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Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2003
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"It's A Cracker!! 100% Guaranteed!!"

Hints of rootsy Americana thread the debut record from the Twin Cities area trio Romantica. Contrary to the name, this is no offering of sweet love songs, but a rich passion-pop record of post-love delirium. Belfast born Ben Kyle`s songs carry his breathy but soulful voice with intimate fusion through songs that range from the moody piano ballad ("Break I") to some perky acoustic alt. country rippers ("Break II"). But the bulk of this release consists of heart-sprained odes that ebb and flow with understated rocking urge. Moments that recall Ryan Adams or The Old 97`s can be noted. Jessy Greene draws her violin bow on several numbers and vocalist Susan Enan adds to the many terrific harmonies that make this record dreamy. -- Robinson, Miles Of Music - Miles of Music


Love letters often read better after they've been torn to pieces. Truman Capote once wrote about the paper strips one can find in a spurned lover's garbage--words like remember and miss you and goddamn and lonesome languishing at the bottom of the bin. Sometimes it sounds like Ben Kyle has salvaged those amorous snippets and pasted them together into lyrics, selecting only the phrases that seem too epic to rot among the fish bones, coffee grounds, and cigarette butts. In the local crooner's songs, every smell is a fragrance, streets are boulevards, and charlatan is what you call a dude who makes out in the back of the movie theater. Still, when our grandiloquent orator spills his prose onto the page for a girl, she scolds, "Your own attempts at modern verse/Lack all the romance of an Irish curse." I'll bet even Kyle could respond to that line in one simple word: Huh?

A lover of Oscar Wilde quotes and girls who look like Shakespeare's tragic heroines, Kyle is nothing if not a romantic--though his band's casual Americana probably offsets his dramatic flair. Even while multi-instrumentalist Luke Jacobs thanks his "thought-provoking Kierkegaardian colleagues" in Romantica's liner notes, his jangly bass guitar doesn't just evoke alt-country's cold post-grad commentary on classic country; it chatters and moans like a Turf Club barfly while Mark Hedlund chimes in with subtle percussion.

The three starry-eyed musicians trade their signature twang for a piano ballad on "Belfast," in which Kyle returns to his titular hometown only to realize that "absence makes the heart grow colder." But on "There She Goes," Jacobs and Hedlund peacock their upbeat folk-pop while Kyle's gentle Irish drawl turns their Americana into something more than the sound of the States. Ba ba ba he sings, leading his black sheep behind him. It may not be "I love you," but for this tongue-tangled romantic, it'll do. - CITY PAGES, Mellissa Maerz (Rolling Stone)


For anyone worrying that the Americana genre has become a repository of the bad irony of hipsters and has-been quackeries, fear not: Romantica is here to save the day. Singer and songwriter Ben Kyle is the latest in a long line of European exports to reinvigorate a genre by reclaiming it as his own: “God walks on the water, I walk through the rain.” With one foot still in the his home country, one taking a tentative step into the mess of promises and disappointments on the other side of the pond, he and his band mates dust off the brilliance at the heart of America. Most albums with such ambitious titles fall flat in the attempt; Kyle, in songs and voice that sit comfortably between Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, dwells comfortably in the long shadows cast by his forefathers while leaving his own undeniable stamp on the proceedings. Top notch. DAVID MEAD - PASTE Magazine

"TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2007"

He might be originally from Northern Ireland, but songwriter Ben Kyle chose the title of his latest album well: Romantica's sweetly sad country-rock, awash in pedal steel, fiddle, and lovely Gram Parsons-esque melodies, is purely this side of the Atlantic. Even when Kyle sings about his family's emigration to the U.S. in "The National Side" it's not accompanied by Celtic instrumentation, but a wall of sprightly Tex-Mex horns. Melancholy and extreme sports aren't usually found together as major themes, but Kyle makes them work, eulogizing snowboarder Craig Kelly (who died in an avalanche in 2003) on "La Traviada" and mourning the death of a Mexican bandit in "Ixcatan."
Christopher Bahn, The Onion - THE ONION


Few albums released locally this year are capable of garnering such widespread appreciation as Romantica's America. With lush string arrangements and delicate vocal melodies, Romantica appeal just as much to the Cities 97 crowd as they do to alt-country aficionados and folk revivalists, a testament to lead singer Ben Kyle's dexterous songwriting. From the up-tempo shuffle of "National Side" to the Springsteen-channeling slow-burner "Ixcatan," Kyle is adept at writing narrative lyrics and expressing sensitivity without turning on the cheese or being overtly poetic, making America beautiful in its simplicity.
Andrea Myers, - CITY PAGES


Anyone wondering why Ireland native Ben Kyle named his band's second album after his adopted country will get it by CD's end. The music is Americana to the bone, with tasteful bits of piano, accordion and violin (Jessy Greene's) applied to his wistful, BoDeans/Ryan Adams-style twang-pop. Kyle's Irishness bleeds into his wounded-poet lyrics....This is the kind of CD I could recommend to anyone. In a perfect world, the soccer, er, football ditty "The National Side" would score on local FM stations. - Chris Riemenschneider - MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE


Miss the Jayhawks? Think Gram Parsons could do no wrong? Long for a touch of pre-migraine Wilco? Then belly up to the bar for a taste of Romantica, led by Irish immigrant Ben Kyle and featuring moody, lilting Irish-American tales sweetened by the moving pedal steel of Eric Heywood. Inspirational verse: “I’ve tried to live my life / Between the platter and the knife / Between my daughter and my wife / Is where you’ll find me” from “How To Live in A Modern World”. Pick to click: imagine Ryan Adams fronting Calexico for a lament of dashed dreams and hopeful schemes on “The National Side”.
Trip McClatchy, Teenage Kicks - TEENAGE KICKS - Best Albums of 2007


An album called America with a host of references to "Belfast" and "Donegal" gives a clue to the background of singer and songwriter Ben Kyle. Brought up in Northern Ireland until his late teens he then moved to Minneapolis where he formed Romantica. America is their second album and it is a beauty. Think Over The Rhine with a male vocal or Ryan Adams with a poppier voice. The songs had my ears and soul pricking up at regular intervals with instrumental flourishes, some from ex Wilco and Jayhawks girl Jessy Green, and lyrical twists and turns that are clever yet never over indulgent.

National Side is intoxicatingly infectious, pure unadulterated catchiness with great lyrics, laced with humour and a family’s past and future. The only slight problem might be the references to FA Cup and rhyming Gary Linekar with Salt and Vinegar might not be so easily understood in America’s mid west but he does get to pop reference David Beckham before he sets America on fire with LA Galaxy. There is a retrospective thread to the entire album with memories of life in Belfast or family holidays to the Gulf Of Mexico. Fiona, another radio friendly hit if there ever was one, takes a bleak look at Belfast. Listening to it in the post Adams and Paisley photo op that brings a bright future ever more probably, makes it sound like a bygone age, where bombs were exploding, policeman were frightened and Belfast was going nowhere. In painting the grimness of Belfast’s past it somehow brings out the joy of where it actually has gone.

There’s a sense too that Kyle has taken Sufjan Stevens’ contribution to rock on board. The brass on National Side shows it in the arrangements but where so many seem to think that you have to be over clever and complicated in the post Sufjan days Kyle moves more in the slip stream of his story telling and the spirit of capturing places and people. Kyle seems smart enough to know what to be influenced by and what to avoid trying to copy.

Another similarity of Stevens is Romantic’s ability to talk spiritual without pontificating dogma. Drink The Night Away is the most played song on my Ipod and seems to be about the reckless tragedy of teenage drinking exploits until theological questions are asked of Jesus. In the subtlest and soul song stopping twist Jesus appears in the last scene to raise the cup and "drink the night away." The fragile God Walks On The Water is one for quiet reflection at any time of doubt or struggle. It is as honest and accurate a lesson in pilgrimage as you will hear in many a long year: "God walks on the water/I walk through the rain/One day we’ll walk together/When he comes back again."

Everything about the album is seemingly so effortless. I predict Album of the Year already! - Steve Stockman (BBC RADIO)


As far as I can tell this may be Minneapolis trio Romantica's First trip here, and if they're anywhere near as good live as their GREAT-AT-VERY-FIRST-LISTEN new CD, "It's Your Weakness that I want," you'll want to say you saw them now. Tasty yummy rock music--grab a bite. Local boys the Damnwells are a damn well pop band themselves. 8pm. - Village Voice (NY)

"The Next Notable Musician to Come From Van Morrison's Homeland"

Ireland's contributions to contemporary music are many, ranging from the Chieftains and Tommy Makem to U2 and Sinead O'Connor. Northern Ireland has somewhat less of a legacy, Van Morrison's luminous catalog notwithstanding.
Ben Kyle, a native of Belfast, might be the next notable musician to come from Morrison's homeland, albeit by way of Minneapolis. Kyle, whose band Romantica plays Saturday at the Quiet Storm, is aware his homeland has not produced many musicians who have made an impact globally.
"It's a different culture up in the north," says Kyle, who moved to Minnesota in 1995 with his family when he was 13, "... everyone is dealing with the same sort of environment, the same history and struggles between the British and the Irish."
Those issues have emerged in the music of Irish musicians, notably in a song like U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." But Kyle has taken a different course. "It's Your Weakness that I Want," Romantica's debut, is, well, romantic. Not sappy romantic, a la Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs," but thoughtful ruminations on love.
"During the period I wrote the album I was in a meaningful relationship that led to marriage, so I was thinking a lot about it at the time," Kyle says with a laugh. "But I figured I could get away with 'Romantica' because it feels a little bit like a parody. Hopefully, people don't take it too seriously. But at the same time it has a lot of depth to the word and it sort of implies the romantic movement as a whole, and being very sincere and heartfelt about certain ideas, things that you just feel deeply."
Kyle adds that he probably won't always write love songs, but hopes to invest his work with the same passion that makes "It's Your Weakness that I Want" different. But musically Romantica doesn't need any adjustments. Kyle, Luke Jacobs and Mark Hedlund have a knack for snappy, melodic songs that use fiddle and piano accents effectively, from the punchy hoedown "Break I & II" to the contemplative "Belfast," in which Kyle's vocals resemble those of Peter Gabriel. The release was good enough to win Best Americana album at the Minnesota Music Awards in 2004, no small feat in a region where bands such as the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum still preside.
Kyle, who embraced the music of his new hometown when he was a kid, thinks that the distance between Belfast and the Twin Cities, at least musically, isn't that great.
"There's a lot of similarities between folk music and the bluegrass and country here," he says. "I think Irish and English folk music influenced that a lot. Honestly, it was quite a surprise to me (winning the award). The first time I heard them say Americana, it was a surprise. But looking at it now, I can see that; it's clear. But it certainly wasn't that I was moving here and thinking how do I incorporate this American music into what I'm doing. It was very much osmosis." - Pittsburgh Tribune - Review Regis Behe


