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Bellows // The Rose Gardener

The Rose Gardener is the fourth album by Bellows. It was written by Oliver Kalb and recorded in a home studio in Woodstock, NY in early 2018. Listen to the record today on your favorite platform, and check out the tour dates below to see if Bellows is coming through your town. If physical media is your jam, please visit our store to peruse our wares.

Below Kalb explains the processes and circumstances that gave life to the ambitious record, describing a series of reevaluations of relationships and personal values, eventually culminating in a refusal to succumb to the turmoil of our moment.

"A lot of the album is about the idea of judgment: why we’re compelled to judge each other, hate our peers, bring competitiveness to art-making, compare ourselves to others, destroy beautiful things for an ego-boost or a feeling of political purity. The album was written in a period of intense frustration with the world of music and the dumb infighting that dominates it. Especially after the election in 2016, I found myself more and more demoralized with the state of the world. As America sunk deeply into quasi-fascism and normalized day-to-day violence, I began to wonder why our counter-cultures were paralyzed and unable to respond, so wrapped up in the narcissism of small differences that they forgot to fight the actual bad guys.

Somehow the idea of judgment felt crucial to understanding the moment we’re living in. Everyone in society the judge, the rockstar, the lead of his own private TV show, privately declaring judgment and dismissal to anyone standing in his way. I began to feel the loneliness of this moment in history. That although we’re supposedly more connected than we’ve ever been, we’ve become further and further factionalized until each person stands completely alone, unable to forge real connections or bonds, isolated within the internet booth of judgment and narcissistic self-righteousness.

I think the loneliness I see in this moment became the metaphor of The Rose Gardener — a gardener trying to tend to a single rosebush in the dead of winter. I imagined this character and his practice of tending to a rose that seems destined to perish in ice, who recognizes the futility of the work but nevertheless goes out every day to tend to the dying plant. The loneliness of this character felt akin to the feeling of trying to make art in such a loaded and violent moment. How could one possibly try to speak softly in a world filled with such deafening shouting from all sides? But rather than giving up gardening, the Rose Gardener persists — he sticks his hands into the thorny rose bush and tries to see through to what might still lie on the other side: real life."

Tour dates:

  • 3/1 - Albany, NY @ Chateau
  • 3/2 - Kingston, NY @ BSP
  • 3/3 - Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s #
  • 3/7 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
  • 3/8 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA #
  • 3/9 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong #
  • 3/10 - Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight*
  • 3/11 - Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR*
  • 3/12 - Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern*
  • 3/13 - Austin, TX @ Topshelf Records Official SXSW Showcase @ Cheer Up Charlie’s*
  • 3/14 - Denton, TX @ Andy's Basement
  • 3/16 - Austin, TX @ FRIEND OASIS @ SXSW*
  • 3/17 - New Orleans, LA @ The Starlight*
  • 3/18 - Atlanta, GA @ 529*
  • 3/19 - Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse*
  • 3/20 - Baltimore, MD @ Joe Squared*

# = w/ Shannen Moser

* = w/ Another Michael

designed by Oliver Kalb

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First Listen // Bellows - "The Tower"

"The Tower" is the fifth and final single to be shared before the release of The Rose Gardener, the forthcoming full length record by Bellows. Stream it here a day ahead of its full release on all your favorite digital and streaming platforms, and read about the track below.

The Rose Gardener will be released on February 22, 2019.

"'The Tower' is partially based on an interpolation of the song 'WTF' by Gabby's World, the other band I'm in," says Oliver Kalb of the penultimate track from his forthcoming record The Rose Gardener. "Those first lines are about the experience of hearing 'WTF' and having a memory of the power of touring in a band and singing someone else's beautiful songs night after night. In a moment of extreme chaos and conflict in my life, the context and meaning of the song changed for me. It suddenly felt like a rallying cry to stick with music despite it feeling like a hopeless endeavor: 'I will not back down.'"

It suddenly felt like a rallying cry to stick with music despite it feeling like a hopeless endeavor: ‘I will not back down.’

Though not an expert in tarot, Kalb concedes that the title is a reference to the tarot card of the same name. "The Tower in tarot symbolizes upheaval and change; the image on the card is literally a tower being struck by lightning. We build up towers of worldly ambition and narcissistic insistence on our own constructed images of ourselves. These towers of careerist striving, however, are built on faulty foundations – we have to destroy the towers we build up if we really want to change ourselves, or get out of the ruts we're in."

full album pre-order & streaming links // lyrics

Kalb explains further that the triumphant and hopeful song "is a declaration of defiance against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the recognition that although everything in my life seemed to be crumbling away, that nevertheless making art and continuing to live my life despite hardship was the most important thing. But that realization came with a caveat: that if I was going to continue with art, I needed to fundamentally change myself, and my relationship to having a life in music. 'Deep in the stars, or wherever you are, I need to find you' – these final lines, sung in the same pitched register as the quotation from 'WTF' are about the universality of music, how hiding somewhere deep in the universe is a primal force we can sometimes tap into to create beauty, and to rise above the pettiness of earthly experience. Art is the only thing that connects us to something higher than ourselves, and I need to live life in search of something greater than me."

The Rose Gardener is out via Topshelf Records on February 22, 2019.

Photograph by Richard Gin

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Bellows // Album Announce: The Rose Gardener

Today we are proud to share the first two singles from the upcoming record The Rose Gardener by the Brooklyn-based group Bellows, to be released on Topshelf Records on February 22, 2019.

Catch the two music videos premiering today at Stereogum alongside a US tour announcement. As well, don't miss pre-orders for The Rose Gardener, which are now live on our webstore.

