The prolific songwriter Damien Jurado announced a new album, The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, as a “companion album” to What’s New, Tomboy? Adding to this news might be bigger than the album itself: Damien is launching a record label imprint called Maraqopa Records. His record label is named after his Maraqopa trilogy, three legendary albums produced by Damien’s late friend Richard Swift.
The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania
Accompanying the announcement, Damien released the first single Helena, from The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania. Helena is a stripped down folk son; the bass and shakers are brought in front of the guitar, yet slightly under his vocals. “I keep in touch with my man down the hall,” Damien sings, “who’s been pining for days at the loss of his soul.”
Alex Bush engineered The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania at Sonikwire Studio, who also engineered Damien’s previous three albums. Josh Gordon, co-owner of Sonikwire Studio and Damien’s live bassist, backed Damien on additional instruments. (Read our conversation with Josh Gordon about his recording experience and friendship with Damien.)
Damien describes his new album as, “ten intense stories of people determined not to be broken by dire circumstances.” Considering the times we’re living in, these songs should resonate with many people. They are about, “people reaching out to cross into that liminal space between heartbreak and wholeness.”
Maraqopa Records will release The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania on May 14, 2021. It will be Damien’s thirty-fifth release, counting LPs and EPs, since he began in 1995.
The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania track-listing:
- 1. Helena
- 2. Tom
- 3. Dawn Pretend
- 4. Song For Langston Birch
- 5. Minnesota
- 6. Johnny Caravella
- 7. Joan
- 9. Hiding Ghosts
- 9. Jennifer
- 10. Male Customer #1
Made In Mexico
This isn’t Damien’s first foray into running a record label. In 2004, he revived Made In Mexico, a micro label that James Morelos started in 1998. Made In Mexico put out fifteen albums and EPs during its nine years of existence while Damien was with Sub Pop and Secretly Canadian. Their artists included Pedro the Lion, TW Walsh, Unwed Sailor, Damien Jurado, and others.
Pedro the Lion released It’s Hard to Find A Friend, and their critically acclaimed The Only Reason I Feel Secure (Is That I’m Validated By My Friends) through Made in Mexico in 1998 and 1999.
Made In Mexico released Damien’s Gathered in Song in 1998; he later re-released the EP with five additional demos in 2007. The original was a stripped-down EP of five lo-fi folk tracks and was one of Jurado’s earliest EPs, which he recorded with his friends David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and Jonathan Ford (Unwed Sailor). His micro label released Postcards and Audio Letters in 2000, a collection of random voice messages from found answering machines.
Life Away From The Garden (piano demo)
Life Away From the Garden (piano demo) was quietly released on SoundCloud on February 26, a demo that was originally recorded in 2016. The studio version for this song was released on Maraqopa in 2012.
Damien Jurado links: