Illustrious Day
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Illustrious Day

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"A better Day"

BY BOB GULLA

Jackie O’Brien lost her job at the beginning of the year, a traumatic event for many. But as far as Jackie was concerned, the layoff came at the perfect time. "It was fine with me," she explains, "because I really got a chance to take advantage of the situation." Not, of course, by watching Dr. Phil in the afternoons, but by putting her whole mind and soul into the writing and recording of Waving in Traffic, the brand new album by her band Illustrious Day.

The extra focus paid off. As Jackie and the band have grown as artists, so too have their recordings, each successive one demonstrating more attention to detail and nuance. Recorded with Joe Moody (who also guests on the record along with a handful of other local heroes) and produced by Moody, the band, and Todd Oulette, Waving shows vast progress in tone and taste. In particular, Jackie’s singing — a warbling, songwritery voice with a sort of Tanya Donelly-esque etherealism — has really begun to come into its own.

"I think the record’s more vocally oriented," she admits. "I’ve been working really hard on my vocals; I vocalize every day. Even if I don’t have time to play, I vocalize, because I think it’s important for growing your vocal strength." With Waving illuminating Jackie’s voice, Moody and the band made sure to keep it in the spotlight at the expense of further instrumentation. "We tried not to muck it up with too much other stuff," she says, "so the vocals had more focus."

Following her capable work on ID’s other two discs — In Between (1998) and Dizzy Fell Down (2001) — Waving finds them at last alighting on a confident largely acoustic sound. While her past work felt searching and tentative, the new set, especially on songs such as "Bricks N’ Mortar" and the title track, aims at a specific creative target and hits it more often than not. There’s little wavering, and even less uncertainty. It helps that three of the songs, "Out of the Blue," "Tied," and "Still Believe," have been re-recorded from an unreleased EP. Those songs feel especially comfortable — considerably revamped to fit into the band’s new approach. Jackie’s vocal melodies provide each tune with a point of emphasis, while playful acoustic guitar strumming gives her voice a soft place to land. Only a couple of tunes, particularly "24 Hours," fail to discover distinguishing turf.

Still, with Jackie’s performance, Moody’s able assistance, and husband Jim’s mature aesthetic as a standard, the record hits most of the right chords. It also helps, Jackie admits, to be a perfectionist. "It drives Joe crazy!" she laughs. "But my philosophy is, if you’re going to do it, you do it until you get it exactly right."

In addition to the new record, Jackie and Illustrious Day were responsible for 12 songs in a film titled Holy Watergate, an award-winning documentary by URI film studies instructor Mary Healy-Conlon on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The film debuts on the Showtime network this week. It’s another great showcase for O’Brien’s oeuvre, which looks like it’s on the rise. "I’m hoping to be more attractive to a larger publisher," she says, "and focus on songwriting. That would be ideal." And it certainly would prevent her from needing to replace that job she just lost.


- The Providence Phoenix


"Illustrious Day back in limelight with new CD, performance, focus"

BY RICK MASSIMO
Journal Pop Music Writer



Jackie O'Brien and Illustrious Day's new CD, Waving in Traffic, features more of the group's signature tuneful guitar pop, led by O'Brien's breathy, sweet-sounding voice vocalizing sometimes-incongruously dark sentiments: "I'm underfed and overdrawn . . . I'm waiting out this disaster," goes the title track.

There's a clearer, more radio-ready production on this CD than the previous one, 2003's Tied EP, and more of an emphasis on melody and vocals.

That's not the only news for the band, though. Filmmaker Mary Healey-Conlon, used "Solitary Reaper," a song from the group's first CD, 1998's In Between, as the opening and closing theme for her film Holy Water-Gate, a documentary look at sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Vocal-and-guitar incidental music by O'Brien and Illustrious Day guitarist Jim O'Brien is also sprinkled throughout the film.

