Photo by: Lucca Soria
(Toronto, ON – August 05, 2020) – Cordovas‘ new album Destiny Hotel, out October 16th via ATO Records, is a work of wild poetry and wide-eyed abandon, set to a glorious collision of folk and country and groove-heavy rock-and-roll. In a major creative milestone for the Tennessee-based band-vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Joe Firstman, keyboardist Sevans Henderson, guitarist/vocalist Lucca Soria and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Toby Weaver-the album harnesses the freewheeling energy of their live show more fully than ever, all while lifting their songwriting to a whole new level of sophistication. The result is a batch of songs that ruminate and rhapsodize with equal intensity, inviting endless celebration on the way to transcendence.
The band will make their national TV debut on CBS This Morning this coming Saturday, August 8th, performing songs from Destiny Hotel as well as their acclaimed ATO Records debut That Santa Fe Channel.
Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Rick Parker (Lord Huron, Beck, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Firstman’s Atlantic Records-released debut solo album The War of Women), Destiny Hotel expands on the harmony-soaked roots rock of That Santa Fe Channel, a 2018 release that earned abundant praise from outlets like Rolling Stone and NPR Music. Before heading to L.A., Cordovas spent over three months in their second homebase of Todos Santos (an artist community in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula), sketching dozens of songs partly sparked from their voracious reading of authors like mythologist Joseph Campbell, poet/novelist Rainer Maria Rilke, and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. And when it came time for the recording sessions-a frenetic seven-day stretch squeezed in just before stay-at-home orders took effect in response to the global pandemic-the band methodically eliminated any lyrics they deemed inconsequential.
“We wanted to strike the term ‘want’ from our music-to get rid of all the ‘Baby, baby, baby, I want this, I want that,’ and create something more useful,” says Firstman. “We needed to make sure these were songs we’d be proud to sing forever.”
But while Destiny Hotel unfolds in untold revelations on fear and ego and self-liberation, Cordovas offer up that insight without ever slipping into didacticism. In fact, much of the album radiates utter elation, each moment echoing Cordovas’ band-of-brothers kinship and extraordinary closeness: when they’re not touring the world, taking the stage at leading festivals like Stagecoach, Newport Folk and Pickathon, or hosting their own Tropic of Cancer Concert Series down in Todos Santos, Cordovas spend much of their time practicing in the barn at their communal farm home just outside Nashville. “I can’t imagine that many bands rehearse more than we do,” says Firstman, whose wife and young child also live on the farm. “We’re all here together in this wonderful space, and we’re pretty good about never taking it for granted.”
On the lead single to Destiny Hotel, Cordovas channel their unbridled joy into a soul-soothing call for radical openness. With its references to old country revivals and mid-’60s Dylan, “High Feeling” (which features additional production, guitars & mixing from the Black Pumas’ Adrian Quesada and additional backing vocals from the Black Pumas’ touring members Angela Miller and Lauren Cervantes) speaks to the pure euphoria to be found in shaking off whatever binds you (“Open up your heart, let love come through the door/Open up your mind, that’s what it’s for”).
After playing 100’s of shows in support of That Santa Fe Channel, the band continues to hone their dynamic live performance through a weekly Facebook live stream from their farm outside Nashville. To date, the band has broadcast 56 sessions since going into self-quarantine in March, regularly performing on their Facebook page on Thursdays at 8pm CT, Fridays at 9pm CT and Saturdays at 8pm CT.
SHARES VIDEO FOR “LIGHTS OUT”
FEATURING THE SONG’S GUITAR TABS
SEATTLE GROUP MASTERMINDED
BY JESSICA DOBSON
(GUITARIST FOR BECK, THE SHINS & MORE)
“Favorite Songs of 2020 (So Far)” – NPR
“[‘Stop Pretending’ is] a pensive, distorted mini-masterpiece made in the moment
of pandemic mania.” – American Songwriter
(Toronto, ON – August 04, 2020) – Deep Sea Diver is excited to announce its third album Impossible Weight, which will arrive October 16, 2020 via High Beam Records (distributed by ATO Records). To ring in the announcement, the group — led by Seattle’s Jessica Dobson (once the lead guitarist for Beck, The Shins and many more) — has shared the video for new single “Lights Out,” which was created by Dobson herself and displays the guitar tablature for the song as the notes are being played. The video debuted via FLOOD Magazine, who called it “guitar-focused pop music with a glossy sheen.” Watch the video HERE, and pre-save the album HERE.
