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ky bscBlack Stone Cherry
Kentucky
Barrick Studios: Edmonton, KY
Mascot Label Group
Available: April 1, 2016
BlackStoneCherry.com

“So turn the radio up when your heart breaks down.”

Rock n’ roll. Southern. Hard. Dirty. Grungy. But, sometimes soft. Ballad-esque. That’s who they are. And they’re perfectly comfortable with that. Opting not to experiment that much with their solidified iconic sound, Black Stone Cherry continues to pledge allegiance to their musical roots by returning to the very studio where they first recorded Rock-n-Roll Tape, their first EP in 2003, recorded at Barrick Studios in Glasgow, Kentucky. The same studio they would eventually record their first self-titled major release via Roadrunner Records, now 10 years ago. It’s fair to refer to this album as a “roots” endeavor, right?

Most of the album is a metaphorical product of its time, both for the band personally, and our generation as a whole. They waste no time showing that sentiment on the opener, with “The Way of the Future.” Filing some well-timed complaints about greasy politicians, BSC wales of the semi-dystopian state of our current reality with heavy washed-out guitar riffs and bone-crunching percussion that emulates the frustration we all feel.

A cover of Edwin Starr’s 60’s classic “War” is a doggone epic rendition of the original, and represents the Doo Wop and Soul influence that was bestowed onto the band by way of drummer John Fred Young’s musical familial heritage, father and uncle of grammy award winning Kentucky Headhunters. Nonetheless, the song’s appearance on the album feels like another well-timed political statement they’re making overall. I’m pretty sure I’m hitting the nail on the head with this assertion.

Ok, I gotta wrap this shit up. I’m rambling, but speaking of which, “The Rambler” is probably the most heartfelt and tear-jerking song these boys have ever written, “Cheaper To Drink Alone” is not only true, but a damn good rock-junkie song to drink to, and “Soul Machine” is another guitar-solo-fueled example of their soul influence.

Theoretically, every album released by Black Stone Cherry could’ve been called “Kentucky.”
Why?
Dumb question.
Because that’s what these boys are – in and out, thru and thru. 
Ken-FUCKIN-tucky.
OK?
Just like the crazy BASTARD who scribbled this review.

*Reviewed under extreme duress of Vanilla Stoli and Diet Coke by Jason Ashcraft

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Black Stone Cherry 2014

Magic Mountain Album Artwork

Black Stone Cherry
Magic Mountain
Roadrunner Records

Produced by: Joe Barresi www.BlackStoneCherry.com

Much like they did when they first formed in 2001, Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry has recorded an album that essentially reiterates their stylistic roots as a band. Hard. Southern. Rock-n-roll. Maybe in that order, and maybe their best recorded effort ever. Considering they are probably Southern Rock’s unofficial-official torch-bearers.

However, somewhat unlike their youthful formative elementary days, Magic Mountain’s topics are a bit more college’y, highlighted by moments of verbal sultry bluntness more so than their previous three releases. Perhaps so blatantly, that we can go ahead and officially add “stoner-rock” to their growing list of genre identifiers.

The opening track, “Holding On To Letting Go,” sets a fast pace that rarely slows down throughout the album. Between the first single, “Me and Mary Jane,” or other tunes like “Peace Pipe” or the album’s title cut, there are enough marijuana-friendly references for this recording collection to be a modern day Cheech and Chong movie soundtrack. Where C&C go to Kentucky. Theoretically.

Of course, a Black Stone(d) Cherry album is never really complete until, in prideful anthemic-fashion, there’s a song which glorifies their home state of Kentucky. A place they’re not ashamed from being. The tune this time is “Hollywood In Kentucky” where the guys proclaim that “KFC would still be Kentucky Fried Chicken” and where “you get your ass kicked if you talk about my mother.”

And that song closes out with an instrumental guitar-fueled bluegrass’ish jam session.

Word.

Key Tracks: “Me and Mary Jane” “Dance Girl” “Fiesta Del Fuego” “Hollywood In Kentucky”

This review also published at PerformerMag.com and in Performer Magazine’s July 2014 issue. 

 

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No, my fingers didn’t get chopped off. Nor did any other of my body parts. I’m not dead, either. Not yet. Bummer, right? It usually takes something happening out of Kentucky, musically, that actually leaves the state’s borders, to bring me out of my so-called editorial hibernation.

