Rodello's Machine
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Rodello's Machine

Encinitas, California, United States

Encinitas, California, United States
Alternative Acoustic

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"Rodello's Machine a Breath of Fresh Air"

San Diego’s Rodellos Machine is a breath of fresh air. The opening moments of “Rock under My Feet,” suggest an acoustic Pearl Jam, as singer Nate Donnis is dead ringer for Eddie Vedder. However, you won’t hear any of the harder rock grunge-ish sounds normally associated with Pearl Jam.

Rodellos Machine is a duo that also features Kolby Knickerbocker. Both Knickerbocker and Donnis sing on the act’s self-titled EP. Furthermore, they each collaborate on the lyrics for these six songs. Knickerbocker produced and mixed the work with Brian Karscig. While each man plays guitar, Knickerbocker also chips in bass, percussion, keyboard and piano.

Although not explicitly religious, there are nevertheless spiritual elements sprinkled throughout these lyrics. “Rock under My Feet” may well allude to the New Testament description of Jesus as a rock. “Lila” is a sweet love song to a girl – perhaps a young girl. It includes the admonition, “Let your light shine,” though. However, the one song that is most spiritual of all is “Beauty of Your Life.” The track rolls to a gentle, finger-picked guitar part. “I have seen a miracle,” Donnis announces. He goes on to note the many blessings in his life. He even quotes from the famous hymn “Amazing Grace.” He sings these words, yet to an entirely different melody.

“Three Weeks to go” is the most sonically appealing song on this recording. It begins with a layered, wordless vocal intro, before going into an acoustic reggae song. The song’s lyric speaks to the anticipation of a beloved girl’s arrival. Images of weather are used to express the difference between a girl’s absence and presence. The weather just gets better when we’re with the ones we love.

The majority of these songs are about girls. In fact, “Lila” is even named after one. Its lyric is filled with encouragement, and even references Eleanor Roosevelt. This is a girl that’s always beautiful, even when she’s sad, the words tell us. She’s encouraged to love herself and not give in, as it’s sung over a finger-snapping acoustic groove.

While acoustic guitar work looms large during this recording, you shouldn’t get the impression that it is by any means sparse and under produced. “Rock under My Feet” may be a relatively acoustic track, but it also features wonderful strings from Marta Zulodova and Melissa Barrison, who bow sweetly one moment, then pluck percussively the next. It’s a song that builds momentum as it goes. It’s also a song saturated in joy that just makes you feel good. It ends with a winning vocal/string interplay section, which sounds a little bit like the Beach Boys meet Roy Orbison, which is a fantastic combination.

While Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam is the first comparison to come to mind, the relaxed vocal that drives “Pause” is a lot like Dave Matthews’ more subdued, thoughtful moments. The track features some nice acoustic guitar strumming and harmony vocals.

“Sails,” the song that closes this work sounds like it’s sung by Knickerbocker, as it is sung in a higher register. Once again, this track ends with quite the musical build. While this duo may be a relatively stripped down unit, that doesn’t mean the act isn’t musically ambitious. There is a touch of Fleet Foxes’ orchestral vibe running through this final track, as well as others on the disc.

These six songs are all excellent, and hold up well, even after repeated listening. Rodellos Machine is a name that might suggest something precise and mechanical upon first glance. If that’s the case, the music created is like the ghost in the machine as this is very much a living, animated vehicle. There is just so much to like about these two talented musicians. Perhaps indie greatness is calling.
- Indie Music Review


"Good Things Are Yet to Come"

Rodello’s Machine is a home-grown San Diego duo consisting of Nate Donnis (acoustic guitar, lead vocals) and Kolby Knickerbocker (acoustic guitar, vocals, bass, percussion, keyboard, piano) that formed in 2009. Their debut EP, also titled Rodello’s Machine (a name that appeared to Donnis in a dream), features six original songs written by Donnis and Knickerbocker, recorded locally at White Horse Studios, and produced by Knickerbocker and Brian Karscig. The tunes vary from simple (but lovely) acoustic ballads (“Lila,” “Beauty of Your Life”) to complex arrangements featuring strings and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies (“Rock Under My Feet,” my favorite track on the EP) and Dave Matthews Band-influenced melodies (“Sails,” featuring Knickerbocker on lead vocals). Lyrically, most of the tracks are love songs, which keeps the tone happy—even sweet. In a similar vein, “Three Weeks to Go” is a heartfelt welcome written to an unborn child from the perspective of an expectant father (with lilting Beach Boys harmonies in the background). The only exception to the love song theme, “Pause,” is a surprisingly upbeat song about moving on from a relationship (with subtle strings in the background). Rodello’s Machine, which has opened for Blues Traveler, describes their musical influences as groups like Wilco and Animal Collective, which is to say eclectic. No matter. If the taste provided by this EP sampler is any sign, there are good things yet to come from Rodello’s Machine. - San Diego Troubadour


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Rodello's Machine is the combination of two dedicated musicians, Nate Donnis and Kolby Knickerbocker. With a sound that is like a shimmering blend of Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, Wilco and Animal Collective, the two have set out to create their own unique style of indie folk/rock.

In 2009, the two began meeting frequently sharing songs and dreaming up sounds for their debut EP. Along the way they managed to raise money for the recording/production of their EP through Kickstarter, open up for Blues Traveler, work with legendary producer Brian Karscig (Louis XIV) and play high profile gigs to packed venues throughout San Diego.

What makes Rodellos Machine stand out is the complementary sound and styles of both musicians. Originally from upstate NY, Nate Donnis came to CA seeking the warmer weather and new opportunities in music. A songwriter at heart, he wrote song after song, and slowly developed his craft. His first success came with his band The Donnis Trio which became popular through Pandora and various television placements. In 2009, he was introduced to Kolby via his wife after hearing him play guitar and tabla at a local yoga studio. After meeting and working together a few weeks and both of them desiring a new creative outlet, they decided to form Rodello's Machine.

Originally from Miami, FL, Kolby Knickerbocker is a multi-talented musican and producer, playing guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, and digeridoo. He came to Rodellos Machine with a wealth of creative ideas and a mutual desire to create music that would inspire listeners. A talented singer songwriter in his own right and a clear knack for production, as evidenced in his release with Kitty's Music Box, Knickerbocker and Donnis had a creative flow that made song production easy.

Their musical descriptives could best be tagged as indie folk/rock with robust baritone vocals, flavorfully rich harmonies, an acoustically warm back-bone, and a production value like rocket fuel. Rodello's Machine is a name that might suggest something precise and mechanical upon first glance. However, the music created is like the ghost in the machine as this is very much a living, animated vehicle.