Tiger Saw’s fifth album Nightingales is now available. You can stream the entire album at Burst & Bloom’s bandcamp page, where you can also download it as 320k mp3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
The Nightingales CD is available via Burst & Bloom mailorder.
Download / stream the entire album below!
The Current, JC Lockwood, 7 December 2010
Tiger Saw’s latest, the aptly named “Nightingales,” has been billed as a flight back to the nest, of sorts, a return to the Newburyport-born, Portland-based band’s slowcore roots, and it’s difficult to argue with that assessment, especially after the stylistic detour that was “Tigers on Fire,” the controversial 2007 album that reinvented Saw as a kind-of white-kid basement soul dance band, horn section and all. So, yeah, there’s a little back to the future feel to it. But, despite some obvious similarities in form and, to a certain extent, content, “Nightingales” finds Tiger Saw in a completely different place — lyrically, musically, emotionally — from, say, the sweetness and innocence of, “Blessed Art the Trials We Will Find,” the band’s Kimchee debut, or the joyous, celebratory, everybody-all-together “Sing,” from the midpoint of the band’s decade-long run. Yeah, the songs, for the most part, are still sweet, sad and, at times, heartachingly beautiful, and have an ineffable yet smoldering sadness — and a terrible, well-remembered longing. And, perhaps most significantly, the new material puts the spotlight back on the interplay of male and female voices to an extent not seen since cellist and vocalist Juliet Nelson left the band three years ago. But Emily Forsythe, probably best known for her work with the Boston-based St. Claire, steps into the duet role with founder Dylan Metrano as earth to Nelson’s cosmos, body to her spirit, fire to her cool, ethereal breeze. And, this time out, there’s a lot more miles on the vehicle. The shadows are longer, almost stark, and the lines on the faces of the characters, the people whose lives are described more pronounced. And Tiger Saw, a constantly shifting musical collective, is doing it, mostly, with a rootsy, waltzy string quartet as accompaniment. No, it’s never easy with this band.
Released last month on Burst & Bloom, “Nightingales” is a collection of 10 songs about, or, a least, inspired by, the night, a conceit that all but invites a bleak experience — and, with songs about friends and lovers about growing up and, ultimately, apart, about worlds, for better or worse, left behind, colored by bittersweet nostalgia and the kind of cold understanding that comes only from distance, there’s a fair amount of depression, seeming desperation on the album, despite its warm, richly textured, emotionally complex presentation. But “Nightingales,” which takes its name from the bird whose song is known for its complex range of whistles, trills and gurgles, is much more than that. Metrano and Saw find light enough to coax nuance from the darkness, colors, however muted, from the shadows — even cause for hope. Night takes many forms, from the existential constant of the opener, “Only the Night Is Unchanged,” to the staging area for resurrection, beneath the purr, as they would have it on the closing number, where self, with its troublesome consciousness, is finally discarded and everything we are is amplified — a kind of death, of the past, and a definite rebirth. It may well be Tiger Saw’s most mature work to date, but it’s also the culmination of everything the band has been doing for the past decade. Besides, for all the supposed sweetness and light of the older stuff, there’s always been an emotional complexity concealed in the simplicity, wisdom in apparent innocence, which manages to find depth, even in simplicity.
“Nightingales” picks up where “Gimme Sweetness, Gimme Danger” and “Sing,” the last two releases before the utter left turn of “Tigers on Fire,” left off, exploring themes of friendship, community and love, but from the reality-changing perspective of time — maturity being the collapse of irrational, youthful certainty and the “knowledge” that everything that was once so obvious is, well, murkier, that memory turns out to be tricky and life multisided. The album opens with an establishing shot, of sorts: The dirty, old town is gone, Karpified, yuppified, all but unrecognizable — an emotional ghost town. The question posed in the song — “Can you ever love a ghost, keep what you cannot hold?” — becomes the core of the album as memories are re-examined and life, ultimately, is reinterpreted.
The emotional core of the album comes early on, as the string quartet kicks in two insanely sad waltzes that force listeners to either choke back emotions or cry like little girls: “Gentle Gentle” and “Memory,” whose opening riff, intentionally or not, recalls “Are the Stars Out Tonight,” a decade-old tune from Hamlet Idiot, Metrano’s first band, and another song that references the night. But, stylistically, the album refuses to sit still, including a new take on Unbunny’s “Pink Lemonade,” a ballad from Unbunny alum Guy Capecelatro III that falls somewhere between Dylan and Waits and a short, hypnotic, proto-psychedelia instrumental. How this ties into the night theme is anyone’s guess. The album closes with the joyous, emotionally satisfying “Purr,” with its Floyd-like shimmer of voice and feedback.
It’s a lovely album: Sweet, sad and beautiful, a rich, textured, emotionally complex look at a world left behind, a world where certainty becomes clear only in retrospect, that finds regret, hope and, eventually, understanding. It’s about the night, but, ultimately it’s a rejection of darkness.
