Around the World and Back
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Around the World and Back

Albany, New York, United States | SELF

Albany, New York, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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



"Party in Your Pants"

Party in Your Pants

By David King

Sleigh Bells, Around the World and Back

Valentine’s, Sept. 30

A mixed crowd like I haven’t seen in years packed into Valentine’s on Thursday night: college kids representing a variety of scenes; jocks grinding on their girlfriends; punks; mods; hipsters; metalheads; indie-dorks. And then there were the people waiting outside.

If M.I.A. is the indie-electro version of Rage Against the Machine, then Sleigh Bells are Limp Bizkit, the accessible thing the meatheads can get down to with their girlfriends. No scary, semi-educated political ranting, just heavy, distorted beats and guitars. The band’s music and musicians are pretty enough for a Honda commercial that recently began airing. They have accessible electro-pop tunes like MGMT, but don’t seem to be the kind of band that would pull an audience-alienating move like Congratulations. And after saying all this (Limp Bizkit comment included), I have to say I really dig the band.

Singer Alexis Krauss isn’t M.I.A.-art-damaged-cute; she is fantastically and accessibly sexy. Krauss wore spandex tights with what seemed like an image of the universe on them, a leather jacket, and under that a tiny shirt that didn’t do much to cover her neon-green bra. She dripped sex. I hate that I noticed this. I would have been happier picking apart the band’s performance, but who am I kidding? Sleigh Bells are not a band; they are guitarist Derek Miller, Krauss, and a computer. And Krauss is undoubtedly the star. Miller entertainingly wails away at his ax, but his guitar lines are simple—think Ramones thrash, but way simpler—and despite his numerous Marshall cabinets, his power chords were messy and sometimes off-cue. The rest of the music was on a backing track.

The band played the entirety of their album Treats almost in its exact track order, a mixture of DMX/Swizz Beats-inspired grooves with heavy beats, Miller’s metal guitar, and Krauss’ shouting, cooing, and shrieking. There was no denying that the crowd had come to see Krauss, and she went all-out, dancing, stage diving, flailing about, and dousing herself in water. It reminded me of a scene in The Runaways where Dakota Fanning, playing Cherie Currie, struts and lip-synchs to David Bowie during a high-school talent show, a blank stare in her eyes. It was fun, hidden behind walls of rock and makeup, with very little of herself on the line.

The band do what most college kids with a laptop and a guitar could do at their houses in between bong hits, but it is so simple, so much fun, that it is hard to deny. And even though they seem sort of alone on stage without a full band, with Krauss coming across more pop star than rock star, Krauss brought enough urgency to make the crowd clap along, dance and sweat like hell. “Riot Rhythm,” the Beastie Boys-esque banger featured in that Honda commercial, had mad swagger and featured some of Krauss’ finest rapid-fire vocal work. “Rill Rill” gave Krauss a chance to mix her sexy hip-hop “uhs” with a generic indie-girl band vibe. The song stood out because the beats stopped for a minute and Miller left the stage to let Krauss strut and plead, “Have a heart, have a heart.”

Miller returned for an encore and thrashed around a bit more, and then they ran out of songs to play. Everyone poured out of the club into the rain—and ran into people still waiting outside to get in.

Albany’s Around the World and Back were a surprisingly competent and engaging treat as the opening act, although it seemed their set-up took as long as their set. Their Brit-rock with impressive bass and percussion work was a perfect mix of technical composure and pent-up anger. A well-known local-music aficionado told me her first thought when the band finished their set was, “How much longer are they going to be in Albany?”

- Metroland

"Chasing Sound (COVER STORY)"

Chasing Sound

Albany band Around the World and Back take their amped-up lullabies to the underground

By David King

If you find yourself traveling the subways in New York, Philadelphia or Boston this winter—say around January—you may run into a group of dapper young musicians playing a particularly driven brand of indie-rock propelled by unique blasts of percussion, a manic bassist and two dueling singer-guitarists with a Brit-rock flair. If this happens to you, you have almost certainly just encountered Albany’s Around the World and Back.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that the band have hit hard times. They aren’t slumming it; they are living out a dream. A tour of East Coast subways is just part of the band’s master plan, grown out of a period of extreme creativity that has helped them define their sound.

