Before they came together in 2012 as NOCONA, husband-and-wife team,
Chris and Adrienne Isom, along with charismatic southern-native, Annie
Rothschild, were 3/4’s of the LA based Roots-Folk-Punk band Paladino,
who ended their time together playing the Bonnaroo Music and Arts
Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Longtime friend and accomplished
drummer, Justin Smith (Old Californio, The Seeds) joined Chris, Adrienne
and Annie as NOCONA, now an energetic Americana-Rock group that
delivers free spirited, up-tempo tunes and infectious hooks that are
brimming with heartfelt emotion and honesty, penned by songwriter Chris
NOCONA returned to Bonnaroo in 2013 after touring much of the year.
The band landed a song on the hit T.V show Bones and received critical
reviews after playing Fillmore West and SF’s Independent opening up for
Broke Down in Bakersfield. NOCONA has already begun recording their next
full length release.
A music veteran, Chris spent time playing in NYC Anti-Folk/Art-Punk
bands Mooney Suzuki and The Adam Green Band which adds to NOCONA’S
diverse sound, incorporating punk and underground into their
Country-Rock . The name NOCONA, is a nod to Chris’ Texas roots. “Nocona
is the area in Texas where my Mom’s family originally lived; it comes
from the Comanche word for Wanderers or Travelers.” Chris’ mom, even has
ties to music history, once playing the role of tutor to Joe B. Mauldin
ofBuddy Holly and The Crickets.
The influence of 1950’s artists like Buddy Holly are clearly heard on
NOCONA’S debut album and they remind listeners that it was that
marriage between early American rock ‘n’ roll along with a youthful,
rebellious and socially conscious mindset that brought about the whole
punk movement of the late 1970s. NOCONA who do well in evolving that
sound and spirit, take things one step further by drawing on psychedelic
bands like the 13th Floor Elevators and Love, along with the California
twang of Buck Owens and Gram Parsons, crossed with the Outlaw Country
of Johnny Cash. The mix of these varied musical tastes, comes together
to bring a distinct style that takes risks and delivers a sound unlike
any other artists today.
“This is the first music I’ve written that’s free from a lot of the
artistic hang ups that have stifled my writing in the past,” says Chris.
“I’ve let go and just accepted the process, and sometimes that means
exploring melodies and lyrics that used to be too personal for me to
share with anyone. Other times, it means just shutting up and rocking
the fuck out,” says Chris.
Over the past year, NOCONA has been hard at work and recently
finished their first full-length album, which was recorded at Kevin
Jarvis’s Sonic Boom Room studio in Venice, California. Their first
single, “Brimstone,” is one of the mellower tracks on the album, but has
a steady movement that features driving acoustic blues riffs and
harmonica along with an engaging boy/girl sung verse that is filled with
honesty as the dialogue candidly tells the story of Chris and
Adding to the eclectic sound on NOCONA, is the work of renowned
pedal steel guitarist, Greg Leisz (Emmylou Harris, Beck, Bruce
Springsteen, Eric Clapton), a friend of Annie’s. “When I played the
material for him, he was excited and I was overjoyed that he was willing
to share his genius,” she says.
NOCONA is a collection of songs that will appeal to any taste.
Ranging from Whites Of Your Eyes, an evocative panoramic track
reminiscent of the higher energy moments of Calexico or Canadian alt
country pioneers, The Sadies, but with a strong nod to the same western
and surf influences. Train Song, a contemplative chilling track echoing
some of the English folk melodic sensibility of a Bert Janch but with a
contemporary hard alt-americana rock feel. Hated, a devil may care pop
song recalling some of the best pop sensibilities of CCR but with a
contemporary Nashville West twist. My Oh My, a modern plains cowboy road
song rave-up with several unexpected turns. Brimstone, the first single
and homage to the great tradition, where the crossroads between
Americana blues, country, folk and pop, intersect.
Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto spent most of the last decade performing
and recording as Mars, Arizona, winning fans with their original brand
of cosmic Americana. Like many other American towns, Mars, Arizona
disappeared, forced to move on after four well received
albums. "Like the vanishing American family farm, it became too
expensive to run the family business," Knowles says. "The town was auctioned off and we became NewAmerican Farmers."
On Brand New Day, Knowles and Storto continue to showcase their
evolution as songwriters intent on celebrating the essence of the
American experience with all its contradictions and complexities.
There’s a pleasant sort of disorientation that comes with listening to
New American Farmers’ Brand New Day. There are a number of times
throughout the album’s 11 tracks when your head’s going to snap around
and your brain’s going to tell you that you know that song – even though
it’s the first time you’ve ever heard it.
Right off the bat,
“Everywhere” frigs with you in the nicest of ways: the grinning banjo
bounce and the easy glide of the harmony vocals are as vintage Byrds as
The Byrds could be – not an imitation, you understand, but that vibe …
Of course, some of that can’t help but happen: that’s the legendary Gene
Parsons playing that banjo, boys and girls – a Byrdman himself from ‘68
to ’72. But those harmonies? Those are straight from the throats and
hearts of New American Farmers’ core duo, Paul Michael Knowles and
Nicole Storto. Vocal weaves like this are a gift to hear; Storto and
Knowles dole ‘em out left and right all through Brand New Day.