Saddle Creek’s Big Fall | Ladyfinger (ne) & Eric Bachmann

Other late summer/early fall highly anticipated releases from the Omaha label…


Ladyfinger (ne)
Heavy Hands (Saddle Creek)
out Sept. 26

Regardless of your musical tastes, if you fancy yourself a bit of an indie aficionado, then it’s likely that you have at least a sturdy grasp of Saddle Creek Records and the bands in their catalog. With Cursive being the rare exception, Saddle Creek isn’t exactly the first label you’d think of when it comes to rock. While this is not on the same echelon as Metal Blade putting out a bluegrass record, the release of a post-punk record on Saddle Creek is bound to lift some hearty eyebrows.

So, at this time, shout a hearty hello to Ladyfinger (ne). While their sound may foreign to Saddle Creek fanatics, a couple of their members should be rather familiar. Composed of Pat Oakes (Mayday), Ethan Jones (ex–The Faint), Jamie Massey (Race for Titles), and Chris Machmuller (ex–Bleeders for Treats), the band’s upcoming LP Heavy Hands is a full-on rock disc. In what certainly in a first for Saddle Creek, the band lists Motörhead, Drive Like Jehu, and the Jesus Lizard as reference points to their sound. To go further, Ladyfinger (ne) enlisted the engineering services of Matt Bayles, whose previous work includes Isis and Mastodon. Finally, if that’s not enough rock pedigree for you, then lay your eyes on this little bit of loveliness: “To its primal beginnings. The pounding drums, the slippery sensation of voice sliding against the strings—you can’t help but want to pour it all over you. Be baptized in the broth—the rock broth. Tea-bag it. Tea-bag the broth of rock.” Obviously, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a string of words that captures rock at its most primal, glorious…and disgusting.

Sure, as our brains descend back to reality, it’s obvious that the scribe who penned those words definitely had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, but you gotta love that shit. For those now pining to check out this Omaha, Neb., quartet, Ladyfinger (ne) will be on tour this fall in full support of Heavy Hands, which hits stores September 26. As of now, there is no word on whether or not they’re bringing their special broth in tow. | David Lichius


Eric Bachmann
To the Races (Saddle Creek)
out Aug. 22 

Exile does strange things to a person. We’re so conditioned to living and interacting in the presence—desired or not—of others, that the mere fact of solitude is unfamiliar, if not downright uncomfortable.

Self-imposed exile, however, is another story entirely. In the summer of 2005,Eric Bachmann chose to drive his touring van to the Northwest and literally set up house. For three months, Bachmann lived in his van, all the while capturing the sparks and inspiration that would become To the Races.

In December, Bachmann and his songs headed to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where To the Races was recorded in one week’s time. With only a couple of guest musicians—DeVotchKa’s Tom Hagerman on violin and Austin, Texas’ Amanda Brown on backing vocals—the album effectively captures and examines human isolation and solitude.

With four prior releases under the Crooked Fingers moniker (most recently, 2005’s Dignity and Shame, on Merge), To the Races marks Bachmann’s most personal and probing effort to date. It’s fitting, then, that it also marks his debut offering under his own name.

With sparse but beautiful accompaniment (the aforementioned strings, light backing vocals, an occasional harmonica, plus the usual strummed guitar), To the Races presents a stripped-down, careful listen. Bachmann’s voice is more isolated and, as such, tentative, competent, almost sweet. It’s a return to the singer-songwriter roots, to be sure, as Bachmann channels Bob Dylan, or a present-day Steve Earle. Not protest music, this, but an examination of the human spirit, a fitting addition to the Saddle Creek roster.

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