The documentary was released in January and has been aired in prime time in Canada, Australia and Europe. It will premiere on the Showtime channel tonight, and will air soon on the Sundance Channel and other cable channels run by Showtime about 30 times over the next two months, O'Brien says.

While the group will continue playing shows and selling CDs, O'Brien says, "I'd love to get more stuff into film."

O'Brien licensed the songs for Holy Water-Gate through her own publishing company, but she's working to attract larger publishing companies to license music from the new CD for films and TV.

"That is our focus," she says.

- The Providence Journal


"Brand New "Day" Waving in Traffic to be released by Illustrious Day"

Since releasing Dizzy Fell Down in 2002, Illustrious Day has kept a steady buzz humming on the area's music circuit.

Led by front-woman and guitarist Jackie O'Brien, the band has 11 songs featured on Holy Water-Gate, a documentary about sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church, by Rhode Island filmmaker Mary Healey-Conlon. The award-winning film recently screened at Cable Car Cinema and was acquired by Showtime Networks. The film includes Illustrious Day's "Solitary Reaper" in its opening scene, as well as the instrumentals.

The Rhode Island native O'Brien and her band mates that include her husband, Jim, finished three months of recording a new CD last week at Danger Multitrack Studios with Joe Moody, Waving in Traffic, which appears to be their best work to date.

Jackie says the band went in and laid down the basic rhythm tracks in February, and has been steadily chipping away at completing the project since.

She says Waving in Traffic reflects some of questions and journeys of her life. At one point, O'Brien had thoughts of finishing college and going on to law school, but music was her calling. So discovering and sharing her innate song has been the impetus for her brand of folk-rock, that has been likened to a cross between Shawn Colvin and the Foo Fighters.

Songs such as "Brick in Mortar" delve into spiritual awareness and recognize the importance of not taking for granted the things right in front of you. "Living in Stereo," she says, is about her husband and "sweetheart."

And having worked closely with mentally challenged adults, has been inspirational to Jackie's songwriting as well.

"Their simplicity, I almost wish my life were so simple," she says. "They cherish every moment," instead of being down in the minutia.

But if Waving in Traffic is the CD to elevate Illustrious Day, it will surely be on the merits of Jackie's vocals.

She has range, able to go high at times and also have her voice resonate with a sultry, almost mystical humm. And, Illustrious Day maintains and intimate connection with audiences, through songwriting, and by choosing venues such as Tazza Caffe to release Waving in Traffic.

- Motif Magazine


"Catching a Buzz(play) - Four area bands vie for national bragging rights"

BY BOB GULLA

The folks over at Buzzplay are nothing if not absolutely smitten with the rock music coming out of southern New England these days. The LA-based site, an independent A&R and music promotion service that also does some booking, publicity, and artist management/development, has redoubled its efforts in our area and its charts reflect that effort. Recently, the site has championed Zox, Transparent, and Monty’s Fan Club. M-80 was the winner of last year’s Best Unsigned Band Search, and landed some dates on the 2003 Warped Tour at least in part because of their association with the site.

Well, this year Buzzplay’s Best Unsigned Band Search continues mining area talent. On Friday (the 26th), the site will host a showcase at the Green Room. On the bill are prominent Buzzplay bands the StereoBirds, Illustrious Day, and Audiocentrix (formerly Sonnet), along with a Boston band called the States.

The Birds and ID are both finalists in the site’s talent hunt, as are Transparent and Monty’s Fan Club, which is a damn good percentage of finalists when the list is limited to 10 nationally. "We represent all types of music, as long as it’s good and original," explains LJ, the site’s owner. "We look for bands that we think have something to offer to a national audience."

If this is true — at least according to a guy who can observe us all the way from LA — and he sees all kinds of talent springing forth from this area, that means we have some sort of scene on our hands. Head to buzzplay.com for more on the BUBS, and snookersgreenroom.com for details on Friday’s show.

