©2002 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

starting gun

said Slim to None
"I like his chances;
let’s have some fun"
said None to Slim
"you help him to his feet,
I’ll knock him down again"
"you’re such a gentleman"

said Ready to Not
"our work here’s done;
his timing is shot"
said Never to Now
"I can’t remember, friend,
whose turn is it anyhow?"

hey, that starting gun
won’t wait for anyone

said Bad to Worse
"I've got a c-note
says I get to him first"
said Maybe to Might
"I’ll come up from behind him,
you stay down out of sight"

all he ever wanted
all he ever dreamed
was always so much closer
than it seemed

said Age through Time
"just hold your horses, boys,
this one’s mine"

I'm sorry now

when I look back
it’s as plain as my face
what went down there
was a shame and a disgrace
just when you needed a friend
that’s when I let you down
I know I hurt you then
and I’m sorry now

waylaid
you were bruised and betrayed
it was ugly
and we both know the part I played
I had it all justified
figured out ahead of time
I could have stopped it all
and I never tried

when all I needed was
right there for the asking
sure, I believed in
friendship and love everlasting
but when it counted
it’s plain to see
that’s not who I’ve been at all

all for nothing
were my plans and concerns
all that happened was
you helped me out
and you got burned
I know I let you down
I’ll make it up to you somehow
I know I hurt you then
and I’m sorry now

second place waltz

life would have been Paradise
pink champagne on ice
if I only had listened
everything fine
would have been mine
in the sunshine
if I’d taken my time

it’s all over now
for me, anyhow
I should have been there
but I’m here instead
going out of my head

planets realigned
spelled out big billboard signs
and I wasn’t paying attention
the key to my grand plans
lands right in my hands
and I didn’t realize

I guess maybe
I’ll spend the next
twenty years or so wondering
what I was thinking
then if I have any time left over
I’ll spend it just kicking myself

all for nothing

tell me how it happened
that you end in disgrace
is it true what they said?
it was rumored there was
more than egg
upon your face

they threw you some big breaks
sent you out
to face the heavyweights
but you let it go to waste

wish I knew what made you
say it’s all for nothing
it was always all for nothing

you can scream
you can shout
you can stomp all about
try to worm your way out
act like you’re the beneficiary
of the doubt
you can cry if you choose
when they tell their lies about you
on the news
but it seemed like
you could not lose

wish I knew what made you
say it’s all for nothing
it was always all for nothing

closing time at the fair

closing time at the fair
send away the circus
say goodbye to all the
clowns and dancing bears
let the tents be folded up
and packed away somewhere

it’s closing time at the fair
now you’re standing
yelling at me
in your underwear
shake your toothbrush at me
but we both know
you don’t really care, and it’s

closing time at the fair
no more fireworks exploding
in the autumn air
no more spinning ‘round in
arguments that don’t go anywhere

yes, it’s closing time at the fair
no more waiting by the trailers
for a kiss to steal
no more lying in the grass
behind the Ferris wheel

no more crooked games to run
no more shiny junk to sell
no more fighting over
who will get to keep the carousel

it’s closing time at the fair

what would you have me say?

I’ve been alone for a day or two
haven’t heard my own voice for a while
speaking to the clerk at the store
I can barely choke the words out
guess I hardly notice how the
force of habit pins me down
I get tired
and I don’t pretend to fight it

what would you have me say?
who’d ever hear it?
I’m close enough to the truth
to know I’m nowhere near it

furniture fades in and out
as the sun goes up and over
around a world collapsed into
the couple of rooms out here
where I’ve been living
playing these old borrowed records
listening without hearing
so full of emptiness
I’m almost disappearing

stretched out in the back of a taxi
I see where all of this is going
we’re speeding, but I’m in no hurry
to see how far I’ve come undone
what used to be familiar
isn’t real to me anymore
I can only look from here, now
and the old confusions aren’t gone
but they’ve faded
into the background

guardrail

didn’t mean to cut you off
didn’t mean to lock you out
didn’t mean to make you sweat
or maybe part of me did

