DEAR NORA- Mountain Rock ORD-24
Release date: January 13, 2017
Orindal Records is proud to present the first ever vinyl edition of Dear Nora's 2004 lo-fi folk pop classic, Mountain Rock, named "Best New Reissue" by Pitchfork!
NOTES ON MOUNTAIN ROCK
by Katy Davidson
I wrote the songs that appear on Mountain Rock during the time of George W. Bush’s early presidency, the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the Iraq war. I recorded the majority of the songs during winter in rural Arizona at the end of 2003, after returning home from a Dear Nora tour of Sweden. “Hey Ya!” by Outkast had just been released, and it was playing everywhere.
Overall I think this album is about bliss and terror, and how interactions with wilderness and humanity can provoke those emotions. Here’s a guide to the songs:
“The Lonesome Border, Pt. 1” is a breakup song. But I think at the time I was also unintentionally conveying deep existential dread.
“Living Song” is a meandering blues guitar jam, pitch shifted down, that I recorded in my mom’s carpeted living room in suburban Phoenix.
“Loose” is a song I wrote about being single, and about how compelling it is to reinvent yourself during that time. But I’m also clearly full of doubts and in need of reassurance.
A lot of people think “Hung Up” is autobiographical, but there’s only some of me in there. This song is mostly a judgmental character study of one person in particular, and/or about a fictional character who is an amalgam of several people I knew back then. I mainly associate this song with the Victorian apartment where I lived in San Francisco at the time. The apartment received no natural light and was completely freezing. My potted cactus died in there. “Hung Up” plays devil’s advocate to “The Lonesome Border, Pt. 1” and casts doubt that real change will occur. I find this song quite depressing, unfortunately. This song is about succumbing to the saddest of emotional tendencies: anxiety. It’s as cold and lacking in natural light as the apartment where I wrote it.
“Here We Come Around” is pretty much me trying to write a song like early Bob Dylan. I’m obsessed with transitions of all types, especially seasonal changes: equinoxes and solstices. I think pure magic occurs in transitions.
I wrote and recorded “The Climb” in my friend Nora Roman’s music room in San Francisco. I like that the piano is noticeably out of tune when I hit the highest note on the song. It subverts this soap opera soundtrack with a sense of horror.
I wrote “Mountain Rock” fifteen minutes before I recorded it. I was alone, housesitting for a friend in the town of Catalina, in the Sonoran Desert north of Tucson. I was making recordings in the quonset hut behind her house. If you don’t know what a quonset hut is, it’s a concrete slab with a curved metal roof over it. Basically a small airplane hangar. It was very cold. My hands were ice and I had to wear a huge winter coat while recording. I recorded half of the songs on Mountain Rock in this space. I hung an SM58 from the ceiling and recorded guitar and vocals live onto one track. It was so wonderful to be alone in the desert, living at the base of a massive mountain range. It was very quiet. I had no job then. I could really feel the vastness of the space and time I was inhabiting. Anyway, I reference an oracle on the song “Mountain Rock.” Oracle is the name of a town near Catalina, and is the site of Biosphere 2, the Logan’s Run-esque simulated-Earth living experiment (that basically failed). But there’s a double meaning in the reference. I think I was making a personal connection with something divine. I was channeling messages from Mother Earth. For me, the natural reverb of the quonset hut felt like the natural reverb of an old stone cathedral.
“Departure Song” is a completely improvised vocal jam featuring Anna Oxygen, Janet Pants and Ryen Sugarbush in the quonset hut.
“Make It Real” is a song in which I challenge myself. But I also admit to myself that I don’t have to do things alone.
"Caribou, Timberwolf” was directly inspired by my short visit to the small village of Åre in central Sweden after the Dear Nora tour ended. After our final show in Gothenburg, we drove all night to Stockholm, and my drummer Antonio and I boarded a plane. When we arrived, we hadn’t slept in 24 hours. It was snowing, and the rental car company in the tiny airport only had one car remaining, with a manual transmission. I had never driven stick before, and I taught myself in the parking lot of the airport, stalling and sliding around in the snow. Antonio and I spent a few days in a cabin in Åre. We tromped around the tundra, hiked up a hillside blasted with wind, and I made eye contact with a reindeer. We saw a herd of moose run across a country highway in front of our rental car, muscles rippling. We watched the movie Independence Day in a local pub with three other people.
“Give Me Some of Your Love” is meant to be cloying and mocking, and I find it legitimately sweet that some people interpret the lyrics and sentiment earnestly. The recording was directly inspired by Ween. This song gets cut off abruptly by the song “West Nile!!”, a gnarly phased loop of guitar dissonance. This is me, working through a harsh breakup. But I think larger things are also happening here.
“You Are a Bear” is about someone who used to remind me of a bear, and is someone who I hoped at the time would fall in love with me. She didn’t fall in love with me though. In fact, I think she pretended she had mono so I wouldn’t try to kiss her when I visited her. Bears are so cute and soft-looking. But they can kill you.
“Oxygen & The Mellow Stuff” is definitely about the time that Anna Oxygen, Janet Pants and Ryen Sugarbush imbibed weed cookies and then embarked on a Sonoran Desert trail adventure that included getting on the ground and looking very closely at ants, and also staring at the sun for a while through a blue plastic water bottle. Hours collapsed into moments. This experience culminated in us sitting in a corner booth at an old wild-west saloon, silently watching people eat steak.
“People, Don’t You Know??” is pretty literal. It’s kind of meant to be funny, but it’s also too real to be funny. Nora Roman’s now-deceased dog Jackson barks at the end of this song. I believe this is the only existing audio recording of Nora’s dog.
“Suicide Song” is a pop song with dark lyrics, and also a call to action. To what action remains purposely obscure. Though I definitely don’t suggest actual suicide—that is a terrible idea.
I wrote “Love Song For My Friends” for Ritchey and Jake.
“You Don’t Love Me” and “Round Table” occurred in Jake’s bathroom.
This LP features a bonus song called “The Original Mountain Rock.” Enjoy.
- The Lonesome Border, Pt. 1 (1:31)
- Living Song (1:07)
- Loose (2:13)
- Hung Up (1:48)
- Here We Come Around (2:30)
- The Climb (0:35)
- Mountain Rock (0:58)
- Departure Song (0:50)
- Make It Real (1:32)
- Caribou, Timberwolf (1:54)
- Give Me Some of Your Love (1:00)
- West Nile!! (0:30)
- You Are a Bear (For a New Friend) (1:42)
- Oxygen & the Mellow Stuff (1:43)
- People, Don't You Know? (0:40)
- Suicide Song (2:07)
- Love Song for My Friends (2:52)
- You Don't Love Me (1:56)
- Round Table (1:44)
- The Original Mountain Rock (2:51)
1st VINYL PRESSING
410 high quality, 140g vinyl LPs in extra heavyweight, full-color photo jackets with 11x11 Risograph-printed inserts
300 copies on black vinyl (SOLD OUT)
60 copies on red marble vinyl (SOLD OUT)
50 copies on purple marble vinyl (SOLD OUT)
2nd VINYL PRESSING
140 copies on translucent purple vinyl (SOLD OUT)
3rd VINYL PRESSING
300 copies on black vinyl (SOLD OUT)
4th VINYL PRESSING
215 copies on black vinyl (shipping now)
All orders include an instant digital download of the entire album (including bonus track).
Mountain Rock vinyl is distributed by The Business in Anacortes, WA.