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2019 Recap // Bellows // The Rose Gardener

For as long as I can remember, I have been personally fascinated with album artwork and the ways we visually present and perceive the music we create and listen to. Topshelf released ten records in 2019—EPs and full lengths spanning a sonically and geographically diverse spectrum of sounds and locales, respectively. With the year coming to a close, we wanted to highlight each of them. So I opened up the artwork files and went to work creating digital collages for each, utilizing and re-purposing elements from each album’s artwork into a visual release retrospective of sorts.

We also asked each artist to provide some words on their mindset in creating the music—we left the prompt pretty open, and the responses vary a good deal! Hopefully you learn something new about an album you already enjoy or discover something ~ new to you ~ that might have gone overlooked from earlier in the year.

Thank you for taking the time to check out the music we release and the artists we work with! We had a great 2019 and are already well underway in planning our 2020 for you. Should any of these 2019 titles resonate with you, we’re currently running a 20% off sale for all 2019 releases—use the code BUBBLEMONKEY in our store or on bandcamp for the discount.

Thanks from all of us at Topshelf!! <3


TSR199: Bellows - The Rose Gardener words by Oliver Kalb.

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The year of releasing an album is always a weird thing to experience because you’re sort of catching up with a previous self. My new record The Rose Gardener came out in February of this year, but it was written and recorded a whole year before that, in early 2018. After more than a year removed from the writing process, it becomes an unforeseen task of touring to find new meaning in the songs after their original dramatic subject matter isn’t such an important thing in your life. Touring new Bellows albums always feels like discovering the true nature of the songs — since I write and record mostly alone, the band only learns the songs after the album’s finished and the live arrangements are usually pretty different from the recordings, sort of like we’re covering my songs.

Our first tour on The Rose Gardener was this last March. I found that there were some songs, like “The Tower”, that felt like they achieved a new life as live songs, like they’re able to strike emotions in a live setting that are different from what they’re doing in the recording. Other songs like “Housekeeping” feel like they sometimes aren’t appropriate for every venue, like the lightness of the guitar playing and the particularity of the samples doesn’t always come across in smaller house show or DIY spaces. Right now I’m on my first full U.S. tour on the new record, and I’m still in the process of discovering how these songs go. On the previous Bellows album, Fist & Palm, we toured the songs heavily for two and a half years, and by the end of the touring it felt like every song on the album had a completely distinct quality in the live setting, almost like we’d made the album all over again as performers. I’m excited to be in the process of re-making this new Bellows record in the live world.


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2019 Recap // Us and Us Only // Two Songs

For as long as I can remember, I have been personally fascinated with album artwork and the ways we visually present and perceive the music we create and listen to. Topshelf released ten records in 2019—EPs and full lengths spanning a sonically and geographically diverse spectrum of sounds and locales, respectively. With the year coming to a close, we wanted to highlight each of them. So I opened up the artwork files and went to work creating digital collages for each, utilizing and re-purposing elements from each album’s artwork into a visual release retrospective of sorts.

We also asked each artist to provide some words on their mindset in creating the music—we left the prompt pretty open, and the responses vary a good deal! Hopefully you learn something new about an album you already enjoy or discover something ~ new to you ~ that might have gone overlooked from earlier in the year.

Thank you for taking the time to check out the music we release and the artists we work with! We had a great 2019 and are already well underway in planning our 2020 for you. Should any of these 2019 titles resonate with you, we’re currently running a 20% off sale for all 2019 releases—use the code BUBBLEMONKEY in our store or on bandcamp for the discount.

Thanks from all of us at Topshelf!! <3


TSR190: Us and Us Only - Two Songs words by Kinsey Matthews.

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After the release of Full Flower, we found ourselves with a few opportunities to perform songs from the album in a different light than how they were originally presented. Since we tend to take our time between releases, we thought that Two Songs would serve as a wonderful opportunity to revisit these songs, give them some new life, and to share them with collaborators (which has always been my favorite part of making music) like Han Offman of High Bloom/White Wreath.

"My Mouth" was written at a turning point in my life where I had been stuck in a rut for years with little to no progress to show for it and finally, there was hope and intrigue being allowed back into my life. There were new friends, new environments & feelings, but it was still difficult to process any change through any other lens than trauma and discomfort. Where the album version relies on a groove and attitude to pull through the haze of reluctance, this version gives itself fully to weariness - even though there is light on the other side.

