Stormcellar is an innovative and original blues & roots band based out of Sydney Australia. Over the last 4 years, they have been touring extensively through the mid west regions of the US and rural Australia. All the while "in search of the shared myth that connects Celtic, Folk, Roots, Blues, Country and Rock.". Defiance is the final chapter of a three part concept album named 'Mid West Triptych'. The album has just gone #1 on the Australian Blues & Roots music chart, marking this Stormcellar's third #1 album.
Defiance was produced in collaboration with Alan Johnson (John Fogerty, Kid Rock & Paul Rodgers), and recorded & mixed in Indianapolis and featuring legendary guests, Larry Crane (John Mellencamp band), Rob Dixon (saxophone player, Ray Charles) and more. Combining influences outside of the standard blues and rock genres, throughout the record you can hear musical styling's of country, alternative folk, indie rock, and even laid back jazz. Already at work on their 10th project Stormcellar have been recording in the dome of Skywatch Observatory in the Dark Skies area of Coonabarabran, New South Wales and are scheduled for their 5th US tour in 2018, where they have gained a cult following. With great songwriting, studio performances, combined with unique collaborations and impressive recording quality; it's easy to see why Defiance has gone straight to the top of the charts.
TRACK BY TRACK
"Hard Rock" starts off the album with high energy, blue rock n' roll vibes. Lead guitar glides over tight bass and drums grooves. The drums full and powerful, as the rich country style vocals sing the hook "Caught between a hard rock and a good time". Showcasing gang vocals in the chorus, and riveting slide guitar sections. Later in the tune we get to hear a fantastic electric guitar solo with a rich warm tone. "Hard Rock" tells the story of an eager man entering a bar, who notices an elusive woman. The lyrics go on to describe her sultry confidence, and his attempts to make a move.
"Julie" begins with a cool shuffle beat on the bass drum and snare, and mesmerizing delayed chorused guitar. "Hey hey hey, Julie, everytime I touch you it feels like Saturday night", gang vocals come in to sing "hey hey hey". Throughout the song there are little musical gems, like descending harmonics, the impassioned lead guitar solo after the 2nd chorus, and the tight dynamic shifts from the bridge that burst back into the last chorus, fading away with the mesmerizing delayed guitar from the intro. An ode to Julie, the sun, moon, and afternoon of Saturday night. possibly in reference to the elusive woman from the intro tune "Hard Rock"?
"Chase the Dragon", describes the distance a man has gone to pursue his love, from Maine, to San Luis Obispo, chasing the 'dragon', the mysterious connection between two people, the kind that makes you rearrange your entire life. A softer side of Stormcellar, this song starts with steady bass drum, and acoustic guitar. Melodic and introspective lyrics "Gone so far away to feel near you ...you don't know what i would give to be with you tonight". The rest of the band drops in when the chorus starts, deep bass, and charming female vocals sing in harmony. Blues slide guitar bending and tugging at your heart strings.
"Stopping By", an upbeat tune, with a nice throwback feel to the late George Michael's "Faith". Acoustic guitar chords, over a bass drum and snare shuffle feel. Bass sits right in the pocket. "I'm warm in winter, and I'm cool in spring, might have no money but I don't miss a thing". "Stopping By" sings a tale of courtship, making plans, leaning on his lovers door frame, whistling, letting her know he should be her man. Vocals dripping with cowboy "strut, and swagger".
"Heavy Weather" features a memorable saxophone intro, with incredible tone and musicianship that interweaves throughout the song with a equally impressive lead guitar solos that blow all the doors down. The first half of first verse stripped down to the essentials, bass drums, and harmonies, sliding into sweet sax solos, over top darker bluesy riffs. Groovy bass lines come up for air, and bring out the depth to the song. "I got so much lovin', that I got more than you need, I got so much lovin', why won't you believe?". Light and soulful female vocals echoing the end of the chorus singing, "why won't you believe?".