A few more days in the studio and their new, currently untitled album will be complete: 10 songs the band whittled down from 25 they had written. “Whenever we’re about to release something, I am usually thinking about what we are going to do next,” says singer-guitarist Brian Shortell, as he and the rest of the band sit in a corner of McGeary’s in downtown Albany. “This time I just can’t wait for the record to come out. I can’t wait for people to hear it.” The rest of the joint is in the thrall of Sunday football—people shouting, glasses clanging. But it is impossible to distract the band or dampen the group’s enthusiasm for their new material, their new direction.

The band’s influences include Oasis, Nirvana, Neil Young and—even though they don’t actually want to see it in print because of how “cliché” it is to name-drop—the Beatles. The subway idea actually came from the way Oasis promoted one of their recent releases: paying street performers in New York to learn the band’s songs and play them for commuters.

Shortell says that sorting through 25 songs has helped Around the World and Back determine exactly what they do want to sound like—which is very different from what they used to sound like. Fans of the band’s dreamy, folksy EP Songs to Sleep To show up to gigs and are taken aback by the new, driving sound. Their new music roars and clangs, accentuated by the propulsive drumming of Jared Bashant; the thunderous bass playing of Matt Ippolito lays melodies underneath the shimmering, cascading guitar work of the group’s songwriters, Shortell and Marco Testa. The two trade lines, entwining melodies lifted by rest of the band until they are nearly shouting, choking on emotion and smashing cymbals in unison. Alternative percussionist Matteo Vosganian, a new addition, adds texture to the smashing. These are not songs to sleep to.

“I’ve really studied what I think it is that makes songs timeless, what makes them last for generations,” says Shortell as a pitcher of beer arrives at the table. Shortell isn’t saying he has written those songs yet, but it is about aspiration, the distillation of what makes songs work, how music makes people feel certain things. “We used to aspire to sound like these bands who just totally flopped,” says Testa. Now, he says, they are looking for a more direct way into the hearts of music fans. He says his father, who attends all of the band’s shows, is proud that his son has discovered more classic rock: bands like Cream, with classic hooks and wide appeal. Around the World and Back are still indie; they just have big ideas and a big sound.

It has been difficult for the band to market themselves on their new sound and their devastating live performances, when their last record was such a pensive collection of lullabies and they have no new recordings to give promoters. “It’s kind of hard for a promoter to go to another band and say ‘Here, I think these guys fit, they’ve got this kind of sound’ when they can’t show them what we sound like now,” says Testa.

It was some sort of odd luck that landed the band a recent opening spot for popular indie-electronic act Sleigh Bells. It wasn’t what the band considered a perfect fit. “We weren’t sure anyone would show up,” says Shortell. “We almost turned it down.” The band worried that the Sleigh Bells crowd would not dig them. But they took the spot and turned heads with a gutsy performance in an absolutely packed house. The band got four show offers from that gig.

The band’s confidence has grown with each release. Their sound has matured, they have the right pieces in place and they’re ready to fulfill a dream. “Really,” says Shortell, “I used to dream of playing Valentine’s when I was a kid.”

“We’ve done that now,” says Testa, who also has lived his rock-and-roll dream of having audience members sing along with his lyrics. “Someone told me you are going to have to get used to people singing along to your songs. I never thought it would happen, but at [the Sleigh Bells show], there were two people and their mouths were moving along to my lyrics. It was an amazing experience.”

Shortell and Testa have spent time in other groups, though not as songwriters. But after exchanging song ideas, they decided it was time to start their own project. Bashant was an obvious go-to as they had worked with him before. Ippolito auditioned for the band after they were established—they needed a bassist, but he played guitar. The story goes that he showed up with a shitty Fender Squier bass having learned one of the band’s songs. It didn’t go well. But they gave him a chance, and now Ippolito’s bass performances are one of the defining features of the band.

The new album will be self-released; Ippolito and Testa both work in T-shirt printing and they produce the band’s shirts. Not only do they plan on touring the East Coast via subway gigs, but they plan to start going directly where the action is: a few shows in Hartford, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Boston each month.

There is no denying that Around the World and Back are high on themselves at the moment, and what band wouldn’t be? They’ve grown into their own skin and have a sound they think will put them on track to grab the attention of a national audience. “There is no ego in this band,” says Vogsanian.

