Portland, Oregon based duo Blind Pilot, Israel Nebeker (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Dobrowski (drums), following being iTunes’ “Single of the Week”, have now been chosen by Starbucks to be Starbucks’ “Pick of the Week” for the week of January 3, 2009.
The “Pick of the Week” card, a physical card handed out at Starbucks’ 7,000 U.S. and Canada locations at either the barista drink hand-off point or the point of sale spot, will have a redemption code which consumers can then use at iTunes to receive a free download of Blind Pilot’s “The Story I Heard”, off of their debut full-length, “3 Rounds and a Sound” (Expunged Records). Cards are free to anyone who picks up one at any Starbucks, and no purchase is necessary to obtain one.
“Go On, Say It”, the “Single of the Week” on iTunes from 7/08-7/15, helped the band hit the Billboard charts, coming at #149 on the Top 200, #22 on the Top Independent Albums, and #13 on the Top Digital Albums charts the week of July 15th.
Not bad for a duo from Portland, Oregon who, due to the iTunes success, have made friends and fans out of numerous industry people, including Aimee Mann, whom proclaimed Blind Pilot her “new favorite band”, and asked them to tour with her on the East Coast (which didn’t happen due to lack of funds on Blind Pilot’s part).
Friends since college, Israel and Ryan have traveled many a mile to get to where they are today Â literally. Last year, Israel and Ryan embarked on a West Coast bike tour. This wasnÂ¹t a tour where they road bikes, and had a van hauling the equipment. They hauled everything on their bikes. No gas. One hundred percent leg-powered.
With big signs on the back of their bike trailers that read “BLIND” and “PILOT”, a lot of concerned motorists screamed about the “PILOT” leaving the “BLIND” guy behind. Playing little towns that donÂ¹t often get shows by “touring bands” Â they were able to share their brand of music with people who werenÂ¹t particularly familiar with indie pop, or indie anything. But they found that heartfelt lyrics and beautiful music appeal to just about everyone. In fact, they completely sold out of their EPs.
They returned to Portland anxious to complete their first full-length album. The long road to this album has paid off in spades.
Blind Pilot sounds something like a wistful mix of The Shins with a bit of Iron & Wine folksiness. But these comparisons donÂ¹t give a full representation of the unbelievable beauty of this album. As Willamette WeekÂ¹s Casey Jarman proclaimed, “Front man Israel Nebeker sounds like a less theatric version of James Mercer: every bit as sincere and captivating, with vocal control and style to spare. And this band has songs coming out of its ears: deep, clever guitar-driven tunes fleshed out with soaring horn arrangements. Listening to and thinking about these songs has kept me awake at night lately.”
Here are what others are saying about Blind Pilot’s “3 Rounds and a Sound”:
“An exemplary bit of minimalist melancholy . . . . the album is a new favorite around here – working in the same areas as the Shins or Death Cab for Cutie, but with a more homespun, folk feel.” – iTunes (Song of the Week 7/8/08)
“Out of Portland comes a new duo playing music that is undeniably charming while rivaling some great bands from Neutral Milk Hotel to The Shins. Israel NebekerÂ¹s vocals, somewhere between Damien Rice and James Mercer, are tight, the music elegantly played and the lyrics thoughtful.” – Delusions of Adequacy
“Soaring, solid genius . . . their success is all but guaranteed.” – Seattle Weekly
“It takes all of about 10 seconds of listening to this record to realize you are listening to something special, and about the same amount of time to be completely sucked into Blind PilotÂ¹s wistful, melancholic world of acoustic guitars, dulcimers, violins and the like.” Â Amplifier Magazine
“Sounds a lot like what James Mercer of The Shins would sound like if he recorded a solo acoustic album. And there are trumpets, lots of trumpets. ItÂ¹s quite wonderful.” – Paste Magazine
“They came out of nowhere. Blind Pilot’s debut album, 3 rounds and a sound, is incredible. . . . . a shock to the senses, in that they are so perfect. I enjoyed every single song on this entire CD, which is a rarity. [T]hey are really, really good. Well played, sirs, well played!” – Celebrity Cafe
“Rating 5+. A strong album. These songs really are excellent.” – Babysue Magazine.
“I can strongly recommend . . . . Blind Pilot’s 3 rounds and a sound.” Â Brooklyn Vegan
“3 rounds and a sound is lovely and mellow. ItÂ¹s relaxed, heartfelt and . . . just what you need after sleeping in and waking up to a rainy day that calls for doing absolutely nothing.” – Reax Music Magazine
“3 rounds and a sound is an exceptionally gorgeous album. It’s a perfect mix of Sea Change mixed with some Shins and a dash of Iron & Wine.” – Ink 19