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WHAT IS SECRETLY SOCIETY?

Secretly Society is our spin on a classic idea - the record club. The pitch is simple. One record, in an exclusive, Secretly Society vinyl color, shipped to your door every month. Oh yeah, and shipping is included. find out more.

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Secretly Society members gain access to these limited-edition items... and many more.


 

Dec. 2018 Secretly Society Album

soil

serpentwithfeet
Label: Secretly Canadian

Dec 2018 Secretly Society release on opaque blue.

serpentwithfeet is an avant-garde vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in dueling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting – key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. His forthcoming debut full-length album soil is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of soil the chameleonic serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.

“soil is about me returning home then realizing that i carry home with me daily.”

Following the release of Blisters – his 2016 foray into hybridized pop produced by Björk collaborator The Haxan Cloak – and two big tours, serpentwithfeet returned to the studio in 2017. There, he explored the fullness of his voice and became increasingly interested in playful singing which intrigued recording engineer Jason Agel. That vocal performance was only complicated by his feverish rumination on the dissolution of an impassioned love affair that left him stunned and speeding toward the inevitable – a more intimate relationship with himself. One in which he embraces and mocks his own flaws with abandon, lets an uncharacteristic shock of hair down over his infamously provocative forehead tattoos, makes room for his most pressing sexual desires and returns to the gospel that dominated his formative years. In this embrace of imperfection and romantic failure, serpentwithfeet has found soil; the forthcoming album is his first release for the label partnership between Tri Angle Records and Secretly Canadian.

soil features contributions from rising experimental producer mmph, sound manipulator Katie Gately, A$AP Rocky contemporary Clams Casino, and Paul Epworth – one of the Grammy Award-winning minds responsible for Adele’s critically-acclaimed album 21. The project recorded between New York City’s WhiteWater production house and Epworth’s London studio was co-produced by serpentwithfeet. On this outing he trades glossolalia and peacocking showmanship for intricately layered harmonies, a sumptuous bottom register that appears for the first time to challenge his fluttering tenor, and ballsy sonic experimentation encouraged by Gately, whose talent he describes as “making voices sound like elephants and elephants sound like car engines.” Together they develop an unctuous sound that suggests billowing clouds and the dense, plodding stomp of 12-bar blues. Once concerned with perfect execution of gospel runs and dishing up a gossamer falsetto, serpentwithfeet is out of balance and reveling in the concept of mess on soil. Particularly, what it means to part ways with sterility and the urge to uncoil himself in order to occupy more space. soil is the moment at which he unfolds himself with zero intention of closing back up.

“I’m constantly talking about how black men are always manspreading and pushed to be these super masculine, bovine – seven foot niggas. For a long time I was interested in what would happen if we rebelled against that and we were small. I was into the minutiae and then I realized I wanted to take up space again. I have practiced that smallness and quietness and that’s fine, but now I don’t want to be that delicate. I’m not interested in that right now. This album definitely pushed me in that way. There’s a certain naivete in this new music. With the blisters EP, I was trying to prove a point to myself and the listener. I was trying to string together a lot of ideas before. This time I wasn’t trying to sound smart. I was as crafty as I could be with the words, but I just wanted to keep my eyes open and be accountable for what I was seeing .”


Evocative of the stillness of lying down and feeling the gravitational pull of the earth beneath the body, soil is a writhing, electronic melodrama that pairs synth woodwinds and sinister transitions with serpentwithfeet’s extra-terrestrial timbre. The album elevates his most persistent weaknesses, and revisits the trinity of r&b, gospel, and pop that drove earlier projects. serpentwithfeet busies himself with a manic range of emotion which includes sobbing, laughing, mocking his own truculence and identifying his proclivity to smother lovers as a trait antithetical to the kind of intimacy they seek. He speaks as tenderly to the mythical men of his dreams as he does former lovers. His humor is apparent on songs like “seedless,” “messy,” and “slow syrup,” which poke fun at his overbearing presence in the lives of partners. serpentwithfeet tinkers with the extremes of his ideals to illustrate the ways in which past partners have felt oppressed by his needs; he likens them to unreasonable questions like, “Will you show up for me if I ask you to sharpen your teeth because we don’t have any knives and I need someone to cut this food?” “cherubim” and “fragrant” elucidate the connection between romantic obsession and the sentiments of church songs about unwavering devotion to god in statements like, “I get to devote my life to him, I get to sing like the cherubim.” In seeking to commune with a higher power across a number of bodies, from the individual self to the embrace of a lover and the sanctity of partnership, serpentwithfeet is responsible for a compilation that forces consciousness of the myriad intersections at which god exists.

