MP3 Alan Charing - Stitch
aggressive alt-country, folk rock, southern, strong songwriting, interesting lyrics. A solid record.
11 MP3 Songs in this album (42:32) !
Related styles: Rock: Roots Rock, Folk: Folk-Rock, Mood: Upbeat
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"I know it''s only rock and roll, but i like it, "says Portland, Oregon-based
singer-songwriter Alan Charing, discussing his new album, "Stitch."
Marking his return to performing under his own name, the first time since
"Seconds West," on Lazybones Records, "Stitch" is Charing''s first album in
years, since his previous band, A.C. Cotton''s 2004 release, "Notes for the
"[This album] is about the closing up of any old wounds, the completion of
unfinished business. It''s the point where you''ve completed what you
out to do, and now its time to move on to the next thing," Charing
asked about the overall theme for the album. "Any pain you''ve dealt with
any life you knew before is over. you''ve dealt with the issues and
emotions. And its
these songs and words that stitch it up all nice and neat. Then it heals,
it and move forward."
Moving forward is exactly what Charing is doing with "Stitch."
After the dissolution of A.C. Cotton following several years, two albums and
countless West Coast tours, Charing retreated. Music took a backseat, as
on closing up old wounds before taking the next step and making another
"It was my mourning period," he says of his time away from music. "The
band, A.C. Cotton, broke up, as no one could stand each other and all
things, so I definitely went through a time of frustration and not sure if
wanted to be in another band. So I pretty much just stayed away, secluded
scene. I had nobody to bounce ideas off of or create with."
This impeded his songwriting, or so he thought. Until he began writing
found the lack of any outside input freeing.
"I had no clue what was happening in music. I really didn''t care what anybody
thought about the songs I was writing," he admits. "I used to be so
what my bandmates thought about songs I would write, but then I realized not
everyone is going to like what I write, so whom was I really trying to
soon as I realized I needed to satisfy myself, and that the only thing
was whether I liked the record and wanted to listen to it, I was able to
go in and
record another record."
It was this personal satisfaction that helped him realize he had unfinished
business. He had to go in and make a record. And he had to do it solo. So, he
returned, not as A.C. Cotton, but as Alan Charing, and began working on
"Essentially this ties up the story of the man who ''changed his name to
moved down to the South,'' (referring to the opening lines of 2001''s A.C.
debut, "Half Way Down.") The self-imposed exile to the South is over. He
hide from himself, under a new name, but has now come back, faced things
his act together, picking up in the Northwest where he left off, where he
home, where he started and has come full circle," explains Charing.
The result is an eleven-track collection of rock ''n'' roll that owes as
much to Bruce
Springsteen as it does the Rolling Stones. Mixed by Mike Coykendall (M.
Orton, Richmond Fontaine), "Stitch" features members of Uncut Magazine
Richmond Fontaine, as well as members of Laura Gibson''s band. And a slew of
Northwest musicians to help Charing fill out the collection of roots-tinged,
pop-coated Southern rock songs that would make Tom Petty sit back, smoke
"This was much less a collaboration than a solo project, but it still
been done without these guys," comments Charing.
With friends in tow, and a batch of songs, Charing made the record he
to make. One that could rock out, be tender, be loud, use the less is more
philosophy at times, and was overall melodic and fun.
"To be honest, I love it," he says of the record, sounding like a proud
the closest I''ve come to having a record actually sound like what I wanted
when I first envisioned it. Like when I lie around at night thinking of
melodies, this has come the closest to fully recreating that."
Songs such as the album opener, "Leftover Life to Kill," examines what you
the rest of your life once you''ve already achieved your goals, while "Cold
Bombs," takes the opposite approach as the songwriter seemingly tries to
himself in the vastness of the world before realizing he can''t.
But, not every track on "Stitch" is a song about finding yourself and
peace with your inner being. "I Can Feel the Wheel" is a darkly comic tale
of a man
that murders his family on vacation because they drove him insane. Though
that is satisfying as well, and the writer has come to terms with his
The album ends, though, on a reflective note once again with "Long
Goodbye," a song
about closure, the end. With one message, the song allows Charing to say
needs to say, as he realizes that after tonight, after this song, "all the
be left incomplete."
Now, with the record done, ready to hit fans and consumers'' hands, Charing
what his expectations are for the record, now that he''s gotten what he
needed from the album. Now that he has "stitched things up," what does he
new purpose of the album is?
He mulls this question over for a while, before sitting back and answering.
"Originally I was thinking of doing an instrumental album for TV
placements, but as
soon as I started I knew I had to make a real, complete record," he says.
about finishing what I had to do, things I didn''t tie up regarding my solo
A.C. Cotton. things I still wanted to say, songs I still wanted people to
goals at first were to just satisfy myself and make a good record.
"Of course, now I just want people to hear it, enjoy it, and tell their
friends, because things change and we adapt. Once you think you''ve gotten
what you want, you''ve got to want something else, or what''s the point?
