Bay Area indie darling's Ash Reiter bring you pop tunes that bring to mind a modern Fleetwood Mac. Drenched in warm vocal harmonies, soaring catchy guitar lines, and driven by a rhythm section that will make you wanna jump- their sound is irresistible. Lead by former Oakland elementary school teacher, Ash Reiter, the band is taking their music to new heights this year with the release of their new full length "HOLA" and a rigorous tour schedule that has them playing all over the US. The band is thrilled to be sharing their tunes with new fans around the country.
Reiter's delicate voice, knack for classic pop melody, and structure define the band's sound but all in all it is a family band, each member adding a critical piece. Ash is accompanied by brothers Scott Brown (bass) and Drew Brown (guitar), boyfriend Will Halsey on drums and the newest member Anthony Ferraro (keys). Scott, Drew and Anthony have all gone to school for music and have the chops to show for it. However their playing is by no means by the book. While Drew's training is in jazz his playing combines the best of Albert Hammond Jr and Nels Cline. His little brother Scott Brown would be at home in Motown's Studio A, while Anthony's tempered playing adds a subtle gloss to complete the songs. From their home recording studio in the idyllic Berkeley hills the band captures an undeniably California sound- sunny, dreamy and naturally blond.
With their new album "HOLA", the band is saying hello to a world they have been around for a while and already have some impressive albums under their belt. Ash Reiter's first self released full length "Paper Diamonds" (2010) offers an eclectic mix of songs demonstrating the bands affinity for stretching a simple folk song into a many layered psychedelic pop masterpiece. Drummer, Will Halsey, cut his teeth as a producer mixing and recording this record. In his trademark unorthodox style combines hi fi and lo fi- creating his own "mid fi" style. The albums instrumentation is very diverse using everything from cookie sheets, washboards, and synthesizers to stylophones, clarinets, and horns. Their most recent EP "Heatwave", released last November, began to feature a darker side of Ash Reiter. The songs on this album are tighter and more intentionally crafted. This is also the first album to feature the full band and to be recorded in a professional studio (San Francisco's Different Fur Studio).
Now fast-forward and their second full-length album- "HOLA" is finally ready for release on San Francisco's 20 Sided Records. "HOLA" has been a long time in the making. The band began recording the album with engineer Carlos Arredondo at New Improved Recording in Oakland (Tune-yards and Deerhoof) shortly after the release of "Paper Diamonds" in 2010. They gradually added to the album with home studio overdubs, adding as many as a hundred tracks to some songs. This attention to detail and lush production sets "HOLA" apart from your average indie band. The songs are both playful, thought provoking, and stir something in the listener. The lyrics tackle unusual themes- in "Little Sandy" Reiter explores the American pioneer experience. The song "Ishi" uses the troubled life of California's historical figure Ishi - The Last of His Tribe for subject matter. While "I've Got Something I Can Laugh About" follows themes of embarrassment and Reiter's own struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. Not the stuff of your typical pop song, but perhaps that's what is so appealing about this band- they are familiar but a little weird. You can be sure to expect more weirdness to come with future recordings. The band has already debuted some live performances of new unrecorded songs ala St Vincent and Grizzly Bear. Look out for Ash Reiter in a city near you or pickup an album at ashreiter.com.
Drew Brown - Guitar
Will Halsey - Drums, VOX, Synth
Ash Reiter - Guitar, VOX
Scott Brown - Bass, VOX
Anthony Ferraro - keyboards, VOX
Ash Reiter - Paper Diamonds - 2010
Ash Reiter - Marooned 7" Vinyl - 2011
Ash Reiter - Heatwave - EP- 2011
Ash Reiter - Christmas Album - 2011
Ash Reiter - Hola - November 2012
Look for the tracks on Daytrotter at
The Emerging Ash Reiter - A Young Singer Comes Out Of Obscurity
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For all its fame among musicians, Different Fur recording studio is a relatively unobtrusive presenc...For all its fame among musicians, Different Fur recording studio is a relatively unobtrusive presence in San Francisco's Mission District. Sure, everyone from Primus to Neil Young to Tegan and Sara may have recorded there, but from the outside it's relatively nondescript. And inside the studio on a typical June day was yet another anomaly: singer Ash Reiter, a sweet elementary school music teacher with a big voice, who likes to curse.
