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Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Band Alternative Pop


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"Bzzzz. CD Review"

Sweetbleeders‘ album Bzzzz. is an excellent collection of 10 songs that meander about, painting a beautiful kaleidescope of chord progressions and catchy vocal melodies, as sung by a melancholy-sounding Robin Vining. This collection of talented musicians and composers draws from influences of all sorts of genres and the members combine forces to create a musical masterpiece. Track 2 “Safety” pegs in at more than 10 minutes, evoking pleasant connections to early Radiohead with its amazing melodies and its transitions between hard and soft. Track 4 “Never Be The Same” is a nice acoustic rock song with such bittersweet feelings, painting an old human experience in a new musical way. Track 5 “If In Trouble” brings the worthy flavors of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the release with its amazing collection of instruments along with spastic transitions into movements, lined up one after another. Track 8 “Lu Nan Jen” is by far my favorite song on the release, with the music flowing in between the dreary verses and the glossily epic choruses that bring such a catharsis near the end of the album. Track 10 “Run Away” closes the album on the melancholy note that it presented early on, urging listeners to “keep on running away.” Sweetbleeders sure ran away with this album, pouring heart and soul into the composition, the instrumentation, and the varying dynamics; they bring out such bittersweet feelings by gradually shading in and out the subtle melodies.
Author: Stegosaurus Rex
http://unfunrecords.com/wordpress/?p=84 - No Eyed Bird

"The Bled"

Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 03:18:44 PM
Sweet Bleeders album Bzzzz.

Shit's gotten a little vitriolic up in this bitch lately, so I'm going to (temporarily) tell you about something worth listening to... I've been listening to the grand, expansive latest album from Sweet Bleeders, one of multi-instrumentalist and pop genius Robin Vining's multiple projects (others include Colorstore and Fatigo, and Vining pops up in several other projects as well).

The album's entitled bzzzz., and the Sweet Bleeders just had a release party last weekend for this luxuriant, melodic collection of lush pop songs and ballads that remind me occasionally of XTC, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, and, occasionally, Beatles' songs. It's well known in musician's circles that Vining is one of the most talented songwriters in the 'Nix when it comes to classic American and British pop music.

Multi-instrumentalist Mark Erickson (who writes the songs in Colorstore, with Vining backing him), along with bassist David Marquez, drummers Steve Dueck, Casey McKee (the well known photographer, who also shot the album art) and Bobby Lundberg round out the ornate visions of Vining, who plays piano, organ, Rhodes, Moog, marimba, and acoustic and electric guitar, while crooning over top of the cacophony of melodies.

It's occasionally calliope-esque, with the intertwined melodic lines lunging and feinting alternately. Vining's lyrical narratives are widely interpretive, which is a welcome change from the down-to-the-color-of-the-carpet-when-she-left-me songwriters (many of whom, like Her Space Holiday, Bright Eyes, and Cursive, are favorites of mine).

Vining even gets epic on the ten-and-a-half minute long "Safety," the second song on Bzzzz. His lazy droning vocals evoke Thom Yorke (as does his falsetto on occasion), while the instruments wax and wane in intensity. "Sickness, Weakness" is the only song with just Vining and his acoustic guitar, and its dreary, folky malaise is compelling, especially when he lets the phrase "don't go to sleep" hang for a brief moment before picking his guitar again.

Simply, Bzzzz. is a beautiful album that fits easily in both the adult contemporary and indie rock genres. It's like musical Valium: smooth, warm and soothing.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/uponsun/2007/02/ - New Times

"Local spotlight: Sweetbleeders' 'bzzzz' is pop masterwork"

Local spotlight: Sweetbleeders' 'bzzzz' is pop masterwork
By Chris Hansen Orf, Get Out
January 24, 2007

The Sonoran Desert may be an unlikely place for a baroque pop scene to bloom, but some of the finest music in the genre is being made here in the Valley.

Last year was a great year for complex, artistic pop discs from Valley artists, with The Format releasing a mini-masterpiece in “Dog Problems” and The Loveblisters clocking in with “Silver White Sunlight.” And 2007 is off to a great start with the Sweetbleeders dropping their latest disc, “bzzzz.”

Led by talented multi-instrumentalist/singer Robin Vining, the Sweetbleeders (with drummer Steve Dueck, bassist David Marquez and multi-instrumentalist Mark Erickson) craft enduring pop melodies and surround them with a variety of musical textures, drawing comparisons to the Beach Boys of “Pet Sounds” and “Smile,” the “Odessey and Oracle” work of The Zombies and the pop experimentation of Radiohead.

