St. Paul and The Broken Bones

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Any worries I had about a sophomore slump were quickly put to rest during their electrifying set at Newport Folk Festival. When I first saw them a few years back, their manager told me that once some of the kids in the band finished college, they were hitting the road for a long, long time. That commitment has done them well. Watching that Newport set, the one thing that stuck with me is how noticeably better everybody in the band was; and they were pretty fucking good last time I saw them in 2015.

Soon after returning back from Newport, I received the advance copy of Sea Of Noise and I was immediately smitten. The album shows real growth but doesn’t lose any of that rawness. I’ll admit; that was a bit of a worry for me. Some some slick producer come in and over-produce the album to put their “stamp” on proceedings. Thankfully that man wound up being Paul Butler, who also helped Michael Kiwanuka with one Love & Hate and he’s done a wonderful job.

I’ve been long enamored with the work of guitarist Browan Lollar. (See my tweet from Newport below) I think it is to over look him in a band like this where there is so much going on but the work he does with the band is so brilliant. He oft reminds me of Jenks Miller of Mount Moriah. It is so subtle, yet bristling with energy. And the tones, like what you get from Jenks; they are just oh so tasty. Check out the work on the video for Waves to get a nice taste.

And while I could sit here and break down the individual performances of everybody in the band. It is absolutely breathtaking when they all click and take it up one notch. Sanctify is one of those tracks where everybody elevates their already lofty game. Everybody in the band is in a fucking zone. I first heard this track at Newport and it is in my humble opinion, the stand out track of the album.

This quote from lead singer, Paul Janeway really sums up Sea Of Noise. “If we had been forced to go into a studio a year and a half ago, we probably would have done a better version of Half the City,” he says. “There would have been nothing wrong with that. But we started evolving, or changing.”

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

St. Paul & The Broken Bones are here

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St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ debut album is up against the same challenge that The Alabama Shakes faced when releasing their debut album. Both bands fronted by a dynamic singer with a voice from yesteryear. Both bands built their reputation on the backs of scintillating live show where the vocalist captivated the audience while the band fired on all cylinders behind them. Whether it be Brittany Howard or in this instance, Paul Janeway; bottling that type of vocal prowess on ‘tape’ is no easy feat. The fact that St. Paul & The Broken Bones enlisted Ben Tanner from the Shakes to help seems to indicate that they were aware of the challenge.

SP&TBB’s formula isn’t all that complicated. Kick-ass band that doesn’t miss a note with a kid that looks more apt to be installing anti-virus software on your computer than singing like Otis Redding. And like Howard, Janeway’s vocals an overshadow the rest of the band. But don’t make that mistake, this band cooks. I especially love Browan Lollar’s guitar playing throughout the album. He could easily get lost behind Janeway and the killer horns but he always seems to pop up at the right moment. In a world where the guitar player is often king, it feels odd to write a guitarist is hidden but Lollar and Tanner do a great job of showing restraint in his playing and an even better job of delivering the perfect tones for the music. They leave enough grit on his playing and the music overall to lend some real edge to the music.

Like great soul and R&B albums of yesterday, you simply press play on Half The City and walk away. This album isn’t about a couple of songs standing out. It isn’t meant to be carved up on to mixes. Fire this up and let it take you a different place.

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Oz was tipped off to these guys by a friend at Thirty Tigers prior to SXSW. We caught them up on South Congress at Frontgate’s Morning After party. To say the book doesn’t match the cover is an understatement.

Paul Janeway sings like Otis Redding. The band features Browan Lollar from Jason Isbell’s band, the 400 Unit and some horn players that look like the high school kid that cuts my yard. Here are some live videos, including a cover of Let Me Roll It by The Wings. Get excited for these guys. They are another excellent band out of Alabama and will be touring like mad this year.

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