That day Reiter and her eponymous band were recording their yet-unnamed EP, a package of six sweepingly poppy songs due out this September. The summer heat wave was at its peak and the plantains on Mission Street looked more rotten than usual, yet the four Berkeley-based musicians persisted. After all, they had to improve on the jingle, clang, and shimmer of their 2010 home-recorded Paper Diamonds.
"We're using real drums instead of at-home drums," Reiter said, sitting on a couch inside the studio and slowly picking gumball-sized black cherries out of a blue and white porcelain bowl. She placed the pits and stems in a shot glass, watching as the studio technician angled a microphone over an upright piano, just so. Everyone was hip and well-dressed but not overtly, as if they had accidentally stumbled into a closet full of plaid before journeying across the bay.
Reiter started playing music in 2005 during her senior year at UC Santa Cruz. She spent the next couple years playing house shows and cutting lo-fi recordings. The singer discovered her crooning capability thanks to a more formally trained roommate, who would lead Reiter in vocal exercises. Under the roommate's tutelage, Reiter learned to take advantage of her unusually high range. She became a first soprano in the UCSC choir, started playing her aunt's acoustic guitar, wrote some folk songs, and began the process of making Ash Reiter more than just her own name.
Reiter has worked with the current lineup of musicians for about a year, and turned it into a strongly-knit, familial, somewhat incestuous group. Brothers Scott and Drew Brown play bass and guitar respectively, and Reiter and drummer Will Halsey are dating. How'd they meet? Craigslist.
"I was struck by how pretty her vocals were and how interesting of a singer and songwriter she was," Halsey said of their first encounter. For his part, Drew Brown had seen Reiter performing a while back and was instantly drawn to her music. "I really liked it; she reminded me of Feist or Cat Power," Brown said. "I kind of asked them if I could join the band and I was playing with them two days later." When Reiter was looking for a bassist, Drew Brown suggested his brother Scott, fresh from studying music at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The rest is hip-shaking history.
The group's many intertwining relationships helped Reiter get out of a solitary songwriting rut. She used to write the songs on her own, labeling herself as primarily folk. Thanks to collaborating with Halsey, Reiter began to evolve into a more pop-like sound, hoping to up the energy level at shows. Reiter and Halsey began to work out basic sketches of songs and then bring them to practice for the brothers' feedback. Reiter said this creates a more cohesive sound than piling on various instruments after a late-night writing session all alone.
"The music doesn't feel as crowded anymore," she said. "We're more conscious of where parts are going." Ash Reiter has since gained momentum, regularly performing along the West Coast, throughout the Bay Area, and even at SXSW this past March. Reiter's students thought she was pretty much on the level of Zooey Deschanel when she told them about the music festival.
"They were like, 'Will you tell them about us?'" Reiter said, explaining that her students wanted to catch a little trickle-down fame.
Well, that isn't happening yet. But even among its more-famous peers, Ash Reiter stands out with its high-energy performances. Collectively, the musicians have a clear pop sound and a playful vibe, akin to Tilly and the Wall or Architecture in Helsinki. More importantly, Ash Reiter has substance, both in terms of her musicianship and the depth of her lyrics. She's a teacher, after all. But most of her songs are upbeat.
"I got tired of listening to sad bands; I'm just not interested in listening to that," Reiter said. "I'd like to see something that makes me dance. I made the effort to go out."