“He hasn’t been yelled at by Marco yet,” someone jokes. But Vogsanian is sincere.

In January, Shortell will likely get to live another dream: playing songs from the album he is so proud of in front of scores of commuters in busy, dingy, wet subway stations. The band decided long ago they wanted to work hard and slow to win the race. But there is something in the air—the band’s confidence, the buzz that has followed their recent shows—that suggests that their next album will help them realize their rock & roll dreams a lot faster than they may have planned.

- Metroland


Around the World and Back

Big Beat

The fact that Around the World and Back sound like they could be the biggest band in the world could also be held against them. The band’s rock-star shades, Brit-rock swagger and indie heart could add up to a walking contradiction for some. Their latest disc, Big Beat, does nothing to dispel that sense of conflict. The first single “Old Man” could double for the latest Oasis single and is as catchy as fucking “Wonder Wall.” That song alone could stop some in their tracks, causing them to toss the CD out the window or have a new favorite band. But that track is not representative of the band’s sound—in some ways it’s their epic arena-rock closer. Meanwhile, album opener “Old Man” and standout tracks like “Alone” and “Lie to Your Mother” are propulsive and emotional indie numbers that sound years away from the stoic, gargantuan “Slave.” They sweetly pull on your heart strings and make you want to dance at the same time. Guitarist and vocalist Marco Testa brings the sweet and soaring vocals while guitarist and vocalist Bryan Shortell brings the blues and grit. And guess what: Bassist Matt Ippolito and drummer Jared Bashant aren’t bandbots. Their frantic grooves make the songs worth a click of the repeat button.

- Homegrown and Fresh Cut


Posted by christinepalmer on December 8, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Every now and then, I am sent a CD that is highly recommended by my peers. In many cases, I have to truly dig in to find the greatness that I am being alerted to. 75% of the time, expectations fall short! With that being said, I was given the CD, “Big Beat,” by Around The World and Back. This album is one that had me floored. The unprecedented songwriting abilities of this Albany, NY, band are poignant in screaming aloud, “Sign us, we are the real deal.”

“Big Beat,” is the kind of record that many national acts aim to make, but fall flat on their face. The band succeeds in an effortless vision to take influences that are stapled to their sleeve, and turn them into something that is highly refreshing and reminiscent. In other statements about the band’s sound, reviewers have contrasted the guitar ambience of ATWAB to that of early U2. While this is absolutely true and impossible to refute, I hear sounds of grandiosity that easily point to other bands that could be of great influence. Pearl Jam, Coldplay, and most notably My Morning Jacket could easily be some of those who are admired here.

The guitar sound on this record is incendiary in it’s approach. On tracks such as Slave and Underneath The Sun, the axe work of Bryan Shortell and Marco Testa is intoxicating and magnetically hypnotic. Equally as impressive is the vocal prowess of this band. Once again, the duties of singing are handled by both Shortell and Testa. The melodic and harmonic intricacies that the band are shooting for, are head and shoulders among some of their friends in the musical community. Other great tracks that are worth multiple listens immediately, include Old Man, Rehab, and Words In My Head.

Simply stated, it is impossible for me to believe that this band is not receiving regular airplay on national radio. It is only a matter of time before they are given the opportunity to soar on the national level. ATWAB is a highly sophisticated song writing machine that is in the Waiting Room of bands needing the big break. I am not happy that they are waiting for that break! I have a feeling many of you will feel the same way after your first listen. - Upstate

"College Radio"

College radio stations that have played the records:


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"Absolute 100 list 2011"

Why We Like: These gentlemen from upstate New York first caught our ear when their Van Go '08 EP appeared in our mailbox a few years ago. Their loud but shimmering guitars were evocative of The Appleseed Cast and Antenna-era Cave-In, and there was no shortage of songwriting smarts. Fast forward a bit, and Big Beat, the latest full-length from Around the World and Back, delivers on the promise and then some. Their spacious sound seems to have taken some cues from '90s Britrock, which has tempered their muscle and angst with jangle and grace. The results seem primed for bigger audiences. How a label signing has eluded them thus far remains a mystery, but don't let that dissuade you from giving Beat a spin now; the bandwagon could be full before you know it.
RIYL: U2, Dredg, Evaline - AbsolutePunk

