Marty O'Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra

Marty O'Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra

Just when you think American roots music should be relegated to the dusty confines of a purist’s museum it will surprise you with a paradigm shift. Take MartyO’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra— passing through tradition, the quartet stumbled upon innovation, proving that old souls can be creatively fresh.

The Santa Cruz, California-based quartet’s latest, Stereoscope, out February 9, 2018, marks an evolutionary leap in a journey of artistic identity, songwriting maturity, band friendship and fiery group synergy. Here, Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra homed in on their signature cosmic roots aesthetic, brimming with cinematic songcraft, impressionistic lyrics, clever arrangements, telepathic ensemble interplay, and soulfully world-weary vocals. Imagine the delta blues reprised by psychedelic indie rockers.

“My whole career has been based on better understanding what’s real and important in artistry, and what is bull#$%,” says Marty. “When you weed out all the excess, the little thing that is left is you.”

Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra features Marty on electrified resonator guitar and vocals, Chris Lynch on violin and keys, Ben Berry on upright bass, and Matt Goff on drums and percussion. The group specializes in roots music with evocative lyrics that are conceptually cryptic, relying on imagery and symbols to convey emotion. Artistic touchstones for the group include John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, the darkly cathartic oeuvre of Tom Waits, and the experimental arrangements of Radiohead.

The album represents the maturation of artists shedding hero worship and embracing the creativity within. These new frontiers are characterized by a heartfelt purity in Marty’s vocals, the tracks’ unique and richly expressive chord structures and progressions, a shift in narrative perspectives to a more observational bend, and emotionally dynamic arrangements that are beautifully arresting, often beginning with sparse simplicity and then reaching lush and fully orchestrated climaxes with sensitive group interplay.

The 11-song album opens with “Firmament,” which eases in with delicately eerie ambience and sparse musical accompaniment, revealing all the soulful nuances and inflections in Marty’s voice. The song soars forward with an impactful arrangement as the full band joins in with rich and varied musicality, including a dazzling drum and percussive break and a violin solo as brilliantly fractured as a cubist painting. The album’s third track, the haunting “Ghost,” is a swampy ambient blues that uses the phenomena of sleep paralysis as an intriguing metaphor for vulnerability. The standout album single “Off and On Again” offers sweet yearning for a détente after a lover’s quarrel. Other album highlights include a rendition of Skip James’ blues classic “Hard Time Killing Floor” with chillingly beautiful new music to accompany the haunting traditional lyrics, and the three stirring, but challenging, instrumentally-driven songs that conclude the album and recall fringe jazz guitarist’s Bill Frisell’s evocations of dustbowl Americana with futuristic ambience.

Stereoscope is no doubt a milestone entry for Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra, offering forth the band’s most assured and mature release to date. “We put our heart and soul into this album,” shares Marty. “It’s the album I’ve always wanted to make— one that ten years later I can still be proud of. Making it has made me feel whole, and brought me a lot of joy.”

Kelly McFarling

Kelly McFarling is a wanderer of wilderness and cityscapes. Since her first release Distractible Child(2010), McFarling has been traveling extensively back and forth across the country, making her mark in the age old tradition of performing live music in front of human beings. Sometimes solo, and other times with her band, the Home Team. (Tim Marcus, Andrew Laubacher, Jonathan Kirchner). She has been noticed by press outlets, and bar locals across the country (including a feature onCNN's Music Monday). She also took home the grand prize at the 35th bi-annual Shoot-Out at legendary Eddie's Attic, released an ambitious and business-savvy joint album, Conspire(2012), with fellow San Francisco songwriter Lia Rose, and she began performing as one-third of the old-time all-female trio Glittersnatch, with Megan Keely and Wolf Larsen. She spent the spring and summer of 2013 touring nationally with The Home Team in support of their 2013 release Ridgeline.

Atlanta, GA raised her in church choirs and baseball stadiums. She pays homage to those southern roots using a signature combination of clawhammer and traditional banjo playing. San Francisco gave her the inspiration to begin writing her own music and solidifying her original sound. With her band (Jonathan Kirchner, bass; Andrew Laubacher, drums & Tim Marcus, pedal steel and guitars), McFarling explores territory outside the clear influences of folk, old time, bluegrass and country. The result is a folk rooted, country influenced blend that is equally at home at firesides or festivals. Her songwriting reeks of transitions, and the ups and downs of choosing a life of shifting foundations in a place that is consciously existing in anticipation of the next big shake. McFarling's music, like herself, occupies a place between places.

The Suitcase Junket

The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.

Produced by Steve Berlin (Jackie Greene, Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke) of Los Lobos, Mean Dog, Trampoline marks a deliberate departure from the self-recorded, homespun approach of The Suitcase Junket’s previous efforts. In creating the album, Lorenz pulled from a fantastically patchwork sonic palette, shaping his songs with elements of jangly folk, fuzzed-out blues, oddly textured psych-rock. Engineered by Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz) and mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, Houndmouth), Mean Dog, Trampoline rightly preserves The Suitcase Junket’s unkempt vitality, but ultimately emerges as his most powerfully direct album so far.

"I’ve been blessed in my career as a producer to have worked with some remarkable artists, but I have never worked with anyone quite like Matt Lorenz / The Suitcase Junket. Besides making the complexity of everything he does look effortless, he’s a truly gifted singer and and amazing songwriter. We had a blast making this record and I’m anxious to share it with the world."
--
Steve Berlin

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