Old Flame
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Old Flame

Amherst Center, MA | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Amherst Center, MA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Alternative Psychedelic


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



"Facing the Wolf: Old Flame’s Wolf in the Heather EP Reviewed"

The blues has always been about addressing heartbreak and strife going back to 1930s Depression-era America. Northampton-based indie garage rock blues duo Old Flame seem to share that sentiment for today’s world. The band’s debut seven-song EP, Wolf in the Heather, features songs of resistance to the Trump Administration with biting lyrics and a penchant for muddy blues riffs.
“The storm is raging but I’m caught in this cage/ I ain’t ready for this hand to be played/ Everyone’s looking/ For someone else to blame,” sings Vocalist Emma June Ayres on the EP’s opening track, “Major Arcana,” which begins slowly with a reverb-heavy swamp-blues riff by Guitarist Sam Perry. The duo sing in unison throughout the song with moments that are haunting, rousing, grief stricken, and incendiary with feelings of indignation.
“The faded paper that you love like a son/ Won’t help you when your judgement day comes/ The nail in your coffin/ Left you undone.”
The song ends with a burst of distorted barre chords and the repeated mantra of “We’ll shoot you down,” that starts off as a punchy rallying call before mutating into unfettered groans.
“Help Me” is a blues ballad that would feel right at home among some of the tracks off of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1967 psychedelic pop record, Surrealistic Pillow. Sam Perry lays down a wistful slide guitar while Ayres reminisces on lost opportunities. The chorus is where the duo really shine, with catchy dark lyrics delivered with a deep sense of yearning reminiscent of The White Stripes — “Help me/ I’ve been slowly drowning/ Help me/ This house is burning down here.”
Although Old Flame performs live as a duo, this EP features drum and bass session work by Chris Kerrigan, who also recorded, produced, and mixed the songs at Amity Studios in Amherst. Kerrigan builds a rhythm section that doesn’t feel like it’s just going through the motions — drum fills bring some songs to mountainous apexes while others feature solid engaging grooves.
One of the highlights of Wolf in the Heather is “Smoke Show,”— a folky upbeat earworm that turns into a boisterous rock n’ roll song at the chorus. This is where the garage rock stylings of Old Flame are really noticeable and you can’t help but bang your head along. The coda is where the song makes a dramatic shift – Ayres belts out a plaintive melody that practically rips the heart strings out of your chest. It ends in a solemn whisper.
Midway through the EP, the band shifts to genres beyond the realm of blues; jazz influenced indie rock, proto-punk, and even a little funk.
“Queen Trigger” builds a dense fog-like atmosphere that mirrors the sense of loss pervading Wolf in the Heather. Ayres’ vocals seem to be influenced by Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke on this song and that’s not a bad thing at all. Her jazz-influenced crooning pairs wonderfully with the ghostly guitar effects that reverberate in gentle waves as if trying to wash away an encroaching malaise.
Political commentary is potent on “Land of Milk and Honey” — a disco/funk tinged song that rails against corporate capitalism. The only drawback on this song is an edgy approach to the vocals from Ayres, which seems a little forced at times. The politically charged lyrics seem to take inspiration from early protest folk singers such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but are also reminiscent of rock acts like The Last Internationale and the MC5.
“Rich man tried to bury us/ But the poor man’s made of seeds/ Try to sell the sweat from our palms/ Try to buy the big sky we breathe.”
By contrast, “Ain’t A King” features acid-tongued lyrics that capture the spirit of proto-punk in a bottle; a rollicking anarchistic flair for damning it all to hell. Fuzzy, distorted hard rock guitar licks from Perry are paired with, again, edgy vocals from Ayres. But this time it works wonderfully. Iggy Pop would be proud.
Wolf in the Heather closes with “Silver Screen” — the acceptance stage of this EP that reveals a theme that’s seemingly about traversing the mire of the seven stages of grief. That acceptance is a bitter one — “Make me believe/ There’s something better/ Thread the projector watch it spin.” The lyrics are confessional and Ayres sings with a world weariness that contrasts nicely with Perry’s melodic and groovy guitar lines that bring a lightness to the bleak revelation. “What’s it like to be on the other side of nothing?” Ayres asks.
Old Flame’s first outing is a solid one. Each song stands on its own legs without blurring into one another. The wall of pathos on the record sometimes stands too firm compared with the moments where hope breaks through the cracks, but that’s probably the point. After all, that’s how a lot of Americans felt after Trump was elected as president and this EP captures that time as it was for many – a sleepless dark night of the soul before grief underwent a metamorphosis into protest and dissent. - The Valley Advocate

