The Lonetones

Inside of Knoxville Blog

Here's a little Saturday afternoon mini-review of one of my favorite albums of the year. Please check out the fine new CD by The Lonetones.

The Lonetones’ new album, “Dumbing It All Down,” does anything but simplify. Quite the opposite, the album is an exploration and celebration of nuance at a time we’ve seemingly lost our ability to see it. Lyrically, the theme plays out from the opening lines of the title track, “Same old fantasies everybody reads, there’s only saints and sinners and everbody’s fooled.” Reading like a commentary on 2017 America, the album draws subject matter from both the public and the personal with references, such as a song based on Walter Cronkite’s two-dimensional 1963 portrait of Appalachia, to historical events and timeless themes that read like today’s newspaper.

Musically, the album is perhaps the group’s most complex. From its opening banjo notes, through quiet ballads, much will seem familiar to long-time fans, but the disc contains musical surprises at every turn, adding layers to the group’s previous recordings. With backing from excellent musicians such as Jamie Cook on drums and Cecilia Wright Miller on cello and the nice addition of Will Boyd’s saxophone, the album has an added urgency throughout with unexpected interjections by horns, strings, double banjo parts or the sweeping pop sound of keyboards that lifts out of the dreamy intro to, “Of Course.”

The excellent song writing, vocals and instrumentation that have marked previous Lonetones releases are brought, on “Dumbing It All Down,” to another level. It’s tighter while being more expansive, focuses on the loss of nuance while delivering it in every direction and sends the group’s musical message to new heights. Here’s hoping it reaches the fans it deserves.

Do Depression

It’s obvious to anyone that resides nearby, not to mention to those that have played particular attention through the years, that East Tennessee is a wellspring of great musical talent. While Nashville may tend to overshadow Knoxville due to its star power and legendary stature, the musicians that call the other side of the state home -- people like Darrell Scott, Mic Harrison, Tim and Susan Lee, Kevin Abernathy, Blue Mother Tupelo, Robinella, Eli Fox and all the others -- are equally adept at making music that resonates, inspires and representative of a vibrant musical scene. 

The Lonetones are one of the bands that’s long since staked their claim to East Tennessee’s signature sound, one that carries echoes of its Appalachian roots while fitting that down home style into a contemporary context. With three previous efforts to their credit, the band, helmed by  Steph Gunnoe (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar) and Sean McCollough (vocals, banjo, mandolin, keys, guitar) along with Cecilia Wright Miller (cello, vocals), Jamie Cook (drums, vocals) and Bryn Davies and Vince Ilagan (bass, vocals), finds a comfortable niche that’s somewhere between bluegrass regalia and the tender musings of better singer/songwriter fare. While comparisons with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings may seem inevitable, their reverence for archetypical Americana is undeniable.

The band’s new album, Dumbing It All Down, doesn’t exactly speak true to its title, although the fact that they can take an understated approach and create such lilting melodies as a result speaks to their proficiency and prowess. The driving “Sweet Sinners,” “Tiny Trees” and “Life of the Mind” find the band shoring up their strengths with a powerful punch, but even on the more tender tunes like the title track, “Of Course” and “When I Roam,” the clarity and commitment is still apparent. The Lonetones make music that’s beautiful, beguiling and consistently captivating, and with Dumbing It All Down they prove once again why wider recognition is not only due, but likely only a matter of time. Yes, their native Knoxville has reason to be proud.

 

Blank Newspaper

Led by husband-wife duo Sean McCollough and Steph Gunnoe, indie-folk group The Lonetones have always been a local favorite. With this newest album, “Dumbing It All Down” they seem to have pulled out even more stops than ever before.

An album that’s been four years in the making, the group has been working on these tracks since their previous release, “Modern Victims.” Enlisting the help of a number of local musicians – Vince Ilagan, Bryn Davies, Jamie Cook, Cecilia Wright Miller, and Will Boyd – everything from cello and upright bass to keys and mandolin can be heard on this release.

McColloughs deep, sultry vocals and Gunnoe’s soft, fairy-like tones are one thing on their own, but when they merge together with each track’s textured instrumentation, something almost magical happens.

The Lonetones hit the ground running with this release, kicking the album off with the title track – one of the album’s most memorable tunes. They couldn’t have picked a better song to start things off. It’s infectiously catchy and shows off some of the band’s best qualities.

