mel flannery trucking co.
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mel flannery trucking co.

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde


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"New Release Rap"

New Release Rap

Mel Flannery Trucking Co.
White Flag

Indie Sounds: Why White Flag?
Mel Flannery: White Flag is a song about surrender. Specifically, about the conscious decision to opt out of looking for someone and to accept life as an eternal single. The song relays the story of a break-up that is the last straw for the subject, and so she makes the choice to abstain, and how she justifies
that to herself. I guess it's the Pat Benetar in me trying to say that on the battlefield of love, it stings to wave a white flag.

IS: And where did your band name - Mel Flannery Trucking Co. - come from?

Mel: Oddly enough, there is a Mel Flannery Trucking Co. in Crandon, WI, where my parents grew up and my grandmother and some other relatives still live. The original
Mel Flannery Trucking Co. is owned and operated by Melvin Flannery, Sr., who is a distant cousin of my father.
They've been super gracious and gave me permission to use the name and even let me take photos at their HQ climbing all over the
trucks and stuff. I'm a complete ego maniac (any band leader is), so I love to see my name plastered across a cement mixer or an 18
wheeler. Ultimately, I wanted to make it clear that it was my band but I didn't want to call it 'Mel Flannery Band' or whatever.

IS: Who performed on this album?

Mel: Lee Pardini plays piano and Rhodes, Tommy Crane on drums, Matt Aronoff on basses and myself on vocals.

IS: And who else was involved?

Mel: The glorious Michael Brorby of
Acoustic Recordings in Brooklyn engineered and recorded it and the debonair Alessandro Miglio of Hobbit Audio mixed and mastered
it. Photos are by the scintillating Katie Pease (whom I've known since the tender age of five) and the design/layout is by the
tantalizing Juren David. Lee Pardini and I coproduced it.

IS: How does White Flag differ from your debut self-named album?

Mel: This new album I have no apologies about. I'm so very proud of it. Vocally, I'm in much better shape and the songwriting
represents me and what I'm about and the kind of music I've always wanted to make much better. Also, I feel really good about recording it all in one day with live vocals and
everything. I can't hang with everyone recording their parts to a click track and patching together 20 vocal tracks to get one that sounds good and using a pitch modifier
and whatever. If that's what it takes you to get a good product, you probably should stay out
of the studio.
Co-writing with Lee was a big change as well.
I'd never co-written anything before because I'd always been too much of a control freak, but with Lee, it just worked. Three of the tracks on my album, White Flag,
Anniversary Song and Fairy Tales, were written by Lee and me at about 5:30 in the morning and it took us about an hour and a
half to write all three. It was the most amazing creative experience of my life. I never knew I could write a love song that didn't double as a torch song!

IS: File this CD under?

Mel: I've been calling it jazz influenced poprock. Different people like to call it different
things and I'm fine with that. But please don't call it 'Intelli-pop' because then I'll have to punch you

IS: How are you promoting the CD?

Mel: Shows in NYC … playing Rockwood Music Hall on December 20th at 7pm, and have things lined up with Caffé Vivaldi for January. I did a little touring this summer,
played my hometown in Wisconsin and St. Louis and Nashville.
I made postcards that I hand out like religious tracts to anyone who will take them. I'm played on the radio in my hometown (and on Harris Radio) and I'm the 'cool down' song for some stripping class! I'm on a zillion different websites but most notably, CD Baby, for both of my albums.
Beyond that, it's been tricky. With the industry in such flux it's hard to know quite what to do. Setting up label showcases at this point seems to be senseless and more
effort than it's worth. Of all the hats I wear as an independent musician, I think I wear the promo hat the worst.

IS: What's next for you?

Mel: Isn't that the question? Man, I have no idea … something really big. I'm so very ready for it!

