The Latest

Live Sat. 12/2 at Books & Brews Carmel – Free – All Ages – 8-10 pm

Free, hopefully with some guest surprises (Danni al Mar & Will Schaust for sure!!!)

Free copies of Dark Corners and Blood on the Table just in time for the holidays!

It’s Just Craig is Opening for Jenny O. & Richard Edwards 11/9 at White Rabbit in Indy!!!

(Wow that was fun…)

Video from Album Release Show at The HiFi – And #FreeUntilFamous Promotion

Click HERE for a highlight video from our release show for Dark Corners!!!! 

Oh yeah, our new album is on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and everywhere else…

The album is FREE on CD, download or vinyl  and shipping is FREE also!!!  #FreeUntilFamous

Just email/message/tweet/Facebook/insta us your address — itsjustcraigofficial AT gmail.com  OR   Facebook    Instagram   Twitter

Album Reviews!!!

Publications have started to review and comment on Dark Corners (click the links for the full reviews/articles/interviews):

Huffington Post Long Form Interview!!!

Paste Magazine

Assembled by main players Craig Helmreich, Marc Ford, Elijah Ford, Jason Slota, Rob Shelton and Jess and Kels Von Strantz, “Dark Corners,”  marks the second release for the group. An alluring 10-tracks make up the record as the harmonious melodies and poetic lyrics evoke artists such as Ryan Adams. Standout tracks on the album include pieces such as “Alone,” that is laced with piano and delicate features.

Throughout the record each song tells a story, as the songs are shaped around a cargo boat captain and the journey that he embarks on. The album is filled with though-evoking tales and peaceful melodies, which is notable in personal favorites such as “Go.” From beginning to end, It’s Just Craig impresses with “Dark Corners.” It’s rich, haunting and accessible…the best kind of record there can be; a must listen for 2017.

For Folk’s Sake

It all begins with a melancholy, short, and sweet composition from Elijah Ford behind the piano before delving into a similar vibe with the full band on “Go”. Throughout the record, Craig exemplifies his chops as both a songwriter and a frontman as he wrangles this talented group of musicians together to play with his eclectic blend of gothic and sporadic instrumentation.

From the way that the cut Dark Corners to how it all comes together into such an introspective mix that has no business feeling as cohesive or kind to the ears as it darn well does, Craig and his ensemble tend to define the term “indie” in modern context. For fans of folk along the lines of Black Sheep Boy-era Okkervil River mixed with some “From Above”-style Ben Folds, Dark Corners is well worth a listen.

Nashville Music Guide:

This album was released in June of this year, 2017 and includes an amazing group of artists. On lead guitar Marc Ford – Black Crowes/Ben Harper/Magpie Salute, on bass, acoustic, electric guitars and piano the awesome Elijah Ford. Jason Slota on drums, Rob Shelton with unbelievable synths, and rounding out this superb group Kels and Jess from Von Strantz with cello and background vocals.

This album is unique and different in that it displays our true desire to be “real” and it tells a story that even though is about a sea captain lost in his own loneliness and indecision, it could be any of us in our own journey through the sea of life, sometimes running aground, sometimes tired of hearing goodbyes and yet still yearning for a subtle touch of home.

Modern Fix

And while It’s Just Craig gives the impression of a solitary musician, this release has a few notable contributors, most of which recorded on Craig’s previous album, “Blood On The Table”. The band features Marc Ford (Black Crowes/Ben Harper/Magpie Salute) on lead guitar, Elijah Ford on bass, piano, and acoustic and electric guitars, Jason Slota (Thao & the Get Down Stay Down) on drums, Rob Shelton (Meernaa) on synths, and Jess and Kels Von Strantz on background vox and cello.

It is the Rob Shelton organs that weave a lot of the subtle personality behind Craig’s story-like lyrics. (“Siren Sings” stands out with it’s drums/synth heart, made all the more vulnerable by Craig’s soothing vocals.)

The entire release drips with Craig’s soft hush of a voice, brightened on the choruses by sensual female backing vocals. Evidenced on the brooding track, “Goodnight”. Again, utilizing organ sweeps to add some layers of personality to the stripped down approach to crafting a song.

