American Mars

American Mars


Postmodern Americana from Detroit. The Dream Syndicate meets Charlie Rich.


Since its inception in the late nineties, American Mars has been a quiet anomaly in their hometown of Detroit. In a town often passed over by touring roots acts, American Mars has persevered for almost a decade with its own brand of atmospheric Americana-influenced pop. This October, the band will release its third full-length release, Western Sides, on its own Gangplank Records label.

Produced by the band’s pedal steel player David Feeny (Blanche, Loretta Lynn), Western Sides covers a lot of ground in its 11 songs, ranging from the lonesome grace of “Long Walk Home,” to the cutting defiance of “Democracity,” and the whispered elegy of “Sunray.” Propelled by the band’s combination of guitar, pedal steel, upright bass, and drums, American Mars makes the most of its affection for Dylan, Lucinda Williams, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to produce a body of work on Western Sides that pulses with emotional honesty and harmonic beauty.

American Mars’ 2001 release, No City Fun, combined inide-rock and post-punk elements with fragments of Eno/Lanois-influenced ambience. Reviewers compared the band’s music to such diverse artists as Joe Henry, the Dream Syndicate and Blue Nile while their emotional and cathartic live shows earned them support slots for 16 Horsepower, The National, Clem Snide, Tim Easton, Elbow, and Magnolia Electric Company.

Recording sessions for the follow-up to No City Fun began in the fall of 2003 on the heels of the band’s last shows in support of the record and their appearance at South by Southwest. Recording halted in 2004, however, when bassist Garth Girard notified the band that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer. As a result, the band’s attention immediately turned to assisting Garth and his family through his treatment and recovery. After being given a clean bill of health in 2006, the band soon returned to writing and recording material for what was to become Western Sides with a newfound sense of perspective and appreciation for the chance to make music together.

Given the length of time between recordings, the members of American Mars know that Western Sides might as well be the band’s debut. Maybe that’s why Western Sides reaches out to listeners with a focus and intimacy only hinted at on the band’s previous recordings. Indeed, there is a feeling of purpose and resilience that runs throughout Western Sides, in both the confidence and directness of its musical ideas and singer/songwriter Thomas Trimble’s tales of characters caught in the crush of life’s baffling extremes and their struggles with fidelity, time, fear, and desire.


Late (CD-1997)
No City Fun (CD-2001)
Western Sides (CD-2007)

Set List

Originals with the occasional cover (Johnny Cash, Galaxy 500, Echo and the Bunneymen, Lucinda Williams)