TJ Childers: Lead Guitar, Lap Steel, Vocals
The Rob Gouldman: The Bass
Erik Larson: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Bourbon
Ryan Wolfe: Drums and Whatever Else you Need, It’s Cool.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Vince Burke at Sniper Studios in Moyock, NC.
Produced by Vince and the Might Could.
Illustration & album artwork by Alexander von Wieding.
Photos by Chris Boarts Larson.
I'm hangin' with my hound dog and sippin' moonshine on the back deck. A cool October breeze is blowing - the leaves are falling - and I'm rockin' out to the southern-fried, self-titled debut by The Might Could. At this moment I'm reassured that life can be pretty sweet sometimes.
I'd bet that members of the Richmond, Va., foursome, are also loving their lives right now. After all, it's been months since The Might Could (Small Stone Records) started damaging eardrums and all the accolades started pouring in. I think former Alabama Thunder-Pussy guitarist Erik Larson (vocals/guitar), TJ Childers (lead guitar/vocals), 'The Rob' Gouldman (bass) and Ryan Wolfe (drums) deserve every bit of recognition they get, including a second feature on The Ripple Effect.
No..I'm not quite drunk yet...just really tipsy...and maybe a little hungry. (Sip). I can put that off a little longer. There's more than enough tasty morsels of full-flavored rock/metal on The Might Could, anyway. The opener, "Stone Colossus", rolls in with slammin' drums and a rompin' southern groove before busting into some bass-filled sludge followed by a smokin' guitar solo. Straight-up Sabbath licks appear near the middle and then we do it again. Oh yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.
For me, the most kick-ass song is clearly "I Don't Even Like Pantera Anymore". The title confuses me for a second, until I realize these guys have a good sense of humor. Pantera-inspired riffs and vocals don't do much to make me believe the Might Could dislike the metal masters from Texas. And Childers' guitar solo is a rendition of Dimebag's from "I'm Broken", on Far Beyond Driven. It's my guess that instead of a slam, this track is the band's tribute to Pantera. And it's a good one.
The slow and soulful, "When the Spirits Take Control", is a choice southern rock song. If you ask me, this is their "Simple Man" by Skynyrd. It's their "Freebird". Rock on..(Sip). "Let 'Em Up Easy" starts off that way - easy - with 90 seconds of bluesy-slide guitar from Childers. Then it gets bouncy when the rest of the Might Could join in and I have to get outta my seat. This one will make ya move. I guarantee it. With about 90 seconds left you're blessed with more slide work before a crazy solo.
The Might Could washes me with a familiar old-school metal feeling that I miss, too. Killers by Iron Maiden, in particular. Maybe it's just the rapidly-disappearing moonshine, but as I'm listening to "Wretched Wraith" a picture of 'Eddie' appears in my head and I'm back in the 80's. I'm sure the vocals and lyrics have something to do with that, but the same happens on the 8-minute finale, "The Fall". Is it just a coincidence? I don't think so and it don't bother me one bit. I embrace it.
Keep listening after the last song you'll be treated to some friendly banter between band members in the studio. (Sip) It's hilarious and I've always enjoyed hearing recordings like this on an album. It's just the band being themselves and it affirms my belief that the Might Could love a good laugh. As do I. And I laugh out loud.
"Do you want me to go imitate you playing drums?" one asks.
"You do that a lot."
"No I don't."
"You already said I look like a monkey. So..."
"I said you looked like a hummingbird."
The ribbing continues and it's funny as hell. Give it a listen - after the music of course.
I love The Might Could. However, I have a feeling the band should have a more confident name 'cause their debut sure DID kick my ass up one side of my back yard and down the other. My neighbors were probably wondering what the hell was going on. Like moonshine, some of the vocals may be an acquired taste for a few people - at times they're pretty harsh - but I'm definitely including the Might Could among my top new Small Stone Records artists. Beefy southern rock/metal couldn't get much better for me. Well...it might could. (Sip).
For a short time it looked as if Erik Larson (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy, ex-Axehandle, and a lots more) has joined Morne, because he was the drummer on their European tour in 2008, but then it all came totally different. Together with drummer Ryan Wolfe (ex-Facedowninshit), he formed THE MIGHT COULD in early 2009 and here we have their first full-length, released via Small Stone Records in 2011. Due to the cover artwork, you would think that this is the next classic retro 70s rock act, but THE MIGHT COULD have only the blues and loudness in common with Blue Cheer. In all other respects, however, all ten tracks mark a return to Erik Larson's unique brand of southern styled, metal-tinged rock. It is therefore more than fair to draw comparisons between Alabama Thunderpussy and THE MIGHT COULD.
