Team Smile and Nod
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Team Smile and Nod

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"Press Quotes"

“…their album, Look Both Ways Before You Die, sounds like the work of seasoned pros. It’s female-fronted electro-pop with an unambiguous agenda for social equality.”
Columbus Alive, Sensory Overload Blog, November 7, 2008.


“Kara’s voice is sweet, lively, and compelling all at once. One song it’s spritely and fun, the next her vocals are marked with an intense conviction that is impossible not to be drawn into.” Life on the C-bus, November 10, 2008.



“The standout song for the night is the standout track on the CD -- “Still Stuck.” …Of all the songs, “Still Stuck” is the one that most craftily fuses their folk and electronic sounds together then blends in vocals that are spot-on and lyrically fun.”
Life on the C-bus, November 10, 2008.


“Its best track, the Everything But the Girl-style dance-floor ballad "Still Stuck," is as universal as any good love song.”
Columbus Alive, December 18, 2008.


“(The song topics) go from the personal to the social to the political at the turn of a phrase…” Pat Radio, Program #122, June 18, 2008.

“This album bravely hits a lot of typically taboo topics like vegetarianism and homophobia.” Melt Magazine, Nov. + Dec. 2008.

“On spiels like "Scrooge" and "The Party," she eschews subtlety in favor of baring her soul.”And by the way/ This girl next to me is my partner," she intones. Then: "To make it more clear/ We are lesbians/ I'm not ashamed/ And you really should not be ashamed either." Columbus Alive, December 18, 2008.
- Various


"Spin Cycle: Local Album Reviews"

Team Smile and Nod
"Look Both Ways Before You Die"
Web: teamsmileandnod.com

Few lyricists in Columbus are as direct as Kara Sherman. The singer-songwriter, who collaborates with Rich Ratvasky as Team Smile and Nod, pulls no punches on the duo's expansive electro-folk debut.

Sherman zooms in on her life as a lesbian, shuffling politically charged rants alongside more conventional tales of love and loss.

On spiels like "Scrooge" and "The Party," she eschews subtlety in favor of baring her soul. "And by the way/ This girl next to me is my partner," she intones. Then: "To make it more clear/ We are lesbians/ I'm not ashamed/ And you really should not be ashamed either."

The album would be a solid collection of club-ready pop without such blunt proclamations. Its best track, the Everything But the Girl-style dance-floor ballad "Still Stuck," is as universal as any good love song.

But as long as she stays personally involved, Sherman's forays into culture and politics, even at their most heavy-handed, give Look Both Ways a unique spark. The wild-eyed accusations of "Patriarchy in Print" are too volatile to digest, but when Sherman delivers humble self-reflection on the same topic in "Consumer Whore," it works.

The band's minimal, repetitive grooves serve these songs well.

However, 73 minutes is longer than any pop album needs to be, so Look Both Ways offers a bit too much of a good thing.

-Chris DeVille
- Columbus Alive


"Whirlwind Saturday Night"

November 10, 2008

Whirlwind Saturday Night:
Team Smile and Nod, Playhouse, and Sorry William

by Dave Schaefer

Saturday night was a hectic but fulfilling journey into the musically eclectic nature of the Columbus local music scene. A trip that went from electronic folk to jazz to modern rock.

Team Smile and Nod

First, it was a stop at East Village in the Short North for Team Smile and Nod’s CD release show. A duo of talented musicians, TS&N creates a sound that juxtapositions traditional folk with a decidedly contemporary electronic dance sound.

The two members of TS&N are Kara Elizabeth on acoustic guitar and vocals and Rich Ratvasky on guitar and Macbook. They blend the complexity of their sound on stage with such ease that if you closed you’re eyes, you could almost pretend that you were listening to it on your iPod. Kara’s voice is sweet, lively, and compelling all at once. One song it’s spritely and fun, the next her vocals are marked with an intense conviction that is impossible not to be drawn into.

Kara also has a personable stage presence. Both sympathetic and likable, you picture her being your friend, regardless of whether you’ve ever met.

Rich is all business on stage. Generally quiet and concentrating, he let’s Kara be the center of attention, perhaps because he knows she does it with such grace.

Team Smile and Nod’s set was a mix of tunes from the CD Look Both Ways Before You Die along with other songs that didn’t make the cut. All were good. The standout song for the night is the standout track on the CD -- “Still Stuck.” It’s a song that according to Kara is “getting some love” from people and it’s a featured song on the latest edition of the Life on the C-bus Podcast. Of all the songs, “Still Stuck” is the one that most craftily fuses their folk and electronic sounds together then blends in vocals that are spot-on and lyrically fun.

I have a copy of Look Both Ways Before You Die and a review will likely be posted next week.


