4 to Watch: Manchester Orchestra

Polaroids and Providence

Music Features Manchester Orchestra
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Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Members [L-R]: Andy Hull (vocals, guitar), Chris Freeman (keyboards), Robert McDowell (guitar), Jeremiah Edmond (drums), Jonathan Corley (bass)
Fun Fact: Hull and Corley began collaborating in 8th grade, when they penned the epic “Braves Baseball 1994.”
Why They’re Worth Watching: The maturity and conceptual depth of 20-year-old frontman Hull’s songwriting are years beyond his age, and the band’s current lineup has the chemistry, chops and personality to deftly pull off his tunes.
For Fans Of: Pedro the Lion, The Weakerthans, early Radiohead

A striking image graces the cover of Manchester Orchestra’s debut LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. It’s a young woman glancing up for a split second, frozen in time, her mysterious gaze momentarily trained on the camera as she unpacks her suitcase on her honeymoon night. Drummer Jeremiah Edmond accidentally stumbled on the faded color photograph years ago, after purchasing what he thought was a shoebox full of random pictures at a thrift store.

It turns out, though, that the pictures actually catalog the entire young life—birth, school, graduation, the military and marriage—of a man named James Edward Timmerman. The woman on the album cover is his wife. The picture of her (from the late ’50s) is the last photo in the chronology, and when the band saw it for the ?rst time, it was as if hundreds of tiny ?ashbulbs went off in their minds; In a chillingly perfect way, the image paralleled the nakedly personal coming-of-age/lost-innocence songs singer/guitarist Andy Hull had been writing.

“The last line on the record is ‘we can’t believe without bleeding,’” says Hull, “and I think that sums it up, like, you can’t really understand life until you’ve gone through everything. And the line, ‘I’m like a virgin losing a child,’ that’s her. For me, this [photo] represents the beginning and the end. She looks up and it’s like, ‘is she sad or is she excited?’”

“And it’s also cool,” adds bassist Jonathan Corley, “that there could be an 80-year-old woman somewhere out there who walks into a record shop and picks up an album with herself on the cover… on her honeymoon.”

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