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Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock


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"Workers are ready for the next level"

Workers are in a period of transition but not stasis. The Louisville band is currently writing and rehearsing a new album that has singer/guitarist Jeremy Johnson extremely excited. This isn't an unusual frame of mind for Johnson, who emits sparks even while napping, but he's pegging the meter lately.
The band is looking for a new label, not because Hawthorne Records was unhappy with last year's "Beasts," but because it needs a label with a broader distribution base and more resources. Workers plan on finishing their latest self titled effort in October and is ready to push it hard.
"We feel like this is the album that's going to do it for us, so we want to make sure it's available everywhere," Johnson said. "I think there's a lot of stuff that would be good for radio, and we've never had a radio budget before."
Workers have been around for seven years, three records and innumerable tours, but Johnson said that he, drummer Drew Osborn and bassist Brandon Duggins are peaking creatively. "Beasts" was a high point, and Johnson said "Workers" aims even higher.
"We try to capture a particular spirit for each album, and this one is a lot more positive," he said. "We didn't plan on it being that way, but we feel like a big weight was lifted off of us after 'Beasts.' It was all about rawness, venting and frustrations."
Tonight, the band will be previewing much of "Workers" at the Pour Haus, 1481 S. Shelby St. (9 p.m., $7). They will be joined by some very special guests in The Fervor, which just keeps getting better, and San Francisco's Birds & Batteries, making its Louisville debut.
Workers befriended Birds & Batteries after seeing the band at a house party while on tour. They made plans to hit the road together.
Birds & Batteries doesn't really sound like anyone else. It has elements of electronic pop, blips and beeps that recall bands such as Postal Service, but the core songwriting compares to such disparate artists as Elvis Costello and "Tonight's the Night"-era Neil Young. Check out songs at and
"These guys are freaking awesome," Johnson said.
- Louisville Courier Journal

"Workers: Beasts"

A band's physical album is often an exercise in the art of presentation. Even major label releases with all the money of Midas behind them are often bargain-basement CD cases and booklets little removed from the practical paper sleeve. Why waste money on pictures and lyrics, right?
Emptiness can also be an artistic medium, however, and as such the cover of Workers' third album, Beasts, tremendously excited me. Solid black, the album's only front decoration is a Rorschach image seemingly captured with primitive Xerox technology. I've taken to staring at it endlessly as their hateful, hard, and hurting music makes me wish that I had invested in better computer speakers before embarking on a career as a music reviewer. You turn it one way, and man screams angrily to the left, while another perspective yields an almost empty skyline.
I can't imagine a better stage for the six songs that comprise Beasts. The album pulses with a dark, raging energy that calls The Jesus and Mary Chain or Peter Murphy to mind. The influence of the ex-Bauhuas singer is particularly apparent in Jeremy Johnson's powerful, sinister tenor. It's a voice that never stumbles or trips, leaping with sure confidence over the free-form poetry of the album's drum-heavy opener "Fight." That's not to say that "Fight" or any other track on the album is some overly emotional art-school exercise in gentle wordsmithing. The music throughout the entire opus is angry just shy of shouting, preferring the zeal of a psychotic to the wailing of an angry drunk. Controlled chaos, much like the fury of The Cult, is the order of the day.
The helpful (if unnecessarily rhyming) press release accompanying Beasts makes the claim that this album was an attempt to eschew the blatant over-production of modern mainstream music and instead go for something raw and mean.Workers' experiment can be called a success, and I feel sorry for anyone turned off by the visceral quality of the recording. Sure, it's not a pretty painting (it's a Xerox, remember?), but you sacrifice feeling like you're listening to a commercial jingle for the unbearable ecstasy of actually being inside the artist's vision. Granted, that vision is dark and often violent.
"Set the Trap," for one, is frankly unsettling, reminding me of nothing so much as a credit song for the latest installment in the Saw franchise. Still, the album is called Beasts for a reason, and so much of the music reflects the animal mindset. The wild spirit is never absent, and a desire to roam free, to hunt, to love, to kill, and to die any way but while running away is howled by every song.
If I was held down and forced with a pair of pliers to choose a hit single from the disc, I'd certainly suggest "The Break" or perhaps "Little Storm." Both are the most evolved Pokemon versions of the selections. But as far as I'm concerned, Beasts is a six-sided animal, and every side has teeth. Play it frontways, backways, or randomly on shuffle -- it doesn't matter. You're going to get bit.

