A great review of “Mountain” from Indiesource.com!

And yet another great review on “Mountain”- Happy Monday, now let’s get to the rock and roll…

IndieSource Review of Mountain

“In “Way Gets Dark,” one of the more homespun acoustic tracks to behold on The Cold Stares’ awesome new alternative blues juggernaut Mountain, the band doesn’t rely on imagistic lyrics alone to create a visual experience to accompany the music. The eerie echo of the lightly plucked strings sends a chilling sense of danger in our direction, and the lack of emotion in lead singer Chris Tapp’s voice kills any comfortability that his warm southern drawl may have provided. It’s like the path in front of us is literally getting darker; we’re trapped in this dry but sharply tuned mix next to the guitar, our minds left to wander after the crisp melody that could be waiting just beyond the horizon.
Mountain is driven by its evocative soundscapes, which appear when we’re least expecting them. At fifteen tracks, this is a monstrous LP that offers plenty of intriguing moments for newcomers to The Cold Stares’ sound to get acquainted with their style, but its cohesive, somewhat progressive qualities are what will satisfy the group’s longtime fans more than anything else. As incredibly different in rhythm as “Cold Black Water” and “The Plan” are, they play together in this record flawlessly, as if they were two sides of the same coin. What they have in common is the jarring, neo-noir soundscape that we’re greeted with in track one, “The Great Unknown,” and unable shake for the duration of the record.
I found myself taken aback when I discovered that The Cold Stares are comprised only of singer/guitarist Chris Tapp and drummer Brian Mullins. The abrasive “Stickemup” gets started with a colorful little guitar tizzy that sounds like an amalgamation of several string instruments layered on top of each other, while Mullins’ drum kit sounds twice the size of any other I’ve heard lately. “Wade In The Darkness,” “Gone Not Dead,” and really any of the heavier tracks on the record feel so much more mechanical in their execution than what I was expecting, and yet they’re so far removed from the digitalized sound of robotic pop/rock that even the most subtle differences between their melodies and that of their contemporaries is hard to ignore in these songs.
The most somber moment in Mountain ironically might also be The Cold Stares’ most triumphantly reverent so far – “Under His Command,” a Gothic folk ballad that brands us with a smoky vocal by Tapp that plays more like an epitaph than it does a rock song. His words stick to the paper thin strings like glue, and wherever his prose takes them, they melodically respond – in the gauntest of minor keys. This is my favorite song on the record, not because of any machismo-fueled rock luster, but because of its dark, witty minimalism.
I think that the best way to experience Mountain is to listen to its fifteen songs from beginning to end in the chronological order that The Cold Stares’ arranged them. In what can only be described as an operatic approach to making a bluesy garage rock record, this album starts off with a sonic beat down (“The Great Unknown” and more modest “Friend of Mine”), escalates to more methodical, emotional grounds (“Under His Command,” and “Stickemup”) before letting the harmonies go off the rails (“Gone Not Dead,” “Wade in the Darkness,” and the bone-rattling “Child of God”) and giving into this duo’s penchant for fusing nimbly wound rock songs into analogue-style blues rants (“Cold Black Water,” “Two Keys and a Good Book” and “Killing Machine” just to name some highlights). There’s a lot for music enthusiasts to ponder in this album, but there’s just as much excitement for casual fans to discover in its intricately stylized songs as well.”

Mountain on Spotify!

Thanks to the folks at No Depression Magazine for the great review of our new album Mountain.

Thanks to the folks at No Depression Magazine for the great review of our new album Mountain.

“You don’t need a lot of crazy, overindulgent solos to make a good guitar record in 2018, and The Cold Stares’ Chris Tapp proves as much in the band’s new album Mountain. The record’s opening set includes the stop-start alternative rocker “The Great Unknown,” the swinging blues tune “Friend of Mine” and the organic “Under His Command,” which together set the table for what we can expect in the dozen tracks that follow by showing off the three pillars of The Cold Stares’ guitar-oriented sound. “The Great Unknown” represents the trudging power chord rock that we were introduced to in their last record Head Bent; “Friend of Mine” offers us a taste of their more relaxed, radio-friendly side in the form of a patient guitar lick; and “Under His Command” serves as a sampling of their uniquely contrasting acoustic songs that leave a trail of hostile energy in their wake.