felt my conscience going limp
my expression going dead
felt a hard, cold thought
forming inside of my head

something’s only balanced
something’s only right
when I’m a little bit upset
when I’m a little bit uptight

shut your door behind you
walked around the car
just for that one instant
moved a little too far

knew I’d lost the connection
it was me alone again
just beyond your circle of light
on the outside looking in

my wheels don’t hold the road too well
every time I hit that place
I slide a little too close
to the guardrail

then remember where I’m going
one day I will be dead
so I find the blind spot and lock in
and drive all the fear from my head

because I don’t need
to know how fragile
don’t need to know how long
or what might be the worst
because always
something comes along
more than I could imagine
and I don’t want you to see me
worn out and pushed around
by things that are not yet real

in the dark room
for a moment
I see all of your ages
old woman and teenager
as I draw you in to me

I went away

I went away a while
a couple of years
made some changes
seen some things I had never seen
been as happy as I’ve ever

I speak in open spaces
you don’t understand this language
you talk in poetry but
can’t say a thing to me
if I’ve come further than from
just point A to B
then just by standing still
you moved away from me

packed up the Plymouth
and just headed south
water flowing to the river’s mouth
worked in a factory
it was good for me
had to focus on the task at hand
scrape out a living
in an unforgiving land

did my thinking on the morning drive
through the cottonwoods
an early mist would rise
floated on my back
nameless and unattached
let a year flow through me
do what it wanted to me

turn the corner

can’t seem to turn the corner
discern any order when the day is done
that tells how to face the next one

get on with the business
of living
count the holes
plug the leaks
add one and carry three

trade the hours for the wages
trade the wages for
a month’s worth of telephone calls
groceries and gasoline

my dreams are all worn smooth
dog-eared from over-use
I try not to think about
where I’d be if I never met you

nothing’s more than it seems
no extraordinary meanings
these ends
won’t meet if we don’t make them

moving through days like sand
they wear the features off
the soul of a man
you spend a life time
to keep the floods at bay
when you know
they’ll take you anyway

can’t seem to turn the corner
every year another
ornament upon the tree
another shiny, hollow victory

this here changes everything

this here changes everything
someone upstairs must be listening
I’ve been praying for an angel to come
walking through my door
and the moment I laid eyes on her
I knew I won’t be waiting any more

this time tomorrow night
won’t be maybe, won’t be might
she’ll be mine for sure and certain
no more wishing, no more hurting

this here changes everything
someone upstairs must be listening
she’s the one I dream about
she’s the one I know
was meant to be my only one
I was meant to never let her go

sooner

giving your reasons to me for leaving
but I only need just one
and the sooner the better
so good at nailing it down
you’ve already covered this ground
just go
and the sooner the better

why go on explaining this away?
what are you expecting to gain?
am I supposed to talk you out of it?

over, it’s over and done
I don’t need your justifications now
because they don’t matter
it might be for lack of patience
or for lack of communications
now it’s for sooner for better

clear
you’ve got to get clear of
all the entanglements here
well I say the sooner the better
do you need to get on with your life
then go
I’ll be down a while
but not forever

winter

winter’s too warm this year
flowers are blooming
it’ll freeze
I know it will
they’ll be ruined

I know it’s not your fault
just your doing
got a mind like a bicycle wheel
that needs trueing

curse my name
say I’m just the same
say I…

low clouds moving fast
wrong direction, seems to me
long drive, home at last
you don’t want to be

©2002 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI.

 

track listing:

 

starting gun
I'm sorry now
second place waltz
all for nothing
crazy
closing time at the fair
what would you have me say
guardrail
I went away
turn the corner
this here changes everything
sooner
art of dying
winter

 

Released 2002. Recorded at Tin Pan Alley Studios in NYC by Giovanni Fusco. Additional recording by Nigel Rawles at Jarvis. Tracks 13 & 14 mixed by Aaron Keane and Nigel Rawles. Erik Schuman on drums, Wendy Walters on bass and backing vocals, and Jean-Paul Vest on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Mastered by Sam McCall at Resin Recording.