"People will tell me which song they like the most and they''re always
maybe there''s something for everyone on this album, and why deprive
yourself of that
joy?" he laughs. "Give it a listen."
Artist: Alan Charing
Style: Roots Rock
Label: LazyBone Records
Rating: 8 out of 10
By C.W. Ross
After a long hiatus Oregon-based singer-songwriter Alan Charing is back with his new release Stitch. Charing’s last release, Notes for the Conversation, was with his now defunct band A.C. Cotton in 2004. Charing’s last solo project was his 1999 release, Seconds West.
When he was asked about the long period between releases Charing had this to say, “It was my mourning period,” he continues “The band, A.C. Cotton, broke up, as no one could stand each other and all wanted different things, so I definitely went through a time of frustration and not sure if I even wanted to be in another band. So I pretty much just stayed away, secluded from any scene. I had nobody to bounce ideas off of or create with.”
Although this release is officially marketed as Charing’s return to music as a ’solo act’ he’s called on many of his Northwest musician friends to also add their talents to the project. They include help from members of both Richmond Fontaine and Laura Gibson’s bands. The release was mixed by Mike Coykendall (M. Ward, Beth Orton, and Richmond Fontaine).
The eleven songs that make up Stitch offer up a mixture of both up tempo and melodic tracks that are filled with lighter and darker subject matter. Stylistically the release has elements of rock, folk, and alt. country.
Things get started with the two very strong tracks, “Leftover Life to Kill,” and “Cold Milk, Big Bombs.” “Leftover Life to Kill,” is an up-tempo Indie rock track that deals with the question once you’ve achieved the goals you have set for your life what do you do next? While “Cold Milk, Big Bombs,” is a track that offers up some nice guitar parts and female backing vocals as the track deals with trying to come to grips with your place in this vast world.
Track-5, “I Can Feel the Wheel,” is one of the darker rhythmic tracks that tells the story of a man who is on a vacation with his family and they drive him mad, to the point that he kills all of them. I’m guessing that maybe this track worked as a way for Charing to vent some built up anger.
The song, “The Storm,” offers up some nice brass instrumental parts along with a nice mix of both male and female lead vocals parts.
The release ends like it started with two strong tracks, “Whiskey Sours,” a short (2:49) fast tempo alt. country song that features a nice drum beat that drives it as the song deals with love gone bad. “Long Goodbye,” is a melodic track that is the longest one found on the release with a running time of 5:13. The song features some nice string work that adds in some richness. The song deals with reflecting back over one’s life and trying to find closure on that particular part of it.
When Charing was asked what he hopes people take away from the new album he said, “Of course, now I just want people to hear it, enjoy it, and tell their friends, because things change and we adapt. Once you think you’ve gotten what you want, you’ve got to want something else, or what’s the point? “People will tell me which song they like the most and they’re always different. So maybe there’s something for everyone on this album, and why deprive yourself of that joy?” he laughs. “Give it a listen.”
Alan Charing’s release Stitch has a lot of different things going on both musically and with its song lyrics; it will take you several listens to really grasp all that it has to offer.
from Orange County Examiner:
Alan Charing is a musician from Portland. On his first album, he played almost all the instruments. For his latest album Stitch (Lazy Bones Recordings, 2009), he also took on the task of producing the album.
Charing is one of those artists that I listen to and I can swear he sounds like someone without really placing who he reminds me of. His vocals and energy are reminiscent of young Elvis Costello ("Leftover Life to Kill"). There is also some vocal similarity to southern California singer/songwriter John Sotter. Something about this album reminds me of Chad Rex and the Victorstands. Lyrically, I''d say he''s got a bit of the wry sense of humor you''d expect from Nick Lowe. The best example of this humor is in "I Can Feel the Wheel." In this tune, Charing asks, "Why''s your mother crying? You''ve been funny all your life." He also says, "we''re only bums with money." No, I cannot say for sure who is included in "we." Having made all those comparisons (however fleeting), I am still not sure where I would file this in a record store. It is rootsy, high-energy acoustic folk rock with occasional horns. OK, but just try to put that on one of the little plastic dividers in a music store. The thing is that Charing sounds familiar but at the same time defies easy description.
Stitch is just an enjoyable album. Charing is not only a talented musician, but also a very good lyricist. If nothing else, you have to respect his DIY approach to making music.
Submitted by admin on Sat, 02/13/2010 - 01:42.
* Richie Frieman
* Todays Feature
Aggressive folk rock. Sound confusing? If it does, that’s ok. While it has oxymoron qualities, you can still imagine what it sounds like, right? If you can – you probably have a good handle on the styling of one Alan Charing – a guy who can fill an auditorium with sound all by himself… folk music tones, of course. But this singer/songwriter’s music is original for more than its intensity.