Jakob Battick, USM Free Press, 6 December 2010
Dylan Metrano, the visionary behind New England collective Tiger Saw, is one of the East Coast’s best kept musical secrets. Though a steady buzz and certain level of acclaim has been building since their inception in 1999, they haven’t really broken into the level of cultural visibility they deserve. Tiger Saw’s fifth and latest album, Nightingales, is a tour de force of bittersweet songwriting complimented with exquisite string work and gorgeous vocals. The album floats on a foundation of reserved, spacious rhythmic work, and there are enough quirky stylistic choices here to distinguish the sound of Tiger Saw from the classic slowcore bands of the mid-’90s that their sound is indebted to. What truly sets Tiger Saw apart from their peers and predecessors is an undercurrent of dissonance and an exceptionally vulnerable vocal delivery. Oftentimes a storm of EBows, delayed vocal trickery, and rearranged instrumentation courses under the surface of Metrano’s compositions, threatening to break through the loveliness but never quite rearing its head. Simultaneously, Metrano surrounds himself with a crowd of guest vocalists who pillow his fragile, plaintive voice in harmonies both narcoleptic and luscious. This deep emotional counterpoint creates a musical psychodrama of sorts, one torn between desperate nostalgia and heartfelt remembrance. Nightingales is, after all, an album centered thematically around the night, as a metaphor for both the permanence and impermanence of people and places. The variety and brevity of sounds on Nightingales makes for a brilliant summary of the many facets of Tiger Saw’s career thus far. At once, we are presented with both the light and dark of the group’s work, both lyrically and musically. I have to recommend this release to all of you out there as one of the most gorgeous, but shadowed, New England releases I’ve seen all year.
Heather Kilrow, The Noise, November 2010
Somewhere in the space between my headphones forms a warm, rich soundscape. This recording is well worth a close listen for its lush instrumentation layered with reverb, tremolo, strings, haunting organs, reversed sounds, and even a toy piano accenting one track. Emily and Glenn Forsythe share vocals and harmonize over ten tracks that are solemn and nostalgic. While the whole record is beautiful and consistent, tracks like “We’ll Always Have the Night” and “Night, Pt. 2 (Helena’s Song)” stand out for having a slightly different feel in their treatment. Nightingales provides the perfect soundtrack for bicycling in moonlight or to accompany the aches of lost love.
Matt Kanner, The Wire 30 October 2010
The latest release from Newburyport-born musical collective Tiger Saw is an intoxicating ode to the night. The ever-shifting ensemble led by singer and guitarist Dylan Metrano showcases its ethereal, minimalist sound throughout ten potent songs. The album has a mournful mood, loaded with nostalgia for places and faces of the past. “Our city has changed so much. Was it ever a dirty old town? / Our friends they’ve all moved on, since last time that you were around. / Only darkness remains, ’cause only the night is unchanged,” Metrano sings on the opening track. The disc oozes with dreamlike reverb often embellished by gorgeous string arrangements. Nightingales is by and large a sleepy sort of album filled with dreamy lullabies, including the hypnotic instrumental “Japan.” But it concludes with the commanding “Purrr,” which introduces a slightly more aggressive sound.
Sam Pfeifle, The Portland Phoenix, October 27, 2010
For just over a decade, Dylan Metrano has been bringing together any number of musicians to form ever-evolving versions of his band Tiger Saw. Embracing his slo-core roots once again, Tiger Saw have released Nightingales and never has the material better fit the delivery. An exploration of all things night, the album manages to be far from dark, reveling in the world of dreams and endings with a bright and airy string-quartet arrangement and vocals that, while ethereal and slow-moving, manage not to be down-in-the-mouth. That last is thanks to siblings Emily and Glenn Forsythe (Boston’s St. Claire), who provide paired vocals that intertwine and meld like silvery smoke. Clara Kebabian and Lillian Harris on violin and MorganEve Swain on viola do work that is lovely and subtle, and mixed just slightly to the back so they don’t overpower the vocals. If anything, Evan Orfanos’s drums are the most prominent instrument here, his snare like a heart-beat for songs that need a foundation, lest they float away, with Jerusha Robinson on cello to supply the gravity. The night fixation is not tiresome. It is omnipresent, but, as on the opening “The Night Is Unchanged,” it’s more like a constant, a friend you can count on, than it is a looming presence. When the Forsythes join to sing, “Streetlights dimmed long ago/We lived for the static, we lived for the night/My friend, I miss you so,” it isn’t drenched in melancholy or nostalgia. It’s just a simple memory. The Forsythes explore this idea through back and forth in the powerful “Murakami Dream,” referencing the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who has written about “entering the world of dreams and never coming out.” “Nostalgia isn’t what it seems/ Life is a Murakami dream/Though I’ve lost the plot/I still love it a lot, now I sing with everything I’ve got.” There is no point in looking back with regret. “The dark’s a killer, but we dream at night.” What’s that about clouds and silver linings? Make sure you stick around for the closing “Purrr,” where the band are finally allowed to release some of the energy that’s been bottled with all this slowness. Emily’s voice takes on an edge, the guitar begins to growl, and while “still I fear what tomorrow brings,” there is a rippling intensity here that is willing to face all challenges.