Ten Ton Man
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Ten Ton Man

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Americana Rock

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""It’s cool, but not in a hipster way. It’s cool because it is.""

I usually don’t review extended play formats (EP) -- 3 to 6 songs -- because I feel I can’t be fair judging an artist from such a lean sample. However, I listened to this new three-song set a few times, did a little research and my curiosity made me listen back to Ten Ton Man’s 2012 self-titled full album. This collection contained ten songs that helped me understand the direction they were coming from.

So, while I'm not reviewing that first album here, I may reference their approach and style by falling back on what came before – Chunk of Change – and how these new songs are shaping their repertoire today. First of all, Ten Ton Man’s deep voiced lead singer Paul Livornese, while not quite as deep as say the Crash Test Dummies’ bass-baritone vocalist Brad Roberts, sings in a similar controlled low register.

Some may incorrectly say Paul is too monotone, but listening closely he doesn't. He has emotion, sincerity and this can be sampled, as well, in their first album’s track “Carry It.”

My ears find Paul closer in style to a Canadian singer-songwriter named Tom Wilson – who has a similar rock style and vocal timbre. The songs that sparked this similarity in my ears are not available on many streaming services but Wilson does have an album on Rdio called “The Shack Recordings – Volume 1” with Bob Lanois. Several tracks would substantiate my claim about Ten Ton Man and their genre: I would say Wilson's “Fennell Square” and “Going By” are closest. This, of course, is a compliment, because Wilson has quite a respected following in Canada and in many songwriting circles.

One other singer from this “school” of deep voice vocalizing is New York’s own Tony Powers who hit big decades ago with an award-winning funky commercial narrative/sung “Don’t Nobody Move, This is a Heist.” Powers has been involved with the success of hundreds upon hundreds of hit tunes recorded by many other artists. A visit to his website would surprise you.

Nevertheless, my point is this: Ten Ton Man is obviously from this “family” of deep rooted but attractive and musical, breed of musicians. This New York band has a tight sound – and are basically fairly lean by today’s standards. Paul sings, whistles and plays guitar. Paul Dugna holds the upright bass and gives the band a great full sound. Paul Triff (lots of Paul’s in this band) – plays the skins and William Holshouser presses the accordion buttons.

The title track, “Chunk of Change” opens with a clean acoustic guitar, unraveling a tale that could have been taken from the Tom Waits song book. With all the dark overtones and deep vocals the thread that holds the music together on this tune melodically is the beautiful under the surface accordion. It suggests a light approach to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. It’s sad stuff, a little Parisian flavor, Beat Hotel feel, Scott Walker singing Jacques Brel. Heavy and topical. Bottom-line?

It’s cool, but not in a hipster way. It’s cool because it is.

Track two opens with yet another accordion melody with a sharp lead guitar slicing through it as Livornese, once again, unravels a lyric with a story. This time it’s like an imaginative noir film with burlesque overtones. Lots of shadows and Edith Piaf. If Billie Holiday were alive today she might tackle a tune like this but she would add some drunken saxophone runs to emotive effect. She would saloon it up, put a cafe society spin on it. Maybe that’s what’s missing from Ten Ton Man – a little saxophone, a muted trumpet, a Hoagy Carmichael piano. That would make “Fine Line” perfect.

On their first album, Ten Ton Man did indeed have some brass and additional instrumentation and their sound, while not being diminished now on their new EP because of a lack of these instruments, did have more of a variety, distinctness and most importantly -- diversity. With a deep voice like Paul Livornese – the added textures would support his power not interfere with it.

Despite the vintage musical approach it’s still quite modern in its production value and presentation.

This is what makes these songs attractive and the band worth a listen. No one today, is actually mining this musical genre and Ten Ton Man seems to be quite accomplished with this café jazz-avant-garde noir cabaret rock. If they were to consider a female vocalist Bette Bright of the old Deaf School would be a good choice. Or, vocalist Annie Ross -- who has had some show tune experience -- would be a great add.

