Celilo
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Celilo

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
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It’s possible Celilo were aiming for an anonymous feel to this album – for certainly band name, title and cover art (a shot of bare trees and grey skies, with no photo of the band to be seen) all conspire to give little clue of what awaits inside. If the intention is to persuade you to give it a listen with no preconceptions, let’s hope that strategy works, as this is really something of a hidden gem.

Celilo are from Portland, Oregon. Celilo Falls was the nearby fishing grounds used for generations by Native Americans until flooded by the building of a dam in 1957, and Celilo lament this on the song “Wy-am”. All thirteen songs on the album are written and sung by Sloan Martin. Martin slurs many of his lyrics in a manner reminiscent of Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. And in fact, if you had to describe Celilo’s music to someone who hadn’t heard them before, a slightly lighter, countrified version of that band – think Counting Crows with pedal steel – wouldn’t be a bad approximation.

Throughout, the lyrics are poetic and evocative, but invariably indirect. Even with the help of the lyric sheet, you’ll be hard pushed to pin down exactly what some of these songs are about. Certainly they are songs that don’t yield up their meaning on first listen. So, depending on your point of view, you’ll either dismiss them as obscure or look forward to repeated listens to try to tease out further meaning.

But the songs aren’t lyric-heavy or ponderous, thanks to Martin’s gift for melody and the uniformly excellent playing of the band. “Bush Pilot” in many ways encapsulates what the band is all about. The lyrics have a poetic feel, if a little oblique, but by the time they get to the chorus, the lovely melody and swirling pedal steel will undoubtedly capture you. The next track “Piñata” is better still, probably the best on the album. Simple acoustic guitar, just Martin’s voice and a harmony vocal: A busted up piñata lying in the street, Empty of everything that once was sweet, with a delightful melodic hook guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

Celilo start a short UK tour at the end of October 2010, and are definitely worth investigating. Details in the gig guide. - Backroads UK, SEPTEMBER 21, 2010


"sounding eerily like an alt-country Isaac Brock" Casey Jarmon - Casey Jarmon


"summons up the barroom twang and driving pop of early Wilco, conjures the bleak beauty of Townes Van Zandt" Barbara Mitchell - Barbara Mitchell


"recall classic California acts like the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Byrds, or better yet the Eagles meets Calexico" - Kurt B. Reighley


"On the new album Celilo takes their bourbon-soaked twangst to a new level, Sloan's beaten down vocals travel on a world-worn wisdom through barrooms, bedrooms, and back roads" Barbara Mitchell, Jan 2007 - Barbara Mitchell


"Shades of Drive-by Truckers, the Jayhawks and other notables from the crestfallen frontier can be found in this local quartet’s sorrowful harmonies and feisty tangle of guitars. ...a spirited collection of wistful Americana.”

- John Chandler


"rain soaked American rock, moody boot gazing roots pop, a fusion or drawling rural charm with dark and dreamy indie city skylines" - Serena Markstrom


Celilo seems intent on doing for Portland what Willy Vlautin and his band Richmond Fontaine have done for Reno, Winnemucca and Las Vegas... a low-key journey through Portland's mostly gray moods with the people who inhabit its rainy streets and neighborhoods. The music is deceptively quiet and understated, with only occasional psychedelic electric guitar solos slashing through the muted tones of acoustic guitars, David Pulliam's keyboards and Tucker Jackson's pedal steel. - Greenman Review


This is music that evokes summer nights gazing at the stars. The album's title suggests reflexivity, an appropriate theme for music so rooted in the sounds of the early seventies...Celilo are offering their idea of balance between the old and the new, between acoustic and progressive. - Americana UK/David Harry


Celilo is dreamy, always melodic and organic: the acoustic guitars are always heard, the electric sound warm and full of reverb, the pedal steel shrilled, and the vocals of singer-songwriter Martin Sloan is just plain gorgeous. Really beautiful songs like Winter Pills, Bush Pilot, Cigarette Blues and the epic "Sirens Of Metropolis deserve to be heard by fans of alt.country. Beautiful album. - ALT Country NL/Wiebren Rijkeboer


Let's relocate to Portland, Oregon, and the beautiful album 'Bending Mirrors', signed Celilo. A group formed around Sloan Martin, under the protection of Mike Coykendall (who has opened his studio for recommendable people like M Ward and Richmond Fontaine). Thirteen magnificent titles, forming a link between Neil Young, Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne. The sound is remarkable and nothing, no really nothing, can trouble this clear water. It's definitely something to return to!
- Le Cri Du Coyote Magazine / Eric Supparo


It’s not just that frontman Sloan Martin has progressed as a lyricist (he has), or that the band has tightened (it has); it’s that Bending Mirrors nails the band’s tone right on the head. - Willamette Week/Casey Jarman


Discography

'Bending Mirrors' June '09
'Buoy Bell' Spring 11'

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Bio

Celilo is a five piece Indie/psych/Americana band from Portland, Oregon. Their late 2009 full length release 'Bending Mirrors' continues to receive high praise from critics across the United States and Europe. On this record, the band deftly straddles crunchy indie rock, and haunting, spare ballads, evoking favorable comparisons to Dark Side era Pink Floyd, 70's Neil Young, and Seattle's Fleet Foxes. Celilo conjures up their own unique vision of the electrified Western sound-scape, with pedal steel hovering above smoldering electric guitars, serpentine acoustic riffs and unexpected rhythmic twists, set to Sloan Martin's Steinbeckian lyrics and burnt-molasses vocal delivery.

They are currently in the studio with producer Gregg Williams (Blitzen Trapper, Dandy Warhols) working on a new full length follow-up. Go to www.myspace.com/celilo for information on their upcoming 2010 Fall Tour of the UK.

Mike Coykendall (She & Him, Blitzen Trapper, M. Ward) co-produced several of the cuts on 'Bending Mirrors,' helping to tease out the nuance in Martin's moody compositions. Like the best poetry, the songs on this album are full of ambiguity and contradiction, and they do not give up their secrets easily.

"Bending Mirrors" spent Sept/Oct '09 on the Euro Americana Album charts and was voted 'Best of 2009' on Dutch Radio program 'Shake of Music.' It was voted "Fan Favorite of 2009" by local Portland NPR affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting FM, and album of the week on LON radio Netherlands. Celilo has been invited to perform live on-air for OPB radio, KZME FM Radio Portland, and LON radio Netherlands.

Rave reviews in Maverick Magazine, Heaven, Folk World, and Uncut attest to the quality of Celilo's compositions and the skilled, nuanced performances of the musicians in the group. Most recently, Celilo has been signed to the UK's premier Americana Music Agency, BPA, to take their music across the pond with a tour of the UK this October/November.

Celilo has shared the stage with a host of excellent musicians including Alela Diane, Elvis Perkins, Horsefeathers, The Maldives, Sera Cahoone, Mimicking Birds, The Moondoggies, Phosporescent, Moondoggies, Clem Snide, the Mynabirds, Frazey Ford, and many more.