Mule Kick Records Presents
the new full-length record by
NOCONA ~ LOS DOS
Released July 10, 2020
Photo: Rob Shanahan
"The group is releasing its third album, Los Dos, on July 10. Ditty TV Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson was curious about the new NOCONA album and this brand-new video for “Tabernacle Woes,” so he was able to touch base with Chris and Adrienne via the wonders of a video interview. Check out what the Isoms had to say."
LOS DOS - NOCONA
By Chris Morris
Chris Isom - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
Adrienne Isom - Bass, Vocals
Justin Smith - Drums, Vocals
Elan Glasser - Harmonica
Xander Hitzig - Fiddle
Dan Wistrom - Pedal Steel Guitar
Carl Byron - Keys
Los Dos, the third album by the Los Angeles band Nocona, finds the band digging deeper into its bracing melding of hard-edged Americana and a keen punk-bred sensibility.
Vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Chris Isom says, “We’re heavily influenced by a lot of Americana – country, bluegrass, and folk, everything going back to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, and all the different ways that everything on that record split off into country and blues. But, also, I grew up in New York going to a lot of shows at CBGBs, in the punk and hardcore scene, and also acid rock and psychedelic pre-grunge stuff. There’s part of me that’s always wanted to freak people out, and have them walk away from our band thinking they’d never heard anything like that before.”
The new release – which succeeds Nocona’s self-titled 2014 debut and its 2015 sophomore effort Long Gone Song – was co-produced by Jay Braun and Adrienne Isom, with engineering by Braun and Kevin Jarvis. Sessions were begun in the Isoms’ garage, with work completed at Jarvis’ studio, the Sonic Boom Room, in Venice, California.
The mission for the band’s third album, Chris Isom says, was to keep it real: “We wanted to record as a band. We wanted to depart from the digital world as much as we could. We wanted to record without a click track, and we wanted the core of the recordings to be us playing in a room together – the way they used to do it in the punk days.”
Featuring 10 new originals written by Isom and a track, “Post Apocalyptic Blues,” penned by Isom and co-producer Braun, Los Dos is led off by the single “Stabby Mike.” Isom says of the song, “ ‘Stabby Mike’ was a joke that a friend and I had. He was like a dimestore hood. Back in the punk days, people had nicknames. I take something like that and tried to riff on it.”
He says of his songwriting philosophy, “I don’t write narratives. I try to write things that will have some longer-term poetic value, that aren’t tied to the times we’re living in. I try not to indulge in confessional songs. There are a light voice and a dark voice – different voices in my head – and I try to create some dialogic poetry in the writing.”
For some direction for the new recording, Isom – who grew up in New York, and played there with such acts as the garage unit Mooney Suzuki -- turned to his high school friend Braun.
“In New York, Jay played with a band called the Negatones, who were a pretty heavy punk outfit,” Isom says. “He ran a really great recording studio in Williamsburg called Melody Lanes for years. We know where each other are coming from, in terms of what I’m going for. Jay had always been saying, ‘Let’s do a record, let me come out there, I’ve got some ideas for how you can approach things a little differently.’
“Adrienne was really all about recording in the garage, too, and rejecting some of the way we’d been doing it. Previously we recorded our music in raw sessions, and then we’d take those into a big studio. On this, we recorded everything live. We wanted to be really organic.”
Nocona’s music reflects Isom’s eclectic ear. He says, “There are certain bands that have never gone out of my playlist: the 13th Floor Elevators, the Kinks, the Sonics, Link Wray. When I was in 7th grade, my cousins in Texas turned me on to the Minutemen and fIREHOSE and Can and the bands that were on the Nuggets boxed set, and also ZZ Top and Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton and Townes Van Zandt. Of course I love all the California country stuff, the bands that played the Palomino in North Hollywood. It’s all over the place.”
While working in New York, Isom met his wife-to-be, who is a native Angeleno. “Adrienne turned me on to X and some of the L.A. bands,” he says, “and that opened my eyes to the crazy aesthetic of L.A. One of the fascinating things about L.A. punk rock was that it was so much more engaged in rock ‘n’ roll and the blues and country.”
The Isoms – who played in New York, Austin, and Toronto before finally relocating to Los Angeles -- founded Nocona as a successor to their previous L.A. group, Paladino, with former Old Californio drummer Justin Smith, who like them worked regularly at the Grand Ole Echo, the city’s Sunday roots music showcase.
“Justin and I hit it off really well,” Chris says, “because we have the same garage rock backgrounds, but we also like a lot of the Americana stuff. He’s really a much more encyclopedic store of music than I am.”
