When Charlotte, NC native Dylan Gilbert first started recording songs at the age of 13, they were just a patchwork of the visions bubbling around in his head. His father's four-track was only a temporary place for them to rest. Now at 23, Gilbert has released 5 albums (including his most recent Pangaea) which delve deep into a unique indie pop sound adding touches of folk, jazz and experimental rock.
Dylan Gilbert has performed over 400 shows from Georgia to New York, sharing the stage with national acts such as Owen Pallett (Domino), Paper Tongues (A&M Octone), Lost In The Trees (Anti-), Benji Hughes (New West), Des Ark, Those Darlins, The Love Language (Merge Records) and Screaming Females. Gilbert also performed at the 2011 Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh NC with headliners The Flaming Lips.
Gilbert has sold over 3,000 albums independently since 2006 and in December 2010 he received the Examiner Award at the Charlotte Music Awards. His music is currently available on iTunes, Amazon.com, CDbaby.com, Rhapsody, Napster and more.
Dylan Gilbert - Vocals and Guitar
Oh No Oh Now I Know (2005) EP
The Artist & The Scientist (2006) LP
The Quiet Life (2008) LP
Let's Shake Hands: A Collection of B-Sides & Rarities (2009)Digital
Pangaea (2010) LP
Charlotte Music Examiner Feature
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If you don't know Dylan Gilbert it is my sincere hope that this introduction causes you to go out of...If you don't know Dylan Gilbert it is my sincere hope that this introduction causes you to go out of your way to introduce yourself both to the artist and to his music. I first heard Dylan Gilbert this summer as he rocked out a version of "Oh Darling" at the Tosco Music Party Beatles Tribute night. Even then I remember mumbling some utterance under my breath - "holy moley" or some similar expression of awe and amazement at his raw talent, energy and on stage passionate presence. (Photos of his performance)
As I looked into who this young artist was I began to feel like I was the last person to the party. Gilbert had already released 3 full length albums and his 4th was about to be released. How could that be - he's only 23!
A Charlotte, NC native Dylan first started writing and recording original songs at the age of 13. Now at 23 he has performed over 350 shows from Georgia to New York, sharing the stage with national acts such as Owen Pallett, Paper Tongues and Lost In The Trees.
In addition to the 4 albums he independently released since late 2005 Dylan is currently working on several projects including:
• a new single
• a full length rock opera album (as a follow up to "Pangaea")
• material for a number of independent films
When I saw Dylan perform at the Charlotte Music Awards folk showcase at Pucketts I witnessed a confident singer-songwriter whose abundant talent burst from the stage. His genre/style wasn't neccesarily "folk" but he was the most talented young performer to take the stage that night. He opened with a couple of songs from Pangaea - "My Name Is Arthur" and followed that with "Isabella". Both drew great applause from the audience. Dylan followed that with a new song that has yet to be titled about "a cold hearted woman with sharp sharp teeth". It takes a huge pair of stones to bring out a song you had just written during a showcase competition. Those are usually saved for an open mic night! I told you this guy has confidence! Dylan gained a number of fans that night!
Check out the photos from that show.
The "word" was that this Charlotte native had been recording songs since he was thirteen. When one hears that, it's generally taken with a grain of salt. But as I listened to Gilbert's released material in serial order it became apparent that there was indeed a growing maturity, both within his lyrical complexity as well as in the songwriting in general. Confidence shows through as chances are taken. His latest effort "Pangaea" is a work of art and is as complex as a picasso. The title was also fitting in that the Pangaea theory is one that states that all of the earths present continents were once together and collectively known as a 'supercontinent' called a Pangaea. This album brings together all of Dylans talents and puts them on display.
"Pangaea" - Released June 29th 2010
1. "I Know I Love Her" - A pop-song in the now - it's current and fresh with clean lines. Definitely for todays youth.
2. "Isabella" - A very well written emotive roller coaster ride this is a song about achieving success without finding happiness in life.
3. "My Name Is Arthur" - Love this song! Great melody, very rhythmic, an absract story of a journey perhaps..
4. "A Trip To The Zoo" - A fun-filled feel good song about a day at the zoo.
5. "I Wonder" - A heartfelt tune about the vagary of memories from childhood - were we dreaming it all?
6. "What's This All About?" - I have no idea - perhaps a song about loss?
7. "Baby Don't Worry" - perhaps a song about long distance relationships and the strain they involve.
8. "I Feel Lost" - A cute pop song about the anxiety of lovers separations, to an upbeat tempo.
9. "Pangaea" - A big, powerful, multi-instrumental tune demonstrating the musical complexity and talent within this young artist.
10. "The Last Thing You Thought About" - An interesting take on the last sound you hear or what your last thought is as you leave this life.
Dylan writes all of his own material so "All Songs by Dylan Gilbert" is applicable to everything in the following discography:
"Oh No Oh Now I Know" - Released December 10th 2005
1. Tangled Up In Knots
2. You're Not Just Saying That
3. Oh No Oh Now I Know
4. Not Following You
5. She Paints In Blues
6. To Cry Alarm
"The Artist & The Scientist" - Released September 10th 2006
2. Had it all
3. Across Your Floor
4. In Camera
6. The Process of Filmmaking
7. Sail Away
8. New York City Apartment
9. On Holiday
10. The Letter
"The Quiet Life" - Released February 12th 2008
1. The Quiet Life
2. No Mystery
4. If You Leave Me
5. Darlin Don't Forget My Name
6. Everytime You Open Up Your Eyes
7. Say What You Will
8. I Was All Alone
9. I'll Plant A Seed
10. Before My Egg Hatches
11. This Is War
12. When The Storm Cam
This prolific songwriter had written so much material for "The Quiet Life" he had an entire CD's worth of material left over that didn't "make the cut". He released those songs on "Lets Shake Hands: A Collection of B-Sides & Rarities" which is currently available for free download here (It's under the FREE STUFF tab on his website)..
