Jason Daniello
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Jason Daniello

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The best kept secret in music

Press


Daniello's keen pop sensibilities result in songs that are fluid, simple and brilliantly structured. From the bright acoustic hooks of the album's opener, "What You Can," to the slow-burn electric guitar and thick bass lines of the title track, Daniello holds his heart on his sleeve both lyrically and instrumentally. - Albuquerque Journal






During my interview with Albuquerque singer/songwriter Jason Daniello at our neighborhood coffee shop, a passerby recognized him and launched into a flood of questions about Naomi (Daniello's defunct first band), even going so far as to beg for some Naomi CDs to replace those his wife had taken in their divorce. Anonymity is a relative thing.
Daniello, like so many struggling talents, has yet to see music fandom at large offer up some much-deserved recognition. Locally, though, the exuberant musician has been a subject of praise for nearly ten years, with his tireless dedication yielding a wealth of soulful material, including two albums by Naomi (Hurts and World Spinning) and two solo records (Re-creation and the just-released Everything Good).
Touchstones for Daniello's songs range from Wilco to Sparklehorse to Paul Westerberg to Neil Young. "There's no genre I don't like," his says of his multi-faceted work. "I love music, period. I do enjoy mimicking certain styles for fun, but there's something to be said for focusing, and I think I did focus on the new record." That much is true--Everything Good is accessible indie pop throughout, while the Naomi records and Re-creation are generously interwoven with folk, rock and alt-country threads. "In the long term, I want to write all kinds of songs," he adds. "On the next record I'll probably do something totally acoustic, weird sounding and rootsy. I don't care about being in a certain genre."
A native New Mexican, Daniello grew up near Mount Taylor, moving to Albuquerque in 1991 to study vocal performance at UNM. It didn't take. "I studied for two years and didn't like the classical methods or formality of the training," he reflects. He didn't leave the program emptyhanded, however, having met fellow singer/guitarist and eventual Naomi counterpart Ben Hathorne. "We just wanted to make music for a living," Daniello says. "We got gigs as a duo for about six months, both playing guitar and singing. We’d play a lot of shows in a month, sometimes as many as twenty when we were just an acoustic duo, so we got kind of a buzz going. [Then] when the band started the gigs tapered off a bit, but we still had the buzz."
The band was soon rounded out with drums and bass, and began playing throughout New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. Naomi went on to record two albums that showcased a soaring dual vocal approach and the complementary voices of Daniello and Hathorne. What sounded like musical harmony, though, was gradually becoming less than seamless between Naomi's chief architects. "I got into this countryish, folksy phase," Daniello says, "while Ben wanted to get heavier, and in the end I was ready to move on more than he was." A testament to their remarkable chemistry as players, Naomi's songwriting process had always been highly individualized as well. "We didn't really co-write; [Ben and I] each just brought songs to the table. I'm still yearning for that collaborative effort, but I've never really had it."
Simultaneously, Daniello had also taken the first inadvertent steps toward the next phase of his musical career. "I was invited to go record at Thunderbird Studios as a guinea pig for a recording class, and they kept inviting me back, so I kept accumulating these songs. I was probably halfway done with [Re-creation] when Naomi ended."
The period immediately after Naomi's demise saw the release of Daniello's first solo album (1999), along with some dabbling in other projects, and he admits to a bit of uncertainty in his direction. "At the time Naomi broke up, I was thinking seriously of a solo career, but then started a band called Boss Tweed with local musician/producer Ryan Martino, along with Johnny Cassidy from Venus Diablo and Jeff Romaniuk [Naomi's drummer]. It lasted six months," he laughs. "It's all therapeutic, though, and I believe everything happens in its right time." Fortunately, he now had a solo album to get behind in a live setting, even without a full band. The album, Re-creation, is a more cohesive work than Daniello's above reference to focusing indicates. At fourteen songs, it moves quite naturally from twang to mood rock to Caribbean balladry and back, with his wistful yet buoyant voice uniting the disparate styles. Further, the record is a telling snapshot of an artist finding his way; standout tracks "Across The Country In A Bus" and "It's Alright" are as dissimilar as the roles of solo musician and band member, yet Daniello's equal ease in performing each highlights the inherent connectedness of it all. Compare his recorded output to that of The Beatles, and Re-creation is his Revolver.
The last several years have seen Daniello's time divided between an ongoing solo performance schedule as well as batches of shows with The Argonauts, the trio he formed after releasing Re-creation. "With the solo thing, you don’t have to rely on anyone or coordinate anything except yourself, and it definitely g - Hyperactive Music Magazine


Yeah, the reviews are in and already bringing up Mr Daniello's former project, Naomi with Mr Hathorne. Ok, I'll add a few cents into that purse --but after that we'll just get on with it:

Showcasing the best of Jason's strengths, you could bookend this release with the self-titled The Hopefuls CD of 1999 (which despite the name was for all intents and purposes solo Ben Hathorne; you can't fool us, man!).