“What To Do,” is a simple ballad that plods along slow with accordion brushstrokes and splashes of acoustic guitar. This tune, despite the sincerity seems to come from the song book of The Blue Nile. Those men used to produce similar sounding low-fi jazz several years ago and were critics’ favorites. As well, was a band known simply as Double -- who managed to release a very memorable tune in this style called "The Captain of Her Heart." So, there is hope for a Ten Ton Man break through with the right song.

When the drums start rolling, Livornese starts adding his clean whistling, the song really comes alive beautifully. It’s worth waiting for as the whistling is as memorable as Vivabeat’s “Man from China.” It has an unforgettable quality to it. Even if at first, you just play it – it comes back into your mind hours later. This one may need a second look arrangement-wise because I don’t believe it’s been fleshed out. It’s a much more exciting and poignant song than Ten Ton Man realizes.

They have a piece of meat that is flavorful, and wonderful but, no one has yet spiced it up sufficiently and sliced it the right way for serving. But that may be alright.

Even famous bands will play new songs in concerts for years before the song “finds itself.” I like it nevertheless – I just think it’s potential has not been fully realized yet.

Maybe that’s why this is an EP and not an album. They are poking around, they are experimenting, looking for that magic that I feel they had on their first album and are being cautious about that sophomore jinx.

Their first album, my reference for this review, is filled with some clever musicianship and songs. However, I don’t think Ten Ton man has missed the mark. Quite the contrary. This is an interesting band. They have something to say, have a unique way of preparing their recipes. On their first album Livornese sings “Ditty” and it is a ditty.

The song is catchy, sticky like a spider web, the musicianship is edgy and quirky in a special way. I compared the band to Tom Wilson and Tony Powers but – Ten Ton Man is not copying anyone. They are their own men. They have a grip on a style that few explore and they are succeeding.

At times, they are a little retro, show tune style, old time romantic, reminiscent of times gone by. But this is not a barbershop quartet. No, far from it. They sing about things a listener can relate to. Build their melodies – as they did on their first album’s “Yes Sir,” by adding instruments as the sad ballad takes shape the way Frank Sinatra would.

My suggestion? Check out this new three song EP but don’t ignore that first album's ten tracks. “Never Know” rocks with an Iggy Pop type-deep vocal and it’s brilliant.

More of that on any new album and Ten Ton Man will have no trouble grabbing and maintaining a rock audience that can appreciate both ass-kicking tunes and the darker neo-classical ballads. Some bands write songs in the studio or on the fly but these sound like someone stayed up late to map out a strategy. They’re tight, creative and for an independent band – deserving of a listen.

I also like that they don't fool with the formula – evidence on “The Drinking Song,” from their first album.

Again, very Brecht-Weill Three Penny Opera intriguing. Another wild band – The Tiger Lillies are cut from the same cloth as Ten Ton Man. They recorded a song called “Hell” for the film “Plunkett and Macleane” and it too, has that intensity. If Charles Dickens’ were a songwriter that’s what he would write and sing. This track was sung by a maniacal vocalist in Martyn Jaques (the clear opposite of Paul Livornese) -- what Jack the Ripper may have sounded like had he been a singer. But the addition of the darkness, the beautiful accordion all confirm that this is a music genre that is worth exploring.

I don’t expect Ten Ton Man to be as insane as The Tiger Lillies or even as diversified and resourceful as Tom Waits -- but they would be the logical flip-side of both song books. A respectable addition to that collection. Unlike those artists -- Ten Ton Man prefers to occupy a more balanced musical space where “the world can be a beautiful place” if you look closely. This is what sets them apart and they do have some tunes that will curl your toes.

And quite rightly so. Songs should be compelling…intriguing and exciting. Had he lived, Jim Morrison of The Doors would produce a band like this today. This is that proverbial tea with honey and more than a jigger of whiskey added. - No Depression - The Roots Music Authority


"To do his music justice, listen for yourself."

