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Disc Drive
By Thomas Conner
The Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK 11/06/01
Photo: James Gibbard / Tulsa World

Spot Music Award winner Tony Romanello offers two discs to tide us over as he works on his second full-length CD.

Tony Romanello
Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo
Engine Shed

Tony Romanello Band
Shades of Grey EP
Engine Shed

Two discs to tide you over until this two-time Spot Music Award winner completes his sophomore full-length CD (almost done and featuring XXXXXXXXXXXX).

The "Shades of Grey" EP builds on the layered modern rock textures of his debut, "The MumbleOdd" -- dreamy electric pianos behind guitars that crescendo into Pete Townshend blasts, and a thin voice floating on the wings of Jeff Buckley and Dave Grohl.

The EP is a five-part suite, seamlessly sweeping gossamer sounds across the room. Artful, indeed.

"Lo-Fi Dreams" is a collection of outtakes and demos that rarely comes off lo-fi.

Romanello can think a song from clay to cloud and all the layers of atmosphere in between, even when he's just screwing around. I'd hate him for that talent if his music wasn't so satisfying and sensuous.

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CD Review - The MumbleOdd
By Rob Forbes
Leicester Bangs, UK 10/01/01

Tony Romanello, has released a debut album of epic, progressive pop, which has already found itself getting likened to bona fide legends such as Jeff Buckley and Brian Wilson. Actually, it's with the former that Romanello has most in common, laying the emotional intensity on thick and true on The MumbleOdd's dozen tracks and underpinning everything with pitch dark arrangements. It's not a million miles away from what Pearl Jam achieved on songs like "Jeremy", and Romanello comes up with equally powerful statements on the best tracks here, namely the opener "Fingertips", second track "Everything", and the extraordinary "Handfuls Of Bullets". www.engineshedrecords.com (8/10)

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Engine Shed Records
By Trouillard Stephanie
Adrenalyn, France 9/04/01

The power of fascination that music exerts can lead to anything, even to the creation of a record company out of nothing. That is what happened for Steve Gooch and Tony Romanello, two guys infatuated with the indie culture, who, at the start of the year 2000, launched into the creation of a label, Engine Shed Records, in their native city of Tulsa, without any hesitation.

This birth was also motivated by the desire to bring to light and to get respect for their artists. The purpose has without doubt been achieved with one of the two founders of the label who is also a musician, Tony Romanello, who from now on will not cease to shine. It is said that each person on earth possesses a double ["a doppelganger"] or a resemblance to another individual; for Tony, that proves to be reality, with a voice that is mysteriously identical to that of Jeff Buckley. From the first words of his first work The MumbleOdd and especially in the song Everything, the connection between their two voices and music is quite simply hallucinatory. Like the late American singer, Tony possesses a sound oscillating between despair and spokesman for an immense inner force, who ultimately constructs 12 titles of pure emotion capable of making us weep at the sound of the electric guitar or piano notes, such as on the melancholy titles Under the Blue or Atman. With the help of Matt Vandaveer on bass, Ben Marshall on drums and Eric Knox on piano, Tony doesn't forget his rock roots and shows us that with the aggressive Singing Sirens, the dynamic Sky and with the bewitching and languorous Fingertips, carried by his immense talents as a guitarist. We shouldn't however make the mistake of believing that Tony is just another clone of the late lamented Jeff; in fact, he possesses a dimension that is unique to him, and which will lead him without too much difficulty even closer to the light.

Tony Romanello is not only a confirmed artist but also a producer, in particular of the group Standing on Zero, author of a first Ep. In 6 titles, Milke [sic?] the singer, Mike Taylor the guitarist, Scott Craig the bassist, Mike Friedemann the drummer, show us the extent of their talent which shows promise. Even if the whole does not prove to be very joyous and tends towards the melancholy, the group shows us that sadness is an element that always mixes incredibly well with music. Also on Engine Shed Records, in the purest indie/rock style and without taking the lead, Little League Hero, originating in Oklahoma City bolts quickly out of the gate with its album Start. Whereas Standing on Zero does not always dwell on gaiety, Little League Hero with its energetic and strong guitar riffs, its voices that breathe the joy of living, has the power to put you in a good mood for the whole day. Kyle and James on voice and guitar, Scott on bass and Chris on drums deliver to us a powerful disk, a real concentrated mix of lightness and happiness.

