TRUMPETER SWAN (aka Drew Patrizi) unveils a new project and a self-released debut album, LISTEN FOR THE CLUES. Patrizi gained recognition as a founding member of the Austin, Texas-based, critically acclaimed indie rock band What Made Milwaukee Famous- recently recognized by the A.V. Club as “one of the Austin bands that defined the decade.” With a newly adopted home city, a new, more considered approach, and a greater sense of purpose, TRUMPETER SWAN’S LISTEN FOR THE CLUES is a tour de force that presents the listener a sonic package to unwrap— one that both pleases and intrigues on the way to discovering the melodic pop gems inside.
LISTEN FOR THE CLUES both refines and expands upon the sound Patrizi helped to create in What Made Milwaukee Famous, taking his power pop sensibilities and crafting something unique, personal, and powerful. During his WMMF tenure, Patrizi wrote “Selling Yourself Short,” a song The Onion’s Noel Murray hailed as “crowd rousing rock,” and which was later featured on the WB television show Gilmore Girls. These keen pop instincts are further honed on LISTEN FOR THE CLUES, which melds complex lush arrangements with sticky melodies, warm organic pianos, acoustic guitars, and jilted synths and electronics. LISTEN FOR THE CLUES offers a genre-bending approach that is as comfortable with stripped-down, synth-heavy downbeat numbers as it is with carnival-esque explosions of horns, guitars, strings, and vocal harmonies. From the opening romp of “Loose Lips” with horns at full throttle, to the electronic cascade of melodic synths in the ’80s-infused “Acolyte”; from the crafty “chords on the beat...” chorus of “Won’t Come Back,” to the dark and jittery jolts of “Eternal Pessimist,” to the last somber cello note in album closer “Forest Fire,” LISTEN FOR THE CLUES leaves few boxes unchecked.
Speaking of “checking boxes,” the list of accomplishments Patrizi logged from 2002-2008 with What Made Milwaukee Famous is notable. Let’s see...released two critically acclaimed records (Trying to Never Catch Up, What Doesn’t Kill Us) on top indie label Barsuk Records...Check. First unsigned band to play the prestigious PBS music program Austin City Limits alongside Franz Ferdinand...Check. Played music festivals Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch, CMJ, SXSW...Affirmative. Played on national tastemaker radio programs KCRW, KEXP, World Café Live, The Current...Uh-Huh. Opened for a who’s who of indie rock including Arcade Fire, The National, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Dr. Dog, TV on the Radio, and The Smashing Pumpkins...Yes, sir. Appeared in music video alongside Lance Armstrong...Check. Fulfilled countless hours “paying the dues” crisscrossing the country in a van full of guys and gear. Yep, lots of that too. CHEEECK.
Originally from small-town Ada, Oklahoma, TRUMPETER SWAN grew up on an eclectic mix of his parents LPs and ’80s MTV. Along with all the usual suspects of vintage 1960s influences, lasting impressions were made by two records, What Now My Love, by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, and Walter Carlos’s Moog-tastic Switched on Bach, combined with fellow Oklahomans The Chainsaw Kittens and The Flaming Lips. Following college, and after spending a decade immersed in the “Live Music Capital of the World” (you know...Austin, TX), Patrizi adopted a new city, er, borough, in 2009 when his fiancée moved to New York to attend grad school.
TRUMPETER SWAN collaborated with a talented cast of Austin engineers and musicians and recorded LISTEN FOR THE CLUES at Cacophony Recorders with engineer Erik Wofford (Voxtrot, The Black Angels, What Made Milwaukee Famous) in tandem with engineer Danny Reisch at Good Danny’s in Austin. Guest musicians include John Farmer (Bass) and Jeremy Bruch (Drums) from What Made Milwaukee Famous, Jason Chronis (Bass) of Voxtrot, Danny Reisch (Drums) of The Lemurs, and Matt Bricker (Trumpet) of The Polyphonic Spree to name just a few. TRUMPETER SWAN also teamed up with long-time friend and writer/poet LB Thompson for lyrical collaboration on “Won’t Come Back,” “Acolyte,” and “Greenbelt.” TRUMPETER SWAN arrived in New York with 12 unmixed songs that represented the collected experiences of the past few years. Enter engineer/musician Tom Beaujour, whose Nuthouse Recording Studio, on the top floor of a converted Wonder Bread factory in Hoboken, NJ, proved the ideal setting to mix the album. By December of 2009, a celebratory shot of Johnny Walker was gulped down late into the night and the labor of love that is LISTEN FOR THE CLUES was finally complete.
So, why “TRUMPETER SWAN?” Short answer: It’s a name. But if you persist, okay, the slightly longer answer: little scraps from the past, when pieced together, somehow pointed to TRUMPETER SWAN. The name represents an attempt to clean out the mental clutter and—with some Scotch tape and Elmer’s glue—piece together something recognizable. “Scraps” include: a mild obsession with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (which led Trumpeter Swan to play—what else—trumpet, in high school band), the fact that historically trumpets carry the melody for many of life’s significant events (celebrations, battlefields, funerals, “Taps” anyone?), the tragically ironic concept of a swan song (“the ancient belief that some swans are completely mute during their lifetime until the moment just before death, when they sing one beautiful song”), and last but certainly not least, a reference to the beautiful and haunting Surf’s Up by Brian Wilson.
LISTEN FOR THE CLUES is an invitation into Patrizi’s musical diary as he translates the melodic and lyrical themes that have held him captive ad nauseum. TRUMPETER SWAN is also a declaration of musical independence of sorts—a new allegiance to follow one’s own muse. From his earliest days making bedroom pop for an audience of one, Patrizi has been searching for a method to deliver the songs in his head to your inner ear. Finally, there is a method for this musical exchange to take place, TRUMPETER SWAN is the conduit, and LISTEN FOR THE CLUES the first installment— now all you have to do is plug in.
Thank you for listening for the clues.