(Jef With One F // 06/18/08)
(Hawthorne Street Records -- P.O. Box 805353, Chicago, IL. 60680;; Workers -- - Space City Rock

"Workers- Sound From The Ground"

A thumping beginning to Why Do I Wait? kicks Workers' debut album Sound from the Ground off in threatening style. The overwhelming initial impression of this dense and claustrophobic cacophony is that's it's everything The Killers and The Bravery wish they could be.

Too easily are references of '...sounds like The Cure...' or '...on a par with The Smiths...' bandied about. It can seem at times while some bands are adept at producing momentarily memorable hooks that are instantly addictive, these mentions are done purely to add some weight to an otherwise light mix of disco-destined tracks.

Workers fuse blistering guitars with basslines that pulse out a frighteningly unshakeable rhythm. The album is soaked in intensity, choking on dark sprawling soundscapes that are faintly reminiscent of an early and rebellious U2.

Songs like Surrounded and Strings have
all the underground appeal that The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ooze. Workers plunge through the underbelly of rock'n'roll, crawling about in a world littered with numb desperation, dizzy with shattered and fragmented strands of thought and anger bred out of confusion and pain.

While the nine tracks that make up Sound from the Ground lack the disco-friendly grooves of acts like Franz Ferdinand or The Kaiser Chiefs, what binds the album together is the lead singer, Jeremy Johnson's empassioned delivery and the band's gritty style, which is never far from visceral, undercurrents flowing all over the place.

The glimmer of light in this brooding and somber collection is The Silent Me, with a heavy groove driven rhythm charging through it, topped off with a razor sharp guitar riff.

For those who want a journey into a dim-lit world, filled with fractured psyches, this is the trip for you.

"Workers- Sound From The Ground"

"Pay attention, because Workers are about to knock your socks off. Sound From the Ground, their first proper full-length, is colossal -- a
lightning bolt straight out of Kentucky that's on par with the best music Louisville has offered us over the years. Swathes of effects-heavy guitar and Drew Osborn's propulsive drumming provide the perfect post-rock backdrop for Jeremy Johnson's vocals, which are confident and demand attention; and producer Kevin Ratterman (ex-Elliott) brings his own distinct stoner haze to proceedings -- his studio wizardry has never sounded better. Workers have been biding their time, but Sound from the Ground suggests they won't remain under the radar for long. 9/10" -Dan Stapleton - Blunt Magazine, AUS

"Sound From The Ground by: Workers"

It's amazing what a delay pedal can do to establish a mood. Taking a page from expansive guitar pop bands like The Cure and U2, Workers whoosh out of Louisville, Ky., with a sound suited for an archived episode of MTV's "120 Minutes" or the soundtrack to a John Hughes tragicomedy.

Jeremy Johnson is Workers' singer and guitarist. His languid playing alternates between trippy layers of Edge-inspired absent-minded strumming and melancholy noodling. Ex-Elliott drummer Kevin Ratterman, who played bass on the Workers record, lays down a fuzzed out counterpoint, and drummer Drew Osborn rides his hi-hat until the wheels fall off. Osborn's drumming is mostly reserved and focused on utility rather than flash, but he beats skins during extended instrumental tangents.

The high points of the record are the lead-off track, "Why Do I Wait," a distilled capsule of the entire album's swirling Brit pop motif, "Surrounded," a catchy tune that opens with a slightly trashy synth riff, and "Sunburn," a simple bass melody that builds up from and returns to a slow simmer. Slow and somber, "The Gauze Above the Lights" stands out from the rest of the album.

No lyrics are included with the record, which is irritating because Johnson won't be winning elocution competitions any time soon. A chorus is audible and distinguishable here and there, but I like to know what I am listening to.