1. Lets Shake Hands
2. We Paleontologists
3. Everything Will Be Just Fine
4. Holding On
6. Darlin' Don't Forget My Name (Alternate Take)
7. Writer's Block Blues
8. Protect Me
9. Oh Come All Ye Faithful/ Silent Night
10. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
Dylan is currently touring the east coast with his new band "Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine" and has several shows scheduled through the rest of the year within reach of the Charlotte audience as well as within the region. Check out his website for his calendar and a show near you - you'll be very happy you did!
Nov 11 The Milestone Charlotte, NC
Nov 13 The Looking Glass Artist Collective Salisbury, NC
Nov 19 The Copper Bean Hickory, NC
Nov 30 Break Edge @ Bey's Columbia, SC
Dec 4 Manifest Discs & Tapes (In Store Performance!) Charlotte, NC
Dec 4 (Late show) The Evening Muse Charlotte, NC
Dec 10 The Cave Chapel Hill, NC
Dylan is also scheduled for an on-air interview Nov 28th at 8:30P on Charlotte 106.5fm WEND radio
Performer Magazine Pangaea Album Review
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At 22, and with four albums under his belt, singer-songwriter Dylan Gilbert continues to reinvent hi...At 22, and with four albums under his belt, singer-songwriter Dylan Gilbert continues to reinvent himself with each new offering - and not to be taken lightly, grow as an artist. Pangaea represents a near distillation of the records he's made before with what he's learned along the way. Always melodic, always on the cusp of being pop but with heart and intelligence, Gilbert is years beyond his age in terms of lyricism and musicality. He writes songs like someone who's seen and felt more than his expected share, yet maintains an air of brightness. Gilbert sings like a troubadour with a soft side, utilizing a smooth voice that can be occasionally biting.
Pangaea is far removed from the horn-heavy The Quiet Life, an amazing album that was both explosive and rich in self-reflection and longing. It's playful and optimistic ("The Last Thing You Thought About"), liberated in its construction and free like a child's playground. Gilbert sings of animals chasing cares away ("A Trip to the Zoo"), of the quiet worker who really needs a trip to that zoo ("My Name is Arthur") and those with inhibitions ("Isabella" and the brilliant "I Know I Love Her"). Pangaea exudes togetherness, musically expressing wonderment before things go awry. Gilbert is an old soul who sings with energy and crafts music that lingers.
Charlotte Indie Music Examiner Pangaea Album Review
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Dylan Gilbert is back – not that he ever really left. The ever-present Gilbert seems to always be...Dylan Gilbert is back – not that he ever really left.
The ever-present Gilbert seems to always be playing shows, recording, or releasing a fun little nugget to tide his listeners over between LPs. And now Charlotte’s own singer-songwriter, always keeping things fresh with experimentation but grounded in solid pop hooks, has returned to record store shelves with his third full length release, Pangaea.
The new record, held to a trim ten tracks, is a well-crafted blend for new and old listeners alike. Pangaea provides the same signature sound Gilbert has been honing over his past releases, so newcomers will undoubtedly enjoy tracking back and discovering his older tunes. However, it also boasts a more mature and focused sound, sure to keep longtime fans intrigued.
Gilbert kick starts the album by reminding everyone of his undeniable ability to write an infectious pop song. “I Know I Love Her” is sure to be unknowingly hummed during daily tasks after even one listen, but its catchiness is never annoying. The opening track is easily one of the best, a deceptively simple song layered with beautiful harmonies and punctuated with an instant sing-along bridge and snappy ending.
Other standout tracks include the smooth, solid jam “My Name is Arthur,” toe-tapper “I Feel Lost,” and the beautiful closing song, “The Last Thing You Thought About.” None of the ten tracks, though, fit into the “filler” category. The modest length works in the records’s favor, with each song contributing to the album as a whole and showcasing both Gilbert’s natural songwriting skill and his flare for the slightly off-kilter. Pangaea’s songs offer brilliant little touches like the grandiose instrumental breaks in “Isabella,” the old school video game vibes of the opening riff in “What’s This All About?,” and the unexpected but sublime “My Name is Arthur” reprise and soulful saxophone to close “A Trip to the Zoo.”
One of the most interesting elements to this record is a vibe reminiscent of children’s songs, most apparent on “A Trip to the Zoo” and the title track. With the safari-esque chorus, “carnival barker” and train whistles of the former and the gang vocal sing-along and animal noises of the latter, a feeling of Story Time with Uncle Dylan really takes shape. This could potentially turn some people off, as it is a little odd and may take multiple listens to appreciate, but it is done with enough skill and genuine songwriting talent that it works and sets Pangaea apart from the average indie pop-rock record.
As always, Gilbert shows off a wide range of lush instrumentation. But even in the laundry list of odds and ends found on the album, the core instruments remain suitably prominent and strong. There’s a killer electric guitar lick or a slick bass line for every bell and whistle – and it all fits together tastefully. The drums are solid and fitting of each individual song, if a bit snare-heavy on the main groove of the otherwise stellar “My Name is Arthur.” Also, Gilbert has always had a strong voice, but his pipes seem to be even more polished this time around, especially in his smooth lower register.
Dylan Gilbert has produced his best album to date with Pangaea, which stands up – even benefits – from repeat listens. If you’re a fan of his previous work or looking to find some new jams, it’s definitely worth your time to support local music by checking it out.
The Salisbury Post Pangaea Album Review
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What do plate tectonics and Dylan Gilbert’s latest album have in common? More than you might think. ...What do plate tectonics and Dylan Gilbert’s latest album have in common? More than you might think.