Following a year featuring tours with Wilco and Joseph, Deep Sea Diver has hardly stayed quiet. In April the band released “Stop Pretending,” a single born of their weekly live-streamed performances from their home studio during the initial period of social isolation. The single struck a chord with fans and press alike, even earning a slot on NPR Music’s “Favorite Songs of 2020 (So Far)” list. Look out for new music coming soon, including a track with a very special assist from one Sharon Van Etten.
The third full-length from Deep Sea Diver, Impossible Weight is a work of sublime highs and mesmerizing lows, its restless intensity both unsettling and transcendent. For bandleader Jessica Dobson, the album’s sonic and emotional expanse stems from a period of sometimes-brutal self-examination-a process that began not long after the Seattle-based four-piece finished touring for their acclaimed sophomore effort Secrets.
“We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” says the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, whose bandmates include her husband Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth). “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”
As she stepped back from the studio, Dobson focused on dealing with the depression she’d been struggling with, and soon started volunteering for Aurora Commons (a drop-in center for unhoused people, most of whom are drug-dependent and engage in street-survival-based sex work). “I spent a lot of time with the women who frequent the Commons, and it taught me a new depth of empathy,” she says. “They’re people who don’t have the luxury of going back to a home at the end of the day and hiding behind those four walls, so they’re sort of forced to be vulnerable with what their needs are. Talking with them and listening to them really freed me up to start writing about things I’d never written about before in my songs.”
Co-produced by Dobson and Andy D. Park (Pedro the Lion, Ruler) and mainly recorded at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice, Impossible Weight brings that emotional excavation to a more grandiose sound than Deep Sea Diver has ever attempted. Along with revealing the limitless imagination of Dobson’s guitar work-a prodigious talent she’s previously shown in playing lead guitar for artists like Beck and The Shins-the album’s lush textures and mercurial arrangements more fully illuminate the power of her vocals. “‘I’d never produced a record before and I started out with low expectations for myself, but at some point I realized, ‘I can do this,'”Dobson recalls. “I decided to completely trust my voice and make really bold decisions in all my production calls-just push everything to the absolute outer edges.”
The luminous opening track to Impossible Weight, “Shattering the Hourglass” makes for a perfect introduction to the album’s sonic complexity, beginning in intimate reflection before shifting into a wildly sprawling anthem. But despite its kinetic orchestration, the song’s dynamics never overshadow its central lyric: “You don’t have to be strong enough.” “I wrote that one the same week my friend and former bandmate Richard Swift was spending his last days in hospice because of complications from alcoholism,” notes Dobson, referring to the beloved singer/songwriter/producer, also known for his work with The Shins. “I was thinking about how everyone’s facing some kind of battle, and how I wish we could all talk more openly about these things. I wish we could give ourselves that license to fall apart, so that others can help carry us to a better place.”
In her commitment to radical vulnerability, Dobson lays her own needs bare on songs like “Lights Out”: a defiant yet strangely delicate track that takes on a thrilling momentum as she cycles through an entire world of moods, her voice careening from growling to tender. “‘Lights Out’ was written around the time I hit that wall when we first started working on the record; it’s about fumbling through the darkness and knowing I damn well need help getting out,” she says. Meanwhile, on “Wishing,” Deep Sea Diver deliver a stormy and psych-leaning number sparked from Dobson’s viewing of a documentary on Nina Simone. “She had a husband who was physically and emotionally abusive to her, and it made me think about the idea of being under the thumb of someone else, and not knowing how to get in control of your life again,” Dobson says. “I have a tendency to try to resolve the narrative by the time I get to the end of the song, but for that one I didn’t-which felt right, because that’s what life is like.”
