84 Tigers - Time In The LighthouseOctober 21, 2022 · Spartan Records · SPAR096
84 Tigers’ debut album Time in the Lighthouse feels like a hurricane of nature at times — crashing, shifting, and moving with an intensity that only Mother Nature can create, then suddenly shifting to rise with big, open melodies, creating a sense of the clouds parting after a massive storm on the seas. Featuring Mike Reed (guitar/vocals), Ben Reed (bass), and Jono Diener (drums), and after years of perennial touring and releases with their previous critically-adored outfits, Small Brown Bike and The Swellers, 84 Tigers has emerged as the three musicians' primary creative outlet in music. The trio immediately bonded, having gone down a similar path of pursuing a dream, making a splash, then exiting when the time felt right. The band officially formed in early 2021 based on demos Mike had been working on through 2019/2020. In October 2021, still unannounced to the world, the band recorded with Marc Jacob Hudson (Against Me!, Taking Back Sunday) at Rancho Recordo, deep in the woods of Michigan. The result is an intense and driving 10-song album that blurs the lines of post-hardcore, punk, and 90s alt-rock into the band’s own sound. Time In The Lighthouse perfectly captures the juxtaposition of its point of origin — layers of grit and weathered textures surrounding a core that is authentic and approachable, and thematic content that balances subtle nods and explicit references to the enduring and industrious spirit of the midwest.
Rocky Votolato - Wild RootsSeptember 9, 2022 · Spartan Records · SPAR086
Rocky Votolato’s music has consistently chased something universal — a perspective that connects us all, mysterious yet present, simultaneously humble and profound. Maturing over the course of eight increasingly accomplished solo albums, including the widely heralded records Suicide Medicine and Makers, he has spent the last two decades endlessly writing, recording, and touring. It is through this dedication that Votolato has become a mainstay within the indie-folk scene and developed a following of loyal and devoted fans who have been deeply impacted by his music. With his first release in seven years, Votolato returns with Wild Roots, an intimate concept album inspired by and written for his family. At its core, the record is a collection of fifteen epistolary songs, each one a letter to a family member focusing on a special memory or a specific moment in time. While the record inadvertently constructs a narrative of Votolato’s own life, multiple themes and motifs emerge that resonate universally with listeners. “This is a storytelling album,” says Votolato, “But to me, this record is really about how family has nothing to do with blood, but more to do with who sticks with you and who learns to be good to you, and love and appreciate you for who you are.”
Museum of Light - HorizonJune 10, 2022 · Spartan Records · SPAR082
Museum of Light's debut record, Horizon, pulls between two poles: big, crushing, overwhelmingly heavy riffs and dreamy, Zen-like washes of ambience and found sound. Horizon is a lush, dense, and cinematic record, but without the self-seriousness and lack of restraint that underscores many other releases within the genre. In a time where there are truly no restrictions to music, both in content and approach, the addition by subtraction philosophy brings a different type of gravity to the listening experience. The challenge of exercising restraint and employing elements of simplicity makes every moment of Horizon meaningful -- there is not a wasted note nor an expendable moment.
Rip Room - Alight and ResoundMay 27, 2022 · Spartan Records · SPAR075
In a time of digital polish and studio patchwork, it has become increasingly rare to hear a record that captures the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics of a live performance. Music continues to fill our queues, but it feels less and less human, so when a record breaks through the static, it can be a revelation. Introducing the wound-up art punks in San Francisco’s Rip Room. After successfully self-releasing and touring on two EPs, the three piece returned to Louder Studios in Grass Valley, CA to reunite with storied engineer Tim Green (Nation of Ulysses, Melvins, Bikini Kill, Sebadoh). The result is the charismatic and alluringly unpredictable debut full-length record, Alight and Resound, twelve pulsing songs that harken back to better musical times while somehow embracing the relevance of the moment. Think Unwound, Sleater-Kinney, and Fugazi. Propulsive rhythms and piercing lyrics, but with a sense of buoyancy. Brashness over banality. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Unwed Sailor - Live at CommVess EPJanuary 21, 2022 · Spartan Records · SPAR090
In June of 2021, directly on the heels of the release of Unwed Sailor’s new full-length album, Truth or Consequences, the band entered CommVess Studio in Birmingham, AL for an experiment of sorts — to capture songs live to tape, uncut for the first time ever. Over the course of the next few days, the band adeptly maneuvered through five songs spanning their decades-long catalog, peeling back layer after nuanced layer to expose the special unfettered moments that can only be experienced via the live performance. The Live at CommVess EP showcases Unwed Sailor at their creative peak and casts yet another impressive shadow over what is already a genre-defining catalog music.
Unwed Sailor - The Faithful Anchor (20th Anniversary Edition)November 19, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR081
Spartan Records proudly presents the 20th Anniversary Edition of Unwed Sailor's post-rock instrumental classic, The Faithful Anchor. Two decades ago, this landmark release helped define modern instrumental music with its emotive storytelling, cinematic arcs, and dynamic arrangements. Engineered and mixed by Dan Burton (Early Day Miners) in Bloomington, IN, the record features Matt Johnson (Roadside Monument) on drums, Nic Tse on guitar, and band visionary Johnathon Ford as the producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. This special edition has been remastered for vinyl from the original mixes and features two out-of-print bonus tracks from The Magic Hedge 7" inch, originally released on Swiss label Tricycle-Evolutif in 2002. These were recorded during the original The Faithful Anchor sessions and capture the same urgency and sonic vibrancy as the rest of the release. Please stay tuned for more information about this monumental release as we celebrate Unwed Sailor, a generational band whose impact, resonance, and influence has remained steadfast for over twenty years.
