Justin Catalino
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Justin Catalino


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"From singing telegrams in a gorilla suit to national TV"

When Justin Catalino recently traveled from his adopted home of Los Angles to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for a screening of his music video for “Say My Name in the Morning,” the singer/songwriter brought some of the lack of pretense he learned growing up in Rye with him.

“Something funny that happened to me while I was there,” Catalino said. “I got stopped in an alley by two ladies claiming to be Hillary Duff and her mom. When I told Hillary that I hadn’t seen or heard any of her work, she said, ‘Um, hello, Lizzie McGuire?’ They gave me their number so I could join them later at their condo, but I never made it over.”

These surreal moments should increase after Thursday night, because Catalino’s song “Beat Up Blue” was featured in the breakout Fox television hit “The O.C.” Catalino lays this story out with characteristic understated charm and a noticeable lack of the sort of hyperventilating seen in the star struck. This is partly due to his easygoing nature, but also a byproduct of his crazy, seen-it-all years in Los Angles. Consider: How many other artists do you know who have been kidnapped while in a gorilla suit, a hidden camera taping the whole episode for a reality TV show? Or who have sang “Happy Birthday to You” at the birthday party of a pug, as 25 other reveling pugs circled beneath their feet with nary a human being in sight? Or who has delivered singing telegrams dressed as Austin Powers, a giant chicken or Richard Simmons at any given time for such Hollywood heavyweights as Dustin Hoffman, Sting, Cameron Diaz, Tom Green and The Rock? There is some irony in Catalino, 29, making it to Sundance as a musician.

His debut album, “Welcome to Vacationland”, an amalgam of indie pop and old fashioned crooning, was released last year on the label his family formed to support his ambitions, Rizzo Records. Early buzz on the record was enough for Tori Amos to request an advance copy. And then, one day shortly thereafter he was at Sundance. “Sundance fell from the sky,” Catalino said. “Out of nowhere came this opportunity to be
amongst fellow independent artists who are out there doing their thing. There was a sense of confidence and pride in the air that I was happy to be breathing. It was refreshing to see that good art can be appreciated by the masses without corporate butter cream frosting.” But the buzz coaster didn’t come to a halt at Park City.

Not long after, Catalino made his debut on National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered nationwide showcase. It was a forum that Catalino was more than happy to appear in, and for more than the obvious reasons of publicity and exposure. ”The thing I love about NPR is that they give you life,” Catalino said. “They give you what is actually going on in the world; in people’s lives; in art and in music. So when I was invited, I knew that their audience would listen to what I had to say with an open mind. If people are looking and listening with an open mind, they are sure to realize when their soul really taps into something. That’s the kind of listener I think digs my music.” The key to taking proper advantage of such exposure, of course, is the ability to make one’s music easily accessible to those who catch wind of it in these various high profile forums. This is where the Internet comes in.

Anyone who googles Catalino’s name will lead them to his website, where they can link to CDBaby.com and buy his entire record or iTunes where for a little less they can buy a sample song. “I’m finding that the Internet is a great way to find people to share my music with,” Catalino said. “I can basically find a guy or girl almost anywhere in the world, see what they listen to, find out what’s going on in their world, and then introduce them to my music. Without the internet, trying to promote myself as a musician would be so much more expensive and time consuming. I’m able to live a chill life, hang with my friends, make the music I want to make, and then do some promoting stuff too. I’m happy with this section of the journey.” And how, exactly, is the promotion going? ”The album is still sliding its way into new back pockets,” he said. “Some people hold it there safe and warm and others run with it.” That his family back here in New Hampshire are pulling so hard for him — how many other parents have started labels for their kid’s albums? —doesn’t hurt either. “I am so lucky to have a family that believes in me more than I do myself sometimes,” Catalino said. “We are all very close with a lot of respect for one another. My mother especially helps keep me in check. When things turn blue she is wonderfully supportive and encourages me to stop at nothing.”

