Eric Corne

Press

American Songwriter Magazine

On April 20, Eric Corne will release his new studio album, Happy Songs For The Apocalypse. Known for his production work for blues greats like John Mayall and Walter Trout, Corne has also become an integral part of Los Angeles’ country scene, having had a hand in projects from up-and-coming artists like Jaime Wyatt and Sam Morrow via his label Forty Below Records.

Corne pulls together the sum total of his influences on Happy Songs For The Apocalypse, an album that, true to its title, confronts today’s complex social issues with a critic’s eye, careful optimism, and a fusion of rock, blues, country, and folk. To help pull off such an ambitious project, Corne called upon musical friends like guitarist/fiddle player Freddy Koella (k.d. lang), keyboardist Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), and bassist Joe Karnes (Fitz and the Tantrums), to name a handful.

Stream the new album and read a short Q&A with Corne about the project below.

Lyrically, this record tackles a lot of current societal ills. Why was it important to you to write about that?

I’ve always been drawn to songs with socially conscious lyrics, especially ones that tell a story or paint a picture while making strong points. There’s a lot of injustice, corruption and manipulation of the truth in our world today and I think it’s important to speak out in a democracy. ​

Especially with your label Forty Below Records, you’re a big part of the revitalized L.A. country music scene. What has been like for you to watch it rise again?

I was very lucky to meet Dusty Wakeman and become his head engineer at Mad Dog Studios. Dusty is directly ​connected to the rich history of California country music​. He played bass ​with Buck Owens, engineered all of the seminal Dwight records and co-produced Lucinda William​s’ first two records. ​

The vision with Forty Below was to build a bridge between all of these legendary musicians I was working with at Mad Dog and the talented young up-and-coming artists I was also working with. ​So, t​o now​ see artists like Jaime Wyatt and Sam Morrow have national success and in turn​ bring that attention back to the scene is a really exciting thing to be a part of. ​We’ve got something special cook​ing in LA again.

This record draws from a lot of different inspirations, yet still has a cohesiveness overall. What do you feel is the through line for the record?

I wanted the scope of the record to be quite broad and varied in terms of style and instrumentation yet cohesive. So, I used only organic, vintage instruments and equipment and then combined them with more modern sonics in terms of a bigger bass and a crisp, clear mid-range.

 

 

American Blues Scene

Eric Corne is a very busy man. Besides being an award winning engineer, producer, and songwriter, he’s also a talented artist. Corne’s latest release, Happy Songs For The Apocalypse, has a street date of April 20th, via his own Forty Below Recordslabel.

If producing albums for artists including Walter Troutand John Mayall weren’t time consuming enough, Corne pays close attention to what is going on in the world. Then he calls to task the politicians, techno-gurus, and materialists sending us spiraling into another “Gilded Age.” His pulpit resides in a recording studio, and his bible is the Americana songbook.

Taking roots-rock, blues, alt country, and folk, Corne blends the twelve tracks on Happy Songs For The Apocalypse into a sonically engaging offering. His use of instruments from harmonica to pedal-steel to Theremin are captivating. Lyrically, we were given a ride from heartbreak to hope and back.

Corne wrote all twelve songs, as well as providing lead vocals, and playing a fistful of instruments. He produced, engineered, and mixed the album, but it’s far from a one-man show. Corne also gathered a posse of ace sidemen from some of the top acts in the business. Members and former members of My Morning Jacket, the Tantrums, Iron & Wine, and many more added their respective strains.

The opening track, “Mad World,” is an acoustic, folksy tune with a hint of cosmic Beatlesishness. But “Happy Songs?” With lyrics like “If we stumble, if we fall/find our backs against the wall/revolution of the world begins to stall,” we weren’t feeling too happy. Maybe this is the “Apocalypse” part of the title.

Indeed it is. “Ridin’ With Lady Luck,” came on like a blues rocking barnstormer. The unmistakable guitar of Walter Trout trading licks with Corne’s distorted harmonica is the stuff of late night, jam session lore.

