Nickel Creek
March 25, 2014 6:56 AM   Subscribe

A Dotted Line, is Nickel Creek's first studio album in 8 years. NPR has a "first listen" available for your pleasure.
posted by HuronBob (42 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I met Sara Watkins on this year's JoCo cruise. She was delightful and gave what's generally acknowledged as the best performance on the boat this year. Went home, bought all her solo work, the Nickel Creek "best of," and pre-ordered this new album. It's a great thing to hear someone new to you and realize that they already have a bunch of stuff out.
posted by jscalzi at 7:10 AM on March 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I listened to a couple of random tracks, which were more or less what I expected from a Nickel Creek album, and then I hit "Hayloft." That was a surprise.
posted by dortmunder at 7:17 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was happy to see they got back together (or was it just a "hiatus"). A new Nickel Creek album vindicates Thile's genius grant status. I'm a big fan of his other works, too, but the Watkins siblings are a perfect fit for him.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:21 AM on March 25, 2014


Uh, I should note that Sean Watkins was also on the boat and accompanied Sara on several songs. He was of course very good, too.
posted by jscalzi at 7:25 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, shit. I'm three songs in and this is goooooood.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:33 AM on March 25, 2014


Such a sweet little band.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:43 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, I guess this is unnecessary now but if you'd been missing (or want more) Nickel Creek, Chris Thile's all strings (mandolin, banjo, bass, violin, and guitar) band Punch Brothers is EXCELLENT. I especially like Rye Whiskey and Rag Doll (which I can't find online?).
posted by maryr at 7:50 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


*twitchtwitch* How do you misspell the band's name in the title and then get it right in the text of your post?

Nickel Creek really should put out an album of covers, they're great at reinterpreting songs. "Toxic," for one, and when I saw them live they did a medley that included "Taxman" and "Lithium." I'm sure there's more out there, but they're hostile to tapers and I'm not sure where the boots are circulating these days.

On preview: The Punch Brothers' cover of "Just What I Needed" is friggin' awesome, too.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:52 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I prefer their Spit on a Stranger to the original Pavement version.
posted by maryr at 7:57 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


YES.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:57 AM on March 25, 2014


How do you misspell the band's name in the title and then get it right in the text of your post?

Because typos happen differently than misspellings.

posted by cribcage at 7:57 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flagged as display error, a mod could probably fix that for ya.
posted by maryr at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2014


Oops, already done. Should we stop whispering?
posted by maryr at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2014


[it's so much easier for us to fix things if you just let us know about it and don't just get sticky about it in the thread.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The documentary How To Grow A Band is more or less about the early struggles of the Punch Brothers.

In the opening chapter, Thile goes in to detail on why Nickel Creek had to end. IIRC, it was pressure of writing hits, and the power as musicians had been taken away from them and put in the hands of the label and promoters.

The same pressure is also felt in the Punch Brothers, notably the band mates pushing to make the music more accessible to the audience. You can see Thile's struggle with his art vs. audience expectations.

I'm truly curious to see why Nickel Creek has gotten back together, when he clearly didn't like being pressured to write pop mandolin tunes. Or maybe it's been enough time that he forgot all the drama.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 8:30 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


In re: covers, I definitely agree.

On the cruise Mr Scalzi mentions above we were treated to a couple. During her own set, Ms Watkins led a multi-party, verse-per-person cover of "The Gambler," which was the first time I ever thought of that song as other than mockable.

Later in the week, during Jonathan Coulton's closing set, we got a really great "Seven Bridges Road" (also a song I grew up kind of dissing) from Coulton, Paul & Storm and Sara; it, like lots of JCCC performances, is on YouTube. (Watkins asked that her set not be recorded, so you'll have to take my word for it that "The Gambler" was awesome.)
posted by uberchet at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


AHA, I couldn't find "Rag Doll" because the song is actually called "Patchwork Girlfriend" and I have a terrible memory.
posted by maryr at 8:33 AM on March 25, 2014


uberchet:

"so you'll have to take my word for it that 'The Gambler' was awesome."

