Lightning 100 brings you our critically acclaimed weekly concert series featuring national, regional and local artists. The show broadcasts live from 3rd & Lindsley on Sundays from 8-10 PM.
A supergroup formed from members of The Wolf Sisters, PRIM! and Catfight in the summer of 2013, this powerhouse of live performance is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The musical influences of the group vary from girl to girl, but the common thread is drum-based rock bands like The Melvins, The Foo Fighters and Torche. Audiences may be curious as they see five girls with X’s over their eyes set up amps and tune guitars, but once the wall of sound washes over them, they forget who they were there to see and are spirited away into the dark and magical world of The Dead Deads.
The Dead Deads live show is high-energy, dark and fun. Pink smoke (when allowed by venue) floats from the stage as metal riffs are blended with doo-wop harmonies and classic pop sensibilities to create a new brand of rock–brutal, silly and sublime. The Dead Deads are for fans of everything from 90’s girl bands like The Breeders to modern metal bands like Mastadon, to alternative rock bands like The Foo Fighters or even Weezer. The Dead Deads bring the rock, in its many forms, and live music fans are jumping on the bandwagon in droves.
In December 2014 they wrapped their first national tour with Halestorm, dramatically growing their fanbase through their wild live show and insidious charm at meet and greets. Their debut full-length record “Rainbeau” produced by Brian Carter at Paradox and mixed by Matt Mahaffey/sElf was recorded live to tape in three days and released in November to rave reviews calling the album, “the weirdest wonderland of accessible punk and rock you’ve heard in awhile,” and “one of the better albums of the year.”
Spring 2015 finds the girls hard at work on a new record, with a scheduled teaser EP release in summer 2015, and the full album slated for the end of 2015. Look for The Dead Deads on the road this summer or on the high seas where they will be ripping alongside their heroes on Motorhead’s Motorboat, and the ShipRocked Cruise in January 2016.
As a founder of alternative country pioneers Uncle Tupelo, as a solo artist, and as the leader of Son Volt, Jay Farrar’s work often seeks out the ghosts of America’s discordant or forgotten past, converses at length with them, and writes songs that stake a claim to a better future. Most recently, Farrar has added One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur (F-Stop/Atlantic), a collaboration project with Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, to his long list of critically acclaimed albums.
For many years, Farrar’s songwriting has been inspired and influenced by Kerouac’s compositional style. He called upon this inspiration when writing the songs for One Fast Move Or I’m Gone by pulling passages directly from the Kerouac’s Big Sur and putting them to music with Gibbard. These songs were then used in the documentary about Kerouac of the same name.
Son Volt’s most recent release, American Central Dust (Rounder), marks the apotheosis of both the Son Volt dynamic and the rigorous aesthetic that distinguishes Farrar’s entire body of work, in which classic and contemporary elements are fashioned into arresting new shapes. In the classic sense, the new album exhilaratingly carries on the tradition of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Little Feat circa Sailin’ Shoes, the Rolling Stones of Exile on Main Street and early R.E.M.
“The approach was to get back to more fundamental themes, both lyrically and musically, to make a more focused record,” Farrar explains. “The Search was more about expanding the scope in terms of song structures and instrumentation. This time around, I was going for a kind of simplicity, even in the structure of the songs. I probably learned that from listening to Tom Waits, where simplicity can be a virtue.”
These songs are the modern-day aural equivalent of the photographs of Walker Evans, Robert Frank and William Eggleston: sharply observed yet compassionate images of the telling details of everyday life during hard times. Several of them play out as psychological travelogues, as Farrar captures moods in motion. “I suppose I gather ideas for my songs while on the road,” he says, “but there’s also always the consciousness there that the songs are gonna be played on the road, so it’s intertwined.”
Indie rock band The Damnwells came together 15 years ago in a downtown New York City storage unit hastily repurposed as a rehearsal room and imploded onstage at what should have been a career pinnacle: a live appearance to promote the release of a documentary about the band and its journey. Now, for the first time since 2006, the founding members have reconvened to release the band’s most definitive album, appropriately titled, The Damnwells.
The Damnwells are Alex Dezen lead vocals, guitar, piano; David Chernis, lead guitar; Ted Hudson bass; and Steven Terry drums/percussion. The band has released five studio albums, been the subject of a documentary, Golden Days, had a top 20 Triple A charting song, and toured relentlessly, sharing stages with The Fray, the Dixie Chicks, Old 97s, Cheap Trick, and Bob Dylan, among others.
At the core of the band is the bond of Alex Dezen and bassist Ted Hudson. The two met at Bard College in 1996 and have remained the band nucleus since its inception. The original lineup also includes drummer Steven Terry, who formerly played with Ryan Adams’ critically acclaimed band Whiskeytown, and seasoned vet lead guitarist David Chernis.