MySpace: melflannerytruckingco - indie sounds new york

"FAME Review: Mel Flannery Trucking Company - As It Turns Out"

In case you were expecting some steroidal version of C.W. McCall, Mel Flannery isn't some big, beefy, tattoed redneck rig trundler but rather the female singer Melanie Flannery, and her Trucking Company is a backing trio based in writing partner Lee Pardini's keyboards. Flannery has a fairly unique voice, a very well trained one, a tone that blends the slinkiness of Sade with The Misty Miss (June) Christy, Roberta Flack, and nightclub hipster cool straight out of a Soho coffeehouse. I think what's most unique is her richly pitched "flat uninflected" notes a la Christy against the vibrato later used to fluctuate and blend. It's a basing one doesn't often run across, all the more effective when drama rises in the gospely We're Still Here, splitting Mel up into several parts, making her own backing choir (sweet!). Matt Aronoff (bass) and Danny Sher (percussion) hold down the rhythm section, often with Pardini joining in, sublimating his chords and lead runs but occasionally the guy isn't quite on it when stepping to the front in pronounced solos—only occasionally, but noticeable. More time in the woodshed, I suspect, will cure that nicely.

But it's the singer who is the heavy commodity here. When I say she's "surprising", I'm not speaking lightly, Melanie Flannery is a pro right out of the gate and wouldn't be at all out of place in a Blue Note gig. Then there's the smoldering sensuality of You Know What to Do and revelatory ambivalence of Lift Me Up, Tie Me Down and life in the wrong relationships. The lyrics, all written by Flannery, draw the listener right in, but it's that extremely West Coast Cool way of her voice and phrasing that most enthrallingly takes all and sundry to a place we'd thought long lost. -

"Mel Flannery Trucking Co. - As It Turns Out review"

by: Bryan Sanchez
On her third album, fronting what has turned into an outstanding cast of musicians, Mel Flannery has just now turned a corner where her music is sounding as good and as amazing as it ever has. Opening with the sexy line of “I can feed you what you…need to eat” on As It Turns Out’s opening song, “Something About You,” she sounds absolutely wonderful in mesmerizing every male in the room to her possession. It’s an unforgettable line and an easy one to repeat but somehow, the way Flannery enunciates it, you don’t question it.

And her band you ask? Well, it honestly sounds as if they have been rehearsing for years and years. Remaining a mainstay in the New York City area where they are based out of, Flannery and Co. create a ridiculously smooth blend of jazz, soul, R&B, funk and fusion-based electronics. Her influences and studies come in to hand but it’s clear and unmasked that this is Flannery’s own heart speaking to you. On “Running” she admits to having reached her limit, and much like the Erykah Badu that is raging inside of her, Flannery takes that energy and turns it into a tranquil composition that is flowered with vibraphones, keyboards and plenty of snare drum. She might be “running for her life now” but once she gets there, there will never be anything to worry about.

This music is not only moving but it’s utterly exceptional in how it takes you by surprise and never seems to stop. Her voice is the instant gratification we’re looking for, but it’s the songwriting ability and the way it works with the actual process of creating chords, harmonies, keys, tempos, meters and more, that keeps everything in effect for a much longer timeframe. After the aforementioned drive of “Running,” Flannery is channeling a different Sade or even Toni Braxton, in a spoken-versed delivery on “Lift Me Up, Tie Me Down” before her chorus comes shining in from the east. In almost perfect form, she takes over the melody in startling manner: unexpected and unprecedented, the correct word to use here is, wow.

While Mel Flannery Trucking Co.’s first two albums were easily jazz albums, the music on As It Turns Out takes a completely different route in showcasing an array of styles and genres. The strongest impact that seems to resonate the most with Flannery is the Motown time that inspired R&B music into what it is today. She covers the lovey-dovey ballads and the broken-hearted depressed ones with a calm hand. Speaking of the latter, Flannery is found being blunt on “I Won’t Say Goodbye,” but it’s her keyboard player’s doo-wop, almost bebop style of play that signals her growing arpeggios; how justifying and outstanding is it that the next song is the sultry and entirely gloomy “Without You.” Everything seems to be lost until the middle section when Flannery and her band explode in what is one of the album’s best climaxes. “I can’t breathe, I can’t know who I’m supposed to be” is what Flannery is pleading with and the music is boiling underneath her with a beautiful presence. For the record, this is marvelous music.

The first thing you would probably recognize is that this isn’t just your normal easy listening experience. On the complete contrary, Mel Flannery Trucking Co. is reaching a new height with the culture-class of their music. The band is sounding better than ever and now, not only does Flannery still sound incredibly fantastic but she obviously knows what we all need; let’s hope she continues to feed us.

Halogen Records - - Indie Music Reviews

"mel flannery: a moveable feast."