 

 

 

Press from Jean-Paul's previous project Blue Sandcastle:

 

NEWSDAY, September 2001, Kevin Amorim
Blue Sandcastle, a trio with Lone Star roots, comes out with its guns blazing on "I'm Sorry Now." Think mid-80s Replacements or R.E.M., full of driving guitars and a raspy singer. Jean-Paul Vest is responsible for both the chords and the voice. Vest shares songwriting duties with drummer Erik Schuman, with whom he met up in 1993 in Denton, Texas. They played around for a spell, put out a disc and then called it quits. The pair met up again in '99 in Manhattan and decided to re-form Blue Sandcastle, adding bassist Wendy Walters. Lucky for us. "Paradise Misplaced" is a rollicking collection of rootsy rockers. Between the forlornness of "Second Place Waltz" ("Maybe I'll spend the next 20 years or so wondering what I was thinking") and the Golden Palominoes lushness of "What Would You Have Me Say," the trio includes a jittery, roughed up version of Willie Nelson's "Crazy." "Sooner" closes out things in much the same way as they started. The only nit: there are only five songs here.

 

Performance: A
Songwriting: A-
Sound Quality: A

 

INDEPENDENT SONGWRITER WEB MAGAZINE, January 2004
ISWM Indie Pick of the Month

 

Heavy-hitting songwriting and musicianship combine for an effect reminiscent of the Beatles-Boxtops-Randy Foster kind of sensibility. Creative touches to solid rhythms lends itself to a project worthy of music industry adoration. Fast-paced music can get tedious if it goes on to long without any changes. No monotony here. Incredible musicianship keeps the ear happy with those sweet nuances scattered throughout. And the production is one of the best heard so far.

 

SOUTH OF MAINSTREAM, compgeekgirl, October 2003

 

Ten years ago, when I was finishing up my senior year in college, I was a big fan of REM and the Gin Blossoms. There wasn't anything unique about that at the time. One of my other favorites was was a little known Irish band, the Levelers. Blue Sandcastle, in 2003, sound like a perfect mixture of all that was good about these three bands. In the new millennium, when so many rock bands are slamming their collective heads against the wall trying to be the next rap-core sensation, it's refreshing to come across a band that looks back to a time when music was a craft that required skills as both a lyricist and a songwriter/musician.

 

Lead singer Jean-Paul Vest has a voice that immediately seems familiar. It's warm, comforting and friendly. It's comfortable with the slow sumptuous balladry, yet facile with intricate wordplay. He's also comfortable covering the work of legendary artists like Willie Nelson and George Harrison. His voice is consistently good, though chameleon, at times sounding like each of the front men of the bands I used as comparisons above.

 

There are so many great tracks on this disc that it's difficult to immediately choose those that stand out. I particularly enjoyed the low key beauty of "Closing Time At The Fair". The music is reminiscent of mid-eighties REM...think Driver 8.

 

"What Would You Have Me Say" sounds much like my favorite early Levelers tracks, with a light folk sound and dynamic vocals. "Guard Rail" continues much in the same vein.

 

"Starting Gun" is a real 90's style rocker with catchy, intelligent, tongue-in-cheek lyrics. "I Went Away" picks up where the Gin Blossoms left off.

 

This album is an exemplary offering, showing without a doubt that looking into the past, even the recent past, for musical style and quality can reap huge benefits when done correctly. My only criticism is that the band put the worst track on the disc as the closer, which ended a great listening experience on a slightly sour note. Otherwise this is a rock-solid release.