At once whimsical and mechanical, soil traverses the depths of human emotion in search of love. The music inspired by “intense collaborative work” is an extension of the mourning ritual a crestfallen serpentwithfeet first created to grieve heartbreak. He cites influences as varied as lullabies, an affinity for pungent body odor, his doll collection, and his mother’s love of traditional hymns. soil conjures his early fascinations with Brandy and Björk as easily as it references the pageantry of anthemic compositions by Antonin Dvorak and the ecstatic praise of the black church; the abiding prayer house rhythm is established by industrial washing machines on Gately’s opener “whisper.” serpentwithfeet is explicit, however, in breaking with the condemnations of taboo subjects in order to deliver the language necessary to provide black, queer people with a heartfelt, futurist folk –– a new mother tongue constructed to override his prolonged inability to articulate his love life because he had no knowledge of an established standard for speaking about intimate experiences beyond the binary lens of heterosexuality. In being vulnerable enough to vocalize his journey, serpentwithfeet encourages a systematic dismantling of the shame that is appended to homosexuality through the creation of a sonic space buoyed by radical acts of love and sustained repetition of his innermost thoughts.

“I remember growing up there was language for how men and women interact. I don’t have a lot of examples of black gay men that are out here thriving. Because of social media we see more examples but at the time when I was thinking about this and dealing with my own relationship, I had difficulty articulating my feelings. I hate to say it , but I think there is still a lot of shame around two black men dating and loving on each other and I was very aware of that. While working on soil, i was exploring and trying to make sense of my needs and my love language. Because of this process, I’ve fallen in love with my idiosyncrasies. I’m growing my hair again. With this album I gave myself permission to let the leaves grow, let the flowers bloom, let myself be hairy and let my sound be hairy. I’m excited about the way things naturally come out of my body. I am always going to embrace discipline and streamlining. But I’m in a space at the moment where I don’t need or desire the corset. It’s time for expansiveness.”
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Jan. 2019 Secretly Society Album

Remind Me Tomorrow

Sharon Van Etten
Label: Jagjaguwar

Jan 2019 Secretly Society release on blue splattered vinyl.

Sharon Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow comes four years after Are We There, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. Throughout Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force. With curling low vocals and brave intimacy, Remind Me Tomorrow is an ambitious album that provokes our most sensitive impulses: reckless affections, spirited nurturing, and tender courage.

"I wrote this record while going to school, pregnant, after taking the OA audition,” says Van Etten. "I met Katherine Dieckmann while I was in school and writing for her film. She’s a true New Yorker who has lived in her rent controlled west village apartment for over 30 years. Her husband lives across the hall. They raised two kids this way. When I expressed concern about raising a child as an artist in New York City, she said ‘you're going to be fine. Your kids are going to be fucking fine. If you have the right partner, you’ll figure it out together.'” Van Etten goes on, “I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress, go to school, but yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair and I feel like a mess, but I'm here. Doing it. This record is about pursuing your passions." The reality is Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between myriad endeavors — Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, and brought her music onstage in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. Off-screen, she wrote her first score for Katherine Dieckmann’s movie Strange Weather and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show Tig. She goes on, “The album title makes me giggle. It occurred to me one night when I, on auto-pilot, clicked 'remind me tomorrow' on the update window that pops up all the time on my computer. I hadn't updated in months! And it's the simplest of tasks!”

