Andy Elwell
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Andy Elwell

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"New Ground Review"

Matthew R. Perrine Budgeteer News
Published Thursday, August 28, 2008
Andy Elwell: Boy from the North Country

Andy Elwell's sure got some shoes to fill. While no one expects him or anyone to be the next Bob Dylan (at least I'd hope no one does), being born in the troubadour's hometown of Hibbing certainly draws some comparisons from time to time. But that's a totally unfair approach, supported by only the most superficial characteristics — talented musician, captivating lyrics, etc. — so I won't even go there. Instead, we should be stressing what most separates Elwell from Duluth's most famous native son and the rest of the singer/songwriter pack: his ability to craft songs that seem effortlessly heartbreaking. To be fair, my wife and I were mourning the loss of one of her coworkers when I was first introduced to his music, but there is an undeniable tinge of sadness that haunts "New Ground."

The album, the former Spoogees/Islero member's sophomore solo release, gets things right from the get-go with "Phrase and Direction." But this incredibly vulnerable song is just the beginning, as it seems every corner of "New Ground" has a lyrical surprise to offer.

Even more impressive than Elwell's lyrics, however, is his ability to match their emotional potency with expertly executed vocal flairs.

No wonder some of his music was recently licensed for use in shows like MTV's "The Hills": Much like that of Duluth's Jamestown Story, this is dramatic acoustic-based music with an inescapable mainstream quality.
Expect to hear this album's title track or the unforgettable "In This Field" on a major network someday soon. Even if they weren't one of the tracks optioned out, they will surely help this album serve as Elwell's calling card when the labels come calling.

Andy Elwell will play a CD release show for "New Ground" at 8 p.m. Sept. 6 at Beaner's Central. All ages. Cost is $5. Sarah Morgan is also on the bill. Visit for details. - Budgeteer News Duluth, MN

"New Ground Review"

Elwell's 'New Ground' delves into turbulent territory

John Ziegler / For the News Tribune,
Published Thursday, September 04, 2008

Andy Elwell's new disc, "New Ground," reminds me of that very quiet, very polite person we all know, who — on very rare occasions — just veers out of control and blows his stack.

This CD has the gentleness of Ron Sexsmith or even Nick Drake, then — in a few instances — goes over the top with vocals that sound like full body dry heaves. The overall quietness seems Elwell's natural form of expression in a release that is intricate but not ostentatious.

Focus on relationship

The record, Elwell's second solo project, is about a relationship and its twists and turns. The emotional turmoil, with all of its ups and downs, plays out over the course of the full disc as fact and fiction meet and intermingle, leaving the listener to sort out fantasy and reality.

"Phrase And Direction" is a song about loving someone deeply and the experience of having them not return the emotion in the same measure. There is a feeling of martyrdom present and we are left to speculate about the requisite playing out of individual roles in this two-person drama as Elwell purposely gives only a truncated account of actions and focuses on emotions.

Elwell delves into the old dictum that things are never as they appear in "New Ground." "… are you breakin' new ground, tryin' to fill that hole … are you complete now up off the bathroom floor?" He seems to disbelieve where his lover stands, as the relationship heads into disrepair.

His eyebrow is cocked as he observes her new lifestyle and associates.

There is an uninhibited streak in "Stunning" where the question posed seems to be: Can you really help someone who has self-destructive tendencies and shuns your attempts to intervene? This tune was sparked by the film "Girl Interrupted," as Elwell saw the parallel between the Hollywood screenplay and his own real life. The answer, through the course of the tune, seems clear.
"Armed Guard" shows a besieged author admitting his own flaws, but expressing his love and devotion "… if you're a broken fence, I'd be your armed guard." He's there to protect, regardless of flaws on either end and regardless of the pain it will inflict.
Elwell was born in Hibbing and raised in Duluth. He played in a punk band out of the Twin Ports called Islero, then moved to southern California, where the cultural shock proved to be inspirational and resulted in his first disc, 2007's "Different Places." He followed that with a move to the Twin Cities and really started to find his voice and musical style. "New Ground" continues his evolution as an artist with a slightly different take on everyday problems.
After seeing "Walk The Line," Elwell — a big Johnny Cash fan — was inspired to write "June Carter" a song all about devotion and commitment. "… when unconditional love is asked of you, are you June Carter to me?" There is that quiet tone on this one that could be called a bit sappy, but I can see the heartfelt sentiment beneath the sweet exterior. strong emotions

