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Jamgrass quartet Kitchen Dwellers have officially released their highly anticipated new album, Wise River via No Coincidence Records. Produced by Vulfpeck and Fearless Flyers guitarist Cory Wong, album gets its name from an old mining town and river near the bands home of Bozeman, MT and deals with personal themes including the struggles of being in a long-distance relationship, addiction, mental health, COVID, and depression.
Anticipation for Wise River has built gradually as Kitchen Dwellers released four singles from the album—one written by each member of the band. The first single, “Stand At Ease”, features deeply personal lyrics from bassist Joe Funk, who sings lead vocals on the track. “If depression was a sin / Wouldn’t change it in the end,” the song begins. “And I know it gets so dark / And we’re all looking for a spark / To fight the fear of feeling.” The second single was the title track, “Wise River”, written by mandolinist Shawn Swain.
“The town of Wise River is basically a forgotten spot on the map,” Swain said of the songs’s namesake. “It used to be a thriving place with many prosperous mines, but now it’s practically dried up. There’s a hell of a lot of melancholy. In our mind, it symbolizes the overall feeling of being in slowed-down Montana life.”
“Sundown”, the third single from the album, was written by banjo picker Torrin Daniels, who told Relix, “When I finished this song, I had been working on this riff for quite a while in a sort of banjo-metal fashion. I wrote the lyrics during those ‘peak quarantine’ days in the Spring of 2020, and the verses definitely reflect my mental state at the time. The phrases about time receding and the hourglass running slow reference the elasticity of time, and how our minds can warp when we’re confined to one space physically. I think almost everyone can relate to that now.”
The final preview of the new album was “Smokestack”, written by guitarist Max Davies, who described the song as “a driving, fun, upbeat song,” in an interview with Bluegrass Today. “I wanted it to have a notion of perseverance, and envisioned it being played at a summer festival during the day. ‘After all these miles we’ve roamed, such a long long way to go,’ was a way of saying look how far we’ve come, don’t give up now because there’s so much more in store.”
Related: Cory Wong Hosts Billy Strings, Victor Wooten, Chromeo, More On New LP, ‘Power Station’ [Review/Stream]
Cory Wong, who produced the album, acknowledged the eclectic nature of the project, saying, “This is bluegrass instrumentation, but it’s not really a bluegrass album. … There’s elements of indie rock, there’s elements of alternative rock, there’s elements of bluegrass, there’s elements of jam, there’s elements of folk music. There’s so many things that came together for this album.”
Mandolinist Shawn Swain agreed, explaining that the album is “30% influenced by bluegrass, but mostly it’s rock n roll with acoustic instruments.”
Kitchen Dwellers are no strangers to genre-blending, often treating live audiences to surprising covers ranging from Vampire Weekend and Mac Miller to Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen. Their new album sees the band try a new approach, with instruments beyond their four voices and strings, including steel guitar, drums, and organ—one track also has over 20 vocal parts.
Wise River is now available on all streaming platforms. Kitchen Dwellers are currently on tour in support of the album with upcoming festival appearances at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, The Peach Music Festival, Electric Forest, Sweetwater 420, Strings & Sol, RiverWonderGrass, Northwest String Summit, and more. View a complete list of tour dates, listen to the album, and check out a video about the project below. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the band’s website.
Kitchen Dwellers – Wise River
Kitchen Dweller – Wise River Trailer
Kitchen Dwellers 2022 Tour Dates
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