The official home of Stephen Young & The Union

No Depression Magazine have called them "a manna from music heaven". The renowned Daytrotter Sessions in Davenport, Iowa hosted Young at their studios during his last US tour while Ireland's Today FM made them Single of the Week in 2016 and in the same month Seattle's KEXP followed suit, spinning the band drive-time airplay as Stephen Young & The Union launched Eagle Fort Rumble to critical acclaim both in Ireland and the US. They are an MRU award-winning band in the Alt-Country category and have appeared on RTE Television's The View. Now, the band are in the studio putting the finishing touches to their new record Bob Cherry's Homemade Jam.




No Depression, 2015

By Frank Gutch Jr

Had a friend played Stephen Young & The Union's new album for me without telling me who they were, I would have sworn they were from Poughkeepsie or Syracuse or Los Angeles but damned if they aren't Irish. There was a time you could tell, you know? At one time Brits just could not play country and Americans could not nail down trad folk, but over the years those barriers have broken down. Young & The Union's Eagle Fort Rumble prove it. Irish? No way! And yet, yes, they are. Irish with the soul of what used to be American and is now evidently the world's. No complaint. Just fact. I mean, have you ever heard a band from Ireland play like this?

Didn't think so. Not that bands in Ireland couldn't. Just that I haven't heard any. Until now.   

To say I'm impressed is an understatement. The last time I was blindsided like this was when I first heard The Barr Brothers' “Half Crazy” on radio and had to keep repeating “Barr Brothers. Barr Brothers.” until I got to the Music Millennium in Portland to see if they had the album. (They didn't. Two weeks later, though, when it was released, I swung by to pick it up. God, but I love record stores!) This time, the music came through the mail and if I hadn't been a huge supporter of the United States Postal Service before, I would be now. Because Eagle Fort Rumble is manna from music heaven. To my ears, anyway.

They are calling the music Americana and it doesn't bother me all that much except that I have yet to lock down exactly what is Americana. Folk with a twist? Rock with jazz undertones? Hell if I know. If it's this good, I don't really care, anyway. I'm in it for the music.

Eagle Fort Rumble is the kind of album I hope for but too seldom get these days. While I am surrounded by outstanding music, maybe one in a hundred of the albums which cross my desk I find inspiring. Color me inspired.  

New Website 

Hey all

As promised; my new website

All my creative writing and blogging here.

Double Jobbing 

We've had a little bit of quiet time in December and January.
Aside from a photoshoot in early December, where we all sat around or stood about looking uncomfortable we've been chilling. We're back at it from last week though and we'll have a busy run up to the summer.
Creatively, I've been keeping myself busy writing prose. I started the first draft of a novel in October and finished it in early January. I'm working my way through the second draft now and I have to say I'm enjoying it so much.
It's a totally different experience to songwriting, far more intimate yet less personal. It's an odd paradox for sure. I have also written two short stories and I'm setting the groundwork for a second novel and third short story.
I'm going to set up a separate website for my writing and post up some paragraphs and things like that pretty soon. Keep an eye out here for that address.
But back to the band, and rehearsals have kicked off again and it feels like we're putting the final touches on the next batch of songs to be recorded. Looking forward to another weekend at Red Lake.
We have a big gig coming up on May 6th at the Workmans Club in Dublin for a good friend of ours, Ollie Gallagher. The gig is in memory of his daughter Beth, who passed away on Christmas Day, 2015. All proceeds from it will go the Neurology Dept at Temple Street Hospital. We were honoured to be asked to play. Put the date in your diary. Not only is it for the most worthy of causes but there are some fine bands on the bill alongside us.

Chasing Words Around A Bar 

Hey all.

