Common Prayer
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Common Prayer

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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"Music doesn’t get much more care-free sounding than this." -Rebecca Schiller, NME ["Ten Best Free Downloads This Week" list]

"In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career.... There's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog.... There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again. -Michael Stasiak, Other Music [Read full review from June 7 Downloads of the Week / OM Newsletter]

"Mr. Russo and his helpers have made one of the finest records of the year, hands down. It’s overflowing with character unlike anything else you’re likely to hear, and its slanted and enchanted sound makes my little heart go pitter patter." -Les Enfants Terribles

"Those willing to give Russo & Company a fair shake will discover a new act whose music boasts a deep reservoir of vitality, nuance, and charm." -One Track Mind

"Violin innuendos and organ riffs interlace with scrap metal samples and found sounds throughout this deep and dark folk album." -New Dust

"Common Prayer's blend of Microphones-esque instrumentation and lyrical intelligence will be intoxicating." -Miniature Music Press (Cardiff), Gig of the Month

"Die vielfalt wird in einen riesigen überraschungskeks verbacken, den man stück für stück dem hörer gereicht." ("The album is baked in a huge suprise cookie which one served piece by piece to the listener.") -Das Klienicum (Bavaria)

"Part of what makes their music so fascinating is how it effortlessly bridges the gap between country and city." -"The Brooklyn-Kingston Connection: Up-and-coming band Common Prayer roots itself in both cities,"The Kingston Times

"Folky pop rock with a 'scrap metal' beat – sounds delicious to me... If you like your pop to be sweet but still rough around the edges, check this shit out." -Pigeons & Planes

"While thoughtful and often somber in theme, Russo’s songs are playfully bizarre." -Audio Perv

"Jason Sebastian Russo of Common Prayer has essentially done what I would in my most wildest dream: Go to the UK, pull together a large band of British pop talent and record an album that falls somewhere in the Folk-Rock divide... using their man power to create songs that slowly build instead of attacking you with sound. " -StandarDeviations

"There is a Mountain is a charming mishmash of an album, where Brooklyn hipster affectations rub shoulders with old school brit-psyche sensibilities.... Sound collages, a concept oft tacked on to an album during the last 15 minutes of the mixing to imply indie credentials, are used in good taste and seem to take the listener on a journey." -We Heart Music

"Highlights From America’s First Ever Truck Festival: Sunday - Moment of Transcendence: Common Prayer joined onstage by the mother of the Russo clan, then the ensemble of family and friends closes with “Everything and More.” All of Truck America gets choked up." -The Catskill Chronicle

"The result of these sessions is an album’s worth of intriguingly weird pop songs that aren’t afraid to defy the listener’s expectations, but remain fully accessible." -Musical Pairings

But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine.... As a thoughtful piano leads into ["Everything & More"] group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them. -Adam Thomas, Plug In Music

"...An album filled rustic, melodic, and genuine songs." -Orange Alert

SINGLE REVIEWS

"Common Prayer ’s “Us vs. Them” is one of our favorite tracks." -Consequence of Sound

"Us vs. Them" has great melody and instrumentation, using piano so effectively I'd half-expect to hear it performed inside a rustic saloon." -I Guess I'm Floating

"One of our favorite jams of the year thus far." -The Tripwire

"There Is A Mountain’s fourth track is “Us vs Them,” a song whose melodies are broad and whose heart takes it on all kinds of well-received tangents. From the piano-laced verses to the final, foot-shuffling moments filled with whistled curlicues, the track boasts a slightly deranged beauty." -One Track Mind

"A delightfully shonky bar jam of forlorn optimism, not dissimilar to a bourbon-mellowed Walkmen, and complete with a lovely tinkly piano and whistle-a-thon ending." -Snipe (London)

"A lovely logfire jam replete with 70s style close reverbed drums." -Proper Songs (UK)

"A slightly grunged hard beat drives this piano/acoustic guitar number into a summer indie romp." -Guilt Free Pleasure

"Som uppladdning bjuder de på vackra spåret Us vs. Them, vilket snabbt repeat-snurrat sig långt in i NMB-hjärtat" -No Mod - NME, Consequence of Sound, AudioPerv, the Tripwire, etc.


"Music doesn’t get much more care-free sounding than this." -Rebecca Schiller, NME ["Ten Best Free Downloads This Week" list]

"In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career.... There's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog.... There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again. -Michael Stasiak, Other Music [Read full review from June 7 Downloads of the Week / OM Newsletter]

"Mr. Russo and his helpers have made one of the finest records of the year, hands down. It’s overflowing with character unlike anything else you’re likely to hear, and its slanted and enchanted sound makes my little heart go pitter patter." -Les Enfants Terribles

"Those willing to give Russo & Company a fair shake will discover a new act whose music boasts a deep reservoir of vitality, nuance, and charm." -One Track Mind

"Violin innuendos and organ riffs interlace with scrap metal samples and found sounds throughout this deep and dark folk album." -New Dust

"Common Prayer's blend of Microphones-esque instrumentation and lyrical intelligence will be intoxicating." -Miniature Music Press (Cardiff), Gig of the Month

"Die vielfalt wird in einen riesigen überraschungskeks verbacken, den man stück für stück dem hörer gereicht." ("The album is baked in a huge suprise cookie which one served piece by piece to the listener.") -Das Klienicum (Bavaria)

"Part of what makes their music so fascinating is how it effortlessly bridges the gap between country and city." -"The Brooklyn-Kingston Connection: Up-and-coming band Common Prayer roots itself in both cities,"The Kingston Times

"Folky pop rock with a 'scrap metal' beat – sounds delicious to me... If you like your pop to be sweet but still rough around the edges, check this shit out." -Pigeons & Planes

"While thoughtful and often somber in theme, Russo’s songs are playfully bizarre." -Audio Perv

"Jason Sebastian Russo of Common Prayer has essentially done what I would in my most wildest dream: Go to the UK, pull together a large band of British pop talent and record an album that falls somewhere in the Folk-Rock divide... using their man power to create songs that slowly build instead of attacking you with sound. " -StandarDeviations

"There is a Mountain is a charming mishmash of an album, where Brooklyn hipster affectations rub shoulders with old school brit-psyche sensibilities.... Sound collages, a concept oft tacked on to an album during the last 15 minutes of the mixing to imply indie credentials, are used in good taste and seem to take the listener on a journey." -We Heart Music

"Highlights From America’s First Ever Truck Festival: Sunday - Moment of Transcendence: Common Prayer joined onstage by the mother of the Russo clan, then the ensemble of family and friends closes with “Everything and More.” All of Truck America gets choked up." -The Catskill Chronicle