“Pangaea” is the title of Gilbert’s newest and best CD, and also the name of the supercontinent that began separating 200 million years ago to form our current globe.
So I couldn’t help but ask this prolific and seemingly tireless songwriter if continental drift is a metaphor for the fact that he is venturing out more, both musically, and in life, as he makes the transition from Wunderkind to young adult. And to continue the metaphor, does the fact that the continents continue to move apart herald wider musical explorations in the future?
“I do consider it a new chapter, for sure,” agrees Gilbert. “And yes, the continental drift theory definitely applies. Especially musically. I feel like it’s a big step personally, even if it doesn’t seem so to other people. I would have never written a song like ‘Isabella’ or ‘Pangaea’ a year or so ago.
“A lot of the album deals with childhood and the simplicity and innocence of it before you branch out into the world. That’s probably the most central theme musically and lyrically.”
Gilbert was barely into his teens when he began turning out songs, and at age 22 is already a veteran of recording and touring. This is his third full album, with other recording projects in between.
The grueling travel and performance schedule he has maintained for years, up and down the East coast, prompted me to dub him “the hardest-working musician in North Carolina” during our conversation the last time he came to Salisbury. He accepted the title graciously, but without admitting that it is actually work, since it’s the only life he’s known.
But his name is so ubiquitous, and I see it on so many posters, flyers and email announcements, I wonder if there aren’t Dylan Gilbert clones, or if maybe he has figured out how to be in two places at once like Hermoine in the third Harry Potter book.
And I didn’t apply the “hardest-working” title based solely on his non-stop touring, but also because of the amount of energy he pours into every show, whether he’s playing for a packed house at Charlotte’s most recent Tosco Music Party, or when his is the last late night set after hours of other acts, and a small but enthusiastic group has stuck around to hear him.
This was the case last time he played in Salisbury. The show started 90 minutes later than advertised and there were delays between the first two acts. Gilbert was patient and uncomplaining even as fatigued concert-goers wandered away. When he was finally able to take the stage, Gilbert rewarded those who remained with his solid, original songs delivered with his customary panache.
“Pangaea” and his other albums don’t have the same over- the-top energy as his live performances, but instead allow listeners to focus on the musical craft and poetry.
For the latest album, Gilbert has assembled a talented group of musicians to assist. And Gilbert himself performs on a vast array of instruments and other noisemakers, in addition to providing enthusiastically dulcet vocals.
Going back to the continental “all lands” definition of the term “Pangaea,” Gilbert points out the many influences in the feel and structure of some of the songs.
“There’s bit of French and Italian music in “Isabella,” Latin rhythm in “What’s This All About?,” different time signatures, atonality and 12-tone figures in “A Trip To The Zoo,” and “Pangaea” and more straight forward country and folk patterns in “Baby Don’t Worry” and “The Last Thing You Thought About.”
There’s no denying the musical variety, from infectuous pop to psychedelia with folk in between, along with a battery of fun instruments that make the album sound like a party I’d like to be invited to. And I would probably leave the party singing “My Name is Arthur” or “I Wonder.”
Gilbert’s career appears set to heat up like magma and keep moving like convection currents (I’ve switched to similes instead of metaphors.)
“I have big plans for my next project to be very different. So yes, I feel like the drifting applies to a lot of what I’m doing right now,” says Gilbert.
Shuffle Magazine Pangaea Album Review
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"...it feels like a wild attempt to grab youth and plant it in a terrarium, it is decidedly open and..."...it feels like a wild attempt to grab youth and plant it in a terrarium, it is decidedly open and hopeful. Add to his ability to pen a damn catchy pop song ("My Name Is Arthur", "I Feel Lost") the willingness to experiment with genre, and you have a solid record that suggests there's plenty more left in Gilbert's tank (or terrarium)."
- William Morris / Shuffle Magazine
Mixtape Muse Interview
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Dylan Gilbert is an indie rock musician from North Carolina. But it's not that simple. His musica...Dylan Gilbert is an indie rock musician from North Carolina.
But it's not that simple. His musical talent reaches far beyond the confines of the indie rock genre, and it becomes apparent within the first few seconds of his new album, entitled Pangaea. Gilbert has a penchant for experimentation, often implementing unconventional sounds into his music. But he never strays too far from the goal: Making fantastic rock songs.
Gilbert may only be 22 years old, but Pangaea is his third full-length album, and after scanning his performance history, my best estimate is that he has played some four trillion shows. I sat down with Dylan to talk about Pangaea, being a self-supported touring musician, and the theremin.
Interview by Phil Pucci
Mixtape Muse: How long have you been writing music?
I've been writing music since I was about 13 years old.
MM: Your are self-releasing your new album Pangaea this week and subsequently touring the east coast all summer. What kind of work goes into being a full-time independent musician?
A lot of time at the computer. [Laughs] I spend an unhealthy amount of time sending out emails. Because, you know, you can send 300 emails to venues, and maybe get 5 responses. Booking a month-long tour, you pretty much have to email every venue in every town you want to go to. It gets easier as you keep going. At first, when you try to book tours, you don't really know anybody. But eventually, if you play enough shows, and if you're at least a little bit social, you'll meet new bands, you'll meet people that put on shows, and you'll meet people that run venues, that kind of thing. And you write down everything. I have a little bit of a database -- I always try to keep a database in my head, too. And just remember everyone you meet for the next time you go on the road.
As far as putting out your own albums, you just have to keep playing. As long as you're playing, you'll be making a little bit of money, depending on what you're doing. I've been lucky to have supportive family and friends that helped me out in the beginning.
MM: Do you support yourself solely on music?
I was! Last summer I got really burnt out on the road, and decided to take six months off to record a new album, and didn't gig much throughout. But before then, I was definitely making a decent wage gigging around.
MM: Can you state, preferably in one breath, the instruments you play on the album?
