Grant Langston
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Grant Langston

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Band Americana Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"The A-List of Southern Music"

have a soft spot in my heart for the unknown singers and bands, working the dark side of the music industry, who deserve better than they’ve gotten.

The other day, for my own entertainment, I made a mix CD of the best tracks from releases by some of these people who should have blossomed but have languished in the shadows of bad business, poor promotion or rotten luck. Bands such as All Tomorrow’s Parties and Mercycide, singers such as Kelly Pardekooper and Heather Eatman. The compilation sounded great, if I say so myself.

Well, I’ve found another performer in similar straits. His name is Grant Langston. He grew up in Hartselle, and his latest release, “Road Side Service" is wonderful, twisted, memorable stuff. It may be too good to be popular. It kind of falls into the trendy “Americana" school of music that’s the in-thing with critics. A tight little country-flavored band named The Supermodels backs Langston: lap steel, guitars, keyboard and drums.

The real Grant Langston was born in Hartselle, went to Auburn and got a degree in/spolitical science. Then he lit out for Los Angeles with visions of crashing into the music business.

He fronted rock bands for years but switched over to acoustic shows to spotlight his songwriting. Within three months, he landed a contract and began recording an EP, “All This and Pecan Pie." After that, it was three years of living on the road, driving hundreds of miles between $100-a- night gigs.

“You sleep in the car," he says. “You eat bad lunch meat out of the cooler and use the bathroom at Starbucks … and the only thing you can afford to do with your time is write songs. So you spend six hours a day writing songs and think, 'What the hell have I done?’ "

A hell of a lot, to judge from the songs on “Road Side Service."

Half of them are rooted in L.A., with its uneasy mix of glitz and redneck, and half in Hartselle, which has no such schizophrenic split.

Escape is an obvious response, and that’s what “Carolyn Garner," an absolutely amazing song about a Pygmalion transformation, is all about.

So, too, on a more cerebral level, is “James Brown," in which thoughts about Soul Brother No. 1 gyrate through the singer’s head at a family funeral.

For good measure, Langston covers Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls" as an Alabama-styled country rocker.

“You call me a loner/It’s you favorite left-handed praise," Langston sings on “My Wandering Ways," a song heavily influenced by The Band. I call him singular. Move over, Kelly Pardekooper.

- Tuscaloosa News - Tuscaloosa, AL

"Twangy Tongue-in-Cheek Tales of Sexual Frustration"

Grant Langston plays Americana-inflected rock the way Cake or Barenaked Ladies would play country. Langston's songs come across as twangy tongue-in-cheek tales of sexual frustration and the frustration that comes from not having enough sex. ~ Tony Ware, Creating Loafing - Creative Loafing - Atlanta, GA

"Best of Street Beat"

There's a late-'70s country rock feel to this disc, with a lazy lap steel guitar slithering around, reminiscent of David Lindley.

The upshot to the songs is Langston's wicked sense of humor as well as his twists with language, as on "Smile (The Things I Cannot Be)", with lines like, "You emotional hemophiliac, you frighten me," and "I loved the shitty way you made me feel, with regularity," adding later, "But I miss your smile."

Heck, even his press photo shows him eating a bowl of cereal, cigarette in hand, Heineken on the table, a Telecaster strapped to his back, while a "what the fuck" look on his face peers out at you.

The music, for the most part, is up-tempo alt-country, which makes the cynical lyrics seem that much smarter and a delight to listen to. Langston's wit also shows through on the CD package, mimicking a Chinese restaurant menu on the back. Smart stuff like this usually falls through the cracks, but I hope Langston keeps on going.
- NY Rock Magazine

"Chinese Fire Drill Review"

L.A. troubadour Grant Langston works in an old-school medium, exhuming Eighties guitar rock, but his inner Mark Eitzel screams out from his dark, ironic lyrics.

Lively drumming detonates the dynamics as the frontman sings of being drunk, being in love, and other essential topics. "Man, this chick is killing you," declare the Shangri-Las of his subconscious, to which he replies, "You're goddamn right - but it's just so romantic."

Other stories of West Coast idling include "Beautiful Cynic" and "Slice Of Misery". ~ Chris Roberts

- UnCut Magazine - London UK

"Road Side Service Review"

Grant Langston makes alt-country music, which means he has sense enough to know that mainstream country is downright silly. Embarrassingly silly.

Hell, I'm from Oklahoma, and even I couldn't tell you just why any self-respecting cowboy would wear a damn neon pink shirt or listen to any singer whose videos are choreographed.