After six years, Charing has a follow-up to his A.C. Cotton’s record, "Notes for the Conversation" with a new album titled “Stitch”. We asked Alan about the music: “’Notes’ was written for the band, still trying to fit into a ‘southern rock’ or garage band sound. I wanted to be the Black Crowes. It was more about muscle. With ‘Stitch’ I was able to focus more on the songs and the writing, and the specifics within the song, not just trying to overpower a crowd or anything... I like to say that Notes was about staying up all night drinking and speeding towards death, whereas ‘Stitch’ is more about taking a step back, smoking pot all day, and living out the rest of your life at a nice even pace.”
Charing will be on the road spreading the gospels of “Stitch” so pick up the collection and look into the guy’s schedule (and don’t expect him to be that quiet little folk singer on stage). There’s a whole lot more to learn below, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Alan Charing
https://www.tradebit.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?
Alan Charing (AC): I''d prefer the writers define it, but if I had to call it something I would say "aggressive folk rock". The lyrics are definitely important to me, and if it stands out its because the music feels somewhat familiar, but you can''t quite put your finger on who or what exactly it sounds like. The music has tons of influences and touchstones, but still feels original.
PEV: Calling Portland, Oregon home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?
AC: I grew up in New Jersey. I didn''t have much exposure to anything good too young. My folks only had ABBA and Barry Manilow records, I''d have to say honestly my first big influence was Billy Joel when I was a kid. "Still rock and roll to me" was on the radio and I loved it. My mom''s boyfriend gave me "Glass Houses" on vinyl and I memorized every note. Even the French parts. whatever you think of him, he was always a solid songwriter, and knew how to turn a phrase. From there it was a quick jump to Dylan and the Stones and Floyd but its still rock and roll to me.
PEV: Having played in the business for a good time now, what was it like for the band when you first started out?
AC: It was great for me because going from performing solo to playing with a band I had a new energy and wrote in a different way. As far as touring and getting noticed, it was still hard. It’s still hard now.
PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?
AC: I guess when I made "Seconds West" and for the first time heard all my acoustic songs backed by a full band, I thought that it would really be successful. I believed in it. I thought it was a solid album and the reviews were really positive and met my expectations. And then every time someone I respected wanted to work with us, like Luther Russell producing the first A.C. Cotton record, I felt like we had taken a big step.
PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Alan Charing show?
AC: High-energy and showmanship, if not technical perfection.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
AC: I hope [bass player Todd] Corbett doesn''t fuck up too much and make us look bad.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
AC: Usually they come from whatever conflict I''m trying to work out, the darker side of things. Not as much on this last record, I was writing from a much more relaxed place, but in general. A lot just comes from real life conversations and situations that I think are funny or unjust.
PEV: Tell us about your first full-length in six years, "Stitch", which follows up A.C. Cotton''s "Notes for the Conversation".
AC: After A.C. Cotton split, I wasn''t sure what I wanted to do, or if I wanted to make another record. But I kept wanting to get these songs out there and after a while it started bothering me that I wasn''t doing it. So I called some friends and made it happen. And I feel much better having done it, whatever happens. It sounds just like I hoped it would. and it made room for me to start working on newer material.
PEV: How is “Stitch” different than that of “Notes for the Conversation”?
AC: "Notes" was written for the band, still trying to fit into a "southern rock'' or garage band sound. I wanted to be the Black Crowes. It was more about muscle. With "Stitch" I was able to focus more on the songs and the writing, and the specifics within the song, not just trying to overpower a crowd or anything. I like to say that Notes was about staying up all night drinking and speeding towards death, whereas "Stitch" is more about taking a step back, smoking pot all day, and living out the rest of your life at a nice even pace.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Alan Charing?
AC: As much as Bob Dylan means to me, I cringe almost every time I hear him play that harmonica.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
AC: I''ve always thought it like anyone else, but once I had some success with getting tv and movie placements for Seconds West, I knew I should keep it up. Money can seem very validating. But that’s just the business side. The other stuff, the writing, is much more satisfying.
PEV: What one word best describes Alan Charing?
PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?
AC: The best has been meeting people and spreading the music. I love playing, so I always enjoy it, no matter where we are or how many people are there, I''ll still do my show. That being said, the worst is when it’s a Tuesday night in Lincoln, NE and you are simply SO FAR from home and nobody cares..
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
AC: Amsterdam or England, I''ve gotten some good reviews from some German websites. I like Europe. I think we''d do well there. No one is financing my trip though… I saw Beck and the Eels at a big festival in Barcelona and thought, now why can''t i do this?
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
AC: The family has finally learned to accept it. My mom still doesn''t like it, can''t be convinced, but she can''t change it. Years ago we played Philly, Asbury Park and CBGB in one weekend and all of our friends and family from the east coast essentially followed us around for that leg of the tour and it was a blast. Friends will always support you, but they''ll also tell you if a song sucks.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
AC: Taking care of my baby.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
AC: I am really the wrong person to ask. I have no idea.
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you be doing for your career?
AC: Anything that gives me the money and flexibility to still play music
PEV: So, what is next for Alan Charing?
AC: We''ll be starting to do more shows for Stitch and get the word out. And when I feel like too many songs are piling up in my head again, I''ll put something new out. other than that, I''m playing Mr. Mom.