Secret Emchy Society - Gold Country / Country Gold Media Kit
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sweetheart PR
Secret Emchy Society // Gold Country / Country Gold (May 24th)
From the first notes of the lead-off track to Secret Emchy Society’s new album, Gold Country / Country Gold, you realize that you’re not in Kansas anymore. It’s a gothy, spaghetti western version of “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond Of Each Other,” written by Latin country musician Ned Sublette but popularized by Willie Nelson. It’s also widely recognized as the first LGBT-themed mainstream country song by a major artist. Par for the course if you know Cindy Emch’s previous work. As the First Lady of Queer Country, she is known for her distinct voice and ability to blend Americana, California Country, Hellbilly, Goth, and Honky Tonk, spinning radically distinctive tales from her singular perspective.
Emchy’s not only a highly regarded musician in the Bay Area—nominated three times for Best Local LGBT Band by Bay Area Reporter—but she’s also a seasoned student of the history of LGBTQA musicians dipping their toes in genres that have always been “off-limits” for non-hetero participants. She was the founding editor of Country Queer and still hosts Gimme Country’s popular Emchy’s Outlaw Americana show. She’s also worked with the original queer country cowboy Lavender Country, the award-winning singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah (from the all-women-of-color supergroup Our Native Daughters), out transwoman folk-punker Shawna Virago, and Haitian-born / UK based Alt-Americana Country-Noire singer DeLila Black when Emchy produced the 2021 National Queer Arts Festival Showcase. Her previous albums have landed her on the road with some of the most popular acts in the genre: Mercy Bell, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and Karen & The Sorrows, led by the originator of the Gay Ole Opry herself, Karen Pittleman. Needless to say, Cindy Emch has become well-known to anyone paying attention to the increasing popularity of turning old tropes on their ear by melding classic twang with a punk ethos.
Emchy’s first taste of music was from her mother, who played standards on accordion. She grew up with a love for Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, but when she hit her 20s, a college radio show introduced her to country legends like Yoakam, Cash, and Lucinda Williams. Throw in partiality to a smattering of post-punk bands like X and Black Flag, and it’s easy to see what led Emchy to the Bay Area in 1995, where she honed her sound when she co-founded two well-regarded punk-country bands, Vagabondage and Rhubarb Whiskey. After cutting her teeth as a side player for years, it was a lucky accident one night when she ended up at the front of the stage, taking the reins to act as bandleader, only to realize that was where she had belonged all along.
Emchy’s music, created with her longtime band Secret Emchy Society, has been compared to songwriters like Ray Davies, Marijohn Wilkin, John D. Loudermilk, and Cowboy Jack Clement, who wrote the early hits for African-American country pioneer Charley Pride. SES’s debut album, 2017’s The Stars Fell Shooting Into Twangsville, swings beautifully from accordion-drenched waltzes to slow ballads to high-tempo roof shakers with lyrics soaked in long-standing country tropes, from day-drinking to painful love to oversized ambitions. It was followed by 2019’s Mark’s Yard, a sparsely recorded collection of cover versions from singular songwriters like Tom Waits and Hank Williams Jr. In 2020 she released The Chaser, a classic honky-tonk album both dark and light, ominous and joyous. It landed her positive coverage in No Depression, Wide Open Country, Ditty TV, NPR, The Boot, and Americana Highways, just to name a few.
So, where to go from there? Well, more GUITAR, of course, to amp up her shitkicker attitude.
Up until the pandemic, Emchy has been an acoustic guitar devotee, and she still plays some acoustic guitar on the album, but Gold Country / Country Gold could just as easily be named “Secret Emchy Society Goes Electric.” Emchy also collaborated with artists like queer country crooner Paisley Fields and trans musician Mya Byrne on “I Wish I Was in Texas,” and recorded a version of drag and burlesque performer Jbird McLaughlin’s “My Old Flame.”
