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March 21, 2019

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Ghost Town Parade

With echoes of early rock-n-roll, yet still standing firmly rooted in alt-county, The Famous reignite their fiery brand of post-punk Americana with Ghost Town Parade, the band’s third album on Leading Brand Records. The San Francisco band organized over a decade ago around the belief in honoring the Bakersfield classic country sound while delivering energetic live shows geared to rock and punk venues. What has emerged in their latest release is a 13-song road map through American music with a sharp lyrical edge and a vast array of instrumentation. The band’s founders Victor Barclay (lead guitar) and Laurence Scott (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) along with Chris Fruhauf (drums) and G.D. Hensley (bass) open Ghost Town Parade with “Machines,” an unpredictable ‘50-era rock influenced single evoking the sounds of both Buddy Holly and Merle Haggard. Dixieland jazz morphing into a rockabilly rave-up follows with “Another Time,” featuring guest musicians Charlie Wilson and Dan Gordon trading parts on trombone amongst the sounds other contributors. Barclay co-produced the album with Wilson who helped record various tracks at Sonic Zen Records studio in Berkeley. The Psychobilly-driven “California Night,” beckoning fans of The Misfits and Tiger Army, leads way to a take on true classic country in “I Tried My Best (But My Best Wouldn’t Do),” with master of the pedal steel Joe Goldmark joining the band for yet another album. Mixed by Oz Fritz whose recordings with Tom Waits at Prairie Sun Recording Studios reverberate in the sounds of Ghost Town Parade. Eclecticism abounds throughout, which has truly become of staple of the recordings from The Famous. From a blues stomp channeling Brechtian theatre and featuring guest drummer Scott Amendola in “When I Call,” to a front porch string band session with “I’ll Be True,” the complete voyage is also a literal one in a trucker song that the band detailed in a 50-day blog series before the release of the album’s first single. “50 Miles to Firebaugh,” takes the trip on California’s Interstate 5 from Los Angeles heading north while taking detours through the Central Valley. Dave Dudley and Red Simpson get a nod in this uniquely West Coast country tune. The record crescendos with the band’s first cover to be included on an album, a hard driving version on Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” which is featured in the first music video supporting the Ghost Town Parade release. The Famous have always delivered on the ‘alternative’ side of alt-country and Ghost Town Parade is no doubt the band’s most extensive blast through the alternatives yet.

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