"The result of these sessions is an album’s worth of intriguingly weird pop songs that aren’t afraid to defy the listener’s expectations, but remain fully accessible." -Musical Pairings

But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine.... As a thoughtful piano leads into ["Everything & More"] group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them. -Adam Thomas, Plug In Music

"...An album filled rustic, melodic, and genuine songs." -Orange Alert

SINGLE REVIEWS

"Common Prayer ’s “Us vs. Them” is one of our favorite tracks." -Consequence of Sound

"Us vs. Them" has great melody and instrumentation, using piano so effectively I'd half-expect to hear it performed inside a rustic saloon." -I Guess I'm Floating

"One of our favorite jams of the year thus far." -The Tripwire

"There Is A Mountain’s fourth track is “Us vs Them,” a song whose melodies are broad and whose heart takes it on all kinds of well-received tangents. From the piano-laced verses to the final, foot-shuffling moments filled with whistled curlicues, the track boasts a slightly deranged beauty." -One Track Mind

"A delightfully shonky bar jam of forlorn optimism, not dissimilar to a bourbon-mellowed Walkmen, and complete with a lovely tinkly piano and whistle-a-thon ending." -Snipe (London)

"A lovely logfire jam replete with 70s style close reverbed drums." -Proper Songs (UK)

"A slightly grunged hard beat drives this piano/acoustic guitar number into a summer indie romp." -Guilt Free Pleasure

"Som uppladdning bjuder de på vackra spåret Us vs. Them, vilket snabbt repeat-snurrat sig långt in i NMB-hjärtat" -No Mod - NME, Consequence of Sound, AudioPerv, the Tripwire, etc.


Common Prayer - There Is a Mountain | South Cherry Entropy
$9.99 | Listen & Buy:
http://digital.othermusic.com/search/full.php?FULL=486125&ALBUM=1

The past couple of years have seen a host of bedroom pop projects move out of the basement and into the mainstream indie spotlight -- Wavves, Atlas Sound, and Ariel Pink have mined solid sonic gold by throwing the curtains wide and letting everybody peek in. Generally, these are musicians who utilized the bedroom as an echo chamber, bouncing ideas only off of themselves and taking advantage of self-imposed software and hardware limitations. But sometimes the private pop project is a way for a generally public musician to steal away from a larger group and press record on ideas that could only bloom inside of one head. With Common Prayer, Jason Russo -- a former bass player for New York psych giants Mercury Rev and the founder of the long-running psychedelic rockers Hopewell -- reveals that underneath all the guitar-driven howling is an intimate and obsessive collector of found sounds, delicate melodies, and breezy, wistful tunes that initially seem at odds with his better known psychedelic outfits.

Opener "commonprayer" rides a metronome click, some distant shuffling bongos, and double-tracked vocals over a landscape of shambling but skillful finger-picked guitar; it's a loose and ramshackle tune, held together by Elmer's glue, the occasional "ding!" of a typewriter, and Russo's charming, nasal delivery. This quavering, slippery voice is what makes Common Prayer sound so soulful, intimate, and true; it makes lines like "Pray the lord my bones don't break" feel authentic, and honest. Elsewhere on the record, the uncertainty can slip just as easily into anger, as on "Us vs. Them," a song that implores a beautiful girl to prove everybody wrong and dance a lazy waltz into the sunset atop a one-handed saloon-style piano line.

In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career. Whether he's banging on a garbage can lid ("Marriage Song") or waxing nostalgic on a porch with a skronky clarinet ("Free Air"), there's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog. Along with this year's Pearly Gates Music record, There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again.

-Michael Stasiak - Other Music Digital Newsletter, June 7, 2010


Common Prayer - There Is a Mountain | South Cherry Entropy
$9.99 | Listen & Buy:
http://digital.othermusic.com/search/full.php?FULL=486125&ALBUM=1

The past couple of years have seen a host of bedroom pop projects move out of the basement and into the mainstream indie spotlight -- Wavves, Atlas Sound, and Ariel Pink have mined solid sonic gold by throwing the curtains wide and letting everybody peek in. Generally, these are musicians who utilized the bedroom as an echo chamber, bouncing ideas only off of themselves and taking advantage of self-imposed software and hardware limitations. But sometimes the private pop project is a way for a generally public musician to steal away from a larger group and press record on ideas that could only bloom inside of one head. With Common Prayer, Jason Russo -- a former bass player for New York psych giants Mercury Rev and the founder of the long-running psychedelic rockers Hopewell -- reveals that underneath all the guitar-driven howling is an intimate and obsessive collector of found sounds, delicate melodies, and breezy, wistful tunes that initially seem at odds with his better known psychedelic outfits.

Opener "commonprayer" rides a metronome click, some distant shuffling bongos, and double-tracked vocals over a landscape of shambling but skillful finger-picked guitar; it's a loose and ramshackle tune, held together by Elmer's glue, the occasional "ding!" of a typewriter, and Russo's charming, nasal delivery. This quavering, slippery voice is what makes Common Prayer sound so soulful, intimate, and true; it makes lines like "Pray the lord my bones don't break" feel authentic, and honest. Elsewhere on the record, the uncertainty can slip just as easily into anger, as on "Us vs. Them," a song that implores a beautiful girl to prove everybody wrong and dance a lazy waltz into the sunset atop a one-handed saloon-style piano line.

In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career. Whether he's banging on a garbage can lid ("Marriage Song") or waxing nostalgic on a porch with a skronky clarinet ("Free Air"), there's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog. Along with this year's Pearly Gates Music record, There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again.

-Michael Stasiak - Other Music Digital Newsletter, June 7, 2010


Common Prayer - There Is A Mountain (Big Potato Records)

Experimentation – the music industry’s very own double edged sword - is a paradox, if you will, widely encouraged by critics and an assumed signification of a band or artist’s confidence. However, if done incorrectly it could possibly result in some of those once encouraging critics now slating said artistic exploration as ‘self-indulgent’ and ‘bizarre’, par exampler MGMT’s recent release Congratulations, which was released to a rather mixed reception by critics this April.

Luckily, for most artists these are the type of creative problems they endure, while trying to get over the unavoidable predicament that is creating ‘the second album’. But, as there is for most rules, there are exceptions. Enter Common Prayer - Jason Russo to his parents - whose debut There Is A Mountain is an ode to care-free experimentation (although not the Pink Floyd-esque psychedelic kind of his former outfits Mercury Rev and Hopewell). This type of experimentation is an array jam-packed with instruments and sounds thrown together, with the objective being to create an inventive and fresh sonic; this being a myriad of mandolins, spoken word bible quotes, repetitive drum beats, preppy (although occasionally sad) lyrics, wistful melodies and yearning vocals.