Workers aren't saving rock and roll, but they infuse a venerable genre with new energy. Anyone with a soft spot for The Cure's "Disintegration," and The Jesus and Mary Chain should give this disk a spin.

-by Neal Taflinger - Intake Weekly

"Beasts unmuzzled"

Workers have always had a gift for creating intoxicating soundscapes, whether onstage or in the studio, but there has often been a disconnect between the band's live performances and its recordings. The subtleties have always survived the transition, but the passion sometimes hasn't.

For the appropriately named "Beasts," the band has taken off the muzzle. Jeremy Johnson, Drew Osborn and Brandon Duggins attack from the opening riff of "Fight," adding a bracing layer of aggression that's most obvious in Johnson's accusatory vocals. By song's end, with Johnson screaming "This town is my home!" over a wall of metal-ready guitars, you're practically vibrating.

Workers' basic approach hasn't changed from past records; the band just seems more energized and sure of itself. The songs are still built on Johnson's guitars, which are run through a bank of processors and used compositionally in a way that instantly recalls The Edge, but they wouldn't have the same power without the pulsing rhythm section of Osborne and Duggins, who uses his bass both melodically and as a blunt instrument. The effect is like a good, hard punch to the ribs.

Again, it all comes down to aggression, and "Beasts" packs a full album's worth into a 30-minute EP that might leave a couple of bruises.

Jeffrey Lee Puckett is SCENE's pop music editor - Louisville Courier Journal

"Music: Workers, Atmospheric droning guitars evoke early U2, The Cure"

Christian Czerwinski | NOISE
Jeremy Johnson isn't afraid of not fitting in. "It's about writing for your own satisfaction. I'm not going to try to write for anyone else anymore," said the 25-year-old frontman of Workers from his home in Louisville, Ky. That's no big surprise given the band's substantial post-
rock sound. The band's latest album Sound From The Ground (which
you can get if you're traveling through Japan, Australia or the U.K. but you can't buy here until October) is a musical composite of sometimes brooding, sharp moments -- complete with atmospheric guitar, coy vocals and pensive rhythms -- that coalesce into ambient Cure-like flurries.
Johnson and Andrew Osborn are the band's two original members and its dual creative engines. They share a
similar philosophy: create an evocative and unconstrained sound that channels early U2, Tears for
Fears and, of course, The Cure. And Johnson's voice -- winsome and yearning -- sings stories of lost friends and other bits of his life.
"We didn't start the band looking for a specific sound. What we ended up doing was taking what came out
naturally. We're playing the music now that we'd want to listen to," Johnson said. "It's really liberating."
Music has been a big part of Johnson's life, but always on his terms. In college, he had more
fun figuring it out than actually studying it. At the risk of sounding cheesy, he didn't want to say
it was more spiritual, but instead called music an "emotional science" rather than a written one.
"It's something that I want to make a career out of, but not at the expense of my enjoyment,"
he said.
The band formed in 2001 and has since released an album and two EPs. In 2005, they playedat the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Johnson said the band finally played the music it wanted to after starting over in December 2004 with new bassist Kevin Ratterman (ex-Elliott). The current three-piece line-up attacks with a more melodic and aggressive sound than the bands Johnson grew up listening to, like Nirvana and Mötley Crüe. He said what Workers plays is just a logical progression.
What hasn't changed is the atmospheric spirit that imbues the music - not in a drug-induced way, but more a neo-Goth/New Wave sense. The tracks "Surrounded" and "Why Do I Wait," have a true early '80s feel. "I play these really huge atmospheric droning guitar lines. The sound is full. We want to sound
like a bigger band, so we have to do stuff that fills out the sound more. It's a focus thing," Johnson said.
"It went from being a sum of different parts and meandering technical drum lines, and we
ended up switching to a meat-and-potatoes-rhythm sound. We've got less parts in our songs now, but we just let them develop as much as they can. I think of it as trimming the fat."
Always the thinker, Johnson takes a decidedly different approach to his lyrics. The record includes a story about a friend who committed suicide. He said it's about looking at your options and making a choice of it you want to deal with something or run away. But you won't find the lyrics in the liner notes. "I would much rather have people decipher lyrics on their own and interpret it on their own. I think it becomes more interactive when people figure it out for themselves," he said.
- Lansing Noise


