Posts Tagged ‘Pandemic Songs’

The Company Stores Independently Release The Family Album
Produced by Galactic’s Robert Mercurio
OUT TODAY – Sept 23, 2022→

The Family Album captures those moments of magic…
From endearing to personal and taking that party up a notch.
From their hearts to your soul via your listening device.
Please listen to this on a proper stereo.”
Jammerzine Exclusive: An Interview + Album Premiere, Ryan Martin

The album had me from the opening track, ‘Savannah,’ which could have easily been on a Steely Dan record (notably the guitar parts), by way of the jazz group Return to Forever. The vocals by Ileana Ille glide over the instrumentation much like those of Return to Forever’s first vocalist, Flora Purim, did. Ille’s vocals are but one of the many textured layers that blend together in unexpected ways.”
No Depression, Amos Perrine

“…a whirling musical milieu… Complete with horns to punctuate the high points’”
Americana Highways, Melissa Clarke, Song Premiere: “A New Leaf” 

“The Latin-influenced ‘Maria’ … is about relationships and patterns and is soundtrack-ready. Indeed, you can almost envision it as a theme song to a TV show…” —HVY, Will Phoenix

Watch the Official “Ways” Music Video

CHARLESTON, WV — With Horns, Strings, & Soaring Vocals, The Company Stores release The Family Album today, September 23. The album has received notable mentions in Bass Musician Magazine, No Depression, Beehive Candy, and a slot in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s September ‘Trail Mix’ Playlist; as well as premieres in JamBase, Americana Highways, and Jammerzine. No Depression’s Amos Perrine says, “This Charleston-based band has been making a lot of noise during the past few years. I first saw them six years ago at a one-day festival where they blew much bigger names off the stage. Not in loudness, but rather the quality of their songs and their intricate arrangements.” 

This album tells a story of everything being turned upside down; both personally and across the country,” says Matthew Marks, the primary songwriter for the band.  “It is about family and understanding the triumphs, failures, tendencies, and choices of the people who came before, in order to understand how to successfully navigate where you are going.” 

The Company Stores had plans to hit the road hard, raise funds, and save to record their new album in 2020, then all plans got curtailed and almost all of their live shows and side jobs were canceled due to the pandemic. The songs were written during a time of personal havoc for Marks after his engagement had ended and he moved to his family farm, where he still resides, in March 2020 to help with his Grandad who was dying of lung cancer. While first there, he did a deep dive into his family history and roots lending to the content and mood of the album. They were able to start recording in mid-2021 after a year-long pause once things seemed safe for travel again. 

Ileana Ille

The Company Stores features lead vocalist Ileana Ille’s stunning voice as she captivates the audience with her ability to express raw emotion. Ille says, “I am honored that The Company Stores chose my voice as a vehicle to express the stories in The Family Album. Each song is a collection of the people who have shaped us and the times that made us. I hope the listeners are able to connect with the musicality, storytelling, and creativity and feel at home when they listen to it.

The Company Stores unites many influences to lay down bold grooves amidst dynamic crescendos. In addition to collaborating with Marks on song arrangements, their key/vibes/trombone player Matthew Jackfert, works as a classical broadcaster/composer and host of All Things Considered at WV Public Broadcasting (and he and his family will appear on Family Feud in mid-October). Their music is brimming with beautiful orchestral soundscapes, soaring harmonies, strings, horns, electronic textures, and a tight rhythm section including bassist Michael Micucci, Joseph Cevallos on violin/trumpet, and John Query on drums.

The Family Album was produced by Robert Mercurio, bassist for New Orleans funk legends Galactic. The instrumentation was recorded by Julian Dreyer at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, NC. Mercurio stepped in as engineer to record the vocal parts at Galactic’s Number C Studio in New Orleans—including bringing in the Josh Kagler Choral Group to enhance the choruses on much of the album. The album was mixed and mastered by Mikael “Count” Eldridge [Trombone Shorty, DJ Shadow, The Revivalists]. 

