After 10+ Years, The Feathermerchants Are Releasing a New Record

It’s been more than 10 years since Connecticut’s Feathermerchants released new music or played a live show. In fact, you’d be more likely to find founder and guitarist Pete Veru wandering CU Boulder’s campus with his nose in a book on Dutch finance than you would on a stage. The recent Ph.D. graduate left the band in 2007 for academic pursuits; the other Feathermerchants members moved on to new lives then too. But today that’s all about to change. After 11 years, Feathermerchants have released a new record, A Pull From The Flask.

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Veru founded Feathermerchants in 1996 and has always been the band’s primary songwriter. After recording a demo with renown producer Jim Chapdelaine in Hartford, Connecticut, Chapdelaine actually joined the project. Veru then recruited bassist Drew Glackin and drummer Jon Peckman. The next year, the crew began recording their self-titled debut record and added Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston into the fold on lead vocals. Guest musicians like John Fay (The Tragically Hip) and Hassan Hakmoun also played on the debut.

Upon its release, the single “Water and Dreams” was picked up from Feathermerchants by director Frank Todaro for his film Above Freezing. The band then scored a distribution deal with Rykodisc and found themselves making waves on the CMJ college radio charts. Reviews of the record, however, were mixed and around 2000, lead singers Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston left the project and were replaced by Shannon Kennedy. It was also at this time that former Saturday Night Live bassist Paul Ossola joined the fold as Glackin left to join The Silos.

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

With a new lineup, the band found themselves back in the comfort of Chapdelaine’s studio, where they recorded their second release Unarmed Against the Dark. The album was an indie folk pop piece with “songs with deep hooks drenched in reverb.” Feathermerchants even recruited Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers; Rolling Stones) to play on a track, the song “Brooklyn Ferry” which is a tribute to Walt Whitman. Upon completion, Unarmed Against the Dark fell into the hands of a South African publicist by chance, and the band developed a large following overseas thanks to a slew of South African media features. Soon, Feathermerchants found themselves playing a number of high-profile shows at places like Joe’s Pub, on festival lineups like South by Southwest, and with other popular bands of the time like Keane, October Project, and Grey Eye Glances.

In 2006, the band released what has previously been their final record, Last Man On Earth. The band’s radio success continued on the CMJ charts, and they were even featured on National Public Radio. The band swapped Ossola for bassist Jay Wiggin and continued performing. In 2007, the group played what would be two of their last shows at Joe’s Pub and the University of Hartford’s Music for a Change series. Both of these live sets were recorded, and Chapdelaine locked away the tunes without much thought at his studio following the shows.

A Pull From The Flask.

A Pull From The Flask.

Shortly thereafter, the band parted ways amidst the dying record label industry and the emergence of live streaming services. Veru went on to academia, Kennedy also pursued an advanced degree, and Chapdelaine went on to earn 13 Emmys for his work in the music world. Peckman and Wiggin continued playing in local projects in the East Coast music scene.

Then in 2016, Veru returned to the states after a historical research stint in Amsterdam. He called Chapdelaine and the two reminisced on their last shows as the Feathermerchants. Chapdelaine invited Veru back up to his studio, where the duo spent time listening and mixing the once-forgotten recordings from their final performances. Together, they gathered 16 tracks for A Pull From The Flask.

“Jim and I sat through dozens of hours of mixing and producing. There were songs that we played during those shows that we hadn’t played since the late nineties; songs that Shannon Kennedy never [even] recorded in the studio.” Veru told us. “After putting it away for ten years, all of a sudden it sounds fresh to me again. We really were hitting our stride as a live band right when things ended. I think younger kids who were musically aware in the 90s might think so too.”

We definitely do. Chapdelaine and Veru self-admittedly enjoyed piecing together their new record, so whether you’ve been a Feathermerchants fan for years, or it’s your first introduction to this now classic 90s band, we hope you’ll share in our excitement of the release of A Pull From The Flask. You can find it on iTunes today.