The songs on Remind Me Tomorrow have been transported from Van Etten’s original demos through John Congleton’s arrangement. Congleton helped flip the signature Sharon Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative. “I was feeling overwhelmed. I couldn't let go of my recordings - I needed to step back and work with a producer.” She continues, “I tracked two songs as a trial run with John [Jupiter 4 and Memorial Day]. I gave him Suicide, Portishead, and Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree as references and he got excited. I knew we had to work together. It gave me the perspective I needed. It’s going to be challenging for people in a good way." The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s sound.

For Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten put down the guitar. When she was writing the score for Strange Weather her reference was Ry Cooder, so she was playing her guitar constantly and getting either bored or getting writer's block. At the time, she was sharing a studio space with someone who had a synthesizer and an organ, and she wrote on piano at home, so she naturally gravitated to keys when not working on the score - to clear her mind. Remind Me Tomorrow shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. It was “reverb universe” she says of the writing. There are intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium.


The demo version of “Comeback Kid” was originally a piano ballad, but driven by Van Etten’s assertion that she “didn’t want it to be pretty”, it evolved into a menacing anthem. Cavernous drones pull the freight for “Memorial Day,” which fleshes out an introvert in warrior mode. The spangled “Seventeen” began as a Lucinda Williams-esque dirge but wound up more of a nod to Bruce Springsteen, exploring gentrification and generational patience. Van Etten shows the chain reaction, of moving to a city bright-eyed and hearing the elders complain about the city changing, and then being around long enough to know what they were talking about. She wrote the song semi-inter-generationally with Kate Davis, who sang on a demo version when the song was in its infancy.

Since her last album, Van Etten has had a young son, and family life is joyful. Preparing and finishing these songs, she found herself expressing deep doubts about the world around him, and a complicated need to present a bright future for him. “There is a tear welling up in the back of my eye as I’m singing these love songs,” she says, “I am trying to be positive. There is strength to them. It’s— I wouldn’t say it’s a mask, but it’s what the parents have to do to make their kid feel safe.”

Alongside working on Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten has been exploring her talents (musical, emotional, otherwise) down other paths. She’s continuing to act, to write scores and soundtrack contributions, and she’s returning to school for psychology. The breadth of these passions, of new careers and projects and lifelong roles, have inflected Remind Me Tomorrow with a wise sense of a warped-time perspective. This is the tension that arches over the album, fusing a pained attentive realism and radiant lightness about new love.
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Members Only

Secretly Society members gain access to these limited-edition items…and many more


WHAT IS SECRETLY SOCIETY?

The record club reinvented

Secretly Society is our spin on a classic idea - the record club. The pitch is simple. One record, in an exclusive, Secretly Society vinyl color, shipped to your door every month. Oh yeah, and shipping is included.

IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?

Yes. Yes it is.

WHAT RECORDS WILL I GET?

Expect a mix of new artists, established vets, and important represses from our extensive Secretly Group back catalog, featuring the best of Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, and Secretly Canadian. See the already-announced albums above!

WHAT IF I HATE THIS MONTH'S ALBUM?

Yikes! Hate seems a bit strong. We would recommend you at least give it another, fresh listen. If you are absolutely sure you'll hate it, that's totally fine. We offer an opportunity to "Skip" a month's album and go to the next one. You get 1 Skip every 6 months, so use it wisely. To use your Skip email us at society@secretlystore.com.

WHEN DO I GET MY RECORDS?

Great question. You receive your first album the month after you join, as soon as the calendar flips. So, no matter whether you sign up on September 1st or September 30th, the first record you receive will be in October. Shortly after subscriptions close on the 1st of the month, we begin shipping that month’s albums, and we'll usually be able to send out all Secretly Society shipments in the first full week of a given month. All of that adds up to US customers receiving their records in the second week of the month and international customers in the third or fourth week. We understand that the Secretly Society timeline doesn't always play nicely with album release dates, so feel free to hit us up with questions at society@secretlystore.com.

LET'S TALK MONEY.

Definitely. Here's how it works: you pay for the entire subscription up front, one time, shipping included. Cool, right? Then you have until your subscription ends to cancel your plan or it will auto-renew for another period. So, if you signed up for a 3 month subscription on August 15th, you have until November 15th to decline to renew your membership. Otherwise, we assume you're loving Secretly Society and want to continue.

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