"Ear to the Ground #newmusicfriday"

Old Flame – “Smoke Show”
-The promo materials on this track compare them to Jefferson Airplane and that is spot on. I love this sound because it feels retro and brand new all at the same time. I can picture these folks touring to all manner of wild summer festivals. They lyrics and composition are appropriately toeing the line of vintage and psych rock. Addictively good. - Ear to the Ground

"Album Review: “Wolf In The Heather” – Old Flame"

A reverb-soaked electric treble riff glides like a bluesy tumbleweed over sun-scorched sand, soon to be joined by a hypnotic kick drum and ominous, taunting vocals. Opening track “Major Arcana” is a blues-drenched stomper that bristles with attitude and wastes no time introducing Old Flame’s EP, Wolf In The Heater.
The Northampton-based group’s debut project adeptly walks the line between stylistic diversity and musical coherency. Old Flame plays indie rock flecked with Americana, blues, psychedelia and post-punk. Over the course of Wolf In The Heater, their witch’s brew of style takes different forms, from the dusty outlaw country of “Help Me” to the menacing, snarling punk-blues of “Ain’t A King.”   
This variety is one of the strengths of Wolf In The Heater. None of the tracks feel stylistically isolated from the rest of the EP – which, at seven tracks and a 28-minute run time, isn’t far shy of being a full-length album – as each song can find at least one stylistic match elsewhere on the record. “Major Arcana” and “Ain’t A King” are both gnarled, dirty blues rockers that would feel right at home on the True Blood soundtrack. “Help Me” and “Smoke Show” bring Old Flame’s knack for rustic Americana, while “Queen Trigger,” “Land Of Milk And Honey,” and “Silver Screen” are all ambient indie-rock gems. These three moods of Wolf In The Heater offer enough variation to destroy any sense of monotony or boredom, but enough continuity to make no individual track feel out of place and provide a cohesive tone.
This tone is produced through several common threads and motifs throughout the EP. Wet, fragile electric guitar tones, Emma Ayres’ smoky, world-weary vocals, and organically unfolding songcraft are all constants throughout Wolf‘s seven tracks. Even at its most aggressive (“Ain’t A King,” “Major Arcana”), there is something pleasantly lackadaisical about Wolf In The Heater. There is a calm candor about the music, a placid confidence in each beat, that creates an engulfing sense of tranquility in Wolf In The Heater, making it the kind of project that is easy to get lost in.
This is an impressive debut, displaying a distinctive and unusual maturity for a band so new. The EP effortlessly shifts moods, evokes a variety of emotions, and mixes genres, all while still maintaining a clear identity. Hopefully Old Flame will stay around and maintain a steady output of recordings, because if this is their first attempt, I can only imagine where they’ll go once they’ve had more time as a unit to hone their craft.  - Pioneer Valley Underground

"Old Flame: Keeping the fire burning inside"

Somewhere deep into a thirteen-hour drive up from a Southern sojourn this summer, I remembered the CD Emma Ayres gave me after Old Flame’s studio shoot for Live At The Grid. I was lost in a tangle of highways between the old elevated I-95 that skirts Philly and the Jersey Turnpike when I scrounged it out of the glove box and fed it into the dash player like a communion wafer.
I was snaking through traffic stretching for miles ahead when the slow-build screeching feedback of “Ain’t A King” exploded through the speakers into a low-altitude guitar bombing run. The wailing broadcast radio vocals. Crisp high hat and fat bass backing. The sound was as powerful as it was simple and had an air of inevitability, as if it had always existed out there somewhere.
Reminiscent of the Black Angels, it harkened back to Hendrix, Page and Clapton, toeing vintage psychedelic rock with a completely fresh take. Windows down, weaving my Subaru battlewagon through the thick herd of weekend warriors, I became completely lost in the sound.
from Ain’t A King
“Whoever built this country built it far too wide 
Now we can’t say what side we’re on tonight 
Black market salesmen talks us to the ground 
Listen to me honey cause there ain’t no way out 
Listen to me honey cause there ain’t no way out now …”
Sometimes you’re not sure if you heard what you think you just heard and so I played the album through several times while Jersey farms and small towns rolled past on the way to the Meadowlands and the New York skyline. I kept playing songs over and over and then skipping back a few to catch something I’d missed while distracted.
Literally born of an urge to speak out at a moment when most of us were speechless, Old Flame wears their politics on their sleeve. Their bandcamp page describes them unabashedly as a dissident indie rock and blues “machine that kills fascists.” To stake that kind of claim says something about their boldness as a band, but to keep the dream alive you have to capture people’s musical imaginations with more than just slogans. And on that score there’s certainly something going on.

