“Allen channelled the ’60s and ’70s AM Gold hits that he grew up on, while still incorporating the more atmospheric vibes of Shiner and The Life and Times, and he calls it “space country,” which is a very accurate description of the great lead single “Thousand Yard Stare.””- Brooklynvegan
Spartan Records proudly presents ‘Everything,’ the debut solo LP from Allen Epley (Shiner, The Life and Times).
Epley says, ““Thousand Yard Stare” is about a person close to me who’s consistently lied to me about their drinking. Hidden solitary drinking. It’s written from their view point and they’re clearly at an all-time low. Definitely driving away from everything; away from the other person; away to indulge and to give up on trying anymore.
Sonically we shot for a Jeff Lynne styled production and Dan Dixon nailed it perfectly. This is one of the tunes that i played everything on. Normally the drum tracks i’d put down were shit but we were like “well alright!” and they got used.”
As a child, Allen Epley (Shiner, The Life and Times) spent many more hours than his friends on the block did imprinting his parents’ record collection on his psyche. Giant headphones secure, he would pore over the cover art and liner notes and enter the world wrought by the giants of AM Gold — Bread, James Taylor, Carol King, Three Dog Night, Blood Sweat and Tears, 5th Dimension.
Yet the music he would make in the 90’s and 00’s with his highly influential bands doesn’t reveal these easy-listening origins. Shiner and The Life and Times reflected more opaque images of bands like Swervedriver, Slint, early Smashing Pumpkins and Failure. The smooth grooves and discernable lyrics about love — found and lost — of the 70’s songsters of his adolescence hadn’t come back into view for him.
It wasn’t until he was writing a batch of cues for reality TV in 2018 that he realized these ghosts had never left him but instead had embedded themselves in his subconscious; barely buried in a shallow bed of memories, smells and colors of childhood. One of the cues written caught his attention as being something worth exploring; this song became “Spider Rico” and was the bellwether that pointed the way toward Everything, Epley’s debut solo LP.
The process was simple because there really was no process; lay down a simple drum beat (the only kind a guitarist can play…) and build the songs from the bottom up. They came easily and were as clear as the sunlight on a crisp fall morning walk to school, and each one revealed immediately what it was about: love, lost and found.
But this music does carry the Allen Epley torch of sadness in each song that has colored his work in the 90’s and 00’s. Themes of giving in to excess, unrequited love, giving up on loving someone. In “The EMT,” our hero is a flight paramedic with an undying love for someone he’s only seen from afar, until by (un)lucky fate, she’s in a near fatal accident and he gets to finally hold her.
He enlisted Mike Burns, his friend and co-worker from Blue Man Group Chicago, to add lap steel to one song. Of course, Burns ends up on almost the whole record and informs us that what we’re hearing is actually a new genre known as “Space Country.” Friend and producer Dan Dixon was brought in to mix and realized Allen’s drum parts were good, but these tracks begged for tighter production of the 70’s. Chris Prescott (Pinback, No Knife), Mike Myers (The Life and Times, The String and Return) and Darren Dodd were brought on to finish these pieces beautifully.
The result is a record that begs and rewards repeated listenings, 9 songs and 41 minutes including a reimagined song from his band The Life and Times that dovetails quite nicely. It’s a rich production that echoes the AM Gold of his childhood but reaches into artistic territories that were generally reserved for Elliott Smith and Sea Change-era Beck.
‘Everything’ Track List
Thousand Yard Stare
Deader Than Dead
All Good Things
I’m The One
The Lucid Dream
What others have said about Shiner:
“This Kansas City, MO band’s fifth album (and first in 19 years) is a potent set of heavy post-hardcore combining grungy guitars and muscular rhythms with melodic vocals and often-dark lyrics.” – KEXP
“Schadenfreude echoes Shiner’s classics while also fitting right in with today’s post-hardcore scene. It’s got everything you want from this band — big riffs, good hooks, a hard-hitting rhythm section, and pillowy atmosphere — and Shiner make it sound like a day hasn’t gone by since 2001.” – Brooklyn Vegan
“[“Paul P Pogh” finds [Shiner] in fine form, and it sounds as fresh today as plenty of the newer bands who take after Shiner’s sound.”- Brooklynvegan
“The new album brims with life, even as its lyrics explore some pretty dark subjects. It’s heavy (though not metal), and heady too, truly living up to the tag of “space rock.” Honestly, this album has some of the best lyrical hooks on it. After a few spins, you’ll be humming and singing along to all of the songs on the album.”- New Noise Magazine
“[Shiner’s] legacy is improved with this new offering. Quite an unsung hero of the 90s, it’s great to see this band have more in the tank.”- New Fury Media
“Life As A Mannequin” was a spaced-out slow churn, like Queens Of The Stone Age or Soundgarden run through the Hum filter. The new “Paul P Pogh” is a faster, harder spin on the same melodic hard rock sound.”- Stereogum
“Life As A Mannequin has, from the onset, a full framed big heavy rock sound. Massive walls of guitars and heavy handed drum downbeats. When the chunky sounds get quiet and the vocals, full of dreamy melodies supported by rock orchestrations but also a definite art rock tone with lovely descending progs, I thought of a kind of blend of Soundgarden and Queens Of The Stone Age. I love bands that can create dreamy heaviness. It is much needed in today’s musical landscape. Welcome back boys.”- American Pancake