[Laughs] Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, glockenspiel, theremin, mandolin, a bunch of Bent gear, Thingamagoop... can't do it in one breath! Keys, organ, piano, lots of little toys, various percussion, theremin--did I say theremin?
MM: I think so.
OK. There's so much, I have no idea!
MM: Being that your music is intricately arranged and layered, how do you approach live shows? Do you tour with a band?
Right now I'm touring with a band for the first time on a consistent basis. But for the past few years, I'd been playing shows with an acoustic guitar and a Loop Station to add different layers and noises. I've had to rework my songs to do that, but it's never been a big thing to me. I've always used live shows and CDs as different things. When someone puts in a CD, they want to hear something that they can sing along to, and they want to listen to all of its intricacies. When you're at a live show, you want to jump around, have fun and feel the energy.
Some people come to me and say, "What you do live is so different from the CD," but I don't feel it's that different. The drum parts are the same, the bass parts are the same, the guitar parts are the same. It might be a little noisier but they are still the same songs played close to the same way.
MM: What artists did you admire as a kid?
I was really into The Beatles. And I was really into Weezer and Radiohead. Those were the big ones growing up. I'm really influenced by Brian Wilson and Neutral Milk Hotel. There was a preiod when I got really into 50s R&B, like Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding. Other solid influences, let me think... Jazz music, techno music, 20th century orchestral music, atonal music. A lot of stuff.
MM: I grew up in Charlotte and still manage to have a hard time describing the music scene. What do you like about the music scene in North Carolina? What don't you like?
I think that Charlotte is one of the uncut gems, you know? It's the least talked about music scene in the country, but in at least the past couple years, it has become such a good music scene in my opinion. It doesn't have all the uppity qualities of a snobby music scene. There's not a lot of "too cool for school" kids here. There's a lot of good venues. There are festivals where there are hundreds of people in the street listening to music. You can go downtown and see the symphony! It's a big city, so it doesn't really have one sound. I think it's a really great music town, and I think that one of these days, it might become more significant.
LitoMusic.com Pangaea Album Review!
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Con tan solo 22 años, este músico de Charlotte, Carolina del Norte, tiene a sus espaldas 5 trabajos,...Con tan solo 22 años, este músico de Charlotte, Carolina del Norte, tiene a sus espaldas 5 trabajos, el último de ellos, "Pangaea", publicado hace apenas unos meses. En él nos encontramos con un total de 10 temas de indie-folk con elementos de country e incluso jazz.
"I Know I Love Her" pasa por ser una de las piezas más directas del disco, gracias a su ritmo vibrante y su pegadiza melodía. Asimismo, cabe destacar otras canciones, como la pausada "I Wonder" una preciosa balada a cuya instrumentación no le falta detalle, con flautas y trompetas incluidas. En "I Feel Lost" recuperamos el ritmo, con teclados que le confieren un sonido cercano al jazz y con unas armonías vocales deliciosas.
En definitiva, Pangaea es un disco de marcado carácter melódico, lleno de matices y de detalles, un disco que convence y que gana enteros conforme aumentan las escuchas.
The Charlotte Observer Pangaea Album Review
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"Fresh from an East Coast tour with new band the Over Easy Breakfast Machine, he celebrates his fift..."Fresh from an East Coast tour with new band the Over Easy Breakfast Machine, he celebrates his fifth release, “Pangea.” On it, Gilbert drifts from charming pop (the opener “I Know I Love Her”) to playful rock (“Trip to the Zoo”) to psychedelic folk-rock (“Isabella”) amid layers of delicately detailed, fun instrumentation – from glockenspiel to pots and pans and toys."
Creative Loafing Pangaea Mention
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"The local music machine known as Dylan Gilbert doesn't find much time to take it easy. Seems like e..."The local music machine known as Dylan Gilbert doesn't find much time to take it easy. Seems like every time we look, there's a new CD being released. His latest, Pangaea, came out on June 29. Gilbert's known for poetic songwriting and fringe performing that takes his folk rock to the edge, sometimes playing the part of a mad scientist working the pedals with a frenzy. He's got a new backing band, The Over Easy Breakfast Machine, which could help bring his songs into focus."
The Red & Black Feature & Interview
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Dylan Gilbert didn’t want to walk the beaten path when he sat down to record his latest album, “Pang...Dylan Gilbert didn’t want to walk the beaten path when he sat down to record his latest album, “Pangaea,” which is bringing him to the Caledonia Lounge.
Though this is not Gilbert’s first time coming to Athens or Caledonia, it may be the first time Athenians will see him with his three-piece band, Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine, which partners Gilbert with bassist Zach Jordan and drummer John Harrell.
Harrell said the group came together in April when Gilbert decided he wanted to try a full-band tour for once.
“It went really well, so we just went ‘screw it’ and kept doing it,” Harrell said.
Harrell was with Gilbert when they took the stage at Caledonia in July.
Gilbert said he is always eager to play in Athens, describing himself as a “Neutral Milk Hotel nerd.”
He credits local musicians Allison and A.J. Weiss for allowing him to get his foot in the door in Athens, which he has reciprocated in helping them land shows in his native Charlotte, N.C.
However, the “Pangaea” tour promises something a little bit different.
The new album represents a break from his usual style, as both a songwriter and a performer.
This proves evident in the experimental last two tracks, the title track and “The Last Thing You Thought About.”
“With other records I’ve done, I really focused on melody and tuning,” said Gilbert, who focuses mainly on the guitar and voice he has been honing for over a decade.
He has learned how to play tons of instruments, including organs amd mandolins.
Though lyrics have always been important to him, “Pangaea” represents the first time Gilbert has ever put so much time into them.
Gilbert said not all of his songs subscribe to one songwriting style or another.
Some of his lyrics are completely true to his own life, while others are about the feelings the words provoke.