"The Half" looks at the deceiving nature of one person's perception of another. This track, including an angry Elwell shrieking "… if only they knew the half of it" (in what sounds like parched, explosive screams), tells of someone having the exact opposite take on a situation from the actual facts. It's told with emotion so extreme and nerve endings so raw that I had to wonder about the recording session, which probably left Elwell lying in a crumpled heap on the studio floor.
"A Fire In The City" is a song about two people who decide to throw caution to the wind and jump off the cliff, praying that the parachute will open. It has a supple sophistication and is told with elegant expressiveness.

This is a turbulent disc, not a stroll through the park on a sunny day. But the story is told in a subdued manner, which gives synergy and power to the project. It's worth exploring for Elwell's unique, pensive, probing narratives and those moments of pure adrenaline.
JOHN ZIEGLER has worked as program and music director at KUMD-FM for 31 years. He has produced seven compilation discs from some of his 3,500 in-studio sessions. He reviews music for the News Tribune. Reach him at - Duluth News Tribune

"Andy Elwell Ratchets Up His Quiet Intensity"

Heartbreak sucks. Throw in Minnesota’s blisteringly cold winters, and you’ve either got the recipe for self-destruction or constructive artistry. Singer-songwriter Andy Elwell opted for the latter with his third solo album, No One You Will Ever Know, written in isolation last winter. Though Elwell’s throaty, emotionally fraught tenor sounds full of self-doubt, his music is remarkably assured, a lush folk-pop tapestry featuring swooning string arrangements and tasteful alt-country adornments that belongs comfortably on the shelf between Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left and Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac—enviably good company. Prior to his Jan. 7 show at 331 Club and No One's Jan. 22 CD-release show at the Kitty Cat Klub, Elwell talked with The A.V. Club about his heavy-metal past, being confused by Southern California winters, and why he’s not a fan of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

- The Onion AV Club

"Interview NDSU "The spectrum""

I have to say that I immensely enjoy your sound. It reminded me of a lot
of older (but awesome) stuff, but also some modern sounds like Deer Tick
and Bright Eyes. Is some of your major influences, like Bob Dylan and
Woodie Guthrie what you grew up on?

Totally. The first song I ever learned to play was "Mr. Tambourine Man." Dylan
and Guthrie are huge influences on me but they are also an inspiration. The
Beatles are still a huge influence on me as are more modern artists such as
Bright Eyes and Damien Rice.

You have ventured from Minnesota to California, right back to Minnesota.
What was the best and the worst thing about being a musician in Los
Angeles? And of course- just the opposite- what is the best and worst
thing about being a musician in MN? Hell, lets go a step further, what
is the best and worst about being a musician in general?

As far as being in California, it is just so over saturated with entertainment.
It never felt as if it was about talent or substance, but more of a business
decision to try and sell records as opposed to creating a thought or sound. On
the good side, if you make the right friends, they can take you a long way.

In Minnesota or Minneapolis to be more specific, it is good, it's hard as it is
everywhere, but people will appreciate you and support you. It is a bit of a
scenester city but, where isn't?

Being a musician isn't easy at all. It is something that I really feel that I
could never live without and it feels amazing to sing a song and have people
relate with you. On the tough side of it, I am broke and it is hard, but I have
an ache for it that lives in my gut that never quits, so I feel that the good
outweighs the bad and even if it breaks me apart, I can't stop.

Do you feel that you have been generally supported by family and friends
while you pursue your musical aspirations?

Completely. My family has been amazing since I starting performing when I was 12
years old. My friends are great as well, it gets harder and harder to keep in
touch as we all get older and move places, but, in general it's good.

You have spent a great deal of your musical career in a band…what does it
feel like to be solo? Are there any elements that you miss?

It is empowering to be solo, there is really no one to answer to creatively, but
that is also a tight rope to walk. I do miss some thing about being in a band,
the camaraderie and such...

If I was undecided about attending a show of yours, how would you convince
me to shell out my hard earned money and attend?

I try to play you a song and if I didn't have a guitar on my person I would just
be myself and then hope you showed up...

If you could tour with any band/musician, dead or alive, who would it be
and why?