These 14 tracks make for a full hour’s worth of listening, but it’s the catchy melodies and quality songwriting that appear song after song that keeps everything fresh and enjoyable until the very end. Some of the album’s best moments come with “Dumbing It All Down,” “I Will Do Anything,” “Mr. Rock ‘n Roll” and “Bathed in Blue.”

Gunnoe and McCollough swap songwriting and vocal roles through the album. One will take the lead while the other falls to the background to offer soft harmonies and vice versa. Although their tracks are their own, the couple’s styles complement each other especially well. In addition to the exceptional songwriting and captivating vocals, the instrumentation is spot-on in this release. Just when you think it’s gotten as good as it can get, they throw in some saxophone midway through the album in “Of Course,” and then again in “Sweet Sinners” and “Too Much Space.”

This is easily one of the best albums to come out of the local scene in quite some time. And the best part is – it was all recorded and mastered right here in Knoxville. But even more captivating than the recorded track are the live versions. The Lonetones recently celebrated the release of their new album at an album release party at the Open Chord. The show featured NC’s indie-folk trio, Bombadil. The group wanted to stay true to the album itself during it’s live debut, so they brought the entire gang with them for the live show.

“Dumbing It All Down” is an entirely enjoy-able release from start to finish. Listen to this album, then listen again. Then make sure you catch one of the Lonetones’ next live shows.

Knoxville News Sentinel

There was a time The Lonetones could be lumped into the “folk” category. Led by husband and wife singer-songwriters Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough, the group were acoustic and only a little quirky. As the years have passed, though, The Lonetones have become something unclassifiable, and that’s all the better. The group, which now includes cellist Cecilia Wright Miller, drummer Jamie Cook (formerly of the Black Lillies) and bassists Vince Ilagan and Bryn Davies, simply follows wherever a song leads.

Not as experimental or adventurous as the band’s last two releases, “Modern Victims” and, especially, “Canaries,” the new disc simply seems confident in its simplicity. The core selling point of the act just how gorgeous McCollough and Gunnoe sound when they sing together. One takes the lead and the other adds just the right vocal to back the other. And, there’s McCollough’s and Gunnoe’s songs, with both retaining the writer’s distinct personality. The contrasts have always been pulled together through smart arrangements and on “Dumbing It All Down,” they may even blend together better than usual.

The disc’s most striking songs appear early on and they’re tunes the band has been performing in concert almost since the group’s last release four years ago.

McCollough’s lovely “I Will Do Anything” is sweet and catchy and is on this album really taken up a level by both the gorgeous background vocals and Miller’s soulful cello work.

Both McCollough and Gunnoe regularly visit themes of living in Appalachia, but Gunnoe’s “Depressed Area USA” may be the band’s most striking to date. Referring to a 1963 CBS News report on poverty in rural Appalachia, hosted by Walter Cronkite, the song addresses how offended the people in the area felt by the broadcast. “I know it hurt us so/Learned about our squalor from a TV show,” sings Gunnoe

The Lonetones have always had a tendency for heavy subjects, broken up by a few love songs (generally courtesy of McCollough) and “Dumbing It All Down” is no exception.

The song’s title track, opened with a softly plucked banjo and cello, is so pretty that it might be easy to ignore the sad subject matter of a world that no longer recognizes nuance. Nuance, as it happens, is just the opposite of what the Lonetones so masterfully deliver. Their music is meant to be taken in on all its levels. Take the time and you won’t be disappointed.


Stuck Inside of Knoxville With The Urban Blues Again


This one caught me a little off-guard. I’ve heard the Lonetones many times from Carpe Librum to the Relix Theater and the performance stage at WDVX and I’ve really grown to appreciate the band personally and musically. Sean does his amazing Kid Stuff program and then they added Cecilia Miller on cello and sealed the deal for me. Still, I expected to like this CD, but not necessarily to go crazy over it, but that’s what I’ve done. One minute I love Steph’s songs and the next I’m thinking I lean more toward Sean’s. Of course, the whole is greater than the parts in this case. I can’t stop listening.
The Lonetones play such a blend of musical styles it’s hard to categorize them. There’s a significant folk element and ethos, but there’s a world music vibe and while their sound is pretty gentle, they can rock out, as well. The lyrics range from simple love songs to philosophical ruminations. Wayne Bledsoe compared them to the Byrds or Wilco who started out as acoustic bands, but inevitably followed their muse farther afield.
It’s tough to pick a favorite, so here are a few for various reasons: “Loosely Based” for Steph’s great vocals and an excellent hook, “Modern Victims” for making an excellent song a stunning cut by adding Black Atticus as guest rapper in a folk song and “Who We Are” which is an excellent song in every way, but also, as Wayne Bledsoe put it, “feels like an anthem for the working-class left.”