Gilbert said he listened to quite a bit of old French music while making “Pangaea,” which shines through in the bittersweet “Isabella,” which uses the titular Isabella to explore his fear of dying penniless and alone like so many of the French musicians that inspired him.
“Songs like ‘My Name Is Arthur’ are not so straightforward,” he said. “They may portray how I feel, but they’re more about building a story.”
Gilbert described the process of music-making as wonderful for the psyche, allowing him to create something out of thin air.
“I think it’s really important for anybody not to bottle up their feelings,” he said.
Though crafting the right lyrics presented a challenge of its own, Gilbert said he also had to fight lazy musical habits, admitting how easy it is to fall back into safe, uninspired pop songs.
Despite the new style, Gilbert and his band have made it a point to go into Caledonia with no response in mind.
“We’d like there to be a lot of people, but you can’t really predict people,” Harrell said. “We’re just going to go out there, play a good show and hopefully inspire some people.”
However that show goes, Gilbert, Harrell and Jordan will return to an Athens stage at the Terrapin brewery on Nov. 17, which will come with the same set of non-expectations.
Creative Loafing 2009 Feature
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With three albums and an EP under his belt at the age of 21, most people would say Charlotte's Dylan...With three albums and an EP under his belt at the age of 21, most people would say Charlotte's Dylan Gilbert has already had quite a prolific career. Ask Gilbert if he's content with his musical catalog so far, and you easily sense his goals are much higher. When he compares himself to some of his influences and idols, a hint of disappointment comes over his soft-spoken voice.
"I always feel like I'm running out of time," Gilbert says over lunch in Plaza Midwood. "Back in the '60s, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Beach Boys were putting out three albums a year -- not just three albums, but three really great albums. I feel like I'm slacking. It's been a year since The Quiet Life came out. It's been a year, but what do I have?"
Gilbert tried to fill the void after his latest CD by offering nine tracks -- mostly outtakes from The Quiet Life sessions -- as a digital-only release. He figures it could buy him some time while he works on his next album.
It's not like he isn't working on it, either. For 2008's The Quiet Life, Gilbert wrote roughly 100 songs. Since that album was released, he's written another 20, all while performing and taking music classes -- such as music theory, guitar ensemble, etc. -- at CPCC.
"I'd like to get a music-related degree one day, but I'm not in a hurry," he says. Adding with a laugh, "It's a two-year degree, but I could have been a doctor by now."
If degrees were based on talent, Gilbert just might have that doctorate. Instead of going the usual way of a solo artist focusing on a single instrument, Gilbert plays just about everything but the kitchen sink on his albums -- guitars, bass, piano, organ, synthesizer, glockenspiel, chimes, harmonica, percussion and theremin. There's probably more, and if he has his way, he'll add violin and oboe to the mix one day.
"Guitar is always going to be my main instrument," he says. "I play a little bit of piano for writing songs and some bass and drums, but a lot of it is just 'Let's throw that on there cause it might sound cool.' I don't think I'm a virtuoso at any of them. I'd love to learn how to play the oboe or violin, but I don't know that I have the patience for it."
Despite his parents being musicians who performed around Charlotte in bands such as Feed the Farm, Swivel and Jamcake, Gilbert didn't start playing until he was in a punk band in ninth grade. A lot of his education from the music side of the spectrum probably came subliminally from watching his parents, Anna and Greg, who are also multi-instrument performers. They've also been supportive of his interests and helpful in their home studio during the recording processes.
After graduating from high school, instead of letting a solo life limit him, Gilbert decided he would focus on the songwriting and creation of albums and worry about the limitations of playing the songs live later.
"If I feel like a song needs 10 vocal harmonies, I shouldn't not do it because I can't do it live," he says. "Maybe one day, I will be able to do it live. Whenever you go see a band at a show, you want to see a performance and be entertained. That's a focus of my live show. When you put on a CD, you're looking for something you can listen to and enjoy the music. It's different things already, so I kind of exaggerate that."
While Gilbert's onstage appearance -- man with guitar -- may give the quick impression of a typical folk artist, it can also be easily heard that his influences and beginnings are varied. He often uses pedal and effects to create a sonic whirlwind that throws listeners completely off balance from the mellower majority of his set. It's what helps to set him apart on stage and on albums.
He approaches each album as an collective unit, noting that he will change his mind from week to week about whether he wants it to sound more folk, more R&B or something completely different, and it usually ends up as a combination of all of the above. Lyrically, Gilbert tends to write from personal experience, but he also keeps things thinly veiled so they don't sound like diary entries.
He's thought about releasing a live album, or a stripped-down album that is closer to his live shows, but at this point they're all just ideas floating around in his head. They're ideas tangled amongst a plethora of songs waiting to get out, too.
"I've been driving around in my car in silence a lot recently to think about the songs and what needs to be added or changed -- guitar here, effects there, strings over the top," he says. "I've been focusing a little more on each one and giving each one a little more tender loving care and helping each one grow into what they need to be."
He doesn't have a timeline for his next album, but hopes it will be quicker than the last one, which he says was getting "a little Chinese Democracy-esque" after 2006's The Artist & The Scientist. When asked if he puts a lot of pressure on himself, he's quick to answer, "Yes! Can you tell?"
For now, he'll continue to perform and record on his own unless pieces fall into place as far as members of a band or some kind of record contract, etc. He recently joined up with Taxi to shop around his songs commercially and he's slowly building a fan base in other cities on the east coast -- Wilmington, Virginia Beach, Chapel Hill and Athens, among them -- so there's a bright future ahead.
"I like that I can say I'm doing it on my own, but it's kind of hard to say I'll keep doing it that way forever," he says. "If you want to be realistic about trying to make money, you have to explore options. I'm always looking for the next step. You have to keep climbing the ladder."
