A sundowner can be a lot of things (a car, drink, plane, type of wind), but in this case the Sundowner I am referring to is an amazing solo project by Chris McCaughan, the guitarist and vocalist of punk act The Lawrence Arms.
We Chase The Waves is Sundowner’s second album and like the first, it is far from punk rock and more of a brush with folk music that brings forth good moods and instant sing alongs. Recently dropping on Asian Man Records, We Chase The Waves might just be the album that gets me through the rest of the summer.
Starting as a side project, McCaughan wrote a few songs in his free time and played intimate shows around the Chicago area taking the moniker Sundowner. With help from fellow band mates and friends the project turned into a band of sorts with Sundowner’s debut being released in the spring of 2007 on Red Scare Records. Just three years later McCaughan and friends decided for a follow-up and recorded We Chase The Wave in their homes, literally, in just eight months.
Passionate and compelling are the two words that describe McCaughan’s wiring styles on the CD. The guy is a natural storyteller and just has a way with words. From the moment “In The Flicker” started off the album I was beyond mesmerized. The song was nothing more than an acoustic jam amongst friends but I was addicted, I wanted more, and before I knew it the ten track album was wrapping up.
Tracks like “As The Crow Flies” impressed the hell out of me even though the song was nothing over the ordinary. The way the song presented itself to the listener, told the story, and ended it on a positive note not only begged for another listen but might have very well inspired a certain someone typing out this review…
“Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” took words from the 1910 poem of the same title by Franklin Pierce Adams telling the tale of the Cubs succeeding over the Giants thanks to a game winning double play (the only way I ever would have known this was by reading the CD insert and Google). As an ode to McCaughan’s beloved Chicago Cubs he did a great job rendition of the classic poem.
“Mouth Of A Tiger” was a stern and ever so low opinionated track with lyrics like “I’m as lucky as a funeral” and “I’m not looking at the glass half full”. I adored the singing style on the song match up with the acoustic and lap steel guitar playing. Full of everyday truth and plain old honest opinions, the song begged to be played on repeat.
We Chase The Waves was an amazing start to finish album with no lulls in between. McCaughan nails it dead on with his catchy melodies and fine storytelling that will grow on you regardless if you are a fan of him, The Lawrence Arms, or not. Don’t look at Sundowner as a side project by a punk rock guy, look at it as a talented musician who has created something that more people need to know about.
Matt Freeman (sporting the hat in the pic to the left) is releasing a full length Devils Brigade album!!!!!! As a long time Rancid/Hellcat fan I am just thrilled to have heard this. The album will drop at the end of August and a tour will follow. With any luck he will be playing a show in Cleveland. One can only hope!
Matt Freeman is without a doubt one of my favorite bassists out there. Having played with Op Ivy as well as Auntie Christ his most known material is of course with Rancid. He and Tim Armstrong have actually been friends since they were little kids so it is no wonder that their musical careers have revolved around one another.
Devils Brigade was just a side project with a song released here and there but until now Matt Freemon never took the time to record his own album. See below on the following Epitaph press release about this exciting news!
RANCID’S MATT FREEMAN GOES UPRIGHT FOR NEW DEVILS BRIGADE ALBUM
Celebrated Bay Area punk legend Matt Freeman of Rancid and Operation Ivy fame will release the long awaited, self-titled debut album for his side project Devils Brigade on August 31 via Hellcat Records. The bass player has assimilated a touring band to join him this fall when they hit the road with labelmates Street Dogs on a US tour.
Devils Brigade was conceived in 2000, when bassist Matt Freeman began writing songs with Tim Armstrong between Rancid tours. This led to a few EPs and some songs on Hellcat’s Give Em The Boot compilation, but the project was put on the back burner when Rancid began touring and recording again. Years went by and after Rancid took a break from touring on the Let The Dominoes Fall record, Matt got the itch to reactivate the project with a new studio album.