"...wherever you go for the rest of your life, her song will stay with you, for Mel Flannery is a moveable feast." for more... - Eugene Melino for

"Appleton East graduate jazzes things up on debut CD"

Posted October 25, 2006

Appleton East graduate jazzes things up on debut CD

By Heather LaRoi
Post-Crescent staff writer

It’s not everyone who can put Chaka Khan and Hank Williams on the same album.

But that’s precisely what Appleton native Mel Flannery has done with her recently released first CD, “Mel Flannery Trucking Co.”

“I call it eclectic yet cohesive,” said Flannery, with a laugh, from her home in New York City. “I just wanted it to be an all-encompassing debut album where it shows everything I can do, but it still makes sense together.”

Flannery, 22, an alumna of Appleton East High School and Renaissance Charter School for the Arts, graduated in May from New York’s prestigious Manhattan School of Music. She’s now learning what it means to be a working musician.

“I’m band leader, I’m song writer, I’m arranger, I’m booking agent, I’m promoter and publicist and manager … and then at the end of the day I have to sing the songs, too,” Flannery said. “But I can’t think of anything else in the world I would work so hard for. It is the sweetest payback possible.”

Flannery is the daughter of Post-Crescent managing editor Dan Flannery and his wife, Mary Flannery.

Her independently produced CD, which was about two years in the making, features five original songs as well as covers — among them, Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” and Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” — that Flannery has given new jazz-influenced interpretations.

Flannery describes her sound as jazz-influenced pop. But that, she says, doesn’t really capture it.

“Some people have a hard time not being able to put their finger on it. Some people are like, ‘If I were to see this girl live, is she going to be wearing a sequined gown or jeans and a T-shirt?’ I think that’s part of the fun of it,” she said. “I like to keep people on their toes. When you meet me, it’s ‘what a wacky little girl’ … it’s just like with my music. People sometimes don’t quite know what to make of it.”

Peter Eldridge, Flannery’s teacher at the Manhattan School of Music, puts it this way:

“Mel has a nice mix of combining the old and the new,” he said. “She has respect for the great standard singers and yet she also loves contemporary pop music and does a lot of her own song-writing. She has that middle ground between those two extremes that I think is really interesting and somewhat unusual.

“She also has an earthy quality that I think is somewhat unusual for a person her age. She’s just a terribly talented young woman.”

Luciana Souza, another of Flannery’s teachers at MSM and herself a two-time Grammy nominee, says Flannery has a vocal maturity beyond her years.

“She knows what she is singing about and phrases in a way that is very musical and very intelligent,” Souza said. “In my opinion, Mel is doing all the right things. She is making music in New York, where she can have great visibility and a pool of wonderful musicians and peers to draw from. …

“It is pretty mysterious how one goes to the next level, but I feel Mel is very well equipped both as a human being and a musician/singer/writer to make it. What she needs to have is patience and determination.”

Like many aspiring artists in a field that’s exceedingly difficult to break into, Flannery is currently supporting her creative ventures by bartending and waitressing in the west Village.

“It’s at a place that’s also a music venue so I make a few connections here and there … and I hear a lot of live music,” she said. “It’s funny because it’s definitely been a struggle since I graduated. I’d be lying if I said it was anything less than that. But at the same time I can’t say I’m disappointed with where I am.

“I’m around my kind of people in the city of my dreams. And I’m making music that is mine. It’s all on my terms and it’s got a lot of integrity, I think. Whether or not it’s the best music I’m capable of making, I can’t say … but it’s definitely music I’m comfortable putting in front of people and saying it’s a representation of who I am as a musician. That’s a huge thing.”

In some respects, Flannery is a throwback, particularly when it comes to time in the studio.

“We recorded (the CD) like how jazz records used to be recorded back in the day,” she said. “We made a point to record it all together, all live at the same time. We made a point that we could all see each other from our respective booths. We didn’t use any pitch modifiers. Yeah, we had to fix a couple boo-boos here and there, but really the majority of the album is complete takes.

“I really love the concept of a record being just that. It’s a record of people making music together at the same time in the same room. I think that’s kind of a lost art now. That’s why I have a band and not just a bunch of hired musicians. Because so much of our sound is that it’s us together, making organic music together.”

Her band includes Michael Cabe on piano, Jesse Lewis on guitar, Matt Aronoff on upright bass and Rohin Khemani on drums.