On “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid),” Impossible Weight reaches its glorious climax, a seven-minute epic that builds to an instrumental breakdown centered on Dobson’s beautifully unhinged guitar work. Not only a triumphant turning point in her musicianship and production approach, “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid)” marks a major leap in Dobson’s songwriting. “Lyrically that’s the most uncomfortable song for me on the album,” she says, noting that the track was partly inspired by Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh and the collective trauma endured by women everywhere. “There’s so much anger and frustration in it, and it made sense to express that in plainspoken lyrics. I ended up with these phrases that are almost like mantras: ‘Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed.’ A lot of my musical heroes tend to be very poetic, but sometimes there’s so much more meaning in saying things simply.”
For Dobson, redefining the limits of her artistry goes hand-in-hand with certain identity issues she faced during the making ofImpossible Weight. “I was adopted and just recently met my birth mother, and found out that I’m half-Mexican and half-Jewish,” she explains. “Discovering my heritage and learning things about myself that I never knew before really fed into that question of ‘Where do I belong?'” At the same time, Dobson restored the sense of possibility she felt in first embarking on her music career, which included landing a deal at Atlantic Records at the age of 19. “I think being signed at such a young age messed me up in terms of the expectations I put on myself,” she says. “Somewhere along the way I lost confidence in my own vision, but after making this record I feel a much larger freedom to go in whatever direction I want with my music.”
With the release of Impossible Weight, Dobson hopes that others might reclaim a similar sense of freedom in their emotional lives. “Especially right now when the world is in disarray and there’s so much fear, I want this record to give people room to feel whatever they need to feel,” she says. “I hope it helps them recognize that it’s okay to fall apart, and that they’re meant to let others in instead of trying to work through everything on their own. Because the point is that the impossible weight isn’t yours to carry alone-that’s why it’s impossible.”
DEEP SEA DIVER
(HIGH BEAM RECORDS VIA ATO RECORDS)
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2020
1. Shattering The Hourglass
2. Lights Out
4. Impossible Weight (feat. Sharon Van Etten)
7. Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid)
8. People Come People Go
9. Lightning Bolts
10. Run Away With Me
FEATURING BONUS TRACKS OF UNRELEASED ORIGINALS LIVE IN-STUDIO VERSIONS, AND COVERS OF TRACY CHAPMAN, THE BEATLES & MORE
OUT DIGITALLY AUGUST 28 / PHYSICALLY OCTOBER 9
WATCH THE INCREDIBLE NEW LIVE VIDEO FOR “CONFINES” HERE
photo by: Jackie Lee Young
(Toronto, ON – July 29, 2020) – Black Pumas, the Austin duo of frontman/songwriter Eric Burton and producer/guitarist Adrian Quesada, will release a deluxe version of their breakout self-titled debut album on August 28 digitally and October 9 physically. Since its release in 2019, Black Pumas has sold 155K+ album equivalents worldwide, spawned the massive hit single “Colors” – which hit #1 at AAA Radio and has been streamed over 60 million times – and seen the band nominated for Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammy Awards. The new 2-LP deluxe edition will feature new artwork and a gatefold with unpublished in-studio and live photographs, as well as a bonus 7-inch featuring three new unreleased originals; three live in-studio versions (“Colors,” “Oct 33,” “Confines”); a live version of “Know You Better” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club where the band first made a name for itself; and covers of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” a cover they premiered live on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last month. Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) is available for pre-order HERE.
Black Pumas’ official live session of “Colors” is a huge viral hit on YouTube, with nearly 27 million views, and today they share a new video of the live version of “Confines” that appears on the deluxe album, an incredible rendition that features a string quartet. The Fader premiered the video today- watch here.
