Lou Black & The Ash Lovelies
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Lou Black & The Ash Lovelies

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF
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"The Big Takeover reviews The Ash Lovelies"

This communal constantly-in-flux Washington, DC nine piece formed in 2008 out of day-long, multi-musician jam session at the capital's underground NoiseHouse project. Led by founder Lou Black's glistening synth guitar, each stylish, free-flowing composition features a kitchen-sink array of instruments, such as Hannah Burris's viola, Dominic Hook's keyboards, and Megan Northup's occassional sax. Black's deep baritone croon recalls Leonard Cohen, Peter Murphy, and Edwyn Collins, and is often augmented by a beby of delectable female backing vocalists (Burris, Stefania Patanian, and Tanisha Paige), as on playful tracks "So Long So Long" and "Call Me, Ha Ha." Thankfully, Black's tuneful ear keeps the sprawling, 70-minute LP's satisfaction level consistently high, especially on songs like the vibrant standout "Flirting with Disaster," the upbeat horn-flecked "Break My Heart," and the symphonic, viola-led title track. - The Big Takeover


"The Big Takeover reviews The Ash Lovelies"

This communal constantly-in-flux Washington, DC nine piece formed in 2008 out of day-long, multi-musician jam session at the capital's underground NoiseHouse project. Led by founder Lou Black's glistening synth guitar, each stylish, free-flowing composition features a kitchen-sink array of instruments, such as Hannah Burris's viola, Dominic Hook's keyboards, and Megan Northup's occassional sax. Black's deep baritone croon recalls Leonard Cohen, Peter Murphy, and Edwyn Collins, and is often augmented by a beby of delectable female backing vocalists (Burris, Stefania Patanian, and Tanisha Paige), as on playful tracks "So Long So Long" and "Call Me, Ha Ha." Thankfully, Black's tuneful ear keeps the sprawling, 70-minute LP's satisfaction level consistently high, especially on songs like the vibrant standout "Flirting with Disaster," the upbeat horn-flecked "Break My Heart," and the symphonic, viola-led title track. - The Big Takeover


"The Ash Lovelies, Ode to Arlington: An Arlington-themed album's synth-kissed opener"

Standout Track: No. 1, “Vernon Street,” which, with its prominent synthesizers, is the most electronically minded song on the 14-song Ode to Arlington. Such treacly atmosphere, of course, is indelibly associated with the ’80s, but according to Ash Lovelies vocalist and synth guitarist Lou Black, the group wasn’t initially angling for synthetic pop. “We originally developed it as more of a rock song,” says Black. “It had a totally different vibe, and we slowed it down and added lush instrumentals.” Though he’s quick to point out that he used keyboards invented after the ’80s, he does admit to “purposefully throwing in the cheesey ’80s backing chorus.”

Musical Motivation: As a result of the last-minute musical rethink, Black reworked the lyrics with bandmate Avelynn Mitra to match the new tempo. It turns out Vernon Street in Arlington is where Black, who’s a government consultant, has lived for six years. The new lyrics contain a fictional account of a breakup in his house; according to Black’s imagined story, the girl leaves town while the guy stays, and after the dust has settled, he decides to go after her. The refrain—“Simplify the soul in me”—reflects “the notion of being able to get out of this current situation, and go to a different city and get in touch with your soul,” Black says.

Self-Starter: In addition to the Ash Lovelies, Black has a self-titled project and is also the founder of Factor 21 Records. At the moment, Factor 21 only releases Black’s projects, but he has bigger aspirations. “It’s always been my notion to sign other artists,” he says. “There are lots of people out there I’d love to work with. They have my number.”
- Washington City Paper


"City of No Winters Album Review"

“City of No Winters” deserves ample success as it is easily much better than nearly everything that makes up our top 40 these days. The album’s opener “Searching for a Land Love” and the title track are beautiful crafted songs...and not only are the lyrics instantly memorable, they are also touching.
- Music Shopper.info UK


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"With most of today's cookie-cutter pop the lyrics are unremarkable; in Black's songs THE LYRICS STAND OUT - you can't help but pay attention to the message." - Indie-Music.com


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"A supremely well-produced tortilla of sound....The album is chock full of beautiful songs that ease one into a state of blissful relaxation. A nice change from much of the agro stuff going on these days in popular music....Want some new pop music? Then this is the place to go. City Of No Winters is a joyous trip through a musical land full of intense beauty and varying landscapes. Black's vocals are brilliant and lend an even more intense depth to what is already a solid musical foundation." - Hybrid Magazine


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"Lou Black has a great voice, and it's definitely the first thing you'll notice about City of No Winters. ..the album only gets more infectious with each passing tune....combining intoxicating love songs with cleverly disguised political diatribes." - Splendid Magazine


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"Sophisticated global pop from Peruvian-born cultural traveller. Lou Black hails from Peru, but has spent time in South Africa and many other countries, and now makes his home in America. This cultural melange is very evident on this his debut album, as if you didn’t know it would be almost impossible to pin down its country of origin. You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking of it as “world music” though, as it is far superior and different to the atrocities perpetrated under that all-encompassing banner. Lou Black is a purveyor of sophisticated pop tunes allied to a mixture of socially aware lyrics and more straight ahead, but intelligent love odes. He has an ear for a hook, notably on opener “Searching for a Land of Love”, “Patience of Saints”, and “Ode to Backbay”, a love-hate message to one of his many domiciles. Throughout the album there’s a light and airy feel to the music, and there’s also often that urgent rhythm that you associate with Latin-influenced music. The standout track is is “The City of No Winters”, which is a beautiful, and beautifully sad, elegy to co-writer Enid Holden’s native South Africa. So, this album is an enjoyable set of global pop with something of a message or two amongst it all. It’s also an object lesson in how to make a point effectively and enjoyably at the same time, which is something an awful lot of musicians could do with learning." - Americana UK


