A little over two decades—twenty-two years and some weighty change: this’s been the formative interval of committed cultivation which now defines the band Shadeland. With their latest full-length, self-titled album (released in December, 2018, with vinyl available on April 13, 2019), the group has produced not only a sonic distillation, punctuating aspects which have distinguished them thus far, the LP Shadeland (Radio Cake Records) is a sonic saturation that—in a more macro perspective—reflects a mature concretization as creative craftsmen.
Allen Kell (lead vocals and guitar) and Brad Hudgins (drums), creative comrades since the band’s inception, have overseen the progression of this nebulous endeavor that is Shadeland, with brothers Matt and Brad Johnson (guitar and bass, respectively) contributing the remaining angles of this four-corner frame (I’d be remiss not to mention Andrew Hibdon, who occasionally supplies skills on bass).
Kell and Hudgins have been candid in discussions and interviews about the challenges which have presented themselves since the late 90s; but embracing theses real-life, often mundane obstacles has proven their resiliency (as both musicians and men who are occupied with jobs and the true “fans” that are their families), and they’ve managed to maintain their momentum despite the vox-populi pitfalls which set most other bands to fail.
With their latest album, Shadeland, the band has coordinated the potential of pursuing a new artery of artistry, and making the decision to self-title the album has the resonative effect of a sobering rapprochement of their identity. If you’re aware of their reputation, any encounter (whether live or otherwise) will prove to be fulfilling. If you’re new to the band, their determined persona will cling to you. Shadeland is a ten-song admixture of melancholy tempered by bouts of warm—sometimes painfully so—illumination. Even the album cover articulates this underlying duality.
In a piece of creative prose when managing characterization, it’s lazy, as a writer, to appropriate blatant descriptive comparison to, say, a well-known actor. But, with the intent of drawing in a curious audience, I know few other ways than to make loose comparisons and struggle to do otherwise. Kell’s vocal textures—a petulant Jeff Buckley exercising occasional tinges akin to Muse’s Matt Bellamy.
The tracks on Shadeland are seamlessly connected—even in the spaces which suture the tentative silences between the weave of songs.
As with their previous albums (Escape Plan; Red Giant; and This Ghost), the opening melodies—“Not The Only One” and the first-released single, “I Did Not”—operate as incremental snares, both setting an inclusive hook and telegraphing the embraceable vibe beyond. The third track’s signpost is the lyrically loaded, “A Stranger Passing By” (which receives a brief, lyrical callback in the latter track, “Away In The River,” reinforcing the album’s bookend duality); but the pattern grows more complicated with the infectious fourth track, “Cicadas.”
“Look Around You” closes out Side A, with a humble “hiding-on-stage” polarization—a humble, subtle Janus-mask exultation.
“Walking Into the End” is a punchy number, slyly coated distortive primer, and showcases the respiratory relationship in Hudgins’s phenomenal rhythm section—the bullseye union of burrowing bass and denting drums. The song tonally operates like a curtain being swept aside in its denouement of the final three tracks.
Mentioned a moment ago, the ninth track, “A Stranger Remains,” employs a touch of intentional repetition in its wink to the “A Stranger Passing By” — there’s a circularity in it, as though both songs are gazing at each other in a warped mirror.
Shadeland is slated to release the vinyl version of their self-titled album on April 13, 2019, at Indy’s Square Cat Vinyl.
An Indy local, I’ve come to know Allen Kell, as an artist, from a distance. His discipline has transformed him. Sure: he’s a meticulous musician, a craftsman; but he’s also the rock star—and Shadeland is the rock band—that our city deserves.
Whether Shadeland achieves national or international acclaim is not the point (I’d wager any of the band members would accommodate the possibility, but have never created music with such an intention). In their journey, Kell and Hudgins have navigated an unpredictable map bearing alterations in both their personal lives and in the industry at large.
The album, Shadeland, is not a new map for the members, but it’s an opportunity for them to flatten out the folds and smooth the creases—it’s an atlas that bears fresh conduits and encourages the listener to join them through the next trajectory of this impressive journey.
A lot of bands have come and gone in the Indianapolis rock scene since the year 2000. One that’s still going strong is Shadeland, which will celebrate the release of their fifth full-length album at HI-FI this Saturday.
