We Are Augustines
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We Are Augustines

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR
Band Alternative Rock




"Sounds of Summer - Augustines emulate Springsteen"

We Are Augustines – "Rise Ye Sunken Ships"
Big and fuzzy, the sound of We Are Augustines is huge. There's a lot of space in each track with plenty of reverb and a lot of instrumentation. "Rise Ye Sunken Ships" contains a classy sound that is rarely achieved by most bands. There are tasteful pauses and colorful breakdowns within many of the tracks. Classic raspy vocals and an acoustic guitar leading the band helps to give the album a nice, warm homey feel, but the additional instrumentation of strings, synthesizers and a smooth lead give We Are Augustines a very large sonic feel. Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty would both be proud to call We Are Augustines a little brother. - http://www.newsrecord.org/

"WNYC - Album of the week"

The band called We Are Augustines grew out of the wreckage of the band Pela. Singer and guitarist Billy McCarthy and bassist Eric Sanderson took the songs that they were working on when Pela broke up, and finished them with a new cast of characters. The result is an emotional, intense debut called Rise, Ye Sunken Ships expressed by songs like “Augustine.”

The album’s emotional center is a song called “Book of James.” It’s a slow burner built from jangly guitars and pounding drums, alongside some deeply personal lyrics. Billy McCarthy sings to his brother, Jim, who fought a lifelong battle with mental illness and finally killed himself. From this tragedy McCarthy might’ve written a song of loss and nostalgia, but instead “Book of James” becomes a triumph of spirit.

We Are Augustines write songs that are tender and ferocious, often at the same time. And while they’re from Brooklyn, there’s something almost English about their “Keep Calm and Carry On” demeanor as they sing about things like breakups, schizophrenia, and death in "Rise, Ye Sunken Ships." [Free Downloads on We Are Augustine website] - Picked by John Schaefer - WNYC

"Review: We Are Augustines 'Rise Ye Sunken Ships'"

Any songwriter knows that getting thoughts onto paper can be cathartic—get those demons out into the open. No one knows this better than We Are Augustines’ Billy McCarthy. His mother and brother were both diagnosed as schizophrenic and both took their lives, and that loss has left an indelible mark that infuses Rise Ye Sunken Ships with an overwhelming sense of melancholy. The album itself began life with McCarthy’s former band, Pela. Working with producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene), the three-day booze-fueled sessions ended with few songs barely completed. Shortly thereafter, Pela disbanded. McCarthy and Eric Sanderson (bass/keyboards) continued to keep the lines of communication open and rejoined as the duo We Are Augustines (with drummer Rob Allen). Back to Newfeld they went, and soberly finished the album. McCarthy’s raspy yet tender vocals relive, with each press of Play, his turbulent past, bringing out such lyrics as “Keep your head up, kid/I know you can swim/But you’ve got to move your legs” in “Augustine.” “Book of James” serves as an ode to his brother, recounting his sibling’s flight from the police. This indie-rock offering is a stripped-down affair: not too showy, heavy on the musicianship and an emphasis on the lyrics. And while the physical release isn’t until late August, it is available at iTunes now.
- Mix Magazine

"We Are Augustines - number 2 in the best albums of 2011"

“Like trying to get your girlfriend to watch The Godfather for the first time, recommending ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ is a tough prospect. It’s deeply beautiful and emotionally cathartic.”

Read more: http://www.live4ever.uk.com/2011/06/live4evers-essential-albums-of-2011-so-far/#ixzz1RWi4hH8g - Live 4 Ever

"Crate-Digging 2011: Augustines – Rise Ye Sunken Ships"

Dear Augustines,

I love you.

Haha, OK, let me back up a sec. I don’t love you love you, but I think it’s something you need to hear. See, I’ve been listening to your new, self-released record Rise Ye Sunken Ships for the past several days. Exclusively. I haven’t gotten sick of it either. And let me tell you, that’s tough to do to me – most of the time, I’m ready to move on to the next record after a couple of listens. But I’m genuinely going to miss you on my ride home today.

Before I get into the album itself, let me say this first – I applaud you for self-releasing the album. It’s interesting to watch the record business change, isn’t it? I know also you’ve been through a lot of frustration with unscrupulous managers and conniving record labels with your former band, Pela, and are still mired in legal turmoil. It bugs the hell out of me that artists get co-opted, churned through the machine like commodities and wrung dry, all for the benefit of weaselly industry types. But perseverance is the key, and you’ve cut through the crap and made it to the other side – well, at least a side with the possibility of a positive outcome. I hope the model you’re following proves fruitful.

