Sarah Shook And The Disarmers
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers is an old school outlaw country/Americana band with punk tendencies. Inspired by artists such as the Sex Pistols, Elliott Smith and Hank Williams, Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track,
coloring the tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep.
Her second album 'Years' will release on April 6th, 2018. At its pounding heart, 'Years' crackles with a pointedly contemporary and relevant take on the outlaw spirit. Built around the buoyant pedal steel of Phil Sullivan, and the post-punk rattle and Live at San Quentin hum of Eric Peterson’s guitar, there are echoes of Nikki Lane and Merle Haggard as much as Ty Segall. It's home is the ragged-but-real honky tonk, not the bro-country “honky tonk.” It’s easy to hear Sarah as a close cousin to artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff and Margo Price on the title track, or in the country-‘60s mod vibe on “Lesson.”
Elijah Ocean & The Countrysiders
Elijah Ocean is an American singer-songwriter making modern folk and country music rooted in the styles of artists like Neil Young, Gram Parsons and The Band.
Ocean was born in a small house in the Hudson Valley. He grew up listening to records by The Beatles, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson in the woods of midcoast Maine. As a teenager Ocean was gifted an acoustic guitar and, inspired by the songs of Bob Dylan, began writing songs in his family's barn.
Ocean's career as a solo artist began in 2009 with the release of his folky debut, The Wind or the Wine, which coincided with a move from Maine to New York City. It was there he honed his voice and vision, establishing himself as a unique and authentic musical talent with the release of Tumble & Fall in 2012. A steady regimen of national touring followed, with Ocean recording two sessions for Daytrotter and playing to packed houses from Mercury Lounge in New York to Hotel Cafe in LA.
The opportunity to record this new group of songs at Waterfront Studios for follow-up album Bring It All In was a dream come true for the blossoming singer. Built by producer Henry Hirsch (Lenny Kravitz, Mick Jagger) inside a nineteenth-century church in Hudson, the analog studio provided the perfect space for Ocean's thoughtful songs to come to life. The album was released in Oct 2014 as Ocean once again made a simultaneous move, this time to Los Angeles.
"That's what this song does; whoever you are (providing you have a soul) it touches you. The melody is simple enough, gently building throughout with the message of just getting through it, which is fairly universal. It actually becomes quite inspirational by the end with its catchy chorus infecting your brain. Life can sometimes feel like it's on a continual loop of making you ride something or other out – good to have Elijah there to sing the soundtrack." - Chris T Poppers Best of the Year 2014, Mad Mackerel
"This is the most beautiful, aching record we've heard all year. Gorgeous vocals cascade over simply arranged acoustic guitars and tender harmonies. Fans of Gram Parsons and Graham Nash will be singing the praises of Bring It All In for years to come." - Benjamin Ricci, Performer Magazine
Jason Hawk Harris
Years before developing his own brand of confessional, cathartic country music — a sound he describes as "meta-apocalyptic country/Americana grief-grass" — Jason Hawk Harris chased a different muse as a classically-trained composer.
He was rooted in the orchestral influence of modern classical music from the 20th and 21st centuries. He loved the theory, the disjunct forms and the rawest of emotional palettes. It all started with a fondness for Queen, whose albums accounted for some of the most frequently-heard records in Harris' Houston household. The band sounded progressive, mixing the punch of rock & roll with the complexity of symphonic music. From there, Harris discovered Debussy and Mozart, then Stravinsky and George Crumb. He eventually enrolled in music school and graduated with a degree in composition, which he immediately began putting to use.
After writing thousands of measures of classical music, though, Harris found himself drawn back to the country, folk, and rock music that had soundtracked his early childhood. He'd grown up listening to classic crooners like Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Jim Croce, Patsy Cline, and Elvis. That music had laid a sort of musical bedrock that couldn't be ignored. Later, after hearing bluegrass musician Michael Daves playing a stirring guitar solo, Harris knew he needed to somehow incorporate his country-loving childhood into his songs.
"Hearing Michael Daves tackle that solo really woke me up," he remembers. "There was something wild about the way he played. He played with abandon. Something sparked in me again — the same spark I'd heard when I first discovered Brian May's guitar solo on 'It's Late' — and everything changed."
Harris began cutting his non-classical teeth with the Show Ponies, an Americana group based in L.A. He played guitar for the band and produced most of their albums, racking up several million Spotify streams along the way. Meanwhile, problems arose in his personal life — including a family history of addiction, which ultimately resulted in the early death of his mother — and began fueling Harris' need to write his own music.
Released in November 2017, the five-song Formaldehyde, Tobacco and Tulips marks Harris' debut as a solo artist. It's an emotional EP about joy, pain, sorrow, and grief, tied together with autobiographical lyrics and sharp, detail-rich songwriting. The record also paves the way for Harris' full-length album, which draws a distinct bridge between his country and classical roots.
"I love country music because it's built upon a collision of the sad and specific," says the songwriter, whose music evokes comparisons to imaginative Americana frontmen like Daniel Romano and Robert Ellis. "It is equal parts devastation and catharsis."
Although performed with traditional country instrumentation — including acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel, bass, strings, piano, and the occasional harmonium — Harris' LP reaches far beyond the genre's rootsy influence. There are complex harmonic structures, acrobatic arrangements, and unexpected intervals. There are cathartic songs about love and addiction. A classically-trained composer turned country singer, Jason Hawk Harris proudly operates within his own lane, proving that there's something stirring and compelling about musical culture clash.
Written by Andrew Leahey