It’s fair to say this is an album that covers a plethora of musical genres and tastes. There's upbeat nu-folk stomper ‘Sara G’ that gives Mumford & Sons a run for their money. Then there's the eerie-yet-captivating harmonious intro on ‘American Sex', in addition to the piano-led musicality of ‘Moneyspider’. All of the above may appear to be polar opposites on paper yet when it all comes together (somehow, unbeknownst to me), it forms an excitably varied yet cohesive debut. Regardless to say, it’s not what you nor I would call an easy first listen but, with some love and labour, hidden alt.pop gems like ‘Us Vs. Them’ begin to emerge from the woodwork. —Antonio Rowe - God Is In the TV


Common Prayer - There Is A Mountain (Big Potato Records)

Experimentation – the music industry’s very own double edged sword - is a paradox, if you will, widely encouraged by critics and an assumed signification of a band or artist’s confidence. However, if done incorrectly it could possibly result in some of those once encouraging critics now slating said artistic exploration as ‘self-indulgent’ and ‘bizarre’, par exampler MGMT’s recent release Congratulations, which was released to a rather mixed reception by critics this April.

Luckily, for most artists these are the type of creative problems they endure, while trying to get over the unavoidable predicament that is creating ‘the second album’. But, as there is for most rules, there are exceptions. Enter Common Prayer - Jason Russo to his parents - whose debut There Is A Mountain is an ode to care-free experimentation (although not the Pink Floyd-esque psychedelic kind of his former outfits Mercury Rev and Hopewell). This type of experimentation is an array jam-packed with instruments and sounds thrown together, with the objective being to create an inventive and fresh sonic; this being a myriad of mandolins, spoken word bible quotes, repetitive drum beats, preppy (although occasionally sad) lyrics, wistful melodies and yearning vocals.

It’s fair to say this is an album that covers a plethora of musical genres and tastes. There's upbeat nu-folk stomper ‘Sara G’ that gives Mumford & Sons a run for their money. Then there's the eerie-yet-captivating harmonious intro on ‘American Sex', in addition to the piano-led musicality of ‘Moneyspider’. All of the above may appear to be polar opposites on paper yet when it all comes together (somehow, unbeknownst to me), it forms an excitably varied yet cohesive debut. Regardless to say, it’s not what you nor I would call an easy first listen but, with some love and labour, hidden alt.pop gems like ‘Us Vs. Them’ begin to emerge from the woodwork. —Antonio Rowe - God Is In the TV


Album Review: Common Prayer

Somewhere around the late 1950s, America became electrified. Literally. People started plugging guitars into walls and translating old musical forms such as filthy, soulful Delta blues into awful amorphous messes such as Chicago blues (Sorry B.B.) Common Prayer’s latest album returns to a beautiful time.

It was really when the civil rights movement had succeeded in their main goals and got the ball rolling for the equal rights of the black population that the songs of the Mississippi Delta became relics of a time gone by. The musical styles have reemerged occasionally throughout the time since then and cut with modern styles – most notably the Allman Brothers Band in the 1970s with the greatest white slide guitarist Duane Allman at the helm.

Common Prayer release ‘There Is A Mountain’ next week on July 26th and although there’s no Delta forms or lyrics like, “She’s her man and she done him wrong,” this album reeks of the dirty South. Here’s why:

Beginning with a self-titled track, we’re introduced to the style of the rest of the album. There is a beat that sounds like someone finger drumming and also beat sticks, metal scraps twanging against each other. This is the primal rhythm that is so telling of the relationship between this album and the standards of acoustic blues. It’s almost as if you could layer Common Prayer’s drumming over a track like Blind Wille Johnson’s ‘Cold Was The Night, Dark Was The Ground’ and be perfectly convinced that they were meant to be together.

Next up is ‘Hopewell,’ which has an altogether more upbeat sound. There’s a screaming slide guitar hiding in the background and the lyrics, layered over an infectious drum beat and guitar strum call to mind ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ from Arcade Fires ‘Funeral.’ It’s not copying or stealing from the Canadian band, it’s more a case of Jason Sebastian Russo and Win Butler having similar voices.

Again, track 3, ‘Marriage Song’ binds the beating of piecemeal percussion and a dobro sounding slide into a delectable mixture of groaning sentiments. The chorus runs “It’s a long way down, it’s a long way doooowwn, it’s a long long long way down,” with overdubbing very much remniscent of Bowie’s ‘Candidate’ from ‘Diamond Dogs.’ It’s bizarre to find a link like that from this album to Bowie’s comment on totalitarian government and Orwellian dystopia, but if you listen, it’s definitely and clearly there.

Once again wearing their influences on their chests like medals of honour, Common Prayer tip their hats to Neil Young with single ‘Us vs. Them.’ Several years ago, Neil Young released an album of songs that his record company refused to let him release at the start of his career – more fool them. ‘Chrome Dreams II’ contained several blinding songs and the most notable ‘Ordinary People’ runs at around 18 minutes in length. While I mentioned earlier that Arcade Fire and Common Prayer have similarities due to the vocal qualities of their frontmen, ‘Ordinary People’ by Neil Young and ‘Us vs. Them’ by Common Prayer can actually be played on top of one another and only the pitch and drums are out of sync. The tempo and melodies are uncannily similar. Again, it’s not ‘heavily influenced’ (read: copied) because Jason Sebastian Russo is an incredibly accomplished song writer – all the same, the songs are almost the same.

That said, who wouldn’t want to pay tribute to Neil Young?

Another song of note, ‘American Sex’ has a haunting quality and exceptionally catchy hook. Half way through, there’s a bizarre sample of bongo music and then an extract from a sermon about the trials of Christ.

Finally, there’s what every good album needs: a crescendo from a quiet piano song all the way up to a drums banging, organ grinding, guitar whapping middle and then return to the quiet piano song. That’s what ‘Everything & More’ does on the album.

This is one of the most enjoyable albums to be released this year. I thoroughly regret missing Common Prayers show in Buffalo Bar last weekend. Only myself and my awfully busy schedule to blame.

Buy this album – thank me later. - Journal of Plastik


Album Review: Common Prayer

Somewhere around the late 1950s, America became electrified. Literally. People started plugging guitars into walls and translating old musical forms such as filthy, soulful Delta blues into awful amorphous messes such as Chicago blues (Sorry B.B.) Common Prayer’s latest album returns to a beautiful time.