“The original concept for this record was going to be a musical,” says Freeman. “Tim had been kicking around an idea of doing a musical about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. He had the title “Half Way To Hell Club.” This was based on the name for the bridge workers who fell off the bridge while it was being built and fell into the safety net that was between them and the ocean. We grew up in the East Bay looking at that bridge and it has always been a part of our lives. Six of those songs ended up on the Devils Brigade record. The other songs were all original Devils Brigade songs from the first demo. We thought they were still good and we should record them again.”
In early 2010, Matt and Tim entered the studio with DJ Bonebrake from the influential punk group X and recorded twelve quick tempered songs featuring Matt’s signature, snarling vocals along with his snap, thumping upright bass, which shine through on roots driven punk tracks like “I’m Moving Through,” “Who’s Gonna Save Your Now” and “My Own Man Now.”
“It was a great vibe in the studio,” Matt adds. “The record has a real live and loose vibe. Loose in a good way. Tim’s guitar style blended really well with DJ and everything clicked very quickly. We had a lot of fun making this record. I am going to take it out on the road whenever I can when Rancid is not doing anything.”
Every once in a while I like to go to a concert to enjoy it and not worry about trying to take a ton of pictures and take notes to try and make a vivid review of my experience. Honestly I do not mind doing it but sometimes it is nice just to sit back and soak in a performance by a great musician. Thanks to my pal Matt from that Addicted To Vinyl website, I got to do just that enjoy an amazing performance by one of my favorite pianists out there, Mr. Bed Folds – and yet I could not help but write a little something about it.
It’s been years since I actually waited in line for a show before the doors opened but only because I needed to try and score a good spot for Matt and special guest. A lot has changed over those years too come to think. Back in the day I used to park blocks away from a venue for free or cheap parking and then wait upwards to an hour just to get a close spot to the stage. These days I am feeling rather pretentious as I hand my keys over to a valet just around the corner and mosey in a venue whenever I feel like it.
I don’t need to be close to the stage anymore. I have been there and still have scars to prove it. I am perfectly contempt hanging in the shadows soaking in a live show. In other words – I am getting older. I am not old yet but you can bet your ass when I am old I will still be going to shows.
Matt Pond opened up the night for the sold out crowd at the House of Blues in Cleveland. I am not sure really how I felt about his performance. He was talented and had a singing style that kept reminding me of The Verve Pipe but it just lacked oomph. With just Matt Pond and a guitarist on stage it didn’t have that energy needed to warm up the crowd enough. Luckily with good conversation and a couple of PBRs the opener thanked the crowd and left the stage.
With just a piano on stage and also a black mat with a couple mics surrounding it, Folds casually walked onto the stage and the place erupted in cheer. The more modern day Elton John, but much more vulgar, took a seat on his stool, greeted the crowd and began playing “Free Coffee” followed by “Annie Waits”, a song I should add was deemed “my jam” my our special guest of the evening.
I was thrilled to hear “All You Can Eat” which might be one of my favorite songs by Folds. As I sang along I just was happy and enjoying myself with good friends and amazing music. Of course that had to be interrupted. Every single time Matt and I hang out something stupid happens. I will explain in a moment.
Not only is Folds an amazing pianist but he is also a story teller and just hilarious to listen to. Throughout the night in between songs I found myself cracking up at his remarks and comments be it him talking about the next song that he would play or just responding to the crowd. It was not just the man on stage those being funny, there were some witty folk in the crowd as well. I still laugh to myself at the fan who loudly and randomly said “Hi Ben” that just about caused Folds to even lose his concentration.
I might as well mention the other kinds of fans that were there…you know those fans. The ones that pay money to see an artist and just talk through the whole set. The ones that scream stupid things at the wrong moment thinking they are funny but results in a pissed off surrounding crowd.