Steven and David left The Damnwells disillusioned with the music industry, and focused their post band life on starting families. Alex and Ted remained musically active, soldiering for two more Damnwells albums with varied accomplished musicians from their inner creative circle. Alex also released a highly personal solo project consisting of four EPs. Most significantly, in his time away from the band being a full-time entity, Alex emerged a formidable professional songwriter, working with such diverse artists as Justin Bieber, The Dixie Chicks, Dave Grohl, Gary Louris of The Jayhawks, Jason Derulo, Christina Perri, Genevieve Schatz of Company of Thieves, and Kelly Clarkson.
The Damnwells official final gig was in Phoenix at the band’s documentary release party. What was supposed to be a celebratory time was anything but—members of the band were weary of the road and the fickle and ever-changing music industry, and tired of each other. A smashed guitar and icy tensions remain stinging memories from that gig.
“That last show felt like we were playing our funeral,” Alex recalls. After that final gig, the band members didn’t speak for years. It was album producer Salim Nourallah (Old 97s) who first suggested the reunion. “When we first played together, I was scared, but when we started going through old songs it was epiphanic,” Alex says.
The resulting self-titled album is the band’s most sharply focused collection of literate, heartfelt, and hook-laden Americana. The lead-off single, “Lost,” is blissful melancholia about trying to find your way in a post breakup landscape. The raucous and rootsy “Kentexas” ponders the mischievous wonders of being aimless after the demise of a relationship. On “Kill Me,” The Damnwells finally document the band’s wry sense of humor with witty pop culture commentary blasted within euphoric power-pop. The 11-song album concludes with the stately folk of the heartbreaking “None Of These Things.”
“Jacknife opened our eyes to different ways of working,” explains bassist Jason Boland. “He gave us a lesson in experimentation. The way he records is amazing. He has everything in the studio turned on, synths all over the place, instruments everywhere. If you want to play something, you pick it up.”
“He asked if we felt out of our comfort zone,” continues drummer Vinny May. “Yes? Then you’re on the right track. We didn’t set out to make any electronic music. We’ve always had synths in the studio; this time, we chose to use them. We put strange sounds in places we weren’t sure would work, then listened back a day later and discovered they were key to the song.”
Back in Britain, as soon as festival season finished, an inspired Kodaline set to work on the album they were itching to make. Electronics played a key part, adding depth, new dimensions and a harder edge to the band’s trademark soaring choruses and widescreen sound.
Coming Up For Air’s sense of adventure stems from its lack of planning. Nothing was set in stone. Every song dictated its own direction. When Play The Game suggested a gospel singer, it got one (Christina Matovu). When the gorgeous, acoustic guitar-backed Better called out for strings, they come courtesy of an orchestra in Prague.
Coming Up For Air may be a sonic step on, but at its core remains Kodaline’s ability to connect instantly with an audience, to share the emotions in their songs and to pull the listener in to their world. It’s a smart, sharp, sophisticated album, by a band only just discovering what they’re capable of.
The third full-length effort from L.A.-based duo HONEYHONEY, 3 is an album born from fascination with the sweet and the sleazy, light and dark, danger and magic. Working with Dave Cobb (the producer behind Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music), lead singer/banjo player/violinist Suzanne Santo and vocalist/guitarist Ben Jaffe twist their gritty, harmony-driven brand of Southern-flavored rock & roll through tales of lost souls, broken boys, girls with gold in their spit. Equal parts inward-looking and endlessly curious, the two songwriters also take a mirror to their own experience in lust and heartache and never shy away from revealing the messy truth. And whether they rattle or soothe or joyfully inspire, HONEYHONEY instill each song with a straight-from-the-gut honesty and elegance of storytelling that make 3 both cathartic and electrifying.
For HONEYHONEY, the balance of sophistication and heart that the duo strikes on3 has much to do with their closeness as songwriting collaborators. “Writing is about trust—trust in yourself and trust in your partner—and with us there’s a level of trust that you can only get from knowing someone for years and years,” says Jaffe. Forming the band in 2006, Santo and Jaffe first crossed paths at a costume party (she was a cheetah, he was Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid), felt an instant creative connection, and soon started making music together. Although Jaffe learned to play violin and drums as a little kid in western Massachusetts and joined a local jazz band in high school, the Ohio-bred Santo initially pursued work in acting and didn’t think of music as a possible path until early adulthood. “I was new to L.A. and I’d just broken up with my first love,” she recalls. “I started writing these awful songs but I just kept going with it, and after a while it hit me that this was what I was supposed to do with my life.” Making their full-length debut with 2008’s First Rodeo, HONEYHONEY saw their sophomore album Billy Jack climb to #15 on Billboard’s Folk Albums chart and soon began earning praise from the likes of The Onion’s A.V. Club and LA Weekly.