"Absolute 100 list 2011"

Why We Like: These gentlemen from upstate New York first caught our ear when their Van Go '08 EP appeared in our mailbox a few years ago. Their loud but shimmering guitars were evocative of The Appleseed Cast and Antenna-era Cave-In, and there was no shortage of songwriting smarts. Fast forward a bit, and Big Beat, the latest full-length from Around the World and Back, delivers on the promise and then some. Their spacious sound seems to have taken some cues from '90s Britrock, which has tempered their muscle and angst with jangle and grace. The results seem primed for bigger audiences. How a label signing has eluded them thus far remains a mystery, but don't let that dissuade you from giving Beat a spin now; the bandwagon could be full before you know it.
RIYL: U2, Dredg, Evaline - AbsolutePunk

"Around the World and Back (Big Beat release)"

Around the World and Back used to be quiet. While their last EP Songs to Sleep To was a dreamy collection of bedroom pop, their new full length Big Beat is full of thunderous Brit rock anthems and propulsive indie jams laden with absurdly catchy guitar licks, hyper drumming and undulating bass lines. They’ve even added alternate percussion to make the experience all the more visceral. The band has always been polished, but their new record—and the stride they’ve hit during recent live gigs—indicates that these fellows might be getting a little too big to just be an “Albany band.” But on Friday (July 8) the group will unveil Big Beat at a free gig downstairs at Valentine’s, and will be giving away their album as well.

Bryan Shortell, singer and guitarist, says the band have embraced production on their album this time around, and in a way have gone through a bit of a metamorphosis—from indie band to simply a “rock band with classic rock guitar playing.”

“This time there was a totally different vibe,” said Shortell of the recording process for Big Beat. “There was more of a tendency not to be afraid of production—to keep things raw, to keep things in there. We were fighting to keep some flaws, some feedback or missed notes.” Those flaws are what keep the band sounding urgent and a little bit angry, despite the undeniable hooks.

How did these indie-pop dreamers transform into a full fledged rock band? It seems a lot of it grew out of their desire to connect with their audience. The addition of alternate percussion—banging cymbals and toms—was something that felt natural, says Shortell: “When we did it live, the reactions we got were pretty overwhelming. I think it’s just entertaining to watch percussion.”

The band shot a video for the new track “Slave,” They went in to the shoot planning to use the first track on Big Beat, “Old Man,” a two minute and fifty second blast of shimmering guitars and propulsive beats (and a pleading chorus). But the group had put the album up on an Internet radio service that allowed them to gauge the popularity of the songs on the album, and “Slave” turned out to be the overwhelming favorite. So at the last minute, the change was made and the video now features the gritty Oasis-inspired anthem.

One video is simply not enough to convey the complexity and diversity of styles mastered on Big Beat, or on display in the band’s visceral live performances. Songs like “Lie to Your Mother” are reminiscent of Morrissey or early Bloc Party. The sauntering album closer “Long Verse” is an epic, sauntering howl of a song with back up vocals and “whoa ohhs” that stays with you.

So how did the band come up with the name Big Beat? It had to be the new direction, right? Their noisy sound, alternate percussion? No, in fact the band decided to use a photo of guitarist Marco Testa’s aunt’s band taken in 1961. Spray painted on a sign in front of a kick drum was the band’s name—Big Beat. The band had planned to Photoshop whatever album title they chose over it at some point, but eventually they realized it fit.

Join Around the World and Back with openers Barons in the Attic, Former Belle and Wild Adriatic on July 8 at 8:30 PM, downstairs at Valentines (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572). Admission is free - Metroland

"Around the World and Back - Best Indie Rock band of 2011"

Best Indie Rock Band

Around the World and Back

Shimmering guitars, Brit-pop vocal harmonies presented with a Lennon-McCartney vibe, manic drumming, powerful bass lines, undeniable songwriting, visceral live shows and an amazing new record, Big Beat, make Around the World and Back something truly special. Catch ‘em while you can—they have places to be. - Metroland

"At 26, WEQX has a reason to party"

At 26, WEQX Has a Reason to Party
WEQX gives away cheap and even free tickets in the Capital Region to celebrate 26 years of alternative music

Marissa CraryIssue date: 11/3/10 Section: The Arts
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Media Credit: Marissa Crary
Around the World band members Bryan Shortell, Marco Testa, Matt Ippolito, Jared Bashant and Mateo Vosganian.

