Produced and/Co-Produced by Mark Spencer (Son Volt) and Brian Thorn (David Bowie, Rolling Stones) Vermont’s Waylon Speed Releases Second Album Kin Out June 24
You don’t expect something like outlaw country or hints of old southern rock coming out of Vermont, but it does. Following their 2012 release, Valance, and a seemingly endless two-year tour, Waylon Speed has announced their next album. It’s called Kin and it’s out June 24 on WS’s own label, Crow on Ten Records in North America and everywhere else.
Kin features guest/producer Mark Spencer of Son Volt giving the album shimmer and heart via pedal-steel and piano. The album was produced by Spencer, and co-produced by Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Brian Thorn. It was recorded at The Magic Shop in NYC, engineered by Thorn and Chris Shurtleff in November 2013.
Waylon Speed has captured their onstage energy within the studio environment on Kin. What makes this record unique is the offerings from Spencer and Thorn; sonically and creatively, Kin highlights Waylon Speed’s best work to date. Crossing genres seamlessly from pedal-steel driven alt-country to full-driven rock, the album ends with “Demons” a slow and powerful song that highlights the true heart of the band.
Bassist and vocalist, Noah Crowther reveals, “Amongst some brief improvisational moments on Kin, “On A Wire” was the only song written within the studio environment. This isn’t common practice for us and we believe this track has a unique feel as a result,” Crowther adds
The LP will be available digitally and in compact disc form. Considering Kin was recorded at The Magic Shop using a full line of vintage equipment, joined with the timeless album artwork designed by Burlington artist Sarah Ryan, “It only seems appropriate to release it on vinyl,” Crowther adds. Kin features 11 new tracks. The first single “Until It All Ends” can be heard at www.waylonspeed.com.
Of the new album, the band says Kin refers to the amazing family that Waylon Speed has become and created over the years. After all, the band is named after guitarist Reverend Hammaker’s son, Waylon.
Waylon Speed is on tour in support of Kin taking them across the United States throughout August, 2014.
(Crow on Ten Records, CD, digital download)
A few months ago, I was at the release show for Kelly Ravin's last solo record at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. With a spare backing band and a collection of lovely, even sparer songs, it was a treat to see the lanky, inked-up guitar slinger in a role other than as the co-front man of local rockers Waylon Speed. A couple of months after that show, I caught Waylon's other front man, Noah Crowther, at a solo gig of his own, this time at the Monkey House. Similarly, it was fascinating to see the man stripped of his band's rumbling ferocity and laid emotionally bare.
What struck me in both cases is how terrific, and terrifically different from one another, Crowther and Ravin are as songwriters. Especially amid the thunder of Waylon Speed's trademark hybrid metal-country — country-metal? — it's all too easy to overlook the nuances of their writing. Rifling through the band's back catalog of releases, it occurs to me I've been guilty of doing exactly that, seduced and sated by their ragged aplomb. After listening to the band's latest, Kin, it's a mistake I won't make again. Nor will, I'd wager, anyone who hears it.
A creeping darkness pervades Kin. Both Ravin and Crowther, in their own disparate styles, touch on themes of loss and desperation. On Crowther's "Coming Down Again," that takes the form of the highs and inevitable lows of a life spent on the road away from friends and family. On "Tally-Ho," he evokes the image of "Two dirty needles and a junkie in the pines" to spin a yarn of backwoods apathy.
Ravin wades in similarly murky waters. On "Smooth the Grain," he howls a lament toward a faithless lover. "Days Remain the Same," a holdover from Ravin's solo record, winds tightly around a country shuffle with swirling pedal steel licks from Burlington expat Mark Spencer.
Spencer also helped produce the record. The Son Volt guitarist likely deserves some credit for the album's perfect balance of rough grit and chrome gleam. Ravin's and Rev. Chad Hammaker's guitars overwhelm with crunchy tone. Noah Crowther's bass thumps and brother (and occasional Seven Daysfreelancer) Justin Crowther's drums pop with dynamic precision and force. All of which makes Kin a brilliant distillation of Waylon Speed's Waylon Jennings-meets-Motörhead aesthetic that stands as the band's finest record to date and one of the finest local albums in recent memory.
"Valance," their new CD, burns like vintage Neil Young on reverb-drenched "Livin,'" hits a twangy, country-rock sweet spot on "Santa Rosa," and motors up a fiery, fiddle-laced, epic-guitar storm on "Silver and Gold." It's stellar, burn-the-barn-down alternative country with a mountain of sound and strong group harmonies."
“An almost mind-numbing energy runs through this album, from its first notes to its last. The guitar, drum and bass work — courtesy of Chitwood Hammaker, Justin Crowther and Noah Crowther, respectively — that drive Ravin’s lyrics down the dirty back roads and endless interstates of America sound like Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Three ridin’ on some serious amphetamines. This is energy that would have been incomprehensible in the 1950s. Tracks “Then Again” and “Killin’ Time” feature some of the finest quick-fingered guitar solos to come out of a Burlington amp in a long minute. Ravin’s lyrics regarding “broken bottles, broken bones and broken hearts” (“Smoke”) are written and delivered with heartfelt sincerity.”
"After all, outlaw country is as much about the mindset as it is the music. You say what you think, you do your own thing and you don’t give a hoot what anybody else thinks — and you don’t take any B.S. from anybody. In that regard, Waylon Speed is not all that different from metal, punk or any other style of music that’s got a knife-in-the-boot attitude"
"A short sweet encore of “Looking at the World Through a Windshield” ended the performance, but it was as if Waylon Speed had undergone a metamorphosis of their own making while they played. And it’s as if Higher Ground knew it too: why else leave the house lights dim, but the stage lit, long after it was clear the band wouldn’t return, if not to cement the memory of a unique moment in a band’s evolution. Back in 2005 My Morning Jacket created a comparable transformation in the larger room of the South Burlington venue; the effect was eerily similar this chilly spring night."