Mountain is structured in three song suites that steamroll over our senses without a second thought; “Stickemup,” rises from the ashes of “Under His Command” and bleeds right into “Gone Not Dead” and the bulging “Wade In The Darkness,” which pristinely reverberates like a lonely voice bouncing off of huge canyon walls. Drummer Brian Mullins doesn’t command every song with his calculated arrangements, but the songs that he does make a big impact on (“Sleeping With Lions” and “Cold Black Water” particularly) are the best of the album. Tapp’s lyrics are a constant presence and tend to overshadow some of the more plaintive musical bits in tracks like “Child of God” or the correspondingly muted “The River,” and I actually think that his style of prose goes out of its way to be more creative and freewheeling than it has to be exclusively with this result in mind.

The Cold Stares are very good at taking a simple song and transforming it into a roots rocking firestorm, which is demonstrated perfectly in “The Plan.” The mix of this track is what takes it out of the pastureland and drops it into a crowded concert hall – every gilded nuance of Tapp’s heart-pumping blues guitar is highlighted with great detail, and Mullins’ drumming occasionally gets so overwhelming that it feels like his cymbals are going to come crashing through the invisible barrier between recorded music and tangible reality itself. The same can be said of the familiar melody we find in “Way Gets Dark,” which borrows heavily from the folk/blues of yesteryear but comes across as authentic and original thanks to The Cold Stares’ tailor-made equalization.

For a record that feels like it’s actually two LPs crammed into a single disc, there isn’t a spot of filler in Mountain to be skipped over, and if anything the more streamlined tracks make the progressive flow even more lucid and relatable to the listener. Obviously our attention is, more often than not, drawn to Tapp’s vicious guitar play on this record, which flirts with classic rock tonality but remains relatively contemporary courtesy of this sublimely textured mix. But to be frank, what probably affected me more than anything else here was the relationship between his verses and the riffs; the way they seem to reflect each other’s pain and longing for calm amidst all this musical chaos. In that sense Mountain isn’t just more sonically mature than what The Cold Stares have produced in the past, it’s also more aesthetically evocative and creatively diverse.”

No Depression Review of Mountain

Vents Magazine review of Mountain

Another great review in today on our new album Mountain from Vents magazine. Worth a read-
Humbled again. Hear Mountain now!
“Singer Chris Tapp preaches elements of the Christian gospel in “Under His Command,” “Child of God” and “Two Keys and a Good Book,” but his words aren’t dripping with a self-righteousness that would repel non-religious listeners. The imagery that these verses inspire isn’t rosy or divine; it’s grimacing and reflective, like a message from beyond the grave voiced by those who have once walked the road we’re on now. There’s a great deal of continuity between these songs that is reminiscent of flipping through pages of a Bible; with each passage we consume, we find another hidden lesson suggesting how we can right our past wrongs.”
Vents Magazine – Mountain

Mountain is now available!

“Mountain” available from online retailers – here! –> Mountain

“Mountain” on Vinyl is available – here! –> Mountain – Limited Edition, Limited Run Vinyl

TCS - Mountain

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day 8 – “The River”

Well we are almost there folks. Tonight at midnight we should see “Mountain” start to populate digital music partners around the world. The best way that you can help us tomorrow is to go to any of the sites you use, Spotify, iTunes Music, Amazon Music, Google Play, and save the album into your libraries. We hope you all stream the record tomorrow and enjoy it. The more SAVES and streams it gets out of the gate the more attention the digital sites give it for playlists, so we are hoping for a good day with a lot of action tomorrow. We will update tomorrow morning with links.
Today I’ll break down another song from the album, this is “The River”.
It’s funny to me that today there are artists out there like Greta Van Fleet that are obviously trying to copy Led Zep but say they are really influenced by Aerosmith to whatever. To me, I’ve always worn my influences on my sleeve and I’m happy to tell you where they come from. “The River” is a product of me listening and trying to emulate Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Chris Knight, probably in that order. The thing about it, is when I try to emulate someone else it still somehow comes out sounding like me because I’m emulating, not stealing. There’s a difference.
The story.
Small one stop light town, man is standing just outside of town beside the river watching a car sink with two people in it. One is his wife, one we find out later is the sheriff’s deputy. He’s praying, and crying as he watches them sink down but makes no attempt to save them. Of course we don’t really understand all that in the first verse yet. I set up the chorus so that initially you would not know if the main character is calming a child standing with him, or if he’s thinking out loud to the drowning victims. I wanted that tension, and for the listener to start thinking. The second verse sets up the back story and explains what has transpired. The third verse we find our main character a couple miles from the scene of the crime, a car comes around the corner and stops to check on him, they explain what has happened, which he obviously already knows.
This song is another song of ours that I would describe as “Southern Gothic”. It’s characters are those like people that we knew of growing up in small towns, and these stories are the kind that we read in the papers. There was a time, before our time, in the 50’s when stories like this would make national news. Guess I’ve always been more influenced by historical things. These type songs are movies to me without pictures. Johnny Cash’s stories always were visuals to me, same with Nick Cave and Chris Knight. This is a southern gothic small town film in a three minute song. I listen to it on headphones and it haunts me. Thanks for reading…..

