Although currently comprised of primary songwriter and founding member Jonathan Meiburg, Danny Reisch, Lucas Oswald, Abram Shook, Jesca Hoop and Josh Halpern, the Austin, TX-based septet Shearwater can trace its origins to when Meiburg and co-founding member Will Sheff started the band as a side project to their then-primary act Overkkill River. And with the release of the band’s first four recorded efforts The Dissolving Room, Everybody Makes Mistakes, Winged Life and Thieves EP the band’s original line up, which featured Meiburg’s now ex-wife Kim Burke (upright bass), Thor Harris (drums, vibraphone) and multi-instrumentalist Howard Draper received national attention when they’ve opened for a number of renowned acts including The Mountain Goats, Akron/Family and Blonde Redhead. The band’s fourth full-length effort Palo Santo was arguably their breakthrough effort as it was eventually re-issued through Matador Records as a two-disc release with re-recorded and re-mastered tracks and bonus tracks; however, it was their fourth effort Rook which was arguably their breakthrough effort, as they wound up opening for the likes of Clinic and Coldplay — and additional touring members including Hospital Ships’ Jordan Geiger, Minus Story and Black Before Red’s Kevin Schneider were added to flesh out the band’s live sound.
Interestingly, the band’s 2012 release Animal Joy was a change in sonic direction as the band’s sound took on an increasingly rock-leaning sound that has continued in some form through their latest release, their critically acclaimed Jet Plane and Oxbow, which was released earlier this year. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time or follow me through Twitter, you’d likely know that I’ve long admired The Onion AV Club as they consistently offer some of the smartest, most incisive and downright funniest reviews of movies, music and pop culture out there. (If only, they were hiring, right?) Some time ago, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series and the series has a great concept — every season, the website’s writers and editors come up with a list of songs that they would love to see contemporary artists cover. The staff would then invite a particular band or artist to stop by their Chicago studios, have that act choose a song from the AV Club’s list and then record it live to video. Once a song is chosen, it’s crossed off the AV Club’s list, so those bands that manage to stop in later on in the season have much more limited choices. Of course, this prevents having several bands covering the same song over and over again during a season and as a result it allows bands to reveal some of their obscure interests and influences while pushing out of their comfort zone to strange and thrilling results including They Might Be Giants’ gloriously weird cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s gorgeous cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” and Screaming Females power chord-friendly cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
As you can see Shearwater has been invited to Chicago a few times and their most recent stop at the AV Club’s studios for a rather long day the included a song-by-song cover of David Bowie’s Lodger and a moody yet straightforward (although slightly tighter) cover of Bauhaus‘ “Kick in the Eye,” that has the band playing in front of a strobe light in a similar fashion to the original video.