Wow, that is hard. I would say John Lennon post-Beatles. The reason is that he
has been a hero of mine since I can remember and I feel like there would be so
much to learn from him. Whether it was about music, songwriting, wit or politics.
I am pretty sure I could handle Yoko as well.....or Prince....but probably Lennon.
- NDSU "The Spectrum'

""The Morning Sun" Video-Andy Elwell"

I have this guilty secret that I keep because it’s not very manly. In fact, in many ways it’s altogether childish, but it has been with me for a long, long time. I’m getting rid of it now. You know that 1987 animated movie of Transformers? The one where Hot Rod becomes Rodimus Prime by opening up the Matrix? Yeah, well, I get teary eyed every time during the scene where Optimus Prime dies. I just can’t help it. I got teary for it the first time when I was 7 years old and I haven’t escaped it since. Knowing this, though, I should add that it is one of the few scenes in any film or video that has this sort of effect on me.

Alright, so the cat’s out of the bag, but here’s the segue. Andy Elwell’s new video for “The Morning Sun” nearly brought on an Optimus mortem moment (but not quite). It wasn’t Andy Elwell or Margaret Lane of Hildur Victoria that caused this, at least not specifically. Instead, it was the setting. I’ve hiked nearly every micro-ecozone of the Upper Midwest (believe it or not, there are quite a few), and when I see depictions or enactments of real life on the landscape I love, well, let’s just say it’s why I can never leave here.

If you’re a true Upper Midwesterner, this video is for you (cheers Northern Outpost), and the song will make it all the more meaningful, I think. Well done, Andy Elwell – I’m move, well done. - Borangutan

"Andy Elwell CD Release"

Another Duluth-bred treasure, Andy Elwell's serene, acoustic indie pop is sure to pull at your heartstrings. His anticipated new album No One You Will Ever Know is a collection of charmingly haunted love songs that are as melodic as they are memorable and heartfelt. Elwell is joined by a fun lineup of bands including Zoo Animal, Grant Cutler & The Gorgeous Lords and DJ Skullbuster (who we loved in Nancy Drew Crew). - L'Etoile Magazine Blog

"Flyer Of The Week"

We're making history, here, people. For the first time ever, we are selecting TWO flyers for our Flyer of the Week feature, and they were both created to promote the Andy Elwell CD-release show this Friday at the Kitty Cat Klub. First, here's a flyer designed by Kristen Sassenfeld for the occasion:
- City Pages (MPLS)

"Andy Elwell Video"

BalconyTV Music With A View - BalconyTV

"Andy Elwell-Live From Studio A"

Scent Of Gas-Live From Studio A - The Duluth Scene

"Reader's Companion To "No One You Will Ever Know""

It’s about time we all got to know this former Greyhound — and his acoustic-based body of work — a little better.

By Matthew R. Perrine
Budgeteer News

Singer/songwriter Andy Elwell is going places — both literally and figuratively.
The Duluth East alumnus will kick off his Hexagon Tour later this month in Minneapolis (where he currently rests his head), which will take him through the South and all the way up to New England.
On top of that face-to-face exposure, the former Greyhound has also had some of his music licensed on such high-profile shows as MTV’s “The Hills.”
Needless to say, it’s about time we all got to know this former Spoogees/Islero member — and his acoustic-based body of work — a little better.
With that in mind, we turned over our track-by-track coverage of “No One You Will Ever Know,” the follow-up to the equally engaging “New Ground,” exclusively to Elwell. Thankfully, the former Duluthian was gracious enough to give those out in Budgeteerland a little behind-the-scenes look at his new album:

1. “Her Salt”
I wrote “Her Salt” in the late fall of 2008. I had just been on tour for a couple months and it was one of the first songs I wrote for what later became “No One You Will Ever Know.” This one was loads of fun to record; there [is a] ridiculous number of instruments on the track, one of which is a gong. Renee Klitzke, who sings backup and plays cello on this song, said that most people get to use a gong only once in their career. Dale Kirvelay (also formerly of Islero), who plays drums on the record, had a heck of a time smashing the gong while he and I held it up. [One of the other once-in-a-lifetime musical employments is a] children’s choir. I guess I have to come up with a way to involve a children’s choir on the next record.