Sadly I had a group of loud mouthed supposed fans behind where I was perched and they just had to lose all control of the volume of their voice and talk about how good their dinner was. I finally could not take it and turned around and asked nicely for them to lower their voices so I could hear Folds play, you know, the guy who the tickets were purchased for. I thought everything was fine and they seemed to agree until a hot head in the gang started yelling at me. I did not take that kindly, exchanged some more words with “F”, “S”, and “A” being the first letters of those words and finally turned around. They kept a respectful level of chit-chat after that. I was so pissed off that I missed out on a couple of songs and apparently during my incident Folds was taking requests from the crowd on what songs to play next.
I was not the only one who had this issue either. From all over the venue you could hear people screaming “shut up” to people who apparently like to spend money to sold out shows just so they could ignore the music and talk loudly.
So by the time I focused on the show Folds was holding a maraca in head and started playing the fake version of “Bitch Went Nutz” using the maraca and his fingers on the microphone to aid in a percussion of sorts. It was awesome and it just got better from there as Folds played a brand new song from his up coming album he has been recording with Nick Hornby. The song was called “Levi Johnston’s Blues” and is was all about Sarah Palin’s daughter’s former fiance. I laughed my ass off during this song and well as nodded my head along with.
Another highlight to the evening for me was when Folds played “Steven’s Last Night In Town” a stagehand ran out with a tom drum so that Folds could play the ending beat. While beating on the tom Folds and stagehand made way to the black mat I spoke of previously and as Folds played the tom the stagehand kept bringing out pieces and parts to the set until it was a full kit and Folds then played a crowd approving drum solo.
Instead of returning to the piano Folds took it upon himself to play “Hiro’s Song” while playing the drums. He also added in a little freestyle song in so that no one would be able to sing along. He then returned to the piano and played “The Luckiest” followed by the always amazing “Rock This Bitch”, which was requested by a fan.
The crowd helped with “Not The Same” adding a chilling harmony at Folds’ request. Leave it to some drunk ass who sung out of key on purpose for a brief moment to piss off, one again, his surrounding neighbors. “Shut the f— up” was screamed at the moron by another fan which apparently got some other drunks excited and they started shouting out stuff. Way to go drunk-tards of Cleveland for adding your spice to an amazing song. Seriously, thanks.
Playing “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” Folds just beat the hell out of his piano as the crowd went nuts. I am always in awe watching him play live, it is something that needs to be seen. Striking the last note of the song Folds took his stool slammed it on the piano and left the stage.
Luckily he returned for an encore as it was apparent the crown was not done just yet. Playing “Rockin’ The Suburbs” the crowd once again erupted in approval and sang along. Ending the near two hour set Folds merged into “Song For The Dumped” and upon finishing it thanked Cleveland and left the stage.
It was a great concert, the kind where you leave satisfied and talk about the show all the way to your car, or to the valet in my case. I was thrilled to hear so many Ben Folds Five songs played as well as hearing some of the other tracks from albums like Rockin’ The Suburbs and Songs For Silverman. I can admit I was not the biggest fan of Way To Normal but regardless I enjoyed the selections he performed from that release as well. Folds was on top of his game as always and put forth a great solo show to all. I can not wait till he comes back next time, hopefully with Nick Hornby…that would be amazing.
Here’s a review of a Ben Folds performance at an over sized venue and free for students resulting in even more annoyance for the true fans.
All U Can Eat
Bitch Went Nutz (Fake Version)
Levi Johnston’s Blues (new track featuring lyrics by Nick Hornsby)
You Don’t Know Me
Still Fighting It
Zak and Sara
Steven’s Last Night in Town (Ben Folds Five Cover)
Rock This Bitch
Emaline (Ben Folds Five cover)
Army (Ben Folds Five cover)
Not the Same
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (Ben Folds Five cover)
Rockin’ the Suburbs
Song for the Dumped (Ben Folds Five cover)
Today started out like any other day – I woke up. I barely opened my eyes and absorbed the NPR that cancelled out the strange dream I was having and just zoned out until I got the guts to face this Friday.
