Tim Barry

Right now, Tim Barry is detoxing. Not from drugs or alcohol, but from his own music. “When the record’s finally done, and the master is approved, I erase every file that’s been sent to me and I throw out all the CDs with all of the rough mixes. I get rid of everything,” says Barry.

And that’s exactly where he’s at, in the middle of cleanse from his own work. But on September 8, he’ll sit down with his new record, High On 95 (Chunksaah Records), one last time. And like everyone else listening to it that day, it’ll be for the first time. “I generally never listen to the record again except one time on the day it comes out,” says Barry. “That’s when I actually hear the record from the perspective of the people who are into it.” And what those people will hear—along with the artist himself—is a record that explores the human condition in classic Tim Barry fashion.
“Slow Down” opens the record and sees Barry tearing at his guitar strings while weaving a tale about alienation, shame, and getting the hell out of Brooklyn. His sister Caitlin Hunt’s lonesome violin joins him on his journey, as Barry’s burly voice lumbers forth, admitting faults (“I’ve always been thirsty / I’ve always been a wreck”) but never becoming defeated. It’s a song that sets up the themes that will be touched on time and again throughout High On 95: Fear, loneliness, pain, and isolation. But for all these anxieties, Barry never wallows.

Instead, he finds hope in the journey. “If I’m talking about real life shit, just getting things off of my chest, if they don’t have an element of hope, then there’s no use in writing it,” says Barry. And for every moment that aches with a feeling that borders on defeat, it’s flanked by Barry’s perseverance and unbreakable work ethic. While there’s a song like “Running Never Tamed Me,” which Barry says caused his two daughters to break down crying the first time they heard it, there’s a song like “Riverbank,” which carries a foot-stomping swagger that invites you into the anthemic ruckus. Against a steady backbeat, vamped piano, and Neil Young-esque, single-note solos, Barry becomes the ringleader of a triumphant chorus, guiding his collaborators to the song’s apex.

“I become the conductor,” says Barry, explaining that his process of leading his assembled studio band involves a whole lot of humming what he hears in his head and some wild, impassioned gesticulating.

“All of the parts that are added to the recorded songs are my humming between lyrics,” says Barry, noting that everyone else in his camp is a “talented, pro musician” and that he trusts them to fill in the gaps—not that he needs much help. Like all of his albums, High On 95 was recorded by Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage Studios in Richmond Virginia. And that’s because, by now, Koehler knows exactly how to record Barry’s performances. “it’s just one take,” says Barry, “Lance knows the more I do it, the worse it’s gonna get. You lose something when you play it more and more. So get it right.” And that’s exactly what Barry did. High On 95 carries the raw, emotional catharsis that’s become synonymous with a Tim Barry album. Every syllable exits his mouth with a fire propelling them, the kind of passion that can’t be forced or faked. Not that there was ever a reason to expect anything less.

Too often it seems we are searching for gold in all the wrong places.

On Two Coyotes, Roger Harvey looks beyond the blinding flash of all that seems to glitter and reconnects with the roots of song, reminiscent of a time when music was more folk tradition than commodity. The record feels like a spiritual descendent of the country and folk music that influenced its creation, while maintaining continuity with the electric-guitar driven style of his previous releases. The result is a conversation between the warm acoustic nature of country and the deliberate twang and richness of rock and roll, with a deeply emotive message and timeless delivery.

Recently returned to his home state of Pennsylvania, Roger has found his place in the burgeoning music community of Philadelphia. Although his history in punk rock is extensive, he continues to follow his love of folk and country songwriting. Recorded at Ronnie’s Place on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, Two Coyotes doesn’t fail to evoke it’s heritage. Alongside a cast of close friends—including Mike Sneeringer of Strand of Oaks and Adam Meisterhans of Rozwell Kid—he discovers a reverential yet fresh way of exploring the songs and their roots, though the most obvious connections lie more in the emphasis on craft, storytelling in song, and the subtle interplay between the music and message then they do directly within the album’s sound.

The intentions of the record remain manifest throughout. Two Coyotes is an exploration of connection in the modern era and the ways in which constant distraction drives us further from ourselves and simultaneously further from one another: a case study on how our search for constant validation makes it almost impossible for us not to feel alone.

In “Full Moon,” Roger iterates this experience, “All I wanted was to love you but it’s so hard to stay awake, as we watch it like a full moon from here it only takes away.”

The title track delves further into the subject of separation, specifically the discordant reality of the Mexico-United States Border Wall. Though presented as a blatant protest to the systematic separation of peoples, “Two Coyotes” invites you to approach this reality palpably. He continues, “It’s hard to feel grateful to be sharing the stars as I love you through pictures and telephone wires.”

As a whole, the album stands as a document of Roger’s search for love and compassion in a world that too often seems largely devoid of these things, despite our constant “connection.” Amidst a haunting sonic backdrop, Roger’s “Gold” provides perhaps the most encompassing summarization of the album’s query:

“How’d we get so distant while sitting so close? You call this connected, we’re never alone… Is this what you want?”

While its protest is inherent, its reflection on our era purposeful, and its sonic delivery deeply melancholy, Two Coyotes ultimately leaves us with a hope that stillness and understanding are somewhere within our grasp; that there is still a freedom here, still a beauty within us and among us; and still real, tangible worth in this world—if only we can learn to listen, to love, and to discern true value amidst the constant flash of fool’s gold.

Christian Marrone

Throughout the past 15 + years, Christian Marrone has proven to be a dynamic songwriter and performer. Whether fronting a band or playing solo acoustic, his soulful and gravelly voice commands attention, as his hard-hitting lyrics and melodies are sure to make you feel something (and take you somewhere… ). Originally from the New Haven area, Christian is currently gearing up to release his first album in many years later this spring, which is entitled “Don’t Sell Me Your Hate.” The new recording features a hearty mix of Rock, Folk, Punk, and American Roots music, so there's a little something for everyone to grab on to. In the past, Christian has performed (in various incarnations) with such notable artists as Jonny Two-Bags (Social Distortion), Grant Hart (Husker Du), Jesse Malin, Local H, Hamell on Trial, Two Cow Garage, Cory Branan, and Murphy's Law.

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