“Locomotion” offers an even more optimistic outlook. Even if the livin’ ain’t easy, we can overcome whatever is thrown at us. One thing that really struck us on “Locomotion” was the horn section. The word section, may be a bit misleading as the baritone, alto, and tenor sax, along with trumpet were all provided by David Ralicke (Dengue Fever/Beck). Outstanding.

Cautionary tales abound on Happy Songs For The Apocalypse. “The Gilded Age,” “Pull String to Inflate,” “History Repeats,” and “The Distance You Run,” seem to warn of being imprudent. Furthermore, they do it in myriad styles from folk, to rock n roll, to country, with nary an awkward moment.

Another fascinating aspect of this recording is Corne’s vocal ability. While not impersonating any particular artists, he seems to channel the sound of various vocal styles, depending on the genre of the song. Shades of John Lennon, Tom Waits, Robbie Robertson, Tom Petty and others appear, all in the most remarkable ways.

Closing out the record is “Sing, Little Darlin’ Sing.” A song of hope, in its most simplistic form, Corne tackles this one with just his voice and ukulele. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the music is replaced at the end with the cherubic voice of Lilly Rae Corne giggling and announcing the album’s title.

Like any good tale, even those of modern day trepidation, Happy Songs For The Apocalypse led us down a path of angst and anxiety. Then it left us with the happy ending we all deserve. We’re sure you’ll feel the same way.

Blurt

Having emerged from the same Toronto indie-rock milieu that spawned Broken Social Scene, Feist and various other well-regarded operatives, Eric Corne boasts an ample resume all his own. His production and engineering credits boast such luminaries as Lucinda Williams, Michelle Shocked, Glen Campbell, DeVotchKa and Walter Trout, helping him acquire a list of contacts that's paid off in more than platitudes. So when he opted to step out solo with Kid Dynamite and the Common Men he had access to an illustrious support crew, one that includes such notables as Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward, pedal steel player Greg Leisz, piano player Skip Edwards and bassist Dusty Wakeman. Credit that all-star ensemble with a sound that's both timeless and resilient. Still, it's Corne that deserves the bulk of the kudos, given a set of songs themed to the modern malaise. It's an album borne from desperation and disillusionment, a response to the shifting political landscape that's engulfed the nation and the planet in the seven years since 9/11. The Lennonesque "Evil Men" - a song similar in sound to the ex-Beatle's "Isolation" - and Americana entries like the dusty yet determined "Dead End," "Blackguard" and "Stop & Stare" convey a weary resolve and a frayed world view. Corne's sound has frequently been compared to a cross between Elvis Costello and Neil Young, but his compelling delivery elevates him beyond any tell-tale constraints. That said, he isn't reticent about laying bare his influences; the slinking reggae rhythms of "Nobody Plays Here Anymore" and the sprightly Buddy Holly-like lope of "I Know A Girl" show the debt he owes his forebears. Consequently, Kid Dynamite and the Common Men leaves an enduring impression. As we approach the waning months of 2008, it earns its place as one the year's most dramatic debuts. Standout tracks: "Dead End," "Stop & Stare," "Blackguard" LEE ZIMMERMAN

Gonzo Okanagan

HAPPY SONGS FOR THEAPOCALYPSE Eric Corne (Forty Below) ****

Even though the description of this disc warned me, I wasn’t prepared for the breadth and width of Eric Corne’s new album.  A prolific songwriter and founder of Forty Below Records, Corne’s Happy Songs For The Apocalypse is a sprawling patchwork of Americana, drawing on blues, folk, rock & roll and alt country.  It sounds just like I hoped it would.

