Water Liars

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“My sisters were the heavens / My brothers were the depths / Now I’m rolling into battle with a smoke between my lips,” Justin Kinkel-Schuster sings on “I Want Blood,” and it’s a presiding image on the self-titled third LP from Mississippi’s Water Liars. Joined by GR Robinson on bass and fresh off the success of their album Wyoming and the reissue of their debut, Phantom Limb, Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant strut into this effort with their feathers out, driven by a need to create. Forget your precious bands that take years to release their next album: Water Liars don’t know how to stop working. A punk aesthetic – a desire not to overdo songs until they’re shiny with emptiness – is the band’s defining feature, and it’s why their songs are filled with such raw sorrow. When Kinkel-Schuster and Bryant’s voices twine together somewhere in the greater stratosphere of sound, as they do on “Tolling
Bells,” try not to feel like a psalm. To call the songs here an improvement over what they’ve done before would be to sell the earlier work short. They’re simply telling one story, a story that doesn’t end, about the ways we save ourselves and kill ourselves, about the terrors and joys of being a small thing in a big world, and this is just the latest installment.

What strikes you most on this new LP is the violent imagery countered with lines about love and redemption; the band’s sound – also a study in contrasts, loud and quiet, fast and slow – builds off of this. There’s hope here, dreadful and beautiful, but we’re never far removed from having blood pooled at our ankles. On “Cannibal,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When you taste the flesh and sweat of the one that you love / Do you feel like a cannibal?” It’s a question that haunts this collection of songs, which sways somewhere between darkness and light, between urgency and unrest. Even in love, Kinkel-Schuster’s narrators drift like worried fire.

Kinkel-Schuster’s voice achieves a new level of weariness here, while still sounding battle-ready. “Strange lands hold no fear for me” he sings on “I Want Blood.” And no wonder – he’s a troubadour and these songs are his weapons, dripping with guts, screaming with guilt, softened by the sweet blossoming of love. His songs rumble across the plains in a gritty swirl, trailed by black clouds and lightning flashes. He has a trembling awareness of the music in our blood, and he’s filled – as poets should be – with wonder and despair.

Bryant – his drums and backing vocals like a deep thread of goldenness laced through the record – is the engine underneath the hood, everything he does a rage against blandness. It’s impossible not to fade into his rhythm. Bryant started as a drummer in the church he attended as a kid, and the congregation would fall into the aisles, calling out to the Holy Ghost, repenting on the spot; that kind of religious fury still seeps into his playing and is alive here in new ways.

“Let It Breathe,” a stand-out, is Kinkel-Schuster’s tenderest song. It’s weather-beaten and weary, reminiscent of Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in its presentation of love-struck awe. But “Swannanoa” may be the best song he’s ever written. “I looked death in the face / It was only my father / If I’d known all along / I wouldn’t have bothered / with being afraid, with being a coward,” he sings. The song is deeply indicative of his rich personal mythology. Like Jason Molina and Jeff Mangum, his narrators are often swept up in a numinous dream of the world, in long mystical visits to the provinces of lonesomeness and fire and blood. These songs are testimonies, prayers, from the frozen ground to the dark universe of stars.

If you haven’t listened to Water Liars, let the music be your introduction. Is it important to know that Bryant is from Mississippi and Kinkel-Schuster is from Arkansas, that they’re shaped by the writerswhose influence shines through in everything they make – Frank Stanford and Barry Hannah especially – and that their pain is the pain of the wretched and beautiful South? Sure, and it’s all there in the songs. On “Vespers,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When I left her house / It was snowing out / and I left her for the South / But who cares? / We don’t want no one to see us cry. / No, darling, we’d rather die.” These are songs about leaving and staying, about lost fathers and new loves, about distance and memory. These songs are a consideration of what Kentucky poet Joe Bolton called “a future that seems already to have acquired / The irrevocability of the past.” These songs smell of autumn. These songs are the hugeness of rain, the heaviness of breath, the strangeness of cities. Light a cigarette and close your eyes – let these songs whiskey into you, let them brighten your blood, let them be endless in the night.

—William Boyle

News

New Release: Water Liars

2014-02-03

 

Water Liars' new self-titled album is out today. Listen to "I Want Blood" from the album and check out buy links and tour dates below.

