Richmond Fontaine : Winnemucca

When Winnemucca was released in 2002, Richmond Fontaine were described by many as the “discovery of the year” Richmond Fontaine continue their journey of richly woven musical settings, atmospheric vistas, and lyrical storytelling on their fourth album. “Winnemucca” was perceived as the ‘day after’ of “Lost Son”, Richmond Fontaine’s 1999 release which features a more punk, SST Records-styled feel. This July sees the first vinyl release of “Winnemucca”.

Recorded at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, OR by John Askew (Tracker) and Joanna Bolme (Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus), “Winnemucca” finds the members of Richmond Fontaine mining a subtler vein than on previous efforts. The album deftly conjures up images of a late night ride through the desert where death, despair, and ultimately hope reign supreme.

“Winnemucca’s artwork was done by Reno, Nevada artist Greg Allen. All three images are self portraits of the artist who also did the artwork on “Post To Wire.”

It features the same line-up as “Post To Wire” with Sean Oldham on drums, Paul Brainard on pedal steel, dobro, and mandolin. Dave Harding electric and upright bass and Willy Vlautin vocals and guitar.

Winnemucca is a small desert town in Northern Nevada located next to the Humboldt River and I-80. The heart of Winnemucca includes gambling at the Winner’s Casino, Basque food at the Winnemucca Hotel,
and the special delights of the Pussy Cat Saloon where the band have often played. Most of the songs on the new record were written in or somewhere near Winnemucca.

Bassist Dave Harding lends his comments to each track:

“Winner’s Casino” A poppy country rock song detailing the need to escape everyday life for a getaway to the laid back pleasures of Winners Casino in Winnemucca.

“Out of State” tells of a couple finding comfort for a few hours in an out of the way hotel. Softly strummed mandolins provide a backdrop for this temporary paradise.

“Northline” relates the story of a man’s love for a skinhead girl. The huge chorus draws the listener in to the tale like dusty quicksand.

“Santiam”….” a slow, haunted piece that details a man’s last drive through his hometown before spending a year and a half in prison. It’s a marvellously detailed and affecting piece of writing.

“Twyla”, a catchy instrumental inspired by Vlautin’s good luck charm and fancy from a far, the horse jockey Twlya Beckner who rides at Portland Meadows Horse Track.

“Patty’s Retreat”, a haunting, impressionistic instrumental about a now deceased downtown Portland old man’s bar. The guys of Richmond Fontaine had some great times in this bar.

“Glisan Street”, a gorgeous country ballad about the dissolution of a relationship. Guest, Rich Landar on piano and Paul Brainard’s dobro help set the backdrop for Vlautin’s tender vocal of missed chances.

“Somewhere Near”. A stark telling of a couple witnessing a car wreck and finding redemption in it. Reminiscent of Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’.

“5 Degrees Below Zero”. A finely detailed tale of a man’s escape to a new beginning, on a Greyhound bus. Each character on the bus adds to the man’s misery. Like a short movie, the song puts the listener in the
place of the unlucky narrator. A loping country rock backing creates the feel of the ride into the Nevada desert.

“Western Skyline” ends the album in epic style. The story of one man holding his dying friend in his arms after a car wreck is told in this 7 minute dirge, which closes out with the music carrying everyone off
to the skyline.

The vinyl version of the album will exclusively include a track recorded at the Winnemucca sessions, El Rancho. Here’s what Willy wrote:

“El Rancho” This is a song we toiled over for weeks during the Winnemucca sessions. Two chords and boy did we toil! We tried a bunch of different things, dressed it up in a handful of different suits, but in the end we decided the song just wasn’t right for the record. Maybe we were too close to it or just plain worn out by it. In hindsight I think we were wrong to leave it off, but now luckily it’s found its way back home. –Willy Vlautin

El Rancho will be the first track on side two.

“Theirs are amongst the only records to emerge that seem to have taken on the mantle of Waits and Springsteen; writers who mattered, who you gave a damn about.” –Comes With a Smile.

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  1. Mike Raney
    Posted 06/06/2013 at 3:22 PM | Permalink


    I really appreciate all of the Richmond Fontaine releases on vinyl. They are my favorite band and having their records on
    high quality vinyl is much appreciated. Thanks.


  2. diverse
    Posted 13/06/2013 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    They’re one of my favourite bands in the world and I love having them on the label. Willy absolutely loves vinyl too so it’s a pleasure to show him the finished records when they’re released! So chuffed that Willy’s given us a song from the sessions that didn’t make the album first time around. It’s found a home now.

  3. Hillbilly74
    Posted 15/08/2013 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    Winnemucca ..the album that got me into the band..Seen them numerous times and shared a beer with Mr Vlautin. Always wanted this on vinyl and am about to order…Please release Thirteen Cities next..a masterpiece. Cant wait to listen to Western Skyline crackle….

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    180g Single LP, Gatefold Sleeve
    29th August 2013

    1. Winner's Casino
    2. Out Of State
    3. Northline
    4. Santiam
    5. Twyla
    6. Patty's Retreat
    7. El Rancho (Exclusive to the LP)
    8. Glisan Street
    9. Somewhere Near
    10. 5 Degrees Below 0
    11. Western Skyline