NS2, CMH, and 105.5 The Bridge present:
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Fri · March 17, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmCharleston Music Hall
$35 - ADV | $40 - DOS
Dinner & Show option available for an additional $32
Call for reservations after purchasing Dinner & Show option
Dinner at Vincent Chicco's - (843) 203-3002
Dinner at Virginia's on King - (843) 735-5800
Tickets can also be purchased at Music Hall Box Office:
37 John Street (843) 853-2252 | Monday - Friday (10 am - 3 pm)
Ticketfly Hotline: (877) 987-6487 | Everyday (10 am - 9 pm)https://www.charlestonmusichall.com/event/1386167/
Produced by Paul Butler and recorded at Nashville's Sound Emporium, the group's sophomore effort features an expanded eight-piece lineup of the widely praised soul-based rock unit. Longtime members Paul Janeway (lead vocals), Jesse Phillips (bass, guitar), Browan Lollar (guitars), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), and Allen Branstetter (trumpet) are joined by Jason Mingledorff (saxophone, clarinet, flute), and Chad Fisher (trombone).
The collection of new original songs is the group's first release on RECORDS, a joint venture of SONGS Publishing, winner of ASCAP's 2016 independent publisher of the year award, and veteran label executive Barry Weiss.
Sea of Noise is a successor to the Broken Bones' 2013 debut album Half the City, which introduced the group's blazing mating of '60s soul fire – daubed with latter-day influences like Sly Stone, David Bowie, and Prince — to Janeway's impassioned singing and writing. The new album witnesses a deepening and broadening of the unit's musical reach and lyrical concerns.
"It felt like it happened organically," Janeway says of the band's development. "With the last record, it was like doing things with your hair on fire – going in, recording it live. There's a sense of urgency to having a record like that. We were only a band for about five months at that point. I didn't know my voice – I'd never done this professionally. I was just learning more nuance, and about carrying a melody. You don't have to go for it 100% all the time. You can draw people in by giving and taking."
Janeway says that he and his close musical associate Phillips began to ponder the direction of the band's second album a year and a half ago. "If we had been forced to go into a studio a year and a half ago, we probably would have done a better version of Half the City," he says. "There would have been nothing wrong with that. But we started evolving, or changing."
Work began in earnest during last year's Coachella festival in California: "We rented a house in San Bernardino Valley National Park. The week in between the two weekends, we really started to hash things out. Then we rented out a very hot warehouse in Birmingham where we could write. And me and Jesse and a few of us would send stuff back and forth via Dropbox. That gave me the ability to work on harmonies on the vocals. I wanted to take it up a notch, in all realms."
Looking to such inspirations as Tom Waits and Nick Cave, Janeway was intent on lifting his game as a songwriter on material for the second album. "I'm married to a woman with a masters in literature, and I can't show her lyrics unless I'm pretty proud of 'em," he says. "I had to sit and think about what I'm saying – what do I want to say, is there anything to say? What's my perspective as this Southern kid who's watching the modern world and feeling very much like an alien in a lot of ways. This is more personal. If you're going to say something, say something, and don't waste your breath unless you feel like you're saying something."
Janeway adds that his reading of the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, played a role in the direction of the work: "I didn't want it to be an overly political record, but I feel it shows up a little bit on the album."
With a full complement of new songs in hand, St. Paul and the Broken Bones entered the studio with Butler, leader of the British band the Bees and producer of Devendra Banhart and Michael Kiwanuka.
"Jesse was listening to one of his records and he said, 'Everything sounds great,'" Janeway recalls. "It sounded like a real record – everything had depth, and was expansive-sounding. Butler ended up being the guy that we wanted to use. Producer-wise, I think we knocked a home run. He is very meticulous."
On Sea of Noise, the band's brawny horn-driven sound is augmented – and displaced — by the use of a string quartet and a vocal choir. The strings – recorded at Memphis' historic Sam Phillips Recording by engineer Jeff Powell – were arranged by Lester Snell, a veteran of Stax Records sessions by Isaac Hayes, Shirley Brown, Albert King, and the Staple Singers, among many others. Janeway says of Snell, "He did all these classic, great records in Memphis – he did the string arrangements on them. The strings, for us, supply a darker tone. Horns sometimes can't portray a certain darkness. We thought that would be the best option, instead of horn lines. We have songs on this record that don't have any horns at all."
Employed on "Crumbling Light Posts," the recurring motif that appears three times on the album, Jason Clark and the Tennessee Mass Choir were recorded in another legendary Memphis facility. "The Stax Museum let us go in there after hours and record the choir," Janeway says, adding with a laugh. "We said, 'Well, hell, we're in Memphis, let's just see if they'll do it.' It was pretty neat, I'm not gonna lie."
He says of the finished work, "Sea of Noise is not quite a full-blown concept record. It is focused in terms of subject matter – finding redemption and salvation and hope. 'Crumbling Light Posts' comes from an old Winston Churchill quote, in which he said England was a crumbling lighthouse in a sea of darkness. I always thought that was a really interesting concept – that we're falling anyway. In this day and age, it is the noise that has defined so many things. We're going to fall to it eventually, but for now we feel like our heads are above water. It felt anthemic."