Some professional level production by way of John Vanderslice (Spoon, Death Cab, St. Vincent) and expert mastering from Bernie Grundman (Prince: Purple Rain; Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker Reissue; Pink Floyd Remasters) puts a final polish on this release, resulting in a lush sonic atmosphere. Taking into considering the minimal approach the songs generally embrace, having top level production and mastering allows the sparsely crafted songs to take on a larger presence, leaving the listener with a heavy and somber release.

Middle Tennessee Music:

Dark Corners tells the story of a cargo boat captain as he sets sail and faces the unknown, his frustration with being stranded within view of his destination, and the loneliness felt when separated from your loved one by a huge body of water.

The instrumentation is superb and unorthodox, the emotions are raw, the energy leaps from the speakers and infects you as a beautiful, well-crafted, stylistically unique wave of frequencies engages your senses from the very beginning of Chapter 1 (Intro) until the last notes of Chapter 8 (Leaving Now).

I have not heard anything like Dark Corners before. The melting pot of instrumentation, textured layers and sprinkled sonic nuances leave my mind unable to make comparisons or even label this music with a genre.

Skope Mag:

It’s Just Craig offers a warm intimacy with the tender folk of “Dark Corners”. Rather lovely in execution, It’s Just Craig opts for a full, rich sound. Quite ornate instrumentally, the songs unfurl with such grace and style. Everything about the album feels real and fully lived. By far the highlight of the album are the soft smooth reassuring vocals whose highly articulate lyrics have a dreamy quality to them. Stories emerge out of these small snapshots of reflective moments. A wide variety of styles are utilized, with folk anchoring it but allowing for chamber pop, soundtrack work, and found electronics filtering their way into the mix.

Without a word, It’s Just Craig sets the tone of the album with the warble of “Intro”. From there things get truly started with the hush of “Go”. Building up into a great structure, “Go” has a kindness to it. Organs glisten in the distance on the fragile textures of “Alone” whose light melody adds to the song’s gorgeousness. A wonderful bloom of color defines the spaciousness of “Captain”. Infectious grooves take hold on the otherworldly origins of “Goodnight” with precise drum work giving the song a jazzy feeling. Hazy to its very core is the tragedy of “Leaving Now”. By far the highlight of the album comes with the closing impassioned “Thirty-Nine” where many layers of sound work together possessing a poetic quality.

Huffington Post:

The second track is called “Go,” a laid-back tune heavy with an Americana influence. The piano drives the melody, which is poignant; and there are some excellent guitar licks on the solo, courtesy of Marc Ford.

Obscure Sound:

Produced by indie-rock great John Vanderslice, It’s Just Craig’s new album Dark Corners tells the story of a cargo boat captain and his journey. From temptations of the sea to losing control of choice, the release melds lyrical wit with an atmospheric creakiness, from the sparse acoustical rise of “Alone” to the glistening synth-laden rainfall-like cascading on “Goodnight”. Lush vocals and developmental songwriting remain constant, making it an enjoyably retrospective listen that never forces anything. “Goodnight”, in particular with its male-female vocal duet power and outstanding production of the climatic whirring emerging around 01:05, is a very memorable effort that will hook many into the album.

The Scene Magazine (I couldn’t excerpt this one… so good)

Pulling in a cast of great musicians Craig Helmreich makes more than the sum of his cast on his new release as It’s Just Craig. Slowly revealing  a deeper complexity as the record goes on, he crafts a record that rewards you as you go.

Through disintegrating lo-fi piano, “Intro” starts the record off with much more stirring sadness than you’d think possible of some simple piano chords. The way each notes seems to be tattered and at an end accentuates just how heartfelt each note is.  With tone’s of Fun’s anthem-pop, “Go” has an instantly catchy hook to its melody that you can’t shake loose, and it’s building instrumentation will take your emotions for a spin. Along with being a tight and smartly crafted track on the whole, it would be nearly perfect if the vocals were produced to feel less separated from the band.

Between twinkling piano lines and blown out hums of distortion, “Alone” is a beaten down track that straddles the pain and peace at being on your own. The slide guitars up this tone a lot as the rest of the instrumentation blends in with it to create music that says even more than the words themselves. “Captain” beats along with a weird sense of dread, as we only get half the story on a pair that are too far apart. While a little sappy and simple, it’s the harmonies of the split couple that make the song work.