Before moving on, I have to say that East Village may well have the greatest, most friendly bartenders anywhere. They all were clearly having a good time doing what they do and were having just as much fun with their clientele.
- Life on the C-bus


"TEAM SMILE AND NOD, LOOK BOT WAYS BEFORE YOU DIE"

TEAM SMILE AND NOD
LOOK BOTH WAYS
BEFORE YOU DIE
(Thinkroot Records)
?????
Influenced by groups such as Massive Attack and the Orb, Team Smile And Nod, released their debut CD Look Both Ways Before You Die on October 14th 2008 at East Village. Band members Kara Elizabeth (singer, song writer)
Rich Ratvasky (production, synth) make up this self proclaimed “electro anti-folk group”.
Falling somewhere in the deep chasm that seperates say Flight Of The Conchords and The indigo Girls, The songs consist of acoustic
guitar, mellow synth beats and soft, high pitched female vocals. The duo deal with dark humor, grieving sadness, love and politically derived depression (something hopefully they’ll now be a little more cheered up about
given the results of this years presidential election... oh wait I guess there is still proposition “H8TE”).This album also bravely hits a lot of typically taboo topics like vegetarianism
(taboo and tasty by the way)and
homophobia. Track 14 “Scrooge” is a perfect example of how the duo feels about same sex relations. Being a lesbian herself, Kara’s views are very honest and truthful. “The Party” is probably the best song on the album, simply
because of the beats and inescapable dance groove. Not really my style in music but if
you are into soft, alternative, acoustic music (Come on... we know you’re out there. Dont
be bashful!) or just happen to be seeking a lesbian alternative to Tenacious D, then I suggest
Team Smile And Nod. - Anthony Dienno - Melt Magazine


Discography

Look Both Ways Before You Die- released October 2008 on Thinkroot Records

"Still Stuck", "Scrooge", "Scar", "They Grow It", "Consumer Whore", and "Pig Roast" are available for streaming on www.myspace.com/teamsmileandnod

Those tracks plus others are available for streaming at www.teamsmileandnod.com

"Still Stuck" is available as a free download on www.teamsmileandnod.com

Photos

Bio

Team Smile and Nod began with a surprise. About a week after swapping demo CD’s, Rich surprised Kara with a remix of one of her songs. She loved it. Inspired by the remix, they started developing songs together. Rich was a remixer and electronic musician. Kara was a folksinger and songwriter. The collaboration became Team Smile and Nod, a lesbian-fronted electro anti-folk duo from Columbus, Ohio. On their debut CD, Look Both Ways Before You Die, they merge their musical styles into an upbeat, melody-driven, politically-inspired pop fusion.

Kara Elizabeth Sherman provides the lyrics, vocals, sounds, and guitars to Team Smile and Nod. Her first musical influences were drawn from her parents’ record collection. “When I was a kid, I would spend hours listening to their favorite folk singers: Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul, and Mary, John Denver... I felt a comforting connection to their stories and melodies,” Kara explains. She began creating songs as a teenager and performed solo at various coffee shops and bars, OSU’s Take Back the Night and Rock for Choice, and opened for Catie Curtis at the late Little Brother’s. In 2004, she attended the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio. “Learning the art of recording really opened my musical vision. I met Rich soon after I finished school. We connected through our mutual interest in recording and experimenting with music.”

Rich Ratvasky creates a sonic layer of feeling with his electronic arrangements. He experiments with keyboards, vocals, guitars, and effects as half of Team Smile and Nod. He has been involved in bands and electronic music since high school. “In the late 80’s, I was in a band, Big Engine, that started as 60’s psychedelic pop-rock and developed into a more electronic band. At the same time, I was in an industrial type band called Lick,” Rich explains. “In high school, I started making my first recordings with basically toy keyboards, a guitar, and two tape decks.” Rich performed at raves and clubs while part of Columbus’ underground electronic scene in the ‘90s (ele_mental collective). He has self-released a CD series and contributed to many compilations (21/22 Corporation) using the name Ihannoa. Rich has created numerous remixes and collaborations with Azoic and Pinebox.

With each new song creation, Kara and Rich merge their individual efforts into a true collaboration. “Our writing process has completely changed. With our early songs, we would work in a very separate way. We would each record our parts separately, give it a listen together, make changes separately, then come together to mix and master it. We still spend some solo time on the music, but we develop the feel and melodies of the songs together now,” Kara explains. Their debut CD exhibits the development of their experimental sound. Rich elaborates, “I try to do something new every time and make something that makes me excited to hear it. With all the new technology, the possibilities are literally endless.”

Look Both Ways Before You Die weaves through a wide range of topics connected with honesty and emotion. It includes tender love songs like “Still Stuck” and “So Damn Good”. They discuss homophobia and LGBT issues with “Scrooge” and “Scar”. Some songs are full of dark humor and sadness like “Kill Myself to Death”. The duo also reflects on capitalism and vegetarianism. “To me, the point of music is to render feeling. Even if the words seem harsh or hardcore at times, the point is to convey personal truth,” Kara explains. The CD was recorded, mixed, and mastered in Columbus, Ohio. Kara laid down her basic vocal and guitar tracks in her home studio. The rest was composed and completed at Rich’s Ostrich Studio. The resulting project was released on Kara’s indie label, Thinkroot Records.

To this day, Rich and Kara are surprised that Team Smile and Nod began as a surprise. Moreover, they are still excited about the collaboration. They discovered that together they can create layers of sounds that express the feelings of the words in their songs. The give and take of collaborating as two very differently inspired people keeps their music unpredictable, innovative, and fun.

"It's hard to come up with a fresh and unique sound in this post post-modern world of music, but Team Smile and Nod has managed to do just that. Their sound is sophisticated, playful, melodic and extremely engaging… By digesting the atmospheric layering and sonic textures of terrific emo-pop of the past, they have produced an emotionally compelling sound for the future that is distinctly their own.” Jon Peterson, Host, "Shakin It" WCBE/ Columbus.