I’ve been following these young Southern Kentucky lads, Black Stone(d) Cherry, since they were 16 years old. I think Ben and John Fred were still sophomore’s in high school when I first met them in Jillian’s Louisville (now Diamonds Pub). How’d they get into a bar at 16, you may ask? Well, when your father is Richard Young, founding member and guitarist of the Kentucky Headhunters, they just kinda get to go where they damn well please in Kentucky’s live music venues. And as history would have it, I would be lucky enough to be invited down to their Edmonton-based practice house, and be the first published journalist to interview and write about them.

Black Stone Cherry 2014So, that said, the bad boys from Southern Kentucky, who literally are Southern Rock’s torch-bearers, are back, and they’re dropping their new album, Magic Mountain, May 6th via Roadrunner Records.

Black Stone Cherry commented on the making of Magic Mountain, stating, “Not since before our first album have we felt the freedom and confidence that we felt while writing and recording this album. After touring the world behind three previous albums that we are extremely proud of, we feel this album best captures the live energy, honesty and vibe that encompasses our true musicianship.”

Without going into to much detail, I’ll confirm this. For those few of you who have a copy of Rock-n-Roll Tape, their first studio demo from 2001, think that kind of musical rawness, mixed with their modern-era rhythmic hooks, typical dirty guitars, and now throw in a little social support for the nation’s green movement, and you’ve got Magic Mountain.

Yes, I’ve had a copy of it for a little while now, and yes, I’ll publish my random rhetoric and review of it at PerformerMag.com. And for some odd reason it’ll appear in Performer Magazine’s July 2014 issue. My Editor must be nuts…just like me. And like Black Stone(d) Cherry too I suppose…

 

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Leading up to their Forecastle Festival performance on Friday the 13th, founding members of Kentucky’s Sleeper Agent, Alex Kandel (vocals) and Tony Smith (lead guitar) chatted with me on a few things like their influences, what they think of other Kentucky musicians, Alex’s recent nomination into the latest Rolling Stone readers poll, and what their new album holds.

Jason Ashcraft: I’m here with Kentucky’s own Sleeper Agent, Tony and Alex, how are you all doing today? 

Tony Smith: Pretty good 

Alex Kandel: Yeah, we’re doing good. 

Excellent. So here we are at Forecastle Festival 2012, and it’s Friday the 13th. Any superstitions? 

Tony: (laughing) No! 

Alex: No, we’ll watch a horror movie I guess. We’re big horror movie fans as a band. 

Horror movie fans? 

Alex: Yeah. 

Does that have any influence on your music by chance? 

Tony: Only on stuff like “Be My Monster” 

Alex: Yeah, I guess. Then there is our publishing thing called “Sleep-away Camp” which is named after one of favorite movies. 

You guys have been a really up-and-coming band after only being together for just a couple of years, so tell me about your musical influences and your chemical influences? 

Tony: Uh, a lot of beer. 

Alex: (laughing) Caffeine. 

Tony: Musically, if you’d ask me two years ago it’d be totally different….

Alex: Constantly changing. Right now? I mean I will always be influenced by The Ronettes. 

And you also have a likeness for Fiona Apple, who I believe was the first concert you ever went to? 

Alex: Um, yeah it was THE first concert I ever went to. It was like, I didn’t actually know it till I found a journal entry from that time. (laughing)  But, it’s kind of funny how things work out. 

Cool. 

So I like to focus on a lot of Kentucky artists. And since you guys are amongst that group now, I’ve got a list here of other Kentucky based artists. I’m gonna call their names out and the first word that comes to mind when I say their name, just tell me what it is. Whatever your first reaction is. 

Tony: This could be dangerous. 

Alex: (laughing) 

So let’s start off with My Morning Jacket.

Tony: Epic

Alex: Epic, yeah that’s the word. 

Nappy Roots.

Tony: What happened? 

Alex: (laughing) They’re great. 

Tony: They’re great guys, but after their second album they kind of disappeared. 

Black Stone Cherry.

Tony: Metal. 

Alex: I don’t know. I’ve met them a few times. They were really nice. 

Cage The Elephant

Alex: Family.

Tony: Family (laughing). 

Loretta Lynn

Alex: Amazing.

Tony: Up there. 

Days of the New

Tony: Unheard of.

Alex: No idea who that is.

Kentucky Headhunters

Alex: Legendary

Tony: I was going to say that actually. 

Good to know. Welcome to the Kentucky music family so to speak. 

