FAMILY TREE TRACKLISTING
New Kinda Feelin
Carry Me on Down the Road
My Last Breath
Southern Fried Friday Night
Dancin’ in the Rain (featuring Warren Haynes)
You Got the Blues
I Need a Woman
Get Me Over You
Reviewed by Casper of Rohan
Seventeen years together as a group, the four constant and founding members of Black Stone Cherry are poised to release their sixth album, Family Tree through Mascot on April 20th. Lets just pause a moment and reflect on how rare and special this band really is. Seventeen years together, doubtless with all the highs and lows that life places in all our paths, and that road must be many times more difficult with the pressures of performing, recording and time away from loved ones, yet their resilience remains unfaltering to this day.
If you have been fortunate enough to spend some time with the band you will have a limited understanding as to why this may be the case. After many public chats and time spent together in more private encounters, I know John Fred, Jon, Ben and Chris to be humble, well mannered, kind, generous and sincere people of the first order. Maybe it’s their Kentucky upbringing, perhaps the environs of real world life in small town Edmonton or simply that these guys are just genuine rockers doing it all for the love of music and humility is part of their appeal, but which ever is closest to fact, they are the family who plays and stays together. No one could possibly argue that the long days spent in the practice house that graced the cover of their last album Kentucky, listening to their kin in the Kentucky Headhunters, with concert posters form past masters keeping out the cold along the walls and windows, were inducted from birth into the greater rock and roll family.
The music has always carried the hallmarks of truly great, blues infused southern rock but delivered with their own unique style and their many influences have been present every step of the way. The last release from Black Stone Cherry in extended play Black To Blues is testament to how deep the rock and blues heritage runs in their very souls. Now the real truth is that news of any recording from Black Stone Cherry causes cartwheels and back-flips in the hallways of Silver Tiger Media, with hoots of glee, hollers of excitement and the odd “damn y’all” in celebration, so without me over frying the twelve secret spices, it’s time to let this homage to rock forefathers to speak for itself.
John Fred taps the intro and immediately the Black Stone Cherry lads are thrashing us with raw rock and roll with Bad Habit. Keeping to a solid initial tempo and killer groove that has you strutting around proudly declaring that this music is your bad habit but hold on to your truckers hat, because a short bridge from Ben suddenly shifts into a perfect backing accompaniment to a soaring solo and then we are back, breathless and bewildered. Yup, one track in and you can just feel that Black Stone Cherry have managed to produce another killer album, but bigger, louder, harder and, if it was at all possible, better than anything before. You simply must love the personal touch of leaving some studio ‘smack’ in the audio. Superb.
Burnin’ is a beautifully written and executed track in its own right, but there are extra dimensions to enjoy, not least of which is that this amazing track contains seamless style shifts and I count at least six identifiable elements of vintage rock classics brought together as never before. NEVER. The guitar contributions pull emotion from your chest, Jon is magnificent providing the bass rhythm in perfect harmony with the shifting temp and John Fred provides utterly captivating drum work and how the lads reigned him in from taking off on his own will require some discussion. Then there’s Chris vocally entwining the rock heritage into every single note, with reverberating notes and breathtaking emotion. Wow. This is only Track 3, right?
New Kinda Feelin’ is every bit as impressive as the first two offerings but the incorporation of piano sets the bar to a similar height, but in an alternative style. This is indeed an exploration of, and homage to the music that has influenced the band members entire lives and throughout their journey together.
OMG some bongos to usher in Carry Me Own Down The Road brings an interesting mental picture of John Fred and his wicked grin and a WTF even sullies forth, but before long he’s at the kit and killing it. No trash fallin’ down the stairs here. With that to one side, the track itself is astounding in structure, might of sound and overall appeal. The roller-coaster melody takes your breath away and before long you are experiencing riff ridden brilliance but when you have listened through, been astounded and have time to compose yourself, listen again but isolate you ear to just Jon on the bass, then just John Fred the drums, Ben’s guitar lines, then Chris’s guitar work and vocals, and you will have an idea of how each of these rock masters has contributed individually to such an unbelievable sound. Even on its lonesome, a masterpiece. Although that sentence describes the entire album, this song allows us a glimpse into another dimension of the Black Stone Cherry magic.
