Good alternative American music really seems to grow on trees.
The European market is pretty much flooded with guitar-wielding Yanks all looking to earn a few extra quid from us musos with funny accents over the ocean.
There’s a lot of rubbish we could live without, of course, but think of the bands from the States that we haven’t even heard of. In the same way that, let’s say… the Son(s), Meursault and Over the Wall may have a handful of fans over there, they’re not remotely well known - even though they should be.
So just many how many good American bands are we not getting exposure to? There must be THOUSANDS.
Far too many to listen to clearly, but let’s try and scratch the surface with one wee tip from the Tidal Wave of Indifference. If you thought that last Band of Horses album was a bit of a let down, or perhaps like Wye Oak but wish they would turn down that guitar a little, then we think we have the band for you.
The Great American Canyon Band don’t sound like they should come from the festering metropolis that is Baltimore, rather their home ought to be out on the range. But these urbanites aren’t letting their city of origin distract them from making expansive, countrified music that demands your attention.
Debut EP Wild Heart (ok, maybe not a great title but stick with us) is out now on Bandcamp. The band consist of the hirsute Paul Masson and his lady wife Krystal Jean and this initial effort has been produced by Chris Freeland (Lower Dens, Wye Oak) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird, Spoon). Experienced gents, used to mixing it up with some serious American talent.
Here’s Paul from the band to tell you a little more:
So who the hell are you?
A husband and wife. We sing songs together.
Describe your sound in ten words or less!
Late night drive, windows down, stars above, volume up.
Nice! How did you and Krystal get together?
I asked her if she’d ever measured her hair before. She said no, but that I should sit down with her. I then asked what she was doing for the next 72 hours as I was moving in three days, but hoped she’d be willing to spend those three days with me. She laughed, said yes, and at the end of those three days I told her I was going to marry her. Her answer… “Prove it”, so I did.
No difficulties in recording music with your nearest and dearest then?
The only real difficulty was Krystal Jean’s horrendous allergy to cats. Chris Freeland has two very sweet cats, Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty who keep the musicians company while they work in his studio. But after the first day of her trying to cut vocals while having an allergy attack we decided to do her parts somewhere else!
What influences have you drawn upon?
Krystal Jean and I fell in love singing Hank Williams Sr, The Carter Family, Merle Haggard, Johnny and June, etc. and those old country songs play a big role in our writing. When we started working with Chris Freeland I told him these songs were country folk songs at their core, but they had to sound as big as a mountain. So at that point people like Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, Phil Spector, became big influences. The way those guys harnessed so much sound from just basic instrumentation. That was what we were going for.
I can’t think that there are any canyons around Baltimore – what’s with the name?
The name owes a lot to Gram Parson’s idea of “Cosmic American Music”. Simply put that’s what we’re aiming to do, and the name is an extension of that idea.
How was making an EP with two guys who are practically royalty in American recording circles?
The first time I met Chris Freeland I was visiting a session he was doing with Krystal Jeans best friend Bethany Dinsick (who is an amazing songwriter and singer in her own right) and when I arrived I found Bethany folded into a kick drum recording her vocals. When I asked what was going on Chris informed me that he was trying to capture some of her deeper frequencies and thought this might be a good way to do so. It was at this moment I knew that I had to work with him. As for Jeff and Maria at Peerless Mastering I say the same thing every time. They are hands down the sweetest people I have ever spoken with, and their work speaks for itself. Chris did amazing mixes, but I had not truly heard the songs until Jeff and Maria worked on them. Absolutely amazing!
Can we expect to see any European shows on the horizon?
There is nothing concrete as of right now but there are some things in the works that will hopefully be putting us over there sometime later this year. Fingers crossed.
Have a listen to EP track A Song for the Rest and if you agree with our sentiments that The Great American Canyon Band ought to be a very big deal, then download both songs off the EP.
And if you don’t, then you and that last Band of Horses album deserve each other.