The Saving Graces
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The Saving Graces

Band Alternative Pop

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"The Saving Graces - Outside Guiding Lights"

2004 release and one helluva followup to the promise that was contained in their debut EP, These Stars Are For You. In fact, in the world of indie power pop in 2004, this is one of the releases one can hold up and say, `yes, this is how it can be done`. Here we have sea of lulling harmonies and juicy guitar and classic power pop hooks. There`s also groovy keyboards patches and more tasty guitar crunch. And songs like the title track show a moody yet translucent angle. Here, the simplest of tasty hooks provides an interesting counter to the banjo-enhanced bridge. Way to mix it up, guys! Produced exquisitely by one of the finest producers in pop, Jamie Hoover(The Spongetones), this is no digital affair, just the sounds a real pop band enjoying and growing as a band who digs what they do. Signposts To Sound are both early 80`s and early 90`s REM, The Connells, DM3, The Grapes Of Wrath and The Reivers. So, yes, there`s a strong Southeastern jangle sound throughout, brainy and shimmering unapologetic power pop with glorious harmonies. Go, Boys, Go! Extremely Highly Recommended. - Not Lame Recordings


"The Saving Graces - These Stars Are For You"

Despite its length - a mere five songs - These Stars Are for You may be, tune for tune, the best 19 minutes and 6 sec­onds of music you may hear all year. Sound like an exaggeration? But the proof's in the hearing and each of these engaging melodies begs for a replay - and then another and then another after that. It's one of those collections that is so hauntingly familiar you feel instantly sucked in - and yet it's so fresh and vi­brant it immediately stands out from the competition. The affect is instantaneous and unyielding, from the soaring cho­ruses of "Song for Anyone Else" and its unceasingly vibrant follow-up "Girl Automatic;' through the melodic strains of "Sad Golden Waves Goodbye" and "Idiot Proof,' and on to the final pay-off, the riveting and reverberating "The Things That Make You Strange" Great hooks, wonderful melodies, superb arrangements - what more could you ask for? As the saying goes, it's all in the Stars. - Amplifier Magazine


"The Saving Graces - These Stars Are For You"

Yes, pop bands still sprout like dandelions in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the debut EP from The Saving Graces demonstrates that the current crop is sounding nearly as good as the hardy perennials from the past. Led by former Neidermeyer frontman Michael Slawter, The Saving Graces are able to shift gears from the sophisticated grace of "Song For Anyone Else" to the lean, spunky energy of "The Things That Make You Strange" without stalling out or putting too much strain on the clutch, while Slawter's estimable guitar and vocal abilities get a first class assist from bassist Drew Jenkins and drummer John Holoman. The production (by Slawter with D. Henry Fenton and Britt Uzzell) is polished and savvy but still reveals a keen edge, documenting a band with both hooky smarts and a rock and roll heart. These Stars Are For You is a promising calling card for The Saving Graces, and hopefully they have enough where this came from for a full-length release sometime soon. - AMG - All Music Guide


"Saving Graces what power pop’s supposed to be"

Michael Slawter is a graphic designer by day. Come the night, he turns into a rocker who has become the poster boy for power pop in this area.
But the Winston-Salem guitarist says he hates the label. Even though he’ll admit that bands he admires and is often compared to (like Cheap Trick) belong to the pop era, what the term has come to mean doesn’t jibe with his feelings for the music that is displayed under its banner. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake just don’t belong in the same pool that once had groups like the Replacements and Elvis Costello thrashing around in it.

Slawter, who learned his first guitar licks from listening to Mitch Easter in the glory days of his band Let’s Active, recently gave a little something back with the release of Every Word: A Tribute to Let’s Active, which came out in July of 2003. The record features 20 cuts by Slawter and fellow Easter appreciators covering Let’s Active’s career, and included live performances at the Garage and Summer on Trade featuring some local bands doing Let’s Active material.

