Semi-Twang | The Why and the What For

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Rock: Americana Country: Americana Moods: Featuring Guitar
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The Why and the What For

by Semi-Twang

Semi -Twang, part of the original vanguard of Americana music, ups the stakes as it traverses through the musical geography of Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and New Orleans with passion and conviction; it's topical and personal with a bit more soul influence.
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Wrong Side of the Tracks
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2:41 album only
2. 52 Jokers
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3:38 album only
3. Au Contraire
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3:44 album only
4. The More She Gets the More She Wants
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5:08 album only
5. You Love Everybody
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3:18 album only
6. Contents Under Pressure
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3:40 album only
7. Love Interest
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2:50 album only
8. Making Everybody Cry
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3:43 album only
9. Miss Watson
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3:12 album only
10. A Handsome Man
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4:38 album only
11. Dark Out
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2:47 album only
12. Foghorn
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4:24 album only


Album Notes
On his "If There Was A Way" album on Reprise Records, Dwight Yoakum sings "Honey you sure do it well, but I don't need it done." That song and other John Sieger compositions have been discovered and then recorded by artists such as The Bodeans, The Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, Tex-Mex superstar Flaco Jimenez and many others during John Sieger's prolific musical career.

Those songs were also all originally recorded by John’s band, SEMI-TWANG.

SEMI-TWANG was formed to give voice to Sieger’s prodigious songwriting talent while he was still touring and recording with his well-known band at the time, The R&B Cadets.

The signature depth and quality of Sieger’s material along with his unique delivery enabled him to attract and hold a band of topnotch musicians. "I knew this was a good band after our first rehearsal", said Mike Hoffmann, a member of the alt-country band E*I*E*I*O before helping form SEMI-TWANG "We instantly had all these fantastic songs John had written - every one a gem."

It also attracted the attention of Lenny Waronker, Warner Records’ President, who signed Sieger and SEMI-TWANG to an unprecedented 7 album record deal on Warner Brothers records.

To produce the album, the band hired Mitchell Froom, producer of Crowded House, Los Lobos, Suzanne Vega, Richard Thompson; Chris Thomas, producer of The Beatles, INXS, Badfinger, and The Pretenders; and Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads. A companion music video for the title track of the album, “Salty Tears”, was made.

In the spring of 1988, SEMI-TWANG’S Warner Bros “Salty Tears” record was released to lavish critical praise. A North American tour was launched, but the band and Warner Bros parted ways after a three-year run.

SEMI-TWANG and the Salty Tears album are still viewed today as precursors of today’s Americana movement. Some of the great songs from that album can be found on SEMI-TWANG’s website:

The band’s premature breakup may have delayed a wider discovery of Sieger’s material, but that delay came to an end with the release of SEMI-TWANG’S 2010 "Wages of Sin" album.

SEMI-TWANG is proud to announce the release of "The Why and the What For" album, now available online at CDBaby, iTunes, and


to write a review

Richard Fitzgerald

The Why and The What For
New release by Semi-Twang - reviewed by Richard Fitzgerald

When the curtain comes up on Wrong Side of The Tracks, the opening cut on this new disk, you know you're in for great rock & roll. From Bob Jennings growling bari-sax on the intro, through Jason Klagstad's slide guitar work placed like masterful punctuation, John Sieger delivers a narrative from the beleaguered side of our economic divide. A line toward the end, "they drop some coin down on the ground, and tell you how to act" reminds me of the noble defiance expressed in Leadbelly's Bourgeois Blues.

52 Jokers paints a surreal nightmare of the social event from hell. "The bearskin rug beneath you starts to crawl"...articulates that Dali-esque sickness from head to toe that this guy is enduring, wishing to be anywhere else. The other darker number on this disk which closes it out, is "Foghorn". A dreamlike collection of images that conjure a film-noir sense of desperation and paranoia.

Sieger and his band of competent rock & roll veterans underpin these songs with just the right music. From the drumming of Bob Schneider, bass of Mike Sieger and guitar work of Mike Hoffman, this is great rhythm section work that knows how to disappear into the song and come out effortlessly entertaining.

Most of the remaining cuts are up-beat, danceable, and reveal the irreverent wry humor of Sieger and his sometime lyric collaborator Mike Feldman. Yes, that Mike Feldman of the radio show "Whadda ya know".

Au Contraire points out to the other party that he indeed knows the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit and won't be having anymore of it thank you very much. All this juxtaposed to a light mid tempo two step that could almost be cajun.

The More She Gets the More She Wants is a Sieger/Feldman tune that portrays a high maintenance narcissist whose acquisitions leave her emotionally anemic for all her effort.

From You Love Everybody a sultry blues, through Contents Under Pressure a cautionary hint that anger and grudges will possibly kill you, this band shows a musical versatility that makes it impossible to pigeon hole. Love Interest is a sweet missive praising the trust and companionship of an obviously great love. Making Everybody Cry is one of my personal favorites, as it manages to express with much more grace and civility than I can muster, an appeal to think with more empathy about the way we do unto one another in this very uncivil world today.

Miss Watson is an alliterative and delightful Chuck Berry-like romp through a Romeo's date book, proving once and for all that good old danceable rock and roll will never wear out. A Handsome Man paints a creepily menacing portrait of a swaggering sociopath who knows his leverage is in his looks. Sieger and Feldman can, on efforts like this make you want to check the locks on the doors. Dark Out is a last effort plea to a girl we all know is not going to turn around or come back and talk it out. We can't help but sympathize with the schmuck anyway, as he gives it one last. The music and spare narrative here remind me of the wry kind of humor Dave Davies of the Kinks would often use.

All told, this is a CD that deserves a wider audience. This is the second CD from the recently re-grouped Semi-Twang band that twenty five years ago had a one album fling with Warner Brothers. 2010 yielded The Wages of Sin which should also be considered a must-have. The loss was Warner Brothers and us, the listening public. I have no doubt we'll be hearing more from Mr. Sieger and Semi-Twang. I'm happy to say, they're back!