E.J. Wells | Rhyolite

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Rhyolite

by E.J. Wells

"E.J. has done something remarkable. He's released a new album that is at once modern, AND evokes the old West. No small trick. I LOVE this album." Chip Kinman, founding member of Rank and File, and Cowboy Nation
Genre: Country: Alt-Country
Release Date: 

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1. Rhyolite
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4:14 $0.99
2. Motherlode
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3:09 $0.99
3. Blood on the Moon
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3:10 $0.99
4. Pursued
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3:46 $0.99
5. Shortstack and a Longneck
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3:03 $0.99
6. Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)
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2:24 $0.99
7. Moonrise
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4:38 $0.99
8. Cemetery Man
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2:53 $0.99
9. Downstairs at the Funeral Home
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3:11 $0.99
10. Rising Sun
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4:19 $0.99
11. Trail to Hell
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3:25 $0.99
12. The Undertaker's Lament
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13. Last Ride
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"E.J. first grabbed my attention with a remake of Del Shannon's 'Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)', which won him a slot on an upcoming Shannon tribute CD. Wells was chosen from myriad entries, and will appear on the disc with veterans Jeff Lynne, Randy Bachman, Frank Black, Marty Stuart, and others. As a result of this inclusion, E.J. was interviewed on the BBC, as well as several domestic radio stations (Details of this project can be viewed at www.DelShannon.com, and www.DelTribute.com).

E.J.'s debut album 'Rhyolite' has just been released. This blazing record features a dozen original compositions, as well as an update of his already internationally heralded version of the Shannon classic.

Wells teamed up with Chris Arduser, longtime friend and current member of Adrian Belew and the Bears, Chris Arduser and the Graveblankets, and the Psychodots. Serving as co-producers and multi-instrumentalists, E.J. and Chris assembled a murderer's row of seasoned players, and brought forth a compelling, unique, and refreshingly original debut disc. Truth be told, it's as good as anything I've heard. It's world class." V.C. Graves- President, Ruin Records

"...The ghosts of old gunslingers and long dead guitarslingers echo to life again in Mr. Wells' haunting epic that plays like a shotgun wedding of Morricone's 'The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly', and all the rockabilly greats of the 50's. Highly original and distinctly American, 'Rhyolite' is an important new contribution to American pop music - and to American folklore and mythology as well..." Tom Toth- The Bohemian Embassy

"...Man and Woman, Rock and Roll, Life and Death, Shortstack and a Longneck..." Richard Ruse- LA Studio Musician (Tom Petty, Robin Zander, Scott Henderson, Jon Bon Jovi)

"...Forget the rest, the West is the best...and 'Rhyolite' is the best of the West..." Chip Kinman- Cowboy Nation

" Dark, fun, twangy and real. 100% American art, no additives..." Chris Casello- The Starlight Drifters


"...E.J.'s 'Rhyolite' rocks! Very nice work, very nice indeed..." Scott Shriner- Weezer

"...E.J.'s 'Rhyolite' paints a vivid and scary portrait of the American West. Wells has a distinct, convincing voice, and the musicianship is outstanding..." Max Crook- Keyboardist, inventor of the fabled Musitron, and co-writer of the Del Shannon classic "Runaway"


Reviews


to write a review

Chip Kinman


Western music is strange. It had it's heyday in the 30's, and has not been commercially viable since the late 50's (eg "El Paso" by Marty Robbins.) It is now a genre populated by failed country singers, folkies, and hobbyists.
E.J. Wells has done something remarkable. He has released a new album that is at once modern, AND evokes the old west...no small trick. Western music has always been a blend of sounds and traditions, and "Rhyolite" carries this blend to new and thrilling heights- with an ingenious mix of folk, glitter rock, Mersey beat, spaghetti, surf and...Pink Floyd-esqe atmospherics!!!???!!! I love this record. It works best as a set piece...listen to it all the way through. And I mean LISTEN to it. It will take you somewhere dry, dusty, and dangerous. The songs also work individually...RHYOLITE, BLOOD ON THE MOON, CEMETERY MAN, RISING SUN, UNDERTAKER'S LAMENT...WOW!!!!! An essential record by one of the best. Buy it....nuff said? Chip Kinman-Cowboy Nation

~Randall A~

Ghostly sound images that remain in play long after the music stops!
You might think of a Western Movie theme at first, but keep on the trail! Here is the stuff that builds vivid images while you listen and remains in your head. Not only does it Rock, the scenes change throughout like an unfolding story that keeps you spellbound. The ghosts of Rhyolite must have entered ol' EJ's soul to turn out this great music. When I'm going through the desert Southwest, these songs are playing in my mind, ... in a most pleasing spooky way. A must have CD to get you started.

Bill Hayes

I first heard Rhyolite in my hearse...the perfect environment...
Atmosphere is everything...I listened to Rhyolite for the first time as I cruised along California's Pacific Coast Highway in my black 1976 Cadillac Superior hearse...it was late evening in the west, but the moon was full...misted thoughts, gritty emotions and Wells' music all blended together...it was perfect...

Bob Caunter PWKM

Rhyolite Burns!
Rhyolite Burns, Rhyolite Rocks, Rhyolite has a story to tell. After listening to Rhyolite, the story is clear. If you listen, you will hear the ghosts come alive and a Ghost that will never die (Cemetery Man/my fav). E.J.
has raised the bar with this well written and produced CD. So saddle up, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride.

Jim Bartlett


A crisp-sounding set of 12 edgy, highly original self-penned numbers, plus a drivin' cover of Del Shannon's immortal Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun). Western-themed tunes are worthy, if darker, additions to that genre. Shortstack and a Longneck should be on every trucker's radio, and Downstairs At the Funeral Home is a bang-up adult contribution to the Monster Mash genre. There's even a tasty instro in the mix. Highly recommended !