“Siren Sings” goes into a much more heavy organ, taking on more alt-rock tones, recalling Broken Social Sceneto a minor degree. Making strong and sonically powerful use of the organ, the sounds slowly evolve on this track as the drums go wild, making for a truly exciting listen. Shifting to solemn fast jazz beat on “Goodnight” there’s a dark coolness about the more reserved instrumentation. It’s as the synths start to wail off in the background that Helmreich’s colourful mind really shines through.

Letting the bass take the wheel on “Rain Never Came” Helmreich slow-burns his sad lament for his lost chance to be cleansed. Taking the instrumentation in sparse bursts you really get a sense of raw emotion on all sides as guitars and pianos cascade of each other in what sounds almost like a conversation. Along twisting slide guitars, “Leaving Now” has a strangely demented tone that makes its worn out lyrics feel all the more real, and man are they ever defeated.

Taking the rare opportunity for a hidden track, “Thirty-Nine” has a warm love in its guitars, and the mix of vibraphones and loose piano feel oddly intimate. Feeling like a personal show from a circle of loving musicians, the sound on this track puts you in the room with Helmreich and his band so you can feel the love yourself.

Dark Corners ironically hides nothing in its varied and evolving composition, as Helmreich brings a tight and clever sensibility to his writing by never overstaying his welcome. While some vocal production issues separate the vocals too much on some tracks, the overall instrumentation and building of the band throughout the songs make it easy to ignore this.

Resena (Translated by Google Translate from Spanish)

The great and interesting It’s Just Craig unfolds all his sonic abilities in a new delivery that serves as a mouthpiece for what will be his new album. The band from Nashville, led by the interesting Marc Ford of Black Crowes, offers a piece of this new that is called “Dark Corners”, being “Goonnight” the first single.

The album is produced by the interesting John Vanderslice, producer of quite experimental projects like Spoon, or of others a little more commercially risky like Death Cab or St. Vincent. What emerges from this project is an interesting album with indie and goth dye that at times reminiscent of the most interesting Pink Floyd. In moments a little more pop, and in others the experimentation takes hold.

The album begins with a theme song played by Elijah Ford on the piano, which serves as an introduction to what lies ahead: a piano that gradually goes from the classic to something a bit more glitch. Right after its completion, Ford’s voice takes over the stage in “Go”, a sensational subject about relationships, about couple decisions and that could be functionalized as a subject of spite in the whole musical sense.

Marc’s guitar solos make the subject, from a repetitive “I do not wanna go”, to something special. The record is this, along 10 nice subjects. With the interesting voice of Ford as an ominous melody that haunts us. An essential disc within the independent musical movement.

MoxiPop

Much like a release from your reserved yet thoughtful friend from high school that you knew would someday find their musical footing, the modestly-monikered It’s Just Craig finds the shy side of indie rock in its periphery. On Dark Corners, the group (a surprising amalgam of those who have worked with longtime alt-rock darlings) barely registers above a whisper, yet finds an inviting niche without an unwarranted level of secrecy .

Dark Corners finds a fun outlet for those involved rather than something wholly profound. It’s irresistibility lies in the recognizable tropes of production a la John Vanderlice, bringing Kill The Moonlight and Actor era sounds to an otherwise modern touch to the genre. It’s a testament to the staying power of these sounds, and perhaps the universality that the mid 00’s indie troupe has unwittingly produced – with help from It’s Just Craig members themselves.

The record hits its stride near “Goodnight” resembling a Death Cab effort funneled through a feeling that more patently atmospheric. It’s Just Craig smartly crafts a listening experience that veers towards cosmic without leaning too heavily on jazz nuances or the road crew from Funkadelic. Dark Corners is a rare – albeit short – gathering of incredibly smart delegates from camps that represent a wide swath of understanding.

If nothing else, Dark Corners provides the calming feeling that can be produced from a genuine attempt to make something relatively serene. It’s Just Craig may not find themselves entirely untroubled, but their lack of importance placed on extravagance is more than pleasing.

Substream Magazine:

Indianapolis, Indiana and Nashville, Tennessee band It’s Just Craig is gearing up to release a brand new album, titled Dark Corners, on June 30. Mostly a conceptual release, the album features 10 tracks of experimental, Americana-tinged indie rock.