Yes Weekly The Quiet Life Album Review
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Boy, is this Charlotte lad young, but his direction is a lot more mature than most 20-year-olds tryi...Boy, is this Charlotte lad young, but his direction is a lot more mature than most 20-year-olds trying to make it in music right now. However, I think that’s not saying nearly enough, because even if you take away his barely two-decade age, the music is still more than just “good enough.” His voice is young, and possesses just a hint of the South in his throat, indefectibly matching his acoustic sound. The songs range from slow and sweet-picking strings to trumpets, keys, banging bells, galloping guitars and big-band sounds. Lyrics speak of parties and young ladies, flashing in out of youthful and elderly perspectives — something you wouldn’t really expect from this sound. No continual tracks of typical end-of-the world first-love heartbreak, but more ballads and stories of music, traveling, small towns and their unnoticed characteristics. One of the tracks has some yell-along vocal assistance from others. He isn’t afraid to ask for help and musical cameos from others.
As far as his live show goes, pictures plague the internet of him with guest backup musicians and bands of horns. My favorite, “Life with Wolves,” is a warm and soothing hit where he lowers his voice and shows his appreciation for and understating of jazz by patiently allowing the words to just fall off his tongue at their own pace. If this kid is already writing music like this now — combining pop, jazz, folk and British experimental rock — I can’t imagine what sort of innovations he has planned for the future. The album shows that, without a doubt, he had fun during the whole process.
Rumor has it that he is playing at a secret tea party Saturday night in Greensboro. Quaint enough? Travel to Charlotte at the end of the month to hear this album, and pick up a copy yourself at Amos’ South End (www.amossouthend.com), or at itunes.com.
(4 out of 5 stars)
It! Magazine Interview!
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North Carolina indie-folk musician Dylan Gilbert is nothing short of brilliant. It is inspiring to h...North Carolina indie-folk musician Dylan Gilbert is nothing short of brilliant. It is inspiring to hear someone, at the young age of 20, create such beautiful, unique melodies. On his third album, "The Quiet Life," Gilbert's tunes are crisp and natural, and his songs do not include a ton of sound effects or foul lyrics--just pure music.
Gilbert spoke with it! recently as a preview for his two performances tonight at The Loft. The edited transcript follows:
Stephanie Boscovitch: Growing up in Charlotte, N.C., how did you get started in the music business?
Dylan Gilbert: My parents were musicians, so I was around music while I was a kid. They were playing in bands when I was growing up, especially on my mom's side [because] it goes all the way back through the generations. When I started high school I joined a band, and it started going from there.
SB: Has your style changed since your younger days playing music?
DG: I'm always trying to do new and different stuff. First it was kind of noise, then it was kind of "punky," then it was a little more melodic rock. Now, it's kind of developed into this style now--this kind of folky indie-pop.
SB: Who are your biggest musical influences?
DG: OK, this is going to be a long list. The Beatles are probably going to be No. 1, especially Paul McCartney. Brian Wilson [of the Beach Boys] would be a big one. People like Sam Cooke and Radiohead--I don't know, there's a lot.
SB: What made you choose track one, "The Quiet Life," as the title of your new album?
DG: Well, I don't know--I guess there is a bit of a story behind that. "The Quiet Life" is probably the oldest song on the entire record. It was around the time when I first made my first solo record, around 2005-2006.
It's about seeking peace in yourself. Even though you are growing up and are not a kid anymore, it's about being OK with that. The title of it [conveys] this feeling of serenity. It gives a feeling of like "chill." I'm always running about 90 miles an hour, so it was good for me to name it that.
SB: Looking back, is there anything on the album you would have done differently?
DG: Some famous filmmaker said, "No films are ever finished, they are just abandoned." Art can never be finished: There is always something that you could have changed. But I definitely think it is the best-written and -produced album I have ever done.
SB: Being 20, where would you like to see yourself years from now?
DG: I've never wanted to be a millionaire rock star or anything like that. But I've always been like, "If I can do this without getting a day job and live off it and be able to support some kind of family and, you know, have fun with it "
SB: My favorite song on the album is "I'll Plant a Seed." Is there any special meaning or story behind it?
DG: It was the last song written for the album--it barely made it. I wrote it all in about 15 minutes, while I was on the medication after getting my wisdom teeth taken out. Usually, there is some type of revising. But there was no revising--it was the first stream of consciousness, and I just left it. I am very proud of it--I don't know if I can take much credit for it, though.
SB: What is your favorite track on the whole album?
DG: "No Mystery." That was the second-to-last song that was put onto the album. I don't know--I just love that chorus so much, which is funny, because usually I get tired of my music pretty quickly. But I'm usually always humming that little melody in the beginning. I'm proud of how it all came together.
SB: Besides playing at shows, what are your other plans for the summer?
DG: That's pretty much my whole summer. I won't get home till Aug. 2 or 3. I'll probably, as soon as I get back home, sleep for some time and take a break for about a week. Then the shows kick back up. I'm working on [shows] in Greensboro [N.C.] and Richmond for late August.
I'm really going to start working on a multimedia project. I'm filming this entire tour for YouTube--a documentary series. I'm going to use a lot of unreleased songs as the soundtrack for the documentary. Also in August, I'm going to start recording a new album with some friends--the same batch of kids that helped me do the last couple of albums. I've already got about nine songs that would be pretty good for a new album.
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Dylan Gilbert, an indie/folk artist from Charlotte, North Carolina is our focus for this week's hott...Dylan Gilbert, an indie/folk artist from Charlotte, North Carolina is our focus for this week's hottest new musician. Luckily we were able to get to know Gilbert a little better. This summer he'll be playing all over the East Coast (mostly in North Carolina and Virginia) but he does have a few dates that are "to be announced" up in New York City. His newest album, "The Quiet Life" came out earlier this year and is filled with dreamy folk/pop songs that are genuinely unique. It is filled with his distinct folk/rock vocals underscored by the lullaby of the strings juxtaposed by the harsh electric guitar. Gilbert creates a unique mix that he can proudly call his own.
