Grant-Lee Phillips is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist famed for leading the group Grant Lee Buffalo in the 1990s, and later launching a solo career.
After spending his formative years in Stockton, California, Grant-Lee Phillips headed to Los Angeles to study film. Finding himself beneath the spell cast by local bands like the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate, Phillips soon partnered with Stockton acquaintance Jeff Clark to form Shiva Burlesque. The band dissolved after two critically acclaimed records, and Phillips began writing and demoing under the Grant Lee Buffalo alias. Following several solo performances, he invited former bandmates Joey Peters and Paul Kimble to join him, and the trio signed to the Warner Bros subsidiary Slash Records in 1992.
Phillips’ golden, honey-soaked voice had largely gone to waste in Shiva Burlesque, but the new band enabled him to step out as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Grant Lee Buffalo went on to release four very different LPs, although a cult following, several successful tours, and across-the-board critical acclaim (Phillips was voted Rolling Stone’s Male Vocalist of the Year following the second LP) didn’t translate into strong sales. Frustrated with his label’s dead-on-arrival promotion, Phillips asked for his band to be released from their contract, and he was obliged. (It was erroneously reported that he had been dropped.) Phillips dissolved his band, anxious to forge a new path.
In October of 1999, he headed to Jon Brion’s studio and recorded a handful of new songs, played exclusively by himself. Dubbed Ladies’ Love Oracle, the album was self-released the following year online; Phillips also sold it during his numerous appearances at Largo in Hollywood. After landing a new contract with Zoe/Rounder – and making the first of many appearances on the popular comedy-drama Gilmore Girls, as a roaming town troubadour – he issued the excellent Mobilize in 2001. The next year, Rounder reissued Ladies’ Love Oracle in time for Phillips’ joint tour with Kristin Hersh and Joe Doe. Virginia Creeper followed in 2004, marking the first time that Phillips had consciously eschewed all electric guitars in favour of a stripped-down, folksy sound. A covers album, Nineteeneighties, appeared in 2006, and Strangelet arrived one year later. For his next effort, Phillips assembled a band that featured Jay Bellerose, Paul Bryan, and Jamie Edwards, all of whom spent five days recording 2009’s Little Moon.
In October 2012, Phillips, who is descended from the Creek and Cherokee Native American tribes, released the album Walking in the Green Corn, featuring several songs informed by his indigenous heritage. In 2013, Phillips and his family left California to settle in Tennessee. Teaming with a handful of Nashville musicians, he recorded The Narrows, released on March 18, 2016 by Yep Roc Records.
Credit Andy Kellman, Rovi – 02.11.2017
Josh Rouse is an American folk/roots pop singer-songwriter. Although born in Nebraska, Rouse moved to various cities throughout his childhood and subsequent musical career, driven at first by his father’s military career and later by his desire to take inspiration from different environments. He paid tribute to his birthplace on his 1998 debut, Dressed Up Like Nebraska, and explored the influence of his adopted home state, Tennessee, with 2005’s Nashville. Rouse later settled in Spain and explored the country’s musical traditions, although his songwriting continued to exhibit the summery, rootsy appeal of his earlier work.
As a child, Rouse spent time in California, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Georgia, and Arizona. Music was one of the few constants in a life filled with new towns, new schools, and new friends, and he took comfort in bands like the Smiths and the Cure. After receiving several guitar lessons from his uncle, Rouse began writing songs as an 18-year-old and molded himself into a skilled composer, eventually scoring a contract with the Rykodisc subsidiary Slow River. His debut album, Dressed Up Like Nebraska, was released in 1998 to widespread critical acclaim. He pulled up stakes shortly thereafter and resettled in Nashville, where he was befriended by Kurt Wagner, frontman of the chamber country group Lambchop. The two began writing together and issued a collaborative EP, Chester, in the fall of 1999.
Rouse’s second solo record, Home, appeared the following spring and was followed by Under Cold Blue Stars in 2002. He then launched a partnership with producer Brad Jones – known for his work with pop artists like Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, and Jill Sobule – and the resulting album, 1972, was both an homage to the soft rock sounds of Rouse’s youth and a deepening of his sound. Before the release of his next album, however, Rouse’s marriage ended and he moved from Nashville to Spain. Released in 2005, Nashville served as a farewell to both the city and his marriage; it was also his most fully realised record to date, featuring Brad Jones’ lush production and Rouse’s poignant, nostalgic lyrics.
Once in Spain, Rouse settled in the small seaside town of Puerto de Santa Maria and began writing songs shaped by his new surroundings. Jones eventually flew into town, and the two captured a relaxed and intimate vibe on 2006’s Subtitulo. After the release of two EPs (Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2 and She’s Spanish, I’m American, the latter of which was recorded with Rouse’s girlfriend, artist Paz Suay), Rouse chose to handle his own production for 2007’s Country Mouse City House. He also married Suay, became a father, and relocated to Valencia’s Mediterranean coast.
Rouse’s eighth studio album, El Turista, was released in 2010, a full five years after his relocation to Spain. Living abroad for half a decade had left an indelible mark on the songwriter, who sang several of the album’s tracks in Spanish. Ironically, the bulk of El Turista was recorded in Nashville with Brad Jones, a move that only strengthened the globe-trotting appeal of Rouse’s songwriting. For the 2011 release Josh Rouse & the Long Vacations, the singer/songwriter drew from the AM radio sounds he grew up with, as well as present-day influences from his adopted home of Spain. His next album, 2013’s The Happiness Waltz, jettisoned all the Spanish influences and returned to the sound of his early-2000s albums. After tumbling into depression and questioning many of his life choices, Rouse went into therapy, and his experiences informed his 2015 release The Embers of Time, which Rouse described with tongue in cheek as “my surreal ex-pat therapy record.”
Credit Spotify 25.10.2017 ~ Andrew Leahey