LR Baggs Presents Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill SimpsonMixing outlaw country influences with existential musings on love, drugs and spirituality, Kentucky-born Sturgill Simpson‘s second solo album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music pulls off this unlikely combination without sounding pretentious, schmaltzy, or dangerous” (Pitchfork). Ironically, the result is a proudly rebellious record about refusing the record industry’s attempts to make Simpson the new face of so-called outlaw country.

Fans looking for a visual component to Sturgill Simpson ‘s Sound & Fury don’t have to look far. The increasingly psychedelic troubadour released a companion anime with soundtracked by the album on Netflix. As of right now, however, people who want to see Simpson on stage have to be lucky enough to grab a ticket to one of his super-intimate club shows.

Recorded primarily at Nashville’s The Butcher Shoppe, Simpson was joined in the studio by Grammy Award-winning engineer David Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine, ‘śCowboy’ť Jack Clement) and assistant engineer Sean Sullivan. Along with members of his touring band, the album features Dave Roe on bass, Dan Dugmore on steel guitar, Dougie Wilkinson on bagpipes, Garo Yellin and Arthur Cook on cello, Jonathan Dinklage and Whitney LaGrange on violin and special guests The Dap-Kings.

It’s hard to think of another recent artist who, at the peak of his success, jerked so sharply away from the decisions that had led him to that point. But while Simpson’s star was rising, he was chafing. Nashville wanted him to be a poster boy for outlaw country, a tag he rejected. (In 2017, he busked and wryly answered fan questions outside the Country Music Association Awards ceremony, streaming the escapade on Facebook Live.) The pressures of the road began to conflict with the demands of fatherhood. He grew weary of the team of people he’d hired to protect his interests.

It wasn’t just your average Grand Ole Opry presentation Tuesday night (5-28). When you saw country traditionalist Kelsey Waldon was scheduled to perform in the same segment as John Prine, and that Sturgill Simpson was given his own extended set to close out the show, you had a sense something special was in the air.

The 144-page book will act as a prequel to the animated Sound & Fury project, which debuted on Netflix to accompany the album’s release, and tell the origin of a vigilante whose search for justice might make an already violent, post-apocalyptic dystopia just that little bit more bloody.

Formerly the leader of Sunday Valley, an energetic roots outfit that made some waves in the early years of the new millennium, Sturgill Simpson gained greater renown as a solo artist, thanks in large part to his muscular 2013 solo debut High Top Mountain. An outlaw country record in form and feel – its debt to Waylon Jennings clear and unashamed – High Top Mountain became a word-of-mouth hit in 2013, thereby establishing Simpson’s country credentials and opening the door to a wider future.

The immediacy of Simpson’s musical rage makes the initial impact, but the songs themselves aren’t tossed off as a sneering detour. The sequencing matters, letting the album be constantly surprising yet coherent. Make Art Not Friends” owes something to the Cars, but Best Clockmaker on Mars” heads back to the rural South. The music keeps a steady stomp, but Sturgill pauses his rush. Rather than channeling Bowie, as the title might suggest, he uses the track to stay grounded, to take a look around and understand his surroundings. The whole album blows by in a furor, but in the middle of the dust flying up, Simpson takes stock.

Whereas Simpson’s prior albums were emphatically ruminative, this one is about bodily abandon. His vocals, snarling and aggrieved, are buried under layers of processing. They’re a secondary concern to the saltiness of his guitar playing, the shuddering synths approximating a catastrophic weather event, the multiple layers of percussion (including some looped from several years ago, when Simpson flew out the legendary soul drummer James Gadson to Nashville to record some preliminary tracks).


And if Simpson is as discomfited by success and critical praise as Mercury in Retrograde suggests – journalists and people asking what his songs mean seem to rank only slightly higher in his estimation than hypocrites building brands – then unfortunately, he’s going to have to suck it up for a little while longer. Sing Along , like the rest of Sound & Fury, is awesome: powerful, fierce, irresistible.

It is also not a country album. It’s high-viscosity Southern rock à la ZZ Top, with a potent rhythmic undertow. A sleazy synth-rock dance record,” he said, citing John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers’ album with Eric Clapton, and also the Bee Gees, Cheap Trick, T. Rex and La Roux as touchstones.

The LP’s cover version of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” attracted new rock fans to his music, and he shocked the world when “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” won the 2018 Grammy for Best Country Album.

