Join us for our first Listening Room Series concert at The Stage Door, a special evening in an intimate setting with three veteran songwriters.
Limited to just 50 tickets.
“I’m convinced – Ingenious Todd Burge successfully blends more wit and wisdom per song than anyone else I’ve enjoyed in years”
— Ron Goad – Vice Pres – Songwriter’s Association of Washington DC
“William Matheny is quickly becoming one of independent country music’s most exciting emerging artists.”
— American Songwriter
“Adam Remnant’s voice is one of the great instruments in folk rock.”
If it’s been discovered by man, West Virginian Todd Burge has written about it. Born to ponder and observe life, each of his songs tells a story. Whether drawn from personal experience or a tale of poetically woven fiction, you’ll live every second of it through his songs.
Now, Todd Burge is releasing two original albums – one from 2018 and one for 1986 – as double CD package. Todd Burge (1986 The First Album) is his never-released debut record, and the second, Your Reflection Will Kill You, is his latest work recorded by Don Dixon (James McMurtry, REM). They are a pair of now-and-then sonic bookends, both opposite and yet intertwined as a collection of stories that brought Burge to where he is today.
Describing it as a victim of record industry red tape, Burge says that “the 1986 album was probably the second or third time I was ever in a studio. It’s a rock and roll record with bits of punk. I’m not surprised at how it sounds when I listen to it now, because I know I was filled with angst back then. Maybe that’s what I needed it to be when I was recording that music. Now I listen to it as if someone else created it, and it really helped me decide which songs would go on the new record.”
A few years and a few experiences later, Your Reflection Will Kill You, shows that, like good whiskey, Burge is refined with time. On the making of the new record, Burge tells us, “I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, so I asked Don Dixon (James McMurtry, REM) to come to my home. Don is a master at capturing a live recording session and making everyone feel comfortable. He has a great set of ears and great taste. You can trust his opinion, and that is important as, after a while, when I record, I don’t trust my own.
“The only rule I brought to the table was that we would not use anything but our acoustic instruments. Steel string guitar for me, nylon for Ryan (Kennedy), upright acoustic for John (Inghram). See, I have this emotional attachment to that sound that dates back to when I was five or six years old, back when I was still taking naps, I think. I would ask my mother to play Roger Miller’s greatest hits. You know Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”? Miller played a nylon string guitar. It’s a sound you don’t hear often in country music, but Roger Miller was not typical. I’ve been a huge fan of Willie Nelson’s since I was in grade school as well. Another nylon string guitar player. That guitar sound is just embedded in me. It moves me more than most sounds do.”
“With wit and pathos in equal measure, Todd Burge takes on subjects in his songs that never occur to most folks. Subjects too quirky, too controversial, too obtuse for most writers to get a handle on. His compelling vocal style and unique perspective keep me interested long after the last note rings out.”-Engineer- Don Dixon
It’s fitting that William Matheny has chosen to honor the 15th anniversary of Centro-matic’s tour de force album Love You Just the Same on his new 7-inch: The 2003 full-length from Will Johnson’s four-piece was one of the most acclaimed releases from Misra Records’ first five years, and Matheny has emerged as one of the label’s standard-bearers as it enters closes in on the end of its second decade.
The tribute takes the form of a cover of “Flashes and Cables,” the now-classic from Love You, on the A-side of Matheny’s single. Matheny’s spin is, like so many memorable covers, faithful to the original up to a point—he chose to keep the dramatic shifts in dynamics and picked up the pace only a pinch—but diverges just enough to make it distinct. Gone is Johnson’s martial drumbeat in favor of Matheny’s Spector-informed, lazy swung backbeat. In lieu of Centro-matic’s slow disintegration and off-kilter keys, we get a triumphant guitar solo worthy of J. Mascis as the song winds down. Quality songwriting isn’t threatened by interpretation, and in this new interpretation you’re bound to glimpse aspects of Johnson’s song you overlooked before.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the interpreter is a top-notch songwriter as well: Matheny, on the heels of 2017’s Strange Constellations LP and last spring’s EP “Moon Over Kenova,” is a breakout voice in country-rock, and keeps on proving it. The B-side of the new single, “Christian Name,” manages to turn variations on a theme into three or four distinct hooks, any one of which would have been enough for most songsmiths to hang their hat on. Tom Petty is in there somewhere beneath the world-weary country-rock exterior, but so is the dark-tinged bluesy folk of Lucinda Williams.
For some, Matheny’s tribute to Centro-matic will represent a nostalgic trip; for others it may be an entrée into the music of both Misra mainstays. The thing is, either way, it’s a pair of tracks worthy of play on repeat: Two gems with equal parts twang and tremolo, clever riffs and thoughtful words, delivered with deceptive ease.
Adam Remnant came up over the last decade fronting the folk-rock band Southeast Engine. As the principal singer and songwriter of the band, Remnant and his bandmates garnered critical acclaim from publications such as Paste Magazine, Pitchfork, NPR, American Songwriter, Magnet, Stereogum, PopMatters, AV Club, and many more. They established a substantial following over the years, releasing five albums and touring across the United States and Canada.
As Southeast Engine wound down, Remnant began plotting his way forward as a solo artist. He assembled a little studio in his basement and earnestly began writing & recording the songs that comprise the 2016 EP, When I Was a Boy, as well as the new full-length, Sourwood. Remnant’s signature baritone voice and literary songwriting act as the focal point in the productions spanning between folk, rock, and indie sounds mined from a Midwest basement.
Sourwood is a record long in the making. In the intervening years since Southeast Engine, Remnant and his wife, Amanda, became parents to two curly blond-haired girls, which they raise in the fertile creative town of Athens, Ohio. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, it’s here that Remnant pursues his musical visions while tending to daily matters. The songs of Sourwood were birthed in that intersection of youth and adulthood where dreams and realities confront one another. The songs detail the desire to find potential opportunities beyond the horizon while feeling the gravity of home. The album drifts back and forth between those push & pull forces of home and travel as one might drift between a waking and dream state. Somewhere between those two states is a place called Sourwood.
The album is largely recorded and performed by Adam Remnant with contributions from Remnant’s working band, consisting of brother, Jesse Remnant, on bass and harmony vocals; Ryan Stolte-Sawa on violin and harmony vocals, and Jon Helm on drums. Adam and the band are touring in support of the release.