"Veiled/Forming" further explores the same space as "My Mouth", but through more of a fog. When I find myself on the other side of significant changes in life, there are times where I finally think to take a step back and realize that I've maybe spent a short time just floating by - taking a breather without consciously doing so. You drift through the mundane tasks of everyday life; going to the mall, going through the car wash. At the end of it, I felt like a new person (new attitude, new haircut, simple things) and that I was growing. I felt veiled compared to an old self and I felt that I was forming.

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No Vacation and Okey Dokey // "Really Truly"

Out everywhere today, “Really Truly” is the dreamlike joint effort by summertime tourmates No Vacation and Okey Dokey.

Kicking off with a quaint sluggishness, “Really Truly” seems to beckon the slow-paced moods of summer before slipping into an upbeat, disjointed phrase cloaked with the calls-and-responses of No Vacation and Okey Dokey. Supple and warm synth tones pepper the song with a comforting pulse, guiding the listener through its delicate, ethereal passages to its skittering, hopeful coda.

Check out the song on your preferred streaming platform today, or scope the video below, animated by Aaron Martin of Okey Dokey. (WARNING: Video may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy)


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Ratboys // Announce album 'Printer's Devil' and 2020 headline tour

Today we're very thrilled to announce the upcoming record, Printer's Devil, by Ratboys, out February 28, 2020. We've released a music video for the album's lead single, "Alien with a Sleep Mask On," directed by the duo coool. The video follows a team of scientists attempting to save the life of the video's protagonist, portrayed by the band's very own Julia Steiner. The song will be available on your platform of choice come Friday, November 15.


Pre-order Printer's Devil

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Pre-add Printer's Devil on Apple Music

Starting the night of the album's release, Ratboys will embark on a full US headline tour, with Ellis supporting the first leg, and Topshelf labelmates, Another Michael, on the second. Make sure to peep the dates below before tickets go on sale this Friday, November 15.

  • February 28, 2020 - Chicago, IL, US @ Lincoln Hall - get tickets
  • March 14, 2020 - Urbana, IL, US @ Rose Bowl Tavern - get tickets
  • March 15, 2020 - Kansas City, MO, US @ The Riot Room - get tickets
  • March 24, 2020 - Manitou Springs, CO, US @ Lulu's Downstairs - get tickets *
  • March 26, 2020 - Salt Lake City, UT, US @ Kilby Court - get tickets *
  • March 29, 2020 - Seattle, WA, US @ Barboza - get tickets *
  • March 30, 2020 - Portland, OR, US @ Mississippi Studios - get tickets *
  • April 02, 2020 - San Francisco, CA, US @ Bottom of the Hill - get tickets *
  • April 03, 2020 - Santa Ana, CA, US @ CONSTELLATION ROOM - get tickets *
  • April 04, 2020 - Los Angeles (LA), CA, US @ The Echo - get tickets *
  • April 05, 2020 - La Jolla, CA, US @ Che Cafe, UC San Diego - get tickets *
  • April 07, 2020 - Phoenix, AZ, US @ The Rebel Lounge - get tickets *
  • April 09, 2020 - Denver, CO, US @ Larimer Lounge - get tickets *

  • April 29, 2020 - Pontiac, MI, US @ Pike Room at the Crofoot - get tickets ^
  • April 30, 2020 - Lakewood, OH, US @ Mahall's 20 Lanes - get tickets ^
  • May 01, 2020 - Pittsburgh, PA, US @ Club Café - get tickets ^
  • May 02, 2020 - Toronto, ON, Canada @ Monarch Tavern - get tickets ^
  • May 05, 2020 - Allston, MA, US @ Great Scott - get tickets ^
  • May 07, 2020 - Brooklyn, NY, US @ Rough Trade NYC - get tickets ^
  • May 08, 2020 - Philadelphia, PA, US @ Johnny Brenda's - get tickets ^
  • May 09, 2020 - Washington, DC, US @ Songbyrd Music House - get tickets ^
  • May 10, 2020 - Richmond, VA, US @ The Camel - get tickets ^
  • May 12, 2020 - Atlanta, GA, US @ The Masquerade - get tickets ^
  • May 13, 2020 - Nashville, TN, US @ Mercy Lounge / the High Watt - get tickets ^
  • May 14, 2020 - Columbus, OH, US @ Rumba Café - get tickets ^
  • May 15, 2020 - Louisville, KY, US @ Zanzabar - get tickets ^
  • May 16, 2020 - St Louis, MO, US @ Duck Room, Blueberry Hill - get tickets ^


