Cop Light Parade is the long overdue follow up to
High on Stress' 2005 critically acclaimed debut
Moonlight Girls. The first album received excellent
notices and airplay in not only their hometown of
Minneapolis MN, but across the nation and from as
far away as the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
Cop Light Parade is the culmination of three years of
weathering enough personnel changes, geographic
obstacles and wardrobe malfunctions to have killed
a less recalcitrant band. Following the sudden
departure of founding member Jon Tranberry, the
band welcomed Jim Soule, who took up the bass
guitar and played his first show a few days later
opening for Jackson Browne at a huge outdoor
festival. The band returned to the studio to begin
work on its second album only to be set back by
another unexpected loss. Guitarist/songwriter/raconteur
Ben Baker moved to China, having
already contributed heavily to the recording. Baker
continued to work on the project, utilizing new
school technology and old school frequent flier
miles, while Chad Wheeling, a curiously youthful yet
grizzled veteran guitarist, joined singer/songwriter
Nick Leet, drummer Mark Devaraj, and bassist Jim
Soule in finishing the record. Bringing things full
circle, Cop Light Parade was recorded with great
care by Jon Tranberry.
An advance single of the title track of Cop Light
Parade has been released worldwide and added to
dozens of radio stations (online, terrestrial and
satellite), once again drawing raves from outposts
of the blogosphere from San Francisco to Istanbul.
Reviewers have favorably compared the band's
"almost alt.country" sound to REM, the Replacements,
Wilco, and Josh Rouse among others.
The other acts assembled for its CD party tonight at the Fine Line (Romantica, Slim Dunlap and the Snaps) are a good indicator of the music High on Stress put on its album, "Cop Light Parade." Led by Minot, N.D.-reared singer/guitarist Nick Leet, the quartet has a little bit of Romantica's languid and lovely folk-rock sound, as in the opening title track, plus lots of Dunlap's barnstorming twang, heard in the yahoo rocker "Rhode Island." They're a band not too cool to call themselves alt-country, and that's a good indicator of the album's pure, inspired sound.
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
Like plenty of other local bands, High on Stress recalls both the alt-country sway of the Jayhawks and the devil-may-care swagger of the Replacements. Band leader Nick Leet even sings like a sobered-up Paul Westerberg, although it sounds like his natural voice as opposed to mere hero worship. The recording of the band's new sophomore album, "Cop Light Parade," was apparently wrought with strife, although you wouldn't know it from spinning easygoing, instantly likable tracks like "White Sugar" and "Abbey Rose." To further push the Replacements angle, the band drafted a former band member (Slim Dunlap) to play the CD-release show alongside Snaps and Romantica.
-St.Paul Pioneer Press
David Brusie, "Flyover State," and High on Stress, "Cop Light Parade." Two of the area's finest song-centered acts return with sophomore works that further the alt-country-pop canon, and provide good porch/campfire companionship.
-Jim Walsh (Author of “All Over But the Shouting)
"Cop Light Parade sounds like the Flying Burrito Brothers if they were less stoned"
-Kevin Bowe (Grammy award winning songwriter and guitarist of Paul Westerberg and his Only Friends)
“Minneapolis has a storied musical history. Luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Prince, The Replacements and even The Hold Steady have some sort of link to that chilly region. After listening to Cop Light Parade by the Minneapolis band, High on Stress, I can’t help but feel they have done their regional, musical ancestors proud.”
If Jay Farrar worked with Paul Westerberg in Uncle Tupelo instead of Jeff Tweedy, this is how they would have sounded. In fact, some of frontman/songwriter Nick Leet's song titles recall Westerberg's wit and wordplay ("White Sugar", "My White Pages", "Trample With Care", "We Could Have Been Nobody", "Tomorrow Is Coming at a Bad Time", just to name five). Mixing Americana with pop and rock in a distinctively Minneapolis manner, High on Stress also mix in a Stonesish sound at times (the aforementioned "White Sugar", of course), as well as the roots pop of a Walter Clevenger. There's a real uniformity of quality to all the tracks here, and if your tastes run in this area, you'll definitely want this one.