Can confirm. Source: Me.
posted by jscalzi at 8:59 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


OMGGGGGGGG. For years and years I regretted that I never caught Nickel Creek in concert before they split. I had no idea whatsoever they were getting back together, and so this is basically the best news I will hear today. Probably this month, even.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:02 AM on March 25, 2014


I saw Nickel Creek around 10 years ago at the Newport Folk Festival. The show was running late and they were asked by the promoters to cut the set short. Some bands might throw a fit, but they still had music to play, so they set up by the line of people waiting for the shuttle bus and played for then for a good long while, close up. It was the coolest thing I ever saw a band do.
posted by MtDewd at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just want to correct a bit of a misunderstanding people seem to have. This is much more of a reunion tour than the band getting back together again after a hiatus. Sean and Sara are pursuing their successful solo careers and side-projects, and Chris is very much primarily invested in Punch Brothers.

It's likely they'll do a reunion and album like this once in a while, as there are no hard feelings at all between any of them and they know their fans still love Nickel Creek, but the band is not getting properly back together.
posted by gilrain at 9:05 AM on March 25, 2014


I had no idea this was happening and it's made my day.

Seriously Chris Thile is one of my favorite musicians alive.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:19 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Listened to this yesterday. Love it! I really wish their LA show wasn't in the middle of the week so I could have gone. Oh well. Chris Thile is great and all, but Sara Watkins is a beast on that fiddle. Just listen to her play Long Hot Summer Day. The Watkins Family Hour every month at the Largo is one of my favorite things ever. If you haven't been, you need to go!
posted by Arbac at 10:04 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cool! Had no idea they were releasing an album. Nickel Creek totally falls for me into "cute music I really liked when I was in high school" and hearing it takes me right back in that sense. They sound pretty much the same but I guess they haven't played together much in the last decade.

Their Hayloft cover sounds weirdly like the original; I don't know if I would have noticed it was a cover.
posted by threeants at 10:14 AM on March 25, 2014


This is great news. I love Nickel Creek and Sara especially. I didn't even know they had a new one coming out. I am fairly jaded and never had much emotion anyway but when I hear her sing "My Friend" I just lose it. Like have to pull the car over or stop what I am doing lose it.

Now I have to wait until after work to listen to these. No good.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:35 AM on March 25, 2014


I can never remember which one is Nickel Creek and which one is Nickelback.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:48 AM on March 25, 2014


Shit guys, Hayloft is a really good track.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:56 AM on March 25, 2014


Nickel Creek is the good one, shakes.
posted by maryr at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So does the band pronounce it krēk or krik?
posted by octothorpe at 11:08 AM on March 25, 2014


They've really mellowed since dude married Avril.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2014


They've really mellowed since dude married Avril.

Ha, the jokes! Nickelback sucks! On a serious side note - Chris Thile is married to Claire Coffee, who currently plays Adalind Schade on Grimm. Grimm is a fun show and you should all watch it :)
posted by Arbac at 11:59 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


*twitchtwitch* How do you misspell the band's name in the title and then get it right in the text of your post?

heh... :-) For the same reason I like this group... When I was in elementary school I HATED spelling, and, because the violin teacher came at the same time as the spelling lessons/tests, I took violin lessons, instead of learning how to spell....

I can't spell, learned to love violins, and appreciate good fiddle music...
posted by HuronBob at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite concert of all time was when I saw Nickel Creek play for 2 hours in Lawrence, Kansas. It was right before they broke up, and after their concert they played outside in the cold for fans after the show for another hour. And then took pictures with everyone on top of that! They are ridiculously nice. I've already pre-ordered the album, so excited to own it.
posted by SarahElizaP at 12:40 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So Chris and Sara Watkins' dad was my middle school algebra teacher and right before they really broke out, he had them perform for our class one afternoon. As a group of snotty 13 and 14 year olds in an academically underachieving school on a hot and dusty afternoon not too long before semester's end, we were not really as appreciative as getting out of an afternoon of algebra as we really should have been nor yet did we appreciate the band or the music.

