Reviews for Second Season...
When it comes to describing Halfway to Gone's potent blend of stoner, Southern, and classic rock, the whiskey bottle-clutching 400-pound gorilla on the cover of their sophomore Second Season album really does say it all. Picking up right where their 2001 debut High Five left off, this second helping finds the New Jersey-based trio cranking out a surprisingly hook-laden, high-energy set of tunes. Boasting a confidence and swagger usually reserved for more experienced bands, Halfway to Gone are equally adept at handling pulverizing rockers ("Already Gone," "Escape from Earth"), quasi-doom metal workouts ("Lone Star Breakout," "Never Comin' Home"), and laid-back instrumental blues numbers like "Outta Smokes" and "Black Coffy" (spelling ain't these boys' strong suit). Cooked up with a few choice ingredients from each of these styles, the awesome "Whiskey Train" easily takes the cake as the album's strongest cut, but additional hot moments arrive via ballsy opener "Great American Scumbag" and yet another excellent instrumental in "Brocktoon's Wake," which also features harp contributions from Five Horse Johnson front man Eric Oblander. Truly an inspired outing, Second Season is going to be a tough act to follow.
Weekly Dig (Boston)
In the past year or two, the southern element of stoner rock has made one of the strongest showings in music, even as the "Kyuss Klones" have declined. Bands like the mighty Alabama Thunder Pussy, Dixie Witch, Halfway to Gone, and Small Stone labelmates Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned have all made top-notch records, tossing in one helping of Sabbath to one of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Z Z. Top, or the Allman Brothers. And the good thing is, you don't have to be from south of the old Mason-Dixon line to do it! Halfway's bassist Lou Gorra and guitar player Lee Stuart were both in Solarized, a group of fellow New Jersey rockers whose album 'Neanderthal Speedway' is essential to every dope smoker's library. A couple of year's ago Halfway put out an all-instrumental demo, which promised a more southern flava than Solarized offered. This was followed in 2001 by their first full-length, 'High Five,' which combined instrumentals with Lou's first vocal forays. There was also a kick-ass split with the above-referenced ATP, featuring one of Halfway's most evil tunes, 'Darktown Strutter.'
Hell, these guys still seem like a new band to me, but constant touring has developed the group into a white-hot, whiskey-soaked weapon. 'Second Season' opens with what's sure to be a future show staple, 'Great American Scumbag.' That sick southern sound stands out right away, and it's only the beginning. Lee throws out an intense sonic attack in solo after solo; a particular highlight is the boogien' 'Brocktoon's Wake.' Lou provides the thunder, playing his bass like it was a toy, while newcomer Kenny Wagner gives those skins the spanking they so richly deserve. This is nothing short of a true power trio, southern style, so if you like 60 Watt Shaman, ATP, or if you like a little Sabbath with your Skynyrd, then you'd best check out Halfway to Gone. And see 'em live; the CD is less than half the experience!
Oh yeah, about that bonus track: suffice it to say that it breathes fresh life into a "classic radio" stalwart that was tired and overplayed decades ago.
Tim CatzAugust, 2000
THE GLASS EYE
Wow! I was expecting this album to be exactly as good as it turned out to be, knowing well how fucking powerful the Jersey trio's first Smallstone record was (and having seen them live a few times gave me a super-motherfucking-rock-jolt, 100%). Still, nothing can prepare one for the all-out riff assault put down by these bearded, baseball cap-wearing giants. For those who don't know their sound, you can compare them to bands like Alabama Thunderpussy and Suplecs -- the big "Southern riff on acid" sound.
Season starts out with a no-time-to-fuck-around attitude, going by the name "Great American Scumbag." Straight-up rock heaviness continues into the next track, "Already Gone," while "Black Coffy" mellows it out a bit, showing some of the bandĂs stoner side. Then, on to the rock again, as "Escape >From Earth," "Whiskey Train," and "Brocktoon's Wake" push your neck to the point of breakage. "Outta Smokes" gives you another breather, with a special appearance by Five Horse Johnson's Eric Oblander on the blues harp. Bam! Here it comes again! "Lone Star Breakout" may have one of the best heavy, thumping guitar parts I've ever heard, bar none.
"Tryptophan" officially ends the album, making you feel like you just had the biggest Thanksgiving ever, and are now laying your fat ass down on the couch to watch the only football game you'll watch all year, aside from the inevitable Super-Bowl party -- think Sabbath's "Planet Caravan." Special appearance by Big Chief's Phil Durr on the "Ridiculator" (what the fuck is that?!!!) and Smallstone Chief Scott Hamilton on miscellaneous noise.
Hold on!!! Bonus track! A truly great cover of The Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See." Hearing this song reminds me of being at a summer BBQ as a kid, listening to now-classic-rock while having my first taste of beer.
Can't wait to see these guys again. Special props on the production by Al Sutton (Kid Rock, Five Horse Johnson).
When Robert Johnson sold his soul at the crossroads little could he have known the development the blues would undergo in the next 60 odd years, first with the advent of the electric guitar, then the mutations and distortions introduced by heavy rock from the late 60s onwards, the only thing that has remained constant is the subject matter; the devil, rambling, drinking whiskey and treating your woman bad all of which are glorified by this superb pair of modern blues artists.
The GP take their cues from the John Spencer Blues Explosion and the fuzz explosion of early Monster Magnet. Beginning with their theme tune, the stall is firmly set out, powerful shake your ass good times blues with more balls than a case of elephantitus of the scrotum. For the MM comparisons seek no further than "Mrs Satan" and then marvel at the doomy "Jim Beam and Good Green"Ó hmm your place or mine?
HTG may sound like the south rising once again, as they threaten you "Back of my hand gonna give you a fat lip" before slapping you with "Great American Scumbag" (song title of the year?) but they come from New Jersey, but hey whatĂs a few thousand miles? The lows are whiskey and weed soaked, try the divine "Outta Smokes" and the highs scream out to ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd rather than contemporary bands.
Very 70s and very cool!