Of the two videos, Oliver Kalb (lead force behind Bellows) explains that, "'Denouement' and 'What Can I Tell You About The World?' are the two center-piece songs of the album — I think of them as representing two opposing emotions the album deals with. The first is a bitter, angry song, obsessed with the past and the misdeeds of others. The other is a song about peace, and about trying to live life without passing judgment on everything you see. They’re a duo because neither tells a full story: the world is neither as messed up as it is in 'Denouement' nor as simple and problem-free as 'What Can I Tell You About The World?' but together they form a worldview: feeling out the anger it takes to acknowledge when you’ve hurt, but not allowing it to overwhelm your ability to find happiness where it comes."

Tour Dates:

  • 3/1 - Albany, NY @ Chateau
  • 3/2 - Kingston, NY @ BSP
  • 3/3 - Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s #
  • 3/7 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
  • 3/8 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA #
  • 3/9 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong #
  • 3/10 - Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight*
  • 3/11 - Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR*
  • 3/12 - Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern*
  • 3/13 - Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza*
  • 3/14 - Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s*
  • 3/16 - Austin, TX @ Topshelf Unofficial SXSW Day Party*
  • 3/17 - New Orleans, LA @ The Starlight*
  • 3/18 - Atlanta, GA @ 529*
  • 3/19 - Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse*
  • 3/20 - Baltimore, MD @ Joe Squared*

# = w/ Shannen Moser
* = w/ Another Michael

art by Oliver Kalb

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New Music from Elephant Gym, Annual Label Sampler & Holiday Sale

Greetings! It is about that time, people. We've got a few deals going to help you with your holiday shopping (much more on that below). Now's probably also a good time to recap you on what we've put out this year, incase you've missed anything. We've also got Elephant Gym's new album Underwater available for purchase—details on all of that below.

This year's been awesome—I'm so psyched on the diverse titles and exciting group of artists we've gotten to partner with in 2018. For a quick glimpse of everything we had our hands in this year check out our discography page, or just peep our label sampler that features a track from every artist we released music for in 2018:

Oh yeah, the sale!

  • Take 20% everything in our shop with the code HOUSEKEEPING (excludes pre-order items)
  • Take an additional 15% off everything in our sale section (prices already marked down)
  • Our Bandcamp subscription is temporarily lowered to just $6 a month—get everything we release instantly digitally delivered to you, plus bonus downloads and behind-the-scenes updates all while supporting us and our roster in an ongoing, sustainable way!
  • we've re-stocked crewnecks, beanies, hats and shirts
  • For every $50 you spend in our shop, get a free random test press with your order
  • All digital items on our Bandcamp are 50% off (use the code HOUSEKEEPING)
  • Lastly, if you're shopping for someone and not sure what to get them, we have gift cards

A few notes and clarifications: The 50% off Bandcamp code *will* work on physical merch. We won't honor that though. Please do not try to buy physical merch with this code—YOU WILL BE REFUNDED and we will cancel your order if you do this. It is intended for digital items only. Thanks!

To redeem your free test press for every $50 spent, you must add this item to your cart.

In other news, you can finally listen to the new Elephant Gym album Underwater! It'll be on streaming platforms December 7th, but until then, you can stream or download it from Bandcamp (psst you'd already have it if you were subscribed!) or simply add it to your cart here on our shop.

That's it for now—thanks so much for your continued interest and support! <3

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Bellows // "Fist & Palm" On Cassette, Song Premieres on NPR and The Fader, Tour with PWR BTTM & Lisa Prank

I should preempt everything here in saying that, to date, Bellows' new album Fist & Palm is my favorite of this year. It's a fantastic record that takes me through the gamut of emotion. From grandiose soaring pop highs to introspective sullen lows, the album's eleven tracks are ambitious in scope, sonic palette and execution. Fist & Palm is at once familiar but constantly expanding ever slightly into new territory creating something fresh that — for me, personally — invokes the excitement I recall feeling when discovering K acts like Mirah or The Blow paired with the euphoria of M83's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. It's an exciting combination we're truly proud to be involved with in any capacity.

We'll be releasing Fist & Palm September 30, 2016 as part of our monthly cassette subscription series (Double Double Whammy are handling digital, vinyl & CD). You can pre-order an individual cassette copy of the album or pick up our entire subscription now.

NPR's All Songs Considered released "Thick Skin" earlier this summer saying at the heart of the song "is the message that one of the most freeing parts of life is the search for satisfaction, not the arrival of satisfaction itself" and that it has an "absolutely lovely, intimate quality." Yesterday The Fader shared album standout "Orange Juice".

Bellows are also embarking on a US tour with PWR BTTM and Lisa Prank this summer. All dates below.

  • 10/22 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace ^
  • 10/24 - Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar Room ^
  • 10/25 - Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s ^
  • 10/26 - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen ^
  • 10/27 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry ^
  • 10/28 - Omaha, NE @ Milk Run ^
  • 10/30 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge ^
  • 11/1 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court ^
  • 11/2 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux ^
  • 11/3 - Walla Walla, WA @ Billsville West ^
  • 11/4 - Vancouver, BC @ 333 Clark ^
  • 11/5 - Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project ^
  • 11/6 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios #
  • 11/7 - Eugene, OR @ The Boreal ^
  • 11/9 - San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop ^
  • 11/11 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater ^
  • 11/12 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge ^
  • 11/14 - Austin, TX @ The Mohawk ^
  • 11/15 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada ^
  • 11/16 - Jackson, MS @ Big Sleepy’s ^
  • 11/17 - Nashville, TN @ The End ^
  • 11/18 - Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade ^
  • 11/20 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook ^
  • 11/21 - Washington, DC @ DC9 ^
  • 11/22 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA ^
  • 11/23 - Somerville, MA @ ONCE Somerville ^

^ w/ PWR BTTM & Lisa Prank

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