2. “At My Best”
“At My Best” is one of the oldest songs on the record. I wrote it when I lived in southern California in 2006. It is really surprising how songs get looked over and then you revisit them, only to find out how to show them in the best light. The first line in the song is actually verbatim from a conversation I had with a certain aspiring filmmaker — and, at the time, Internet TV host — at a shoot I was doing for a website. The premise was that the host would ask you questions and take online questions; I would answer and then play a song.
At some point afterward while I was wrapping cables, and I don’t remember the context, I said, “… At my best I’m self-sufficient.” She said, “How about your worst?” Then I said, “I’m useless.”

3. “Everest”
“Everest” is one of my favorites on the record. It is very simple, yet the way the different parts overlap with each other I feel gives it a really full and warm texture. On the first demo I made of “Everest,” it was just guitar and vocals, with the guitar being pounded on to a point of distortion.
In the studio, we decided that instead of using volume to indicate crescendo and intensity we would use texture, which is a philosophy we used on a good part of the record.

4. “Housewarming”
“Housewarming” is also a pretty old song. I bypassed putting it on “New Ground” for some reason. I am glad I did, though; I don’t feel like I was at a place then to make the song what it ended up to be. It is also a song where the title has very little to do with the context.
I was subletting a room in Minneapolis and there was no heat in the house and I had a horrible cold. As I sat at the end of the bed, unable to breathe through my nose and freezing, I wrote this song — which, oddly enough, has mostly a springtime or summer feel to it. It is also the first song on the record to feature my good friend Margaret Lane on backing vocals. She also sang on my last record, “New Ground.”

5. “Give Him Your Heart”
“Give Him Your Heart” was a song that just happened. I wrote it in about 20 minutes in my apartment, mostly by accident. When I wrote it and demoed it, it was just the first half of the song. I figured that it had to be longer, so I just aped the vocal line with the harmonica and that was that. It is probably the most country-like jam on the record. We recorded another country-ish song, called “Central Time,” but decided to leave it off the record for the sake of time.

6. “From the Blood of Winter”
To me, this song is the biggest surprise on “No One You Will Ever Know.” I originally wrote all the music first and wrote the lyrics later, which is the opposite of how I usually do it. Most times it all happens at once. One interesting fact is the first part I wrote — what became the pizzicato viola part — was written on a bells set while watching the Showtime program “Dexter.” “From the Blood of Winter” was not originally slated to be on “No One You Will Ever Know,” but my comrade/engineer/co-producer insisted we give it a go.
From that point we did our part and then violinist Amy Tobin showed up and blew us away by recording her part in mostly one take.
Also, the synth parts are by Grant Cutler of Lookbook fame.
This also is the only song on the record where the string arrangements were written on the spot by the players; on the other songs I had charted them out beforehand.

7. “Maybe If You Can Hear Me”
I started to write the lyrics to “Maybe If You Can Hear Me” on a scrap of an envelope while driving to Fargo with the steering wheel as the table.
I understand that is not the safest way to write songs, but, if you have to write something down, you have to write it down.
It is also a song where I tried to be as honest and straightforward with what I was feeling and just put it out there without getting wordy or adjective-heavy.

8. “That Blood”
Originally “That Blood” was a bit different. It had a lot of noise and a sample from “The Deer Hunter” at the beginning. It ended up being a contradiction between the lyrics and the music. But I like that. As far as what it is about, that is up to whoever is listening to it. The vocal reprise is one of my favorite parts on the record — it kind of comes out of nowhere.
Aside from me singing three or four parts, also singing here are Grant Cutler, Renee Klitzke, Margaret Lane and Paul Flynn.

9. “Scent of Gas”
I feel like “Scent of Gas” represents the spectrum of what is heard on “No One You Will Ever Know.” It goes from finger picking and vocals to full-out band with strings and electric guitar. All the songs on the record took a lot of time to get to sound right, but this one was the most difficult for me — almost to a point of paranoia. But, thanks to Peter Bregman, we got it together.

10. “Waiting on the Weather”
I started writing “Waiting on the Weather” after returning from SXSW in 2009. I was walking home from the coffee shop and, as all of us Minnesotans know, late March/early April in our state can be the emotional-rollercoaster weather period of the year. All of us are ready for warm, but the weather isn’t ready to give it to us yet. I felt like that was a great metaphor for patience, perseverance and taking advantage of what is in front of you and not hesitating in life.

