Cas Haley is breaking out on his own terms. Connection, his Easy Star Records debut, is aptly named. It’s all about those deep-running connections that make him what he is—those unbreakable links between artist and audience, between styles of music, between art and life, and most of all, between all people. As Cas points out, reggae’s core message is, after all, “one love.” His crystalline voice and funky, easygoing beats earned Cas a second-place finish on America’s Got Talent, which in turn netted him a measure of fame and a following. But the contest also locked the Texan singer/songwriter/guitarist into a major label deal that didn’t feel right. So, not wanting to be turned into a manufactured product, he struck out on his own. The superb result:Connection, a collection of songs basking in the philosophical and musical maturity that comes from staying true to his artistic vision.
Since forming in 2007, Holy Ghost Tent Revival — a 6 piece rock band from Greensboro, NC — has played roughly 150 dates per year, released 4 albums, and gained a solid reputation for their eclectic sound and passionate performances. They can be found bringing their blend of Dixieland, Folk and horn-driven Rock and Roll all over the USA, headlining festivals and respected venues year-round.
Their third studio album, Sweat Like the Old Days, continues to push genre boundaries and reveals a group of songwriters producing mature, thoughtful lyrics atop lush arrangements. It is a wholly original sound that the band is eager to share with new audiences. With the release of this record, and the beginnings of a new one already underway, there is no doubt a bright and enduring future is on the horizon.
With their new album Enjoy The Company, The Whigs have created a raucous ode to rock and roll. From the opening track, an exhilarating eight-minute mission statement called “Staying Alive,” the record offers a powerful sonic rendering of a band opening up to the depth of their past and kicking open the doors to their future. But most of all, this is the undeniably established sound of a band affirming their legacy in the American rock and roll paradigm.
While The Whigs recorded their second record Mission Control at famed Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood and their third release In The Dark in Athens, the making of Enjoy The Company was a dramatically different affair. This time the group sought the guidance of veteran producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, Son Volt, Sonic Youth) and the solitude of Dreamland Studios housed in a historic church in rural Woodstock, New York. “We went out there to record without any distractions,” bassist Timothy Deaux explains. “There were no girlfriends there, no bars to go out to. It was just us and the music. Our last album focused on some pretty dark themes and with this one I think there’s a newfound sense of optimism and purpose. We didn’t make a sugary record, but I think we are honestly feeling good about the band and our lives and it comes across in the sound.”
As a result, The Whigs latest features ten tracks of pure celebratory rock and roll fueled by the rhythms of the road, the classic albums that inspired them and nights spent together on stage. “When we’re out there driving from show to show, that’s my favorite time to get new song ideas,” Gispert says. “And the tracks we eventually picked for the album are the ones that we love playing live.”
The song “Gospel” mines a joyous guitar hook for a timeless FM radio feel while another track “Rock And Roll Forever” is a spirited hard riffing love letter to the power of primal rock. And after opening with the impassioned declaration of resilience in “Staying Alive,” the record perfectly bookends with an equally ardent proclamation entitled “Ours.” The song begins with reflective vocals over a lone guitar. Then, like some lost track from a beloved vinyl classic, the music builds, drums exploding accompanied by a volley of power chords. “That song was written about a child whose parents were teaching him how to share,” Gispert explains. “It’s not mine or yours, but ours. Our band, our music – it’s open to anybody.”
You’ve heard our name, you’ve seen our records, our t-shirts and our stickers. We’re probably the favorite band of someone you know and yet we’re still a mystery to you. Well my friend, that’s okay, I’m here to fill you in and help you to get to know the greatest rock-n-roll band in the world, The Supersuckers.
Our story is almost impossible to believe. This band is literally a human cartoon. We all grew up among the dead-ends and cactus needles of Tucson, Arizona and have known each other since grade school. We graduated from the same high school together at the same time (a school immortalized in our song “Santa Rita High”) and we chose to play in a band together because we liked to hang out together, not because we were great musicians or anything. I truly believe that a band is defined by their limitations, that what they can’t (or won’t) do is just as important as what they can do. I guess that, in this era of pre-fabricated, put-together-to-have-a-hit bands, we’re kind of an aberration and I gotta tell ya that that makes us smile a little every day.
