Tiny Stills have made some of the most compelling indie power pop of the past few years. With an ear for melody and hooks that pull you into the song, they have released a series of terrific singles from ‘Craigslist Bed‘ to ‘Everything is Going Great‘. The latest song from Kailynn West and Company addresses how music can help us over come the challenges of life everyday. You can follow the band on twitter at @tinystills.
Our Short Takes today comes courtesy of Brandon Berry of The Paint Splats. The band came on the scene with a blast of indie rock goodness with “I Gutted My VCR” which eventually joined nine other songs for the first self-titled record released on November 16, 2019! A split with Mike Bankhead, “Defacing the Moon” came out around the same time! Some of Brandon’s contributions to that shared record includes the heartbreakingly beautiful “Annie”.
This past March, The Paint Splats released a terrific EP …With a Side of Fries. That continues the terrific indie pop and humor that The Paint Splats are becoming known for in the Miami Valley. As Brandon wrote about the project: “An unhealthy blend of power pop melodies that grew up listening to garage rock and the man shouting obscenities from the comfort of a street corner.”
Reaching out to Brandon to ask if he would give us a few ‘Short Takes’ of music that he is listening to lately was an easy call for us to make here at YTAA. Take a few minutes and review his excellent recommendations!
The Kinks – Sleepwalker
In my high school band, we attempted to cover the Kinks – “All Day and All of the Night” and our “Lola” parody, “Ebola” – but I just passed them off as another forgotten novelty spawned from, and muddled up by, the swingin’ ’60s. It wasn’t until I started taking chances at the record store that I discovered their massive catalogue of inventive tunes that would serve as major inspiration for my own songwriting. The early stuff will always be dear to me, but their late ’70s and early ’80s albums, like Give the People What They Want and Sleepwalker, stand out for the risk-taking, something they’ve been known for since the amplifier cabinet-slashing origins.
Life goes on
It happens ev’ry day
So appreciate what you got
Before it’s taken away
I’m not sure if there’s a more apropos quatrain for this present moment.
Kurt Baker – Brand New Beat
Power pop never died; the arena has just been cluttered by artists who shouldn’t be included in the category. There is hope, though. Musicians like Kurt Baker are keeping the original spirit alive. I came to this guy fairly late, but after hearing “Weekend Girls” and “She Can Do It All” from Brand New Beat, I had to get the record. I wear my nostalgia on my three-quarter length sleeves. The album cover alone would’ve been enough for me to throw down the cash. With vocal fluctuations à la Elvis Costello, I can’t help but get sucked into Kurt’s expertise in the genre.
The Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin
When I write lyrics, I channel my inner John Darnielle. Destructive and off-putting sentiments with underlying sadness and regret over a major key chord progression. When I heard that he was recording a new album during quarantine, I had no idea the promo videos involving John and his sideways, trusty Panasonic tape deck would be the final product. Going back to his roots, he released the new batch of songs on cassette. I wasn’t around or conscious enough to consider myself an original fan, but I feel like I’m a part of something special now. I’ve been listening long enough that when a limited release such as this presents itself, I am to jump on the opportunity to be one of the few to have a copy. Though the cassette hasn’t been officially released, the lo-fi grain can be streamed online. Gather up your pagan crew. Do yourself a favor and listen to this record.
I have a playlist on Spotify called “songs that make me feel better,” which is comprised of mostly ’80s ballads and bops, like Mike & The Mechanics’ “All I Need is a Miracle” and “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister. You’d be surprised what else you can find in there. When I was a youngster, I discovered the Beatles and the Stones through my dad and the big haired ’80s through my brother, eventually blending and inspiring me to dive into genres from every era. During the time of mandated isolation (remember that?), I needed something positive to listen to, so I dug up the old playlist and added some new songs to the repertoire amongst all the Scandal and Wilson Philips songs:
- “Salt In My Tears” – Martin Briley
- “This Beat Goes On”/”Switchin’ to Glide” – The Kings
- “The One” – The Lemon Twigs
I suggest you make a playlist like this, too, adding only tunes in the key of happy that you can dance to at the drop of a hi-hat. A dash of positivity never did any harm.
