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Brian Whelan Premieres New Song, "Suckerpunch"

Today, Acoustic Nation and Guitar World bring you the exclusive premiere of “Suckerpunch,” a new song by former Dwight Yoakam multi-instrumentalist Brian Whelan.

After a critically acclaimed debut, Decider, Whelan made the decision to transform from a sideman into the frontman and head out solo.

His sophomore album, Sugarland, will be released March 25. Sugarland boldly throws Whelan's hat into a ring crowded with the likes of John Fullbright, Sturgill Simpson, Mike Stinson and Jason Isbell.

Co-produced by fellow Yoakam-ite and current drummer Mitch Marine, alongside Lee Pardini (bass, keyboards, vocals), Whelan, a music school graduate from USC, plays almost anything with keys or strings—steel guitar, accordion, piano. It’s as a sideman that Whelan has nearly always found his way, accompanying such artists as Eugene Edwards, Scot Bruce, the Broken West, Apex Manor, Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson, Kiss, Chuck Berry, Jim Lauderdale and most recently, Yoakam.

On Sugarland, his skills are put to the test as he employs a series of various musical instruments on these crisp, streamlined, mostly mid-tempo, pop rock tunes. This is the Whelan style of music that goes straight to the heart recalling the heyday of great radio.

The beautifully sad track “Suckerpunch” is heavy with vulnerability and regret—“My good intentions won’t make me a saint”—while he warns, “I’ve got a sick sense of humor and I’m sure you know / I’m a sucker puncher when I get this low.” The fatalistic “bombs away, bombs away” chorus is pure California country rock of the highest order.

For more about Whelan, visit

Brian Whelan on Tour:

  • March 23 - Under the Volcano – Houston, TX
  • March 24 - Live Oak – Ft. Worth, TX
  • March 25 - Whitewater Tavern - Little Rock, AR
  • March 26 – Blue Moon Saloon – Lafayette, LA
  • March 27 – Ace Hotel - New Orleans, LA
  • April 1 - Pappy and Harriets - Joshua Tree, CA
  • April 3 - Grand Ole Echo - Los Angeles, CA (Album Release Show)

More dates coming this summer!

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.