Making "Tracks" -- Sly Roosevelt to release "Animal Tracks" at V Club Friday

photo: Alene Baldwin

One step at a time, Sly Roosevelt (L-R: Matthew Marshall, Megan and Alexander Durand, Sean McDaniel, Jyoshua Sanders) have built their own studio, recorded their own record, and put it out themselves. The Huntington-based indie band releases their debut full-length "Animal Tracks" at the V Club Friday night.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s an exciting time to be in Sly Roosevelt. The Huntington-based indie band has spent eight months working like dogs, putting time and money into their studio and publishing outfit. Friday night, the band will release their debut full-length, “Animal Tracks,” at the V Club.

Since forming in 2008 with the nucleus of singer-guitarist Sean McDaniel, bassist Alexander Durand and drummer Matthew Marshall, and after welcoming lead guitarist Jyoshua Sanders and Megan Durand on keyboards a year or so later, Sly Roosevelt has been making a name for themselves with their highly charged version of indie rock.

Speaking over the phone from their studio in the Prichard Building on Sixth Avenue, McDaniel said that Sly Roosevelt is ready to get “Animal Tracks” out.

“I’m relieved to have it done, it seems like it’s been years in the making,” the 28-year old Proctorville, Ohio native said. “I’m extremely proud of how it went down and the decisions we made to do it ourselves.”

That do-it-yourself ethos pervaded every step in the process. With Alexander Durand and Marshall handling production, and Durand’s Bully Good Publishing handling duplication and packaging, Sly Roosevelt literally controls the method of production, no small luxury for a band.

“Matthew and I were interested in creating a studio environment, and fantasized about all this great equipment,” Alexander Durand said. “That went on the backburner for a few years. Then, when we had the opportunity to get the gear, it was just thrilling to have our own studio.”

McDaniel said everyone going in on the studio has paid off. “About a year ago we made a decision, every band has to make the decision, whether they want to go into a studio or build their own. We took a couple of thousand dollars, everyone pitched in money, and we started to accumulate gear.

“It gave us the freedom to comb through, to have control that we wouldn’t have had if we had to spend two months hovering over an engineer’s shoulder. That would’ve never happened and we would have never got the results we have if we didn’t put in the time and effort to build this thing.”

“We’re able to do it now the way we want to do it,” Megan Durand added.

“The wait has been totally worth it,” Sanders said of the new record, which was mixed by Jon Parsons and mastered by Russ Fox.

“The EP, “Old ‘P’” it does vary drastically from the album because it’s a totally different recording, and we got to see it with new eyes,” Sanders added. “It helped us realize that this is important, we need to be serious about it and it does takes precedence in our lives.”

While not necessarily a concept record, “Animal Tracks” is tied together lyrically and visually, with CD art provided by local artist Jarrod Schneider.

“There’s all these references to animals in the lyrics,” McDaniel said. “And the animal metaphor is crucial to the whole album, how it plays off different symbols, how we’re all animals, and these are our tracks,” he said with a laugh.

To help promote the album, Sly Roosevelt has been putting out a series of “Meet the King” episodes on YouTube, with a drinking, cursing Michael Bradbury dressed as a lion, and recently debuted the official video for “Lion,” off the new record.

Everyone in Sly Roosevelt is looking forward to an out-of-state string of shows in June, taking their music (evoking bands like Modest Mouse and At the Drive-In) to an unfamiliar audience spanning nine states.

“People have to want to listen to our music,” Marshall said. “They have to want to break away from the monotony of normal, popular music. If they have that mindset, I think they’ll love our band.”

“This is a pretty monumental time for us,” McDaniel added. “Getting the album done, establishing Bully Good, having all these things come to a head is a huge milestone. The tour is too, we’ve all been so excited, and terrified at the same time.”

Sly Roosevelt CD Release w/Love Culture and AC30
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680
WHEN: Friday, June 1, 10 p.m.
COST: $5
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.slyroosevelt.com


Best split ever? PBC pairs up with Uncle Bengine and the Restraining Orders

Well it’s been out and available, up and online for like a month or something, and not only is Uncle Bengine and the Restraining Orders one of the best band names ever maybe, but the Harrisonburg, Va.-based trio’s 13-song split with Prison Book Club, released on Funny/Not Funny Records, is one of the best pairings of bands on a split release we’ve heard together in recent memory.

Maybe, as with so many times in the past, anytime we’ll mention PBC we mention The Demon Beat. Their recent pairing with Elephant Child was solid; the bands fit well together as far as badass, jammed out garage rock.

But it’s been neat to see (hear, really) how PBC has progressed with their own mix of country and rock since releasing Required Reading in 2009. This split effort has five previously unreleased PBC songs with their take on Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” thrown in, and has PBC maybe employing more slide guitar sounds via Adam Meisterhans.

So, if nothing else, there’s enough songs here for PBC fans to almost make an EP out of it in their own head.