It was really when the civil rights movement had succeeded in their main goals and got the ball rolling for the equal rights of the black population that the songs of the Mississippi Delta became relics of a time gone by. The musical styles have reemerged occasionally throughout the time since then and cut with modern styles – most notably the Allman Brothers Band in the 1970s with the greatest white slide guitarist Duane Allman at the helm.

Common Prayer release ‘There Is A Mountain’ next week on July 26th and although there’s no Delta forms or lyrics like, “She’s her man and she done him wrong,” this album reeks of the dirty South. Here’s why:

Beginning with a self-titled track, we’re introduced to the style of the rest of the album. There is a beat that sounds like someone finger drumming and also beat sticks, metal scraps twanging against each other. This is the primal rhythm that is so telling of the relationship between this album and the standards of acoustic blues. It’s almost as if you could layer Common Prayer’s drumming over a track like Blind Wille Johnson’s ‘Cold Was The Night, Dark Was The Ground’ and be perfectly convinced that they were meant to be together.

Next up is ‘Hopewell,’ which has an altogether more upbeat sound. There’s a screaming slide guitar hiding in the background and the lyrics, layered over an infectious drum beat and guitar strum call to mind ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ from Arcade Fires ‘Funeral.’ It’s not copying or stealing from the Canadian band, it’s more a case of Jason Sebastian Russo and Win Butler having similar voices.

Again, track 3, ‘Marriage Song’ binds the beating of piecemeal percussion and a dobro sounding slide into a delectable mixture of groaning sentiments. The chorus runs “It’s a long way down, it’s a long way doooowwn, it’s a long long long way down,” with overdubbing very much remniscent of Bowie’s ‘Candidate’ from ‘Diamond Dogs.’ It’s bizarre to find a link like that from this album to Bowie’s comment on totalitarian government and Orwellian dystopia, but if you listen, it’s definitely and clearly there.

Once again wearing their influences on their chests like medals of honour, Common Prayer tip their hats to Neil Young with single ‘Us vs. Them.’ Several years ago, Neil Young released an album of songs that his record company refused to let him release at the start of his career – more fool them. ‘Chrome Dreams II’ contained several blinding songs and the most notable ‘Ordinary People’ runs at around 18 minutes in length. While I mentioned earlier that Arcade Fire and Common Prayer have similarities due to the vocal qualities of their frontmen, ‘Ordinary People’ by Neil Young and ‘Us vs. Them’ by Common Prayer can actually be played on top of one another and only the pitch and drums are out of sync. The tempo and melodies are uncannily similar. Again, it’s not ‘heavily influenced’ (read: copied) because Jason Sebastian Russo is an incredibly accomplished song writer – all the same, the songs are almost the same.

That said, who wouldn’t want to pay tribute to Neil Young?

Another song of note, ‘American Sex’ has a haunting quality and exceptionally catchy hook. Half way through, there’s a bizarre sample of bongo music and then an extract from a sermon about the trials of Christ.

Finally, there’s what every good album needs: a crescendo from a quiet piano song all the way up to a drums banging, organ grinding, guitar whapping middle and then return to the quiet piano song. That’s what ‘Everything & More’ does on the album.

This is one of the most enjoyable albums to be released this year. I thoroughly regret missing Common Prayers show in Buffalo Bar last weekend. Only myself and my awfully busy schedule to blame.

Buy this album – thank me later. - Journal of Plastik


so eine kleine liebschaft. so ein verzückend ding. von dem man weiß, dass andere den kopf schütteln werden. man selbst aber, man bleibt treu. und ist anhänglich und lässt die nadel immer wieder über "there is a mountain" flitzen. dem debutalbum dieses illustren bandgefüges. common prayer genannt. vorstand ist jason sebastian russo. uneingeschränkt.

vorne weg. mit ungestimmter gitarre, ungestüm und zugleich irgendwie schwiegersohn artig, zauberhaft. zu russo gäbe es noch eine menge mehr zu schreiben, ein tausendsassa an vielen fronten. seine frühe band hopewell gilt es zu beachten sowie seine zusammenarbeit mit u.a. camphor, grandmal, mercury rev oder the silent league. doch hier soll die truppe im vordergrund stehen. und die harmoniert aufs feinste. live guckt man sich ständig gegenseitig an, ungläubig ob der eigenen präsenz, prägnanz und des willigen miteinanders. auf scheibe kommt das noch viel besser. da werden energien aufs erstaunlichste gebündelt. die vielfalt wird in einen riesigen überraschungskeks verbacken, den man stück für stück dem hörer gereicht. die quietschende gitarre, die sich überschlagende stimme, das perkussive gewerk, das vergnügliche piano, das leicht über dem schritttempo angehobene geschwindigkeitsniveau, das diverse im arrangement, aufgefüllt mit leipziger, ähm brooklyner sample allerlei. einerseits aus den staaten kommend und doch ganz der britischen krone verschrieben. die geschichte um (auf dem foto von paul dillon von links nach rechts) john anderson, karen codd, alexandra marvar und jason sebastian russo (und den vielen teilhabenden musikern, u.a. justin russo, joe bennett, robin bennett, mike monaghan) geht in etwa so: in der mitte des dreizehnten jahrhunderts bauten mönche in der nähe eines kleinen dorfes einen ellenlangen steinwall, heute liegt dort oxfordshire, england. im frühjahr des jahres 2009 schnappte sich j.s. russo einige talentierte musiker und entwarf in einem kuhstall auf der hill farm der bennett brüder in steventon, oxfordshire, das "there is a mountain" album. zusätzlich muss man wissen, dass es sich bei common prayer um die bezeichnung der agenda der anglikanischen kirche handelt. das brevier der band aus new york allerdings gibt es erst seit ende april und nicht bereits seit mehr als 400 jahren. dennoch hat es zeitlosen charakter und ist alles andere als angestaubt und frömmelnd. es ist euphorisch und jubelnd, es ist im wahrsten sinne deliziös, weil es den sinnen freude macht. einzelne tracks herauszupulen, wäre unfair, hier rumpelt und radaut der eine in den nächste hinüber, es folkt, folkrockt, americanat und lehnt sich ungeheuer sanft an britische tunes an. so rund, so bunt, so froh und irgendwie verlässlich. denn jeder neue spin verspricht vergnügen. ein **** für das jahr 2010. - Das Kleinicum


so eine kleine liebschaft. so ein verzückend ding. von dem man weiß, dass andere den kopf schütteln werden. man selbst aber, man bleibt treu. und ist anhänglich und lässt die nadel immer wieder über "there is a mountain" flitzen. dem debutalbum dieses illustren bandgefüges. common prayer genannt. vorstand ist jason sebastian russo. uneingeschränkt.

