Boss Tweed
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Boss Tweed

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The "tweed" that's "boss" here is the sound of a Fender tweed amp overdriven by a classic Gretsch archtop. But the band's name could just as easily by an ironic tribute to the icon known as Boss Tweed, the man William Marcy, whose Tammany Hall ruled New York City in the late 1800s and practically perfected political corruption. Either way, the music of the band Boss Tweed is rockabilly "corrupted" by the big city.

This is a classic rockabilly trio of a spare drum set powered by Eric Reed; an orange Gretsch 6120 in the arms of Gerard Egan; and bassist and vocalist Carolyn Sills. But the resemblance to rockabilly largely ends there.

Boss Tweed blends rockabilly, soul, and downhome blues-"as interpreted by musicians born in the late seventies," as their publicity statement states. Above all, their sound is infused with an uptown jazz lounge vibe. It's punk rockabilly with a cool twist.

To say that Sills' singing is sultry is an immense understatement. She's part Billie Holiday, part Sade, providing the voice of the band. Her vocals resonate with a throaty anguish, torch songs sung straight from the heart.

Behind Sills, Egan's licks are cool and classic, but his groove is soulful and deep rather than in-your-face flash. The twang echoes through the music like sonic brushstrokes instead of blasts of reverberating splashes. And all the tunes here are originals-covers would seem downright anachronistic.

This isn't the rockabilly of Eddie Cochran or Charlie Feathers or that Elvis guy. Instead, it's rockabilly recast for a new era. - Mike Drengi


Gutsy guitar licks… Egan's guitar trades licks with Sills superb vocals… we go from Rockabilly to vintage Americana in 40 minutes. - AR


Swing meets cool jazz & blues with a touch of country twang - that's what you get from NYC trio Boss Tweed. They supersede generic stereotypes, and Carolyn’s voice soothes your tired soul, leaving you aching for more on this self-titled release. - Michelle Terranova, Go Kat Go


"Boss Tweed has taken rockabilly to the big city. The New York power
trio was formed in 2004 with all the requisites: minimalistic drum
kit, thumping bass, and a fire-engine-red Gretsch archtop. But this
ain't your grandpappy's rockabilly. As the band states, their
influences are as diverse as the cities they were born in - Nawlins,
Chicago, and a town with no traffic light somewhere in New Jersey.
Boss Tweed tweaks their rockabilly, adding jazz, blues, lounge and
soul.

The band is led by guitarman and singer Gerard Egan with drummer Eric Reed providing a wide-ranging array of percussion and rhythm styles. Yet it's bassist Carolyn Sills that's the font voice of the band.
Added together, Boss Tweed reverberates through your heart like the Johnny Burnette Rock and Roll Trio fronted by Billie Holiday. When the band's eponymous debut CD arrived in 2005, we raved about the band's loungey rockabilly. Now, they're back with a vinyl EP featuring two stellar tunes.

The band's original "Buzz Like Houseflies" is a romp, pure and simple. This is rollicking rockabilly with plenty of reverb and twang. And yet Sills' soulful vocals injects a twist that makes it all new. The
flipside is a cover of "Perhaps..." The ballad becomes a seance set to
melody, conjuring up a misty past of dim juke joints and neon-lit
roadhouses from the end of time. The effect is mesmerizing. This isn't
Wanda Jackson, or even the Reverend Horton Heat. Instead, Boss Tweed rules on it's own terms." - Vintage Guitar Magazine


Boss Tweed’s 2005 debut album, with its mix of bluesy rockers, darkly textured slow tunes and a few flat-out fun rockabilly numbers, is a strong statement that this young band intends to bring their unique blend of varying musical styles to the forefront of the musical consciousness.

