Back in October, Vinyl Me, Please (you should probably join the club already for exclusive vinyls and more. Do it here!!!!) delivered vinyl LPs to the doorsteps of their 20,000 subscribers, but on this month, it was their first unsigned artist that the record club put out. The album is a beautiful opaque purple vinyl of Blessed Feathers newest album There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow. Vinyl Me, Please released the album exclusively and for a record club that has put out Father John Misty, Wilco, J Dilla, Four Tet, Hot Chip, Torres and more, it says a lot that they chose to work with this actual independent artist. After all, what’s a vinyl club if you can’t discover something new and amazing?
Blessed Feathers is a folk duo of Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre providing lush melodies and ascendant soundscapes that are just gorgeous. Vinyl Me, Please subscribers who didn’t know this band were in for an early Christmas present spinning this album for the first time. Two years in the making, There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow is equal parts beauty and brutality, a transgressional road trip that stretches from the ghettos of Peru to the high plains of Wyoming, from the swamplands of Florida to the oceanic wilds of Big Sur. It is traveling music, tormented and biographical, but most importantly, human.
If some of the most wonderful music you’ve heard wasn’t enough to have you going to catch their shows, buy their merch, rebuy the album on all formats, their backstory is almost as compelling. A month after turning 17, Donivan Berube left home and disassociated himself from the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses, thus saying goodbye to his entire family and all of his friends, forever. Then he met his dream girl, Jacquelyn Beaupré, and together they took off to travel the continent and live out of a tent. In the time since, he’s worked as an English teacher in Peru, a librarian in Big Sur, California, and ridden his single-speed bicycle across the country, aside from touring the US & Canada while releasing records on small labels.
When we find musicians whose music speaks to us, we have to dive a little deeper into them and ask those musicians to give us an album that has influenced them, an album that’s had an impact on them to help them reach where they are within their musical journey. Donivan Berube was kind enough to share with us his influential album. Donavan’s response: “At first I was going to ask if anyone had done Velvet Underground’s Loaded, or Tom Waits Rain Dogs. But then I realized I could write about an album that surely nobody had heard of, Tog Pebbles by Way Yes.” And music discovery comes full circle, introducing us and maybe you to Way Yes.
Donivan Berube of Blessed Feathers’ influential album: Way Yes – Tog Pebbles
“With each listen, Tog Pebbles teaches that good music must be founded foremost on good songwriting, that a song can’t mean something to the world unless it means something to the one writing it. Beneath all the polyrhythms, the ethereal guitars, vocal harmonies, and a timeless tinkering in sound, deep down at the very bottom there has to be a heartbeat, something with guts, something of value. All else is a mask. Here’s how Way Yes describes the Tog Pebbles track listing in their own words:
1. dead mom
2. shitty job
3. fear of abandonment
4. self loathing love song
5. bipolar disorder
6. stress, etc.
7. suicidal grandma
8. neimeyer’s lunch
9. dead mom
10. dead friend
It’s the perfect coupling of danceable tropicalia and melancholic balladry. And as with all perfect albums, it isn’t until track eight or nine that you realize each song has been a miracle, each song a sacrifice to the greater whole. It opens with a 7-minute percussive opus in ‘Cole Rain,’ whereas ‘Money Field,’ ‘Rhythm of the Ants,’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’ sound more like R&B jams, then come the guitar-led enders like ‘Blood Line’ and ‘Piranha.’ The entire record plays like a two-edged sword, uptempo yet cursed with an air of sorrow.
Tog Pebbles was pressed by Sly Vinyl in 2013, limited to 300 foil-stamped, numbered copies on 180-gram colored vinyl. I have number 225, but year after year I’m afraid to open it. There is something fragile about it, something aching and unrequited. To listen is to love, or lose, or something deeper. As the band put it themselves: “Listening to Tog Pebbles is like attending a funeral on a beach. The funeral is for someone you only met once, but the beach, oh my God, the beach… It is something to see.”
/- Donivan Berube, Blessed Feathers
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