We formed the band in 1988 and we were initially a five piece called The Black Supersuckers ( a name found in some quality “adult literature” we had laying around in our impeccably clean band house!), with me on bass, Dan “Thunder” Bolton and Rontrose Heathman on guitars, Dancing Eagle on drums and a lead singer by the name of Eric Martin. After firmly proving ourselves to be the best band in town we decided it was time to get out of Tucson and try our luck somewhere else. So we tossed a coin with heads as New Orleans and tails as Seattle. Tails it was and in May of “89 we packed up and went north.
We had no idea that Seattle was about to become “Rock Mecca USA”, we just wanted to go somewhere where we could wear our leather jackets a little more often. It was exciting and encouraging to see all of the great bands there, doing their own thing and making some kick-ass, aggressive rock-n-roll that we could relate to, so we started recording immediately. After some classic “creative differences” with our lead singer, we decided to try it as a four piece with yours truly as the singer (I was the only one who knew all the words) and The Supersuckers, as you may or may not know them today, were born.
Our first recordings as a four-piece wound up on various singles for small labels and then were compiled for a C.D. called The Songs All Sound The Same. (For the full story on these recordings I highly recommend picking up the re-issued version on our own label, Mid-Fi Recordings). But it was our live shows that caught the eyes of the good people at Sub-Pop Records and, after a particularly scorching show one night, they offered to put out our records. We said ,“Buy us some beer and you got a deal!” And our long and enduring rock-n-roll ride was officially under way.
Starting with 1992,s “The Smoke Of Hell”, we released a total of three rock records, one country record, split singles with Steve Earle and The Rev. Horton Heat, countless singles and a “best-of” double album (all on Sub-Pop,) then we put out what is considered to be our finest recorded moment to date “The Evil Powers Of Rock-n-Roll”(Koch/Aces & Eights) in late 1999. We’ve also been touring our asses off all over the world with bands like Mudhoney, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, The Ramones, Motorhead, The Toadies, The Butthole Surfers, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Dwarves and White Zombie. We’ve played a couple of Farm Aid shows and backed Willie Nelson on The Tonight Show. Our music has appeared in T.V. shows (Beverly Hills 90210), Movies (Baseketball, Hype) and commercials (Mountain Dew) as well as countless snow and skateboarding video compilations.
Throughout this entire time, our sole mission has been to create and perform timeless, quality music and get as many people as possible to hear it. That goal has never changed. The pursuit of that perfectly imperfect rock-n-roll moment is all we’ve ever been after. We’ve been doing this for well over a decade now and we’re just getting started.
2001 found us starting our own label; Mid-Fi Recordings. We’ve finally decided to take control of all of our affairs and have become a lean, mean, self managed, totally independent rock-n-roll machine. We’ve got the greatest fans in the world and no one cares more about them and our music than we do. Having our own label gives us the freedom to make more of our music available to them without the hassles of “the middle-man” worrying about things like “marketing” or “demographics”. Hell, these are just hard words. All we want to do is get some kick-ass music out to the people and with Mid-Fi we have been able to do just that. Our first release was a live country record entitled “Must’ve Been Live”, that came out in March, 2002. Since then, we have dug into our “private reserves” and released several singles of some our finest outtake stock (a habit we intend to keep). We’re also planning some split singles with other great artists, the first one being “Never Go Home” by The Hangmen b/w “Flyin’ Into The Mid-Day Sun” by the ‘suckers.
But, by far the most exciting thing we’re doing now is gearing up for the release of our new rock record, Motherfuckers Be Trippin’. It’s the perfect follow up to The Evil Powers Of Rock-N-Roll and will be available to rock your ass on April 22, 2003. We feel better about this record than any we’ve done to date, which is amazing for a band that has been around as long as we have, and we know you’ll dig it as much as we do. It truly seems like we’re just getting the hang of this music making thing!