All the feelings, from joy to melancholy, are contained in the young label Engine Shed Records, to offer to everyone the possibility of hearing what each prefers, while maintaining pure respect for rock music. As you might expect, this record company also has a website, and awaits your visit there: http://www.engineshedrecords.com

STEPHIE

(Original French Version...)
ENGINE SHED RECORDS
Tulsa, Oklahoma, Etats-Unis

Le pouvoir de fascination qu’exerce la musique peut amener à tout, même à créer une maison de disque à partir de rien. C’est ce qui s’est produit pour Steve Gooch et Tony Romanello, deux amoureux transis de la culture indie, qui au début de l’an 2000 se sont lancés sans se poser de questions dans la création d’un label, Engine Shed Records dans leur ville natale de Tulsa.

Cette naissance a été également motivée par l’envie de porter en lumière et de faire acquérir du respect à leurs artistes. L’objectif est sans aucun doute atteint avec l’un des deux fondateurs du label qui est également musicien, Tony Romanello qui ne cesse désormais de rayonner. Il est dit que chaque personne sur terre possède un sosie ou une ressemblance avec un autre individu, pour Tony cela s’avère être réalité, avec une voix mystérieusement identique à celle de Jeff Buckley. Dès les premières paroles de son premier opus The MumbleOdd et tout spécialement de la chanson Everything, la connexion entre leurs deux voix et musiques est tout simplement hallucinante. Tout comme le défunt chanteur américain, Tony possède un chant oscillant entre désespoir et porte-parole d’une immense force intérieure, qui finalement construit 12 titres de pures émotions capables de nous faire larmoyer aux sons de la guitare électrique ou des notes de pianos comme sur les mélancoliques titres Under The Blue ou Atman. Avec l’aide de Matt Vandaveer à la basse, Ben Marshall à la batterie et Eric Knox au piano, Tony n’oublie pas non plus ses racines rock et nous le prouvent grâce à l’aggresif Singing Sirens, le dynamique Sky et à l’envoûtant et langoureux Fingertips, portés par ses immenses talents de guitaristes. Il ne faut pourtant pas se méprendre et croire que Tony est un clone supplémentaire du regretté Jeff, il possède en effet une dimension qu’il lui est propre et qui le mènera sans trop de difficultés encore plus vers la lumière.

Tony Romanello n’est pas seulement un artiste confirmé mais aussi un producteur, notamment de la formation Standing On Zero, auteur d’un premier Ep. En 6 titres, Milke le chanteur, Mike Taylor le guitariste, Scott Craig le bassiste, Mike Friedemann le batteur, nous montrent l’étendue de leur talent qui s’annonce prometteur. Même si le tout ne s’avère pas très joyeux et tend vers la mélancolie, le groupe nous démontre que la tristesse est un élément qui s’est toujours incroyablement bien mélangée avec la musique. Egalement sur Engine Shed Records, dans le plus pur style indie/rock et sans se prendre la tête, Little League Hero originaire d’Oklahoma City déboule à toute allure avec son album Start. Alors que Standing On Zero ne mise toujours pas sur la gaieté, Little League Hero avec ses riffs de guitares énergiques et bien trempés, ses voix qui respirent la joie de vivre, a le pouvoir de vous mettre de bonne humeur toute la journée. Kyle et James au chant et à la guitare, Scott à la basse et Chris à la batterie nous livrent un disque puissant, véritable concentré de légèreté et de bonheur.

Tous les sentiments de la joie à la mélancolie se rassemblent sur le jeune label Engine Shed Records, pour offrir à chacun la possibilité d’écouter ce qu’il préfère dans un pur respect de la musique rock. Cette maison de disque n’échappe pas à la règle et vous attend sur son site : http://www.engineshedrecords.com

STEPHIE

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Local Musicians, Club Owners, Fans Keep the Spotlight Close to Home
By Matt Gleason
The Spot, The Tulsa World 8/03/01
Photo: James Gibbard / Tulsa World
The revolution will not be televised. No, the battle ground for this musical rebellion will happen on darkened stages where the only casualties will be the occasional monstrous Marshall amp turned to 10, a few ear drums and the idea that Tulsa's music scene cannot change. Among those in the forefront of the fight are James Plumlee, Joe Cinnoca and Tony Romanello, three of the foot soldiers in the army of band members, club owners and fans who spend their nights slowly turning Tulsa into a premiere music mecca. They don't have a lot of cash but they're willing to make sacrifices to make their dreams a reality.

