Patty Hurst Shifter
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Patty Hurst Shifter

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The best kept secret in music


"OFFBEAT album review"

There something bracing about good old-fashioned, straight-ahead, Rolling Stones-style rock, and this young Raleigh, North Carolina outfit has it in spades. The band tips its hand on the first track, “She’s Like a Song,” which was made to be blasted at 80 m.p.h. in an Oldsmobile Cutlass headed nowhere and everywhere: “If she’s like a song than I’m like the radio / She’s turnin’ me on and takin’ me out for a ride.” And a wild ride it is, with reedy-voiced J. Chris Smith behind the wheel and mic, Marc E. Smith (not to be confused with Mark E. Smith of The Fall) riding shotgun on lead guitar, and bassman Jesse Huebner leaning in hard, all three of them singing in close harmonies while ex-Whiskeytown drummer Skillet Gilmore revs them down the highway with hair-trigger blasts. On the band’s 2002 debut, Beestinger Lullabies, singer-songwriter Smith earned his stripes with plugged-in versions of his solo sets. Too Crowded takes it to the next level with a full-band sound, enhanced by New Orleans producer Trina Shoemaker. Smith has a way with words that packs extra punch into rave-ups like “When You Lie” and “All Washed Up” (“all my excuses are used up / all my memories are used up”). But the crown jewel is “Acetylene,” an expansive, cinematic epic that rolls more than it rocks, and earns every minute of its epic 10-minute running time. “Patience, boy, you really gotta learn how to pace yourself,” Smith tells himself at the outset of a song about a slow slide down, “one sad song at a time,” to the end of a troubled trail. “Acetylene, won’t you light my fumes and burn me clean?” he sings, and it’s not hard to imagine a sea of arena lighters responding to that call.



4 Stars -
Ryan Adams' new favourites from North Carolina

Fans of, let's say, Big Star, The Replacements and, of course, the Stones' eternal swagger, will get a huge kick out of this. The second LP from J. Chris Smith's literate, thrilling quartet is a classic of delinquent rock'n'roll bravado, barroom heartache, carnal testimony, all the regrets that come with reckless living and ruinous women. It's familiar territory, largely. But the urgent dispatch of swashbuckling rockers like "When You Lie", "She's Like A Song" and "All Washed Up", with Marc E. Smith's elemental guitar loudly to the fore, are rowdily irresistible. PHS are simultaneously great at mournful reflection- the soulful "Sadder Side", with Ian McLagan on Hammond B3, is especially stirring. The 10-minute "Acetylene", meanwhile, is an epic of self-immolating regret that folds into the brief and thoroughly rueful "Worth 2:11AM", a singular highpoint. - UNCUT MAGAZINE


On its second release, this Raleigh, NC-based quartet has tapped into that
elusive bristling, electric rock 'n' roll energy that separates the
wannabees from the real thing. Clocking in at under two and a half
minutes, "She's Like a Song" is a letter-perfect, rocker that mixes
Stones-styled opposing guitars and a Replacements swagger with an
R.E.M . melody and tight harmonies. And so it goes. The jangly,
driving "Never Know" and the pulsing "When You Lie" are only slightly
less contagious. "Sadderside" is a country-tinged ballad with timely
assists from former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan and two of the Tres
Chicas. Perhaps the most impressive - and obvious - aspect of the disc
is that it's clearly the product of a working "unit" that's hitting on
all cylinders. While cuts like "All Washed Up" and "Shine" do little
more than mark time, at its best moments, "Too Crowded" approaches the
level of raw, cohesive band energy of the first Television record or
R.E.M.'s "Murmur." High praise indeed, but rock 'n' roll hasn't
sounded this good in quite a while.
- Charleston Daily Mail

"Too Crowded Review"

PATTY HURST SHIFTER Too Crowded On The Losing End (Evo) If you ever loved and lost a North Carolina band – The dB's, Let's Active, The Backsliders, Whiskeytown – this is your wet dream. Melodies shapeshift bewitchingly and deft harmonies evoke the best '60s pop, but the bottom end is swamp-loaded, even occasionally dark and sexy-scary, like The Stones in a Tidewater funk. These lyrics are all built on the tenuous beach of boy-girl relations, e.g. "I just love it when you lie/cuz II've got a cold and bitter side," and "For the record/I'm the spirit of incomparable remorse." "Break" features enormous drumming and a sing-along chorus; closer "Acetylene" is a 10-minute essay on Dark Thoughts with scrobbling electronic fillips. Guest spots include The Faces' Ian MacLaughlin and Tres Chicas' Tonya Lamm and Caitlin Cary, who, with PHS drummer Skillet Gillmore, have turned life after Whiskeytown into thriving careers. Linda Ray - Illinois Entertainer

"PHS - Too Crowded..."