Somehow I think Hank Sr. wasn't much for designer blouses or cutesy dance moves. As far as I'm concerned, country should be like good rock: rebellious, a bit raucous, and sincere (even if odd). Grant Langston thinks the same. Case in point: on his newest album, Road Side Service, Langston covers Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" -- honky tonk style. Imagine that -- a good ol' boy covering a song by a British rock band with glam tendencies whose lead singer How's that for an alternative to the notoriously right-wing country establishment?

Alt-country has always been a hard term to define. Even the "official" alt-country publication, No Depression, places the following statement after the genre's title on their cover: "Whatever That Means". In Grant Langston's case, however, the tag is appropriate. His approach is to mix oddball -- and often irreverent -- witticisms with roots rock. Damn... now I have to define another term. Roots rock: rock inspired by its roots. There. You know, rock that sounds a bit country, a bit blues, a bit folk. Anyway, Langston's humor is off-kilter, and his approach is completely earnest, which certainly separates him from self-righteous and self-conscious Nashville.

Take, for instance, "Junkie", the first track. Just the fact that this song shares its title with a William Burroughs novel tells you it isn't your average country tune. Indeed, this song is about a man who misses his junkie ex-girlfriend so much that he buys a gun and blows away his stereo. Now that's what country needs -- more drug, gun, and impulsive behavior references. After all, isn't this supposed to be the music of derelict individualism? Rather than making a serious or depressing song about the tragedy of drug use, however, Langston's approach is tongue-in-cheek: "I bought a .45 in case / Cause you never know / I hate the damn thing / Blew a hole in my stereo / Did you catch my drift / Life's a catastrophe...". By the end of the song, you can't help but feel sympathy for the disheveled but endearing narrator.

Indeed, Langston has a knack for creating characters that are loveable messes. In "Him or Me", the main character decides to finally confront his philandering woman. Once again, this song could easily fall into sticky pathos, but Langston's clever wordplay lifts the song above standard country fare: "I didn't count on the fits and the shits / The passive-aggressive hits / The cheating, the lying, the lowdown denying". How many songs do you know of that rhyme fits, shits, and hits using internal rhyme? Stumped you, huh? What's more, the music is classic roadside bar country, featuring mandolin, lap steel, and a galloping drum beat. This juxtaposition of traditional music with twisted humor steers the song away from the clichéd trappings of country music (my woman is cheating, I'm depressed, blah, blah, blah...).

Langston's humor, however, is not always in fine form. Sometimes he just sounds like your annoying friend whose one goal in life is to always be witty, no matter the circumstance. As you well know, such people are often irritating, particularly when they think they are being witty and nobody else agrees. Such is the case with "James Brown", a song about man's mortality and the Godfather of Soul. The storyline goes something like this: the narrator's sister-in-law dies, he attends her funeral, ponders the inescapable fate of death, and concludes that death is the result of not getting enough James Brown. Man, when wit goes astray, it goes way astray. The same can be said for "This Town Stinks", which features the not-so-keen lines "The cops are all retarded / Working out their teenage angst". Gee, what a sharp observation.

Still, the majority of this album is a refreshing listen, particularly because Langston's backing band (sarcastically called the Supermodels) is fluent in both the country and rock musical vocabularies. Throughout the album, they intertwine both genres, but always play to serve the song rather than showcasing any member's abilities. This approach, of course, emphasizes Langston's storytelling, which is the main draw here. At his finer moments, Langston's lyrics are reminiscent of the adept wordplay of fellow country crooner Lyle Lovett. Unfortunately, such originality isn't appealing to country radio programmers, so Langston may have to scratch out a living among the alt-country folks, whatever that means.
- PopMatters Magazine


2000 EP - All This and Pecan Pie
2001 LP - Chinese Fire Drill
2004 LP - Road Side Service
2006 LP - Koreatown


Feeling a bit camera shy


The mood of Grant Langston’s newest work, Road Side Service, is a firmly rooted hybrid of the two places that have had the most impact on him - Hartselle, Alabama and Los Angeles, California.

Since launching a solo career with his initial EP release, All This and Pecan Pie (1999) and thru his full length follow-up Chinese Fire Drill (2001), he’s struggled to pay homage to two separate traditions – The Alternative Country Storyteller and Roots Rock Smart-Ass within the same heartfelt songs.

With his latest Langston has used the common ground between the two. Both Deeply Southern and Deeply Southern Californian – Road Side Service focuses on the feel of the songs without worry where style it fits into.

“I just know I like Lyle Lovett records, and Son Volt records, and Wilco records…I have no idea what kind of music it really is. I don’t even know what it’s filed under in a record store.”

He lets the songwriting set the agenda and the instrumentation dress the windows. It’s an inspired schizophrenia that feels perfectly natural as he finds the connective tissue between Lyle Lovett, Cake, Johnny Cash and Barenaked Ladies.