  • photograph by Johnny Fabrizio // design by Dave Sagan

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    LITE // "Double" Music Video

    Just a few days ahead of their US tour with Elephant Gym, LITE have shared a new music video for the song "Double," taken from their recently released album Multiple. Enjoy the video below and mark your calendars!

    LITE's Nobuyuki Takeda explains that the group's objective with "Double" was to "remove the useless to the utmost limit," effectively eliminating effects and accessory pedals to approach the truest sound of their instruments. This self-imposed limitation is meant to emphasize the physicality of the band's music, characterized by melodically disjointed, rhythmically challenging passages and unpredictable songwriting.

    "This physical sound expresses the best of our style, born from the history of playing in so many various and sometimes tough environments, and keeps only what’s necessary to express ourselves on stage," says Takeda. "When we asked ourselves how to express this physical feeling visually in a music video, we came to think naturally of dance. We chose the spirited young dancer Aoi Yamada, as we believed her contemporary dance expresses in the best way LITE’s current identity."

    As Takeda suggests, Aoi Yamada's swift, precise movements assertively capture the the song's agile twists and hairpin turns. Her physical prowess and the viscerally demanding nature of "Double" are underscored by the focus on LITE's hands, symbolic of their mastery of the finer "points" of composition.

    East coast tour dates:

    • October 24, 2019 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
    • October 25, 2019 - Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy
    • October 26, 2019 - Washington, DC @ DC9

    West coast tour dates with Elephant Gym:

    • October 28, 2019 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
    • October 29, 2019 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos
    • October 30, 2019 - Portland, OR @ Lola's Room
    • November 1, 2019 - Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
    • November 2, 2019 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's
    • November 3, 2019 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
    • November 4, 2019 - San Diego, CA @ Music Box
    • November 6, 2019 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge

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    Elephant Gym // "Gaze at Blue"

    Elephant Gym have surprise-dropped a new track and music video today in anticipation of their upcoming west coast tour with Topshelf labelmates LITE.

    Check out the new single today on your platform of choice, or enjoy the video below.

    Taiwanese trio Elephant Gym’s new one-off “Gaze at Blue” carefully synthesizes elements of jazz, ambient, and post-rock into a groove-replete freeform introspection. The interplay of its nimble, explorative guitar and bass bounces between unison and syncopation, coated with subtly glitched sample-clicks and the cool ambience of a droning synth. “Gaze at Blue” teases in and out of hints toward its enthralling climax, a drawn-out crescendo with no precise resolution, as if to evoke the illusory and ambiguous endpoints of freedom.


    In the upcoming weeks you'll be able to catch the band on the West Coast with LITE. And if you're based in LA, you'll be thrilled to discover that the band will play at Tyler, the Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw festival. Check the dates and be stoked!

    • October 28, 2019 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
    • October 29, 2019 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos
    • October 30, 2019 - Portland, OR @ Lola's Room
    • November 1, 2019 - Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
    • November 2, 2019 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's
    • November 3, 2019 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
    • November 4, 2019 - San Diego, CA @ Music Box
    • November 6, 2019 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
    • November 9, 2019 - Los Angeles, CA, US @ Dodger Stadium

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    No Vacation // Phasing

    No Vacation's latest release Phasing is out everywhere today. Check out the band discussing the new record in today's i-D interview with Nick Fulton.

    Listen to Phasing on your platform of choice.

    Phasing is also available on vinyl and cassette.