So this, let’s call it “brotherly love,” I’m extending to you is appropriate, as the concept of family – what it is, what it should have been – is central to Rise. It’s seeped into every song in some way, whether obliquely through lost love in “The Chapel” (“I shake shake shake like a leaf” while watching a former lover – or a daughter? – get married), or as direct as you can get, in a song like “Juarez” (“I’ve got a drunk for a mother, got a saint for a brother”). I know what you’ve gone through and how you’ve tried to deal with it – I’ve read the excellent essay “Brother’s Keeper” on your website (and anyone interested in Augustines should read it as well). I mean, [singer] Bill [McCarthy], you’ve weathered family tragedies that would level other people: mother diagnosed as a schizophrenic, growing up in foster care, mother taking her own life by overdosing on painkillers and cocaine, younger brother Jim diagnosed as schizophrenic, Jim living hard and taking his own life while awaiting return to prison – I can’t imagine not self-medicating somehow, and the alcohol-fueled headrush of a touring life with Pela just makes sense.

I highlight these things to bring some perspective to Rise Ye Sunken Ships, aka The Record That Might Never Have Been Released, But Sure as Hell Needed To. This backstory is integral to it – not to say it isn’t enjoyable without it (I listened to it many times before reading “Brother’s Keeper” and enjoyed it thoroughly). You’ve got the brooding, nuanced layers of The National, the sloshed witticisms of Eric Bachmann (not to mention the cigarette-wracked but pitch-perfect voice), and the energetic twists and turns of Broken Social Scene that reveal the big picture gradually over the course of a full album. You’d never know the record was crafted by a duo (Eric Sanderson, also ex-Pela, being the other full member – sorry I haven’t mentioned you until now…), it’s so lush and composed, yet so raw and live-sounding. “Book of James,” about Jim, is particularly enthralling, especially after reading about it in the essay; and “Headlong Into the Abyss,” in which the shouts of “Call the police, call your priest, call whoever you want, but I won’t stop the car” kick up a frenzy of self-destructive resignation rivaled only in such great catharsis eruptions as The Walkmen’s “Little House of Savages” or Archers of Loaf’s “Fashion Bleeds.”

And your cover of Crooked Fingers’ “New Drink for an Old Drunk” – how appropriate – could very easily have been phoned in – but my God. You guys. You guys. You have internalized it and made it your own, and it fits perfectly within the context of what you’re doing. I want to cry when listening to it. One of many times on the album.

The nerves flayed in the lyrics and performance reach desperate new levels of exposure in “Patton State Hospital.” Another song about Jim, you’ve got to feel the bicoastal difference as he rots away in shelters, mental institutions, and prison on the West Coast, helpless in your ability to help him, but you try anyway. That downward spiral is heartbreaking to read about, and your willingness to try to let him live with you in New York, even though only briefly, should be applauded. It’s impossible to guess how your complicated relationship with him affected your communication, in particular after he moved back west. But you had to know how bad it was, and the line in the chorus of “Patton State Hospital,” “We’re gonna get you cleaned up, James,” delivered with such heartrending pity on such a misunderstood and mishandled person, is the point at which you had me. To focus so much on such a simple realization, that the mere act of “cleaning up” opens the possibility for proper medical attention, opens the possibility for rehabilitation, opens the possibility for removal from squalor, opens the possibility for a better life, is such an obvious first step. That the system failed Jim, and that his sickness took him, is an unbelievable tragedy. And you’ve nailed that here; throughout the record, in fact.

Rise Ye Sunken Ships plays like a transformation – it’s horrific and captivating to see the stripping and reinterpretation of family meaning unfold as nakedly as it does. There’s a hopefulness in the tragedy, a sense of moving on, a hint of healing. But through it all, you guys are master storytellers, and elite rock composers. I can do nothing but suggest this record to others, and add it high on my list of 2010 releases. And I hope your newfound sobriety acts as a clarifier, opening avenues of reconciliation unavailable in the haze. So, here’s to you, Augustines, to perseverance, to Rise Ye Sunken Ships, and to the years to come.

