Staggering Statistics
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Staggering Statistics

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The best kept secret in music

Press


Staggering Statistics add to discography ... and band size

Interview By Sean Rhiney

Perhaps adopting the bunker mentality that many felt after Election Day 2004, Staggering Statistics holed up in the Greenhornes' practice space on that fateful day to record their second full-length disc. Full of jagged, skeletal guitars, propulsive bass playing and the short lyrical sketches of lyricist Austin Brown, the result, entitled All Of This and More, will be released nationally in June on Shake It Records (it is available now locally).
So in light of the many musicians that took very public stances on the 2004 election's outcome, was there any symbolism in the choice to record that day for the Statistics? No, says bassist John Curley.

"I don't think we even realized it was Election Day until it was almost upon us," he says. "If anything, it helped keep my mind off the inevitable, like the musicians on the Titanic playing while the ship sank."

Even without a political manifesto guiding their efforts, several tracks seemingly do touch on 2004's unsettling climate, clashing Brown's dreamy lyrical imagery with wry observations and impassioned cautionary tales. But if they're direct calls to action, no one's saying. What the Statistics did know is they wanted to capture the primacy and immediacy of their live sets -- something ably accomplished on tracks like the frenetic "LCD" and the corrosive "Embrace Your Decay."

"We wanted it to sound rackety and raw," Curley says. "Doing the record on location gave us a finite window of time to get the songs recorded and helped steer us away from excessive tinkering and retakes."

Drummer Joe Klug agrees. "It's always good to not overwork things," he says. "They tend to sound, well, overworked."

Together in some form since 2002, the Statistics initially served as a necessary lyrical outlet for Brown and a return to form for Curley who had taken a step back from playing music following the dissolution of The Afghan Whigs the previous year. Klug, a longtime friend of Brown's from their days working at Kaldi's Coffee House, completed the lineup after different drummers, including The Ass Ponys' Dave Morrison, had jammed with Brown and Curley at the latter's Ultrasuede Studio. A self-titled debut was released in 2003 to critical praise and a Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best New Artist in 2005 followed.

The group's current association with Shake It Records is one of mutual affection -- label owner Darren Blase and Curley have known one another for years -- but it didn't take friendship to convince Blase that All Of This and More was a record he wanted to release.

"Austin gave me a copy and I thought it was one of the best Rock records I'd heard in a long time," he says.

The parties waited a year to fit the new disc into Shake It's release schedule and will now use their national distribution and promotion to get the word out. In the interim, Rhode Island-based independent label 75orLess came calling and convinced the band to release an EP of material recorded after the Election Day sessions entitled Pixelated Ones & Zeros.

The band attributes two releases in less than a year to Brown's workmanlike lyrical output -- which his bandmates term "prolific" -- and the added convenience of Curley owning Ultrasuede, which allowed the band to tape their rehearsals.

Recently, the Statistics added Sam Womelsdorf (Culture Queer, Throneberry) as a keyboardist and additional guitarist. According to Klug, making the transition from power trio to a fuller lineup was essential and important to the band's continuing development.

"I think we wanted to take it to the next level before it got too boring," Klug says. "There wasn't anything missing, per se, but with only three people to fill all that space it can get a little pressing. Now we can play less and get more." - CityBeat (Cincinnati, OH) 5-28-06


Staggering Statistics: Pixelated Ones and Zeros Review
Date: 02.14.06

John Curley knows talent. After being the bassist for the Afghan Whigs and logging hundreds of hours of studio time with the best up-and-coming acts at his Ultrasuede Studios, it shouldn't surprise anyone that his band's new EP is nothing short of stellar. But still, here I am, completely shocked.
Being outside of Cincinnati, I'd only seen Curley's Staggering Statistics play live on one occasion, and I picked up their debut self-titled album. In the interim between that show opening for The Twilight Singers and the release of Pixelated Ones and Zeros, The Staggering Statistics have evolved. Due in no small part to their constant gigging, the band is tight, their songs more focused, and they have found a way to forge their own distinct sound. The new EP is a mix of rock and jazz, lo-fi and shimmer-pop and it's an exciting, eclectic assemblage.

The one clear parallel with The Staggering Statistics and Afghan Whigs is that every member of the band contributes in a singular way to better the whole. Frontman and guitarist Austin Brown is easy to credit as lyricist and vocalist. His voice is unique, with the ability to switch from the sing-along pop chorus ("Wet Book of Matches") to melancholy syncopated verses ("Disastrous Leanings"). Drummer Joe Klug is steady, providing mostly spare accompaniment with a tasteful flash here and there. Klug is confident enough to know when to settle back into the mix and when to push and create tension and pulse. His partnership and ability to mesh with bassist Curley is integral to the band's success. Curley's playing on Pixelated Ones and Zeros is in an entirely different style and presentation than his work with the Whigs. The ascending runs in "Lookout Cartographer Autobiographer" create a counter-melody that propels and perfectly complicates the song. Throughout, Curley's interplay with Klug creates a special dynamic that accentuates the abilities of all three players.

