Adam Haworth Stephens – We Live on Cliffs

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Two Gallants is a rocking good time, so what would we see when Adam Haworth Stephens decided to go it alone for his first solo release, We Live on Cliffs.  It’s precisely what you don’t expect, as aside from his distinctive vocals, you find a young man fleshing out his sound, exploring territory that’s familiar to him, though not necessarily associated with his work.

When we first jump into his solo debut, you can immediately see that Stephens wasn’t too sure about how far he wished to take this venture, as opening “Praises In Your Name” definitely has some alignment with the tunes of his main gig.  It has that little bit of twangy swing to it, and you might find it hard to see his disassociate his recognizable vocals from his prior outings.

However, when you encounter the softly picked “Vengeance Come,” you begin to see that he does have the capability of establishing his own sound.  A female vocal accompaniment allows the song to take on a much for folk-rooted sound, coming off in the same genre as other bands like The Cave Singers.  The song has a subtle quality, giving the listener plenty of time to just sit back and absorb the melodies, and the ornate instrumentation.  Similarly, “Heights of Diamond” goes the route of a slow-walking number.  It’s at this point where Adam Haworth Stephens really begins to distance his vocal, using less of that throaty raspiness, giving off a more calming presence.  Using this approach definitely provides a mellower quality to the songs themselves, as Stephens doesn’t sound as urgently rushed as he has at times.

We Live on Cliffs definitely uses musical patterns that continue to build upon each other. “The Cities That You’ve Burned” slowly creeps along, but eventually bouncing drum beats and barroom piano sort of give the track a bit of extra momentum.  You can’t help but get carried away as Stephens’ vocals soar in and out with the rhythm of the song itself.  “Southern Lights” uses that same piano sound, with a little bit of a southern drawl to eek out the emotion, and the chorus will certainly grab you, if you haven’t been hooked by this slow jangle already.

By the time you’ve wrapped up the entire listen, you’ll probably note that there’s nothing wrong with any of the sounds or construction elements.  Given, at times there’s not a lot of differentiation from track to track, but its clear that Adam intended to take on an entirely different approach here, giving himself a warmer, fire-side folk appeal.  While you can knock that like-minded song pattern, you have to admit that as you pour through We Live on Cliffs, every song seems to have its own strength, its own ability to stand on its own merits.  Isn’t that really all you want from a good songwriter?  If we didn’t know Adam Haworth Stephens could write great songs, this album is yet another reminder for us all.


Download: Adam Haworth Stephens – Second Mind  [MP3]

FT5: Guys I’d Go Gay For

We’ve dedicated some time in the past to Hot Ladies of Indie Rock, which, well, is totally acceptable for a heterosexual male.  But, one of my homosexual brethren, Marcus, brought to my attention that I need to give some respect to some of the men of indie rock.  So, in discussion with my lady friend, I decided upon the five guys that I would be willing to go gay for, with, of course, the lady’s permission. It might sound a touch ridiculous, but come on, its a fun subject to discuss, albeit, one that will likely not come to fruition.

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Free Tunes from Museum Mouth

As you’re gearing up for the weekend, it can’t hurt if we offer you up some free tunes now cant it?  Well, lucky for us all, Museum Mouth is offering you their entire discography for the price of, well, nothing.  They’ve got a nice little lo-fi sound, fused with a touch of cutesiness.  I mean that in the most sincere way, honestly. You can get the goodness by going HERE.


Download: Museum Mouth – Board [MP3]

ACL Preview: Lucero

Our artist to watch really shouldn’t really be an artist to watch, rather a must see artist.  Lucero aren’t a new band, in fact, they have six albums to their name, all full of songs we know you’ll enjoy.  They blend a nice bit of country twang with a punk rock ethos, giving them credibility galore in my book.  Singer Ben Nichols has a throaty vocal, often times seeming like he’s struggling to get his voice out, but that’s just the sort of passion he brings to the table.  Their latest album, 1372 Overton Park, featured some new moves, bringing in loads more horns, and you’re sure to get a glimpse of the more than just a four-piece band on stage, as they definitely will be bringing an entourage to bring the house down.  I can see this as one of those shows that unifies the unkempt rockers with the casual ACL festival goers; the band is simply good enough to bring us all together, especially in the live setting.  So, if you like a little bit of punk rock, you have to be there.  Country is your thing? Still, you gotta be there. We’re all going to throw back a few nice beverages, and fall in love with Lucero.


Download: Lucero – Hey Darling Do You Gamble [MP3]

Show Preview: Ty Segall @ the Mohawk (10/1)

Date Friday, October 1st
Location Mohawk – Inside
Doors 1000 pm
Tickets $8 at the Door

In case you haven’t been able to make some of the super-memorable shows this week, a la Pavement or GBV, you have a chance to make up for that by attending Ty Segall on Friday night.  I caught the dude a few months back, and I’m super excited he’s coming back through town.  His new record Melted is a huge progression, and it definitely has me loving his every move.  You’ll want to go check him out, and you’ll also get a chance to see The Golden Boys and Pure Ecstacy in the mix on the evening too. Don’t miss it; you’ll be glad you went.


Download: Ty Segall – Caesar [MP3]

New Music from Club 8

If you weren’t on your game, you might have missed the eclectic pop release from Club 8 titled The People’s Record. It was filled with a glimpse at a band who add various instruments to their recordings, those not typically geared towards your typical bedroom pop group.  Now that you know a bit about the band, take a listen to their new single, which comes out at the end of November on Labrador.  You have to admire the way these two are incorporating tribal and tropicalia rhythms into such a smooth blend of jubilation.


Download: Club 8 – Closer Now [MP3]

New Music from Woozy Viper

I’ve been jamming to this sweet new track from NYC group Woozy Viper.  The band is self-releasing their latest batch of hits, titled Rock n’ Roll, which you can still grab for free from their web site, but we encourage the usual donation.  They’ve got this Cramps feel, but with a little bit less of a horror approach, exchanging it for a nice little modern spin, making it catchy enough for everyone to enjoy.  We dig it, and we hope you do too.


Download: Woozy Viper – Dirty

New Music from Frank Smith

Apparently we’re supposed to inform you that Frank Smith is actually a real band, not just the name of the singer, who is actually Aaron Sinclair.  What’s more important is that you realized that there’s a powerful sound behind the Americana-ish group, with a little bit more melodrama than your usual.  It sort of has the sound of a more fleshed out Clem Snide, but with expressive lyrics.  The group has worked hard on their new album, Nineteen, which you can get your hands on October 16th when the band play their CD release at Mohawk. Enjoy, but remember, its a band, not a man.


Download: Frank Smith – Nineteen [MP3]

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