Many thanks to Brandon for sharing what he has been listening to with us!
This week we have created a YTAA Playlist on Spotify for you listening pleasure! Next week we return to the YTAA Studio and the airwaves of WUDR 99.5 & 98.1fm in Dayton and online! We recommend that you visit the artists social media, webpages and bandcamp pages to support them!
The artists this week include new music from Guided by Voices, Benchmarks, Peopleperson, Tiny Stills, Frontier Folk Nebraska, Jess Cornelius, The Psychedelic Furs, Smug Brothers, Kathleen Edwards, Ryan Allen And His Extra Arms, Lydia Loveless, The Jayhawks, Nana Grizol, Samantha Crain, The Avett Brothers, Real Estate, CrocSoc Workshop, The Great Serpent Mound of Ohio, Carbon Leaf, Surfer Blood (featuring Pip Blom), Dolph Chaney and The Blow Monkeys — yup, they have new music for us all!
Some classics from Pere Ubu, The Pursuit of Happiness, Shrug, The Mayflies USA, Lab Partners, The White Soots, Captain of Industry, The New Old-Fashioned, Mandy Jewell, The Katawicks, Whiskeytown, Andrew Duhon, Gretchen’s Wheel, Manray and The Grapes of Wrath!
And some live versions of terrific songs from The Long Ryders and The Kyle Sowashes!
The seventh installment of 11 Questions… comes courtesy of Kailynn West of Tiny Stills. It is difficult to separate Tiny Stills from her vision!
In 2015, after an unexpected situation left an opening on a national tour with Anthony Raneri and John-Allison Weiss, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Kailynn West stepped in at the literal last minute to finish the tour with her power-pop project Tiny Stills.
LA-based Tiny Stills have released some of the most engaging and catchy emotional indie power pop beginning with a series of terrific songs and albums including the excellent “Falling is like Flying” from 2014 and the independently released “Laughing Into the Void” in 2018! Recently, the band has released a series of compelling and catchy singles!
Tiny Stills arose from intense personal experience as a direct response to West’s experience being held up at gunpoint in 2011 and as a way to work through the inevitable social fallout that occurs so often after traumatic experiences. Tiny Stills craft honest and intense songs with powerful guitars and inescapable melodies that pay homage to early ’90s and 2000s indie and pop-punk. At the end of the day, Tiny Stills and the music they make is an effort to remind you that even the worst days have a silver lining, that at the very least you are not alone in an overwhelming world.
Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest released song, “Craigslist Bed“?
Kailynn West (KN): It started as inspiration after a most recent breakup. I had to move out of my apartment and start over. Specifically – I didn’t have a bed. The apartment I now live in (a garage, with a bathroom, literally.) came with a bed that the previous tenant left. I was otherwise going to look at craigslist beds because I didn’t have one at the time, but I ended up just keeping this one. It all worked out! But it was definitely the inspiration behind the song.
Dr. J: Tiny Stills evolved out of a personal experience for you, can you describe that experience and how it shaped the formation of the band?
KW: I was held up at gunpoint in about 8 years ago in Los Angeles. After that, I had a hard time relating to people and connecting. People couldn’t understand what I was going through, rightfully so, and I was dealing with coping with trauma and PTSD. I lost a lot of friends and my social circle during that time, and so I started writing music to try to work through some of the pain I was feeling trying to function. Tiny Stills was originally a solo project, that has morphed into a band. I’ve found that sharing
my story helps me connect with people, so I try to write honest songs.
Dr. J: “Craigslist Bed” is a meaningful song for all of us who deal with challenging relationship and the breakup of relationships; did you set out to address those concerns and challenges of when starting to work on that song?
KW: 100 percent yes. Particularly the bed, and do have a key ring with a million keys on it and I don’t really know which ones I need to keep at any given time.