 

IMPACT PRESS, August 2003, Sean Helton

 

It happened again. Every damned time I look at a CD and think, "Oh hell, this is going to suck," it totally kicks my ass! I don't know why, but I looked at the cover of Blue Sandcastle and thought the worst. What I got was flat-out awesome. This is music! Think faster, more reckless Matthew Sweet. Think Wes Cunningham. Think of Son Volt on speed. Think Neil Young after a bender. This is great straight-ahead rock. Really clean songs but they're still noisy enough to make you feel like you're listening to something meant just for you. There are two great covers on here – "Crazy" by Willie Nelson and "Art of Dying" by George Harrison. If you hate bands that just play a song instead of making it their own, you'll love what Blue Sandcastle can do. This is going into instant rotation in my changer. (SH)

 

PLUG IN MUSIC, June 2003, Corrine

 

The way to sell country-influenced music to the rock fans who swear up and down to hate the country genre is to mix it in with what they like. Don’t let them know. To some extent, this is what Blue Sandcastle has done on their 2002 release, "If You Only Knew" And while Blue Sandcastle are by no means a country band, there are tip offs of their country influences: a rocking cover of the Willie Nelson song that Pasty Cline made famous ("Crazy"), song titles like "This Here Changes Everything" or "Closing Time at the Fair," and there’s something about singer/guitarist/bassist Jean-Paul Vest’s vocals that lean ever so slightly towards that country sound.

 

But let’s not get hung up on that. "If You Only Knew" is fourteen modern rock sounding tracks that are catchy – in lyrics, melody and rhythm – and are performed well. Opening with the poppy, driving rock of "Starting Gun" and "I’m Sorry Now," Blue Sandcastle get your attention and hold it through the familiar sounding "Second Place Waltz" and "What Would You Have Me Say."

 

Offering up two covers, Blue Sandcastle earn respect. Their rock infused "Crazy" cover sounds little like the original, save for the final line, but works well. And accept for some extra distortion and turning the bass up, on their cover of "Art of Dying," the band pay tribute to the late, great George Harrison by preserving the song’s original sound – including the great guitar leads throughout the song.

 

Unquestionably "Guardrail" stands out on the album. With jangling guitar and emotions bubbling, "Guardrail" has many elements and it sounds great. (One that is, perhaps, worth dog-earing to rerecord acoustic.) Closing with the understated "Winter," Blue Sandcastle almost sounds like a different band, adding deeper, darker percussion in the background. "If You Only Knew" showcases Blue Sandcastle in variations of their sound, offering something for everyone. The build throughout the album is balanced and natural. By the end of the album, you’re looking for the repeat.

 

Grade: A-

 

DAILY VAULT, May 2003, Jason Warburg

 

Does the world really need another singer-songwriter who trolls the aisles of the great Supermarket of Regret, throwing down beer-soaked tirades and wounded laments?

 

It's a question worth asking after coming across a debut album like this, so rife with pain and ringing guitar riffs that you half expect to find Paul Westerberg lurking in the liner notes. Despite that obvious (and frankly acknowledged) influence, though, this piece of work stands strong on its own.

 

Blue Sandcastle is a group that's just barely a group; the two members and co-writers of the album are Jean-Paul Vest (vocals, guitars, bass) and Eric Schuman (drums). At some point along the way they enlisted additional help from Wendy Walters (bass, backing vocals). You'd never know the band began as a studio creation, though, for the tracks that make up If You Only Knew... sound both refreshingly organic and surprisingly complete.

 

The music relies heavily on muscular guitar lines -- very Replacements/Gin Blossoms -- but with lyrics both literate and self-flagellating enough to remind of James McMurtry or Matthew Ryan. Tracks of note include: the opening "Starting Gun," with its mythic lyric and fat, driving guitar line; "Second Place Waltz," with its Dylanesque vocals and a bluesy feel that builds to a powerful finish; and their frankly brilliant cover of Willie Nelson's "Crazy," where the music rocks out to the edge of control like Marshall Crenshaw on a serious drinking jag, while the vocals hold things together with a dreamy Chris Isaak feel that somehow works perfectly. There's a dash of John Hiatt to the whole thing as well, a heady mix of intelligence, fallibility and damning self-knowledge.

 

To be fair, there is a least one happy song on here, the bouncy shout of "This Here Changes Everything," which -- one last namedrop -- has a bit of a BoDeans feel to it, albeit with extra punch on the guitars. It just happens to be the exception. On the opposite extreme is the other cover song here, BS's fuel-injected, nearly psychedelic remake of George Harrison's "The Art Of Dying." More typical of Blue Sandcastle are sharply-drawn relationship portraits with lines like "We're speeding but I'm in no hurry / to see how far I've come undone" and brutal self-examinations like "Guardrail," which could be subtitled "Why I Always Fuck It Up."

