Berry
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Music

The best kept secret in music

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"Marriage (review)"

Berry is every bit as interested in evoking an atmosphere as creating an actual musical soundtrack. After a pair of similarly toned and themed EPs (2003’s Sunday Morning Breakfast and 2004’s The Manor), the St. Louis quartet returns with their debut full length, Marriage, an album that perfectly displays the band’s broad stylistic range and shifting sonic palette. On some tracks, Berry approximates the more experimental moments from Wilco’s recent output, from the DIY acoustic urbane Americana balladry of “Dreams Bleed” to the gentle electric screed of “Silver Rose” and the dirge-like descending noise collage of “Foreign Lover.” Elsewhere, Berry makes like a tribute to Crazy Horse on “Middle Man,” sways with R.E.M.’s laconic urgency on “Broken Machine,” and gets a little Death Cabby on “Tick Tock.” The common element to it all is Berry’s commitment to making sure something fascinating is always cooking in the spaces between the music.
- Brian Baker

- Amplifier Magazine


"Marriage (review)"

Indie darlings Berry have finally come out with a full-length. Marriage is nicely packaged in an artful black & white cardboard jewelcase, and the bands use of visual images reminds me of what you'd find in LN's album art. Of the 10 tracks that make up Marriage, Berry sometimes finds themselves and other times not. The bedroom-pop theistic is very endearing, and usually plays to Berry's indie-rock strength, but their are points in this record where the background clutter and (on purpose?) shaky vocals make it all too complicated. Without it sounding negative, Berry is a brilliant 'simple' band. I use the word simple in terms of minimalism, and I understand that it is often harder to record a less-is-more approach and make it all work. That is what I loved about the bands first 2 homemade CD-R's. It's hard to find a basis of comparison for Marriage, but think of Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips in a smash up, where The Envy Corps and Pedro The Lion act as producers, and you should be somewhere close. "Silver Rose" is a highlight, with the chorus hook propelling the song into power-pop lite. Berry's use of brit-pop pianos also help pull them from the pack of everyday indie-rock bands. The melodies on this record are kept soft yet urgent, and the guitars/drums keep things somber and semi-romantic. "Broken Machine" and "Tick Tock" are the cornerstones of Marriage, as near perfect emotion gives way to jangly arrangements. Marriage is worth your time and money. And by the way, my anniversary is next week. I like being married! -Garrett Johnson - Black and White Mag


"The Manor EP/Sunday Morning Radio EP"

This music is as humble as its packaging. Berry adorns white and brown paper bags over their EP’s, and places postage stamps in their upper right corners. Scribbled handwriting identifies the contents therein. This humility is so compelling because the music is so good. These 2 self-released EP’s showcase mellow infused brit-pop with a powerful sonic depth. My one complaint is that these EP’s go by way too fast. The band contacted me because of our Envy Corps review. They said that they are friends of the band. It’s not surprising, considering their artistic similarities. The Envy Corps were the most promising and overlooked band of 2004, with their stellar full-length, Soviet Reunion, going widely unrecognized. Berry’s approach is more laid back than that of their friends. If The Envy Corps bare marks of Radiohead and The Flaming Lips, Berry is headed down the path of Snow Patrol and Grandaddy. The 5 songs on The Manor EP fit like pieces to a 3D puzzle. The band masterfully incorporates piano arrangements into most songs, giving them a wide, Mercury Rev-esque scope. The vocals are everything you’d want from a dream-pop band. The breathy melodies (and harmonies…do I hear a female?) are often hushed, but never hidden. “Dream On” finds the band matching a great guitar line with gorgeous falsettos. Any band would kill for a single this good. Sunday Morning Radio EP is the oldest EP of the 2. Mind you, nobody could ever tell by playing them. Sunday Morning is quite different than The Manorl, but still in the same, exploratory, brit-rock vain. This EP is slow and mellow, but not to the extent that The Manor is. Sunday Morning EP doesn’t try to be pretty; it’s more concerned about passionate dynamics – in instrumentation and in vocals. This EP also has 5 songs, and the EP is over long before you’ll ever tire of it. What’s most charming about both of these albums is that they sound so accomplished. If you want to dive head first into do-it-yourself indie-rock, Berry is a great place to start. This is one band that becomes more rewarding and inspiring each time you hit play. Thank goodness they are wrapping up their first full-length. More word on that soon. For fans of The Envy Corps, Radiohead, Snow Patrol, Muse, The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers, Frank Lenz. -Garrett Johnson - The Black and White Mag


"Marriage (review)"