A casual first pass listen shows Carolyn Sills' vocals to be the greatest strength here. She is soulful, powerful and her well thought-out melodies stand out in the mix with a larger-than-life feel. Her style harkens back to the age of blues and soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, but her lyrics delve into the dark side of the rainbow, bringing to mind shadowy street corners and vaguely menacing situations the words won’t quite let your imagination fully flesh out. Further investigation reveals the intricate and accomplished guitar work of Gerard Egan, who is as adept at breathing new life into familiar-sounding blues riffs as he is at generating inventive ways to bring rockabilly music into the new millennium. His influences sound to range from rockabilly/psychobilly artists like Scotty Moore, Deke Dickerson and The Reverend Horton Heat to bluesmasters like Buddy Guy and Albert King (albeit from a more Hendrix-style point of view). Drummer Eric Reed’s work is solid and extremely fluid, and he is capable of giving punch to a passage or laying back to let the groove proceed on its own. His intuitive feel for what exactly is needed pervades the album, and you will be hard pressed to find him overplaying at any point. Sills’ bass playing is not to be overlooked, as she proves herself a force in this respect as well. She is an extremely talented player who knows how to outline the passages around Egan’s guitar work while punctuating the beats with Reed, and because of their obvious comfort level with each other, this three-piece unit often sounds like a much larger band.

The album kicks off with the sultry, slow and brooding blues of “12th Street,” taking you to the back corner =table at a smoky lower-level bar in Manhattan, everything bathed in dense red light. Sills prays “I hope you remember that/Because I’ve forgotten about it,” dismissing what can only be unpleasant repressed memories from a not-so-distant past. The pace quickly picks up with the undeniably catchy “Pretty Violent,” where Sills belts out “There’s a storm brewing over your actions/This tempest has taken my name/I’m about to create an inferno from your flame.” This could be the finest song on the album, where Egan’s layered guitar work during the bridge is powerfully underscored by the methodical rhythm section, leading to a strong, soulful Sills finish. The listener is then treated to the minor-key rockabilly farewell bid in “Real Good Sell” and the downright funky baseline in “Then It Hits You.”

The minute-plus beautiful acoustic “Cleanin’ Upsa Ditty” divides the album neatly in half; Egan and Sills croon “Think of what you started/Now we’re both broken hearted/Never got around to cleaning up” as the song ends in a psychedelic shimmer. The second half of the album begins with the country-tinged “After Awhile” (sung by Egan in his charming tenor, with Sills’ joining the chorus with her powerfully undercutting harmonies) and the breakneck pace and dark imagery of “Hellbent,” with Reed hammering out the beat while Sills’ insistent bass line provides the perfect backdrop for Egan’s reverb-drenched single-string riffing. Sills sings “I told him ‘never’/But it sounded like ‘once more’/He’s hellbent on gettin’ in the door,” as the listener envisions a potentially explosive situation where some uninvited person is making something more than a nuisance of himself.

The straightforward blues delivery of the verses of “Self Made Man” sound like a cover of a lost Muddy Waters song until Egan’s oversaturated guitar takes the song from blues to rock in the chorus. “No waiting ’round for any winning number/Holy roller, deal made with the devil’s left hand man,” Sills sings in this inventive blues revival.

While the somewhat bizarre “Pontchartrain” doesn’t seem to meld with the rest of the album (likewise the traffic noises of the opening track, “GWB”), it makes a nice transition to the mellow acoustic backed almost-country closer “Goes Like Nothing” (complete with slide guitar overdubs). This is the most delicate and beautifully composed song on the album, a fitting end to show that blues and rockabilly don’t come close to encompassing the group’s potential. If they can produce this well-written composition almost as an afterthought as the last track, the promise of their future work is certainly compelling.

This is music which feels as though it should have been written in another decade, though Boss Tweed is too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a rockabilly or blues revival band. These are clearly influences, but the work taken as a whole is an important statement from a young band just beginning to show their stuff in bridging all these genres and making them their own. Certainly, the album is powerful enough to be able to transport you from that smoky basement bar in “12th Street” all the way to the final track, where “California dust it goes like nothing right into the sky.” After hearing the album through, this is a voyage that you will want to take more than once.