Fans of various bands ranging from I Monster to Eels will find some solace in the sounds of It’s Just Craig.

The Music Court:

When listening to It’s Just Craig, listeners can draw similarities between their sound and the sounds of Mother, the early sound of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the softness of Stars. Although, one only gets a glimpse of the journey of the path of a man at sea through the track Goodnight, the album Dark Corners takes listeners on a story of transformation and life at sea of a captain. Further emphasizing on their signature sound, it is no surprise that their production team, citing specifically John Vanderslice have carved their way into the music industry producing Spoon, Deathcab for Cutie, and St. Vincent just to name a few. It’s Just Craig reveals several parts of the human condition, journey, and themes of self-realization in this latest release.

Sensible Reason :

Having a unique artistic vision for an album is always important, in my opinion. With this latest album, It’s Just Craig captures a certain sense of brooding wonderment that will pique the interest of any indie rock lover. Dark Corners depicts the story of a cargo boat captain and his journey. From the moment he leaves home – both excited and full of reservations – on a sometimes lonely path, getting stranded within view of his destination port, fighting temptations of the sea, struggling with being out of touch with his partner on land, and ultimately deciding whatever it was he was deciding, only to learn that the decision may no longer be his to make.

Craig has a deep belief that music should not be stripped of its soul; and therefore, the band takes a very rugged approach to music production and recording. They approached Dark Corners much like their first album, lots of live tracking, very few takes, minimal overdubs, 100% analog – again Marc Ford is on guitar, Elijah Ford is on bass, piano and electric/acoustic guitars, Craig plays guitar and sings, Jason Slota on drums, Rob Shelton on keys, John Vanderslice producing, mixing and playing keys on “Goodnight” (with Rob Shelton) and adding for this album Jess Von Strantz and Kels Von Strantz on vocals and vocals/cello, respectively.

New Sick Music:

Let’s get into concept again, this time with the Americana semi-gothic album Dark Corners by It’s Just Craig — a six member collaboration that is decidedly more than “just” Craig. The album follows the captain of a cargo boat as he leaves his life on the shore for life on the seas to melancholic results, but the tracks reach beyond their narrative to grip you in a way not too different from artists like Damien Rice or Ryan Adams.

The tracks are smooth and often feature vocal duets. Piano welcomes us to the album on “Intro” and slides into “Go”. By “Alone”, the soft complexity that is a result of live tracking and limited takes is present. But the album doesn’t stick to this gentleness, and moves into jazzy territory on “Captain” and even retro-synth sounds with “Siren Sings”. It’s Just Craig have no intention to be a one note band, so they even dip into experimental: “Rain Never Came” uses the music to recreate the power of a thunderstorm as the vocals deadpan like Lou Reed and keep a minimalism until the track breaks open.

East Coast Rocker

Americana, Goth Country, or whatever label you want to put on the genre, is all about drawing the emotional heart out of the everyday, both when it comes to words and music. It’s Just Craig takes the premise and adds a modern sense of production. Craig et al specialize in catchy hooks and songs that are more complex than they first sound, with a soft rather than strident approach to vocals. There are jazzy riffs in songs like Captain and Siren Sings, with a lot of rhythmic variation throughout all the tracks.

Art & Culture Maven :

Enjoyably inventive within a traditional genre, Dark Corners is the second release for the ensemble It’s Just Craig, the brainchild of Craig Helmreich. The Intro sets the tone with a fuzzy antique piano line and leads into Go, the next track. The song builds on a minimalist acoustic opening, shuffling in a languid pace to a lush arrangement that includes keyboards and jangling guitar.

Americana, Goth Country, or whatever label you want to put on the genre, is all about drawing the emotional heart out of the everyday, both when it comes to words and music. It’s Just Craig takes the premise and adds a modern sense of production. Craig et al specialize in catchy hooks and songs that are more complex than they first sound, with a soft rather than strident approach to vocals. There are jazzy riffs in songs like Captain and Siren Sings, with a lot of rhythmic variation throughout all the tracks.

Goodnight is the lead single from the release, a synthy, danceable track with a stuttering percussion line and lyrics that are typical of the album’s understated sentiment.

Music Street Journal

This has a moody kind of trippy, dreamy sound that reflects both of those angles without directly addressing either of them. There is a lot of Americana built into this. It leans on the mellower, slower end of the spectrum. Whatever you call it, though, it’s intriguing and unusual music.