Dr. J: A previous song “Everything is Going Great” is a powerful song for the current moment we all find ourselves in today. Do you think that is a correct interpretation of some of the lyrics? Can they apply to the world today? Or would you say the focus should be more internal to the individual?
KW: I think songs are meant to be interpreted however feels best for the listener. For me, this song was about an internal battle of trying to pretend everything was OK, but I do think that’s a very universal experience, and definitely applies to today- mostly because the title of the song is sarcastic!
Dr. J: How did “Everything is Going Great” come together musically for you?
KW: It came together pretty fast. I actually do a “song origin” on my patreon where I break down the different levels of demos- from the very first voice memo, with different lyrics and melody, to the demo we took into the studio, to the final version. It evolved pretty naturally, but it did start in a different place than where it ended up.
Dr. J: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
KW: I have something I need to get off my chest.
Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey from the album “Laughing Into the Void” to the current single “Craigslist Bed“?
KW: I’ve gotten better at self editing. With “Laughing Into the Void” I wrote a song and it was done. Now I go back and I’ll rework the chorus multiple times until it says exactly what I want it to say, or until I can’t get it out of my head. “Craigslist Bed” originally had a completely different Chorus! I do a “song origin” breakdown of that one on Patreon too. I’ve just gotten more critical of my writing and where I want the song to land.
Dr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after “Craigslist Bed“?
KW: We have new music coming out basically every month. Our next two singles are coming out August 7 and September 25th. They are two songs that were meant to be on the EP we were originally planning on releasing on our EP in April 2020! The second single is called “Resting in Pieces” and the third single doesn’t have a title yet!
Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your
KW: My favorite song to perform right now is “Small Talk” because it’s a straightforward fun pop/rock song and when the band comes in live, we feel huge.
Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
KW: That just because you’ve failed at something, it doesn’t make you a failure.
Dr. J: As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?
KW: I’m spending time working on myself. It’s leveled the playing field – No one can tour. We only have our songs now. I’m honing my craft and trying to elevate my work so it’s more than just noise. I think you have to practice being honest with yourself, and this is one of those difficult times when no one can really ‘look away’ we can only look at the problems we’ve created for ourselves as a society. I don’t like saying that we’re going to ‘get a lot of good art out of this (quarantine/the COVID crisis)’ because artists are under the same kind of pressure everyone else is, and our industry was collapsing years before COVID. Touring was one of the last ways musicians could make money. Artists can’t survive on streaming royalties- please directly support the artists that you like if you want them to continue making music. Between the death of album sales and now touring, we sure could use a break. I just want to survive this in more ways than one.
You can follow Kailynn West and Tiny Stills on various social media including:
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Kailynn for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit Tiny Still’s Bandcamp page! Thanks again! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions’ columns, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos care of Kailynn West.
Our weekly playlist of music we would play on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative if we could. Playlist of some new & local music we play on YTAA! So, enjoy and check us out on Facebook, twitter and instagram as drjytaa! Today’s YTAA Playlist featuring new music from The Psychedelic Furs, Katie Von Schleicher, George Huntley, Viceroy Kings, Advertisement, Fontaines D.C. Nana Grizol, Next To Nowhere, Leah Senior, Blitzen Trapper, Little Rooms, The Cleaners from Venus and more! Plus tons of Dayton area music from Rich Reuter, Simply Burris, Kris N., HEXADIODE, The Nautical Theme, Charlie & Amanda, Me & Mountains, Me Time, Real Lulu, Yuppie, Smug Brothers, M Ross Perkins, Mike Bankhead and Auburndale!
And some indie classic from Matthew Sweet and Uncle Tupelo!
This week we celebrate terrific music from several Dayton musicians! This week’s YTAA Playlist features songs from Charlie & Amanda,Kyleen Downes, Sadbox, Vanity Theft, Seth Canan & The Carriers, The Breeders, The Kyle Sowashes, Scary Hotel and Overthought Musik!
