Today, North Carolina-based indie-Americana folk quartet Mipso share their earnest, propulsive sixth studio album Book of Fools, out everywhere now, including on vinyl here. Alongside the full project is the fuzzy synth and guitar-driven, lively "Radio Hell," out now, an ambivalent nod to the music industry. Plus, the band has hit the road on an extensive tour across North America with tickets on sale now via mipsomusic.com/tour.
Book of Fools, the sixth studio album by Mipso out today, sees the band at their most assured, guided mostly by their own intuition and less impacted by time constraints, expectations or outside forces. Over ten cohesive tracks, driving rhythms, earnest, thoughtful lyricism guide the band back to their roots and who they are at their core. As Terrell puts it, "'Book of Fools' feels more relaxed, more confident, more us – like we’re wearing our favorite clothes and telling our favorite story and it feels exciting again.” There's a fresh, solid confidence and profound understanding of one another that radiates through the music. It's this palpable connection that can only come from this group playing together around the world several hundreds of times and it's here they rediscover their joy and unmatched connection as musicians and as best friends.
Longtime leading Bluegrass and roots outlet The Bluegrass Situation named Mipso their Artist of the Month this August, calling them a "prolific foursome," and wrote of the album, "It’s exciting, encouraging, and energizing, to appreciate an album that isn’t merely a rung on a career ladder, but is meant to be its own constituent journey – both for Mipso and their listeners." Local publication Axios Raleigh called the new album "adventurous," and added, "While the band's patented group vocals remain, they're joined this time by electric guitars and Moog synthesizers. It all adds up to their most laid-back and groove-driven record yet."
Also out today is Mipso's ambivalent pop song about making pop songs and the music industry, "Radio Hell." Touching on the exploitative nature of working in entertainment, it begins with the striking lines, “I don’t want to dance with somebody who doesn’t want to dance with me.” Expanding on the meaning and inspiration of the track, Terrell explains, “A pop song can feel like a miraculous kind of medicine that makes the world feel not just bearable but beautiful. I love them except when I hate them. A pop song can also feel corrosive, like a cloying advertisement, like someone evil turned what should be a gift into a trojan horse of toxic commercial insincerity." Fuzzed out electric guitar, out-of-tune synths and a pretzel-twisted bass line take the band's sound to new heights.
The previously shared tracks "Broken Heart / Open Heart," "The Numbers," and "Carolina Rolling By" have captivated fans who are eagerly anticipating the forthcoming project. "Carolina Rolling By" earned the band the cover of Spotify's Roots Rising and number one spot on the playlist, plus placements on Summer Acoustic, Chill Folk, Fresh Folk, Apple's New in Americana, Southern Craft and Amazon's Fresh Folk & Americana. "The Numbers" also appeared on Fresh Folk and New in Americana.
"Broken Heart / Open Heart," was built around the idea that a broken heart can become an open heart. On the track, the band builds to a simmering pace, but it never boils over–the intimate vocal is gripping, alongside the muted piano and an overdriven guitar that add grit to the bittersweetness. Mandolinist and vocalist Jacob Sharp and guitarist Joseph Terrell wrote the track together that became a vessel for his processing of the grief that comes in the wake of losing someone you love.
Referencing the gut-wrenching opening lyrics, "How do you tell someone you’re lonely, when they’re sitting by your side?" Sharp shares, "I’ve had a couple friends recently who lost a family member for the first time. My mom was sick for a long time - I remember hard times, and I was broken for a while after she passed." Despite the immense pain and heartache Sharp endured, he's able to embrace the brokenness to rebuild himself. Sharp continues, "Now I look back grateful to have been broken enough to have had to decide how to put myself back together. There’s a universal binding in that feeling of realizing you’re broken enough to be wide open - and I think with the right support and love that openness can be a gift."
No Depression praised the "gorgeous" track, calling it, "A rumination on grief and its ability to be a force for positive rebuilding. Tender piano and distorted guitar work together to give the song both a gentleness and an edge, a sonic representation of the complexity of loss that complements Sharp’s heartfelt lyrics." Manchester Journal adds, "The melody is aching and mournful, and just when it slips to tenderness, a jangle unsettles the beauty."
"The Numbers" is a rhythmic, wry, finger-wagging observation of the market-obsessed culture that permeates American society. Inspired by NPR's Kai Ryssdal and his signature phrase, "Let’s do the numbers!," the band wonders how tracking the daily economic tea leaves became a veritable religious observance for the ruling class. Fiddler and vocalist Libby Rodenbough recalls hearing an Iowan voter on TV discussing presidential candidates and saying, “I like the incumbent because the stock market’s doing well.” Rodenough says, "I looked around at this cruel place where we live and I felt forlorn that the NASDAQ offers anybody any kind of comfort. How do I know things are bad? Because I feel it, and I see it.” The notion that the success of the stock market had very little to do with the actual lived experiences of everyday people laid the foundation for the groovy, slick "The Numbers."
Longtime tastemaker Glasse Factory raved about the track, "As the lead vocals artfully intertwine with the captivating groove, Mipso weaves a musical tapestry that captures the essence of their distinctive sound. The vocals, light and airy, blend effortlessly with the melody, never overpowering the composition."
