mr. Gnome | Echoes on the Ground

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Echoes on the Ground

by mr. Gnome

Mr. Gnome glides through catchy and crunchy hard rock arrangements, thanks to big sonic blasts of aggressive elegance. The Cleveland duo showcases a knack for squeezing big hooks into hard driving numbers. ~Amplifier Magazine
Genre: Rock: Hard Rock
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1. Drunky Stoney
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2:21 $0.99
2. Echoes on the Ground
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4:15 $0.99
3. El Marko
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3:23 $0.99
4. T.L.S.
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5. Westown
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Described in the musical press as "Black Sabbath meets Portishead", the duo's first EP, Echoes On The Ground, features five of the bands driving and mystical interludes, casting the animalistic vocals of Barille against her crunching guitar and the pounding, stylistic percussion of Meister.


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The Lantern (The Ohio State University)

Female lead, man enough for metal element
The world of hesher metal has been dominated by men for about as long as it's been in existence. Stoners raised on equal parts, Zeppelin and Sabbath, have been cranking up the distortion and filling out the ranks of bands like Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age for more than a decade, and it doesn't look like there'll be room for girls to come join the party any time soon. Fortunately, Mr. Gnome's singer-guitarist, Nicole Barille, doesn't really care.

On "Echoes on the Ground," the Cleveland duo's debut EP, Barille and drummer Sam Meister craft a sound that falls somewhere between the bands mentioned above and trip-hop standbys Portishead and Massive Attack. The overall feel of the album is dark and sludgy, but is punctuated by bright and explosive moments.

Each of the five tracks are built off a similar formula. Barille's overdriven guitar grooves ride a start-stop math rock beat laid down by Meister. It would make Pittsburgh math rockers Don Caballero's drummer, Damon Che, smile and White Stripes' drummer, Meg White, extremely jealous. The Stripes, along with their garage-bound contemporaries The Black Keys, thrive off blues-driven minimalism, which is something that the Mr. Gnome's sound thankfully steers clear of.

"Echoes" starts out with a guitar riff that could have easily been transplanted from the latest Queens release, but after a minute it's clear that this album is headed in a different direction. The song quickly establishes a musical dynamic that's common throughout the whole album.

The alternation from Barille's bare, angst-ridden vocals to brief instrumental outbursts of frantic drums and a spastic mini-guitar solos become the dominant theme. At first, the sound of Barille's voice chiming in over the murky guitar line that kicks off the record was difficult to comprehend, but by the end of the first song it starts to feel essential.

The third track, "El Marko," is probably the best example of what Mr. Gnome is all about. It starts out with a spiraling guitar lead that is shortly picked up by Meister. It is then taken into a dark closet full of distortion and anguish, and yanked back out again when Barille kills the guitar fuzz and replaces it with her soulful croon. Wherever PJ Harvey is right now, she's probably welling up with pride.

The recent sounds coming out of the Cleveland scene can be best described as loud and fast, which makes "Echoes on the Ground" a compelling deviation from that tired Midwestern formula.

By: Peter Cottell

Only Local Music (Cincinnati, OH)

Five in your face melodic, metal driven tunes
This Cleveland based two-piece alternative rock act has Nicole Barille on vocals and guitar and Sam Meister on drums. Together these two combine driving, passionate vocals and synchronized rhythmic shifts to create what they call stunning "trip-rock" sounds.

Listening to the CD, one would have to tend to agree with that description. Echoes on the Ground is the duo's first EP featuring five in your face melodic, metal driven tunes.

First track, "Drunky Stoney" opens with some syncopated guitar and drum riffs that will kick you inthe face and wake your ass up and pay attention! Pounding guitar and even harder drums, Barille swoons through the barrage of music with an undeniable intensity.

The title track "Echoes on the Ground" meanders back and forth with a hypnotic rhythm and a swaying melody thta leaks of Barille's uncharacteristic syrupy vocals.

El Marko is the song that caught my attention to this band. Hooky, vibrant, enticing and musically simple, this song demonstrates this duo's strengths to compliment each other's talents.

T.L.S. is a flush of guitar and drums and appropriately inserted vocals with harmonics that are eerie and exciting.

Lastly, Westown, combines the bands talents culminating in a powerful display of compelling vocals and memorable melodic guitar licks.

After listening to the CD I've concluded that if Jim Morrison were born a woman he would have the vocals of Barille. Ironically, Barille's guitar innovations are suprisingly like those of guitarist Robby Krieger and equally as complimenting.

