The time has come for us to unleash our newest album, Tender Age. A few things we’d like to tell you about it before you take it into your home and your ear space:
We recorded most of it at Sound of Music in Richmond, VA with Al Weatherhead, who speaks so softly that it’s hard to know whether you’re just hearing his brain waves. Miguel Urbiztondo functioned as the MC, maitre-D, hype man, and vibe-bringer.
Along the way, our friend Chris Stamey lent his ear and his big song-loving heart to the project, as he has since our last record. Then we came home to Studio M in Durham, where our “sixth ceremonial,” Thom Canova, recorded some tracks for us. Thom doesn’t have to speak; we’ve been working together so long that all thoughts are pretty much understood in real time.
At Stamey’s suggestion, we added some horns to “Gun to My Head” and “World’s Too Much,” courtesy of Andy Kleindeist and Al Strong. In Raleigh, with BJ Burton’s help, we recorded a massive group vocal on “Gone Go the Memories.” Stu & Missy from Love Language, Maria & Reid from Schooner, and Adam & Mike from Annuals joined me and Mark to sing the track. We monitored ourselves through a huge Orange half-stack that was blasting in the live room.
Finally, Thom came over to my house in Durham with a recording rig and we played some acoustic tunes in my living room — Mark & I on acoustic guitars, Gabe on banjo, Matt on upright, and Dan on brushes. The sound in that old house really fit the mood of these songs (“Wither on the Vine,” “Never Felt Better,” “Cro Mag”) and the whole thing was recorded completely live. In fact, the band had never heard “Never Felt Better” until we recorded it that day.
Originally, I thought of making the album a “double EP,” partly as a joke (who’d ever put out a double-length short album); the record seems to split into two complimentary halfs — one acoustic, one electric — and the idea of having a double album that was actually just a regular long-player appealed to me. But cooler heads prevailed, and we just leave it to your ipods to determine where to start and stop listening. Hopefully you’ll listen straight through in order at least once, though, as we tried to make it tell a story.
As always, the amazing Brent Lambert mastered the record at the Kitchen with his specially-constructed supersonic ears that he keeps in an underground vault between sessions. We were aided in the artwork by our friend Nick Jaeger, who supervised the design. Carl Christensen generously allowed us to use his “She Reads” photo, and Anna Bullard (of Anna Bullard fame) kindly lent us her gorgeous photos for the front and back covers. Abigail Rorer contributed a lovely lithograph for our new tour posters, and Andrew Morgan designed a great new t-shirt. We’re grateful to all of them and everyone else who made this record possible.