by Paul Zollo
January 4, 2014

Wicked Saints "Don’t Kill The Blackbird"

Haunting, brave and beautiful. A really wonderful album, beautifully crafted and inspired, soulful songs with compelling, inventive production throughout. Produced by Paul McCarty with Brad Swanson, it sounds as great as it feels, and it feels good: deep, dimensional tracks that a listener can fall into and swim for hours. Wicked Saints is a great folk rock band led by Paul McCarty, and with great musicians like the legendary Chad Watson (bass, trombone, mandolin), Robert Thomas (keys), Brent Michelle (harmony) and David Vidal on slide and cigar box guitar. This is passionate stuff. Lyrical, hopeful, mysterious. It all starts with ghostly but spirited whistling which leads to a martial beat under the remarkable song “Hello,” which is all exultant faith, the kind of song that gives you a reason to believe that humans can cross the vast emotional gulfs between us. With a lovely counterpoint of voices, robust guitars and a great groove, this is essential. The title song also boasts a driving groove – a very cool, jaunty beat, in fact – and a passionate melody built around a plea to honor the artists in us – the voice that creates the songs we sing even before we fully comprehend the meaning, the spark of creation. “River of Fire,” co-written with Raspin Stuwart, is a charged and mythic journey which soars on wings of accordion, mandolin and rich harmonies; wings that can get easily singed: none of this is without risk or danger. As the name of the group indicates, it’s about the journey of being human, which always contains contradictions. Whether holy sinners or wicked saints, all humans contain multitudes, and these songs contain that understanding. And also the wisdom to laugh at the folly of the human condition. This is a happy discovery, this album and this great band. Paul McCarty is plugged into the source, and these songs sing with great truth, joy, mystery and passion. A record for the ages.

<read it here>

The Music God’s Country/Americana
Top 10 CD’s of the Year (2013)
December14, 2013

#8 Wicked Saints – Don’t Kill the Blackbird

Much like the Tejas Brothers, Paul McCarty and company deliver an album full of classy, diverse tunes that really showcases their backgrounds. These are what I like to call “thinking man” songs.

<read it here>

Paper Moon
November 11, 2013

Wicked Saints – Don’t Kill the Blackbird

Their variety of styles could bring you into a jam-sound labeling, but the band is too in love with its rural origins to be labeled this way. In case you need a sort of etiquette. Folk-rock, American, swampy Louisiana grooves, reggae, pop, blues, all mixed and supported beautifully. Eagles and America are of course the most influencial band influences, that never die and can be reused in time at every occasion.

Really worth keeping an eye on this band that has a great potential for development.

<read it in Italian>


by Shawn Underwood
October 11, 2013

Wicked Saints – Don’t Kill the Blackbird

One of my favorite recent discoveries from the random music that finds it’s way to me is an EP from earlier this year of the Wicked Saints, Don’t Kill the Blackbird. So I was happy when Paul McCarty, leader and bedrock of the band, sent me a note the full length version was due out shortly and was chock full with 13 songs and nearly an hour of music.

Although there’s a lot of good production and musicianship on the album, what keeps drawing you back to this disc is the interplay between McCarty’s vocals and those of singer Brent Michelle. McCarty has a warmth, tinged with a bit of gravel, in his vocals that have a kind of fireside chat quality. Michelle, on the other hand, has a voice that soars and swoops above the landscape like a mystical bird catching the thermals to stay aloft–always a presence, but always out of reach. She’s no doubt a good vocalist on her own, but the weaving of their styles really sets the Wicked Saints sound apart.

The songs themselves are pretty good, too. River Of Fire nicely captures the mix of Americana, Cajun, and indie sounds that I suppose best capture the overall sound of the album. The title track contains some nice subtle instrumental tracks as it admonishes us to, well, be kind to blackbirds. Or maybe there’s just a metaphor there that I missed completely. My notes on Anything Could Happen say Springsteen–I don’t know exactly why, it’s not that kind of anthemic arrangement I associate with the Jersey shore, so I guess it’s just the rock and roll lyrics about how life is a journey. Baby Gray Bird showcases those soaring vocals I mentioned earlier. The one slight disappointment I had was album closer Pavan. On the EP I noted a subtle discordance I liked that didn’t seem to make it to the final mix here. That discordance does raise its head on Set You Free, though.

