Tad Armstrong
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Tad Armstrong


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"Top 10 records of 2008"

8. Tad Armstrong, “Scorpio Falling.”
Hard-luck zingers populate the debut solo album from ex-Middletown vocalist Tad Armstrong. “I could be so far away from here, getting a head start on the missing years,” he sings on “Nobody Waiting.” With his hybrid tenor-baritone voice residing in an eternal sweet spot, Armstrong explores relaxed textures associated with alt-country plus lively pop accents heard on opening track “Heartbreaker.”
- Indianapolis Star

"Middletown review"

The first album by Indianapolis' Middletown is as genial and friendly as its title, from its lisping spoken introduction by multi-instrumentalist Tad Armstrong's two-year-old daughter to the ramshackle, back-porch feel of the arrangements. The loose, easygoing feel of the folk-ish tunes contrasts with the occasionally ponderous lyrics; clearly, Middletown was heavily influenced by the Band's Music From Big Pink, and the band seems to be reaching for a similar feel on this album, exploring the Big Topics (family, religion, identity) in microcosm. Unfortunately, Armstrong and his fellow writers, Stacia Demos and Aaron Stroup, are no Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel, and the lyrics don't quite reach the level of small profundities that the group seems to be aiming for. Musically, the songs are an enjoyable lot, catchy and melodic with terrific, largely acoustic instrumentation and some exceptional vocal harmonies, especially on the gospel-tinged "Call On Me," by far the record's most powerful song. The Continental Drifters' Peter Holsapple adds mandolin, organ, guitar, and vocals to most of the songs. ~ Stewart Mason, All Music Guide - All Music Guide

"Voted #1 Folk Artist"

1. Tad Armstrong
Armstrong is flying solo on his latest release, Start All Over Again, showcasing his talents as one of Indiana’s finest singers and songwriters. He has been a strong part of the local music scene for the last 15 years with several popular bands: All Day Suckas, Tad Armstrong and His Righteous Fold, Shaffer Street, Middletown, Otis Gibbs Band and the Benders.

- Nuvo Newsweekly

"Indie Music: A Soundtrack for Troubling Financial Times"

There is something about the Midwestern male songwriter that just "gets it," when describing everyday people facing everyday problems and emotions. Scorpio Falling (Flat Earth Records) is Indiana native Tad Armstrong's latest effort. Armstrong is a veteran Indie musician and songwriter -- another talent that has sadly navigated below the radar for far too long. Listen to "Indiana Weather" and hear echoes of the Boss in his glory days. Jersey may lay claim to the perils of the workingman, but Armstrong has a firm grip on the psyche of the steel mill workers of Gary and the everyday rhythms of middle class Indianapolis. "Americana" is an over-used word in music these days, but Armstrong delivers his American roots in songwriting that is emotionally seasoned and soulful.

New Orleans singer-songwriter Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills, Continential Drifters) recruited Armstrong for summer touring. The tour has included stops all over the eastern USA, Canada, and Fenway Park to perform the National Anthem at a Boston Red Sox game.

In 2007, Armstrong joined The Cowsills as bassist and backing vocalist. The legendary family band scored multiple hits in the late 1960s ("Hair", "Indian Lake", "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things") and was the inspiration for TV's The Partridge Family. The Cowsills are currently touring the US and Canada, and have recently performed with the Lovin' Spoonful, The Rascals, and Vanilla Fudge.

But don't let the oldie's tour fool you. Armstrong is a contemporary voice for contemporary hard times.

- Huffington Post

"CD review: Scorpio Falling"

A word of caution about the forthcoming CD review: I don’t know the first thing about this kind of music. Sure, I’ve listened to dudes like James Taylor because I was forced to, but Americana isn’t generally my first selection when I am picking out disks for a road trip. Or at least, that was before I started listening to Tad Armstrong’s “Scorpio Falling.”

Maybe it’s something about the way that the lyrics are delivered without a hint of irony or arrogance, or maybe it’s the beautiful simplicity in the subject matter. There is something fundamentally different about this CD that I don’t tend to find in music of this genre. It isn’t “average Joe” music, simply because there’s a fan base there somewhere and maybe Tad thought that he would exploit that somehow. No, this feels absolutely genuine. This feels more like a guy telling a great story set to some great music, rather than some random guy talking about whatever, shoe-horning in words to fit a tune. I suppose that it doesn’t hurt that it feels like he is talking about very familiar subject matter ranging from enjoying some of God’s finer plants, to roughing out a relationship and getting some petty revenge on the opposite sex.

The musicianship on this record fits the context of every song perfectly. Most of the time, though, you really can’t be bothered to listen to much else past Tad’s great vocal lines. His ear for harmonies not only serve the songs well; they also enrich them at just the right parts without ever being overused. But again, the musicians on this record do their part to craft colorful songs.

I’m not sure that I did this record a ton of justice, and I will take all of the blame for that. I will tell you though; I enjoy listening to “Scorpio Falling” every time I put it in the player. And to be completely honest, I’m not sure that I can name the last time that happened to me. Most of the time I like most of a record but can find a reason not to like a few of the tracks, especially with “local” music. Fortunately for me and my CD collection, that is not the case with Tad Armstrong’s record. This is quality from start to finish.

