Johnny Miles & The Waywards
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Johnny Miles & The Waywards

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Rock Folk


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Uwishunu Philly Write-Up
July 30th, 2008
Johnny Miles, New American Folk Hero, Live at the Tritone this Friday!
by Kate Bracaglia

Johnny Miles is a new American folk hero. Well, maybe not new exactly – he's been making music his entire life – but new to the greater listening public who only recently discovered his talent.

Born and raised in South Jersey, 25-year-old Miles grew up listening to classic folk rock and Americana (the Beatles, Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash), and has been writing songs "for as long as I can remember."

In 2004, he started his own label, TREE Records (not to be confused with Chicago's Tree Records) and released his debut album, Awakening. The album was well-received, and shortly after, Miles became a regular on the Philly circuit. In 2007, he released his second album, Sign of the Times, which helped cement his reputation as one of the city's most promising young folk stars.

Known for his jangly folk melodies and inspired lyrics, Miles is a master at joining together word and sound to form something greater. From the tinkering piano and mandolin on "Faces of the Wind" (in which Miles croons about "throwing away the world for the chance to build it back up") to the defiant rock guitar on "Gasoline" ("the whole thing is a lottery you won't hear on the radio"), each song resonates with passion and power.

So where does this young Dylan draw his inspiration from? Writes Miles on his Myspace: "I believe in community…[I] think there is more culture to be found in our own neighborhoods than on any TV channel any day of the week."

We're feeling the love for miles.

Catch Miles live this Friday at Tritone, alongside Quelle Source, Agent Moosehead, and the North Lawrence Midnight Singers.

Johnny Miles at Tritone, Friday, August 1
1508 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 545–0475

-Link to Article: - Uwishunu Philly

Article in Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

by Doug Wallen

"Gasoline," the ringing standout on Johnny Miles' second album Sign of the Times, has the hard-bitten self-awareness of a protest song as well as a hooky alt-country catchiness that recalls early Wilco. The lyrics are commanding yet vague: "This is a song about gasoline/ About golden arches and nicotine/ About handguns and ice cream."

It's a quick scribble across the American landscape, something it sounds like Miles is largely fed up with but still endeared to. "This is a song about the old friends that you see around every now and then," he sings, "but you can't relate and you won't pretend." Later he's even more resigned, spitting, "The whole thing is a lottery that you won't hear on the radio" and then, "This is a song 'cause I said so."

The album title alone tells us Miles is taking stock of the world around him. And yep, he's plenty frustrated. On the title track he admits, "The only thing I can think to do is yell about it in a ballad." As harmonica and piano flesh out the folky swagger of its "American Pie"-ish build, Miles has the good sense to couch his singer/songwriter-isms in a lively full-band arrangement.

Ditto much of the album. "Paralyzed in Love" is a shuffling weeper made more poignant by a sparkling undercurrent of piano, while "Turn and Draw" is a back-porch rocker shot through with friendly carousing and mean guitar damage. When he sings softly, Miles sounds a bit like Mutations-era Beck, but he's often too livid or too elated to sing softly. That's fine too, considering Miles enlists some of Philly's stronger rock and country talent to back him up and drive his songs home.

Thurs., Jan. 17, 8:30pm. $8. With Hezekiah Jones. Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St. 215.928.0770. - Philadelphia Weekly

The Musicologist CD review
the musicologist

"noise art conspiracy theorist"

Johnny Miles - Sign Of The Times (Tree Records, released 12/4/07)

If 2006 was my year of bigger, more anthemic indie rock, then 2007 is my year of Americana. It seems that rootsier, folkier music has replaced electric driven tunes and pushed them to the back of my mind. Don't get me wrong, I'm still in love with that bombastic rock with huge, hooky choruses; it's just maybe as I age and everything's becoming more and more technologically advanced, I'm looking backwards to make sense of it all. Back to an easier time, where all you needed to record a great album was a bunch of people playing instruments in a room with a mic dangling in the center.

Which is exactly what Philadelphia-based songwriter/performer Johnny Miles accomplished beautifully here on Sign Of The Times. I'm sure he used a different recipe, and judging from the sparkling production values there was a bit more than just a mic hanging in front of a group of musicians. And what excellent musicians Mr. Miles assembles to complete his vision; the performers section in his liner notes reads like an All-Star Philly music team.

The album opens with a solo effort called Die In Debt; just a man, his acoustic guitar and harmonica pouring out emotive and powerful imagery confirming society's ills and finding refuge from it in the love of a good woman. Faces In the Wind goes from a jangly and rushed first three measures of each verse and slows itself down to a walk for the last line in each stanza, a wonderful device if I've ever seen one.

Gasoline is a Wilco-esque rocker, as if Miles was channelling Jeff Tweedy's midwestern malaise and bringing it home to the eyes, ears and hearts of Philly's collective consciousness. One of my favorite quotes from this album comes in the tracks' opening verse: This is a song about gasoline/ about golden arches and nicotine/ about hand guns and ice cream/ this is a song about a tight-rope...