vorne weg. mit ungestimmter gitarre, ungestüm und zugleich irgendwie schwiegersohn artig, zauberhaft. zu russo gäbe es noch eine menge mehr zu schreiben, ein tausendsassa an vielen fronten. seine frühe band hopewell gilt es zu beachten sowie seine zusammenarbeit mit u.a. camphor, grandmal, mercury rev oder the silent league. doch hier soll die truppe im vordergrund stehen. und die harmoniert aufs feinste. live guckt man sich ständig gegenseitig an, ungläubig ob der eigenen präsenz, prägnanz und des willigen miteinanders. auf scheibe kommt das noch viel besser. da werden energien aufs erstaunlichste gebündelt. die vielfalt wird in einen riesigen überraschungskeks verbacken, den man stück für stück dem hörer gereicht. die quietschende gitarre, die sich überschlagende stimme, das perkussive gewerk, das vergnügliche piano, das leicht über dem schritttempo angehobene geschwindigkeitsniveau, das diverse im arrangement, aufgefüllt mit leipziger, ähm brooklyner sample allerlei. einerseits aus den staaten kommend und doch ganz der britischen krone verschrieben. die geschichte um (auf dem foto von paul dillon von links nach rechts) john anderson, karen codd, alexandra marvar und jason sebastian russo (und den vielen teilhabenden musikern, u.a. justin russo, joe bennett, robin bennett, mike monaghan) geht in etwa so: in der mitte des dreizehnten jahrhunderts bauten mönche in der nähe eines kleinen dorfes einen ellenlangen steinwall, heute liegt dort oxfordshire, england. im frühjahr des jahres 2009 schnappte sich j.s. russo einige talentierte musiker und entwarf in einem kuhstall auf der hill farm der bennett brüder in steventon, oxfordshire, das "there is a mountain" album. zusätzlich muss man wissen, dass es sich bei common prayer um die bezeichnung der agenda der anglikanischen kirche handelt. das brevier der band aus new york allerdings gibt es erst seit ende april und nicht bereits seit mehr als 400 jahren. dennoch hat es zeitlosen charakter und ist alles andere als angestaubt und frömmelnd. es ist euphorisch und jubelnd, es ist im wahrsten sinne deliziös, weil es den sinnen freude macht. einzelne tracks herauszupulen, wäre unfair, hier rumpelt und radaut der eine in den nächste hinüber, es folkt, folkrockt, americanat und lehnt sich ungeheuer sanft an britische tunes an. so rund, so bunt, so froh und irgendwie verlässlich. denn jeder neue spin verspricht vergnügen. ein **** für das jahr 2010. - Das Kleinicum


Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain
Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Words: Mathew Parri Thomas
Category: Music Review.

Released: 26.07.2010
Label: Big Potato Records

There are times when a record comes along and, on just a single spin, it clicks. The penny drops and you’re sold on the whole thing before you’ve even had a chance to check for dents. It’s instantly familiar. It’s instantly likable. It’s instantly worrying. The problem with music which is so immediately gratifying is that, on the same token, it’s also just as disposable. What once was your own special song, loved by you and no one else, is soon regurgitated every half an hour on the radio, used as bed music on every television station going and ends up tantamount to fingers down a blackboard. When I first heard There Is A Mountain I knew I loved it. Time to panic.

Common Prayer are a rag-tag bunch of Brits assembled and steered by Brooklyn’s Jason Sebastian Russo, whose fingers have been in a few music pies including bass duties for Mercury Rev, helping out his brother Justin with The Silent League and being the founding member of shoegazers Hopewell. With all this said, it comes as little surprise that There Is A Mountain finds itself on Big Potato Records, a label founded in part by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead.

Hard to pin down and easy to love, this is a melting pot of styles, instruments and found sounds. The album is full of ideas and flourishes, each track seemingly taking a new approach to how you construct a song. Guitars have been tuned enough just enough to be acceptable, where drums won’t do tin cans will, and why use one vocal when you’re so many in number? Where commonprayer is built on a click track, lazy finger-picked guitar and a wealth of samples and found sounds, Us Vs. Them is full of bombastic drums, sparkling piano beds of harmonies. You, Aloft’s short instrumental of backwards loops and layered strings is countered by American Sex, a quiet campfire song of just voices and acoustic, suddenly hijacked by warped tabla and bible-questioning vocal sample. While all the tracks have their differences there’s one thing that ties the whole thing together: melody. Lots and lots of melody.

Russo’s voice is thin and fragile but never lacks purpose and feeling. His subject matter often turns to love. Lyrics like “I’ve been singing in and out of tune, it’s always been to you” and “You and me, staring at the same ceiling” manage to tread the fine line where cuteness meets sincerity. On Us Vs. Them he’s taking on the world with a loved one, “linked arms spining into the sunset in a lazy waltz.” Marriage Song, complete with pots and pans percussion, tea chest bass, drunk slide guitar and an I Want You (She’s So Heavy)-aping break down, talks of living in “a house built for mileage”.

Closing the album is the rousing singalong Everything and More. As more voices than you can count join in chorus (“We’re walking on water that’s turned into wine / I’ll take yours and you take mine / we are every little thing all of the time”) the tracks builds over a rising four-chord progression. As vocals grow in strength and instruments starts to teeter on the brink of going out of control the track shifts into second gear, Russo’s now screaming vocal drowned out by the cacophony of voices, cymbals, strings and brass. A cliché? Perhaps. Handled perfectly? Without doubt. Get the wrong person behind the desk and you’ll find a symphony orchestra on this quicker than you know it. What’s so brilliant about this is that it’s a small number of people playing it like they mean it.

Given a quick glance or a casual ear There Is A Mountain is ostensibly a pop record; it’s packed full of ear-worm melodies and, with the majority of tracks clocking in at around three minutes, it’s over in little more than a half hour. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find an album which is fit to burst with ideas; it’s peppered with tricks, ticks and turns of phrase that are as clever as they are effective. There Is A Mountain is an album you’ll love instantly, return to constantly and never tire of. - Culture Delux Magazine


Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain
Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Words: Mathew Parri Thomas
Category: Music Review.