“The original plan for the Sweetbleeders aesthetic was to combine the feel and sound of early New Orleans jazz and European cabaret, early R&B and rock ’n’ roll, dreary acoustic ballads and movie score space rock, over-the-top thematic events and subtle little moments of repressed joy,” says the engaging and articulate Vining.

“Speaking for the whole band, I’d have to say it seems that our influences are innumerable, by which I mean many, and our tastes are widely divergent and various but also similar. I’m sure there is ... lots of music we find boring and unremarkable — we try to not be influenced by that stuff too much, but it happens.

“Sometimes it’s nice to zone out to inconsequential bits of whimsy.”

Vining and Erickson also play in acclaimed Valley band Colorstore, for which Erickson writes the material. The Sweetbleeders, who have been playing together since 1998, showcase Vining’s songwriting, but Vining is quick to give credit to the contributions of his band mates.

“Every song starts life as an embryo, an egg of potential that sometimes, as in asexual reproduction, I can fertilize myself, or sometimes I need some other fellas’ seed to get the thing to develop,” Vining says of his writing process.

“They say it takes a town to raise a kid, and, well, these little songs are like little hungry baby goats in need of a little direction.

“It’s more or less my job to bring home dinner, which could be, like, just the recipe or the entire meal, but everyone else brings his own spices and side dishes to throw into the stew.”

Reproducing the record live would appear to be difficult, with the multiple layers of guitars and keys and plenty of guest musicians lending their talents to “bzzzz,” but Vining shrugs off the challenge.

“Well, we’ve got to be agile and dexterous, but a lot of it can be pulled off live,” Vining says. “As long as we remember to stretch and get all limbered up first, it should be fine.”

>> >> The Sweetbleeders perform 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Yucca Tap Room,
29 W. Southern Ave., Tempe. Free. (480) 967-4777 or myspace.com/sweetbleeders

Contact Chris Hansen Orf by email, or phone (480) 898-5684 - Get Out

"Sweetbleeders – Turning tractors into antelope"

Sweetbleeders – Turning tractors into antelope

Truly eclectic Sweetbleeders use an unusual two keyboard two guitar and drums set up, with three players.

Maybe it started back when Christopher from Les Payne started playing out with a keyboard on top of his drum kit and juggled both instruments and vocals. Maybe it’s some kind of game for local musical partners Robin Vining and Mark Erickson, but in their two bands – Sweetbleeders, which showcases Vining’s music and Colorstore that play compositions by Erickson – the two sometimes seem like they are trying to see how many instruments they can utilize in a song, often while singing and playing their Rhodes electric pianos. Vining favors the melodica and Erickson likes to use his groove box loaded with homemade samples to accent the music, and this is on top of singing and playing keys.

It’s fun to watch and it doesn’t seem like a parlor trick, though one or the other is often scrambling, disappearing behind their big boards and appearing with something that is needed for the moment.

The Sweetbleeders

Let me explain the Sweetbleeders/Colorstore duality if I can. They both began as independent projects for the songwriters as outlets for material that didn’t fit in their previous bands. The two happened to meet each other, enjoy each other’s music and played around together for fun. But Erickson found himself without anyone to play with live and Vining offered up Sweetbleeders to be Erickson’s live band. For a time the two bands merged and released a joint EP called “You are my friend,” but shortly after this, the two decided to exist separately. Though both Vining and Erickson are the main players in both bands, both primarily play Rhodes electric pianos complimented by effects, strange instruments and guitars and both often sing on the same songs. So what’s the difference?

Besides players – John De La Cruz from Fatigo plays drums for Sweetbleeders, and Colorstore has Jef Wright playing drums and Bill Cole from Rum Tenor on bass – the main difference are the songs and who wrote them, and who sings the lead.

It really just comes down to personal preference, and I find Sweetbleeders mix of cabaret, vaudeville, and strong ballads centered on Vining’s open-throated clean voice to be more enjoyable. Both bands are a breath of fresh air in Phoenix, twisting knobs and expressing real emotional content without sounding remotely emo. Colorstore has a more dramatic flair, and while both bands hold nothing back I find Sweetbleeders a little more accessible, though they sound like nothing else in town.