Metamodern was a swift kick to some of country’s more staid tropes, falling more in line with the Jason Isbells of the world rather than more traditional styles of country-rock. The album was also a thorough break from the country classicism of High Top Mountain, but still retained Simpson’s signature snarl and intuitive approach of blending traditional roots ideas with forward-thinking sounds and themes.

And now for something completely different. While not quite as radical as Lou Reed unleashing the dissonant, experimental, guitar assault of 1975’s Metal Machine Music on an unsuspecting public, Sturgill Simpson takes an equally drastic and potentially fan alienating musical turn with the startling Sound & Fury. If his previous Grammy winning 2016 A Sailor’s Guide To Earth pushed boundaries with its lush orchestrations, jazzy horns and Nirvana cover, this one demolishes and confounds any audience expectations. Certainly Simpson’s 2019 song, the honky-tonking title track to Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die flick, didn’t prepare anyone for this.

Sturgill Simpson is back with a new album, Sound & Fury , along with an anime film of the same name. Stream the album below via Apple Music and Spotify, and watch the film on Netflix.

An outlaw country record in form and feel – its debt to Waylon Jennings clear and unashamed – High Top Mountain became a word-of-mouth hit in 2013, thereby establishing Simpson’s country credentials and opening the door to a wider future.

Simpson, his bandmates – Bobby Emmett, Chuck Bartels and Miles Miller – and John Hill are all producers on Sound & Fury. The recorded the project at Waterford, Mich.’s McGuire Motor Inn.

Sturgill once tweeted it as his favourite review of all time. It really was awesome. And would be worth reading again in light of Sound & Fury. Sturgill Simpson, whose bracing new album Sound & Fury” is accompanied by an anime film, performs on Sept. 29 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Leanne Butkovic: First off, thank you for confirming for me, a person who knows very little about Sturgill Simpson outside of “country man” and all those name drops in The Dead Don’t Die , that this album builds on his already atypical discography. When I first watched that teaser, I thought, “that’s a lot of synth for a country record!” but turns out, he’s kind of funky already! Anyway, I was also skeptical that this could work, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Sound & Fury overall and how well it captured the spirit of action anime with its huge, violent setpieces where the hero narrowly escapes death by the skin of their teeth. The big bads remind me of pirate bosses from one of the million episodes of One Piece; the evil purple dust evokes Cowboy Bebop’s nefarious Red Eye concoction; it even works in a cute animal! Classic anime shit.

Just like his records, Simpson the man seems both prickly and challenging. He doesn’t take direction well and won’t play by the Music City rules. Some of us can relate. If that sounds like you, there are a couple of older records you’ll want to hear and a Netflix movie we all need to see when it goes online in September.

I’ve been watching the film every day, sometimes multiple times in one day. I’ve been listening to the album on my way to and from work. I’m telling everyone I know to watch it. I’m totally obsessed.

Whether he likes it or not, Sturgill Simpson has a brand, and it entails being the eternal contrarian who not only crosses genre lines with impunity, but also brazenly upends the corporatized conformity that shoves artists into tightly regimented audience niches. His fourth album, Sound And Fury — the first since 2016’s Grammy-feted A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — will be broadly classified as country because that’s how Simpson himself is classified. And that’s based almost entirely on the traditionalist bent of his 2013 debut, High Top Mountain, and the fact that his breakout second LP, 2014’s psychedelic exploration Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, has the c-word right in the title.

Sailor’s Guide” was an intimate song cycle about fatherhood that became one of the most acclaimed country — or country-adjacent — albums in recent memory. Sound & Fury” is an album full of songs fired in the caldron of that new success: resentful, agonized, seething.

It’s a quirky concept, for sure, but it’s not as though Simpson has ever played by the rules. His mainstream arrival, the 2014 single Turtles All the Way Down,” hardly stuck with typical country and Americana themes. The award-winning album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, meanwhile, dropped in 2016 and inched the singer-songwriter closer to a heavy, psychedelic rock sound.

Sound & Fury The Graphic Novel will mark Simpson’s first comic book project and Aaron’s first work for independent publisher Z2; in recent years, Aaron’s focus has been primarily his work for Marvel Entertainment, with the Thor and Avengers titles making up his current output. In 2015, as the writer of the first issue of Marvel’s relaunched Star Wars title, he was responsible for Marvel’s best-selling comic book in over 20 years.

Produced by Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth was written—beginning to end—as a letter to his first child, who arrived during the summer of 2014. The new Sturgill-produced album will be his first since the 2016 release of A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which won a Grammy for Best Country Album.