A review of this album would not be complete without a mention of the packaging. Cincinnati artist Alan Sauer and the team at 75orLess created an over-sized matchbook with raised printing for a distinctive and fun pressing. It's a strictly limited edition and the colored variants even more limited at 25 copies each for individual release.

Pixelated Ones and Zeros is more than a sum of parts. It's the culmination of talents and personalities, yes, but it's also the result of a lot of hard work. Like all good EPs, the six tracks are too few, and while it creates an exciting appetizer, it whets the appetite for the next full release All of This and More... out in the spring. - Summerskiss.com


The Twilight Singers/Powder Burns (One Little Indian)
Staggering Statistics/All of This and More (Shake It)

The Afghan Whigs were one of the 1990s’ most improbable successes—pregrunge, postpunk rock band with a soul subtext and the cojones to play it straight. After the Whigs’ official dissolution in 2001, frontman Greg Dulli remained visible, fronting the Twilight Singers and working on various music, film and production projects. Bassist John Curley produced regional groups at his Cincinnati studio and the remaining Whigs kept low profiles.

Dulli’s work with the Twilight Singers has been fascinating and diverse, and with Powder Burns, his fourth Singers effort, Dulli has created his most majestic, sprawling and yet intensely personal album to date. For the first time, Dulli has fully integrated the Whigs’ elemental rock personality with the Singers’ adventurous musical nature, and the results are magnificent. The tumult of “Underneath the Waves” and the title track are beautifully balanced with the quiet reflection of “The Conversation” and the pop noir of “Forty Dollars,” with its sly Beatles references.

Meanwhile, Curley’s first post-Whigs band, Staggering Statistics, finds the uncommonly powerful bassist aligned with another manic muse in vocalist/guitarist Austin Brown. Like a wild blend of Public Image Ltd.’s antirock (“Embrace Your Decay”), the Teardrop Explodes’ noirish new wave (“We Celebrate Your Mistakes”), Guided by Voices’ Who fixation (“Objects in the Mirror”) and the Violent Femmes’ folk punk (“LCD”), the Statistics’ stripped back and sinewy pop/punk is shot through with adrenaline and perspective.

By Brian Baker
First printed in June 2006 - Harp Magazine


Discography

"Staggering Statistics" 2004
"Pixelated Ones & Zeros" 2006 (75orLess Records)
"All of this and more..." 2006 (Shake-It Records)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Staggering Statistics have left everyone looking for answers. The Staggering Statistics tell a story that cannot be ignored. The Staggering Statistics are a rock band from Cincinnati, OH. The Staggering Statistics story begins in late 2002 with a series of improvisational jams involving a prolific songwriter and musician called Austin Brown, a bass player called John Curley and various others called drummers.

Bassist John Curley, a founding member of the Afghan Whigs, owns Cincinnati's Ultrasuede recording studio. Austin Brown is a Texas native who has played in dozens of bands from Houston to Seattle before arriving in Cincinnati and joining dozens more, many at the same time. As the jam sessions began to give way to proper songs, Austin recruited his longtime friend, multi-instrumentalist Joe Klug as the new bands permanent drummer.

Joe and Austin had worked together at Kaldi's Cafe in the late 1990's. During that time, they composed and recorded music in Joe's downtown apartment. Guitarist and keyboardist Sam Womelsdorf, who joined the band in late 2005, is another veteran of the Cincinnati music scene having toured the US and Europe in the band Throneberry, who released several CD's on Alias Records in the 1990's. Sam is also a member of Culture Queer, whose 2004 release, "Super-Size It Under Pontius Pilate", was named best local CD of 2004.

The Staggering Statistics self-titled, debut EP was released in September 2004. The follow up LP, "All of this and more...", recorded on Election Day 2004, was released on Cincinnati's own Shake-It Records in June 2006. In the meantime, the Stats recorded and released an EP, "Pixelated Ones & Zeros", which came out in Feb. 2006 on 75orLess Records. In 2005 Cincinnati's CityBeat Magazine recognized The Staggering Statistics as New Artist of The Year.

Musically, Staggering Statistics have drawn comparisons to Pavement, Lou Reed, Television, Sonic Youth and Captain Beefheart. The sound is full and exciting, ranging from delicate melodies to decapitating fuzz bass. The dense rhythm section and Sam's unexpected yet tasteful melodic contributions provide the perfect compliment to Austin's cool vocal delivery and stabbing guitar. Joe's British invasion harmonies float atop a sonic sea that is always more than the sum of its parts. This is a unique band with excellent lyrics, great songs and a killer live show.