What ties them is their passion for metal and southern rock, but THE MIGHT COULD tackle the game with more roughness and savagery. This album is very powerful, heavy and raw, packed from beginning to end with thundering hooks, smoking riffs and booze-filled vocals. TJ Childers and Erik Larson do not only provide a crushing twin-guitar assault, but are also sharing the vocals although it has to be said that there is not a huge gap between their styles. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist "The Rob" Gouldman and Ryan Wolfe, is tight and aggressive and loud. Well, basically the whole album is loud, but especially the voluminous sound of the drums can be recognized immediately. When I listened to this album for the first time, I was blown away by its straight forward, sometimes in your face approach.
Emotions ranging from belligerence and fury to brooding solemnity and hostility whatever it is you'd call the impulse to tip a bottle of backyard hooch all alone in the middle of the night in a familiar place. There is a tasteful display of depth in the songwriting that is liberated and comes along completely natural and unforced. Worth mentioning is also the overpowering authenticity of their sound. The delta blues is in their blood, and, without it, they could not stay alive. It is just as important as their love for heavy metal and hardrock. All of this has been perfectly captured by Vince Burke (Beaten Back To Pure) who recorded, mixed and mastered the album together with THE MIGHT COULD in the Sniper studios. This a great debut with an attitude that is, uncompromising, occasionally ironic and that never succumbs to pathos.
So, you're in a pretty successful, kick ass band, you've released a bunch of awesome albums, toured the world then one day it all goes tits up. What do you do? Well, if you're Erik Larson you head home to Richmond, Virginia, lick your wounds a while then hook up with a buddy in a similar situation (drummer Ryan Wolf from Face Down In Shit), form a kick ass band, hook up with the mighty Small Stone label, release an awesome album and hopefully tour the world some more!!!
Given Alabama Thunderpussy's far reaching influence and Larson's role as the creative hub of that band, comparisons between The Might Could and ATP will be inevitable...and not necessarily unfounded. This debut long player from The Might Could is heavier than a truck load of Jerry Springer worshipping, pizza munching couch potatoes yet at its heart has a soulful core that still keeps whistling Dixie. These guys continue in the tradition of mighty sludge fuelled riffs with a tasty Cajun coating and a lead guitar interplay that somehow manages to sound like an unholy jam between Skynyrd and Iron Maiden. The opening one two punch of "Stone Colossus" and "Wretched Wraith" hits harder than Mike Tyson on a cocaine bender!!! Being good ol' Southern boys, however the chance to go epic on our asses is never far away and on the 7 minute plus "The Night They Shoot Ol' Dixie Down" they invoke the Skynyrd spirit...if Skynyrd had been brought up listening to Black Flag!!!
Next up comes the awesomely titled "I Don't Even Like Pantera Anymore" which comes complete with Anselmo baiting growls and a riff not too dissimilar to "A New Level" but dredged through the grime of the Mississippi river!!! The song of the South shines brightly on "When The Spirits Take Control" which is as close as The Might Could get to a "Freebird" style power ballad...all gentle picked chords and rousing chorus proving that these guys are far from being a riff worshipping one trick pony. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that Larson, as well as providing half of the guitar barrage alongside TJ Childers, also takes control of the microphone. Given the issues that Alabama Thunderpussy had with vocalists during their career and bearing in mind Larson has also produced two solo albums on which he sings, it's little wonder that he has decided to take the bull by the horns here and step up. Larson's approach is gruff and frequently brutal but not without a deep seated sense of melody which is no more evident than on the quieter moments where he reveals himself to be a singer of no little talent.
When the band want to rock out they don't disappoint. "Mad Dog Blues" is a nifty little rocker that flexes both its punk and metal muscles and has almost fuck all to do with the blues and comes complete with a chant along "whoa whoa" mid section. Fear not though, this ain't no Bon Jovi rip off...Bon Jovi fans would shit themselves if they were exposed to this!!! If it's the blues you want though, hold on a moment and take in the swampy slide that heralds the arrival of "Let ‘Em Up Easy" before careening off into a spiralling, rollicking riff that live should see much busting of heads and flailing of body parts.
"Coming Clean" keeps its foot on the gas with yet another slice of up tempo southern fried rock...albeit with Larson's throat shredding vocals adding an air of general psychosis and sludgy bile. If you were beginning to think these guys were all about the good times, "The Widower" dashes that notion as the Might Could deliver a weighty slab of melancholic Southern doom. This is easily the most dense and oppressive cut on the album...heavier than Rosie O' Donnell hanging off your nut sack but still possessed of that innate sense of melody that flows through the album.
