This Friday we have a show at the Townie, Late. Just as we like it.
In case of armgeddon, head for your local stormcellar.
This Friday we have a show at the Townie, Late. Just as we like it.
In case of armgeddon, head for your local stormcellar.
Apparently my diction is in need of work as I have just read the best Mondegreen ever.
'Pruned the chameleon.'
I love it.
Here's the review from Laundry Day Records
OH a final note - the comment on 'Stopping by' as a descendant of'Faith' by George Michael fails to mention Bo Diddley, who we kind of look to as the source of that beat. Yet - and this is very true - every time I hear that Bo Diddley beat, I DO sing a little George Michael and it makes Mr Wizard craaaaaazy.
Stormcellar is an innovative and original blues & roots band based out of Sydney Australia. Over the last 4 years, they have been touring extensively through the mid west regions of the US and rural Australia. All the while "in search of the shared myth that connects Celtic, Folk, Roots, Blues, Country and Rock.". Defiance is the final chapter of a three part concept album named 'Mid West Triptych'. The album has just gone #1 on the Australian Blues & Roots music chart, marking this Stormcellar's third #1 album.
Defiance was produced in collaboration with Alan Johnson (John Fogerty, Kid Rock & Paul Rodgers), and recorded & mixed in Indianapolis and featuring legendary guests, Larry Crane (John Mellencamp band), Rob Dixon (saxophone player, Ray Charles) and more. Combining influences outside of the standard blues and rock genres, throughout the record you can hear musical styling's of country, alternative folk, indie rock, and even laid back jazz.Already at work on their 10th project Stormcellar have been recording in the dome of Skywatch Observatory in the Dark Skies area of Coonabarabran, New South Wales and are scheduled for their 5th US tour in 2018, where they have gained a cult following. With great songwriting, studio performances, combined with unique collaborations and impressive recording quality; it's easy to see why Defiance has gone straight to the top of the charts.
"Hard Rock" starts off the album with high energy, blue rock n' roll vibes. Lead guitar glides over tight bass and drums grooves. The drums full and powerful, as the rich country style vocals sing the hook "Caught between a hard rock and a good time". Showcasing gang vocals in the chorus, and riveting slide guitar sections. Later in the tune we get to hear a fantastic electric guitar solo with a rich warm tone. "Hard Rock" tells the story of an eager man entering a bar, who notices an elusive woman. The lyrics go on to describe her sultry confidence, and his attempts to make a move.
"Julie" begins with a cool shuffle beat on the bass drum and snare, and mesmerizing delayed chorused guitar. "Hey hey hey, Julie, everytime I touch you it feels like Saturday night", gang vocals come in to sing "hey hey hey". Throughout the song there are little musical gems, like descending harmonics, the impassioned lead guitar solo after the 2nd chorus, and the tight dynamic shifts from the bridge that burst back into the last chorus, fading away with the mesmerizing delayed guitar from the intro. An ode to Julie, the sun, moon, and afternoon of Saturday night. possibly in reference to the elusive woman from the intro tune "Hard Rock"?
"Chase the Dragon", describes the distance a man has gone to pursue his love, from Maine, to San Luis Obispo, chasing the 'dragon', the mysterious connection between two people, the kind that makes you rearrange your entire life. A softer side of Stormcellar, this song starts with steady bass drum, and acoustic guitar. Melodic and introspective lyrics "Gone so far away to feel near you ...you don't know what i would give to be with you tonight". The rest of the band drops in when the chorus starts, deep bass, and charming female vocals sing in harmony. Blues slide guitar bending and tugging at your heart strings.
"Stopping By", an upbeat tune, with a nice throwback feel to the late George Michael's "Faith". Acoustic guitar chords, over a bass drum and snare shuffle feel. Bass sits right in the pocket. "I'm warm in winter, and I'm cool in spring, might have no money but I don't miss a thing". "Stopping By" sings a tale of courtship, making plans, leaning on his lovers door frame, whistling, letting her know he should be her man. Vocals dripping with cowboy "strut, and swagger".
"Heavy Weather" features a memorable saxophone intro, with incredible tone and musicianship that interweaves throughout the song with a equally impressive lead guitar solos that blow all the doors down. The first half of first verse stripped down to the essentials, bass drums, and harmonies, sliding into sweet sax solos, over top darker bluesy riffs. Groovy bass lines come up for air, and bring out the depth to the song. "I got so much lovin', that I got more than you need, I got so much lovin', why won't you believe?". Light and soulful female vocals echoing the end of the chorus singing, "why won't you believe?".