Rock Expert

Being created as a special project for Craig to fulfill his musical thirst, It’s Just Craig turned into something more for the corporate attorney who is enjoying his new world in the music industry. After achieving quite a success with his previous record “Blood on the Table”, the Indiana native opted to keep writing and producing new stuff which led to he birth of “Dark Corners” that have had its official release on June 20, 2017. Aided by his musicians friends such as, Marc Ford (lead guitar), Elijah Ford (Piano, Bass, Guitars), Jason Slota (drums), Rob Shelton (synths), Jess and Kels Von Strantz on backing vocals along with cellos, Craig successfully crafted another fine piece of art with his new record that can further launch his musical pedigree in the current era.

Side Stage Magazine

Now that you have that info, why should you listen to this album? It’s amazingly well put together. The vocals are often haunting and always beautiful. The music is nearly uncategorizable, with a gothic vibe to it (maybe having something to do with the story, but mostly because of the haunting vocals). It has a sing/songwriter folk/Americana feel at times. At all times it sounds like a pleasant and intriguing story that you want to stick with until the bitter end (or happy ever after).

Louder Than War

(This one is an interview and I’m not pasting my own words here.)

Swept

I typically applaud artistic efforts that stray from the status quo, and I will do the same thing here, but I’m not quite sure just what ‘Dark Corners‘ truly is. I understand that it is a concept album. It follows the story of a ship captain who ends up stranded in view of his home and his love. There is certainly room in a story like this for some dark, “goth”-sounding pieces.

Tattoo.com

If you feel as though you are currently alone in your chapter of suffering and need a great album to listen to as you muse upon your opportunities to heal, then ‘Dark Corners’ by It’s Just Craig is the real and raw deal.

Art Publika Mag

Dark Corners is a lovely conceptual album as well as latest release from Indianapolis and Nashville based artist, It’s Just Craig. Though the name of the band may imply that one person created the work, it’s actually the product of a collective (consisting of 6 people) that has previously collaborated on a different album.

Melodic, reflective, and beautifully executed, the 10-track album features numerous duets over harmonies that are created using acoustic instruments, electronic components, or a fusion of both.

The music ranges form Americana to Glitchy Indie Rock, with occasional country influences shinning through.

Dark Corners was recorded in Oakland, California, and features Craig (vocals and guitar), Marc Ford (lead guitar), Elijah Ford (bass, piano, acoustic and electric guitars), Jason Slota (drums), Rob Shelton (synths), as well as Jess and Kels Von Strantz (vox and cello). It was produced by John Vanderslice and mastered by Bernie Grundman, both of whom are heavyweights in the music industry having worked with Prince, St. Vincent, and many other popular artists.

 The goal for the collective was to create a work that felt organic, real, and approachable, which is why the album features live tracking, minimal overdubs, and is 100% analogue. On tracks like “Go,” “Alone,” “Captain,” “Rain Never Came” or “Leaving Now,” we can hear the vibration of each guitar string and drum beat. But on tracks like “Siren Sings” or “Goodnight,” the electronic components are a lot more pronounced, similar to bands like Brazilian Girls and Architecture in Helsinki.

 In any case, Dark Corners is truly an enjoyable auditory experience.

Beat Media (this might be my favorite one… C.)

Concept albums will always have a place in the musical world. They tell a story, through music, that could be told other ways, but combining the story with music makes it that much more artful. This album, Dark Corners, by It’s Just Craig is an amazing story and some beautiful music. I was truly amazed and inspired as I listened.

Aside from the brains behind the music, Craig Helmreich (the writer of all of the songs), the band features Marc Ford (Black Crowes/Ben Harper/Magpie Salute) on lead guitar, Elijah Ford on bass, piano, and acoustic and electric guitars, Jason Slota (Thao & The Get Down Stay Down) on drums, Rob Shelton (Meernaa) on synths, and Jess and Kels Von Strantz on background vox and cello.

This talented bunch of musicians has made this album something so amazing to listen to. It’s often dark and gloomy, but sometimes inspired and bright. The bio described it as being a mix of Americana, Goth Country, and Indie music. This is a beautiful combination, although I heard mostly an indie gothic sound, something dark and mysterious mixed with something simple and beautiful.

