Nic Oliverio
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Nic Oliverio

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, raised in Kitchener/Waterloo and now based in The Big Smoke (Toronto), Nic Oliverio has created a superb new album called Whispers At The Door (his follow-up to 2004’s Half-priced Alibis EP) which features alternative rock with a Latin twist. His live line-up, The Nic Oliverio Group, consists of himself as vocalist/guitarist and songwriter, bassist/backing vocalist Graham Scott and drummer/backing vocalist Eric Woolston. Citing influences as disparate as David Bowie, Pablo Neruda, The Cramps, Jeff Buckley, The Clash, Lou Reed, Patricio Rey Y Sus Redonditos de Ricota, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Salvador Dali, and The Police just to name a few, this record which rocks out in both English and Spanish, is the most dramatic and original work I’ve encountered in a while even though elements of it invoke visions of similarly eclectic artists. Nic’s passionate, Argentinean bass voice caresses the ears with sensuality. He describes his music as “visual songs” sometimes born from lucid dreams. One would suppose that because of the class and professionalism of this decidedly non-mainstream record and the intelligence behind its lyrics that Nic Oliverio would be older than his mid-twenties however, Whispers At The Door is proof that this young man should have a long and rewarding career provided he never loses faith.
Whispers At The Door opens with “I’m Yours”, a bittersweet 60’s folk/rock ditty highlighted with ba baba ba ba’s and clapping, featuring a vocal performance immediately reminiscent of Sleddogs’ Kenny Byrka. “The Last Of The Drivel” is similar in cadence and essence only accented by Nic’s organ and I would describe it as The Grapes of Wrath meet Grant-Lee Buffalo. From here on, I think of Grant Lee Phillips’ voice which is eerily similar to Nic’s. While I can’t understand the lyrics to this Spanish gem, “El Color De Su Amor” with its fiery, sexy El Mariachi manner, soulful wailing and thundering guitars makes it an easy favourite track. Think Antonio Banderas on the Desperado soundtrack – divine! “When All The World Is Mine” intros with an archival news sound byte that transposes into an alternative rock number stirring an image of a Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds song. The acoustic, Spanish “Raices” imparts its lovely Flamenco-folk guitar while “Big City Girl” is almost country rock with a Jeff Buckley influence. “Can I Count On You?” is an excellent, expansive alternative rocker punctuated with high register keening and the sassy, Spanish instrumental “Leaving The South” is followed by “Puede Ser”, a passionate Spanish blockbuster that would give the Iglesias men a run for their money. There is not one song on this album that I don’t like and the short ballad “Favourite Days” is as rich and delicious as a hot fudge sundae and should certainly be savoured as such.

My favourite non-Spanish song on Whispers At The Door is the lyrically epic “Trains and Peculiar Things”; a disturbing dream of déjà vu wherein Tom Waits might meet Jacques Brel:

“Like something out the movies
We’re guilted to oblige
As the doorman lifts his coat
And sells half-priced alibis

She parts from me like verses
In a disenchanted tune
With strides of more conviction
Than a Sunday afternoon

As the conductor eyes my briefcase
And whispers at the door
The coal fires up the scrutiny
And we head out for the shore

As the landscaped in my memory
Deem themselves unreal
Apprehension lays a bitter trap
And clips me at the heels

A peculiar feeling arises
As the passengers move in sync
They soon resemble characters
In a film by David Lynch”

And that’s only half the song! It’s brilliant and I don’t say that lightly!

If Nic Oliverio and his band are half as compelling live as they are on Whispers At The Door, their show should not be missed! If I were in Toronto tonight I’d be headed to the Free Times Café where they’re playing at 9:00 pm, but they can also be found at Holy Joe’s on March 17, 2007. Having played at The Horseshoe Tavern, The Cameron House and The Kathedral in Toronto (among other venues), we can only hope that the good folks at Elixir in Kingston might consider booking The Nic Oliverio Group this year as they should soon be a force to be reckoned with! - Partyinkingston.com


Given that we're barely 48 hours into 2007, I'm going to hold off on starting any lists of the year's best songs for at least another few hundred days (unlike some people). That said, one of the first new songs I've heard this year is sure to appeal to a lot of people, particularly those who really loved Seu Jorge's tracks on the Life Aquatic soundtrack: "Raices", by Nic Oliverio, and it's very much in the same vein, all soft vocals and pleasant acoustic guitar.

One obvious difference, of course, is that Oliverio sings in Spanish rather than Portuguese. The other difference is that Whispers At The Door isn't as uniformly strong an album, largely because Oliverio falters when he forays into English songwriting. Even if he is from Toronto, and a bit of bilingualism should be expected, his music just makes for a more enjoyable listen when the words are in Spanish and the melodies softly, quietly complement that. It's most apparent in "Raices", but it's plainly obvious on the other Spanish-language tracks on Whispers At The Door that Oliverio's real talent shines through when he's amping up his Latin bonafides. Hopefully he'll do that next time around, but for the time being download the track above, and hope that Oliverio decides to continue on in that direction. - IHEARTMUSIC.COM


"El Color de su Amor with its fiery, sexy El Mariachi manner, soulful wailing and thundering guitars makes it an easy favourite track."
PARTYINKINGSTON.COM

"It is obvious that Oliverio can write lyrics and music, and has a good solid voice."
EXCLAIM MAGAZINE

"Oliverio's real talent shines through when he's amping up his latin bonafides."
IHEARTMUSIC.NET

"A finger on the pick and designs on your heart strings."
SOULSHINE MAGAZINE

"He makes a powerful statement with El Color De Su Amor, a showcase of his deep, rich voice in its native tongue."
K-W RECORD