- The Providence Phoenix


"Illustrious Day - Dizzy Fell Down"

Illustrious Day is a trio of artsy, interesting, talented musicians and songwriters. Jackie O'Brien on vocals and rhythm guitars, Jim O'Brien on bass and guitars and Art Rossi on drums and piano comprise the lineup, but the beacon and center of this band is, without question, Jackie O'Brien. Ms. O'Brien handles all the vocals and, but for one, penned all the selections. The CD contains 10 original songs that speak to the many facets of equanimity, intensity and intellect, that dwell within this young woman's poetic spirit. This endeavor rocks, knocks, rolls and unfolds in all the right places. With a voice that is clean, strong, and not so innocent, Ms. O'Brien grasps firm control to the pace of this album. Her band's support is expert, solid, and never overbearing. It's quite a feat the way these players become, at times, almost invisible behind the vocalist. It's a testimony to the high level of musicianship, polish and complete trust they have in the singer and the project. The first track,"Roof," is an erotic bop-rocker in which Ms. O'Brien allows her mind to wander as she recalls a sensual roof-top encounter. With heavy guitar, bass and drums as a backdrop, the author brings the sights, sounds and smells of that special affair back to life as she dreamily reminisces. "Angela's Voice" is a hypnotic groove that explores female self-esteem, or lack of it. The yearning for equality and understanding can be heard in Ms. O'Brien vocal, a vocal performance that is sweet and at the same time, agonizing. With "Spurned," O'Brien displays her rancor toward a former lover who controlled misued and selfishly sheltered her from the outside world. When she sings "I'd do anything to be integrated. I never learned any social graces," she admits to her shortcomings, thus opening the door to a new life of strength and independence. Dizzy Fell Down is a eccentric trip that no music fan or dark poetry lover should miss.

- The Northeast Performer


Discography

1998 EP - In between
2002 CD -Dizzy fell down
2005 CD - Waving in Traffic

"Bricks n Mortar" is currently being played on
WHJY 94.1 Providence, RI
WBRU 95.5 Providence, RI
WRIU 90.3- Kingston, RI
WERS - Boston, MA
and more being added every day as the CD was released 5/20/05
Also on an infinite number of internet radio stations

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Intense acoustic rock driven by dynamic female vocals, haunting lyrics and unforgettable melodies are but a few words that describe the music of Illustrious Day, led by singer-songwriter Jackie O'brien, bassist Jim O'brien and drummer Pete Abdou. Think Shawn Colvin meets the Foo Fighters.
Jackie's honest approach to songwriting draws on a myriad of influences that give her songs huge crossover appeal. O'brien explains, "Everyone in the band comes from such different musical backgrounds. It's an eclectic mix that creates a real dynamic sound."

The Providence, RI-based Illustrious Day began creating a buzz in the regional music scene as their 2002 full-length debut cd, "Dizzy fell down," garnered glowing reviews and radio airplay throughout the region. Illustrious Day was voted one of the top ten best unsigned bands in the country by BUZZPLAY.com and are growing a strong fan base as they continue to perform at clubs, colleges and festivals throughout the Northeastern United States. Jackie also performs solo and has played such shows as the Atlantic Songwriters Festival in Sweet Briar, VA and the R.I.S.A. stage of the Newport Folk Festival whose main stage featured the Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin, to name a few. She has also performed with
Melissa Ferrick and the Beaver Brown Band

Jackie is a nominee for Best Female Vocalist in the Providence Phoenix Music Poll 2005.

Their new CD, "Waving in traffic, " (May 2005)highlights the unique and timeless style of Jackie's voice with songs that rumble with emotion.

Jackie's own Daygirl Music has recently licensed 11 songs that are featured in the independent film documentary "Holy Water-gate," which received the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. The film has aired in Europe/Australia and began airing domestically in prime-time on the Showtime network in May 2005.

Illustrious Day's sound blurs the distinction between intimate singer-songwriter and energetic rock band.

"Intense chick rock" ----95.5 WBRU Providence, RI

"....hits the creative target."
---------The Providence Phoenix