"Feels to Win" comes right out of the gate with a killer unison riff on guitars, bass. "Feels to Win" is lyrically creative and full of imagery. "Every single problem is a solution in reverse, all you need is time to work it out", truer words haven't been spoken. The song describes life's obstacles like swimming against the current, in comparison to the victorious feeling of actually winning against all odds. Soaring guitar solos, shredding on the fret board at times, and sustaining notes that create good tension and bring out emotion. Everyone ending on that unison riff, bringing the song full circle.
"Like a Stone (Jo)" is one of our favorites on 'Defiance" , shining a light on female vocalist "Jo", and adding a beautiful trumpet accompaniment throughout the track. The lyrics of "Like a Stone" are pure poetry in motion, with imagery of the shore, and waves, along with metaphors of the beauty of life and longing. "My soul stands alone like a beacon on a hill shining over endless seas, shining for eternity, waiting in the dark to see another light reflecting me"
"Color My World" has us picturing a packed country bar on a Saturday night, with bottles clinking, lines for the pool tables, young couples spinning out of control on the dance floor. "You made up my mind for me, color my world and then you set me free", vocals shine, reminiscent of the top country male vocalists of today. Tambourine and drums jump and rattle along, with western themed bass lines, electric guitar, and vocal harmonies.
"Go Down Easy" begins with a rolling snare pattern; leaving room for textured bass and guitar parts to flow on top. The sonic landscape creates a unique, yet nostalgic indie rock feel. Rich male and female vocals harmonies climb and fall, as the lyrical verses describe memories as wild fires, and trying to find the answers to why we cling to things that hurt us. Stellar lead guitar solos pop out of the mix, then slide back in right before leading into a slide guitar feature. Continually impressed throughout this album by the variations on tones, and stylistic guitar playing, all of which is tasteful and essential to the Stormcellar sound. "Let me go down easy, let me go down, let me go down free"
"Better Off Without You", takes us on journey of a man's self discovery. The rebuilding of shattered walls of confidence after a failed relationship. "After all the talking" the singer makes up his mind that he's doing just fine on his own. "Maybe I'll go bowling, maybe I'll open up a beer, After all the talkin', maybe I've decided, after all the talkin', baby I've decided I'm better off without you". Lots of dynamic changes in the rhythm section between the verses and chorus, layered with harmonies and melodic guitar parts. Bass guitar, steady and warm, holding all the pieces like glue, helping maintain a strong song foundation.
"Isn’t How I Wanted It", has a great indie, alternative rock groove. The singer describes talking to an old flame. How it's nice to see them, and that they "like what they did with the place"... the garden in the back, pet chameleons long gone. "You seem so familiar, but I can't understand a word you say." People change, and it's something every in life struggles to understand and cope with. "Isn't How I Wanted It" features an intricate bass line, and punchy drum parts, allowing dissonant guitars to ring out and bring attention and tension to the verses. "...But who are these people, and all the ones they have replaced? this isn't how I wanted it".
"Momma Don’t Mind", is your classic blues throwback, shuffle beat, with standout harmonica parts, guitar and bass layering in with exciting licks and rolling parts all culminating as the vocals come in; "Well your momma don't mind, and your daddy don't mind, I don't care what your momma don't allow, kick out the jams..." Sultry, and with a touch of drunken confidence... 'we're gonna do what we want, and don't care what your momma has to say about it' attitude. Some of the best guitar performances on the album.
"Like A Stone (Full Band)" , though we have heard this song earlier on the record, it's no small feat to say it's a pleasure to hear it again in a new light. "My heart is like a stone, washed up on the sand, waiting for discovery, waiting for your hand to uncover me...". A good song can transcend any genre, and "Like A Stone" definitely fits into that category. From a traditional folk song feel, to a reggae pop song. Laid back ocean vibes, upstroke guitar, bass and drums swaying in perfect time. Melodic bluesy guitar lead comes in and sweeps us away into the last chorus, featuring smooth lead vocals, over mellow harmonies, with a sweet last message from Stormcellar.. that "all that's right is beautiful".
Ricks wife Lisa sent me his final poem. We need his conscience more than ever. We miss you Rick.
Jesus at the Greyhound Station
These people need you, all right, if anyone does,
and I picture you among them, outcasts and cripples, the aged and ill.
One of them might ask for a light, offer you a smoke,
like the young skateboard artist, not so young,
with the four-leaf clover tattooed on his right hand,
the old cowboy hippie wearing his dress boots and crushed straw hat,
with a wad of dog-eared papers in his back pocket,
documents important to him if no one else.
