New Album "TIME out March 27, 2020!
PRODUCED BY MARK HOWARD ON BLUE ÉLAN RECORDS
(Los Angeles, CA) – February 7, 2020 Southern California-based Mustangs of the West will release their debut album, TIME, on March 27, 2020 via Blue Élan Records. New single, “I Blame Love”, is available today on all streaming platforms.
An album more than 30 years in the making, TIME is a story of five women redefining Americana-infused country rock. TIME was produced by esteemed Canadian record producer/engineer Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris) at the iconic Henson Recording Studios (formerly the historic A&M Records studios). Lead singer Suzanna Spring describes the decision to hire Mark, "Working with Mark was transformative. We needed a strong producer, and he just had remarkable vision for the songs.”
Featuring strong three and four-part vocal harmonies, the chemistry of the voices and instruments creates a powerful sound that is Mustangs of the West, drawing on both country and rock influences. The twelve songs on TIME, including nine originals, perfectly blend the Americana, California-country and rock influences of each of the band members to create a sound that is modern yet classic. First single and video “How Blue” pulls from the group’s Americana side with Aubrey Richmond’s violin intertwined with beautiful acoustic guitars, framing Spring’s angelic lead vocals. Current single, “I Blame Love”, showcases a Blues-centered vibe, allowing for Richmond’s darkly rich, lead vocals to wash over the listener. Sherry Rayn Barnett’s signature guitar licks, a deep groove from drummer Suzanne Morissette, and gospel harmonies from Spring and bassist Holly Montgomery complete the sound.
The all-female band first made waves in the burgeoning Los Angeles music scene, starting in the late 1980s. There had been an explosion of country-influenced music in the city for over a decade. A wild variety of styles, and bands ranging from the Screamers to Los Lobos, drew worldwide attention to the City of Angels. One of those styles, first labeled “cowpunk”, grew into a much bigger movement that included everyone from Dwight Yoakam to the Screamin' Sirens. When the Mustangs (as they were known then) appeared, they immediately turned heads and developed an energetic following that tagged them as leaders of this new musical brigade.
Now named Mustangs of the West, band members have reunited to take up where they left off in the mid-'90s. The line-up features three of the original members, Sherry Rayn Barnett (electric guitar, vocals), Suzanna Spring (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), and Holly Montgomery (bass, vocals) with the addition of Suzanne Morissette (drums, vocals) and Aubrey Richmond (fiddle, vocals) to make the full quintet.
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“T-SHIRT FROM CALIFORNIA” (AUGUST 17, 2018)
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“This is as classic a heart-tugging Southern California song as anything heard since, well, the Eagles were trying to check out of the Hotel California. Welcome back Mustangs.” —Bill Bentley
August 17, 2018 Los Angeles, CA – California country is back, and Mustangs of the West are about to ride again with a new single “T-Shirt From California” and its video, both of which will release on August 17, 2018 via a new recording contract with Blue Élan Records. The Mustangs were an integral part of the budding Los Angeles 80’s and 90’s alt-country scene, opening for Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale and Lucinda Williams. An all-female country band, they were an anomaly on the scene, and their career paralleled that of the early Dixie Chicks. As band founder Sherry Rayn Barnett reminisced to Bliss Bowen of The Pasadena Weekly, “We were on a lot of the same bills just before the Dixie Chicks. We’d be there one week and they’d be there the next.” After seven years of gigging and touring extensively, the band broke up in the mid 90’s and eventually scattered to various cities.
Twenty years later, the Mustangs are back with a name change (Mustangs of the West) and three of the original members, Sherry Rayn Barnett (electric guitar, vocals), Suzanna Spring (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), and Holly Montgomery (bass, vocals). They’ve also added Suzanne Morissette (drums, vocals) and Aubrey Richmond (fiddle, vocals) to make the fully rounded quintet. Featuring the same three and four-part vocal harmonies, the chemistry of their voices and instruments creates a powerful sound that draws on both country and rock influences.
Jumping right back in the saddle in 2017, the newly reunited group was quickly welcomed back on stage – showcasing in Seattle, opening for Junior Brown at The Rose in Pasadena, The Bellamy Brothers at The Higley Center for the Performing Arts in Phoenix - plus headlining a summer concert series at The Ramona Bowl in Southern California.
After reconnecting and rekindling their interest in the Mustang sound, Sherry, Suzanna and Holly decided to take it into the studio along with Suzanne, a master’s graduate of the Quebec Conservatory of Music, and Aubrey, a native Californian who has spent the last three years touring and recording with Shooter Jennings.
The result is their upcoming single “T-Shirt From California”, a sentimental song about love gone wrong, written by lead singer Suzanna Spring (co-written with Wes Hightower) and recorded at Snuffy Walden’s Taylor Made Studios. “I wrote ‘T-Shirt from California’ when I was living in Nashville and homesick for California,” said Spring. “Sitting on my couch one morning, strumming my guitar, the chorus melody and chorus lyrics came through, almost complete. I took that chorus into a writing appointment with Wes Hightower, and we wrote verses and the story. He had the idea for those great Beach Boys harmonies in the chorus, and Mustangs of the West has such a beautiful vocal blend; it was natural that we'd record this song.”