While Slawter acknowledges the Easter influence, he was no means the only one. On his first release with his band the Saving Graces, These Stars Are For You, Slawter came out rocking hard, paying homage to bands he’d long admired like the Who, the Move, and the Replacements, even admitting that the sound he was going for with his current band is “the latter day sound of the Replacements.” He also managed to acknowledge his main guitar influence, former David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust era) guitar slinger Mick Ronson.

But Slawter says that The Saving Graces were not a even a band at the time he wrote the songs. To remedy that situation, Slawter and the Graces, featuring bassist Drew Jenkins and drummer John Holoman, released The Saving Graces Live at the Garage in September of ’03. Some of the songs on the new disc are also on These Stars..., including “Girl Automatic” and “The Things That Make You Strange.” “Girl Automatic” has brought comparisons to The Who due to its slamming power chords, and “The Things” is the tune that brings up the Cheap Trick references.

And as is the case in any live performance versus studio recording, the band’s latter versions are more upbeat and harder edged. There’s another difference: There’s a member messing. For the past year, Graces had swelled to a quartet with the addition of guitarist Jay Manley. Though Manley was never officially acknowledged as a member, he appeared with the band for all their gigs in 2003. But the guitarist had a conflict with his loyalty to his band Velvet and felt that he should have been devoting more time to that project, of which his wife is a member. Fans of Manley can hear him both on the new Graces work as well as on his upcoming Mitch Easter-produced record, due out in the Spring.

Slawter and the Graces are appearing with a songwriters-in-the-round tour with Don Dixon, Robert Crenshaw, Jamie Hoover and Bill Lloyd. Dixon needs no explanation to anybody familiar with the area music scene, having been one of the pioneers in producing and performing pop music for the last couple of decades. Robert Crenshaw is Marshall’s brother and has backed his sibling on the road and on record as well as creating and performing his own original material. Jamie Hoover works gigs as the Spongetones’ drummer while balancing careers as a songwriter, producer, guitarist, bassist and arranger. Bill Lloyd was part of the duo Foster and Lloyd and has dabbled in the pop, country and rock arenas while writing tunes for a slew of country artists.


- ESP Magazine


Discography

2003 - These Stars Are For You (ep) - The Paisley Pop Label
2004 - Outside Guiding Lights - The Paisley Pop Label
2005 - Solid State Affair

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

A veteran of the North Carolina music scene, Slawter last fronted the short-lived pop/punk quartet Neidermeyer. The band's sole recorded offering, "For Those About to Pop" won them 2001 pop-rock album of the year honors from The Winston-Salem Journal. The newspaper praised Slawter for creating tunes as "smart and entertaining as (the band's) name." Slawter soon decided he wanted a band that reflected his own vision. In 2002, the Saving Graces were born.

"I was really happy with the songs I was writing in Neidermeyer but I felt like I had so much other stuff inside me that didn't really fit that band." Slawter recalled. "Luckily, I was able to find people that shared my feelings and influences."

In the fall of that year the embryonic band headed into the studio with respected Australian musician d.Henry Fenton and longtime Winston-Salem scenester Britt "Snuzz" Uzell. The end product, "These Stars Are For You," was released by respected Portland, Oregon indie The Paisley Pop Label to almost unanimous critical acclaim. Over five songs, "These Stars Are For You" effortlessly blended 60s-vintage Britpop ("The Things that Make You Strange"), bouncy New Wave-style rock ("Idiot Proof") and gorgeous balladry ("Sad Golden Waves Goodbye.").

Now, on their first full-length LP, Slawter, bassist Drew Jenkins and drummer John Holoman upped the ante to produce "Outside Guiding Lights." Joined by veteran producer Jamie Hoover (Spongetones, Van Deleckis), the 11-song collection presents a fuller picture of Slawter's songwriting capabilities, veering from the energetic, Buzzcocks-inflected "Giving Up The Ghost," to the lovely sturm und jangle of "Southern Gothic Sound," to the deeply personal meditation that is "Why Don't You Cry."

So set the headphones on loud and the seat on recline, and let yourself be swept away.