Though Santo and Jaffe consider their continued growth as songwriters to be the lifeblood of the band, their live show also makes for a major element of the HONEYHONEY experience. “The reason we write songs is to express something real, and being able to engage with people directly the way we do onstage is a really important part of that,” Jaffe says. Fueled by their easy chemistry and between-song banter, the duo’s stage presence adds a whole new level of spirit and passion to their sound. “If there’s any kind of goal to what we’re doing, it’s to shake things up for the people listening,” says Santo. “Whether they need to dance or get happy or get angry or whatever, we can make that happen for them. We’ll make you cry and then make you laugh in under ten minutes.”
“The Black Lillies are fronted by the best-matched male-female vocal duo since Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris,” says News OK. It sounds like an overstatement – unless you’ve heard the Black Lillies. Then it sounds like a reasonable claim.
The Black Lillies are a band for the ages, not the slick, soulless music that seems to get most of the radio airplay, but rich, rootsy tunes performed with as much heart as technical virtuosity. This commitment to authenticity has earned them accolades from outlets as diverse as Rolling Stone Magazine, who calls them one of “the most buzzworthy new acts in country and Americana,” and the Wall Street Journal, who praised their “rootsy flair … a winsome hybrid traditional enough to appeal to an Opry crowd and expansive enough to ensnare a broader audience.”
Their third and latest album, Runaway Freeway Blues, is a beautiful ode to restless spirits and rambling hearts – rooted in the mud-rutted switchbacks of Appalachia; it is the sound of a band that’s becoming something of a phenomenon across the country. That album conquered the Billboard Top 200 country charts and dominated Americana radio, spending three months in the top 5 on the radio charts and claiming the #18 spot on the Americana Music Association’s Top 100 Albums of 2013 (based on radio airplay). It was selected for dozens of Best of 2013 lists and caught the attention of NPR, CMT, Vanity Fair, American Songwriter, Guitar World, Garden & Gun and more for whatEntertainment Weekly calls “strong roots-folk songwriting, sweet harmonies, and charismatic indie spirit.”
They’ve enthralled audiences at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo and South by Southwest to CMA Fan Fair and Stagecoach, won two Independent Music Awards, and played the Grand Ole Opry more than any other independent band.
The music is breakneck, brazen and beautiful; gentle Laurel Canyon folk, the honky-tonk heartache of classic country, winding jams and flat-out rock’n’roll … but full of the spirit of the open road, heading down the highway and not about to stop anytime soon!
The Sheepdogs built their name on hard work and determination. Having funded their first three albums and early years of touring on their own, this rock and roll band’s momentum began to build exponentially with the release of the 2010 album, Learn & Burn (which is now certified platinum in Canada). The band would go on to win three 2012 JUNO Awards (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy): New Group of the Year, Single of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. With a list of accolades this impressive the band is on the brink of engaging fans on a wider scale.
“The Sheepdogs,” the self-titled album produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and Austin Scaggs released in 2012, introduced the band to the U.S. and beyond. The album earned the band three more JUNO nominations for Best Album, Best Single, and Best Group and was certified gold in Canada in 2013.
Hailing from the small Canadian town of Saskatoon, SK, The Sheepdogs won an international competition in 2011 securing them the cover of Rolling Stone, making the group the first unsigned band to appear on its front page. The win, decided by 1.5 million public votes, also scored them a record deal with Atlantic, which offered up a new EP from the band, Five Easy Pieces, in August 2011.
After the band was introduced to Carney at Petty Fest in New York following the contest, he immediately began offering ideas for The Sheepdogs next album (“He seemed strangely passionate about it,” Currie notes). The hope was that Carney could actually produce the album. In January 2012, Carney invited the band to the studio, where they culled together old material and quickly began laying down new ideas.
Although the band had only spent those two and a half weeks with Carney, Scaggs and studio engineer Roger Moutenot in Nashville’s Haptown Studios, the sessions proved fruitful. From “The Way It Is,” a thumping, blues-tinged track, to rollicking stomper “Feeling Good,” the album embraces a vast range of influences, pulling in various styles and genres to create a collection of raucous, unabashed rock and roll numbers. Both “The Way It Is” and “Feeling Good” took the top slot on Canada’s Overall Rock Chart. A pensive reflection is threaded throughout the album, whether on mid-tempo acoustic track “Laid Back” or on pounding rocker “While We’re Young.”
After touring steadily since 2006 and spending the last year entirely on the road with bands like Kings of Leon, John Fogerty and Robert Randolph & the Family Band, The Sheepdogs hoped to create songs that would lend themselves to their impassioned performances. The band, which has also performed at numerous festivals, including Coachella, Bonnaroo and SXSW, enlisted a keyboard player as the new album features a heavy dose of Hammond organ and Rhodes piano.
In the end it all ties back to the group’s goals, which essentially involve making really good rock songs, and you don’t need a crazy origin story to do that.