“A lot of people don’t have that burning desire to put up with all the craziness that you have to deal with, but I think Mel does,” Eldridge said. “She’s very driven and really wants this … If you really believe in what you’re doing, it transcends to an audience and people really respond to that. I think that’s what she does.”

For now, Flannery just can’t wait for the next time she steps up to the mic.

“It sounds so corny,” she said, “but I really just love to make music.”

Heather LaRoi can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 238 or at - the Post-Crescent newspaper

"White Flag review"

Mel Flannery Trucking Company - White Flag
2007, Mel Flannery Trucking Company

The age of the Torch singer has come and gone, but every once in a while a singer comes along whom threatens to revive the sordid tales sung in gin joints across America. There is a quality of voice that is required that not too many singer possess, and there is a wanton attitude required that not many feel or can create. Don't look now, but Brooklyn's Mel Flannery is just that sort of singer. Mel Flannery Trucking Company dropped the EP White Flag in 2007. It's seven songs of misty-whiskey magic.

Mel Flannery has a voice to die for. Full of color and texture, you could easily hear Flannery's voice coming from a smoky nightclub circa 1935. The other thing really remarkable about White Flag is the material. Several of the songs sound like they could have come from an Off-Broadway production about the dark side of 1930's New York City life. Anyone And Everyone is the ultimate song of a lost soul, and Flannery sells it with every ounce of her voice. Anniversary is a wonderful love song, although the arrangement does sound a bit muddy in a few places.

So Much Better Half may be the most passive-aggressive bitter post-breakup song ever written. The words and music in this one are utterly amazing, although Flannery's delivery is a little subdued on this one. Whether that is to feed the passive anger that infuses the song may be an artistic decision, but the song's anger is greater and deeper than it comes across on CD. Fairy Tales is full of regret and unrequited love; it literally seethes with sorrow. The disc closes with Too Good To Be True, a wonderfully dark and busy musical arrangement. Flannery sounds like she struggles with the high end of one or two on the final song, but on the whole gives an amazing vocal performance.

White Flag is an album full of surprises, most of them pleasant. One or two blips aside, this album is full and ripe and unique, and Mel Flannery's voice explodes out of every song. Mel Flannery has an amazing voice and is a pleasure to listen to. The ghosts of torch singers past hang just on the edge of her reverie, and White Flag is a composite of these communal moments.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World-

"Mel Flannery Trucking Co. – You Know What To Do (CD)"

“Something About You” is the first track on “You Know What To Do”, and it showcases Mel and the rest of her band to be extraordinarily diverse , touching upon a number of styles and influences all the course of five minutes. There are nods to current pop, nineties alternative, Caribbean music, and even the soulful crooners of the 1920s. This turns “You Know What To Do” into an EP that will reach a huge subset of people, all while Mel is honest to herself and the constellation of factors that ultimately brought her to creating music. “We’re Still Here” starts off in a much slower and deliberate way, with the drums and Flannery’s vocals combining to make a solid back and forth.

Perhaps the strongest suit of “We’re Still Here” would have to be Flannery’s vocals, as they work on two distinct levels. Where listeners can just enjoy exactly how they interact with the rest of the instrumentation here, there are complex vocal arrangements created that grow more complex and interesting as the track rolls on. “I Need You Here With Me” is the middle track on this EP, and it represents a sound that will be welcomed onto any pop or alternative station. Where there is a Tori Amos or Fiona Apple tenor to Flannery’s vocals here, fans of a Kelly Clarkson or even Jill Scott will find something to appreciate during this track.

While there is a strong step put forward by the vocals on “I Need You Here With Me”, I feel it is the instrumental side of things that shines the brightest here. There is a progression to the instrumental arrangements that will continue to play in listeners’ ears well after the disc finishes up. “You Know What To Do” ends in a strong fashion, first with “You Know What You Do”, and finally with “Gone”. “Gone” is a track dictated by Flannery’s rich vocals, with the instrumentation providing a solid foundation for Flannery’s vocal experimentation and hitting lyrics. Make sure to check out her web page and see exactly where she is playing; I have no doubt that she will bring her all and further expound upon the topics she first broached during this EP. Check out the full length – As It Turns Out – when it hits stores soon – it captures the tracks here and spins them into a cogent narrative that will keep listeners focused throughout.

