We have a top premiere today from Austin, TX psych-country/Americana band The Lonesome Heroes with their newest single Future Ghost Town taken from their forthcoming sophomore full-length Can’t Stand Still.
The band underwent major changes in 2014 when they reformed from dobro/acoustic guitar duo to a an expanded 4-piece incorporating electric guitar, bass and drums. Needless to say, those changes transform their sound as you can hear on Future Ghost Town. Pedal steel, vibraphone, horns and organ also feature on the album, a sure sign that a new musical chemistry is at play. It all makes for a compelling listen that left me wanting more, but fear not, Can’t Stand Still is set for release on CD and digital formats on January 27th, with a vinyl release on Whatbang Records scheduled for February 27th.
The transformation from duo to 4-piece band is an interesting one considering the publicity they received as a duo with the Austin Chronicle referring to them as “an institution of Austin’s psych-country scene”, plenty of rave reviews backed this sentiment.
Talking about the new album, frontman and mainstay of The Lonesome Heroes Rich Russell states “Can’t Stand Still is my reconciliation with the road and my response to the end of 7 years on the road with Landry McMeans”.
Russell and McMeans split up, McMeans kept the 1967 Shasta trailer that the pair had traveled in while devoting themselves to the western American roving tour that Denver Thread called their “1,974-mile-long art project,” and Russell kept the van, picking up a dynamic new group of musicians along the way. “I originally formed The Lonesome Heroes as a full band before I met Landry, but we preferred touring as a duo with her dobro and voice filling out our sound so well,” Russell explains. “After our split, I borrowed a great rhythm section from my friends’ band Fire in the Pines in San Marcos, TX, and the musical chemistry and new energy was instant. We rehearsed and learned the new songs in the spring of 2013 and played about 50 road shows that summer as the band that would record Can’t Stand Still.”
Reformed as a 4-piece in 2014 the band now makes its way across the country in a pop-up camper pulled behind a van. “We upgraded the number of members and downgraded the accommodations,” laughs Russell. “Now that we’re four smelly dudes hunkered down in a pop up camper, it’s less the romantic road trip of the past and more of a wild party on wheels.”
Rich Russell grew up in New York City, packing into small clubs to see bands like Sebadoh, Luna, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth. “However,” says Russell, “I was always drawn to things that had some sort of country influence like Beck’s One Foot in the Grave, or the Silver Jews, long before I knew about country music.” He began digging into classic country, and it all began to make sense when he moved to Austin and felt completely at home in the city full of musicians drawing from those rich musical traditions. Russell spent his first year in Texas living in an abandoned nursing home that became The Austin Music Co-op. Naming themselves after Leonard Cohen’s “A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” and playing out in a 1978 VW van, the band toured through 28 states, earned a sponsorship with QSC audio and a song placement on ABC’s Nashville, packed residencies at Austin’s The Hole in the Wall, Luckenbach and Spiderhouse Ballroom, won a 2012 Independent Music Awards VOX POP Award and played SXSW 2013. After their split following SXSW, Russell finally sat down for a couple of months in Austin and, for the first time since hitting the road years before, devoted all of his energy to songwriting.
Can’t Stand Still is the result. The road continues and Russell intends to be on it. Russell has reconciled with the road – he can’t stay away, and his re-formed and expanded Lonesome Heroes travel the same roads. “I don’t think of it as a breakup record,” he says. “It’s more of a musical map of the emotions and places I traveled through the last few years. None of the songs are overtly sad or desperate. They are more bittersweet than anything. I prefer to see it as a nostalgic reminiscence of that time period, and a look forward toward a continuation of the roving lifestyle that I love.”
Can’t Stand Still is set for release on CD and digital formats on January 27th, with a vinyl release on Whatbang Records scheduled for February 27th.
Photo Credit: Christopher Paul Cardoza