Ryan Anderson
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Ryan Anderson

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"Review of Trains Take Away Old Friends"

from Urban Pollution.
written by Stephanie Gordon

As exhibited by the cover art of Trains Take Away Old Friends, Ryan Anderson's life in a parallel universe is one of a soft-spoken conductor - whistling happy harmonies while collecting passenger's tickets and spreading his wisdom through the aisles. "It's all about trains / and transistor radios / It's all about trains / and kissin' the one you love" seems to be a fitting motto for the charming lo-fi sensibility of Anderson's Trains collection.

Sweetly similar to a tune from a Mark Mothersbaugh soundtrack is the opener of "All Aboard," introducing the album with a whimsical shot of tinny banjo and lush piano, flowing into an equally as intimate cluster of cuts. Throughout the album, Anderson's exuberant grasp of instrumental ingenuity is presented through heartfelt tunes with a persisting catchiness.

Ready to accommodate hand-claps and sing-alongs are tracks like the shaker-heavy percussion of "Get On Out," and "All About Trains," bursting with alt-country flare accompanied by toy piano and compellingly odd background vocals. As well as being fit for bouncy dance attacks, the majority of Anderson's ditties would make a believable addition to a small-town carnival. Such is the case with the tracks like "Where There's Clowns" and the tambourine jam of "Down To The River," encouraging listeners to lose their shoes then jump and click their heels.

Delving past the excitement of varied tempos, intricate riffs and endearing crooning, listeners are ought to find a treasure in layers of conceptual lyricism. Anderson is a poised wordsmith, using pure and simple emotion as his weapon of choice, and breeching subjects from the awkward stages of love to heartfelt sentiments of pain and loss as exhibited on "And If You're A Witch" as well as the debate boiling inside every sensitive wanderer type, "leave or not to leave."

Skipping arm in arm with Anderson's ever-present country know-how are sporadic and occasionally heavy-handed layers of noise which at times break the album into scattered pieces. Interrupting the powerful kitsch-pop flow are bouts of slot-machine-like crashing and high-pitched whirling towards the end of "Grandfather Dies in the Storm" and glitchy blips and distorted echoes of "In the Cities." While there is a great potential to fit his songs with a noise-folk overcoat, the majority of the electronics thrown into Trains seem more like of a round of too-eager experimentation than a consistent atmospheric gel.

Overpowering electronics aside, the end result of Trains Take Away Old Friends is an armful of wide-eyed narrative and melodies galore, ready to be tossed over listeners' shoulders in a bundle of travel-ready tunes. Although Trains took a while to reach our ears, and was only released this year after its initial recording in Savannah, Georgia in 2002, the Southern sweetness pulsing through Anderson's music naturally leaves an anticipation for upcoming material lingering in the air. If his current home of Austin, Texas has been cradling Anderson in a web of advanced inspiration, only time will tell.

- www.urbanpollution.com


"Live Review from 2006 show in Athens, GA"

written by Linda Diamond

When I walked into Little Kings on Friday afternoon and pushed to the front to see the Passerines, I didn't think twice about the tall baby faced guy with the shaggy hair that I almost ran over. Minutes later, he appeared on stage and captivated the audience with his music, and I fell in love.

That guy was Ryan Anderson. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and his soothing voice, Ryan wooed the audience with his extraordinary talent. His intricate guitar work and unique singing style kept us on our toes. Standing amongst the crowd, I felt us all begin to sway and rock our bodies, and clap in unison to the folky music.

Anderson sang as though he were telling us a story, sometimes speaking the words, and sometimes cooing them in his warm voice. He had no trouble holding the attention of the audience, as poetry spilled from his mouth. The amazing thing about Ryan was that he closed his eyes, rocked to the rhythm of the music, and just sang from his heart. You could almost picture the girl, the road trip, the conversation that he spoke about in his lyrics. If there is one thing that's hard to come by these days, it's an artist that is genuine. In Ryan Anderson's music, you can feel his honesty and sincerity. You can truly believe that he knew these people, that he's been to these places, that he's experienced what he sings about.

Ryan's performance was one that I truly appreciated. It was simple, but it was sincere. It was laid back, but it was exciting. Not only was Anderson musically gifted, he also had a sweet innocent spirit that was contagious. If only I had run into the tall baby faced guy with the shaggy hair after he had enticed me with his music... - www.AthensExchange.com


"Review of The Garden Path"

Ryan Anderson disregards many things: conventional recording techniques (his new album The Garden Path was recorded entirely on cassette), his own vocal range (although he’s started to sing somewhat a bit more comfortably since 2006’s Trains Take Away Old Friends, and an obvious distate for the worlds current military situations (more than a few of The Garden Path’s tunes revolve around the aftermath of war). And I think he’s doing a dandy job. It takes quite a bit of cajones to stay analog in the day of the iPhone, sing how you want even if you can’t always pull it off, and… well, even though it’s not terribly cutting-edge to be antiwar in 2007, these are still sentiments that ought to be expressed. Especially when you’re doing it as well as Mr. Anderson does here.

