Andrew Portz
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Andrew Portz

Emmaus, Pennsylvania, United States

Emmaus, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Americana Folk

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"Wildy’s World Co-Artist Of The Month – April 2009"

Andrew Portz hails from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and delivers an America sound that falls somewhere between the stoic musical sociology of Neil Young and the angry commentary of Tom Petty in a classic Americana style that runs the gamut from alt-country to southern swamp rock. Portz released his debut album, Blue Lake California in 2008 (we’ll have a review later this month), and has made it clear that he’ll pull no punches in his songs. His brand of biting social commentary is intelligent and well-spoken, and set to well-hewn music that makes it go down easy. Portz has songs streaming for your listening pleasure on his MySpace page. We’ll be talking more about Andrew Portz as the month progresses, but don’t be surprised if his name becomes very familiar over the next few years. - www.wildysworld.blogspot.com


"Andrew Portz sculpts music with ‘honest and somber lyrics’"

Reviewed by Jack Richter
Andrew Portz/Blue Lake California
Blue Lake California drips of wanderlust; from the very first track, “Dream About The Stars,” the record is drenched with it. Underneath the melody - partly Neil Young, partly Tom Petty - Andrew Portz sings, “I wanna lay things down/I’m gonna leave this town.” Immediately, he opens a journey wherein even the most reluctant person can’t remain dry. Sculpting music with honest and sombre lyrics, Portz utilizes heartache for material in his songs.
Like the Pied Piper, Portz entices his audience to follow. The voyage flows to Blue Lake California, and proceeds largely between classic rock and country influences. This is where Portz thrives, but it’s not the only place where one might discover similarities. “There’s a whole lot of people in this world/And I always thought you’d be my girl” croons Portz on “Rollercoaster Ride.” The tune sports a steady, locomotive-like pace, with vocal stylings mimicking those of the Australian artist Ben Lee.
The journey disembarks with “Turn This World Around,” a ballad about unity and transcending distance. “Why can’t they just free us/Untie my brothers, lay their company down,” sings Portz as he ‘turns the world around’ for the listener.
- Hellhoundtrail.com


"Andrew Portz sculpts music with ‘honest and somber lyrics’"

Reviewed by Jack Richter
Andrew Portz/Blue Lake California
Blue Lake California drips of wanderlust; from the very first track, “Dream About The Stars,” the record is drenched with it. Underneath the melody - partly Neil Young, partly Tom Petty - Andrew Portz sings, “I wanna lay things down/I’m gonna leave this town.” Immediately, he opens a journey wherein even the most reluctant person can’t remain dry. Sculpting music with honest and sombre lyrics, Portz utilizes heartache for material in his songs.
Like the Pied Piper, Portz entices his audience to follow. The voyage flows to Blue Lake California, and proceeds largely between classic rock and country influences. This is where Portz thrives, but it’s not the only place where one might discover similarities. “There’s a whole lot of people in this world/And I always thought you’d be my girl” croons Portz on “Rollercoaster Ride.” The tune sports a steady, locomotive-like pace, with vocal stylings mimicking those of the Australian artist Ben Lee.
The journey disembarks with “Turn This World Around,” a ballad about unity and transcending distance. “Why can’t they just free us/Untie my brothers, lay their company down,” sings Portz as he ‘turns the world around’ for the listener.
- Hellhoundtrail.com


"Singer/songwriter Andrew Portz summons ghost of old Tom Petty"

Written by Carson James
While many Americana artists openly cop vocal signatures and guitar riffs from Johnny Cash or Hank Williams, Sr., singer/songwriter Andrew Portz jumps further into the timeline of alt-country ancestry. There’s no denying the influence of vintage Tom Petty on Portz’s rejected snarl and speaker-busting jangle. When Petty first appeared in the late ’70s, his roots-rock angst was an anomaly in a rock & roll scene ruled by disco on top of the charts and punk overthrowing the underground. Perhaps it’s fitting that one of his spiritual kin is breaking away from predictable Americana staples and embracing the unfashionable Petty.
Carson James: Would you describe your lyrics as personal? If so, are you writing about your own experiences here or that of others?
Andrew Portz: When I write songs, I like to weave together personal experiences, fiction, and history in an abstract way. “Three o’clock in the mornin’/Staring at these records on my wall” is what I was actually doing when I wrote “Rollercoaster Ride.” The rest of the song is just lyrics that I thought sounded cool, and I really do dig rollercoasters.

James: Do you write the words down first or do you come up with riffs initially and then add lyrics on top of it?
Portz: I just write songs the way they come to me. I usually hear a melody and a lyrical hook in my head, and I start to work with that. I wrote “I Can Hear You” in about 20 minutes starting with the opening guitar riff. When I wrote the song “Blue Lake California,” I came up with the melody along with lyrics that I dropped because they didn’t fit the sound of the song. The story of “Blue Lake” came to me much later during some time I spent there recording the early demos for the CD.
James: Some artists I’ve spoken to in the past believe that the environment they’re in can have an influence on their words. Has this ever happened to you? If so, can you provide examples from your record?
Portz: I think your environment can influence the words as well as a song’s feel. I wrote “Road Trip” sitting around a campfire, and it has that sound to it. We went into the studio and tried to recapture that vibe with the banjo and harmonica.