The core members have found simpatico players in harmonica ace Elan Glasser, steel guitarist Dan Wistrom, and fiddler Xander Hitzig.
“I can’t give Xander and Dan enough credit for what they brought to the table,” says Isom. “Xander plays in a great band called the Hitzig Brothers – he’s a polymath, an amazing banjo player, an amazing mandolin player, guitar player. Dan’s the man. He approaches the pedal steel in an unorthodox way. He’s ready to go out in a crazy, psychedelic place that a lot of pedal steel players won’t go – it’s not their comfort zone if you want them to do super-weird stuff.”
The album also features the talents of the busy L.A. keyboardist Carl Byron.
Expansive, thoughtful, and hard-rocking, Los Dos is an exciting serving of forward-looking roots music.
Kim Grant KG Music Press
Brad Hunt WNS GROUP
Mule Kick Records
BOOKING + MANAGEMENT EUROPE
Renate von Löwis of Menar
Photo: Rob Shanahan
Check out our interview with Jimi Palacios on NOLA County Radio 102.3 WHIV FM! So cool to be included in such a great show! Our Interview starts around 1:14 🎙🎶🎧
PRESS LOS DOS
"A few months ago LA band Nocona came at us out of nowhere with one of our favorite albums of the year" -- KEXP
"Nocona keeps you guessing on this album – to the point that if you were browsing a record store, you wouldn’t be surprised to find this in the alt-country section or the psychedelic section. Perhaps it deserves its own label. Something along the lines of “soundtrack for a night in the desert.” -- Gary Schwind, Americana Highways
"Expansive, thoughtful, and hard-rocking, Los Dos is an exciting serving of forward-looking roots music." -- Chris Morris, Variety
"It’s an album as right for road-tripping as it is ready for bumming around the house, because it snaps you from reality and stirs you into their swirling cosmic country universe." -- American Standard Time
"If you've been gone that long, then you must come back with something really good. And that is exactly what is happening here. It is an artistic seven-mile step forward." -- Sugar Mountain Presents, Netherlands
"The Little Feat of the 21st Century" -- Sugar Mountain Presents, Netherlands
"NOCONA are a genre rotating outfit that wear their heart on their sleeve, coming from musical directions of their choosing, rather than following trends." -- LonesomeHighway.com / Dublin, Ireland
"Controlled chaos, a mutant strain of traditional American music and rock. Few bands can fluently and effectively integrate a wide range of musical orientations. NOCONA have certainly achieved that with flying colours with LOS DOS." -- LonesomeHighway.com / Dublin, Ireland
"The world was turned upside down by the pandemic and many records disappeared into limbo, others stopped on their way and some found their habitat on which to hatch in this madness. This is the case of the new album, “Los Dos”, by the Los Angeles, California band NOCONA." -- LOFF IT, Spain
"The album appears with the halo of the best LP's of the moment and candidate to sneak into the best of the year." -- LOFF IT, Spain
"Uniquely qualified to make their own unique brand of Americana.” — Brian Rock, TJ Music Magazine - Turnstyled, Junkpiled
“The blistering Chester, a take-no-prisoners frenzy, expands of the Exile-era Stones template, all rip-roaring riffs, slippery slide guitar and Elan Glasser's screaming harmonica, making for an absolute belter of a tune.”—Whiskey Preachin’
"Their brand of scorching rock & roll combined with the occasional ballad instantly hooked me" -- ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Jeff Munger - Its All Music Radio
"NOCONA has found that sweet spot. It is centered where Roots and Garage Rock, Cosmic Country and Punk find an older siblings stash of dark Psychedelia" -- Bryant Liggett, The Alternate Root Magazine
This is intelligently written, consistently accessible, well-sung, and well-played material from a band that deserves to be as big as many of the acts that influenced it. -- Jeff Burger, Americana Highways
“There is a fire there, pouring into the veins of these musicians. You can hear it in those vocals, and in that sense that things could explode at any moment. It may be some form of country, but this is music at the edge.” — Michael Doherty
"Los Dos is an album that is far removed from your run of the mill new album. In the garage of the Isoms, a very special atmosphere must have been present. Just imagine being able to hear the conception of this extremely interesting and good album." -- WoNo Magazine, Germany
"NOCONA really taps into a retro sound with this project... The entire album is originals, but they are instantly recognizable. That plus the instrumental prowess of the band combine to make Los Dos as comfortable as it is stylish."-- Shawn Underwood, Twangville