Your Black Star / Drum:kan split CD (2004)
Sound From The Ground (2005 in Japan, Australia and UK; 2006 in USA)
Beasts (2007)
Workers (2009)



Workers are a long stretch of highway on a hot summer night. They are a blanket of pitch-black sky pocked with thousands of points of light. They are your headlights searching the road ahead, a mystery unfolding as you roll forth into the darkness. They are a sense of calm as you roll off into the void, more curious than frightened.

The Louisville, Ky., trio makes lush, atmospheric music that washes over you, pounding your chest and overwhelming your senses with searing guitars, pulsing bass and crackling drums. The lyrics are dark and tangled, the melodies cresting and crashing. You draw comparisons to everything from Jesus and Mary Chain to The Secret Machines before determining that Workers' music is an experience unto itself.

Workers were formed in 2001 under the name Your Black Star by singer/guitarist Jeremy Johnson and drummer Andrew Osborn, two kindred spirits bonded by their love of bombastic, fearless rock ’n’ roll. Like a lot of bands, the birthing process proved difficult; bassists came and went before a true fellow traveler was discovered in Brandon Duggins.

They have taken a decidedly unorthodox approach to building a fan base. Rather than fall into the trap that some bands fall into, Workers resisted the temptation of becoming a bunch of local heroes who only play before adoring friends and neighbors. Rather, they threw themselves on the crucible that is the never-ending tour, taking the show on the road to test themselves before unfamiliar audiences.

A friendship with the Japanese band Drum:Kan prompted Workers to venture to Japan, where they quickly developed an unlikely connection with rock-starved fans. Tours of Australia and New Zealand provoked a similar reaction, as well as positive international press, and numerous spins on the influential BBC. Overseas buzz led to deals with labels in Japan, England and Australia, as well as a UK tour with indie darlings the New Pornographers, but the band was still a bit of a mystery back home. Seeing this as less a problem than an opportunity, Johnson, Osborn and Duggins spent the better part of the past three years rampaging through the states, playing in the esteemed South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin and the CMJ Festival in New York as well as sharing the stage with Sleater-Kinney, The Hold Steady and Catfish Haven. “Sound from the Ground,” the band’s American debut, won critical acclaim stateside, tagging Workers with the weighty “next big thing” label. Expectations can stifle a band, but the trio confronted them head on.

In fact, confrontation was the key word with the mid-2007 release of the band’s raw and aggressive EP "Beasts." For "Beasts," the band again toured the US, this time with the likes of Pelican, Clouds, Earth and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They received rave reviews and found a personal niche, but more importantly, "Beasts" marked Workers’ first collaboration with producer Erik Wofford, known for his work with the Black Angels, Voxtrot, and Snowden. If the band found a direction within the harsh extremes of "Beasts," they found a true navigator in Wofford, prompting the band to start work on a follow up in late 2007.

The result is the self-titled LP “Workers”, to be released February 6, 2009. On “Workers” the band no longer prompts the obvious comparisons to influences and peers of their previous efforts. Gone is the former preoccupation with sadness, death and depression. The indiscriminate anger of "Beasts" has been replaced with an inspired fire from within. Singer and lyricist Johnson still flirts with darkness, but “Workers” is an album about life. Confident and headstrong, the band veers into more uplifting realms with focused song-writing, powerful arrangements, and a greater sonic palette. An increased appetite for experimentation and atmosphere, coupled with Wofford’s innate ability to capture more than just wave forms in a room creates a rich tapestry of sounds, textures and grooves. “Workers” is both a celebration and an oral history a life in America, but more importantly it is the sound of an American band who has found its true voice. Prefix Magazine once predicted that Workers “may just be the band to spark American indie-rock’s true resurgence.” “Workers” may just be the album to prove it.

--Thomas Nord & William Davis