The piano intro to the album is somewhat interesting, yet somewhat creepy. It’s short and sweet, but it’s made to sound as though the piano is way out of tune and old. It’s haunting.

“This album is the story of a cargo boat captain and his journey. From the moment he leaves home, both excited and full of reservations, on a sometimes lonely path, getting stranded within view of his destination port, fighting temptations of the sea, struggling with being out of touch with his partner on land, and ultimately deciding whatever it was he was deciding, only to learn that the decision may no longer be his to make.” The story is spread across the first eight tracks of the album. The ninth track is blank and the final song on the album has nothing to do with the story (I will not be reviewing the final song).

“Go” contains some hauntingly beautiful lyrics. I think that the guitar stood out the most on this song, though. It’s a light and free song, but also sad. He doesn’t want to leave her and head on his journey, and you get that in the lyrics of this song. “Alone” is the feeling that is left after the captain leaves for his journey.

“Captain” seems to be the captain’s side of being without his love. He misses his lady and is lost in his own head thinking of her and being stuck at sea. It’s another somewhat haunting song, these being the ones garnering it that gothic sound.

“Siren Song” is a little faster of a song, a little louder, a little harsher. I love the harmonies on the vocals of these songs and it seems to stand out even more in this one. “Goodnight,” which you can listen to here, puts a little more focus on the male vocals for a minute or two. “Rain Never Came” is another song focusing more on the male vocals. It’s an interesting song that seems to focus most on vocals instead of instruments. It adds something different to the album. It has some interesting sounds that give it a more disturbing feeling.

“Leaving Now” is the final song of the story. This song sounds as though it may be the final song of the relationship as well. It’s a sad story; it’s a story of longing and loneliness. This one, again, is filled with the vocal harmonies and has that haunting edge back to it.

This is an amazingly beautiful piece of music art. It’s worth a listen simply to hear this sad story. The end with the gulls and waves washing ashore is such a fitting final goodbye.

Album Release Information – Release Show Tickets Now Available

It’s Just Craig’s album Dark Corners will be released FREE to everyone in attendance at the Hi-Fi on Friday June 30, 2017.  Everyone through the doors at HiFi Indy in Fountain Sq. gets the album on CD and digital download as part of their $10 ticket!  Plus, performances by Von Strantz, Jeff Kelly, The McDonalds and It’s Just Craig!!!

Get your tickets here (last year sold out)!!!!

Follow us on Spotify to be alerted as soon as Dark Corners is available!!!

Album #2 is on Tape!

The story and thank yous:

https://itsjustcraigofficial.wordpress.com/musings/

Video Teaser

IMG_3223.JPG

We’re Doing It Again…

As you may have heard, It’s Just Craig returns to the studio (Tiny Telephone in Oakland, CA) to record their sophomore album, Dark Corners 3.31.2017.  Joining Craig, as was the case on Blood On The Table, are Elijah Ford, Marc Ford, Jason Slota, and Rob Shelton.  The album will again be produced by the wonderful John Vanderslice, this time with assistance from Jacob Winik (but you can call him Wink.  Wink is a genius!!!). Oh yeah, Jess and Kelsey from Von Strantz are coming and will be featured on the album!!!  We can’t wait to share new music with you this summer!!!!!!

Our First Year of Live Shows…

After not initially planning any shows, It’s Just Craig has had a wonderful first year of live performances.  A  sold out Vinyl Release Show at the HiFi, two shows with SoFar Indianapolis, an appearance and interview on the DoitIndy Radio Hour, benefit performances for Louisiana (flood relief) and Tennessee (fire relief), and opening for Jenny O. and Robert Ellis at Square Cat Vinyl all highlighted our first year.

We’ve already got two shows lined up for this year:

5.13.2017  Virginia Ave Folk Fest

6.30.2017  Album Release Show (To be officially announced soon!!!)

Below are some photos and videos from those performances:

HiFi Photos by Kyle Helmond of Kyle Helmond Photography and Jon-Tyler Core.

SoFar Indianapolis Photos by Jessica Bishop of Just Jess Photography.

Square Cat Vinyl Photos by Tim McLaughlin of Hapless Guitar Photography and Sarah Smith.

HiFi video by Focus Right Productions.