Boss Tweed can be found at http://www.bosstweedband.com
Carolyn Sills and the Poor Man’s Roses, Sills’ Patsy Cline cover band, (check out Back In Baby’s Arms and you might forget you’re not listening to Patsy herself) can be found at http://www.myspace.com/thepoormansroses
Carolyn Sills’ solo can be found at http://www.carolynsills.com - Jonathan Roses, mel.opho.be review


“Slickers out of Brooklyn, Boss Tweed makes thinking person’s rockabilly-blues, and it’s all very smart that they publish old-school on vinyl. But I still say music is more a visceral thing -- songs that make you drive too fast, thinking and feeling things you probably shouldn’t, and that’s why ‘Buzz Like Houseflies’ makes my top-ten.”
– Vern Smith, The Motown Hoedown, CJAM 91.5 FM (Windsor-Detroit)
- Vern Smith, The Motown Hoedown 91.5FM


"Boss Tweed, Five Little Lies EP. Just because a band has rockabilly influences doesn't mean it has to play dress up and be a retro act. These tunes could be mistaken as coming from another era (the one Brian Setzer dreams about), but the group is also decisively modern, thanks to guitarist Gerard Egan's tasteful hollow body Gretsch playing, Eric Reed's steady rhythmic drumming and singer/bassist Carolyn Sills from-the-heart bluesy singing. It'd be really easy for these guys (and gal) to cheese it up and get flashy, but they don't, and that makes all the difference." - MIKE SEMBOS, THE NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE, JUNE 2008 - New Haven Advocate


Discography

'Five Little Lies' - 2008 EP
1. Lie To Me
2. Bottles & Cans
3. Prince of the Upper West Side
4. I Never Cared for You
5. Mona Lisa

7 inch vinyl: released on Silent Stereo Records (2007)
A Side: Buzz Like Houseflies
B Side: Perhaps...

Boss Tweed: self-titled, self-released, self-recorded LP CD (2005)
Tracks:
1. GWB
2. 12th Street
3. Pretty Violent
4. Done Wonders
5. Real Good Sell
6. Then it Hits You
7. Cleanin' Upsa Ditty
8. After Awhile
9. Hellbent
10. Self Made Man
11. Pontchartrain
12. Goes Like Nothing

Photos

Bio

BOSS TWEED'S soaring male/female harmonies intertwine in both twangy rock n' roll numbers and eerie blues tunes, making for a must see, high energy show.

Boss Tweed has taken rockabilly to the big city. The Brooklyn power trio was formed in 2005 with all the requisites: minimalistic drum kit, thumping bass and a hot rod Gretsch hollow body. But this ain't your grandpappy's rockabilly. Boss Tweed adds jazz, blues, lounge and soul to create a new take on the genre that is all their own, reverberating through your heart like the Johnny Burnette Trio fronted by Peggy Lee.

The trio is led by double threat Carolyn Sills on the Fender Jazz bass and lead vocals and features the dynamite Gretsch guitar playing of Gerard Egan, whose classic but innovative style conjures the larger than life sound of yesterday's guitar heroes. Combine these two powerful forces with the old-school New Orleans drumming of Eric Reed and you'll see why Boss Tweed is changing the way people view Americana music.

Boss Tweed toured Europe in March & April of 2008, and again in July and August... They were on tour in Canada in September '08 and will be back on the road in 2009.

Boss Tweed was chosen as a "2008 Blues Artist On the Rise" by The Blues Festival Guide

"To say that Sills' singing is sultry is an immense understatement. Her vocals resonate with a throaty anguish, torch songs sung straight from the heart... Egan's licks are cool and classic, but his groove is soulful and deep rather than in-your-face flash..." (Vintage Guitar Magazine)

The two singles on Boss Tweed's new 7" vinyl are making radio top 10 lists both in the US and internationally, and was just reviewed in the Feb 2008 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine: "The band's original "Buzz Like Houseflies" is a romp, pure and simple. This is rollicking rockabilly with plenty of reverb and twang. And yet Sills' soulful vocals injects a twist that makes it all new. The flipside is a cover of "Perhaps..." The ballad becomes a seance set to melody, conjuring up a misty past of dim juke joints and neon-lit roadhouses from the end of time. The effect is mesmerizing."

"Slickers out of Brooklyn, Boss Tweed makes thinking person's rockabilly-blues, and its all very smart that they publish old-school on vinyl. But I still say music is more a visceral thing -- songs that make you drive too fast, thinking and feeling things you probably shouldn't, and that's why 'Buzz Like Houseflies' makes my top-ten." Vern Smith, The Motown Hoedown, CJAM 91.5 FM (Windsor, Canada / Detroit, MI)

For all that is Boss Tweed, please visit http://www.bosstweedband.com