The Parson Red Heads
On their new and second full release, Yearling (Arena Rock Recording Company), The Parson Red Heads deliver on the great promise that has been steadily building during their eight years as a band. Yearling was recorded over a series of many months at first in a familiar setting, Red Rockets Glare studio in their former home, Los Angeles, with close friend and sometimes member Raymond Richards producing. Several of the songs on the record were done later on unfamiliar terrain, at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium in North Carolina with alternative pop legends Chris Stamey and Mitch Easter producing and engineering, respectively. Stamey mixed the record.
Yearling celebrates appreciating your friends, living thoughtfully and creating an intentional meaningful life, reflecting the heady maturity of a band whose members are in their mid to late 20’s. Evan Way says: “I don’t know if the theme was totally intentional. But all the songs came out about learning the best way to live. There are love songs in there, but it’s more about growing up, your memories and taking everything you’ve learned to make your life better.”
“We came up with the name Yearling” as the title, Evan continues, “which is a horse between one and two years old. That one word captured the idea of something growing up. And the record took us a long time to make and we learned so much making it.”
Yearling has a timeless quality that continues and expands the classic pop-country-rock lineage stretching from The Byrds and Fleetwood Mac to the Jayhawks and Wilco. Evan hears those reference points, but says the band feels a stronger musical kinship with contemporaries such as Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Dawes and The Fruit Bats.
While many of the songs start in a mid-tempo, they tend to go off into a much more loose and rocking instrumental direction near the end of the song (check out “When You Love Somebody”, “Hazy Dream” and “Time is Running Out”). “Kids Hanging Out”, a fast and loud power pop gem that is a highlight of their live shows. The record opens with “Burning Up the Sky”, a perfect introduction to the band’s warm vibe, with their defining big vocal harmonies front and center. “Unemotional” is a particularly affecting and sophisticated highlight of the record.
The band formed in Eugene Oregon in 2003 and has lived in Portland since the fall of 2010. Between 2005-2010, the band lived in Los Angeles where they practiced three hours a night, 2-3 days a week, while taking every live show they could get, often playing four nights a week. That period resulted in dramatic growth for the band, which led to Yearling, a fully realized embodiment of The Parson Red Heads’ masterful songwriting, gracefully finessed guitar lines, precise arrangements, and gorgeous three and four part harmonies.
Co-producer Chris Stamey (founding member of the legendary dBs) came away a big fan: "There's something about this band that lifts your spirits. It's not facepaint, it's all the way down to the grain. In the sixties, we would have said that they are totally 'together,' and they do have an all-for-one and one-for-all ethos, you can hear the musicians' genuine affection for each other in every skywriting chorus and every sweeping improvisation.”
Some reviews of first single “Burning Up the Sky”:
“A richly textured, harmony–soaked stunner of comely, gentle psych-folk….a shamelessly happy sound, but one that no matter how celestial and irenic, manages to ground itself in an earthy Americana undercurrent.” (My Old Kentucky Blog).
“The Portland music scene is a breath of fresh air in independent music, and no band embodies the spirit of the scene more than The Parson Red Heads. New track ‘Burning Up The Sky’ has the same anthemic quality as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’ and is an instant toe-tapper.” (The Music Ninja)
“The Red Heads’ sanguine psych-folk crackles with jangling guitars and gorgeous harmonies and unbridled honesty; the first single “Burning Up the Sky” typifies the band’s gimmick-free approach — classic songwriting, deftly executed.” (Buzz Bands LA)