Posts Tagged ‘The Night Sweats’

Before Nathaniel Rateliff put together his new soul band the Night Sweats, the Denver musician was regarded as a latter-day folk singer on the fringes of Mumford & Sons’ neo-roots revival. Given his music, the designation was understandable, but it was also incomplete. There’s always been more than a little soul coursing through his songs, too. The Night Sweats, then, isn’t a new direction for Rateliff so much as a reconnection to music he’s been singing at least since it helped him pass the hours when he worked on a Denver loading dock before becoming a full-time musician. It’s a natural sound for Rateliff, so much so that this 11-song collection found a home on Stax, the revived Memphis label that was such a big part of soul music in the 1960s and ’70s. Indeed, these tunes have a vintage air about them in the trebly guitar riffs, bright sprays of brass and punchy basslines, circling tightly around rock-solid drums. Atop such a powerful engine, Rateliff glories in his role as soul shouter. And while the singer and his band are drawing on a classic form, their interpretation makes for an exciting and contemporary sound.

He wowed Jimmy Fallon with his confessional song “S.O.B.” on The Tonight Show, his life has been a blur of festival appearances and headlining dates at venues that seem to get bigger every week. He’s barely had a single day off from the madness and none are coming up in the foreseeable future. “We never expected to be received in such a way,” he says as his bus makes its way across the English countryside. “And we’re going work as hard as we can.”

Set List
“I Need Never Get Old”
“Look It Here”
“I’ve Been Failing You”
“Mellow Out”

November 17th , 2015 Nathaniel Rateliff and his band The Night Sweats are on fire, with concerts that get feet moving and bodies swaying, fueled by rhythm and booze.

It wasn’t always this way: In the past, Rateliff would be more easily described as a folk artist. When I saw him recently at a sold-out Sunday-night show in D.C., he expressed intense gratitude for the new audience that’s found him. Much of that new crowd has embraced the big-band R&B of his new album, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, which was produced by Richard Swift and will be released on the legendary Stax Records.

The record and its songs embrace not only Southern soul, but also the rockier side of soul made famous by Irish singer Van Morrison. Here at the Tiny Desk, Nathaniel Rateliff’s body-shaking tunes take on a slightly more laid-back sound, served with a warm heart and suitable for a cold beer.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats album is  available now.

From unsigned folker to Stax recording artist, Nathaniel Rateliff has taken the long road to recognition. Growing up in rural Missouri, he had a television with one channel; he didn’t have a phone; his family ate venison and foods from their garden. His simple life changed when his father died in a car accident on the way to church, and a young Rateliff was forced to quit school and go to work.

In the downtime between jobs, Rateliff grew an attachment to his mom’s acoustic guitar and developed as a musician by dabbling in a variety of sounds and genres — like any curious musician who’s yet to find their voice as a songwriter and performer. In an interview with Folk Radio, he detailed his earliest attempts (jokey songs about pizza parties, shoegaze bands, psychedelic blues) and his journey to Denver in the hopes of fulfilling his dreams. It’s an archetypal tale in the vein of Kerouac: boy leaves his empty setting for new experiences and opportunities with no expectations of where any of it will lead. Through all this, he had his parents’ record collection to keep him company, to inform and give meaning to his surroundings. “It was weird because it was my parents’ records that got me into making music,” he told Folk Radio. “I found my own more modern music, but then I drifted back into playing my parents’ music and taking even older influences.”

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Those influences can be heard on Rateliff and his band’s self-titled Stax debut. Opener “I Never Get Old” is a romping, horn-driven affair with a simple message: Live and never look back. When Rateliff opens his pipes and howls, he evokes Van Morrison at his most charismatic. The singer is an absolute force, and it’s no wonder big labels came calling. Hot-mic’d for just the right amount of distortion, his screams and moans are both soulful and aggressive. There are tinges of anger when he lets loose on “S.O.B.”, which is as direct as its title implies: “I’m gonna writhe and shake my body/ I’ll start pulling out my hair/ I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you and nobody’s gonna give a damn.” At other times, like on “Howlin at Nothing”, his raspy croon recalls Sam Cooke behind a raucous horn section. To be sure, Rateliff wears his influences openly.

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Rateliff sustains this sound for the duration of the record, which grows repetitive near the end of its 40-minute runtime. Produced by Richard Swift (The Shins, Foxygen), the horns and strings are bathed in subtle reverb, as if the songs were being played in a cavernous theatre. Though it adds allure to the sonics, it doesn’t mask the conventionality of Rateliff’s songwriting, which is vehemently rooted in the standard folk rock tradition. The album would fit snuggly next to Morrison, Otis Redding, and Bruce Springsteen LPs, though the strong vocal performances distinguish Rateliff from other retro-inspired folk rock acts. Rateliff’s charisma is a rare commodity. It’s what turned Jimmy Fallon into a giddy fan when the band made its network television debut. He’s a passionate performer with a gift for singing and winning over an audience, and that comes through on this record.

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The R&B/soul project from the Denver singer-songwriter, has shared “I Need Never Get Old,” the first taste of its upcoming self-titled album.

Due out on the classic soul  Stax Records, the album is scheduled for release late this summer. It includes production from the Shins’ Richard Swift, who has also worked on the latest release from fellow Denver based  band Tennis.

If you’ve frequented the Night Sweats live shows in the Denver area lately, you’ve likely heard “I Need Never Get Old.” This recording, which the band shared today, captures the Night Sweats’ live dynamics. Horns, guitar, percussion, Rateliff’s vocals — they all find a nice mix on the track, which has that lively, vintage dance party atmosphere.

Stax has a storied history in Memphis soul and blues music with greats like Otis Redding and its house band Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Powered by Nathaniel Rateliff’s well-loved solo material, the Night Sweats have been a force locally and nationally for the last few years, having recently returned from playing Treefort in Boise.

“I never did this stuff before, because it never really came to me,” Rateliff told us of his transition from folk to a soulman. “It just so happened that it came together for me. You have to be open to whatever comes to you.”

Listen to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ “I Need Never Get Old” here