She added that one can never underestimate the importance of atmosphere. "It's like when a musician says, 'Shh, I'm about to play the cello.' I got hushed like twice in the last week," Reiter said, her voice getting louder. "That's my biggest pet peeve — when artists shush you. I once heard an artist say, 'Shut the fuck up, you don't have to be here if you don't want to.' I was like, 'I would leave, but I'm performing.'"
Yet, no one was hushed a few days later on June 23 at Ash Reiter's performance at the Temescal Street Cinema; not even an older man who danced directly in front of the band with a fifth of Jack Daniels tucked into his New York jacket.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to these people and they are cool," the man, who said his name was Keith, announced, stealing Reiter's microphone. "Wait a minute! I dig the drummer — he's cool. And so am I."
He stepped away and the band started up a new song, standing in a tangle of cords on a sidewalk at 49th and Telegraph. The audience, quiet at first, began to get into the sweet summer sound as Keith continued getting down, sticking his ass in the air and flailing his arms in worship to the speakers.
A large part of Ash Reiter's performance appeal is the band's appearance, even if the band members seem understated when they're offstage. Reiter set out a piece of cream-and-blue-velvet fabric with their album Paper Diamonds and a white leaf-like frame announcing "CDs $10 buttons FREE please take one." And the charm went past the merch. Bassist Scott Brown sported sunglasses despite the fact that it was 8:30 p.m. and dusk had already set in. He took intermittent swigs from a Coke bottle and dangled a cigarette during the final song. Reiter looked like the coolest teacher on the schoolyard, wearing a brown snakey dress with a skinny leather belt and fedora.
But what really draws the listener in is Reiter's voice. She sounds as though she's barely able to contain herself, a voice deep inside that took her roommate to unearth. Her ability to blend with the band is uncanny, especially when Halsey chips in from his drumming stool. One can't help but wonder how often they sing together at home.
The band showed its resolute devotion to the East Bay in that night's encore, "Oakland," complete with plenty of whoas, ahs, and doos.
"And we love Oakland, too!" Keith exclaimed. "Do it again. 'Oh oh oh oh.'"
With a melody so catchy, Ash Reiter won't be obscure for long.
Seen The Angels Tear The World Apart, Thought They Had Their Reasons
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This isn't about the physicality of a person, because looks and appearances shouldn't have any beari...This isn't about the physicality of a person, because looks and appearances shouldn't have any bearing on music. Shouldn't is the operative word. With that said, everything about Ash Reiter is understated upon first glance. She was shy around us strangers, hushed and tentative when she arrived for a visit in San Francisco, where she was staying with her mother at the end of February during the time when we were there recording sessions during the Noise Pop festival. Reiter was one of those people not playing the festival that we felt deserved some tape. She walked in with her guitar and a calm look - just comfortable clothing, nothing that said she was a songwriter. There were no eccentricities to speak of - just a regularly fitting pair of jeans (who does that??), a ruby red shirt and a small, but noble pendant hanging from her neck.
Her soft face looked as if, during her earlier childhood years, that it could have contained a couple archipelagos of freckles - one on each cheek - that probably invited pinches from older ladies and gents who smelled like the Great Depression and cigarettes. She had/has hair that could have either been redder or blonder depending on the degrees and exposure in direct sunlight. She looked to have been genuinely happy - probably no matter what, no matter when.
Then she has a beer - pretty sure she had a beer. She starts singing and that's when you've got to realize that she's been illuminated, a few times over. She's done most of it herself and when she does, we'll do the shaking - of our heads and of our skin, almost eerily right from its glue. She's given herself all the permission she needs to just retreat into beliefs that she can gain something from, not be taken by. She's allowed herself to think about things in a manner that is a little more spectacular than most - led by her curiosity and what seem to be listening skills to be envied. She's gained knowledge from those who have seen more days, been amazed by what they believe in - blessed waters and guardian angels - and then made those thoughts and her own roommates in songs.
