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.” SiriusXM Octane
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.”
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 are proud to partner up with Azzip Pizza this January for a rock and roll promotion! Come in and buy a pizza and get a FREE Cold Stares CD that is not available anywhere else in the world! Please share with your family and friends and help us let everyone know. Local tour dates to support the promotion are:
-January 5th Backstage Bar and Grill 9pm
-February 17th Lamasco Bar and Grill 9pm
-March 23rd Backstage Bar and Grill. 9pm
Ok. So many things we have to share with you guys for 2018. We have to keep the lid on the details of a lot of these things until they are finalized- but I have to say we are super stoked about the upcoming year.
Can’t go without giving our fans a little sneak peak at least-
Details will come out about all these things by December 1st.
1- There will be a limited edition new Cold Stares CD released in January that will be FREE- and only available in Evansville at all Azzip locations. We are super stoked to be teaming up with Azzip Pizza and trust me you are going to be seeing, hearing and reading about this one a lot… coinciding with the promotion will be gigs in Jan/Feb/March at various Evansville locations that you may not have seen us before. We had 68,000 streams in the last week from cities around the world- Evansville was not in the top 20, we are about to change that. And yes WE LIVE HERE. First show is at Backstage Jan 5th, and you don’t want to miss it. Other dates announcing soon-
2- We are doing a residency EVERY month of 2018 at our favorite venue Lafayette’s in Memphis. We are also doing a FREE Cold Stares CD that will be available in Memphis for our fans available at the club only. Memphis you’ve shown us some love, and we are returning it. This is DEFINITELY worth a road trip. We’ve played at the best venues in the country, and this is one of the best. If you have friends or family in Memphis, please help us spread the word….
3- There will be a live full length Cold Stares album released in 2018.
4- There will be a new full length follow up to “Head Bent” album released late summer/fall 2018 of 12 new Cold Stares songs.
5- There will be a national tour and European dates, as well as some other possible international shows.
6- You will be hearing more Cold Stares music on your favorite television shows.
7- There will be a host of Cold Stares giveaways including an huge Turntable/stereo giveaway partnering with our label Small Stone Records and a soon to be disclosed company.
8- Tour dates with another well known National act.
Stay tuned and please help us continue to spread the word about our album Head Bent with your friends. Please save our music into your playlists and libraries on Spotify and iTunes music as well. And please continue to email Bluesville and Octane and request our music! We thank you for your support and hope we can give it all back to you guys in 2018. Here we come……. TCS
Great review of “Head Bent” from our brothers in Moscow. Translated below-
The Cold Stares “Head Bent” (2017)
June 16, its first release in 2017, the year introduced a well-known independent rekod-label from Detroit Small Stone Recordings. CD and vinyl released a new full-length album THE COLD STARES from Nashville, the capital of Tennessee.
The Cold Stares
THE COLD STARES fans of swamp-blues, neo-hardcore and stoner music should be well acquainted. Starting in 2008, the duo Chris Tapp (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Brian Mullins (drums, percussion) won prestigious contests, went to national tours, performed at leading TV channels, played at prestigious festivals, composed and recorded music … led Costly litigation with the powerful record companies with whom they once argued contracts. The discography of the group includes: the full-length album “A Cold Wet Night And A Howling Wind” (2014), EP minions “Resonator” (2015), “Look Over Yonder Hill” (2015), “Dark Dark Blue” (2016) and ” The Southern “(2016), as well as several singles. On physical media, the recordings of THE COLD STARES were issued in a very limited number, due to the copyright conflict. But the digital versions had considerable success: for example, only on Amazon the digital version of the debut album was purchased by more than 25 thousand people … With the release of the album “Head Bent” on Small Stone, the music of THE COLD STARES again became accessible to disk collectors after a rather long break.
The 37-minute album included 11 new songs, produced directly by the authors – only new material that can be freely published and reprinted. Stylistics of changes has not undergone – THE COLD STARES are played electrified-weighted blues-rock with strong influences of authentic delta blues and ruth-americans.
According to the main song writer of the duo Chris Tapp, careful preservation of the authentic spirit of root American music is the main task of the team. “From the very beginning we tried to create music that we ourselves wanted to listen to … its strength is that we play what is natural for us and what is natural in those parts where we come from …”
The Cold Stares
Lyrics in the songs THE COLD STARES is primary. It is written and performed in a narrative-chanting “swinging” vocal manner typical for the American South and has a tangible personal character (which, among other factors, is affected by the fact that Chris Tapp has been fighting cancer for several years already). Absence of falsehood and posturing, maximum openness and sincerity of the message is exactly what has long attracted listeners of different ages and tastes to the songs of the duo. Instrumental accompaniment is quite simple: a massive, energetic rhythmic bit-groove; A moving, hard guitar riff and an occasional background moaning of the organ in the background. There are things in the program of the album more dynamic (“Head Bent”), but more than those that can be called mid-tempo heavy-action fighters on the blues base, in some cases the most direct relation to the traditionally proto-think (“Neighbor Blues”). In some rooms, the duo evokes associations with the great hard bands at the turn of the 60-70s Led Zeppelin, Free, The Groundhogs, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Peter Green … (listen to “John”, “Price to Pay”, “Caught in the Weather” , “Ball and Twine”, “One Way Outta Here”).