WIcked Saints Don’t Kill the Blackbird is an album that’s easy to enjoy. It has solid songs, solid musicians, and solid production. There are all kinds of little audio candy throughout, both vocal and instrumental, that add to the foundation and make this something you want to listen to again and again. Now they just need to work on their videos.

<read it here>


The Music God
by CJ Plain
September 26, 2013

Wicked Saints – Don’t Kill the Blackbird

I’m proud to bring you the CD by the band Wicked Saints. They are a California based Americana Rock group that recently released their new album, Don’t Kill The Blackbird. I was introduced to the band’s music via the website

As a radio DJ that hosts a show focusing on Americana, Blues, Folk, Country, and Sothern Rock, they were a band that fit perfectly into the format of the show. I’m proud to now give you my written analysis of the aforementioned record.

The record starts out with the very Neil Young sounding track, “Hello.” it’s a well crafted tune with some trippy stylings in the middle of the tune. The title track is next and really showcases what this band is about. The songwriting is top notch, vocals expressive, bass rides along nice with the guitars. Vocalist Brent Michelle adds beautiful female vocals that work perfectly to add that extra something special. “Shut it Down” starts with some cool muted banjo playing before singer Paul McCarty tells you the story of a meeting gone wrong via Craigslist. This one has an almost America or Eagles vibe to it. I could totally see Joe Walsh digging this tune.

On the tune “Anything Could Happen”, singer McCarty channels his inner Springsteen to give us a sparse tune that works with the bass and accordion to build the vibe of the song. “Just Like Me” is classic Americana music in every sense. It’s the story of life’s travels and struggles. It’s the story of looking out the car window and seeing miles of road in front of you. ‘I Wish I’d Never” is the story of life’s regrets that you can never get back. The tune “Pavan” end the record on a softer note. It has that Dan Fogelberg vibe to it.

Wicked Saints have written an extremely likeable record here. It’s rife with tunes of struggle, life, regret, and triumph. The playing is diverse, competent, and flows perfectly from song to song. The production is crisp and solid. It sounds really great played on both home speakers and headphones. The only bad thing I can say here is that there were a couple tunes that I didn’t connect to but that’s not to say that others won’t.

For those that are fans of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, The Band, America, or Dan Fogelberg, this will be right up your alley. Wicked Saints are a great act that should definitely be getting much more recognition from this. Get this CD and help the band reach that next level.

Rating: 9/10

<read it here>

by Shawn Underwood
May 10, 2013

Wicked Saints – Don’t Kill the Blackbird

The third EP gem I’ve picked up lately is from LA-by-way-of New-Orleans band Wicked Saints. There’s a lot of ear candy in these songs. So the title track has its going down the road feel, but with a sweet banjo groove. Baby Gray Bird is an acoustic Sunday morning song with a Great Gig In the Sky moan that’s just perfect. Roll With the Changes starts with an almost chant. Pavan has this slightly discordant sound that injects not just a sound but a jittery feel to the music. The info for this collection is that it’s the first seven finished songs from an upcoming LP. If the rest of that record is anything like this EP it’s going to be a dynamite release.

<read it here>

I Go To Shows LA Blog
by Jillian Lynes
August 23, 2012

Last night...

In a back alley in downtown Culver City, a wooden peephole door and a shiny logo entrance you into Seventy7 Lounge - a glamourous and nostalgic venue, laden with leather cushioned seats, martini glasses, and absinthe fountains.

A quick hello to the doormen; another free show. We walk in while Wicked Saints are finishing up their set, having missed the first act, Tyler Suard...

Wicked Saints claim a four-person band, but tonight it was just frontman Paul McCarty, vocals and guitar, and accordian player Bobby Thomas. Known for their raw organic sound, these gentlemen created a mood more than anything - an idea of simpler times, and feeling at one with the wild. Their talents are somehow naturally preserved in this jungle of a city, and they sound like they could be found in some old ghost town, singing their souls out with Neil Young.

<read it here>

Gosh Radio Interview
April 28, 2012
Podcast here:

MK Netmedia Interview
February 7, 2012


Louden Music Newsletter
by Jonathan Sorensen
March 23, 2012

Like I said . . . sooooo much good stuff. I told you guys that I was going to talk about another artist or group I love. Here's why I'm so excited about these guys.