Top Tracks: Something About You, I Need You Here With Me

Mel Flannery Trucking Co. – You Know What To Do / 2010 Halogen / /

Rating: 8.3/10 - NeuFutur Magazine

"Mel Flannery Trucking Co. - As It Turns Out review"

Mel Flannery and her band known as the Trucking Co. are ready to hit the roads and travel a long way with their new release You Know What Do. This disc is an advance promotional-only EP with five cuts from the forthcoming record, As It Turns Out. The NY-based group consists of chief singer/songwriter, Mel Flannery along with her usual co-writer, Lee Pardini on keyboard, Matt Aronoff on bass and Danny Sher on drums. Flannery refers to the new recording as “avant-soul” because stylistically, Mel Flannery Trucking Co.’s sound is in a league of its own.

The Trucking Co. label also stands out to me because of where it originated from. Mel actually named the band after her distant cousin’s trucking company in Wisconsin. The best part is that there is a deeper meaning and appreciation for this title that Mel Flannery can truly be proud of. For Mel, the purpose of it all goes back to her Midwestern roots but more importantly is stressing an intense work ethic that Flannery stands by. So…as it turns out, Trucking Co. signifies where Mel Flannery came from and also speaks in volumes as to who the person she is today. Maybe you can call this new labor force Hard Working Music for Hard Working People. Not even into the new project yet and already an impactful start!

As the EP plays, Mel Flannery and her band-mates do not disappoint as they bring you a refreshingly appeasing sound full of excitement. The musical diversity of styles here is immensely detectable as you pick up on jazz, soul, pop and gospel elements. Being that Mel graduated from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music as a jazz performance major and is a classically trained singer, it makes sense that this album offers up a refined & sophisticated texture.

I have to talk about Mel Flannery’s voice because it was simply phenomenal. Her powerhouse vocals and insightful lyrics makes this singer/songwriter one special artist. I was blown away by how much soul Flannery pours into all five songs on this record. The harmonies and melodies were an absolute treat to hear and I can’t say enough about Mel Flannery’s stand-out vocal performance. I can honestly say that I even picked up on glimpses of a similar singing approach to that of the incomparable Alicia Keys. POWERFUL…POWERFUL…POWERFUL pipes is evident as Mel delivers the goods to the listening consumers.

The disc starts up with a song called “Something About You” that is jazzy, sultry and satisfying all in the same breath. Mel’s nicer than nice voice & catchy tone makes me think to myself that there is something about her. Next up, “We’re Still Here”, gives you a very soulful jazz number with distinct gospel influences as Mel Flannery sings her heart out. One of my favorite songs on the new EP is the title track “You Know What To Do” because you really get the sense that Mel Flannery Trucking Co. is just feelin’ it. The entire band is jammin’ along and they appear to be in the zone on this track. It is fun to hear and I really got into the performance myself thanks to their musical enthusiasm.

My only drawback on this project was that it was only five songs long. I wanted to hear more to see where Mel Flannery Trucking Co. would take it next. With Flannery’s strong delivery, I wanted to pick up on where and when the next shipment of songs would be coming in. I guess we’ll have to wait for that next drop off, but in the meantime enjoy five terrifically well-done pieces by Mel Flannery Trucking Company. You won’t have to wait long though as the next truck stop is right around the corner. You are not able to purchase this EP, but get ready to grab your copy of the new CD coming out soon. For more on this talented group from NY and their upcoming release of As It Turns Out, SKOPE out

By Jimmy Rae ( - Skope Magazine -



FEBRUARY 23, 2010

With the release of their third album ‘AS IT TURNS OUT’, the MEL FLANNERY TRUCKING CO go beyond what one expects from a New York based jazz trio. The band’s lead singer and namesake MEL FLANNERY is a honey-voiced chanteuse that is not about to be overshadowed by her solid backing (LEE PARDINI on keyboards, MATT ARONOFF on bass and DANNY SHER on drums). The jazz sound that the band was founded on shows folkier leanings as well as irresistible grooves – a testament to the writing partnership of FLANNERY and PARDINI. A soulful, Memphis-styled groove is established on ‘YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO’ with FLANNERY purring like she’s DUSTY SPRINGFIELD. ‘SOMETHING ABOUT YOU’ boasts a bossa nova shimmy as FLANNERY packs her bags and gets away from an old boyfriend, confident that she can do without his “smell sight and sound”. The whimsical balladry of ‘GONE’ has FLANNERY sounding eerily like ROBERTA FLACK, but the album’s stand out moment is the gay rights-themed ‘WE’RE STILL HERE’. Its BACHARACH bounce makes for a righteous protest song that doesn’t get one-upped by its good intentions. For my whole life, I’ve wanted to write a protest song. As it turns out, it is the hardest thing in the world to do – to write a decent protest song that doesn’t sound like “Wah! Wah! Wah! I want things!” I’ve always been a huge fan of JOAN BAEZ and WOODY GUTHRIE and ANI DIFRANCO. I grew up listening to that kind of stuff and never got how one can say something meaningful without being really irritating. We wrote it right before we were going out to California for our first tour. This was right after PROPOSITION 8 had happened and I was furious…Everyone should’ve been furious…I refuse to be tolerant of intolerance.”