- IndianapolisMusic.net

"Tad Armstrong Releases Solo CD"

The cover art of Tad Armstrong’s first solo album, Scorpio Falling (Flat Earth Records), shows Armstrong before a white, snowbound landscape. His face is inscrutable, eyebrows knit, mouth somewhere between a smile and scowl. The shot is close, making it impossible to tell whether he’s walking away from something or moving toward it. Maybe he’s standing still.

It’s an appropriate shot for an album that’s torn between different lifestyles. At its outset, Scorpio Falling is a celebration of bachelorhood and life on the road. The first track, “Heartbreaker,” is an upbeat, on-the-move rocker with the kinds of bitter-funny lines you might expect to find on a Warren Zevon record: “I got into my car and drove / from Saint Louis all the way to New Mexico. / That’s where I met / the woman of my dreams / She had long hair and holes in her blue jeans / Sometimes she would paint roses on her cheeks / and we were crazy about each other for two weeks.”

Yet, as happy as “Heartbreaker” is, it’s followed two short tracks later by “Indiana Weather,” a song whose focus is as narrow as “Heartbreaker” is wide, about what happens when a man on the move finds a woman that might be worth staying still for.

For Armstrong, these are the themes he comes back to. “I guess I’m fascinated by the struggle between two urges: to be free and self-indulgent or to be content and vulnerable. The songs were actually written at different times over a 10- year period, but the same themes seem to emerge at different times.” But, Armstrong adds, “It’s certainly not groundbreaking work from that standpoint. What else do rock musicians write about?”

This kind of self-effacing sense of humor is typical of the album, and of Armstrong himself. It’s easy to forget that this solo album comes after a long career in music, and that Armstrong has played in more than his fair share of notable groups, including funk-rock band All Day Suckas, Chris Shaffer’s post-Why Store project Shaffer Street, Americana four-piece Middletown and, currently, the Benders, a classic rock cover band that plays some originals by Armstrong.

Outside of Indianapolis, Armstrong toured with New Orleans singer-songwriter Susan Cowsill in support of her solo release and, in 2007, became bassist for The Cowsills, the family band that inspired the television series The Partridge Family. Cowsill and her husband, drummer Russ Broussard, make guest appearances on Scorpio Falling, as do members of the Benders.

These tours have taken Armstrong across the country, but it was New Orleans that had the most impact on Scorpio Falling. “Not So Easy” and “Anything You Need” were written after Armstrong’s tour through the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina. If this is the kind of thing that makes you wince, imagining a “We Are The World” slice of pretension, you can relax; the songs are two of the most solid on the album. The lyrics on “Anything You Need” are subtly powerful: “In the streets of a broken city / at the end of an imperfect day / history’s falling down all around us / pick up the pieces and throw them away. / People can be so unkind / but I can’t believe in a world that would leave you behind.” Armstrong chose his accompaniment wisely on the track, in the form of Cowsill on vocals and Anna Handy and Matthew Williams on cello, adding to the sense of yearning for something out of reach.

The visit to New Orleans was obviously a powerful one for Armstrong, though sometimes difficult for other reasons. “We were hassled by the police the first night for having a taillight out, and the next day someone broke into our van and stole my laptop and my camera. I was tempted to feel sorry for myself, but with constant reminders of how much others had lost in that city, I really couldn’t,” Armstrong says.

Self-pity is an emotion that doesn’t show up on the record, either, even when the various narrators in the songs find themselves in bad situations. “Proud,” for example, is very nearly an anthem for anyone in self-imposed exile, and it’s impossible to tell whether this is meant ironically or not. For his part, Armstrong hints it may have been written with a touch of sarcasm.

“I guess it comes down to the same old struggle. When I’m living in a way that’s self-destructive and emotionally turbulent, I’ve got plenty to write about. Right now, I’m happy and domesticated, and I haven’t written anything in months. A good writer writes through either situation — the turbulent times are just easier … I think track one [‘Heartbreaker’] sets the tone for the record by showing no real signs of regret. Even as the narrator is acknowledging that he’ll never find another woman like the one he’s singing to, there’s no real sense of change or resolution. ‘Proud’ borders on some real sadness but chooses sarcasm instead, essentially saying, when you’re devastated, when you hit rock bottom — look at yourself. Aren’t you proud of yourself?”

How much of this is based on Armstrong? “I wish I could say, ‘This is exactly how I am,’ or, ‘This is entirely fictional, I’m nothing like this.’ The fact is, I’m more and less like the character in these songs than I’d like to believe,” Armstrong says.

-Alex Mattingly
Nuvo Newsweekly

- Nuvo Newsweekly


Tad Armstrong- Scorpio Falling
Tad Armstrong- Start All Over Again
Middletown- Welcome to the Family



Tad Armstrong's two base hits, one run, and one RBI helped propel the Musicians' team to its greatest success in a decade in the 2008 SXSW Softball Tournament.

A singer/songwriter from Indianapolis, IN, Armstrong's powerful voice has provoked comparisons to Otis Redding and Van Morrison, but his songs are pure Americana- stirring images of heartbreak and lonesome, or rocking out with the perfect pinch of twang.
Armstrong first gained national attention with the band Middletown, whose 2002 album "Welcome to the Family" garnered international radio play and included a guest spot by Peter Holsapple (the dBs, REM, Hootie & the Blowfish).
His 2007 EP was produced by Steve Earle guitarist Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, and 2008's full-length "Scorpio Rising" was mastered by Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams).

Always compelling as a solo performer, Tad Armstrong is also the touring bass player for 60s pop icons the Cowsills, and the Susan Cowsill Band.