City Beat (Cincinnati, OH)

Mr. Gnome succeeds in getting the monstrous sonic tidal wave flowing."
"Whaaa? There's only two of 'em!?" Cleveland's Mr. Gnome succeeds in getting the monstrous sonic tidal wave flowing on their debut EP, Echoes on the Ground. But, while that harsher side is what most of their reviews rally around, what makes Mr. Gnome special is an entrancing soft/loud dynamic. The twosome bandy around the phrase "Trip Rock" in their biographical materials, referring to the more delicate passages in their sound, but the Trip Hop/Portishead comparisons are somewhat misleading. While mesmerizing, the band eschews electronics, Hip Hop beats and, most glaringly, monotony. The five songs on the EP showcase unpredictable arrangements and erratic rhythmic shifts, making for a thoroughly captivating listen. Singer/guitarist Nicole Barille provides guitar work that is both muscularly beefy and windingly intricate, while her equally versatile vocal abilities provide the duo's magnetic core. Drummer Sam Meister's elastic, Jazz-like percussioning is the anchor, though his playing is so musical, it does much more than simply provide a backbone. The EP's title track encapsulates the band's approach, moving back and forth between breezy, music-box-like verses and a huge, squally wall-of-knife-edged guitar dissonance, with Barille's gripping, breathy wail slinking sensually across the aural barrage like Michelle Pfeiffer climbing around on top of a piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys. The trippy melodies and hush-to-bombast flexibility is more in line with the Deftones' like-minded sound than anything, but you simply have to hear Mr. Gnome yourself to fully understand. (Mike Breen)

Now on Tour

jazzy, haunting and gypsy-like
Mr. Gnome is a two-piece alt-rock/indie band from Cleveland, OH. Nicole Barille (lead vocals and guitar) provides a strong, motivating yet eerie sound that seems to somehow rip your innermost thoughts from your soul and display them not so delicately at your sleeve. Sam Meister masters the drums with an indie, jazz influence with a strong roll of the snare and perfect cymbal placement.

Echoes On The Ground, their first EP released October 2005, features five eclectic songs and a rich display of their live repertoire. Nicole's vocals come across as jazzy, haunting and gypsy-like; a northeastern personalized Bohemian sound. She seems natural and entertaining. Her guitar influence seems to have a strong rock background, but it's a style all her own. It seems to me that Mr. Gnome could hold their own and share the stage with almost any other band. Their musical stylings come from a wide variety and are generally impressionistic.
~Caz Bevan

Cool Cleveland.com

Cool Cleveland Sounds-Echoes on the Ground
Alt-rock duos, well, rock. And so it goes for ethereal indie rockers Mr. Gnome, a two-piece alt-rock act from our very own backyard. Echoes on the Ground is Mr. Gnome's debut EP, something that (on paper) could be viewed as a reverse White Stripes blueprint. But it's oh-so-much more. With Nicole Barille covering vocals and guitar and Sam Meister keeping time on drumkit, they combine gritty, driving vocals with chunky, hard-edged syncopation. The results are staggering.

Now, I'm not sure I get any "trip-rock" media concessions out of Echoes, mostly because Mr. Gnome never gets all "shoegazer" (early Catherine Wheel or My Bloody Valentine) or trip-hop on us. But the two collaborators are razor-sharp together, have consulted their Trouser Press and can light up the speakers quite well.

The first cut "Drunky Stoney" screams Black Sabbath fronted by a breathy Fiona Apple. Barille's vocals often come across like a dirty Apple after a hard night of partying; her rock guitarisms are defiantly swaggering without any false intention or bravado. She earns instant cred for such courageousness. Her work remains strong on the other four cuts, which follow suit with fiery garage rock aptitude, intensity and a baroque sense of encoded sensuality.

Meister himself approaches the kit with a cocksure attitude and a jazz-infused organic approach, insuring that cuts "El Marko" (shades of Primus in here? Whoa!) and the set closer "Westown" turn on the proverbial dime. When Meister pounds those skins, it's determined stuff--like he's cutting through the dense pre-industrial dirge as Indiana Jones might a dark jungle with a rusted machete.