My Last Breath is introduced with the keyboards and highlights Chris’ magnificent voice alone, but the lyrics, oh my god the lyrics and delivered so powerfully. As the band join in to this gem, dedicate this song to whoever is your everything, bring them close, force the lump in your throat to behave and struggle to sing along without shedding a tear or two. Just fucking amazing. That’s all.
Southern Fried Friday Night will be THE anthem for weeks end anarchy, however you celebrate, but don’t ‘prime the engine’ with too many bourbons or you’ll struggle to scream the chorus without stumbling, staggering and turning it into one long incoherent, dribble spitting blurt of celebration with one fist punching the air aloft. Keep an eye out…you’ll see them soon hahaha. Thank you Black Stone Cherry. Now, PLEASE, PLEASE as you approach 2.06 minutes and are rocking your brains out to this anthem of Friday celebration, southern style, HOLD ON TO SOMETHING SOLID because the solo intro and what follows is going to blast you into the stratosphere. Wow, just wow. A staggeringly sensational mid album rocker.
The count in and cowbell to Dancin’ In The Rain provides you with the reminder that we will soon be able to experience these tracks live and loud, but don’t let the title see you caught off guard with this number. You’ll be seeing no ‘brolly wielding, twinkle toes skipping joyfully though puddles here. This is raw rock and roll performed at its very finest, with structural shifts managed skillfully and breathtaking work from all but solos, riffs and bridges you have not heard since Led Zeppelin. Seriously.
Ain’t Nobody is equally mind blowing as all before and I cant wait to discover who is wailing their way so brilliantly through the backing vocals. Five minutes plus of rock n roll central with every ounce of guitar string used, abused and left busted on the floor. Love the volume reduction ending and the final notes on what is likely the last string to go…ping.
James Brown….Oh hell, yes it is, but I’m going to leave this one to the listener. Hold on to yer hat. You Got the Blues ensures you wont for long, Need A Woman indeed has the ‘the devil peeking through your eyes’ with this magnificent track in celebration of youthful that exuberance and exhilaration we all feel for life. Musically it is killer stuff like all before, but with a style and swagger all its own. There’s a little Creedence in here, a sprinkling of Lynyrd Skynyrd and even some Hendrix manifesting himself in modern musical magnificence, but all BSC in their unique style honouring past masters.
Get Over You is an upbeat downer that will blast you from the blues and have you up, because this track is less a sad tale in first person perspective and more about blues music and its very own journey. At around 2.08 we travel into a very different song entirely and it is my belief that Black Stone Cherry pay homage to the very beginnings of blues music, at a time that most prefer to leave in the quiet, hidden annals of history that we would prefer not to talk about. But as I believe is beautifully demonstrated here, the foundations of blues music had an undeniable and lasting effect on rock throughout its development and remains entwined in the contemporary. If anything at all beautiful could come from such terrible events in history, it is surely the musical influence still alive and well today.
In a sequencing stroke of pure genius the title track is left until very last and it is a soaring, swooping celebration of multigenerational rock music and how it has it has affected the music of our maestros. Very Led Zeppelin in style and sound but listen to the lyrics and let them sweep you away in honour of those whose music have shaped styles, our music, our tastes and our world. An amazing finale.
With every track you can help but wonder how the next possibly get any better…and then it does exactly that. Family Tree is a treasure trove of rock heritage delivered the Black Stone Cherry way, but at their best yet. This astonishing collection redefines exploration of musical influence and entwines decades of rock together into a contemporary salute. This is a benchmark album in anyone’s language and must have pride of place in all collections. In already a year of outstanding music, the likes of which I cannot recall, Black Stone Cherry have set a new standard of brilliance. This collection is utterly astonishing and belongs at the top of your 2018 shopping list for musical magnificence.
