Dirty River Boys
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Dirty River Boys

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"New Releases-Dirty River Boys"

Go ahead. There’s plenty of room. Here, I’ll even help you on.

This is me convincing you to go ahead and jump onto The Dirty River Boys bandwagon if you haven’t already. Really though, The DRB don’t need me doing any persuading; their debut album “Science of Flight” does more than enough on its own.

I’m not going to go really deep into the long-term impact I see with the album, but rather, I’m just going to talk about the overall greatness and enjoyment of the album (Side Note: I really see this–as well as a host of other albums/artists–being a milestone and moment in which you’ll be able to go back to and see when the “Texas Country” sound changed from an arena-rock, carbon copied, and shallow version to a more substantial, folk-influenced, and roots-embracing sound. I think you’re seeing a movement in the works headlined by the likes of Turnpike Troubadours, Dirty River Boys, Uncle Lucius, Sons of Fathers, etc that are more influenced by ’70s country songwriters and modern indie, folk, and bluegrass bands than anything else. Roots.)

With “Science of Flight,” the large looming question I think the majority of people were asking themselves was how The Dirty River Boys were going to capture the intensity, magnitude, and raw energy of their live shows onto a studio album. Was this going to sound and feel like a live performance? Were they going to take the approach of it being a studio creation and embrace that experience making it more of a tangible work of art? Was “Science of Flight” going to have the pulse that their live show has?

Fret not, friends; “Science of Flight” does indeed have a pulse. It races on. It gets dialed back, becomes almost silent. Drives songs forward. It takes a backseat.

There’s plenty of familiarity on the album, but the best parts of “Science of Flight” I think are the moments that we see a quieter, more reserved, and intimate Dirty River Boys. A handful of songs on the record show another side of vocalist-guitarists Nino Cooper and Marco Gutierrez as songwriters. We’ve seen the two lyricists produce songs in the past that have shown that promise, but I don’t think to the degree of “Science of Flight’s” staples.

Their previous two EPs, “Long Cold Fall” and Train Station,” certainly showed the acoustic quartet refining their brand of outlaw folk, but like most EPs, are just that, extended plays. It’s not that either release are bad by any means, but rather were too short to really show the Dirty River Boys at full force. They left you thinking they weren’t finished telling you the full story. That parts of their tall tales and exercises in character sketches were just incomplete. Percussionist (primarily the cajon) Travis Stearns, bassist Colton “CJ” James, Cooper, and Gutierrez show you that picture in full with “Science of Flight.”

“Science of Flight” plays like a soundtrack for dusty West Texas desert characters that you could see in any Cormac McCarthy or Larry McMurtry novel. There’s numerous occasions where you’re positive that Cooper and Gutierrez are talking from experience and revealing their own personal story, but not too much of it. Like many great songwriters, they walk the line where you know they’re not telling the complete truth but still making a point and revealing the human experience.

The (mostly) El Paso natives perfectly blend the stark, pure balladry of ’70s Texas songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt, ’70s Rolling Stones grit, attitude, and demeanor, the organic, raw emotion of The Ramones, and the foundation of Old Crow Medicine Show. Don’t misinterpret that assessment though; “Science of Flight” is as original, fresh, and crisp as it can possibly be. It’s those elements done the Dirty River Boys way. - New Slang


"Dirty River Boys-Science of Flight"

So I've been hinting around that I got the new Dirty River Boys album, Science of Flight last week. It isn't officially released till September 11, but thanks to the Kickstarter project they did a while back, I was able to get my grubby little hands on it a few weeks early. Last week was full of new releases and I think between those and doing some swaps with a few friends, I wound up with around 200 new songs in my iTunes. Normally this would be a great thing, but I'm finding myself feeling guilty for all the music I've gotten because it's all been pushed to the back-burner as Science of Flight has taken full stage.

It couldn't have come at a more perfect time either because the Boys were in town Friday night at the Blue Light. After listening to the new album on a loop for about 72 hours I was ecstatic to see these songs and all my other favorites performed live.

Even after stalking them on YouTube for months and knowing a good handful of the songs already on this album, I'm still beyond impressed and it's now resting in my top 3 albums of 2012. One of my favorites right off the bat is the Tom Petty-esque "Heart Like That," a wanderlust tune that I can't get enough of. Even though "She" will always be my favorite DRB song, this one is close behind. They have a way of singing songs girls will relate to without being cliché.