This one caught me a little off-guard. I’ve heard the Lonetones many times from Carpe Librum to the Relix Theater and the performance stage at WDVX and I’ve really grown to appreciate the band personally and musically. Sean does his amazing Kid Stuff program and then they added Cecilia Miller on cello and sealed the deal for me.

Still, I expected to like this CD, but not necessarily to go crazy over it, but that’s what I’ve done. One minute I love Steph’s songs and the next I’m thinking I lean more toward Sean’s. Of course, the whole is greater than the parts in this case. I can’t stop listening.

The Lonetones play such a blend of musical styles it’s hard to categorize them. There’s a significant folk element and ethos, but there’s a world music vibe and while their sound is pretty gentle, they can rock out, as well. The lyrics range from simple love songs to philosophical ruminations. Wayne Bledsoe compared them to the Byrds or Wilco who started out as acoustic bands, but inevitably followed their muse farther afield.

It’s tough to pick a favorite, so here are a few for various reasons: “Loosely Based” for Steph’s great vocals and an excellent hook, “Modern Victims” for making an excellent song a stunning cut by adding Black Atticus as guest rapper in a folk song and “Who We Are” which is an excellent song in every way, but also, as Wayne Bledsoe put it, “feels like an anthem for the working-class left.”

Knoxville News Sentinel

TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2012

"Modern Victims," The Lonetones 

Think of the Lonetones as spiritual kin to Wilco or the Byrds. Led by husband and wife team and lead singer-songwriters Sean McCullough and Steph Gunnoe, The Lonetones are folky, a little rock and are constantly finding new and gorgeous sounds and expanding their horizons. The leaders' songs and vocals are contrasts that blend into something amazing.

Roots Music Report

Appalachian-flavored folk meets with esoteric rock of a decidedly graceful nature in the Knoxville-based Lonetones’ craft. Regionally appropriate acoustic sounds cross with cello and various keyboards, enhancing the delicate yet subtly pop-savvy melodics and lyrics of vocalist/guitarist Steph Gunnoe and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sean McCullough. Catchy and congenial are “Loosely Based” and “Missions”. On the ironic side stands “Stirrin’ Up The Dust”, where a wide-open, almost Copland-esque soundscape underpins a tale of environmental urgency. Good stuff.

americanaUK

A record for those who enjoy a surprise

  • Some bands have the ability to always spring a surprise. Even after a decade of creating music, it is impossible to define The Lonetones. They are a band who have always been able to journey through musical styles with great aplomb. Their fourth album, ‘Modern Victims’, is no different.

  • Driven by singer/songwriters Sean McCullough and Steph Gunnoe, The Lonetones have forged an album which covers everything from sweetly stringed pop, to rootsy Americana, and even rap. The husband and wife team share the vocal duties between them, each leading separate tracks resulting in a highly varied and intriguing record because their voices are so different. Opener ‘Loosely Based’ is a song of gorgeous melodies with a banjo backing, while ‘Shame’ is an example of the band’s ability to delve into bluegrass and roots. Horns, cellos, keyboards, guitars, and the efforts of rapper poet Black Atticus, are all brought into play to provide interesting texture throughout the work. The only difficulty with the varied style The Lonetones employ is that at times it can make the record feel quite jarred. Gunnoe and McCollugh’s vocals are so different, and the songs each one leads so distinct, that the flow of the record occasionally disappears. For example, the change from the bouncing fragile pop of Gunnoe’s ‘Missions’ to the harsh rootsy folk of ‘Stirrin’ Up The Dust’, as sung by McCullough, is such a shift that it makes the proceeding track seem odd and out of place, and McCullough’s gravelly voice sound a little bizarre. Nevertheless, when prepared to embrace such surprises, ‘Modern Victims’ is an album that will provide great satisfaction to its listeners.

