Southeast Engine
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Southeast Engine

Athens, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Athens, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



""A Wheel Within A Wheel" - Pitchfork Review"

Athens, Ga., is a scene brimming with well-known national acts. Athens, Ohio? Not so much. If that makes the college town's Southeast Engine relatively big fish in a small pond, that still hardly means many people have heard the band splashing around. Indeed, 2005's mostly overlooked Coming to Terms With Gravity was solid if not wholly compelling Americana in the just-left-of-traditional mold (think: Wilco), though clearly leader Adam Remnant wasn't completely comfortable being pegged as alt-country.

If A Wheel Within a Wheel isn't exactly the sound of a band casting off its shackles, it is the sound of a band at least buckling a little to conventions. Instrumentally, with its emphasis on rootsy piano and strings, much of A Wheel Within a Wheel still scans as Americana. It's the substance where things get stretched a bit, with strong, personal, sometimes powerful results that potentially could raise the group's profile.

A Wheel Within a Wheel begins with a cynical epiphany, blasted out with the opening "Taking the Fall". It's not necessarily an exceptional song, but it does set the tone for the rest of the disc. "Now it's ashes to ashes and dust to dust/ Well, I've always done what I've wanted but now I do what I must," proclaims Remnant, and that same disillusionment with the inevitable winds its way through nearly every track. Love/hate, life/death, truth/lies-- the album's nothing so much as a series of bitter revelations that the innocence of youth is an illusion, and that anyone looking only to man for guidance is doomed.

The title A Wheel Within a Wheel is a reference to the book of Ezekiel, where god is depicted as a sort of multi-dimensional hallucinogenic elemental vision, four creatures combined as one, accompanied by lightning, fire, and noise. Said wheel makes a few appearances throughout the album, most notably following as overt a cry for help as you can get, a song not so subtly titled "Oh God, Let Me Back In". Yet A Wheel Within a Wheel is more complex than the average Christian rock tract. The Biblical/religious imagery running throughout the disc doesn't tip the group's hand so much as provide the album a fruitful thematic framework as Remnant shouts into the abyss in search of answers.

Given the neo-theological angst of the album, it's not much of a shock that the music often matches the soul dividing sturm und drang driving the disc. It's rock opera, part Dante, part indie du jour, bombastic, to be sure, but never hectoring as it makes its way to moral détente. In fact, the album's plea to god comes not as righteousness but only after Remnant himself (or at least the album's narrator) hits rock bottom. "Taking the Fall" ("fall" being a particularly loaded word here) and "Ostrich" tackle the trauma of learning life isn't always fair, and, hey, we're all going to die some day, anyway. In the brisk "We Have You Surrounded", cynicism and doubt have totally taken over, the divine gift of free will subverted to reject the attendant catches. In "Quit While You're Ahead", Remnant is desperate for some guidance: "Tell me what I believe," he pleads.

By "Pursuit of Happiness" (in two parts), the aimlessness of nihilism begins to weigh on his soul. "When the facts turn into fiction, your voice is overturned/ Do you still believe in nothing?" He's answered in "Psychoanalysis", where recollections of childhood give way to the telltale vision of the wheel within a wheel and, as far as the story goes, a fateful choice: embrace the "State of Oblivion", or look to the lord for salvation? The album goes the latter route, if only because it makes for a much better narrative arc. Between the end of the world and everlasting happiness, goes the reasoning, why would anyone choose the former?

Needless to say, the aforementioned explicit cry for god's forgiveness is answered and accepted, but to Remnant's credit all is not left neat and tidy. If anything, the comfort of god makes life more bearable but no more fair. "All I've been taught to really know turns to dust or turns to stone," concludes "Fortune Teller". But in the concluding "Let It Be So", that doesn't seem as bad as it sounds. Remnant's been tested and emerged stronger, the knowledge of injustice and pain not a curse but the key to move beyond empty fatalism. God's gift, it turns out, is allowing us to know that the future is what we make of it.

"So let Fortune turn her wheel, and let the serpent take its tail out of its mouth," sings Remnant, finally at ease with the understanding that happiness is his, if he wants it. "I'm here to love you," he sings, to god, to a lost love, to all of the above. "That's the happiness I pursue."

-Joshua Klein, May 01, 2008
- Pitchfork Media

"Southeast Engine"

“The willingness of Southeast Engine to explore and create music that sometimes is quite complicated (but not of the pretentious art trash variety) offers up huge potential for the future.”

