Bio: Common Prayer is a Brooklyn-based, sometimes folk/often rock outfit led by Jason Sebastian Russo (Hopewell/Mercury Rev). The band's first album, There Is A Mountain, was released on Neil Halsted's Big Potato Records in 2010, and hailed by the BBC as one of that year's "most recommended under-the-radar releases."
Common Prayer's second album, Frame The River, will be released in October 2013 and was assembled by the band + Jeff Mercel (Mercury Rev), Neil Halstead (Slowdive / Mojave 3) & Damon Whittemore of ValveTone Studios.
Current line-up includes Russo (guitar/vocals), Tara Autovino (keyboard/concertina/vocals), Sara Press (bass/vocals), and Benjamin Kaplan (drums). The folk version of the band (Russo/Autovino) traveled to Austin, Texas this year to perform with their musical hero, Daniel Johnston, at SXSW.
FRAME THE RIVER:
Where: On tour in support of their debut There is a Mountain, Common Prayer detoured to the south of England where Neil Halstead taught them how to surf. This strange stroke of luck led to another, and the band found itself in his seaside studio augmenting their collection of field recordings. What had begun in England would be completed in Brooklyn.
Who: Jason Sebastian Russo's fellow Mercury Rev'r, multi-instrumentalist / composer Jeff Mercel, played drums and various keyboards of fine vintage. The aforementioned Halstead added plangent, lunar piano to the tunes “Falling Man” and “Standing Water.” Producer Damon Whittemore deployed microphones and studio environments. Uncountable friends* dissembled, morphed, destroyed, bashed, masticated, remixed what would become the the ecstatic “Frame The River.”
What: Round 2. The follow-up to one of the BBC's "most recommended under-the-radar releases", 2010's There Is A Mountain. Common Prayer's 2nd long player manifests itself in the sound of bootheels on "Diamond Street", in the activity of digging a "Joyful Trench", in the gestures of a flailing, "Falling Man." J. Russo’s liminal melodies and playfully perverse ("pulling punches like a boxer in reverse") lyrics provide the perfect soundtrack to the space where the personal and treanscendental meet, to the precariousness of living paycheck to paycheck with no benefits, to trying to be in love while being in a band and to a generation of atheists writing love notes to god.
Why: J. Russo has been playing music since he was 14. First with his band Hopewell then with Mercury Rev, then with Hopewell, then with Common Prayer, then with Mercury Rev, then with Hopewell, then with Common Prayer...because he has no choice.
*Jason Sebastian Russo, Jeff Mercel, Alexandra Marvar, Karen Codd, Neil Halstead, Rory O'Connor, Jack Dishell, Nicole Atkins, Ken Thomson, Dan Bruskewicz, Justin Francis Russo, Rob Christiansen, Rob Nadeau, Aaron Belz, Kristin Mueller, Ken Griffen, Halle Petro, Andrew Gallagher, Rich Meyer, Thistle Beauregarde, Phillipa Thompson, Julian Hintz & Paul Dillon.
ACCOLADES for THERE IS A MOUNTAIN
"There Is a Mountain ranks as one of the year-so-far’s most recommended under-the-radar releases. 8.5/10 Stars" –Mike Diver, BBC
"In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career.... There's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog.... There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again. –Michael Stasiak, Other Music [ Read full review from June 7 Downloads of the Week / OM Newsletter ]
"The most appealing aspect of There Is A Mountain, the exquisite debut record from Common Prayer, is the element of surprise that is layered throughout the album; where the plaintive beauty of one song hardly prepares you for the wildly inventive percussion of the next, and where decades of listening to music scarcely primes you for the fluid blend of heartfelt sincerity and offbeat experimentalism found within these numbers."–Erik Thompson, The Line of Best Fit (UK)
"Weighing in at a skinny half hour, Common Prayer's debut album is a flab free and never boring journey through outsider-pop." –High Voltage (UK)
"An excitably varied yet cohesive debut. 9/10 Stars" –Antonio Rowe, God Is In The TV (UK)
"Mr. Russo and his helpers have made one of the finest records of the year, hands down. It’s overflowing with character unlike anything else you’re likely to hear, and its slanted and enchanted sound makes my little heart go pitter patter." –Les Enfants Terribles
"Endearingly wayward and ragged. Combination of strings and junkyard percussion is bold and effective and its sudden switches of mood are unexpected and exciting." –Daniel Patton, Music OMH (UK)
"Those willing to give Russo & Company a fair shake will discover a new act whose music boasts a deep reservoir of vitality, nuance, and charm." -One Track Mind
"Violin innuendos and organ riffs interlace with scrap metal samples and found sounds throughout this deep and dark folk album." -New Dust
"Common Prayer's blend of Microphones-esque instrumentation and lyrical intelligence will be intoxicating."–Miniature Music Press (Cardiff), Gig of the Month
