One late night in the back end of 2016 during a rowdy post-election string of concerts, I saw Winstons get a crowd all riled up in the back room of Greenpoint dance club The Good Room. Everyone was raw from bad weather and an inescapably rough couple months and the room was ready for something real, and goddamn if these two didn’t bring it.
Over the few years since, Winstons have toured a bit, released a fantastic single and recorded what will be their first full length album, self-titled, out 3/1 on Virginia roots-rock imprint WarHen Records.
It would be easy to dismiss Winstons at first run as just another garage/blues two piece. But once you dig into their back catalogue (including solo work from singer/guitarist Lou Nutting) you’ll find a broad reserve of songwriting skill and musical influences that are on full display on this new record.
It starts with “Hard Times” a rework of an older song (one of my favorites) that despite it’s name is a beautifully earnest love song that rumbles along with all the momentum of a sixteen wheeler rolling through the southern-state byways. The rest of the album follows similar roads, taking the scenic route through fiercely human territory. There are exhortations to persevere by way of hip shaking (“Cut It Up”, “Keep The Beat”) along with yearning soul-soaked love stories overlaid with blues fire (“Still Cry”, “Your Heart’s Mine”) and heartbroken blues ballads ready made for the roadhouse jukebox (“Heavens Full Of Mules”.) All of this laid down with the loose and lo-fi feel of an old Sun Records one-take thrown together at the prime crossroads of having it down and still having fun with it.
This feel is anchored by Lou Nutting’s nimble guitar work and haggard howl backed up by Ben Brock Wilkes’ exhilarant drumming and backup vocals. Throughout the full album Winstons as a band wield what they bring to their live shows, what they brought to that audience back in 2016 and what I consider their signature: the sound of barely holding it together when you have to live with your mistakes, of throwing yourself face first into what’s coming. A lust for life with all it’s heartbreak.
Winstons, the first full length from Winstons, drops March 1st on WarHen Records. You can celebrate the new record with Winstons and guest Native Sun at their LP release party Friday, March 1st at Union Pool. Get tickets here and if you wanna hear my interview with them from a couple years back, well here you go ->
And one more thing, BUY THE RECORD!