The Cold Stares
The sound of THE COLD STARES is vintage-analog, garazhno-working, rough-rough, without any gloss and glamor … and very rich – it’s hard even to imagine that it’s all played by only two musicians (although with the current recording technology, you can literally do that Anything, there would be talent, taste and skill sound engineer). In many notes, the Nashville duo is compared to the commercially successful The Black Crowes … not without reason, although Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins have their own and song-rhetoric, and the performing zest that makes the songs of the band very special (which is the acoustic album ” Break My Fall “- alas the only thing on the album of this kind). Well … it remains only to congratulate the band and release the label with a decent album. I would like to think that this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful cooperation.
After spending time back in the studio, The Cold Stares have come out swinging with their sophomore LP Head Bent. From the time the kick hits during “John,” to the more laid back “Break My Fall,” the energy doesn’t fade. I found myself bobbing my head at my desk, more often than usual. -Ryan Dekkinga
We had been working in the studio the last week of the Head Bent sessions and wrapped up mixing “One Way Outta Here”. We were talking about getting together to celebrate finishing when Brian asked how many minutes total we had. When we added it up, we saw we were three minutes short of the record label’s requirements. We just kinda sat there with Greg Pearce, our engineer trying to figure out how we miscalculated. We looked back through some of the demos, but we were really out of time, we talked about a few options, but none of it made sense. The one thing we had on every other CS release prior was some sort of acoustic piece. I told the guys I would just go home and write something, and bring it in the next day to cut acoustically solo. Luckily they trusted me, and we just decided to go that route. I sat down with my national that night late when I got home, shut the world out of my head, and open my mind to a dusty western frontier, and “Break My Fall” spilled out within about 3-5 minutes. I came into the studio the next day, sat down in front of mic, dimmed the lights, and sang it with the emotion I felt the character in my story felt. I could relate in ways to his plight, and poured myself into his shoes and became him for the 10 minutes we recorded it. I was happy to have it on the album, personally loved the emotion of the track, and the guys commented on the songs lyrics, but we never thought that much about it- since the rest of the album was so big and heavy.
Our album released June 16th, and #Spotify chose “Break My Fall” to add to their “Acoustic Blues” playlist. Which means out of hundreds of thousands of songs, “Break My Fall” was one of 54 songs they thought was cool enough for the playlist. Other artists in the playlist include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Derek Trucks, and my hero Robert Johnson. The playlist has over 300,000 followers, and immediately it launched the song. As of this evening the track had about 20,000 plays, all since June 16th, and has been growing around 2,000 plays a day. It’s brought attention to the album and the band we didn’t expect, but it’s funny how things work. The song that wasn’t supposed to be on the album, and that was written so quickly and easily becomes the cornerstone for what probably will launch this album. We are very blessed, and I’m thankful that the song is one that gives me chills every time I get to that third verse. There are two vocal influences towards the end of the song, one a reference to one of my musical hero’s with the choice of phrasing on “Hangman”, and a nod in that line to one of my favorite films where that character says, “Hollis, Hollis…take these men to…..” well, the inflection in her voice was haunting to me, and I’ve been to the place where Hollis took those men in Mississippi. If you know the film, you know where I mean.
The story of the song is, a stranger walks into a frontier western town, late 1800’s. Long string of misfortunes and he just wants to start over. He’s been there a few weeks when he hears talk around town the a local girl had gone missing. She had been seen with the stranger having a drink at some point, and he was arrested to be questioned. After being beaten for a few days, he is tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death. It’s 118 degrees, he’s standing at the gallows as they place the bag over his head. They tighten the noose around his neck, he pleads with the hangman for mercy, and just as the hangman pulls the lever, and the floor beneath him drops, the girl in question comes running up through the crowd, screaming “I’m alive”, just finding out that the man is being hung for her alleged death. She had been hiding with an outlaw out of town unaware of what had happened. That moment, the 6 feet of drop right before the rope snaps his neck, when the last thing he hears is her voice, the one thing that could bring him redemption, is what the song is really about. It is a parallel for so many things in our lives that we hold out hope for, pray for, that never come, or come to late. Bittersweet, but it is the story of life and death. All our character wants is something soft under him, someone to catch him to keep the rope from snapping his neck and taking his innocent life-
Break My Fall
Town folks gather round as they tighten the noose on my neck
Preacher says son is there anything you like to say?
Loosen your tongue, son tell us all your last request
I whispered to his ear, the last breath I held in my chest
Hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beck and call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
And let something soft break my fall
Said I killed the daughter of a man, and no one took my bond
And I although I loved her, I’d never wished her any harm
They never found her body, but they beat me to tell where she lay
But I was not the one, who’d taken and led her astray
So hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beckon call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
And let something soft break my fall
Crowd grew still as he placed the bag over my head
And the rope was pulled tight, just moments until I would be dead….
When I heard the voice of a girl who screamed I’m alive!
The sweetest sound to my ears on the day that I died.
Hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beckon call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
Let something soft please break my fall