You can pre-Order Viva La Rock on itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/family-tree/1341758276
Physical Copies available: https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/black-stone-cherry-family-tree-webstore.html
Family Tree will be released on 20th April via Mascot Label Group’s Mascot Records. Burnin’, the first taste from the new collection of songs is available today, along with the ability to pre-order the release in physical and digital formats here.
Hit below to check out the lyric video for Burnin’.
MORE ABOUT FAMILY TREE
John Fred Young and Casper had a great chat about everything from Kentucky Headhunters, Home Life but more importantly BLACK STONE CHERRY new EP BLACK TO BLUES.
On the heels of their well-received 2016 album ‘Kentucky, US rockers Black Stone Cherry issue their long awaited 6-song EP, Black To Blues – a collection of blues classics and obscurities reimagined with the meaty moxie of classic BSC.
“I know it’s crazy for four rock n’ roll dudes to make a blues EP, but it’s us sharing with everyone the music that’s been our DNA from day one,” vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson says.
‘Black To Blues’ pays homage to the fertile 1960s era of electric blues where the masters pushed boundaries with both experimentation and volume. The EP includes legendary songs made famous by some of the finest names in the history of the blues – Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Albert King.
Before their five critically acclaimed albums, the 12,000-cap arena shows, topping the UK charts, and sharing the stage with superstars like Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Alter Bridge and Shinedown, the guys in the Kentucky-based active rock powerhouse were just teenagers finding their way jamming on the blues.
“A defining moment for me was realizing all the rock n’ roll that I loved came from the blues,” Chris says.
With Mascot Label Group home to some of the finest blues icons of their generation such as Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Walter Trout, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Gales, Jonny Lang, Robben Ford, Bernie Marsden, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Sonny Landreth and more, it seemed the perfect time for Black Stone Cherry to release ‘Black to Blues’.
As a lead vocalist, Chris honed his burly pipes studying the power of the Texas Tornado himself, Freddie King, who they cover on ‘Black to Blues’ and, throughout their career, the group has always sprinkled in a few blues evergreens in their live set.
“The blues is such honest music. When you hear it, it’s like ‘I’m down on my luck, and, damn, that guy gets just how I feel.’” Chris shares. “I hope by sharing this music we have the beautiful opportunity to expose a new generation to the blues.”
The EP was recorded this past spring (US) at David Barrick’s Barrick Recording, the same studio where BSC recorded its recent album ‘Kentucky.’ Self-produced and tracked in two days, the band favoured a raw, in-the-moment production aesthetic to capture the inspired sessions.
Chris adds: “Our approach was to do these songs as if we had written them, with attitude and heavy guitar.”
Black To Blues opens with the Howlin’ Wolf classic ‘Built For Comfort.’ Here, they harness the song’s dark energy with foot-stomping burly riffage, impassioned whiskey and honey vocals, and a peaks and valleys arrangement that features virtuosic bursts of bluesy guitar brilliance, smoky quiet passages, and mountains crashing down climaxes. Throughout the EP, the imaginative arrangements, soulful vocals, and subtle band interplay evoke the halcyon days of heavy blues acts such as Free and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
On ‘Champagne & Reefer’ they mesmerise with deft slide guitar playing and powerful contrasting haunting and hefty dynamics. Other standouts include a raucous take of Muddy Waters version of ’ ‘I Want To Be Loved,’ complete with jaw-dropping blues-rock guitar solos, and a clever rendition of Freddie King’s ‘Palace Of King”, there they “moved one note to make it more dark,” Chris reveals.
The blues is always a sage teacher, and making the ‘Black To Blues’ EP was a transformative experience for Black Stone Cherry.
Chris says: “It was humbling and freeing at the same time. It reignited our passion for this music, and it will definitely have an effect on our next album.”
Black To Blues was released September 29.
Presales available HERE
and through JB HIFI
Thank you for taking the time out to talk with us here at Silver Tiger Media. Only days away and everyone can enjoy the fruits of your labour. We are super excited about the upcoming release of Red Hands Black Deeds. I am sure you can’t wait to get the new music into everyone’s hands?
