Sandlin Gaither photo
Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers.
Wayne Robbins and The Hellsayers: All You Need to Sleep
Over the last three years, Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers have steadily worked against a series of inevitable obstacles to create their sophomore album, All You Need to Sleep.
Lucky for us, the band found a way to craft a superb album that is both cohesive and wildly enjoyable. You can tell from the first notes on “C #7” to the last strum on “The Rose of Greenland” that Wayne and Co. have built upon the strengths of their first album The Lonesome Sea (released in 2001 with critical acclaim) and burned past any alt-country label propelling them into more modern territory with a broader vision of the group’s potential intact.
The Asheville-based band, which formed in 2003, includes Wayne Robbins (songwriter and guitarist), Jeff Whitworth (electric guitar and lap steel), Jonas Cole (electric guitar and keyboards), Erich Hubner (bass), and Joshua Carpenter (drums). They’ve shared the stage with bands such as My Morning Jacket, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, and Magnolia Electric Co. and have also toured several historic concert halls in Europe with Band of Horses.
As the recording process concluded for All You Need to Sleep, renowned producer / musician Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let’s Active) handled the mixing controls in his Forsyth County studio. Robbins and Easter opted for the wall-of-sound effect, as songs like “I Saw An Angel” and “Someday” are perfect examples of delightfully dreamy shoegazer rock at its best. “At My Feet” and the wistful lullaby “All You Need to Sleep is Love” showcase the gentler side of the album with vivid imagery as Robbins’ vocals become another instrument and Jeff Whitworth’s soaring lap-steel guitar works effortlessly to create dream-inducing music.
As you move through the album, the songs open themselves up to form a complete album, not a collection of singles. All You Need to Sleep resembles that blurry line you cross as you move from consciousness to the beginnings of sleep, drifting between the two. Certainly fans of Pink Floyd, Built to Spill, and Neil Young will enjoy this impressive western North Carolina band. With plans to play several UK festival dates at the end of the summer, Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers are moving forward with their exceptional new album, on the brink of breaking it big.
The Mad Tea Party: Zombie Boogie
The Mad Tea Party has been gathering fans for several years, cranking out highly anticipated albums ever since their first LP in 2004. Band members Ami Worthen and Jason Krekel continue to maintain their own unique sound on the latest, Zombie Boogie. Issued on vinyl (there’s an optional digital download as well) complete with two spooky originals and two obscure covers, this most recent release finds the Mad Tea Party doing what they do best.
These veteran purveyors of bluesy-surf-stomp-boogie have a sweetheart ukulele\singer in Worthen, whose voice is as bubbly and endearing as the eccentric outfits she wears on stage. Krekel, sings, plays guitar and fiddle, and drums with his feet. The pair rips it up on the four tracks on Zombie Boogie. Worthen’s vocals are reminiscent of a sweetened Janis Martin combined with the unmistakable flair of Wanda Jackson’s honky-tonk swagger while Krekel channels his inner Dick Dale-meets-Chuck Berry guitar style in songs like “Cemetery Stomp.” The upbeat “What’s the Matter” and the wailing jam of “You Spooked Me” is reminiscent of classic ‘60s garage rock with that undeniable rockabilly finesse.
When they’re not recording in their home studio, the duo maintains a busy touring schedule, performing everywhere from CBGB’s in NYC to the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, and the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, not to mention local venues and festivals in western North Carolina such as the Orange Peel, the Grey Eagle, Bele Chere, and the Lake Eden Arts Festival. Bringing that old-school rock n’ roll approach to every performance has made their live shows famous among fans across the country.
This perfect marriage of musicianship and energy has made Mad Tea Party one of the best good-time bands found in the mountains of North Carolina. So drop the needle, turn down the lights, and get spooky with this duo of cool.