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Frog Eyes releasing a new LP; Carey Mercer diagnosed with throat cancer

Frog Eyes

Canadian songwriter Carey Mercer (also of Blackout Beach and and Swan Lake) will be releasing a new album with his Frog Eyes project this year. The album’s titled Carey’s Cold Spring, and he’s self-releasing it on October 7. When he announced the album, Carey also wrote a statement revealing that his father recently passed away, and that Carey himself was just diagnosed with throat cancer. An excerpt reads:

Two days after I green-lit the final mixes of the record, I got a call from a doctor who told me that I have throat cancer. I’ve been really hesitant about including this, going back and forth, but I have decided to include this information: illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is a big thing, a thing that impacts a life and forces changes on the way, for example, a songwriter releases her or his product. So I release this from a place where it’s hard to say if I will be on the road to promote it. This is why I have chosen to control the release myself and put it out through the limited channels available to me right now.

Read the full statement, along with a stream of album track “Claxxon’s Lament,” below…

Frog Eyes – “Claxxon’s Lament”

Five things about Carey’s Cold Spring that I want you to know about:

1. Not a conceptual work; no over-arching theme or conceptual thread that runs through the record.

2. That said: it was made over a period of three years, and in that time a lot ran through my vision: riots, occupy, revolutions, storms, floods, melodramatic gestures, leftist factions, mass marches in the streets, the sheer and shocking crookedness of our political and economic system, fear of the right, fear of torture, of murder, of future firing squads, of the consequences of idealism, of the consequences of having no ideals or ideas. A part of this record is deeply fearful, almost paranoid, the sound of a person grinding his or her teeth in the night. But just a part of it. It’s also the sound of the birds in the morning, I hope.

3. My dad died. Not specifically pertinent to you of course, except that a few words of loss pop up here and there.

4. The last song, “Claxxon’s Lament”, is a song of deep loss: it’s a song that’s been kicking around for awhile. I first wrote it in the early 2000s, and then it just kind of sat at the edge of my consciousness for what feels like close to a decade. When my dad entered hospice, in his last hours, I was alone with him, and as he was a fairly devoted guitar player, I thought it would be nice to play him some music. There was a classical guitar there, so I went and got it, and sat down beside him, and thought, “Shit. What am I going to play? None of my songs really translate to the acoustic, or at least none that I can think of.”
And then I remembered “Claxxon’s Lament”, which I think is a good enough song to play while your dad passes out of life. So I sat by him and sang it; I sang it really well, of course, because I had the sense that it was the last song he would hear, not that there was any evidence he could actually hear, but still, it was the last song that went into his ears. I also sang it loud, because even though a hospice is supposed to be quiet, I wanted it to mean something, and sometimes volume creates its own meaning. Anyways, after that, the song took on a new meaning for me, and I thought it would end this last record nicely; I had studio time booked and wedged it in at the very last minute.

5. Two days after I green-lit the final mixes of the record, I got a call from a doctor who told me that I have throat cancer. I’ve been really hesitant about including this, going back and forth, but I have decided to include this information: illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is a big thing, a thing that impacts a life and forces changes on the way, for example, a songwriter releases her or his product. So I release this from a place where it’s hard to say if I will be on the road to promote it. This is why I have chosen to control the release myself and put it out through the limited channels available to me right now.

I’ve also anticipated a few questions you might have, and will try and answer them here.

1. I thought you were really into high-fidelity? Why aren’t you releasing vinyl?

Firstly, it’s true that vinyl sounds really good, when played on a good record player, with a new needle, into a good receiver, and out of excellent speakers. Mostly, I suspect that the vinyl we listen to gets compromised by our systems. We all are music-lovers, but few of us have the dough or time to assemble and maintain a top-spec system, the kind of system that people are talking about when they say “vinyl is superior.”

So, the next best thing, and in many circumstances, a better thing: 24-bit files. Itunes the player plays 24-bit files. Itunes the store doesn’t sell them. Is there a difference? I was shocked at the difference between the 16-bit master and the 24-bit master. Note: if you want to hear the 24-bit files, please do not choose the mp3 option. If you want easy Itunes playability, hit ALAC.

And, since I am doing this myself, I should be honest: I don’t have all the energy in the world. I want to devote my time to writing and playing music, not stuffing records and shipping them out.

I don’t even own a car. I don’t even have a driver’s license. I’m not sending you a record. It’s better this way.

Know thyself.

2. What about the person who doesn’t go on the internet, and gets his or her music solely based on the recommendation of the record store employee?

I think this person will likely miss out on this record. For that I am sorry. If you know this person, you should tell him or her about Carey’s Cold Spring.

3. Why don’t you just let a record label put it out?

Because then I am beholden to them. I am still sick. I can’t be beholden to anyone but that “spirit force” within me that demands a constant production of music. I’ve got to get the music out quicker, and being the owner of my music allows me to do this. Songs turn toxic within you if you leave them in there too long.

4. Sick? Why are you sick?

I don’t know. No reason. Just got cancer. Bad luck.

5. Will you get better? If you get better, will you tour?

I am supposed to get better. I have the kind of cancer you fight. I am optimistic about touring in 2014, but I can’t be concrete.

6. Why don’t you just disappear for a year and not tell anyone about being sick?

Good question. Firstly, this record is done, and I need for it to exist outside of my hard-drive. I’m a bit of a sharer, for better or worse. Secondly, I suppose that, after a decade of making music for what feels like a fairly committed and interested group of listeners, I have grown close to the abstract idea of you, the listener. Therefore: I think it right to share what was going on.

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