No Depression Magazine

The Lonetones (not to be confused with the Lovetones, a dissimilar power pop outfit), hail from Knoxville Tennessee, a hotbed of incredibly vibrant music and home to rootsy combos of incredible aptitude. Modern Victims is the first offering from this immensely talented five piece and an auspicious intro at that, an album that sounds more like the product of a band with at least a decade under their collective belts, certainly not a group made up of novices or newcomers. Sweet and joyful at every turn, it casts melodies as sweet as honey and tunes every bit as beguiling. Whether it’s the soft shimmer of “Missions,” the rugged, resilient folk-like burnish of “Unprepared” or the catchy acoustic riffing of “Alone,” the band seems to have emerged fully formed and solidly structured from the get-go. Fiddle, mandolin and quiet harmonies play a prominent part in the proceedings, making songs like “Shame” and “Loosely Based” sound something like an Appalachian revival meeting. Yet,  the tradition they tap becomes only part of the overall equation; these engaging encounters could be considered radio-ready regardless of the environs.  To say this is an outstanding effort doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Metro Pulse

 

If you know the Lonetones mainly as the good-natured and obliging string band that’s always happy and capable to fill an early slot in a modest festival’s bill, you won’t have much clue about their albums, especially their latest. The band’s always worth a listen, live, and can do traditional when called upon. In the studio, the Lonetones turn into a musically and technically adventurous band, as fresh as any local band in 2013.
Modern Victims is a bright combination of sounds and styles from a surprising consortium that includes the Lonetones themselves, several talented friends, and more than a dozen instruments. It sounds, at several turns, like smart alt-pop. If a band of 24 year olds with just the right hats and beards came out with this release, we might be looking for it on the pop charts, catching a ride on the neo-Americana wave that’s been recombining itself every few weeks.
The Lonetones’ musical sophistication surely owes something to Sean McCollough’s day job as a professional ethnomusicologist. He plays a swarming rock electric guitar on one track, “Alone,” then opens the next one, “Shame,” with a clawhammer banjo riff that might have been borrowed from a 1920s 78. (He also plays mandolin and keyboards.) But most of the songs—eight and a half of the disc’s 13—are written by McCollough’s wife/collaborator Steph Gunnoe, whose unusual high, vulnerable voice is one of the band’s hallmarks, and, on this recording, especially hypnotic. As a songwriter, she’s abstract and dreamy—a contrast to McCollough’s more straightforward lyrics about mountaintop removal, idealism, and Steph herself. Swapping frontperson duties over and over, yin and yang, they don’t duet much, which may be a good idea. The contrast in their voices, between McCollough’s husky growl and Gunnoe’s songbird soprano, offers some hint of what would happen if Jewel had joined the Crash Test Dummies.
String-band purists will waste no time taking this one back to Disc Exchange. The title track is a rap song, co-written and performed, with astonishing congruence, by Black Atticus. Then there’s some brass, played with Bacharach-ish minimalism here and there. The final track, “Old Lady Industry,” shows touches of psychedelia, even “Walrus”-era Beatles. That’s one of two songs noted to have vibraphone contributions from Phil Pollard, the demonic percussionist whose Band of Humans enthralled Knoxville for several years before his sudden death in 2011. The album is dedicated to the memory of Pollard, who often collaborated with the Lonetones, and this album demonstrates what he saw in them.
Others on the lineup include guitarist Kevin Abernathy, drummer Jon Whitlock, Kyle Campbell on horns, and violinist Seth Hopper (on trumpet, of course). Rounding out the Lonetones proper are regulars Maria Williams on bass, Steve Corrigan on drums, and Cecelia Blair Miller on cello. It’s a collaboration like no other, and each cut is a bracing surprise.

If you know the Lonetones mainly as the good-natured and obliging string band that’s always happy and capable to fill an early slot in a modest festival’s bill, you won’t have much clue about their albums, especially their latest. The band’s always worth a listen, live, and can do traditional when called upon. In the studio, the Lonetones turn into a musically and technically adventurous band, as fresh as any local band in 2013.


Modern Victims is a bright combination of sounds and styles from a surprising consortium that includes the Lonetones themselves, several talented friends, and more than a dozen instruments. It sounds, at several turns, like smart alt-pop. If a band of 24 year olds with just the right hats and beards came out with this release, we might be looking for it on the pop charts, catching a ride on the neo-Americana wave that’s been recombining itself every few weeks.


The Lonetones’ musical sophistication surely owes something to Sean McCollough’s day job as a professional ethnomusicologist. He plays a swarming rock electric guitar on one track, “Alone,” then opens the next one, “Shame,” with a clawhammer banjo riff that might have been borrowed from a 1920s 78. (He also plays mandolin and keyboards.) But most of the songs—eight and a half of the disc’s 13—are written by McCollough’s wife/collaborator Steph Gunnoe, whose unusual high, vulnerable voice is one of the band’s hallmarks, and, on this recording, especially hypnotic. As a songwriter, she’s abstract and dreamy—a contrast to McCollough’s more straightforward lyrics about mountaintop removal, idealism, and Steph herself. Swapping frontperson duties over and over, yin and yang, they don’t duet much, which may be a good idea. The contrast in their voices, between McCollough’s husky growl and Gunnoe’s songbird soprano, offers some hint of what would happen if Jewel had joined the Crash Test Dummies.