But all the adjectives and adverbs and colorful metaphors and kudos don't even begin to tell you how much these guys rock. And way beyond their years, to boot. For Barille and Meister, that so-called "daunting list" goes right in the fire. Behold the power of two known as Mr. Gnome, one of Cleveland's Next Big Things in alt-rock. Go see 'em and see for yourself.

~Peter Chakerian

Opening Bands

mr. Gnome - Echoes on the Ground
Every once in a while a band comes along that tries something new and actually pulls it off. Mr. Gnome does that. Yeah, it's rock so it's not exactly reinventing the wheel but if you take Queens of the Stone Age, make them a bit more ethereal and substitute a female singer, you kind of get an idea of what Mr. Gnome sounds like. They never really cut loose like QOTSA did on Songs for the Deaf but you never feel like the band is dragging or boring. There seems to be some Eastern influences at times, some of the intervals kind of lend themselves to stereotypical "desert" music and Sam Meister's rhythms during the "interlude" of El Marco sound very influenced by some kind of ethinic music. Those of you who have read my reviews in the past know I put a heavy emphasis on vocals and lyrics and this band did not disappoint in either department. The lyrics are spares but the songs don't drag because of it, a mark of true skill, and Nicolle Barille's vocals are hauntingly incredible. She makes excellent use of a varied pallette of textures and colors, precisely matching them to what the song calls for. What makes good music? It's when all the parts just sound right. This band sounds right.
~Jack Marck

Amplifier Magazine

Big Sonic Blasts of Aggressive Elegance
With Nicole Barille on guitar and vocals and Sam Meister on drums, Mr. Gnome's lineup comes across as an inverted White Stripes.  But while the latter band howls and stomps, Mr. Gnome glides through catchy and crunchy hard rock arrangements, thanks to big sonic blasts of aggressive elegance.  On this five song EP, the Cleveland duo showcases a knack for squeezing big hooks into hard driving numbers without sacrificing edginess.  The muscular riffs of opener "Druny Stoney" show off Barille's impressive strength as a vocalist, "Echoes On the Ground" balances the band's intensity with dreamy breaks that feature Barille's whirling falsetto, and "T.L.S." comes doused in heavy drums that move in syncopated stabs and beats.  Elsewhere, "El Marko" and the closer "Westown" both feature post-modern prog rock arrangements that arrive in burning starts and smoldering stops.  Promising work

Kaffeine Buzz (Denver, CO)

A sound so intense, violent, and harsh. It calls for combat-booted stomping, fis
Mr. Gnome is entirely too cute a name for this band. "Gnome" just makes me think of lawn gnomes and Audrey Tautou in Amelie. And as far as the "Mr." part goes, Nicole Barille's voice is far too primal-feminine for that pronoun to apply.

Nicole and her partner in crime, Sam Meister (on drums), play like an instrumental band that happens to have vocals. Indeed, her voice is more like another instrument itself, wordless wails and howls taking precedence over actual intelligible lyrics, and when there are words, she often sounds like she's singing through clenched teeth.

I've heard the word "crunchy" applied to guitars more than once, but until hearing this band I didn't really get how a guitar could crunch. Their sound is intense, violent, and harsh. It calls for combat-booted stomping, fists and hair flying. Picture: Grendel's mother on her way to avenge her son. It's a sound far more dragonish than gnome.

~ Sarah Jaffe

Smother.net

Mr. Gnome is the trick to anyone’s treat
*EDITOR'S PICK*
Frantic drums and tortured female vocals greet the ears from this soon-to-be seminal indie rock project from the land of evil ballot lines, Cleveland, Ohio. With trip-hop’s downtempo beats, rock’s thrills, and gorgeous vocals that you’d expect from Tricky or Portishead’s more enigmatic journeys, Mr. Gnome is the trick to anyone’s treat. Gifted in the guitar department and armed with haunting lyrics that are spat with ferocious female introspectiveness, Mr. Gnome stirs in a stew of magnificent heavy rock that plods forward like drone but with the brevity of a juiced up juggler.

- J-Sin

John Benson

You should hear....
Mr. Gnome: Trip-hop meets hard rock.
Together less than two years, Cleveland's Mr. Gnome is already making waves in the Northeast Ohio music scene with a trip-rock style that melds the percussive swagger of Portishead with the metallurgy of Black Sabbath. Belying its duo-status, Mr. Gnome -- Nicole Barille and Sam Meister -- breaks new ground with a tidal wave of sonic expression and indie-minded eclecticism on its latest EP "Echoes on the Ground."
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