Ten Ton Man is Paul Livornese’s creation, and this folksy, countrified blues creation is something that rivals Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young. There is a rarely a song that is so reflective that it strikes the perfect resonance inside of your soul, and “Dearly” gets even the darkest hearts rocking with remembrance. It is very difficult to find the words to describe his experienced and practiced tone, as well as the utter smoothness of arpeggios, sustained chords, and a slightly raspy, yet whole voice. To do his music justice, listen for yourself. Check out Ten Ton Man on his official website, or go to Soundcloud, Facebook, or Tumblr. - Thumbmosaic Brainworks


"A home-run hit is what you can expect from Ten Ton Man."

The thematic and ardent sounds of Ten Ton Man’s self-titled debut album are best described as a return to the deep roots of Americana. Largely influenced by the music of Johnny Cash and inspired by the death of singer Paul Livornese’s father, the record presents familiarity in a unique and original way.

With gritty appeal augmented by a deep and rich baritone voice, Livornese opens the record with “Ditty,” beginning the story of redemption that enfolds Ten Ton Man. One of the defining elements of this song and many others on the album—including “Never Know” and “Carry It”—is that they’re based on real stories from his life, making them all the more three-dimensional and personal to the touch.

Throughout the album we get a taste of both dark and light themes as stories of guilt, death, shame and anger are coupled with those of redemption and acceptance. The album is seasoned with raw emotionality that’s easily relatable and presents it beautifully in true Americana. All the way to the last track “Fall Down,” the release gives you everything you bargained for and more with one final sweep of lightheartedness and encouragement to fasten it all together.

A home-run hit is what you can expect from Ten Ton Man. The trio blends their music together with archetypal Americana vocals, a multitude of electric guitar effects providing variation track to track, a subtle upright bass to hold the bottom end securely and anchor the group, and the drumming of Paul Triff, who keeps the whole thing running naturally like a well-oiled machine. The bluesy, soul-filled record keeps giving, and is one that may have found its place as a timeless album.

In A Word: Compelling

—by Joe Cirilo, September 13, 2013 - The Aquarian Weeklu


"" A little junkyard dog roots rock..."

A little junkyard dog roots-rock with some New York City grime rubbed in for extra tonal texture. Songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Paul Livornese has a smoky, rich baritone and simple but powerful guitar parts. Veteran upright bassist Paul Dugan was instrumental in shaping the trio's sound along with drummer/percussionist Paul Triff. Eric Della Penna's plunking banjo is a welcome bonus touch. - Culture Catch


"“this is ultimately a timeless rock disc that makes excellent use of banjos, slide guitars and sincere, forthright storytelling…”"

A trio of roots rockers who have been making a name for themselves in their home of New York, this debut may have deep vocals and darker lyrical content, but the music rocks and rolls in all the right ways; Ten Ton Man sounds as if it could have been birthed in any decade since the ’60s. Though they have elements of raw folk and country rock gestures, this is ultimately a timeless rock disc that makes excellent use of banjos, slide guitars and sincere, forthright storytelling. - In Forty


"“It is well worth some ear-time…”"

Ten Ton Man releases their dark, emotional track Ditty - Mad Mackerel


"This album stands out from most music today."

