Sean Russell
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Sean Russell

North Richland Hills, Texas, United States | INDIE

North Richland Hills, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"Probably more so than any other local musician, Fort Worth Americana-pop singer-songwriter Sean Russell is a fan of local music. Seriously. He’s rabid. You can bet that the songs spun the most on his iPod are by Calhoun, The Burning Hotels, The Orbans, Hi-Fi Drowning, and The O’s, among others... Though he’d probably recoil from the thought, he’s right up there with all of them in terms of talent. Last we heard from Russell was several years ago, after the release of his full-length debut, To This Point. But he’s been working off and on since then and is now about to release his second full-length, Mystery of the New, recorded at Bass Propulsion Laboratories in Dallas... " - FW Weekly - Anthony Mariani


"The album starts with a potent 1-2 punch of “Raincloud” and “Back to Me,” moving from propulsive drums and scream-along chorus to an irresistible hook. Mystery of the New invokes many power-pop masters, from Matthew Sweet on ”Avoiding the Absolutes” to Fountains of Wayne on “Vivian.” And, while it may be easy to make certain connections, his music never comes off as overly derivative. It’s those hints of other familiar tunes that is half the secret to great pop music, anyway. Russell isn’t afraid to tackle more meaningful topics either, such as on “I Am The Problem,” a mediation on his shortcomings as a man and his inherent hypocritical nature. Mystery drips with unpretentious pop, delivering its fair share of solid songs and demanding little more from the listener besides time to soak it in." - Pegasus News- Andy Odom


"..here's a look at six new albums, birthed by musicians from the 817, worth your time and money. ... His grasp on plaintive pop songs is firm, but on tracks like the sparkling Vivian, Russell shows us he can let loose when he wants. " - Star Telegram / DFW Quick - Preston Jones


Russell, Russ, and Fletcher
All this angry music is making me ... angry. “You broke my heart, you lousy whore of Babylon!,” “You stole my money, you mindless lothario!,” “I’m gonna kill your iguana, you heartless minx!” I’m tired of it. I understand that life isn’t all strawberries and peaches (or strawberry- and peach-flavored schnapps), but sometimes, we all need to step down off the ledge, have some schnapps, and let the tension of modern life just ooze out of our pores and into the ether. What I plan on doing this Saturday is going to the Aardvark (2905 W Berry St; 817-926-7814), having some schnapps, and watching Sean Russell perform on a bill with The Red Herrings and The Esquire — and if I hear one discouragin’ word, so help me Buddha, I’m gonna start breaking hearts, stealing money, and killing iguanas. A much beloved Triple-A troubadour, Russell recently stopped riding the fence, so to speak, to concentrate on making music with a positive, faith-based vibe, the result of a cruel epiphany. While they were waiting in line to get into a club three blocks from where Russell was performing in Tuscaloosa this spring, three people were shot. From that moment on, the young singer-songwriter has been a different musician, though you’d still be hard pressed to detect an ounce of “I love you, baby Jesus!” in his music. It’s just good, no matter your religion. Russell’s rock-pop, like a smooth glass of schnapps, will serve as a nice, warm, occasionally funky counterpoint to The Red Herrings’ unabashedly and deliciously R&B-inflected rock ’n’ roll. ... - FW Weekly








6/30/2004

With an Army stint behind him, singer-songwriter Sean Russell goes crisply smart-pop.
By Jimmy Fowler



Russell

 

Back in 1995, singer-songwriter Sean Russell had a lot of time on his hands to practice playing and composing. His rehearsal space was rather unorthodox -- a U.S. army camp in Seoul, South Korea, where Russell had been stationed to help patrol the DMZ. His quarters were near a dog farm, where canines were raised to be eaten. Many soldiers found themselves turning loopy from the tedium of watching, waiting, and thinking; they often resorted to extreme weightlifting regimes or lots of alcohol or both to deal with foreign conditions. Russell took a different route: He says he schlepped an acoustic guitar around the de-militarized zone with his backpack and artillery.

"We'd go out to karaoke bars at night, and I'd sing Devo and Cure songs," he said. "I liked being a soldier, but then I never saw combat. There was definitely a lot of drinking and playing sad songs and just adjusting every day."

Russell had enlisted when he was 20 to have a job where he "couldn't be fired." This was after a short stint as an art student at TCU and a self-proclaimed shotgun wedding to his pregnant girlfriend. That girlfriend, Cari, is still his wife; the couple have three kids together. Throughout the travails of being a young husband and father, the exotic ennui of South Korea (his tour ended in 1998), and his current white-collar stint in what he calls "cubicle hell" (he works for a mortgage firm), Russell has never stopped singing and writing music. At 31, he's just released an album of hushed, disarmingly gentle tunes called To This Point. Produced by brothers Todd and Toby Pipes (Drowning Pool, John Price, Hi-Fi Drowning) and released on their BPL records label, the c.d. might best be described as smart dream pop -- full of feathery choruses, sweetly psychedelic instrumentation, and lyrics that veer from confessional to political to celebratory of love, friendship, and spirituality.

The tension between giddiness and melancholy that keeps To This Point so listenable is reflected in the sounds that Colleyville native Russell grew up loving and trying to emulate. In elementary school, he learned to play drums to back friends up on tunes by the J. Geils Band and Asia. Junior high -- and a new-found taste for Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and The Cure -- led him to tackle keyboards. It wasn't until high school that he picked up his weapon of choice, the guitar. There he tried -- and mostly failed -- to perfect the spangled electric chords of Johnny Marr's work with The Smiths. "I felt proud believing I was the only person in a 20-mile radius who listened to The Smiths or The Cure," he recalled, laughing. "I was protective of those bands, but I liked introducing them to friends."