So, the next time you see The Supersuckers name, whether it’s in the record store or on the marquee at your local nightclub, know that there’s some quality, honest, ass-kicking, hard working individuals in there, trying to make your life a little better through the “Evil Powers Of Rock-n-Roll” (and the occasional detour into the country of course) and we’d love nothing better than to have you there with us. Just remember to wear you clean underwear, because we’re gonna rock your pants right off of you.
Crowning achievements of rock-n-roll glory
• Performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” backing Willie Nelson
• Played Woodstock 2000
• Played Reading/Leeds festivals
• Toured extensively throughout the world including Russia, Japan, Australia, etc…
• Recorded with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, Kelley Deal of The Breeders
Matt Pond has already accomplished what few rarely do. A career musician with a die-hard following that continues to grow with each album, and a resume that includes the title song for a motion picture soundtrack, a long running Starbucks holiday commercial with a hook that’s always stuck in our heads, selling over 100,000 albums to date; his success is matched only by his prolific outpouring of talent. But Matt takes those things with a grain of salt, in ‘Lives’ he shows us what’s really important.
With the new album, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, Matt Pond is stepping forward with striking honesty and humbling optimism and delivers his strongest work to date. And with this transformative record comes some distinct changes- removing the ‘PA’ that has accompanied his name for nearly a decade, his first official ‘solo’ release, and partnering with new label and longtime publishing partner, BMG Rights Management.
Black Tie Dynasty was taking a bold step in a new direction. Focused and confident, BTD is prepared to release their most ambitious work. Their latest album, Down Like Anyone transcended all expectations and fully realizeed the bands potential as one on the cutting edge of innovation, prepared to make vital contributions to the world of music. Honing their sound for over seven years, the Texas quartet’s signature style was rich and distinct as each song soared with epic grandeur and genuine passion. Teeming with visceral urgency Cory Watson’s emotive lyrics soared over platinum guitar riffs and Brian McCorquodale’s hook-heavy synths. Blake McWhorter’s pulsating bass lines and Eddie Thomas’ boundless precision on drums transformed any observant crowd into a dance party. Having toured extensively throughout the U.S., their commanding live performance woo over fans and critics alike. Their debut album Movements (2005) received thousands of spins on commercial and college radio with its’ first two singles “Tender” and “I Like U”. To date, Movements has sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide.
The self-titled debut from indie supergroup Overseas is a dreamy waltz of foreboding and reconciliation, a coin flipping head over tails in spotlight slow motion, landing briefly on its edge before accepting that it’s both sides at once if it’s anything at all.
For the first few songs, the band’s sound is wide open, immediate and full of wonder. Will Johnson warbles impressionistic, as if glancing skyward on one of those alive-awake nights where the almost-full moon seems three times its normal size.
But then a few tracks in, the record’s gaze narrows, spinning you back inside yourself. As always, David Bazan challenges us to challenge ourselves, diving fearlessly into the mundane darkness to ponder subjects and situations from which most of us would rather run. “Bank on the future, box up the past / Bury the questions you don’t want to ask,” he later harmonizes with Johnson on “Came with the Frame.” But you can’t always take Bazan deadly serious. Sometimes he’s a sardonic comic; Morrissey’s evil twin, bloody bit tongue swollen firmly in cheek.
Overseas is truly collaborative music made by old friends-Johnson of Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel, Bazan of Pedro the Lion and Headphones, and brothers Matt and Bubba Kadane of Bedhead and The New Year. In these songs, you can hear them losing themselves in the moment, grabbing hold of fleeting ideas, holed up in the studio in the sweltering Texas night.
