Handshake Smiles

by Arthur Yoria

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andrew johnston
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andrew johnston Arthur's song "Sandy" is an irresistible pop/rock tune on par with petty, steve miller, or xtc. Favorite track: Sandy.
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about

I've never met a musician, from Houston or anywhere else, who can reinvent themselves as effortlessly from album to album as Arthur Yoria seems to. Just when I think I've got him pegged, he slips out the side and does something totally off the map from what he's done in the past, whether it's shifting from a smooth seducer to a freaked-out, amps-on-eleven rocker or from a rocker to a playful Spanish-speaking troubadour.
With Handshake Smiles, then, Yoria's shifted, chameleon-like, from all of those things into, well, himself. He's gotten a little scruffier, growing back/our his hair and beard, he's not wearing the shiny shirts anymore, and the music feels like a throwback to the things Yoria himself probably listened to growing up. Smiles is all a little rough around the edges -- probably partly because it was done just at a friend's house with a borrowed mic, although it sounds a heck of a lot better than it should for that -- and the songs follow suit, heading off in a more bluesy, more '60s-ish direction that "Goodbye Marisa," off of 2006's Something Must Be Wrong, telegraphed.
The guitars are simultaneously rawer and not as up-front as they have been in the past, the bass and drums grind together nicely -- see the break in "Clean For Free," in particular -- and the band seems relaxed as hell. I've heard Arthur play a fair number of these songs live a few times now, so they tend to sound somewhat familiar to me. Beyond hearing 'em live, though, there's just this warm, intimate, friendly feel to the songs, the kind that makes you feel like you've heard them all somewhere before, maybe on a crackly AM radio station back when radio didn't completely suck. Smiles is the sound of a bunch of guys getting together to chill and jam in their buddy's living room.
Except, of course, that they're not playing half-assed Zeppelin or Stones covers, but are instead playing some damn fine songs of their own. Despite the stylistic changeups, Yoria hasn't lost his songwriting touch, thankfully, and there are few weak moments among the 11 tracks on here. The aforementioned "Clean For Free" is easily a highlight, a languid, bluesy rocker that has Yoria declaring bluntly that he wants out (of a relationship, I'm assuming?) with no strings attached, and he doesn't give a crap about the fallout. "Love Song in G" comes off like a '60s rock love song, somewhere in the realm of a less-poppy Push Kings, while "Sandy" aims for Byrds/Teenage Fanclub heaven with an awesome-sounding organ. Then there's the title track, which swipes half a guitar line (and that lazy-summer-day feel, to boot) from "Brown Eyed Girl" and bumps along contentedly beneath the words.
Speaking of which, the lyrics make Smiles strike me as a coming-of-age album of sorts -- although yeah, that's a little silly, given that Yoria's no kid. Call it, instead, a back-to-basics album. The songs are about the everyday stuff we all deal with; no wild rockstar parties here, just down-to-earth lyrics about getting older and slowly turning into your dad ("Should Be"; and Arthur, I feel your pain there, man) or trying to make a living doing what you love ("Handshake Smiles"). Yep, despite being as accomplished an artist as Yoria is, the latter song's a humble ode to being able to just make it by on music. This sounds like Yoria spurning the frantic rat-race of "stardom" and just wanting to be able to live on what he does -- no more, no less.
"Jimmy's Rig" is an understated little folky bit about a friendship gone sour, while "Trash Bag" is a gentle, self-deprecating picture of a would-be lover who might not be the flashiest or coolest but who'll take on all the hard stuff that's involved in a relationship, like doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. And, yep, there's also "Rim Job," which is a sweetly rockin', uh, spiritual/gospel track about sex (duh). And I have to say, while it takes quite a songwriter just to pull something like that off, to turn it into one of the best tracks on an album takes damn near a genius.
Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I'm making too much of all the stylistics changes Yoria's been through over the past four or five EPs and albums. Rocker, folksinger, pop star -- at the end of the day, they're all the same guy, right? Looking back, though, it sure looks like the progression that led up to now was the collective sound of Yoria learning to live inside his own skin. Handshake Smiles is him actually making it there, comfortable with who he is and where he's headed, leaning back with a beer in his hand and a grin on his face
Jeremy Hart - Space City Rock