The middle section has three gems in a row, acting as the centerpieceof the album. Nothing Gold, Sign Of The Times and Sailors- the first of the three is a political song. So without being preachy, Johnny breaks down the current regime's (almost) irreversible policies; America as a money-hungry corporation, 47 million without any kind of health insurance, environmental ennui, impoverished souls in the world's richest nation, and this costly and unjust war, all set to incredible piano riffs.

If you haven't been paying attention to the nightly news, allow Mr. Miles to act as the medium, and he continues his message with the album's title track. This mid-tempo ballad, however, may be about the war within each of us; the search for peace and serenity in a world gone completely mad. How do you stay sane when everything around you is crumbling? Johnny Miles' answer to the madness: "...the only thing that I can think to do is yell about it in a ballad."

Then my favorite track on Sign Of the Times, Sailors. That mandolin pulled on my heart-strings so taut that they finally snapped at the song's denouement; when banjo, mando, organ and Miles' emotive cries build to an amazing and focused crescendo.

The sonic jam at the back end of Follow Us Down may be my favorite section of music on the album, tying up the one-two punch led off by Turn & Draw, an alt-country/punk tune that lends a nod to both The Replacements and Uncle Tupelo.

Miles closes the album as he began it; solo. Sowers is a lovely little finger-picker that ties up Sign Of The Times quite beautifully. And it's a gorgeous record when I think about where it has taken me, not only musically, but the photographs that flash in my mind from Johnny's accomplished lyricism. To be affected by how he captures images and puts said images into words, that's really what great music is all about. - The Musicologist

“Miles doesn’t try to be an old soul, I think he really has one.”
- Herohill - Herohill

“A singer-songwriter worth watching.”
- Online Folk Festival - Online Folk Festival


Johnny Miles & The Waywards
"When The Saints Sleep" LP
TREE Records 2010

Johnny Miles
"Sign Of The Times" LP
TREE Records 2007



PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 27, 2010) — TREE Records is proud to announce the release of a new record from Johnny Miles & the Waywards, When The Saints Sleep, at a performance on Saturday, November 20, 2010, at Johnny Brenda’s. Folk favorites Liz Fullerton, Psalmships and Joshua Park will join Miles and his band on the bill. When The Saints Sleep is the third full-length album in the Johnny Miles catalog, and his first with the Waywards.

The new record departs from Miles’ previous efforts with a hard-driving rock sound that doesn’t let up for more than a few seconds over the album’s first 30 minutes. The bulk of the record was recorded with all of the Waywards and their instruments in one room, producing a raw, tight immediacy that recalls the Rolling Stones circa Let It Bleed, or more recently Ryan Adams. Comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are probably unavoidable, and Miles is approaching that level as a prolific songwriter. The 11 tracks on When The Saints Sleep were culled from more than 40 new songs, 22 of which were recorded. Miles is simultaneously releasing his third record, completing production on a fourth, and pre-producing his fifth.

The Waywards themselves mark another departure, as this is Miles’ first recording to capture the authentic sound of a bona fide, full-time band. Carl Cheeseman is known around Philly as the master craftsman of folk-rock guitarists, a familiar sound (and beard) to fans of the Spinning Leaves, Sweetheart Parade and Paper Trees, among many others. Jeff Hiatt is widely respected both as a bass player (Amos Lee, The Lowlands) and as a producer/engineer (Chris Kasper, The Sweetback Sisters), and he plays both roles on the new record. Nate Gonzalez (keyboards) and Al Gibson (drums) round out the quintet.

Miles’ trademark, searing poetry is very much intact on Saints, however, and the record may be summed up best by its elliptical subtitle: “the dream of a time yet to be in the ghost of a town that never was and the emotional toll exacted on its casualties.” The songs are about people struggling to do the best with what they’ve got, trying to improve their situation or station, trying to remain hopeful and courageous. “When the saints sleep, you’re on your own, you’ve got to be your own savior …”

“Known for his jangly folk melodies and inspired lyrics, Miles is a master at joining together word and sound to form something greater.” (Uwishunu) Miles was an unknown at the time of his previous release, Sign Of The Times, which saw him surrounded by ace session players in a variety of musical settings, from traditional folk to country-rock to straight-up troubadour. “When he sings softly, Miles sounds a bit like Mutations-era Beck,” observed one reviewer, “but he's often too livid or too elated to sing softly.” (Philadelphia Weekly)

Three years later, Miles is well known in the Philly scene and beyond, coming off strong debuts at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, Bethlehem MusikFest, and Kimmel Center. His brand of uncompromised rock poetry has put him in regular rotation on local radio programs, including WXPN’s Helen Leicht, and made him a favorite of well-respected songwriters like Hezekiah Jones. Says Miles himself: “Contrary to the ‘industry,’ with its emphasis on singles and sales, I believe in music for music's sake, for the way it makes me feel and the way I’ve seen it make other people feel, for its boundless capacity to express and for the sheer satisfaction it brings. What I aspire to create is a meaningful body of work across a lifetime.”