She took the time to get to know her friend's grandmother, hearing her speak about all of the miracles that she'd claimed to have seen with her own eyes - owing them to certain angels, of names that get directories of Catholic churches and schools named for them - and had the inclination to later offer this line in a song about the conversation or what she gleaned from it, "I've seen stars cut down to sparks and I have watched the angels tear the world apart," making it her own. She allows doubt not only to creep in, but to take its shoes off and enjoy a nap on the couch in her sun room. She might even feed doubt when it wakes up - lemonade and cornbread or something else just as nice as a seeing its way to the door snack.
To suggest that she's seen angels tear a world apart is not par for the course. It's an extension of something very analytical and probably more right. It's an idea that could be supported by those gardeners and landscape artists who know the value in controlled burning to bring back native grasses and plants to an area that they've been ripped from. The complete, fiery destruction of the land can and will lead to invigorated growth and rebirth. Maybe that's what those angels are doing.
Reiter sometimes assumes that there is no ground control - a bird flying all day and night looking for a place to rest, no answers for the angels and their ways. Her voice holds likes a candle that sometimes catches a gust from a breeze - thrushing a couple of times with some flapping sounds as it passes - and then gets strong and orange again, standing erect and pointing toward the sky. She has a talent for being open to opening up and for just letting everything in through the windows to orbit around the bright bulbs or turn around and leave the way it came. She gets the experience and she dines.
Ash Reiter - Paper Diamonds
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From the first track of Paper Diamonds, the latest album by Northern California’s indie folk sweethe...From the first track of Paper Diamonds, the latest album by Northern California’s indie folk sweetheart, Ash Reiter, I felt like I was sinking into a delicious leather sofa…the kind you find on the side of the road and bring home to your front porch…the kind that wraps you in deep squeaky softness despite being pleasantly tainted by cigarette holes and bottle caps beneath the cushions. Reiter’s familiar but intriguing vocals are soft, comfortable, and somehow nostalgic. I wanted to call my sister, ya know, just to catch up. But where her peers (Cat Power, Zooey Deschanel) often fall back on soothing voices and smooth song structure, Ash and the band stray a bit, successfully including bits of disco, calypso, jazz, and alt-country.
While pop-friendly dance-alongs such as “Francais” and “Paper Diamonds” will likely be the first you play for your friends, the slower tracks are layered with a commendable variety of instrumentation, ranging from gritty sequencers and distorted feedback to clumsy clarinets and the occasional laser. The drums carry a lot of weight as well, thanks to Reiter’s drummer and primary collaborator, Will Hasley. Lyrically, Reiter covers the typical spectrum of love and lack-thereof, but she crafts poetic songs that are relatable without being cliche. She sings, “I’ve seen stars cut down to sparks and I have watched angles tear the world apart,” on the title track, and warns, “I will surely let you down…if you’ll only let me” on the jazzy “La Bahia.”
Whether she’s floating through a light-hearted ballad or sulking behind a wall of beautiful noise, Ash Reiter is undeniably appealing and has released an album that surpasses the standard releases within the indie-folk genre. When was the last time your expectations were actually exceeded, let alone met? Ash is San Francisco’s sweetheart, and should I make her acquaintance someday, I’m definitely going in for a hug.
Live Review: Ash Reiter and Wave Array at the Starry Plough, April 23
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As good as they are any time of day, Ash Reiter’s songs hit you like some kind of cinderblock when s...As good as they are any time of day, Ash Reiter’s songs hit you like some kind of cinderblock when she performs live. Cinderblock inside a velvet casing, maybe, but still they come down relentless and hard. This is folk, but it’s folk brewed moderne, dipped in cold wave and some ska vibe. Think lovechild of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Rickie Lee Jones. That’s the idea that came to my mind, at least, when I saw the Oakland native perform one of her greatest songs, “Old Blue Eyes,” while revving up her cherry-red two-tone Eastwood Airline electric guitar. Acid folk, anyone? So I wasn’t actually surprised she’d never heard of Lonely Drifter Karen, whom I mentioned in passing during our conversation.