DELUXE TRACK LIST
Black Moon Rising
Know You Better
Touch the Sky
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman Cover)
Politicians In My Eyes (Death Cover)
Colors (Live in Studio)
Oct 33 (Live in Studio)
Confines (Live in Studio)
Know You Better (Live at C-Boys)
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles Cover)
Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City (Bobby “Blue” Bland Cover)
PRAISE FOR BLACK PUMAS:
“Few artists seem to tap the collective unease of the national moment quite like Austin’s Black Pumas… never missing a beat is the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton.” – Rolling Stone
“A debut so perfectly realized by the standards they’ve set themselves that you wonder what could possibly come next.” – The Guardian
“So much more expansive than retro soul…sounds like a record that The Black Keys would do with Marvin Gaye.” – NPR Music
“The duo’s flair for drama is so stirring, they can seem acutely cinematic.” – Pitchfork
“Mesmerizing” – Essence
“Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown…radiates soul at a wattage that may not be exactly street legal.” – KCRW
“Staggering…the world does indeed need Black Pumas and their message right now.” – MOJO
“Stirring retro soul.” – FADER
MORE ON BLACK PUMAS:
Sometimes, a life-changing connection can be closer than you think. In 2017, singer and songwriter Eric Burton made his way from California to Texas. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he grew up singing in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day and developed his performance skills. Burton traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin, TX-setting up his busking spot on a downtown street corner, at 6th Street and Congress, for maximum exposure.
Meantime, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles, in London, but nothing seemed right. A mutual friend mentioned Burton to Quesada, saying that he was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected, but Burton took a while to respond (“My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!'”) Finally, he called Quesada and sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”
The results of that inauspicious beginning can now be heard on the acclaimed 2019 self-titled debut album from Black Pumas, the group that Burton and Quesada assembled. In just a couple of years’ time, Burton and Quesada turned their unplanned meeting into a Grammy-nominated act with songs that have racked up millions of streams and won overwhelming critical praise and multiple sold-out tours across North America and Europe. The album won acclaim from Rolling Stone, who praised “the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton,” Pitchfork, who raved, “The duo’s flair for drama is so stirring, they can seem acutely cinematic,” NPR, The Fader, The Guardian, Billboard, Essence, and many more. Their anthemic single “Colors” hit #1 at AAA Radio and has been streamed over 57 million times across all platforms. Meanwhile, the official live video of “Colors” has been viewed over 26 million times on YouTube.
Quesada had a storied reputation from playing in bands like Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, accompanying artists from Prince to Daniel Johnston, and producing such acclaimed projects as 2018’s Look At My Soul: The Latin Shade Of Texas Soul. For the tracks that kicked off this project, though, he had a different direction in mind. “I was looking for somebody with their own identity,” says Quesada, “who liked Neil Young as much as Sam Cooke.”
Burton’s taste, range, and experience proved to be exactly what Quesada was seeking. “We just take to the same kind of music,” he says. “I listen to East Coast hip-hop, old soul music, folk music. We were on the same wavelength from the get-go.” KCRW would eventually describe their sound as “Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown.”
The first day they got together in the studio, they wrote and recorded the dusty funk that would become the Black Pumas’ first two singles, “Black Moon Rising” and “Fire.” Quesada had produced the music for “Black Moon Rising” on the day of the 2017 solar eclipse, and Burton took that concept and ran with it. “Right away, the hair stood up on the back of my neck,” says Quesada. “I knew, ‘This is it-this is the guy.'”
The duo also knew that they didn’t want their sound to be too retro or imitative. “We didn’t want to just do throwback soul and pretend that hip-hop never happened,” says Quesada. “It had to feel sincere coming from us. I have a certain aesthetic in the studio, Eric has a voice that evokes a certain era, but I don’t think we reference that too directly.”
“Adrian has had the time and the interest to really dive into a specific sound, to recreate something he heard on a Motown record,” adds Burton. “And because of that specific knowledge, he provides an interesting sandbox for me, whose background is in theater, to do something super-unorthodox-to be an art student and play with all the colors I have, but to put it on something that’s more familiar to listeners’ ears.
With Black Pumas having evolved from an idea to a session and eventually an album, they decided to put a band together to see how the music sounded live. They booked a residency at Austin’s C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. “We only rehearsed twice, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” says Quesada. “But with the first show, we knew it was unique, special-the chemistry and fire were there immediately. And what Eric could do as a frontman was like nothing I’d ever seen.” As word got out, the C-Boy’s shows turned into a local phenomenon (“the hottest party in town,” according to the Austin American-Statesman), with lines around the block despite the fact that the band had only released one song. That strong local support led to Black Pumas being awarded Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.