The River

I was standing by the river, just ringing my hands
I was praying to my savior, try to understand
I was watching that chevrolet sinking down
I was crying for my sweet love as she drown

Moonlight shining in the dead of night
Hush little girl it will be alright

Ain’t no secrets in any small town
Ain’t no secret she was running around
Sheriff got a deputy had his eye on her
Thats a hard lesson he had to learn

Moonlight shining in the dead of night
Hush now childl it will be alright

We all gotta go, when we gotta go
We all gotta go, but when we gotta go

I saw headlights coming down the road
They say a car went off the hill down where the river flows
Say it sunk to the bottom and two people drown
Deputy and my wife ain’t been seen round town

Moonlight shining in the dead of night
Hush little girl it will be alright

Solomon 8:7 KJV -Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day seven – “The Great Unknown”

TWO DAYS until the official release of Mountain. So much news coming your way today, new reviews, new playlists adds, continued success leading up to this release and we want to thank all of you again for your role in helping getting the word spread and turning people on to our music.

Today I’ll break down the first track on the album “The Great Unknown”. Lyrically this is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. It’s set in the open western landscape as early Americans travel west. The songs meaning is really that no man knows his future. No two days are exactly alike in our lifetime, and if you make plans and think you know exactly how your life will go you can bet it will not follow that path. I was focusing on settlers moving west and how that must have felt, not knowing what the future would hold, so many obstacles, such beautiful land, how native Americans must have felt. Life was so hopeful then, but also so fragile.

First verse a stranded young husband has lost his wife, standing on a hill, looking up and questioning God. Meanwhile his brothers have made it out west and have hit gold. Their sister broke, has turned to prostitution in an effort to stay alive.

Second verse we have an man coming back north from a train robbery in mexico, perhaps to get money to start his family back home. In the meantime his wife at home has taken up with another man, by the time that he gets home he has lost what he sat out to build.

Third verse a solider has returned from a battle and finds a war tribe has destroyed his home and killed his family. It discusses the topic of revenge and war and how that cycle never seems to end.

The Great Unknown

Young man stands high on a hill shakes his fists at the sky above.
Down below in the valley there’s a grave with a name of a woman he loved.
Out west cross the rivers and plains now his brothers striking rich with gold
Their sister in hotel room working money off a man she knows

Just beyond the great unknown
Are the answers that nobody knows
Just beyond the great unknown
Are the answers that nobody knows

Pale rider on a jet black mare, got a rifle and a .44
500 dollars from a train he robbed down south in Mexico
Back home now his wife got a suitor, got a ring and an evening gown
By the time that he reach Sioux City, she done laid that poor boy down, down, down

Just beyond the great unknown
Are the answers that we will never know
Just beyond the great unknown
Are the answers that nobody knows

Red man with a scalp in his hand on a horse that he calls war
Soldier just beyond two days ride walks back in through his front door
Someone always gotta debt to pay, someone always gotta settle the score.
No matter how the blood is shed, someone always wants more, more, more.

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day six – “Mountain”

3 DAYS until the Release of MOUNTAIN. Wanted to apologize for the delay in breaking some of the songs down. It’s been crazy last few days with things going on and we are trying to catch up. Putting together the kickstarter rewards to ship, working with our PR folks in Nashville, radio interviews, licensing projects. But hey, it’s Sunday and we are slowing catching up.

