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Telling Tales of Stormy Seas

Led by bird scientist Jonathan Meiburg, who performs double-duty in the alt-folk band Okkervil River, Shearwater finds inspiration both in nature and in albums by Brian Eno and Talk Talk. A two-headed monster, Shearwater is part sorrowful folk ensemble, part noisier Americana outfit.

Shearwater's forthcoming Palo Santo calls upon these seemingly contradictory forces to help immerse listeners in sound. "Red Sea, Black Sea" opens with the sound of Meiburg's strikingly clear vocals over a hazy foundation of tensely plucked banjo and skittishly foreboding beats. An upright bass sends off threatening dark notes alongside the nearly tribal drums, while a frantic tambourine builds tension to suit the singer's distorted, otherworldly words of terrible lights and stormy seas.

Meiburg warns listeners to "turn the transmitters off" as he hints at imminent catastrophe at sea: "We are not coming back." The song builds to an appropriately apocalyptic dance of ferocious instruments and voices, creating a sensation akin to getting caught in a magnificent storm.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Kathryn Yu
By day, Kathryn Yu is an Interaction Designer working for a marketing firm in New York City, toiling away at Web sites. By night, she's a freelance photographer and live-music addict. Her photography has appeared in publications like Pitchfork,, Thrillist, Gothamist, and more. She often forgets to blog at, and is also making a movie.
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