From college through his South Korea years, Russell had admired a musician whose sensibilities were simpatico with his and whose influence is the most obvious on To This Point -- Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. The younger musician appreciated Dando's ability to convey mellowness and intensity at the same time. Coincidentally, Russell also listened to Deep Blue Something's c.d. Home (the one that featured the then-ubiquitous single "Breakfast at Tiffany's") years before he met Todd Pipes at the gym where they both worked out. When he and Todd began the friendship that would lead to their musical association, Russell was playing guitar and singing with a Fort Worth-Dallas cover band called Fake Jerry, which specialized in performing more obscure material by The Lemonheads, Cheap Trick, and the Rolling Stones.

It was last summer when Sean Russell and the Pipes Brothers began recording a collection of Russell's songs at Bass Propulsion Labs in Dallas. "I promised my wife [before he went into BPL] that I was just going to record these songs for preservation," he said. The brothers stuck with Russell as he tried to make time between being a father and a working professional. The results on To This Point are much more than a sentimental project to distribute among friends. The 12 tunes (including a cover of The Cure's "2 Late") offer a bracing reprieve from the strutting nihilism that pervades the work of so many male songwriters, including some of Russell's big influences. The Pipes brothers create some great sci-fi sonic effects to flesh out his catchy folk melodies; he returns the compliment with earnest and boyish vocals, often multi-tracked to great effect. "Tattoo" is a marvelous upbeat chronicle of shopping for just the right permanent skin design. "Easy" tells with a slow gratitude about how his wife has made his "falldowns" and "fallbacks" recoverable. "Disappointed" was written for his wife and children; he exhorts them to keep some amount of faith in him "swimming in the back of your mind." The album's most barbed cut is "Automatic," which slyly assails politicians of the left and the right for using war to score partisan points. It's dedicated to his younger brother, who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11.

"Soldiers are not trained to be police officers, or aid-workers, or humanitarians," Russell said of America's current Middle East occupation. "They're trained to blow things up and to win. They're expected to do too many things from all sides, when all they want is a cause to believe in and to get back home in one piece."

That's atypical political editorializing for both To This Point and the mild-mannered Mr. Russell. Right now, he's intrigued by the gradual process of recording, distributing, and promoting To This Point while maintaining a hectic work and family schedule. He began headlining gigs -- both as a solo act and with a changing roster of backup musicians -- last November at clubs like Trees, The Cavern, and The Aardvark. BPL Records has a deal with a company to distribute To This Point nationally -- you can currently find it for sale on the web sites of Tower Records, Amazon.com, and Best Buy. Though young, Russell knows enough major-label casualties in the Fort Worth-Dallas area not to romanticize the idea of a corporate contract. He'd be perfectly happy with less money in exchange for a longer commitment from his label.

"I want to work with a record label that knows how to pace itself," he said. "I'd rather be given a hard push in a regional market than have a company spend $10 million to advertise one c.d. nationally and get dropped after that. If the people who complain about music downloads and c.d.-burning are right, then you only earn money off one of the five copies of your album that're circulating out there."

For more information, go to www.seanrussellmusic.com or www.basspropulsionlaboratories.com.



- FW Weekly





Issue:
Wednesday
February 16, 2005
Today is: Friday,
June 24, 2005


...Another gem from Big Music comes from Fort Worthian-turned-Dallasite Sean Russell. A swaying Brit-pop-inflected jaunt, motored by a loudly buzzing subterranean bass line, “Tattoo” undergoes three major changes — from leisurely to-and-fro-ish to speedy during the bridge to messy and loud — and manages to stay perfectly intact. The song’s supremely tongue-in-cheek vibe can easily be read as Russell’s disdain for tattoos and how when everybody has one, no one is “unique.” But his ability to get his snotty point across while never indicting his audience is just the kind of thing that most smart music aficionados (and Edge listeners) would eat up. In case I’m not shouting loudly enough, alt-rock radio should be spinning this song in regular rotation. It’s not only good. It’s larger than life, like most alt-rock radio hits...

(complete article at:http://www.fwweekly.com/issues/2005-02-16/featuredmusic.asp)

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- FW Weekley


Discography

To This Point released 2005 on BPL Records
Mystery of the New released 2010 BPL Records

Photos

Bio

I am a singer songwriter from Ft Worth TX. I just released my 2nd album "Mystery of the New" and am touring and playing like crazy. The band is tighter than ever and we are hitting the UK with "The O's" in February which is a long time dream. I write indie pop/rock music and am heavily influenced by the vibrant local scene here in Texas and by UK hero's like "The La's" with the roots of "Elvis Costello". here is some good press:

... buoyed by the Pipes brothers’ assistance (from Deep Blue Something), Russell’s ear for timeless pop hooks mix with his comfortably confessional songwriting style, producing a collection of songs that are as melodic as they are moving. Russell is not afraid to admit his love for both classic alternative acts (the Smiths, the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen) but lists his primary influences as his Dallas/Ft Worth perrs like Calhoun, Flickerstick, and Hi Fi Drowning. His music showcases a young performer whose struggles have been just as influential in own story as his many successes.

Full of eclectic perspectives on love, children, religion and politics, the CD is a refreshing change from the overly obvious singer-songwriter tradition. Russell continues to build a side career as a performer in the D/FW area; his music serves as an admirable point of reference for a promising young artist. - FW Weekly