Shearwater (band)

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Shearwater at The Fleece in Bristol in 2014
Shearwater in 2014
Background information
Origin Austin, Texas
Genres Indie rock
Psych folk
Folk rock
Years active 1999–present
Labels Misra Records
Matador Records
Sub Pop
Associated acts Okkervil River
Blue Water White Death
Whu Gnu
Angels of Light
Members Jonathan Meiburg
Danny Reisch
Lucas Oswald
Abram Shook
Jesca Hoop
Past members Kimberly Burke
Thor Harris
Will Sheff
Christiaan Mader
Mitch Billeaud
Howard Draper
Jordan Geiger
Kevin Schneider

Shearwater is an American indie rock band from Austin, Texas, led by multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Jonathan Meiburg,[1] a singer-songwriter and ornithologist.[2][3] The band's music is notable for its imagery based in nature, cerebral yet intimate melodic songs, as well as Meiburg's vocals.[4][5]


Early years[edit]

In 1999, Okkervil River band members Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff founded Shearwater as an outlet for quieter songs on which they were collaborating. The band's name comes from the shearwater, a tribe of seabirds related to petrels and albatrosses. Meiburg, who holds a master's degree in geography with a focus on ornithology, picked the name mostly for the sound of the word.[6]

Shearwater's debut, The Dissolving Room, introduced Meiburg's now ex-wife Kim Burke on upright bass; shortly after, drummer and vibraphonist Thor Harris joined the band. The addition of multi-instrumentalist Howard Draper plus tours and support dates with The Mountain Goats, Akron/Family and Blonde Redhead brought them exposure. Shearwater continued to produce music under this lineup in Everybody Makes Mistakes (2002) and Winged Life (2004), as well as the Thieves EP (2005). In 2005, Will Sheff left the band to concentrate on other projects.[7]

Matador Records[edit]

In May 2006, Shearwater released Palo Santo, their fourth full-length album, to much acclaim from critics and fans.[8][9] The song "Red Sea, Black Sea," was featured as an NPR Song of the Day.[10]

On April 10, 2007, Shearwater, then signed on Matador Records, re-released a two-disc edition of Palo Santo with bonus and re-recorded tracks from the original album.

Matador Records released the album Rook on June 3, 2008.[11] On the tour that followed, Shearwater opened for Clinic and later Coldplay. Additional touring accompanists were added at that time: Jordan Geiger of Hospital Ships and Minus Story (on cornet, synthesizer, and percussion) and Kevin Schneider of Black Before Red (on keyboard, bass, and guitar) replaced Howard Draper.

On February 23, 2010, they released their sixth album, The Golden Archipelago,[12] which the band produced with John Congleton.[13] The band toured extensively behind the record in 2010, with an international tours in the spring[14] (with Wye Oak and Hospital Ships opening) and additional U.S. dates in the fall[15] (with special guest Damien Jurado). The Golden Archipelago concluded the band's Island Arc trilogy, a project also encompassing Palo Santo and Rook.[16]

On November 6, 2010, the band released an instrumental album, Shearwater is Enron, via Bandcamp.[17] The album was recorded in the spring of 2010 and includes live material recorded at a performance under the pseudonym "Enron." It introduces some textures not traditionally associated with the band, such as electronic drum tracks and squalling guitar rock. Members of Wye Oak and Hospital Ships assist on the live tracks.[18]

Sub Pop Records[edit]

In February 2012, a new full-length album called Animal Joy was released.[19] It was Shearwater's first record with Sub Pop Records.[16][20] The record signaled a new chapter for the band after the conclusion of the Island trilogy, as the album included more rock elements.[21] Following the release of the album, the band opened for the North American tour of Sharon Van Etten.[22]

In 2013, Fellow Travelers was released on Sub Pop, a Shearwater album consisting entirely of cover songs by bands that Shearwater had toured with.[23] Each band that was covered on the album was also invited to play on the album, under the condition that they could not play on their own song.[24]

The band's upcoming record, due on Sub Pop in early 2016, will be called Jet Plane and Oxbow.[25] Frequent collaborator, producer Danny Reisch, worked on the album, as did composer Brian Reitzell, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, drummer Cully Symington, Howard Draper, and regular band members Jesca Hoop, Lucas Oswald, and Abram Shook.[26][27]

Notable performances[edit]






  1. ^ Swaminathan, Nikhil (4 August 2008). "Birdman/Bandman: A Q&A with Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg". Scientific American. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Crock, Jason (24 April 2007). "Interviews: Shearwater". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Humphries, Stephen (21 May 2012). "Shearwater: Winging It Across The World". Under the Radar. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Gendron, Bob (6 April 2010). "Shearwater combines power, peacefulness". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Jennifer (14 February 2012). "Animal Spirits: an Interview with Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg". PopMatters. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Moores, Charlie (2009). "Interview: Jonathan Meiburg of ‘Shearwater’". 10,000 Birds. Retrieved 15 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Haupt, Melanie (12 May 2006). "Transcendentalism: Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg wants you to listen, but you can't sing along". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (29 May 2006). "Critics' Choice: New CDs; Shearwater Palo Santo (Misra)". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (8 July 2006). "Music Review; Shearwater's Songs Stretch From the Heavens to the Deep Sea". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  10. ^ Yu, Kathryn (5 April 2006). "Telling Tales of Stormy Seas". NPR Music. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Takacs, Lou (10 June 2008). "Interview: Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater". Aural States. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Allen, Dustin (24 February 2010). "Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago". American Songwriter. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Van Meter, William (1 March 2010). "Now Listening: Shearwater’s “The Golden Archipelago”". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Shearwater - new album, MP3 & 2010 Tour Dates w/ Wye Oak & Hospital Ships (Bowery Ballroom)". Brooklyn Vegan. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "Shearwater on tour, released some new stuff". Brooklyn Vegan. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Hoinski, Michael (5 March 2012). "Shearwater Celebrate New CD With Hometown Gig in Austin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  17. ^ a b ""Shearwater is Enron" by Shearwater". Bandcamp. 6 November 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  18. ^ Hann, Kaylen (19 November 2010). "Shearwater Shearwater is ENRON". Coke Machine Glow. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  19. ^ Thompson, Stephen (5 February 2012). "First Listen: Shearwater, 'Animal Joy'". NPR. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "Sub Pop Records: Now with 100% More Shearwater". Sub Pop Records. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  21. ^ Breihan, Tom (14 February 2012). "Album Of The Week: Shearwater Animal Joy". Stereogum. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  22. ^ Pelly, Jenn (13 March 2012). "Watch Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater Cover "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Schaefer, John (31 March 2014). "Shearwater: Grandiose And Operatic Pop". WNYC Soundcheck. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  24. ^ Humphries, Stephen (27 November 2013). "Track-by-Track: Shearwater on “Fellow Travelers” - The Complete Interview Jonathan Meiburg on the Band's Ninth Album (Web Exclusive)". Under the Radar. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  25. ^ "Playlist: Shearwater - The Snow Leopard". KEXP-FM. 16 December 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  26. ^ Minsker, Evan (20 October 2015). "Oxbow, Share "Quiet Americans"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  27. ^ Azerrad, Michael; Meiburg, Jonathan. "Michael Azerrad vs. Jonathan Meiburg on Jet Plane and Oxbow". Sub Pop Records. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  28. ^ Hernandez, Raoul (30 August 2013). "Shearwater & Sharon Van Etten - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" b/w "A Wake for the Minotaur" (Sub Pop)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 

External links[edit]