Rich McCulley
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Rich McCulley


Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Far From My Angel Review"

One doesn't need to question Rich McCulley's sincerity; a single listen to his road-worn and well traveled voice tells you all you need to know. This is obviously a man who has known heartache and sadness, desperation and euphoria, and who posses the rare gift of being able to effectively convey those emotions in a three-and-a-half minute song. On "Far From My Angel", the Californian's third full length CD, he masterfully blends folk, blues, and pop into a tasty, rootsy stew. From the opener "First Word" (which features some mighty tasty slide work), and through the 11 tracks that follow, McCulley comes across as laid back and self assured, a man comfortable in his own skin. "Hope You're Happy" boasts a bitter, biting guitar solo, while the folkish "Happy Birthday Baby" will strike a chord with anyone who's ever been insensitive enough to forget a loved one's special day. While McCulley occasionally recalls other artist (the funky shuffle of "Follow Me Down" would fit nicely on a John Hiatt CD, while "Forget Me" invokes early Dire Straits), for the most part his is an original and most welcome voice.

- Rick Schadelbauer
- Amplifier Magazine

"Rich McCulley, Far From My Angel"

Rich McCulley's third album is a refined bit of work that is bursting at the seams with roots rock and alt. country traits. Whether it is the safe but pleasing "First Word" that sounds like Cracker front man Dave Lowery paying homage to a Steve Earle track, McCulley is onto something good. The grittier "Hope You're Happy" as well as "I Am Free" has a cocky McCulley resembling a confident Elvis Costello from top to bottom. He takes things down to a slow Dylan-like roll on "Forget Me" that strolls along without any hiccups. However "This Ain't a Song" comes off like a bad Bryan Adams offering even with the handclaps and a better than average bridge. McCulley seems to try out a new style with each song, but a great deal of them passes with flying colors, particularly the down-tempo "Waterfall" that brings to mind Petty circa Wildflowers and the ensuing, galloping pop title track that evolves into a rowdier rocker. When he tries too hard the result is a disappointing "Stumbling to Start" and an ordinary "It's on Me". But he atones for it with a lovely little ditty entitled "8 Years Ago Today" with its simple jugband-like swagger.

- Jason MacNeil

- POP Matters


Rich McCulley is the type of musician who doesn't try to dress up his rock & roll with fancy tricks. He uses the basic guitar/bass/keyboards/drum rock combo setup as the foundation for his songs that deal with traditional themes of love and love lost. This might sound like McCulley treads on overly familiar musical territory, but he keeps the album fresh and engaging through his emotionally direct lyrics and his energetic sound. McCulley freely admits that Far from My Angel is a post-breakup album. However, instead of creating a disc simply filled with acrimony toward his ex-love, McCulley's songs reveal him more in the mourning stage. And this approach is one way that makes this disc all the more interesting. So while he does vent his anger here (particularly in the turbulent rocker "Hope You're Happy Now"), McCulley more frequently explores feelings of regret and remorse. There are several tunes that are rather apologetic in nature, from subdued numbers like "Forget Me" and "Happy Birthday Baby" to the wonderfully infectious, Matthew Sweet-ish "It's on Me." Other songs find McCulley striking a conciliatory (the bluesy "8 Years Ago Today") or conflicted (the title track) tone. He even exhibits moments of hopefulness, moving from the lyrically tentative but musically forceful "Stumbling to Start" midway through the album to the thoroughly cathartic and totally glorious rocker "I Am Free," which closes the album. The Los Angeles-based, Fresno-born McCulley possesses a slightly raspy California drawl that recalls Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery. This resemblance is particular apparent on the "three chords and a tune" rocker "This Ain't a Song" and the twangy "Follow Me Down"; however, McCulley's singing comes more from the heart than the often ironic Lowery does. While having your heart broken is not a desirable thing, McCulley has dealt with it by making a terrific set of music.