To hear Johnson & Bazan-such distinct, singular voices-trading tunes on the same record is a powerful experience, Will all sighing yang to David’s self-reflective yin. Not to mention the latter’s understated bass playing, the former’s melodic drumming, and the subtle yet brilliant invention of bandleaders the Kadanes, who steadfastly pump the bellows that fuel the group’s creative fire, bringing its songs to life with their intuitive musicality. In collaboration, this quartet is tasteful, egoless, the collective emotional impact of their work always crater-deep. It’s a manifestation of the trust, camaraderie and mutual respect that comes with their enduring friendships.
“How long have I known Will?” Matt says. “Well I’m a year or two older, and I remember buying him drinks when he was underage. So I’ve known him at least that long.”
Back in the early ’90s, Johnson and the Kadanes were lighting up the Dallas underground in their respective bands, Funland and Bedhead. A decade later, both camps independently befriended Bazan. For Matt and Bubba, it was in 2002 when David played five solo dates opening for The New Year on a West Coast tour. Just a few years later, Will opened several shows for Bazan, and ended up joining him, Vic Chesnutt and American Music Club’s Mark Eitzel in the critically acclaimed Undertow Orchestra. Johnson also toured as The New Year’s third guitarist in 2008, and Bazan had been geeking out on Bedhead since he was a teenager. The foursome’s web of connections is vast and tangled, so when the idea of a collaboration came up, all were enthusiastic. Their beginning, though, was unexpectedly somber, cathartic and prolific.
In the last week of 2009, just days after the death of Johnson and Bazan’s friend Vic Chesnutt, Overseas met at Denton, Texas’ Echolab studios for their first recording session. “I don’t think it was any accident that we got together right after Vic passed,” Johnson says. “In some ways, it was a spiritual passing of the baton from all of the good energy of the Undertow Orchestra. It was a challenging time, but it was a cleansing experience to get back into the studio and get to work on something unknown and exciting.”
Johnson, Bazan and the Kadanes had originally hoped the sessions would yield a limited-edition 7-inch or tour EP, but when all was said and done, they walked away with the skeletons of 12 new songs. “We trusted each others’ instincts,” Bubba says. “It was all pretty effortless. Of course, there were issues to work through, but nothing was ever a big deal, conflict-wise. We were all very much of one mind.”
While another year would go by before they’d begin the three-year process of fleshing out tracks in fits and starts, Overseas was now a full-fledged band. From the beginning, collaboration was the focus, so most songs were brought in unfinished, and several were culled straight from what the group dubbed its “thin-air jams”-spontaneous studio improvisations that were mined later for song material. “It’s not an approach I use often,” Johnson says. “It was thrilling, and kind of a brain scramble at times. But in the end, I feel like the record accurately represents the varied musical colors of all four people. It aptly displays the feathers of the bird.”
Each member of Overseas can write songs, sing and play a variety of instruments, so the project could have gone in countless directions. Once they started recording, though, certain natural roles emerged. Bubba praises Bazan’s knack for spot-on gut instinct. Bazan, in turn, deftly sums up the rest of the band’s contributions: “Will does his homework most thoroughly beforehand. There’s a neanderthal energy and abandon with him behind the kit. And when it’s time for really fine, specific lyric work, he’s game for that, too. Bubba is the overseer, the taskmaster. In the moment, he won’t always come up with his final part, but if you give him some time away from the group, he always figures out a way to add that last 15 or 20 percent that pulls everything into focus. And Matt is the musical genius-he plays piano, guitar, bass, drums. There isn’t anything he can’t do well.”
While the Kadane brothers helped with lyrics and melodies, they were adamant that Will and David handle all vocals. “I’d played just drums or keyboard in a few bands,” says Matt, “and to me it’s much more fun when you don’t have to sing. And Will and Bazan have incredible voices, so that was covered.”Also, coming from their various projects, each member of Overseas is a gifted producer. “And if you count [engineer and Echo Lab partner] Matt Barnhart,” Johnson says, “there were really five producers who, quite fortunately, see things in a similar way and speak the same language.”
“It should be said that Matt Barnhart is really the fifth member of Overseas,” Bazan adds. “I don’t think we’d make another record without him. And it should also be said that Tex-Mex is the sixth member of Overseas. Those Kadane brothers are waaaaay into Tex-Mex.”
