Seattle musician Rocky Votolato is a soft-spoken, very kind, very hard-working father of two, born in rural Texas and raised in the Pacific Northwest indie scene (where he fronted the acclaimed rock band Waxwing). In his decade-plus life as a songwriter and musician he has sought to articulate something essential about life, writing songs that seem to have been scratched into a boxcar wall by a worn-out and lonesome ghost. His gravelly, sandpaper smooth voice and introspective lyrics mark him as that most rare of punk-rocker-turned-acoustic-troubadours: Votolato writes graceful, understated, human, unpretentious songs, demonstrating that simplicity is still a viable option for accomplished songwriters. Walking the line between autobiographical fact and fiction, his new album, true devotion, is deceptively simple, peppering impressionistic narratives with moments of lyrical wisdom that can knock the wind out of you.
The brag & cuss, Votolato's fifth, marks a major turning point in his career. Unlike the minimal acoustic guitar and vocals of Makers (his previous release), The Brag And Cuss is very much a band record. Featuring James McAllister (Sufjan Stevens) on drums, Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) on bass, Casey Foubert (Pedro the Lion) on electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and percussion, and Rick Steff (Catpower, Hank Williams, Jr.) on Hammond b3, piano, and accordion, there's a cohesion and thickness to this record that can only come from a group of exceptionally talented musicians playing off each other. The bare emotion that made Makers great is still present in spades, but this time Votolato has ventured further in to the classic country territory of lovers, drinkers, and the distant oasis of a truck stop on a stretch of dark highway. Votolato can paint broad pictures with a simple turn of phrase, and on this record he pulls you into a world of reminiscences and feelings that are truly timeless and eminently human.
bark49 · CD / DIGITAL / LP
Barsuk Records · January 2006
sn058 · LP
Second Nature Recordings · January 2006
rip012 · LP
Riptide Recordings · April 2006
Barsuk Records is proud to reissue Rocky Votolato's classic 2006 album Makers on August 19th. This 10th Anniversary reissue marks the first time Barsuk has released the album on LP format, and the first time it's been pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl with a newly designed gatefold sleeve.
Rocky Votolato writes songs that seem to have been scratched into a boxcar wall by a worn-out and lonesome ghost, laying out his most intimate thoughts with such honesty that while listening to his words, you don't feel like a voyeur, but rather an ally, sharing secrets by the dying fire.
Split 7" with Drag the River's Chad Price. Side A has the Chad Price original, this cross, as well as Chad covering the Rocky Votolato song silver trees (from 2007's The Brag And Cuss). Side B has the Rocky original, transparent, as well as Rocky covering the Drag the River track best & worst.