Old Flame (l to r): Sam Perry guitar; Nate Zachary, bass; Ken Birchall, drums; Emma Ayres, singer.
Musically and lyrically they’re authentic while mining veins of amped up electric dissent. When guitarist Sam Perry started riffing before taping Live At The Grid, he was unwinding some serious Henrdrix and drummer Ken Birchall and Nate Zachary noodled around trying to catch up and then dropped in behind him. It showed an appreciation for a time and a type of music that grew out of a culture of resistance. Then Perry cut a few riffs of his own that made you think on a deeper level about what they were about to unleash.
While the politics of protest can wear thin as a musical trope, Old Flame pulls it off, particularly in the two best songs on their EP Wolf In The Heather — “Aint A King” and “Smoke Show.” Both sound organic and come across as more than mere vehicles for political messaging. And they’re at opposite ends of a spectrum that shows the band knows how to shift gears. While “Ain’t A King” is a hell yeah anthem, “Smoke Show” has a Pied Piper element: It deftly speeds along on a stream of Perry’s light acoustics and the soft-touch, quick-paced snare and cymbals and then heads straight into a Belinda Carlislesque crescendo. From the first note, it sounds like a soft rock hit, warning us to beware of the political rainmaker in our midst. It’s meant as a compliment to say that the message is so subtle it could almost be mistaken for a song of lost love.
from Smoke Show
“Slow and steady 
Moving towards me 
Hands are shaking 
I’ll do better next time
Here before me 
Smoke show talking 
Won’t be waiting 
For you to come round’
Smoke show 
Smoke show 
Don’t hold on 
To something, something 
Born to be gone …”

They’re still feeling their way into what they’re becoming so they touch a lot of bases on this record. “Queen Trigger,” the story of longing for someone who is always just out of reach, swims through a Hawaiian bluesy dreamscape. Emma Ayres’s pained, pleading vocals are reminiscent of KD Lang and Patsy Cline spun together in a more oaky texture. Both live and recorded, her sound and presence spans peaches and cream to wailing screams to a breathy sensuality that comes through perhaps clearest in the the aural dance between her and Perry’s talking guitar in songs like “Land Of Milk And Honey.” These guys aren’t a one trick pony, which has gotten them noticed locally and landed in them in shows at the Iron Horse and elsewhere.
It takes a bit of brass to think you can pull off some of the things Old Flame shoots for, but the more you listen, the more there is to like. It’s sassy and bold and when Emma Ayres screams … Feed the revolution so it grows up tall … you get the sense that what goes around, might just be coming back around again.
Jody Jenkins is a writer and filmmaker living in Northampton. He is Director of Field Production for Amherst Media and Editor of The Collective. - Amherst Collective


Wolf in the Heather EP -2017

Hush Money EP - 2018



Old Flame is a machine that kills fascists. Formed in the mire of the 2016 presidential election with one unshakable intention: to make their art as an active form of resistance and never cease. Born in the DIY basements, garages and fields of Western-Mass, the indie-rock band spins grit, unapologetic politics, and honey-rasp vocals into a psychedelic-punk-rock nostalgia, whose edge is a howling afterglow of raw blues.

With one debut EP released, “Wolf in the Heather” (2017) and another one, “Hush Money” (2018) looming on the horizon, Old Flame has been nominated as "New England Artist of the Month" by THE DELI MAGAZINE. Old Flame’s debut single, folk-rock strain “Smoke Show,” has been well-worn on the airwaves of WMUA, WRSI and Valley Free Radio. As one indie-music blogger said: "Love this sound, retro and brand new all at the same time. Toes the line of vintage & psych rock. Addictively good." -Ear To The Ground Music. Ayres's vocals have been characterized as "Lady Jim Morrison," with Perry's guitar playing transporting listeners from the psychedelia of Jefferson Airplane to the ferocity of the Clash.

Old Flame is comprised of valley native Emma Ayres (Emma June), Sam Perry (Dios Trio), Ken Birchall and Nate Mondschein (The Rooks). Make yer art. Don't ever stop. #RESIST

Band Members