New York City guitarist, singer, and songwriter Steve Conte has released “Flying” and “Overnight Smash,” the next single off his first solo album in five years, the attitude-infused Bronx Cheer, releasing Friday, November 5 on Wicked Cool Records.
Long known for his memorable guitar work as a member of New York Dolls, as well as former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s band (with whom he still performs), Steve found international fame in recent years via his collaborations with Japanese composer and artist Yoko Kanno on the soundtracks to several hit anime series, including Cowboy Bebop. Bronx Cheer is brimming with the spirit of New York both past and present.
A ‘Bronx cheer’ is what we also call a ‘raspberry.’ Sticking out your tongue and blowing air to make a fart sound. The title for this album works on many levels. First is the fact that I moved to The Bronx five years ago – and I’m lovin’ it! But it all came together when I found the photo, which is on the album cover, of a group of high school kids marching down Fifth Avenue protesting the election of Donald Trump. So not only is the lead kid, Theo Fenton, raising his fist in protest, contrasting the word ‘cheer,’ the title also gives Trump a big fat raspberry.
I remember the danger, dirty streets, the garbage strike, sleazy 42nd Street.When I moved here in the mid-1980s it was not all that different – but it’s very different now. Yet somehow, I still love it – and hate it. To me, that’s what the Blues and Punk Rock have in common – complainingSteve Conte
The album’s 11 new songs, all written by Conte with one co-written by Brynn Arens swing like a citified update on Paul Westerberg or Old 97’s. The first single “Recovery Doll” is fast-paced and traces a descent from fun times to darker spaces. “Wildwood Moon” and “Dog Days Of Summer” are bursting with hot-weather nostalgia and shimmering production. “Liar Like You” is an unabashed Punk rave-up. The core of Bronx Cheer consists of Steve on guitar and vocals with bass by his brother John Conte and the renowned Charley Drayton on drums.
Tracking for the album began in September 2019 in Brooklyn. Overdubs were completed by February 2020, and the album was mixed during the pandemic by Niko Bolas. Album closer “Gimme Gimme Rockaway” is the one song which had been released prior to 2021, having found success and “Coolest Song In The World” status on Little Steven’s Underground Garage as a 2017 single. For that track, the band consists of Conte with Clem Burke of Blondie on drums and Andy Rourke of The Smiths on bass, with Wicked Cool labelmate Jesse Malin on backing vocals.
Raised in a musical family – Steve’s mother Rosemary Conte is a noted NY/NJ jazz singer – Steve started spending time in New York City as a kid, his father bringing him to his first Madison Square Garden concert, by none other than Chuck Berry. Some years later, Conte found himself playing an entire show onstage in Berry’s band. His own music first gained notice when his band Company Of Wolves signed to Mercury Records, releasing a self-titled album on the label in 1990. Over the years he’s also worked with Peter Wolf, Eric Burdon of The Animals, Willy DeVille, Billy Squier, Willie Nile, Maceo Parker, and even been Paul Simon’s tour rehearsal vocal stand-in.