Released: 26.07.2010
Label: Big Potato Records

There are times when a record comes along and, on just a single spin, it clicks. The penny drops and you’re sold on the whole thing before you’ve even had a chance to check for dents. It’s instantly familiar. It’s instantly likable. It’s instantly worrying. The problem with music which is so immediately gratifying is that, on the same token, it’s also just as disposable. What once was your own special song, loved by you and no one else, is soon regurgitated every half an hour on the radio, used as bed music on every television station going and ends up tantamount to fingers down a blackboard. When I first heard There Is A Mountain I knew I loved it. Time to panic.

Common Prayer are a rag-tag bunch of Brits assembled and steered by Brooklyn’s Jason Sebastian Russo, whose fingers have been in a few music pies including bass duties for Mercury Rev, helping out his brother Justin with The Silent League and being the founding member of shoegazers Hopewell. With all this said, it comes as little surprise that There Is A Mountain finds itself on Big Potato Records, a label founded in part by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead.

Hard to pin down and easy to love, this is a melting pot of styles, instruments and found sounds. The album is full of ideas and flourishes, each track seemingly taking a new approach to how you construct a song. Guitars have been tuned enough just enough to be acceptable, where drums won’t do tin cans will, and why use one vocal when you’re so many in number? Where commonprayer is built on a click track, lazy finger-picked guitar and a wealth of samples and found sounds, Us Vs. Them is full of bombastic drums, sparkling piano beds of harmonies. You, Aloft’s short instrumental of backwards loops and layered strings is countered by American Sex, a quiet campfire song of just voices and acoustic, suddenly hijacked by warped tabla and bible-questioning vocal sample. While all the tracks have their differences there’s one thing that ties the whole thing together: melody. Lots and lots of melody.

Russo’s voice is thin and fragile but never lacks purpose and feeling. His subject matter often turns to love. Lyrics like “I’ve been singing in and out of tune, it’s always been to you” and “You and me, staring at the same ceiling” manage to tread the fine line where cuteness meets sincerity. On Us Vs. Them he’s taking on the world with a loved one, “linked arms spining into the sunset in a lazy waltz.” Marriage Song, complete with pots and pans percussion, tea chest bass, drunk slide guitar and an I Want You (She’s So Heavy)-aping break down, talks of living in “a house built for mileage”.

Closing the album is the rousing singalong Everything and More. As more voices than you can count join in chorus (“We’re walking on water that’s turned into wine / I’ll take yours and you take mine / we are every little thing all of the time”) the tracks builds over a rising four-chord progression. As vocals grow in strength and instruments starts to teeter on the brink of going out of control the track shifts into second gear, Russo’s now screaming vocal drowned out by the cacophony of voices, cymbals, strings and brass. A cliché? Perhaps. Handled perfectly? Without doubt. Get the wrong person behind the desk and you’ll find a symphony orchestra on this quicker than you know it. What’s so brilliant about this is that it’s a small number of people playing it like they mean it.

Given a quick glance or a casual ear There Is A Mountain is ostensibly a pop record; it’s packed full of ear-worm melodies and, with the majority of tracks clocking in at around three minutes, it’s over in little more than a half hour. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find an album which is fit to burst with ideas; it’s peppered with tricks, ticks and turns of phrase that are as clever as they are effective. There Is A Mountain is an album you’ll love instantly, return to constantly and never tire of. - Culture Delux Magazine


* Common Prayer - "There Is A Mountain" (Virtual/Big Potato 2010)

No offense to NYC, but lately there is a certain stigma attached to music coming out of trendy Brooklyn. Designer acts with premature blog heavy praise is enough to make anyone suspicious of musicians calling BK home. So we have Common Prayer. A nine-piece outfit headlined by Jason Sebastian Russo on lead guitar and vocals, tin bucket and clarinet whiz Alexandra Marvar, percussionist John Anderson, and cellist Karen Codd.

I already begin to cringe as I read that their debut album, "There Is A Mountain," was recorded in a cow barn somewhere called Hill Farm. Painfully reminiscent of albums penned by Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and several other rustic leaning indie musicians, I prepare myself for the ordinary.

But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine. Russo's yelping evokes a youthful jest on opening track "commonprayer" and the electronic metronome ticking "Hopewell." Standout single "Us vs. Them" places a wistful Russo crooning over a swelling cello and dreamy piano led chorus.

While the album begins on a high note the final third gets a little sleepy (albeit in a good way with "You, Aloft") until the appropriately final track "Everything and More." As a thoughtful piano leads into the group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them.

Despite the 718 area code, the collection of off-the wall instruments, and a band mate with the name Mikey Peanuts, Common Prayer bring a pure and youthful sound, further proving the age old adage, you can't judge a band by its BK address.
Buy it! - Adam Thomas


- PlugInMusic.com


* Common Prayer - "There Is A Mountain" (Virtual/Big Potato 2010)

No offense to NYC, but lately there is a certain stigma attached to music coming out of trendy Brooklyn. Designer acts with premature blog heavy praise is enough to make anyone suspicious of musicians calling BK home. So we have Common Prayer. A nine-piece outfit headlined by Jason Sebastian Russo on lead guitar and vocals, tin bucket and clarinet whiz Alexandra Marvar, percussionist John Anderson, and cellist Karen Codd.

I already begin to cringe as I read that their debut album, "There Is A Mountain," was recorded in a cow barn somewhere called Hill Farm. Painfully reminiscent of albums penned by Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and several other rustic leaning indie musicians, I prepare myself for the ordinary.

But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine. Russo's yelping evokes a youthful jest on opening track "commonprayer" and the electronic metronome ticking "Hopewell." Standout single "Us vs. Them" places a wistful Russo crooning over a swelling cello and dreamy piano led chorus.

While the album begins on a high note the final third gets a little sleepy (albeit in a good way with "You, Aloft") until the appropriately final track "Everything and More." As a thoughtful piano leads into the group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them.

Despite the 718 area code, the collection of off-the wall instruments, and a band mate with the name Mikey Peanuts, Common Prayer bring a pure and youthful sound, further proving the age old adage, you can't judge a band by its BK address.
Buy it! - Adam Thomas


- PlugInMusic.com


What do you get when you take two Brooklynites, put them in a barn on a farm in the English village of Steventon, and surround them with a coterie of British musicians and myriad instruments? Why, you get There Is A Mountain, the debut LP from Common Prayer, of course–that or a wacky, Green Acres-type sitcom. The album will be released on July 19th by Neil Halstead’s (Slowdive/Mojave 3) Big Potato imprint and is out digitally on June 1st on Virtual Label. Common Prayer is helmed by Jason Sebastian Russo, who plucks his whimsical, slightly derailed indie-pop out of the ether with assistance from woman-at-arms Alexandra Marvar (their live band is rounded out by Karen Codd, John Anderson, and on occasion, Jason’s brother Justin). Together with their rag-tag band of merry U.K. musicmakers, the trio pounds out songs that feel at home alongside releases by Earlimart, By Divine Right, and Dios.