Today I’ll break down the title song from the album “Mountain”.
One of the first things you have to do when you find out you have cancer is come to grips with it, and come to terms with death. For the first two weeks after I got a diagnosis that I may live 6 months I woke up each morning and cried. Each morning you wake up, and realize it’s not a dream and that you may be dead soon. It’s very humbling for me to even write this, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I woke up to cry and speak to God, and to pace the floor and try to understand things for hours each morning. After that shock passes, and you “man up” and say, hey, I might die, the first thing you do is prepare. There are people every day that get hit by a car, or have a heart attack and go into the afterlife with no preparation. Cancer is like an bill notice that you get in the mail, it’s a warning that death is seeking you. So you say ok, nothing I can do to stop it, so how do I prepare? I spent a day thinking about any ill will or issues I had with anyone, and I called and apologized. That apology goes like this “I don’t know what happened, or why it happened, but I need to let you know that I take 100% of the blame, and I’m seeking your forgiveness”. I did that with my dad. I asked him to come over, and I told him exactly that, and I told him I had cancer and may die. Not going too far into that, but man you can see things clearer in the position I was in, and how petty things can get. I cleaned up any relationship I had and got any negativity out of my life. I know a lot of our fans may not believe in God, and I respect that decision, and I’m not trying to convert anyone, but I can’t not be who I am in explaining this. It’s very easy at times in your life to question if there is a God, or God’s role, but I can tell you- bluntly, that if you look death in the face it’s very easy to find some clarity in your faith. If you want to pass out of this world with the mindset that there’s no afterlife, that’s on you my friend, but I am not willing to take that risk. Also will say, for whatever reason I’m compelled to tell you, that I’m a sinner. I sin every day, I make mistakes every day, I slide closer and farther away from God due to decisions I make all the time. I’m not your role model, but I know someone who can be. I believe in grace and forgiveness, in Jesus and his message, and as much as a failure as I am in some aspect of my faith, the one thing I refuse to do is coward down and not say what I believe.
I wrote the song “Mountain” just as a prayer of a very flawed human, who seeks God’s help, who’s trying to “get right”. It’s about being humble, and small, and giving God the glory. I write plenty of songs about old west hangings, other worldly things, and the human condition, but this is not one of them. This is my Johnny Cash influence, or U2 or Ben Harper who don’t cower when the question is asked “yea, but what do you believe?”. The main riff was somewhat lifted from my favorite band Led Zeppelin, “In My Time of Dying”, a gospel song which they lifted from the early delta greats. Production with our friend Greg Pearce who helped us work the break down section after the 2nd chorus, which to this day gives me chills. I always loved what mountains represented to our ancestors. It was the highest place, and place they believed to be closest to God. “Go child go, high up on a mountain”, simply means get yourself closer to God. I wrote this from a very honest place, and hope it resonates with some of you as well. And yes tomorrow we may return to a song with someone getting hung or shot, but for today…. this is MOUNTAIN-

MOUNTAIN
If I am a blind man, Lord help me see you
If I am a thief, Lord help me change my ways
If I’ve been a liar, lord save me from the fires
If I’ve been a saint, remind me that I AIN’T

And say go child, go
stand on a mountain
go child go
for all the world to see
I said go child,
high upon a mountain
go child
far above the seas

If I’ve been greedy, lord make me HUMBLE
If I’ve gotten lost, help me find my way
If I’ve not forgiven, lord please forgive me
Remind me that a master, no better than a slave

And go child, go
stand on a mountain
go child go
for all the world to see
I said go child,
high up on a mountain-go child -far above the seas

If I start to backslide, Lord please correct me
If I start to tremble, Lord make me still
Meet me at the Jordan, walk me through the valley
Lead me to the place, way high above the hills

And go child, go
stand on a mountain
go child go
for all the world to see
I said go child,
high up on a mountain
go child

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day five – “Friend of Mine”

FIVE days now until the release of MOUNTAIN. We have some very cool announcements coming, and more good news. We have surpassed expectations and could not be happier about things happening in the Cold Stares world. So much of our success and these good things are because of YOU, our fans being relentless in spreading the word. Press release on Sleeping With Lions coming shortly today. In the mean time I’ll break down one of our favorites from the album “Friend of Mine”….

This one comes from my love of the poetry of delta blues. Son House, Skip James, story songs about real people. Lots of hidden stuff in this song, but it’s mainly about our character who has seen nothing but bad luck. In the end, he knows things are going to go south and when he stands before God he’s thinking “Hope I’m gonna find you’re a friend of mine”. I always loved the line in the first verse “I ain’t gonna lie I ain’t gonna pay rent”, which I borrowed theme wise from Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, where the landlord says “that don’t confront me, as long as I got my rent by Friday”. Our character is down on his luck and already decided he’s not paying the rent. The following line “Devils in the meadow and the dogs been sent”, means I see the trouble coming, and about all I’m going to do is let the dog out to go handle it.
Verse two things have caught up with the character and the police are at the door. Probably a number of things they could be there for, and perhaps none of them our character has done, but he knows his string of bad luck continues. Doesn’t say how the incident proceeds, but we know that he’s got bullets beside the bed and we find in verse three that he’s now on death row and heading to the gallows.
The line in the chorus “I’ve been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old” is a reference to the Levees we hear about in the delta blues songs. Lower Mississippi was notorious for flooding, and a lot of early delta songwriters referenced the Levee as kind of the last defense against the flood. I always loved Son House’s “Levee Camp Blues”, which also is where our song “John” was inspired from. Anyways, “standing on the levee since I was 6 years old”, simple interprets into- I’ve been waiting around since I was 6 years old for something bad to happen. Fairly hopeless, and maybe that’s the environment that our character grew up in, or around, but he’s felt damned from very early on. This is one of our songs that I would consider “Southern Gothic”. It certainly lends itself to the southern gothic novels, and for characters that I’ve grown up around all my life. Hope you enjoy-

