PRESS / MEDIA REVIEWS / AWARDS:
#10 on Top Twenty Favorite Colorado Albums of 2011
by Scott Foley of Routes & Branches -KRFC Radio -(10 Dec, 2011)
Westword -"Moovers and Shakers of 2011"
Annual Year End List of Favorite Local Releases
Nominated for Best Band -Roots Rock Genre in 2011.
2011 Westword Music Awards & Showcase
-Editor, Westword (a Village
Voice Media publication)
Denver Post -"Christiansen’s debut release under this moniker — includes contributions from such local notables as Eric Shiveley, Tim Mallot of the Hollyfelds, John Waggoner and Tony Burke of Ten Cent Redemption, “Goose” Guzman of the Mighty 18 Wheeler and many more. But don’t worry — all those stars don’t outshine the sad, simple beauty of Christiansen’s songs."
-Eryc Eyl, Denver Post Reverb (April 3, 2011)
"His songs can only be what happens when you've hit a tipping point, and some higher power gives you the tools to convey something bigger than you are. His songs are the real real thing."
Eric Shiveley, Eric Shiveley Music Net
Complete 7 track album in hi fidelity, high resolution audio- mastered by Jim Wilson and Larry Nix, recorded at Silo Sound Studios.
Artwork by Carlos Michael Finn, liner notes - included in download.
My personal notes on making the album and tracks--
It was a session album with a premise:
Making a record with the condition no one among the recording ensemble is allowed to hear the songs in advance has a few requirements. Foremost on that list is finding talented musicians willing to take that risk. Trusting they are caring and patient friends that tolerate your song writing closely follows. But more than that, the folks you choose have to carry the music with them, needing only the prodding of the barebones soul of a song, a good hook, or a nice melody to coax them into opening up a guitar case or start pounding out a rhythm. I came to believe songs exist outside us. We are perhaps just conduits left to interpret them . Surplus Cheaper Hands was a project designed to reveal just how differently these songs are heard and performed by artists in a session. Add an incubator for art like Macy Sound Studios and a diligent engineer in Nick Sullivan, and you have a good chance of capturing some moments where it all works.
I’m Your Man
A few friends said it was the best song I’d ever written. So if figured I’d let one of them bring it to life and get back to making music with him after a few years walkin different paths. John Waggoner brought some friends- Tony Burke from Ten Cent Redemtpion and Tim Mallot of the Hollyfelds along. I put it in the engineering and production hands of Eric Shiveley, and we recorded it in a few hours in John’s living room near Washington Park. Not everything in life merits all your resources. Save your silver bullets, I always say…spent one in the form of folks always willing to help me over the years-and this cast was just what the song called for. Eric can do more with one mic and his porta studio than you can imagine. Magic.
I’d been trying to write this song for my daughter for a few years, and when I finally hit on the groove and riff I was looking for, I called my trusted Three Miles West crew in so it wouldn’t get lost in translation. James Lovelace felt the drum groove instantly, Todd Divel delivered some stellar guitar work, and Robert Goose Guzman from the Mighty Eighteen Wheeler worked his genius on bass. I approached legendary steel player John Macy with it, he put the icing on it. T D Davis emerged as my go to guy for the rest of the record, crafting a subtle but essential baritone groove and firing up a Hammond B3. Proud of this one, and hope Hannah loves it…love you, daughter of mine.
Baby, It’s Gonna Be Your Year
Got stranded in Caslte Rock and couldn’t make it home for the Holidays, and wrote this one to take the chill off New Years Eve apart from the family. Had lots of friends walking out of some bad relationships, and decided since I couldn’t splurge for gifts or be cheery enough to compensate.- This was the best I could give them. T D Davis heard it, took charge of the collective session and arranged the song for piano in an hour. The cast of James again on drums, Ryan Chrys on Guitar, John Statz, and Goose followed where the muse took them. I never envisioned it like this, but fell in love with a piano driven interpretation of this song. Have a monster crush for a gal named Melanie Hoshiko, who was on hand to hang out during the sessions…decided to see if the girl could sing. We were all a bit floored by her voice. Collective sessions and spontaneity have their own energy, and this crew wanted to make this song at this moment. All the better for it.
Decided a roots session was in order, and had this song in reserve. After a quick listen to my walk thru, John Statz and T D Davis layed out some great acoustic work. I invited Statz along for the ride because it felt right up his alley. Great rythm work, clean and woodsy. I invited Mark Kosta of New Ben Franklins to find a solid drum groove. We recorded it in short session but I felt I lacked something. Note to the boys in the band, your whispers in the studio were audible. For the record, it didn’t take much pushing. Message received loud and bell clear-I handed the song to Melanie Hoshiko for vocal duties and it came back to life. Great voices can be like that, reviving melodies that ease a chaos we create. David Devoe of New Ben Franklins helped add a few telecaster licks to make it moody. Love how willing he is to lay back and let a song work him. Love this one.
Wrote this five or six years ago. One of the first songs I had ever written. Guitarist Todd Divel was always passionate about getting this song on tape. Mark Kosta cleared the hurdle that always kept it from happening…a drum groove and nice brush work. Let Todd go off leash and just play. That is when he shines. T D Davis stepped up, Layered in some acoustics with magic tunings and some baritone guitar. I loved the intense depth, driving desperation, and hope laden sparkle they found in this lament. Heartfelt.
I’ve had a low or two in the past. Who hasn’t? Was watching Dexter on television, saw a remarkable scene that described a few demons we all harbor. Walked into my home studio and it just flowed out. Decided to take the crew to Monument Sound Studios for a session. I asked Dave Devoe to help fashion a weird vibe. With Johnny again on guitar, Goose on Bass, and Mark Kosta on Drums, they constructed a moody and swirling rendition that fit the intent. Monument engineer Chris Andrews knew what we were after, and gave it depth and character to plant the seed. We took the song over to Macy Sound and T D Davis and John added some more vibe to it. I had so much to work with after everyone layed down some inspiration that it took me a month just to produce the version I wanted. When you write something and need to say it clearly, sometimes a translator is in order. Dave Devoe and Johnny said it for me. Until then, it felt stuck inside a slightly out of tune Guild guitar and a voice warbly with some pain very close to home.
Driving, Just as Fast as I Can
After wrapping up a session I looked at a tired crew that had just brought a few songs to life. Dutch was hangin out offering his enthusiasm. Always wanted to play a smokey roadhouse with this cat on drums. Saw Ryan Chrys putting his guitar cables away. Saw a Hammon Organ in the corner, T D sitting on the bench. Snagged Todd Divel from his soldering iron on an old MCI mixing console he was restoring. Taught them a little number I was writing on the spot. Tom Oberheide of New Ben Franklins ditched the banjo and headed straight for the pedal steel. Figured we had all worked real hard, time to cut loose and have some fun. Man, this would be one fun crew to take on the road thru Hill Country. Hell, anywhere for that matter. Had to put this outtake on the record. Music can just happen every now and then.
Album done. Show at the soiled dove april 15th with this ensemble, hoping to let you witness the energy in person, one last time -and pick up the record for sentimental visits. I would love that.