Brooklyn-based cowpunks The Habit make their long-playing debut with Lincoln Has Won, bringing their original purpose in forming the band—to make wholly “American” music—to powerful and vivid fruition. Lincoln Has Won was recorded on Manhattan’s Lower East Side at N.Y. Hed Studio, owned by Matt Verta-Rey, Dougie Bowne, and Ivan Julian, with the latter also engineering the album. Production credit is shared by David Scarborough, current band members Will Croxton and Brian Mendes, and Habit alumnus Drew Goldstone.
Using the history of European immigration to the United States as a uniting theme, Lincoln Has Won takes listeners on a tour of an America still at war with its changing self. The group’s songwriters and guitarists, Will Croxton and Brian Mendes, spin yarns of life and death, failure and redemption, in the harsh yet exhilarating times when many of our forefathers first came to these shores.
But academic it ain't! The Habit rock and wail with the same crude eloquence as vintage Crazy Horse (“Blood on the Saddle"), wax as homespun anthemic as the best Pogues (“War is Done"), and prove equally adept at crafting more subdued, contemplative numbers ("Wild Wild West"). Recording was done at N.Y. Hed, the Lower East Side basement studio outfitted with a vast array of mid-20th century tube amps, analog soundboard, and two-inch tape that's come to define The Habit's sound.
Originally country/folk guitarist Mendes, indie/punk rock guitarist Croxton, keyboardist Siobhan Glennon, avant-jazz bassist Drew Goldstone—all four also strong, distinctive lead vocalists—and drummer James Pelletier came together to execute a side project conceived by Croxton and Mendes. The pair was fascinated by John and Alan Lomax’s collection of “folk” music: songs that hadn’t been recorded and released to a mass public, only performed in person in local communities or regionally at best—tunes that had been written and rewritten, sung and spoke, played, improved, or ruined by countless artists and groups of artists outside of a national audience’s awareness. The quintet delivered The Habit EP in 2008, comprised of covers and of original songs written around "found"1800s-era lyrics. By the time they began work on Lincoln Has Won, they’d developed into a full-fledged band incorporating gospel, garage, southern rock, four-part harmonies, and folk, with bassist Eli Thomas taking over from Goldstone.
The Habit's heroes range from the Carter Family and Willie & Waylon to The Sonics and Strummer & Langford. All great storytellers. No coincidence that this has resulted in an album like Lincoln Has Won.