13 blackbirds sitting on a fence
17 dollars that my good girl spent
I ain’t gonna lie, I ain’t gonna pay rent
Devils in the meadow and the dogs been sent

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

16 bullets on the side of the bed
Telephone ringing right beside my head
Knocking on the door it’s the county law
Trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

15 years I’ve been waiting on the line
Preacher said “boy its about that time”
Hangman waiting at the gallows edge
Gonna try to tie a rope up around my neck

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day three – “Killing Machine”

7 Days till the release of “Mountain” now. ARE YOU READY?
I know we are. Watching “Sleeping With Lions” stream 15,000 plays last night alone has us on cloud nine. Thanks to each and every one of you for continuing to demand your friends add it to their music libraries!
Today I’m going to break down- “Killing Machine”.

This is my (ct) current favorite song on the record. I like the cinematic visual of the song, the meanings and references. I’m hesitant on a few of these songs to continue to describe them too accurately, because I know that they can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But for now, I’ll tell you what the song means to me.
I had finished up the last season of “Hell on Wheels” (which is great if you haven’t take the time to watch), and was thinking about some of the characters. Thinking about who we are as people, and the things that add up to make us into that specific human who can take another’s life. Someone who has had his wife and family murdered and sets out on revenge during the civil war. My father, and step father sent to vietnam to fight and kill other humans for reasons they didn’t understand. My wifes’ grandfather sent to Germany to fight and destroy evil. Indian warriors fighting to save their land. All these situations that have brought men to the point where they would take another humans life. It’s heavy to me. First verse in my head is an obituary of a civil war soldier when our nation killed it’s own, brother against brother. The second verse the plight of the Native American post civil war. The last verse the great world wars. There are some hidden references and meanings in some of the lines, and I will leave that to the listener to decipher. The song is a character study on why these men became men that could kill and the heaviness and scarring that killing left upon them.
I would love to see the song make it to a television show in 2019, it’s certainly visual to me. Thanks for reading…. See you tomorrow with a break down of “Gone Not Dead”.

“Killing Machine”
Another man dead I didn’t want to kill
Another soul lost that I didn’t will
Another man’s pain that I didn’t feel
Another dead soldier laid on a hill

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Run for the hills navajo let’s go
Run through the streams and the valleys below
Run through the dreams of our fathers before
Passed in the night with blood on the door

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Pitch them down from the 2nd floor
Pitch them down to the dirt below
Kiss their mothers with lips so cold
Foreign soldiers never do grow old, do they?

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day two – “Wade in the Darkness”

EIGHT Days till the release of our new album “Mountain”. Today I’m going to break down “Wade in the Darkness” from the album.

After the good fortune of landing Sleeping With Lions on Animal Kingdom, I had started to really focus on cinematic themes. I had always written visually, and anything that I write I “see” in my head before and during the writing process. That keeps any lyrics from showing up in the songs that are generic or not connected personally to me. For about a week I re-emersed myself into a few of the shows I had watched that really impacted my writing in the last ten years. Carnivale and Deadwood from HBO, Heat, Sexy Beast, Unforgiven, some classic westerns. One theme that I kept coming back to was how we suffer things or go through things in our past that we try to leave behind, and disconnect from. Could be almost anything, and not always super negative, but sometimes when it’s something that was very emotional for us as humans we don’t really want to visit that place in our minds and relive through something with that kind of weight.
“Wade in the Darkness” is about entering those areas in our mind where those memories lie, and how those things in our past affect our future and our decisions. I wanted the song to stand on it’s own with drums, to have an eerie slide guitar in it, and be somewhat of a dark Daniel Lanois feel. We had pitched it to “The Walking Dead”, and were very close to a license with it but didn’t happen. I have a feeling it still might land in something this year. One of my favorite off the album for the feel. In my mind, visually the narrator was walking down a flight of steps into the darkness to deal with what he had left behind. I hope you enjoy it when you hear the song.

Wade in the Darkness
They say there are some things we never leave too far behind
Traces of faces, places in the back of our mind

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that we just make it out alive

Banded together, the fears that burn in your chest
Haunted by dreams that never seem to let you rest

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, pray that we can make it out alive

I hear you calling, I still hear you calling….
through the echo’s of this rain, that never stops falling,
that never stops falling

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that somehow we make it out alive
Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that somehow we make it out alive