No southern rock album, no matter how twisted and heavy, would be complete without an epic closing track and, running at over 9 minutes, "The Fall" ticks all the right boxes opening on a clean guitar figure that intersperses with mighty moments of soaring doom before bringing the metal in no uncertain terms to play out to the climax.
Allegedly this album was recorded, mixed and mastered in 3 days!!! Most bands take that long to set up the drums when it comes to doing an album!!! If this is the case then the end result is all the more remarkable. The clues are there...this isn't a pristine, polished release that has been overdubbed to all Hell but nor does it sound like a rushed job. This is an honest and above all tight band laying it down as it's meant to be delivered live and free from unnecessary bells and whistles.
Three months into 2011 and Small Stone have already given us the new Roadsaw album to tease us and now The Might Could. Will they top these two releases? They might. They could...but it's hard to see how!!!
- Ollie Stygall
The Might Could represents a fresh start for guitarist Erik Larson; a man already renowned in the stoner rock community for his longtime service with Alabama Thunderpussy, while simultaneously participating in a consistently outstanding collection of side projects (most notably the Mighty Nimbus and Hail Hornet) and later helming a pair of critically acclaimed solo albums. Once again playing the frontman here, Larson's crushed larynx takes charge of initiating his new bandmates -- lead guitarist TJ Childers, bassist Rob Gouldman, and drummer Ryan Wolfe -- in the subtle art of concocting absolutely pulverizing, borderline sludgy, metallic Southern stoner rock. And if the balls-out rockers like "Wretched Wraith," "Mad Dog Blues," and "Coming Clean" (this one built around an old, modified Mötorhead riff) pick up right where ATP left off, and then some, it's the significantly heavier, doom-paced offerings like "The Widower," the nine-minute "The Fall," and the Thin Lizzy-inspired "The Night They Shoot Ol' Dixie Down" that categorically bury the listener under a positively gruesome amount of power (inspired album-opener "Stone Colossus" also features the best of both worlds). Amid all this brazen ferocity, the bluesy slide guitars introducing "Let ‘Em Up Easy" (which duly develops into yet another barroom scorcher) feel like a revelation, and although it was entirely predictable that Skynyrd's influence would make an appearance at some point, it only does so in overt fashion via the melodically inclined "When the Spirits Take Control." Before it's all said and done, the Might Could even show a sense of humor on the sly "I Don't Even Like Pantera Anymore" (where Childers cuts loose on an especially blinding guitar solo), bolstering their already formidable range and announcing to all and sundry that Erik Larson is back and piloting yet another stoner rock super-power into the wild blue yonder.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
ruth in advertising is always a nice bonus and the debut album from The Might Could is a perfect example of it. The front cover is an homage to Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum with 4 ugly dudes instead of the Cheer’s 3. And one guy is wearing a Sun Gods In Exile hat. Before hearing a note I knew I was going to be all over this like 69 on a summer’s day.
Richmond, VA’s Might Could play straight ahead, no nonsense kick ass rock just like I expected. Fans of contemporary loud rock losers like Backwoods Payback, Roadsaw and the rest of the Small Stone roster probably already own this by now. After a few spins I definitely picked up a strong Blackfoot influence, especially on a slow song like “When The Spirits Take Control.” This one rivals Sun Gods In Exile’s “495” as the best “Highway Song” re-write in several decades. In addition to the Blackfoot influence, I also picked up a whiff of forgotten Louisville creeps Kinghorse. “Mad Dog Blues” uses their “whoa-oh-oh” Elvis/Danzig chorus style to great effect.
Their overall sound is flat out pissed off. Recorded, mixed and mastered in 3 days it’s obvious they went for the “set it and forget it” method of making a record. Most of the songs are pretty fast but won’t make you drive too far over the speed limit because you’ll be too busy banging on the steering wheel. The 2 guitars blend well into 1 big punch to the nose while the tight rhythm section knees you in the groin at the same time. Vocals are suitably gravelly and destined to get you funny looks from the John Mayer fan next to you at the red light.
Despite all the riffing frenzy, there are a few surprises to keep things interesting. “Let ‘Em Up Easy” starts with nice bluesy lap steel guitar playing before the rest of the band comes pummeling in. “The Widower” is a heavy dirge to counter balance the faster songs. The Might Could also win song title of the year award with the brilliant “I Don’t Even Like Pantera No More.” Excellent title aside, this might be the best song on the album.