Onstage, Robin Vining pours every ounce of his being into singing and playing. His mastery of piano, guitar and accordion might seem showy if not for the sincerity and total commitment he brings. He is open onstage, but as often happens, he is publicly shy and contemplative. When I spoke with him a few days ago there were long pauses and contemplative stammering, and he almost seemed embarrassed to be talking about his music, though he was gracious and he tried hard to supply good answers.

I talked to him about his musical background, his love of strange instruments, the two bands and how that affects his songwriting, among other things. Here’s a selection from the interview.

(When I called after Robin’s wife answered the phone and went to fetch Robin it sounded like I was put on hold and some strange hold music was going on, it was in reality the band practicing)

JB – How often do you practice?

RV – Saturdays and Wednesdays, Sweetbleeders from 2-4 and Colorstore from 4-6, we do the same thing on Wednesday, but Colorstore first.

JB -That’s a long day. That’s a good place to start. How many bands are you actively in?

RV – I guess three with Fatigo and the emphasis is mostly on Sweetbleeders and Colorstore. Fatigo is, I’m actively in it but I don’t go to all the rehearsals and I’m not able to play all their shows. I’m still more of an extra. As far as Sweet and Color I’m in those for every show.

JB – How long have you lived in AZ?

RV- My whole life. I grew up in Mesa and I moved Downtown about 98.

JB – What other project were you involved in before?

RV – I was in a kind of heavier group called Mr. Pink for years and that was with guys I’ve been playing with since high school.
JB -Heavy, like what kind of heavy?

RV – I don’t know, we got compared to Shudder to Think a lot, but I don’t know that we really sounded like that, we never listened to that band or anything, we kind of came from playing a lot of blues and hard rock but we also had, we were interested in doing strange time signatures while keeping the melody over a kind of aggressive sound, kind of maybe it was a lot like Soungarden in a way but a lot more on the melodic side.

JB -Were you singing?

RV – Mmhmm.

JB – What’s first, Colorstore or Sweetbleeders?

RV – For me, both. Sweetbleeders was my project when I was leaving Mr. Pink, which became Clyde. And I started writing all this kind of soft strange music that more so involved acoustic guitars and piano so I had this thing that I was doing and it needed to be something to come out of a new band, and then mark was doing Color on his own, I didn’t know mark at the time, so that was something he was doing, he was in another band, left AZ and came back, and started with all these different songs he had written and was recording and started putting together a band. And I had put together Sweet, we ended up just meeting each other, becoming friends and he moved into the building were I was living and we would both just hang out and play music a lot and then when his band broke up Sweetbleeders came in as his backup. And then for a while we joined all the music all together as Colorstore and we did that for about five or 6 months and then we started losing a drummer and a bass player, so after that Mark and I were back on our own, just the two of us. We had put together a 4 song EP called you’re my friend under Colorstore which had 2 of Mark’s songs and 2 of mine. And that’s like the only documentation of that period.

JB -When was that?

RV – That was recorded in 2002 and released in 03.

JB – I’m going to go back a little. So from Mr. Pink, from the heavy melodic stuff with strange time changes, into this was there a big change in what you were listening to, was there something that inspired you? Where did those new songs come from?

RV- I think just because I was playing piano more and I was recording myself at home a lot more, and that kind of lead to new ideas, and I was getting tired of being such a loud rock band all the time, even though (laughs) we’re still kind of loud. I had so many other things that I listen to and like to do that I didn’t know how to fit into anything else, the I had to create something else because I was writing songs and none of them sounded like the old band – they sounded like cabaret, like 1940’s songs and some of them were more electronic sounding and some of them were more acoustic blues or quiet acoustic ballads, so I was just trying to find a place to put all those things together because at some point I realized that there weren’t any rules, I could put all of these things together and make them work.

JB – Who now is presently in Sweetbleeders?

RV – Right now SB is me, Mark and John De La Cruz from Fatigo playing drums and that’s it. But we don’t know how long that’s going to work. Fatigo is getting busier.

JB – Let me ask you why do you think right now is kind of a resurgence of piano based music in indie circles?

RV – I think maybe it’s just a desire for variety of tone and sound. The majority of the people that I know that write music, songwriters that sing and write songs tend to play piano or guitar or both and so it seems to be a lot of people took a break from guitar and decided that it would sound better on another instrument.

JB – Think about it, five years ago bands would maybe have a keyboard as a secondary instrument but very seldom would there be a band that would have two big organs onstage, and now it happens a lot.

