PREMIERE: Tenth Mountain Division Blend Surf-Rock and Synth-Pop on “Sad Summer” [LISTEN]
Sad Summer is Tenth Mountain Division’s lead single off of their newest album, Butte La Rose
Sad Summer is available on all platforms Friday, May 7.
Butte La Rose to be released on June 18.
More on Butte La Rose:
Courtesy of Dreamspider Publicity
Tenth Mountain Division Independently Releases Their Third Studio Album
Butte La Rose — Out June 18, 2021
Produced By Tim Carbone at Silo Sound Studio in Denver
BOULDER, Colo. — Colorado-based band Tenth Mountain Division is pushing the sound found in the mountains in bold new directions with their high-energy electro-acoustic sound. With Producer Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) at the helm, the band recorded their third studio album with engineer Todd Divel (Hard Working Americans, Fruition) at Silo Sound Studio, recently dubbed the ‘Abbey Road of Denver’ by Westword. Butte La Rose is set for release June 18.
“Butte La Rose is a freewheeling road-trip through the soul of American music with visits to Bourbon Street, the California coast, and all-night mountain parties in their Colorado home, as the band speeds down the highway carrying a trunk full of good times with Lowell George riding shotgun and Leftover Salmon hanging out the window,” says Tim Newby (Americana UK).
Tenth Mountain Division is built upon the long-friendship of mandolinist Winston Heuga and guitarist MJ Ouimette. The two first met and started playing music together in high school, eventually landing at the University of Colorado in Boulder together where they formed Tenth Mountain Division as an acoustic trio. Over the next few years they added drummer Tyler Gwynn and keyboardist Campbell Thomas. Soon after their debut album (Cracks in the Sky) in 2016, the band’s lineup solidified with the addition of bassist Andrew Cooney and so did their sound: a high-energy fusion of roots-inspired, Southern Rock boogie that heads into unchartered territories. This is elevated even more with all members sharing in the songwriting, vocals, and arrangements. The band is named in honor of the famed military unit the 10th Mountain Division, the WWII pioneers of mountain combat who founded Vail, CO and many other ski areas across the country.
With ten songs, including one instrumental, Butte La Rose captures the essence of Tenth Mountain Division—fun, danceable, and surprisingly thoughtful and heartfelt. Ouimette calls it, “a snapshot of TMD’s last year of touring fused with new offerings that will intrigue the ear with stylistic diversity, unified by the personality etched in each song.”
2019 saw the band travel from coast-to-coast as they played festivals like Summer Camp, WinterWonderGrass, Aiken Bluegrass Festival, ARISE, Yarmony, and Leftover Salmon’s Boogie at the Broadmoor; and progressively bigger shows including the Boulder Theater, Gothic Theater, Vilar Center, and Ford Amphitheater; as well as sold out shows at their first appearances in New York City, Boston, and Chicago. They took the plunge back into the studio at the turn of the year and were primed for spring tour, and then Covid hit.
Heuga says, “It’s been hard to know the best way to adapt to this new culture and keep our momentum moving. Just before shutdown, we completed a Kickstarter for the new album to help bring this project to life.” Close on the tail of the end of the band’s campaign, the Covid-19 outbreak hit, leaving all of these prospects uncertain, and for a time, postponed.
In a recent interview with The Colorado Sound, Gwynn says, “The pandemic was a real shock to the system for the band and us as individuals. We went from having a headlining Bluebird Theater show and a six-week tour around to the US, seeing a different city every night, to not being able to leave the house. It put a lot of things on pause for us. That being said, it wasn’t all negative. It gave us a chance to catch our breaths and look at our creative enterprise from simply the musical standpoint. With no shows at first. we could really dive into the new tunes we have been working on the last year or so. When we were able to actually record them at Silo Studios a few months ago it was clear we had evolved and grown as a band in a short time.”
Ouimette recounts, “Summer of 2020 saw a greater understanding of the precautions one could take to better arms oneself against contracting the virus, which in turn allowed Todd, Tim, and us to strategize a Covid-safe plan to get the album back into production. In June, at Silo Sound, we spent 7 days recording the remainder of Butte La Rose.”
“Making Butte La Rose with Tenth Mountain Division was like being a kid in a candy store,” says Carbone. “The songs all have their own personality and the band was open to exploring new sounds and ways to approach how each song was recorded. The spirit of wanting to get the essence of each song permeated the sessions and I hear it every time I listen to it. And we all had a blast!”
“We’d spend the days listening, relistening, and making sure that each song had everything we wanted element-wise— horns, tambourine, synth, acoustic guitar, etc.— learning how to decipher the sonic field of a song and bring a ‘feel’ to it by deafening and brightening certain elements vocally and instrumentally,” says Ouimette. “I was struggling to hit the note on my own song (I know), but unwilling to let it be sung by someone else because of the personal nature of the lyrics, Tim coaxed me to get there by saying, ‘Sing it like Johnny Rotten!’” The result can be heard in ‘Sad Summer,’ “where synth-pop meets surf-rock in a melancholic lament about the pitfalls of heartbreak,” says Ouimette.
TMD has always loved having horn sections sit in throughout the years, so it was only fitting to record a few songs with horns on the record. Ouimette continues, “Tim was on the same wavelength and knew just the crew. Due to Covid, we actually had to stay out of the studio while the horn players were recording. It was a really cool experience to not be involved in the recording of the horn lines of our own songs and then seeing how much the energy and the whole song had changed afterwards.”
