Good Old War
Keith GOODwin – Vocals/Guitar/Keyboard
Tim ArnOLD – Vocals/drums/Accordion
Dan SchWARtz – Vocals/Guitar
Over the past three years, indie-folk trio Good Old War has captivated countless audiences with their acoustic-driven, sing-along-inspiring live performances. Now, with the release of their third full-length record Come Back as Rain (out now on Sargent House), the Philadelphia-based band harnesses the high-spirited simplicity that makes their shows so unforgettable. Like Only Way To Be Alone (Good Old War’s 2008 debut) and their 2010 self-titled sophomore effort, Come Back as Rain showcases the delicately textured melodies and multipart harmonies that have become the band’s signature. Once again revealing their penchant for infectious folk-pop, Good Old War this time sharpens their sound by infusing Come Back as Rain with the same joyful passion they’ve ceaselessly brought to the stage.
Recorded in spring 2011 at Another Recording Company (the Omaha studio owned by Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes), Come Back as Rain finds the band reuniting with producer Jason Cupp. Despite taking to a far less rustic environment than they did for their last release (an album largely created in a cabin in the Pocono Mountains), Good Old War managed to delve far deeper into the rootsy, organic sound they’ve carefully cultivated since forming from the ashes of Philadelphia indie-rock act Days Away. “When we play live, it’s really natural and energetic and in your face,” says guitarist/vocalist Dan Schwartz, who co-founded Good Old War in 2008 with Keith Goodwin (on vocals, guitar, and keys) and Tim Arnold (on drums, keys, accordion, and vocals). “With the new record we’ve found a way to capture that live feel like never before. So even though this one’s got some heavier material, there’s still something upbeat and joyous there.”
Indeed, a bittersweet spirit instills much of Come Back as Rain, a record whose songs were partly inspired by “that longing for home that happens when you’re away all the time,” according to Goodwin. It’s a rare band that can make a refrain like “I might be present for the end of the world” sound sunny and cheerful (as on the album’s closing track), but Good Old War’s gently uptempo rhythms and high harmonies have an uncanny way of maintaining a bright and buoyant mood without ever coming off as cloying. From the lead-off single “Calling Me Names” (a lovesick kiss-off laced with intricate guitar hooks) to “Better Weather” (a clap-along-worthy paean to embracing optimism against all odds) to “It Hurts Every Time” (a steel-guitar-kissed footstomper about an endlessly disappearing lover), Good Old War seems sweetly devoted to keeping the faith in the face of heartache. One of the most heart-tuggingly hopeful songs on Come Back as Rain, the epic yet ethereal “Amazing Eyes” blends soaring vocals with gracefully strummed guitars and warm piano chords to stunning effect.
From start to finish, Come Back as Rain bears a rousing intensity that will certainly be familiar to anyone who’s witnessed their live show. Thanks to crowd-ruling sets delivered while opening for the likes of Alison Krauss, Dr. Dog, Guster, Brandi Carlile, Joshua Radin, Gomez, and Xavier Rudd, the band garnered a considerable following that helped their second record to debut at #2 on Billboard’s New Artist chart (as well as climb to the top slot on Amazon.com and on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart). Last spring, Good Old War widened that fan base by giving a muchtalked-about performance at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “We were playing first on Sunday, at about 11 in the morning,” Goodwin recalls. “On the way there we were thinking, ‘Aww, man—I hope people show up.’ And then we started playing and we looked out into the crowd, and it’s pretty packed and everyone just seemed pumped.”
In addition to honing those increasingly famed performance chops, Good Old War continually refines their sound by exploring a dizzying range of music genres. “Tim listens to a ton of electronic music, and Keith is really into composers like Cole Porter,” says Schwartz. “I’m more of a classic-rock guy, but we’ve all got an affinity for bands with a really strong focus on melodies, like the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.” But despite the diversity of influences on their songwriting, Good Old War purposely kept performances stripped-down and studio-flourish-free on Come Back as Rain. “For us, one of the most important things about the band is we can walk into any room and perform all our songs with only our voices and guitars,” says Schwartz. “And even though it’s acoustic, it’s not your typical folky kind of act—we’re here to make people dance and feel good and just have a really fun time.”
Bronze Radio Return
Bronze Radio Return know what it takes to get to the heart of American roots music. You have to go to America’s roots.
When it came time for the band to record their latest full-length album Up, On & Over, they found themselves in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on a farm in the tiny town of Louisa, Virginia. In their journey as a band, recording in different parts of the United States has opened up their ears and minds. “We find it’s easier to get into a creative zone when we’re outside of our element,” lead singer and guitarist Chris Henderson explains, “we were surrounded by goats, chickens, and farmland.” The trek south this year was just the latest venture for Bronze Radio Return (Henderson, drummer Rob Griffith, lead guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz, keys player Matthew Warner, bassist Bob Tannen, and harmonica/banjoist extraordinaire Craig Struble) who are no strangers to recording in new – and sometimes remote – places.
Their story starts in Hartford, where members orbited each other at The Hartt School, one of the country’s top music conservatories. After finding each other and solidifying their line-up in 2008, they began writing music and found that their surroundings played a huge part in their creative energies. While writing their debut album Old Time Speaker, they bounced between the buzzing urban community in Hartford, where Henderson says melodies and chord progressions come naturally, and a remote Maine town, where they holed up to focus on lyrics. When they went into the studio in 2009, they went, as Henderson says, to “a place we’d never been before with a producer we’d never met to play a bunch of songs we’d never played before.” The producer was Chad Copelin (Ivan & Alyosha, Ben Rector), who would go on to form a solid and lasting partnership with the band.
Two years later, Copelin brought the band to his home turf in Norman, Oklahoma to record their follow-up album Shake! Shake! Shake! The small community lived and breathed music. The Midwestern neighborliness and kindness shined through on the album – drenched in harmony, warmth, and soul, the songs were made to make people come together. Sing-alongs, foot stomps, hand claps, and all.
It was during this time that the band began to get picked up for numerous TV spots and ads. Shake! Shake! Shake! produced over 50 syncs in the past year-and-a-half when all was tolled. Highlights include a worldwide Nissan Leaf commercial and a national Behr Paint/Home Depot ad. In addition, HBO, ESPN, NBC, MTV, the CW, American Idol, ABC Family, USA, and more licensed their music for shows, promos and bumpers. Instead of waiting for the syncs to break them out, Bronze Radio Return threw themselves into a rigorous touring schedule. “We’ve been really fortunate to have our music used in a lot of TV and film, and also made some real traction at radio. But this band is first and foremost a live band,” says Henderson. The band has spent the better part of the last two years playing every corner of the US and winning fans over with their packed-with-energy live show.
Cut back to 2013 and find Bronze Radio Return back in Virginia with Copelin at their side recording Up, On & Over, the band’s most ambitious release to date. “You can hear there’s an obvious progression with this batch of songs. It’s very much still a Bronze Radio Return record but we really found ourselves getting into a groove during the recording process which allowed us as a band to dig deeper into the material than ever before,” says Warner.
The album is a collection of songs defined by the band’s ability to step out of their comfort zone and push forward. Leading the way is first single “Further On,” an optimistic anthem steeped in summertime brightness. “Further On” started making waves months before the album’s anticipated release, when it was tapped as the soundtrack to the PGA Tour’s national ad campaign featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The rest of the record follows suit with strong hooks, twangy guitars, and driving percussion. While we can’t be sure where Bronze Radio Return’s story will take them next, Up, On & Over is an exciting new chapter in their journey. Keep an eye out as their story unfolds, taking us all for a ride moving... well… Further On.