The first taste of the project, "Carolina Rolling By" is a relaxed, country-tinged groove that tells the story of a down-and-out pill-popping truck driver trying to get back on his feet. Written in part as a love letter to driving around their home state, Mipso's signature layered, poignant harmonies paint a vibrant portrait of the view out of the driver's window–the deep, clear blue sky with the sun beating down and the crisp air floating by. Terrell says the song came about after a boating accident that led to him needing to take painkillers during recovery. Similar to previous Mipso releases, the track finds beauty in pain and allowed Terrell the space to craft the ode to driving through North Carolina that he's always wanted to make. It was during his recovery that the song materialized. Terrell says with a fresh understanding of the power of pills, "I couldn’t walk for 12 days but I had my grandma’s guitar and some hydrocodone and worked on this song I think because I fully understood for the first time how anyone could get addicted to those."
No Depression called it, "a peaceful summer groove on the surface with a story in the lyrics that cuts much deeper." Americana UK added the track is "a wistful rumination." "Carolina Rolling By" has been widely supported by several streaming platforms, including placements on Amazon's Fresh Folk & Americana, Spotify's Fresh Folk and Apple's New in Americana playlists.
Formed in 2012, Mipso began as a pastime between classes in Chapel Hill, NC. Made up of Joseph Terrell (guitar/vocals), Jacob Sharp (mandolin/vocals), Wood Robinson (bass/vocals) and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle/vocals), the group blends their music-filled upbringings and captivating harmonies to create a sound all their own with tinges of the timeless musical traditions of their home state and hints of jazz, strings, and old Americana. Mipso's acclaimed debut album Dark Holler Pop, produced by Andrew Marlin (Watchhouse), arrived in 2013 and quickly turned the recent grads into a full-fledged touring band and solidified the group as one to watch. With 2015's groovier, poppier Old Time Reverie, Mipso earned a spot at the the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a number one spot on Billboard's Bluegrass chart, and honed their sound as they deepened their near-telepathic musical and on stage connection.
The band's Brad Cook-produced (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee) 2017 effort Coming Down the Mountain, expanded their sound with drums, bass and a pedal steel. This refined, elevated sound resulted in a wildly popular title track and landed them on Rolling Stone's 10 New Country Artists You Need To Know list. Just when the band wasn't sure if five years of near-constant touring was something they'd wish to continue, 2018's Edges Run took off and eliminated any doubt. It spawned an instant fan favorite in "People Change" which has garnered over 104M+ streams on Spotify alone. PopMatters encouraged listeners to, "Let its tried-and-true virtues—from intricate harmonies to magnetic musicianship to splendid storytelling—soak in before feeling an emotional rush that you’ll want to experience again and again." The band's self-titled, fifth album arrived in 2020 where the band explores the trauma of a near-fatal car accident and find refuge and healing in each other with a moodier, more experimental soundscape. Paste Magazine praised the project's warmth and their ability to find beauty, joy and harmony.
Now, in 2023, with Book of Fools out, Mipso looks to strengthen their sound and rekindle their bond yet again, led purely by their love of making music together. The band is currently bringing the new music and longtime fan favorites on the road across North America. After dates in Woodstock, NY, Richmond, VA, and Louisville, KY, the band will move through Nashville, TN followed by four dates in their home state of North Carolina. They will then move through the South throughout the end of October before making their way up through the Midwest, including Chicago, IL. By Early November, the band will make their way through Canada including Toronto, ON, Ottawa, ON and Montreal, QC. Next, Mipso will make their way back through the East Coast including Burlington, VT, Boston, MA and Brooklyn, NY before wrapping up in Philadelphia, PA on November 19. See a full list of dates below and get tickets here.
North American Tour 2023
Aug. 27 - Richmond, VA - Iron Blossom Music Festival
Sept. 14 - Newport, KY - Southgate House Revival
Sept. 15 - Louisville, KY - Zanzabar
Sept. 16 - Ferdinand, IN - Ferdinand Folk Festival
Sept. 21 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
Sept. 22 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
Sept. 23 - Charlotte, NC - Neighborhood Theatre
Sept. 24 - Raleigh, NC - Lincoln Theatre
Oct. 21 - Chattanooga, TN - Barrel House Ballroom
Oct. 22 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn
Oct. 25 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
Oct. 26 - Nashville, TN - Basement East
Oct. 27 - St. Louis, MO - Old Rock House
Oct. 28 - Kansas City, MO - The Bottleneck
Oct. 29 - Iowa City, IA - First Ave Club
Nov. 1 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe
Nov. 2 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall
Nov. 3 - Madison, WI - High Noon
Nov. 4 - Indianapolis, IN - Hifi
Nov. 5 - Detroit, MI - The Ark (Ann Arbor)
Nov. 8 - Toronto , ON - Velvet Underground
Nov. 9 - Ottawa, ON - Red Bird Live
Nov. 10 - Montreal, QC - Bar Le Ritz
Nov. 11 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
Nov. 12 - Portland, ME - Portland House of Music & Events
Nov. 15 - Boston, MA - Sinclair
Nov. 16 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Made
Nov. 17 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
Nov. 18 - Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater
Nov. 19 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brendas