Along with their new electrified sound comes lyrics that speak to longing, wishing, loneliness, and nostalgia for friends and loved ones to be around. It also reckons with the social upheaval that came with the pandemic years, bringing into focus a community that Emchy says she always assumed would be there for her. “The fact that I was watching a lot of these wonderful, independent dive bars that I love so much struggling and other artists working really hard to adapt and trying hard to stay connected with each other really affected me,” she explains.
Gold Country / Country Gold was recorded in May 2021 in Twain Harte, CA, in the heart of Gold Country. Emchy rented a cabin on a lake before the summer season began, resulting in a neighborhood of mostly empty rustic cabins, enabling the band to be as loud as they wanted to get. The original plan was for their usual producer and album lead guitarist, Tolan McNeil, to fly down from Canada to play and engineer the record. Three days before the recording was set to begin, it became clear that McNeil was not going to make it across the Canadian border to meet up with the rest of the band. Armed with a double Virgo’s dedication and a non-touring musician’s stubbornness, with lots of research help from her wife, Emchy and her merry band of musicians figured out what gear they needed to still make the album happen. A few new credit card bills and some serious generosity later, they had a functional 11-channel interface, a computer strong enough to run it, and used Zoom to have McNeil, and her other collaborators, sit in on the recording process.
The result is Secret Emchy Society’s best work to date. As soon as you hear Emchy’s big, boisterous voice, it’s easy to be drawn in as she uses her rich tone to color lyrics about drinkin’, dancin’, and lovin’. Gold Country / Country Gold is an album that’s as rowdy as it is vulnerable, as loud as it is quiet. All the emotions Emchy felt, as her life as a musician turned upside down during the pandemic, were embraced then put back into the world in song. It’s a hell of a ride, and everyone is invited to the party.
Listen to Gold Country / Country
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Visit Website: http://www.Emchy.com
What people are saying:
Secret Emchy Society's 'Gold Country / Country Gold' named 10 Favorite Americana Albums of 2022 by ConcertHopper.com
Secret Emchy Society's 'The Chaser' named Best of 2020 by Americana Highways, Atlanta Auditory Association & ConcertHopper.com
"One could describe Emch as if Nick Cave had grown up in Bakersfield with a dynamic swagger that could part the Red Sea." - NoDepression
"In a world of frat dudes singing about Applebees, Gold Country ~ Country Gold is a welcome middle finger to modern country, offering up a brand of smoke-filled honky-tonk that's traditional as they come -- albeit delivered with a fiery, punk disposition. Also 'Think I Do' is the jam"
- Cory "Round Up" Graves (Vandoliers)
"Showcases Emchy's boisterous voice against a Bakersfield beat." - Wide Open Country
"Cindy Emch of Secret Emchy Society is a standard bearer for queer country artists." - Rock and Roll Globe
"If Nick Cave took his murder ballads to the next logical conclusion and leaned into his country side, his music would likely sound more than a little like Secret Emchy Society’s tragically underrated catalogue. The latest Gold Country/Country Gold is more of the same from Cindy Emch, The First Lady of Queer Country, and that is hardly a bad thing." - Americana Highways
"The album finds the band with a rich, mature sound — the band has never sounded more confident. The album explores the gamut of classic country sounds, from honky tonk to outlaw to Western swing." - Adobe & Teardrops
"The band led by Cindy Emch is at the vanguard of the modern queer country movement, not so much a genre as an insistence on inclusion in a genre that's never been known for its willingness to change." - Concert Hopper
“Imagine Bill Monroe and Sid Vicious having kids together.” - From Under The Basement
"Secret Emchy Society is a great storytelling songwriter with a huge catalog of both original music and cover songs." - Rock the Pigeon
"Brilliant." - Belles and Gals
"Americana band cherish live shows and boozy late-night rendezvous." - B-sides and Badlands
"For fans of Buck Owens, Sarah Shook, Dwight Yoakam, Lydia Loveless and Shovels & Rope." - Post to Wire