Stinging Nettles: Fuzz-Folk


After the release of singer/ songwriter John Huebner’s solo EP, he began playing with a number of musicians in the steadily growing Lancaster music scene.  The plan was a simple one, to take some of his new songs, add a couple of new tunes he had started working on and as Huebner said, “play some shows and see how things went.”

Things went well enough as the songs were taken to the stage that a permanent line-up was eventually settled on (Andrew Jacobs – bass, Dylan Labiak – drums) and a sound discovered.  This sound they stumbled upon falling somewhere between the gorgeous rumbling alt-country of Wilco and the distorted indie-pop-rock of Dinosaur JR. 

Huebner calls it, “A return to a more straight forward sound, where folk meets distorted alternative rock, Fuzz-folk.” He then adds, “The sound is actually more fuzz than folk.  The song writing certainly has a folk aesthetic to it, but is filled with alt-rock distortion and grit.” 

nettles-2.jpgThe band has thrived in the rapidly developing music scene in central Pennsylvania, and more specifically in the downtown Lancaster scene that has seen a crop of young bands who share a common rehearsal studio space flourish in the region.  The four bands who share this space (Stinging Nettles, Felix Lighter, Slimfit, and They Were Only Satellites), share more than just a place to practice.  They have at times shared members, shows, ideas, and a common goal to spread their music as far as possible. 

Legendary punk guitarist Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen fame has taken notice of what is going on in downtown Lancaster and become an integral part of this collective, popping up at shows, playing with the bands, recording his latest live album at their studio and even playing on their albums. He played harmonica on two tracks on Stinging Nettles last album, Tread Softly, which was released last summer.  

Tread Softly is the perfect distillation of Stinging Nettles roots.  Built upon a foundation of sweet, concise songwriting and eschewing over the top guitar pyrotechnics, about which Huebner says, “There aren’t many lead solos…if any,” Tread Softly instead focuses on rough and tumble melodies that dance along with a simple rocking feel that places the attention squarely on the band’s songwriting and their distinct Fuzz-folk sound. 

Still riding high from the release of Tread Softly, Stinging Nettles are already in the process of recording a follow-up EP, with new material that Huebner calls “really extraordinary.”  The self-titled release will be out at the end of the summer. 

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