Today is different than most days. I have been thinking about going back to college. It has only been 12 years or so since I last took classes and the time has come to finish up. I made some poor choices in life when I was younger and never finished school like most right minded poeple do. I was thinking of going to Kent State and majoring in Being Awesome. What to do what to do…
In other news Ben Folds is playing the House Of Blues in Cleveland on April 15th. Advance tickets are $35 and went on sale this morning.
I actually had an extra $40 to spend today. I was either going to use it on my application fee or use it to see Ben Folds make love to his piano.
Any normal person would not think twice about what is right but I for a moment there thought about delaying the admission process…
Let’s see, education and further my life or see one hell of a show? An education lasts a lifetime and I am sure Ben Folds will come by again right? Still sucks I could not do both.
I did the right thing and applied over the internets to KSU and dropped $40 on an application fee. I was highly bummed out about this because some of me fought to use that money to get a Ben Folds ticket. I better get accepted dammit.
After hitting the “submit” button cancelling out any hope of seeing Ben Folds I get an email:
You and I are going to Ben Folds. I just bought a pair of tickets. All you have to do is beat up Rad-am for me.
Seems fair. I have great friends. I will assault one friend to appease the other and in return will get to see Ben Folds after all. Today is a good day. Mr. Addicted To Vinyl made my day.
I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am about this post. I had the pleasure today to interview Frank Turner through email and could not be happier. If anyone knows me, Frank Turner is a big deal to me. I have to admit my appreciation for me grew to unmeasurable amounts after I heard his latest release Poetry Of The Deed.
I confess, the name Frank Turner was not fresh in my mind beforehand when I heard that album. I continually smack myself in the head still as I could not put two and two together when listening to it at the time and realizing he was the guy in the UK post-hardcore, now defunct, act Million Dead. I knew of Frank Turner but prior to his last release was not aware of his solo material.
Some music fan I am right? Regardless I am a huge fan of Frank Turner so it only made sense for me to try and set up an interview with him. It was easier for us both just to do it over the email and I must say no one has ever replied faster than him.
Such a proud moment for me here. Let me take a moment and soak in all that is awesome for what I am about to share…
Ok I am better.
BHP – Before I even begin, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. I know you have been a busy man for quite some time touring and all. How long have you actually been on tour now?
FT – Actually I just took 3 weeks off, which is the longest time I’ve gone without playing a show for about 6 years now. I did my first tour when I was 16, and have been pretty much constantly on the road since 2004. It’s great. Answering questions is no bother.
Were you been able to take any breaks prior?
I get little breaks here and there, and like I say I’ve just had quite a bit of time off (by my standards). I get very claustrophobic if I stay in the same place for more than a few days, I think I’ve rewired my brain now, haha. So when I’m not touring or in the studio, I generally find excuses to get on a train or a plane and go visit some friends or something.
I along with many of your other fans have been able to keep tabs on you thanks to your Facebook/Twitter posts. How important is it to be more personal to the fans?
What I like about stuff like Facebook and Twitter is that it pulls aside the curtain on rock’n’roll. I was never that taken with the whole business of mythologizing what it means to be a musician. I like to let people know what the realities of life on the road are like, and to point out that I’m no different from anyone who listens to my music. That’s the strength of the whole web 2.0 thing.
How stressful does it get traveling overseas from the US to the UK and beyond on any given date?
I don’t find it particularly stressful at all – in fact I find it quite liberating, and I find being in the same place quite stressful. I mean, transatlantic flights are always going to be a drag, but it’s a small price to pay. Whenever I get to go to new places I haven’t been to before solely on the basis that I play guitar, I think it’s absolutely wonderful, if a little insane. I pinch myself occasionally.
Seems like 2009 was your year to get noticed thanks to the release of Poetry Of The Deed. How does it feel to have a growing fan base?
