The Bitter Tears
The Bitter Tears have staked their reputation on a sometimes lewd and entertaining theatrical live show, always heavy on spectacle. With their new release, Jam Tarts In The Jakehouse, The Bitter Tears display their creative growth as both musicians and storytellers. The album utilizes smart and direct pop structures to drive the menacing, old-school twang of the songs, deftly melding it all into an aesthetic that owes as much to Weill and Waits as Big Star and Hank.
“A band like none other, the Bitter Tears are theatrical and totally over the top—and consider that a good thing…the band is a twisted backwoods freak show whose music ranges from country to big band to the avant garde.” —Artvoice
“…thank God for the creative, uber-feisty cabaret edge on this local band’s country-fried rock ‘n’ roll.” —Chicago Tribune
Taken hold by Alan Scalpone (vocals, guitar, brass, woodwinds), Michael McGinley (vocals, bass, brass, strings), Bill Borton (drums), John Leonard (piano) and Greg Norman (vocals, guitar, trombone, engineer), The Bitter Tears will release their second album, Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse, on Carrot Top Records on March 3, 2009.
Unpredictable stage appearance and occasional self-degradation turn some away, but there are those who enjoy the drama and discharge. “You are not alive,” taunts Alan Scalpone on “Inbred Kings,” before The Bitter Tears flesh out the melody with plaintive horns and frightening intensity. The gut-wrenching, liver-bearing songs on Jam Tarts… serve a variety of weighty subject matters: A failed marriage turns to suicide, with the closing refrain “today is not too early to die” (“The Love Letter”); the farmer who loses his faith and wishes to destroy everything he has ever known—his farm, his family, even the three kings who traveled to see Jesus in the manger (“Slay the Heart of the Earth”); and the bad advice men give to other men (“Bachelors Say”).
Deftly recorded by band member Greg Norman, the production of Jam Tarts…allowed The Bitter Tears full creative control. The raw material for the record was written late at night and early in the morning, with a threepenny orchestra’s worth of instruments to help the process along. The result sounds antique, without sounding antiquated. The bawdy tales of revenge, lust, and corruption are backed by a dusty array of beat-up instruments: horns, oboes, violins…each helping to provide the same dramatic sparks that win people over on-stage.
As Scalpone puts it, “It keeps happening, that people come up to one of us and say something like, ‘I thought you were just screwy when I first saw you, but you know, you actually write really good songs.’”
Press by Janelle Rogers at Green Light Go Publicity: jrogersATgreenlightgopublicity.com
“The unique perspective of Scalpone and company is neither simple nor easily pegged, but rather beautifully encased in the melancholy wash of “Hamptons” and the haunting, Spoon-ish piano chords of “Inbred Kings”, making Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse frighteningly difficult to pull from the stereo.”—PopMatters
“What The Bitter Tears do so well, is keep it simple. The arrangements are pretty basic, which has to be applauded. They take these bare bones, and dress them with string sections, and parps of brass. More often than not they come up with something that at times borders on the magical.”—Music OMH
“A Vibrant New Album: …’Love at first listen’ is a decidedly rare occurrence – I doubt it happens more than four times a year. The alt-country stirrings and diverse influences on “Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse”…made it easy to fall for this upbeat and quirky record.”—Ryan’s Smashing Life
“This is art rock, pure and simple; Harmonious enough to catch you, dissonant to almost lose you, and endearing enough that you’ll come back to hear it again. The Bitter Tears will disturb your senses, and you’ll like it.”—Wildy’s World
“Chicago’s The Bitter Tears are a truly extraordinary group of musicians that one must experience in the live concert setting to truly appreciate the in-your-face absurdity and pure drama that their rambling catchy dada cabaret has to offer. Their often humorous and overwrought lyrics run the gamut of satire, lust, and the grotesque.”—A Thousand Ears
“Lyrically zany, yet musically earnest – The Bitter Tears blend madcap humor with a colorful palette of acoustic guitars, piano, horns, strings and the occasional accordion.”—mel.opho.be
“They have a cellist and a trombonist, and they sound a little like the Decemberists with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (is it something in the Chicago water?) and a musical map of the US. It’s a colourful carnival of Dixieland stomps, Americana, Chicago blues and even the odd Texan two-step.”—The Devil Has the Best Tuna
“Never over-the-top, even if they include bloated brass and stringed instruments careening behind a simple progression.”—Swan Fungus
Publicity provided by the amazing women at:
Green Light Go Publicity
Attn: Janelle Rogers
812 Flowerdale St.
Ferndale MI 48220
Radio servicing by the equally wonderful:
Attn: Amanda Colbenson
89 Fifth Ave. #307
New York, NY 10003
Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse
"...thank God for the creative, über-feisty cabaret edge on this local band's country-fried rock 'n' roll." - Chicago Tribune