"(His voice)...a warm, classic feel that induces wistfulness by its very timbre and puts Oliverio gracefully out of step with the less musical artists of his generation."
ECHO WEEKLY

"He's at his best when he's hitting the high notes with that assured wail of his, making songs become
memorable. Oliverio's definitely got a way with words"
UMBRELLA MUSIC
- for full articles scroll down


The Record
By Jason Schneider
July 06, 2006

With his 2004 debut release, the Half-Priced Alibis EP, singer songwriter Nic Oliverio immediately found a niche on the K-W scene through his music's natural incorporation of his
Spanish heritage, creating an intriguing mix of cultures. Now Oliverio is about to release his first full-length album, entitled Whispers at the Door, which builds on the strengths of the
EP through the efforts of a crack band and production team. "On this project, we didn't make compromises in order to get the sound we wanted,'' he says. "For example, if the drum sound we wanted came from a banquet hall, then we recorded those tracks in a banquet hall. Sure, it took some time and the right connections, but I'm glad we didn't have to sacrifice
sound for convenience.
"This record really came to be with the help of some great musicians: Cory Williams, Paul MacLeod, Wayne Bond, Jay Hein, Siobhan McGovern, and my sister Romina. Moving to Toronto halfway through slowed down the process, but also made us use our time efficiently.'' Oliverio also needed time to compose the songs, which he says often come to him through lucid dreams. He also does not consciously chooseto write
in either English or Spanish, having been fluent in both languages since emigrating to Canada from Buenos Aires as
a child. However, speaking openly about what his songs may mean specifically is not something Oliverio likes to indulge in, preferring instead to have listeners interpret them in their own ways. "There are three songs in Spanish on the disc,'' he says. "It's not a decision that I make prior to writing. There never really is a basic template that I follow. The title of the album actually comes from a line in the song Trains and Peculiar Things. I didn't decide on it until I was giving a final listen of the masters, and it just suited the mood of the album perfectly.'' As far as performing the new material is concerned, Oliverio is confident that, just as on the album, he will be able to present an energetic and dynamic rock show that touches on all spects of his musical personality. It's a personality that he doesn't
feel belongs totally in the mainstream world, so like many other artists, he is taking advantage of modern technology to attract the curious. "The response from the live shows has been fantastic. It's great to finally have a full-length album to put in peoples hands. And for those iPod people who haven't purchased an actual CD in a while, we've set up my website (www.nicoliverio.com) so they can buy the album online and download it right from there.'' The terseness of Oliverio's answers seem to reflect his determination and confidence in his craft. While that may not make for great interviews, Whispers at the Door, another distinctly original piece of work from a local artist who is sure to see his audience expanding in the near future.
- The K-W Record


Exclaim.ca
By Monica S. Kuebler
March 09, 2005

"The second track,“El Color De Su Amor,” sung entirely in Spanish, is the lone standout cut; its traditional ethnic flavour draws the listener in and whisks them away to a different place (even with the language barrier)...It is obvious that Oliverio can write lyrics and music, and has a good solid voice"

- EXCLAIM Magazine


Umbrella Music:
Jun 7/2005
Tim Lawrence
"“Can I Count On You?” illustrates Oliverio’s vocal talents. He’s at his best when he’s hitting the high notes with that assured wail of his, making songs become memorable..."
"Oliverio’s definitely got a got a way with words." - Umbrella Music


Soulshine:
Cameron Gordon

"Oliverio is actually an acoustic troubadour with a finger on the pick and designs on your heartstrings."
"... well thought out and well, recorded. Oliverio uses a plain speak delivery to give tracks like “Last of the Drivel” and “Trains and Peculiar Things” a level of immediacy that should endear most listeners. And “El Color De Su Amor” is sung entirely in Spanish, giving it an exotic hue that is at very least, a slice."

- Soulshine


Echo Weekly:
Kerry O’Brien

" 25 year old local singer–songwriter Nic Oliverio is blessed with a voice that could have belonged to his father. His vocals are part mariachi (an obvious comparison, considering “El Color De Su Amor” is sung completely in Spanish) and part Dylan: a warm, classic feel that induces wistfulness by its very timbre and puts Oliverio gracefully out of step with the less musical artists of his generation. With only four tracks to its credit, Half–Priced Alibis
displays a surprising range of texture, from the sweet acoustic drive of “Can I Count On You?” to the subliminal, almost eerie “Trains and Peculiar Things” that combines sparse acoustic picking with epic lyricism and feel. And where a Spanish ballad
might seem forced on a less–well–crafted album, “Amor” sits nicely among the other songs. Really, the only thing wrong with this album is that it isn’t longer. - Echo Weekly


Discography

Whispers at the Door - 2006 - full-length Album (available on major internet retailers, internet radios, ie. Last.fm, and campus stations.)
Half-Priced Alibis - 2004 - EP (peaked at #7 on campus charts, and still on rotation)

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Bio

Nic Oliverio's Alt-Folk style of music is a mix of many influences. Singer-Songwriter at heart, Nic combines his love of B-side sci-fi movies, surrealist poetry, and the Great Twang of old-time guitars. These all create a natural backdrop to the rich, soulful wailing of his signature voice.
Whether playing solo or with his backing band, the songs remain the same; unique.
Having played some of Toronto's best known venues, such as; The Horseshoe Tavern, The Cameron House, The Big Bop, and Free Times Cafe, One of Nic's favourite gigs was for the launch of a fashion and style internet magazine at The Smiling Buddha. He was able to sellout of cd's to the most unlikely of audiences...models. "Apparently it was the spanish tunes that really did the job." Nic explains.