- Alt-Country

"Southeast Engine "Coming to Terms with Gravity" (CD) Review"

released in 2005
Label: Bettawreckonize Media

Midwesterners Southeast Engine, come to us from Athens, Ohio with their third album, Coming to Terms With Gravity. Consisting of band members Josh Antonuccio (guitars, percussion, harmonies) Leo Deluca (drum kit, percussion), Michael Lachman (piano, keyboards, organ), Nick McPherson (bass), and Adam Remnant (guitar, vocals, organ, piano), Southeast Engine create quality alt-country/punky folk rock. Their songs often contain two major changes and lots of acoustic build up that sometimes turns quite a bit more aggressive, showing the listener hints of a possible Neutral Milk Hotel influence. The songs on this album are all written well and all have depth. Together they are a serious venture. The album is put together with a Jeff Tweedy-like precision, it stays on track emotionally and none of the ten songs seem hastily made or out of place.

The opener, "I'm Never Sure,” is derivative of Califone’s Heron King Blues. The lush instrumentation and Remnant's vocals are also immediately impressive and the production is smooth and clean. Southeast Engine’s earnestness comes off in full force making this the first highlight of many. "Photos of Nothing" reminds one of Richmond Fontaine initially, then the rhythm picks up and the heavy electric hits you, this transition brings to mind Neutral Milk Hotel's master ability to build you up to a hard climax.

"Up to You" is a definite highlight. It is highly emotional and the distant piano is reminiscent of early Springsteen. Beautiful arpeggios on acoustic guitar and other nice touches make for a wonderful tune. "Try" has Remnant singing with the emotion of Conor Oberst on top of nice string accents (cello), which gives the song more emotional depth. “Famous Filmmaker” is another highlight. The song shows off the outstanding vocals, good orchestration and excellent lyrics. The album ends with the title track, which flourishes with more alt-country touches, great percussion, and more similarities to Wilco and Richmond Fontaine abound.

Southeast Engine have a decent following in the Midwest, and deservedly so, but unfortunately they are under the radar most everywhere else. This album is a great effort that may bump them up an earned notch. Their talent is all too apparent on this release. There is no reason their name shouldn’t be coming up more often amongst their more famous peers. Their mix of acoustic and electric elements and many rhythm changes add a complexity to their songs that may make categorizing their sound difficult. That is definitely not a bad thing. All in all a very good album by the little engine that obviously could and still does.


Review written on 2006/05/08 by Terry McDaniel - 30

"Southeast Engine - Coming to Terms with Gravity"

From bare folk to lo-fi baroque, slow-core alt. country to indie rock, the Athens, Ohio band Southeast Engine has a dark charm that threads their set. Coming To Terms With Gravity offers a warm blend of moody, acoustic-based tunes that wallow in melancholy and often break out into moments of haunting cacophony. They stir deep passions through organic vibrations and subtle sonics, flecked with strings, organ, percussion and other curious elements. The spare production by guitarist Josh Antonuccio, preserves the group`s unity. Adam Remnant`s engaging and emotive voice, sometimes fractured and frail, takes the downbeat material into very tuneful territories. He can be soaring and majestic, with strains of desperation, through some of the more bombastic moments. -- Robinson, Miles Of Music (BW)
- Miles of Music

"New album 'masterpiece'"

After six years of tumultuous lineup changes and stylistic shifts, Southeast Engine somehow emerged with an album full of stunning arrangements and resonant lyrics.

The Athens rock band's seemingly endless stint at 3 Elliott Studio has proved absolutely worthwhile. Song for song, "Coming To Terms With Gravity" is a classic album, detailing harrowing existential crises and day-to-day reality in the context of the band's strongest songwriting to date. Add meticulous recording and mixing by new guitarist Josh Antonuccio and some glorious mastering by Chris Weibel, and what we have here is a masterpiece.

Adam Remnant's lyrical journey reaches from heaven to hell but mostly inhabits that confusion-prone middleground known as Planet Earth.

The record begins with "I'm Never Sure," in which Remnant wants to explain the way he's feeling, "like a film is reeling through my mind." Confusion is apparent, and things stay murky throughout the next few songs. Remnant chides someone -maybe himself -"You don't know what you want," and admits, "I try not to lie, but I find it hard to tell the truth all the time."

But by the time he's through navigating aimless collegiate debauchery ("Undergrad"), confronting a best friend ("Forced to Believe") and losing a stare-down with God ("Holy Ghost"), the closing title track finds Remnant at peace, or at least on his way there.

Musically, the album treads louder territory than in the past. Three songs from the first half -"Photos of Nothing," the epic "Up To You" and the Dylanesque "Try" -rock harder than anything in the Southeast Engine catalog. Yet the quietest number, "Coming To Terms With Gravity," is the most adventurous, draping eerie double-tracked vocals and a cello over Leo DeLuca's inventive, spare percussion.

It's a spectacular ending to a transcendent album, one that finds one of Ohio's finest bands operating at the peak of its powers.

