7th Direction | Hundred Miles Gone

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Rock: Acoustic World: Acadian Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Hundred Miles Gone

by 7th Direction

The total package of insightful lyrics, striking melodies, soaring harmonies, blistering guitars, soulful grooves, and gritty artistic integrity is found in this Bay Area rock band's debut cd.
Genre: Rock: Acoustic
Release Date: 

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1. Dobro
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5:31 album only
2. Hundred Miles Gone
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5:41 album only
3. Forgotten
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4:42 album only
4. Grass On The Highway
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4:20 album only
5. In Line
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5:40 album only
6. Just Like Icarus
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6:16 album only
7. Consumated Man
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5:15 album only
8. Outskirts of Paradise
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5:52 album only
9. Never Wake
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4:39 album only
10. Southern Skies
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4:50 album only
11. Rifts of Time
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6:52 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
7TH DIRECTION | THE FIRST WALTZ
by Dennis Cook of JamBase

I have no idea what to expect on the night I attend 7th Direction's album release gig. In many respects, this is how I like to experience all bands for the first time, a vague notion of what they sound like anchored only by my adventurous imagination. That way the notes can seep into my pores, permeating my being in a unique way. I do know this band has played a number of shows with the wonderful Grasshoppers and they have deep affection for the same rock that rules my world. A line from their website states, "Where old school tradition and storytelling take a new direction in our music." As I strode up Geary Boulevard to the bar it occurs to me that the chaos sign is eight double-pointed arrows crossing one another and I wonder if the seventh direction is the one that pulls us out of the maelstrom.

As they lean into the first song I hear some of the big pink hum of The Band. I pick out the word "Dobro" from the chorus and have no problem imagining old Curtis Loew picking out melodies on this ramshackle instrument made of Acadian driftwood. Confirmation of these Canadian echoes follows with a punchy take on "Shape I'm In." I first used the expression "ragged but right" about an album when I heard Stage Fright in college. Up on stage this band carries some of the same jubilant density, the sap of bards and softly badass pickers running in their veins. This ain't no formal dinner, it's good grub laid out in a way that makes you welcome. Stacking originals next to a tune of this caliber shows a kind of raucous fearlessness. Comparisons with their forefathers are thus unavoidable and to their credit they hold up in all kinds of ways.

Their multiplicity of voices has the harmonic jostle of Danko, Helm and Manuel though Cory B has a far sweeter songbird singing in his throat than any in The Band. I'm especially taken with Phil McGee, who besides being a varied and exciting lead guitarist, has a great deal of real living in his voice, a kind of hard road honesty that only actual experience can produce. His turn singing lead on "Outskirts of Paradise" gives me a happy happy shiver up the back of my neck. The entire piece conjures up the clear-eyed truth telling of Bob Dylan when he rode on a slow train coming up around the bend. They play with the hard edge of the Mark Knopfler led unit that backed up Zimmy, and Phil's guitar has a liquidy flow that suggest paradise might lie on the banks of some great river.

"Like a beautiful rainbow, you can see it but you just can't touch..."

Second set finds them evoking a little band Jerry Garcia used to play in, all sunshine daydreams and smiling at the miles gone and gone for good. When they tilt into "Brown Eyed Women" it makes all the sense in the world, as sharp and sweetly clean against the dusty back of the mind's throat as that bottle of hootch must be. It's all new to me except that it isn't, strangers meeting and knowing each other's tongue. They like their water deep and cool and man alive so do I.

"Keep my eyes open wide and stay between the lines as the highway leads me further still from home..."

Next morning I rise before the neighbors and put on their debut album release, Hundred Miles Gone. It comes rushing from my speakers with a dawn light that goes well with the brightening sky. And it helps with the Kilimanjaro of dishes waiting to be scrubbed. It's invigorating, inviting, intimate and probably a half dozen other good things that start with the letter "I." My lady wanders in sleepily and asks me what I'm listening to as she puts in her toast. Given the monstrous amount of tuneage played around this house it's always a sign of quality when she's motivated to ask for details.