Another winner from Small Stone and another excuse to spend too much money and call in sick to work the day after these guys blow through your town.
Yes, Alabama Thunderpussy is dead, but you can still find plenty of angry, sauced Southern metal out there. Making the hunt that much easier, though, is former ATP guitarist Erik Larson, who heads a new group of rabble rousing good ol’ boys in The Might Could, proudly shoving the source right in your face like a freshly caught possum. As you’d expect, the majority of The Might Could carries with it the bourbon-fueled, junkyard clamor of chainsaw fights and shotgun blasts, but it also mixes in gracious nods to Skynyrd’s blue sky balladry (“When the Spirits Take Control”) and Pantera’s thug metal riffola (“I Don’t Even Like Pantera Anymore”), blues-infused steel n’ slide (“Let ‘Em Up Easy”), doom-laden mood mending (“The Widower” and “The Fall”), and electric, punk-fried action (“Mad Dog Blues”). A black and green tempest of heavy energy, this Might Could.
- Jeff Warren
After the rather sudden and sadly unheralded demise of the great Alabama Thunderpussy in 2008, I wondered how long it would take sparkplug Erik Larson to start something new and, given the eclectic nature of his solo records, what it would sound like. The answers can be found on this here self-titled debut from the Might Could. Taking on the lead vocals (am I the only one who wonders why he didn’t do that in ATP with all their lead singer troubles?), Larson doesn’t stray that far off the thrashgrunge path ATP pioneered – anybody who digs Staring at the Divine will get a familiar buzz from the blazing Stone Colossus and Coming Clean and the slow grind of The Widower. But Larson’s apparently been giving his old blues records a few spins in his down time, as he and fellow picker TJ Childers add plenty of Dixie boogie to Let ‘em Up Easy, Wretched Wraith and the blatantly Skynyrd-baiting When the Spirits Take Control. Put it all together with The Night They Shoot Ol’ Dixie Down, The Fall and I Don’t Even Like Pantera Anymore (and why should you?) and you’ve got a wickedly thunderous jug of riff-mongering metal moonshine that’ll peel the skin right off your buttocks. The loss of ATP was a shame, but the rise of the Might Could makes it all better.
- Michael Toland
It’s sad when bands dissolve like Alabama Thunderpussy and Facedowninshit …but it’s fucking awesome when those members get with other guys and create something even better…The Might Could. This self-titled debut is what happens when those bad ass rockers refuse to stop bringin’ the thunder. These four guys bring that thunder with a whole lot of whiskey drinkin’, ass smackin’, and head banging that makes for one helluva good time.
“Stone Colossus” kicks it all off with hollow southern guitars that flicker into stoner paced chunk. The many influences of these veteran rockers are already smiling upon us. The thundering drums of “Wretched Wraith” guide us through screaming guitars and vocals that were evolved through the gargling of whiskey and broken glass. The next track is an epic tale of Ol’ Dixie and is sung with the strain of pain that still rings through parts of the south. The song comes across as mystical as the guitars wail and squeal through the thickness of bass.
When I first read the album track list, “I Don’t Even Like Pantera Anymore,” stood out like a sore thumb. WTF? Then I listened to it. I can only speculate that this track is tongue-in-cheek with its obvious thrash groove sound seemingly inspired by the giants of Pantera. The vocals on this track also conjure up Phil and the southern grind that once was. The album takes a turn into the mist with “When the Spirits Take Control.” Very mellow with a thumping beat and a final guitar solo that shows off the bands music talents fully.
“Mad Dog Blues” is anything but bluesy with its hard rockin’ riffs. “Let Em Up Easy” lends itself to a blues intro, then leads us into another guitar explosion on “Coming Clean.” The album concludes with heavy stoner rock on both “The Widower” and “The Fall.”
The Might One is the sound of four passionate rockers gettin’ it done for the sake of rockin’. The music is stoney at times and thrash metal at others. It is also the cohesive sound of what happens when great musicians come together. Damn good at what they do. Damn good.
Formed at the behest of drummer Ryan Wolfe (formerly of Facedowninshit) upon his moving to Richmond, Virginia, the double-guitar riff specialists The Might Could – who seem to have added their “The” since last I looked – make their full-length debut with a self-titled album on Small Stone that seems to work solely on one ethic: No bullshit allowed. Driven by the guitar work of TJ Childers (Inter Arma) and Erik Larson (Parasytic, Hail!Hornet, ex-Alabama Thunderpussy, etc.), Wolfe’s drumming and the low end of bassist Rob Gouldman (Lord), The Might Could deliver 10 tracks of no-frills Southern metal, making no bones about their influences, their ethic, their love of solos or any of it. Both Childers and Larson handle vocals — the latter in the lead spot for most of the songs — and I’d have to blow into a tube to be sure, but I think I may have gotten drunk just listening to it.
