Song of the Day: Shearwater – Breaking the Yearlings

photo by Greg Szeto

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Breaking the Yearlings” by Shearwater from the forthcoming 2012 album Animal Joy on Sub Pop.

Shearwater – Breaking the Yearlings (MP3)

Over the past decade, Austin, Texas band Shearwater has been known for their broad, cinematic sonic landscapes and front man Jonathan Meiburg’s delicate, expressive voice that gives life to the band’s often unconventional instrumental arrangements. “Baroque” is a term frequently associated with the band’s music and rightly so; their songs are exceptionally lush, exploratory, and Meiburg’s vocals make them seem like they were borne out of some uncharted land of medieval magical realism. In fact, the band’s previous three albums – Palo Santo, Rook, and The Golden Archipelago – make up the Island Arc Trilogy, which Shearwater has performed live back-to-back-to-back, leaving us to wonder if Shearwater might have been just as heavily influenced by Tolkien and Nordic folklore as by any of their musical predecessors.

Animal Joy, their seventh full-length release and first on new label Sub Pop, sees the band taking their sound in an entirely new direction. Recorded in their hometown of Austin with the help of members of Okkervil River and Wye Oak, Animal Joy is less expansive and exploratory, instead featuring more concentrated, piquant, and individuated tracks. Today’s featured song, “Breaking the Yearlings,” might be the most traditional single the band has recorded, and if you like what you hear, Animal Joy will be released in its entirety on February 14 in the US (February 27 worldwide).

Shearwater will begin touring in support of the new album in early February along with Sharon Van Etten, although most of the scheduled dates are east of the Mississippi, and they’ll be headed overseas in the Spring. Check back with their website for updates. While we’re waiting for them to make their way out west, check out their video for “Hidden Lakes,” from the last chapter of the Island Arc Trilogy, 2010’s The Golden Archipelago:

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