Marriage is a work of delicate, intense beauty, an unsual mirror-glance with a powerful force pushing up a smile revealing the inner-soul of a unique artistic vision. You have not heard a band quite like Berry as this is a highly ambitious affair created without any pretense of breaking the upper-reaches of any type of chart and concerned with only the movement of vision of the players partaking in the process to document the spirit of the songs.
- Notlame.com


"Marriage (review)"

Marriage, Berry's first full-length release, is an exuberant indie rock trip that ends too soon. The album's ten tracks demonstrate an homage to "mid" Wilco (think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,) early Radiohead (Pablo Honey and The Bends,) and an experimentation allying the band, who formed in 2000, to Mystery Jets, the impressive, dreamy collaboration from the U.K., whose 2006 album Making Dens has much in common with Marriage.

Though Mystery Jets' have a distinctive British sound and more extensive instrumentation (as well as more members,) their languorous, introspective surges and off-the-wall constructions are similar to Berry's. But Berry's tracks demonstrate something inherently American, too. The lazy, country-inflected guitar sideshow that is "There Are Several," with its simple, seemingly ad-libbed lyrics, "I'll bury my head in your love / taking too much / I never get enough," is a moment of daydreaming amid many similar moments. Berry leaves off the melody, like on a good old Wilco yarn, and plucks away absent-mindedly, singing with little conviction. There are voices talking in the background, as if Joey Lemon, the lead singer and album's producer, is quietly working out a song--except this ends up being the song and going on the album. It feels raw and near; a piece of "reality music." It is followed by the stretching, piano-driven "Kitchen," which rocks and rests intermittently like the best tracks of Pablo Honey.

"Tracing" is a track with a slow, fitful rhythm again powered by the higher octaves of a piano, which seems to be the greatest tool at Berry's disposal. While the piano holds together a cohesive melody and rhythm in many of Marriage's songs, all the tracks maintain the ability to be playful and moody, and the piano can follow suit when necessary, creating unstructured riffs that can both decorate and delay a song's progression. On several tracks, the rhythm changes mid-song, becomes syncopated, or drops out momentarily. Gritty sound effects disrupt melodic paths, but a steady shape always returns, as on "Silver Rose," where the deep, steady electric guitar, reminiscent of Low's latest work, mimics the control and balance that the piano had on the previous track.

The star of this album is "Tick Tock," a cut that recalls Radiohead and Explosions In The Sky with its spacious guitar arpeggios, syncopated rhythm, and crooning, guitar-backed chorus. Joey Lemon's vocal work is a haunting reminder Thom Yorke, and the slugging structure of the melody is no help in lessening that influence, but the song, finally, is a Berry song. As the penultimate track, "Tick Tock" acts as the culmination of the rhythmic flirtations and imbalances that occurred in the eight tracks before it. Vocally, lyrically, and melodically, this track has a conviction that some others lacked, but this lack only explains the album's lyrical content. With recantations like "I don't even know what's real," ("Tracing,") ambivalence and lack of conviction are driving themes on the album, but such themes do not sap the life out of the music. On the contrary, the better to convey them with. - AmpCamp.com


"anatomy of a buzz"

Anatomy of a Buzz
Berry's time in the trenches is starting to pay off
By Jordan Harper

Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2005


In some people's minds, on both a local and national level, music is all politics. "Buzz," that supremely apt term for the sudden hoopla that can surround a band, comes not from what you do but who you know, these people say.
And there's some truth to that -- witness Ashlee Simpson. But sometimes buzz comes from good music, hard work and a little luck. Right now the buzz band in St. Louis is Berry, a spacey, melodic band that sprung from Greenville, Illinois. This is the perfect moment, for this band, to examine just how buzz comes about, and what a band can do with it.

Berry has been playing out in St. Louis, at stalwart venues such as Radio Cherokee, the Creepy Crawl and Off Broadway, for about two years, according to drummer Paul Goodenough. Yet something has happened quite suddenly for them: They are on everyone's lips.

"We've been working really hard trying to promote ourselves," Goodenough says. "For a long time nothing's happened. It just feels like it's paying off."

I had never heard about Berry until last week, when local music maven Tony Renner dropped me an e-mail about them:

"Hey, did the band Berry send you a couple of EPs? They sent 'em to KWUR [90.3 FM], where they sat around all semester until I finally listened to them. They are great beyond belief. I'd be glad to send you an MP3 CD if you didn't get the CDs from the band."