Emotionally, Happy Songs runs the emotional gamut, from heartache to optimism .  Instrumentally, no stone is left unturned as they make use of horns, violins, tack piano, pedal steel, dulcimer, accordion, harmonica and theremin, and that’s besides the usual bass, drums and guitars.  The rock & roll stuff here has a swaggering attitude that suits the songs well, rough around the edges Friday night barroom stuff, and in the quieter numbers (like Short Wave Preachers) I was reminded more than once of Blue Rodeo.

Happy Songs For The Apocalypse sure starts off with a purpose in the song Mad World, no relation to Tom Cochrane. “If we stumble, if we fall/ find our backs against the wall/ revolution of the world begins to stall”.  We all like to believe that there is something of a hero in all of us, but we have to stand up and be counted.  Despite being a cranky old man myself, and some of the things I’ve said about millennials too, I am proud and cautiously optimistic of the stand that generation is taking against the NRA.

But this is music not politics, and the tracks on Happy Songs About The Apocalypse are good company that give you plenty to think about.  Lots of special guests on this record, their time well spent, and production by Eric Corne is perfect.  Yeah- good stuff.

Stereo Embers

Eric Corne Kid Dynamite And The Common Man Forty Below Armed with the lippy snarl and literate, lyrical smarts of Joe Jackson, Eric Corne's solo debut is an exhilarating listen. The first solo album from the leader of space pop heroes Mysterio, Kid Dynamite And The Common Man covers some vast musical terrain: "Stop & Stare" is a slow, rootsy burn; "Nobody Plays Here Anymore" brings to mind Graham Parker's successful forays into reggae and "Dead End" and "I Know A Girl" come across as sung by a young, tough Marshall Crenshaw. Flanked by a guest list that includes legendary pedal steel player Greg Leisz, percussionist Danny Frankel (k.d. Lang), drummer Richie Hayward (Little Feat, Eric Clapton), upright bass expert Johnny Bazz (The Blasters), guitarist Eamon Ryland (Happy Mondays) and Nick Urata of DeVotchKa, Corne's compositions are rich and textured, flecked with marimbas, reed organs, accordions, ukulele and upright bass. Steeped in Americana, new wave and the blues, Kid Dynamite is a ruminative album of tremendous sensitivity, subtly weaving together these ten numbers to reveal a discomfort and unease about the current state of the world. Such as it is. That being said, "Common Man" is a protest song that suggests Peter Case's early work; the Band-influenced "Blackguard" confronts personal and geographical loneliness, while the apocalyptic "Evil Men" urges, "Gather round my plastic men/Prepare yourselves we're near the end." Tuneful, melodic and smart, Kid Dynamite And The Common Man is a stunning musical polemic that uses a light touch to make heavy points.

The Winnipeg Sun

Sun Rating: 4 out of 5 There isn't much common about former Winnipeg kid Corne's life. Or his impressive debut CD. Thanks to his job as a staff producer/engineer at an L.A. studio, the singer-songwriter's co-stars include members of Little Feat and Lucinda Williams' band. More importantly, it also features a slate of gorgeously ramshackle roots slowburners topped with Corne's pinched, twangy drawl.

Rock and Reprise

Eric Corne may not be Kid Dynamite, but he sure as hell sounds like he is. He approached me a few months ago about listening to his album and I almost turned him down. I might have if I'd realized that Kid Dynamite & The Common Man had been released in 2008. I mean, I'm having trouble keeping up with the new releases (the real truth is, I'm not, there are that many) and don't relish stepping into the past unless there's a damn good reason. Well, Corne handed me a damn good reason.

What the hell happened in 2008 that made an album this good disappear? I hear really good albums which are and have been overlooked all the time, but Kid Dynamite is a step above. A big step. Not only are the songs solid (and I mean solid), the musicianship is as good as I've heard recently (and it should be, considering the names playing on the session). Add topnotch production and this should have been a hit--- even in a world in which the closest you can come is Lady Gaga or that Bieber kid.

