Appalachian Gothic is the debut solo LP by singer-songwriter Erik Vincent Huey. The album was recorded at Cowboy Technical Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, the legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll guitarist (Joan Jett, Del-Lords, Steve Earle & The Dukes) and producer (Bottle Rockets, Jimbo Mathus, Yayhoos, Sarah Borges).
The album drops on January 20, 2023; the first two singles have a release date of October 14, 2022 (“The Devil is Here in These Hills”) and November 11, 2022 (“Winona”).
Erik (aka Cletus McCoy) is the frontman of The Surreal McCoys, an Outlaw Country Americana band that—boosted by airplay of its single “Whole Lotta Folsom” on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country and other outlets –cracked the Top 50 on the Americana Album Charts and currently enjoys 50K monthly listeners on Spotify, where it has collected 2 million spins.
On his first solo album, Appalachian Gothic, Erik takes a nostalgic deep dive into the Appalachia of his youth while wrestling with the hard contemporary realities of a region that’s been left behind in so many ways, yet remains richly interwoven into the cultural fabric of America.
The son of four generations of coal miners, Erik grew up along the banks of the Monongahela River in West Virginia. He came of age on punk rock but eventually discovered that he could never truly escape the pull of his Appalachian roots. From the on-ramp of The Blasters, X, Jason & The Scorchers, The Beat Farmers, and Mojo Nixon, he wandered upstream along the Hillbilly Highway until he unearthed a couple of old cassettes by Johnny Cash and George Jones—artists he’d listened to as a kid in the cab of his Uncle Jack’s 18-wheeler.
“This record is a love letter to Appalachia,” says Huey. “Like so many West Virginians, I had to leave the place where I grew up. As the locals say, I had to ‘get out to get ahead,’ which created a lasting sense of exile. So this album is a homecoming of sorts. It’s a realization that, as I sing on the album’s closing song, “I spent my life tunneling out, but those rugged brown hills kept calling me home.”
While the album explores darker themes and raw subject matter like the legacy of coal mining and the ravages of the opioid crisis in songs like “The Devil is Here in These Hills,” “Dear Dad,” “The Appalachian Blues,” and “The Battle of Uniontown,” yet taps into a defiant streak of optimism on twangy upbeat rockers like “Winona” and the pro-union anthem “Yours in the Struggle.”
Erik mines the Classic Country seam of the 60s and 70s on the rollicking “You Can’t Drink All Day” and the torchlit two-stepper “That’s What Jukeboxes Are For,” a duet with alt-country chanteuse Laura Cantrell, and roams into Spaghetti Western territory on the eerie “Death County.” The album ends on an elegiac note with “A Coal Miner’s Son.”
Along the way, he taps into his inner punk rocker on the swampy, lustful “Lucy”—a song he co-wrote with Ambel (the pair co-wrote half the songs on the LP). Erik’s chugging cover of John Cooper Clarke’s “A Heart Disease Called Love” nods to The Ramones and is highlighted by the jump-blues baritone saxophone of Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, The Blasters).
The album features Eric “Roscoe” Ambel on guitar, Jeremy Chatzky on bass, and Kenny Soule on drums, with additional appearances by Keith Christopher (bass), Andy York (guitar), Neil Thomas (accordion), Cody Nilsen (pedal steel), and drummer Phil Cimino.
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