We've had a busy fortnight getting ready for our second session at Red Lake.
We're back in Portlaoise this Saturday - Monday to record Alamo, A Boat Called Lottery, Written In Austin (Finished In Nashville), Won't Let You Go Again and Junkhouse Girl.
We spent a lot of time working on Won't Let You Go Again in particular. It's a song with a lot of different parts. Our intro and outro are similar. Our verses are all different though and we have a bridge section, a chorus and a riff that follows the chorus. Making the arrangement gel probably took up about 50% of our rehearsal time. It left songs like Boat with not as much time, but we're going to keep the arrangement on that fairly sparse - anything else on it feels like too much.
So between rehearsals, I've been tweaking the lyrics to match the shifting grooves and patterns within the songs. Often this can be as minute as one syllable in one bar. It's the most painstaking part of the writing process but such a necessary one. The new songs are sounding very exciting though, and we'll be pushing the sound of the band further. This won't be a straight-up Americana/Country Rock album like Eagle Fort Rumble or Wilderness Machine. This one is exploring Country music a lot deeper, and a couple of tracks are straight-up, unashamedly Country. We're also delving into Blues Rock for the first time since Coke & Rum, but adding grooves to more songs even when we're going 4 to the floor. Junkhouse Girl has a Dylan meets Velvet Underground sound, while Won't Let You Go Again crosses the Allman Brothers with Crowded House. Written In Austin has shades of Wilco with its switch from country ballad to helter skelter hard rock. Boat is a sweet ballad, treated with gentle production - and a nice revisit of a song I first recorded 8 years ago. Alamo is the jewel in the crown. Think Tom Petty meets The La's. See pic above for our last run through of that song in our rehearsal room (Andy and Johnny out of shot).

Goin' Fishing at the Lake 

Hey all
Just a little update on what's happening with us at the moment;
First of all - we had a great night in The Cobblestone a few weeks ago. It was the first time the new SYTU line-up played on stage together. We had an awesome night with a full house. It was cool to share to stage with John, Andy and Padraic again. Declan was fantastic, and we're all looking ahead to a lot more gigs very soon.
Right now though we're looking at our second album recording session back at Red Lake next month.
The first session was a blast!
We really like the studio and the digs of course - we enjoyed a couple of beers and a sing-song up at the shack!
This weekend we're starting our first batch of rehearsals for the next five songs to be tracked.
What we're all loving about the recording of this album is doing it live. We put Johnny (drums), Andy (bass) and Declan (lead guitar) into the live room. I'm in a booth recording my guitar and vocals right beside them. John's keys go straight into the mixing desk and Padraic overdubs his mandolin - we'd live track that too, but it gets drowned out in the live room. Trust me, we tried! (see pic above)
After that it's just some backing vocals and percussion and that's the song done. We tracked and finished 5 songs in 2 days at the last session with an hour or two to spare.
We went in a little unrehearsed last time which we got away with thankfully. On this one we're going to try arrive a little more prepared, and with some more complex arrangements for vocal harmonies in particular. Declan and Padraic are very good singers so our thinking is there's no excuse for us not to use all three of our voices to get the best out of the songs, in the choruses especially.
We tried a nice three-part harmony on Old Man Young at the first session. I'm looking forward to hearing that song again.
So this weekend we've got two rehearsal sessions lined up, I'll post up pics and blog next week and let you all know how things are progressing.
Til then, peace out


Ok, ok... We know what we're doing now 

The faffing about is over. We've got a plan.
As a lot of you will know we had some issues with the release of Eagle Fort Rumble and subsequent disappearance of 3 of that album's videos online.
We had planned to re-release the album with some new artwork, and a video and re-run the campaign, as you will know from our previous post.
However, our Knight in shining armour has returned from her travels and has come to our aid.
Our superhero of a publicist, Emma Harney, is back from her sabbatical,  and we couldn't be happier. Emma was away for the release of Rumble in November last year and the Irish PR campaign was a call-in-favours-from-mates/DIY effort and suffered because of it.
So we are running the release again, but this album is gonna include 3 songs from our first album Wilderness Machine, 1 alternate version of the lead single of that album and 2 brand new tracks.
Bootleg Union will be out March 31st.
We had toyed with that album title before for something like a 'Demos Behind The Tracks' kinda thing. But this works so well now.
All this of course along with the brand new album we're currently recording, Junkhouse 9s...
So, after a sit down with Emma, and a little planning here's what's coming from SYTU in the next while;
February 2017 - Monsoon Season/The Blind Leading The Blind (double a-side single) out
March 31st '17 - Bootleg Union out
February 2018 - First single from Junkhouse 9s out
April '18 - Second single out
May '18 - Junkhouse 9s out

Yours sincerely,
Stephen Young & The Union

Making shit happen since last week

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