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By Rich Tupica
Reigning Sound was formed in 2001 by Memphis, TN garage-punk legend Greg Cartwright (vocals/guitar), who is also known for his previous bands The Compulsive Gamblers and The Oblivians.
After Cartwright relocated his family to Asheville, N.C. in 2004, bassist David Wayne Gay, drummer Lance Wille and keyboardist Dave Amels joined him to complete the new line-up.
Reigning Sound’s debut,"Two Sides to Every Man", a three song 7" single, was released in May of 2001. One month later came their first full-length album "Break Up, Break Down" (Sympathy for the Record Industry). With its country-folk melodies, the first album was to be an early blueprint of where Cartwright’s songwriting was headed.
“Time Bomb High School,” (In the Red) was released in August 2002, and is known for its polished sound, pop hooks and near-perfect balance of classic R&B and rock-n-roll. Aside from the many stand-out originals on the album, cover songs like “Stormy Weather” and “Brown Paper Sack” prove Cartwright has mastered the art of revamping old songs and making them seem like his own.
The band's third album “Too Much Guitar,” (In the Red) was released in May of 2004. With recording help from fellow Memphians Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout of the The Lost Sounds, it’s by far Reigning Sound’s loudest and noisiest album to date. Songs laced with psych-pop, garage and soul under a blanket of fuzz is the vibe heard throughout the entire album. The obnoxiously loud “We Repel” opens this record and from the first chord it’s apparent that it’s not a sequel to any of their earlier records. An opening slot on a huge American tour with the Swedish garage band The Hives helped to promote the album shortly after its release.
“Reigning Sound: Live at Maxwell’s” (Telstar/Spoonful) was released in July of 2005, which was an interesting show to say the least. By the end of the gig Cartwright, with no back-up set, broke all but three guitar strings and still finishes the show for his usual rowdy crowd. This live album has a unique, rough-around-the-edges feel, not to mention it’s also the only place to find the stand out track “I Need You Now,” a soulful Sam Cooke cover song that allows Cartwright to pay homage to one of his favorite singers.
In September 2005 Reigning Sound released a rarities comp “Home for Orphans” (Sympathy for the Record Industry). The album features slower, moodier alternate versions of tunes from “Too Much Guitar” along with some other unreleased tracks.
Another live LP, “Reigning Sound: Live at Goner Records,” (Goner Records) was released in late January 2006. This is a daytime in-store performance recorded in June of 2005, and with its crystal clear production, gives listeners an accurate account of what Reigning Sound is all about. The album also hosts great cover songs like “Black Sheep” by Sam the Sham, “Tennessee” by Carl Perkins and “Do Something” by The Swingin’ Yo-Yo’s.
After spending a portion of 2005 recording a George Soule album with legends Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, the band once again began recording as a backing band with another rock legend, Mary Weiss of the 60s band The Shangri-Las, who is widely know for the hit song “Leader of the Pack.” Cartwright wrote nine of the 14 songs on the record, he also co-produced the album with Norton Records owner Billy Miller. The album “Dangerous Game” (Norton) was released in March 2007 and recieved rave reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine. Reigning Sound also performed the Cartwright tune "Stop & Think It Over" with Weiss on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
On August 11, 2009, Reigning Sound released its long-awaited album, "Love & Curses." The CD/LP is now available for purchase through In the Red Records webiste, Amazon.com, iTunes, and your local vinyl shop.
In late 2010, after a over a year of Oblivians reunion shows across the globe, Cartwright then collaborated with Coco Hames (from The Ettes) and released the "Strychnine Dandelion" LP on In the Red Records. The album features Dave Amels, and Patrick Keeler and Dan Auerbach.
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