RV – Maybe there are just more people who play keyboard instruments…

JB -Let me ask you about your gear. What is the keyboard that you use onstage and how do you have it set up?

RV – I have a Rhodes electric piano and I have an Elisis keyboard that has a lot of sounds on it, it has piano sounds and organ sounds and string sounds and the I run all those through an effect pedal so I can have a variety of sounds, and Mark has a pretty similar set up. He’s got a big pedal board on the floor which he runs his guitar through that and then he has a groove box, which can be used as a sequencer but he has a lot of great effect on it and he runs them both through that and he has a keyboard that has a lot of sounds on it, and sometimes he’ll have a sampler because he has a lot of samples that he’s worked out and sampled and he draws from that bank.

JB -What do you think Sweetbleeders sounds like?

RV – My idea, it should sound like tractors turning into antelope, meaning that it’s taking things that are weighed down and very cumbersome and turn them into something that leaps about with a certain amount of grace.
- AZNightbuzz

"Side Projectors"

Side Projectors
The Sweet Bleeders and Colorstore are two-timing each other
By Serene Dominic
Published: September 23, 2004

There's a reason crime and punishment stories work best in an antiquated setting. Bloody jpegs of a crime scene can't match the romance of sepia-toned photos of outlaws staring blankly into an uncertain future. Even the preferred weaponry from the digital age, like an automatic weapon or a stun gun, seems impersonal compared to the smoking pistol or the truncheon.

Sweet Bleeders' Robin Vining must think so. He's set the bulk of the band's new five-song EP, Murder Go Home, in a hard-to-define time frame, recounting transgressions that could've taken place yesterday or a century ago, with only an occasional mention of a guillotine thrown in for historical blurring.

Perhaps he identifies with outlaws and underdogs because his group has stood outside the normal order of things since its inception in 1999. Back then, Sweet Bleeders could've really used the downtown Phoenix axis of clubs like Modified Arts, the Paper Heart and the Emerald Lounge, where people come largely just to hear music, even songs that occasionally demand silence from the audience. Before they had the luxury of such a tailor-made scene, they often aired out their piano-propelled pop in sports bars along the once-mandatory Mill Avenue. There, Vining's plaintive and beautiful tenor often had to compete with TV screens, the brouhaha of someone buying a round of shots, and, incredibly enough, the odd heckler, like the one at Long Wong's who wasn't shouting "Play Radiohead!" to be complimentary.

Favorable comparisons to Thom Yorke or Jeff Buckley are not unfounded, but they don't tell the whole Sweet Bleeders story. Forget that the band has two banks of clunky keyboards facing one another like a scruffier version of Ferrante and Teicher. Here is a group that stirs a fascinating mix of farcical carnival music one minute, country or quiet New Age the next, with lyrical narratives that "make you feel like you're on a strange adventure," as Vining puts it.

Sweet Bleeders' strange adventure of merger and intrigue began in 2000, when Vining was introduced to kindred spirit Mark Erickson, his partner both in the current Sweet Bleeders and in Colorstore. At that time, the original version of Colorstore was fading to black. In a ringing endorsement of his friend's talents, Vining submerged his ego and his rhythm section into a second version of Colorstore, with no mention of the Bleeders for a year. But while the styles of two different writers jelled, it was hard to build momentum in a set when lead vocalists had to tag team every couple of songs.

"There's so much material -- that's one of the factors in having the two bands," explains Erickson. "In Colorstore, I write the songs. In Sweet Bleeders, Robin writes the songs. And one of the ideas in separating the bands was to give each other the freedom to say, 'This is how it's gonna be,' without having a unified band direction or sound."

For a while, the two demonstrated the differences by booking both bands on the same night. "But that gets a little confusing sometimes," says Vining. "Just the mindset."

Judging by the Murder Go Home EP and Colorstore's recent EP Heavy Sleeps, Bleeders songs have more linear narratives, up-front vocals and analog instrumentation, while Colorstore has more stream-of-consciousness lyrics, distorted vocals, loops, and electric and synth instrumentation. The two sides usually meet on beautiful ballads like Colorstore's "Lunatic" or Sweet Bleeders' "Blow Away." Collectively, both Vining and Erickson play an assortment of instruments besides guitars and keyboards, including melodica, cello, theremin, trumpet, accordion, glockenspiel and something called a banjolin.