The Might Could, as a debut, is somewhat rudimentary, but like Larson’s earliest work in Alabama Thunderpussy on albums like Rise Again and River City Revival, there’s a raw charm to the material here. The album opens strong and heavy with the six-minute “Stone Colossus” and keeps that vibe going to varying degrees across the next three tracks. I wouldn’t call The Might Could stoner metal, but some of that groove is undeniably there on “Stone Colossus.” “Wretched Wraith” is shorter, meaner and more punk, but still follows the riff, Wolfe’s snare about as far forward in the mix as it can get without poking an eye out. As one of the longest cuts, “The Night They Shoot Ol’ Dixie Down” at 7:13 brings back the mid-paced dueling guitar of the opener (killer solos abound), Larson and Childers meshing well together sonically and offering just enough range in tone to be distinguishable one to the next. I had to turn the bass up to hear more of Gouldman, but once I did, the balance seemed just right and I suspect it was more my stereo than the mix.
As the chorus of “I Don’t Even Like Pantera Anymore” is also the title line, the song was bound to be a highlight, even if The Might Could hadn’t filled it with whiskey chug and screams that I’m pretty sure are just there to make fun of Phil Anselmo. All in good spirit, I assume. Things slow and mellow with the ballad “When the Spirits Take Control,” which thankfully offers some payoff to its build in the by-now familiar form of a guitar solo and resurgence of distortion. It’s not one of The Might Could’s finer moments, but it needs to be there, and without it, the record would probably come off as one-dimensional or too single-minded. Plus, it sets a precedent, should the band decide to try more of this kind of thing on subsequent albums, and leads well into “Mad Dog Blues,” another burner of barns with one of the catchiest choruses The Might Could has to offer and a little more of the punk/hardcore edge that reared its head on “Wretched Wraith.” I’m not saying it’s Social Distortion gone metal, but if The Might Could wanted to start covering “Ring of Fire” too, that’d probably be alright.
About a minute and a half of slide electric and acoustic guitar gets “Let ‘em up Easy” under way, which then shuffles heavy-footed through a couple verses and choruses before, where other tracks on The Might Could might just move right into a heavy solo, the music cuts out the forward momentum and offers a moment of respite before coming back in. It’s a small change, but later in the album, an appreciated one, as it shows The Might Could have more up their songwriting sleeve than just Southern riffs and boozy vibes. “Coming Clean,” with Childers’ backing vocals during the chorus, strikes me as a song I’d love to hear live, and moves through some angular turns kept aground by Wolfe’s steady hits. Though it works in terms of what’s being played, the snare is high in the mix almost uniformly across the board on The Might Could, and I find myself being thankful that Wolfe’s playing is straightforward so I don’t have to hear ghost-note antics louder than everything else. The sound cuts through well enough that it could have been put lower and would have still been easily audible and the driving force it’s meant to be.
The Might Could ends with two of its best tracks in the form of “The Widower” – slower, moodier, darker – and the memorably desperate “The Fall.” They make a good pair and work well off each other, but each has something individually remarkable as well. “The Widower” shows a doomier side and puts Larson’s vocals further back into the music with less separation and a fuller sound resulting from ringing out guitar notes while Gouldman’s bass does right by laying the foundation of a woeful, bluesy groove. Before the hidden ending of “The Fall” caps off The Might Could with some recorded studio antics, the song blends a metallic edge with the already established southbound vibe and a more complex structure. Like “When the Spirits Take Control,” the song has a build, but it works in verses and choruses at the same time, so it’s not just linear, and when Wolfe’s kick bass underscores Larson’s delivery of the line “These miles and miles,” it’s easy to feel like you were traveling them too.
Then they thrash. Well, it had to happen at some point right? “The Fall,” aside from being probably the most complicated track on The Might Could is probably also the most satisfying. Childers and Larson both turn in remarkable performances, and if The Might Could is going to be what comes out of the aftermath of Facedowninshit and Alabama Thunderpussy, I’m more than happy to take it. That’s not to say they’re replacing anybody, and compared to those acts (only the latter is a fair likeness, sound-wise), they unquestionably have their own dynamic and presentation. I don’t know what the band is planning in terms of touring, promoting, future recording, etc., but with this self-titled, The Might Could kick off what’s hopefully to be a long residency of having their boot up Southern metal’s ass.
- H.P. Taskmaster