For the next week I wake up every day with this album and each spin reveals new charms. One day it's the mature hope in the face of adversity so prominent in their words. Another day it's the rubbery bass of Assaf Jaffe and the direct and palpable joy of Cory's voice. Yet another morning I'm taken with the spot-on touches from the guest players; Alisa Rose's warm embrace of fiddle, Martin Fierro's glowing sax accents or the great Will Scarlet blowing the beating heart out of his harp.

A month on it only gets better, a fuller finish develops like a wooden surface rubbed down with a firm hand, growing more lustrous and darkly deep with each coat applied. Besides being the best album by a Bay Area band I've heard in 2003 it's also the best album period. It's a new year and time will tell. What I can say is that their songs are already friends, bumping shoulders with staples from David Crosby and Joni Mitchell, those sounds I turn to when not much else feels right in my ear. Something in the production gives it the same comfortable aura as the artists that grew up in the early 70's California cotton fields. Like the recently departed Mother Hips (who 7th Direction bear a striking similarity to both in performance and on wax) they possess a warmth that doesn't disconnect your mind, a heart that beats despite being broken one too many times. This is their first waltz between the thin line of fire and ice and I'll be listening all the way to their last hat dance.

Dennis Cook
JamBase | West Coast

Find rants, writing, ramblings and an archive of music articles at www.denniscook.com


Reviews


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No Depression

Americana Rock Lives
Roots music breathes fire in the ears of all listeners as Northern California's hottest upcoming band debut cd spins gracefully in time. Hundred Miles Gone could have easily passed for a lost album from the mid seventies with it's warmth and sincerity, contrasted against the stark emptyness of so much of todays music. The only question on this writers pen is how long untill a follow up CD will make it's appearance.

Ellis Bancroft

If you aint heard them than you just don't know
Thank's to my friends in California who emailed an sent a link to 7th Direction's site. They are my new favorite band and the best album I've bought in several years.

Denali Aiken

And they said "Rock and Roll was dead."
In these days where electronica, trance and hip-hop seem to be ruling the market it's so refreshing to see a group of serious song-writers who don't need to pander to the catch of the day trends in pop music. 7th Direction's album, Hundred Miles Gone brings hope to a fairly tepid rock scene with Americana, roots, blues and a touch of Old School Great to see another breakout band come out of the San Francisco scene, and they said rock was dead.

Zero Magazine

Keeping it real!!
No need for pretentious or vague references, if you like rock music buy this album. 7th Direction's debut CD may be the strongest first album since Robbie Robertson and The Band emerged from the basement of Big Pink in the late 60's. Finally some new music that does not suck.

Ruben Segoviono

Excellence of execution
Hundred Miles Gone is as close to perfection as any debut album I've reviewed in my 15 years as a journalist. I'm sure a few years will only bring 7th direction closer to their potential, but if their first foray into recorded music is any indicator of what lies in store for these five young men, I predict the music world has a lot to look forward to from these fine songwriters and fierce musicians.

Saron McDermott

Hauntingly beautiful
Every now and again an artist or group emerges that touches the listener in a deep and meaningfull way. 7th Direction's startling debut CD is the finest example of this phenomenon in recent memory, and Hundred Miles Gone is the best debut Album I have heard in over twenty years.

East Bay Express

Songsmiths of the highest calibur with guitar chops that just dont stop
7th direction's debut album hundred miles gone may be the best CD I heard in 2003. With exceptional lyrics, stunning solo's and guest spots from some legendary players the album packs a punch for lovers of jam music, americana and rock and roll. If you haven't heard it yet give it a listen, and find out for yourself, 7th Direction is the real deal.

