Everything the Hard Way
Aaron Mannino is a singer/songwriter from Seattle, WA. His music lightly touches upon folk, but rests mostly in what might be called alternative-pop. Aaron got an early start in the music business, playing in clubs in Seattle when he was 14 (often with a fake ID stating he was 18, as the underage law allowed only for musicians 18+ to perform in 21+ venues. Kill The Lights' writer, Michael Hukin, began to jokingly mention in his column what cocktails Aaron was seen drinking in venues where he was too young to be present, but these blurbs managed to stay clear from the eyes of booking agents who continued to book Aaron's group). His first band was called Tribute, and they very quickly gained the attention of Seattle DJ, Marco Collins, receiving play on Seattle's commercial alternative station, 107.7 The End. Shortly after, Tribute were asked to play what would be the first hour out of the nearly 4 hours Aaron has spent playing live on Seattle's world-renowned KEXP 90.3. Tribute released an LP and an EP, and evolved into Sofie Tucker. Sofie Tucker released two LPs, and Aaron next decided to take the solo road. Shortly after starting out solo, that solo road took a detour in the form of a one-year run fronting a new band, Little Hand of the City. Little Hand of the City opened for bigger Seattle groups like Dolour, The Divorce, and Sirens Sister, and recorded an EP and mixed with Seattle producer, Johnny Sangster, but that EP would never reach industry ears, as it only made it's way into the hands of fans attending Little Hand of the City's final show in Seattle. Solo Artist Little Hand of the City was a promising light in Aaron's career, as this was the quickest he saw a band he was fronting gain a following and a buzz. The band struggled with artistic and direction differences, and as it came to a close, Aaron was yearning to put forth the music he was hearing in his head without the restraints of bandmates. Vigorously and prolifically writing, Aaron soon made his way back into the studio to record 14 new songs for his Jan. 2007 solo debut LP, Sympathy For the Wolf. John Richards at Seattle's KEXP learned of Aaron's new release, and asked Aaron to come back to play on the station. That March, Aaron played two shows at SXSW, opening for the Lashes, Schoolyard Heroes, and Sirens Sister (former Vendetta Red members). In August of 2007, Aaron wanted to see new sights, and found a spot in the NYC singer/songwriter scene, but this wasn't before he began studio work on a new album. Aaron recorded the basic tracks to another 12 songs just before leaving Seattle, hoping the album could be completed in parts across the country. Finding it too difficult to accomplish work on the album from afar, Aaron returned to Seattle in June 2008, spending two more months fleshing out the songs into the full productions they are now, the brand-new full-length LP, Everything The Hard Way. The Present Moment Tom Scanlon of the Seattle Times said of Aaron's debut, "[Aaron Mannino] has found a pop sound that is somewhere between Elliott Smith (but not as dark) and Rufus Wainwright (but not as bright)." The closest associations of his new album might be more in the realm of Beirut and Fleet Foxes, with these pop songs fleshed out with Aaron playing a wide array of instruments, including guitar, piano, banjo, and mandolin. The album is epic without being overbearing, and reads sort of like a 50-minute story. While it is not a so-called "theme album", it does carry a general vibe and go somewhere, starting off with thick strings and Aaron on his 1950's Wurlitzer electric piano beginning the introduction to "Shiver in The Heat", and heading out on a event-filled jaunt of powerful ballads interspersed with soft hum-a-longs, and ending with the final song, "Somewhere [I Can Feel Again]", which feels like a lullaby reprise of "Shiver in The Heat", finishing the album off with a full Aaron Mannino choir serenading the listener into a waking dream before calmly and deliberately closing out the musical journey. If you love the Brit-pop songwriting of the'60's, and would like to imagine those songs played by a full orchestra of folk instruments (and some electric guitars that sneak their way in and out of the album), Everything The Hard Way is what you've been waiting to hear. With candid lyrics set to powerful-yet-peaceful jams, Aaron Mannino's latest effort is a serene blend of old and new. It feels timeless and memorable, and sends you off with gentle hooks lingering in your mind.