"I can still remember the first time I heard Azure Ray..."
Conor Oberst had just returned home from a visit to Athens with a new CD full of some of the most beautiful vocal harmonies he had ever heard. The music was made by some of his friends he had been spending some time with: a duo called Azure Ray (Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor) who had just released their debut s/t CD on Athens based WARM Records: I wasn't sure what it was, but the sound of that CD had an instantly classic feel to it. Almost as if we had uncovered some sort of hidden treasure, I quickly became just as fanatical as he was about the band.
A few of us were sitting around one night talking about the future of the label and Conor told everyone about these amazing voices and charming personalities and how we should talk to them and see what their plans were. Always having trouble appreciating the inherent beauty and perfection of female vocals, I was hesitant. The few that have intrigued me in the past were also ones that lacked any sort of luster. Though this is certainly not the case with Azure Ray. We played the CD and there was an instant attraction from everyone in the room. The electronic drum loops of the opening track, courtesy of Eric Bachman, provided a perfect underlying pulse for Orenda and Maria to harmonize over while they openly sang the tales of their own personal lives, relationships, disappointments, and optimism. Everyone was impressed and thought this was something the label should persue.
Shorty after that experience, Azure Ray was invited out on a West coast tour with Bright Eyes, acting as part of the backup band as well as the show openers. Instantly, the relationship between Saddle Creek and Azure Ray began to further develop. By the end of that tour Orenda and Maria had been given the "you should put out a record on Saddle Creek" pitch from the members of Bright Eyes enough times that they began to soften up to the idea.
We are pleased to now have the opportunity to release Azure Ray's new EP. November is a logical progression of the sound they claimed on their debut. The acoustics and vocal harmonies are still present, yet presented in a more stripped down version than on their first release. In addition to the highly effective vocal and acoustic guitar combo, the title track starts off the EP with the addition of cello as played by Nirvana’s In Utero cellist Kera Schaley. November was recorded entirely at Chase Park Transduction with Andy Lemaster (Now It’s Overhead, Bright Eyes) and contains six tracks (running time of 26 minutes), five originals and a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s "For the Sake of the Song."