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Amestory took three years to write the music for their debut album, which isn't such a long time considering it was spent building a bridge between indie rock, emo, melodic pop, and chamber music. The brainchild of California-based artists Mike Russell (vocals, guitar) of Respira, and Doug Prior (piano), Amestory -- which also includes J.D. Knotts (drums, slide) and Derek Coburn (bass) -- now seamlessly leaps between meticulously-constructed haunting orchestral sounds and minimalist rock. With alternately somber and dubiously optimistic lyrics layered over evocative instrumentals, Amestory's self-titled debut begs to be listened to while contemplating that failed relationship as the rain pounds on your window.

Amestory was recorded over a six-month period in Russell's home studio, which the band's bio refers to as a "dark, blue room." Over the course of their debut, Amestory seems alternately content with residing in those somber confines, and bent on breaking out, as songs often begin with a lone melancholy vocal or beat, before suddenly erupting and soaring at the chorus, and being reigned just as quickly in for another minimalist verse. "They're Telling You You Have Been Alive" touches on all of Amestory's personalities, opening with a lingering piano line, propped up by a slow-stomping beat. A pleading violin is introduced, followed by a lone bass line and an a cappella verse: "And you said you were sick but that's all in your head, it must be your mom or that rickety bed."

But even in their most somber moments, Amestory reign in any potential self-pity, with the occasional jaunty piano interlude or a reminder to keep your chin up: "Tape up those fists / There is nothing left to lose but your inner child who is upset with you / Knowing is just like standing still." - SPIN

"EW - Download This"

"Constants" by Amestory has everything you could want in an indie rock song: piano, violin, ethereal synths, a plucky acoustic guitar, and, most important, raspy melancholic vocals. Yeah, he sounds a little like Jeremy Enigk , but nowadays, who doesn't? Expect to hear it when/if Ryan and Marissa break up on The O.C. Marc Vera - 08/19/05 - Entertainment Weekly

"EC - Amestory"

If Amestory at first sounds like garden-variety indie-rock of the ultra-serious, heart-baring school, keep listening, because this is much more special than first impressions reveal. For one, this California-based group has an impeccable sense for timing and placement, a knack for arranging that gives their songs an intricacy and complexity that amplifies their uniqueness. Their self-titled debut album feels carefully composed and constructed from start to finish, with vocals, piano, guitar, bass, drums and occasionally vilolin woven together in just the right way. That attention to detail makes the songs both more arresting to the ear and more emotionally affecting. Mood is created in a way that amplifies each song's impact. There's moments when the songs build up almost to the point of being too bombastic, but they're always wisely reigned in right before they reach that level. Lyrically, Amestory's confessional but literary approach begs initial comparisons to Death Cab for Cutie - witness lines like "note the cause of all the cars that line your narrow street at night / it is so much colder when you're shaking" - but those comparisons do a disservice to the group. Listen closer to the lyrics, and you'll hear a surrealistic side and a disjointed side, bringing a pleasant sense of confusion and mystery to the open-hearted stories and feelings. Ultimately, in every way Amestory bring more positive creative energy to their music than it would first seem to require; what first seems like familiar genre music is proven to be unique and enchanting. Dave Heaton - 09/12/05 - Erasing Clouds

"STATUS - Amestory"

Amestory crafts beautifully subtle indie pop that toys with the slow-burn theatrics of Black Heart Procession, but with a lighter, dream-pop air. Piano, guitar, violin etc. weave intricately for a listening experience that is somber, somnambulant even, but with true blue intentions and a heart of gold. Some of these songs, like "In the Back of a House" trounce along happy and bittersweet in their sparse levity. Others – take the stand out single "Constants" – match confessional drama with an almost folky, Badly Drawn Boy vibe. Genius stuff. Better than Death Cab. Charles Spano - 09/20/05 - Status Magazine

"LOD - Amestory"

Music often influences one’s mood. With that favorite song to turn around a bad day or a whiny tune for a fresh breakup, sometimes we feel comfort in knowing that someone else has gone through the same things; or in other moments, we just need a warm wash of happiness. A listen to Amestory, like Nick Drake, can have the opposite effect. The listener’s current mood tends to influence the way the music is perceived, therefore producing different effects upon each listen. The sparse, dreamlike quality of the music has the potential to comfort like warm, flannel sheets or to haunt one's thoughts with its gloomy under layer.

Mike Russell opens up the art rock blended album with his soft vocals that hint at a young, more breathy Ben Gibbard, in “North”. The song hints at what is to come with its driving beat and begins sparingly with little to back Russell until the piano kicks in after a minute. This opening track brings instant interest in what this group has to offer.

“Perfect Blocks” serves up a blend of alt-country and folk, which fits well with Russell’s unique vocals. “They’re Telling You You Have Been Alive” brings out more of the haunting side of the music, with piano introducing the track followed by a chilling violin that floats above the vocals and pushes them to the back. I was, however, disappointed by the unnecessarily odd rapping sound that lasted for almost the entire last minute and then led into the first part of the next track.

“Constants” picks up the intensity with the piano leading the show and the chilling violin providing the mood. The vocals here are shared with other founding member, Doug Prior, who has a deeper, more instantly pleasing voice that is more nondescript than Russell’s. While I must admit I was not wild about Russell’s vocals when I first heard the album, I’ve come to enjoy the vocal style after repeat visits. The singing sounds sincere and gentle with a spooky undertone. In “Scotch,” the piano is reminiscent of the moodiness surrounding Fiona Apple’s previous releases. The vocal parts here sound like they are slightly raw compared to the rest of the album.

The thing that most impresses me with this album is how they provide a tone of music that could easily lull the listener asleep, yet they’ve managed to keep it from sliding too far in that direction. They provide enough hooks and catchiness to keep the listener engaged without making him want to sing and bop his head. If you like the simplistic energy of Nick Drake, the catchiness of Pinback and the vocals of Death Cab for Cutie with the added bonus of some piano and violin, you should definitely give these guys a whirl. - Left off the Dial


Amestory - 'Save to Spend' (internet single) (Portia)
Amestory - s/t CD (Portia)
Split EP w/ Tim Wilson (Portia)



Out of the sleepy town of Thousand Oaks California, we are proud to present to you the musical brainchild of Mike Russell and Doug Prior, known collectively as Amestory. After a stint of musical endeavours and a brief hiatus from music, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Russell joined up with long time friend and pianist Doug Prior to try their hand at something that would contest the bombardment of stale music that surrounded them. Teaming up with Portia Records, Amestory released their first record, a split CD with Tim Wilson, in September of 2004. Immediately after the release of the record, Mike and Doug recruited friends and musicians JD Knotts of Respira and Derek Coburn of The Eye The Ear and The Arm to fill the positions of drums and bass, to help with future recordings and most importantly a live set. In December of 2004 recording of the first full length began in Mike’s home studio, made up largely of old second hand equipment which allowed them to achieve a characteristically unique sound in the studio. During the six months of the recording of this record, Amestory put together a live set and, through a word-of-mouth buzz that inundated the local music community, headlined and packed their first few shows. At the beginning of the summer of 2005, after having spent more than six months in the studio, recording, tinkering, rerecording and mixing, the final product went to Portia for pressing. That fall saw Amestory touring tirelessly across the US and up and down the west coast in support of their full length record with much success.