Nashville TN | Instrumental
The Steelism tapes may have just as well been unearthed at 926 East McLemore Avenue—a relic from a not-so-forgotten past. Songs like “Mint Julep” and “9 to 5 Jive” would have made Atlantic and Stax record execs giddy, circa 1962. But Steelism, for all its vintage chops, is happening now. It’s the project of Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., guitarists who share a classical education in Steve Cropper licks, ELO synthesizers, and a dog-eared copy of Bill Keith and Winnie Winston’s seminal Pedal Steel Guitar book.
Fetzer, an Ohio-born guitarist with a natural affinity for the Telecaster, and Cullum, Jr., a pedal steel-playing Brit from Essex, east of London, channel the sounds and ambiance of rock and roll’s gold-plated past on their debut EP, The Intoxicating Sounds of Pedal Steel & Guitar. The duo met in Nashville and was soon together on a European tour backing Nashville’s Caitlin Rose. Their early songs create a musician’s roadmap: the languid “Sète, France” was penned on the Mediterranean coast, while “Lewis & Clark” can be traced to a Bozeman, Montana motel. The EP moves from a strolling Sunday afternoon soundtrack to raunchy surf rock and pedal steel-talkbox homage to Pete Drake. On “9 to 5 Jive,” you can almost see the hip shaking girls from Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” video. Intoxicating, indeed.
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Andrew Combs is a songwriter, guitarist, and singer who lives in Nashville. Originally from Dallas, Combs is inspired by the great tradition of Texas songwriting exemplified by Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Mickey Newbury.
Following the success of the 2010 EP Tennessee Time, Coin Records released the 7-inch single “Big Bad Love” in May 2012 and Combs’ debut full-length album, Worried Man, on October 30, 2012.
The new album caps off a busy year for Combs who signed as a staff writer with Razor & Tie Music Publishing in July 2012. Combs was also tapped to play the 2012 Americana Music Association festival and has played and toured with Shovels & Rope, Jonny Corndawg, Caitlin Rose, Houndmouth, Robert Ellis, and Jason Isbell.
While Tennessee Time displayed a decidedly Nashville sound, Worried Man draws on a folk-rock sound galvanized by the reemergence of authentic American music coming from bands like L.A.’s Dawes. The album was co-produced by Mike Odmark and features guest appearances from Caitlin Rose and Nikki Lane, along with the core band of Jeremy Fetzer, Spencer Cullum, Jr., Michael Rinne, Micah Hulscher, and Jon Radford.
Equal parts rough-and-ready Chicago blues, Planet Waves-era Dylan, and vintage Nashville folk, Combs’ live show has often been described as Merle Haggard’s stripped-down country rock meets the tightly wound garage punk of Detroit’s The MC5. In short, they call it “country soul swag,” and you should too.
Combs is also part of a Nashville renaissance in country-folk music that stems from the slicked-up rural country gems of Justin Townes Earle and the close-knit indie folk-rock of Caitlin Rose. Searching through this puzzle you might also find an answer to why Jack White operates a ’50s-inspired record shop and recording studio in Nashville and why the city has a buzzing punk scene. Maybe you’d even stumble into Combs and his band getting wild and fuzzy at a house party. Or maybe you’ll see Combs solo—on stage and alone as all hell—singing songs that have prompted middle-aged women to ask him, “Are you gonna be alright?”
Well, the Texas lad is just fine, thank you, and we think you’ll agree when you hear more of the sounds that are coming out of this East Nashville hotbed of dusty country soul, done up right.
London England United Kindom | Alternative
With their quintessential vintage West Coast sound, it’s fitting that Treetop Flyers laid down their outstanding country soul debut in the canyons of Southern California. Though based in London, the British five-piece – Reid Morrison (vocals/guitars), Sam Beer (guitar/vocals), Laurie Sherman (guitar), Mathew Starritt (bass/vocals) and the band’s lone American Tomer Danan (drums/vocals) – swapped urban England for the picturesque beaches and rolling hills of Malibu in order to record the classic sounding ’The Mountain Moves’.
