In the summer of 2009, Billy McCarthy lost his brother James to suicide and his band, Pela, to the turmoil that resulted. Armed with a stash of songs meant to be that band’s sophomore effort, McCarthy and Pela guitarist Eric Sanderson retrenched, drawing on their anguish instead of running from it and using it to fuel the ragged, bleary-eyed chronicle of suffering and, ultimately, triumph that is Rise Ye Sunken Ships. “Keep your head up, kid, I know you can swim/ but you gotta move your legs,” McCarthy pleads in “Augustine,” and the lyric could serve as the album’s summary statement. Fusing the blue-collar bar rock of Gaslight Anthem with the bleeding-heart desperation of Frightened Rabbit, We Are Augustines write songs that hurtle forward, guitars tumbling over snares and shoved aside by organs, all glued together with lyrics that match defeat and victory at a perfect one-to-one ratio: “We’ll raise our glass/ to borrowed cash”; “And all the words/ can all get spoken/ I know you tried/ you’re forgiven.” What emerges is a clear-eyed depiction of loss that neither romanticizes it nor wallows in it, but recognizes the only solution is to keep moving. The title, after all, begins with the word “Rise.”
By Ian Cohen on 02.04.14 in Interviews
"We've heard the sound of each other's urine, so I think this will lead to a good interview." I've been promised — or more likely, warned — that Billy McCarthy is a heart-on-sleeve kind of guy. The Augustines frontman...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 04.10.12 in Lists
There is every other music festival and then there is Coachella, the California-desert weekend that, in many ways, set the template for all that followed. The first U.S. festival to boast big-ticket reunions and all-over...
By Dan Hyman on 01.24.12 in Reviews
Is it the song or the singer? Hunker down with a Bob Dylan song -- or 50 -- and where's the debate? Brilliant songs are open books; singers can be replaceable. It's hardly shocking then, that Dylan's songs are forever be...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.26.11 in Lists
It was a year full of surprising breakouts and breathtaking discoveries, with reliable favorites from familiar faces and strong entries from new voices. These are our Top 100 Records of 2011.