Local Love: Quiet Morning & the Calamity
Leon casino, Photo: Burro Borracho Records
There’s a good chance that if you spend enough time in music venues, or you’re at least in front of as many bands as I am; that you’ll actually hear some good ol’ country twang. The Nashville that I grew up with, has turned into a Disneyland of sorts, complete with pop crap artists who buy worn boots to “look more country.” However, like Dale Watson told me, “nowadays with good country, you gotta’ wanna’ look for it.” And, he’s one hundred percent correct in that. When it comes to a band like Quiet Morning & the Calamity, you’d have to want to look. They don’t play very often, and when they do they seem to get the short end of the stick. Even their record release at Warehouse Live was hampered with a power outage that affected the whole block, and was more mother nature than anyone at the venue. However, like most bands who make it from our town, they got out to tour, and when they came back; they put their new album in my hands. Though just a five song EP, “Son of The Sad Soul” could make you believe that there’s still good country music out there; if you’re willing to look for it.
In all fairness, the band is more alt country than traditional country. To me, alt country can best be defined bore a bit more of a rock vibe. Coupled with the drums being mixed on a rock n roll scale, and not like traditional country where the vocals were twice as loud as everything else; leaving a very faint drum sound. That’s not the case here, as from the opener, “27 Years,” it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t your Grand Ole Opry type of sound. The feeling of an Uncle Tupelo song written by Jeff Tweedy, but sung with the passion of Jay Farrar is what immediately came to mind. Singer Sean Ramos has the kind of pipes that emote a mix of the two iconic singers, but he has more of a younger Tweedy in his rasp. The song is easily the most rockin on the release, and it’s pace feels more like alt than country. The second track, “Sweet Darling” opens like it’s on a Social Distortion CD, but is quickly followed by a more ballad type of vibe. The chorus brings in a fresh start/stop pace, with Ramos’ impassioned vocals leading the charge. The dual guitars are mixed with a loud intensity that’s amplified when the slow solo kicks in, and the track finishes off quicker than you’d think considering its feeling. The open ended strum of the third track, “Gambling On Old Tires” has subtle instrumentation that’s a little buried under the the rhythm guitar; but it’s not done in a way where it’s distracting. The dual vocals that are in the bridge come in to add some spice to the vocal heavy track.
By the time you reach the softer acoustic sound of the title track, “Son Of The Sad Soul,” you realize that there’s more tonk than the usual honk. The fact that the main guitar is acoustic, you can really hear the backing pedal steel, while the harmonica is up front with the vocals. The song has a sound that’s less other alt country you’ve heard before; and more of an individualized feeling that makes it its own. Ramos opens up vocally a little more here, and offers a glimpse into his vocal strengths. The album gets finished off with more rock infused sound of “November.” The song goes back to a mix of Old 97’s and a subtlety of Tom Petty, while keeping itself rooted in its own sound. There are times on the track where the vocals sound like those of a road weary traveller, while the rest of the band kicks in as a cohesive unit. The simplistic twang of the lead guitar and the pummeling of the drum make it feel as much of a stand out track as the opener. There’s even a bit of a Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” feeling in how the song breaks in and out of rhythm.
When it’s done, you should be a fan of the band. The songs are well written and even better executed. The passion of the band is felt in every song, while their sound as a unit comes across loud and clear. Like many good bands, you can hear the band’s influences. However, like many great bands, Quiet Morning & the Calamity forge their own path and make their own sound. The punk rock pasts of Jimi and Nate Cavazos mixed with those of Hillary Harris and Brandon Warnke; are the perfect fit with Ramos’ singer/songwriter vocals. While the rest of the band takes a short post tour break, you can catch lead singer Sean Ramos at Dean’s on Sunday September 28th at 7:00.