While he’s grateful for everything that has come his way this past year, Catalino said he still has to stop every once in awhile and take stock of his blessings. ”I’m the kind of person who wants everything to happen right now,” he said. “I saw a spiritual advisor in December w - Foster's Daily Democrat

"Justin Catalino - Welcome to Vacationland"

With his freak falsetto nestled into a soft pop edge (not too soft mind you, or it'd all melt together), there's nothing too predictable nor too unfamiliar about Justin's music. It's storytelling, it's crooning, it's sarcastic and self-aware in the good way, but goddamn it if this kid ain't doing this with conviction where it counts. -Lesley Bargar - Filter Magazine/LA Alternative Press


“The next big thing out in Los Angeles” -ShawnMacomber.com

“As an artist you have done your work--communicated to the spirit. The record is so sublime”
-Mark Pellington - (Director - U2, Pearl Jam)

“With his freak falsetto nestled into a soft pop edge (not too soft mind you, or it'd all melt together), there's nothing too predictable nor too unfamiliar about Justin's music. It's storytelling, it's crooning, it's sarcastic and self-aware in the good way, but goddamn it if this kid ain't doing this with conviction where it counts.”
-Lesley Bargar - Filter Magazine/LA Alternative Press

“His crafty indie pop songs are riddled with catchy hooks and spacey atmospheres that are sure to see him capturing the hearts and ears of thousands of rabid fans across the continent.”
-J-Sin – Smother.net

“I was impressed with the songwriting, the vocals, and especially the arrangements. . . it kept me listening from track to track and left me waiting for the next song when I reached the end. I can honestly write that there have only been a handful of times when I was pulled into a CD like this.”
-Valerie Lovely - Entertainment Attorney

“Sounds good!”
-Anne Litt - KCRW 89.9 fm

"The coolest falsetto this side of Buckley's grave"
-J.Lynn Johnston - ARTISTdirect Records Recording Artist - www.justincatalino.com

"West Coast Breeze"

Justin Catalino shows us that everything in Southern California shines, including himself. Just listen to his voice - clear as a cloudless sky - gliding coolly across his sunny, alternapop tunes (including one, "Beat Up Blue" that appeared on 'The OC') and you'll know what we mean. - The Wire

"undeniably pop-ridden, but still artistically substantive album"

The dreamy velvet melodies of Justin Catalino's Welcome to Vacationland don't quite make it 20,000 leagues under the sea, but they proffer the lush-pop sonic currency one needs to travel away from reality for a bit. Rolling lyrical harmonies fused with delicately pulsing instrumentals with barely-there percussion initiate that daydream trance in which it matters not what you're staring at ... or even what words strike your ears. Catalino establishes the very first travelers' cheques for visitors to Vacationland with this undeniably pop-ridden, but still artistically substantive album.

Traditionally, music snobs have snubbed pop and have refused to plan a trip anywhere as lyrically shallow as Vactionland. However, it's high time they renewed their passports, as Catalino drops a load of sheer proof that a straightforward rendition of reality - that's right, no metaphors or inane alliteration here - remains a valid ticket to wherever one might find his mind. Given, lines like "I hope that you don't think I'm a whore, but I want you to come home with me tonight, It has been such a long long time" don't usually make it on my Top Ten Quotable Songs list, nor does rhyming "shitty" with "city" impress; yet, the delivery and vocal quality save it all.

Catalino truly does have a remarkably alluring voice; full of a pain I'm not sure he's experienced, an age I'm not convinced he's reached, and a knowledge I'm startled to find belies his easy-going California-boy lyrical finesse. More importantly, he has the ability to relate what we already know without attempting to disguise it in pretty terms or shield it beneath roaring guitars yet hurl it at us so bluntly. Memories are confounded into believing the hurt and the goodness are all equi-connected. See "Say My Name In the Morning" for its smooth rundown of an average meeting with sub-par emotions - like I said, it's all in the delivery. Check out this California surfer who, despite residing in the Golden State, still needs a trip to Vactionland. -Genevieve Will
- Indie-Music.com

"Justin Catalino's Single On the Rise"

Justin Catalino's Debut Single "Welcome to Vacationland" is on the rise with radio stations throughout the U.S. After only a few short weeks, "Welcome to Vacationland" is having big impact on the New Music Weekly AC/Hot AC charts. 'Vacationland' is a perfect fit for summer radio play and currently holding the #13 position beating out acts such as Rob Thomas, Michael Sadler, Shani and Jason Mraz. The single has also been included in the AC/Hot AC Prime Mover Chart, Spincrease Chart, and Most Added charts. - Music News Nashville

"Mesmerizing Performance"

Justin Catalino

(Jennifer Layton): One of our writers, Genevieve Will, had already given kudos to this California singer/songwriter in a review, so I dragged Heidi with me to check out his show. Sweet and engaging, Justin Catalino gave a mesmerizing performance on a small outdoor stage overlooking the Colorado mountains. His signature sound includes a heavenly tenor voice, and as he ended one song on a strong, solid high note, I heard a couple of guys behind me say “Nice!” in unison before breaking into applause.

