Good Old War
Good Old War "Come Back As Rain" (Sargent House) Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Keith GOODwin Vocals/Guitar/Keyboard
Tim ArnOLD Vocals/drums/Accordion
Dan SchWARtz Vocals/Guitar
Over the past three years, indie-folk trio Good Old War has captivated countless audiences with their acoustic-driven, sing-along-inspiring live performances. Now, with the release of their third full-length record Come Back as Rain (out March 6th, 2012 on Sargent House), the Philadelphia- based band harnesses the high-spirited simplicity that makes their shows so unforgettable. Like Only Way To Be Alone (Good Old War's 2008 debut) and their 2010 self-titled sophomore effort, Come Back as Rain showcases the delicately textured melodies and multipart harmonies that have become the band's signature. Once again revealing their penchant for infectious folk-pop, Good Old War this time sharpens their sound by infusing Come Back as Rain with the same joyful passion they've ceaselessly brought to the stage.
Recorded in spring 2011 at Another Recording Company (the Omaha studio owned by Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes), Come Back as Rain finds the band reuniting with producer Jason Cupp. Despite taking to a far less rustic environment than they did for their last release (an album largely created in a cabin in the Pocono Mountains), Good Old War managed to delve far deeper into the rootsy, organic sound they've carefully cultivated since forming from the ashes of Philadelphia indie-rock act Days Away. "When we play live, it's really natural and energetic and in your face," says guitarist/vocalist Dan Schwartz, who co-founded Good Old War in 2008 with Keith Goodwin (on vocals, guitar, and keys) and Tim Arnold (on drums, keys, accordion, and vocals). "With the new record we've found a way to capture that live feel like never before. So even though this one's got some heavier material, there's still something upbeat and joyous there."
Indeed, a bittersweet spirit instills much of Come Back as Rain, a record whose songs were partly inspired by "that longing for home that happens when you're away all the time," according to Goodwin. It's a rare band that can make a refrain like "I might be present for the end of the world" sound sunny and cheerful (as on the album's closing track), but Good Old War's gently uptempo rhythms and high harmonies have an uncanny way of maintaining a bright and buoyant mood without ever coming off as cloying. From the lead-off single "Calling Me Names" (a lovesick kiss-off laced with intricate guitar hooks) to "Better Weather" (a clap-along-worthy paean to embracing optimism against all odds) to "It Hurts Every Time" (a steel-guitar-kissed footstomper about an endlessly disappearing lover), Good Old War seems sweetly devoted to keeping the faith in the face of heartache. One of the most heart-tuggingly hopeful songs on Come Back as Rain, the epic yet ethereal "Amazing Eyes" blends soaring vocals with gracefully strummed guitars and warm piano chords to stunning effect.
From start to finish, Come Back as Rain bears a rousing intensity that will certainly be familiar to anyone who's witnessed their live show. Thanks to crowd-ruling sets delivered while opening for the likes of Alison Krauss, Dr. Dog, Guster, Brandi Carlile, Joshua Radin, Gomez, and Xavier Rudd, the band garnered a considerable following that helped their second record to debut at #2 on Billboard's New Artist chart (as well as climb to the top slot on Amazon.com and on iTunes' Singer/Songwriter chart). Last spring, Good Old War widened that fan base by giving a much- talked-about performance at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. "We were playing first on Sunday, at about 11 in the morning," Goodwin recalls. "On the way there we were thinking, 'Aww, manI hope people show up.' And then we started playing and we looked out into the crowd, and it's pretty packed and everyone just seemed pumped."
In addition to honing those increasingly famed performance chops, Good Old War continually refines their sound by exploring a dizzying range of music genres. "Tim listens to a ton of electronic music, and Keith is really into composers like Cole Porter," says Schwartz. "I'm more of a classic-rock guy, but we've all got an affinity for bands with a really strong focus on melodies, like the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills and Nash." But despite the diversity of influences on their songwriting, Good Old War purposely kept performances stripped-down and studio-flourish-free on Come Back as Rain. "For us, one of the most important things about the band is we can walk into any room and perform all our songs with only our voices and guitars," says Schwartz. "And even though it's acoustic, it's not your typical folky kind of actwe're here to make people dance and feel good and just have a really fun time."
