Ashby Reviews

Power Ballads

Marina Records

Uncut, January 2002

"If the term 'power ballad' makes you think of T'Pau and Robbie Williams, you'll be relieved to know that Ashby's debut album is completely devoid of pomp'n'bombast, anthemic choruses and long guitar solos. Songs like 'Trip 66' and 'Likeminded' feature Evelyn Pope singing softly and seductively over a backdrop of acoustic guitars, funky drums and vintage synths, while 'Space Bossa Nova', 'Continuity' and 'Horizon' find multi-instrumentalist Bill Cowie adding lashings of warm electronica and Brazilian bossa nova. A must for fans of Saint Etienne, Belle & Sebastian, Sixties pop and Chicago post-rock."

Q, January 2002

"Based in Chicago, singer-songwriter Evelyn Pope and multi-instrumentalist Bill Cowie share the experimentalist streak of fellow city residents Tortoise and The Sea & Cake. But while the duo's working methods keyboards and real drums given a technological tweak may owe something to the defiantly beardy post-rock scene, their soul belongs to the classic 60s pop song. Adding a South American twist to Pope's uncomplicated but enticing vocals, Ashby have gently updated the spirit of Bacharach, bossa nova and The Girl From Ipanema."

i-D, December 2001/January 2002

"Do you remember why you first loved The Cardigans? Then may we present Evelyn Pope and Bill Cowie: peachy keen Sixties swingers who bedeck their insouciant happy/sad melodies with the winking, woozy sounds of melodic German electronica. Chic magic."

DJ, 1st -14th December 01

"Pure pop. 'Power Ballads' manages to admirably strut over what could so easily have become twee noodling to a place of emotional engagement."

Teletext

"When the mix gets as beautifully as on 'Escapade', it's classic girlgroup to make Phil Spector jealous."

Rolling Stone, November 2001:

"Excellent. The more often you hear it, the better you feel."

Graffiti, November 2001:

"Sorry, Bon Jovi fans - no lighter-flicking lite metal here. These power ballads are actually the creation of Boston duo Evelyn Pope and William Cowie, who've managed to extract several new gems from the heavily-mined landscape of 60's lounge-pop. The pair dress up the usual Bacharach and bossa nova influences with subtle electronics and occasionally unusual arrangements, but the most significant elements that set Ashby ahead of the pack are Pope's delicate, precise vocals - chilly but with a definite charm - and the consistently pretty melodies. Another winner from the world's best pop music label."

Kulturnews, November 2001:

"Ashby zaubern auf Keyboard, Vibrafon und Akustikgitarren Grundlage herrlich schaumige Songs zwischen Bossa und Listening-Pop."

WOM-Journal, November 2001:

"Boston's finest Pop duo."

TIP, November 2001

"Was Saint Etienne mit ihrem letzten Album 'Sound Of Water' vorhatten und nicht erreichten, naemlich eine organische Verbindung von 60s-Pop-Aesthetik und ausgetueftelter Elektronik, schaffen Evelyn Pope und William Cowie alias Ashby aus dem Stand scheinbar ohne Probleme. Popes Stimme schlaengelt sich zart, aber nicht zahm, um ein Dutzend fantasievoll und detailbesessen arrangierter Tracks, die sich abwechselnd an Burt Bacharach, Bossa Nova oder Britpop orientieren und dabei nie verhaspeln."

Spex, November 2001:

"The music is really beautiful."

Spiegel Online, November 2001:

"Ueberraschungen gibt es immer wieder: Nachdem man 'Power Ballads' gehoert hat, koennte man spekulieren, ob Ashby in Skandinavien, England oder moeglicherweise sogar in Frankreich beheimatet sind. Dass das Duo aus Boston, USA, stammen koennte, wuerde man im Leben nicht vermuten. Doch genau dort haben Evelyn Pope (Songwriting/Gesang) und William Cowie (Mixer/Produzent) so lange an ihren europaeisch anmutenden Kompositionen gefeilt, bis vorliegendes Debuet-Album fertig war. Darauf entdeckt man nun Erstaunliches: Klassischen Sixties-Powerpop gepaart mit moderner Retro-Elektronik la Air, sanften Bossa Nova gemischt mit Postrock-Anklaengen der Marke Sea & Cake. Pope und Cowie verzichten dabei dankenswerterweise nicht auf echte Instrumente, sondern gehen den entspannten Mittelweg zwischen vertrackten Elektrosounds und warmer Authentizitaet. Kurzum: Ashby klingen so, wie man die Cardigans immer haben wollte."

Lift, November 2001:

"Great Sixties pop. Ashby are not, however, by any means retro, reminiscent of Air or Broadcast or Lali Puna."

All Music Guide, October 2001:

"Ashby's debut album, 'Power Ballads', is a dreamy mix of pure pop and experimental electronica, a combination that's nowhere near as far-fetched as it might sound. If nothing else, the Boston-based duo of Evelyn Pope (who sings and writes the songs) and William Cowie (who produces) make plain the influence of '60s melodicists like Burt Bacharach and Antonio Carlos Jobim on the supposedly 'difficult' genre of post-rock. Though the album is full of strangely harmonized electronic bleeps and bloops and the arrangements tend to group instruments in unexpected ways, the songs are built on mellow melodies full of major seventh chords and accented with vibes and hand percussion. The subtle charms of the songs, Pope's cool yet expressive voice and the icily pretty sound make Power Ballads a compulsively listenable record. If St. Etienne ever made a record with the Sea and Cake, it would sound a lot like this."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 2001:

"Souvenirs from a weightless world."

Jetzt-Magazin, October 2001:

"Dreamy pop music like St. Etienne or the early Cardigans."

Aachener Zeitung, October 2001:

"Dieses Debuetalbum hat es in sich! Es geht herrlich hin und her zwischen hipper Coolness, luftiger Leichtigkeit, Soundtrack-Flair, Bossa Nova-Anklaengen und Sixties-Pop. Typischer Fall von Liebe auf den ersten Blick!"

 


 
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