It feels great. Without wanting to sound defensive, I’ve worked really hard in the last few years at what I do, to make the best albums and to play as many shows as I can. It’s a great feeling to see hard work pay off, and to see some of the dreams I’ve had since I was a kid start to come true. It’s as awesome as you’d imagine it to be. I’m very privileged to be in these shoes right now.
What prompted you to go into a more so acoustic solo career once Million Dead disbanded or was that something in the works prior to the band’s ending?
I think that when that band ended, in a lot of stress and recrimination and so on, I was just done with hardcore as a sound. I felt like I’d poured everything into that band, and when it didn’t work, I needed to do something different. I’d started listening to folk, country and so on quite extensively in the last few years of the band’s existence, and when it ended, well, it seemed like a good way to go. It also meant I could stay on tour without having to put a band together, without having to rely on other people, something I was very wary to do at the time.
So have you spoken to any of the members? Or were the differences that led to the band’s departure more personal and evident of a reunion never to happen?
We’re all on at least reasonable terms now. The drummer and I are firm friends. It’s all water under the bridge now – that was a very intense band to be in, but now that we’re all clear and the dust has settled, it doesn’t matter as much. There won’t be a reunion though, I’ll say that for sure. I’m just not interested in looking back like that.
Who are your musical influences these days?
These days I tend to bore into a handful of bands at a time, get really obsessed with them, and they influence my thinking about music.
Springsteen has been an overshadowing presence in my music for the last few years, but more recently I’m super-into Loudon Wainwright III. He’s fucking amazing.
What bands have you been listening to as of late?
Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young again because I’m reading a book about him. Beyond that, I’ve finally got into the latest Weakerthans album (which I’m fast starting to think is their best). Also Crazy Arm, who are coming on tour with me in Europe in March and April, and Ben Marwood, a friend of mine who puts me to shame with his excellence in songwriting.
I heard that Flogging Molly recently asked you to join them on tour. What was your initial reaction when they asked you?
I thought it was great, very flattering. And then I found out how popular they are in the States, and I was blown away. The shows we’re doing are biiiig.
Anyone else you would like to mention that you are touring with in 2010?
I’m happy that I’m going to be returning a favour in March – Chuck Ragan has taken me out in the USA and been a great friend and inspiration to me in recent years, and now he’s coming out on my next UK tour, which is a big one – 3000 people a show or so – so it feels good to be paying that one back. I’m also excited about Revival Australia – I’ve never been there before, and I get to play more shows with Tim Barry, someone I can’t get enough of right now.
Are you still going to play house shows here and there now that you are making it into the spotlight? I have a place in Cleveland you can play if you ever want to…
Sure, here and there. If you can put up 6 people (me, band and crew) after the Flogging Molly show in Cleveland, I’ll play a set there as well. Deal?
Sweet! So you still do house shows?
I still do a fair few of them – I’m playing a house show in Toronto tonight actually. It’s something that’s easy to put together, so it’s always an option.
Obviously there is more to Frank Turner than just yourself. Can you tell me about the backing band that helps you out on the album and tours?
My band [members] are amazing, and I’m really excited about them coming to the USA for the first time next month with Flogging Molly. It took me a while to get the line-up right, I wanted the best, and also a set of people who would gel together well as musicians. We finally got the chemistry right at the end of 2008, and we haven’t looked back. They’re all amazing musicians, much better than me, and they’re great at helping me get ideas out of my head. Plus they’re cool guys.
Any reason there is no actual band name like “The Frank Turner Band” or “Frank Turner and the…whatevers”?
You know, we’ve spent a long time talking about this, I really want a name for them – I don’t want them to be faceless sessionistas or whatever, they’re a band, you know? But we’ve struggled to find something everyone agrees on. The Contraband has been doing the rounds recently, and the 161 Band (a reference to where we used to rehearse and where I recorded my first album) but we’re still tussling over it. Some day.
The video for “The Road” to me was an amazing concept. 24 shows in 24 hours? How difficult was that to shoot?