Renner had never pitched a band to me before, so I asked him to send the EPs right away. He was right; the two EPs he sent me as MP3 files were great: gorgeous, haunting stuff that didn't sound like anything I'd ever heard coming out of St. Louis before. The day I received them, I went down to Vintage Vinyl, where I asked a clerk if he'd heard about them. That's when I found out I was in the middle of a buzz storm.

"Oh, sure," the clerk said, and then dug out a copy of the same EP and handed it to me. "I don't know what it is about these guys that has everyone so excited." Already a backlash? That's a good sign that the buzz is building.

It turned out that the very week that Renner had dug out some old local EPs and sent them to me, the band's new manager, Dave Wise, had gone on a promo-giveaway binge, just in time for a headlining show February 5 at the new Red Sea Saturday-night rock show (profiled by Jess Minnen in the January 19 music feature "Higher Education").

So it took some good luck (the timing of Renner's message to me), some good music (Renner was right), some hard work (both Goodenough's mailing the CD out to KWUR and Wise's promo blitz) and a few connections (you can make a web between me, Renner, the VV clerk with the promo and Red Sea booker and VV employee Kate Eddens, if you're bored) to result in the buzz that is being channeled through this column.

It's all about the music, you might say, and Berry would agree. "We're just trying to be honest with our music," says guitarist/lead singer Joey Lemon, "and make something beautiful." Lemon admits, to Goodenough's dismay, that you might consider their live show "boring." What he means is that their songs are slow and pretty, not barn-burning, chickenhead-biting rockers. "We obviously don't put on a crazy stage show," Lemon clarifies. "We just try to put what we have into our songs."

There's so much more than just the music, you might say, reading about the twisted route the tunes take in this story. Manager Wise would agree. While he's clearly pushing Berry out of a deep love for the band, he's not just whistling Dixie. "I want to have Berry be the next Urge, the next Story of the Year, to come out of St. Louis," he says.

Will he succeed? I dunno; making predictions in print is a sticky business. I will say that the two unpolished EPs excited me more than anything I've heard in town in the last year, and that I'm eagerly awaiting hearing the LP they just completed. (You can check out some tunes at their myspace.com page.) I'll also say that there's no better time to check them out than the Red Sea this Saturday.

The rest is up to them.

- river front times


"Best of 2005"

2005: Music

Best New Artist
Berry

Berry ain't soul-flattening bombastic insanity rock, which is what lead singer Joey Lemon probably meant when he told the RFT a little while back that some people might find the indie rockers "boring." Berry is not dull, just soft and fuzzy as an old sweater. A little bit of Radiohead , a little bit of My Bloody Valentine and even some Dinosaur Jr floats through the band's songs, what with Lemon's Thom Yorke-esque falsetto, plush-as-velvet keyboard lines from Matt Aufrecht and rickety-sounding (but airtight) melodies. It isn't much like anything else in the Lou, and we're glad to have a little more beauty in town -- even if the band recently inked a deal with the Texas-based Right Place Records.
- river front times


Discography

2006 - Pirate! Radio SXSW Compilation, feat. Morrisey
2006 - Re-release Marriage LP (Right Place Records)
2005 - Marriage LP (self-released)
2004 - The Manor EP
2003 - Sunday Morning Radio EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Headline? 4 Emotional Wrecks Survive Divorce, Accidents, Just Won't Give Up

The Subhead? Debut full-length turns heads at Right Place Records.

The Full Story? Berry wants to connect with you. Connecting things is what they’re good at. Just a little band from a little Midwestern town, they have become experts at juxtaposing dissimilar elements: Their music merges jangly, catchy pop with spacious, progressive sound. Their live show unites casual intimacy with engulfing melody. And their philosophy is that joining the innovative with the accessible can create moments and memories that are both beautiful and honest. It’s a goal that borders on idealistic, but one they have been successfully pursuing for five years. Since their inception in 2000, singer/songwriter Joey Lemon, bassist Samuel Campbell, keyboardist Matt Aufrecht, and drummer Paul Goodenough have been crafting their signature sound of ethereal vocals laid against a backdrop of thick, dynamic instrumentation. The music that has emerged has produced two EPs (2003’s Sunday Morning Breakfast and last year’s The Manor), shows throughout the Midwest, and a devoted following of people interested in intensely intelligent and intensely catchy pop music. Berry’s endeavor to turn creativity into community has bloomed into their first full-length release, Marriage. The title invokes the love, maturity, and risk that runs blood-thick through the new album, all while exercising their unique brand of musical fusion. Atmospherically rich and emotionally evocative, Marriage showcases what Berry does best: Connect.