Xiu Xiu invite Grouper’s Liz Harris on “A Bottle of Rum”

“A Bottle of Rum” is taken from Xiu Xiu‘s upcoming duet album, OH NO, to be released March 26 on Polyvinyl.

Californian avant garde rock band Xiu Xiu have just announced a collaborative album, OH NO, on which Jamie Stewart is “sharing the spotlight with an array of guests who have made an impact on him personally and musically”. This record of duets will feature Sharon Van Etten, Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Chelsea Wolfe and Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr amongst others.

On the hazy, banjo-leaded first single, “A Bottle of Rum,” Jamie Steward and Angela Seo are joined by Grouper‘s Liz Harris, which unfolds her ghostly vocal harmonies on what might be one of their poppiest songs so far.

About the conception of the track, Stewart detailed:

“About a year ago I bought a cheap bajo quinto, which is a 10 string low register guitar like instrument used in Tejano, conjunto and norteño musics. As it is a cheap one, only certain chords sound good on it. One of them, annoyingly, is the open ‘cowboy’ voicing of D major. When we started Xiu Xiu, founding member Cory McCulloch had a lot of rules for the band. One of them was we could never use this chord. It has become a creative game in the last few years to try and break some of these rules but in a way that respects that Cory had very good reasons for imposing them in the first place, so in this voicing, D major is an insipid chord.”

Before adding:

“I had been trying to write a song on this bajo quinto to no avail and then drunkenly (A Bottle of Rum) listened to the Grouper song, “Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping.” A spark shone and feebly I tried to write something that, at least at first, sounded like it. I had asked Liz Harris, the gem behind Grouper and who is an old friend, if she would sing on this new record of duets. Initially I thought of her for another song but she specifically, although not knowing she had been the inspiration behind it in the first place, asked to be on this one. If the stars ever have aligned… well then.”

Angela Seo concludes:

“This video, as often is with Xiu videos, is an amalgamation of things that I want and am into lately. When I was a kid, I always wanted a video camera and was fascinated with tapes, but couldn’t afford one. I’m an adult now, and can buy what I want, so I bought a used mini DV camera. I like how the tapes look, the specific way they capture color, and also the tactile feeling of inserting and ejecting a tape.” She adds: “Also, I’ve always had a love for noir films and their penchant for shadows, fate, doom, and drama. Our friend and superb drummer David Kendrick (Sparks, Devo, Xiu Xiu) wrote a three part noir story and this is part 1. In keeping with the times, most of this was intentionally DIY, shot alone or with just a couple of friends and a tripod.”

Watch the video of “A Bottle of Rum” and pre-order OH NO via Bandcamp below.