Buy:
CD/Vinyl/Digital
iTunes
Amazon



Tour Dates:
Feb 14 - Proud Larry's - Oxford, MS
Feb 15 - Martin's - Jackson, MS
Feb. 17 - Seasick Records - Birgmingham, AL
Feb 18 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
Feb 19 - Normaltown Hall - Athens, GA
Feb 20 - The Royal American - Charleston, SC
Feb 21 - King's Barcade - Raleigh, NC
Feb 22 - The Mothlight - Asheville, NC
Feb 24 - DC9 - Washington, DC
Feb 25 - Milkboy - Philadelphia, PA
Feb 26 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
Feb 27 - Cafe Nine - New Haven, CT
Feb 28 - Book and Bar - Portsmouth, NH
Mar 2 - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 3 - Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH
Mar 4 - The Union - Athens, OH
Mar 5 - The Brass Rail - FT. Wayne, IN
Mar 6 - Schubas Tavern - Chicago, IL
Mar 7 - Do317 Lounge - Indianapolis, IN
Mar 8 - Off Broadway - St. Louis, MO
Mar 10 - The Basement - Nashville, TN
Mar 12 - Downtown Tavern - Jackson, TN
Mar 13 - Whitewater Tavern - Little Rock, AR
Mar 14 - JR's Lightbulb Club - Fayetteville, AR
Mar 15 - Valley of the Vapors Festival - Hot Springs, AR
more

Water Liars Album Stream

2014-01-28

 
We’re excited to bring you the latest album from Water Liars. The Mississippi rock band’s self-titled followup to last year’s Wyoming hits stores on February 4 through Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess Records, but you can stream it in its entirety at American Songwriter.

Water Liars is a record about trying to live and love and earn a living in times and places that don’t make it easy on anybody,” says frontman Justin Kinkel-Schuster. “It’s about trying to handle the bad times that nobody escapes and take care of the good times as long as they last. It’s us trying to tell about the outskirts of America that we’ve seen, lived through and live in, and get it right, for once if not for all.”

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LISTEN: Water Liars "I Want Blood"

2013-12-13
 
Water Liars recently premiered a track from their upcoming self-titled album through the A.V. Club. Listen below.

"Water Liars" is out February 4, 2014.
more

Water Liars' Third Album Out February 4th

2013-11-20

 
Water Liars will release their self-titled third album on February 4th, 2014 via Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records.
 
Joined by GR Robinson on bass, and fresh off the success of sophomore album Wyoming and the reissue of debut LP Phantom Limb – both released earlier this year – Justin Kinkel-Schuster (vocals, guitar) and Andrew Bryant (drums, vocals) strut into this effort with their feathers out, driven by a need to create. Forget taking years to release a new album; Water Liars don't know how to stop working. These are songs about leaving and staying, about lost fathers and new loves, about distance and memory. A full track listing along with upcoming tour dates can be found below.

Track List:

1.Cannibal
2.War Paint
3.I Want Blood
4.Swannanoa
5.Let It Breathe
6.Tolling Bells (For Molina)
7.Ray Charles Dream
8.Vespers
9.Pulp
10.Last Escape
11.Turn Me On

Tour Dates:

Nov. 19  -  Austin, TX              -  Stubb's Jr.
Nov. 20  -  Houston, TX          -  Fitzgerald's
Nov. 21  -  New Orleans, LA  -  Circle Bar
Nov. 22  -  Jackson, MS         -  Martin's
Dec. 5    -  Oxford, MS             -  Lamar Lounge

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Newest Release

Discography

On Tour Now

  • 25 Apr
    The Thirsty Hippo
    Hattiesburg, MS
  • 27 Apr
    Boone, NC
  • 28 Apr
    Neptune's
    Raleigh, NC
  • 29 Apr
    DC9
    Washington, DC
  • 30 Apr
    Philadelphia, PA
  • 1 May
    New York, NY
  • 2 May
    Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
    Charlottesville, VA
  • 3 May
    Cincinnati, OH
  • 4 May
    The Hi-Fi
    Indianapolis, IN
  • 5 May
    Ft. Wayne, IN
  • 6 May
    Louisville, KY
  • 7 May
    The Basement
    Nashville, TN

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