The very first hard-strummed downstrokes of the opening "What You Can" caught me off guard and made me sit up and take note. In fact I hit the Track 1 button less than a minute in just to get the feel of that strong intro again.

After hearing Jason on and off for, oh maybe eight years now I still can't get over that voice. It's almost too good, so smooth and even fuller with (ahem) age. It's no studio trick either, the man sounds just like this on stage. Its uncanny. Its almost as if--well, no, JD's too nice to have made a deal with the devil but maybe a pact with some vocals guardian angel...?

Although I prefer my Daniello tunes with more crunch and jangle (as in "and the Argonauts"), this remains a fine release, mostly of the thoughtful and romantic singer-songwriter genre. And somehow, with no obvious references, it puts me in the mind of Rubber Soul/ Revolver-era McCartney.

Too, I wasn't surprised to see Ryan Martino credits all over the place: producer, engineer and mix-man and it shows.
By: Captain America - WigWamBam


“...Pop, folk and rock intermingle freely as Daniello works out his love and loneliness, his warm thoughts and vocals the center of every arrangement. “Elizabeth Anne,” What You Can” and “Everything Good” boast quite the fetching tunes, and Daniello makes it sound soulful and easy. The title of this one’s got it just about right.” -High Bias - High Bias


I sat waiting for Albuquerque singer/songwriter Jason Daniello, trying to contain my excitement. This interview was the perfect cover for me to covertly obtain some lessons in great song writing. I'd long known of Jason's reputation, as anyone in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area with a remote interest in good music has heard of his various projects, the now defunct Naomi and his current band Jason and the Argonauts. But nothing prepared me for the power of his songwriting, for the sheer beauty of his music. From the moment I heard him singing his latest songs in a local coffee shop, I knew I had to hear more. When I listened to his new CD Everything Good for the sixth time in two days, I knew I had to find out how he could make great music seem so effortless.

Jason arrived with his usual affable smile and a gift, a copy of his first CD, Re-Creation, a decidedly more eclectic collection of acoustic songs than Everything Good. As we settled in to a shared lunch of Shrimp Pud Thai and Catfish Curry, the talk inevitably turned to music.

I admitted to him that I'm not a huge fan of pop music and wouldn't know a Wilco song if it bit me on the foot. But I know a good song when I hear it, and that his album just floored me. As a musician, I wanted to know if there was some formula Jason uses to come up with such great songs.

"I was listening to your song 'stared' the other day," I told him between bites of shrimp. "And there is this huge, pregnant pause in the bridge. You build up all this tension and then come back in so strong and release it. Do you make a conscious decision to write things like that?"

"Not at all," Jason told me. "I just write what makes me happy. I'm a listener too. I listen to a lot of music. So I play stuff that I'd like to listen to."

"But what about songs like 'elizabeth anne,' which is probably the most up-tempo song on the album, did you set out to emulate any other songs, something you heard and thought 'I want to write a song like that.'?"

"There are a few songs that I love and would like to write something as good, but I never set out to emulate anyone," Jason said, spooning curry onto his rice. "I just wanted to write a celebratory song, something upbeat and fun."

This was really starting to bum me out. I wanted some trade secret; nobody could write songs this catchy without a secret formula.

"So when you are working on a song like that," I probed, "do you listen to a lot of upbeat music to get in the mood or put you in a frame of mind?"

"No, I don't follow any sort of pattern like that when I'm writing, which results in a lot of dry spells."

Ah ha! Well that's good news, I thought. At least he struggles like the rest of us.

"Luckily, though, I then get a bunch of songs all at once."

What I realized then is that Jason doesn't need a secret formula. Jason just devotes himself to his music. When he's not shuffling boxes of Chinese herbs around the country at his day gig, the 32 year old New Mexico native is working on his songs, letting his enormous talent take charge.

"So how long did it take you to write this album?" I asked.