 

All of which brings us back to my opening question: does the world really need another album of obsessive post-breakup songs set to surging rock and roll guitars? As long as there's one more person out there in the world just about to have their heart broken and stomped to pieces on the floor, you're goddamned right it does. The old saying declares that life is pain. I wouldn't go that far myself, but for those passing moments when it feels that way, this album and all its ancestors and descendants are the soundtrack of life.

 

RATING: A-

 

AIDING & ABETTING, June 2003, Jon Worley

 

Ten years ago, Erik Schuman and Jean-Paul Vest were in a band back in Texas. A couple years ago they met once again--this time in New York--and decided to play some music once again. The duo is somewhat stuck in that whole midwestern roots punk thing. Think the first couple Uncle Tupelo albums or maybe some early Husker Du. Maybe. These guys make music that falls right into Still Feel Gone territory, though Vest's vocals are much more reminiscent of Walter Salas-Humara of the Silos. Mostly, though, these guys simply make fine roots-flavored rock. The sound is nicely chunky, though it isn't excessively loud or feedback-laden. The sort of stuff that's a bit loud for the porch, but just right for the back yard. A fine set of songs. There are a couple of covers, done with cool new settings (why else would you do a well-known song, anyway?). Just right for the onset of summer.

 

POPMATTERS, April 2003, Nikki Tranter

 

Blue Sandcastle's new album is their first full-length release. The band, consisting of New York musicians Jean-Paul Vest and Erik Schuman, have polished up their act significantly here, giving the rasp and bucked guitar of their ripping five-track debut, Paradise Misplaced, a rest in order to make way for skilled melodies and a far more relaxed vocal. The album, If You Only Knew... is a more than worthy follow-up to the EP, with 14 tracks of tightly woven roots-rock tunes. Vest and Schuman have taken their Replacements-esque style and given it more of a pop edge reminiscent of Husker Du, Matthew Sweet and early Toad the Wet Sprocket. A definite winner, these songs are beautifully written (especially "All for Nothing" and "Sooner") and similarly produced.

 

NEWSDAY, February 2003, Kevin Amorim

 

It took singer-guitarist-bassist Jean-Paul Vest and drummer Erik Schuman about a year, but they did it: They released a full-length album. The duo, known as Blue Sandcastle, had a fine roots-rockin' EP in 2001. Vest's distinctive voice and guitar jangle were at the heart of that scanty-but-skillful outing. Those five tracks are reprised here, including a jacked-up version of Willie Nelson's "Crazy." The new material, of course, is worthy, too. Especially evocative, "Closing Time at the Fair" offers: "Say goodbye to all the clowns and dancing bears...Now you're yelling at me in your underwear." It was worth the wait.

 

FRIGID EMBER, December 2002, Paul Cardone
This CD was given to me by a co-worker, whose wife works with one of the members of Blue Sandcastle. I had never heard of the band before, and I wasn't too optimistic but I'll listen to anything once. Or twice. Or three times? Never thought it would happen, but it did. Blue Sandcastle plays guitar-driven, chunky-at-times rock. People who are fans of the Replacements, Husker Du, and maybe even the Flaming Lips should give this disc a try. The band itself consists of only two members, Jean-Paul Vest on guitar/vocals/bass, and Erik Schuman on drums. Both give excellent musical performances, and together create a tight, blended sound that gives this album its power. "Starting Gun" is an excellent opener, with upbeat rock riffs right from the start. Blue Sandcastle also offers up two covers: Willie Nelson's "Crazy", and George Harrison's "Art Of Dying". Both covers are pulled off quite well, and should not offend fans of the original artists, as many covers tend to do. On the "words" end of things, everything fits right in. Vest's vocals are raspy but strong, and his insightful lyrics make "If You Only Knew..." an album that should get peoples attention. Hey, it got mine.