The release of Black Pumas was followed by an incredible breakout year, crowned by the duo’s nomination for Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammys alongside the likes of Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lil Nas X. The band sold out multiple tours across North America and Europe, thanks to a massive fanbase now known as the Puma Pack. They have brought their incredible live performances to The Ellen Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS This Morning, PBS’s Austin City Limits, Late Night With Seth Meyers, and most recently, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, who premiered their powerful live version of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” a song that has a particular resonance for Burton and his nomadic past.
Quesada and Burton both return, over and over, to the almost mystical connection they felt from the beginning. It’s this sense of common purpose, of shared vision, that gives Black Pumas its focus and power-and that points to even more great things ahead.
“It’s so seamless, it’s like we’re musical brothers to some degree,” says Burton. “It feels so easy to meld together that what’s most important for us now is to continue to look for new sounds-to make sure we’re feeding ourselves the knowledge to continue to evolve. Every time we get together, it’s better than the last time.”
Connect with Black Pumas
FEATURING ACOUSTIC VERSIONS OF “REMIND ME” + COVER OF THE BEATLES “HELP”
(Toronto, ON – July 22, 2020) – Today Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Emily King releases her Spotify Singles – a special acoustic version of her 2019 single “Remind Me” and a gorgeous reimagining of the Beatles‘ “Help.” “Help” was recorded at Los Angeles’ East West Studios and features keyboard virtuoso Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy) and two vocalists from Brittany Howard’s live band, Shanay Johnson and Karita Law.
“I’ve always loved this song… like so many Beatles songs it speaks the truth in so few words,” says King. “It felt so natural to adapt the song to the style of music I play. One of my all-time favorite artists is the great Aretha Franklin. I remember thinking, how would Aretha do this? She was a big influence.” Asked what she’d like fans to take from her rendition of the track, King says, “A feeling. Just to feel something strongly. To know help is on the way.”
Driving more than three billion streams since the program began in 2017, Spotify Singles was created to give artists an opportunity to record new versions of their own songs, and the songs of the artists they love. The Singles scope includes a unique version of each artist’s own song (Side A) and a cover song of their choosing (Side B). To date, there have been over 300 Singles recorded as part of the program.
Photo credit: Julie Logan
Emily King was nominated for two 2020 Grammy Awards — Best R&B Song for her single “Look at Me Now” and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for her 2019 album Scenery. She performed at this year’s Grammys’ MusiCares tribute to Aerosmith alongside John Legend, Foo Fighters, Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, and more. Scenery was praised for its “starry-eyed earnestness of acoustically arranged versions” by NPR Music, while Pitchfork called it “sleek, vibrant R&B… the perfect frame for her extraordinary voice.” After its release, Emily made high-profile TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live !and CBS This Morning, performed at Coachella and Lollapalooza, opened an arena tour with Sara Bareilles that included dates at Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl, and sold out a nationwide acoustic tour.
FEATURING NEW SONG “DAY 7”
photo by: Molly Daniels
(Toronto, ON – July 22, 2020) – Nilüfer Yanya’s new Tiny Desk (Home) Concert is streaming today on NPR Music. Filmed at Riverfish Studio in Cornwall, UK, the session features Yanya playing “Paralysed” – off her 2019 debut album Miss Universe – for the first time, as well as Miss Universe favorites “Heat Rises” and”Heavyweight Champion Of The Year” and a brand-new track called “Day 7.” NPR calls the session “an easy introduction to an artist who may, and most likely will, make her way to your heart.” Watch Nilüfer’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert HERE.
Nilüfer Yanya’s Miss Universe was named one of the best albums of 2019 by Pitchfork, Billboard, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, The Guardian, MTV, Noisey, The Independent, Paste, Under the Radar, Dazed, Clash, and more. NPR Music named her their #3 Best New Artist of 2019, behind only Billie Eilish and Maggie Rogers. Nilüfer performed her single “In Your Head” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Later…with Jools Holland and played an incredible Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music.
PRAISE FOR NILÜFER YANYA:
“The rapturous debut from the British singer-songwriter takes adventurous pop-rock crucibles to new heights with her illusory songwriting and stunning voice.”
