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High Hopes

Kyle Martin reclaims roots on new album

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STEPPING OUT Kyle Martin (second from left) makes music for the after-hours crowd on ‘High and Dry.’ - GINA LOPEZ
  • Gina Lopez
  • STEPPING OUT Kyle Martin (second from left) makes music for the after-hours crowd on ‘High and Dry.’

The Kyle Martin Band's new album, High and Dry, lives up to its name with a dusty, dirty and hotter-than-blazes country-rock sound. And while the nine-track trek largely sticks to the straightforward rock and roll path, the record connects to listeners with memorable hooks and resonating lyrics about longing hearts and nostalgic memories.

Kyle Martin, a Santa Rosa native, grew up in a musical family. His mother, Nancy Pettitt-Martin, plays drums to this day and his dad, Craig Martin, played in San Francisco rock revue band Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs until his passing in 2007.

That was the same year Kyle Martin became a founding member and driving force of beloved southwest Santa Rosa venue the Boogie Room and its campfire-like sing-alongs.

Now the Boogie Room is history, and at 28 years old and living in downtown Santa Rosa, Martin says he is trying to return to his roots.

"This new record really speaks to that," he says. "I'm pulling from all the different experiences I've had. This record is heavier than my first solo record. It's a nod to my early days in punk-rock bands, little sprinkles of that kind of rock."

His first solo record, released in 2012, had a more traditional classic rock sound. "It was like I was trying to please an older generation," Martin says. "I was living in West County trying to make music for parents."

"This new record is like when it's past 10 o'clock, and the all-ages venues are closed," he says. "This one's a little more like a bar banter, a little rough, a little edgier."

Martin achieves this rousing atmosphere on High and Dry by using all live takes and original vocals, recorded late last year at Jackalope Studios in Santa Rosa in two sweat-soaked days. Martin's band consists of drummer Taylor Cuffie, keyboardist Nate Dittle and bassist Kevin Cole, all of whom Martin calls great players.

Martin's other passion is farming, and, lyrically, High and Dry speaks not only to California's drought but also to what is soon-to-be its largest cash crop, marijuana. The opening track, "Bone Ranch Village," is about an actual ranch in San Bernardino and the people who cultivate weed on the parched land. "Real Estate on Mars" imagines a desolate and lonely environment as the setting for self-discovery. Other tracks, like "Creeks and Hills" and "I Picked a Flower," offer a more hopeful look at the beauty of our natural surroundings.

"That's what I like," says Martin. "That's what I want to honor."

The Kyle Martin Band plays a record-release show for 'High and Dry' on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Last Record Store, 1899-A Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 2pm. Free. 707.525.1963.

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