The votes placing Bend's five-piece-alt-rock crew Broken Down Guitars into the winner's circle of the Last Band Standing competition were counted way back last June—almost an entire year ago. Eleven months later, they finally have something to show for it.
Eighteen hours of studio time at Top Secret Records and Productions came with the Ninkasi Brewing prize package the band earned when it won the competition. Broken Down Guitars immediately got to work with studio owner and vice president of Ninkasi marketing James Book, recording all but three songs for the album there. The band brought the music back to Bend for mastering at Sound Concepts Recording and will release the debut album Passports at Silver Moon Brewing this Saturday, May 11.
Lead singer and guitarist Stacie Lynn Johnson, a blond bohemian rocker with dreadlocks down to her backside, says her band has been itching for this release for a while.
"We learned a ton during the process, have become better musicians and gained a keener ear for music," said Johnson. "We still pushed our deadline out another month in the end, but we are super happy with the final product. The choice of tracks for this first album represents Broken Down Guitars and each of us as individual artists."
Plastered with jam guitar and peppered with violin, Passports is an album that can at times struggle to find an identity. Though most of the record is alt-country, it also explores commercial alt-rock as well as '70s classic rock (think Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kansas). Johnson's voice is a throwback to Kim Carnes, and violin player Lilli Worona fiddles her way into songs with a lively boot-kicking quality that borders on bluegrass.
If that sounds eclectic, it's exactly how the band describes its music. Standout tracks on Passports include the title track, which features a flurry of back-and-forth violin and guitar action which could get crazy at a live show, a soulful rock song, "Come Home," and the rebellious Southern rock song "Freedom Fight."
Each song clearly articulates the fun Broken Down Guitars had making the record and the excitement the band feels about finally sharing it.
"We all carry with us a blend of personality, talent, freakiness and the desire to help others find themselves through music," explains Johnson. "We aren't just standing up there banging on our instruments because we think we're great. We want to make you feel something and in turn become your favorite band."
Broken Down Guitars
9:30 pm Saturday, May 11
Silver Moon Brewing Taproom
24 NW Greenwood Ave.