Full given name: Dylan Gilbert
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
MAC or PC?: PC
Favorite post-show meal: IHOP
Pre-show rituals: Pacing.
Worst onstage mishap: 3 guitar strings breaking.
Favorite venue to play in: The Spazz, Tee’s, Lunchbox Records, The Evening Muse.
Favorite place to travel: Richmond VA or Athens GA
All-time favorite music venue: Tie
Special skills: ...Star Wars trivia?
Take the jump to finish reading about Gilbert's reason why he knows about razor blades and cigarette containers...
Last book you read: hmmm...ask me again sometime.
Favorite magazine: Shuffle/Rolling Stone/Paste
Must-see TV show: The Mighty Boosh
Last good movie you saw: The Darjeeling Limited
Favorite place you have lived: Always lived in the same place.
First concert ever saw: Probably my parents'.
If you could go back in time and catch any concert, what would it be?: Hmm...The Beatles on the top of Abby Road Studios is the first thing that comes to mind.
Current band/musician (besides yourself) you have been recommending to your friends:
Lately....The Avett Brothers, Crystal Castles, Animal Collective, Ambulance ltd and Brian Wilson.
Most played song on your iPod: I dont own one...but if I did it would probably be “This Time Tomorrow” by The Kinks or “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived” by Weezer at the moment.
Best vacation spot: The mountains
Worst job you ever had: cleaning out those things with sand in them that people put their cigarettes out in...because apparently some people like to put razor blades in them as well.
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"To classify Dylan Gilbert as a singer-songwriter would be like classifying aluminum foil as a metal..."To classify Dylan Gilbert as a singer-songwriter would be like classifying aluminum foil as a metal. The disparity between the two is too great. So instead think of "Dylan Gilbert" not as a person's name, but as a cool hip name, and think of "Radiohead" as a person's name. Yeah, do that."
Bootleg Magazine Feature
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"Dylan Gilbert is immensely talented...his stage presence is electric and engaging . He'll talk to t..."Dylan Gilbert is immensely talented...his stage presence is electric and engaging . He'll talk to the crowed, unabashed and everything but shy, He'll move about the stage playing guitar and singing far from the microphone. The emotion he gives is powerful enough that the microphone seems unnecessary."
Big Smile Magazine The Quiet Life Review
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Dylan Gilbert is a one man army here to declare war on genres and this is one white flag ill gladly ...Dylan Gilbert is a one man army here to declare war on genres and this is one white flag ill gladly throw down. His 14 track cd "The Quiet Life" is exactly the flag ship that is needed, he blends genres and sounds so smoothly and naturally you can not imagine it sounding any other way, he pushes your contemporary ideals of music and its sounds. One of my favorite tracks "Math" is mixing acid jazz and rock, blending them into a sound that leaves you lost and happy, another track he mixes classic blues/rock and classical piano into a heavenly one man choir to a lover. each song is a totally new experience but has a undertone of beauty that is simply Dylan Gilbert. The list of instruments go on forever there is everything from a organ and pianos to synthesizer, toy keyboards, glockenspiel and theremins, this cd truly is not your ordinary coffee house cd but there is enough guitar and emotional filled melodies to remind you why you love it oh so much. So go check out his website at http://www.dylangilbert.com
Southeast Performer The Quiet Life Album Review
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In the Southeast alone there is an endless desert filled with singer/ songwriters searching for that...In the Southeast alone there is an endless desert filled with singer/ songwriters searching for that big break. There are a select few that stumble across that oasis of good fortune but for most it’s a horizon of mirages and false hope that only leads to noisy bars and street corners.
For Charlotte, N.C. songsmith Dylan Gilbert, however, his thirsty wandering seems to be leading him to the right places. Since Gilbert released his 2005 debut Oh No Oh Now I Know at the tender age of 17, the eyes of critics and labels have been tightly focused on Gilbert’s vast potential. His multi-instrumental capabilities, smart yet poetic songwriting and smooth vocal ability have catapulted Gilbert to distances far ahead of his peers.
Gilbert’s junior effort, The Quiet Life, is further proof of his remarkable ability to not only write great songs but to also produce and execute them as well. The album is a 14-track collection of jangly pop tunes with hints of Brit-pop and indie rock making frequent appearances throughout the record.
Gilbert’s most obvious comparisons would be groups like The Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie while subtle similarities are akin to the likes of Elliot Smith and such British Invasion groups as The Zombies or The Yardbirds. Gilbert’s writing is like the work of a musical tailor; intricately woven with layers upon layers of harmonies, rhythm changes and instrumental experimentation. The result is a thick patchwork of music that explores several important avenues of great songwriting.
Just when he seems to sound cluttered, Gilbert’s rare ability for diversity carries the album through the sometimes hook absent moments. On the track “If You Leave Me,” Gilbert boldly displays his ear for simplistic songwriting. Using little more than a soft guitar strum, Gilbert croons his way through the brutally honest core of the song with flying colors. On the track “Math,” Gilbert reveals his fun-loving side with perhaps the album’s catchiest and most energetic tune.
What Gilbert lacks on The Quiet Life, however, is an initial impact on the listener. Listen to the record four or five times and you will be blown away, but until then the songs are easy to forget. The record isn’t instantly memorable and, due to its complexity, sometimes gets lost within itself.
Nonetheless, Gilbert’s ability for songwriting is one of the strongest around and at the mere age of 20, the future knows no limits for this up and coming artist.
