Author Archive


Posted on: December 1st, 2022 by founder No Comments

Scott McMicken has always thrived on switching things up. As a founding member of Philadelphia rock mainstays Dr. Dog, McMicken and his bandmates consistently explored new sounds and new ways of writing songs across 10 gleefully eclectic albums before their 2021 hiatus. While McMicken has quietly released solo projects via cassette and vinyl on his own label Press On Records, for his latest effort, he’s done something he’s only done once before: started a band. With Shabang, out March 31, 2023, via ANTI-, comes the debut album from Scott McMicken and the Ever-Expanding, and he’s made some of his freest and most adventurous music yet: a wonderfully collaborative collection of songs that feel lived in and true. 

Part Basement Tapes and Paul Simon, and part a globetrotting foray into progressive sounds, Shabang is some of the most exploratory music of McMicken’s career. There are elements of jazz, dub reggae, country, and bossa nova throughout these 13 tracks, each exuding the excitement of being in a room with several other curious musicians. Opener “What About Now” originally started as a folk rock dirge but when McMicken decided to add some bounce to the rhythm, the whole thing opened up. Even songs that dig deep into personal conflict like “Reconcile” radiate with a joy that’s tangible and rocking.

“I’m constantly trying at all costs to avoid feeling like a singer-songwriter,” says McMicken. “I would like to create a welcoming place that we can share rather than trying to yank you into my inner world.” 

Over the past few years, McMicken has been building out his home studio operation,working on music and recording other artists like Big Thief for their album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. For most of 2021, he wrote and recorded a sizable batch of solo songs but no matter how much he tinkered with them, something felt off. “When you study how to make a good recording, inevitably, you land on the realization that it has so much to do with the performance,” says McMicken. “You can’t truly replicate the feel and the freedom of people playing music together in a room by doing everything yourself. There are no surprises, and there are no mysteries there.” 

He sent the songs to Nick Kinsey, an engineer and producer with a home studio in upstate New York. “The two of us started talking and we got excited about the idea of putting together like a really large band,” says McMicken. “That way, we could really go aggressively in the direction that these recordings I had made lacked and make a full live sound.” Because McMicken’s previous band was composed of lifelong friends who over time developed an unbreakable musical bond, he decided to try something totally different: He told Kinsey to choose his future bandmates himself, selecting a group of total strangers who could collaborate on these songs.  

Kinsey assembled every musician, with McMicken only asking for his longtime friend and collaborator Michael Nau to join the band, which also included Kinsey, Elizabeth Pupo-Walker, Neil Ochoa, Jared Samuel, Zach Tenorio, and Paul Castelluzzo. “I needed to go into it with as little control as possible,” says McMicken. “I just want to be in a room with wonderful people and encourage them to be themselves and be present to create nice musical moments.” As the band arrived at Kinsey’s studio, The Chicken Shack, McMicken decided to scrap most of the songs he’d painstakingly demoed to invite unshaken improvisation. “There’s something about being around strangers that just kind of holds the mirror up on you,” says McMicken. “I think there’s a higher degree of accountability when you’re making music. You thrive within the limitations and awkwardness if you are really honed and you’re intuitive.” Over a fruitful week, the band hashed out 13 songs. 

One of the few tracks that came from McMicken’s demos is the lead single, “Another One.” Originally written during his tenure with Dr. Dog about getting out of writer’s block, the song takes on new meaning in this full-band context. On the kinetic and joyful track which boasts a buoyant groove and a horn section, McMicken sings, “Once the morning powers wake up / And the hours flower on / A moment’s all we are to take up / And here comes another one.” When introducing a song to the band, McMicken preferred to encourage improvisation and freedom to have everyone’s idiosyncratic voices join together to make up the whole. “The last thing I’m going to do is walk in the room and say, ‘This is your part,’” he says, noting that one single, “Mountain Lion,” came from him saying, “Everybody just get going on G minor: I’m gonna sing about some animals.” Even the band name, the Ever-Expanding, came from an extended early jam where the band found its first chemistry. 

By being present and living with these musicians (quite literally: McMicken and Nau stayed in tents outside the studio) united under one common goal, Shabang is full of life and endlessly candid. “I knew nothing good will come of this unless I am totally free and away from any pressure and pretense,” says McMicken. “Such an incredible spectrum of emotion passed through me while making this album. There was this lightness and un-self seriousness. I feel like music and life cruises at that spot: everybody was so wholeheartedly invested and open.”

