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A gathering storm: Quiet Corral is ready to make some noise with the release of ‘Ancestors’

New album ‘Ancestors’ gives voice to the band’s layered, wide-ranging sound.

Quiet Corral: Isaac Flynn (from left), Jim Barnes, Matt Green, Jesse Roberts, Garrett Childers and Zach Mehl. The band is about to celebrate the release of “Ancestors,” its first full-length album.


Quiet Corral has scheduled three album-release shows for “Ancestors”: Aug. 30 at the Granada in Lawrence with Cowboy Indian Bear and Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids; Sept. 13 at Mojo’s in Columbia with She’s a Keeper and Moonrunner; and Sept. 14 at the Riot Room in Westport with the Noise FM and Cowboy Indian Bear.


The band’s original name was Quiet Chorale.

“We thought it fit because we have lots of vocals and harmonies,” said Isaac Flynn, songwriter and guitarist for the Lawrence band Quiet Corral.


“A chorale is a choir, and Quiet Choir is about the lamest band name you could ever come up with,” said Jim Barnes, the band’s drummer and producer.

So they went with the homophone, which seems appropriate given that the band is composed of six musicians with six separate styles, voices and opinions, all of which are assembled and arranged in the band’s invigorating sound: a mix of folk, country and indie-rock.

It’s the sound that earned the band a spot at the 2012 Austin City Limits Festival. And it’s the sound that fills “Ancestors,” the band’s first full-length album, which is about to get its official release. The record took two years to complete, and it follows the release of the EP “Quiet Corral” in 2010, the band’s founding year.

Touring interrupted the recording process and took Barnes away from his studio duties, which include helping edit and arrange all those parts — acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, keyboards, drums, bass and as many as five vocal parts — into songs that are as cohesive as they are inventive.

“I really value everyone’s opinion,” he said. “With six people, it’s not always possible.”

“We definitely butt heads at times,” Flynn said. “But it’s mostly over stylistic things. Like, Matt (Green), our bass player, likes things to be more progressive, more indie-rock. And Jesse (Roberts), our singer, pushes more for the alt-country sound. But we strive to let everyone put their spin on a song.”

“Ideally, I like to have everyone’s input,” Barnes said. “It can mean taking more time to finish a song, but when we have the patience to sort through it, what comes out the other side can be very cool.”

Most of the songwriting is done by Flynn and Roberts. “About half the songs on the new album are mine and half are Jesse’s,” Flynn said. “He’s also the lyricist. He has a really distinct style that is a really big part of our music’s character.

“We write the songs, and then the rest of the band gets involved in the arrangements, but Jim is the biggest part of that. He’s like the band director.”

Barnes was the last man to join the band. The five others, all in their early to mid-20s, have known one another going back to their days in middle school and junior high. They released “Quiet Corral” in December 2010 but didn’t hit the road until May 2011. From Chicago to Austin, they have toured regularly since and have become a better live band because of it.

“We were a lot sloppier when we started out,” Flynn said. “We were really young and so excited to be playing live. I was only a sophomore in college. Jim is definitely the most seasoned musician in the band, and he taught us about professionalism onstage. Once we’d reached a point where we played our instruments well enough, he was like, ‘OK, now you can jump around onstage.’”

They improved enough over the course of a year to perform at the Austin festival in October and be part of a lineup that featured Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the Black Keys, Iggy & the Stooges, the Roots and the Avett Brothers.

“We’d played Austin several times,” Flynn said. “We’ve done shows at Stubbs and this upscale barbecue place called Lamberts. We became friends with some of the people who organize the festival, and last year they gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We had an early time slot, but about 1,000 people were there to see us. We were thrilled. We got to meet the Avett Brothers. We played a couple of spots before M. Ward, and the Punch Brothers played our stage later that day. It was just a great experience to see and meet some bands I really respect and look up to. It was very inspiring.”

Quiet Corral has scheduled three album-release shows over the next several weeks. Those performances will showcase a band that has honed its craft and skills as live performers, studio performers and songwriters. “Ancestors” comprises 11 songs that are as accessible as they are dynamic and inventive. It also bears a style that has evolved considerably, one whose sum is the deft orchestration of its many parts.

“We didn’t really have a ‘sound’ when we started,” Barnes said. “We just started jamming on the songs we had, and the sound just sort of came out. This time, we were able to decide what we liked and didn’t like about those songs and give our sound more of a focus.”

“That first EP was a little scatter-brained,” Flynn said. “Those were the only six songs we had. Now, we’ve spent time together, and we know each other better. We’re better all around, as songwriters and a band.”


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