Best wishes,

RIYL: The National, Crooked Fingers, Broken Social Scene

*Editor’s note: Woops! Rise Ye Sunken Ships isn’t actually out yet, and will release in 2011. Thanks to the band and their peeps for the update. Keep an eye out for it! - CRITICAL MASSES


Brooklyn has had its fair share of successful musicians throughout the years. If you looked through the decades from before Lou Reed became an icon to the incredible amount of Hip Hop that was born there with The Beastie Boys to Jay Z, this popular area of New York has always told a story that the world has listened to and enjoyed.

Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson who are Augustines are about to share their incredible story in 2011 and on first listen they could well be joining that infamous list of successful artists that use Brooklyn as a base to launch their careers worldwide. Why? Because they have a tale to tell and a superb sound to match that not only has soul, it is also played from the heart.

Their debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships was produced by Dave Newfeld (Los Campesinos!, Broken Social Scene) and will be out sometime next year, but for now enjoy this video EPK to get the full picture and visit augustinesmusic.com to pick up a free download of the track Book of James. If your ears are in tune with bands such as the Gaslight Anthem, Arcade Fire and The National then you should not be disappointed. - CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE


In the first months of this blog’s existence, Pela, one of my favorite bands at the time, announced their breakup. Their debut LP, Anytown Graffiti, was the anthem of my summer as a camp counselor and a worthy companion on endless roadtrips I took at the time. Without a doubt, the impact this album had on me back then marks it as one of my favorites released in the past five years.

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Fast forward to now. Pela is broken up, but it’s members are more active than ever. Guitarist, Nate Marinez, for instance, has a solo project called Thieving Irons. I bought the album back in August without catching its connection to Pela, and have fallen in love with its emotive lyrics and delicate arrangements.

Ashes On The Riverbank – Thieving Irons Ashes On The Riverbank – Thieving Irons (Free Download)

Screen shot 2010 10 18 at 9.08.33 PM 526x294 EX PELA AUGUSTINES RELEASE FIRST TRACK

Pela frontman Billy McCarthy and bassist Eric Sanderson are also creating something new with their band, Augustines, who until yesterday, hadn’t released any recordings to the public. Enter “Book of James”. This long awaited track from McCarthy and Sanderson successfully captures what I loved so much about Pela, but in a new and exciting way. - The Wild Honey Pie

"KEXP Song of the Day - Augustines - Booke of James"

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Book of James” by Augustines from their forthcoming release Rise Ye Sunken Ships.

Augustines ? Book of James (MP3)

Rise Ye Sunken Ships was originally supposed to be the follow-up album to New York folk-rock band Pela’s debut LP, Anytown Graffiti. Tragedy struck, however, when singer and songwriter Bill McCarthy’s brother committed suicide, and the band struggled to cohere after the ordeal, eventually disbanding. Pela bassist Eric Sanderson later teamed back up with McCarthy to form a two-man outfit they call Augustines.

McCarthy wrote “Book of James” about his brother’s battles with drug addiction and subsequent suicide, and a recording caught the ear of producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene), who agreed to record the duo in Canada. While “Book of James” likely started out as a stark, stripped-down acoustic song, Newfeld included forceful, building percussion, some slide guitar, and communal clapping to add some inspiring instrumental gravity to go along with McCarthy’s impassioned lyrics and vocals. Though it is a song that came from tragedy, “Book of James” is an uplifting tale of forgiveness and perseverance, and will serve as the capstone to Rise Ye Sunken Ships, the release of which we are all anticipating at KEXP.

To announce the new project, Eric and Billy performed a special session live on KEXP from the Cutting Room Studios last week, which you can listen to right now. For more info regarding Augustines, including a nearly 5000-word synopsis of the band’s history and their experience working with Dave Newfeld, visit their website. Here’s their official electronic press kit for the new album, directed by Seattle’s Matteo Bava: - KEXP RADIO


Rise Ye Sunken Ships - LP

“Chapel Song” was recently #4 Most Added (tied with Amos Lee’s “Flower”) in its first week at Triple A radio, making We Are Augustines the highest added independent band. Numerous Non-Com stations are already spinning tracks from the record. Starbucks has tapped “Chapel Song” for its “10 Song Summer Mix” digital sampler, available as a free download on iTunes to customers who purchase a Frappuccino® at Starbucks or to any customer on the Starbucks Digital Network in store. The offer, good while supplies last, is available in the U.S. and Canada. Last week “Headlong Into The Abyss,” another track from Rise Ye Sunken Ships, was iTunes’ “Single of the Week.”