Don Klonpein

Don't take my word for it, listen for yourself
When I read Relix magazine's review I ordered the Cd for myself. It arrived in just two days and blew my mind. This may be the best Debut Album I've heard in about ten years. Touches of 70's songwriting, tremendous vocals and some of the best lyrics I heard all year. And Phil Mcgee, a long time Santa Cruz/San Francisco player is finally captured on CD at his electrifying finest. Shade's of Garcia and Clapton with a touch of Mark Knopfler. His slide work jumps off the tracks and each solo is nailed. If you don't like good music do not buy this album. 7th Direction have something to say, and damn they say it well. But don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself.

James Mccalister

Hypnotic music and inspiring lyrics
7th Direction's first album may be the best debut album since The Band broke out with Music From Big Pink in the laste sixties. If you like songs, you'll love 7th direction.

Mick Skidmore

Such talent, so much potential. Raw rock done with grace and style
7th Direction debut disk Hundred Miles Gone is the by far most pleasant surprise I've had in many, many years of reviewing music. I first got alerted to this emerging talent when a friend mentioned he has seen Sax superhero Martin Fiero sit in with a incredible and newly formed band at a benifit conceret in Berkeley in 2002. When the group went into the studio and self produced their gem of a debut, Hundred Miles Gone a few months later not only did Martin, best known for his stellar work with The Grateful Dead, The Jerry Garcia Band and Zero, record tracks for the rookie crew, but the reclusive living harpist and legend Will Scarlet from Hot Tuna played on the album and went on to join the band for over a year live on stage. Watching this young band literally appear out of thin air and bring two legends of bay area music into the studio for their first foray in recorded music made me ravenously curious in anticipation for the disks release. More surprising than anything though was that even with two of my childhood heros laying down their soul on the emotional rollercoaster that Hundred Miles so beautifully turned out to be, Phil McGee's presence as the musical guru, lead guitarist and co-vocalist shines the loudest. I had known of Mr. Mcgee's many talents through several of his Santa Cruz bands in the 80's and 90's, but didn't realize he was in 7th Direction untill my 3rd or 4th spin of their album when I started leafing through the liner notes to see where the magic sounds were coming from. While all the musicianship and songwriting is top notch, Mcgee's vocals and leads, and most particularly his heartwrenching slide work make this debut album a better listen every time through. Like fine wine it's subtlty and depth seem to mature and grow voraciously on the listeners ear. On the opening track "Dobro" Mcgee smoothly trades leads with Scarlet's howling harmonica, and if you listen close enough the mastery of the production becomes clear as the astute music fan can pick up the numerous lead trackw laid over eachother in the last guitar solo. What sounds like one great solo is actually a carefully sculpted and articulately produced patchwork of Mcgee picking like the wind and over dubbing a barely noticable slide track so complimentary and subtly sophisticated it took a few spins to really soak it in. 7th Direction may or may not be the next big rock band to blow up out of the San Francisco area, but make no mistake if their follow up to Hundred Miles is anything like their debut, it will getting alot of play at my home and at the office of Relix too. If you like songs buy Hundred Miles Gone, if you dig a live show and live around SF, go see 7th Direction soon, but most of all if you wan to hear some sick guitar log on to www.7thdirection.net the live tracks sparkle with intensity and the bands new drummer Phil Hodges, who joined after the album was cut but is on the live MP3's, brings a strength of intensity and rythmic depth that is lacking on their debut album. While youre on the site check out their video cover of Peter Green's "Station Man". Phil McGee makes i tlook to easy as he wails like a man possessed on his six string, the consumate stick man, Zero's Greg Anton sits in on drums while Will Scarlet convulses around the stage blowing the beating heart out of his harmonica. Long story short 7th Direction are a throwback to a time when stortellers donned their instruments and took the stage to make music that had feeling, that had heart. If what I've seen so far is any clue of whats to come from these five young men from Northern California, music fans have a good deal to look forward to from this raw bunch of talented and graceful band. They surprised on old critc like me, their potentiual seems boundless and the future looks bright.