Carey Mercer formed the band Frog Eyes, which includes he and his wife Melanie Campbell, in 2001, and we were more than proud to release their 2010 album, Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph. The album was soon a long listed nominee for the Polaris Music Prize and is his most current musical outlet. However, Mercer has been a constant force in the music world since 1996 and he formed groups such as Blackout Beach and Swan Lake.
Mercer had been working on his newest album as Frog Eyes titled Carey’s Cold Spring since 2010 and has chosen to self release the record through Bandcamp. In the last few years Mercer’s personal life changed dramatically with the passing of his father, someone extremely close to him not only personally but also musically. Before the record was finished, he had played the last track, “Claxxon’s Lament”, acoustically for his father who was then in a hospice and in his final stages of life.
The emotionally forceful song attained a new significance according to Mercer, who explains:
“I sat by him and sang it; I sang it really well, of course, because I had the sense that it was the last song he would hear, not that there was any evidence he could actually hear, but still, it was the last song that went into his ears. I also sang it loud, because even though a hospice is supposed to be quiet, I wanted it to mean something, and sometimes volume creates its own meaning.”
He soon found himself recording the song to be the last track on his new album. But after, Mercer found out more important news:
“Two days after I green-lit the final mixes of the record, I got a call from a doctor who told me that I have throat cancer. I’ve been really hesitant about including this, going back and forth, but I have decided to include this information: illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is a big thing, a thing that impacts a life and forces changes on the way, for example, a songwriter releases her or his product. So I release this from a place where it’s hard to say if I will be on the road to promote it. This is why I have chosen to control the release myself and put it out through the limited channels available to me right now.”
Mercer explains the album is not only built from personal experiences but also from the what he saw over the last three years while recording including riots, storms, mass protests, and more. He describes the record is partly “deeply fearful, almost paranoid, the sound of a person grinding his or her teeth in the night. But just a part of it. It’s also the sound of the birds in the morning, I hope”.
Read more words from Carey and pre-order Frog Eyes new album, Carey’s Cold Spring out October 7th on his Bandcamp page, here. There, you can stream the powerful last track, “Claxxon’s Lament”, or listen to it above.
This afternoon Stereogum premiered the new, animated video for Frog Eyes’ “The Sensitive Girls” by London-based, Russian artist Marsha Balaeva. For Balaeva, “what attracted [her] most was the theme of urban gloom and despair, where everything you look at is palpably wrong and menacing, yet fascinating in some way.”
The animation itself is fully hand-drawn and is made from just under a thousand drawings in ink and pencils. This was the first animation project Balaeva has done in color. At the beginning of the collaboration, Carey Mercer outlined his vision of this song, a mixture of “street despair”, faux-religious imagery, and the dream of fleeing dark places. This loose outline gave her the main theme for the storyline. He also came up with the finishing sequence, when the bird is flying out into the light of a crystal pyramid.
The majority of the city backdrops are based on actual streets and buildings of Liverpool, Manchester and London. A lot of the characters and objects can be traced back to various religious cults and practices, like the dog with the pins. In Kongo, wooden figurines of dogs and men were used by ‘baganga’ (healers) to perform rituals, and if themagic was successful a nail was added to it, so the most powerful objects were studded with nails.
For more information on Marsha Balaeva’s artwork, please visit visit her site here.
One of our favorite Canadian music channels, AUX.TV, recorded a great in-depth interview with Carey Mercer in which he discusses music, poetics, and where Frog Eyes fits in the artistic spectrum. The second video features an incredibly moving, acoustic version of “Violent Psalms.” Both videos are part of AUX.TV’s interview and performance series “What You See Is What You Get,” and you can see those and more here.
Carey Mercer is best known as the songwriter and vocalist of the band Frog Eyes. However, Mercer also releases solo recordings as Blackout Beach and is one third of the Canadian supergroup Swan Lake. Although Frog Eyes are widely known for their explosive live shows, Swan Lake has never once performed live, and Blackout Beach has played in public just one time. This live album, titled Live at the Orange Hall is a document of Blackout Beach’s only live performance and can be purchased via bandcamp for just $2.99.
Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, the Dead Oceans debut from Victoria, British Columbia’s Frog Eyes has been included on the long list for the 2010 Polaris Prize. Congratulations to Carey Mercer and the band for this most excellent achievement. See the rest of the Polaris Prize long list here.
Frog Eyes are currently on tour and recently added a stretch of dates with Japandroids for later this fall. The Frog Eyes live show must not be missed. Here are the full dates.
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