1/1/2019 The Cold Stares will release the 2nd single from their album Mountain, “The Great Unknown”. The track is featured in Spotify’s playlist “Heavy, Funky, Bluesy”, and Joe Bonamassa’s playlist “Getting Through”. Hear the single here- The Great Unknown
And yet another great review on “Mountain”- Happy Monday, now let’s get to the rock and roll…
“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.”
Another great review in on “Mountain”. Overwhelmed by the critical response so far. If you don’t have the album yet please grab it here- Mountain on Amazon Music
Review of Mountain on Gashouseradio.com
“The Cold Stares may have flirted with the idea of blending together their pastoral and more abrasive influences with Head Bent, but this album is much more representative of their true identity as a band. Mountain is assaultive, unapologetic and surprisingly emotional – but more than anything else, it’s an unadulterated look at The Cold Stares for who they really are.”
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.”
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
Please check out our Kickstarter for “Mountain”, share and tag your friends. And thank you very much for playing a role in Cold Stares history- TCS
A tale of two records, publishing rights, and the struggles of a roots rock band in 2018.
As we began to discuss our next record which would have been titled “Ways” we decided together to pass on the record label offers we had and try to self fund the album in an attempt keep our music publishing this time. For those of you that don’t know when you see our music on a Monster Energy commercial, ESPN or a show on TNT, the money made from those performances actually go back to the record company instead of the artist.
Every record deal offer out there for us at the moment had the record label holding our publishing. Our last record deal the record label held our publishing. At this point in our career we were no longer willing to give that up, and artists shouldn’t have to. It’s hard enough to be a rock band out there right now, and for us to sustain our career we have to hold our licensing. So we decided to try to fund our record with our fans.
Here’s the dilemma. To properly record, produce, and promote “WAYS” we needed to raise around 20k. We have been really struggling on asking our fans to contribute that kind of money. We are a working class band, and we know a lot of our fans are blue collar working folks and to be honest it just felt a bit heavy to us. We built a kickstarter and then mulled for weeks over a discussion on what to do. We lost a lot of sleep, but through a lot of prayer and meditation we came to an answer.
What we decided. We decided we wanted to try to pay for the “WAYS” album ourselves. But how could we do that? Release “MOUNTAIN”.
Backstory- In the beginning of 2016 I was a bit over 2 years out cancer free. At that point I wasn’t for sure what life held ahead, but I knew my goal was to just live and make it to the goal we set with my doctors, five years. I also knew a lot of my friends that had gone through treatment with me had lost their battles. Not knowing exactly what we might have to deal with in the near future, we wanted to write and record everything I could so that if something happened to me I would leave a musical legacy behind for The Cold Stares. So we went in the studio with Greg Pearce and recorded “Dark Dark Blue”, and then “The Southern”. Both of these EP’s were released in 2016 with ZERO PR budget, zero buzz behind them. We also released some singles “Stickemup”, “Sleeping with Lions” and our version of the Allman’s classic “Whipping Post”. What we thought at the time, was that later when we got more well known our new fans would find these older EP’s. What we didn’t understand and what we have learned over the years is that without some PR budget behind ANY release- no one will hear or find it. No one is exactly pushing rock music onto the front page of Spotify or iTunes these days to be seen if you haven’t noticed. Those EP’s were very difficult to find online and most of these songs have never been heard outside of our close immediate fan base. So what we decided to do was take that group of songs, along with a few others our fans had never heard, remix and master them together and release as one album “Mountain”.
This group of 15 songs, all written around the same time, share a common theme and feel and we have always felt that they are just too important not to be presented correctly. Releasing “Mountain” will do a couple things, it will give these songs an opportunity to be heard, give our old fans a few new songs and remasters, and it will also give us an avenue to raise money for our February release “Ways”. We felt much better about raising the money with our fans in this fashion and we think it’s the proper way to move forward.
With your help we can meet or exceed our goal of 5k that will allow us to release “Mountain” and have a reasonable PR budget to get “Mountain” heard. Sales from “Mountain” and any additional money that might be possibly raised from this campaign will go to the funding of “Ways”. Any money we might be short of for “Ways” we will be funding ourselves. We honestly feel that “Mountain” will be our best album release to date, and when we look at the song listing I can’t say any other release comes close to summing up who we are musically. “Mountain” symbolically means so many different things to us, but more than anything what we’ve overcome, on our terms to be here with you. Thank you for your support in getting us here, and beyond. God Bless-
THE COLD STARES
Title Track Premiere- you can now stream the first single “Head Bent” from the upcoming June 16th Cold Stares release in the article below. Please share!