Speaking of not being cliché, did you know there is such a thing as a summer song that doesn't mention cut off jeans, corn fields, trucks or motorboatin'? At first I was a little nervous when I saw the title "Summer Sweet Summer," but they had me at "I'm gunna take her by the hand, spin her till she's mine." This one has everything it takes to be the perfect summer song without being overdone. I think it will be a radio hit next summer.

Science really shows this four-piece band's diversity with everything from a perfectly-fitting and well-deserved Townes Van Zandt cover of "Lungs" to the upbeat, jazzy "Medicine Show." Another one of my favorites is "Riverbed Wildflowers," a slow song about moving on and of course I love the title track - it's such a pretty song.

"Letter To Whoever" and "Road Song" keep my blood pumping and make me dance in my spinny office chair or cause other drivers to think I'm having a seizure because I just can't sit still. I think "Raise Some Hell" is going to be a huge hit live because it was already received well when I saw them at Blue Light this past Friday night.

That was a damn good show. The crowd was the best I've seen in a while with everybody being back in town now that school's started. It was the first time in a long time I've had to fight for my place on the front row. There was a group of "Man Fan's" bro-ing out on the front row and at first I was annoyed but I figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so that's just what I did.

The Boys kicked off with the first track from Science of Flight, "Dried Up." It's got that unmistakeable Dirty River Boys sound and is one of my favorites from the album. It's fun to listen to, fun to sing along to and just a damn good song that a lot of people can relate to. They played most of the new songs, and even though only a handful of people got the album early, it was obvious that everyone loved the new stuff. They played a good mix of older songs too like "My Son," "She," and a really cool version of "Carnival Lights" that built up really slow and then finished off strong with the entire crowd singing along to every word.

Part of what makes their live shows so entertaining is the crowd interaction. If putting the "Dirt" in Dirty River Boys doesn't pan out for Travis, I see a very promising future as a nightclub DJ. He just has that voice and charisma and constantly keeps the crowd going. When they played "Boomtown," one of their biggest hits, he commanded the entire crowd to jump, chant and harmonize with the band. I doubt there was a drop of beer left in a bottle after that song because everyone was fist-pumping and jumping up and down the entire time.

They also keep you guessing. Constantly switching places, switching gears and going back and forth between Marco and Nino singing lead. I love that CJ always sings a few of his songs. You never know what to expect next so you better pay attention or you might just miss seeing an upright bass being played like a guitar. Hell, one of the best moments was the encore/grand finale song. They covered the greatest Old Crow Medicine Show ever "Cocaine Habit." I've heard many people rave about how excited they were to hear that.

There were a few songs they didn't play that I was wishing they had. "Six Riders" is one that I've been listening to on YouTube for a long time and I was excited to hear it but never did. Also, "El Pescador", the last song on the album will take you by surprise and for a minute, you may think you accidentally switched it to the AM Tejano station. I have no idea what the words are, but I love it. My friend Carter kept requesting it Friday night and afterwards we found out that it's actually Nino's dad singing on the album. I think this one could be a HUGE hit live. It would be one of those unexpected things like Josh Weathers covering Whitney Houston or Josh Abbott turning "Oh, Tonight" into that annoying song by Fun. that winds up being a crowd favorite.

I'm telling ya, this band is going places! I think this Science of Flight is going to skyrocket the Dirty River Boys into a whole new territory. They have such a unique sound, but are still incredibly diverse. They have a huge, loyal fanbase, but there are still people waiting on the sidelines that are fixing to jump on this bandwagon. If you're one of those - please go get this album on Tuesday and see them at your earliest possible convenience because it's time to get DIRTY!
- The Arrogrant Texas


"Dirty River Boys take "Flight" with debut album"

The Dirty River Boys’ Marco Gutierrez says the self-described “outlaw folk” band from El Paso was on a mission during the recording of their first album, “Science of Flight.”

“The main thing we were trying to do was capture the energy that comes out of the live show,” he said by phone recently. “We put our heart and soul into those 90 minutes we’re playing. But it’s a difficult thing to do to make that transfer over (to the studio). I wanna say we did.”

The acoustic quartet plans to play several of the songs from the new album, due Sept. 10, when DRB closes close out Townsquare Media’s free Cool Canyon Nights series Aug. 30 in the McKelligon Canyon Ampthitheatre. Doors open at 6 p.m.; music starts around 7:15.