James: What song on Blue Lake California has the most meaning to you and why?
Portz: “You and I” has a lot of meaning for me. It was the first song I ever wrote that made me feel like, “Hey, I can do this.” I wrote it years ago for my wife. It’s a song about everyday people and what they go through in their relationships.

James: Is it harder to write sad tunes than happy songs? Or is it the other way around?
Portz: Some people drink, some people get stoned. I write songs. That’s my way of dealing with the down and outs. When life kind of gets good it’s a lot harder for me to write.
- Twangtownreviews.com


"Singer/songwriter Andrew Portz summons ghost of old Tom Petty"

Written by Carson James
While many Americana artists openly cop vocal signatures and guitar riffs from Johnny Cash or Hank Williams, Sr., singer/songwriter Andrew Portz jumps further into the timeline of alt-country ancestry. There’s no denying the influence of vintage Tom Petty on Portz’s rejected snarl and speaker-busting jangle. When Petty first appeared in the late ’70s, his roots-rock angst was an anomaly in a rock & roll scene ruled by disco on top of the charts and punk overthrowing the underground. Perhaps it’s fitting that one of his spiritual kin is breaking away from predictable Americana staples and embracing the unfashionable Petty.
Carson James: Would you describe your lyrics as personal? If so, are you writing about your own experiences here or that of others?
Andrew Portz: When I write songs, I like to weave together personal experiences, fiction, and history in an abstract way. “Three o’clock in the mornin’/Staring at these records on my wall” is what I was actually doing when I wrote “Rollercoaster Ride.” The rest of the song is just lyrics that I thought sounded cool, and I really do dig rollercoasters.

James: Do you write the words down first or do you come up with riffs initially and then add lyrics on top of it?
Portz: I just write songs the way they come to me. I usually hear a melody and a lyrical hook in my head, and I start to work with that. I wrote “I Can Hear You” in about 20 minutes starting with the opening guitar riff. When I wrote the song “Blue Lake California,” I came up with the melody along with lyrics that I dropped because they didn’t fit the sound of the song. The story of “Blue Lake” came to me much later during some time I spent there recording the early demos for the CD.
James: Some artists I’ve spoken to in the past believe that the environment they’re in can have an influence on their words. Has this ever happened to you? If so, can you provide examples from your record?
Portz: I think your environment can influence the words as well as a song’s feel. I wrote “Road Trip” sitting around a campfire, and it has that sound to it. We went into the studio and tried to recapture that vibe with the banjo and harmonica.

James: What song on Blue Lake California has the most meaning to you and why?
Portz: “You and I” has a lot of meaning for me. It was the first song I ever wrote that made me feel like, “Hey, I can do this.” I wrote it years ago for my wife. It’s a song about everyday people and what they go through in their relationships.

James: Is it harder to write sad tunes than happy songs? Or is it the other way around?
Portz: Some people drink, some people get stoned. I write songs. That’s my way of dealing with the down and outs. When life kind of gets good it’s a lot harder for me to write.
- Twangtownreviews.com


Discography

Blue Lake California(2008)LP

Available on iTunes, cdbaby.com

Photos

Bio

written by Robert Michael Sutton

Just when you have pegged Pennsylvania-based singer/songwriter Andrew Portz as a mellow acoustic-pop act he overturns your initial observation with the garage-rock punch and Creedence Clearwater Revival Southern grit of “Same Old Story.” Easily the most rocking number on Blue Lake California, “Same Old Story” is fueled by slashing Neil Young-esque guitar shrapnel and a scathing attack on how the media exploits domestic tragedies for ratings: “Early one mornin’ in Baton Rouge/With a loaded gun and some work to do/Shot a man down dead in his tracks…Only one minute till the camera man/Shows up in a van with a mic in his hand.” Portz delivers the stinging narrative with equal helpings of sneer and sympathy, recalling Tom Petty in his most pissed-off moments.

Blue Lake California is the debut album from this young artist; however, unlike many opening efforts from new Americana musicians, there are no underdeveloped tracks on the record. “Dream About the Stars” and “Road Trip” may owe a considerable debt to Petty’s iconic catalog, especially to his work beyond the Heartbreakers, but Portz’ songwriting isn’t derivative. Portz has his own voice, and comparisons to Petty are due to obvious surface similarities such as the use of harmonica and classic-rock chord progressions.

There are two sides to Portz on display in Blue Lake California: the unplugged and the plugged in. The vintage country leanings of “You and I” and the plaintive, rootsy balladry of “I Can Hear You” embody the former. On “I Can Hear You,” Portz delivers his finest vocal performance; his singing is thrust in front of the mix, and it is warm and soothing to the ears, Young without the nasal whine. “My Broken Heart” and the aforementioned “Same Old Story” represent his more aggressive style. Neither approach outshines the other. In fact, probably the best cut on the LP is the dreamy title track, which features a little of both.

Aside from the two-fisted wallop of “Same Old Story,” Portz’ lyrics rarely venture away from his themes of heartache and escape, finding solace in his music and witnessing a larger world unfold around him. These are not revolutionary, life-altering observations; however, they work well in the context of a hook-driven, harmony-laden introduction to a promising talent.