– PITCHFORK (8.3, Best New Music)
“Her voice is the center of the galaxy.” -WALL STREET JOURNAL
“[Miss Universe] skates swiftly from scuzzy rock to pinprick funk, from power chords and splatting cymbals to soft, prettily multi-tracked hooks…unabashedly beautiful.”
– ROLLING STONE (Artist You Need to Know)
“On her debut album, Miss Universe, Yanya has pulled one more trick from her sleeve: crafting an entire world unto herself.” -NPR (First Listen)
“Yanya oozes starpower.” – MTV
“[Miss Universe] feels wise beyond its years, yet has a joyful abandon about it that sounds intrinsically young.” – ESQUIRE
“She packages the unknown into crisp, fluid pop songs that act like elliptical thoughts, full of not-sures and maybes and endless possibilities.” – STEREOGUM (Album of the Week)
“Innovative and striking pop euphoria … every track sends shivers down the spine.“
– CLASH (9/10)
“Shreddy indie rock rooted in soul, totally unique and exciting.” – THE FADER
“One of 2019’s most fascinating breakouts.” – UPROXX
“Sharp, straightforward songwriting, a refreshing willingness to take on a variety of genres and a palette of distorted guitars that jostle and slice with precision.”
“An abstract and contemplative study of the mental and physical, tackling ambitious themes.” – HARPER’S BAZAAR
“A strikingly confident record.” – UNDER THE RADAR
“An impressive collection of tough, simple pop-rock songs… it’s a debut that seems designed to showcase her range as a rising artist.” – JEZEBEL
“An emotionally multi-faceted album to luxuriate in.” – PASTE
NEW ALBUM TWELFTH OUT AUGUST 21
ON ATO RECORDS
Photo credit: Alysse Gafkjen
“Terse, wry, and supremely catchy roots-rock.”– THE ATLANTIC
“A well-loved pioneering force in the alt-country movement… [they’ve] still got the same raucous, sweaty energy that’s made [them] so beloved all this time.” – NPR
“Blistered, blasted, and brilliant.” – NEW YORKER
(Toronto, ON – July 21, 2020) – Old 97’s are returning with their new album Twelfth on August 21, and today they share the record’s opening track “The Dropouts.” American Songwriter premiered the song, writing, “It’s classic Old 97s every step of the way yet pulses with the energy of a band making their debut, with unstoppable musical swagger and Miller’s effortless lyrical eloquence on full display. The song honors society’s underdogs, to whom Miller still feels a kinship despite the band’s success.” “I think if I wasn’t hungry, I wouldn’t be able to write the songs that I write,” Miller says. Listen to “The Dropouts” HERE.
“The Dropouts” follows Twelfth’s previously released first single and video Turn Off The TV,” which features cameos from Puddles Pity Party, Janeane Garofalo, Jenna Fischer, Paul F. Tompkins, and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Twelfth is available for pre-order HERE.
Catch Rhett Miller performing on StageIt this week:
7/22 – 9p ET – West Coast Wednesday – benefiting MusiCares
7/24 – 9p ET – Friday Friends – Kyle Kinane’s setlist
7/26 – 5p ET – Fun In The Sun Day
MORE ON TWELFTH:
“Somehow what we’ve got never breaks down,” Rhett Miller sings on Old 97’s exhilarating new album, Twelfth. At first, the line comes off as a boast, as a declaration of invincibility from a band that’s managed to survive three decades of rock and roll debauchery, but as the phrase repeats over and over again, it slowly transforms into something more incredulous, something more vulnerable, something deeply human.
“We experienced some close calls over the last few years,” says Miller, “and I think that led us to this dawning realization of the fragility of it all. At the same time, it also led us to this increased gratitude for the music and the brotherhood we’ve been so lucky to share. I think all of that combined to make recording this album one of the most intensely joyful experiences we’ve ever had as a band.”
That joy is utterly palpable on Twelfth. Loose and raw, the record is an ecstatic celebration of survival, a resounding ode to endurance and resilience from a veteran group that refuses to rest on their considerable laurels. Working out of Sputnik Sound in Nashville, Miller and his longtime bandmates-bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples-teamed up once again with GRAMMY-winning producer Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Jack White), and while the resulting album boasts all the hallmarks of a classic Old 97’s record (sex and booze, laughter and tears, poetry and blasphemy), it also showcases a newfound perspective in its writing and craftsmanship, a maturity and appreciation that can only come with age and experience. Perhaps the band is growing up; maybe they’re just getting started. Either way, Old 97’s have never been happier to be alive.