“She only looks likes she’s from Oregon,” joked Johan Alfsen, the bass player for Wave Array, the band that had the tough job of going up next at the venerable radical Gaelic institution otherwise known as the Starry Plough. This was a benefit to help install solar panels in Chilean towns ravaged by the recent earthquake, and all the bands were shakin’ the house, though none more-so than Ash Reiter, who does not have so much as one mediocre song in her repertoire. Like Nina Simone did, Ash teaches grade school, and like that cantankerous icon in her day, she’s a livewire on stage, something to revel in for the duration. I only wish some of the songs she performed at the Plough, like “Treasure Island” and “Moonlight Song,” were included on Paper Diamonds, her latest album, but you can’t have everything you want, that is unless you can have all of Ash Reiter. The title track alone has it all: multiple melodic configurations wrapped around each other like Russian dolls, inspired power chords, and a heady riff that crescendos and just keeps at it, until this reviewer was just aching to cry out: Give me love, Give me love, Give me lo-o-o-o-ve (and paper diamonds).
Ash Reiter’s eruptive brand of supercharged folk — one of her tracks is actually called “Supercharged” — is like a really good drug, more addictive than hillbilly heroine and Bloody Mary. The sheer artistry of her intoxicating lyrics, wrapped around so much raw musical talent, blows the mind. Her gig was really helped by the soft, sensitive percussions of Will Halsey, who was with Wave Array before he became the drummer for Ash Reiter (and then some). Other truly fantastic tracks on her latest album are “La Bahia,” a fanciful ode to staying home all day, and “Albatross,” in which the tireless exhortation go back to your cloud concerns a guy “who thought he was always right” that Ash Reiter dated at one point. And then there’s “Français,” the album opener, probably her sweetest, most unadorned song (try as I might, I couldn’t get the backstory for that one), with which she closed out her gig. Performed live, it became a desperately haunting ballad, though, one that enraptured the audience with its concentric coils of longing and angst. What is it about second-grade teachers, anyway?
Ash Reiter - Paper Diamonds
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Ash Reiter is quickly becoming a tip-of-the-tongue name to local music lovers, as she invites liste...Ash Reiter is quickly becoming a tip-of-the-tongue name to local music lovers, as she invites listeners across the Bay to dance along to her newest glimmering folk-pop collection, Paper Diamonds. The album’s release has garnered some critical attention, as has her live show.
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There's no denying Reiter's resemblance to Jolie Holland's breathy, angelic vocals, though Reiter le...There's no denying Reiter's resemblance to Jolie Holland's breathy, angelic vocals, though Reiter leans more towards folk and indie pop despite her jazzy intonation. Reiter's warmth belies the melancholy of her songs, though her voice alights so gently over her troubles it's easy to be mesmerized by their beauty.
CD Review: Ash Reiter "Paper Diamonds"
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Ash’s smokey, “honey and whiskey” (as she describes it) voice might be the kind of thing one hears a...Ash’s smokey, “honey and whiskey” (as she describes it) voice might be the kind of thing one hears a lot these days in female-fronted indie folk bands (think of Jolie Holland, or Correatown), but there’s something different about the way she does it. It could be the casual synergy between Ash and Will, which was what first made my own jaw drop the first time I heard them play. It was that intro to “Stumble and Fall,” where Ash’s voice gently floated above a soft pillow of Will’s malleted drums. “There’s a ghost in my head,” she sang. “There’s a ghost in my bed. There’s a ghost in my chest. And he will not let me rest.” It could also be that, as she sang those words, it was as if she was reading my mind.
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On her debut album, Paper Diamonds, Ash Reiter’s smooth yet smokey voice delivers beautiful lyrics ...On her debut album, Paper Diamonds, Ash Reiter’s smooth yet smokey voice delivers beautiful lyrics that are absolutely spellbinding. With elements of folk, pop and jazz, the sunny Californian’s self-released album liberates an original talent which can be heard on the title track, Paper Diamonds.
