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New American Shame

Language available : english
New American Shame was put together in Seattle by founder/guitarist Jimmy Paulson (who had previously worked with the Lemons) and vocalist Johnny Reidt (often credited as the one-named Johnny) in 1998. Bassist Kelly Wheeler, drummer Jack Stringham, and second guitarist Terry Bratsch were soon slotted into the group's lineup. Almost immediately, New American Shame began making a name for themselves with their powerful live performances. After building up a small but rabid fan base, the band entered the studio to record their self-titled debut for Will Records. Produced by Paulson, New American Shame was also given a solid hard rock studio treatment by engineer and Seaweed guitarist Clint Werner and mixer Brett Eliason, whose services also appear on recordings from fellow Seattle artists Pearl Jam and Mad Season, Screaming Trees, and at least honorary Northwestern rocker Neil Young. Unlike grungier sounds still emanating from the Emerald City in the late '90s, New American Shame recalls more energetic '70s hard rock. Instead of using a Black Sabbath/Jimi Hendrix mold to shape a sprawling sludge, the Paulson-led outfit recalled the pulsing rock of early AC/DC with its smart-mouthed musical independence and grimy hard rock/metal truthfulness. Always a refreshing tact, such devotion to wide open power-chording is generally appreciated for its emotional simplicity and timelessness. This was indeed the case for New American Shame as the group was quickly given a major-label opportunity to spread their noisy message of stripped-down rock salvation. Around this time, Stringham left the group and Geoff Reading formerly of Green Apple Quickstep joined. After the 1999 release of their debut, the band signed with Atlantic Records, who decided to basically re-release the Will debut with some minor track and sonic adjustments. The revamped record was also released later in 1999, along with the first single "Under It All" as the album's lead-off track. While indeed a strong song, "Under it All" under-performed at rock and alternative radio stations and New American Shame failed to build enough of a national fan or sales base for the record to really take off. The group toured the States and even Japan in support of their album. With Johnny's screeching, reckless voice, and Paulson's ringing guitar tones, listeners get the feeling that it's not really success, rather recklessness and liberation, that concern New American Shame. In this respect -- expressing something central and significant about loud rock music -- it's hard to consider the group anything but a pre-eminent '90s throwback to a feeling, if not a total sound, that existed about and around hard music at a time when it was still subversive and valuable.
© Vincent Jeffries /TiVo
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