“Our music makes sense there,” explains Sam. Yet ’The Mountain Moves’ hits home far beyond the reaches of Los Angeles. A record of hope, honesty and huge choruses, its universally reaching songs are strewn with sunshine-infused four-part harmonies, propelled by an irrefutable open-highway groove. Paying their dues to everyone from The Band and Neil Young by way of Little Feat and Fleetwood Mac, there are also gracious nods towards the more contemporary likes of My Morning Jacket, The Coral and Jonathan Wilson wrapped up in these 11 time-travelling tracks.
Sonically, ’The Mountain Moves’ might be easy-going, but the process behind it wasn’t quite so smooth. Heading to California after a successful stint of shows at SXSW in March 2012, a hurricane alert and a harrowing airplane ride meant the band ended up stranded on the outskirts of Denver. When they finally arrived in LA, producer Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Bert Jansch) hadn’t quite finished work on Banhart’s latest album, meaning Treetop Flyers had two weeks to kill.
They spent their fortnight of freedom roadtripping to Joshua Tree, making a Gram Parsons pilgrimage to Cap Rock and also stopping at Pappy and Harriets, a far-flung Mojave favourite of Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys. They rocked up to the legendary roadhouse’s famous open mic night in their best cowboy threads to play an uncommonly lengthy set.
The band eventually got to work at Zuma Sound, a brand new studio which had originally been built for Rick Rubin. However, not long into the album sessions, eviction notices started appearing on the door. “We kept on thinking, are we gonna be here next week? We’ve got ten more tracks to do...”, says Sam.
When they arrived back home, a summer of high-profile festival slots awaited them. They played under Van Morrison at Green Man, and shared a stage with Bob Dylan for the second time at The Hop Farm, after opening up for him at London’s Feis in 2011.
Ostensibly named after the Stephen Stills’ song ’Treetop Flyer’, the band’s name also references the similarly titled low altitude American pilots who fought in Vietnam. “When the war was over they were forgotten about and came back to a country that had nothing for them. So they formed their own club, did work crop dusting and banded together,” explains Sam. “I felt that that represented us a bit.” Before Treetop Flyers got together in 2009, all five band members were entrenched in the West London scene, gigging locally in different acts, watching the likes of Adele, Florence Welch, Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale and Jamie T rocket to the top of the charts. “We all met on the periphery of that scene,” says Sam.
Treetop Flyers became a serious proposition not long after they booked a rehearsal room in Shepherds Bush for a no-pressure jam session. From then on the band’s fate as a dreamy, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young style Americana act was sealed. Sam and Reid went on to write the band’s first song, the delicate comedown country of ’Is It All Worth It’, together in an empty room in Sam’s house. “It was a moment where you realise that we can be a band that’s greater than the sum of their parts, and make a noise that none of us can predict,” he says of the Simon & Garfunkel referencing number. “We can all hope for it but none of us can do it alone.”
In order to get gigs, the band recorded a demo, which became their acclaimed debut EP, ’To Bury The Past’. Every member of the band helps to pen the music. “Each and every one of us has a hand in songwriting,'' says Reid. “It’s not a Treetop Flyers song until everyone has put in in their bit.'' On the back of the EP release and their swiftly honed, commanding live show, they went on to win the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. They’d managed to forget that they’d even entered, but when they were told they’d made it through to the final heats, they headed to Worthy Farm to play a special gig for Michael and Emily Eavis and a panel of judges. Their prize was six shows at Glastonbury Festival in 2011, including opening up the Other Stage to a couple of thousand people.
Fast forward a few months and the band set about making a list of dream producers for their album. Noah Georgeson was one of the first names to crop up. “I could hear how the songs would sound with him doing it,” explains Reid, a long-time fan. Figuring they had nothing to lose, the band reached out to him and, to their delight, he immediately agreed to work with them.