As each of these souls matters to someone,
we’d hope, having gone too long turning our eyes from the needy,
chasing the beggars away with a harsh word, gesture,
not wanting to be bothered, with –what?—
more important things to do.
One might come to the station to sit awhile, without going anywhere,
simply sit and ponder, take it all in without thinking a thought
and wonder how someone might claim to love his brother, love anyone,
but our bus arrives and the gritty run-down dream is broken.
October 14, 2017
Nebraska again, near Omaha,
having just returned from here, now en route to California
Thanks to Pete Lowry for spinning some rarities for me this week.
It's a good time to be listening to ideas and influences whist we write new stuff.
Pete played me some of the material from his unreleased archive and some TRIX albums from the 1970's.
Pete's got a major rep thanks to decades of recording and releasing Albums, he saw it as his duty to capture sounds by artists that were off the beaten track. It's been a life's work.
I spent some time reading the liner notes on the albums, thumbing through copies of 'Living Blues' with a '50c' price tag. It's a connection directly back to the masters.
We were fortunate to work with Millage Gilbert in Kansas City, connecting us back to Elmore James. Pete has met and been photographed with both Pink Anderson and Floyd Counsel. Now that's a connection.
Yet, the moving hand moves on. It was good to take a refresher course and be reminded how much Blues mixes with other styles, how much of it was about your own style and finally, how much of the music was about the Dance.
Our 5D project shares some of the elements of field recording so I shared them with Pete, he was kind enough to listen.
Fittingly, the day after, it was Studio time for final mixing on 5D.
Last weekend we held a long band meeting to work through all the things we're up to. Last mix notes for 5D were pretty short.
At the session yesterday, Bill & Mr Wizard turned up at just the right moment to make some additional tweaks.
The final mixes are now circulating among the band and I am not expecting any further tweaks. We're at the point of diminishing returns.
That means we're done, right?
I'm still keen on getting the flamenco stuff into Brave With Your Heart - even worse, I was struck by a desire to hear Marina and her mates do a totally Flamenco cover version, complete with Spanish Lyrics and a reckless disregard for any melody or phrasing from our version.
I'd also be keen on getting a version of Manifesto by Dinesh Moylan down.
The door is open to the ideas and we set a deadline, the end of November. Whatever we get between now and then will be what we go with.
And finally - after quite some nerding about under the hood of my PC, I have managed to get Resolve 14 to a stable state.
Friend of the Band, now turned Bollywood Cinematographer, Mr D, has hipped me to Resolve for a while but I was all 'eh'. I tried it for the last few vids and I've come to like it a lot.
Whilst working through the idea's for the video component, I've tried a few things. I got stuck when running 8 layers of Mr Wizard. That will happen. Thanks to some googling and a few tweaks, I finally got it to run smoothly and started to cut last night.
Getting a second release out this year is on my mind, I'm working on it, it may take longer. We'll see over the next few weeks. The main pieces are straight forward, it's the connecting tissue that is now a question.
Bill & Mr Wizard did some brainstorming with me last night and Mr Wizard calls the 5D concept a 'meditation' and I reckon that's a great way to look at it.
There are a raft of additional jobs that are attendant to getting this finished, might include more video recording, will definitely involve mastering and then after that we have to work out how to release it.
Oh yeah. We also finished the electric version of pirouette, which I plan on releasing as soon as I get final mix approval and mastering.
Sometimes it seems like nothing happens, then it happens all at once.
As Pete said the other day, as he was telling me stories of recording out in the South, 'Stuff Happens when you least expect it'.
Told ya I was doing promo. Here's a review that came in.
Review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com
Roots music is often strictly categorized by genre and the purist fans of each style like it that
way. Those who perform it stay within those pre-drawn lines most of the time as well. Blues
bands don't normally write folk or country songs and Western Swing bands seldom play Celtic
music. This works well enough and makes booking festivals easier but can be restrictive for
those who are into more than one style and who can pick up on the common ground these
styles share. Australian band Stormcellar lives entirely on that bit of real estate and makes
music that crosses lines without apology. Its new album, Defiance , shows a happy disregard for
the limitations of musical Puritans and easily mixes blues, country, folk, and other influences
into a sound focused on brilliant songwriting and playing rather than one that colors inside all
If you only heard the opening track, “Hard Rock,” you might think this is a great-sounding
Stones-influenced blues/rock band and, for that moment, you would be right. The next cut,
however, “Julie,” shifts gears completely and comes across like the best band from late-80s
Austin, TX you were never cool enough to find. These guys clearly have fun mixing up all the
music that turns them on and that sensibility makes Defiance a whole lot more compelling to
listen to than if it was just a dozen songs in the same bag. It seems that a whole lot of people
Down Under feel the same way, as Defiance is the third Stormcellar release to hit #1 on the
Australian Blues & Roots Chart.
