Cory Chisel, The Candles

Cory Chisel

Old Believer \ Ōld bǝ-l ēvǝr\ n 1 : one who has been through a lot in their life and hasn’t lost hope 2 : one who doesn’t feel cynical and still feels connected to the world that we’re living in but is wise enough to know a thing or two about it 3 : OLD SOUL

Cory Chisel is an old believer. You can hear it in his music – there’s a wisdom beyond his years in that voice. You can see it in his story – the son of a preacher, sheltered from pop music, raised on hymns and Johnny Cash. “Mom played piano and organ, my dad did the preaching, the thing that my sister and I could add to the service was to sing.” As fate would have it, the kid was born to do it.

He grew up in the iron range town of Babbit Minnesota, and the rural flatlands of Appleton Wisconsin. Along with the family’s spiritual doctrine came a musician uncle, who taught Cory about the blues: Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, Sony Boy Williamson.

This musical education put young Cory on a path that was well worn by the greats who came before him and influenced him. People like Cash, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. For Cory, songwriting is a byproduct of existing. We all talk to ourselves. Cory does so with a melody. Those internal conversations are the seeds, the building blocks of his songs. “Where a painter, in order to express himself, would reach for a canvas and paints, I go to the guitar and try to build it out. Or sometimes songs just come fully formed, usually if I’m really sleep-deprived and driving for whatever reason, it’s like a radio station that my brain picks up.”

Old Believer is the second LP from Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons. The record, in Cory’s words, is about rebuilding, and there’s a directness that comes through in the songwriting. “Life is a series of creating things, living with the inevitable destruction of those things, and then finding within yourself the ability to create again.”

There’s brutal honesty in the soulful rock of “I’ve Been Accused”. The song suggests that sometimes with personal growth comes unhappiness, but ultimately you’ve got to step up. No pain, no gain. “Never Meant To Love You” is timeless, like something straight out of “The Great American Songbook.” It’s a story of unexpected love, plainly and elegantly told. For “Please Tell Me” Cory says “I went to my guitar instead of going to a phone and sent the message that way.” “Seventeen” deals beautifully with the simple truth of realizing that a certain portion of your life has passed. Cory Chisel is an old believer.

The album was recorded in Nashville and produced by a great singer songwriter in his own right, Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs). The two met while making Cory’s first album. They sat down to write a song together, and quickly found they were kindred spirits. “We had just such a common language in the way we attacked music making. Brendan is really great at bringing direction and bringing something out of me that is almost indescribable. He’s also the guy who can get behind the boards and pull it off.”

What Benson pulls off is an album of rich, authentic, rock and roll, drawing a straight line between the gospel and the blues of Cory’s youth, and classic rock. He’s able to find the right space and color for each song, whether it’s the dangerous and dark mood of “Foxgloves”, the bright Brill Building meets Graham Nash vibe of “Laura”, or the straight up traditional rollin’ and tumbin’ blues of “Over Jordan”.

The sound is filled out by a great cast of Nashville players including Matt Scibilia, Jon Graboff and Brad Pemberton of The Cardinals (Ryan Adams) and The Howlin Brothers. But the thing that truly brings this record to life is Chisel’s long time keyboard player and singing partner Adriel Harris. Their voices fit together magically. It’s a fitting nod to her contribution that Harris opens Old Believers with the gorgeous prologue- “This Is How It Goes.”

“I think one of the best things about being a songwriter and about living a life as an artist is that you really don’t get rid of anything, you kind of just like drag it with you the rest of your life and hopefully you can feel that on this record. We’re still dancing with those same inspired moments. This record is a culmination of all that.”

The Candles

The day before her sold-out show at Frankfurt, Germany’s 2500-capacity Alte Oper on May 25th, Norah Jones still needed a warm-up act. She offered the slot to her bassist Josh Lattanzi, the frontman of New York rock group The Candles, who she knew was looking to test out some new songs live. “Part of me was nervous,” says Lattanzi. “The other part said, ‘Definitely.’”

Lattanzi spellbound the crowd, with set highlights including the hushed acoustic prayer “Passenger” and the gorgeous fingerpicked ballad “As Far As I Know.” Jones invited him to play several more shows on the tour. “It was really awesome,” says Lattanzi, sipping a Dogfish in an East Village bar near his apartment on a snowy March evening. “I thought, ‘Wow: these songs work acoustic. That’s a good sign.”

Those songs are just two of the highlights on La Candelaria, Lattanzi’s first album cut with a fully formed live unit: guitarists Matt Pynn and Jason Roberts, keyboardist Pete Remm and drummer Greg Wieczorek (the latter three also play in Jones’ touring band). Lattanzi spent a decade playing bass with bands including the Lemonheads, Ben Kweller and Albert Hammond Jr. before releasing the Candles 2010 LP Between the Sounds, which proved he was underutilized as a sideman; Rolling Stone contributing editor Will Hermes wrote: “With the deaths of Big Star’s Alex Chilton, it’s been a bad year for fans of Seventies power pop. Some small good news: this taut 10-song debut.” Spin named the Candles one of the breakout bands of that year’s South by Southwest, noting their set “as moving as watching the sun set over Topanga Canyon.”

Lattanzi grew up obsessed with the Grateful Dead and Neil Young; After graduating from Berklee College of Music, he began working as an assistant engineer at Q Division Studios, where he found himself at the center of the late Nineties Boston rock scene, touring with acts like Juliana Hatfield. He also regularly traveled to New York, where he started playing with Kweller, and joined bands like the Kings of Leon and the Strokes on wild early-career tours. “Being a musician is a tough way to go through life,” he says. “If there’s something else you can do, you probably should, because it’s a pain in the ass. But there was nothing else that seemed as worthwhile for me.” In 2009 as Lattanzi worked Hammond Jr.’s major-label second album, fatigue kicked in. “I spent 1998 to 2007 touring non-stop,” he says. “I needed to take a break.”

The decision began Lattanzi’s most productive, powerful songwriting period ever; “All in Your Mind” grapples with turning away from the road’s dark temptations; while the Crazy Horse-style rocker “Gold” laments being broke. But there’s plenty of optimism too: “Passenger” is a loving ode to his wife, written on a Sunday drive back from a winter visit to Northampton, MA. “It was cold and dark, but I was finding solace in this relationship,” he says, smiling. “I wanted to write a song about her, so I went for it.”

While Lattanzi labored over Between the Sounds obsessively in his apartment, he took a different approach with La Candelaria (titled after a historic neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia that he visited on tour). “I wanted it to sound as live as possible,” he says. He recorded in five different studios between New York and Massachusetts with the band, with several tracks produced by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Phish) and Mike Denneen (Aimee Mann). The band attacked Lattanzi’s air-tight hooks with razor-sharp execution; listen carefully to Roberts’ other-worldly psych-prog escapade in “What Happens Next,” Pynn’s twangy steel-guitar bite in “Blind Light,” Remm’s haunting organ flourishes in “One Way Ticket” and Wieczorek’s tight minimalist grooves throughout. They didn’t need much practice: “One Way Ticket” was recorded the same day Lattanzi introduced it to the band. “I just knew those guys would deliver,” he says. “I wanted this one to be as collaborative as possible. Albums where one person plays everything are never as good. Plus with players like these - it’s actually so much better if you don’t tell them what to play.”

The Candles are looking to spend the next year on the road, and Lattanzi adds they'll back up some of their best friends too. “At this point, we've spent so much time making music together, we’re a tested unit,” he says.


Formerly Space Woman

Adriel Denae

Musician, writer and performer most known for work with Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons.

$12.00 - $15.00


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