In 2013, the HearYa crew saw Roadkill Ghost Choir a few times at SXSW, in Chicago and did a HearYa session with them. At every turn, we’d try to disect them. And I think it was during the session, Shirk turned to me and said, “These guys are going to be unreal when they get it all figured out.”
Their PR piece lauds them as a blend of Tom Petty and Radiohead being influenced by Cormac McCarthy. Like their Southern brethren, The Futurebirds, their use of the steel guitar is liberal and a focal point of the band. While Futurebirds use of the steel tends to emphasize their Southern rock roots; Roadkill’s use of the steel guitar provides a ghostly & eerie backdrop.
In Tongues continues the forward progress that the Quiet Light EP began. In a group text between Oz, Shirk and myself we were talking about the stellar batch of new albums coming out and we brought up In Tongues. We were all lauding it as fantastic and a major step forward. While it might lack that single like a Funeral by Band Of Horses to really have them explode on the scene; the online response for their new stuff has been emphatically positive. But frankly as a fan (and this might be selfish) I am glad that they are growing in stages. We all want these bands to explode but, not at the cost of growing organically.
My personal favorite is the 4th track – A Blow To The Head. It subtly works in some of electronica elements that sounds absolutely stunning along with Kiffy Myers’ steel. Lead singer Andrew Sheppard slowly moves through the song before the transition about midway through when things begin to build before the band starts repetitively singing, “start running’ and Sheppard unleashes a blood-curdling scream which leads to a frenetic closing jam.
I read somewhere that Sheppard said a good chunk of this album is about their early struggles of touring to empty rooms and getting paid squat. The more I’ve listened to In Tongues, the more I can picture them playing in much bigger rooms. In Tongues is one of those albums that you enjoy more every time you listen to it and Roadkill Ghost Choir are one of those bands you enjoy the more time you spend with. Get on board early and enjoy the ride. I sure hope they do.
HearYa session alumni Roadkill Ghost Choir have announced their follow up to 2013′s EP, Quiet Light. So let’s do a little Q&A. Do they still look like the cast from Dazed and Confused? I think we know the answer to that. Is the new song any good? Yeah, its pretty fucking sweet. Do I get weird stares in the burbs when I wear my Roadkill tee? Yes, yes I do. Why are they in a rowboat? I don’t know but I find that picture oddly entrancing.
Here’s some stuff their PR firm wrote about them: Emerging from the desolate heart of Central Florida, Roadkill Ghost Choir make unsettling, powerful American rock–Tom Petty by way of Radiohead and Cormac McCarthy. Set against Kiffy Myer’s ghostly pedal steel, singer and main songwriter Andrew Shepard triumphantly conjures an allegorical American landscape of drifters, specters and violent saints. Andrew’s brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) Shepard round out the rhythm section, and Stephen Garza handles lead guitar.
Full session is here. Includes another track off that album, Down & Out (video below)
Roadkill Ghost Choir has been one of HearYa’s most pleasant surprises of 2013. I initially discovered them as they were part of the Savannah Stopover fest before SXSW. In a nutshell, I thought they had a cool name and clicked on a video. That video was of them playing Beggars Guild and I was hooked. Since then, I saw them a couple of times during SXSW, caught them at Lincoln Hall opening for Dead Confederate and HearYa had them in for a session. Now, they’ve gone and released a video for Beggars Guild, complete with magic tattoos. The video is so inspiring – Shirk, Oz and myself are thinking of hitting the open road.
Around February, we start getting flooded with emails about bands going to Austin for SXSW. We miss at least half of them but every year we wind up with a few new bands that become “must-see” at SXSW. Last year Pickwick and Field Report were a couple of those acts. Over the next month, we will try and spotlight some lesser known acts that you should make a point of catching in Austin, or anywhere for that matter.
Say hello to Roadkill Ghost Choir from Deland, FL, a band that I will definitely cross paths with in Austin. The sextet was formed spur of the moment to back up Andy Shepard. I first became enamored with them after watching the video below. Made over nine months, it combines water color paintings, digital illustration and other illustrations. It is painstakingly gorgeous and was created by Jaime Margary.
After digging into their amazing EP, Quiet Light, I was hooked. Americana in nature with hints of bluegrass, they mix in some elements of electronica like Other Lives or My Morning Jacket to give some tunes a spacey feel. The fourth track, Tarot Youth, is a brilliant example of this. Every song is a excellent in its own regard and the band shows some quality in different sounds. Devout has an MMJ circa At Dawn feel to it and Bird In My Window, the song in the video below, is a gentle acoustic number and a great way to exit the EP.
Hopefully, Quiet Light is the start of something big for Roadkill Ghost Choir. You can stream the whole EP below and when you are as smitten as I am, you can buy it for $5 here.