The Austin Chronicle - March 14 2003
SXSW Picks and Sleepers
March 14, 2003:
ARTHUR YORIA: This Houstonian has been slogging along in the humid trenches for years now. The former Jeepney released an EP, can You Still Look Adorable, last fall, and it's an elegant pop masterpiece that has garnered much-deserved praise from local critics. Yoria's high tenor is often compared to Jeff Buckley's, and pedal steel player Matt Rhodes sounds right at home on a pop record. (Spill, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt
Houston Press - Volume 14, Issue 36 September 5-11 2002
can you still look adorable (K Oso)
BY JOHN NOVA LOMAX
Words like "sublime" get thrown around a lot in music reviews, a little too recklessly, if you ask this writer. The overall effect is to cheapen the
adjective's value when something comes around that truly measures up. Elegant modern pop-rocker Arthur Yoria's newest EP is one of the few (local or national) CDs that does. Hell, go ahead and let it be said: Yoria defines sublime.
The five songs here all sound familiar even at first listen, in the sense that ex-Jeepney Yoria is not about ostentation at all. He's less about originality of form than he is about filling the same old pop mold with sterling content. There's nothing flashy here -- it's all about the cool, and nobody does the cool better than Yoria and company. It's not just Yoria's vocals and lyrics that shine here; he's also assembled one of the state's most accomplished young bands. Drummer Ilya Kolozs and bassist Dwayne Casey (both also ex-Jeepneys) are content to stay unobtrusively in the background, but headphone listening reveals a latticelike intricacy to their interplay.
Pedal steel player Matt Rhodes comes to the fore more obviously, and it's hard to think of a young musician in Houston who's doing more to further his instrument stylistically. In his hands (and with his feet and knees), the steel is proved capable of so much more than simulated weeping on C&W numbers (not that there's anything wrong with that). Here, it functions more as a lead guitar at times and as a keyboard at others. Sometimes it's just another layer in the mix, and elsewhere it's at the very razor's edge of the sound. In his hands, the pedal steel becomes solid silver, and it's his playing that gives the band its
For his part, Yoria's crystalline high tenor provides insanely addictive melodies and lyrics that are catchy enough to rob you of sleep. On the EP, almost every song is better than the last, which is saying something considering the opener, "A Brand New Reason," is potent enough. The band rocks out through about five gears on "It's Now Something Else," and the solemnly cinematic "My Best Routines" will have you directing videos for it inside your head.
All in all, a grand EP, if such a thing isn't a contradiction in terms. Here's hoping Yoria can release a full-lengther of equal power and of the same quality soon. Here's also hoping that the world outside Houston will sit up and take note.
Performing Songwriter - Volume 10, Issue 65 November 2002
Top 12 DIY Reviews
Hints of Yoria's home can be heard on his five-song EP. The artist/songwriter weaves dance oriented beats with acoustic strumming and subtle pedal steel on "Say Hello." Electronically-produced rhythms come up again on "It's Now Something Else," and the pedal steel reappears on "My Best Routines." Yoria's jazzy pop melodies have a free-flowing quality of a Jeff Buckley tune, while his impassioned vocals deliver both emotional cries and sensitive whispers. Well-written lyrics are smart and sometimes tender, except on "Ectomorph," where he takes an evil stab at a presumably self-conscious woman: "You look a bit older / You look like you've gained some weight." Ouch.
Splendid Magazine- 9/9/2002
Arthur Yoria (vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion) is the driving force behind this four-song EP, but he has plenty of help. Matt Rhodes joins him on keyboards and pedal steel, Ilya Kolozs on drums and percussion, and Dwayne Casey on bass guitar. The foursome delivers a polished sound that won't leave a bad taste in your mouth. Yoria's vocals give way to the urgency and vigor you might remember from Jeff Buckley's tenor croon, while the rhythm section shows no intention of missing a beat. The opener, "A Brand New Reason", begins with a single guitar and whispered lyrics that are all too quickly overpowered by the one note, one chord, strum-upon beat-a-thon that makes so many indie-rock songs mighty. The single note pouncing offsets confessional, emotion-ridden lyrics; in fact, each of the EP's five songs embraces the conflict between confessional, breathy vocals and a steady, catchy beat. The musical backdrop begs you to bounce in your seat, while the lyrics urge you to sing along. For example, in "Say Hello", Yoria sounds like the American cousin of Cranberries vocalist Dolores O'Riordan, while the bassline sustains a steady drone from verse to chorus. Yoria revives the intimacy of the sliding, breathy vocals near the end, and with the dance beat lessening, more attention is drawn to his inviting tonality. "It's Now Something Else" leads off with Pink Floyd-inspired vocal delivery, its wavy, echoing guitar chords suggesting an extended space voyage. Soon, in keeping with the multi-textured sound, the rhythm section turns hard-edged, and Yoria's voice bounds over the beat like a skipping stone.
The world may be too full of twenty-something and thirty-something male singer/songwriters with too much ego in their rock, but Yoria isn't one of them. His hard work on Can You Still Look Adorable is evident -- the beats are calculated and pleasing, and the lyrics are fresh and edgy. If you think that the allure of pop music can't be combined with well-developed songwriting, prepare to be defied.
-- Chrissy Johnson