The Steel Wheels Go Sideways

New Album The Steel Wheels

The Steel Wheels

To Release ‘Sideways’

Out February 9, 2024

The brilliant Virginia-based Americana band The Steel Wheels have announced that their new record Sideways will come out on February 9, 2024 via Big Ring Records. The group has also shared the first single from the LP “Easy On Your Way”, a hymn-like anthem with bittersweet lyrics and a rollicking bluegrass-inflected instrumental.

“This song is for when you don’t have the words. It acknowledges the hardest of the hard stuff, because no one is served by ignoring the pain, but it also looks you dead in the eye and says, ‘We’re all in this together’ in the least cliche way possible. Let’s celebrate that life doesn’t make sense and show up with the tools to rebuild the barn after the tree falls on the roof.” 

frontman Trent Wagler

The Steel Wheels are a band that has been hard to define, bluegrass, gospel, Americana, pointed lyrics and, above, gorgeous harmonies. This album is a further move away from their all acoustic string band origins. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim, Josh Ritter), Sideways takes influence from psychedelic rock, pop, jam and more to expand upon their distinctly Appalachian sound. 

Never ones to shy away from heavy topics, the group – particularly Wagler, its lead songwriter – penned many of the songs in response to loss and the fearful uncertainty that comes with facing what we can’t control. In 2019, The Steel Wheels were blindsided by the death of fiddle player and vocalist Eric Brubaker’s young daughter to a rare disease. And during the pandemic, Wagler’s child faced a mental health crisis that left Wagler and his family feeling lost and frustrated inside our country’s mental health care system. 

“This album is dedicated to people who understand that even when we’re growing sideways, we’re still growing. If you had a five year plan a few years ago, I bet it didn’t quite come to fruition. These are songs that celebrate the Both/And of life. We are grieving and we are laughing. We are suffering and we are growing. We are isolated and we are connected. May it be again and again, cue music.” 

Wagler

When the band began developing the album, they knew it demanded a manner and a space that honours the subject matter. So, the band holed up together at the Great North Sound Society in Parsonsfield, Maine, moving into the studio for a week, cooking their meals together around a woodstove in a farmhouse, and, most importantly, playing all together again for the first time in over two years. The result is at-once a powerful, at-times joyous and contemplative reflection on our shared human experience – both tapping into the personal and reaching for something universal. 

Since 2005, The Steel Wheels have been melding the traditional with the contemporary, while always remaining firmly rooted in the sounds of the Virginia mountains where the band was formed. In 2017, the band first collaborated with Kassirer on the critically-acclaimed Wild As We Came Herewhich features the now ubiquitous alt-folk battlecry “Scrape Me Off the Ceiling.” Through it all, The Steel Wheels have been about creating a community and sharing the experience of humanity with one another. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival, founded by the band in 2013. Taking place in the Shenandoah Valley, the festival has featured performances by Lucinda Williams, Billy Strings, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Mavericks, Old Crow Medicine Show, Robert Earl Keen, Dawes, Trampled By Turtles and more. Outside of their own festival, the band is known for its road-dog mentality, spending many nights of the year on the road.

The Steel Wheels is Trent Wagler (vocals/guitar/banjo), Jay Lapp (guitar/mandolin/ vocals), Eric Brubaker (fiddle/vocals), Kevin Garcia (drums/percussion/mallet keyboards) and Jeremy Darrow (bass). 

Sideways Tracklist

1. Wait On You

2. Baby Gone

3. Sideways

4. Hero

5. Enemy

6. Dissidents

7. Good Thing Now

8. Morning Before Long

9. Yes I Know

10. Past The Breaks

11. Easy On Your Way

12. Just Like The Wind

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New Album The Steel Wheels

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Author: Rob Dickens

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