THE SIDESHOW TRAGEDY
AFTER THE FALL - OUT NOW
In the summer of 2018, for the third time in five years, The Sideshow Tragedy’s Nathan Singleton and Jeremy Harrell drove the 1,820 mile sojourn to Kenny Siegal’s Old Soul Studios in Catskill, New York, their truck crammed with the tools of their trade: vintage resonator guitars, pedals and effects boxes, back-bone drum and percussion kits, for starters.
With those first two trips, they were also packing nine original songs primed for tracking and production. But this time around, the duo arrived with just a handful of songs, all in various stages of completion.
Front-man Nathan Singleton said scheduling those sessions was a “deliberate attempt to keep our hand in.” The Sideshow Tragedy’s live show, described by New York Music Daily as “a serious jolt of adrenaline,” was starting to tap their own adrenaline dry. They arrived at Old Soul two exhausted souls, only a few weeks off a European tour. Nathan’s psyche was frayed and his personal life in tatters.
“I was seriously considering quitting,” Nathan says, “but I just called Kenny and told him we had some ideas we wanted to get down and we’ll see where it goes.” The Independent Music Award-winning producer Kenny Siegal (Chris Whitley and Langhorne Slim, among others), was game as The Sideshow Tragedy’s sound and sensibility was always dead center in his wheelhouse.
Their new record After the Fall follows the internationally acclaimed The View From Nowhere (2018), which Laurie Gallardo/KUTX described as: “a gritty, unhinged jolt of blues-rock emerging from the searing wreckage of an apocalyptic frenzy” and Capital (2015) which PopMatters proclaimed was “a strong display of thinkers’ rock and roll.”
Feral ferocity intact, along with some new colors in a funky/pop/rock groove palette that reflects a new mood rising, Singleton says: "This record was born of an emotional hellscape/rollercoaster and my memory of it is foggy in places. We recorded it on and off for a year and a half. During this time, my marriage of 16 years fell apart, ending up in divorce. I lost my mooring; it was an extremely heavy time.”
No question, After the Fall takes a deep dive into a hazy-hellscape-derangement zone. The songs rumble out reeking of swagger, sarcasm, delusions of grandeur and gallows humor, but there’s often somber anguish lurking beneath, as we hear in Singleton’s lyric in the title track:
“I wore the mask so long it became my face
I ran in circles for years just to get to this place
I wore my best suit, I even combed my hair
I'm walking with a limp these days
I got chemicals to take as needed for pain
To silence the words that just won't go away
I can't go away
Sideshow’s affinity for pop-rock popped up much more to the surface on this record than any other. On “Same Thing”, the over-the-top party-time saxophone solo flies high with the wah-wahs, culminating in a tune that’s simultaneously humorous and reflexive about loss, finding gold in the juxtaposition of dark lyrics with dancey-pop bubbles in the brew.
The masterful Marc Ribot got the spirit, cutting loose on lead guitar on “Hold On It”, while Ben Senerfit’s bari sax bucks up the bass, even as Singleton sneers: “How long can I keep it up?”
An exquisite Brian Wilson-esque choir rides an epic crescendo on “Easy Action” and lays down sunny classic harmonies on “The Lonely One”, tethered to a grim portrait of a hellish eternity:
“My teeth are loose in my head, my gums are bleeding and my breath smells like death, won’t take no medicine no doctor prescribes, but that’s ok cuz you know I ain’t ever gonna die”
In the end, The Sideshow Tragedy’s core sound is always the emotional anchor, the lighthouse and the cure. Singleton and Harrell are the resonator and the beat keeper, breaking through any kind of past or present turmoil or fog.
PRESS FOR THEIR PREVIOUS ALBUM CAPITAL
“a strong display of thinkers’ rock and roll.” Jonathan Frahm, PopMatters
“Capital is addictive and explosive, ranging from gritty southern rock to punky blues… fiery tunes [with] lyrics evoking strong images of the lives of the 99% and the imbalanced scales of justice and wealth… The intensity and urgency of Singleton’s vocals are in yin-yang harmony to Jeremy Harrell’s energized joy.” Lisa Knight, No Depression
“Spare, haunting and hypnotic tunes that serve up a sinister portrait of modern Western culture…eloquent…there’s a sense of urgency and intrigue that runs through the entire album, making it difficult to stop listening. Put this record on, and prepare for catharsis.” – Allie Eisler, Texas Music Magazine
“Drummer Jeremy Harrell pounds out a beat both Neanderthal-like and full of finesse. Nathan Singleton, meanwhile, owns what seems like 50 National Reso-Phonic guitars, and he’s determined to play every one of them at every show as he stomps his bootheels into next week. Concentrating on songs from third LP Capital, released last spring, the duo’s stick man pushes his partner’s strings into howl mode as he intones poetically political broadsides atop furious garage-blues. This is a thinking man’s rumpshake.” Tim Stegall/Austin Chronicle
“The Sideshow Tragedy Bring Their Visionary Apocalyptic Blues to the Rockwood Music Hall May 22 at 11:00 pm. This usually sedate space is in for a serious jolt of adrenaline, tempered slightly by the fact that the new album is somewhat more spare and haunting than the band’s previous, often unhinged gutter blues attack. It’s a concept album, a sinister, brilliantly metaphorical portrait of a nation gone off the rails in an orgy of greed and mass desperation….Powerful…Best album of the year? One of the top handful, no question.” Delarue, New York Music Daily
“Sideshow Tragedy [‘s] brand of garage-blues is about as close to slash-and-burn primitive as it gets, with all knobs turned to 11. Their fifth album, Capital, finds Singleton stretching his writing chops, with the band turning in its most sophisticated disc to date.” William Michael Smith, Houston Press
PRESS FOR THEIR PREVIOUS ALBUM THE VIEW FROM NOWHERE
“Dark, lyrical and sepulchral, THE SIDESHOW TRAGEDY probably owes more to the Gun Club, as well as to Chris Whitley and 16 Horsepower, than to classic Southern-rock.. Give us more!” Patrick Dallongeville, Paris-Move
“The sixth record by this duo teaming frontman and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Singleton with drummer and songwriting partner Jeremy Harrell in some ways recalls the bristling, evocative music that a similarly constructed duo, House of Freaks, created in the 1980s. Sideshow Tragedy fits loosely into the modern Austin indie scene, but they might have felt more naturally at home here in an earlier era, as their songs recall the glorious music made by underground rock bands in the pre-Nirvana era. The lyrics are dark, smart and sharp; the music backs that mood up with tones and textures that are consistently on an edge and pushing forward.” Peter Blackstock/Austin 360
“This American duo [The Sideshow Tragedy] has blues rock flowing through their veins…. The combination of Jeremy Harrell’s tight drum work and the smooth guitar playing of Nathan Singleton has an addictive effect on this listener. Extra Plus is Nathan’s voice sounds at least as sexy and decadent as the voice of the late Lou Reed.” Koos Gijsman/ Popmagazine Heaven (The Netherlands)