New music from The Brothers Steve, Margo Price, Dream Wife, Old 97s, Anton Barbeau, Pretenders, Zoe Polanski, David Ramirez, Dawes, Kailynn West, Nana Grizol, Blitzen Trapper, Ex Norwegian, The Vernons, Whim, Carver Commodore and Pip Blom! We have a cool #YourCovered with Fruit Bats doing a Smashing Pumpkins tune!
Expect some #lookingbackindie with Lou Reed! And a song for guitar legend Peter Green!
Compare this original rocking version of ‘Two Ships’ from Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway version of the song:
… To this lovely classic country duet version of ‘Two Ships’ from Charlie & Amanda!
We are all winners here! Two great versions of a terrific song from the pen of Mr. Jackson!
The playlist today includes new music from Lydia Loveless, Al Holbrook, Bob Mould, Chris Forsyth, The Beths, Momma, Mike Bankhead and Tino, Waxahatchee, Speaking Suns, Rufrano, Nada Surf and more! Plus music from David Payne, Wussy, The Story Changes, The Typical Johnsons, Shrug, The Pullouts, Tim Pritchard, The 1984 Draft, The Nautical Theme, The Flamin’ Groovies, Me & Mountains, The Mayflies USA, Toxic Reasons, The Regrettes, American Werewolf Academy, Ass Ponys, Greg Dulli, Son Volt and Samantha Crain.
Some looking back indie courtesy of James, The Smiths, Graham Parker and The Rumour and Brainiac. And a live classic from The Replacements! We pay some small tribute to far overlooked songwriter Emitt Rhodes.
So give the playlist a listen or three!
It was a real pleasure to talk with Charlie and Amanda about their music! The new record ‘The King & Queen of Dayton Country‘ is available this Saturday! You can follow them on Facebook! Their CD release is happening this Saturday at the Yellow Cab Tavern. Check the Yellow Cab Tavern’s page for information regarding the social distancing requirements and policies.
Part one of our interview with Charlie & Amanda Jackson about their new record, ‘The King & Queen of Dayton Country,’ recording, songwriting and their approach to music. We can consider this record to be a powerful return to a classic country duet sound that has been missing for quite some time. Check out their Facebook page! You can find their music on bandcamp! They are playing a safe outdoor show at the Yellow Cab Tavern on Saturday! Please check the Yellow Cab Tavern’s page regarding their policies for a social distancing outdoor show!
Our sixth installment of 11 Questions with… features one of the best songwriters in the Dayton Music Scene! Charlie Jackson burst onto our consciousness with his solo record ‘These Days’ (released in late 2015-early 2016) that featured some of the most well crafted, mature and relatable songs about the problems of real life. Wanting a broader sonic textures for his songs, Charlie recruited Denny Cottle, Ricky Terrell and Brad Bowling for ‘Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway‘ which released their eponymous titled record in 2018. A terrific EP called well… ‘EP’ followed roughly a year later. Anyone who has had the good fortune to be able to attend some of those lives shows know that Charlie was often joined on stage with his amazing vocalist spouse, Amanda, who added not only vocal harmonies but some fantastic singing of her own to those songs and a series of classic country covers. In a more just world, these songs would be at the top of the country charts!
We especially wanted to catch up with Charlie and Amanda as they are preparing to release their first record together. The release show will be happening on July 25th at the Yellow Cab Tavern which has done a terrific job of continuing to be a safe source for local music during the pandemic.
As always we wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Charlie and Amanda who took time out of their busy schedule to answer 11 questions for our readers/listeners on YTAA! We appreciate learning about how these terrific songs came together.
Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you both started recording your latest record, The King & Queen of Dayton Country?
Charlie & Amanda Jackson (CAJ): We actually first started recording in Feb 2019 after just having our first show in Dec 18. After both of us (understandably) had some issues, we decided that we (and the songs) weren’t quite ready to be in the studio yet. So, we practiced a ton, and played a lot of shows and got more familiar with the material. In November of ’19 we went back in with Patrick, but the songs had all changed and evolved enough that we just started over from scratch. We had two full sessions in Nov, then another in January with Patrick and David Payne, and then a final one near the end of February with just David at the helm.