Media Credit: Marissa Crary
Around the World band members

The Manchester, VT based radio station WEQX, known by their motto "the real alternative", will have been serving up music in the Capital Region for 26 years on November 14th.

To celebrate their anniversary EQX is presenting more FREEQX and low-cost or 'low-dough' shows than usual with some of the Capital Region's favorite musicians.

On November 13th EQX will host its own birthday bash featuring both local and national acts that have yet to be revealed. This free event will collect donations to benefit the Vermont food bank and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

On November 6th EQX and Mount Snow will present the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo after party featuring the band Locksley.

Coming up on November 22nd EQX will present the band Free Energy with special guest Foxy Shazam at Valentine's.

The "lifestyle-oriented" independent station takes the music from the radio and Internet to the streets presenting events, shows and festivals trying to enrich listeners' lives through music and promote local happenings.

"We try to build relationships with artists," said Amber Miller, program director at EQX. "They come to play for their fan base; it's a thanks to the station and the fans."

EQX partners with sponsors such as Mount Snow in Vermont and Magic Hat Brewing Company in order to provide inexpensive or free events for music lovers.

"Let's make this as affordable as we can, that's the lifestyle part of it," said Miller.

EQX and Pearl Street Entertainment partnered to bring the area Pearlapalooza, a new event held this year on Pearl Street over Independence Day weekend. Considered to be a huge success, the free festival brought bands such as Rusted Root, We Are Scientists and Civil Twilight to the Capital Region.

LarkFEST, an annual event EQX has been involved with for a number of years, had a huge turnout in 2009 with acts such as Moby, Bell X1, and Matt and Kim.

"I think it's a disappointment to listeners but we will be able to refocus our energies," said Miller of EQX not hosting music at LarkFest 2010. EQX and the Lark Street BID were unable to come to a contractual agreement for the 2010 festival.

EQX often partners with independent concert promoter "Step up presents" to bring acts to the area like The Gaslight Anthem, Sleigh Bells, We Are Scientists, and Ok Go.

Ted Etoll, CEO of Step Up Presents and owner of the local venue Northern Lights, has worked with EQX for about 20 years. As an independent promoter, Etoll has been presenting local shows for 23 years in an effort to enlarge the fan base for local music and bring larger acts to the Capital Region.

"The fan base for the local music scene seems to have shrunk a little," said Etoll.

"There are young local bands that can do a tremendous business," said Etoll, "there are local bands as good as national bands."

Bands like The Nightlife from Schenectady are local and have a large following, said Etoll. Around the World and Back, another local band from Albany have a lot of promise and is one of the best local bands we have right now, said Etoll.

Both The Nightlife and Around the World and Back, hosted by MEISA, have played at the Saint Rose venue Jack's Place.

"It's hit or miss with crowd reaction and turnout in the Albany music scene," said Bryan Shortell of Around the World and Back. "EQX and Step Up Presents are together bringing the best bands to the Capital Region."

Shortell and his band mates were very excited about playing a recent EQX and Step Up Presents show at Northern lights with headliner Sleigh Bells on Thursday, September 30th. "Around the World and Back differed from the other bands playing that show, it was eclectic and everyone had a good time," said Shortell. Around the World and Back has recently participated in EQX and Magic Hat's Battle of the Bands at The Bayou Café on North Pearl St. "We grew up wanting to play these local venues," said Shortell.

The venue business is not the easiest said Miller. Revolution Hall in Troy recently closed its doors for an indeterminate amount of time.

"It's sad when one closes, like Revolution Hall; it added to the local diversity," said Miller.

Other local music venues where listeners can find EQX shows include Valentine's on New Scotland Ave, Jillian's on North Pearl and the Snow Barn at Mount Snow in Vermont.

"Were always excited when a good show comes through, we want to be a part of them," said Miller.

EQX will be hosting Dave Matthews Band at the Times Union Center in November. "Larger local venues can offer variety; it's a completely different experience from a smaller, intimate venue."