While the two men are solidly entrenched in both bands, nowadays their comments about drummers and bassists seem to start with, "We used to play with a guy, but then . . . ," before trailing off. When both bands lost their longtime drummer, they borrowed drummer John de la Cruz and bassist Mike Montoya from Fatigo to fill in on a semi-regular basis, to reciprocate for Vining's sitting in with Fatigo on many occasions.

"There's a group of bands that are pretty incestuous," says Vining. "It all comes from a need. 'We need somebody to do this. Can you do it?' 'Sure.' You do a few gigs and then they turn around and say the same thing to you. I'm not a very good accordion player, but just because I play it, I get a lot of calls."

A guy could get wrist cramps mapping out all the lengthy branches of this family tree, but it does warm the heart to know that this coalition of bands supports itself. And on top of it all, Colorstore and Sweet Bleeders still manage to make an efficient partnership.

Currently, Colorstore is on deck to record next, while Sweet Bleeders regularly play Wednesdays at the Emerald. Back to a bass-less trio again, they make do, like a man who loses his bottom half in an accident and figures out a different way of sitting. "I play more left hand, lower octaves, try to keep it more active in the low register," says Vining. While the noise level at the Emerald's bar often bleeds over the quiet level of Vining's opening solo numbers, it's a testament to his lung power that every table in the room usually fills up before the second song ends.

How long can both bands keep up at the same pace before one commands more time and attention than this arrangement allows? It helps that Vining and Erickson are both well-suited to each other in varying degrees of non-ego. Erickson is quiet in an inward, talk-into-your-chest kind of way, while Vining is contemplative in a stare-up-at-the-ceiling-and-ponder sort of way. Those are all the singer-songwriter bases you need covered.

Perhaps the answer to why they need two bands lies in Vining's explanation of why they need all those keyboards onstage, particularly two cumbersome Fender Rhodes pianos.

"No one keyboard really does everything you want it to do. You need both," says Vining, looking up for the moment, "to do different things." - New Times

"All of your Beeswax"

Cities like Austin, Portland, Omaha, Nashville, and Chicago are first to come to mind as being home to great local music scenes, but Phoenix is no exception. Jimmy Eat World, Alice Cooper, and The Gin Blossoms are already household names in music, but there are some bands a little more under the radar that deserve just as much, if not more attention. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to use my MOG to share a lot of these unique, diverse bands.

It’s not easy for me to pick an absolute favorite, but probably the most dear to me are a group called Sweet Bleeders. They incorporate dueling organs, found percussion, and very beautiful, complex melodies/harmonies. Robin Vining’s soaring voice has an almost mythical, god-like status, highly respected by fellow musicians and fans here.
I’m not usually one to try and slap a label on a sound or compare this band to that, if I can avoid it. However, as point of reference for anyone else: if you enjoy Wilco, Califone, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright, and yes, Radiohead, then this is for you. - Mog.com


The Lightning Bug Luau - 2007
Bzzzz. - 2007
Murder, go home. - 2004

"Nobody" and "If In Trouble" on
Americopa Mantle Vol 1 - 2003

Sweetbleeders have just finished recording "The Lightning Bug Luau", a 5-song follow-up to this years earlier release
of the full-length "Bzzzz." "The Lightning Bug Luau" shows the band delving into a more stripped-down and raw territory
than the densely orchestrated "Bzzzz." and is scheduled for release in May 2008.



Sweetbleeders first emerged on the Phoenix, AZ music scene in 1999 with their brand of alt rock and baroque
pop that is often likened to the music of Califone, Wilco, Rufus Wainwright, The Zombies and Radiohead. Sweetbleeders craft enduring pop melodies and surround them with a variety of musical textures.

"Here is a group that stirs a fascinating mix of farcical carnival music
one minute, country or quiet New Age the next, with lyrical narratives
that "make you feel like you're on a strange adventure," as Vining puts it."- New Times

"The album's entitled bzzzz., and the Sweet Bleeders just had a release party last weekend for this luxuriant,
melodic collection of lush pop songs and ballads that remind me occasionally of XTC, Elton John, Simon and
Garfunkel, and, occasionally, Beatles' songs. It's well known in musician's circles that Vining is one of the
most talented songwriters in the 'Nix when it comes to classic American and British pop music."-New Times

"One of my favorite things I've ever recorded. I only did two songs for these folks on a comp...
but I was really freaked out by how good this band is. They have an EP that you would be
very stupid to not buy." -Bob Hoag (Flying Blanket Recording)