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Memory Maker

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Since M. Ward completed his analog-baked, Americana breakthrough Hold Time in early 2009, he hasn't had much time to himself. The following years have been punctuated by the re- lease and subsequent tours of critically acclaimed LPs with She & Him (featuring band mate Zooey Deschanel) and his indie-rock supergroup Monsters of Folk (alongside Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes).

In order to find the time to write and record his seventh full- length solo album, A Wasteland Companion, Ward (the "M," incidentally, stands for Matt) embraced the chaos of a life on the road and laid down tracks intermittently at studios in Austin, Los Angeles, Tuscon, Omaha, New York and Bristol in the U.K. He also teamed up with a slew of star collaborators including Dr. Dog singer and bassist Toby Leaman and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. "I wanted to create an album by trying out new [recording studios] in different parts of the world, and collaborating with new people, and have it be an accurate reflection of what the last three years of my life has actually looked like," says Ward, "which was not spending months and months inside the same four walls."

The resulting record is a haunting mishmash of dusty folk- rock and alt-country twang, inhabited by songs Ward crafted to be emotional documents of his life since Hold Time, like the frayed shuffle of "Primitive Girl" or the fragile wisp of "The First Time I Ran Away."

"There are definitely moments that everyone has experienced in life that should not be forgotten. And you kind of wish that you could tattoo it on your arm so that you could never forget it--but, I'm not into tattoos," says Ward. "Music is the ultimate memory bank. A song is better than a photograph because it doesn't fade."

Some of our other favorite M. Words.
M. Shanghai: Chinese restaurant, Williamsburg.
M. Wells: Quebeco- American restaurant, P.S. 1.
M. Patmos: Fashion line, chic.
M. Night Shyamalan: Director, creepy
M. Emmet Walsh: Actor, manic sniper in The Jerk.
M. Butterfly: Play, later adapted to film by David Cronenberg.

A Wasteland Companion is out now via Merge Records.

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