“He was incredible at tones and sounds and getting rid of stuff that didn’t need to be there – being a bit ruthless,” says Reid. “It was such a privilege and really relaxing. They were 12 hour days but you felt like you could go on.” The fact that the studio was positioned in the middle of a canyon didn’t hurt, with Reid watching eagles fly by the floor to ceiling windows as he did his vocal takes. Georgeson also helped with nailing the band’s live sound on the record, making sure every track sounded as vibrant and fresh on the console as it did during a show. Opening with the driving ’Things Will Change’ – the message of which is “things are shit sometimes, but they’ll be alright in the end” - the powerful pace of ’The Mountain Moves’ doesn’t let up for the faultless classic rock of ’Houses Are Burning’ or the Northern Soul leaning ’Picture Show’.
’Waiting On You’ is hope-laden tribute to Reid’s late father, which was recorded six months to the day since he passed away. “I always have my dad’s ashes in my guitar case, and he’s actually on the track, as a shaker,” reveals Reid.
With its cries of being “stuck down in a nowhere town”, ’Postcards’ is a Stax inspired doo-wop shuffler of a song about the time the band spent in Denver on their way to LA. “No disrespect, but it was one of the most lonely places I’ve ever been,” explains Sam. The same can’t be said for the track and its welcoming blast of summer soul.
’Storm Will Pass’ was finished late on the very last night of recording. “For some reason, the computer freaked out massively when Tomer was doing his singing bit,” remembers Reid. “It sounded like he got caught in this UFO space war. No one could explain what was happening. It was really weird, but it sounded incredible.” So of course, the band kept it in.
In addition to the stunning simplicity of ’Is It All Worth It’, the delicate ’Rose’ showcases the softer side of Treetop Flyers, a lullaby that betrays an admiration of the British folk sounds of the 1970s, with whispers of Nick Drake and Fairport Convention amidst the canyon croons. “There’s nothing complex about it, it’s just sunshine,” adds Sam of the track. “It’s a capsule of us then, at that time, which is what a record should be.”
JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound
Chicago IL | Rock
You know you’re not just another indie band when the mayor-elect of Chicago personally invites you to play his inauguration concert. Rahm Emanuel is one of many esteemed fans that JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound have picked up since their humble beginnings, when they were just dreaming about getting the cool kids to shake it at the Empty Bottle. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy befriended the post-punk soul group after they scored a viral hit with their amped-up re-imagining of his song “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, performing it with them at Chicago’s Park West and inviting them to appear at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival alongside heavy hitters such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and the Band’s Levon Helm. The taste-making crate diggers at the Numero Group were impressed enough by the band’s take-no-prisoners live show to include them in their Eccentric Soul Revue, where they had the pleasure of collaborating with the spectacular Syl Johnson. The Uptown Sound has shared stages with a staggering array of artists, from legends like Robert Plant, Buddy Guy, and Chicago, to indie faves Peter Bjorn & John and the Dismemberment Plan, and soul stirrers Fitz & the Tantrums, Lee Fields, and Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens.
Erupting with raw emotion, JC Brooks unleashes his soulful shouts and heart wrenching falsetto over the relentless rhythm of guitarist Billy Bungeroth, drummer Kevin Marks, and bassist Ben Taylor. The Uptown Sound is a force to be reckoned with, leading the Chicago Tribune to call them “the real deal” and MOJO Magazine identifying them as “one of the hottest US soul acts”, while the New York Times praised their “neo-soul glory” and the Onion AV Club declared their first album “relentlessly catchy”. It’s live, it’s compelling, it’s now, it’s theatrical. So theatrical, in fact, that they were recently tapped to star in the critically-acclaimed run of the Tony Award-winning musical “Passing Strange” at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts.
Now preparing for the release of their Bloodshot Records debut, “Want More” with producer Jimmy Sutton (JD McPherson), this is a band whose time to shine has arrived. Whether they’re wowing crowds in the US, Canada, or Europe, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound has toured, warred, scored, and they’re not to be ignored. Bear witness, for these young men are on the move and they’re ready to make you dance by any means necessary.
Nashville TN | Rock
we are alanna royale. (uh-lah-nuh) that's the name of our band. we are 6 people. let's get sweaty.
the six of us love to play music that shakes, swings, moves you, and grooves you. we hail from many different places but we met in nashville and now it is our home. we want to see you at our shows. come say hi!