Plumlee said he started his low-budget Plum-E Records because he was disgusted with conventional methods of distributing music. "It started off as a joke," said Plumlee, who also plays bass in Antenna Lodge and other musical projects. But what may have started off as a simple idea has become a label that has helped bands such as Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey distribute its unique brand of music. He said running an independent record label is an opportunity to work with excellent musicians but is far from easy. "I was going broke doing it," he said. "It was not good business but it was worth doing because I got some music out there."

Cinnoca said he started Yawn records -- which he runs out of his apartment and works two jobs to support -- to take bands out of obscurity and give them a chance in the limelight. "Tulsa has great talent and there needs to be a spotlight put on this town," Cinnoca said. "It can be just as good as any other place in America but the thing is that most of the bands here don't realize that the only thing between them and bands in Kansas City, Dallas or Chicago is that they don't realize it's attainable." It may be within their grasp, but the obstacles in musicians' paths are sometimes daunting.

"There's not a whole lot of opportunity here," Cinnoca said. "In this town we're behind the eightball because we have a lack of knowledge and we're very naive on the national landscape." To combat that ignorance, Cinnoca said those in the music scene must work together. "There's power in numbers," he said. "Use it to your advantage."

By working together with local bands and solo artists, Cinnoca was able to produce and distribute Yawn's first compilation CD "Woo Hoo Bank!," which featured Fanzine, Romanello and other local artists alongside several national and even international bands. By giving fans the chance to sample a wide variety of music on one CD, Cinnoca said it could result in a larger fanbase for each band involved. Along with being a part of the soon-to-be released second compilation CD from Yawn, Cinnoca and Romanello are working with Omnizine, which is a web magazine that includes a five-state area and includes interviews, CD reviews and links to band web sites. Romanello said the web site could help correct one of the greatest mistakes bands make because it allows better communication between regional bands.

"The bands in Oklahoma City and Norman are in the same boat as us. They've almost exhausted their home turf," said Romanello, who plays frequent shows and co-founded Engine Shed Records with Steve Gooch. "Why not expand? If we can get two or three people there a month and they can get people over here, we can feed off each other's fanbases and make it more fun for everybody. Then before you know it, you're no longer just a Tulsa band, you're regional. You take it one step further with Omnizine." Tim Barraza, owner of the Majestic, the Bowery and the Monkey Bar, agreed that musicians shouldn't overplay Tulsa.

"Although I enjoy the bands that I play over and over, I don't want to do that," he said. "It won't only wear the fans down, it will wear down the band. It's good for the band, to a point, but it also shortens its life." Expanding to other venues and cities may benefit bands, but for the local music scene to prosper, they will have to overcome Tulsans' desire for cover bands, Cinnoca said. "The cover bands (such as Admiral Twin's Unlucky Ones) in town have awesome original songs but they never play them because the people aren't asking to hear them," Cinnoca said. "The people don't really care either way, they just want something they can dance to." More word-of-mouth praise by fans and extensive media coverage could solve that problem, said Curly's owner Richard Letson.

"I think the reason cover bands are so popular is because people don't have to think," said Letson, who puts about 70 people on the Curly's stage each month. "If we got some national coverage then it might wake up people in our own backyard because we do things that could garner national attention." Educating fans about local music would be beneficial, but for now club owners rely on cover bands to attract large audiences, Barraza said.

"I support original music but I do throw in the occasional cover band because we've got to pay the bills," he said. "We're going through a time period where this town is going through a really strange transition musically. It is cover-heavy right now, but Tulsa has always been cover- heavy. It just comes down to who is going to pack the house and very few original bands can do that." Cinnoca said although it is frustrating for original bands to have cover bands dominate the music scene, they deserve a place in Tulsa just as much as original bands.

"We're not here to say that orginals are better than covers or covers are better than originals," Cinnoca said. "There is demand in this town for both styles to play." Cover bands actually benefit orginal bands, said Don Jameson, Fanzine drummer.

When his band opens for cover bands, it allows Fanzine to expose its music to fans that would otherwise not have gone to their show. There may be a demand for a variety of live acts but there's not enough venues for them to play, Letson said.