The bulk of The Garden Path sticks plainly to a sparse drumkit, tasteful bass, a jangly acoustic guitar and the Anderson’s voice of the everyman. Throw in an occasional harmonica or female backing vocal, mix it with lyrics that are fun to yell along with like “I don’t work for you anymore / Don’t you come to my house / I ain’t gonna open up the door”, and you’ve got yerself a damn fine indie record. And man, that ain’t the only catchy protest-cum-campfire singalong on The Garden Path either. Dig on the gentle piano washed buried under the “We had to get on out / Of this forgotten old town / All our friends were dead now” chorus in “Alice To Dallas” for proof that mass minimalism is where it’s at. And while the subject matter might be inherently dark, it’s always sung from the perspective that we can do something about our troubles… we just might have to move around a bit to find a comfortable place to camp for a few months, you know?

Ryan Anderson isn’t the voice of our generation, but if he hones his craft a bit more, it could very well happen. Of course, if Anderson gets that tag dropped on him, it’ll mean that people will only listen to his tunes for purpose and less so for pleasure. I mean, seriously… when was the last time you saw someone throw on The Times They Are A-Changin’ just for fun? If Anderson keeps walking the cozy line between neo-protest songs and acoustic bedroom pop, the records can always be this good, and we won’t have to see him on Nightline tackling issues in a point-counterpoint discussion with the AFL/CIO chairman or something equally unsavory.

Nah, I like what you’re doing just the way it is, Ryan. Any upgrade to future recordings from this point on will only serve to push me into some sort of weird obsessive fan-boy state of mind. Er, um… what I meant to say is that The Garden Path is a great lo-fi record that truly deserves to be heard. Give Ryan a chance! - www.retrolowfi.com


Discography

"Paisley and Twee" CD EP featured 7 songs and released on Bi Fi and Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records in 2004.

"For the Ones Who've Left US" CD EP, self released in 2006. Features 5 songs.

"Trains Take Away Old Friends" CD
released in 2006 by Bi Fi Records.
voted top ten of last year at Daytrotter.com

"The Garden Path" CD, 2007
Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records.
recorded on cassette.

"Keep at Hand" CD, 2008.
recorded on 1/2" tape in Ames, IA. Searching for a label.

Photos

Bio

I flew up to Iowa in May 2008, spent 7 days in a basement and recorded a few songs on 1/2" tape. The result is a new album called, "Keep at Hand."

There is only one way to say it: these songs are about love, which is rough on the edges. Fall hard, let the heart swell but prepare for a fight and remember, if no one's getting dirty then no one's having fun.

Walker Percy had it right: "We love those who know the worst of us and don't turn their faces away."

I was born in Northeast Florida at a hospital called, “Baptist Medical.”

At age 8, I stepped on my first guitar and it broke. I don’t remember the first song I wrote, but I have been making music since age 11. The years between 8 and 11 are a blur.

I went to sleep at night with my head a few feet away from the Atlantic Ocean. My goal is to write a song that feels like the shore during the winter. The wind blows mostly from the north east at that time of year, whistling through the sea oats and snow-capping the water.

After calling Florida my home for 20 years, I moved to Savannah, GA, the lone city in the South General Sherman supposedly refused to burn because of its beauty. It is a haunted city where I found love.

In 2004 I moved to Austin, TX where I continue to live.

I have been very lucky to find great people to release my recordings. I played my first live show at the age of 15, it was a birthday party. Since then I have toured nationally twice and been able to share the stage with Of Montreal, Ladybug Transistor, Karl Blau, Jason Anderson, Tullycraft, Laura Gibson, {{{ SUNSET }}}, The Dodos, Shapes and Sizes, Canada, Monroe Mustang, Bombazine Black, Real Live Tigers, The Late BP Helium, Bunnygrunt, Pink Nasty, The Lovely Sparrows, Circulatory System, Keith John Adams, The Places, Ralph White, Fishboy, Leatherbag, Secret Sideshow, Low Line Caller, The Channel, The Poison Control Center, Marcus Rubio and many more.

Upcoming plans include finding a label and touring in the spring.