Ten Ton Man is a roots rock trio consisting of Paul Livornese (vocals/guitar), Paul Triff (drums), and Paul Dugan (bass) from New York City. Formed in 2011, Ten Ton Man has been making a scene, playing the New York City venues with their bluesy roots rock sound. Born in Brooklyn, Paul Livornese is a Parson School of Design graduate. Throughout the late 80’s and 90’s Livornese was playing in various bands in New York City while establishing a career in the design field. Now, as singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Livornese is leading Ten Ton Man with his dark rootsy songs from his own personal experience. With influences that span from Hank Williams to Nick Cave, Ten Ton Man brings a fresh sound to rock with their self-titled debut album.
Ten Ton Man is a great debut album. Upon hearing it, one might think this is a seasoned band that’s been around for years. Paul Livornese has a wonderfully deep vocal that brings the emotionally dark songs from Ten Ton Man to life, and Paul Dugan and Paul Triff provide an excellent backing band that lets this rock trio sound tight and keeps a steady beat. Ten Ton Man is thirty-five minutes of exceptional rock music.
One of the best tracks on this album is “Yes Sir.” The song is a mellow sounding song that starts out slow, but picks up to mid-tempo through the song. Livornese’s deep vocals give the song a sincere emotional feeling. Kelly Pratt supplies the song with her brass skills that sound complimentary to Livornese’s singing. Dugan and Triff keep the track moving with a steady mid-tempo beat.
“The Drinking Song,” an ode to alcohol, is the most unique song on Ten Ton Man. The song has a much lighter feel than the rest of the album, and with the various instruments, the track has a feeling of entering into some type of carnival. However, while the song has better feeling than the rest of the album, upon listening to the lyrics, the darkness of the song’s message is revealed.
The up-tempo “Tired Kind” is another song that has a darker message within the lyrics. “Tired Kind” is a rock song with a twangy, country feeling, and Livornese’s richly deep vocals sound wonderful with this twang sound. Triff and Dugan do a marvelous job at creating a country feeling within a rock album.
Ten Ton Man is, without a doubt, a great album. All three members of the band are extraordinary at their respective positions. The band takes influences from the past and adds their own unique feel to create an album that looks to the future while respecting the past. This album stands out from most music today, in that it doesn’t express songs that are about a boy and girl falling in love; this album presents darker songs that are truer to real life. This gives these tracks an authentic feeling, and makes the listening experience that much more enjoyable. Ten Ton Man would make a great addition to anyone’s music collection.

Key Tracks: Yes Sir, The Drinking Song, Tired Kind
Craig Kidd - MuzikReviews.com Staff
- MusicReviews.com


"Ten Ton Man is well on their way."

As a trio of indie rock musicians, Paul Livornese (vocals and guitar), Paul Dugan (bass), and Paul Triff (percussion) make up Ten Ton man, who recently released their self-titled album. Ten Ton
Man now calls New York as their home, especially considering how the Paul, better known as "Rocco", matriculated and graduated from Parsons School of Design, lending way to establishing a design career, while exposing himself to the music scene New York has to offer. Seasoned veterans certainly and the music experts they proved to be, Ten Ton Man is eager to captivate the New York music scene now, gradually promoting their self-titled album, all whilst planning on
enduring tour life this coming 2013. The band didn't complete their album without the help of others, as they are joined by Kelly Pratt on brass and Erik Della Penna (guitarist for Natalie Merchant), all helping to create this dark, emotional début album.

Beginning Ten Ton Man's first meeting is "Yes Sir," a delicate, song launched on a soothing structure and emotionality. Versus starting the album with a driving, exhilarating song, Ten Ton Man interestingly chooses a slower number, far from enthusiastic, but embodying the darkness they convey and fleeing from overproduction and unnaturalness. With Livornese on vocals, Ten Ton Man introduces listeners to vocal strength and talent not present in the music industry, until arrival. There's a natural tranquility to his voice with found throughout his transformation of making personal stories, lyrics. "Yes Sir" doesn't necessarily pick up the pace, but the simplicity of the lightly strumming guitar and interesting addition of Erik Della Penna on banjo, accompanied by softly emphasized but needed drums. All which support the emotionality of the song, a consistently moody, yet calming song until the bitter end.