Bringing together some of the hottest horns from the area—Scott Flynn (ODESZA) on trombone, Gabriel Mervine (Lettuce, Karl Denson, The Colorado Symphony) on trumpet, and Nathan Peoples (Coral Creek) on saxophone—the results of these sessions can be heard on two of the albums stand out tracks: the album’s fiery opener “Hot Sweaty South,” and deeper into the album, with it’s classic Memphis soul vibes from the horns to the hook, “Got Too Excited,” penned by Cooney.
“Hot Sweaty South” is a horn rippin’ party of a song, about the band’s first tour through the south, which was riddled with milestones and memories, including a broken down bus in the swamps of Butte La Rose, lending to the album’s title. One of three songs on the album written and sung by the band’s keyboardist, Campbell Thomas, who calls it, ‘A light hearted diary of the hard knocks of a touring band who’ve yet to make a name for themselves and have something to prove. Traveling, taking chances and the real salt of the earth spontaneity that makes life so memorable.”
The album takes you on a journey deep into the psyche of the band. Festy GoNuts says, “Each song shows a different side of the band —funky, playful, poppy, serious, acoustic, electric— but always remaining true to TMD. From start to finish, Butte La Rose tells a story and paints a picture that is a true testament to the talent, creativity, and dedication of Tenth Mountain Division.”
Other songs led by Thomas include the powerful and somber “Get Out of My Head” in which he bares his soul in song in order to push past thoughts of self doubt, depression, and suicide; as well as the album’s closing song, “Big Blue Sky” which vividly depicts something out of a bad dream: morose and colorfully eerie, this song sits at the crossroads of psychedelic, indie, and roots music. Reflecting on mortality, with the lyrics, “If this bus tipped right on over we would die,” he says, “In an odd way it brings the first track, ‘Hot Sweaty South,’ full circle. We were on tour driving down some lonely highway and I was contemplating life and death and how easy it is to die. Since it is a very grim subject, the second verse I wrote for my mom. The topic of death is tough, especially to that of someone close. I try to come to terms with death and, in the case it may happen, make sure that she knows I love and care for her.”
“Burning Heart” is another song that runs deep. Written by Heuga, it is a dark, almost orchestral, psychedelic micro-suite anchored in celtic folk storytelling and heartbreak. Heuga says it, “is written about a mentor and hero of mine, Jeff Austin, taking his own life. It tries putting yourself in the mind of a deeply conflicted and troubled person, aching to understand, if only to find solace. In a time of grieving where nothing seemed to make sense, these words, some borrowed from Jeff and Yonder, found a way to help me cope.”
Taking a different turn and bringing forth a lighter mood are the subtly sweet “Highland Morning,” featuring special guest Elliott Peck (Midnight North) on harmony vocals, and the inspiring and hopeful instrumental epic “Spring Chicken.” Both were penned by Cooney, along with the slick guitar and bass rocker, “Drown You With the Bottle.” Ouimette’s “Girl Like You” grooves on a dance beat that’ll make the listeners want to drive obnoxiously one-handed down the interstate, in classic TMD style—with electrified bluegrass at the core.
Butte La Rose is a follow up to 2018’s In Good Company which Live for Live Music declared was “chock full of raw rock and roll, with a savory listening experience guaranteed for all.” In September of 2020, Tenth Mountain Division released a stand alone single and animated music video music video for their single “9 to 5.” The band also created their own music and comedy webisode series, TMDtv, which they aired during the fall of 2020.
More information about Tenth Mountain Division can be found at www.tmdtunes.com
Butte La Rose Track Listing:
1. Hot Sweaty South (3:53)
2. Sad Summer (3:33)
3. Highland Morning (3:15)
4. Spring Chicken (4:59) *instrumental
5. Get Out of My Head (4:43)
6. Burning Heart (4:30)
7. Girl Like You (3:10)
8. Got Too Excited (3:22)
9. Drown You With The Bottle (2:52)
10. Big Blue Sky (2:30)
Andrew Cooney – Bass, Lead Vocals (3,8,9), Backing Vocals (1,2,6,7), Guitar (3, 4,8,9)
Tyler Gwynn – Drums
Winston Heuga – Mandolin, Lead Vocals (6)
MJ Ouimette – Guitar, Lead Vocals (2,7), Backing Vocals (9)
Campbell Thomas – Piano, Organ, Synthesizer, Lead Vocals (1,5,10), Backing Vocals (2,5,7,9)
Will Trask – Percussion – Entire album
Elliott Peck – Backing Vocals (3)
Nathan Peoples – Saxophone (1,8)
Gabriel Mervine – Trumpet – (1,8)
Scott Flynn – Trombone – (1,8)
Tim Carbone – Backing Vocals (5)
Produced by Tim Carbone
Engineered & Mixed by Todd Divel
Mastered by Jim Wilson
Recorded at Silo Sound – Denver, CO
Album Artwork by Cunningham Falconer
TMD Upcoming Dates:
6/18 Fri – ‘Butte La Rose’ Album Release Party Presented by KRFC @ Mishawaka Amphitheatre
w/ High Country Hustle
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