First off, the table is a challenge: can you in one short paragraph, sum up the history of Shamans Harvest from birth to the current day?
It’s been a long road for the band. High School talent shows to outdoor field parties to regional clubs to national arena stages… We’ve played them all. I guess we’re a 22 year overnight success story haha.
Yeah, I dig it too! It represents all the “scavengers” out there. All those who constantly take and never give anything in return.
Red Hands Black Deeds, intriguing album title. Where did this come from?
It stems from the natural push and pull of good and evil with little to no remorse.
(Side-Note) The opening prelude of the same title, I couldn’t help but have an almost foreboding feeling of doom, kind of imagery was a Game Of Thrones style film with an army of thousands marching out to certain death.
Yeah man, that was what we were trying to capture.
Smokin’ Hands & Broken Guns was such a massive album for you guys, did you feel any pressure going into the making of this one to match or better the result?
Not really. We really just wanted to make a new record, free of expectations. We didn’t want to make SHBG 2.0… so we didn’t.
I won’t ask you to give us a track by track run down, however there are a few stand outs for me on this album.
I was interested and listened a few times to “ The Come Up ”, which touches on a few subjects including social media, and the effects it has on the small frail human brain … I know my own interpretation of this song; however, I am wondering if you could tell us a bit about this track?
The Come Up is a groovin’ track that has a fun vibe. Quite the contrast to the subject matter. Honestly, it represents keeping your head up when in hard times. “Come on you gotta run, don’t you crawl anymore”
The Broken Ones?
The Broken One’s is about the people who are left in the aftermath of tragedy. Picking up the pieces while in turmoil.
My second favourite from the album, Off The Track?
Haha… just a good ole break up song. Knowing it was all your fault.
Lastly, my favourite, Tusk & Bones, an acoustic change to the album.
Tusk & Bone relates to the way mankind has treated mother earth. Musically, we kept it very naked and organic. Lots of earthy tones and heartfelt soul. Lyrically, it takes you through a conversation a little girl is having with her grandfather about the things that no longer exist due to the greed of mankind.
In Blood Trophies and a few other songs on this killer album you use the little known Latin American instrument, Chapchas (Goats Toes), very distinct sound too. Who introduced chapchas to the band initially?
Keith Armstrong, our producer, had all sorts of unique instruments. We’d have an idea for a particular sound, and he’d pull something out of his tool box. It was a lot of fun experimenting and coming up with our own sounds.
Are there any other interesting, weird, instruments we should be keeping an ear out for?
Well, there’s a mountain dulcimer, some sand paper, a rotary phone, and some airplanes flying overhead. and that’s just the tip of the iceberg
You will be touring alongside Nickelback (the band everyone loves to hate) and Cheap Trick (the band everyone loves to love) till October, how has that been? Any crazy stories you can share with us? (fyi Nickelback are very special to STM)
This has been the best tour ever! From the fans to the bands… it just doesn’t get any better.
Other than that… you know what they say about vegas… haha
What I find just fascinating about this album is that it takes the listener through such a wide range of emotions. Too much of today’s music has a theme to it, the emotion is clear throughout. Not with Red Hands Black Deeds… There is such a great variety of emotions that you go through if you listen to it from start to finish the way it was intended. Was your intention to leave your listeners emotionally drained by the end track?
Actually, yes we did. That’s life isn’t it? We have zero interest in making a record with 10 versions of the same song. We appreciate a more artistic approach.
I must admit to listening while working away on my computer and at the final song I was just getting lost in the final moments as the music fades out. Album done, what a killer album, but then BOOM … you guys aren’t done yet, and I was rudely jolted out of my sweet afterglow and wondered what the hell had started playing… HAHAHAHA what is the meaning behind your hidden track?
Haha! It’s a sorbet of sorts. A little something to wake you from the musical trance. Just something to lighten the mood…
Congratulations and thank you again for your time, and hope to see SHAMANS HARVEST on our shores in the near future.
Likewise! It’s in the works and we are looking forward to it!
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