So, Alex. Turning the attention to you for a moment. You were recently nominated in Rolling Stone’s latest readers’ poll “Women Who Rock.” So, tell me. Why do you rock? 

Alex: (smiling) Because I’m actually in a “rock” band. Which, you know, some of the other contestants aren’t. I got that going for me. And because I live in a van, and just like play shows all the time and there is no smoking mirror. I’m just working my ass off. 

Tony: You’ve gotten injured several times. 

Alex: Oh, I have scars. 

Oh, scars. Scars are good. 

Alex: (pointing to a scar on her upper forehead) Can you see it? From a guitar. 

Yeah. What happened there? 

Alex: (smiling and laughing) I broke Tony’s guitar with my head. 

That is totally awesome! If you don’t “rock” for that alone, then I don’t know who does. 

In your own words, you know, with a lot of bands it takes them a long time to get where you guys have already gone. Why do you think its happened so quickly for you guys?

Tony: Well, technically it took us nine years to get here. So what this is, is the dregs of all the other projects plus Alex (laughing). So just nine years of non-stop work. 

Alex: Yeah, they’re is a lot that goes into it too, and you have to be the right sound, with the right path. Our first record was just good timing and the right people believing in us at the right time. A lot of factors go into what makes us a band. It has nothing to do with what we make alone. It has everything to do with what people hear it, and every fan that bought our record and came to our shows. 

Cool. Well looking forward to hearing you play here at Forecastle Festival. And I just caught wind that you guys are writing a new record already. Any thoughts or anything you’d like to share with that? 

Tony: I’m really excited. 

Alex: Even though I’m just hearing the songs in their very early stages where they’re just infants, it’s really cool to know that I am already proud of this record.  

Release date yet? Do you even know? 

Alex: I have no idea. 

Would you say your music is evolving? Are you experimenting? Or staying with your same root sound? 

Tony: Yeah, the first album was more of a sketch. This one is more of a painting. 

** This interview is also posted at LouisvilleKY.com

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Two Kentucky musicians, Louisville’s My Morning Jacket and Edmonton’s Black Stone Cherry both debuted their latest albums on May 31. Now, both these Kentucky rockers are realizing some of their highest Billboard 200 chart successes to date.

MMJ’s Circuital checked in at #5, just above two Nashville country puppets (whew!) and just below Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs.

BSC’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea clocked in at #29, just above the Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light (at #32), I might add.

MMJ continues to stay in the limelight in virtually every viewable media and every huge music festival. Since they launched Circuital, they’ve also debuted a Vh1 Storytellers episode, and played on the Jimmy Fallon show. Right now they are gearing up for their Bonnaroo performance, and even managing to pitch in and play a benefit concert for the Tuscaloosa tornado victims. Nice Kentucky boys they are, right?

BSC is currently on tour in Europe. They’re headed back to the U.S. in July, and will make a Friday, August 26th Kentucky State Fair gig in Louisville, as part of the Carnival of Madness Tour. I’m anticipating it will be in Cardinal Stadium again, but more to come on exact location in the fair.

So, if you haven’t bought a copy of Circuital or BTD&TDBS yet, then get out there and get your hands on a copy or logon to iTunes. Let’s see how far we can help export these Kentucky boys.

Here are some videos from each of their latest albums:

Videos and album artwork courtesy of Roadrunner Records for BSC, & ATO Records for MMJ.

** This review also published at Louisville.com

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BTD&TDBS Album Artwork

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

by Black Stone Cherry

Roadrunner Records
Produced by: Howard Benson

In Stores: May 31, 2011

Kentucky-natives Black Stone Cherry has taken their shirts off for their junior release via Roadrunner Records. While extending their traditional heart-felt southern style of rock n’ roll, they’ve finally flexed their lyrical muscle with occasional salaciousness and plenty of blunt statements.

After five years of canvassing the U.S., Canada & Europe with bands like Black Label Society, Buckcherry, Nickelback, Def Leppard and Hinder, Black Stone Cherry now shows some of their tour-mates semblance.

On “White Trash Millionaire” you’ll hear some Zakk Wylde-esque guitar chops and bold Buckcherry-ish lyrical decrees like “…Ain’t got much and I don’t care, count your cash and kiss my ass, this whole damn world gonna know I been here, I got two zig-zags and you know I’ll share…”

Their once southern-darling adolescence begins to bolt with songs like “Let Me See You Shake,” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, where BSC firmly plants their flag of sexual appreciation for the opposite sex.

