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Originally conceived as a one-off collaboration between Okkervil River's Will Sheff and Kingfisher's Jonathan Meiburg, Shearwater continues the tradition of detailed, reflective songwriting set by classic artists like Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen and contemporary indie rock songwriters such as Bill Callahan and Will Oldham. The group began after Sheff and Meiburg had known each other for just a week, with the idea that the duo wanted to make an album called The Dissolving Room. The pair exchanged songwriting ideas through e-mail and were so pleased with the results that they decided to make their project into a permanent touring affair along with making bass player Kim Burke an official member. The Dissolving Room was released in early 2001 by the Grey Flat imprint. The following year, Shearwater released another album, Everybody Makes Mistakes, and their third album, Winged Life, followed in 2004. Meiburg's influence over the direction of the band steadily increased over the years, and this trend continued on the band's fourth release, 2006's Palo Santo. The band moved from Misra to Matador that year, making way for the release of an expanded edition of Palo Santo in 2007. The powerful and streamlined Rook arrived in 2008, followed by the dreamy Golden Archipelago in 2010. Shearwater joined the Sub Pop roster for the album Animal Joy, released in February 2012, a more direct, immediate offering featuring guest musicians such as Andy Stack (Wye Oak) and Scott Brackett (Murder by Death).