“You have to take pride in the unlikeliness of it all,” says Miller. “It’s mind boggling to think that we’ve been able to last this long, that we’ve been able to support ourselves and our families on our own terms for almost thirty years. Twelve is a lot of records.”
Formed in Dallas, Texas, Old 97’s first emerged in the early ’90s with an adrenaline pumping blend of rock and roll swagger, punk snarl, and old-school twang that quickly brought them into the national spotlight. Conventional wisdom places the band at the forefront of a musical movement that would come to be known as “alternative country,” but, as the New York Times so succinctly put it, their sound always “leaned more toward the Clash than the Carter Family.” Fueled by breakneck tempos, distorted guitars, and wry storytelling, the foursome built a reputation for high-energy albums and even higher energy shows, earning themselves performances everywhere from Conan and Letterman to Bonnaroo and Lollapaloozaalongside countless rave reviews. NPR lauded the group as a “pioneering force,” while Rolling Stone hailed their music’s “whiskey-wrecked nihilism and slow-burn heartbreak,” and The New Yorker praised their songwriting as “blistered, blasted, and brilliant.” On top of his prodigious output with Old 97’s, Miller simultaneously established himself as a prolific solo artist, as well, releasing eight studio albums under his own name that garnered similarly wide-ranging acclaim and landed in a slew of prominent film and television soundtracks. A gifted writer beyond his music, Miller also contributed essays and short stories to The Atlantic, Salon, McSweeney’s, and Sports Illustrated among others, and in 2019, he released his debut book, a collection of poetry for children, via Little, Brown and Company.
While part of Old 97’s charm has always been the air of playful invulnerability they exude onstage every night, reality began catching up with the band in 2017. The night before a television appearance in support of the group’s most recent album, Graveyard Whistling, Peeples collapsed in a hotel parking lot, falling backwards and cracking his skull on a concrete abutment. He spent weeks in the ICU and was forced to miss the first leg of tour. Bethea, meanwhile, began to notice a loss of feeling in the fingers of his right hand. As his condition continued to deteriorate on the road, the numbness spread to his leg, and he was eventually forced to undergo spinal surgery in order to regain full motor control. Miller, for his part, found himself at more of an existential crossroads, questioning attitudes and behaviors he’d long taken for granted. Yes, he was a rock and roll star (whatever that means nowadays), but he was also a father and a husband, and he decided it was long since time to get sober.
“Back when we were in our 20’s, we put ourselves through these terrible trials because we thought we could survive anything,” says Miller. “But over the last few years, it started becoming clear that we’re human.”
Rather than slow things down, the band decided to embrace their mortality as all the more reason to seize the day. Life is short-a lesson that was hammered home on the group’s first day of recording in Nashville, when a series of deadly tornadoes ripped through town-and Twelfth is the sound of Old 97’s recommitting themselves to making the most of every moment they’ve got left. Addictive opener “The Dropouts” sets the stage, taking stock of the band’s journey from its very first days, when they cut their teeth playing the bars of Deep Ellum in exchange for pitchers of beer and pizza. Like much of the record to come, it’s a nostalgic look back on simpler times, but it smartly avoids looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, instead recognizing that change is neither inherently good nor bad, only inevitable.
“There’s a line about sleeping on hardwood floors in that song,” says Miller, “and that’s what we did in the early days. But that image of hardwood floors keeps coming back and building on itself in different songs throughout the album, and over time it begins to mean different things as we grow up and start families and own homes.”
Miller has a knack for capturing those sorts of little details that tell a larger story, for crafting richly cinematic scenes that transform seemingly mundane moments into metaphors for life itself. The driving lead single “Turn Off The TV,” for instance, spins a free cable hookup into a celebration of the visceral pleasures of living in the present, while the larger-than-life “Diamonds On Neptune” turns an astronomical phenomenon into a meditation on what really matters, and the waltzing “Belmont Hotel” finds emotional symbolism in the restoration of a Dallas landmark.
