The Dark Horse Project
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The Dark Horse Project

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"Dark Horse Project hits pay dirt"

Liv Mueller -- aka Liv Lovely, after her successful run fronting killer local trio The Lovelies -- is one of the city's best talents. She's got a throaty roar of a voice, skills as a songwriter and guitarist and the look of a rock star. So, it's little surprise that the debut disc by her band The Dark Horse Project has been getting some attention.

The eponymous 11-song disc -- packed full of melodic, but hard-hitting, brash rock and roll -- was self-released in 2005 and has now been picked up by Dalloway Records. And one of the songs from the record was featured in the new Courteney Cox show, "Dirt," this month. The record was recorded with Mark Hutner and Ethan Allen (Throwing Muses, Better Than Ezra) and Grant Curry.

The Dalloway deal, says DHP drummer Dan Niedziejko (Dorian Gray) -- who has been in the band since last January and join Mueller and multi-instrumentalist Josh Rickun -- is the product of Mueller's reputation.

"The label is run by two partners who were familiar with the Lovelies and knew Liv was a very strong talent. The CD made its rounds by virtue of a buzz that had developed once it was completed. There were some other indie labels, but we went with this one based upon good vibes and a very ambitious artist-friendly one record deal. There were other more established indies with track records, but we went with this start-up because they were the most enthusiastic, generous and promised us the most control over the product. We will see if it was the right call! They are taking on a lot by starting a label basically from scratch and signing us."

Dalloway re-released the disc in November and steps toward success have come quickly, says Niedziejko, in the form of the TV exposure for a start.

"Our publishing company shopped it to some production companies -- they liked what they heard and opted to use the "Danger" track. More is in the works ... more TV and Film potentially. ('Dirt') aired on Fox. (The song) was played during the first scene during the first episode."

DHP has also landed in the coveted CMJ chart. The band was second in the top 200 adds to college radio.

"We are very pleased; college radio is liking us," Niedziejko enthuses. "All three of us have been playing music most of our lives, it's great anytime that's validated."

In the meantime, DHP is prepping for the future by staying focused, says Niedziejko.

"(We'll) continue to play shows throughout the Midwest. We are writing songs like fiends. As a three-piece we are
really coming together. We have almost enough material for another full-length album. We're starting to consider our pre-production on these tracks. Recording to follow, but not until we make more strides spreading the current record."


- OnMilwaukee


"Liv Muller, Blaine Schultz"

For the last decade and a half, Liv Mueller has been fronting bands in various cities known for music. By the time she formed the first incarnation of The Lovelies she was writing her own songs. After three albums, several lineup changes and a decent amount of acclaim, The Lovelies called it a day. Which brings us to Mueller’s current album, The Dark Horse Project (http://www.thedarkhorseproject.net). Recorded in a cabin over a month-long sojourn to pre-Katrina Louisiana, these “love songs for the forlorn and misguided” are the start of Liv's next musical chapter. - Vital Source Magazine


"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"

For Liv Mueller, the winter of 2004 began a period of rethinking and regrouping....By last spring, she had recorded demos for a darker set of songs, and she had befriended Grant Curry and Marc Hutner of the New Orleans band Pleasure Club. In the summer, she traveled to Ponchatoula, La., to record the self-titled debut of the Dark Horse Project, with Curry and Hutner contributing musical talents and production skills as the Verdugo City Madmen.

With songs such as the moody "Haunted Face" and the powerfully strummed "Unrequited" - songs that show her talents for smart melodies and incisive singing - she ought to do well. - JON M. GILBERTSON


"OnMilwaukee.com"

A track called "Haunted Face" is warm and sultry, with Mueller's dark vocals visiting dream imagery in a Mazzy Star meets the Velvet Underground kind of way. Rocker "Dark Horse" adds more of a punch, yet feels just as naturally moody.
- Julie Lawrence


"BILLBOARD MAGAZINE"

"Liv's songs could have been written and recorded anytime in the last 20 years, yet they sound
entirely contemporary." - Billboard


"PLAYBACK MUSIC JOURNAL"

"Liv has a voice that is like a candle with it's comparitive fire and warmth."
- Playback


"Maximum Ink"

Back in the mid-90s, one of Milwaukee's favorite acts came by way of Austin, TX. The Lovelies were a punk rock band with enough pop sensibility to capture the hearts of many, whether your taste was mainstream or underground. Sadly, the band called it quits in 2004 because of artistic differences....Lead singer Liv Mueller (aka: Liv Lovely) has spent the last two years concocting her own brew of original material. Her new band The Dark Horse Project seems to be taking the same path as her past work, but with a little more polish. The material has a lush and haunting grind that is both beautiful and gut wrenching. A defining moment comes about in the track “Dark Horse,” where stellar vocal lines are enhanced with sweetly strange harmonies while heavy guitar, bass and drums crescendo from a whisper to a scream....If you are familiar with The Lovelies, you'll like this band. If you are not familiar with the Lovelies… You'll like this band (if you like kick-ass shit).

- Maximum Ink


"MKE"

Mueller is heavily influenced by female vocalists, "old-school stuff like Peggy Lee and Patsy Cline," but rocks out to '80s New Wave like Adam and the Ants or Bauhaus-style goth.

Collectively, the members' personal styles fuse to form something altogether new.

- MKE


Discography

The Dark Horse Project (self-titled), Dalloway Records

Photos

Bio

THE DARK HORSE PROJECT was born of tumult, break up, and new beginnings. After nine years of active touring and recording with The Lovelies, singer/songstress Liv Mueller disbanded her former act and created The Dark Horse Project. The resulting album mirrors all of the excitement, nostalgia, and courage of its creator. The self-titled album, The Dark Horse Project, is meant to evoke feelings of forlorn pensiveness and take-the-world-by-storm power. As Julie Lawrence (On Milwaukee.com ) aptly noted, “[the track] "Haunted Face" is warm and sultry, with Mueller's dark vocals visiting dream imagery in a Mazzy Star meets the Velvet Underground kind of way. Rocker [track] "Dark Horse" adds more of a punch, yet feels just as naturally moody.” The juxtaposition of ballads and rock songs symbolizes an evolution – a new beginning – with all its uncertainty and excitement.

After hearing early Dark Horse Project sounds recorded on a used 8-track cassette player, the production alliance of The Verdugo City Madmen (Grant Curry & Marc Hunter of The Pleasure Club) quickly summoned Liv to New Orleans to record The Dark Horse Project under the guidance of engineer Ethan Allen (Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses); The Pixies). In late spring/early summer, Liv found herself in New Orleans in a cedar cabin/recording studio for nearly a month, writing, recording, and honing. The lush and often haunting Louisiana scenery proved an excellent source of inspiration for the record. With recording complete, Liv solidified the band’s lineup, teaming up with bassist Josh Rickun and drummer Dan Niedziejko. The trio articulates Liv’s newest material in a clean, haunting, and eloquent way.

Liv Mueller is a veteran of the music scene. Amongst her accomplishment, she lists two records that have charted on CMJ and has been showcased at major music festivals including SXSW and CMJ. Her work has also been featured on several network television programs. In 2006, The Dark Horse Project was picked up by the Boston-based record label, Dalloway Records and will release their first full-length album on November 14, 2006.