"It's been about two years. Some of the songs like 'how long' and 'tiny pill' I've had since 1998."

"So why record them now?"

"Well (producer) Ryan Martino and I went through about thirty songs and tried to pick out those that felt related both in terms of sound and subject matter," Jason said.

"It really does seem like an album, not just a group of songs, especially the song order. Did you focus on that on purpose?" I asked.

"Oh yeah!" Jason said. "I really wanted to make an album like (The Rolling Stones') Tattoo You, where there is a shift from side A, which is more rocking, to side B, which has all this beautiful music on it."

"I hadn't even noticed that you had sides A and B on here," I said pulling out my copy of the CD and reading the track list. "But it makes sense. It really sounds like an album in that sense where side A builds up to a point that makes you want to flip the album over to hear side B, then there's a huge payoff when you do. That's what this record does from 'everything good' on. It just gets bigger and better."

We shuffled plates around the table, allowing each other to get second helpings, the give and take of sharing food much the same as the give and take of sharing our love for making music.

"One of the things that struck me," I said spinning noodles around my fork, "is all of the attention to detail you've paid on this album. So many people just take a song and record it, EQ it, then call it a day. But it really seems like you used the studio like another instrument, adding effects and ambience to really fill your songs out."

"Absolutely. To me playing live is one thing, and it's great. But recording in the studio is its own thing. It's like a paint palette where I can experiment with different colors and textures. I like to play around with all of the different option - The New West Network


Jason Daniello was raised near the lava fields of Grants, home to prehistoric ice caves and dinosaur fossils. Maybe that’s why there is something unusual about his music: His distinct style of desert rock sounds familiar and fresh at the same time. Daniello now calls Albuquerque home, perhaps to find a larger arena for his alternative rhythms, or is it the growing music scene? The city is filled with skilled players, and Daniello has recruited several for his band, Jason and the Argonauts, Ryan Anthony on drums, Dan Spanogle handling bass along with Daniello on guitar and vocal have made them a monthly favorite at The Taos Inn, and at many venues around the Southwest. “Music is something that has always driven me throughout my life,” Daniello said. “It’s just something I do, I can’t stop.”

It started at age 11. Since then he’s become a multi-instrumentalist and played in several bands. His first solo album, “Re-creation” was one of the best regional releases in recent years with stations throughout the state giving airtime to an unprecedented five tracks. KTAO-FM 101.9 continues to get regular requests for several of his tunes and it’s been out for five years. I’ve played it enough that I have many of the lyrics memorized, so when his follow-up, “Everything Good” hit the streets, I couldn’t wait to slide it into the player.

I must admit that in my first listen I wasn’t sure it could measure up to my worn copy of his first album. He’s changed, and his music reflects that. Don’t get me wrong, he still cranks out 10 original songs, but the electricity comes from another storm. By the third listen, I liked this one as much as “Re-creation”. With Daniello, it’s not simply his lyrics or even the melody of his songs, rather it’s the sound, something in the arrangement, that creates the edge.

His voice conveys traces of angst, which belie his easygoing nature. Still, there is something happier about this album, something more played out. It opens with a pounding track, “What You Can,” that you know the drummer just loves to play. “Resist” starts with the lines: “It’s crazy to think I had it all in my hands, then I lost it at the sight of myself with a glance,” which is typical of the irony he threads through his lyrics. The ballad, “I Do,” comes next, with his wife, Liz LeBleu, helping out on backing vocals, making this one a stand-out.

The title track brims with steely emotions brought from the music’s composition
and subtle playing of the band. Daniello calls it one of his favorites. “I like the simplicity of it,” he said. “I’m trying to aspire to be able to appreciate the ordinary in life.”

“Elizabeth Anne” is a sweet tribute to his wife, but you could miss all that because of the catchy tune in which he’s wrapped it. “Walking away,” with the fewest lyrics, is the power-core of this record. It’s a mood-shifting, life-refleting force that reminds how deep a song can cut into us.

The “hit single” buried at track nine, “Tiny Pill,” moves tempo while still posing questions- but the answers are cool. And in spite of everything I’ve said up until now, the final cut, “Daylight,” is my favorite. This is one of those records that gets better with each listen and “Daylight” seems to tie together the extremes of his music, from bitter lyrics to contentment and excitement, slow beats to rocking out.
Daniello, who is also going to school for graphic design, did the layout and took all the photos for the album. He’s created a spread that is odd album-art in an interestingly bazaar sort of way. His wife’s 91-year-old grandfather, F. Boyce LeBleu, painted the cover of the CD. Daniello plans for his next project to be a “home-grown acoustic album.” We’ll miss the drums, but change is good. Seeing him play live with his band is another treat- These three guys are tight and put out more music than seems possible. Whatever desert rock really means, Daniello is there with his guitar from sunrise to midnight, among the coyotes and cactus.


