A bluesy rock jam with sweet whiffs of country spirit, New Swears’ “Concrete Cowboy” is a feel-good anthem ready for singalongs and celebrations.
Tears from the cold and I’m choked, but who’s going to save rock and roll if I don’t?
Nearly every rock band since the mid-’90s seems to, in one way or another, carry the same burden on their back: Rock music is almost dead, and it’s up to us to keep the music (and the dream) alive. Yes, “rock” doesn’t feel as pervasive as it certainly once did: There’s an obvious barrier between “mainstream pop” and most things considered “rock,” and the few artists who do manage to break through often get shunned by underground and alternative communities “for being too mainstream.”
But rock music never died; if anything, it’s proliferated and evolved more over the past two decades, than ever before in the genre’s seventy-year history. You won’t hear it on the radio, but you’ll hear it at a bar on Friday night and you’ll certainly find it on a site like this one: Artists all over the world are making incredible rock music, opening our ears to an exciting array of new sounds, stories, and voices.
Ottawa’s New Swears are one of those special torchbearers, having formed in 2012 with a strong DIY ethic that remains to this day. Their sound never remains the same, but they approach every song and album with raw passion, grit, and a charismatic attitude that allows them to keep standing out and remain unapologetically rock. A bluesy jam with sweet whiffs of country spirit, New Swears’ latest single “Concrete Cowboy” is a feel-good anthem ready for late-night singalongs and celebrations.
it’s a day like any other
it’s a place but it sure ain’t California
streets are covered in cobble
women in windows if
you’re looking for a little trouble
just got out of the basement
couldn’t find a friend
even if I fucking paid them
I wish there was something for me
now I’m all alone here
pissing on these old streets
these old streets
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Concrete Cowboy,” the hearty new single off New Swears’ fourth full-length LP, Night Mirror (out June 13, 2019 via Dine Alone Records). Following the recent release of singles “Bon Voyage” and “Rolling Stone” in April, “Concrete Cowboy” finds New Swears fully embracing an almost vintage Americana rock vibe. In contrast to the stronger garage and punk music of the band’s 2017 record And the Magic of Horses, their latest songs roll with a heartland charm – thanks in large part to a liberal use of vocal harmonies, harmonica, and pedal steel guitar.
“Concrete Cowboy” cements this sound with its shout-out-loud chorus – an affirmation of New Swears’ current headspace that shines with (what they lovingly call) “campfire-style country.”
I’m a concrete cowboy
freezing my bones,
laying on this bed of stone
I’m a concrete cowboy
in a strange place gets
a little stranger every road
that I walk down… town
staying home is nice
but I ain’t the man
I am from living the easy life
I’m a cowboy / I’m a concrete
Consisting of band members Stoney, Nick Nofun, Sammy Scorpion, Beej Eh, and Handsome Mike, New Swears aren’t just one of rock music’s modern torchbearers; they live something of the rock n’ roll lifestyle. While for listeners “Concrete Cowboy” can be something of a mantra for making it through the urban jungles, for the band this song has its own unique story:
“This song was written about a very special night. It was a cold evening in late September, we were on tour playing a show in Hamburg, Germany. The show was packed and went swimmingly. Afterward, we hung out with the locals had some laughs, stayed up late. In the early hours of the morning, we stumbled over to the promoters house down the street, where we were staying. When we awoke the next day, we noticed that one of the bedspreads laid out for us was still untouched… Our drummer, Stoney had never made it back home. He was missing.”
“After a couple of panicked hours exhausting all our possible ideas. We began contemplating filing a missing person and canceling the next show that night. Our driver, Goose, decided to go grab the van… and wouldn’t you know it he found the little cowboy curled up, far from the venue, freezing, sleeping in the street.”
Sometimes life gets a little crazy, but that’s just rock n’ roll man. Here’s Stoney’s story:
“At one point after the show we found some permanent markers and we were all drawing on each other’s bodies, doing each other’s makeup and making questionable choices. The boys then headed back to the house we were crashing at but I decided to stick around with the locals. The Germans are quite good at the drinking. This is when everything goes black and the next 3 hours of my memory are completely lost. Once I snapped back into it I am completely alone on the streets of Hamburg, phone dead, nothing on me but two packs of cigarettes and 2 lighters. I start wandering around Hamburg with no idea what or who I’m looking for. It’s so cold outside that I’m forced to walk with my arms inside my sweater and I’m asking the German civilians which way downtown is. Nobody would even give me the time of day. At one point I walked into a coffee shop and asked to use their iPhone charger and got kicked out immediately. The only thing I could do was keep walking.”
“My best bet was to try and find the venue and sleep on the street near it. The problem was I didn’t remember where I was and I was nowhere near the venue whatsoever. Turns out I was actually about 3km from where we played. It got so cold at one point I curled up in the corner of this mirrored building and sat down just smoking and spitting on repeat. I looked over in the mirror and realized my entire face was covered in permanent marker. no wonder nobody would help me out. I sat there for a good 2 hours smoking before I looked up and saw our sprinter van in the distance. I ran towards it and looked in the front seat and saw Benji’s neon orange head pillow and knew it was ours. it was around 11 am that I curled up next to the van and waited for our driver to show up. Once he showed up I started screaming for him to open the doors because I was convinced I had frostbite after spending 6 hours outside in the cold. I jumped in the back of the sprinter next to all the piled up gear and woke up 8 hours later at our show in Mannheim. From then on out whenever we talked about Germany, we always told that story of the night I was a concrete cowboy.”
“Concrete Cowboy” is a fun, driving jam with a wild backstory to match. Whether you find yourself attracted to its classic Southern-style Allman Brothers warmth, the fullness of the band’s vocals, or Stoney’s unforgettable Hamburg experience, this music is rock through and through. Rest assured that when When New Swears ask, “Who’s going to save rock and roll if I don’t?” there are plenty of contenders all over the world; and while we want everyone to keep pouring their hearts out in song, New Swears are doing a damned fine job of keeping the spirit alive.
Night Mirror is out June 13, 2019 via Dine Alone Records; stream New Swears’ “Concrete Cowboy” exclusively on Atwood Magazine ahead of its release May 16th!
Stream: “Concrete Cowboy” – New Swears
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