There Is A Mountain’s fourth track is “Us vs Them,” a song whose melodies are broad and whose heart takes it on all kinds of well-received tangents. From the piano-laced verses to the final, foot-shuffling moments filled with whistled curlicues, the track boasts a slightly deranged beauty. Put another way, its tunefulness is effective and well-composed but also carries a slightly disheveled sensibility, like a great looking haircut that seems a little mussed by design. The instrumentation on “Us vs Them” is vast and layered, providing riddles for the listener to suss out with each repeated listen–little easter eggs of banjo and organ and the like. For better or worse, it is assuredly the sort of song that grows more rewarding and less oddball over time, and those willing to give Russo & Company a fair shake will discover a new act whose music boasts a deep reservoir of vitality, nuance, and charm. - One Track Mind


What do you get when you take two Brooklynites, put them in a barn on a farm in the English village of Steventon, and surround them with a coterie of British musicians and myriad instruments? Why, you get There Is A Mountain, the debut LP from Common Prayer, of course–that or a wacky, Green Acres-type sitcom. The album will be released on July 19th by Neil Halstead’s (Slowdive/Mojave 3) Big Potato imprint and is out digitally on June 1st on Virtual Label. Common Prayer is helmed by Jason Sebastian Russo, who plucks his whimsical, slightly derailed indie-pop out of the ether with assistance from woman-at-arms Alexandra Marvar (their live band is rounded out by Karen Codd, John Anderson, and on occasion, Jason’s brother Justin). Together with their rag-tag band of merry U.K. musicmakers, the trio pounds out songs that feel at home alongside releases by Earlimart, By Divine Right, and Dios.

There Is A Mountain’s fourth track is “Us vs Them,” a song whose melodies are broad and whose heart takes it on all kinds of well-received tangents. From the piano-laced verses to the final, foot-shuffling moments filled with whistled curlicues, the track boasts a slightly deranged beauty. Put another way, its tunefulness is effective and well-composed but also carries a slightly disheveled sensibility, like a great looking haircut that seems a little mussed by design. The instrumentation on “Us vs Them” is vast and layered, providing riddles for the listener to suss out with each repeated listen–little easter eggs of banjo and organ and the like. For better or worse, it is assuredly the sort of song that grows more rewarding and less oddball over time, and those willing to give Russo & Company a fair shake will discover a new act whose music boasts a deep reservoir of vitality, nuance, and charm. - One Track Mind


Album Review: Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain

The first time I listened to Common Prayer’s There Is A Mountain, I was driving home from an afternoon spent in Tappahannock, a lovely little hamlet on the banks of the Rappahannock River in Eastern Virginia. The sun was starting its slow descent into the countryside, and the car was covered by a blanket of tall trees along the roadways, peachy sunlight poking through and creating long shadows along the pavement. It was, without question, the perfect accompaniment for the first haunting taste of Common Prayer.

Common Prayer is the brainchild of LET friend and favorite Jason Russo, pied piper of superior Brooklyn band Hopewell. Taking a break from his Hopewellian duties, Russo decided to pick up stakes and decamp in the United Kingdom for a spell and work his magic in the countryside. The fruits of said labors can be found in the form of the fantastical record I shall discuss with you now.

There Is A Mountain deftly explores Russo’s gift for the beautifully quirky, and shows off his charmingly off-kilter vocal and lyrical stylings. Opener “commonprayer” sets the idiosyncratic tone straight away, with gently-strummed banjo and Russo’s enchanting, offbeat lyricism (example: “I’ve been singin in and out of tune/it’s always been to you” and “I offer up my heart on a stick”). Mr. Russo and his helpers have made one of the finest records of the year, hands down. It’s overflowing with character unlike anything else you’re likely to hear, and its’ slanted and enchanted sound makes my little heart go pitter patter. “Hopewell,” perhaps a nod to Russo’s main project, kinda sorta makes me think of “My Darling Clementine.” Don’t ask, I can’t quite figure out why. It’s certainly not because of the Harrison-esque guitar sound, but the resemblance is there. My favorite, “Us vs. Them,” is sensational. Tinkling, twinkling piano and a dash of falsetto, well, you just can’t beat it. “I have my suspicions,” sings Russo, “that nothing’s real,” as the spritely swirl swells around him.

To make a potentially long story short(er), may I just say that There Is A Mountain is glorious, darling, magical, and almost as much fun as a barrel of monkeys. As much as I adore Hopewell, Common Prayer is quite a breath of fresh air. Don’t be surprised to see this here album perched on the Best of 2010 list, not just here, but all over the place. - Les Enfants Terribles


Album Review: Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain

The first time I listened to Common Prayer’s There Is A Mountain, I was driving home from an afternoon spent in Tappahannock, a lovely little hamlet on the banks of the Rappahannock River in Eastern Virginia. The sun was starting its slow descent into the countryside, and the car was covered by a blanket of tall trees along the roadways, peachy sunlight poking through and creating long shadows along the pavement. It was, without question, the perfect accompaniment for the first haunting taste of Common Prayer.

Common Prayer is the brainchild of LET friend and favorite Jason Russo, pied piper of superior Brooklyn band Hopewell. Taking a break from his Hopewellian duties, Russo decided to pick up stakes and decamp in the United Kingdom for a spell and work his magic in the countryside. The fruits of said labors can be found in the form of the fantastical record I shall discuss with you now.

There Is A Mountain deftly explores Russo’s gift for the beautifully quirky, and shows off his charmingly off-kilter vocal and lyrical stylings. Opener “commonprayer” sets the idiosyncratic tone straight away, with gently-strummed banjo and Russo’s enchanting, offbeat lyricism (example: “I’ve been singin in and out of tune/it’s always been to you” and “I offer up my heart on a stick”). Mr. Russo and his helpers have made one of the finest records of the year, hands down. It’s overflowing with character unlike anything else you’re likely to hear, and its’ slanted and enchanted sound makes my little heart go pitter patter. “Hopewell,” perhaps a nod to Russo’s main project, kinda sorta makes me think of “My Darling Clementine.” Don’t ask, I can’t quite figure out why. It’s certainly not because of the Harrison-esque guitar sound, but the resemblance is there. My favorite, “Us vs. Them,” is sensational. Tinkling, twinkling piano and a dash of falsetto, well, you just can’t beat it. “I have my suspicions,” sings Russo, “that nothing’s real,” as the spritely swirl swells around him.