A beneficiary of the GRAMMY Effect, Simpson saw a 346 percent increase in streaming on Spotify following his win for Best Country Album and performance at the 59th GRAMMY Awards.

Produced by Simpson, ‘SOUND & FURY,’ the album, was recorded primarily at the McGuire Motor Inn in Waterford, Michigan, with his bandmates Bobby Emmett, Chuck Bartels, Miles Miller, who all serve as co-producers along with GRAMMY nominee John Hill (Cage The Elephant, Man, Bleachers).


Sound & Fury marks Simpson’s first new music since 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, which won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album” along with a nomination for Album of the Year.” Produced by John Hill, the forthcoming 10-track LP was recorded at a Motor Inn northwest of Detroit with bandmates Bobby Emmett, Chuck Bartels, and Miles Miller.

Nonetheless, Sailor’s Guide won a Grammy for best country album, and scored a surprise nomination for album of the year – while also seeing Simpson embraced by the Americana community, where he received album of the year at the 2017 Americana Music Honors & Awards. Following that album with a loose-concept rock record accompanying a Netflix anime film is an odd choice on paper, but with Sound & Fury, Nashville’s most unpredictable star turns the idea into another stunning LP.


The six-date run kicks off on Sept. 29 in West Hollywood, Calif., making additional stops in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., and more. The tour comes on the heels of Sturgill’s upcoming album, Sound & Fury, which is set to drop on Sept. 27. The new Sturgill-produced album will be his first since the 2016 release of A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which won a Grammy for Best Country Album.

Two ways after the new album arrives, Simpson will play relatively small venues between Los Angeles and New York. Whether this is an intentional statement of purpose or not, spots like The Black Cat in Washington, DC are associated with punk rock, not country music or Americana.

Apparently recorded while films by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa played silently in the studio, the album is the soundtrack to its own film, an anime loosely based on Kurosawa’s samurai epic Yojimbo. Without wishing to cause despair to whoever ponied up the film’s $1.2m, Sound & Fury is better heard stripped of its visual accompaniment. Without it, the album’s structure becomes thrillingly inexplicable and unpredictable: its songs frequently don’t end, or at least reach any kind of identifiable conclusion. They just crash into the next track as if someone’s frantically switching channels on a TV, or suddenly fade out, replaced by bursts of feedback and electronic noise or burbling synthesiser arpeggios.

Sturgill Simpson is a Grammy-nominated songwriter, musician, producer and performer. His album, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and was written—beginning to end—as a letter to his first child, who arrived during the summer of 2014. Widely praised by critics, his music has received acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR and many others. Simpson is releasing a new album and film, Sound & Fury, which comes out at the end of September 2019.

Simpson reunited with High Top Mountain producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Lindi Ortega, Jamey Johnson) for Metamodern Sounds in Country Music; the pair has formed a strong friendship in addition to a solid in-‐studio partnership built on complete trust and the willingness to engage in creative musical experimentation. Working with a budget of only $4,000, Simpson and his road band – bassist Kevin Black, guitarist Laur Joamets, and drummer Miles Miller -‐-‐ cut the entire record live to tape in four rare consecutive days off in the middle of a relentless tour schedule; nearly all of the songs were completed in two takes or fewer during these spur of the moment sessions. The result is an album that crackles with the raw energy of a concert.

He has no immediate plan to record new music, because his record deal was for two albums and further negotiations haven’t begun. How much are they willing to pay to hang my little credibility trophy on their wall?” he said, laughing but not exactly joking.

Ironically, the result is a proudly rebellious record about refusing the record industry’s attempts to make Simpson the new face of so-called outlaw country.

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth In March of 2016, he released “Brace for Impact (Live a Little),” as the first single from the full-length A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. The self-produced album was released in April and featured a guest appearance from the Dap-Kings. It earned rave reviews plus a surprise nomination for Grammy’s Album of the Year.

Recorded primarily at Nashville’s The Butcher Shoppe, Simpson was joined in the studio by Grammy Award-winning engineer David Ferguson (Johnny Cash, John Prine, ‘śCowboy’ť Jack Clement) and assistant engineer Sean Sullivan. Along with members of his touring band, the album features Dave Roe on bass, Dan Dugmore on steel guitar, Dougie Wilkinson on bagpipes, Garo Yellin and Arthur Cook on cello, Jonathan Dinklage and Whitney LaGrange on violin and special guests The Dap-Kings.

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