Music critic and vinyl aficionado Scott Smith offers his very generous praise for the new Cows and Thunder single "Travelin Son."
From: Scott N. Smith Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 6:39 PM To: Steven Capozzola Subject: Re: The new fall single: "Travelin Son" "Travelin Son," we hope, is just a tease of what's to come from Cows and Thunder. Outdoing themselves once again, perhaps it's one of the new singles from their new full length album. This time around, fans especially want it to be pressed on vinyl. Steven Capozzola has written what some might describe as a traditional shanty, one which depicts a dangerous expedition, much like those written centuries ago. You can feel both the time pass and the many miles go by, on this long, lonely journey. With a simple melody, there are so many layers of sound rooted by David Anderson's deep groove on the acoustic bass. The combination of Dennis Sharkey's slide guitar and mandola is the icing on the cake in this inspiring tale of strength and courage.
'Scenes' received its first review-- a "press release" from the infamous music producer affectionately nicknamed "Jerky":
Cows and Thunder have done it again! Their latest release "Scenes" is topping the charts on WJRKY FM from Dug Road Studios in Chester. 2015 marks a point in time where the band's layered sound comprised of slide guitar, mandola, mandolin all over rich harmonies shows tremendous depth and growth. As always, the brutally honest lyrics and smooth free flowing melodies are wowing fans once again. Opening with "Even the Animals," Scenes embraces the listener to ask real questions about life. From the opening chomp of the drums, and clanking of bottles, you can really feel the bustle of "The City" as it chugs along. Cow and Thunder heads rejoice over new classics like "The Tree" with such visual lyrics, and "The Monkey Fell," a heartfelt ditty, about a monkey who might not even be a monkey at all. "Walking," a sure to be anthem, shows off the bands harmonies in a surprise Acapella. The inspirational message behind "The Stranger," only tells half the story. It's the brilliant harmonic spatial ending that really drives home the entire album. What started as an experimental batch of songs has turned "Scenes" into a timeless iconic album.
Cows and Thunder has released 'Scenes,' an experimental set of folk-rock recordings from the Woodstock, NY-based band.
'Scenes' features a number of songs that developed from various group collaborations and jams. The overall album is a deliberate departure from the band's previous efforts, which were often recorded quickly, during live-in-the-studio sessions. This time, as singer-songwriter Steven Capozzola explains, the group took more time to produce the songs, and to experiment with overlaid guitars, keyboards, and harmonies.
The band recorded 14 songs for the album, but ended up picking the 8 "best," most cohesive songs. The result is typical Cows and Thunder in that the songs aim for melodic country-rock, with sing-along choruses. The added production, however, adds a layer of sheen and vocal flavor reminiscent of 70's pop and rock.
Songs written and produced by Steven Capozzola. Mandola, mandolin, and slide guitar by Dennis Sharkey. Jamming and collaboration by David Andersen, Robert Ramirez, and Dennis Sharkey. Mastered by Alex Saltz at APS Mastering. Photography by Sigal Mandelker.
Cows and Thunder hit its stride in the summer of 2014. After a very fun gig at the Woodstock, NY 'Concert on the Green,' the band decided to record some new songs and a few unrecorded favorites during two days of live recordings in the living room of the band's singer-songwriter, Steven Capozzola. The resulting EP, 'Sessions,' is a candid snapshot of a peak period for the band. (Recording took place in Saugerties, NY on August 20-21, 2014.) CREDITS: Steven Capozzola: Vocals, acoustic guitar. David Andersen: Bass. Josh Tyler: Drums. Special thanks to Connor Kennedy for piano, organ, and electric guitar. All songs written by Steven Capozzola. Recorded, produced, and engineered by David Andersen, www.davidandersenbass.com. Mastering by Alex Saltz, www.apsmastering.com. Thanks to Dennis Sharkey for jamming, gigs, and song collaboration. Thanks also to Robert Ramirez and Joni Elenson for musical hospitality. Photography by Sigal Mandelker.
Cows and Thunder is the result of a longtime musical partnership between singer-songwriter-guitarist Steven Capozzola and slide guitar-mandola player Dennis Sharkey. For more than a decade, the two have performed an original stew of folk, country, and blues music throughout the northeastern United States. In recent years, the two have established Woodstock, NY as their musical home base, and have begun collaborating with a number of local musicians, including bassist/producer David Andersen. The resulting band, Cows and Thunder, focuses on sing-along country-rock and Americana music. The ‘Cows and Thunder’ album was recorded entirely in Saugerties, NY, in the shadow of the famed Overlook Mountain. Several of the album’s songs were debuted at the 2013 Woodstock ‘Concert on the Green.’ The thick woods and pine trees of West Saugerties inform much of the album’s vibe, and Capozzola says he particularly enjoys the crickets that remain clearly audible throughout the album’s closing track, “When The Money Runs Out.” He explains, “We love Woodstock, and we love the music scene up here. We’re not worried about breaking new musical ground. We just want to play the kind of songs that we love to listen to. When I listen to the finished record, I think of driving along Route 212, or strumming guitars on the back porch and looking up at the mountain. Hopefully we’ve captured some of that on the album.” Cows and Thunder continue to play gigs throughout the Woodstock area. The featured track on the album, “Driving,” is now available on iTunes.