“‘Belmont Hotel’ is a microcosm of the album, and of our band,” says Miller. “When we first started out, the Belmont was in absolute ruins, and we even did a photoshoot in the empty parking lot. Now, though, it’s more beautiful than it was in its glory days, and that got me thinking about the way we approach our relationships. Whether it’s a friendship or a marriage or a band, it’s inevitable that you’re going to go through ups and downs, but if you’re willing to put in the work and stick out the hard times, you can wind up with something that’s better than it ever was before.”
While Miller collaborated with writers like Butch Walker and Nicole Atkins on Graveyard Whistling, he penned everything on Twelfth himself (outside of the Spaghetti Western-esque “Happy Hour” and hypnotic album closer “Why Don’t We Ever Say We’re Sorry,” which were both written and sung by Hammond). It’s a return to form he credits in part to his increasing comfort with sobriety, a comfort that finds him effortlessly running the gamut from playful romance (the dreamy “I Like You Better”) and brash bravado (the blistering “Confessional Boxing”) to supernatural fantasy (the Kinks-ian “This House Got Ghosts”) and old-school twang (the rollicking “Bottle Rocket Baby”). It’s perhaps the jaunty “Absence (What We’ve Got)” that captures this particular moment in Old 97’s history best, though, as Miller marvels at the way things change while staying the same. “The wine turns into whiskey / And the whiskey turns to tears / It’s been this way for years,” he sings, later summing the whole magic act up with a deceptively simple confession: “This is what I do.”
Old 97’s may be human, but somehow what they’ve got never breaks down.
(Toronto, ON – July 16, 2020) – Today, GRAMMY-nominated Black Pumasreleased The Electric Deluxe Sessions (Amazon Original), a new EP that features reimagined versions of their songs “Colors,” “Fire,” and “Know You Better,” along with a cover of the classic Jimmy Webb composition “Wichita Lineman” (originally made famous by Glen Campbell, The Meters, and others). The Electric Deluxe Sessions (Amazon Original) is available to stream and purchase only on Amazon Music. Today at 2PM PT, the band will be live on the Amazon Music Twitch channel to discuss the EP and play a few songs from it.
Listen to Black Pumas’ The Electric Deluxe Sessions (Amazon Original)
only on Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/BlackPumas
“We recorded ‘Colors,’ ‘Fire,’ and ‘Know You Better’ live for this Amazon session, and those are all tunes that from the time we recorded them for the album to what they’ve become live, have just become this whole other thing,” says the band’s guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada. “When we recorded the record [Black Pumas] we’d only been working together for a few months. All the touring we did over the last year, the live show has elevated all the songs arrangement-wise, everyone gets to shine a little bit and we don’t get to put that down too often.”
Watch The EP Trailer With Interview Footage Here: https://youtu.be/M1duPtqR4So
Black Pumas is Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada. The band’s self-titled debut album was produced by Quesada in his Austin home studio, colored by Burton’s dark imagery with haunting songwriting. It is equally indebted to East Coast hip-hop as it is to classic funk and soul, resulting in a project that is of the moment rather than retro. Quesada had been working on a new project inspired by a mix of woozy Ghostface Killah instrumentals, crispy Motown soul, and the introspective grandeur of dusty highway folk-rock, and, after hearing him audition over the phone, Burton slotted in beautifully. Pulling from his myriad background performances – singing in the church, acting in musical theater, and busking at the Santa Monica Pier – Burton injects Quesada’s production with a howling croon and surrealist lyrical bent. Since their debut album’s release last year, Black Pumas performed on CBS Saturday, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. They’ve also played massive sold out tours across the US and Europe.
Amazon Music listeners can find the track on the newly launched T.W.Y.G. (This is What You’ll Get) playlist, which highlights the best new music of the moment. Customers can also simply ask, “Alexa play the Amazon Original by Black Pumas” in the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android and on Alexa-enabled devices. In addition to the new EP, Amazon Music listeners can access hundreds of Amazon Originals featuring both emerging and established artists across numerous genres, available to stream and purchase only on Amazon Music.
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