Mountain Time - Saint Francis, ZookeeperAugust 27, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR080
Spartan Records proudly presents Saint Francis, Zookeeper, a retrospective release celebrating Chris Simpson's (Mineral, The Gloria Record) lost years. The culmination of countless days and nights of recording. The gathering of friends (and friends of friends) in one big room, all reaching for banjos and organs and sleigh bells and trumpets, crowding around microphones or sitting on the floor and clapping their hands. It’s a pair of headphones taped around your head. It’s pianos played so loud you can hear them in the drum mics. It’s the sound of a band in a bubble (their minds are in trouble but their hearts they are clear). Saint Francis, Zookeeper is the story as it stands thus far: the first two Zookeeper records, remastered for vinyl, plus three never before heard songs. These songs were born with things to do. They came from Chris, but they belong to everyone—to anyone who wants them, to anyone who needs them, to anyone for whom these songs have become a part of their story (or have let their own story become a part of these songs). Zookeeper was a street choir in a strange parade. Saint Francis, Zookeeper is an invitation to that parade. Pick up a guitar or a tambourine. Put on your walking shoes and your favorite hat. Sing it on out with us. Welcome to the family.
Unwed Sailor - Truth or ConsequencesMay 14, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR077
The journey of Unwed Sailor began in Seattle, WA in 1998, shortly after Johnathon Ford departed critically praised bands Roadside Monument and Pedro the Lion. While working within those projects, Ford began writing instrumental music after listening to Tortoise, Pullman, and seeing bands like Physics perform live. After recruiting Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes), and Melissa Palladino (Danielson Famile) to play on the now classic Firecracker EP, Unwed Sailor was born. Two decades and seventeen releases later, Ford has continued to rely on the band as a device for personal exploration and emotive narration. Unwed Sailor now joins forces with Spartan Records for the release of their latest moody and cinematic journey, Truth or Consequences, a sonic examination of particular memories or moments in Johnathon Ford's life, with each song serving as a unique snapshot of an overarching narrative. Truth or Consequences is shaped around familiar musical DNA. Heavily present, driving, and stacked bass lines; wandering and evolving song structures; soaring crescendos and moody diminuendos; and, of course, a gripping sense of sonic storytelling.
Demons - PrivationApril 30, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR069
As a new year ushers in new nightmares, art counters with menacing mechanisms for catharsis and a spillways for aggravation. Norfolk, VA's Demons return with their blistering second full length, Privation, a distorted and aggressive contribution to a collective ringing of alarms amidst destructive times. Drawing from the spirit of band's like Metz, Gulch, Converge, Propagandhi, the Demons crew punishingly delivers ten tracks of raw and confrontational fury, motivated from within a spiraling sociopolitical landscape that evokes critical self-reflection and frustration. On Privation, Demons has found even more synchronization, with a set of songs that are self-described as "more focused," "a little more punk rock," and "just better." While a seemingly simplistic account, the description holds true in all the best ways. Fans of the previous full-length and EPs will find solace in a continuation of form with Privation, but with the dials all turned further clockwise -- louder, faster, tighter, and more urgent.
Assertion - IntermissionApril 9, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR079
As the dust settled on an impressive list of former endeavors, it was an unlikely series of human connections that sparked the inception of Assertion. After years of self-described music industry PTSD and disenchantment, drummer William Goldsmith (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Fire Theft, Foo Fighters), guitarist/vocalist Justin Tamminga, bassist Bryan Gorder united through a series of serendipitous events. Best described adjectively, the band's debut LP, Intermission, is real, propulsive, and earnest -- a cathartic experience that proudly does not nestle nicely alongside current bands -- or really many releases at all from the last couple decades. Intermission conjures more connections to the heady grit and soaring grind of the 90's. Driving guitars anchored by a frenetic rhythm section. A haunting vocal delivery concealing a heartfelt sentiment. Track-by-track, the record builds into a dark and heavy crescendo but unpredictably retreats into delicate and fragile moments in masterful ways.
The Farewell Bend - In PassingJanuary 29, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR074
Spartan Records proudly announces the re-issue of The Farewell Bend's 90's classic In Passing -- a supergroup trio featuring members of the seminal midwest emo bands Boys Life (Brandon Butler, John Rejba) and Giants Chair (Paul Ackerman). Kansas City bred, The Farewell Bend builds upon the sum of its critically acclaimed parts and delivers a record self-described as an assault on the mundane pop rock of the time. "This is not a happy, smile pop, shit record," says frontman Brandon Butler, "it rocks you." Guitar-driven and hammeringly propulsive, In Passing evokes the more aggressive moments of the nineties movement without comprising accessible melodies and palatability. Remastered by Paul Malinowski (Shiner) and now available again on vinyl for the first time in over 20 years, the new pressing also includes the bonus track "Service Engine Soon" previously available on the band's 1998 split 7" with Shiner. All hail the Midwest sound!
VAR - Live at OrgelsmidjanJanuary 15, 2021 · Spartan Records · SPAR078
Spartan Records partners once again with Iceland's VAR for the release of an exclusive, live four song EP. After the release of the band's debut full length, The Never-Ending Year, and amidst the global pandemic, opportunities to perform the record live were nonexistent. "We felt like we had to do something to give people at least a little taste of us playing these songs live," says Júlíus Björgvinsson (vocals/guitar/keys), "VAR has always been about playing live, and we always give everything we have to make the tension between us and the audience both peaceful and powerful." After some discussion, the next best option in lieu of live performance was a series of live performance videos, filmed at the organ workshop where the band practices. "We got our producer Eiður to do the sound for the videos and when he sent us the audio files, Arnór brought that idea of releasing a live EP. We were happy with the sound he got from the session and how far it is from how the album sounds. It’s powerful, it’s raw and it’s honest. And that is VAR."