Portland-based Colorado-raised artist Berkley will release his new single ‘Fiesta Day’, previewing his debut full-length album ‘Pueblo’, to be released via Oregon label Big Secret Records. Interrogating the small spaces shared between what-ifs of the past and the realities of the present is where Berkley’s songwriting sparkles. On ‘Fiesta Day’, Berkley blows the dust off the events that shape us to reveal what follows.
Over the pulsing rhythm that propels the track, Berkley revisits the end of a teenage friendship with clarity brought by time. The track pumps at a windows-down-driving tempo while Berkley pleads with the estranged: I don’t want you near / but I wish you were here / please understand me before the end of the world.
Set during Fiesta Day, a local celebration of Latinx culture in his hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, Berkley reclaims the pain of growing apart by reimagining a final conversation. Warbling Moog synthesizers, shaky guitars, and a lonesome piano represent the haunting memories of a lost connection.
Inspired by the first-person experimental video game Paratopic, which switches players’ perspective and place in time, the accompanying video takes viewers through different moments and locales in Berkley’s life, from a stretch of interstate in pre-COVID New Mexico to Berkley’s early 2000s high school years, his 20s spent in Los Angeles, and a 2008 sold-out performance in a northern Colorado theater. All footage was captured by the artist in his efforts to audio-visual cataloge his career.
Berkley is the musical moniker of Andrew Jones, a notable recording engineer who now channels his production and songwriting talents into this project. After exploring broad musical territory from recording with former Cher bassist and ASCAP award winner Bob Parr to 2016’s power pop collaboration with members of The Offspring to 2017’s “gorgeous” (AV Club) synthesizer project Sound for Bombs, Jones decided to sharpen his focus on electronic elements and pop song forms.
Earlier, he released ‘Pueblo Nights’, backed up by members of the Austin-based band Watering, which explores themes of memory, youth, and growth in Berkley’s hometown of Pueblo, Colorado as he recalls being in young dumb love in a small city’s punk rock and heavy metal music scene. Its straightforward laidback pop grooves are driven by shaky electric guitar tones and chiming keyboards.
“The passage of summer to fall in my hometown of Pueblo, Colorado is marked by this parade that takes place during an event called Fiesta Day. That time of year always reminds me of when a high school friend dropped out, seemed to change his identity, and left town. I was heartbroken and bitter about it until I wrote this song and realized I could have been a better friend and noticed why he did that. This is a song that sums up the album’s purpose well — taking responsibility for your part in the past and forgiving yourself, hoping others will too,” says Berkley.
In Berkley, Jones has found a palatable recipe for his wide range of influences and a renewed outlook on writing and performing. But his origins are unexpected. After touring in his own punk and metal bands in his teens and early 20s, Andrew Jones dipped his toe in the Los Angeles songwriting scene, ultimately finding himself among a team of writers developing early ideas for Michael Jackson’s comeback album.
Following Jackson’s death, Jones reevaluated his path in music and stopped writing and performing for three years while he taught university writing and literature. Jones’ muses returned in 2010 when he quit his teaching job to immerse himself in jazz guitar studies and rekindle his relationship with music and his primary instrument.
As of July 26, ‘Fiesta Day’ is available via Bandcamp, where the full ‘Pueblo’ album is available for pre-order. Set for release on September 1, it is available on CD and vinyl. The first 100 come in a random color (brown, army green, gray, or purple). It also includes exclusive audio from vintage Pueblo KDZA broadcasts and field recordings captured in Pueblo locales significant to Berkley’s life. A seamless listening experience track to track, side per side – this is how Pueblo is meant to be heard.
Music and lyrics by Andrew Jones aka Berkley
Berkley – vocals, guitars, keyboards, piano, drum machine
Ramon Muzquiz – drums
Recorded at The Nest Studio in Denton, TX
Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Andrew Jones
Additional recording at Huge Planet, Nashville, TN by Jake Davis
Field recording in Pueblo, CO by Andrew Jones and Josh Knobbs “Factor”
Cover layout and design by Dan Gremminger
Single cover photo by Sean Beeman
Artist photos taken by Juli Williams
‘Pueblo’ album pre-order https://bigsecretrecords.com/
‘Festival Day’ https://youtu.be/JTNeAwc1GpU
‘Pueblo Nights’ https://youtu.be/weN0EOhZuBM
“Equal parts catchy and groovy… recalls the carefully manufactured hits of pop kingpin Beck and songwriting savants Miike Snow. Shimmering synths envelop the listener like a warm bath, while a melodious electric guitar floats atop in the form of a rock-tinged bass line” ~ Dallas Observer
“Earnest and immediate pop-rock with shades of Americana and ’70s Laurel Canyon rock & roll” ~ Bandcamp Daily
“Superb. Here we have a super-catchy melody, a high feel-good factor, impeccable delivery and production. Fans of Ben Folds, Ethan Gold and Ben Kweller should take note” ~ Amplify Music Magazine
“Intertwines ‘70s country with modern pop and Berkley’s soft vocals layered to hazy guitars will remind you of a sunset in the countryside on a summer road trip” ~ Central Track
“Knows how to tug at the emotional heartstrings without ever venturing into the terrain of sappiness or maudlinism” – Ghost of Blind Lemon
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