- 12.15.05~ There are rock 'n' roll groups. Then there are rock 'n' roll bands. There's a difference. A group is a business enterprise. A band is family that lives and breathes music as a unit. Patty Hurst Shifter from Raleigh is a band (with a really great name and a reputation as a ferocious live act). The band's soon-to-be-released album, Too Crowded On The Losing End, is a rock 'n' roll treasure, a barroom brawl of an album the likes of which are all too rare in this age of American Idol. Ringing, amped-up guitars goose its serious edge. It boasts inarguable pop smarts. There is a soft, bittersweet taste of Southern country-soul. It's seductive. It's lucid. It's dangerous. It stands to be one of the best pure rock 'n' roll albums in years. ~Ed Bumgardner - Relish Magazine ~ Winston-Salem Journal


LP Beestinger Lullabies -----2002
LP Too Crowded on the Losing End -----2006

EP The Short Record -----2005

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Patty Hurst Shifter

Too Crowded on the Losing End, the second album from Patty Hurst Shifter, begins with what could pass for the credo of the spirited Raleigh-based band. "If She's like a song then I'm like the radio," frontman J. Chris Smith sings, in a tight, reedy voice that's frayed at the edges like Keith Richards' bleat, but with some there there. "She's turnin' me on and takin' me out for a ride." In those two lines, Smith hits on the nub of what has kept rock 'n' roll vital for more than a half-century: girls, cars and electricity. It's apparent in these lines and in every note they play that this young band believes in the enduring virtues of a heart full of longing, a full tank of gas and the shake, rattle and roll of an overdriven tube amp. Remarked Ryan Adams recently, "Really incredible songs. Patty Hurst Shifter rocks ass," which is a more direct way of saying the same thing. The album was tracked by Greg Elkins at his Desolation Row studio in Raleigh and mixed at Piety Street Recording in New Orleans by the renowned Trina Shoemaker (Queens of the Stone Age, Sheryl Crow, Whiskeytown). Faces great Ian McLagan plays the Hammond B3 on the rootsy ballad "The Sadder Side," while Tres Chicas principals Caitlin Cary and Tonya Lamm provide backing vox on "The Sadder Side" and the above-referenced "She's Like a Song." Too Crowded on the Losing End will be released Jan. 24, 2006, on Fontana/Universal-distributed Evo Recordings. For a band that loves to fire away, Patty Hurst Shifter displays an impressive musical and emotional range on Too Crowded, rolling from jacked-up rockers like "Happy" and "Never Know" and Exile/Burritos-style shitkickers like "When You Lie" and "Shine" to the billowy, bittersweet "Break Everything" and the panoramic, 10-minute epic "Acetylene," the musical equivalent of watching the autumn sun go down while barreling toward the western horizon on Interstate 40. Echoes of bands from the Stones and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to R.E.M. and The Replacements can be picked up, not surprising considering these musicians cut their teeth on all of the above. Fittingly, Neil Young's Buffalo Springfield classic "Mr. Soul" has become a showstopper in their live sets. The band-singer/guitarist/songwriter J. Chris Smith, lead guitarist/vocalist Marc E. Smith (no relation), bassist/vocalist Jesse Huebner and drummer Skillet Gilmore-is dedicated to the basics: writing relatable songs, rocking crowds wherever the play and having a blast, onstage and off. While these goals may not sound terribly ambitious, they're no different from what has driven the Rolling Stones for more than four decades, and what's good enough for the Stones is good enough for PHS. "At the core of it all, we are just friends," says Marc. "The fact that we're musicians and write songs together is just coincidence. If we were wood carvers it would probably be the same. We just wouldn't have to get in a van and drive to another state to carve wood." Adds Gilmore, "We're friends, first and foremost. The music is the by-product of us hanging out." Yet another rock 'n' roll tradition honored. "There's a lot of sincerity in what we do, but not in a heavy way," Chris points out. "It's fun, but at the same time I think we have a knack for taking painful experiences and imagery and turning it into something that rocks." Patty Hurst Shifter (the name started as a joke but stuck) has evolved considerably since releasing its 2002 debut, Beestinger Lullabies, an album distinguished by "hard-hitting, textured anthems with plenty of space between the notes for the vivid scenes set by Chris Smith to sink in," according to No Depression's Rick Cornell, who added, "The band can bite hard or burn slowly, bringing to mind big-beat outfits like the True Believers and late local heroes the Backsliders." David Menconi on made his own Backsliders reference, taking note of "Marc Smith's overdrive buzzsaw guitar, balanced off by the high lonesome vocals of Chris Smith." Whereas roughly half of Lullabies consisted of amped-up treatments of acoustic-based material Smith had penned during his days as a solo singer/songwriter, Too Crowded is in every way a band effort, and that makes all the difference. "There's very little acoustic guitar on the new record," Chris points out. "We only used it because it added the right touch in a couple of songs, whereas it was the basis for everything on the first album-which is why I think we got tagged as alt country. People who thought that will be surprised by this new one." Their surprise will no doubt extend to the current PHS lineup, which is substantially different from the one that recorded the previous album. Whiskeytown alumnus Gilmore joined up as drummer after that LP was completed, whereupon original drummer Johny Williams switched to bass. But Williams left the band in late 2004 in order to stay close to home with his family, and Huebner solidified the current lineup in time for t