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The best kept secret in music


"Catchy as all get out"

This record is fabulous. Promising has one of the catchiest guitar riffs I've ever heard, destined to play itself in your head for days afterwards. I wouldn't be surprised if Mississippi River and I'm Sorry Caroline get stuck in there as well. Without Even Trying, however, is my favorite song on the record. It achingly describes the wish that everything could be just a little bit different.

- trixie (on amazon)

"Isn't it always about a girl?"

Amy. Caroline. Lorraine. And the ten other unnamed women who variously broke the singer's heart, left without looking back, or (worst of all) left and came back -- this is the sun that Planet Firecracker orbits. it's a cliché that all songs are about love, yet Firecracker's deft writing -- the entire band is credited as songwriters, so who am I to speculate where the lyrics come from -- manages to elude triteness and ring graceful new changes on the age-old country themes.

It's good to start with the writing, because unless you're Oasis you can't turn lead into gold. The better news is that the songs are well-served by the musical setting. The band is tight and ferocious without being undisciplined. Listen to the way "Hey, Amy" or "(I'm Sorry) Caroline" build to climaxes all the more powerful for their restraint. You can tell there's more there, held back.

Underneath the pedal steels and Hammond organs there's a solid rock pulse that keeps the songs from getting soggy in their country affect. Peter Craft's drums and Gardner May's bass are locked tight and provide propulsion for Dave Strahan's skirling guitar solos and Russell Tillitt's honky-tonk piano. Again, all competent bands can play guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, but Firecracker's sound is expanded nicely by pedal steel, mellotron, banjo, and especially Scout's acoustic guitar -- always present and adding a solid rhythmic anchor and a warmth to their sound.

Speaking of Scout, he should insure his voice: it's a great country-rock instrument, soaring and lyrical, with the slight catch that puts songs like "Without Even Trying" or "Valley of the Moon" over the top where they belong. Hey bartender, another round! Russell's and Dave's backing vocals fit smoothly around his lead, apparently effortlessly.

In fact the whole record sounds so easy and effortless you'd never know from listening that this is the first full-length album, recorded locally in San Francisco. There's a nice gloss to the production that's not too sweet but suits the tartness of the songs. All in all, "So Long Someday" bears up very well to repeated listening, from quietly grooving to "Boy Most Likely" at work to howling along with "Box of Hearts" in the car. An auspicious and most welcome debut.
- I am tooch (on Amazon)

"Press Release for So Long Someday"


March 1, 2005

NASHVILLE, TN: Emerge Records today announced the release of So Long Someday, the new album from San Francisco band, Firecracker.

Produced by the band with engineer Patrick Conway, and recorded primarily at San Francisco's legendary Hyde Street Studios, So Long Someday is the distillation of Firecracker's signature style: a mix of warm rootsiness and rock energy tinged with pop shimmer. The thirteen-track album showcases the strong songwriting and performance talent of this up-and-coming five-piece, punctuated by appearances from guest musicians including guitarist Ken Bethea of the Old 97’s and pedal steel player David Phillips (Tom Waits, Norah Jones).

The songs on So Long Someday emerged over the course of several years, with Cast Aside being written in 1998 and Promising penned as recording got underway in 2004. Two of the tracks—“Valley of the Moon” and “Without Even Trying”—were actually early demos that sounded so good, the band chose not to re-record them. The album’s sole non-original track, Fireflies, was lent to the band by the Old 97's Rhett Miller, who wrote the song but never released it.

Exploring themes of success and failure, love and loss, the album's tracks cover diverse sonic terrain, ranging from the country inflections of “(I'm Sorry) Caroline” to the power-pop of “Promising” to the haunting balladry of “Waltzing Mathilda." The model for the overall sound of the album, says lead singer Scout Shannon, “was that cassette you listened to endlessly in the car while driving around your town during the summer between 11th and 12th grade.” Where your town was and when that summer would have been don't seem to matter; the analogy still holds true…So Long Someday will still resonate.

Emerge Records, a Firelight Music Group, Inc. company, is based in Nashville, TN, and is currently building its roster through the acquisition of both developed and already established talent.

Info: Allen Bargfrede, Emerge Records. 310-382-4309

Booking: Laura Cavaluzzo, Little Horses, Inc. 415-621-7495
- Emerge Records

"Noise Pop Guide"

"Fans of Joe Pernice's Scud Mountain Boys and the Pernice Brothers will embrace Firecracker like an old friend, especially considering lead singer Scout's vocal similarity and the band's delicate pop sensibilities. The band's Certain Things Last EP reveals emotionally plaintive performances that mine the country-rock vein, a la Whiskeytown. While new to the local scene, Firecracker is the reincarnation of local favorites the Darling Clementines, who, after finding inspiration in more rock-oriented material, decided to embrace the new direction and start fresh." - Noise Pop

"Harp Magazine"

THE FAST LANE (Our editors pick their current heavy rotation discs)

As this EP shows, Firecracker hold their own as part of the hearty San Francisco scene. With rootsy and well-placed hooks abound, this is undeniably catchy stuff.
- Harp Magazine

"Devil in the Woods"