Other highlights on this set include the delicate “Like A Stone” and the houserocking “Color My
World” but every song here is worth your time. Stormcellar is a band that has done one of the
hardest tricks of all, that being making simple roots music with individuality and modern appeal.
This isn't a history-lesson outfit obsessed with recreating one particular place and time. It's a
21st Century group that makes new music while standing on old shoulders. Highly
recommended. You should probably stop reading and go buy this record.
There is much to learn from doing 'stuff'. All sorts of things that Philosophers and Clever Thinky Peeples can talk about.
Whilst I can definitely say that all the coursework is here, I wonder if I am learning the lessons.
The best way I can describe this might be to share the current status of things we are doing. There's a bit.
Not in any particular order, here's what's being made down in the stormcellar:
A: Defiance - Promoting in the Age of the Attentions Wars
Just went #1 on the ABARC chart. Promotion in progress. Yes promotion is a thing. Yes we have to do it.
There's a term I have used for a while, I probably saw it online: The Attention Wars.
Humans took a big jump when they stepped online. A Gutenberg Bible level jump.
Our society and Human Hive Mind is yet young online and filled with the schoolyard behaviours of a young mental species.
Clamouring for attention is one of those traits.
SUBSCRIBE!!! LIKE ME!!!! FOLLOW ME!! ALL CAPS!!!
It's exhausting. neh?
As a powerful Elder Geek of the 300BPS, I've been online since naughty pictures were in ASCII. Hail the trailblazer.
I'm not clamouring after anyone's attention.
You, dear reader, are here for a reason: Your own reason.
We're here sounding our Barbarian Yawp across the rooftops (our recently passed mate Rick was a big Walt Whitman fan)...
It's a personal thing.
However, no promo, no sales. Can't like a band if you have never heard it. So? So promo. I'm doing it.
Rather than talk about what we think is the right way, we kind of just do it. If I'm right, I'll write an online course.
Which brings me to..
B: The Mid West Triptych
the final assembly of EFLH, KCG, D (holy crap an album that has a 1 letter acronym?). Do we add unreleased songs?
As a digital online release, there are no rules. I read about a star from the 1990's who's just released 54 tracks on a single release. 54. Far out.
Working out whether to make the MWT the albums as they are, add or remove songs, squeeze it onto 2 discs, only do it as digital, with no limits, put anything you want in there?
yeah. Unanswered questions.
also: booklet? Videos?
C: We The People Videoclip
I've been in pre-pre-prod for months. I've had at least 3 fails so far. Waiting on a friend right now.
D: 5D Project.
Well this one is going pretty well. Why? because I am the only person I have to schedule right now. It's mixing and video editing.
I'm working through the ideas for the project. We may add more footage. Maybe. Probably. Possibly.
The recording of 'Brave with your heart' at the dome is beautifully flawed. I don't know if we'll use it. The studio version is great, but it lacks the 'live' aspect that is part and parcel of 5D.
So I came up with a novel solution.
If Marina dances to it, and i record her flamenco rhythms and add that in as the atmosphere layer track, I have achieved the key conceptual element of the project.
Oh. Have I actually mentioned what that is?
5D is all about the sound of the environment, where we are. We usually work from the Drums up. 5D is guitars outwards.
I'll repost an early video to show what I mean - I've been capturing the guitar with 'Atmosphere' from where they're recorded, then adding instruments in the studio.
Here's Bill doing the first layer of Pirouette. You ought to hear it with the string section, it's quite a joy. Note the sound of the water and the waves.
Each of the tracks in the project has a base track like this one. Except for brave with your heart.
We've started it. Pirouette Electric Version is in final mix. We'll release it as a single because why not. That's what Mr Wizard says.
'Soul Thing' is awaiting Jo Vocals and a harp solo.
'Lay your love' is in mixing. Cool.
The process for SC11 is write-rehearse-record in quick order. Trying to get that scheduled whilst being respectful of everyone's scheduled is my present task.
F: Massive Writing Session
Bill, Mr Wizard and Rosie have all got new songs.
Yeah. But I'm done blogging for now. There's plenty of work if you're up for doing it. Never been a better time to be a #selfpropelledartist.