To make a potentially long story short(er), may I just say that There Is A Mountain is glorious, darling, magical, and almost as much fun as a barrel of monkeys. As much as I adore Hopewell, Common Prayer is quite a breath of fresh air. Don’t be surprised to see this here album perched on the Best of 2010 list, not just here, but all over the place. - Les Enfants Terribles


Given Jason Sebastian Russo’s past as a member of both NYC psychedelic rockers Hopewell and (albeit briefly) renowned wayward frontier freak-poppers Mercury Rev, it was always likely that this on-paper folk proposition was actually far from a standard-issue acoustic-strums album. And so it proves to be: Common Prayer’s debut is a set that stretches itself across a multi-coloured patchwork of sonic touchstones, exploring uncommon tangents but never losing sight of the thread that so delicately binds the whole into a surprisingly cohesive experience.

Russo recorded these 11 tracks in Oxfordshire, the players drawn from the local area’s indie-cum-folk pool of talent. One, Robin Bennett, organises the annual Truck Festival, at which Common Prayer performed this summer; he was (is? Answers on a postcard...) also in the Virgin-signed band Goldrush. Another Russo, Jason’s brother Justin, features too – he played a part in Mercury Rev and is currently the core creative force in Brooklyn chamber-pop outfit The Silent League. Given the disparate roots of its musicians, it’s a real treat that There Is a Mountain sounds the way it does – it beguiles gently, its clattering percussion and deft injections of violin and accordion dancing merrily around spoken-word samples and heavy-of-soul organ groan.

Ultimately, what should not sound like a band proper (inverted commas, there) absolutely does. Whether the transatlantic group presses on remains to be seen, but in these songs there is promise enough to suggest Common Prayer could rise through the alternative-indie ranks in a manner akin to Broken Social Scene. As the feted Canadians continued with their collaborative project, so their sound swelled and morphed; here, this Anglo-American ensemble performs with a freeness that implies nothing is beyond consideration. It doesn’t always work, but the group’s playfulness typically pays dividends.

Among these highs: the Arcade Fire-on-a-budget dusty-booted stomp-along of Sara G, the piano-accompanied tenderness of penultimate number Moneyspider, Hopewell’s spirited shout-along to memories of more innocent days. Throughout, Russo (JS) reveals himself to be an inspired lyricist – his reference to a couple’s “shapeless geometry” on American Sex shouldn’t sound romantic, but somehow it’s the loveliest sentiment heard on a record in several weeks. His voice isn’t the strongest, but it’s warm and affecting of lilt – a comparison to Mark Linkous certainly isn’t too wide of the mark.

It’s not big, but it is clever and impressively orchestrated. As such, There Is a Mountain ranks as one of the year-so-far’s most recommended under-the-radar releases. –Mike Diver - BBC


Given Jason Sebastian Russo’s past as a member of both NYC psychedelic rockers Hopewell and (albeit briefly) renowned wayward frontier freak-poppers Mercury Rev, it was always likely that this on-paper folk proposition was actually far from a standard-issue acoustic-strums album. And so it proves to be: Common Prayer’s debut is a set that stretches itself across a multi-coloured patchwork of sonic touchstones, exploring uncommon tangents but never losing sight of the thread that so delicately binds the whole into a surprisingly cohesive experience.

Russo recorded these 11 tracks in Oxfordshire, the players drawn from the local area’s indie-cum-folk pool of talent. One, Robin Bennett, organises the annual Truck Festival, at which Common Prayer performed this summer; he was (is? Answers on a postcard...) also in the Virgin-signed band Goldrush. Another Russo, Jason’s brother Justin, features too – he played a part in Mercury Rev and is currently the core creative force in Brooklyn chamber-pop outfit The Silent League. Given the disparate roots of its musicians, it’s a real treat that There Is a Mountain sounds the way it does – it beguiles gently, its clattering percussion and deft injections of violin and accordion dancing merrily around spoken-word samples and heavy-of-soul organ groan.

Ultimately, what should not sound like a band proper (inverted commas, there) absolutely does. Whether the transatlantic group presses on remains to be seen, but in these songs there is promise enough to suggest Common Prayer could rise through the alternative-indie ranks in a manner akin to Broken Social Scene. As the feted Canadians continued with their collaborative project, so their sound swelled and morphed; here, this Anglo-American ensemble performs with a freeness that implies nothing is beyond consideration. It doesn’t always work, but the group’s playfulness typically pays dividends.

Among these highs: the Arcade Fire-on-a-budget dusty-booted stomp-along of Sara G, the piano-accompanied tenderness of penultimate number Moneyspider, Hopewell’s spirited shout-along to memories of more innocent days. Throughout, Russo (JS) reveals himself to be an inspired lyricist – his reference to a couple’s “shapeless geometry” on American Sex shouldn’t sound romantic, but somehow it’s the loveliest sentiment heard on a record in several weeks. His voice isn’t the strongest, but it’s warm and affecting of lilt – a comparison to Mark Linkous certainly isn’t too wide of the mark.

It’s not big, but it is clever and impressively orchestrated. As such, There Is a Mountain ranks as one of the year-so-far’s most recommended under-the-radar releases. –Mike Diver - BBC


Discography

"There Is A Mountain" (South Cherry Entropy / Big Potato Records 2010)

Photos

Bio

In the english village of Steventon, Oxfordshire, songwriter / principal heretic Jason Sebastian Russo and a constituency of british pop talent (the founders of Steventon's 13-year-old Truck music festival) hauled several half-tuned guitars, myriad scraps of rusty metal and a piano with a knee-high flood watermark into a cow barn on Hill Farm. So was born 'There Is A Mountain,' the first album by Common Prayer, so far critically acclaimed everywhere from Brooklyn's buzzing indierock blogosphere to NME and the BBC.

In the album's eleven elaborately cinematic outsider-pop tracks, violin innuendos and organ riffs tangle with scrap metal samples and found sounds. While thoughtful and often somber in theme, Russo's songs are playfully bizarre, informed by extensive field research in the life of the heartbroken, reckless, romantic and mentally ill from a reflective and victorious post-everything perspective.

The band has just signed to Big Potato Records, a british label founded in part by Neil Halstead (of Slowdive, Mojave 3). 'There is a Mountain' was released digitally in North America on South Cherry Entropy (Russo's own imprint of Virtual Label) on June 1, 2010. Big Potato released the album digitally in the UK July 26, 2010, with a CD release set for October 11, 2010.