Shearwater have made some big changes this year, but none of them seem to be hindering Jonathan Meiburg’s energy. They switched labels and switched producers. They are no longer writing within the “trilogy” story arc of Palo Santo, Rook, and The Golden Archipelago. Meiburg has even stated that their live presence will be quite different on the upcoming tour. But none of these changes seem to be phasing Meiburg. His most recent release Animal Joy is even more driving and passionate than his past releases and may be the most accessible Shearwater release yet. As Meiburg heads out on the road in support, he is, according to the Shearwater website, “bringing a rock outfit” this time. It will be fun to hear him and the band tear into the grittier cuts of the album like “Breaking The Yearlings” and “Immaculate.”
For the final performance of KEXP’s second day from Mellow Johnny’s, Shearwater delivered the most powerful performance we’ve seen so far, making it clear that they are indeed venturing away from their experimental and exploratory style in favor of simply rocking, and doing with an impassioned grandiosity and, dare I say, epic-ness that was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Meiburg and his four bandmates opted to play Side A of their new release Animal Joy from start to finish, and the final note of each song — especially set closer “Insolence” — was met with overzealous applause that suggested the audience had no idea what they were in for. Now we just need to hear Side B!