This week EQX will be running the 'What would you say Dave' word of the day contest. Listeners can call-in when they hear the word of the day for a chance to win tickets to the Dave Matthews Band concert.

Throughout November the station will be having ticket giveaways for upcoming events.

In addition to on-air call-ins, listeners can also find opportunities to win tickets on the EQX Facebook page.

"Even if you can't listen all day you still have an opportunity to win," said Miller. "It's all about the music."
- The Saint Rose Chronicle

"Talking Shop with Bryan Shortell of Around the World and Back - Songs to Sleep to Review"

Talking Shop With Bryan Shortell of Around The World And Back (Songs To Sleep To EP Available for Free Download)
By reviewsic
After releasing their second EP, Songs To Sleep To in April, Albany band, Around the World and Back has plans to head back to the studio this October to record a dozen songs, with plans for a full release by the end of 2010. Calling the EP a “stripped down” record, the band has made Songs To Sleep To available to fans for a free download, as a means to bridge the game between the time of their first EP, 2008’s Van.Go. and what will be their first full-length.

When asked about the band’s beginnings, front man Brian Shortell simply said, “Four guys decided it was time to show the world their version of rock and roll.”, and that unassuming mentality is exactly what describes the gentle swells that make up Around The World And Back’s sound. Though most songs demonstrate the omnipresent lyrical quality of romantic anguish and regret about growing older, the band does so in a way that’s intelligible and avoids triteness, something you have to give them major credit for. On top of their smarter-than-your-average-break-up-song lyrics, these boys have an ear for delicate harmonies and sharp compositional instincts.

Though, in the case of Songs To Sleep To, we have to say the stripped down nature of the songs does take away from some of the well played rises and falls the band normally articulates, not making these six songs the absolute best representation of the band. Nonetheless, Songs To Sleep To is probably one of the more bountiful music offerings being made in the up and coming circuit right now, so we say take a chance and head to the band’s website to download the EP today.

Reviewsic: What are your top three musical influences?

Brian Shortell: Top three is literally impossible. Between the four of us, our tastes and influences vary too much to narrow it down. What it comes down to is good, intelligent, sincere songs and musicians. Any music fan can appreciate that.

Reviewsic: Is there any instrument you don’t play, but wish you did?

Brian Shortell: I’ll stick with just trying to master the few instruments I already play….but I gottaadmit, I wish my parents signed me up for piano lessons when I was a kid…even if it was just for the ladies. C’mon Dad, get your head in the game.

Reviewsic: What are the last three albums or bands you listened to?
Brian Shortell: Literally the last three we listened to on the drive home last night: Nada Surf – Let Go, John Mayer – Continum and Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

Reviewsic: If you could work with one person in the music industry (musician, label, producer etc), who would it be and why?
Brian Shortell: This is easy – SubPop Records / Rick Rubin. Deadly combo.

Reviewsic: What is the most memorable concert you’ve ever attended?

Brian Shortell:Marco saw Neil Young at the Palace in Albany, so I think that pretty much trumps anything else I could mention, but the Kings of Leon in Saratoga was pretty damn memorable.

Reviewsic: Who are three of your favorite local bands? Do you think being from where you are from has shaped your sound in any particular way?

Brian Shortell: I’m going to be a little generous with the “local” part, but these are relatively local bands that I really respect and think deserve more recognition:

-Abbott Hayes (Tupper Lake, NY) – These guys have been at it for close to a decade and they consistently put out genuine music that never gets stale. One of my favorite bands, and some of my favorite people, local or not.

-Pillowhead (Glens Falls, NY) – This band has only been around a couple of years, and they have already put out some really great music. They work their asses off for what they love, and I have no doubts their hard work will come full circle and give them the success they deserve.

-Phantogram (Saratoga Springs, NY) – These guys just signed to Barsuk Records a little while back and I’ve been absolutely loving everything I’ve heard from them since. Their South by Southwest performances were by all accounts I’ve heard, absolutely fantastic. Really happy I’m starting to see their name popping up in different places around the music community.

Being from Albany, NY has definitely shaped us as a band. I wouldn’t say it has influenced our “sound” so much, but our style doesn’t exactly thrive in Albany, and that alone motivates us to push further, and try harder to bring our music to the people that appreciate it.