    Phasing is the latest collection of songs from the wavy-gravy dream-pop group No Vacation, comprised of five tracks that laconically capture the band's evolution and compositional acumen. While some cuts took only a couple months to complete, others had years-long gestation periods, showing the band's awareness that patience can be a powerful artistic tool. The collaborative writing process on Phasing further demonstrates No Vacation's growth, wherein each member made contributions outside of their primary instrument. Emboldened by this experimentation, each title on Phasing features a distinct structural turn, either breaking up a song entirely in half, or deftly transitioning to an unexpected mood or phrase. The result is an instrumentally dynamic, multigenre foray that calls on the sounds of shoegaze and 90s alternative rock, even boasting string arrangements which hearken back to the Romantic Era.

    Catch the band live this fall:

    • November 09, 2019 - Pico Rivera, CA, US @ Tropicalia Festival
    • November 16, 2019 - Brooklyn, NY, US @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

    art by Sab Mai

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    No Vacation // "Days"

    Out today, "Days" is the latest dreamy roller from No Vacation's upcoming EP, Phasing. The release's penultimate track cruises and sways upon a rolling groove of curious, winding bass and No Vacation's signature guitar twang. Its reverb-soaked vocals call on nostalgia for days long passed, building up to the song's instrumentally dynamic climax where a dozen layers of strings envelop the arrangement in a shimmering display of the group's penchant for compositional tension and release. "Days" proves to be a quintessential No Vacation number, dabbling as it does in evocative, shoegazey dream-pop that leaves listeners warm and hopeful.

    Listen to "Days" on your platform of choice

    Pre-order Phasing on vinyl, cassette, or digitally

    Scope out the band's fanny packs, crew necks, seasonal bundles, and other rad merch!

    art by Sab Mai

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    Solids // Farewell Shows

    Shortly after their first and only release on Topshelf in 2016—Else—the legendary alt-rock Quebeckers Solids quietly went on hiatus. Now, a few years later, the band is ready to officially call it quits with a run of three shows in Toronto, Quebec City, and Montreal. They are sure to be raucous and full of love, so make sure to get to the gigs if you are near those greater metropolitan areas!

    ♥ Listen to Else

    dates:

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    Boyscott // Goose Bumps

    We're elated to announce that Topshelf Records has teamed up with Babe City Records to jointly reissue Boyscott's widely loved surf-pop debut, Goose Bumps.

    Listen to Goose Bumps on your platform of choice
    Pre-order the album on vinyl, CD, or cassette (*ships October 25, 2019*)

    On Goose Bumps, Connecticut's Boyscott present ten upbeat tracks that forge together elements of surf rock and bedroom pop. Weaving the supple sounds of yore into the techniques of today, Boyscott's distinct bedroom-recorded bops betray the limitations of their modest studio situation with a sonic depth not commonly associated with lo-fi projects.

    Originally released in 2015, Goose Bumps is getting its first vinyl pressing with a co-release by Topshelf Records and Babe City Records. Although it took a few years of rotating casts, various makeshift studio experiences, and over a hundred shows, Boyscott have clearly carved out their own place in the world, garnering millions of streams and selling out many DIY physical pressings in the process. Read below for tour dates, and enjoy the record!


    layout by Scott Hermo

    upcoming Boyscott tour dates:

    • September 13, 2019 - Saratoga Springs, NY @ Message the band for address
    • September 14, 2019 - Hartford, CT @ Wherehouse
    • September 16, 2019 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Howlers
    • September 17, 2019 - Ann Arbor, MI @ The Blind Pig ✧
    • September 18, 2019 - Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village ✧
    • September 19, 2019 - Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s Locker Rm ✧
    • September 20, 2019 - Kenyon College @ The Horn Gallery ✧
    • September 21, 2019 - Penn State @ Message the band for address ✧
    • September 22, 2019 - Bard College @ SMOG
    • September 25, 2019 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer ❍
    • September 26, 2019 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ❍
    • September 27, 2019 - New York City @ Webster Hall ❍
    • September 28, 2019 - Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Hall ❍
    • September 29, 2019 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ❍
    • October 10, 2019 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3s Artspace ▨
    • October 11, 2019 - Providence, RI @ Columbus Theater ▨
    • October 12, 2019 - Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street ▨
    • October 17, 2019 - Queens, NY @ Trans Pecos
    • October 26, 2019 - Lyme, CT @ Foliage Folk Festival
    ✧ = supporting Den-Mate
    ❍ = supporting Pinegrove
    ▨ = supporting Vundabar



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