"I would like to see the number of venues that feature live content double," Letson said. "There are about 25 clubs that feature live entertainment, so it wouldn't be hard for us to have 50. The problem arises getting the people to go and visit them." Despite what musicians or club owners do, the fate of the music scene is up to the fans, Cinnoca said.

"A club owner will put a Portuguese bagpipe-player on the stage if it's going to bring people in the door," he said. "The customer is king. If the club has a friendly, non- aggresive environment where people can come, relax and let their hair down, the people don't care if the band plays covers, originals or plays country or rap."

The music scene is ever-changing and no one can know for certain what it may do or what influences it to change, Romanello said, but its worth trying. "You don't know what feeds what. Does the music scene feed the crowd or does the crowd feed the music scene?" he said. "I don't know. I think it grows on itself and you've got to start somewhere and keep feeding it, even if you don't know how. It's better than doing nothing." - Matt Gleason

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Album Review: The MumbleOdd
By Michael Toland
Pop Culture Press, 4/01/01
The former leader of Oklahoma band Murmur, Tulsa singer/songwriter Tony Romanello wants to combine sensitive, poetic lyrics and Beatlesque pop with grunge melody and dynamics, and for the most part he succeeds on his debut album The MumbleOdd. Songs with titles like "A Red Shade to Somber" and "Singing Sirens" sport bonecrunching guitars and Romanello's whisper-to-a-scream vocals. When it works, as on "Somber," it can be quite refreshing-it's actually kinda cool to find a singer/songwriter as influenced by Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam as he is by the usual acoustic guitar-wielding types and Paul McCartney. However, at times the performances and tunes take on the cast of second- and third-tier grunge acts; too many shades of Creed and Stone Temple Pilots make Romanello sound less like a potential innovator and more like a wannabe hungry for chart position. It's doubtful that's his intention, however, and it's safe to say that when he brings all the elements together consistently, he'll be a modern rock force to be reckoned with. (Michael Toland)

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CD Review: The MumbleOdd
By Joey Zielazinski
Infinity Press, 3/15/01
This record is filled with emotion, if nothing else. From the beginning strains of Romanello's voice of the first track to the final low hum of the last, it's easily apparent that these songs are written from the heart. When combined with the soulfoul attack of former Murmur musicians, these songs solidify into a strong body of sound; there is a song here that doesn't get pushed around without a fight.

The vocals hold together The MumbleOdd. Romanello sings his life on each track, and with each verse the sound gets better and better. While the backing noise is far less inspired, it serves perfectly as the background for the earth-cracking lyrical tones. "Fingertips" starts the record with bundled energy, which is carried throughout. "Everything" is a pushy rock song with reliable breaks, and nice, swaying verses. Laer on we see a few sad tones painted by Eric Knox's whispering piano ("Under the Blue", "A Red Shade to Somber".) Midway through the material, Romanello opens up, trading in distorted guitar for subtle strings and pulsing tones. The slower the better, and "Atman" proves it.

But it's the last few strains of The MumbleOdd that give it its overwhelming power and charm, "Can You Feel This" is simple and brave, while "Sky" tosses together a New Seattle epic flavor. The final beauty, however, is captured with "Lo-fi Dreams in Stereo," a delicate, wavering goodbye. Romanello sings soft and sweet up against reverberating slide guitar and tinny acoustic sounds. And when it's all done, it feels far from odd.

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CD Review: The MumbleOdd
By Stuart Pitt
Rockpile Magazine, 2/01/01
Its kind of funny to hear how the past 15 years in music have influenced the things happening today. The MumbleOdd shows traces of everything - Jeff Buckley, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, and Def Leppard all poke out their respective heads. Take "Handfuls or Bullets (Genesoma Part 2)," for example. There's a Hysteria-era Def Leppard guitar crunching under a Jeff Buckley falsetto, while something very reminiscent of Ozzy's "Mama I'm Coming Home" serves as the songs coda. Flutes and semi-orchestral sounds pop up from time to time, invoking the melancholic spirit of Sunny Day Real Estate - yep, pretty much everything from popular music except Hip Hop seems to be popping up here. Romanello handles guitar and vocal duties with his six-string prowess accounting for the more rocking moments on The MumbleOdd. Piano and keyboards are also fairly important to the equation as well, making up the backbone of the band's sound and providing clever textures to counter Romanello's emotive vocals.

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