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Lo-down on 'Lo-Fi': Tony Romanello goes solo to put the focus on making music
Matt Elliott, The Tulsa World
Feb 16, 2007

Singer/songwriter Tony Romanello dissolved his popular local band to go it alone again, to return to what he loves about music, and the Internet is helping him. The former-Tulsan's new album, "Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. 2," came out Tuesday but you won't catch him playing a release party or pushing a single to radio stations. It takes a huge amount of money and time to write, record, promote and distribute a new album recorded in a studio, he said. That's money that most indie artists such as Romanello, a 29-year-old Baylor University graduate student, don't have. Then, there's working out a distribution deal so your album can end up in stores.

Romanello, who lives in Waco, is free of that pressure now largely thanks to his decision in 2005 to quit his group, the Tony Romanello Band. The band released its first EP in 2001 and a few more releases followed, but he grew tired of the grind trying to get the band signed, he said.

"Lo-Fi Dreams in Stereo: Vol. 2" is Romanello's sequel to 2000's "Vol. 1," which he put out a few years back as his second solo CD. This one, comprised of newer material and older stuff, ranges from guitar-driven country sludge-rock to sweeping indie pop and acoustic songs "No Regrets" and "Everything." On one song, "Streets of Tulsa," he's wandering around with his friends a few years ago, wondering what he's doing in his hometown and what he'll do with his life. "Picturebook" has a looking-back quality to it, a newer song featuring a sparse beat, scratchy distant vocals and an isolated atmosphere. "

"It's not made with any type of goal or intention like a big album that you're going to service to college radio or you know like some of the TRB stuff when we were getting spins on the (104.5 FM, KMYZ) Edge ." So, you won't hear this one too much on local radio (you can hear it on Davit Souders' Local Flavors radio show at 7 p.m. Monday on KRSC, 91.3 FM), but you can buy it at Borders in Tulsa next Tuesday Feb 20. It's already available online through his Web sites, www.tonyromanello.com, and www.myspace.com/tonyromanello, as well as www.cdbaby.com.

He's relying on the Internet to push his album, including a www.myspace.com music store and its network of information-superhighway peers. Further innovating Internet music, Myspace even has a music sale service that offers songs for 99 cents, Romanello said. "It destroys the whole concept of an album really, so guys like me that have home recording studios and that can write some songs ... I can go back today, write a song, get it up on the Internet that night, completely bypass you know the old framework," he said.

Nielsen SoundScan results for last year state that music lovers bought fewer digital and conventional albums and more single digital tracks. Some argue that the phenomenon is bad for artists, marking a shift from albums to single songs, he said. "I think that's the big debate right now," said Romanello, whose new album will be his eighth release. "(Pink Floyd's) 'Dark Side of the Moon' would not have been what it was if you just listened to the singles separately," he said.

No matter what happens with the Internet, for Romanello it's still about making music and getting it to his listeners. Vol. 2 is his latest installment, free of the frustrations of trying to sell himself to a record label. "It kind of flows in a neat way ... because they weren't written for any particular release," he said. "These are all kind of oddball songs, but in a weird way, they fit together."

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