Indy Weekly The Quiet Life Album Review
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A record named The Quiet Life from a guy named Dylan Gilbert raises several red flags: How can it be...A record named The Quiet Life from a guy named Dylan Gilbert raises several red flags: How can it be anything but another half-formed boy-and-his-guitar record, with gentle acoustic finger-picking, overwrought reflections on past relationships, and mixed metaphors about stars and notebooks and destiny and stuff? That said, The Quiet Life—the second album from the 20-year-young, Charlotte-based, Triangle-frequenting Gilbert—is a pleasant surprise. A flowing 14-song cycle largely about growing up and settling down, The Quiet Life indeed employs a wide range of traditionalist styles and influences. But they're wielded by an arranger who isn't afraid to experiment or get loud, characteristics that often go overlooked by young, white males with six strings who are aiming cleanly for the middle of the road. Instead, The Quiet Life offers flourishes of jangly power chords, several blistering solos and even a menacing post-punk guitar riff on closer "Please Repeat." "No Mystery" patiently reveals an irresistible melody before delving into some kitchen-sink experimentation and spacy synthesizers. "Before My Egg Hatches" sports raucous stomping energy, and "Math" is probably what Modest Mouse would sound like if they played folk-rock with busy trumpets that, at one point, hum like a nest of angry bees.
Gilbert isn't a noise rocker, though, not by any stretch of the imagination. He's still a singer-songwriter, and there are several incumbent intimate acoustic moments. Gilbert is actually at the height of his craft on highlights like "Darlin' Don't Forget My Name" and "I Was All Alone." It's here that his message and the fuss behind this whole "quiet life" come into sharp focus: It's not a sound. It's a concept for obtaining peace of mind, and for finding out how to grow older without losing yourself, all the while trying to discover what "yourself" truly entails. Oh, and love, too. After all, his name is Dylan Gilbert, a boy with a guitar.
Vinyl-Visions The Quiet Life Album Review
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"The Quiet Life is the soundtrack that follows your trips back home, from the car ride and diner sto..."The Quiet Life is the soundtrack that follows your trips back home, from the car ride and diner stops to the midnight coffee runs and everything else along the way. When you get to the last track, "Please Repeat," you'll want to do just that."
75orless.com The Artist & The Scientist Album Review
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Move over, Conor Oberst—there's a new boy wonder in town, and his name is Dylan Gilbert. These 10 gu...Move over, Conor Oberst—there's a new boy wonder in town, and his name is Dylan Gilbert. These 10 guitar-based folk/rock songs pack a ton of feeling and are good for rocking out, getting pissed, or just sitting there and contemplating the world. This whole album should be in heavy rotation on every college radio station. And the guy looks like Adam Brody—need I say more?
The Morning News Show Review
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"The excellence of Gilbert’s compositions is fueled by the maturity of his songwriting. A poet at h..."The excellence of Gilbert’s compositions is fueled by the maturity
of his songwriting. A poet at heart, Gilbert is a bard capturing
the times. His writing can be thought-provoking, inscrutable at times,
while maintaining a broadness that allows it to be accessible to everyone.
It is a hard balance to maintain, and Gilbert does it masterfully."
-Donald E. Quist
The Raleigh Hatchet Album Review
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“Both romantic and realist, Gilberts young mind shows wisdom beyond his years. At nineteen, he al...“Both romantic and realist, Gilberts young mind shows wisdom
beyond his years. At nineteen, he already showcases what
promises to be a rockin career in music. An amazing talent,
he has nowhere to go but up....Dylans early display of maturity
as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist has only to age like
the fine Bordeaux that he is, and the world will be drunk,
buzzing about him soon.”
Creative Loafing BEST OF THE NEW article
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Dylan Gilbert: The former lead singer for Charlotte punk band Something Jed (the group disbanded in ...Dylan Gilbert: The former lead singer for Charlotte punk band Something Jed (the group disbanded in early 2005), Dylan Gilbert still manages to fold in plenty of that can-do, in-the-moment attitude into his solo stuff. Which is admirable, of course -- it's part of who he is, after all, and at the end of the day, it's his name at the top of the bill (the record, the flyer, the MySpace page).
Boasting influences rooted in guitar-centered indie rock and fraught with freak/folk and the effects-laden experimental rock of someone like a Grizzly Bear, Gilbert's frequent live shows range from solo affairs laden with all manner of effects and loops to lively, kitchen-sink full band blowouts.
Gilbert released his first EP, Oh No Oh Now I Know in November of '05. He then released his debut full-length, The Artist and the Scientist, in September of '06. Marrying the catchy with the cacophonous, Gilbert, like the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne (well, not just like Wayne Coyne, but you get the picture) takes the whole "the recording studio is my instrument" ideal to heart, laying down some mean glockenspiel and piano/synthwork along with a healthy roil of guitar/bass/drum bottom end. Frankly, given a blind listen (a weird concept, mind you) it sounds like the work of someone at least 10 years older. (Gilbert's in his early to mid 20s. If I'm not mistaken -- homey ain't on Wikipedia yet.)
Some folk, that nugget in mind, have compared young Gilbert to Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I'm not ready to anoint him the New Dylan just yet (a ridiculous reference given Oberst that the songwriter ably tackles on his new EP Four Winds), but rest assured that this Dylan's the real deal nonetheless. What's in a name? A lot, it seems.
– Timothy C. Davis
Creative Loafing Show Review
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Definitely one to keep your eyes on around the local music scene, Gilbert is a fantastic songwriter ...Definitely one to keep your eyes on around the local music scene, Gilbert is a fantastic songwriter and musician. He's one of those "leave it on the stage" performers who dives into his own world and isn't afraid to break out feedback and effects on an acoustic guitar. He reminds me a lot of Josh Panda, if you're familiar with the former resident.
- Jeff Hahne
There are no upcoming dates at this time.