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"Sophisticated global pop from Peruvian-born cultural traveller. Lou Black hails from Peru, but has spent time in South Africa and many other countries, and now makes his home in America. This cultural melange is very evident on this his debut album, as if you didn’t know it would be almost impossible to pin down its country of origin. You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking of it as “world music” though, as it is far superior and different to the atrocities perpetrated under that all-encompassing banner. Lou Black is a purveyor of sophisticated pop tunes allied to a mixture of socially aware lyrics and more straight ahead, but intelligent love odes. He has an ear for a hook, notably on opener “Searching for a Land of Love”, “Patience of Saints”, and “Ode to Backbay”, a love-hate message to one of his many domiciles. Throughout the album there’s a light and airy feel to the music, and there’s also often that urgent rhythm that you associate with Latin-influenced music. The standout track is is “The City of No Winters”, which is a beautiful, and beautifully sad, elegy to co-writer Enid Holden’s native South Africa. So, this album is an enjoyable set of global pop with something of a message or two amongst it all. It’s also an object lesson in how to make a point effectively and enjoyably at the same time, which is something an awful lot of musicians could do with learning." - Americana UK


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"...has that multi-faceted quality that will rank it among the best in the singer/songwriter genre. On one level, this is music that demands your attention..Yet on another level it has an even, relaxing tone, and could comfortably be played in the background at a cocktail party." - Progressive Ears


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"...has that multi-faceted quality that will rank it among the best in the singer/songwriter genre. On one level, this is music that demands your attention..Yet on another level it has an even, relaxing tone, and could comfortably be played in the background at a cocktail party." - Progressive Ears


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"Black has surrounded himself with a capable group of musicians and lyricists and the resulting tone, the international flavor, the lyrics and the vocal quality will variously recall such luminaries as Peter Sarstedt, Aaron English, Chris Rhea, Peter Gabriel, Chris De Burgh, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Rodriguez." - Progressive World


"City of No Winters Album Review"

"Black has surrounded himself with a capable group of musicians and lyricists and the resulting tone, the international flavor, the lyrics and the vocal quality will variously recall such luminaries as Peter Sarstedt, Aaron English, Chris Rhea, Peter Gabriel, Chris De Burgh, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Rodriguez." - Progressive World


Discography

2004
Lou Black solo album "City of No Winters" on Factor 21 Records.

1. Searching for a Land of Love
2. Dave Says
3. Oh Amor
4. Patience of Saints
5. Helping Hand
6. City of No Winters
7. Do You Ever Think About Me?
8. Ode to Backbay
9. I Go Insane
10. Whipper Snapper
11. The Doctor Won't Help Me
12. Every Night
13. Dave Says (Unplugged)

Songs have been played on over 250 public and university radio stations (within the U.S. and 21 countries).
Available on Amazon.com, I-Tunes, Rhapsody, CDBaby.com
___________________________________________________

Feb. 2011.
The Ash Lovelies (with Lou Black) album "Ode to Arlington" on Factor 21 Records.

1. Vernon Street
2. Flirting with Disaster
3. Getting There
4. Queen of the Incident
5. So Long So Long
6. Ode to Arlington
7. Break My Heart
8. Jose Pardo
9. Waiting for Hannah
10. Call Me, Ha Ha
11. What About Change
12. Hurt No More
13. Vanity
14. Farewell Jack Johnson

The Ash Lovelies album was recorded and mixed at Omega Studios (Rockville, MD) by Nate Pauzenga and mastered at Engine Room Audio (NYC) by Mark Christensen (owner/founder). Omega Studios worked with artists such as Radiohead, Sarah McLachlan, Elliott Smith, Ben Folds Five,Squeeze, Prince, Tori Amos, Third Eye Blind, The Wallflowers, Liz Phair, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, Jewel, Fiona Apple, Elton John, Diana Krall, Buckwheat Zydeco, Better than Ezra, Ben Harper, and DC's most infamous punk band, the Bad Brains. Engine Room Audio has worked with artists such as Moby, Nick Cave, The Killers, 50 Cent, the Ting Tings, and Goldfrapp.

Photos

Bio

From their pre-2008 beginnings as a bi-monthly acoustic session at DC’s folkie Potters House coffee shop to their epic day long non-stop electronic jams sessions with DC’s underground NoiseHouse project (accompanied by 20 other musicians), The Ash Lovelies deliver music that many fans describe as a pop folktronic mash-up played by the love children of Roy Orbison and Leonard Cohen backed by the Flaming Lips and the Magnetic Fields. Via Craigslist ads, Myspace searching, or old fashion networking, The Ash Lovelies are endlessly recruiting new folks to write songs, diversifying their musical gene pool, and constantly evolving as an eclectic group songwriting collective (“evolution by design…muhahaha”).

Lou Black explains the dynamic of working with so many musicians in one band, “I love working with a large number of musicians, the more the merrier and variety is the spice of life here. When you have the jazz person playing alongside folk rock person who is playing alongside the electronica person (and so on), you really never know what we're going to develop. It’s an on-going songwriting adventure and always very exciting. In addition, we are often introducing each other to artists that we think each other would like. Someone introduces me to Devotchka and I introduce them to Townes Van Zandt.”