But I remember the performance was quite good (in retrospect) and when the band hit it big, I was *so* proud. Vista, our mutual hometown, is probably best known for famous citizens Darrell Issa and Carrie Prejean and to put it politely, those are not folks whose values I share. The Watkins, especially given Summergrass and the local bluegrass scene which was rising at that point along with them, were people I could take pride in.

It's worth mentioning that Sara Watkins, at least, is only a few years older than I am and I wonder how she experienced performing for a group of students just younger than she (we were so not impressed, in that Too Cool for School way that middle schoolers revel in). Also, Mr. Watkins was a perfectly good algebra teacher but my other strongest memory of that class is the day he made me cry by telling me that the A on my test was a mistake and I'd really earned an F just as I had on so many prior tests. When I burst into tears, he looked alarmed and immediately apologized for the bad joke. I'm sure his kids are perfectly nice people, though.

In any case, this a long way of saying that I am delighted by this post and by Nickel Creek's reunion no matter how temporary.
posted by librarylis at 12:42 PM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm really glad I finally sorted out Nickle Creek and Nickleback. I enjoyed the hell of out Nickle Creek a decade or so ago, but in a casual kind of way. Then in like 2008 everyone was suddenly all "YOU KNOW WHAT SUCKS NICKELBACK, THATS WHAT", and I felt kind of offended about it. I had to google both bands a lot of times to finally convince myself that I wasn't on the wrong side of history when it came to this one particular earnest little bluegrass band.
posted by Sara C. at 1:56 PM on March 25, 2014


I wish I could find better videos of them performing with Fiona Apple back in 2007 (I think they've played together at the Largo often, too, but people don't shoot cellphone videos at the Largo). The audio isn't terrific, but Criminal makes a surprisingly compelling bluegrass number.
posted by wreckingball at 3:13 PM on March 25, 2014


My favourite Chris Thile gig was the one he did with Hilary Hahn at the Housing Works Bookshop in Manhattan in (OMG, was it really) 2006. It was a magic evening, and there's a great review here: http://www.popmatters.com/review/chris-thile-and-hilary-hahn/

I never really liked solo classical violin before that, but Ms Hahn really made it come to life. I hadn't thought that, while he was worried about playing a piece more than 3 minutes long, she was terrified by the idea of improvising.

What they don't mention in the review is that the encore was Dylan's "Masters of War", which they hadn't rehearsed, but Thile said it would be fine because it only has one chord, but "it's a professional one, because it is Gm"
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 5:42 PM on March 25, 2014


Man, it seemed like Sara Watkins was trying out to be the replacement for Garrison Keillor for when he inevitably kicks the old bucket down the road. I don't know that's a job anyone could do, and when I heard her (and saw them on tour), I knew she needed quite a bit more practice, but I bet she could pull it off. Eventually. I guess Garrison just kind of fell into his perfect niche in the world, one that doesn't really fit anyone else at all, so it'll die with him.

Now Nickel Creek, Sara fits right in that niche.
posted by Eekacat at 7:03 PM on March 25, 2014


I guess Garrison just kind of fell into his perfect niche in the world, one that doesn't really fit anyone else at all, so it'll die with him.

They said the same thing about Washington, and then BAM: Adams. Not worse; different.
posted by The White Hat at 8:04 PM on March 25, 2014


Man, it seemed like Sara Watkins was trying out to be the replacement for Garrison Keillor for when he inevitably kicks the old bucket down the road.

The show she guest hosted was pretty good.
posted by Arbac at 10:54 PM on March 25, 2014


uberchet:
"so you'll have to take my word for it that 'The Gambler' was awesome."
Can confirm. Source: Me.

posted by jscalzi at 11:59 AM on March 25


Can also confirm (hi, MeFi Monkeys!). Knew Sara and Nickel Creek before I got on the boat but that whole performance was still face-melt good and I was sooo glad to see everybody on the nerd boat really embrace it.
posted by Rallon at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is great. I've pre-ordered the vinyl, because I could. :-) I saw them in Lawrence several years ago, probably the same show SarahElizaP saw (though I unfortunately missed out on the post-show) - it was amazing.
posted by jferg at 7:54 AM on March 27, 2014


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