March 2011 – a ship on the River Thames in London. Though the weather is unusually clement for this time of year, the waters beneath us continue to ripple at a seasonal gallop, rocking the ship’s hull back and forth in a rhythmic canter. Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson, the engine room behind Brooklyn, New York’s We Are Augustines, are themselves no strangers to turbulent waters. McCarthy in particular, whose volatile upbringing is candidly documented in both his band’s biographical notes and the lyrics of his songs, has felt himself frequently capsized by the vagaries of life. Having spent much of his formative years in foster care – a castaway from a schizophrenic mother and a non-existent father – a sense of self-reliance is perhaps more finely attuned in him than most. Sitting here now on this floating pub, prior to his band’s first major UK gig in front of 1,000 people, McCarthy’s enthusiasm for his current situation is addictive (“Hey! – we’re on a fucking boat in London!” he realises with frequent relish), yet his affable characteristics also betray a certain gravitas. Like a child who’s been told one too many lies, there’s a sense of restraint – like the very fabric in front of him could vanish in a puff of smoke at any time. He says the word ‘present’ a lot – though not the gift-wrapped kind – like a man holding on to the NOW with white-knuckle determination. He is also given to shaking his head, with an almost cartoonishly grim disbelief, especially when hitting upon something fortuitous. Through all the upheaval and broken promises that have come, Billy McCarthy is a man who takes nothing for granted.

“It’s quite gratifying to be where we are now,” he says, reflecting on the past two years, which has seen We Are Augustines rise from the ashes of his former band Pela, which had achieved significant success with debut (and only) album Anytown Graffiti before collapsing from personal tensions brought about by the industry at large.

“With Pela, we made great songs and did great shows,” continues Sanderson, the other survivor from the Pela wreckage. “We stayed away from labels for so long, but the minute we opened ourselves up to the industry, it got us!”

Since parting ways in 2008 with Great Society, the indie label that released much of the Pela material, the partnership – which has since been fortified by the arrival of English drummer Rob Allen – have remained unsigned, taking a more cautious stance into the Augustines project. But there’s more to this hypersensitive tiptoeing than simple contractual concerns – something far more personal lurks beneath.

Much of the material on forthcoming album Rise Ye Sunken Ships – most of which was written and recorded when Pela still existed – documents perhaps the most traumatic period of Billy McCarthy’s life. Having undergone the pain of a mentally ill, drug-addicted mother taking her own life when he was just nineteen, in 2009, McCarthy was to undergo a virtual déjà vu experience as his younger brother James, also a diagnosed schizophrenic, hung himself while still in the apparent care the hospital that was supposed to be treating him. Having been songwriting for only a couple of years following the death of his mother, initial forays into compositional catharsis fell short (“I lacked the vocabulary and subtlety”), but by the time of James’s death, a virtually obsessive McCarthy had assimilated his understanding of the world with the nuances of his craft.

“There were years of my life that just blend into each other, because all I cared about was writing,” he recalls, shaking his head. “It was just pure dedication…” His trails off, wrestling with a notion. “When you believe in your art – whether you’re a writer or musician or whatever – you’re essentially believing in yourself. I never put that together until recently.”

“Billy is incredibly passionate,” Sanderson continues. “For him, writing is not just sitting down with a pen and paper – it’s a lifestyle you live and breathe every day…” – to which McCarthy, whose conversational lunges are frequently housed in story-telling, recalls an anecdote from his days working at a restaurant. “There was a painter, a writer and a photographer,” he begins, almost joke-like. I ask if it is one; it assuredly isn’t. “There was this big debate when I said I wasn’t working the next weekend, and they were giving me a really hard time about it. I just slammed my fists on the table and said: ‘I don’t know whether you know this or not, but there’s no such thing as a part-time artist!’ They all just looked at their shoes. I felt really bad about it, but I also felt it had to be said…” – a pensive pause – “As much for my benefit as theirs, in hindsight.”

Sitting between Sanderson and McCarthy is like watching a game of conversational table tennis – a to-ing and fro-ing made all the more dizzying by the fact it’s happening on a boat. Like an old married couple, the pair seem to be completely aligned to eac