Levi Smith
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Levi Smith

Band Rock Pop


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The best kept secret in music


Band Name: Levi Smith
Album Name: The One With Bass and Drums
Best element: Diversity in songwriting.
Genre: Adult Alternative
Website: www.levismith.net
Label name: N/a
Band e-mail: levismithmusic@yahoo.com

Levi Smith’s [u]The One with Bass and Drums[/u] is a rather stunning upbeat acoustic pop CD. While many will immediately correlate Smith with John Mayer, the differences stop after one gets over the fact that both lead acoustic-fronted bands that play pop music. Levi Smith is much more experimental, versatile, enjoyable, and commendable than his misplaced reference point.

Yes, Levi Smith yells at the end of “Close Enough”, rocks out in “Slowly Walk Away” (which also features an undeniably funky intro), and mellows out for “I’d Like to Think So”- all in addition to his home sound of upbeat pop. And even in upbeat acoustic pop, he beats out Mayer, because Mayer for sure never had this much clarity or smoothness in his voice, and there’s marked evidence that Mayer never had a large choir of men singing in the background (as Smith does in “Bitterness is Sexy”). That’s instant credibility right there: throw in something that cool in one song, and you’re bound to be cool in other places.

Among those other places would definitely be “I’d Like to Think So” and “What are You Waiting For?” The former displays the guitar skills of Smith, which are occasionally lost in the good songwriting of the other songs. With an extremely talented bassist and a jazz-and-caffeine-fueled drummer, these songs take on a life of their own, turning the sum into more than the parts. While this is fantastic, it’s also great to see Smith displaying his guitar skills, as he does on “I’d Like to Think So”.

“What Are You Waiting For?” is the kicker on this album- the track that obviously means the most to the band, and obviously is the most fun to play, and obviously is the best. It features all the good band traits I talked about earlier (recap: vocal clarity, strong bass presence, jazzy drumming, cohesive songwriting) and adds in the final element: piano. There’s no way you can listen to this song without feeling something- and that’s the way a good song should be.

Levi Smith is not just a songwriter- he’s a tunesmith. With the help of his band, he crafts songs that are diverse, rich, and solid. If there were justice in the world, Levi Smith would be the household name instead of John Mayer- because no matter how talented a soloist Mayer is, he can’t hold a candle to the songwriting prowess of Levi Smith.

-Stephen Carradini - www.independentclauses.com


The One with Bass and Drums - 2004
The Songs that Might Take Us Somewhere - 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


"In my opinion, there is very little bad music...but there are plenty of terrible songs." He said this with the tone of a man that knew he was in for an argument or two. "Think about it--I bet you've heard at least one tune on every music channel that made you stop folding clothes just to listen. However, there are always a few songs that ruin it for the entire genre...they're the ones that become hit singles. Then they turn into the bad examples people use to discard the validity of almost every style."

Levi Smith sounds defensive because, above all, he is a music lover. He is moved and motivated by almost everything he hears, a fact reflected in the diversity of his set lists...or more often in the absence of set lists: "When I get in front of people, a playlist starts to take shape in my head. The only problem is that it's set to shuffle. If something Justin does on the drums really lights me up, or if Trevor pulls out some rare theatrics, it might make me want to go a different direction for a while. What good is a band if the members don't take advantage of one another? Ha! I know that sounded sleazy...but I don't want to re -word it. Let's just let those words fester in your mind for a little while."

Another issue he hates and loves is labeling. "I play a wooden guitar and have some songs about girls and sing playful lyrics occasionally. One would be hard-pressed to find a band where these factors aren't involved. As soon as I sell music under my name, though, I become a 'singer/songwriter'. There's not much wrong with that title in and of itself, but it carries with it certain connotations that I feel no obligation to. Why do they feel the need to re-name the wheel whenever a certain model or type becomes stylish? Whenever one enters into an experience with certain expectations, it inevitably affects their reaction. What we're trying to do now is seep into certain demographics and use every assumption as fuel to power our little entertainment extravaganza."

His reluctance to embrace the term singer/songwriter is understandable. The heady mix of past greats and countless contemporaries make the moniker impossible to live up to and impossible to avoid. As a semi-misfit in his playing field, Levi finds his home at the place where Tonic and Dave Matthews convene to sing Simon and Garfunkel songs with Third-Eye Blind. Levi is drawn to evocative lyrics and strives to match wits with the likes of Brand New and Cory Branan. Inspired by the pop culture surrounding him, this 22-year-old writes with the gut-wrenching honesty of Marshall Mathers, the offbeat wit of comedian Conan O'Brien, and the masterful nuance of actor Edward Norton.

In short, Levi Smith wants to do as a songwriter what Jerry Seinfeld did as a comedian--capture the seemingly insignificant moments that fly by, yet shape who we are: the joys, the battles, and that inner-monologue that will plague us forever. He wants make you cry, and laugh, and drive recklessly; to be creative and interesting without becoming artsy and inaccessible. His balance of tentative confidence and self-depreciating humor might persuade you stay out way too late, and his songs just might make you put the laundry down.

Drummer Justin Lentz, 28, joined Levi after stints with other bands fizzled and college seemed redundant. He shares his fervor for music and draws from a very deep well of complementary influences. Levi agrees: “Justin's just right. His strengths are my flimsy tendencies, and his musical background meshed with mine is an interesting combination. Plus, the music industry hadn't met its quota of bald drummers until he started playing.” With a solid, laid-back groove, he provides an ease and fluidity to their style that anchor each note far from pretense.

Trevor Wiggins, 20, plays the bass. He didn't start, however, until he heard that Levi and Justin were looking to add such a musician. The years he spent as a drummer and guitarist in previous bands--he's tried metal, classic rock, acoustic pop, and even post-grunge--turned out to be the perfect preparation for his current role. To say that Trevor is eclectic and experienced is an understatement, especially to those around him: “That kid knows more stories than any man twice his age...in 10 seconds he can kill a mood in the best of ways...I've begun to look forward to our time in the mini-van. Plus, he can play bass like he was born strapped to it,” says Levi. Shaped by rock legends from Led Zeppelin to Dave Grohl, Trevor brings grit and driving energy to the sound that has become Levi Smith.

If you want to know more, you'll have to come to a show. Besides, the fine points of their past--what lies behind--are trivial compared to where they are and where they might end up.

“Lay me to waste--my history's in the way of what I should become.”