By Brandt Legg for The Taos News


- Taos News


Discography

Naomi- "Hurts" 1993
Naomi- "World Spinning" 1996
Jason Daniello- "Re-creation" 1999
Jason & the Argonauts- "Live @ El Paseo" 2002
Jason Daniello- "Everything Good!" 2004

RADIO PLAY 2005-2006

Bagel Radio on Live 365.com (San Francisco, CA)
WSUM (Madison, WI)
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WEOS (Geneva, NY)
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Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Singer/songwriter Jason Daniello�s nearly ever-present smile and infectiously positive attitude have served him well over the past year and a half. Since the debut of his acclaimed self-released CD Everything Good in late 2004, he�s experienced a critical mass of career activity. Traveling far beyond his native New Mexico, Daniello has revealed the true depth and breadth of his talents to an ever-wider audience on the festival circuit, on tour and with widespread radio play.

Performing both solo and with his band, Jason and the Argonauts, Daniello showcased at the South Park Music Festival in Fairplay, Colorado and the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. He flew solo at several showcases during the 2005 SXSW music conference, including South by South Austin and the Dreamscapers Artist Showcase. He�s toured through the Midwest. Daniello also partnered with Tinderbox Music to launch a college radio campaign that resulted in airplay on over 200 radio stations across the country.

In addition to pursuing personal career goals, Daniello has stoked his creative fires by collaborating with fellow Albuquerque singer/songwriter Nels Andrews. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Daniello lent his skills on lap steel and mandolin to Andrews� 2005 CD Sunday Shoes. At this year�s SXSW conference Daniello played mandolin with Andrews at several showcases.

The genesis of Daniello�s burgeoning career came when he first strummed a guitar amid the red rock mesas and sagebrush of a tiny uranium mining town in New Mexico. The sound that is now captivating fans all over the country still evokes that "air of desert-at-midnight desolation," combining rockish folk and moody pop with a vaguely psychedelic undertone. Overlay that with evocative lyrics describing everything from the mundane task of taking out the garbage to life�s much weightier struggles, and you�ll begin to understand what makes Jason Daniello and his music so special.

In 1992 Daniello formed Naomi, contributing to a renaissance of the Albuquerque music scene. Rising alongside bands such as The Shins, Hazeldine, and The Eyeliners, Naomi grew in popularity, toured extensively throughout the Southwest and released two CDs. In 1997 the band grew apart. Naomi�s infectious choruses and mature harmonies carried over into Daniello's fledgling solo career.

Daniello�s first full length solo CD, Re-creation, was praised by Albuquerque�s Weekly Alibi for its "...unbeatable combo of multi-tracked acoustic guitars accented with Daniello's wonderfully layered singing..." The instantly memorable melodies won him local awards for Musician of the Year, Best Male Vocalist, and Best Acoustic Solo Band from the Weekly Alibi, along with an honorable mention from the 2002 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival.

Daniello�s current CD, Everything Good, debuted in October 2004. Years of dedication culminated in a mesmerizing solo effort that features everything from bright acoustics to slow-burn electric guitar. The disc has garnered universal praise from both local and national rock journalists. Albuquerque, The Magazine enthusiastically states, "Jason Daniello is writing and performing the most gloriously soulful stuff of his life. Jason has concentrated and distilled down everything good about Naomi and tempered it with the experience of nearly two decades making music, creating the most taut and subtly powerful record of his career." The discriminating website High Bias offers this praise for Everything Good: "...Pop, folk and rock intermingle freely as Daniello works out his love and loneliness, his warm thoughts and vocals the center of every arrangement. �Elizabeth Anne,� �What You Can� and �Everything Good� boast quite the fetching tunes, and Daniello makes it sound soulful and easy. The title of this one's got it just about right."

Jason Daniello seems poised for a breakthrough year in 2006. How does he feel about the abundance of attention and opportunity that�s finally come his way? �It�s just the ebb and flow of life," he says. "Sometimes you�ve gotta inhale, sometimes you�ve gotta exhale.