"Their psychedelic, garage rock and punk influences proudly fuel rollicking tracks such as “Chester,” “Too Much to Lose” and “Unseen Hand,” while California country’s heritage warms the harmonies and waves of pedal steel, acoustic guitar and soulful organ swelling behind narratives such as “Ace in the Hole” and the witty “Post Apocalyptic Blues.” With its thrumming undertow of fingerpicked guitar, violin and steel, “Tabernacle Woes” is the biggest sonic surprise—vaguely reminiscent of “Brimstone” (from 2013’s “ NOCONA ”) but with an eerie Celtic
twist." -- Bliss Bowen, Pasadena Weekly
“Los Dos is a really accomplished album from a band that have complete belief in themselves. One for the final Album of the Year list no doubt about that and a band to watch in the future. Wonderful album. Absolutely loved it!” — Hobo On The Tracks
"Southern California rock and roll with a lot of punk attitude, surprisingly adept lyrics, and somehow a hint of cosmic Americana is effusing it all." -- Calvin Powers, Americana Music Show
"Even though there are traditional folk instruments played this album shows that there is still a subversive, message filled, living history to Americana music. Fine album!" -- Bill Rutsch, Americana Music Show
"For myriad reasons, the City of Angels looms large over this record, with its mix of grit and glamour. Although the country music roots run deep throughout Los Dos, there are so many diverse influences going on here it's a record that defies attempts to pin it down." — Michael Hosie/Whiskey Preachin, UK
"As you ride Justin Smith's steam-train drums on the bluegrassy second track, Chasing Your Shadow, all the way to the chugging Allmans/Black Crowes groove of Free Throw, you know the party has well and truly started" - Whiskey Preachin'
"In songs about love, death, demons and our collective souls, NOCONA’s music will haunt you." -- Americana Highways
“Nocona arises from Southern California with punk-rock swagger blending with Americana sensibilities for a music experience sure to tend to all your needs.” —Ditty TV
"Just when you think you know where you are with Los Dos, the Americana roots sound is suddenly infused with some very English influences on Tabernacle Woes, bringing the kind of Bert Jansch/Nick Drake arpeggio guitar picking that Chicagoan Riley Walker has adapted so well. It's just a layer of flavour, though, that's added to the overall sound, and one of several songs that comes with an almost cinematic feel. With the delicate flourishes of Xander Hitzig's fiddle accompaniment, I could certainly imagine Tabernacle Woes sound tracking many of the dark dystopian westerns I like so much." -- Whiskey Preachin'
"A punk attitude, not loud and electric, but more like Westerberg on an acoustic guitar. I particularly like “Tabernacle Woes” with subtle effects added to a pretty melody. Even though there are traditional folk instruments played this album shows that there is still a subversive, message filled, living history to Americana music (note “Post Apocalyptic Blues” as an example). I can hear some of the Kinks references style wise in some of the old fashioned rocking tunes, maybe with a little Flying Burrito Brothers mixed in, pedal steel and all. The band stretches out on
“Unseen Hand”. Love the harmonica and fiddle fills too. Fine album!" -- Bill Rutsch, Americana Music Show
“Los Dos is the third album from Los Angeles band, Nocona and finds the band digging deeper into its bracing melding of hard-edged Americana and a keen punk-bred sensibility.”-- Glide Magazine
“Kicking off with acoustic strumming and punkish vocals, the song "Stabby mike" explodes into a grungy roots rocker with plenty of twang, making an impassioned comment on the current state of our society.” — Glide Magazine
WERU Bangon ME, WCNI New London CT, WBJB Lincroft NJ, WQBR McElhattan PA, WAMU Washington DC, WHRV Norfolk VA, RadioFreeAmericana VA, WMNF Tampa FL, WUTC Chattanooga TN, WFIV Knoxville TN, WDVX Knoxville TN, WCBE Columbus OH, WYSO Yellow Springs OH, WOUB Athens OH, WVMO Madison WI, KRFC Ft. Collins CO, KVNF Paonia CO, KUWR Laramie WY, KCSN Northridge CA, KRSH Santa Rosa CA, Amer Boogie Radio Salem OR, KEXP Seattle WA, KHNS Haines AK, RTV IJsselmond 104.1FM Netherlands, Americana Music Show, The Alternate Root, Doomed and Gloomed Stockholm, DenpaFuzz Spain, E2TG Nashville, Adobe and Teardrops, HappySad Germany, Paul Shugrue WHRO, Nola County Radio, Out Of The Woods Radio, Whiskey Preachin', Texas Highway Radio Show France, Folk and Roots Melbourne, Maple Music Cafe, HLY CRAP Podcast