11. “The Morning Sun”
“The Morning Sun” is my favorite song on the record, although it may be the most different from the other tracks. It is a bittersweet lullaby of a song. It can be taken from a position of positivity or a position of longing. When we finished recording the strings, I almost had to laugh. There we were, with no vocals recorded yet, and it could’ve been a Disney song. I mean, there has got to be music when the characters kiss, right? Margaret Lane is singing again on this one. We also shot a video in Duluth a few weeks back for this song.

12. “Crow’s Feet Smile”
If the “The Morning Sun” is a lullaby, then “Crow’s Feet Smile” is a salute or cheers — a somber song to raise a glass to. I never really wrote it to be a song. It was just a few lines I sang over some guitar I recorded in my room. Once again, thanks to Peter Bregman for insisting it be included on “No One You Will Ever Know.” - Budgeteer News

"Andy Elwell 5Q"

Ladies and gentlemen, Northland native Andy Elwell is coming home. The former Greyhound, who relocated to the Cities and just released the follow-up to the critically acclaimed “New Ground,” will be one of the featured performers at Sacred Heart’s ovarian cancer fundraiser Friday, Feb. 5.

To celebrate his return, the Budgeteer lobbed a few questions at the up-and-coming singer/songwriter:

Budgeteer: What did you learn during the recording and promotion of “New Ground” that you applied to this new record?

Elwell: On “No One You Will Ever Know,” I really went into the studio with a clear idea of what I wanted the record to be. I had 98 percent of the parts written beforehand, everyone who played on the record was well rehearsed — and the other 2 percent were amazing surprises.

As far as promotion goes, it is a tough racket getting your music out to people. In the age of the Internet and instant gratification, the world is seemingly at your fingertips.

But, that same world is diluted by everything else that is pushed out on the Internet, making it difficult to get noticed amidst a sea of information. So, basically, I have learned that you have just gotta work every angle you can.

Even before “New Ground” had much time to settle in with listeners, songs of yours were already being licensed for shows like “The Hills” — how did you manage such a feat?

The songs that were licensed had actually been licensed since 2007-ish.

A Minneapolis company called Tinderbox is helping me out in those areas. We are pretty confident that “No One You Will Ever Know” will also get picked up for some stuff in the near future.

We also are kicking off a 200-station college radio campaign on March 2, so be on the lookout!

During my review of “New Ground,” I mentioned how sad the songs felt. Did you hear that from anyone else?

On “New Ground,” the songs were extremely personal and very naked in a way, and I did get that from people. People at shows would ask me if everything was OK — which was a nice gesture, but pretty funny as well.

That’s not to say that “No One You Will Ever Know” isn’t personal; I just tried to use more color and blur the features instead of handing the listener a photograph. On “New Ground,” it was the type of situation where my friends could tell me exactly who or what a song was about. On “No One You Will Ever Know,” it is a little more difficult to point out.

Your performance at Sacred Heart is part of a fundraiser. What can you tell us about the cause?

The show is a fundraiser for an ovarian cancer charity called Charlene’s Light. The gig has been dubbed “Tunes for Teal.” Cancer awareness is an important cause to get behind. There have been bouts of cancer in my family, so, when faced with the opportunity to lend my services and come home and play at Sacred Heart, I couldn’t say no.

Finally, on a lighter note, how’s life? How’s the big city treating you?

Minneapolis is a delight, although I am little irritated with the on-street parking situation. But what can you do? I also am ecstatic about the opening of Target Field and the upcoming baseball season. I have been spending my time promoting my shows and booking a tour of the Southeast, East Coast and New England for May and June.
- Duluth News Tribune


"No One You Will Ever Know" 2010
"New Ground" 2008
"Different Places" 2006



Andy Elwell has been creating and performing music in Minneapolis, MN, since 2001. After gaining recognition through his former punk band Islero, Elwell branched out on his own releasing Different Places (2006), New Ground (2008) and No One You Will Ever Know (2010). His solo records embrace a versatile voice backed by a wide array of instruments and have been compared to Glen Hansard and Nick Drake. All three have been warmly received and some tracks have been licensed by MYV, Oxygen and Lifetime, among others. Elwell has toured all over the U.S. and has showcased twice at the Red Gorilla SXSW Music Festival and was a finalist in Eddie's Attic Bi-Annual Singer-Songwriter Shootout in Atlanta, GA, in the spring of
2009 and is also a finalist in the fall of 2010.