The album's lyrical and emotional richness is heard loudly in stunning new compositions like "Burning Rome" (which Janeway describes as "a letter to God, if I could write it") and the startling "I'll Be Your Woman," which knocks traditional soul music gender roles on their heads. Janeway says of the latter song, "I wrote that with Jesse, and he said, 'If I can write that song, I can die a happy man, because I've finally made something that I feel can stand up to my standards.'"
St. Paul and the Broken Bones, which toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe behind their debut album, will put their take-no-prisoners live show on the road this fall. Their most recent concert work included arena dates opening for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta and Buffalo. Some acts may have been daunted by such a task, but not this one.
"It was pretty neat, it was pretty crazy," Janeway says. "I love the Rolling Stones, but my train of thought is, you gotta try and blow 'em off the stage. And that's still my goal."
About three seconds into opening track "Baby, You Can't Have Both," with its playful, dancing piano and guitar lines, Los Colognes announce the intention of Dos. Influences ranging from JJ Cale, the live Dead, and Dire Straits are all worn proudly, with its six members, and particularly the core songwriting duo of drummer Aaron "Mort" Mortenson and guitarist/vocalist Jay Rutherford, making jam music for fans of songwriters, classic rock for a younger generation.
Los Colognes dates back some 15 years, to Chicago, where Mortenson, Rutherford, and bassist Gordon Persha began playing both together (and apart) in a series of "church bands, punk bands, high school bands, and any other kind of band," learning the language of playing music with other people from a young age. Mortenson and Rutherford eventually departed from Chicago to Nashville, in search of an atmosphere that supported spontaneous music creation, where oppressive weather and overpopulation wouldn't make it difficult to get musicians in the same room on a regular basis.
"Jay and I decided to make the move to Nashville in 2010 in search of like-minded musicians," Mortenson says. "The fact that we are big JJ Cale fans played into it. We were intrigued by his history here, and Emmylou Harris', and John Prine's. We figured there had to be ghosts still floating around here, their stories, and maybe players from those sessions."
In Nashville, the rest of the band took shape, with keys player Micah Hulscher recruited in a piano boogie bar and Persha moving down from Chicago to join the group. The band's history of playing in rotating bands proved useful as a number of Nashville singer-songwriters needed temporary backing bands for local gigs and tours, making Los Colognes "working musicians," having graced the stage with the likes of Caitlin Rose, Nikki Lane, Kevin Gordon, Johnny Fritz and RayLand Baxter. With Rose, the band spent half of 2014 touring with her as both backing band and support, allowing them to showcase their original material to Rose's dedicated audience.
2013's debut LP, Working Together, saw success on a measured scale. "It was all this random shit that just kept happening," Rutherford jokes. "Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 tweeted out that "Working Together" was his song of the day, which was hilarious, and six of the songs were featured in nationwide Starbucks shops multiple times a day for a year." The band also played ACL and Hangout Fest, opened for The Head and the Heart in Los Angeles and garnered radio attention from Whisperin' Bob Harris at BBC Radio London and Greg Vandy at KEXP Radio in Seattle.
With Dos, the band doesn't shift gears away from the Cale and Prine songwriting they have idolized, but, rather, try to refine their skills, develop their sound, and further incorporate influences that include the live incarnation of the Grateful Dead. "We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel," Mortenson says, "we are just trying to get really good at our version of it."
Still, the album does sound refreshing, and part of that is the retro sound and unabashed display of music that scoffs at ideas of trends or hipness. Instead, Los Colognes make music for the barrooms, for dusty music halls, and for the road. It isn't a coincidence that song titles pull from these concepts, with "Backseat Driver," "Drive Me Mad," and "One Direction" reflective of their greater sound.
Rounded out by second keyboardist Chuck Foster, whom the group describes as an encyclopedia of Southern rock, and Wojtek Krupka on guitar, Dos finds Los Colognes coming full-circle, "skirting the line of what a jam band has been and can be." Whether sentimental on "Hard to Remember" and "One Direction" or mischievous on "Golden Dragon Hut" and "All That You Know," moods on Dos are not fleeting, and strike universal reference points that satisfy on both casual and close listens.
"So many jam bands I encountered in high school were just stoner rock," Rutherford says, "but there weren't any songs there, and the lyrics were garbage. Give me Dylan any day. But now, taking these sort of Cale-like arrangements and opening up the songs live, not playing the same eight songs the same way every night... it is just having fun and not necessarily jamming for the sake of jamming."
By putting songwriting at the forefront of their band, Los Colognes have put this philosophy into practice on Dos, making their upbeat anthem "Take It" almost self-referential when they sing "it takes a time or two… you better take it, before it takes you."
Charleston Music Hall
37 John Street
Charleston, South Carolina, 29403