“Science of Flight” barely contains their manic stage energy over the course of its 15 songs. It also captures something else — the sound of a live rattlesnake.

“At one point the bass player, C.J. (Colton James), who lives in the middle of nowhere on a ranch, caught a baby rattlesnake and put it in a cage,” Gutierrez said, still sounding somewhat incredulous.

He put it in an aquarium and brought it to Austin’s Yellow Dog Studios, a former brothel described as “decadent and discreet” on its website, where owner and engineer Dave Percefull placed a microphone over it.

“Even Dave said it was gonna sound cool on the record,” Gutierrez said, laughing.

The baby rattler may be the most unusual “instrument” on the record, which includes acoustic guitars, standup bass, cajon, assorted percussion, harmonica, banjo and pedal steel.

Live animals aside, the new album brings into sharp focus the formidable — and burgeoning — songwriting abilities of its singer-guitarists, Nino Cooper and Gutierrez, who started the band in El Paso three years ago with percussionist Travis Stearns.

James, who lives near Seguin, joined last year, around the time the group moved to Austin, the result of a Texas circuit touring schedule that keeps them on the road 200 shows a year.

The group, which shares management with veteran Texas star Cory Morrow, has barely taken a break since then, squeezing out two EPs, last year’s “Long Cold Fall” and “Train Station,” while shaping the songs for “Science of Flight” on the road.

With dusty ballads and adrenalized footstompers like “Road Song,” “Riverbed Wildflowers,” “Youngblood Blues,” and “Letter to Whoever,” Cooper and Gutierrez confidently weave their tales of woe, love, heartbreak, joy, betrayal, transcendence and life on the road.

Many of them, like the Irish-sounding romp “Raise Some Hell,” are road-tested, fleshed out from the constant tinkering that goes on night after night on stage.

Others, like Gutierrez’s oft-performed “Medicine Show,” took a left turn in the studio. The band had dropped it from the set, but decided to take a swing at it during its two-week stay at Yellow Dog last June.

“When we were in the studio I wanted to try and make it sound like a Stonesy kind of vibe ... but it came out almost like a New Orleans jazz-rock kind of thing,” he said. “I was really surprised it went in (that) direction.”

It helps, he said, that Yellow Dog owner-engineer Percefull, who coproduced with the band, brought his own bag of tricks — and vintage instruments – to the mix. After learning their way around a studio on those two EPs, the group was up for some experimentation.

“We did some cool electric sounds,” Gutierrez said. “He’d say, ‘Pick up this weird guitar I have in the studio and I’ll throw some weird distortion on there.’ All the suggestions came out cool.”

Thursday’s show will serve as a local preview of the new album, in part because the band doesn’t have another hometown gig lined up just yet.

“We’re probably gonna play the bulk of the new album,” Gutierrez said. “We’ll still play our old ones and play ones people enjoy hearing, but we want people to get familiar with these new songs. We want to hammer them as far as possible.”

One song they might play is “Science of Flight,” a quieter, hopeful number Cooper wrote when the band was still crashing on friend’s couches in Austin before it uprooted from El Paso. They were staying with a friend when Cooper played the song to Gutierrez.

“I was blown away. I thought, ‘Dammit, why didn’t I write that one,’” he said. “We were sitting around trying to think of an album title and I was like, ‘Man, that name “Science of Flight,” the song itself, kind of sums up what we’re all about, what we’re trying.” - Doug Pullen


Discography

Science of Flight-Debut Album
Train Station-EP
Long Cold Fall-EP

Photos

Bio

Few bands can proudly claim to have recorded their first album acoustically. For a band to do so with success, they would need raw-vintage talent, a ballsy temperament and just the right amount of dirty faith. Throws these together along with a lively rock show and you get The Dirty River Boys.

The band has quickly won over audiences of all ages with four part harmonies and traditional but manipulated musicality. DRB is a West Texas band redefining genres. The band uniquely fuses classic folk and hints of bluegrass with a modern rock edge.

Band members Nino Cooper, Travis Stearns, Colton James and Marco Gutierrez bring stories of personal experience and heartbroken outlaws to life with their poetic verses. The Boys also deliver whiskey slamming, foot stomping energy to classic instrument combinations of acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, cajon, snare, and banjo. The Dirty River Boys remind those listening that rock and roll is here to stay as long as it is kept a little dirty.