- Ohio University - The Post

"Southeast Engine - Coming to Terms with Gravity"

Every once and awhile I'm called upon by one of my peers to defend my taste in Wilco. It's a rather tricky subject, mostly 'cause I tend to defy common logic and go all contrarian, adamantly defending Being There as the band's finest hour. Sure, there's plenty to be said for the sociopathic pop brilliance of Summerteeth and the experimental, wasted genius of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but to me it's always felt as though Being There best captures Jeff Tweedy's sloppy romanticism, slightly tweaked take on reality, and poetic abilities.

I bring all this up because I think it helps to explain why Southeast Engine's fantastic sophomore release, Coming to Terms With Gravity, has been on such heavy repeat on my iPod over the last month. There's a big place in my heart for Americana. Call it alt-country if you like, but the likes of Son Volt, The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Bright Eyes, and of course Wilco always seem a bit more classic rock than country anyways, playing more off the Band than the Byrds. Southeast Engine has a bit of all these groups mashed in there, and lead singer Adam Remnant certainly has the world-wearied Tweedy delivery down pat, but they limit themselves well, keeping their existential crises small and well-articulated.

In theory, of course, this is easy stuff. No fancy electronic twiddling, tricky drumming, or even overly complex arrangements. It seems like too often we're willing to write rock songs off. They're just straight-up rock songs, after all. People finished writing all those in the '70s, right? Since then it's been rehashings, warmed-over nonsense, and the occasional resurgence of folk music. We need a string section, a blaring synth line, a singer who sounds like he or she (not that it's always clear) was plucked out of a Ukrainian horror movie, or some sort of grand lyrical arch about dying, sex changes, Jesus, or all the above.

I don't mean to come off as anti-intellectual or reactionary, but especially in the last few years we've been confronted with a series of albums in which the context has done more to inform the enjoyment of the music than the songs themselves; that the kitsch is outselling the music; that the spectacle has overwhelmed the artist. Clearly it's nothing new (here's looking at you, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, T. Rex, the '80s), but it still isn't any good. So yeah, every once and awhile I kick back and listen to Being There and just dream about rock and roll. The simple sort of stuff; the stuff indie rock was about from the late-'80s through the mid-'90s. And it's definitely the sort of music that Southeast Engine is tapping into.

As a songwriter, Remnant doesn't quite fit the classic indie rock model--he's more Conor Oberst than Doug Marstch, though without the preachiness. His metaphors can be a bit clunky (any true Wilco fan will admit that even Tweedy had his troubles with that) and there's plenty of pathos being captured here, but he still manages to bat above average. Even when the lines fall a bit flat, he's able to deliver the lyrics with enough conviction that they don't fail too badly.

As a singer-songwriter, he'd be stranded. With the full band, working with a set of well-produced, rather straightforward arrangements, Remnant shines. "Photos of Nothing" wouldn't stand up without the harsh guitars of Adam Torres and Josh Antonuccio. Likewise, "Up to You," one of the album's finest tracks, succeeds largely because of the propulsive latter half. Unfortunately, for much of the middle section of the album, the band takes too few chances, letting songs like "Undergrad" and "Try," which feels dangerously like a Bright Eyes b-side, wallow a bit much in misery and not really opening them up.

Still, on the whole, they win more than they lose. "Forced to Believe" is one of those wonderfully American, leisurely, mid-tempo rockers that got Wilco where they are today, complete with a pretty little multi-part harmony in the chorus and a subdued guitar solo. The rocker "Holy Ghost" has perhaps the best set of lyrics on the album, setting drummer Leo de Luca to work and letting Remnant flex his creative writing muscles a bit more than the rest of the album allows. The beautiful title track works well as a closer, showing off a quietly psychedelic side of the band that doesn't come through in some of the other parts of the album.

Don't get me wrong: there'll always be a place for the radical, forward-thinking, and generally screechy (god bless Jamie Stewart). It's just that sometimes it's nice to see a band carrying on with the straight-forward rock and roll. It's harder to do than it looks, so when a band like Southeast Engine comes along that does it well, it's worth taking notice.

Peter Hepburn
January 19, 2006
- Coke Machine

""A Wheel Within A Wheel" - Paste Magazine - Top 10 Albums of 2007 - #2 - Writers Picks"

"...And perhaps that's why Southeast Engine—Athens natives a few years removed from the graduation ceremony, and still hanging out in that idyllic little college town—sound like they do. You can tell that lead singer/songwriter Adam Remnant has his English degree, and he drops enough literary references to make sure you know he's spent some time in old Ellis Hall. But there's a restlessness and desperation at the heart of his music that suggests that the old Athens malaise has already set in, and that feeling trapped isn't the exclusive domain of suburban executives with midlife crises and cherry red sports cars... There are three albums now - Love Is A Murder, Coming to Terms with Gravity, and the new one, A Wheel Within A Wheel, which is one of my favorite albums of 2007." - Andy Whitman
-Paste Magazine - Paste Magazine