"Feels to Win" comes right out of the gate with a killer unison riff on guitars, bass. "Feels to Win" is lyrically creative and full of imagery. "Every single problem is a solution in reverse, all you need is time to work it out", truer words haven't been spoken. The song describes life's obstacles like swimming against the current, in comparison to the victorious feeling of actually winning against all odds. Soaring guitar solos, shredding on the fret board at times, and sustaining notes that create good tension and bring out emotion. Everyone ending on that unison riff, bringing the song full circle.
"Like a Stone (Jo)" is one of our favorites on 'Defiance" , shining a light on female vocalist "Jo", and adding a beautiful trumpet accompaniment throughout the track. The lyrics of "Like a Stone" are pure poetry in motion, with imagery of the shore, and waves, along with metaphors of the beauty of life and longing. "My soul stands alone like a beacon on a hill shining over endless seas, shining for eternity, waiting in the dark to see another light reflecting me"
"Color My World" has us picturing a packed country bar on a Saturday night, with bottles clinking, lines for the pool tables, young couples spinning out of control on the dance floor. "You made up my mind for me, color my world and then you set me free", vocals shine, reminiscent of the top country male vocalists of today. Tambourine and drums jump and rattle along, with western themed bass lines, electric guitar, and vocal harmonies.
"Go Down Easy" begins with a rolling snare pattern; leaving room for textured bass and guitar parts to flow on top. The sonic landscape creates a unique, yet nostalgic indie rock feel. Rich male and female vocals harmonies climb and fall, as the lyrical verses describe memories as wild fires, and trying to find the answers to why we cling to things that hurt us. Stellar lead guitar solos pop out of the mix, then slide back in right before leading into a slide guitar feature. Continually impressed throughout this album by the variations on tones, and stylistic guitar playing, all of which is tasteful and essential to the Stormcellar sound. "Let me go down easy, let me go down, let me go down free"
"Better Off Without You", takes us on journey of a man's self discovery. The rebuilding of shattered walls of confidence after a failed relationship. "After all the talking" the singer makes up his mind that he's doing just fine on his own. "Maybe I'll go bowling, maybe I'll open up a beer, After all the talkin', maybe I've decided, after all the talkin', baby I've decided I'm better off without you". Lots of dynamic changes in the rhythm section between the verses and chorus, layered with harmonies and melodic guitar parts. Bass guitar, steady and warm, holding all the pieces like glue, helping maintain a strong song foundation.
"Isn’t How I Wanted It", has a great indie, alternative rock groove. The singer describes talking to an old flame. How it's nice to see them, and that they "like what they did with the place"... the garden in the back, pet chameleons long gone. "You seem so familiar, but I can't understand a word you say." People change, and it's something every in life struggles to understand and cope with. "Isn't How I Wanted It" features an intricate bass line, and punchy drum parts, allowing dissonant guitars to ring out and bring attention and tension to the verses. "...But who are these people, and all the ones they have replaced? this isn't how I wanted it".
"Momma Don’t Mind", is your classic blues throwback, shuffle beat, with standout harmonica parts, guitar and bass layering in with exciting licks and rolling parts all culminating as the vocals come in; "Well your momma don't mind, and your daddy don't mind, I don't care what your momma don't allow, kick out the jams..." Sultry, and with a touch of drunken confidence... 'we're gonna do what we want, and don't care what your momma has to say about it' attitude. Some of the best guitar performances on the album.
"Like A Stone (Full Band)" , though we have heard this song earlier on the record, it's no small feat to say it's a pleasure to hear it again in a new light. "My heart is like a stone, washed up on the sand, waiting for discovery, waiting for your hand to uncover me...". A good song can transcend any genre, and "Like A Stone" definitely fits into that category. From a traditional folk song feel, to a reggae pop song. Laid back ocean vibes, upstroke guitar, bass and drums swaying in perfect time. Melodic bluesy guitar lead comes in and sweeps us away into the last chorus, featuring smooth lead vocals, over mellow harmonies, with a sweet last message from Stormcellar.. that "all that's right is beautiful".
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