Chicago native and Houston based Arthur Yoria has a definitive knack for sounding laidback, kind of like Jeff Tweedy if he was a surfer, or if Wilco's latest Sky Blue Sky was a collaboration with Jack Johnson. Yoria even brings to mind the lovely solo record released by Broken Social Scene regular, Jason Collett, titled Idols Of Exile. There are some damn fine songs here that you've got to hear and that's why I'm telling you about Yoria... so you'll listen. These are from his latest effort, Handshake Smiles, on his own label 12Records Inc.
Alan Williamson - Six Eyes Music Blog


We used to pal around with this guy who was perhaps the best collector and teller of stories ever to be snuck beers at a bar. Generally, we are of the opinion that once is enough when it comes to re-telling of personal anecdotes, but honestly we had to restrain ourselves in requesting that he tell this tale or that to us yet again. One story in particular stands out as perhaps his greatest hit: the time when Rod Stewart offered him advice on picking up girls in a bar in Italy. Not even really advice, coaching (in his re-telling, he-who-wakes-up-Maggie often had an Australian accent as that was the closest he could affect – the Crocodile Dundeeness of it only added to the fun). This fable of reconstruction was always told over ales and long past when the clock had both arms up, so we cannot and should not relay all the details – but we recall it having a happy ending.

Rod Stewart is not a particularly handsome man. But he has swagger, and he is sexy. He knows it – he wouldn’t ask you if you though he was otherwise. Along with, say, Fonzie, he holds court in a particular branch of the thistle thorn diagram of male sexiness. Oh yes, there are other things besides a leather tie or a leather jacket that makes one sexy, because, as we all know, there are other forms of sexy.

Let’s take a moment to note that R. Kelly trumps all in this sort of a discussion. Moment done. Let’s move on to Handshake Smile, the new LP from 713 crooner Arthur Yoria.

From the outset, Handshake is a dread sexy recording, but definitely not in the Drakkar Noir vein. It’s not the sort of active-sonar sexy that can backfire quickly into the realm of creepy if poorly executed. Nope. It’s more the chill, interesting, good smile, fun vein of sexy; corduroy and suede over silk and chiffon. It’s going to kiss you in the rain, and the entire thing will be filmed by a slowly reverse-tilting boom-mounted camera. Like the person at the bar you have to work your way over towards, it’s engaging before you’ve really figured out how to approach it. Indeed, even if you never get the minerals to go up to it and start a listening conversation, the memory of it sticks with you.

Handshake has ACES pop lyrics, something we don’t generally pay much attention to (words are crap, we contend). It was bedroom produced with a single microphone, which isn’t evident at all from the sound of it, prolly due to the out and out quality of the mixing, the strength of the arrangements, the talent of the players and the, well, sexiness of the songwriting. Catchy can’t begin to describe some of these melodies; showy, corny, flashy or smelling of Cool Water never will. Yoria has put a lot of years into this game, and if the end result of it is going to be records like this, we’re stoked. Rod prolly would be too. No Homo. Recommended.
ADR - The Skyline Network



Arthur Yoria is back with a full-length release, and if you're not familiar with this Houston-based power popper, you're missing out. His I'll Be Here Awake was one of the top discs of 2003, and last year's EP/Single Something Must Be Wrong featured one of last year's top tracks in the title tune.

Handshake Smiles is another winner, although it's a bit more stripped down than Yoria's previous releases, which isn't unexpected given it was a "bedroom recording". The disc opens with "Should Be", a pretty (and melancholy) number that recalls Jon Brion, while "Clean For Free" follows with an Americana-ish sensibility and wouldn't have been out of place on the new Wilco disc. The title track is vintage jangly pop, and "Love Song In G" is the classic Yoria power pop that we've come to know from his earlier releases. Other highlights include "I Told You Not to Write Again" (power pop complete with banjo!), "Sandy", and the wistful closer "Trash Bag", which evalulates a long-term relationship with an understated beauty, both lyrically and melodically. Handshake Smiles is a triumph for Yoria, who's managed to avoid repeating himself without sacrificing his tunefulness.
Steve - Absolute Powepop

credits

released May 19, 2007

Matt Taylor-drums, perc.
Mike Poulos-bass
Ron Segura-lead guitar, banjo
Greg Harbar-accordian
Steve Brown-violin
Paul Valdez-perc.
George Easterly-keys
Arthur Yoria-vocals, guitar, harmonica

all songs by Arthur Yoria

Produced by Arthur Yoria
Mixed by Steve Christensen
Mastered by Allen Corneau

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about

Arthur Yoria Houston, Texas

Arthur has had songs placed on the TV shows: The OC, Felicity, Camp Jim, Laguna Beach and the major films, National Lampoon's Adam and Eve and Breaking Dawn. His songs have also been used in commercials: Domino's Pizza, Arizona Jeans, Cheapbooks.com and Zig Zag. ... more