Mercurio says, “As a producer, I feel like I saw this band grow immensely as songwriters though the process of making this album. We started working on it before the pandemic, and with their downtime they put in the work it takes to make great songs. Illy blossomed into the rock star she now is—crushing the vocals on every take. I’m very proud of the final product and had a blast working with all of them.” Along with his own band, Mercurio has production credits with an impressive list of artists including Big Freedia, Lyrics Born, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

With keys and vibes at the front, the album opens with “Savannah,” which alternates from dark and melancholy to upbeat and happy verses. Marks says, “This song is about my best and worst day in Savannah, GA. The verse is written in present time, on a day I was on tour and just found out my engagement to my fiancé had ended. The pre-chorus and chorus is me remembering my best day, when we got engaged on vacation in Savannah, GA.”

Press Shots by The Oberports 
Album Artwork by Chris Woodall 

The fiery “A New Leaf,” the second track as well as second single, explores negative patterns in life, with the lyrics, “Damn… what a year. Sucker punched me to the next hemisphere… And now I’m waking up thunderstruck. Right in front of God and everyoneBut now…clarity… A view from the floor that I had to see myself for sure. To turn over a new leaf…” 

With its rockin’ country western vibe “Ways,” the album’s lead single, continues on this theme, but sees the narrator start to recognize how choices made have developed these patterns of behavior that produce similar outcomes. “These old ways ain’t the best ways, just the ones I know… Trails blazed over time in my mind are deciding where I go… Now I gotta find peace of mind, redefine my life…”  “Ways” also sees special guests Walter DeBarr [Song of the Year in Minnesota 2021, William Elliot Whitmore] and Jodi Hall (also on “A New Leaf”) on backing vocals. “Ways” is dedicated to DeBarr, known for his soulful songwriting and deep raspy voice, who sadly passed away shortly after recording with the band.

Maria” sees someone trapped in comparisons of old relationships and incorporates Latin styles and instruments including Flamenco Guitar, Spanish Trumpet, Latin Bird Flute, Congas, Bongos, Timbales, and Talking Drum. 

Old Dog” is told from two perspectives; it has a hip hop flare on the verses—the “Old Dog” who is stuck in the past, afraid of change, and fighting the future and getting old—and heavy guitars and horns on the chorus—the “Boy” who is bluntly saying “stop barking at the shadows.” Jammerzine says of it, “Originality and presence collide in glorious splendor and raucous attitude to define our day and redefine our listening preferences. This is music.” 

Set in the minor key, “Fathers” looks into how mistakes made can be passed down for generations, stuck in a cycle and an ethereal “Blue Tide” calls out to explore the dark depths of oneself. A rock opera, “There Went The Neighborhood” is followed by the progressive “American Dream Girl.” “Some Sunday,” composed and written by Micucci, has a R&B flavor, with a focus on bass and groove. The album closes with a southern rock gospel ambience in “Castles & Cain.

The name “The Company Stores” is a throwback to the old coal mines of West Virginia referring to the store in Appalachian coal towns during the 19th and 20th century where workers were paid in coal money or “scrip,” leaving them with no exit from working the mines. This name not only shows the bands heritage, but also the gritty feel of their music and the meaning behind many of their songs about the struggles of the common man.

“Together we spent countless quarantine hours writing and the rehearsal room, growing as songwriters and musicians, and are getting excited to present what we think will be our greatest record to date.” The Family Album is preceded by Little Lights (2017), also recorded at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, and their local debut Rollin’ In (2014). 

Stream/ Order The Family Album at https://thecompanystores.hearnow.com/the-family-album.   

The Company Stores – The Family Album – Track Listing
1. Savannah (4:08)
2. A New Leaf (3:31
3. Ways (3:47)
4. Maria (5:53)
5. Old Dog (4:58)*
6. Fathers (4:07)*
7. Blue Tide (3:47)
8. There Went The Neighborhood (2:43)*
9. American Dream Girl (3:32)
10. Some Sunday (3:58)
11. Castles & Cain (3:54)
*FCC Warning: please note explicit language
Radio edited versions are available for “Old Dog” and “There Went The Neighborhood”

The Company Stores Tour Dates 
10/15 Sat – Spirits in the Sky Fest @ The Bullock Distillery – Charleston, WV
10/28 Fri – Martin’s – Jackson, MS
10/29 Sat – Tipitina’s – New Orleans, LA *w/ Galactic

Keep an eye on their website and socials for tour dates and further news: www.thecompanystoresband.com, facebook.com/thecompanystores, twitter.com/CompanyStoresWV and instagram.com/thecompanystores


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