"Die vielfalt wird in einen riesigen überraschungskeks verbacken, den man stück für stück dem hörer gereicht." ("The album is baked in a huge suprise cookie which one served piece by piece to the listener.") –Das Klienicum (Bavaria)
"Part of what makes their music so fascinating is how it effortlessly bridges the gap between country and city."–"The Brooklyn-Kingston Connection: Up-and-coming band Common Prayer roots itself in both cities,"The Kingston Times
"Folky pop rock with a 'scrap metal' beat – sounds delicious to me... If you like your pop to be sweet but still rough around the edges, check this shit out." –Pigeons & Planes
"While thoughtful and often somber in theme, Russo’s songs are playfully bizarre." -Audio Perv
"Jason Sebastian Russo of Common Prayer has essentially done what I would in my most wildest dream: Go to the UK, pull together a large band of British pop talent and record an album that falls somewhere in the Folk-Rock divide... using their man power to create songs that slowly build instead of attacking you with sound. "-StandarDeviations
"There is a Mountain is a charming mishmash of an album, where Brooklyn hipster affectations rub shoulders with old school brit-psyche sensibilities.... Sound collages, a concept oft tacked on to an album during the last 15 minutes of the mixing to imply indie credentials, are used in good taste and seem to take the listener on a journey." -We Heart Music
"Highlights From America’s First Ever Truck Festival: Sunday - Moment of Transcendence: Common Prayer joined onstage by the mother of the Russo clan, then the ensemble of family and friends closes with “Everything and More.” All of Truck America gets choked up." -The Catskill Chronicle
"The result of these sessions is an album’s worth of intriguingly weird pop songs that aren’t afraid to defy the listener’s expectations, but remain fully accessible." -Musical Pairings
But despite my cynicism, Common Prayer is pleasantly convincing. The combination of Russo's caustic delivery (bringing to mind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and the hodge podge of organic instruments feel very charming and genuine.... As a thoughtful piano leads into ["Everything & More"] group harmony "We may never pass this way again/This could be the last time my friend," the final crescendo brings me to tears for ever having doubted them. -Adam Thomas, Plug In Music
"...An album filled rustic, melodic, and genuine songs." -Orange Alert
"Common Prayer ’s “Us vs. Them” is one of our favorite tracks."-Consequence of Sound
"Us vs. Them" has great melody and instrumentation, using piano so effectively I'd half-expect to hear it performed inside a rustic saloon." -I Guess I'm Floating
"One of our favorite jams of the year thus far." -The Tripwire
"‘Marriage Song’ binds the beating of piecemeal percussion and a dobro sounding slide into a delectable mixture of groaning sentiments. The chorus runs “It’s a long way down, it’s a long way doooowwn, it’s a long long long way down,” with overdubbing very much remniscent of Bowie’s ‘Candidate’ from ‘Diamond Dogs.’ It’s bizarre to find a link like that from this album to Bowie’s comment on totalitarian government and Orwellian dystopia, but if you listen, it’s definitely and clearly there." –Marc Thomas, Journal of Plastik (UK)
"There Is A Mountain’s fourth track is “Us vs Them,” a song whose melodies are broad and whose heart takes it on all kinds of well-received tangents. From the piano-laced verses to the final, foot-shuffling moments filled with whistled curlicues, the track boasts a slightly deranged beauty." -One Track Mind
"A delightfully shonky bar jam of forlorn optimism, not dissimilar to a bourbon-mellowed Walkmen, and complete with a lovely tinkly piano and whistle-a-thon ending." -Snipe (London)
"A lovely logfire jam replete with 70s style close reverbed drums." -Proper Songs (UK)
"A slightly grunged hard beat drives this piano/acoustic guitar number into a summer indie romp." -Guilt Free Pleasure
"Som uppladdning bjuder de på vackra spåret Us vs. Them, vilket snabbt repeat-snurrat sig långt in i NMB-hjärtat" -No Modest Bear (Sweden)
"A stomping beat, a twinkling piano and memorable whistling highlight the first single from Jason Sebastian Russo's rustic indie-pop project." -Atlas & the Anchor
"If the single, 'Us vs. Them' is any indication of the album, than it’s one to jot down on the 'to get' list." -Indie Rock Café
"The song is good and so is the whole album." -Electric Mustache
"Pri-tay coo-uhl." -ListenBeforeYouBuy.net
นี่ ก็อีกหนึ่งวงจาก บรู้คลิน นิวยอร์ค อเมริกา ซึ่งก็มีสมาชิกวงเยอะแยะจริงๆ (ประมาณ 8 คน) เข้าใจว่าพวกเขาเพิ่งจะฟอร์ม วงมาเมื่อปีที่แล้ว และอัลบั้มชุดนี้ที่วางแผงวันนี้พอดี (27 เม.ย.)ก็คืออัลบั้มชุดแรก งานเพลงของพวกเขาเป็นอเมริกันโฟล์คร็อค ที่ฟังเพลินไม่ใช่น้อย แฟนๆ โฟล์คร็อคทราบแล้วเปลี่ยน -Nanatakara Bloggang.com
"Us vs. Them börjar med ett kraftfullt, tungt men långsamt trummande, en lugn gitarr kommer in, sen kommer sången och efter ytterligare en liten kort stund gör ett piano dem alla sällskap i en trallvänlig folkpop-låt som avslutas med några småvisslingar." -Tram7 (Sweden)