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 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
We are 9 days away from the release of “Mountain” now. We thought it might be cool to break down some of the songs from the album for you guys. We’ll start out with our single “Sleeping With Lions”.
Pre-cancer, so around late 2011 I had the main riff of the song and it had morphed into a song called “Come Apart”. At that time it was angsty relationship song with what I felt were sub-par lyrics. We were playing the song out some and had even cut a demo in the studio. “Come Apart” didn’t feel up to snuff to me, and so it didn’t make the cut. Move forward two years and I was in the middle of chemo and radiation fighting cancer. We were doing everything that we could to move forward and keep recording. I literally was in the studio with Brian and Greg with a rash covering my body from the chemo trying to cut guitars. It was during that time that I kept coming back to this powerful guitar riff, and the opening anthem type melody. It just felt like it deserved lyrics that would match the power of the riff. I had been reading and focusing on people that had faced great adversity and overcome through faith. Two men really stood out to me, one was Job and the other Daniel from the bible. Both having to survive on nothing but faith. I could really relate to that. At the time I was also thinking about legacy, and that if something happened to me, any lyrics I left behind I wanted to inspire people. I was driving home one night and starting singing a line in my head over the guitar riff. “I hold the light that lights the pathway”. The way I write a lot of times is to construct the entire song in my head. I write a line, repeat, add another, repeat two, and another repeat three, until I’ve written and memorized something until I can make it to a pen and paper. By the time I had gotten home I had the chorus. “I hold the light that lights the pathway, I hold the key that locks the door, I mark the steps that lead to freedom, I swim the sea that leads to shore”. It was a declaration of giving 100% trust and faith to God that he would lead me through whatever was to happen.
I sat down and wrote the rest of the song in probably 2-3 minutes. The first verse I imagined a prisoner, locked away with no hope. Metaphors for a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, a kid stuck in a bad home, someone fighting disease, people silenced for their views, anyone trying to overcome. “Well they took them a hammer, and they took them a nail. And they built you a prison, and they made you a cell. And they gave you no ransom, and they set you no bail. No view of a heaven, yea they gave you their hell.”
Second verse came easily as well, and it is the story of David which still makes me shudder to think about. “Daniel on his knees, he continued to pray, and the king he forbid him, and they led him away. And they laid him with lions, and they told him goodbye. They returned in the morning, just to find him alive.” It is the universal story of faith and perseverance.
Forward months later, and I was on the mend and we cut the new song which was now “Sleeping With Lions”. With no releases immediately coming up we sat on the song. Forward a couple years and we had given some songs to our new publisher who was synching songs to television. Out of all the songs he had to pick from he kept telling me that “Sleeping With Lions” would land somewhere. I wasn’t so sure, and didn’t see it as a single. Sometimes this happens when you are very close to a song and it seems like it was just written for your circumstance. Regardless, I said sure, give it a shot. A few months later I got the call that it had been chosen out of our songs for the “Animal Kingdom” show on TNT. The rest as they say is history. “Sleeping With Lions” then followed up to be placed on ESPN’s coverage of the X-Games this fall. We have a good inclination that you will also hear it on something big in 2019. It was released October 1st 2019 as the first single off of “Mountain” and was added to 12 Spotify Editorial Playlists. To put that in perspective, on our last album “Break My Fall” and “Head Bent” were added to ONE each. Previous releases saw NO playlists placements. “Sleeping With Lions” is currently doing 10-15,000 streams per day and has done 180,000 since October 1st at the time I’m writing this.
I want to add one more note while we are on this subject. Bands ON record labels release records and spend tens of thousands of dollars to have consultants recommend their songs for Spotify playlists. Even after doing that, most do not see any of their songs make the editorial playlists. Those lists are the new top 40. The fact that we have released this record, WITHOUT a label, without consultants, paid for by our fans, and had this success solidifies that it’s a new world out there and this can be done without labels. It requires a lot of hard work, a lot of hustle, and more than anything a lot of FAITH. See you tomorrow with another track explanation. CT
Call or post a request for “Sleeping With Lions” on SiriusXM Octane or email Octane@siriusxm.com them and help us continue the success.
“Sleeping With Lions”
Well they took them a hammer
And they took them a nail
And they built you a prison, and they made you a cell
And they gave you no ransom, and they set you no bail
With no view of a heaven, yeah they gave you their hell
But I hold the light that lights the pathway
I hold the key that locks the door
I mark the steps that lead to freedom
I swim the sea that leads to shore
Daniel on his knees, he continued to pray
And the king he forbid him, and they led him away
And they laid him with lions, and they told him goodbye
They returned in the morning, just to find him alive….
I hold the light that lights the pathway
I hold the key that locks the door
I mark the steps that leads to freedom
I swim the sea that leads to shore
“Sleeping With Lions” from the TV show Animal Kingdom is the first single off our new full length record “Mountain” set for release on Halloween. Yesterday we crossed over 100,000 streams in the first ten days! Thanks to everyone streaming and saving and sharing.
Get the song here-
Sleeping with Lions
And request it here!
Mind on Jesus
Wade in the Darkness
Under His Command
If Your Way Gets Dark
Last of Grace
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