I can give you ten reasons you should buy this album--- each an Eric Corne original. You want my advice, start with Kid Dynamite/Rancho Mirage, a two-parter which rocks and then, well, rocks. Kid Dynamite has just enough of that Black Crowes/Stones sound to please the palate and when the band slips into the instrumental Rancho Mirage, it's a time funnel of sound--- a modern version of Neil Young & Crazy Horse during the Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere era. I have yet to hear it enough to see if it will stand the test of time, but it put a barbed hook into me that I can't shake. I'm not sure if it is the Crazy Horse guitar sound which I love and hear all too little or if it is because it is the perfect tail on the perfect dog, but I dig it.

People are always saying that there isn't anything new in music anymore and I hear that, but only to a degree. Every time something really new comes along, those people would more than likely hate it anyway. No, Corne doesn't break new ground, but he doesn't break new ground in a way that impresses the hell out of me. The odd semi-Buddy Holly/fifties sounding I Know a Girl, for instance, with its over the top pedal steel and perfecto fifties style background vocals. The reggae-rooted Nobody Plays Here Anymore, the guitar deeply reverbed and echoed to just the right degree.

I suppose I could go on, but there is no substitute for hearing it. Corne has put the entire album on Bandcamp for your listening pleasure and you can stream all of the tracks at your leisure. If you prefer, try his MySpace page or just log on to his very own web page. Bandcamp allows digital downloads in a variety of formats, but if you prefer physical product, just head to CD Baby. See? I'm making it easy for you.

Look. I'm doing you a favor here. Do yourself a favor and check it out. What can you lose? A few minutes of your time? You guys spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter as it is. You say you like music? Put your ears where your mouth is. Eric Corne deserves that much. So do you.

 

Americana Roots

Eric Corne Kid Dynamite and the Common Man One of the most interesting cds I've received lately is Eric Corne's new cd Kid Dynamite and the Common Man. This is a very diverse collection, from the Dali-esque cd artwork to the music within. Eric has been one busy guy, with his hands in many different projects, as musician, engineer, producer and even teacher (at the Musicians Institute in L.A. where he is located). His engineering and producing credits include Lucinda Williams, Glen Campbell and Walter Trout. The native of Canada was lured to L.A. in 2004 to work at Mad Dog Studios, run by Dusty Wakeman. The new cd is a very diverse collection of tunes; obviously Eric has been influenced by a wide range of artists. The opening cut, Kid Dynamite/Rancho Mirage starts off will all the rock energy of Neil Young's electric work, while the instrumental second section reeks of vintage Pink Floyd. One of the older tunes on the disc and one of my favorites is Not Familiar, which dates back to Eric's days with his "Space-pop" band Mysterio. You may swear you're listening to The Clash! John Lennon's solo work comes to mind while listening to the lively tune Evil Men. Don McLean's Everyday seems like it must have influenced the bouncy, whimsical I Know A Girl. He adds a reggae beat to the cd with the tune Nobody Plays Here Anymore. No doubt this is a talented dude. He also adds some nice Americana tunes with the songs Dead End and Stop And Stare. I don't think there is any music lover who wouldn't find something satisfying on this collection; whether it be the musicianship from the star-studded collection of musicians who lend a hand on the disc to the expected fine production and sound, and finally to the music itself!

Fire Note

As a producer and engineer, Eric Corne (Glen Campbell, Walter Trout, Lucinda Williams, DeVotchKa) steps in front of the mic for his solo record Kid Dynamite & The Common Man. He enlisted over 16 musicians to help out that have experience working with the likes of Clapton, Waits, Marley, Wilco, and Dylan, just to name a few, so clearly the record is full of talent and Corne's songwriting ability is up to the task. Listing influences like Neil Young, Lou Reed, Costello and Joe Strummer you can get a sense of what Kid Dynamite sounds like, which is absolutely a great description. This is a piece of work Corne can be proud of and it is a nice mix of guitar indie rock with a bit of country flare that just takes one listen to make you return for more!