When I’m not teaching guitar,

I’m busy playing music!

At The Vegan Witch Trials

- AllMusic.com Review

“...Spy Island very well could give cleverness a good name again if they keep making records like At the Vegan Witch Trials; instead of aiming for studied sloppiness or musical eccentricity for its own sake, Spy Island have embraced tight, tuneful arrangements and melodies that put some rock & roll muscle behind songs that show an impressive level of craft, and the result is a grand exercise in small-scale record making. The ensemble generates an admirably diverse palette of tonal colors, from garage rock overtones to folky textures to lovely, languid pop. At the Vegan Witch Trials is smart, joyous, and genuinely witty music that consistently satisfies, and it's nice to know that America's basements and bedrooms are still kicking out some great low-budget records at a time when the majors can't seem to find worthwhile new acts.”

 

Ravishers/Ravishers - Magnet Magazine Review

“...More often than not, Ravishers’ creative tandem of Dominic Castillo and Jonathan Barker favor craft over chaos on the Portland, Ore., indie-pop outfit’s self-titled debut. And if the devil truly is in the details, then the Ravishers’ version of hell is a pretty cool place, filled with insidiously tuneful left turns, clever piano/guitar interplay and hooks that seduce without selling the subtly complex arrangements short. “Keep You Around” and “Nobody Falls In Love Anymore” demonstrate chief songwriter Castillo’s glowing Macca admiration, not to mention his wry spin on affairs of the heart.”

Singles For Singles (EP) - CD Baby Review (
)

“In this 6-song release, clear production and enviable guitar tone roll themselves out over pointed songwriting, where all elements land in a downy bed of nostalgia chords and swooning   This act has an irresistible sincerity that leaks out through Castillo's genuinely charming vocals and the band's laid-back-but-rollicking guitar pop. As exuberant and unassuming as the songs can seem, their steady grip pulls ribbons of melody tight around a listener's ticker, fashioning a flurry of paths for the kind of sentiment the record possesses; it can't be called plaintive, but it certainly lends itself to the softheartedness many of us crave in new songs.  It's not so much a collection of sad bastard songs as it is one that's enlisted a clever sleight of hand when matching the clear-coated instrumentation and congenial songs with witty jabs at lost emotion.  This release is available for download only, and if this reviewer's experience is any indication, there is no possible way to remove these songs from your head once you've heard them.”

 

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Arithmetic - Willamette Week Review

“Sleepvillain’s music, despite not being very well-known even in local circles, is quite good...in a different way. His gentle hush of a voice fits right in next to the light piano layers and subtle drums of the track. Of course, it helps that the dude (Akila Fields) is a killer musician and producer: Even Ashlee Simpson could sound good over beats like these. Fields, who is a trained jazz musician and even spent some time in the Barnum and Baily Circus traveling band (awesome), has an extreme eye for detail, constantly adding various keyboard noises and vocal tracks to add depth. One of Portland's best kept secrets, if you ask me.”

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I’ve been a part of quite a variety of projects, both in the studio and on stage. Jazz big bands, rock groups, jazz combos, folk duos, musicals, reggae, R&B, hip-hop, blues, punk and indie... even a Michael Jackson tribute band called Neverland! Below are some of the albums I’ve been a part of recently.

New Milesian Kings

- AllMusic.com Review

“The obscurity of these Portland indie rockers is starting to seem a wee bit perverse; a group this clever and tuneful at the very least merits a healthy cult following, and the fact they can rock convincingly at the same time makes them all the more deserving of some sort of breakthrough. The album manages to combine the playful, exploratory vibe of a homemade recording with enough chops and technical knowhow that you don't feel like you picked up someone's demo by mistake, and the loosely tight performances turn their buzzing guitars, splashy drumming, and occasional bursts of saxophones into something sounding almost epochal, while quieter numbers show they can straighten up a bit and still deliver something compelling and quite beautiful. It's a great album from a band that has quietly been making a lot of satisfying music, and it wouldn't hurt one bit if you started paying attention to them.

 

Red Queen

(2011)

A sweeping, choral, and profound exploration of the Red Queen Theory.

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Arithmetic

- AllMusic.com Review

Arithmetic is comprised of skeletal, keyboard-based tunes with simple, languid melodies, minimal and metronomic rhythmic accompaniment, and lyrics that often concern themselves with the difficult nature of human relationships. There's a foggy but unmistakable R&B undercurrent to these songs, but Sleepyvillain's relationship to soul is aiming more for an emotional resonance than a structural similarity. Musically, Arithmetic is simple but deep, the elegance of the keyboards and percussion belying the beautiful ache of the melodies, while the occasional rough edges of Fields' vocals add a rumpled humanity to his thoughts on love's difficulties. Fields has made something compelling and often moving out of these bummed-out meditations on love and longing. Arithmetic is a fine debut, and suggests this sideman may have a worthy career as a solo artist in his future.

 

Young Vienna

Young Vienna was formed with the primary purpose of bringing over 5 years of odds & ends home recordings of noted Portland singer-songwriter Lael Alderman (The Bella Fayes) to light.  Early production work by distinguished recording engineer/sideman and close friend Rian Lewis (Crosstide, Derby) quickly turned this project into something more grand. Songs written primarily on the acoustic guitar and piano were transformed into driving, tuneful rock songs, a sound calling to mind a musical marriage of the Rolling Stones and the Strokes. Not satisfied with simply having a batch of recordings to share, a fully realized rock and roll band was born with the addition of Jonathan Barker (Ravishers) on guitar, Erick Alley (Crosstide, King Black Acid) on bass and Josh Northcutt (The Clarity Process, Prize Country) on drums. The five members began crafting sharper songs together over the remainder of the year, and work has begun on completing Young Vienna’s first EP of concise, adrenalized guitar rock topped off with Alderman's classic pop sensibility.

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album coming...

Arithmetic

(2011)