Stephen Steinbrink
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Stephen Steinbrink

Olympia, Washington, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Olympia, Washington, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Exclusive Album Stream – Stephen Steinbrink, 'Arranged Waves' Read more at"

NME's Radar section recently fell big time for US dreamer Stephen Steinbrink: a singer who was raised by a deeply religious family who struck out on his own as a wide-eyed teenager with naught but a guitar for company. "He could have been plucked straight out of Jack Kerouac's classic beat novel On The Road," we said.

And here's the good news – you can now find out what all the excitement's about. Steinbrink has already released six albums but 'Arranged Waves' is his first UK full-length release: an LP of gorgeous, wondrous folk that touches upon everyone from The Shins, Neil Young and Paul Simon. And if you want to get your hands on your own copy, it's released on July 14 via Melodic. Enjoy!
Read more at - NME

"Stephen Steinbrink - Arranged Waves"

Too often we can dismiss any singer-songwriter simply because of their title as a 'singer-songwriter', or write off any whacky accompanying stories as gimmicky ploys to capture the neutral's attention. I must admit, upon hearing that Stephen Steinbrink had travelled America in quiz teams and includes field recordings of church bells in his music, I was sceptical. However the reality is that he's simply a prodigal, prolific musician from a sleepy part of Phoenix, Arizona making the most of an otherwise quite dreary upbringing.

Not one to waste away in the banalities of a suburban life, at just 16 he was opening for the likes of the Dirty Projectors and Jason Molina and since then he's recorded nine entire albums (some under the alias French Quarter). The latest of which, Arranged Waves, captured the attention of the UK's Melodic Records and is arguably the most progressive and accessible of the bunch.

Perhaps the first thing that stands out with Steinbrink is his high-pitched, effeminate vocal, which often just faintly pitter-patters over a wonderfully arranged psychedelic-folk ensemble. On tracks like 'Now You See Everything' and 'Sand Mandalas' which exhibit rich and diverse musical backdrops, this combination works delightfully as his ponderous whimsy is set deep into the song like another instrument. Indeed Steinbrink records every layer himself, a credit to his considerable talent and musicianship, often bringing contemporaries like Damien Jurado or Real Estate to mind.

Elsewhere however, when the hearty rhythms take a back seat and his marmalade-twee vocal aesthetic becomes inescapable, it can feel a little sickly and almost insultingly gentle. As if Mac Demarco has become a kids T.V. presenter. 'Trust' for example could quite easily have an animated counterpart hitting somewhere between the Teletubbies and Moomins in playfulness meets eeriness.

However, Stephen Steinbrink is at his best when experimenting with song structures, layering and effects, drawing from sixties rock 'n' roll and psychedelia through to eighties yacht-rock. 'Synesthetic Ephemera' is a distinctive highlight where gentle piano and guitars beautifully combine before the crescendo insights a blissful daze that could continue eternally. Two-parter 'A Simply Armature...' and 'It Takes A Lot...' showcase exactly how well the man can craft a pop song - which, if released 50 years ago, would probably be heralded as an anthem.

Overall, Arranged Waves is quite a remarkable record, reflecting the 'popular' woozy slide guitars of the moment yet repackaging them with a more nostalgic, dreamy and creative approach. Much can be said of the poeticism in his lyrics, which is brilliant at times but at others just sounds like he's saying assorted words that sound good together. Ultimately if you can get over (or enjoy!?) his distinctively corny delivery then you're on to a winner because the rest is a scarcely trodden, rich playground of diverse and inspired musical adventure.

Rating: 7/10 - The405

"The Playlist: Americana"

Steinbrink hails from Olympia, Washington, and releases the album Arranged Waves this July on Manchester’s Melodic Records. At just 25, this will be his sixth album (with various other EPs and work with French Quarter also to his name) and what makes this track really shine is his dedication to his music — there is something polished and fastidiously-crafted about it, and for all the dreamy harmonies (with a whisper of the Shins about them) it’s the type of gleaming pop sound that takes real skill and precision. - The Guardian


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


There’s much to be said for solitude. It gives you time to step back and reflect. Self-taught songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and home recordist Stephen Steinbrink has had plenty of time to do that. Having spent the last 13 of his 25 years on this planet travelling solo in Greyhounds, Toyota minivans, and European trains, his wanderlust travels as seen through his Lennon frames have shaped stunning breakthrough album Arranged Waves.

“I grew up in Phoenix; it’s bleakness through and through. A de-centralized suburb of nothing.” he says. “There are so many ghosts of the recession – the bowling alley I went to as a kid has been abandoned. Friends’ houses have been bulldozed. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a burning down house while stuck in traffic. All these empty buildings from my childhood are unsettling and symbolic of something, but I don’t know what. I need to write more songs to figure that out.“

Escapism can come in many forms. For Steinbrink whether travelling around the world singing to anyone who will listen or simply sat in a road-side diner writing his next set of songs Arranged Waves has provided that much-needed distraction. “Song writing is cheap therapy, and I process much through my music,” he reveals. “I didn’t know it at the time; I was just trying to write about how I felt in a way that was real and honest to my melancholy. The album sounds soft and light at times sure, but when you’re cold and wet, you don’t wrap a freezing towel around your head, right?”

Screwing with expectations, Arranged Waves goes beyond what you might think. Whilst getting inside its chords by finger-picking counter melodies, Steinbrink’s distinctive falsetto may recall a youthful Neil Young, a one-man Simon & Garfunkel or Nick Drake at his most poignant. Yet for each beautifully understated lament, there are moments where down-shifted synths gleam through 8-bit wobble (‘A Simple Armature of Your Ideal World’) and foggy 80s pop is filtered through gauzy Ariel Pink textures (‘It’s So Pretty What You Did For Me ’) like broken transmissions from a waterlogged radio. “Most folk-revivalist music now discusses topics that are more relevant to past generations,” he says shirking off inevitably lazy ‘folk’ or ‘singer-songwriter’ tags. “I’d hate to be lumped in with that. I’d much rather hear a folk song about how someone is frustrated at their iPad, because although the subject is banal, the relevancy isn’t. That is real folk music.”

If it’s not for the album’s field recordings – the bells ringing in ‘Tangerine’ were recorded before a show in Graz, Austria whilst its low frequency hum is the manipulated recording of a bus Steinbrink was riding between Chicago and Ann Arbour – it’s his lyrics that marks Steinbrink out as a true punk troubadour trying to make sense of the world. Beyond apparent stream of consciousness Arranged Waves is an album about lost images with each song an attempt to describe moments of banality without manipulation of their inherent romance. ‘Sand Mandalas’ is about the reconciliation of meaninglessness: “It feels impossible to think the thought / that I’m doomed to make my meaning / in the arbitrary ether”, some songs are about being a child and others about the ability to change our consciousness through sheer effort.

Now residing amongst the green spaces of Olympia, Washington, the record took shape in a small 12′x20′ structure behind his new home. Enlisting friends Andrew Dorsett, Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson (LAKE), guitarist Tom Filardo (Filardo / Bouquet) and cellist Jen Grady (You Are Plural) they set up in his home studio to record the album’s twelve songs, inspired by multi-media artist James Roemer, repressed memories of watching TV, the early 70s work of John Cale and Can, and the underground community of songwriters that live on the western coast of the USA.

A true passenger of life, Stephen Steinbrink is more cultural observer than 21st century busker with his intelligently cool left-of-centre approach to a sincere pop melody. If you ever come across him be sure to take your chance to say ‘hi’ “I like people, people are comfort, but still, there’s something nice about going out into the country and being completely autonomous and free,” he admits.