Good Old War sites:
Artist website: http://goodoldwarband.tumblr.com/
The Belle Brigade
"Surprisingly though, even after learning they will be part of the film, the artists which for the Breaking Dawn soundtrack also include the Belle Brigade, Bruno Mars, Theophilus London, Iron and Wine, and more generally have no idea where their song will be placed..."I have this fantasy that it's gonna be in a very romantic scene," the Belle Brigade's Barbara Gruska says of her band's song "I Didn't Mean It."
"It says something about the stickiness of The Belle Brigade's songs that they can not only endure but prevail during the onslaught of noise at South by Southwest this weekend. They're naturals, basically, with songs that are supernaturally tight and catchy; though not loud, the band's performance at the Chop Shop show generated a half-dozen internal jukebox hits."
The Los Angeles Times
"The brother and sister team from LA, bring beautiful harmonies to their quirky folk rock."
The Belle Brigade sites:
Artist website: http://www.thebellebrigade.com/
Family Of The Year
Most bands function like a family, seeing how touring, writing, and studio time force them to share a lot of small spaces for extended periods of time. But Family of the Year has taken that familial feeling a step further, and not just with its moniker. The members of the Los Angeles outfit have formed unbreakable bonds amongst themselves that come from cohabitating in a run-down house and relying on each other for inspiration and support, which has led to the kind of camaraderie that allows members to finish each other's sentences. It also doesn't hurt that frontman Joe Keefe and drummer Sebastian Keefe are real-life siblings.
Not surprisingly, many of the group's songs feature numerous voices, and more than a few include a chorus of joyous handclaps. Some even sound like they should be sung by the tight-knit group around the campfire while the s'mores are melting and the wine is flowing, especially the ones that name-drop members of the band. Guitarist Jamesy Buckey, in particular, has received the lion's share of shout-outs in FOTY songs, to the point where it's become a Family tradition.
Family of the Year's story began in 2009, when Joe assembled a band around an album, Songbook, that he completed while decompressing from a five-year stint with Unbusted, the alt-rock trio he started in Boston with Sebastian that gained some notoriety for its inclusion on the soundtrack to the Farrelly brothers' film Stuck On You. Instead of relying on the distortion of his past, suddenly pianos, horns, acoustic guitars, and other assorted instrumentation were being used to display a more sophisticatedyet equally as playfulindie-rock sound that brings to mind classic pop bands like The Smiths, The Byrds, Fleetwood Mac, and The Go-Betweens.
To say that Family of the Year has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time would be an understatement. In addition to Songbook, the band has issued a pair of EPs on its own Washashore Records imprint, 2009's Where's The Sun and 2010's Through The Trees, and songs from all three discs have made their way onto various international releases. Media attention has come from various corners of the world, including heavy rotation on French radio as well as glowing reviews from NME, the BBC, and Spin.
Now the group is preparing for its busiest schedule yet, with shows and tours being planned around two new releases: the St. Croix EP, which is coming out on Sept. 27, and the full-length Diversity, which is due in early 2012. In addition to plenty of stateside dates, the Family plans to return overseas, where it has already developed a significant fanbase. In early 2011, the band played sold-out shows in England and across Europe, including a triumphant set at France's largest music festival, Les Vieilles Charrues.
The list of artists that FOTY has played with over the years is notable, including Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes (who took the band on tour early in its career), Mumford & Sons, Gomez, and The Antlers, though arguably the most impressive opening gig so far was when the band warmed up a Ben Folds performance with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Handpicked by Folds and Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, Family of the Year beat out 700 other hopeful artists to open the Oct. 2009 event. Not a bad way to spend your third show ever.
