Gig Seeker Pro


Asheville, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Rock




"Ameriglow keeps saying goodbye to Americana"

Greensboro’s Ameriglow has gone from being the vehicle for the fleshed-out solo work of Jacob Darden to a band, a unit. The band just released a new threesong e.p., “The Guthrie Deathbed Roll,” in February. Darden, who spoke to me last weekend after returning from gigs in Wilmington and Charleston, likens the band’s new mode to that of “creating a machine,” something with semi-mechanized parts, a conglomeration of pieces that all work together. But there’s nothing really machinelike to the sound of Ameriglow, and there hasn’t been since its first release in 2013.

There’s a murky cough-syrup density that sometimes rises to the surface of Ameriglow’s music. Whether you sense it at first or it slowly creeps up on you, there’s something lurking underneath the music. It’s sonic and symbolic. Sometimes it’s simply heartbreak barely hidden underneath an acoustic guitar and aching vocals, like on “Foundations for a Wish,” a song that’s shrouded in pain, loss and death. Sounds, instruments, musical counter lines or scribbly textures drift into audible range. Sometimes an echoey double-tracked vocal part or a sung harmony will emerge, as if someone’s singing inside a distant empty grain silo or as if portions of the recording were being transmitted through a conch shell. It’s scruffy, arty, slightly deranged, and a little folky in places, like the Flaming Lips palling around with Bob Dylan on a doom-obsessed Basement Tapes for the 21st Century. Or that was the vibe until this latest e.p., which has more urgency, muscle, jittery energy and maybe a little more optimism.

The low frequencies on the new Ameriglow e.p. are intentional. The strings got tuned down. The band used baritone electric guitars tuned down to B, lower than standard tuning. (Darden comes by the instrument-tinkering gene honestly; his dad builds guitars.) Even the snare drum sounds loose, still registering the snap of the wire snares vibrating along the bottom head, but with none of that crisp pinging attack you sometimes hear when the drum is struck. Darden says the new e.p. is a departure. (This new band-centric version of Ameriglow is new; they don’t even have a proper promo photo of the whole band yet.) It’s a more controlled and orchestrated effort, something that emerged from advance planning and preparation rather than the in-the-moment improvisational layering of 2015’s “A Heavy Heaven For Robby.”

Darden, 27, came to central N.C. from the western part of the state about six or seven years ago, and he’s been busy making music here since. He tends bar on the side. Before Ameriglow, Darden was in Israel Darling, a similar-sounding outfit, with more acoustic and campfire sing-along qualities. At differing times Ameriglow and Darden’s other projects bring to mind artists like Chad VanGaalen, My Morning Jacket, Desaparecidos, Phosphorescent, Henry Clay People, Pavement, Polvo and other diverse and artful obscurantists who can convey deep feeling or deep dread or just a restlessness and reluctance, or all of those, all done in part with enticing layers of production, creative pastiche or simply with fervor.

The wide-ranging scope of the sound is part of the appeal.

Darden’s music projects an indie rock sensibility, a kind of cautious combustive energy, a familiarity with musical tradition, but a reluctance to totally ape it, and also an eye-dropper of skepticism about any need to deviate from established truths and effective forms. There’s an attention to tone and texture that adds to the music, but could also initially distract from the songs themselves. It’s a complicated position. But despite all that, Darden and his bandmates are working on some level to distance themselves from the Americana label, which is understandable perhaps in that the genre tag connotes a degree of nostalgia for a romanticised past. If anything, Ameriglow point more toward a dark future.

Ameriglow’s 2013 release “Anti- Americana; Speaking to the Unconscious Mind of the South West” opens with the apocalyptic “Welcome to the USO,” which includes an excellent lyric about “trading in your modern moccasins/for a pair of steeltoed boots and a rifle with a lens” as well as lines about dead bodies, and bombs dropping in front yards. The paranoia is pronounced on that batch of songs.

The new e.p., with its evocation of a dying Woody Guthrie, is, Darden says, a sort of farewell to roots and folk-rock for the band.

“It’s kind of us saying goodbye to playing Americana music,” he says.

On the new release, Elizabeth Grubbs’ Hammond B-3 organ run through a Leslie cabinet provides an ominous drone to many of the songs. It’s churchy and insectlike at the same time.

“We’re trying to learn how to stack those kinds of sounds and I guess be more orchestrated,” says Darden. He says Ameriglow will record a full-length album later this year, sometime after spring tour dates in Texas and elsewhere. Darden says the band will riff off of the approach they established for the recent e.p., carrying the logic through to a larger group of songs.

“We’re willing to keep morphing,” says Darden. ! - Yes! Weekly

"Portrait of an Artist as a Guitar Autodidact"

“How come there’s such comfort in being deranged?”

The question is posed in Jacob Darden’s plaintive tenor at the beginning of “Dinner Bells,” one of 16 stunning tracks on Ameriglow’s new album, A Heavy Heaven for Robby, leading into a splendorous, warped progression of guitar chords.