Ash Reiter – Paper Diamonds (Music Review)
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San Francisco’s Ash Reiter brings a prominent part of San Fransisco into her vocal prowess and music...San Francisco’s Ash Reiter brings a prominent part of San Fransisco into her vocal prowess and musical gliding. Foggy mornings overlooking the Bay, long walks up and down city streets thinking about nothing or window shopping, or a drink at a local haunt that has been haunted one too many times; these are the things that you picture in your mind when you listen to her music.
Mingling jazz elements with coffee shop floorboards, her singer/songwriter musings and innerchangable songs bear the scars of her personality. Where she started her career as a musician, the lo-fi folk meanderings are enunciated on Paper Diamonds. And for a debut album, it’s a fine listen.
“Red Airlight” sounds like relics of the past and some antique broadcast surrounded by a World War paranoia and flowing house dresses. “La Bahia” is a laid-back jingle that makes for soft, rainy day recline. It’s these moments that make Reiter glisten.
Her voice stands out as much as it is a comforting background to everything we feel that is familiar. Like a drifter drawn to a boxcar, she will lure you in with her melancholy ways. Wake up to it or wind down with it, most of these songs fit either circumstance. And those songs are the ones you will come back to.
Ash Reiter's summer show rare in Eugene
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The thing that makes Reiter an act worth seeing is her style and light hearted appearance, which mak...The thing that makes Reiter an act worth seeing is her style and light hearted appearance, which make her almost destined for commercial success. Her voice is different than many of the emerging folk/indie acts, while her musical style and content is closer to something pulled off of the "500 Days of Summer" soundtrack. Although making that comparison may make Reiter seem like a carbon copy born out of a Hollywood studio, each song off of her new album carries a certain level of creativity and originality that is definitely worth a listen.
The best chance to get an idea about both Reiter's style and live performance is to YouTube a clip of the live version of her newly released song "Stumble and Fall," which she played at San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop in March.
Consider This Mystery
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Comparisons to Jolie Holland and Feist abound; folk and jazz and indie pop are cited as reference po...Comparisons to Jolie Holland and Feist abound; folk and jazz and indie pop are cited as reference points. I tell you this, borrowing other people’s words, because Reiter’s songs are fresh, airy, yearning things that don’t need a plethora of adjectives and comparisons piled atop her brisk melodies and heartaching lyrics. “Stumble and Fall” pairs nostalgic lyrics about the ghost in her head (and bed) with a jaunty, poppy song that wouldn’t sound unlike Beulah if you sped it up and turned up the horns. Effortless and precise, with a spare, clean guitar tone and a sweet but perfectly rough-edged voice, Reiter plays with expectations to great effect, pairing melancholy lyrics with the cheeriest, most rhythmically assertive songs. The plucky “Albatross” highlights the smoky side of Reiter’s voice (add a less distressed Cat Power to the comparisons list) and dallies with dramatic percussion; “Paper Diamonds,” the title track from her most recent CD, shows Reiter at her most insistent as she repeats, “Give me love.” It’s not a request, but not quite a demand, either. You could at least consider it.
Ash Reiter - The Swetheart of Indie Folk
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I have a love affair with Ash Reiter's song, Paper Diamonds. It's probably not appropriate to have a...I have a love affair with Ash Reiter's song, Paper Diamonds. It's probably not appropriate to have a love affair with a song since most people search for love with humans. Or, they search for love on the Internet with well positioned cameras and touch ups in Photoshop to make themselves look skinnier and younger.
Paper Diamonds doesn't need to make itself more beautiful to me. She is exactly as she presents herself: an upbeat, folksy song, with a sprinkling of sadness.
The following set list will fill about the average 45 minute set but we can play originals for up to two hours
I've Got Something I can Laugh About
Stumble and Fall
I'm Gonna Try
Red Border Bars
There are no upcoming dates at this time.