As a band more frequently placed in the folk-prog end of the indie rock spectrum, Shearwater‘s David Bowie comparisons don’t go much further than Jonathan Meiburg’s astonishing voice. But circa their 2016 record Jet Plane and Oxbow, they took more direct influence from The Thin White Duke.
Political art can be such a tricky thing. For Jet Plane and Oxbow, the record that inspired me in some ways was Bowie’s Scary Monsters, because he had described it as ‘social protest music.’ At first I had thought, ‘huh?,’ but I went back and listened to it and it’s kind of an oblique protest record. Protest is embedded in it musically, and it’s not all on the surface.Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater On Why Music Shouldn’t be Grape Nuts or Whipped Cream @ Bandcamp
So more in spirit than a direct sonic signature. But while on tour for the record, the band opted to delve into Lodger – Scary Monsters‘ predecessor, the final and strangest instalment of the Berlin trilogy.
When we decided to cover a few songs from David Bowie’s weird and wonderful Lodger album as part of our tour for Jet Plane and Oxbow this year, we meant it as pure fun — a way to tip our hats to a record we loved. We were rehearsing it when Bowie died, and it suddenly felt different; heavier, of course, but more meaningful, and ultimately even more joyful.Jonathan Meiburg
On the Jet Plane tour, they’d include a few selections from Lodger into their sets, typically as encore selections; in Toronto, we got three. When the band stopped in at Minnesota’s MPR in March 2016, they played a session consisting of two Jet Plane tracks and Lodger‘s “Boys Keep Swinging” and “DJ”:
Shearwater perform in The Current studio
And on the same tour, they included “Boys Keep Swinging” in session for Seattle’s KEXP:
But the best document was their complete front-to-back recital of the record for The AV Club as part of their “Undercover” series, documented in video and the audio released as a limited edition LP:
Originally, we went into the AV Club to do a cover of Bauhaus’s “Kick in the Eye” for the Undercover series. But when they learned that we could do Lodger in its entirety, they let us record that as well.Shearwater