Years ago, when we recorded, we recorded to 2 inch tape through analog gear. I won't go into too much detail but let's just say that studios were expensive and you couldn't afford to be less than amazing. People practiced their craft and instruments and performed for years until they were ready to produce an album. I do like the convenience that has come with the digital age but it has effected music in two ways. 1. you can achieve almost perfect, clear, shiny, glassy production that is superhuman (maybe lacking humanity?). 2. Almost anybody can afford a system which means there are TONS of people out there producing at their whim for little to nothing out of pocket. The music industry, being a business, has keyed off of this. The industry has huge expectations for song presentation. Nowadays even a "rough" demo sounds as good as any radio play. In my humble opinion this has resulted in lots of mediocre songs and music and supershiny production. Now people begin to crave something with heart. Something human. Something that isn't a sample, an imitation of someone else's lyrics or chord progression. The truth is, the industry is saturated with cookie cutter songs, imitation productions and quick gimmicks. Does anybody practice their craft, write what they mean and play like they mean it anymore? . . . Enter The Wicked Saints

Ok, I said don't take my word for it, but I'm still going to get wordy about these guys. I caught their performance at The Guitar Merchant promoted by Toni Koch. They didn't have their full lineup but how cool are these guys!? The band is fronted by Paul McCarty, a lanky honest looking guy. John Gannon played the cajon. He got up with bare feet no less, knocked out the kick patterns with his heel on the side of the cajon and laid in all kinds of texture and groove with brushes. You've heard of picking and grinning? John was grooving and grinning the whole time. He also knew how to lay back and let it open up when needed. It's obvious these guys have played together a lot. John looked so comfortable and happy up there, it was like watching a dog chew on a bone in the sun. You just HAVE to grin.

Paul McCarty is a true artist. The songs are so direct and honest, there's no way this guy is just imitating someone else. For new artists, they talk about finding your voice. It sounds like Paul McCarty has had his own voice for a thousand years. These songs often have a slow understated pulse that feels like bloodflow. One of my favorites is Walkin' on the Water. This is where you can really hear Paul McCarty's background. He's originally from New Orleans and this track has that slow salty groove you'd expect from New Orleans. However, you can't just hang your expectations on any particular component or influence because on the next track Paul will hit you with a simple set of lyrics that pull on the tissue right behind your heart. In fiction writing, teachers are always talking about showing the action, not telling. This applies even more to lyric writing. People have to feel what you're talking about, not feel like they just had a situation explained to them. This is Paul's real gift. He is able to create a sense of depth, complexity and longing with a few simple lyrics - a sense of the profound created by love of the simple and pure.

Check out the lyrics to Mama

I looked for a way
I wanted to say
But it's like foreign words to me
There will come a day
When I will break my silence
Live up to my conscience
Then mama, I'll turn to you and ask
where have you gone on to, alas
Will I ever hear your voice in this world?

So I turn my head
Cause it could never be said
What stolen dreams I had
I give back to you
There's still some sorrow
Closure I'd borrow
But mama, you knew what I could be
There's so much that only you could see
Will I ever hear your voice in this world?"

I really encourage you to check out Wicked Saints. Their album (also Wicked Saints) runs the gamut from beautiful ballads and funky swamp jams to political commentary or even philosophical exploration of life and death. But all of it is unified with an, oh so rare, sense of honesty of message, artistry and skill. In a couple words, the Wicked Saints are profound, beautiful and effortless. Do check them out.


AltCountry Forum
by Johan Schoenmakers
December 8, 2011

Wicked Saints by Wicked Saints

Six months ago, the self-titled debut album from the Los Angeles-based folk rock band Wicked Saints. A band around the talented American singer-songwriter Paul McCarty (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and some very versatile, and experienced local musicians including David Vidal (slide guitar), Chad Watson (bass), Bobby Thomas (keyboards, accordion) John Gannon (drums) and Brent Michelle (vocals).

"Wicked Saints" shows a varied sound heard, including McCarty's light melancholic vocals and excellent guitar playing as Vidal's constant factor. The repertoire on this album is partly included in the Milestone Recording & Post and Vidal's own studio with Annie Miles behind the production table for intimate, intense and austere musical moments provided.