“It’s had its highs and lows,” says Shadeland drummer Brad Hudgins. “A lot of the bands we were playing shows with quite often have broken up, and we’re the only ones left still playing. So it was harder and harder to get people to your shows at points. But right now, I think it’s a good time for us.”
A self-titled release, Shadeland’s latest album has been many years in the making. In fact, the group first started recording it back in 2015. “Early that year, I had all the songs finished,” says Shadeland vocalist, guitarist, and head songwriter Allen Kell. “With me, it’s always a fiasco because I change them a thousand times. Even before the guys hear a song, it’s already changed. And then once we record them, I’ll still change them.”
This never-ending cycle of fine-tuning tracks is something Kell admits he’s always done, especially considering he’s personally mixed and mastered all of Shadeland’s music from the very beginning.
“I’ve never just been like, ‘Alright. The song’s done. Moving on,’” Kell says. “I have to keep working on it and revising it. I’ve been that way since we started playing.”
An album characterized by emotionally driven songcraft, Shadelandfeatures one track that’s particularly close to Kell’s heart.
“I had this incident driving home from practice,” says Kell of the song “A Stranger Passing By.” “It was slick, and I came upon a girl in a bad wreck. Her neck was clearly broken. I tried to help her. The ambulance hadn’t arrived yet.”
He continues, “It was traumatic because there was nothing I could do, and I still don’t know if she’s alive or not. The ambulance took her away, and that was it. At that point, I was just a stranger passing by. You do your best to help, but sometimes you can’t do anything. All you can do is try. That song means a lot to me.”
In many ways, this album means a lot to the band as well, hence the decision to have it be self-titled.
“It’s basically just a tribute to us and the fact that we’re still doing this,” Kell says. “There’s no deadline or stopping point for your art. If you’re an artist and you like making music, then you’re going to do it forever.”
With several devoted fans young and old in the Indianapolis area, Shadeland is looking forward to their album release show at HI-FI—a shindig that will also feature appearances from Desert Planet, InCalico, and Ballast.
“Indy has been kind to us,” Kell concludes. “We try our best to stay active and just be a part of the scene. Our fan base has certainly been dedicated.”
SHADELAND ANNOUNCES NEW RECORD AND RECORD RELEASE SHOW; LISTEN TO TWO NEW SONGS NOW
PREVIEW SHADELAND’S SELF-TITLED ALBUM NOW
Indianapolis-based indie-prog-pop rockers SHADELAND will be playing a special RECORD RELEASE SHOW to support their NEW ALBUM on December 8, 2018 at the Hi-Fi Indy. The self-titled album is the band’s fifth since forming in 2000. Shadeland is out 12/08/18 on Radio Cake Records.
The band’s label, Radio Cake Records, is currently streaming "I DID NOT," the upbeat single from Shadeland. The song’s catchy, driving riff and infectious main lyric create a groove that sticks with you – you can hear it HERE.
Shadeland has been built on the consistent core of Allen Kell and Brad Hudgins. Kell’s combination of dynamic guitar lines, and melodic, melancholic vocals coalesce with Hudgins’ frenetic, spot-on drumming to form the bedrock of Shadeland’s sound. The group has continued to evolve as a rock-solid unit with the precision and depth of Brad Johnson (bass) and atmospheric strata of Matt Johnson (vocals/guitars/keyboards).
The album Shadeland is very much about songcraft and the evolution of a musical idea.
“This new album is a testament to the song, and the art of it all. Longing, loneliness, reflection, addiction, anger, always perseverance in the end … but I’ve never been known for many happy songs,” says Kell.
As to the process itself, Kell says, “Every song is different, though sometimes the lyrics will take over and change the song entirely.”
That was the case with “A STRANGER PASSING BY.” The song tells of a chance encounter with a woman badly injured in a car wreck, attempting to help until medics arrive, and never knowing what becomes of her. Listen to the song HERE.
Please get in touch with Jason Firebaugh at email@example.com for guest list, interviews, or promo copies of Shadeland.
Dec. 8, 2018
DOORS AT 7:00 | TICKETS: $10.00 (tix available at TICKETFLY)
1043 Virginia Ave., Ste. 4
Indianapolis, IN 46203