The Drunken Hearts found themselves entering Silo Sound Studios in Denver on April 1st, 2018 with friend and producer Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) — just one day after the release of their then-brand new, self-produced album, The Prize. The band wanted to try something new for their next album: to create and record a new song each day, and continue that model until an entire album was realized, and the result is eleven full-fledged, living, breathing, musical time capsules that make up Wheels of the City. Mastered by Jim Wilson, and released worldwide October 18 on LoHi Records.
Called, “Boulder’s Americana Heroes” by 303 Magazine who writes, “Since their inception as a trio [in 2012], the now rock ‘n’ roll quintet has gained quite the reputation. Their music is raw Americana-rock, with a touch of country and a sprinkle of folk, and the result is a steaming and raucous sound full of emotion and energy.”
Mixing their mountain-spirit with the twang of the south, this electrifying five-man band met and live in the Boulder/Denver area of Colorado. Acoustic guitarist and powerhouse lead singer, Andrew McConathy is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, and is known for his compelling songwriting and distinct and expressive vocals. Joining him are pedal steel, Dobro, and lap steel player Cody Russell and electric guitarist and vocalist Kory Montgomery, both from Arkansas, along with bassist and vocalist Jon McCartan, from Upstate New York by way of Vermont, and, from the outskirts of Chicago, drummer Alex Johnson.
“The Drunken Hearts deliver an intimate perspective to a nostalgic rock and roll sound,” says Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass), “Passionate vocals that are reminiscent of Eddie Vedder and country flavored pedal steel are both familiar and a newfound discovery.”
On Wheels of the City, The Drunken Hearts deliver tales of adventure, love, risk, and realization. There’s an overarching feeling of positivity throughout the songs, yet they also contain undertones of the darkness that inhabits life. Aspen Daily News says, “The Drunken Hearts are magnetic, as they combine catchy beats with unique melodies to create a well-synced mixture of musical sensibilities.”
“I loved working on this record with The Drunken Hearts,” exclaims Carbone, a partner in LoHi Records. “Andrew sent me the acoustic demos of the songs and I sketched out the arrangements and instrumentation. The band essentially learned the songs and added their ideas the day we tracked them.”
Andrew says, “Once we got into the studio with Tim, ultimately ‘Unrest,’ the first single, morphed into a rollicking piano-driven rock song topped off by a very psychedelic Pink Floyd-esque bridge with the lyrics, ‘Just getting up is getting me down… Gonna pull the string get my head unwound… Before I die I want to learn to live… Unrest is a state of mind…’” Listen to “Unrest” at this exclusive premiere at JamBase.
Carbone says, “We did a song a day and except for some vocal overdubs, solo replacements and the strings and horns, that was how it all went down. I’d never worked that way before. It was an amazing stretch of hyper-creativity. I’m very proud of Wheels of the City!”
The title track was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s Vanishing American Hobo, written in 1960. McConathy explains the song, “‘Wheels of the City’ examines the cultural paradigm between the homeless, health insurance-less citizens of America and an opposing population who seemingly wish to leave their brothers and sisters helpless, and build a wall to keep freedom and opportunity at bay and weak against the overbearing patriarchy who wishes to repress them.” He sings, “Build a bridge, and not a wall… Something to bind us, not divide us all… ”
The album features a horn section on the title track and “Passchendaele” brings in a string section along with Sheryl Renee’s accompanying vocals to create a unique texture to the telling of a riveting tale of a soldiers love long ago that was lost upon returning from war. Renee also joins on “In the Middle” a song with poignant lyrics, “Here we are fightin’ in the middle, bleedin’ ‘n dying like fools… Here we are believin’ in the the middle, We got nothing but change for days… Here we are believin’ in the middle, I’m the only one that can change my ways…”
Carbone joins in on multiple instruments throughout the album including piano, organ, and violin. Cody Russell also brought two instrumentals to the table, one of which McConathy added words to (“Dream of Waiting”) and the other, “The Cave” to which Carbone added a spoken-word passage from ‘Plato’s Allegory of The Cave’ to create the intro.
Somehow with this ambitious “create and record one entire song per day” approach, the band was able to write and track eleven songs in eleven days, and the result was one of the more satisfying creative endeavors the band has ever taken on.
LoHi’s Vice President Chad Staehly (of Hard Working Americans) says, “We’ve known about The Drunken Hearts for years and it has been really cool watching their growth as artists and performers. This latest album Wheels of the City has an extra layer of depth and songwriting that is very engaging and emotive on a different level from anything they’ve done in the past.”
With notable performances at WinterWonderGrass Steamboat (CO), WinterWonderGrass Squaw Valley (CA), Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road Fest (CO), Electric Forest (MI), FloydFest (VA), Vertex (CO), Fayetteville Roots Fest (AR), Hangtown Music Festival (CA), Bohemian Nights at New West Fest (CO), Northwest String Summit (OR), Grandoozy (CO), Four Peaks Festival (OR), and the band’s very own Yarmony Music Festival (CO), the band is very much at home on the festival circuit. They have also supported Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, among others.