With Ryan Adams becoming the Gap poster boy and Wilco venturing into uncharted musical territory, someone needed to pick up and fly the alternative country flag. With their first EP, "Certain Things Last," Firecracker have done just that, delving into that strange pool where rootsy tradition and rock guitars meet and mix. This San Francisco group stays afloat on its substantial songwriting, laced with amazing one-liners and Scout's throaty vocals, which bring to mind Toad The Wet Sprocket's Glen Phillips.
--Rachel Patton

"Miles of Music"

So Long Someday marks the full-length debut from San Francisco alt. country quintet Firecracker. Old 97's comparisons aside - as well as the inclusion of the Rhett Miller-penned track "Fireflies" and a guitar solo from Ken Bethea - this disc is a bold proclamation from a "band most likely" (if we might borrow from one of their songs) to be. Be what, you ask? Really big, of course. Fertile with honesty and passion, they mix melancholy and hopeful in equal measures, organic roots folk with high-energy rock, and always as the means to an end of a great song. A seamless blend of harmonied vocals mixes with chiming piano while twangy elements fuel breezy melodies in a way that is decidedly "West Coast." Local friends The Bellyachers loan their guitarist, Brian Mello, for a tune as well as vocalist/guitarist Melody Baldwin, who turns in a hauntingly beautiful duet with Firecracker frontman Scout Shannon on "Fireflies." - miles of music

"If Wilco & the Old 97's had a baby........"

...and Ryan Adams spanked its ass....

Pre-Gap Ryan Adams? Being There-era Wilco? Following the same arc as Old 97's?

Like the Old 97's, this band, a former member of the neo-alt-country movement of the late 90s, has burgeoned from its roots rock past to form a sound that is unique, yet comfortably familiar at the same time. Gracious hooks, minimal, but just enough studio trickery, a crackled voice always on the verge of being swallowed by its own emotion, and an oh-so-sweet trickle of piano.

And Damn! The song penned by good ol' Rhett Miller is not even the best song on the CD (sorry Rhett, you can always fall back on your looks). Nope, the best tracks are Mississippi River (with that simple yet tingly banjo), (I'm Sorry) Caroline, and Promising.

- cult of sue todd (on


So Long Someday (LP) 2005
Certain Things last (EP) 2003
--multiple tracks on web and college radio (incl. Radio Indie Pop, KUSF, KALX, KSJC)
--airplay on Live 105 (SF)


Feeling a bit camera shy


When Firecracker released their first EP in 2002, critics pronounced their sound "As American as Oasis is British" (Miles of Music), and fans up and down the West Coast came out to see what the buzz was about. After countless nights on stage and as many days writing lovelorn songs about girls, Firecracker finally signed with Nashville indie label Emerge Records, who are now set to release the band’s full-length debut, “So Long Someday.”

The album, produced by the band with longtime San Francisco singer-songwriter Patrick Conway, features several guest musicians and some unexpected instrumentation, including mellotron, glockenspiel, oboe and cello. But the band's primary goal was to capture and translate the energy of their live show. Recorded in one sweaty weekend at San Francisco’s legendary Hyde Street Studios, “So Long Someday" is infused with the spirit of rock and roll. Lead singer Scout Shannon set up his microphone in the very spot where Van Morrison recorded his classic “Tupelo Honey,” mixing took place in the same room Janis Joplin once deemed her “favorite room to get stoned in,” and at one session, some headphones were ‘borrowed’ by Jello Biafra, working in the next studio.

The songs on “So Long Someday” are linked by their subject matter: desperation and failure tempered by love, friendship, and ultimately, hope. The album begins with the opening blast of “Welcome Back To The Party,” in which a long-lost love returns to find a former suitor still waiting, and ends with the melancholy farewell of “So Long Lorraine,” in which optimism finally overcomes inertia. On the tracks in between, the band's pop, rock and alt-country influences mix and merge, shifting in prominence from song to song—and sometimes from verse to verse, as in the rollicking "(I'm Sorry) Caroline," in which a full-bore guitar solo by Ken Bethea of the Old 97's spills seamlessly into a classic pedal steel romp and the bridge explodes into swirling harmonic vocals worthy of the Byrds.

Another member of the Old 97’s, singer Rhett Miller, gave “So Long Someday” its lone non-original track, a song he wrote called “Fireflies.” This haunting duet, the tale of a spurned lover and the woman who left him behind, finds Scout trading lines with the beautiful Melody Baldwin (of San Francisco’s own Bellyachers), entwined in ribbons of pedal steel unreeled by guest musician David Phillips. In the studio, piano player Russell Tillitt grabbed a lap steel and picked out the intro in one take—the take you hear on the album—having never played the instrument before in his life. Sometimes you get lucky and the tape is rolling.

On stage, Firecracker is a freight train of muscular guitars and bouncy piano, kept tight to the rails by a rock-solid rhythm section. The five-piece band's vibrant sound and musical capability has earned them billing with national acts including Tim Easton and Calexico, and slots at music festivals including Noise Pop (San Francisco), North By Northwest (Portland) and International Pop Overthrow (Los Angeles). "So Long Someday" is slated for release in spring 2005. Firecracker will be on tour throughout the year.