Reviewsic: If you could book a tour with any 3 bands, past or present, who would they be and why?

Brian Shortell: If I had my say, we’d be hitting the road with George Harrison, Neil Young, and David Gilmour. Outside of the obvious reasons why I’d like to tour with three legends of rock music, I’d just like to see the look on each of their faces when they realized how much they had shown us up each and every night of tour.

Reviewsic: Tell us about Songs To Sleep To - is there a particular concept behind it? What do you hope people take away from this album?

Brian Shortell: The idea was to make a stripped-down style record that flows from beginning to end. No gaps between songs, very little percussion, and stylistically, something that isn’t necessarily what you would expect to hear from us. Some of the tracks were written four or five years ago, others were written just for the record. Just like any record, I would hope we were able to make the listener feel the emotions we were trying to trap in the songs. That may sound sort of corny, but it’s the truth.

Reviewisc: How would you compare yourselves as musicians at this point as opposed to when you first began playing together?

Brian Shortell: Time has taught us to be “smarter” musicians. It’s all about the song, period. It’s much less about how unique or creative an individual part is, and much more about trapping a feeling in a song, like I just mentioned. That is the only way a good song can exist. Individual egos go out the window.

Reviewsic: What are some of your favorite cities and/or venues to play?
Brian Shortell: We seriously love to play Valentine’s in Albany. It’s a venue where we all grew up going to see shows, and it hasn’t changed a bit since then. It has a really great “dirty rock club” sort of vibe, which we love.

Reviewsic: What are the best and worst band moments so far in your career?
Brian Shortell: We’ve never had it that bad honestly, life has been good to each of us. The best is yet to come.

Reviewsic: What are a few items essential to your “tour survival kit”?
Brian Shortell: Good friends, good music, and good times.

Reviewsic: What are your plans for music in the next year?
Brian Shortell: We will be recording 12 songs for release by the end of this year. Something about these songs makes me think that this will be one of our defining moments as a band. Only time will tell. After we get the music out there, we’ll try to bring it to the doorstep of as many people as we possibly can. Then we’re gonna hit the road with Harrison, Young, and Gilmour early next summer. Definitely not gonna be a tour you want to miss…


"Review: Songs to Sleep to"

Review: Around the World and Back, Songs to Sleep To

Around the World and Back
Songs to Sleep to
7/10 echoing ethereal voices

As far as album titles go, Around the World and Back’s album, Songs to Sleep to, is aptly titled. The music is full of hazy dream-like tunes. Between the repeated guitar riffs that echo through the music, to the jangling tambourine that is the only form of percussion, if any, on most of the tracks, the music carries you along the echoing voice of the lead singer and the melodies of the guitar. The only song that has any form of percussion is “@&%^” and the quiet drumbeat is definitely not going to get you up and moving.

The band, based in Albany, New York, describes themselves as “what people nowadays might label as an "indie-rock" band. Instead of fighting against being pigeon-holed as another wanna-be artsy alternative rock band, they embrace it. They run with it. They leave the comfort of their own home to bring their version of it to your homes.”

This is clear in their music, which neither tries to be overly pretentious about their sound, nor push too far away from the style they’ve been pegged as. In doing this, they do bring a new flavor to the sound of indie. They sound like a mix between Death Cab for Cutie and the Cinematic Orchestra. Everything sounds like it belongs in a dream sequence of a movie, or an emotional scene as a character drives down an empty highway. Songs to Sleep to will certainly not get you pumped for a night out, but provides the perfect relaxing background music to times of homework or contemplation. Each and every song blends together so that you’re not sure when the song even changes. It’s enough to lull you to sleep…in the best possible way.

Recommended tracks: “Why Won’t You Stay?” “

- WGTB Georgetown RADIO

"Review: Songs to Sleep to"

Around the World and Back have been around for a few years now playing indie rock made notable by great guitar tone and skill. Their latest release is an E.P. titled “Songs To Sleep To”. As far as album titles go, this is about as straight forward as things get. This is a soothing album meant to be listened to in your bedroom. If you’ve heard the band previousl, you know that they frequently employ great dynamics to make a song. However, it’s a nice change of pace hearing a finished project with a cohesive theme. While most bands just lump together a few good songs this really feels like an album. Also, the fact that it’s an E.P. is perfect because while 40 minutes of this kind of music might get a little boring, seventeen minutes of it is perfect.