-Absolute Powerpop (Florida)
“A lot of bands cite The Replacements as a huge inspiration in their sound. But when you listen to Minneapolis-based High On Stress, the sentiment feels genuine. But let’s give the band some freakin’ credit here. They have mastered the sound that has made their city so revered in the rock stratosphere. ‘Mats aside, the band’s catchy, rootsy alt-rock is mixed with equal parts Yo La Tengo, Big Star and The Jayhawks.”
-Late Night Wallflower (New York City)
“I think regular readers of this blog will testify that I haven’t lost my sense of childlike excitement and slavish enthusiasm when I do come across something that hits me in that musical G-spot somewhere between the ears, brain and heart. You can’t argue with the statistics: of my favourite albums over the past few years, since I started recording such things properly, the vast majority have originated somewhere on the North American/Canadian subcontinent.
High on Stress are the latest who can count themselves members of that roster.”
-Last Years Girl (Glasgow)
“When I first heard “High On Stress”, a smile spread across my face within the first few seconds of the song starting. There’s this undeniable influence from The Replacements in their tunes, and a Paul Westerberg-like croon always reminds me of better days. Honestly, the songs I heard off their 2005 “Moonlight Girls” album sounded to me like it should have been placed on the “Can’t Hardly Wait” soundtrack, alongside Westerberg and Co. and Matthew Sweet… with a little of Uncle Tupelo thrown in for good measure. A more innocent time, for me at least; when anything was possible, and music was the frikkin’ saviour of the world. In other words… it was extremely good times.”
“It’s been a long time since anything from Minneapolis has caught my ear, but High on Stress channels the city’s hey day. “Cop Light Parade” is reminiscent of fellow Minnesotans The Jayhawks and Soul Asylum.”
-A Free Man (Australia)
“What can I say? I'm a sucker for this sort of song. Like Wilco before they decided they were too cool for this sort of thing or like Whiskeytown in the moments when Ryan Adams manages to keep it all in check”
-Heartache with Hard Work (New Hampshire)
Twin Cities quintet High On Stress follow up their remarkable debut, Moonlight Girls, with a quality collection of memorable, rootsy ballads, bouncy, intelligent slices of pop, and proud, life-affirming reflections on life, love, and pain in the modern world. Deftly juggling such noble influences as Paul Westerberg, Big Star, and Nick Drake, the band proves that smart blue collar rock with a dollop of rural flavoring is far from dead.
Kicking off with the wistful, drivin'-in-the-rain vibe of the title track, singer/guitarist Nick Leet, bassist Jim Soule, drummer Mark Devaraj, and multi-instrumentalists Chad Wheeling and Ben Baker mix, blend, and pour out a heady, refreshing musical brew that simultaneously captivates and motivates the listener.
"Abbey Rose" is an infectiously catchy pop nugget with a perfect combo of sharp, stinging guitar work, punch-in-the-gut lyricism, and whirling, roiling blasts of organ. "Table B In Queens" gleefully bites the hand that feeds the band with lines like, "Rock n' Roll can kiss my ass/It's never saved anyone..." and "Rhode Island" shimmies and pounds out of the gate like a righteously riled, rejected lover on a desperate mission of self-recovery.
The album wraps up with a pair of pop-perfect heartbreakers that slyly compliment each other while simultaneously capturing two equally important sides of this outfit. "Tomorrow Is Coming At A Bad Time" shudders and clatters out of the gate with an endearing, lop-sided rock n' roll grin, the song's protagonist pleading, "I wanna make you stay/I wanna get in your way/I wanna get to you..." while CD closer "Awakened By The Night" is a gentle, sorrow-soaked reminder that even the greatest of loves, the most powerful of sounds, the strongest of friendships are all but temporary, if highly impressionable blips in time- over soft, almost weeping guitar licks, Leet croons "Some will grow up to be remembered/Some will just try all their lives/And leave the towns that they were from/Awakened by the night..." A tight, honest, refreshing batch of new tunes from an outfit that defies genre, refuses to fall into categorization, and continues to pen one stunning classic-to-be after another
-Tom Hallet (Round the Dial)
“Damn good, midwest, alt-country rock and roll”
-Perfect Porridge (Minneapolis)
“All killer, no filler”
-David DeYoung (Howwastheshow)