Dr. J: You have worked closely with Patrick Himes at Reel Love Recording Company here in Dayton, Ohio for several years, what first led to your recording with Patrick? How has that relationship shaped your music?
CAJ: Yes, Patrick mixed the first Railway record, and he had done such amazing work with so many artists in Dayton, I knew I really wanted to work with him in a broader capacity. We had hung out with Patrick quite a bit at shows and the Slovak Club so he had heard us play, and got to know us on a personal level. We had talked with him about what we would want a potential record to sound like, so we already had a head start toward making the album we really wanted.
Dr. J: The King & Queen of Dayton Country is a very different record than E.P. and Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway, how do these records compare? What influenced your work on each of them?
CJ: The two projects definitely have quite a few similarities and differences. The work I did with The Heartland Railway is far less country than this new album. My writing has always leaned more on the country side, but while working with the guys in the Railway it took more of a rock vibe to it. I have said before, we were a rock and roll band playing country songs. This new project certainly leans more toward a classic country/americana sound. Amanda and I both listen to a LOT of old country music. Like, the old stuff from the Sun Records days, 50’s and 60’s country. Stuff like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Patsy Cline. This really influenced our sound more than it did for the Railway. I have always been a big proponent of letting things progress organically.
With the Railway and with this new album. I don’t try to tell the other players what to play or how to play it. I’ve told all of them, that I’m not going to tell them how to play their instrument when they’re better at it than me. I didn’t have a bullet-pointed list of what I wanted, or where and when I wanted it. I let them feel it out and flesh it out. I could’ve said I wanted a straight Nashville sounding Tele lead guitar on the album, and it probably would have ended up sounding very Merle Haggard and I would have loved it. By stepping back and letting Casey breathe with it, he gave the lead guitar a very Knopfler-esque quality that I wouldn’t have asked for, but I absolutely dig. My songwriting across all three releases, I think, hasn’t changed a whole lot, I feel like I’ve evolved as a writer but every release combines new material with songs that I’ve had for a decade or more, and they all seem to fit together nicely. Amanda and I are even breathing some new life into some songs I wrote about 13 years ago, and they’re turning out great. Its all about letting it breathe, and seeing where it can go.
Dr. J: ‘Call This Home’ – the first single from The King & Queen of Dayton Country – addresses forms of love and support that someone finds at home – is that a correct interpretation of the title? If that is correct, did you intend to address how difficult it is to make a loving home or did the song evolve in that direction over time?
CAJ: The song absolutely reflects love and support found within a partner. We didn’t intend to address difficulties in making/keeping a loving home. Every partnership requires communication and work, but when love is there, it is just there. We do fuss at each other and we playfully argue but in our 17-years of being a couple we have never truly fought. Our love and communication have kept the big blowouts at bay.
Dr. J: How did the song ‘Call This Home’ come together musically for you?
CJ: I wrote the chorus first; I had no idea what direction I wanted for the verses yet. I told Amanda I wanted her to write her verse. She (of course) told me that she couldn’t write a verse, but then started sending me lines. They were just some insight to how she feels and how she thinks. I used those lines to craft her verse. Her verse was written before mine. But this was the first song that Amanda really had a hand in writing.
Dr. J: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
CJ: I can draw inspiration from just about anywhere, but my biggest muse has definitely always been Amanda. In the love songs (even if they aren’t autobiographical) I use her as the focal point of the love itself. For the sad songs and the heartbreak songs I recall back to our times apart in the rockier years of our early relationship, or I look at what I now know I would be missing out on if that love wasn’t there. Now, with this new level where I’m writing songs about her and for her to sing, she’s even more of a muse than she already was. Not just lyrically, but even the way I arrange the music revolves more around her. I write in keys that showcase her as much as possible. When I can coax her out of her shyness and get her to sing out, especially in her higher register, she has this natural vibrato in her voice that is just beautiful.
Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey from These Days to Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway to The King & Queen of Dayton Country)?
CJ: Ok, first let me just say that I think it’s hilarious that you even put ‘These Days’ in with the others. Those are really just demo tracks, at best. I really didn’t know what I was doing with any of the 4 home recorded albums I released.
Anyway, I like to think of my music as honest and relatable. I try to lean more on being clever, I don’t usually delve deep into poetic symbolism and imagery. It’s a little stripped down, a little raw. Maybe it draws from the years in Punk Rock, but I like to get to the point and make it clear. I like to tell a story.
Dr. J: What is next for you musically? Do you have plans to record again with The Heartland Railway? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project?
CJ: Up next, I’m really looking to record a solo record. I don’t know how many songs yet, more than likely just an EP. I want it to be much more stripped down, kinda like Nebraska, or Southeastern, or Cheaper Than Therapy. Not much more (if any) instrumentation than just me and an acoustic. Kind of a ‘back to basics’ approach.
Amanda and I also already have several songs on deck for a second Charlie & Amanda release. Some brand new, some of them are songs that I wrote at the very beginning of my journey into country music writing. We really have the advantage of the fact that before the Railway got together, I already had 4 self-released albums worth of songs in my back catalog. Amanda has taken over the duties of figuring out which of those lend themselves to a duet format, and figuring out who should sing which verse, changing pronouns so it makes sense, etc. So, we have plenty to call back on.
I’m really focusing as much as I can on this project. We have been practicing with the other players and I’m loving the band format with Amanda in the mix. That being said, while a Heartland Railway show in the future wouldn’t be off the table, I really see this project, with Amanda at my side, is really the direction I see myself moving forward.
Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform with Amanda? What is your favorite song to perform with the Heartland Railway? What makes it a current favorite in your performances? Do you enjoy Live Streaming?
CJ: My favorite song with the Railway, definitely ‘Sugarbeet‘. Such a fun song to play, plus it has like 4 guitar solos in it. Just a barn burner.
With Amanda, from the record, my favorite would have to be Oasis. I love the way our harmonies intertwine on that one. My favorite one to sing with her, however, would have to be one of our new ones named Carolyn. She really belts it out, it’s a whole lot of fun. Once the world opens back up, I promise it will be a regular addition to the set list.
I do enjoy Live streaming to a point, but I really miss the interactions. That was one of my favorite parts of the show. Hanging out, laughing, raising a beer. There really is no virtual replacement for that.
Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
CAJ: Laughter and love. Its really something when you not only share a household, and share love, and share a life with your Partner, but now sharing our music together, and sharing it with others. Being a little bit vulnerable and sharing some of the truths about life and love that we’ve learned. It really helps you connect. We’ve heard people say that our voices blend so well together, and we like to believe that it’s a direct result of us trying to be so in tune with one another on every level, that it really comes forward in our music. We are not overly private people and we share real life within our songs, some of the real-life issues are hard ones that we deal with every day or issues we have overcome. We hope people can look at those and understand that regardless of what life throws at you there are always ways to help you move forward in life. One of the ways to get through muddy situations has always been, and will always be, love and support. We offer that to each other and others.
Dr. J: As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?
CAJ: It’s a really weird time. Especially for those in the entertainment industry. Amanda and I are lucky that this isn’t our regular gig. We don’t depend on our music to help finance our daily life. Amanda works from home, so she hasn’t missed a day over the virus, my work has been a little spottier than usual, but I’ve still worked more than I’ve been off.
We have definitely missed the shows and all of our friends through all of this. Now, on the cusp of releasing out debut album, with the Covid numbers getting worse, we are definitely afraid that our release show won’t happen the way we have planned, and that certainly bums us out. But we are healthy, and we have each other. So, we can’t complain too hard.
Thanks again to Charlie and Amanda for taking the time to answer these questions! All pictures and images courtesy of Charlie & Amanda Jackson.