Promised Land Sound
Promised Land Sound
A1 “The Storm” 3:13
A2 “Empty Vase” 4:10
A3 “Make It Through the Fall” 3:24
A4 “Weed and Wine” 2:35
A5 “Understand” 2:54
B1 “For His Soul” 2:46
B2 “Wandering Habits” 3:45
B3 “Money Man” 2:31
B4 “River No More” 3:04
B5 “Fadin’ Fast” 3:59
Promised Land Sound hail from Nashville, and while the venerable musical traditions of their hometown inform their country-rock sound—not to mention the cover art cartography of their self-titled debut LP on Paradise of Bachelors—their especial alchemy plays fast and loose with reductive genre boundaries.
The group emerged from the fertile Nashville garage scene—members have played with PUJOL, Denney and the Jets, and members of JEFF The Brotherhood and Those Darlins, among others—but they have quickly evolved to deploy a more varied country, soul, and pop palette than many of their brethren and sistren. In short order, they’ve managed to attract the admiration of esteemed folks like fellow Nashvillain Jack White, whose Third Man Records released a live Promised Land Sound 7”, deeming them “one of our favorite local bands” and describing them thusly: “They’re all youthful scruff and bluff, and they crank out tunes that would be right at home in Link Wray’s 3 Track Shack or hanging with the specters of long lost 45s that haunt Nashville’s overflowing legend-filled cemeteries.”
For such a young band—belying their seasoned and subtle musicianship, they’re astonishingly all around or well under the quarter-century mark—they’re remarkably attuned to historical precedents, cooking up some serious red dirt/swamp boogie and country-fried choogle à la the Flying Burritos, Jim Ford, Gene Clark, Jesse Ed Davis, the Band, CCR, Dennis Linde, Johnny Darrell, et al. And yet their tweaking of tradition never registers as revivalist or dilettantish, but rather intelligently inspired, refreshingly sincere, and reflectively rooted in the highest calibers of Southern vernacular songcraft.
Brothers Joey Scala (bass and vocals) and Evan Scala (drums) stoke the locomotive rhythm engine for guitar prodigy and singer Sean Thompson and classically trained keys man Ricardo Alessio to motorvate down the tracks. The woodshedding and session-vet vibes are palpable, their sound compellingly unhinged and singularly propulsive, all close harmonies, Hi-Stax changes, and “whoa, did he just do that?” guitar breaks, punctuated by moments of Velvets-style thud.
Our slack-jawed reaction upon first hearing Promised Land Sound live at the Stone Fox in Nashville abides: These dudes can play. Paradise of Bachelors is delighted to release Promised Land Sound’s first full-length album, co-produced by Jem Cohen (the Ettes and the Parting Gifts), Andrija Tokic (known for his work with Alabama Shakes), and Nashville guitar wizard (and Hiss Golden Messenger band member) William Tyler, who also guests on the record. This is the homebrew batch of songs you’ll need to “Make It Through the Fall.”
- Promised Land Sound’s debut full-length record, following a live 7” on Jack White’s Third Man Records
- Available on 150g virgin vinyl, in a deluxe, limited edition, as well as on CD and digital formats
- Vinyl edition includes digital download coupon
* Recognized as one of the best albums of 2013 by Uncut and The Nashville Scene, among others.
8/10. Promised Land Sound often resembles the work of a mid-‘60s American garage rock band responding to the latest Rolling Stones singles by recontextualising that sound with the tools at their local disposal. So while, say, “Empty Vase” and “Money Man” present Promised Land Sound as a thrillingly, snottily accomplished Nuggets band manqué, something like “For His Soul” or “Make It Through The Fall” have more of a Gram Parsons feel; maybe how The Byrds might have sounded had he joined the band a year or two earlier? It’s a selection of neat tricks, anyhow, warmly and vigorously produced. The songs are good enough to ensure that “Promised Land Sound” is more than a smart historical re-enactment; it’s just too strong, too enjoyable, to dismiss as merely a loving pastiche. Exemplary!
- John Mulvey, Uncut (#24 album of 2013 on Uncut’s Wild Mercury Sound blog)
Wearing classic country-rock influences the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band and Brinsley Schwarz on their loosely rolled-up flannel sleeves, Promised Land Sound bar-rock and gang-vocal their way through a gem-after-gem collection of life-affirming cuts that sound like long-lost top-shelf outtakes from any of the plates in their sure-to-be-excellent record collections. On this must-have self-titled debut, guitars jangle and shimmer, organs swoon and swell, and pedal steel weeps over bopping, bouncing bass and back-pocket shuffle on road-trip-ready highlights like “Weed and Wine” and the saloon sing-along “Make It Through the Fall” — the peaks of a sonic landscape where there ain’t a valley in sight. Seriously, when you can deliver songs as simply great, eternal and finely spun as the working-class country-rock grandeur of “For His Soul” or the album-closer and crown jewel “Fading Fast” — which, with its yearning melody and equally arresting descending riff, seizes the heart like a vice grip — you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
- Adam Gold, Nashville Scene (Best New Local Band and #10 local album of 2013)
Now that summer is over, and the conversation about “summer jams” can mercifully be put to bed, the search begins for the song of the autumn. I nominate “Fading Fast” by Nashville classicist rock outfit Promised Land Sound.
