocky’s first new album in over 7 years Wild Roots on September 9th. The album is an intimate concept album inspired by and written for his family — each song is a letter dedicated to a specific family member and focused on a special memory or moment in time. Stay tuned for the premiere of a brand new song tomorrow as well as pre-orders, new tour dates, and much more.
San Francisco art punk trio Rip Room has announced summer dates with Boston's Kal Marks. The 14-city trek kicks off with a record release show on July 14th in Oakland, CA, and runs through August 13th. The band will be out in support of its critically-acclaimed debut LP Alight and Resound which is available everywhere now!
7/14 - Oakland, CA - Thee Stork Club (Record Release Show)
7/28 - Tacoma, WA - Real Art
7/29 - Seattle, WA - Victory Lounge
7/30 - Portland, OR - Shanghai Tunnel
7/31 - Oregon - Secret Location
8/4 - Providence, RI - News Cafe
8/5 - Somerville, MA - The Jungle
8/6 - TBA
8/7 - Parksville, NY - Cabernet Frank's
8/9 - Washington, DC - TBA
8/10 - Baltimore, MD - Joe Squared
8/11 - Middletown, CT * - Rednawa Collective
8/12 - Philadelphia, PA * - Ukie Club
8/13 - Brooklyn, NY * - TV Eye
w/ Kal Marks