LISTEN and DOWNLOAD the new album 'Working Songs,' recorded with members of the Pine Meadow Band at New Creek Recording, in Saugerties, NY.
Words and music by Steven Capozzola. Recorded, engineered, produced, and mixed by Dave Andersen. Mastered by Will Hensley.
Featuring: Mandola by Dennis Sharkey, Percussion by Robert Ramirez, Drums by Josh Tyler, Organ by Greg Barbone, and Kazoo by Miss G. A whole crew of friends and family sang along, including: Liat Mandelker, Sigal Mandelker, Jenn Russell, Joni Elenson, Kathy Reisfeld, Allison Gould, Jim From Kansas, Andrew Roberts, and Ian Flanigan.
Additional soundbites from Scott Reisfeld, Ross Gould, Rachel Schwartz, Henry Schwartz, Ezra Schwartz, rolan, Mariella Bisson, David Gubits, and Maddie Monucker.
We hope you'll find yourself singing along and tapping along as you listen to these seven new tunes.
There’s no music business any more. Or, what still exists of it serves only to sell the most banal of “low-risk product”—pre-teen pop and the latest ‘American Idol’ album.
I often wonder if the music stars of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s ever realize now how lucky they were to be born in a certain era. Timing is everything, and the music stars of yesteryear were born at a time when singer-songwriters could work their way toward album contracts and publishing deals. Essentially, they could scrounge out a long-term musical career through touring and some album sales, maybe even real success.
For the masses, none of that exists now. It’s all gone, replaced by millions of music websites and Facebook pages, an endless succession of digital iTunes.
This is the face of progress, but it’s also the slow death of culture. Some of these singer-songwriters are incredibly talented. But the rest clutter up the landscape with a mediocrity legitimized through endless webpages and the microscopic praise of reality TV.
“Signal to noise” was the euphemism that TV producer Phil DeGuere Jr. often used to describe this vast morass of Internet culture and chaos. Today’s consumer faces too many options, too much dreck to wade through in order to find the rare gem. This goes for music, art, literature, comedy…
What’s really galling, though, is that we endlessly recycle the near-past, rather than celebrate emerging genius. In New York City alone, there are thousands of singer-songwriters. Amidst those masses exist some incredible songwriters. Why have we never heard of them? And why, instead, do we focus on the umpteenth reunion tour of sub-par 1970’s classic rockers like Styx or Kansas?
The only way to make it in music would be to have “gotten in” before the record industry completely disappeared. Until the early 2000’s, there still existed CD sales, and a commercial marketplace for music. Artists who made their name in the 1990’s, and sold CDs, could continue on that momentum and name recognition even as the industry disintegrated around them.
Example: Wilco. Great band. They tour every year, keep releasing albums. They receive tons of press, both indie and mainstream. But ask yourself: If Jeff Tweedy were 24 years old today, and just starting a band, who would ever hear his songs? How would he ever come to national prominence?
Even better, picture a young John Lennon or Bob Dylan kicking around the open mic scene of New York City today. They’d be one of the endless parade of guitar cases waiting to play two songs at a corner bar on a Monday night. And unless they possessed some rare, super-whore talent for self-promotion, a great “look,” and the staggering luck to befriend the daughter of HBO producer so-and-so, they would slowly fade away.
We lavish praise on Steve Jobs for inventing the iPhone and iPod—the hallmarks of our new age. Both toys are manufactured in factories staffed by Chinese teenagers who have resorted to suicide rather than endure continued workplace abuse. But we exalt the iPod and iTunes as crystalline proof of our new genius age.
There is a flip side, though. In the anonymity produced by millions upon millions of faceless digital songs, there resides the next generation of starving geniuses. And we will never hear from them.
But maybe a backlash will arrive. When the economy completely falters, maybe we will finally cease our fascination with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, stop gawking at Lady Gaga or whomever is her equivalent/crass flavor-of-the-moment. Maybe we will somehow return to the fundamentals of soul and simplicity. We’ll find an interest in local politics and the great artist standing on the street corner.
Until then we exist in a depressing grey era of endless noise and little talent.
There was one time when I got stuck in an elevator with Michael Bolton and Richard Nixon. It was during the Annual Breast Cancer Benefit at the L.A. Hyatt. I was there escorting Sheena Easton. My agent had arranged for Sheena to sing a medley during the night's show; he thought it would be nice if Sheena and I were photographed together...