Patty Hurst Shifter

Patty Hurst Shifter


“…(this) 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...rowdily irresistible.” - Allen Jones/Uncut


"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.

“…(this) 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 are rowdily irresistible...” (- Allen Jones / Uncut)

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" to the billowy, bittersweet "Break Everything" and the panoramic, 10-minute epic "Acetylene." Echoes of bands from the Rolling 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.

“They’ve listened to all the right people but this band is wired directly into the here and now. J. Chris Smith writes and sings with that curious balance of cynicism and joy, weary of heart but fire in his belly. His songs are the sort that make you want to get your own guitar and shout your own sad story. When a song does that, what higher praise can there be?” (- Robin Cracknell/AMERICANA UK)

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.

“Smith has a way with words that packs extra punch into rave-ups… 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. …its not hard to imagine a sea of arena lighters responding to that call.” (- OffBeat Magazine)

"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 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..." 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.

“…this Raleigh, NC-based quartet has tapped into that elusive bristling, electric rock 'n' roll energy that separates the wannabees from the real thing. …the disc is clearly the product of a working "unit" that's hitting on all cylinders. "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)

"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


Too Crowded on the Losing End (2006)
The Short Record EP (2005)
Beestinger Lullabies (2002) (Being re-issued in early ‘07)

Set List