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John's debut CD release! Features 20 pop rock gems, including the great "Hens Gone Wrong", the power rock of "Ejecti Nova Speed", the beautiful soaring closer "So Very" and much more!
Get yours now right here from Big Beef!

With ultra hip associations to bands like The Breeders and Guided By Voices, John Shough draws well from his comrades in developing a plaintiff pop masterpiece. Chock full of pleasant tunes soon to be in your humming memory, "Ultra Vega" is that rare beast you put on, pay little attention to, but after a spell, cannot take off. - John Sekerka

Top Ten Album Of The Year
Nifty oddball pop in the vein of Guided by Voices and the Pixies. Three more albums' worth of material are supposedly in can. Yes, please.

After spending thirteen years as the producer/engineer at Ohio's legendary Cro-Magnon recording studios, John Shough has finally found the time to release his self-titled debut and it was well worth the wait. Over the course of his career, Shough has applied his magic touch to records by the Breeders, The Mulchmen, and most notably, Guided By Voices. His sound is similar to that of Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout's better material: short, to the point, and full of warm, comfortable hooks.

Five years in the works, "Ultra Vega" is made up of twenty perfect, retro pop numbers, most of which were recorded after hours at Cro-Magnon. With his simple guitar parts and slightly dirty tones, it's not difficult to pick up on Shough's obvious admiration of Pollard, Sprout and company, but he manages never to sound like an imitator. Instead, his songs ring with freshness, innocence, and originality, making "Ultra Vega" (the first in his series of four full-lengths to be released by Big Beef) one of the more endearing records to come out of the lo-fi rock scene in recent memory. Having had five years worth of material to choose from surely worked to Shough's advantage, so the real test will come with the release of his next few records when we see if his catalog is still full. - MC

Normally I'm not such a big fan of the singer-songwriters, but there are exceptions. After several listenings to this album, John Shough is such an exception. He has spent much time with Guided by Voices in the studio, and now it was time to come out with his own songs. The songs have much depth and richness of sound, with a bit of the touch from the indie lo-fi movement. But the melodies and song structures do remind one of the band from Liverpool. A mix from nowadays indie and sixties pop is the result. A disc that finds itself often in the CD player because it combines catchy tunes with sharp edges and recognizable melodies. The ideal Sunday forenoon CD.

I'm fairly confident that none of you have ever heard of him before. John is best known for his production work with bands like Guided By Voices, but "Ultra Vega" introduces us to John Shough, the singer/songwriter... This debut has a whopping 20 songs! And they're all good...well, mostly all of them. You kinda go into a time warp with this record. Think of John Shough as the opening act for The Beach Boys on their "Pet Sounds" tour. There's lots of piano and organ in the mix as John strums away to a vibe seeming most inspired by the 60's. "Out To Sea" is one of the most brilliant moments. Most of these songs have the "I've heard this song somewhere before" quality. John does have a tendency to go flat on a regular basis, but somehow the purity of the songs has you overlooking it most of the time. A surprisingly good release that I was anticipating to hate. - Garrett Johnson

For a decade and a half, John Shough has worked behind the scenes in Ohio's well-known Cro-Magnon Studios. While acting as a producer and engineer for such notable names as the Breeders, The Mulchmen, and Guided by Voices, he's bided his time, waiting for a chance to show off his chops. In 2000, he stepped out of the shadows to create his own masterpiece of lo-fi, "Ultra Vega". With 20 bouncing, vivacious tracks recorded in the wee hours at Cro-Magnon, Shough proves he's more than just a top-notch technician -- he's a gifted songwriter. There are no rotten apples here: Every song reverberates with subtle hooks and luscious melodies. One of the best is "Gone Fishing," which rocks with a '60s groove, although its production gives it a feel reminiscent of XTC's Dukes of Stratosphear. An intelligent album that will make musicians and fans take notice. - Kieran McCarthy

John could have opted for his flashier studio name, Johnny Strange. Shough approaches this album with all the seriousness of a producer who is suddenly faced with objectively listening to his own rock. His kinship with Guided By Voices is apparant, and he has been a guest musician on several of their albums. On "Purged", he gives us the gem chorus "heaven throws a rope and it's six strings long", and we all know what kind of redemption he's singing of. As a studio musician, it is not surprising that he sometimes wanders into adult contemporary territory when the vocals are turned up in the mix and the effects replaced with piano, organ, and backup vocals. He brings the listener back into rock territory with "Ejecti Nova Speed", a song full of tense pauses and slow, thick pop guitars.

IMPACT WEEKLY (Dayton, Ohio)
"I'm a dual creature: an engineer and a songwriter," John Shough said, sitting behind the mixing consoles of Cro-Magnon Studio. "I've always done songs in my off time to get my emotions out, but we get so busy at the studio that it has always remained more of a hobby."

Shough is best known as the studio engineer for projects by Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Tobin Sprout, Robthebank, The Kommandoz/OGC, Cage and numerous other local bands. However, with the September release of his debut CD "Ultra Vega" (Big Beef), Shough is prepared to step out from behind the mixing board and turn his hobby into a serious endeavor.

Not that the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter ever took his solo project lightly. In his free time over the last five years, Shough recorded 96 of his self-penned songs; 60 of those were written and completed since the summer of 1998. What has changed is that Andy Valeri of local label Big Beef has plans to release Shough's three completed LP's. "The hardest thing has been picking the songs for the first album," Shough said. "Andy and I worked together to sequence it and the other two CD's and I'm very happy with what we got. We really tried to make them all listenable."

It's unclear whether Shough came by his songwriting skills naturally or if he channeled the talents of his successful customers; regardless, he proves to be as adept at composing songs as he is at studio work. Because of his day job as chief engineer at Cro-Mag, Shough was able to draw from a wide variety of local musicians to help realize his vision. Terrifying Experience leader Mitch Mitchell; Brett Owsley and Todd "TC" Carll, formerly of Kommandoz/OGC; Nick Atkinson of Irish Leo and The Oxymorons; and Dan Stahl of Shrug have all performed on the engineer's solo projects.

"I'm very blessed in the position I'm in," Shough said. "If somebody is recording at the studio and I think they'll work well with what I'm doing, I'll invite them back to record with me. I look at all of this talent as a river that is always flowing," Shough continued. "It's always there whether you want a drink or not. If I get thirsty, I put my hands down, cup them and take a sip." - Don Thrasher

John Shough is proud of his influences, and should be. The producer and engineer from Dayton's popular Cro-Magnum Studios, where many area bands have recorded, has now produced his first full-length CD. "Ultra Vega" pays respectful tribute to the influences of the bands Shough has worked with over the years, leaning heavily on the carefully crafted pop rock of Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout (whose voice Shough's resembles) and mid-period Guided By Voices. The 20-song disc on Dayton's Big Beef Records is a solidly listenable toe-tapper, well worth checking out. My favorite cut is the Orbinsonesque "Gone Fishing." Shough and his band, Ultra Vega, will have a CD release party Friday at Dayton's Canal Street Tavern. It should be money well spent, soundwise. - Ron Rollins

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