For more than a dozen years, Massy Ferguson have proudly planted their boots on both sides of the country-rock divide, carving out their own brand of amplified Americana along the way. Based in Seattle, they’ve become international torchbearers of a sound that’s distinctly American, with a touring history that spans nine different countries. On their fifth album, Great Divides, they double down on their rock & roll roots, mixing bar-band twang with raw, guitar-driven bang. Gluing those sounds together is the songwriting partnership of bass-playing frontman Ethan Anderson and guitarist Adam Monda, whose songs spin stories of small-town adolescence, big-city adulthood, and the long miles of highway that stretch between.
Massy Ferguson recorded the album with Martin Feveyear, known for his work with artists like Kings of Leon and Brandi Carlile. Some of the tracking sessions took place at a studio in Seattle. Others were hosted by Feveyear at his home on Vashon Island. Looking to capture a sound that was raw and immediate, the band kept things loose, throwing together arrangements on the spot and finishing lyrics moments before recording them in the vocal booth. As a result, there’s an urgency to Great Divides, from its widescreen-worthy anthems to its mid-tempo highlights. This is an album about a man’s attempt to understand the world around him, moving from the limited horizons of his childhood to the (slightly) clearer reality of his adulthood. It’s the punky, half-cocked confidence of college rock mixed with the hungover honesty of alt-country. In short, it’s Massy Ferguson — a band whose electric stomp sounds like the soundtrack to the American Everyman.