CODY CANADA and THE DEPARTED w/ AMERICAN AQUARIUM
Cody Canada & The Departed
The studio environment for a working musician is equal parts laboratory, man cave, and holy place. On a steamy day in Austin, Texas at Yellow Dog Studios, there was a reverent hush that made it feel like a sacred service was underway. When the studio door opened, a song tumbled out. "Better get right, before the Lord gets ready," a Gospel-drenched refrain; deliberate and soulful stuff. Through the glass, The Departed was playing live, facing each other in a circle, with Steve Littleton on Hammond B3 in a separate room, and Seth James singing with a world weary voice in the booth.
The guys came back into master control to listen to the track with co-producer Adam Odor. They all were looking down at their respective electronic devices while the music was on. Adam whispered that Cody Canada and The Departed were making a straight up rock record this time around, tapping into the eternal emotions and sonics that have informed the great American musical styles from the start. That album is called Adventūs, the Latin word for arrival.
The Adventūs album is fourteen tracks deep. The band members, Cody Canada, Seth James, Jeremy Plato, Steve Littleton, and new drummer Chris Doege, have never had the luxury before of starting the recording process with so many songs. They have worked collaboratively, bringing thoughts, phrases, verses and riffs together. This project, in fact this band, is a testament to the creative process. It is about playing what you want with whom you want, carving out a road family fueled by mutual appreciation for each other's talent as well as the camaraderie.
Adam Odor put the process in perspective, "The Departed had the last year and a half to lock in, to find out who they are and what they are together. That's the way they did it in the old days, when a band would get signed to a label. The A&R guy (Artist and Repertoire) would let them tour for a year or so, before he took them in the studio to record. That is what is happening with The Departed. These guys are all so good, the musicianship and the songs, and that is a rare thing when you have them both." Cody explained further, "For this album, we were ready to roll. When we started practicing there was the feeling that we are honored to be doing this together. Doing other people's songs for the first album, This Is Indian Land, gave us time to let the new stuff percolate. There are some really intricate songs, and so far, we have only played a couple of them out in public."
Cody Canada was 16 years old when he arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He found a creative nirvana of musicians who planted seeds that would stay with him for the rest of his life. Cody recalls, "I met Tom Skinner, Scott Evans, Bob Childers, Jimmy LaFave, Mike McClure, the Red Dirt Rangers and they were all playing this really, really good music. It was kind of in that same vibe as the Allman Brothers and The Band. But what came out of it was really diverse. There were more country acts like Jason Boland. The All American Rejects were the rock guys. Then you had the whole Red Dirt hippie thingI didn't even know what Red Dirt was until somebody told me. I got turned on to it all and it's stayed with me ever since."
Canada was front man for Cross Canadian Ragweed for fifteen years, where he tapped into those influences for their nine albums, four of which charted on Billboard's Top 10 Country Albums Chart. They sold over a million albums and played to sell-out crowds, bringing the term "Red Dirt" to the nation. When Cross Canadian Ragweed decided to part ways, Cody resurfaced with a mission in mind, to pay homage to the Red Dirt writers and music that were formative. The Departed's first priority was getting into the studio and cutting the Oklahoma tribute album that Cody had wanted to do for years. This is Indian Land came out last year, a 15-track "buffet of really kick-ass Okie songs," Canada noted.
And so a seamless transition was made, Cody Canada and his long time Ragweed band mate, Jeremy Plato on bass and vocals; along with Seth James on guitar and vocals (Seth James Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard), Steve Littleton on B3 organ and keys (Live Oak Decline, Stoney LaRue & the Arsenals, Medicine Show) and Chris Doege on drums (Seth James Band, Nashville touring acts). The band members have known each other for years, and they know each other's musicianship. They are excited to be playing together, stoked about the new beginning that their first studio album of original material provides.
Cody Canada & The Departed continues to hit the road hard. As excited as they are about their gigs, they are taking it all very seriously. Canada continues, "Now it's a new band playing new songs so we've got to learn everything, get our game together and practice. It's a whole lot of fun. I can't sleep at night. It keeps me awake, not from worry but from excitement. We're just ready to tear it up."
Cody Canada, Jeremy Plato, Seth James, Steve Littleton, and Chris Doege embrace the future with Adventūs. The music rocks, shimmers, simmers; amplified by the heat of the Texas sun. Adventūs signals the arrival of The Departed.
Raleigh, NC In the business of music, many are called and many may try, but few cross the threshold of being able to say they are truly committed for the long haul. With the upcoming release of their latest studio album, Burn.Flicker.Die. American Aquarium is proving that they have graduated to that class of professional musicians that have made an undeniable commitment to their music and their fans.
American Aquarium's six years as a band have been a fast-moving blur of rubber on road, touring coast to coast through the states and Europe. Most nights of the year are spent far from their Raleigh homes, squinting out from bright stages at a growing legion of passionate fans who've followed them through the release of six albums that reflect a whirlwind of too many whiskey soaked nights, nameless women in smoky bars and fast living while your youth is in full bloom. But what happens when it all stops feeling good?
Burn.Flicker.Die. is what has emerged from that scenario for this group of hard working players. After two years of writing, they journeyed to the legendary recording hub which gave birth to some of the greatest blues, country and rock records of all time: Muscle Shoals/Sheffield, AL. Recorded in eight days under the precise hand of friend/tour buddy Jason Isbell, the record is an aptly named milestone for the band, and their most painstaking effort to date. As a long-time Southern rock artisan, Isbell provided a weathered know-how in producing the record American Aquarium is proudest of. Described as a "consequence record" by vocalist BJ Barham, the band spent that week pushing out everything that's been haunting them: working for six years, watching buzz bands peak and die, and pining for their own payoff.
"I wish my addictions didn't mean so much/but we all can't be born with that kind of luck," Barham sings on the title track, capturing the fast lifestyle with images of subtle barroom horrors: Finding a high in a dingy bathroom stall, a pretty barfly from somewhere down south you won't see again, free shots you can't say no to. "Casualties" is a soaring, chorus-less ode to death by rock that confronts age and the band's great fear of having made the wrong choice. They've watched artists ride the hype train right off the track. But that can't be American Aquarium they've been laying low too long, finding their way to the most poignant album of their careers through hard touring and waking up to realize that it's not Saturday night anymore.
Some of the record hurts to hear, like the quiet, fine-spun "Harmless Sparks." It sounds like the flicker of a solitary cigarette burning to its filter in the blue-black glow of a bar. Keys plink like shot glasses in the background, and you're the last to go home. American Aquarium has been there before. But the record also looks to the end of a hard road, where there might be validation for good music, and even love. In "Jacksonville," Barham promises someone a call if he "makes it out alive." Taking a cue from Ryan Adams, he draws romance out of shame in "Northern Lights." And in "Saturday Nights" and "Saint Mary's," he makes a subtle mockery of the dives they know too well slick with spilled whiskey and crawling with restless women who all look the same.
Every grizzled image of Burn.Flicker.Die is real, which comes from the band's profound understanding of small southern town debauchery and six years of pushing their careers off the bottom rung. Like many of their musical heroes that have paved the way before them, American Aquarium can wrap the ugliest feelings in the most spirited soundscape. Sonically uplifting instrumentation and vivid, wrenching lyrics illuminate the dark side of hanging out in rock 'n' roll limbo, but also how the band has clawed their way out of it. Through their struggle to sustain their career and resist the temptation of fire, American Aquarium's demons have hung around. But so have they.
The Green Frog (View)
1015 N State St
Bellingham, WA 98225
|Minimum Age: 21|
|Kid Friendly: No|
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|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|