"We went back home to Boston to play at Symphony Hall, which was the sweetest homecoming ever," says Joe. "The show was amazing. Our mom got to stay at a nice hotel and get dressed up and come see us play. Musically we were a bit shaky, it being our third gig, but it was a great room to play in."
Proving its versatility, the Family has made fans of a couple of fellow Massachusetts-bred musicians who, on the surface at least, don't have much in common: singer-songwriter Willy Mason and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Mason contributed to the reggae-tinged "The Princess And The Pea" on Through The Trees, while the demon of screamin' discovered Family of the Year through a mutual connection and compared what he heard to "The Mamas And The Papas on acid." Interestingly enough, the Keefe brothers used to live next to the apartment in Boston that once housed Aerosmith.
"I don't think Steven Tyler is getting a tattoo anytime soon, but he likes our music," says Sebastian. "We had the opportunity to meet him once, and he was really cool."
But a band is only as good as its most recent output, which is why it's fair to say that Family of the Year has positioned itself for greatness. Recorded by what now constitutes the core of FOTYJoe (vocals, guitar), Sebastian (drums, vocals), Buckey (guitar, vocals), and Christina Schroeter (keyboards, vocals)the group completed 14 songs with producer Wally Gagel at his new studio in Hollywood. This is the first time that the band has worked with a producer and gone outside of its own camp to release its music.
With Gagel's assistance, the band has crafted a stirring set of songs teeming with catchy melodies, clever ruminations on love, heartbreak, and staying up late enough to watch the sun rise, and a cosmopolitan flavor enhanced by the fact that the members of Family of the Year hail from all over the globe. After being born in Martha's Vineyard, the Keefe brothers followed their father's bloodline back to Wales during their formative years (during which time Britpop was booming); Buckey is from Jacksonville, Florida, where he familiarized himself with that town's all-ages punk scene; and Schroeter is the lone Southern California native, having grown up in Huntington Beach. Though still only in their 20s, the members of this Family are music veterans, and the precision with which they play is a testament to all of the hard work that got them here.
Gagel is another Boston native, having played with '90s power trio Orbit prior to his current status as half of the hit-making production duo Wax Ltd (he and Xandy Barry have collectively and individually worked with artists like Folk Implosion, Muse, New Order, and The Rolling Stones). Joe had already developed strong ties with Gagel before the band entered the studio.
"Having him be a really close friend instead of a random producer assigned to us was really helpful, because you have to be pushed to edit yourself and be better, be stronger, work harder on things," says Joe. "Working with someone like that who knows exactly what we wanted it to sound like with the same exact vision, it was really kind of a no-brainer."
St. Croix's title track and "Living On Love" perfectly encapsulate what FOTY does best, and the two songs will also appear on next year's full-length. "St. Croix" is a dreamy, jangly tune about "a boy from Florida / took a trip to the Caribbean he came to get over her," and in case you're wondering, yes, it's about Jamesy. "Living On Love" is as spirited as the band members themselves, promoting carpe diem over a bouncy, keyboard-driven rocker that brings to mind Vampire Weekend at its best. As a bonus, the EP features a slow-bumping electro remix of "St. Croix" by Hooray For Earth's Noel Heroux, who over the years has shared various stages with the Keefe brothers. The track is a reminder of their origins, while the EP and LP as a whole are glorious celebrations of just how far they've come.
"It feels like the first time in so many ways, because it's the first time things have really clicked," says Joe.
"We inspire each other," says Sebastian. "It was important for this record to be something that would stand up as one piece, rather than something that sounded like songs strung together. We really wanted to have a record with a clear identity."
And Family of the Year's future is clearly a bright one. Playing every show like it's a special occasional and writing each song with complete conviction has allowed the band to accomplish everything it has set its sights on. As "Living On Love" notes, "they say that you can't get every little thing that you want it's such a lie."
Family Of The Year:
High Noon Saloon (View)
701 E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
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