Following along the album, Ten Ton Man proves that they are not a band that falls victim to restraints, allowing themselves to branch out to different genres and lead different paths musically. One of the greatest displays of this is "Ditty." Livornese brings his gritty, direct guitar playing to the table, driving the force entirely. For example, the opening features a strong guitar riff, tightness complete with the support of Paul Tripp. "Ditty" is an exemplary gritty rock piece, reminding listeners that real rockers still exist. The opening guitar riff is what sets the pace, providing great energy and epitomizing edginess. Livornese's deeper vocals leave a memorable impression on listeners. Most impressive is the guitar solo that leads into the song's competition, a twangy addition with hints of blues influence, not a typical influence for not a typical band. Leading in with another interest guitar lead is "Fall Down," reminding listeners that "We all fall down, gonna hit the ground. Get back up again. Get on your feet, son." There's a commanding tone conveyed by Livornese that urges listeners to pick themselves up following a creeping darkness, but also a reminder that we all crash - we all struggle through our hardships. However, the song chimes dullness at points for its lack of originality. It resembles "Ditty" in some senses too closely, except
for the interesting horn contributions, notable for the album. Had it not been for the resurrecting horn additions, "Fall Down" would seem all too repetitive in structure. Nonetheless, Livornese's vocals mark strength and the horns brings uniqueness. While "Fall Down" may have demonstrated uncertainty at points, "Lifesaver" marks a change. The rugged vocals combined with raging, driving electric guitars remind listeners of what Ten Ton Man strives to be. No longer softer, the rock-inspired guitars soloing together sound like rock and roll at its finest. The influences of Johnny Cash are prevalent, especially with fusing guitars. The shortly spaced out guitar strumming leans toward a bluesy feel, with an edge. An instrumental
breakdown highlights Ten Ton Man's remarkable musicality, noting that they are not simply a band, but artists exposing their craft. As the songs concludes, Livornese doesn't hold back vocally, stepping out of his comfort zones at points as he reaches higher notes with clear raspiness. With a song like "Lifesaver", it's difficult to comprehend that this is only Ten Ton Man's first release.Concluding the band's début release is a slower number by the name of "Carry It," enforcing that Ten Ton Man begins and ends the album in a similar fashion. However, Livornese's vocals are missed on this final track. Instead, Ten Ton Man allows for all to shine instrumentally during the
album's conclusion. The guitars move into a slow, melodic riff with Triff and Dugan providing the perfect backing. Working as the glue that holds the song together, Triff and Dugan are necessary.
Without such a solid rhythm system, a true rock band cannot hold itself together. Later, the track reveals the emphasis of Livornese's dark, deeper vocals that aren't a - Alexa Spieler


"It’s magnificent and way beyond the boundaries of expectations"

Given our predilection for weird, we were first drawn to Ten Ton man under the hopes this would be a rather large fellow (preferably playing a ‘funny’ instrument. Maybe a ukelele or ocarina). While we may have had our heads in dreamland, we found that the reality was vastly more entertaining.

Hailing from New York, lead singer and songwriter Paul Livornese has played on the scene in various projects throughout the 90s punk scene and was also active through the 00s. While it seems he had his own ideas in the past, it is only now he has decided to come to the forefront and share his musings and messages.

Ten Ton man have very uniquely found the perfect recipe for Americana- every track is marinated in what simply feels like America. Every note, every melody, every movement seems steeped in a period or sense of place, be it a dusty, dank saloon with the track on tension tighter than the barmaid’s bust in her corset; long summers in the Sun spent whiling away time with freedom and adventure on the horizon; suburban white picket fences, wooden houses and cul-de-sacs.

While maybe not referencing them, CF felt all aspects and incarnations of American Arcadia, entrenched and imbuing our earholes. Quite the spectacle you can imagine on the Tube. Folk/Country artists face comparisons to a certain Mr. Cash. But while the man is so ubiquitous in the scene you might as well call it CASH, Ten Ton Man seem to draw much deeper from other wells. Most strikingly it is Nick Cave but there’s also a little hint of Orbison, when he wants to come out. It’s magnificent and way beyond the boundaries of expectations, it’s distinctive and snags your ear.