- Steven Hyden, Grantland
Interlocking dreamy country-rock with the agility and grit of Muscle Shoals ace sessioners, and the dusty denim epics of Link in his 3 Track Shack is strange company to fathom, but wins more so than any amalgam I’ve heard in ages. And, throwing all cards up with zero “cool factor” concern, letting no little reverence for American Beauty-era Dead lead on through is a bold move in this jaded age, but all that coalesces into a pure dynamite debut. Ragged but right Americana is the move… These are pure, well-writ, hooky pop ditties driven by youth, passion and knowledge of the many branches of the American experience, by a group no older than a quarter century across ‘em. Remember how your fave-rave classics were created by youths? This is a stellar, timeless record that must be heard by all.
- Jeremy Cargill, Note Energy
It reminded me of Eggs Over Easy, the Link Wray albums on Polydor. A version of country rock that wasn’t too glossy, that still had gravel stuck in the boot toes so to speak.
―William Tyler (on listening to Promised Land Sound for the first time)
Promised Land Sound’s songs — inspired by early-’70s country-rock sounds from both sides of the pond — conjure up visions of dirt roads, lazy sunny days and never-ending nights of revelry in wooden shacks. Their self-titled debut album shows as much respect for the Band, the Byrds and Gram Parsons as it does for U.K. bands from the same time that mined those same influences. (See: Brinsley Schwarz, Starry Eyed and Laughing, etc.)
- Tony Rettman, Diffuser.fm
The 11 tracks on Promised Land Sound (produced by Jem Cohen, Andrja Tokic, and Hiss Golden Messanger’s William Tyler) demonstrate how steeped the Nashville outfit is in their hometown legacy, while simultaneously marking them with a uniquely diverse sound. In addition to their country-fried boogies, they fold in pop sensibility and soul swing to give their songs a fresh edge on the competition. With brothers Joey and Evan Scala laying down the kicking rhythms on bass and drums, respectively, Sean Thompson tricks out guitar licks that would keep CCR or The Band rapt.
- Ben Kaye, Consequence of Sound
Brisk country-rock tunes that might make a young Gram Parsons kneel down and pray. This is a record that revels in tradition, pays faithful tribute to it, but never feels revivalist… a vibrant and exciting rock record, one that finds this young band finding its own voice by honoring (and sometimes matching) its forefathers. These airtight odes to both personal geography and wanderlust… pulse with young blood.
- Matt Fiander, PopMatters
Believe it or not, good country rock is still being made. Nashville is not just a cesspool of over-production and affected, auto-tuned Southern drawl.
- Mike Sugarman, Ad Hoc
Glorious self-titled effort by Nashville princes.
Channels ? Mark & The Mysterians through Keef’s record collection… one part Grateful Dead ramble, one part Exile redux, one part Burritos breakfast. Promised Land Sound grasp the rock and roll vocab in a way that puts those retro posers to shame.
- Michael Verity, Blurt
We’re talking some down and dirty swamp boogie, Creedence style chooglin’ and even some Allah-Las style psych-jangle that, together, make one mighty fine musical gumbo.
- Mad Mackerel
Destined to become one of the year’s most talked about albums. The band’s hugely impressive sonic palette recalls a wide array of artists including Link Wray, The Band, The Stones, Gene Clark and Gram Parsons.
- Fractured Air
What’s most interesting about the Nashville-recorded country rock of Promised Land Sound is how artfully the early 1970s sonic reference points have been modified with doses of garage rock. Promised Land Sound harks back to an era that was influenced by The Band’s Music From Big Pink and Gram Parsons’ GP, and the group plays with post-punk panache. “Money Man” is Charlie Rich-style blues about unlimited spending power, while “For His Soul” sounds like The Byrds circa Byrdmaniax. Powered by Evan Scala’s idiosyncratic drumming, the tracks rock out.
- Edd Hurt, The Nashville Scene
If a whining Hammond swirling around stone-drawl vocals and and garage-raw geetar makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, then these Nashville youngsters are worth keeping an eye on. Tight vocal harmonies, stunning hooks, and tight boogie beats recall the hedonism of early 70’s country rock while cementing the lads’ utter control of tweaked tradition.
- James Belfield, Sunday Star Times (New Zealand)
Promised Land Sound is able to put their stamp on a brand of music that has given us so much joy and make it their own. This is accomplished by quality songwriting, excellent work in the studio and some top-notch playing. At every turn the songs come off as fresh and inventive. This is one of my favorite debuts of 2013 and I can’t wait to see them live. As for Paradise of Bachelors, they are firmly on our radar as a label that is consistently putting out quality.
Nashville churns out artists like a machine, but rarely does a band break the mold as boldly as Promised Land Sound. The collection of three, sometimes six, musicians constructs a maze of an album that manages to align itself perfectly as a whole.
– The Daily Tar Heel
Some real next level shit. Such a cohesive amalgamation of influences is rare, especially in the first full length from a crew of twenty-somethings. “Make It Through the Fall” by itself stands as one of the best songs that’s come out of Nashville in the recent years.
- Nashville Is Dead
They channel a Big Star-esque style with hints of The Jayhawks, adding a particular brand of youthful coolness, particularly on standout tracks like “Weed and Wine” and “Fadin’ Fast.” Their ensemble harmonies sound like an indie rock band, while their instrumentals sound like classic country, making for a unique hybrid that feels new and exciting.
- The Horn
A band worth seeing… Nashville’s equivalent of British pub rock.
- Colin Morris, Dominion Post (New Zealand)