Cordovas share their 10 favorite albums of 2018
Rooted in triple-stacked harmonies, southern storytelling and cosmic country twang, Cordovas create their own version of American roots-rock with "That Santa Fe Channel", out on ATO Records and produced by Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale. It's a timely - and timeless - version of a sound that's existed for 50 years, ever since pioneers like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band blurred the lines between Rock, Country, and amplified Folk music.
After their sold-out live debut in Berlin this year at the first ever "Songpickr Americana Night" at Privatclub, the band will return to Berlin for a show at Roadrunners Paradise on 9th April 2019 (click here for the Facebook event page) - presented by Songpickr, Magnificent Music and FluxFM. They are my absolute favorite live band right now!
Cordovas share their 10 favorite albums of 2018 (in no particular order):
The Milk Carton Kids - All The Things I Did and All The Things I Didn’t Do
Jim James - Uniform Clarity
Ty Segall - Freedom’s Goblin
John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness
Beach House - 7
Jim Lauderdale & Roland White - Jim Lauderdale & Roland White
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Years
Neil Young – Roxy: Tonight’s the night (Live)
Jimi Hendrix - Both Sides of the Sky
Buddy Guy - The Blues Is Alive And Well
+ Honorable Mention:
Pearl Charles - Sleepless Dreamer
Cordovas "This town's a drag" (live in the studio):
Cordovas "Truckin' (Grateful Dead cover)" (live in the studio):
Years before Cordovas' formation, Firstman traveled the country as a solo musician. Raised in North Carolina, he moved to Hollywood as a determined 20 year-old, signing a major-label deal with Atlantic Records in 2002. His debut album, War of Women, hit stores one year later. When a dizzying blur of acclaimed shows - including opening dates for Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson - weren't enough to satisfy the expectations of a big-budget record label, Firstman lost his contract and took a new job as music director on "Last Call with Carson Daly". It was good work, with Firstman performing nightly alongside first-rate musicians like Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. Still, the need to create his own music was ever-present. With Cordovas, he's found his ultimate vehicle: a collaborative band with multiple lead singers and a collective approach not only to songwriting, but to existing. Cordovas aren't just bandmates. They're roommates. They're co-conspirators. They're a family.
"The Cordovas are a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week job," clarifies Firstman, who shares the band's roster with drummer Graham Spillman, keyboardist Sevans Henderson, and dueling lead guitarists Lucca Soria and Toby Weaver. "You're always on call to play, to adapt to another man's idea, to pick up a guitar or look at a lyrics sheet. We're eating dinner together, hanging out together, and making art. We don't have rehearsal times, because rehearsal is always. You have to honor the art first, and everything else comes second."
Living in such close quarters - both at home and on the road - has turned Cordovas into a band of brothers. Stop by the band's East Nashville compound and you may find Soria and Weaver picking their way through bluegrass songs inside the barn, while Firstman wraps up a family dinner in the kitchen and Spillman fixes the band's RV outside. There's a communal vibe to the band's existence that bleeds over into their songs, where it's often hard to pinpoint a single person's voice in those thick, swooning harmonies. That Santa Fe Channel is the soundtrack to that communal existence: a collection of songs written together, performed together, and lived together.
Rolling Stone says “caught halfway between Duane Allman's Telecaster twang, the Dead's hazy harmonies and the stoned swoon of California's folk-rock heyday, Cordovas wring new life from older influences, hoisting their freak flag high,” while NPR Music points out that "everyone in the East Nashville band Cordovas is a lead vocalist. The country-rock group is committed to the sound of brotherhood - a few voices sharing a feeling."
"That Santa Fe Channel" was produced by the Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale in East Nashville, not far from the home that doubles as the band's rehearsal space, headquarters, and shared living quarters. There, in a converted barn behind the property's main house, the guys logged countless hours fine-tuning a sound that's already earned praise from outlets like NPR Music and Rolling Stone, who described the group as "the harmony-heavy, guitar-fueled house band at a Big Pink keg party in 1968."
The hungover charm of the album's opener, "This Town's a Drag," which finds Firstman searching for illegal thrills in a dry town. Together, "That Santa Fe Channel's" nine songs paint the picture of a band on the rise, heading for a horizon whose beauty can match their own.
With its western wooziness and siesta-friendly swagger, "That Santa Fe Channel" also nods to the band's other home bases: Southern California, where bassist and band leader Joe Firstman lived for years; and Todos Santos, Mexico, where Cordovas' five members travel every winter to write new songs, sharpen old standbys, and oversee the acclaimed Tropic of Cancer Concert Series. The result is a record that's steeped in - but not limited to - southern sounds and California charm. It's American music without borders.
Cordovas website: http://www.cordovasband.com/