The arrangements were worked out as a band, adding jangly guitars and full harmonies. “Originally the song was called ‘She's Got Your Heart’, but we renamed it ‘T-Shirt From California’ thanks to the suggestion of Nashville journalist Holly Gleason to revisit the title,” Spring explains. “It just FEELS like California at the edge of summer, driving with the top down, Highway 1. Singing the chorus always makes me smile.”
The Mustangs of the West, like their wild namesakes charging back along the mesa, are ready to make their mark again.
Kim Grant KG Music Press email@example.com 626-755-9022
Melissa Dragich-Cordero Blue Élan Records firstname.lastname@example.org 310-344-1185
2017 HIGHLIGHTS & PAST PRESS RELEASES (ARCHIVED)
THE MUSTANGS™ OPEN FOR JUNIOR BROWN, HEADLINE RAMONA BOWL CONCERT SERIES, SHOWCASE FOR WESTERN ARTS ALLIANCE IN SEATTLE ... AND NOW .
11/1/17 (Los Angeles) - The Mustangs™, California’s premier all-female country Southern California country band is headed to Phoenix where they'll be opening for classic country icons, The Bellamy Brothers. They'll be performing at The Higley Center For The Performing Arts on November 7, 2017.
The newly reunited Mustangs in Southern California appeared together onstage for the first time in 20+ years, kicking off The Ramona Bowl Concerts series on Jul 6. The next night, they returned to Los Angeles, where they packed The Rose, in Pasadena CA, opening for national country act Junior Brown. Read about The Mustangs in this feature article in The Pasadena Weekly!
When the Mustangs were opening for the likes of Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale and Lucinda Williams at the Palomino and other nightclubs in the late 1980s and ’90s, they were an anomaly: an all-female country band whose members played their own instruments. And they weren’t in Nashville. They were part of the diverse Americana/roots-music scene in Los Angeles that also birthed the careers of Dave Alvin, the Blasters, James Intveld, Candye Kane, Lone Justice, Buddy Miller, Boy Howdy’s Jeffrey Steele, Dale Watson, and Dwight Yoakam.
The Mustangs parted ways around 1997 — just before the Dixie Chicks shook up the country charts and freshened the genre’s sound (which laid the groundwork for present-day groups like Runaway June, Pistol Annies, Maybe April and Southern Halo).
“We used to be on a lot of the same bills [at festivals and in Europe], just before the Dixie Chicks broke,” electric guitarist Sherry Barnett recalls with a chuckle. “We’d be there one week, Dixie Chicks would be there the next. … I think we definitely were ahead of the curve.
“We had fun growing up in that environment. We got a lot of attention. But it was very difficult. We formed at a time when a female country band was a novelty.”
Twenty years later, the Mustangs are back in action, with three original members — Barnett, bassist Holly Montgomery and lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Suzanna Spring — plus newcomers Suzanne Morissette and Aubrey Richmond on drums and fiddle, respectively. As before, they strongly emphasize harmonies (usually between Spring, Montgomery and Richmond) with material largely drawn from Spring’s country-folk repertoire. Barnett says they plan to co-write more, but with five working musicians scattered between LA, Orange County, Northern California and Washington, DC, it’s a challenge just getting everyone together to rehearse.
Recently they coordinated schedules long enough to record a single, “T-shirt From California” (co-written by Spring and Wes Hightower), which they’ll be promoting at a few shows, including one Friday at The Rose. Barnett acknowledges that the musical landscape’s changed drastically since the days when independent artists — including the Mustangs — recorded demos in hopes of getting signed by a label from the Palomino’s “breeding ground.” The Mustangs never made an album then but they hope to now, retaining their focus on melodic songs and sunny harmonies.
“Thematically, a lot of country songs these days are party-driven, kind of post-’80s rock songs. It’s a different vibe. I don’t know if we’re fighting that as much as knowing that there’s a smaller space in the world of radio for female artists,” Barnett says, singling out Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves for praise.
“Most of them are out of Nashville and also, they’re primarily in their twenties or early thirties. We’re not in that category. But to me, it’s about the music. It’s not about what age you’re doing this. I’m not looking at this as we’re up against something. We have something real to offer.””
Fresh from recording a brand new single and video at television composer/guitarist Snuffy Walden’s private state of the art studio, the band is poised to re-enter the country & Americana music world, focused on reaching out to satellite and terrestrial radio, tv and film. To start the ball rolling, The Mustangs lead singer/songwriter, Suzanna Spring, just had an original song and vocal featured in the premiere of the new Netflix series, “Dear White People” which debuted on April 28th,.
As a five piece country rock band – featuring lead guitar, bass, drums, fiddle and harmony vocals - The Mustangs enjoyed a successful 7 year career through the mid-90’s. The group toured internationally and was part of the World Famous Palomino Club’s mainstay of performers, sharing the bill with artists such as Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Rosie Flores and others who got their start on that stage.
Back together with original members and new faces too, official release date for The Mustangs CD single and video, “T-Shirt From California”, is coming soon. A modern country record full of Southern California imagery … it’s a perfect road song for anytime of the year!
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