While Overseas’ simple, daring new record begins outwardly with marvel at the world, a large part of its journey takes place across a single point in space. One holy, meaningless vertex. The battleground within one’s self. About two-thirds of the way through, when the gravity of Bazan’s reflection builds to a point of nearly overwhelming tension, Johnson slips back in through a crack in the dawn, acoustic strums gently closing third eye as we leave inner space. Serene. Like the first moment of clarity in the wake of a heady, cacophonous acid trip. All this now in the rearview, the record momentarily, fittingly, blasts free with “The Sound of Giving Way,” a big, symphonic, time-halting tune that would sound gorgeous cascading around an arena.
But before things get too untethered, the band lassos it all back to the quiet pondering of everyday routine. To doing the dishes, which has always been a philosopher’s job. Overseas makes the mind wander-it is an unconscious, spontaneous, understated treatise on passion, identity, love, lust, God, forgiveness, family, rock & roll and the road.
And when the last song, “All Your Own,” scrolls, there’s a taking stock, a sweeping out of ashes. There you are, soot-faced, ready for whatever’s next. Which is good. Because Overseas is already working on a new record.
Leftover Cuties: An irresistible combination of sultry vocals, pop-perfect songwriting, and old-school musicianship.
From the opening theme of Showtime’s “The Big C” to the infectiously happy “Smile Big” that propelled last Summer’s Olympic Samsung Galaxy S III commercial to the current worldwide Hyundai commercial that features the groups cover of “When You’re Smiling”, Leftover Cuties are a band you’ve heard but may not know yet.
This summer, Leftover Cuties will harness all of their past successes to release a brand-new full length album, THE SPARK & THE FIRE. Produced by multi Grammy award winning engineer/producer Dave Way (Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, Macy Gray), the collection is led by the foot-stomping, driving anthem “One Heart,” and features the heartbreakingly sweet ballad “Clarity,” an instant classic. Topped by a full US tour, 2013 will surely see Leftover Cuties catch fire.
As a music lover of impeccable taste, odds are that you’re already looking forward to spending the better part of the next hour – and several more after that – getting rather obsessively familiar with this latest serving of song and groove from Ray Wylie Hubbard. Having no doubt played his last album, 2010’s A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is No C), to digital bits — and committed to memory such earlier chestnuts as Snake Farm, Growl, Eternal and Lowdown, Crusades of the Restless Knights, and maybe even everything else going all the way back to that 1975 Cowboy Twinkies LP that Hubbard himself would rather you forget – you probably can’t wait to tuck into The Grifter’s Hymnal and leisurely savor it from end to end. This, of course, is how things should be. But a couple of variables could throw the above plan off the rails a bit. Suppose, for instance, that the damn Mayans were right, and what’s left of 2012 is all the time we have left, period. Or, maybe despite that aforementioned impeccable music taste, you’ve somehow managed to make it this far into the 21st century without ever hearing of this Hubbard fellow. Grim scenarios, yes, but fear not; because whether you’re short on time due to an impending apocalypse or simply need a tidy introduction to bring you up to speed, the opening track on The Grifter’s Hymnal, “Coricidin Bottle,” tells you everything you need to know in just under two minutes. What it tells you about The Grifter’s Hymnal is that the record rocks. And what it tells you about Ray Wylie Hubbard is,
he’s the kind scrapper poet with the devil-may-care wherewithal to write both “lay down a groove like a monkey gettin’ off” and “shakes the mortal coil round my amaranthine soul” into the same song – and the lethal charm and chops to pull it off. “Words are funky,” chuckles Hubbard, a voracious reader and seeker who draws as much inspiration from the likes of poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he does from Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb. “That ‘amaranthine soul’ line … I went somewhere and that word came up, and it means either purple or forever. And I thought, ‘yeah, that’s the kind of soul I’ve got.’” The laying down a groove like a monkey gettin’ off line speaks for itself.