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
A LETTER TO OUR FANS-
The Cold Stares last album “Head Bent” came out June of 2017 on Small Stone Records as most of you know. We’ve had some amazing success with it, including “Break My Fall” and “Head Bent” entering Spotify’s curator playlists. We acquired a new booking agency. We’ve done some amazing shows in the last year with a lot of globally known rock bands and heroes of ours. We recently had our song “Head Bent” featured in Monster Energy’s new film/commercial. We now have a global fan base that we interact with weekly, and have shipped and sold vinyl literally around the whole world. Things are great for The Cold Stares, and in no small part to you guys- our fans that are reading this.
Around Christmas we started thinking about, and writing for the next album. We knew around June we would be a year into the album cycle and would want to put something out after that. We got confirmation from our label that they were interested in putting out another album with us, and we discussed signing with some other record labels. After much discussion, thoughts and prayers we’ve made up our mind on our immediate path forward.
With the current musical landscape, artists really only make money a couple of ways. Streaming is one. Here’s the math for you. About every million streams produce about 5k. It’s insanely hard to make any real money by streaming. We all do it, it is the nature of the beast now, we are not complaining, we are explaining. Good and bad things about streaming, one is that we can see that around 15,000 Brazilians stream our music monthly.
The second way an artist makes money is playing shows and touring. Most major labels now have what they call “360” deals, which mean when you sign a deal with them the label collects money on ALL aspects of your career, including touring, merchandise sales, and publishing. Which means literally you can go on tour, make thousands of dollars, but after incurring the touring costs, come home owing the record company money.
The last way I’ll mention that an artist makes money these days is publishing/licensing. This is a huge deal to us. This is when TNT pays us to use our song “Sleeping with Lions” for their show “Animal Kingdom”. Or Monster Energy pays us to use “Head Bent” for their commercial. This revenue stream is the largest now for most artists, and a lot of us use this money to fund tours, record records and continue careers. Sadly, now almost all record company deals have the record label keeping the publishing for the recorded songs.
Another thing that record companies can do is decide what kind of album you will record, and what songs will obviously be on it. Which means, they can tell you not to have a song like “Jesus Brother James” on the same album with another religious themed track. Or, for arguments sake, could say the same about “Neighbor Blues” and “John”. At this point in our career, I’m personally not willing to have anyone decide that. And again, let’s be honest here- if it’s a million dollar deal we can have that discussion because we are trying to feed our families- but if it’s 50k and the label keeps all publishing, no- you don’t have the right to tell me what kind of artist The Cold Stares will be. Luckily we had none of those issues with Small Stone records and they were amazing on letting us put out the record we wanted. Our decision for the next album not to be on Small Stone records has nothing to do with that, nor do we have ANY complaints about SS regarding artistry.
However, for the following reasons described above we have decided to continue with our OWN label and fund with record with ourselves and with our fans. We will be starting a kickstarter in the following month that will detail out our plans for the next album, with some amazing incentives for our fans, friends and families to help us and contribute and do this on our terms. This will allow us to keep the publishing rights for OUR own songs, keep the budget from being over-bloated. It will allow us to personally hire the team of people we want working with us to record and promote the album, and it will allow us to make the record we want to on our terms with our fans.
What we can tell you now.
The album will be called WAYS. It will be recorded in two halves. The first half of the album will be recorded in Memphis and Mississippi and this half will feature blues-rockers and show the influence that this area has had on us in the last ten years. The second half of the album will be written and recorded in the southwest desert this summer and will feature acoustic based western themed story songs in the vein of “Break My Fall”. The second side of the album will showcase this side of the band that has been a huge part of our success as well. We will have a videographer with us for the entire recording of the album, which will produce a documentary as well as videos from the entire recording process which will be included for all our contributors.
We will have vinyl of the album, world wide distribution, and a larger press and PR presence than all of our other projects combined.
We are very grateful for all of the support we have received over the years from you all. When we look back on the things we’ve accomplished from winning the Hard Rock contest, to the battles with lawyers and labels, cancer, overcoming and retaining our identity, it’s amazing to us. From the Duck Inn to the Viper Room, to the Delta, it’s been an amazing journey for us. We are aware of who we are as a band, where we come from, who put us here, where we want to get to, and the album we need to make to do so. “WAYS” WILL be that album. We have the best fans in the world, and we are very excited to share this process with you, including you, and for you. More details to come over the next month. See you on the road- Please share-
Early 2017 The Cold Stares will release our Small Stone Records album “HEAD BENT”. The track listing has been finalized, and the album art work will be posted in the next week. Very proud of the record, our relationship with SS, and excited about all the things happening in 2017 for the band. The album will be available on vinyl as well as digital and CD. A national tour as well as a European tour is in the works. You will also find us at SXSW 2017.
5-Stuck in a Rut
6-Ball and Twine
7-God and Country
9-Price to Pay
10-Caught in the Weather
11-One Way Outta Here
Leading up to the release of our new EP “The Southern” next week I’m going to post the lyrics to each song on the album with an explanation and a little background how each song originated. You guys always ask at shows where some of the songs come from, so hopefully this is something you’ll enjoy. The first song is “Cold Black Water” the third track on “The Southern”. CT
COLD BLACK WATER
I wrote this song specifically about Jeff Buckley. During the time that my music persona really formed, Buckley was a huge influence on me. Everyone now debates on Jeff’s greatness, but to me it’s not as simple as one or two songs, or his voice, or his arrangements. Jeff Buckley’s greatness was the intangible thing that makes all artists great. It’s the thing that can’t be explained, but can be felt when you hear or see their work, or soak up when you are around them. Tim Buckley, Jeff’s father died around the same age as Jeff which is very ironic. And then the way Jeff died, in the Mississippi river, clothes on, in a moment of freedom when he decided to wade in to the water that night, that longing to push it, risk it, live it, like I’ve waded into trouble so many times in my life but somehow by the grace of God emerged. Of course Jeff didn’t. And we’ll never know what he might have become. But for those of us that were impacted by his work, he is a Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison type figure. Enigmatic. Mysterious. But in the end human. As soon as I picked through the opening riff to this song in my living room, I saw that water surrounding Jeff, the darkness of the current, the moon above him, as the world around him was touting him as the savior of rock music, what the moment felt like to fade into that murky water. Wrote the song in one long poem in the moments following.
Here are the lyrics, as well as some explanations in parenthesis.
Cold Black Water
Don’t you call my name Peter don’t you dare (Matthew 16:9 )
I been treading in the water and a fever running through my head
They say I was the chosen one who’d make it all alright (Jeff’s critical acclaim)
But I’m sinking in the Cold Black Water down here tonight. (drowning)
I was just trying to find a place I could rest my shoes
Quarter mile off of Beale I could still hear them sing them blues (Beale street where Jeff was found in the Mississippi river)
Bottle of wine singing hallelujah right across my lips (Jeff’s version of “Hallelujah” is still daily discussed, and his love for wine was known)
Current of the ole Mississippi dancing at my hips
Swing low, low brother won’t you drag that line (metaphor for them dragging the river for Jeff’s body)
Swing low low never know just what you’ll find
Every child of God gotta answer when it comes his time (we are all going to die, quicker you wrap your head around that, the better you’ll start to live)
Don’t you shed no tears for me on that muddy ground
Don’t you waste no wine for me when they lay me down
Don’t you stray down in that water just to see my face
Come up baptized trying just to find some grace (Grace was Jeff’s critically acclaimed masterpiece album)
Swing low, low brother won’t you drag that line
Swing low low never know just what you’ll find
Every child of God gotta answer when it comes his time