ROCKWIRED spoke with MEL FLANNERY of the MEL FLANNERY TRUCKING CO over the phone. Here is how it went.

How do you feel about ‘AS IT TURNS OUT’ as a whole now that all of the work that had gone into it is behind you?
I’m happy with it. We didn’t plan for it to come out how it did. We kind of let things happen, which sounds cheesy but it’s true. We didn’t try to write it in any specific vein but we’re really happy with what came out.

So you went into the recording of this project with no ideas whatsoever or did you go in with ideas and were just surprised that what came out was different from what you had intended?
We had the songs but we went into like ‘Okay, let’s see what comes out!’ It wasn’t like we were going ‘We’re going to put a shaker on this track or a tambourine on this track.’ We didn’t plan any of that out. We didn’t have any background vocals written out. Most of those parts were made up in the studio. I improvised a lot of the background vocals. The whole process was an organic thing and I’m really happy with how it worked out ultimately.

So the title – AS IT TURNS OUT – is pretty apropos then?
Exactly! It really is. We’d be writing a song and would think “Huh! I suppose this is a mish mash of BACHARACH and WEEZER! How about that?”

AS IT TURNS OUT is your third album. What’s different this time around?
It’s always like an evolution. My very first record was recorded when I was still in college and I was around a ton of jazz all of the time and you could hear all of these really strong influences that are primarily jazz. I only wrote half of that album while the other half was jazzier versions of pop songs, which was a great thing for me to start out with. I got to play a lot of brilliant songs that I could never write but was able to perform them in a way that rang true to me. As we moved along, ‘WHITE FLAG’ – the second album – was still definitely jazz influenced pop. As far as I was concerned, ‘AS IT TURNS OUT’ isn’t really a jazz album at all although we happen to be jazz musicians. It’s more of a groovy kind of hybrid album that steals from all different kinds of cultures and genres at-will.

How did music begin for you?
I’ve been singing and writing since forever. My dad was a guitar prodigy – like a finger-picking, bluegrass prodigy. He was always playing around the house and then we would start playing together. He would play and I would sing and we would do little gigs around my hometown. In my hometown, I was really, really fortunate because my hometown happened to have a really great music conservatory so I got to do a lot of classical stuff. I was singing contemporary classical things at a really young age. I had a teacher that got how much I really cared about the music and let me run away with it. I was really, really lucky to be supported and surrounded by music and musicians and people who wanted me to do well in that. I’m really grateful for that.

Where do you think the need to express yourself musically comes from?
It’s so much a part of me that I just think that it’s my human nature. There is nothing that separates me from wanting to be a musician and wanting to do that in front of people. I’m more that than I am a girlfriend, a sister or anything like that. At my very, very core I am someone that wants to do music in one form or another.

Talk about the genesis of the band.
We’ve been playing together – in some incarnation or another – for about seven years now since I was a sophomore in college. MATT – the bassist – is the one who has been with me the whole time. He was the first one to be like “You know MEL, obviously you have what it takes to play some shows and have a band and do stuff” and I was like “Are you sure? Am I good enough? Wah! Wah! Wah!” He was actually the catalyst for me to get off of my ass and actually do something. As LEE and I had just started to meet at that time, he was just writing arrangements for me on the first album and for the ‘WHITE FLAG’ album, we started writing together. The title track was the first song that we ever wrote together and it was so magical. We wrote it so fast and easily. It was such an organic experience to write with him. On this new album, only two of the songs were written without him. I’m really lucky to have found such a great partner-in-crime. Drummers have been what we have changed up the most but now I’m really fortunate to be dating my favorite drummer. DANNY SHER is actually my boyfriend. He was actually my boyfriend before he was my drummer. He really is truly my drummer because he is the man who best suits the job for sure. There is no bias just because he happens to be somebody that I hold hands with.

