American Nobody
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American Nobody

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"Album Review: American Nobody"

When you open a new CD, place it in your stereo and hit play, it’s instant gratification. No pondering of the tedious process of recording, producing, mixing, mastering, cover art … Well, contemplate this for a moment: Not only did Brian Granse write all of the tunes on “American Nobody,” but he also recorded, produced and played most every instrument you hear on the disc.

Granse lived in Jackson for two years, where nine of these 12 tunes were recorded in a small apartment south of town. Somehow it all comes across as effortless, but reading the inside jacket cover for credits exposes the blood,
sweat and tears that Granse must have shed. The engineer plays acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass, drum kit,
percussion, harmonica, synths, electronic drum programming and piano.

You won’t find Granse’s new disc under his name at the music store, because American Nobody is his new identity. The simple cover art helps explain the new tag – plain and white with a small photo of a guitarist wearing a paper bag over his head. It seems brash at first take, and then clever – an individualistic big world theme that most can empathize with.

The disc opener and future radio hit, “Love Overrated,” is an upbeat tune to
crank up and drive down the road to, with a spirited, rearview mirror look at a past love. The theme continues with “New
Roads Ahead,” another upbeat tune carried by strong electric guitar riffs and a chorus coated with wavy vocal effects.

“The End” is a deep-reaching emotional tune colored with acoustic guitar arpeggios and guest cellist Diana Flesner soloing the outro. Violins, cellos and heavy piano chords set the dark mood on “Avenues,” while electronica based rhythms and synths on the melancholy “Beautiful Disasters” offers a Radiohead vibe that crescendos through a repeating refrain and drum crashes.

Mellow acoustic guitar, sparse bass and a lingering electric guitar support Granse’s sincere “Extraordinary.” The album takes a turn with the country-tinged “South to Memphis,” encouraging the masses to “roll with it, hold on for the ride / there’s a situation cookin’ from which you can not hide.”

Another former local, Julie Payne, adds backing vocals to the track, and Dobro player Mike Steinhauer adds some great melodies. The album becomes more organic as it progresses, throwing banjo into the mix (“Winds of Nebraska” and “Urban Romance”) and closing with “London Fog (1945),” an eight-minute dissection of what is and what should be that starts
and ends with an old-time record sound.

The overall production value is excellent, and the cohesiveness of “American Nobody” is more realized than in Granse’s first release, “Earthrise.” Few can master the techie equipment as fluidly as Granse. Keep an eye out for the former local to be touring through Jackson this winter, traveling from his new Denver home.
— Aaron Davis
- Planet Jackson Hole


"Get ready for Nobody"

Brian Granse is not just anybody; in fact, he’s not even somebody. He’s a nobody — an American Nobody, to be precise.
“In this world I’m just a speck on the music scene,” says the Illinois-reared singer/songwriter. “That’s where the idea of American Nobody came from.”
After recording his first couple of records under his given name, Granse felt uncomfortable promoting himself and was looking for an different direction.
After a helpful suggestion by fellow singer/songwriter Aaron Davis, Granse became American Nobody, complete with a brown paper bag over his head on the cover of his latest CD. (The wearing of the bag took place only during the photo shoot, and Granse emphatically states that he does not perform with a bag over his head.)
The music of American Nobody is basically pleasant acoustic instrumentation overlaid with introspective and interesting lyrics. Highlights of the new album include a stellar Dobro solo on “South to Memphis” by local musician Mike Steinhauer. Granse, who recorded Steinhauer at his Rochester home on a portable system, plays almost all of the instruments on the 12-song disk.
Granse began home recording in his early teens, learning the intricacies of multitracking and the art of layering tracks. As recording technology progressed, the songwriter took full advantage of the new opportunities, especially a process known as looping, a replaying of a recorded part over and over in a loop, with other recorded tracks then laid over the basic rhythm beat.
When incorporating the looping process into his live show, Granse starts with an acoustic guitar slung on his back and a bass guitar and an African djembe hand drum on ready-to-play stands. After playing and recording the drum and bass into his chosen looping machine, he pulls the guitar around for added instrumental work and as an accompaniment when he steps to a microphone and sings.
“This is my first tour with multiinstruments,” says Granse. “It adds more intriguing elements — a one-man band where every instrument is played and recorded live.”
Granse — formerly a guitarist/vocalist with From the Attic, a popular Springfield/ Carbondale band — originally hails from Villa Grove, a small town near Champaign-Urbana. He’s spent the last four years out West, mostly in Colorado and Wyoming, occasionally returning to the Springfield area for shows and visits.
What does the future hold?
“I know my needs are going to change later, but at this moment I’m doing what I need to be doing,” Granse says. “Making a living at being an artist — that’s dream enough.”

Hear American Nobody at 10 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Underground City Tavern (700 E. Adams St., 217-789-1530). - The Illinois Times


"American Nobody Review"

With countless singer-songwriters dragging their intimate tales of broken relationships and drinking across the continent, it's surprising more haven't embraced the anonymity of it all. The American Nobody moniker proves liberating for singer-songwriter Brian Granse, who wears a paper bag over his head on the cover of the project's self-titled 2006 album. Granse's gentle, aching songs could come from anywhere and be about anyone, and his decided lack of a personality leaves space for that universal feel to take hold. Looping strings and keys over the standard acoustic strumming, Granse accents his songs with everything from garden-variety folk to dreamy pop to country. It's a bit generic, but in a purposeful way that makes exhausted sounds seem fresher.
- The Onion


Discography


American Nobody - 2006
*American Nobody gets college and non-commercial airplay and boasts sales at both CD Baby and iTunes Europe.
Earthrise - 2004
*Earthrise continues to receive airplay on select college radio programs.
0.5 - 2001
*0.5 received local college radio airplay when artist was based in Illinois

Photos

Bio

One-man act American Nobody sets up his entire rig on stage in about seven minutes time. There's a case with several pedals in it, an acoustic guitar, a small shaker or two, and a vocal microphone. Utilizing years of refined studio instincts and a Gibson DPP Looper, he shows the audience that one person with a few toys can make a BIG sound!

Its called looping. And he has mastered it as one of Portland, Oregon's top loop artists. American Nobody's flashy guitar chops and robust voice deliver catchy hooks and melodies that fuse the influences of Jeff Buckley and Ed Vedder with the legendary looping of Keller Williams and Tim Reynolds. Weaving tight layers of voice, guitar, bass tones, and percussion, he has redefined the modern concept of singer and songwriter.

American Nobody's music recently joined the ranks of Sufjan Stephens, Xavier Rudd, and Jack Johnson in being featured on the PBS television series “Road Trip Nation.” His live looping has been featured on Portland's beloved KBOO radio as well as college radio stations in Kansas, Vermont, and Illinois. Known for his variety, The Onion newspaper noted that American Nobody “accents his songs with everything from garden-variety folk to dreamy pop to country.” And the resulting sound appeals to a wide audience!

American Nobody shines brightest at outdoor events involving diverse audiences. He is widely regarded as the most popular main stage artist at the heavily attended Portland Saturday Market in the heart of Portland, and The Oregon Food and Wine Festival rated him the top act in January 2008. American Nobody is a fast transition performer with a quick breakdown and a big sound. American Nobody hits the road this summer in Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Colorado.