""A Wheel Within A Wheel" - Recommended - Brooklyn Vegan"

"Other albums I can strongly recommend include Southeast Engine's Misra debut, "A Wheel Within a Wheel." - Brooklyn Vegan

""A Wheel Within A Wheel" - Jambase Best Albums of 2007 - Cook's Corner"

"Not once have I been able to stop myself from hitting repeat when "A Wheel Within A Wheel" ends. Two or three spins are necessary each time to really roll around in all the pleasures hiding here. Don't be surprised if you clap your hands or sing loud enough to bother folks in the car next to you. Southeast Engine are super smart, rock savvy guys and they've made a great record for thinkers who love power chords and heartbreaking ruminations"
-Jambase - Jambase


"From the Forest to the Sea" (2009 - Misra / Moon Jaw)

"A Wheel Within A Wheel" (2007 - Misra Records)

"Coming to Terms with Gravity" (Originally Released 2005 - Bettawreckonize Media / Re-released 2007 - Misra Records)

"One Caught Fire" (2004 - Self-Released)

"Love is a Murder, a Mystery of Sorts" (2003 - Self-Released)



From Misra Records:

Southeast Engine : From the Forest to the Sea

Humans are paradoxical creatures. We often contradict ourselves, struggling to find a happy medium between self-serving wants and desires, and moral integrity. From the bigger picture, of how we treat the earth and our relationship (or lack of) with a higher power, to how we navigate our personal relationships with those we love, there is often a struggle of finding the balance of doing what's right for yourself, and doing what's right. Southeast Engine's sophomore album, From the Forest to the Sea is a narrative that questions the above and a rock record that couldn't help but be shaped by the extraordinary place, circumstance and musicians that created it.

Southeast Engine's "From the Forest to the Sea" was recorded in a forsaken, 1800s middle school auditorium in the hills of Stewart, Ohio -- June 9-13 with core members Adam Remnant (lead vocals, guitar) and Leo DeLuca (drums and percussion) joined by Adam's brother Jesse (bass guitar, backup vocals) and Michael Lachman (Hammond organ, concertina, piano). The sweltering Ohio summer, the 1930s class photos on the walls. The building was full of bats and strange noises (ghosts?). Totally off the grid with no cell reception and no modern interruptions. The entire album was recorded live to analog tape (as opposed to a multi-tracked / digital recording) in 5 days. You can hear the building, its history and its geographic locale all over this record.

In From the Forest to the Sea Adam Remnant has written some of the most pervasively soul searching songs in the small apartment that he shares with his wife, friend and two dogs in a small college town of Athens, Ohio. That such a compelling character narrative should spring from so humble a Mid-western locale is mirrored by the profundity and complexity of his ideas delivered from the most unaffected and unpretentious of voices. The album’s main character earnestly negotiates his place and responsibilities on Earth with the gratification of serving his more human and selfish wants. In "The Forest II", we hear "Words spoken like broken vows, as the water seeps up from the ground, hmmmm, the water floods up to my knees, the warm air is becoming more difficult to breathe". From the tone of Remnant’s songs, we can gleam the writer wrestling with these ideas as he channels the story, seemingly unaware of his artfulness. All of his work carries a gentle enlightenment of self-discovery with it rather than the heavy-handed demagoguery of an agenda. Our journey through the record is both the character’s and the writer’s journey as well.

The exploitation of the earth is analogous for the main character’s personal life. He has achieved the American dream; money, family, success. Happiness? No, the American dream is hollow. He cheats, he is selfish. He satisfies himself. In "The Forest III" we hear, "so I lose my sense of direction, I follow every scent I'm acting on my instincts, despite there consequence" Is it possible that the pitfalls of the American dream and of religion are that what you're supposed to want is not always what you need? In "Sea of Galilee" we are still searching. The main character tries to walk on water and sinks to the bottom, a man not immune to gravity or imperfection. But sometimes you need to hit bottom to rise up. Remnant sings, "When my body lands on the floor, somewhere no one has ever been before, somewhere too dark to explore, that’s where I’ll be restored, down at the bottom of the sea I find the heavens opening". There is redemption at the bottom.

Southeast Engine has never been a band that is afraid to question God, love or purpose. They are distinct among musicians who deal with faith in that they explore the fragility, beauty and uniqueness of each individual’s covenant with God in their songs as opposed to simply proselytizing. Rebirth may be a miracle, but there is something to be said for its less sensational but natural progression: growth. From the Forest to the Sea shows that the ability to grow and change is the true touch of the Divinity, be it in nature, consciousness or in the ears and hearts of you, the listeners.