Explain how songwriting works between you and LEE.
It’s really silly and it’s never consistent. Usually it starts with one of us doodling around. This last record, we wrote almost entirely on guitar which is different because neither one of us plays guitar al that well at all. None of us would every play guitar publicly, but we both like to noodle around and I think that we wanted to take the album and writing somewhere else. The process usually starts with one of us noodling around. LEE is a lot more harmonically minded. He’s got a real ear for arrangement and chord voicing whereas I’m a little more melodically minded and am usually thinking about the lyrical content. He’ll start figuring something out on the guitar and I’ll come up with a melody and I’ll have him stop until I think of something to say. We just do it all at once. We go section by section until we are done.

What do you think each member of the bands brings to the table both musically and personality-wise that makes it work?
They are three of my favorite people in the entire planet. The only other people that I like as much as them are my mom and dad. I live and die for these boys. I think that is part of the reason why we can get away with hopping into studio with some very primitive charts written out and come out three days later with a full length album. LEE is my partner in crime. I often turn to him to interpret things for me. When I’m trying to say something to the band but I’m being too much of a creative bimbo to find the words to communicate that to people in English. He is always right there to pick up where I leave off. He is the other half of my brain when it comes to music. MATT is the practical one. He is the one who will tell us when we’re getting carried away with ourselves. He is the cleaner upper and DANNY kind of drives the train. He keeps everything happening. He brings this groove element to the band and he keeps it funky and moving along.

In listening to the album, the song that stands out for me the most is ‘WE’RE STILL HERE’. Please talk about it.
For my whole life, I’ve wanted to write a protest song. As it turns out, it is the hardest thing in the world to do – to write a decent protest song that doesn’t sound like “Wah! Wah! Wah! I want things!” I’ve always been a huge fan of JOAN BAEZ and WOODY GUTHRIE and ANI DIFRANCO. I grew up listening to that kind of stuff and never got how one can say something meaningful without being really irritating. We wrote it right before we were going out to California for our first tour. This was right after PROPOSITION 8 had happened and I was furious.

So was I.
Everyone should’ve been furious. Maybe that isn’t a P.C. thing to say but I refuse to be tolerant of intolerance. It’s such a shame and it’s the kind of thing that I was comfortable with simply going about my business. I felt like I needed to say something. This was a song that I started writing on guitar. LEE came along and kind of hashed the rest of it out with me. I had no idea that this was going to be a song that people would like aside from it’s message and I’m thrilled for that. The more people that the message reaches the more I feel like I’m doing my job as a person who gives a shit. The other thing that was important to me was for people to consider that gay rights is not a gay issue. It’s a human rights issue. Not a single member of my band is gay but we all give a shit because it’s our brothers and our sisters and our moms. This is the civil rights movement of our generation and we can’t just sit around and watch MTV. The time is now to say something and do something. With the current administration, it is possible to get some work done so let’s do it.

What other songs off of this album resonate for you the most and why?
I love ‘GONE’ because we had so much fun recording it. It was so much fun to see the boys singing. It was so cute watching them try so hard. Watching instrumentalists sing is probably my favorite thing in the whole world – that and puppies and kittens hugging each other. I like ‘YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO’. My whole life I’ve listened to so much MOTOWN, soul and funk and was so thrilled that we could write something in that vein that didn’t feel contrived. It felt organic and it felt really right to be writing that funky of a song considering that we are four kids that made that song the booty shaker that it is. It isn’t typical of a traditional jazz set up. I really love that song and I have a blast singing it and I think the band plays their asses off on that one.

Talk about touring. Do you love or hate it?
I love it! I wake up everyday on the road just tickled. Everyday I get to wake up and play music for people and feel like it’s the greatest day of my life. I never get sick of it.

What would you like someone to come away with after they’ve heard this album?
I would like people to remember that there is fun, accessible, good music that has more than three chords and doesn’t have auto tune in it, is not played to a click track, and that isn’t mass-produced. And that we should legalize being gay.
- RockWired


As It Turns Out - 2010
out on Halogen Records

White Flag - 2007

Mel Flannery Trucking Co. - 2005



UPDATE: MFTC took a couple years off after the release of As It Turns Out and is back with a new sound and the introduction of an autoharp and more weird synth sounds happening. There are new songs and new vibes but nothing that can be shared on Sonicbids. Just know that MFTC 2.0 is pretty rad.


