If the opening notes on Joe Pug’s new LP Windfall are a bit disorienting, his fans won’t likely be surprised. The Austin, TX singer songwriter has made a habit of defying expectations so the piano-driven “Bright Beginnings” and the atmospheric rumination of “Great Hosannas” are just further indication that he’s quite comfortable stepping outside of the guy-with-a-guitar trappings of the genre.
His rise has been as improbable as it has been impressive. After dropping out of college and taking on work as a carpenter in Chicago, he got his musical start by providing CDs for his fans to pass along to their friends. This led to a string of sold out shows and a record deal with Nashville indie Lightning Rod Records (Jason Isbell, Billy Joe Shaver). As he toured behind Messenger (2010) and The Great Despiser (2012) it was with a band that looked as much like a jazz trio as an Americana band. ”I never quite found a live band that captured what I was aiming for until I connected with Greg [Tuohey–electric guitar] and Matt [Schuessler–upright bass]. It was an arrangement that maybe didn’t make a ton of sense on paper but 10 minutes into the first rehearsal I knew this was going to be my band.” The following years would have them on the road for over four hundred shows, including stops at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and The Newport Folk Festival.
She’s toured the globe with her band Howling Bells, now Juanita Stein returns with her first solo collection of songs and signed to Nude Records. Her debut album is entitled America and it was released on July 28, 2017. However, this isn’t the America of goofy teen movies, Twinkies and Drumpf, no Mam.
It’s that shattered dreamland Hunter S. Thompson went looking for… It’s somewhere beyond the pines, at a crossroads where Badlands met Paris, Texas. A dustball in a once great land, reimagined whilst daydreaming about the plains filtered through the dirt on the tour bus window during laps of the US of A with The Killers and Coldplay. These are songs from a dark-hearted country, where the lights of Nashville twinkle in the distance as the siren song leads you into the eternal night…
Juanita says of her debut album:
“This record is an ode to the dark heart of America. Of times gone and times to come. Dusty trails, a whimsical 50s suburbia and the haze of the 1960s. I’ve forever idealised American life, having grown up in Australia we were fed the American dream through film and television. The dichotomy between what was real and a dream is forever intriguing to me. The music of Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, Lee and Nancy and Patsy Cline all informed my musical sensibilities. They opened up this wide screen universe for me.”