Logistically it wasn’t so bad, we had a schedule and we stuck to it.
Physically it was a little more challenging. We did 8pm-8pm, and by time we hit around midday, everyone was fucking drained and unhappy, haha. It was pretty miserable for a few hours there. But we burned on through, and we made it to the end. It was a good experience.
Any plans for another music video off your latest release?
We did a tour video for the song “Poetry Of The Deed”, which you can find on YouTube. Then I think I’m making a video for the song “Isabel” when I’m in Los Angeles next week.
Last year you appeared in an alternative 90’s compilation and covered UK’s Kerbdog. Why Kerbdog? “Sally” is a great choice as a cover for a band that never really made it in the states.
I love Kerbdog, they were such an awesome band. I was actually asked to record a song for a Kerbdog tribute album, which I did, and then we decided to use it for the 90s thing as well. Great song, and apparently Cormac thought I did a good job too, which is cool.
You also covered a Bruce Springsteen song at one time. Have you heard any feedback from The Boss himself about your version of “Thunder Road”?
Not directly, though I know Brian Fallon [of the Gaslight Anthem] put a copy of the 7 inch into the Boss’s hands, so he has to be aware of its existence, haha. I’d be very excited to meet Springsteen, he’s a real hero for me.
Speaking of The Boss you are headlining a show at Asbury, NJ on Feb. 24th. Can we expect to hear about any special guests?
I wish, haha. We shall see.
How does it feel to be a part of the Epitaph family?
Great. It’s a label that I grew up with and that has an amazing roster now, so it’s a cool association. And now I’d count a lot of the people I work with as close friends. They’re very effective at promotion and so on.
So yeah, I’m very happy about it, all in all.
Can you tell me about a certain tattoo you got in Texas while at SXSW?
Haha, uhm, well… I’d been there for a few days and had some great shows, basically sealed the deal with Epitaph, had a lot of old friends around, that kind of thing, so I was in a good mood. I had one day where I had no shows to play so I got wicked drunk with the guys from Fake Problems, we went to see Van Pelt do a one-off reunion show, which was pretty emotional for me. Anyways, after about 14 hours on the booze I ended up in a tattoo parlour with Casey Lee, and we both got Texas tattoos. Seemed like a good idea at the time.. I was a little dismayed at first but I quite like it now. It has a good story with it.
Any regrets in life?
I do my best not to. I’m still sad that Million Dead never quite achieved what I thought we were capable of. Beyond that, not really.
What’s next for Frank Turner?
I’m on tour most of this year, it looks like, all over the world, which is great. I have a rough ambition to get another album recorded before the end of the year, so we can get it out in early 2011. We’ll see. The songs are coming together, it’s more a question of finding the time to record it properly. I also want to do an album of traditional English songs sometime. Keep myself busy.
Why should someone check out Frank Turner?
That’s not for me to say, really. Why not?
Catch Frank Turner playing with Flogging Molly on the Green 17 Tour on March 5th, 2010 at the House Of Blues on Euclid Ave. Rumor has it the show is sold out but if you look hard enough online you might be able to find a ticket for a decent price. I will be there.
I also should mention that Frank Turner is serious about the house show and I am going to be working my magic trying to find a suitable place for him and his crew to play a set as well as crash for the night. If any of you readers in the Cleveland area know of an appropriate spot where Frank Turner can play a house show please email me at email@example.com. I have a few places in mind but am open to suggestions. Keep in mind the set he plans on playing would be after the Flogging Molly show. If this falls into place I will also be looking into filming it for the site.
Keep your fingers crossed!!!
If you do not own Poetry Of The Deed yet you really need to have it in your collection. CLICK HERE to order it (or the album cover below) and if you are wondering why you should own it CLICK HERE to read the review I did of it last year.
Then again you can just watch the following too…
Stay tuned for possible house party featuring Frank Turner!
Oh and if you have never heard of Kerbdog and were wondering what they were all about…