Noah Kahan

Posted on: November 21st, 2022 by founder No Comments

Ricky Montgomery

Posted on: November 20th, 2022 by founder No Comments

Ricky Montgomery

Posted on: November 19th, 2022 by founder No Comments

Music has always lured Ricky Montgomery back. He blames the internet. First a devotee of the Vine underground, then—more than half a decade and several jobs later—an unexpected hitmaker, the Los Angeles native has spent the last few years trying to reconcile with his artist self. He has already surpassed one billion global streams thanks to Platinum-selling indie-pop hits “Mr. Loverman” and “Line Without a Hook.” But those songs, written when he was a teenager, have come to feel like they were written by a whole different person—at least to Ricky. So here comes Rick, his first full-length album on Warner Records, a labyrinthine alt-pop collection of stories about life in all its messy and mundane glory. 

Rick is only Montgomery’s sophomore album, but it’s rich with maturity, down to the title itself. Rick is a name the singer always assumed he’d eventually take on—“it seemed more ‘adult,’” he quips—but never had the nerve to. Instead, he embodies the role through a soul-searching mix of electro-laced, emo-tinged tracks that balance sadness and doubt with lightness and levity. His lyrics dig deep and cut sharp as he navigates his wildest highs (doing cocaine for the first time) and most devastating lows (coping with his father’s death). 

Rick is about my long, awkward path toward remembering myself as an artist. It’s been embarrassing and difficult, but also thrilling—kinda like changing your first name,” he says. “It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do but was too scared to try.” 

Working alongside Grammy-winning vets Dan Wilson and Jeremy Hatcher and Grammy-nominated producer Tommy English, Montgomery pushes his limits as a songwriter. There’s still that sunny, sardonic urgency of his early work, now heightened with a lusher, fuller sound on nostalgia-pop singles “Eraser” and “Don’t Say That.” His wit remains refreshingly intact: “I’m not fun, but at least I’m not as sad as I used to be,” he teases on the swirling experimental bop “Boy Toy.” And so does his sincerity, with tracks like “One Way Mirror,” a gentle lament that hints at the airy eeriness of Elliott Smith.

The album’s title also alludes to Montgomery’s father, nicknamed Rick, who died by suicide in 2009. “We thought it was an accident, but later found out that it wasn’t,” he explains. The singer faces that traumatic discovery on “Black Fins,” one of the album’s most gut-punching statements. “Calling the album ‘Rick’ is as much a goof as it is a magic spell to lay those feelings of resentment to rest,” he says.

Montgomery sees Rick as something of a spiritual sequel to 2016’s Montgomery Ricky—another self-titled album that isn’t exactly self-titled. While he feels mostly removed from those songs now, they are just as personal and poignant. They’re also reminders of why he picked up a guitar in the first place.

Montgomery began honing his singing and songwriting chops at age 14, shortly after moving from L.A. to Missouri. To flee the culture shock, he went underground, literally, shuffling through various bands in the suburban basements of West St. Louis County. “Music was just an escape from everything,” he says. “Sometimes writing or playing was the only way I could get out of panic attacks.” In college, he channeled that anxiety into comedic bits and intimate music performances that gained him his first viral audience on the now-defunct Vine platform.

In the summer of 2014, he released his debut EP which landed on the Rock and Alternative charts. His yearning to move back to the West Coast was palpable in those songs, and he knows it. “At the time, I defined my personality around wanting to leave Missouri,” he admits. “It was almost obsessive for me.” The success gave him the excuse. He dropped out, hightailed it to his hometown, and released Montgomery Ricky.

Of course, music careers in L.A. are rarely so simple. Things didn’t exactly take off with the album, and when his stepdad faced a near-death experience, Montgomery decided to quit music for good. He found success at a marketing startup and even founded his own company, but a round of major setbacks led him to a job in catering. Getting recognized at one catering gig shook his world. “Don’t quit Vine!” the fan told him, even though Vine had long since gone dark. 

A week later, running late to another gig, he couldn’t stop thinking about that comment. “It pissed me off,” he recalls. “I looked at the house and said, “Fuck this.’ I drove back home and wrote music for the rest of the night.” 

Montgomery soon resurrected his band The Honeysticks, a side project with a childhood friend. In 2019, the band booked their first national tour, but the pandemic put a stop to it. By the summer of 2020, he was considering quitting music entirely. Then the seemingly impossible—yet somehow inevitable—happened: Suddenly people were finding solace in his songs. And they still are. He now has millions of followers across his socials and a string of sold-out tours under his belt. But he’s ready to move on—to present a whole new Ricky Montgomery to the world. 

“After a couple years of running away from music, I had to re-inhabit all of these old songs I didn’t identify with,” he says. “I had to become ‘Ricky Montgomery The Music Artist’ again. And that’s where I’ve been since 2020. Figuring out how to be that guy. Ultimately, that’s what Rick is all about.” 


Posted on: November 19th, 2022 by founder No Comments


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Posted on: November 15th, 2022 by founder No Comments


Posted on: November 14th, 2022 by founder No Comments

Dr Dog – Slide

Posted on: November 13th, 2022 by founder No Comments