I continue to find new examples every day that the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” really is true. In this case, it relates to the Fort Worth bred band Calhoun, a project that from looking at their band name, I’d expect them to be a bitchin’ stoner rock band. Which is not to say that they’re not bitchin’, because they definitely are all of that and then some, but “stoner rock,” they ain’t.
Their latest album Heavy Sugar (available for purchase from Amazon) drops a very solid dose of dream pop that will be music to the ears for those who are fans of bands like Death Cab, Brookville and maybe even Coldplay if their music was a little bit more muscular.
Some of my favorite albums are the ones that I began listening to with no expectations and after I had listened to Heavy Sugar a few times, I wanted to know more about the formative albums that led them towards the music they’re making now. After reaching out, I was able to get a few answers from Calhoun lead singer Tim Locke and guitarist Jordan Roberts.
TIM LOCKE (Vocals/Guitars)
1) Summer Teeth – Wilco
The best pop songs still I think they’ve ever written and no matter what anyone says about YHF, the coolest sounds.
2) Vauxhall and I – Morrissey
I mean I love the Smiths sure but this record always keeps you fancy -‘why don’t you find out for yourself’ is the most bitter, best song about the industry ever written.
3) The Next Hundred Years – Ted Hawkins
Homeless guy in his 50s living on Venice Beach gets signed, puts out one of the greatest records of all time then shortly after has a heart attack and dies. ‘the good and the bad’ will destroy you.
4) III – Led Zeppelin
I liked it best when these guys calmed down and stopped thinking about humping stuff for a second -this was that record to me or at least they hid it under some real pretty songs.
5) A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Being alone on a desert island at Christmas would be sad, this would help.
JORDAN ROBERTS (Guitars/Harmonium/Keys)
1) The Essential Marty Robbins – Marty Robbins
The mans range was impeccable and his voice quite possibly the smoothest in country if not all of recorded music. He was innovative and never afraid to experiment with his sound, moving effortlessly through country, western, blues, rock, ballads and even calypso. The single “Don’t Worry” is an especially keen look into his willingness to let it fly when while recording the bass guitar track it distorted creating a fuzz sound and as opposed to redoing it he opted to leave it in thus becoming the first fuzz bass sound ever tracked on an album. The man was ahead of his time and light years beyond his contemporaries.
2) Eazy-Duz-It – Eazy-E
Me and my brother use to pop this cassette in after my parents would go to bed and spilt a headphone jack two ways and listen to this record while we fell asleep. They never knew we owned this record much less could recite it front to back, i still know almost all the lyrics to “Eazy-er Said Than Dunn”. To this day it’s one of the best Rap albums ever released.
3) Kill Uncle – Morrissey
Let the eye rolls commence. I found out about Morrissey through my brother who is four years older than me. I was 11 and he was 15 and dating a very moody girl that made him a copy of this record. In the summer of ’91 my brother and I would sell golf balls we found in water hazards back to golfers on the public golf course behind our house. We used the money to buy a Super Nintendo and would sit and play Super Mario World and listen to Kill Uncle over and over and over all summer long. “Our Frank” was always my favorite song and still is.
4) Keep it Like A Secret – Built to Spill
There are great albums and then there are flawless ones and for me this album is without fault. I have no chance in hell of ever writing or making a record this good and this smart, no one does. “Else” is in my top 10 favorite songs of all time. Gorgeous.
5) Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized
I saw Spiritualized open up for Radiohead on their OK Computer tour when I was a senior in high school, it was my first major concert ever being as I was a bit of a late bloomer. After their set I went into the lobby and bought this and Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, of the the two this one was and is my favorite. I am still trying to write something 3% as good as “Shine A Light”, I’ll let ya know how that’s going.
Calhoun’s music has been described as catchy, irresistible, gorgeous, melodic, sorta poppy, sorta rootsy, sorta rockin’, and, in general, really splendid music.
Following a whirlwind of hotels, late nights and miles and miles of ubiquitous signposts, the band took a year off to recalibrate their road-tested engine before returning to the studio in 2010 with producer Jim Barber (Hole, Ryan Adams) to record their new expansive 12-track opus, Heavy Sugar.
Ever-evolving, Calhoun’s flawless technique, dazzling tone and passionate visceral lyrics take center stage once again on the propulsive immediacy of “Don’t Let Go,” the heavenly sparse beauty of “Lioness,” the lazy-day Americana of “The Engineer,” and the first single/video “Knife Fight”.