They also introduce their first recorded cover song of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” with plenty of their own influence added, and do manage to stay true to their polite Kentucky-boy roots on “Like I Roll,” where you get heart-felt admissions of “…I roll to the hills of my old Kentucky home, back to the place where my heart belongs…”

**This review also posted at Louisville.com

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Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry is a band who knows how to create timeless rock ‘n roll music while introducing new and innovative sounds, and the Edmonton-natives are at it again, announcing a new record titled “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” which is set to hit stores on May 31. This marks their 3rd release on one of rock ‘n roll’s premiere record companies Roadrunner Records.

While the band’s last record, “Folklore and Superstition,” was a compelling tribute to brotherhood and history, the new album is the summation of a year in the life of the band. Every emotion, triumph, loss, romance and everything in between was the inspirational backdrop for “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.”

This marks the first time Black Stone Cherry has not recorded in the South, this time taking up residence in Los Angeles to work with famed producer Howard Benson (Theory of a Deadman, Daughtry, Three Days Grace). The new surroundings allowed them to strengthen their relationships as both band members and friends, ultimately a detail that sets “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” above previous recordings.  The raw intensity that pervades the music on this album harkens back to the early days of Black Stone Cherry, when they were a bunch of blue-collar guys just making music together for the hell of it.

The band admits “When we first began writing music, we hadn’t traveled very far out of our home state of Kentucky.  Now, ten years later, we’ve traveled the world and experienced things we never imagined we would.”

The album’s first single White Trash Millionaire, set to hit airwaves in April, pairs Robertson’s soulful delivery with the urgent and infectious rhythms of his fellow players. Sure, this is Southern rock at heart; but the concept is universal: just take what the world gives you and make that work. You can preview the song now:

Play White Trash Millionaire by Black Stone Cherry

“This album is the culmination of all of the everyday ups and downs life throws at you,” says the band.  “Sonically, you’ll hear some of the meanest sounding guitar riffs we’ve ever laid down, and at the same time, you’ll find ballads that will tug on your heartstrings.  We wanted the album’s intensity to match that of our live show.  We’re very proud of this album and excited for our fans to hear it!”

To celebrate the release of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” Black Stone Cherry is participating in an ongoing partnership with Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon. The promotion brings 450,000 Black Stone Cherry branded bottles to shelves nationwide through June, including special mp3 offers and a chance to win a trip to meet the band at one of their shows.

Black Stone Cherry is set to have quite the busy spring, with tours with Hinder and Alter Bridge on the horizon:

4/8 @ Lucky Star Casino- Clinton, OK (with Hinder)
4/9 @ St. Mary’s University – San Antonio, TX (Fiesta Oyster Bake w. Hinder, Saving Abel)
4/12 @ Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO (with Hinder)
4/13 @ The Great Salt Air – Salt Lake City, UT (with Hinder)
4/15 @ Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA (with Hinder)
4/17 @ Knitting Factory Concert House – Spokane, WA (with Hinder)
4/19 @ Knitting Factory Concert House – Boise, ID (with Hinder)
4/21 @ Roseland Theater – Portland, OR (with Alter Bridge)
4/22 @ Knitting Factory – Reno, NV (with Hinder)
4/23 @ House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV (with Alter Bridge)
4/24 @ The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA (with Alter Bridge)
4/26 @ SLO Brewing Company – San Luis Obispo, CA
4/27 @ The Grove – Anaheim, CA (with Alter Bridge)
4/29 @ The Great Salt Air – Magna, UT (with Alter Bridge)
4/30 @ Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO (with Alter Bridge)
5/2 @ House of Blues – Chicago, IL (with Alter Bridge)
5/3 @ House of Blues – Chicago, IL (with Alter Bridge)
5/7 @ Metrolina Expo – Charlotte, NC (AVALANCHE 2011 w. Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman)
5/8 @ NorVa – Norfolk, VA (with Alter Bridge)
5/10 @ Valarium – Knoxville, TN (with Alter Bridge)
5/11 @ Cannery Ballroom – Nashville, TN (with Alter Bridge)
5/12 @ Piere’s Entertainment Center – Ft. Wayne, IN (with Alter Bridge)
5/15 @ The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
5/17 @ The Palladium – Worcester, MA (with Alter Bridge)
5/18 @ Northern Lights – Albany, NY (with Alter Bridge)
5/19 @ Best Buy Theatre – New York, NY (with Alter Bridge)

Here is a short video of BSC in the studio:

** This press release also posted on Louisville.com

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