- Michael Berick -

"Calendar: Critic's Picks of the Week"

Rich McCulley at Taix Lounge.

Most troubadours mine years of L.A. life for songwriting material, but this Nashville/Frisco transplant sings from Year One of being the new Telecaster-slinging shitkicker in town who walks a lonely heartbroken road. (The agoraphobic cover of McCulley’s third self-release, Far From My Angel, shows him in an empty room staring through the blinds at the city outside - yup, haven’t we all been there?) A versatile multi-instrumentalist, McCulley will be in full-band mode for the last two weeks of a well-received residency and will Vibro-Lux his way though originals like “Hope Your Happy”, “Stumbling To Start” and “8 Years Ago Today” that weep and sting like the best of John Hiatt or Robbie Fulks. And if you’re reeeeeal good, you might get a nifty slop-twang read of the Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”.

- Matthew Duersten
- LA Weekly

"Nashville City Paper"

West Coast performer makes return visit to Nashville
McCulley is not only a moving, demonstrative vocalist and articulate, compelling writer, he's also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist...His songs range from lighter, satiric numbers to surging rock-tinged pieces and country-influenced numbers, while his raspy, distinctive lead is both immediately recognizable and consistently engaging. - Ronn Wynn - Nashville City Paper


Cerro Gordo-to be released Sept. 2007
Far From My Angel-2005
If Faith Doesn't Matter-2002
After the Moment has past-EP-2000


Feeling a bit camera shy


The release of his fourth record Cerro Gordo finds veteran roots rocker Rich McCulley in a good place, feeling happy and inspired in his adopted Los Angeles home.

Kicking off with the bouncy foot stomper “Forget It All Again,” the new album winds through ten rootsy pop tunes, infused throughout with a mood of optimism and confidence McCulley has earned from a life of hard experience. “I can’t reinvent the wheel, but I can put my own spin on it,” he says, and he delivers on this promise with an album of music both fresh and familiar. Cerro Gordo is a classic McCulley concoction of satisfying melodies, chiming guitars, humable harmonies, whirling organs, soaring strings... all the elements of catchy roots pop delivered in tightly polished songs and recorded in an honest, straightforward style that is McCulley’s trademark.

Following on the success of his third record Far From My Angel (2005), McCulley has become a fixture in the LA roots scene, where he has developed productive co-writing partnerships, placed songs in films, recorded dozens of bands in his studio, and played as a fiery guitar sideman in many pro projects.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the list of co-writers and players on Cerro Gordo reads like a who’s who of McCulley’s favorite bands and musical inspirations. Co-writers include Duane Jarvis (Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam) and Todd Herfindal of The Meadows, while featuring members of bands such as Fountains of Wayne, The Posies, Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Frank Black, Dave Alvin, and others.

Highlights of the record include the lush and lovely “If I Hesitate,” a song of new love, and “I Never Really Loved You,” a tongue in cheek duet with singer/violinist Amy Farris (Dave Alvin, Kelly Willis). There is also an ode to the beauty and reinventive spirit of McCulley’s native California (“Forever California”).

McCulley's sound features his distinctive chopped gravel vocal rasp - hailed by as "a great rock and roll voice" - as well as powerful rock guitar chops that shift effortlessly from full-on rock to laid-back California cool. McCulley's style remains sunny and honest and always throws a hook.

McCulley's story began in his hometown of Fresno, CA, where he wrote, recorded and toured with a variety of county rock and pop rock bands on labels such as Geffen and Columbia. With the release of his first solo EP in 2000, McCulley set off on his own path, guiding his band through two more critically acclaimed records and staging several tours across the southern US and West coast.

Now, celebrating the release of Cerro Gordo, McCulley remains optimistic about the future. “I’ve learned not to be so attached to things and outcomes, and instead to just enjoy the experience. At the end of the day, being able to survive and make a living in music, play with my friends, and find new inspiration, that’s what drives me forward.”