Like Joshua Novak, Catalino had an advantage with the scenery, but listening to his CD here at home in my apartment, the flowing, warm, expansive pop/rock feels just as good as it did on that small patio at the festival. (Well, almost. Nothing could top that view.) Catalino’s live show also sells him well because he’s perfectly comfortable in front of an audience. He even half-joked that the effects of the altitude almost made him forget the lyrics halfway through a song.

I introduced myself after the performance, and he handed me a bit of promo right out of the Novak playbook - a 4-track sampler with all of his contact information printed right on the CD - phone number, email address, web sites (including his MySpace site), and even some press quotes and the fact that his music has been featured on “The OC” and “Rescue Me.” Very professional.

His web presence also asserts that he’s in this game to win. A beautifully-designed web site (www.justincatalino.com) that even includes a moneyback guarantee on the CD. A home on MySpace (www.myspace.com/justincatalino) with streaming music and a consistently updated tour schedule. A link to iTunes, where listeners can download the album. Even video clips. He’s covering every angle. - Indie-Music.com


Justin Catalino - Welcome to Vacationland



New Music Weekly's Best New A/C Artist nominee, Justin Catalino, is alive and kicking in Vacationland. The singer songwriter and President of Rizzo Records is tirelessly working his debut album Welcome to Vacationland from every angle. In 2001, Catalino won a guitar on MTV and quickly began turning his southern California life and style into songs that can now be heard on popular shows like 'The OC' on FOX and on commercial radio nationwide. Rizzo Records has proudly released it's debut album, Justin Catalino – Welcome to Vacationland.

With the wind in his hair, one of his songs blares out of the car stereo. In the summer of 2005 his debut single and the title track, “Welcome to Vacationland” broke into the top 20 of New Music Weekly AC/Hot AC charts. “Musically this is exactly what I want to sound like,” he says. And it should. After all, he spent 18 years honing his talents as a singer. He has been seen in over 200 concerts and professional productions from coast to coast, packing fields and theaters with thousands of people, receiving several prestigious awards and critical acclaim. Often under the direction of Broadway’s greatest, Catalino has delivered powerhouse lead roles in The Rocky Horror Show and The Who’s Tommy. After acquiring his B.F.A. in musical performance from Emerson College, he moved to California and immediately put his voice to work in a variety of ways. While in between songwriting and recording sessions, Catalino worked as a singing telegram. Dressing up as characters like Austin Powers and Richard Simmons, gorillas and chickens, he was the life of hundreds of parties. He even personally sang for Dustin Hoffman, Sting, Cameron Diaz, Tom Green, Juliette Lewis, and The Rock. California was one big party and one big song.

That party has ended and a new one has begun with the creation of his family’s ‘artist friendly’ independent label, Rizzo Records, and his debut full length album. Catalino’s Welcome to Vacationland, complete with the adventures of freedom and independence to the basements and mazes of loneliness and self discovery, is generating quite a buzz. It all started when the Los Angeles based influential station KCRW began playing tracks from Vacationland while it was still being recorded. Now with the help of commercial radio play and fans of The OC all over the world scrambling to get his songs on iTunes, he's found his way to new sets of ears and hearts. He was recently featured during a steamy sex scene on the critically acclaimed “Rescue Me” with Denis Leary and NPR's 'All Songs Considered.' He was also heard at The 2005 Sundance Film Festival where his music video for 'Say My Name in the Morning' was featured. Director Mark Pellington, known for his work with Pearl Jam and U2, recently told Justin, “As an artist you have done your work-communicated to the spirit. The record is so sublime.” Even Tori Amos, one of Catalino’s main influences, has requested a copy.

Justin Catalino's Welcome to Vacationland is 12 original and eclectic indie pop songs for the alternative soul. Just imagine The Postal Service, Sade, and Jeff Buckley driving along the coast on a lazy Sunday afternoon. “With his freak falsetto nestled into a soft pop edge,” writes Lesley Bargar of FILTER Magazine, “it's storytelling, it's crooning, it's sarcastic and self-aware in the good way, but goddamn it if this kid ain't doing this with conviction where it counts.”