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Track Name: Should Be
The ducks look pretty when they’re all in a row
And I don’t mind that I’m getting old
I just can’t stand myself when I sound like everyone else
Talkin’ bout the way that things should be

The mid-size ride don’t bother me
and neither does the insurance fee
I just can’t stand myself when I sound like everyone else
Talkin’ bout the way that things should be

Now I see just what they mean
I look and sound just like my daddy
Losing patience with efficient ways and
talkin’ bout the way that things should be

The ducks look pretty when they’re all in a row
And I don’t mind that I’m getting old
I just can’t stand myself when I sound like everyone else
Talkin’ bout the way that things should be
Track Name: Clean For Free
Be careful with the stitches and mind the little bruises
Whisper when I’m listening and no one gets offended
I do believe in listening
I do believe in listening when it’s interesting but
have you heard me lately? Have you baby?

I want to leave clean
I want you to let me go for free
Maybe it’s a sickness or maybe I’m a hopeless lazy ass
But I do believe in listening
I do believe in listening when it’s interesting but
have you heard me lately? Have you baby?

Watch what you say
I remember certain things especially when they’re wrong
or when they’re interesting
Oh, let’s just be friends

I want to leave clean
I want you to let me go for free
Track Name: Handshake Smiles
I’ve got a friend and he’s got a little and we might just set aside
some time to giggle ‘bout the folks in the middle and the ones who got a lot
But when the smoke dissipates and bills are late,
it’s time to think about
handshake smiles and lipstick spittle in the wind

When we make love she takes a lickin’ and she likes to moan a lot
When we go to sleep she turns to me and gives me a massage
But when we calculate and the bills are late
it’s time to think about
handshake smiles and lipstick spittle in the wind

I don’t want to win for too long
I don’t want to win too strong
I just want to win enough to buy some leisure time
and I’ll get by just fine

I’ve got a friend and he’s got a little and we might just set aside
some time to giggle ‘bout the folks in the middle and the ones who got a lot
But when the smoke dissipates and bills are late,
it’s time to think about
handshake smiles and lipstick spittle in the wind
Track Name: Jimmy's Rig
jimmy see and jimmy do
jimmy, we love you
jimmy bend and jimmy crack
jimmy get way off track

now me and jim, we laugh a lot
'cause jim and i go way back
but jimmy wrote a shitty check that he lifted off my stack

i assume that he could taste my love in his blood/
that i drew from his eye before it turned black and blue/
'cause jimmy knew who to call from that holding cell downtown
and i knew just what to do
I pawned Jimmy’s rig and it was just enough
‘cause it was brand new
Track Name: Love Song In G
I take a long nap thinkin’, there ain’t a thing I’m missin’
I never sweep my floors ‘cause my friends are here for drinking
I made a sad day pretty with a melody
I made a lovely city seem just like a holding cell

I don’t believe in somethin’ just ‘cause it kind of feels like somethin’
I don’t assume there’s more until the cup is overflowing
I made a mess sound pretty with some words and beats’
You made my past taste shitty when you took my face
and kissed me with those lips that made me wanna clean my place
and stay awake to shout out loud about the way they taste
I won’t listen to myself when I get scared
I’ll write a tune that feels like you instead

You made my past taste shitty when you took my face
and kissed me with those lips that made me wanna clean my place
and stay awake to shout out loud about the way they taste
I won’t listen to myself when I get scared
I’ll write a tune that feels like you instead
Track Name: Cuttin' A Rug
Skin is itchin’/ a neighbor feeds you
Your kiss is twitchin’ / your little mirror’s see through
All your clothes jump and shout
But up your nose, there’s a reasonable doubt

Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug
The place is clean, your waist is lean
Sleepin’ don’t take long
Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug

I wasn’t even thinking what you thought I was thinking
It doesn’t even matter that I was just a post-party platter
All your clothes jump and shout
but up your nose, there’s a reasonable doubt

Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug
The place is clean, your waist is lean
Sleepin’ don’t take long
Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug

So it’s official
We are a pair
A chemical set unaware
Paint me a picture
I’ll write you a long bad song
I want to get back to own sick head

Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug
The place is clean, your waist is lean
Sleepin’ don’t take long
Ring, rang, rung
the phone is singin’ songs
Twist, turn, tug
your brain is cuttin’ a rug
Track Name: Sandy
Sandy, Sandy I don’t think we can be
but let’s wait and see
Tell me, tell me that you really need me
The words make me complete

Now I’m sober and my senses win me over
Now I’m covered when there’s cold and rain
Now the shoe is on a foot that ain’t alone
and it just seems wrong

Sandy, baby it’s just the way it has to be
You’ll be sorry if you leave me here
with my love for you in my hand

Sandy can we tell’em that your family
when we’re not alone?
‘Cause if she knew, I’d never get to see you again
and I’d like to
Now I’m sober and my senses win me over
Now I’m covered when there’s cold and rain
Now the shoe is on a foot that ain’t alone
and it just seems wrong

Sandy, baby it’s just the way it has to be
You’ll be sorry if you leave me here
with my love for you in my hand

Just a little every now and then
I will be your friend if we keep it quiet and pretend there’s nothing
I can give you fifty percent just not in by bed
She’s a keeper but I love you instead
Sandy can I please see you again?

Sandy, baby it’s just the way it has to be
You’ll be sorry if you leave me here
with my love for you in my hand
Track Name: I Told You Not To Write Again
Gotta a gun and got some premonition
Gonna sleep alone
Blew a kiss and got some ammunition
now you best go home

Take your smell and quote collection with you
and behave yourself
When the boys get older gonna have to tell ‘em
Mommy tried to kill herself

I told you not to write again
You should have listened now your limping
You were supposed to be crazier than me
I told you not to write again
I never liked your smell

Called a cop and told him that you’re kind of funny
so he made a note
Then I called a friend who makes his money breaking people’s bones

Take your smell and quote collection with you
and behave yourself
When the boys get older gonna have to tell ‘em
Mommy tried to kill herself

I told you not to write again
You should have listened now your limping
You were supposed to be crazier than me
I told you not to write again
I never liked your smell

Look at yourself
You never could tell
I never liked your smell

You were supposed to be crazier than me
I told you not to write again
Track Name: Fool Me Again
Pretty please let me see
I won’t tell
Does she look like the pictures in my head?

I will cook, I will clean
I will kick and I will scream
‘til she comes back to fool me again

In a store, on a screen or in a dream
I always see you when I’m with someone else

Take a seat anywhere
Take a bow, I don’t care
She will come back to fool me again

Catch a tiger by the toe
I would rather be alone
Find yourself a perfect man and go to hell

Let me see, pretty please
I won’t tell
Does she look like the pictures in my head?

I will cook, I will clean
I will kick and I will scream
‘til she comes back to fool me again
Track Name: Rim Job
So pretty, so clean and so much for saying that I would never do such a thing
Like speeches that try to reach us while we are taking to the air
I’m young enough to take the stairs

Submission. She’s in the kitchen.
The soldier’s on his mission
A gift that really couldn’t last
But now she’s in the driver’s seat and she’s still feeling the heat
I’m just a man so please don’t leave.
Track Name: Trash Bag
I’ll take the silence and take the blame
I’ll take the pieces and I’ll spell your name
I’ll be in the next room until you want me again
I’ll be more patient and I’ll bite my tongue
I’ll stay more focused when you tell me stuff
I’ll be in the next room until you want me again
And only then when you walk in
will I say all the things I should have said before I made a mess

I’m just not built for comfort
I’m built to last
I might lack presence and you might not like my past
but if you need someone to take out all the trash,
I’ll be in the next room waiting with the bag

I’ll lift up the seat and I’ll take you places
where the people dress up and have beautiful faces
I’ll be in the next room until you want me again
I’ll love you more than Mother even though she made me
I’ll make a father if you make a baby
I’ll be in the next room until you want me again
And only then when you walk in
will I say all the things that I should have said before I made a mess

I’m just not built for comfort
I’m built to last
I might lack presence and you might not like my past
but if you need someone to take out all the trash,
I’ll be in the next room waiting with the bag

I’ll tell you everything and if it stings,
I’ll bandage every damage that the truth may do
And if you leave the room, I’ll follow you
until you look at me and see that we’re not through

I’m just not built for comfort
I’m built to last
I might lack presence and you might not like my past
but if you need someone to take out all the trash,
I’ll be in the next room waiting with the bag