Right there, at two minutes and ten seconds into the first song, “Long Way Down.” The part where Gary Nichols sings, “Girl, we both know where your soul is bound.” Only he bleeds it as much as he sings it. He sounds murderous, maniacal. Her soul is bound for nothing skyward, for nothing heavenly. And he’s fine with that.
Richard Bailey’s banjo plays funky, little Kentucky-goes-to-Memphis rolls. Tammy Rogers’ fiddle soars. Brent Truitt’s mandolin chops time, and Mike Fleming’s bass pounds the downbeat. And all that is righteous and right-on. Elevated, even. But Nichols—he lets loose something the opposite of righteousness. It’s a howl, full of hurt and anger and life. Starts on the highest E note that 99.9% of male singers can hit, then ascends into a sweet falsetto, and then opens up like the gates of Hell, into a reeling screech.
Nichols is from Muscle Shoals. He grew up as a guitar slinger and a soul shouter, which should not be any help in fronting one of bluegrass music’s most engaging outfits. But part of the reason the SteelDrivers are such an engaging band is the seemingly incongruous blend of soul and slink, blues and country, mountain coal and red dirt.
“I think that’s what moves people when they come to see us: the realness and rawness and edge,” says Rogers, who formed the SteelDrivers in 2005 with Bailey, Fleming, multi-instrumentalist Mike Henderson, and soulful singer (and now-acclaimed contemporary country artist) Chris Stapleton. That version of the SteelDrivers received three GRAMMY® nominations and won an audience that was surprised and initially saddened by the 2010 and 2011 departures of Stapleton and Henderson. But the entries of Nichols and virtuoso mandolin talent Truitt have created a SteelDrivers band that carries the gutbucket ethic of the original combo, but pleases in different ways.
Truitt’s fluid mandolin added another virtuoso element to a group that is undergirded by Fleming’s upright bass and baritone harmonies. In the studio, the band kept pushing the tempo, perhaps to assuage the sadness and, perhaps, because it’s sometimes easier for master musicians to play with reckless abandon than with somber certainty.
Nichols and Isbell played together as teens when Nichols fronted Gulliver, a band that included bass man Jimbo Hart and drummer Ryan Tillery. When Nichols scored a major label deal with Mercury Records in 2006, he hit the road with Hart and Tillery. When Nichols exited Mercury, Hart and Tillery joined Isbell’s 400 Unit band.
Nichols and the SteelDrivers speak in their own accent, one that charms and sears and beguiles. This is a band like no other, by inclination but not by calculation. Nichols, Rogers, Bailey, Fleming, Truitt … Those of us who have listened all know where their souls are bound. Bound to triumph. Bound to rise. Bound to matter. Bound to resound. Bound to impact. Bound to roar and shimmy, to howl and heal. A damn good band, this one. If you don’t believe it, start around two minutes and ten seconds into “Long Way Down.” That’s the stuff, right there.
The cover of The Wood Brothers’ gorgeous new album, ‘Paradise,’ is adorned with an illustration of a mule staring at a carrot dangling just inches in front of its mouth. The carrot, though, is hanging from a stick affixed to the mule’s own head.
“In some ways, he’s already got it,” explains guitarist Oliver Wood. “And in some ways, he’ll never have it.”
That paradox is at the core of ‘Paradise,’ an album about longing and desire and the ways in which the pursuit of fulfillment can keep it perpetually out of our reach. It’s a beautiful collection, the band’s most sophisticated work to date and also their most rocking, with bassist Chris Wood playing electric on tracks for the first time. Recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye studio in Nashville, ‘Paradise’ captures the latest chapter in the ongoing evolution of a band—and a family—navigating the joy and challenges of a life in music.
Dubbed “masters of soulful folk” by Paste, The Wood Brothers released their debut studio album, ‘Ways Not To Lose,’ on Blue Note in 2006. You’d be forgiven at the time for expecting it to be something of a side project. Chris Wood already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while his brother Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. Almost a decade later and with drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it’s become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act.
‘Paradise’ follows the band’s acclaimed 2013 release ‘The Muse,’ which was recorded almost entirely live around a tree of microphones in Zac Brown’s Southern Ground studio. Hailed previously by the New York Times for their “gripping” vocals and by the LA Times for their “taught musicianship,” the brothers found the live setting to be a remarkable showcase for their live chemistry and charismatic magnetism. But when it came time to record ‘Paradise,’ their fifth studio album, the band knew the music called for a different approach.
“For this album, we wanted to have a more up-close and dry sound,” explains Chris. “I worked on another record at Easy Eye and I just loved the room. Dan’s studio is cool because it’s not old, but it feels that way when you walk into it. It reminds me of Sun Studios. It just has that feeling of a small room with natural compression, and I think you hear that in the sounds on the record.”
The decision to record in Nashville was no coincidence either, as this marks the first album written with the entire band living in Music City.