Keep up with the Feathermerchants here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Eric Dorr's 'Dream Routine' EP Showcases His Ability To Slip Into Many Corners Of Indie

By: Julia Talen

Boulder resident and eclectic musician Eric Dorr has recently released his debut EP, Dream Routine. Dorr moved to Boulder five years ago with his close friend and collaborator Sawyer Bernath after studying music at Temple University in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bernath produced Dorr's polished EP and much of it was recorded in apartments throughout the city of Boulder.

Eric Dorr.

Eric Dorr.

Dorr began playing music in high school band, the trumpet specifically, and that early inspiration definitely weaves into his EP with horns cropping up in many of the tracks. The tracks are quite surreal as the EP's title insinuates; the lyrics often connote dreams and consciousness as the tunes incorporate all sorts of sound, from keys, to overlays of whispers, echoing vocals, hazy instrumentals, horns, and even chimes. Many of the tracks reminded me of Dr. Dog; each song layers and builds while listeners can feel the emotion behind Dorr's vocals. Additionally, the EP's title works, because while every song reflects Dorr's musical interests and abilities experimenting with different sounds and various contrasts, the tracks have a similar formula or structure, like a routine. “Dream Routine” showcases Dorr's seamless ability to slip into and explore assorted sub-genres of indie rock.

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The EP begins with "Kerosene." Sturdy guitars and ample percussion thicken the introduction, which is followed by a beat of silence. Then Dorr's vocals come in, reminiscent of Ben Gibbard's, accompanied by harmonies and instrumentals which steadily progress as the tune unfolds. The end of the song propels us into the album with a culminating build that crescendos as Dorr sings "headed off into an endless dream."

As you move through the EP, you get a taste of Dorr's musical curiosities and wanderlust. The second track, "Around Again," shifts gears, radiating poppy vibes, as it opens with sugary "ooo's" and "ahhh's" that thread throughout the tune. The song builds, similarly to "Kerosene" and the forthcoming tracks, ending distinctively with a couple of verses from the tune sung in a more rustic, faded way, as if we are listening through a wall. It almost feels as though we are crossing time, getting a look into what the first pass of the tune sounded like before it went "around and around" through edits as Dorr added to it.  

Listen to Dream Routine:

"Leaves," the fourth track on the record, also emphasizes Dorr's ability to explore a more pop-indie-rock genre. This catchy, quick tune highlights the whimsical, reverberating keyboard as swift drum beats keep the track moving forward. Dorr's vocals, accompanied by the keys, reminded me of Keane. The lyrics compliment the contemplative themes laced throughout the EP with poetic verses like, "So familiar/Just like a dream… Countin' all the leaves/in the land of a thousand trees/reachin' up your sleeve/for all that use to be." "Leaves" uses lyrics and musical experimentation to navigate themes of dreams and memory as sounds swell and drift away over and over.

Later we hear "The Loss," possibly the tune that ties all of Dorr's musical directions together. The track starts out swaying slowly and moves forward into a catchy refrain echoing the introspective theme of the tune. The backup vocals and Dorr croon, "It won't let go, let go, let go/It won't let go of me/I can't let go/It won't let go of me." Captivating, experimental, and slightly electronic keys interpose between the refrain and verses, and launch forth after the second verse. Everything begins to evolve and grow as the lyrics "a quarter short of a diamond hand" repeat. This song reminded me of something that could be on Dr. Dog's album Fate. "The Loss," surveys a plethora of sounds and instruments within the span of five minutes, from echoing vocals, interesting drums and cymbals, and groovy keys. Though this tune starts out slow, momentum surges as Dorr layers on different resonances that you might not expect to blend, but they do, making the track super stimulating and perhaps my favorite of all.

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Dorr has laid it all out on his short EP. He showcases his ability to slip into the many corners of indie music, and he is not afraid to take on diverse sounds, instruments, and styles. Dorr said in a recent interview regarding his EP that he, "wants to have a few different styles to catch someone’s ear. [My] goal for the next project will definitely be to see how this next couple of months go, how the EP is received… and push in a more specific direction." Though "Dream Routine" navigates all sorts of musical sounds and directions, the consistent builds and structure of each track, along with the introspective thematic content tie the tunes together. See for yourself as Dorr continues to tour and perform tracks from this EP. His next show is Saturday, December 16th at Hunter Bay Coffee Roasters in Arvada.

Keep up with Eric Dorr here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.