One of the first things I noticed about the record is that the band weren’t afraid to take a step back and focus on the song. No one’s overplaying on any of this and it definitely adds to the overall feel of the record. The subtle slide guitars in the background are very reminiscent of Mazzy Star and reoccur through the album. All of these songs flow together so well that when I initially tried to review these song by song it just didn’t work. Everything from the melodies, to the instruments used, tones, lyrics, and even background effects all re-occur and blend together so well that you can often transition into the next song without really noticing.

With that said, after listening a few times there are a couple stand out tracks. “@$%^” is an instrumental interlude that combines digital drums with analog instruments that will appeal to fans of Thrice’s Water E.P. The other song that really stands out is the last song “Advice”. Distant drums and airy vocal harmonies give this a haunting feeling that really makes it sound like a closing track. The slide guitar returns again acting almost as a narrator of the album to tie everything together and the guitar solo in this is one of the best written pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. It’s so subtle that you almost don’t notice how good it really is. Not to mention the tone is one of the best I’ve heard period. Guitar nerds take note, Marco Testa is the man to talk to when you want to geek out on gear.

This is an incredible E.P. that is also free. So really, there’s no reason to not be listening to this. Put it on in your bedroom, take a nap, make out with your girlfriend, smoke em if you got em, but just listen to this. Be on the lookout for a full length in early January.

The E.P. can be downloaded for free on Around the World and Backs Tumblr.



"Big Beat" - July 2011
-Old Man
-Underneath the Sun
-Lie to Your Mother
-Words in My Head
-Long Verse

"Van.Go." - November 2008
-Up and Down
-Well in a Dream
-Facts of Life
-One More for a Beautiful Sound
-It's Over When it's Over

"Songs to Sleep to" - April 2010
-Why Won't You Stay?
-Dead at the Wheel
-Warning Shot
-Long Way Back

Upcoming debut untitled full length record - January 2011



Around the World and Back is a 4 piece rock and roll band from Albany, NY. They have been a band since 2008.

They have released two ep's that received national airplay on college radio throughout the country, and July 8th (2011), they released their debut full length record, "Big Beat". It has been garnering the band a lot of attention - including being named best "Indie Rock Band of 2011" by Metroland Magazine, a capital region alternative newsweekly with over 100,000 readers. listed the band on their Absolute 100 list of favorite bands of 2011. Referring to Big Beat they had this to say: "The results seem primed for bigger audiences. How a label signing has eluded them thus far remains a mystery, but don't let that dissuade you from giving Beat a spin now; the bandwagon could be full before you know it."

Big Beat is a near perfect representation of the band where they are right now as songwriters, musicians, and people. "We've waited a long time for this day" says Bryan Shortell (vocals/guitar). "It's not that we aren't incredibly proud of our last two releases, but we all knew they weren't the best representation of who we are, and most of all, who we want to be...this record is something we are proud of for a lot of reasons, but mostly because we finally found our stride, we finally found the sound we've been chasing."

Their live show is their pride and joy - and it shows. In the short time Around the World and Back have been a band, they have shared the stage with a number of noteworthy artists including:

Mute Math, Company of Thieves, Locksley, The Joy Formidable, Middle Class Rut, The Features, The Lonely Forest, Manchester Orchestra, Local Natives, Sleigh Bells, Love Drug, Person L, Straylight Run, Good Old War, The Sam Roberts Band, O' Brother, Biffy Clyro, Moving Mountains, Bayside, Funeral Party, The Audrye Sessions, Mock Orange, New Politics, etc.

The band shot a video for the third track off of Big Beat called "Slave". It is a dark, twisting, hard hitting song, with a video to match. The reception has been overwhelming, and the band seems to just be hitting their stride. David King from Metroland magazine had this to say: "One video is simply not enough to convey the complexity and diversity of styles mastered on Big Beat, or on display in the band’s visceral live performances."

Around the World and Back is a band that is primed to live up to their name. Catch them on the road this fall - this isn't a show you want to miss.

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