Barsuk Records

Kori and Jason of Mates of State have been muses for many a hipster’s late-night journal scribblings on what it would be like to rock out for a living side-by-side with your boo. It has been said before, but we will say it again: This husband-and-wife duo border on the achingly adorable. From their love-gaze-filled shows to their “finish each other’s sentences” interviews, they are truly an indie rock dream.

Mates of State are also a peta2 dream, because they can’t stand fur either. They want people to drop the pelts of tortured animals from their wardrobe so badly that they were not afraid to make a statement by taking it all off for the cause. Need evidence? Look to the right to see their new “We’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ad.

If you can peel your eyes away from their too-pretty-for-words ad for a minute, check out the behind-the-scenes footage of the photo shoot below—then enter to win an iPod filled with their delightful music. Click here for details.


A brief bio of your label: Who started it? When? First band signed and/or first release?
Founded in the late ’90s by friends and bandmates Josh Rosenfeld and Christopher Possanza as a way to put out music by their own band (This Busy Monster) and their friends’ bands (Death Cab for Cutie, Little Champions, Abigail Grush, et al), Barsuk Records has grown and flourished over the years. Focused not on any specific genre, but simply on supporting quality songwriting and unique creativity, Barsuk has helped introduce the world to such phenomenally talented artists as The Long Winters, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, Aqueduct, John Vanderslice, Rilo Kiley, and Nada Surf. Barsuk Records continues into 2007 with upcoming releases from Menomena, Aqueduct, and Rocky Votolato, and promises to be a bastion of quality music for years to come.

Where does your label call home? Describe your headquarters.
Lovely Seattle Washington, where coffee-drinking Salmon leap up pristine
waterfalls in search of their ancestral spawning grounds.

Download: Menomena – Wet And Rusting
Your name? What are your primary duties for the label?
Ever Kipp / Publicity Fella

Who are a few of the bands on your roster? Most recent signee.
Menomena, Aqueduct, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, Rocky Votolato, Nada Surf, Mates of State. We’ve most recently been honored to begin working with the exceptionally talented Menomena.

What is the best method for an unsigned band to capture your attention?
Hrm well our methods for finding new artists are strange and mysterious, and involve teaching Salmons to drink espresso.

Any upcoming release(s) you’d like to plug?
We just released “Friend and Foe” by Menomena. Check out the whole record: click here

There’s a lot of great music to download on the Barsuk Records site. Here’s a few that I’d suggest trying and proceed from there: Starlight Mints – Inside Of Me, The Long Winters – Pushover, Death Cab For Cutie – For What Reason, Nada Surf – Do It Again. Click here for the Barsuk Records media page.

Bring it Back is Mates of State’s fourth album and first release on Barsuk Records and, unfortunately for me, my first exposure to the band which seems a shame because if Bring It Back is any indication I’ve missed out on a lot of wicked music.

Mates of State are the husband and wife duo of Kori Gardner (keyboards and vocals) and Jason Hammel (drums and vocals.) Because of their marital status, and like The Submarines, the unfortunate label of “cute” has been applied to them. Cute is beside the point, the point is the music. Mates of State craft wholly unique music that somehow manages to be greater than the sum of the parts.

That’s what is phenomenally intriguing about this band, despite the lack of instruments (only two voices, a set of drums, and keyboards), they manage to craft wholly textured soundscapes, sonic changes, and tempo changes that make each song completely different from any of the others. And here’s the kicker, I always thought Rock’n Roll was all about the guitar, yet I’m not missing it in the least!
My favorite track on the album is, without a doubt, “For The Actor”. It exemplifies the magic that Mates of State are capable of producing: exceptional lyrics, beautiful harmony, awesome tempo changes, and unexpected sonic changes. I absolutely love this song, and if you are new to Mates of State, I recommend that you check this track out first. If you do, you will succumb to the beautiful world that Kori and Jason have created. Other standout tracks are “So Many Ways” with Kori’s sing along melody “Nothing! And Everything!”, the decidedly Beatley “What It Means”, and the 80’s synth & drum sounds of “Fraud in the 80’s”.

Mates of State are harmony and melody packaged together in a pleasing sonic soundscape. From what I’ve read, they are also an avid touring band. Have to love a band with a solid work ethic that, I imagine, would sound as good, if not better than, they do on their studio recordings.

David Morley

Mates of State Website
Mates of State on Myspace