String-band purists will waste no time taking this one back to Disc Exchange. The title track is a rap song, co-written and performed, with astonishing congruence, by Black Atticus. Then there’s some brass, played with Bacharach-ish minimalism here and there. The final track, “Old Lady Industry,” shows touches of psychedelia, even “Walrus”-era Beatles. That’s one of two songs noted to have vibraphone contributions from Phil Pollard, the demonic percussionist whose Band of Humans enthralled Knoxville for several years before his sudden death in 2011. The album is dedicated to the memory of Pollard, who often collaborated with the Lonetones, and this album demonstrates what he saw in them.


Others on the lineup include guitarist Kevin Abernathy, drummer Jon Whitlock, Kyle Campbell on horns, and violinist Seth Hopper (on trumpet, of course). Rounding out the Lonetones proper are regulars Maria Williams on bass, Steve Corrigan on drums, and Cecelia Blair Miller on cello. It’s a collaboration like no other, and each cut is a bracing surprise.

 

The Knoxville News Sentinel

What do you call The Lonetones?

They're a group that has lost none of the acoustic charm of their initial release, but, like the Byrds or Wilco before them, they're on an ever-expanding musical journey that is beautiful to hear evolve.

The group's new album, "Modern Victims," is awash with electric guitar, cello, keyboards and various other instruments.

Married couple Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough are lead singer-songwriters of the group. Their styles are distinctively different. Gunnoe's lyrics are as cryptic as McCollough's are direct.

In previous albums, it was Gunnoe, with her sweet vocals and delicate melodies, who created the songs that stuck in your head most. However, this time out, it is McCollough with more numbers that just won't let you go. His "This Is Who We Are" feels like an anthem for the working-class left. "Stirrin' Up the Dust" is a powerful indictment of mountain-top removal mining. And "Top Hat" is a sweet acknowledgment of the impact of the late former Lonetones member Phil Pollard (augmented by a vintage Pollard vibraphone performance).

It's Gunnoe's songs (including the gorgeous "Loosely Based" and "Unprepared") that benefit most by the smart cello lines from new member Cecilia Miller, which blend well with drummer Steve Corrigan and bassist Maria Williams.

The title cut (written by Gunnoe, sung by McCollough, with guest rap by Black Atticus) is one of the most magical the group has ever created.

It's another step in a trip that makes a listener feel lucky to be part of.

americana-uk

Modern Appalachia – a delight

The Lonetones are a traditional looking combo with acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin and upright bass and a vocalist with a crystal clear high lonesome sound but that’s only the sheep’s clothing as there is a wolf lurking behind the façade. A wolf of fuzzed guitar, sonic effects, barbed lyricism and social commentary.

The album opens with a beautiful mandolin driven paean where singer Steph Gunhoe rails against her home ‘Here in the South’ – I "ain’t gonna shut my mouth". This is soon followed by the title track ‘Canaries’ which rides in on a wave of effects that perfectly frame the wooden sounds that follow with Gunhoe’s vocals , dare I say.. ‘perched’.. on top. The bridge with its distorted guitar had thoughts of Wilco flying round the room.

The heart of this album belongs to the simplicity and purity of the ancient instruments as they drive each clearly defined song, indeed some of the songs could feel too slight when stripped of the artifice of production effects – ‘Mohawk’ is a good example of this. This is nit picking as there is much to love here. ‘Amen’ with its melancholy refrain, the innocence of the vocal in ‘Trickle Down’ with hints of Clare Grogan and the almost African rhythms of ‘Smart Country People’

Maryville Daily Times

When listening to "Canaries," the new album by local roots-music band The LoneTones, do not attempt to adjust your CD player.

You may think you're experiencing technical difficulty -- especially as the album's second song, the title track, begins. There's a gentle wave of white noise that fades into the music, something that on an album by any other band would hardly be noticed.

But this is The LoneTones. Led by the husband-wife team of Sean McCollough and Steph Gunnoe, it's a group with deep roots in the local folk scene. McCollough and Gunnoe are activists for a number of causes as much as they are musicians, green advocates who campaign against mountain-top removal and can be counted on to get behind any number of causes that protect the landscape from irresponsible development.