The paradox of comfort and derangement forms the musical and spiritual core that binds the songs on the new album, which is both spacey and immediate, both organic and disoriented. It is music that suggests, as the old hymn proclaims, “This world is not my home,” while celebrating a communion of misfits and malcontents.

The creative process utilized by Darden, the band’s songwriter, guitarist and vocalist, is unique, to say the least. Darden wrote the lyrics and music for many of the songs on A Heavy Heaven for Robby on the spot while Randy Seals, who produced the album and played drums, was setting up recording equipment. Then the songs were quickly rehearsed and recorded, mostly in two takes or fewer. Not to mention that Darden doesn’t write down lyrics. That approach should have produced a self-indulgent mess, but instead the album brims with incisive lyrical couplets and instantly memorable runs of reverb-laden guitar that display a thoroughly uncanny sense of melody.

“It felt pure to us,” Darden said in the green room at the Blind Tiger before Ameriglow’s set at its CD release party on Aug. 1. “It felt raw. We weren’t humiliated at all by anything lyrically or technically that we wanted to try. This time it was very direct.

“I think the theme comes back to being honest and letting it out,” he added. “It’s all spontaneous. One reason there’s a theme to it is [the songs are] all recorded during the same time of night. I think the theme was us being true to ourselves.”

The songs were built in the studio, albeit organically, and Darden felt a measure of trepidation about how they would translate in their maiden live performance at the release party.

“The music is manipulated manually,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s post-production. I love noise. I like to get sounds out of a guitar that you wouldn’t expect, but everything is done on the spot. It’s almost like welding, literally like taking trash and building something beautiful out of it.”

Following a supporting set by Totally Slow, Darden brought his band out on stage, including Seals on drums and backing vocals, Cathalyn Robs on bass, Elizabeth Grubbs on piano, Doug Pike on second guitar and Kelly Grubbs on backing vocals.

“I’m really nervous,” Darden confessed before the audience, “but this is gonna be fun.”

Darden and his band attacked the songs with confidence and relish, from the bracing drumbeat and vocal declaration of “Talkin’ to Lucy” forward. Seals, on drums and later for a spell on bass, seemed to have an almost intuitive sense of where Darden’s idiosyncratic vision was taking the songs. Robs held the center, listening intently and anchoring the songs in a groove that gave a long tether to Darden’s sonic explorations. Pike added pleasurable texture. Elizabeth Grubbs’ piano playing was spare and elegant, creating a comforting tonic to Darden’s eccentric riffage. Her sister, Kelly, making a angelic choir of one, added harmony vocals, and graced the audience with her beatific smile.

Ameriglow’s fans responded with rapturous appreciation, both to the new songs and the rollicking crowd favorite “Bella Moore” and country-tinged “Sleepwalking Backwards,” both from the band’s first album, Anti-Americana: Speaking to the Unconscious Mind of the Southwest.

While the older cuts were a pleasure to hear, the new songs are nothing short of compelling. With roots reaching back to the Band (think of the intensity of “Chest Fever” or a weirder strain of “The Weight”), the warped Americana on Heavy Heaven for Robby holds up to almost anything put out by My Morning Jacket or Ryan Adams in the past decade in both sincerity and innovation. Taken together, the collection shows flashes of contemporary pop antheming along the lines of Arcade Fire with “The Numbers Are Random,” delicious guitar crunch in the instrumental “While Licking Broken Pavement,” the kiss-off romanticism of “Conf***ulations” and the orchestral folk of “Blackout in the Backlot.”

The title track, a requiem for a close friend who passed away, started as a melody Darden worked out on the piano and became a sweet 42-second elegy on guitar.

But a sense of Darden’s relationship with his friend comes out most clearly in the magnificent lead track, “Dreams Pt. 1.”

“I’ve been working backwards fixing scenes,” Darden sings over a piece of guitar confection worthy of Lou Reed circa 1969. “I just wish Robby was here to see, but dreams don’t come true….”

Later in the song, Darden laments, “I just miss my best friend,” and the guitar suddenly lurches into a modulating tremolo as the drums go into double time like a palpitating heart. The lyric “Death is approaching at an alarming rate” follows as a repeated mantra.

“It’s my baby,” Darden said of the music. “The one thing I care about, I care about the music and my friends more than myself.” - Triad City Beat


Slavic Tongue, American Film- to be released Winter 2020

A Heavy Heaven for Robby-January 2015

Backlot Blackout-July 2013

Anti-Americana:Speaking to the Unconscious Mind of the Southwest-Apr 2013



Ameriglow embodies a seismic upheaval of crunchy sonic warmth, heartwrenching lyrical content and cascading vocal performances. With a significant catalogue of releases over the last six years, there is truly something for every type of listener to appreciate. After a three year hiatus from touring to focus on other pursuits and recording a 23 song double LP, the band has now regrouped in Asheville, NC and is poised for non-stop touring for their upcoming release in Winter 2020. Few lesser known acts working now can deliver the same emotional force of this band both in a studio and live setting and they look forward to sharing their sound with anyone who will listen.

Band Members