"It's Your Weakness that I Want" 2004 (2024 Records)

"America" 2007 (2024 Records)

"Control Alt Country Delete" 2009 (Self Released)

"We Still Love Our Country" Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle 2010 (Opus)

"God and Love and War" OUT OCTOBER 4 2011




"It feels like a new lease on life," frontman/songwriter Ben Kyle says of Shadowlands, Romantica's fourth album and first new release in seven years. 

Indeed, the emotion-charged set marks a creative rebirth for the sprawling Minnesota-based ensemble, with Kyle's evocative vocals and vivid songwriting matched by his bandmates' organic instrumental rapport. Romantica's lush, melodic songcraft has won considerable attention in the Americana/alt-country community, but the Irish-born Kyle's unique perspective resists easy categorization. While the band's personnel has shifted and evolved over the years, its unique musical vision has remained consistent.

"I've been through some very deep shadowlands in my life in the last few years, and this material comes out of that experience," Kyle explains, adding, "I feel like a lot of the content of this record is about the fruit of the darkness in life. There's a line in the song 'Give Your Heart a Shelter' that goes 'Sometimes the night and the darkness know better, and in heartache we find that's where the heart breaks through.' Sometimes the most difficult things are the things that purify and coalesce and crystallize our true selves, where we really discover what we're about and why we're here."

In order to capture the songs' stirring sense of place, Kyle and company cut Shadowlands in a barn in the wilds of Southwestern Minnesota, which the band and engineer Brad Bivens converted into a recording studio.

"I think it's the first real band record we've made, in the sense that it was a pure collaboration, in a way that our earlier albums maybe weren't," Kyle asserts. "This time, I brought the songs in skeletal form, and we all put them together in the same time and space and played everything live. We'd wake up in the morning in the little farmhouse where we were staying, and we'd make a plan for what songs we wanted to approach that day.

"One of the reasons I really wanted to do the album this way," he continues, "is that we'd had a long hiatus from recording, and this version of the band had never really had a chance to form an identity. I felt like, if this band was gonna continue, it needed to be organic, and each of us needed to own it as something that was part of our identity. So let's find out what that is; lets go and make a record that we're all bringing our character to, and let the band find itself."

The search for musical truth has been a life's work for Kyle, who moved from Ireland to Minnesota with his family when he was a teenager.

"My journey, and the perspective of having lived in one country and then moving to another, has been a very big influence on how I approach music," he states. "The music environment in Minnesota, with bands like the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum, made a deep impression on me. At the same time, I grew up playing Irish folk music in pubs with my family. And at some point, I realized that those two kinds of music were not that different."

After studying painting and fine art at TK, Kyle formed Romantica with some like-minded locals. Within months, the band had signed with a local indie label and released its 2004 debut It's Your Weakness That I Want, which received substantial regional attention, winning a Minnesota Music Award as Best Americana Album. 2007's America raised Romantica's profile considerably, winning widespread national acclaim. 2009's Control Alt Country Delete was an audacious experiment, recorded on the cheap in a single day following a successful stand at Austin's South by Southwest music festival. Despite its humble origins, the raw, unadorned album earned much favor with the band's fans.

 Romantica's extended hiatus—during which Kyle released a self-titled solo album as well as a collaborative effort with Carrie Rodriguez, pointedly titled We Still Love Our Country—was a product of the band's disputes with its former label, as well as the realities of family commitments.

"I have five children, and between us there's about thirteen kids in the band," Kyle says.  "We needed those years to ground ourselves and our families, so now we're coming back together with a little more life experience."

Now, with Romantica back on track and ready to hit the road, Kyle is decidedly enthused about the band's future. 

"We're not taking ourselves too seriously, and we're doing it for the right reasons," he says. "We're doing it for the joy of it, and because we love it. We're a community of friends who like being together, and it's valuable and fruitful or us to continue making music. It's not about being successful or achieving stardom. It's about just doing it, and honing in on what we can do that nobody else can do."