At times you want to catch a live act that warms the heart, stokes the fires of recognition, and wraps you up as much in good old-fashioned storytelling as it gets your feet moving. There is nothing quite like hearing a song and knowing that the artist has maybe been in the same places you’ve been or has managed to capture something you have felt yourself but have never managed to put into words. Imagine that experience presented within a tune that seems like a familiar experience even as you hear it for the first time. And imagine if you can when the experience is coming to you from a grinning and gruff-looking bunch of ne’er-do-wells!
It’s hard to believe the area’s finest Outlaw Americana band 4 Gun Ridge is already on its third album. That is what happens when you keep plugging away. Fans of Supersuckers, Drive By Truckers, Lucero, Steve Earle and the like will enjoy Weathered Hearts, the honest-to-goodness great new 4GR album recorded by producer John Naclerio (Nightmares For A Week, Polar Bear Club). You can check out the collection of new barnshakers and heartbreakers at www.cdbaby.com/cd/4gunridge3. You can catch the band with Sissy Brown in late April at local burger hotspot The Anchor.
“Weathered Hearts is very representative of where 4GR is now and where we’ve been for the past few years,” explains founding member Ian Fuller. “It’s been about four years between records. In that time we did a stretch of playing without a drummer. That time made us tighter as a band both musically and personally. No drums means you must rely on each other a bit more for cues and such. No drummer also meant we had to be determined to keep going. Despite the country and Americana feel we can’t hide that 4GR is a rock band.
“That said, playing without a drummer led to the writing, changing and finishing of some of my favorite songs. More laid back, mellow even. These songs really came to life when Ed Young joined the band on drums. He’s an old friend who makes the band feel complete. Don [Parker] and Duke [LeBlanc] played with Ed on the past, and his addition has truly tied things together.”
The band had been sitting on most of the songs for so long, between playing shows at places like Warwick Winery and around Newburgh and New Paltz, that they were more than ready to record.
“I know it’s the norm to call the new record the best yet, but for 4GR it’s true this time,” Fuller says.
For starters, it’s the first record with the new guy Ed on drums, which was very cool for everyone.
“Ed and Duke set up in one room, I was playing guitar in the control room with my amp in a booth, and Don played acoustic and did vox from the vocal booth,” Fuller recounts. “We played live like that and kept the bulk of the tracks. John [Naclerio’s] new studio is amazing, and he’s such a pro that we all were comfortable. I can be a twitchy mess at times, but John knows how to get the best out of us.”
Fuller met John when he did some guest guitar tracks for the band Red Neckromancer’s rowdy record.
“I loved working with him, so I mentioned it to the other 4GR guys,” Fuller says. “They all knew him from back in the punk-rock days. Our old bands did shows together. Everyone knew him as a great guy, so it seemed like an easy fit. Funny enough, John can come across laid-back and easygoing, but he doesn’t let you slack. You’ll be comfortable, but you’ll get your tracks done and they’ll be great . He won’t let you off easy or lazy.”
On March 31 Laura Stevenson returns to BSP, always a great room for the power pop standout Don-Giovanni artist and her band. A $12 adv / $15 door price is very reasonable, as it also includes the always excellent unabashed brotherly punk-rock love of Nightmares For A Week and up-and-comers Guilt Mountain (which we all have climbed at some point in our lives, right?). Stevenson continues to tour in support of 2015’s locally written effort Cocksure. It also bears mentioning that on December 7 Stevenson released her first live album, recorded at Vera Club and released via Quote Unquote Records, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to Planned Parenthood.
I just want to add that March is gonna be a great month for quality rock releases, from Sophie Day-fronted melodic UK doom band Alunah’s somber and excellent new album Solennial on Svart records (which includes a doom cover of The Cure’s “A Forest” that is top-notch) to Ipecac Records putting out a new live Isis album Live VII with some awesome versions of some of their Wavering Radiant-era stuff and classic song “Celestial”, among other numbers.
What are you folks excited about musically, whether on a local or national level? I always love hearing your thoughts and sharing selections with readers.
Until next week, hope you are all doing well out there. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.