The HEARSE DRIVER, hearsedriver.com

The undertaker is paid. The devil laughs in the hills.
Welcome to the world of E.J. Wells. If you like a song with a story and style, look no further! I call his music "gothic-western", but you'll call it an American classic!

So sit back with an issue of the comic book "Preacher", take a pull on a longneck, and settle in for a night of E.J. Wells' "Rhyolite"...ya might want to leave the lights on though.

Sue Merchant

Refreshingly Original!
Refreshingly different and original, I applaud this artist's creativity as well as his musicianship! In the pop ear and candy world of 'commercial' music, it is inspiring to see those 'few' who maintain their artistic integrity and follow their own path to the end! This is music for the Intelligent and Discerning and those people exist in their many out there! I do hope you find a label with the insight and business acumen needed to ensure your work reaches its very fullest potential! Twenty years in Marketing tells me you have a Winner here! My sincere best wishes go with you!!!

Richard Snow

I love Cemetery Man!
If you like your Rock with a dash of country and great stories then EJ is the man. The title track has the moodiness, edge and melody of the best work of Del Shannon. Talking of Del, there's a superb cover of "Keep Searchin". For me ,"Cemetery Man" steals the show. I love it. GREAT ALBUM EJ!

Everett Young

Alt-Country-Cowpunk-Mariachi
"Wells and co-producer Chris Arduser were reportedly surprised at the failure of this album to garner more attention. This is no surprise; in psychological parlance, people are “cognitive misers,” and if they cannot easily categorize a record on a first or second listen, they frequently lose the patience to continue applying the effort necessary to understand it. This is the rule followed by major label marketing departments, of course, to the eternal detriment of art.

Rhyolite defies pigeon holes. It is electric-alt-western-rock-punk-mariachi, or something like that, with extremely professional production. Straight rock’n’roll beats and distorted guitar blend with Southwestern single-note-hollow-body electric guitar sounds, trumpets from south of the border, and Wells’s reasonably convincing outlaw baritone (a whiff, but only a whiff, of Johnny Cash) to produce a mix of styles that we’ve not heard before, but which does work, if you invest some time in it. The record sounds fully professional, as would be expected given Arduser’s involvement.

It’s a very smartly made record, and probably came out exactly as its conceivers intended. It is, it can be said, a good record. But it’s not right for our top 20. Although Wells must be weary of hearing this refrain, in this case the record misses for reasons other than merely its defying categorization.

Wells’s ironic lyrics wink at you through a veritable laundry list of old-West clichés — high-noon duels, horses and wagons, coffee and eggs, cowboy calls of “yip yip yip.” Thus does the singer keep his subject matter firmly at an emotional arm’s length. After several listens, I still remain unconvinced that I can detect Wells giving the first damn about the stories he’s telling. I can’t be sure whether or not he’s making fun of his subjects and the cowboy-music genre. Of course, by intellectual punk aesthetics, this is the very definition of getting it right. But we are looking to fall in love with records, not merely to chuckle as we acknowledge wry intelligence in them.

The melodies are fine and sometimes hook you, but can sound like an afterthought. It’s clear the emphasis in Wells’s writing was not here. Despite the above-mentioned ironic remove, and aside from the strong stylistic statement of the record, we think it’s probably the lyric and the stories Wells intended to place front-and-center. And in this matter, we think it was a mistake to undermix the vocal. In this respect, Rhyolite abandons its western folk footing in favor of that of modern punk rock, in which loud vocals are viewed with suspicion. Although Wells’s vocal is not so soft as to make it clear whether this choice was conscious or unconscious, we think at least unconsciously, the producers may have invoked this punk tradition during mixdown. Where audible, Wells’s vocals are colorful. But in most of the songs, there are entire passages rendered wholly indecipherable by sheer low volume. Where the lyrics are of primary importance, we would argue low vocals can wreak considerable damage on an album’s impact, and may have played a stealthy yet enormous role in this record’s failure to garner more attention.

If we take Johnny Cash as the standard-bearer for slightly-ironic-yet-honest outlaw folk, a comparison of this with a record from Cash’s best years may be appropriate. Are Cash’s vocals buried in the mix? Almost never. Indeed, by today’s standards, vocals on country, folk and rock records from the 1960s tended overmix their lead vocals to the point of absurdity. I can imagine sitting at the controls and trying to persuade a modern-day singer to allow me to mix his vocal as loud as on, say, a Roy Orbison record. I would get nowhere!

If Wells wants to pursue this 3-year-old project further, a left-field recommendation, then, might be that he re-mix it, with the vocal overmixed to the point of what will sound to him like ridiculousness. As a reference, consider Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind from 1997, produced by Daniel Lanois. The vocal is, on this album, at times so loud as to be mixed manifestly incorrectly. It takes guts to do this, but almost nobody outside the musicians sitting around a mixing console ever complains that the vocal is too easy to make out. People who love music of the punk aesthetic and embrace experimentation at the same time should not object to this one change. Anyhow, they should check out this record, because, notwithstanding our gripes, it’s good, the attitude is just right, and it ought to have received more attention than it did. (Did this record not achieve more notoriety at college radio, at least?)

Alternately, Wells could take his promising stylistic beginnings as a foundation and evolve just a smidge. For our preferences, we’d like to hear more authentic connection with the subject matter, a little more seriousness, and a really loud vocal. Wells clearly has something important to say, and it might be prudent to view Rhyolite as a preliminary experiment, the step he needed to take to ready himself to create his masterpiece." -Everett Young, I-Pop