"Wicked Saints" is a brilliant album where the listener is treated to become sophisticated and atmospheric acoustic folk songs (Which Way The Wind Blows, Give Me Time), excellent reggae outings (The Way I'm Strung, Bring Me Home) and pronounced blues influences (Walkin 'On The Water). A pleasant, stimulating and intoxicating album. Absolute highlights for me are the heart-wrenching Mama, the loss of Paul's beloved mother and the raw Run Run Todd. This number tells the escape of Todd Palin to his wife and American politician. This excellent CD from Wicked Saints deserves in my opinion much more interest from the music press than this so far have received.

<read it in Dutch here>

Michelle's Music Magazine
by Michelle Williams
December 6, 2011

Wicked Saints by Paul McCarty & Wicked Saints

Exquisite! Wicked Saints by Paul McCarty & Wicked Saints is a newAmericana classic. It’s a gumbo of groovy blues, edgy rock and country goodness. The songs are timely and timeless. “Walkin on the Water” is mysterious and sexy. The swampy bayou bluesy sound is captivating and the imagery is breath-taking.

“Mama” is beautifully heart wrenching as Paul sings about the agony of losing his beloved mother. The melancholy melody is reaching and unforgettable. The feelings of anxious apartness and bittersweet memories burn the soul.

“Run Todd Run” is a plea for Todd Palin to flee from his politician wife. It seems to be born from frustration and expressed with humor. It’s a delightfully fun song. The vocals are brilliantly gruff and sincerely intense.

Another favorite from this album is “Roses and Thorns,” a tender love song full of hope and sweet romance. The vocals are truly touching and beautifully melodic and hypnotic.

The album is awash with acoustic guitars and the musicianship is outstanding. It reminds me of the purely gut level songwriting of John Lennon and Bob Dylan.

I could not get enough of this CD. Fabulous. Five Stars!

<read it here>


Americana Rock Mix: Episode 124 - Preempting The Pain
December 6, 2011

Tried to get a solid episode recorded before I'm not able to talk properly for a couple of days when I get this tooth pulled. Not much to say this episode, but it's definitely full of solid music. Enjoy!

Music in this episode:

- The Devil Lives In The T.V. AND Stranger by Mississippi Live & The Dirty Dirty
(from Way Down Here)

- White Wolf AND Gonna Be A Goner by Hellbound Glory
(from Damaged Goods)

- The Way I'm Strung AND Died Along The Way by Wicked Saints
(from Wicked Saints)

- Promise Me AND Big City by Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance
(from No Better Time)
Facebook Page

- All Over The Radio AND Heaven On A Paper Plate by Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
(from Unida Cantina)

- The Dirt, The Blood, The Faith AND Until The Light Goes Out On Me by New London Fire
(from The Dirt, The Blood, The Faith)

<listen to it here>


The Vinyl District
by Jennifer Quiroz
June 8, 2011

Wicked Saints, an LA band led by singer/songwriter Paul McCarty, has just released it's self-titled debut album. With McCarty at the helm, Wicked Saints also features several other local LA musicians and singer/songwriters: Chad Watson (bass), John Gannon (drums), David Vidal (slide guitar), Brent Michelle (backup vocals).

The song that took my heart is Mama, McCarty's ode to his mother, who he lost to Lou Gehrig's disease. His melodic guitar hook and bittersweet lyrics slither into my emotions, open up my heart, wind their way around my thoughts and make my eyes tingle. Simply, the song is poignantly beautiful. Here is what McCarty has to say:

"My mom suffered for over two years with Lou Gehrig's disease. It started in her extremities and gradually moved in to her core. Then she stopped breathing. She had a beautiful voice. She taught voice and piano in the house. She sang with the New Orleans Symphony Choir. She first noticed symptoms when she discovered she couldn't reach as big an interval on the piano as she had been able to. My interval is 22 years. Mom, I wrote you a song."

<read it here>


Songwriter Spotlight
June 2011

The infectious groove and half time chorus of Paul McCarty's indie rock song "The Way I'm Strung" really caught our attention. Add to the mix clever lyrics, interesting melodies, harmonica, a stellar recording by the Wicked Saints and you have a love song that we can't get out of heads!

<read it here>