WED MAR 18
Young Widows' bruising 2006 debut, Settle Down City, introduced the Louisville, KY trio as an ugly force to be reckoned with. Two years later they dropped Old Wounds, their sophomore stomp that inspired at least a dozen imitators of varying degrees of success. From there the band traded some of their trademark fury for the bleak, widescreen atmospheres of In and Out of Youth and Lightness. Now, three years later, Young Widows meld the strengths of their past and their tenacity for the future to forge Easy Pain, an album perfectly befitting their merciless moniker.
In 1998, Shannon Wright disbanded her group Crowsdell, moved from New York City to nowheresville North Carolina and sold nearly everything she owned. She had enough of the music biz. On her guitar and a friend's piano, she started writing songs later found on her debut album, Flight Safety, released in 1999. Touring a tremendous amount directly following that release led to the formation of her second full-length Maps of Tacit in 2000, an album that stood up on a chair and pointed it's finger at the crowd, questioningly.
Dyed in the Wool, her third release, is the prevailing document of Shannon Wright's earnest singularity and adept capacity for writing beautiful songs. This record unfolds Shannon's distinct penchant for instantaneous melodies over twisted, poetic settings that range from irresistible pop to the uniquely baroque.
The songs on this album include some of Shannon's most inspired performances and complex songwriting. The melodies are executed with unnerving emotion while Shannon's percussive guitar playing and self-taught, splayed-finger Thelonious Monk-isms on the piano give the songs an untouchably rare character. Shannon enlisted a line of talented friends, whose musicianship spreads itself over bands like The Rachel's, Shipping News, The Glands, Boxhead Ensemble, Edith Frost Band, Lofty Pillars, Rock*A*Teens and The Japancakes, to play many of the backing parts that she had written. On prior albums, Shannon had the exhausting task of playing nearly all the instruments herself. Having a band in the studio allowed Shannon the opportunity to layer songs with subtle nuances. The addition of lush string accompaniment adds a new emotional texture to Dyed in the Wool, which like her previous records, was engineered by Andy Baker in Athens/Atlanta and Steve Albini in Chicago.
Any of the album's individual parts - sublimely elusive lyrics, timeless melodies tied with crafted arrangements and potently heartfelt studio performances - intertwine, connecting this album to the masterful songwriting of Shannon's Flight Safety with the frightening intensity of her Maps of Tacit.
Given Shannon's furious live performances, there is no question as to why both the Dirty Three and Low have selected her as an almost exclusive choice for an opener. Shannon recently garnered huge European acclaim while opening for, as well as playing and singing with Calexico. Shannon will be performing some solo shows in support of Dyed in the Wool, but mostly will tour with a full band, including US and Canadian dates with excursions into Europe and South America.
The Austerity Program
The Austerity Program is two people from New York City and their drum machine. Thad Calabrese plays bass and Justin Foley sings and plays guitar.
Thad and Justin began playing music together while attending college in New York City. We were not, at that point, the Austerity Program. Instead, we were called Polonium after what we thought was the heaviest metal on the periodic table. We're rerelease some of that stuff soon. Here's a sneak preview: we listened to a lot of Bolt Thrower.
After school Justin moved up to Hartford, CT while Thad stayed in NYC. This made practicing infrequent and difficult. In 1997, Justin moved back to New York and we began working on new material in earnest. We played our first show in 1998 at Coney Island High. Do not ever try to lie and tell us that you were there, because we personally knew each of the 11 people in the audience. At that point we kept all of our stuff in a big loft in the Bronx. Practices were either freezing cold or swelteringly hot depending upon the time of the year.
After a few years Justin got a house and we relocated to Queens. We practiced in his cramped basement and spent most of our band's golden years building a recording/rehearsal room in his backyard. Details abound on this project up in the "Studio" section above. Abound.
These days, Thad lives in Brooklyn and Justin still lives in Queens. We get together about twice a month to practice. = During the day Thad teaches college. Justin works for a labor union. We are both married to two wonderful women. That's "both", not "each". We've got five wonderful kids between us. You may think that slows us down for being a band, but you'd be wrong. Our pace may be slow but we have no plans to stop, ever.