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Friday, December 12, 2018
Friday 1/12/2018 6:00 PM
Oklahoma emo-pop-punk quartet Fossil Youth began in 2011 as the solo acoustic pop project of singer/guitarist Scottie Noonan, influenced by the likes of Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, and Panic at the Disco. It was a low-key concern for a couple of years until he met guitarist Hesston Swenn, bassist Derek Neef, and drummer Zack Jones, and the project expanded into a full band shaped by the others' punk and hardcore influences.
Their hometown, the small city of Enid, had no scene to speak of, so their nearest location to play shows of any size was Oklahoma City, about 100 miles south. Having to drive two hours just to play "local" shows prepared them somewhat for the grim realities of touring, which they would do a lot of in the years to come. In 2014 the band signed with Massachusetts label Take This to Heart and released a split single with Wickerwolves.
In 2015 they released their debut four-song EP, Intertwined with You, and, the following year delivered their debut album, A Glimpse of Self Joy. Noonan's high-concept, introspective lyrics and knack for a catchy tune struck a chord with listeners, and the band started to attract a committed fan base, which they consolidated through relentless touring, playing all over the U.S. Their hard work paid off when, at the end of 2016, they came in at number 16 on Billboard's influential Top New Artists of the Year list. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi (itunes.com)
Friday 1/19/2018 9:00 PM
Blame Aunt Henrietta. When you dig into Lee Brice, with its thick grooves, the squalling guitars, the tumbling drums, sheets of steamy B-3 organ and wide open vocals, the two time CMA/ACM/Grammy Song of the Year nominee takes listeners to church, school, home and out on a Saturday night. For a man known for raucous live shows and contemplative songs, there’s a whole lot of gospel driving his fourth album.
“My Aunt Henrietta had the groove,” he says. “She could play one note, and pierce your heart. She played the piano, and when she played she was black — and I didn’t know it, or think about it. I was so sheltered, I didn’t understand; it was just church music – and it felt good! It coulda been Ray Charles, too, but it was all over her playing.”
It’s all over Brice’s self-titled new record, too, which serves as a homecoming and a homing device on the essence of what’s defined the man whose written hits for Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean and the Eli Young Band, who had their breakout single with “Crazy Girl.” There’s a newfound simplicity to tracks like the real life “Songs In The Kitchen,” the soul searching “What Keeps You Up At Night,” the loving reality check “Boy” and self-recognizing “I Don’t Smoke,” which scrapes Brice’s music to the bone and features guitars by Warren Haynes.
“Songs that are pleasing to the heart, songs where your heart hears it, and you feel something in your heart, they don’t need all that stuff,” Brice explains. “So this album I wanted to be a real organic thing: I play 99% of the lead guitar, my band’s on it – and there’s even a theremin, which I had to learn to play. When I started, I wanted this record to be groovy, stripped down to the message and the feel."
“There are no computer tricks, no artificial sounds. Even when it sounds like a computer, I promise, we figured out a way to make that sound. To me, being real was everything. I wanted to put a little piece of everything about me, everything I am on this record. No two songs are about the same things, but somehow it all hangs together.”
From the rising romance and deep desire of “Eyes Closed” to the mandolin-flecked homage to making your mark where you are “They Won’t Forget About Us,” the Conway Twitty-esque soul slink of the sultry “Rumor” to the sanctified smoke of the Southern boogie and Detroit manufacture witness “Dixie Highway,” Brice stabs veins of country tributaries to craft a roots swelter that speaks to America’s biggest genre from, the outside in.
His recipe is as straightforward as the man himself. Start with the basics: influences.
“My musical upbringing is so different, it’s hard to explain to people… I’ve listened to things most people never heard of, a lot of gospel quartets: Gold City, the Gaither Vocal Band. I had a few cassettes, but most of my other music was what I taped off the radio.
“I fell in love with Willie Nelson’s The Great Divide, and I wore the tape out of Garth’s first record. And there was Aunt Henrietta. She made a record with my Mom, the three Lewis Sisters when they were teenagers; that stayed with her.”
Music it seems is genetically hard-wired into the father of three, the embodiment of that guy in the neighborhood everybody knows and loves. It’s what gives “The Locals” its sense of enjoying the ones who are happy right where they were born and raised – and captures the positive outlook in the face of adversity that tempers those facing life’s greatest challenges on the loping “Have A Good Day.”
That same positivity infuses the Bruce Hornsby-evoking “Story To Tell” with a sense of how powerful every single person’s narrative is. Written with Edwin McCain, who guests on the track, it taps into music’s ability to transform each of us – if we’ll let it.
“My hero came to my garage, and we wrote two songs,” he marvels. “Before I came to town, I knew Edwin McCain and his music; went to his concert every year at the House of Blues. Those records, I knew by heart growing up… and he has a lot of the same Southern influences. He knows those same things that matter to me, they’re in his music.”
Beyond what Brice was raised on, there are all the things he’s learned along the way. Laughing, the great big mountain of a man admits, “I grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, one of the Twenty Most Violent Places in America. It’s this tiny little town, and it’s rough, which makes you real tough. The last thing you have to worry about is showing somebody how tough you are. For us, it’s working hard and doing right. I have rough edges.”
Rough edges, and a vulnerability that never flinches. Brice, after all, is the man who gave the world the wrenching “I Drive Your Truck” and faltering “I Don’t Dance.” Fully capable of delivering on the “Parking Lot Party” and “Drinking Class” end of the spectrum, be careful how you view his brand of good timing.
“I know, I know,” he allows, “onstage you see this big burly guy stomping around, singing his guts out. You don’t get that from the radio, and it doesn’t add up – except it does. The funny thing is the dudes are as into ‘I Don’t Dance’ as the girls are. I think they see me up there and they feel those things, too, but now there’s a guy trying to be a guy who’s being honest about this stuff.”
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