Which makes it even more surprising to hear on "Canaries" something so ... mechanical, for lack of a better word.

"I think there's something really pleasing about dissonance," Gunnoe told The Daily Times this week. "I think we're really melodically driven musicians, but it's so pleasing to somehow wed something really melodic with a more complex dissonance or background. After a while, you begin to kind of lose interest in your earlier work, and on 'Canaries,' I truly like that old keyboard we found with the crazy noises it can make. We're pretty happy with this record, and it may be a prototype for a new style."

That dissonance may seem out-of-place on an initial listen to "Canaries," but repeated plays find McCollough and Gunnoe at a creative peak. The sound effects are understated -- sly and soft, contributing to a song's mood or melody in almost indefinable ways. The layers are arranged in gorgeous stacks, like the shimmering icing of a wedding cake -- intricate, detailed and personable. Gunnoe's girlish voice is another instrument in the mix, and as it swirls and bobs on a sea of lush instrumentation, there's a dreamlike quality to "Canaries" that's fascinating and endearing.

Knoxville News Sentinel

I have no idea what to call the Lonetones. They're acoustic musicians who don't always play acoustic. They're folk musicians with a love of modern psychedelia. Whatever they are, they're great. "Canaries," the group's third album, stretches the Lonetones' borders a little more. Married couple Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCullough anchor the group with their consistently fine songs and vocals. Stand-out numbers include Gunnoe's beautiful and delicate "Gone Again" and McCullough's "Blue Vinyl" - a song that is so lyrically minimalist that it has no right to be so lovable. Bassist Maria Williams, drummer Steve Corrigan and accordionist/pianist Lissa McLeod help flesh good songs out into something purely beautiful.

knoxville520.com

LONETONES SHINE ON NEW CD

I am grateful for whatever divine force brought Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough together. In addition to their marriage and family, their union has also spawned incredibly beautiful original Americana music....

The Lonetones’ sophomore effort will not disappoint. There is plenty of what we’ve come to know, love and expect from the band, but their contemplative mood on “Nature Hatin’ Blues” demonstrates thoughtful growth in their new work. Diehard fans and new comers will not be disappointed.

Sing Out Magazine

What a charming little album!

The LoneTones' Nature Hatin' Blues sounds modest. But despite the album's title, most of the songs, 8 written by Steph Gunnoe and 5 by Sean McCollough, comment on the imperiled state of nature. Their relaxed pace gives the group's sound an ease, a placidity. Their melodies ring. The Knoxville, TN group is a gentle, peaceful delight.

Knoxville News Sentinel

REVIEW OF NATURE HATIN' BLUES

The Lonetones occupy that most treacherous area of folk music - the dreaded land of the sensitive singer-songwriter. However, prejudices need to be swept aside for The Lonetones. The band's music is absolutely charming. The vocal songwriting core of the quartet is made up of married couple Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCullough. Although the couple write songs separately, they know just the right touch to add to the other's numbers. McCullough's guitar on "The Soil We Grew Up In" and his banjo on "Lonely Skin" are perfect complements to two of Gunnoe's best numbers, and Gunnoe's harmonies on McCullough's "Heart Shaped Box" flesh out one of McCullough's prettiest songs. And bassist Maria Williams and percussionist Phil Pollard add subtle accent to the songs' words and melodies rather than dominate them.

Gunnoe's voice has the sweetness of Nanci Griffith, without the preciousness. It's Appalachian and honest and never overused. Likewise, her melodies and lyrics are smart, catchy and distinctive. McCullough's song contributions tend to be a little more overtly folkie. However, they provide a good contrast to Gunnoe's works. His bittersweet portrait of living in Knoxville, "Shine On" (with uncharacteristic electric guitar), is instantly lovable.

Give The Lonetones a chance and you'll find yourself humming their songs despite yourself.

Performing Songwriter Magazine

PERFORMING SONGWRITER DIY TOP-12 PICK
Simple country melodies and beautifully executed three-part harmonies weave the songs on Useful together like a necklace of wildflowers.

Knoxville News Sentinel

RECORD REVIEW OF USEFUL
Longtime Knoxvillian Sean McCullough and relative area newcomer Steph Gunnoe combine talents in the act the Lonetones with excellent results. The harmonies, both instrumental and vocal, are sweet, and the songs are charming. The two revive the innocence of the singer-songwriters of the early 1960s without becoming precious. McCullough has been in many band configurations, but, with Gunnoe, he may have found his perfect partner.