John Miller, with his country-tough voice, continues to share singing and songwriting duties (and life on the road) with longtime friend Tucker Riggleman in PBC. A perfect voice for this band. “Lights of the City” and “Drinkin’ by the River” are almost perfect anthems for life in not-much-to-do, not-much-money West Virginia, Western Maryland, or wherever you are. Riggleman’s stripped down, ethereal and simultaneously haunting sounding “Darker Side of Town” is another example of this. Riggleman sings as much as pines:

“When you take the poison long enough

One of these days it won’t let you back up

There’s a darker side of town

That’s where all my friends are bound”

Miller’s somber and (maybe) sober “Wouldn’t We” rounds out PBC’s contributions in jammed out badassery, with clangy guitar tones giving way to soaring solos. Something of a theme song for the band maybe, Miller sings: “We are the wayfarers/We are the light bearers. We are what we are.”

Both PBC and The Demon Beat deserve kudos for getting so much music out on splits and EPs and whatever, in between their full-length releases. Ever since you heard about PBC forming, who was in it, you knew they’d be awesome. No surprises here. Will look forward to hearing more new stuff from ‘em. And thumbs up to whoever arranged the songs on the split. Great job.


CD Review: "Young Spillers"


CD: Young Spillers
ARTIST: J Marinelli

There’s something to be said about our own excitement about hearing J Marinelli slightly revamp and re-rock songs he’s already released. Heck, some of our favorite records from the past four or five years are his Stone Age Kicks cover series.

But for fans of the Morgantown native/icon and now Lexington resident’s angry one-man band, even 2010’s Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions, Marinelli’s most recent 14-song full-length, with some previously released songs remade in salty, surly, or even somber fashion, maybe it’s not so much bittersweet, as it is just not surprising, and just not long enough!

We still love each and every song Marinelli, a veteran of Morgantown bands like The D’arbys, Braille Drivers and Swiss Army Tractor, now playing in Lexington’s Arcane Rifles, has ever released, though.

Marinelli returns in 2012 with his limited (now sold out) three-song, vinyl Young Spillers EP, (Stencil Trash) a release that, at barely five minutes worth of maximum-stomp-and-swing running time, with songs that Marinelli fans young and old will recognize, half serves as a tease, but just as much, reminds you why you love this distinctly Appalachian folk/punk rock rebel.

“Doves and Vultures” and “You Are Dismissed,” both off what we consider to be the definitive and most awesome Marinelli release, 2007’s Keep It Fake, revisit and remind listeners of Marinelli’s righteous indignation at two-faced scenesters and his own determination to “keep Morgantown weird,” even now in his absence, serving as the punk rock consciousness of a scene that he isn’t a part of anymore, one that he embodies with his own DIY ethos and by example.

One of the neat things about following Marinelli since his 2006 debut EP Pity The Party is, not only his own affections for re-recording his songs, but it’s noticing an increasing (?) trend for Marinelli stripping down his own angry one-man band persona and sound. Maybe this was first heard on Stone Age Kicks 2, as Marinelli picked up a banjo and delivered soft, touching renditions of “Head On” and “Wave of Mutilation.” The standout acoustic/harmonica version of “Pomade Years” on PSS is maybe another example of this.

We say all this because when you hear “20 Class A Cigarette Burns,” on the Young Spillers EP, if it sounds exactly like some old acoustic demo might, it’s because this just might be an original demo for the Braille Drivers’ 2001 release White Dwarfs and Red Giants. Great to see Marinelli pulling from that catalog.

Not surprising: that we’d go on for so long about a three-song release.

Also no surprise: we get so much from a dude sitting behind a very minimalist drum kit (kick/snare/hi-hat) with his caveman guitar, banjo, kazoo or harmonica, takin’ it to the shit talkers and solo schlock rockers, keeping his own distinct version of Appalachian folk and punk rock very much dangerous, and anything but fake.

--- Young Spillers is available for free download at the J Marinelli bandcamp page


Something that sucks: Arms and Sleepers calls it quits


Arms and Sleepers (above) have made friends and fans all over the world (even Charleston, W.Va.) with their music. The duo announced an indefinite hiatus last month.

Got some bummer news recently. As of April 2012, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ambient/down-tempo duo Arms and Sleepers, are on an “indefinite hiatus.” The first news of this seemed to indicate something more permanent, like a break-up, but still, indefinite hiatuses are never good when it comes to bands and expecting new music from them anytime soon.

It’s crazy but we’ve been following and covering Max Lewis and Mirza Ramic pretty much since around the time that they formed back in 2006.

It was around this time that they visited The Empty Glass in Charleston to play a show with The Concept. It was at this show that my wife and I met the A&S dudes, who were sharing the bill with The Concept.

Getting to see their music combined with tour footage and miscellaneous footage projected on a screen behind two dudes messing with synths and computers was as engrossing visually as it is sonically.

One of the things that was great over the years was to follow the group as it released new music, and see how they progressed since releasing “Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Be Alive” so many years ago.

I got to cover A&S around this time in Graffiti, and I know that Bill Lynch covered the group in the Gazette on one of their return trips to the Glass. WVRockscene even caught up with A&S here for a Q&A and a few reviews.

It just sucks enormously. Arms and Sleepers was one of the only groups that my wife and I could agree that we both liked. Nothing goes on forever, but Arms and Sleepers, since 2006, have released a lot of great music. Judging how much time I’ve spent on their bandcamp page, even if they’re no longer a functioning unit, I’ll no doubt remain a fan of their music. I have collected enough of their CDs over the years that I am assured of this fact.

Check out some youtube clips and visit their bandcamp page to hear all Arms and Sleepers releases.