As It Turns Out

A few years back, when Melanie Flannery graduated from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music as a jazz performance major, the classically trained singer could have taken the easy road and accepted various offers to record and perform as a standards singer. Opting instead to take the more challenging but creatively fulfilling route of forming her own band, Mel Flannery Trucking Co., the multi-talented singer/songwriter and her brilliant all-male trio forged ahead with an organic, eclectic sound that has shaken the foundation of New York’s independent music scene. Appealing coolly to everyone from punk rock lovers to jazz aficionados and fans of sultry, envelope pushing pop/rock, the band fashions a tasty new hybrid Flannery dubs “avant-soul” on their upcoming third album As It Turns Out.

Driven by her tear-your-heart-in-two ballads and her insightful, clever songwriting, Mel Flannery Trucking Company—which includes keyboardist and Flannery’s frequent co-writer Lee Pardini, bassist Matt Aronoff and drummer Danny Sher—has been a mainstay on the NYC scene since forming in 2003, playing hip venues like Joe’s Pub, The Cutting Room, The Bitter End, Cornelia Street Café and Rockwood Music Hall. Beyond their home base, they’ve performed in Nashville at The Rutledge and B.B. King’s and last year, the group headed west to play at Genghis Cohen in L.A. and several venues in the Bay Area. Flannery and Company are planning a Northeast tour for mid-March and will hit the Coast again with more shows in the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe region. They are a Sonicbid’s “I Am Sonicbids” artist and were a nominee for Best Song at the Just Plain Folks Awards in 2009.

Flannery named her group after a distant cousin’s trucking company back in her native Wisconsin not only to reflect her Midwestern roots but also the intense work ethic that defines who she is and where she comes from. Earning a degree in jazz gave her an appreciation for many different styles of music and throughout her career, she has drawn from many different influences to naturally develop a vibe that defies easy categorization. Terre Roche of the famed folk music sister trio The Roches perfectly captures what Flannery’s fans feel about her when she says, “I enjoyed listening to her set very much. She has a beautiful voice and a genuine gift for interpreting a song. Her own compositions feature direct and heartfelt lyrics, tinged with sadness, which she delivers with impeccable intonation. A pleasure to listen to!”

While Mel Flannery Trucking Co.’s first two albums had a decidedly jazz influence and the original songwriting on White Flag covered, as the singer says, “a million aspects of relationships,” As It Turns Out runs deeper both musically and lyrically, with elements of every aspect of her musical life: classical, jazz, folk, Motown-spiced R&B. Flannery muses that it “kind of takes out all the confusing bits of these styles and keeps the good bits.” Writing primarily with Pardini (he co-wrote all but two of the ten tracks), she also moves beyond the personal romantic experience stuff (aka the “mushy gooey” love songs and the “eat s*** and die” break-up songs) and covers more diverse territory, from unabashed sexuality (the soul-drenched “You Know What To Do”) to powerful social commentary (the gay rights themed “We’re Still Here”).

“Lee and my writing chemistry came about unexpectedly, but so organically” says Flannery. “It’s bizarre how fast and easy we can write some tunes, and others we’ll agonize about the same bar for days. It’s kind of a cool-scary connection that developed out of having a strong friendship and an otherwise uncomplicated relationship. I love Lee like a brother. He’s great with harmonies and my strength is melodies and lyrics, so it’s a good match. I never consciously set out to take new directions, but there is definitely a sense that we’ve turned the page with As It Turns Out. We’re always open to the unexpected happening, like we never thought we would have a psychedelic odd metered happy time song like ‘Gone’! I live and die for these boys, they constantly surprise me, it makes everything all the more fun!”

Flannery and Pardini wrote the moody and soulful, gospel tinged empowerment tune “We’re Still Here” on their way to California as a way of addressing the issue of gay marriage in the wake of the passing of Prop. 8, which prohibits same sex marriage (for now). “We wanted to write a folk song to set California straight on legalizing gay, so to speak,” she says. Likewise, “Running” offsets its low key musical vibe with a hard hitting emotional lyric about escaping d