Set to what is best defined as gutsy, gritty folk-blues with post punk prickliness steeped in the spirit of America, it’s perfect for losing yourself in. While it would be a longshot to get Ten Ton Man to plot a jaunt in the UK and time shoon, we wait with glee for any news and new tracks being released across the pond. - Commercial Free UK


Discography

Ten Ton Man - Ten Ton Man Records ©2012
Ten Ton Man, The Toad Hill Sessions - Ten Ton Man Records ©2014
Mary - Single release - Ten Ton Man Records ©2014

http://tentonman.bandcamp.com/music



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Bio

TEN TON MAN 

The perfumed sweat between a great set of cans at a topless bar on the bayou.

The hopeless clink of a Jack Daniels bottle hitting your front teeth.

The sweet, luscious smoke filling your lungs – or what’s left of ‘em – on the heels of your last blackout.

What time is it? 6:00 am? This ain’t the start of a new day. It’s just the end of another night.

Welcome to the dark and glittering world of Ten Ton Man. Like a well-worn snakeskin jacket, the gritty Americana of this neo-noir three-piece wraps you in danger like a David Lynch movie and never lets you go. With a world-weary baritone and a hollow body electric that’s garnered him comparisons to Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, founding member Paul Livornese slyly weaves his gin-soaked tales of lust, loss and regret over Paul Dugan’s brooding upright bass and the greasy chug of Paul Triff’s drums.

It was death that led to the birth of Ten Ton Man. After burying his father, Livornese got to thinking: Life is short, and you might as well get your money’s worth before the ride’s over. A Brooklyn-born visual artist who’d done time as a guitarist in a handful of New York bands since the early 80s, Livornese graduated from sideman to singer at a Lower East Side dive bar on the eve of his fiftieth birthday. “It was one of those life-changing moments,” explains Livornese. “I was hanging out with the guitarist from the Misfits, Bobby Steele. He handed me his guitar, which just happened to be tuned down. And that just happened to be perfect for my voice.”

Now that he’d seen the light, it was time to embrace the dark. Livornese had written for other singers before, but never for himself. The grimy ballads that poured out of him came from a deep, dark place – just like his voice. “Listening to contemporary music, I couldn't find anything that spoke to me,” admits Livornese. “How is some young band going to sing about divorce, their parents dying, or the frustrations of getting older?” Fueled by a sense of his own mortality (and plenty of bourbon), Livornese channeled his age and experience into an unsentimental song cycle that reflected the struggles and defeats of a hardscrabble New Yorker who’s seen it all, done it all, and lived to tell the tale – barely.

Word got around, and it wasn’t long before Livornese found himself with a band on his hands –  and not just any band. “The drummer and bass player I started working with were both named Paul,” laughs Livornese. “Not only is that my name, it was my father’s name. Kinda spooky, huh?” Drummer Paul Triff brings a lifetime of chops and more than a little empathy to Livornese’s cause, while bass player Paul Dugan fleshes out the arrangements with the kinds of stark grooves that he’s provided for alt-rock giants like Patti Smith and Jon Spencer. Together, the three Pauls hit on a sound that Commercial Free UK calls “the perfect recipe for Americana.” As cinematic and bluesy as a bar fight at a forgotten roadhouse on a lost desert highway, this is the kind of music that the Lizard King himself might be producing today had he not bought the farm in that Paris bathtub 45 years ago.

Since forming in 2010, Ten Ton Man has played regularly to growing audiences on New York’s Lower East Side and dropped two releases: their eponymously-titled debut album in 2013, and the Chunk of Change EP in 2014. The fall of 2015 will see the release of a new collection of songs, Permission To Sin, along with a series of limited engagements at select New York venues. With an expanded lineup that includes banjo, trumpet, harmonica, and accordion, Permission To Sin is a wry exploration of indecency that occasionally trespasses into Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht territory.

 So if you’re in the mood for something sinister, order another round of absinthe and get ready to sink those canines of yours into Ten Ton Man. Heavy shit indeed.

 

Band Members