The tweet-sized biographies
Gothic indie-pop & milltown Americana from Maine.
“One of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” - Skyscraper Magazine
Fractured folk & lush indie-pop with exposed, sparking wires — or a little bit like John Lennon w/ Attention Deficit Disorder.
RIYL: John Vanderslice, Dylan LeBlanc, Dawes, John Lennon, Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, Blake Mills, Elvis Costello, Harry Nilsson, Josh Ritter, Neil Finn.
"The very real deal." - No Depression
Chris Robley is a singer-songwriter and award-winning poet who's made his home in the mill town of Lewiston, Maine.
His orchestral indie-pop and folk music has been praised by The LA Times, The Boston Globe, NPR's Second Stage, Performer, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.”
Robley’s poetry has been published in POETRY Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry, and more. He is the winner of Boulevard’s Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers, a recipient of a Maine Literary Award in poetry, and was selected by Robert Pinsky as a finalist for the Dorset Prize.
“Chris Robley is at the top of his game with his new work.” – KCRW
“Beatlesy goodness featuring deft wordplay delivered through McCartneyish melodies with a Lennonesque rasp.” – Willamette Week
the People's Bio
Torture. That’s how one songwriter friend described writing her own bio. You’re supposed to brag, but — ya know — not be hyperbolic. So jokingly I wrote one and a grassroots Twitter campaign started up encouraging me to actually use the ridiculous thing.
Thus, with a wink and an apology, I submit this bit of masochism for the official record:
Chris Robley concerts are like comet-sightings: rare, unforgettable, and once experienced, you are mysteriously changed.
He is undoubtedly one of the finest singer-songwriters of any age since the Triassic, evidenced by a litany of useless critical accolades.
His gothic indie-pop and Americana, which first coalesced in the fluoride-free waters of Portland, Oregon, has bloomed like August algae in a shallow lake since his hurried emigration from the West. Such a stunningly bright talent couldn't sit still at the end of the frontier; nay, he followed a voice commanding "Go East, middle-aged man."
You may not have noticed, so subtle and substantial are his songs, but the sun stopped rising about four years ago. What's that life-giving and life-sustaining light rising in the east each morning? It's Chris Robley's music. SPF 30 or higher recommended.
That his songs are ubiquitous and necessary as sunlight, yet his performances infrequent as our encounters with comets — this is the great paradox of the modern era. Luckily for us, an algorithm will sort it all out.
praise for Chris Robley
“Dark, romantic strains take flight. This gothic, orchestral indie-pop is sure to leave heads spinning with its unique and haunting sound.” - NPR’s Second Stage
“Poetic, evocative.” - LA Times
"The very real deal." - No Depression
"At the top of his game with his new work." - KCRW
“Matisse of the music world...” – LuxuryWafers.net
“One of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Skyscraper Magazine
“A spirited musical presence.” – Performer Magazine
"Beatlesy goodness featuring deft wordplay delivered through McCartneyish melodies with a Lennonesque rasp.” – Willamette Week
“Chris Robley represents a high ideal in rock, an artist who reaches for the new and uncertain while retaining a firm foothold in the familiar.” - Bullz-Eye.com
“Robley pulls you into his tortured world view with a poetic sensibility that gives his music a depth and wisdom many young songwriters lack.” - All Music Guide
“This era of over-stimulation seems to require music that corresponds to the hyperactive zeitgeist. Chris Robley provides it.” - ThereStandsTheGlass.com
“Robley’s lyrics are as real, as strange, as good as his music.” - Dryvetyme Onlyne
“Robley’s a major talent.” - The Indie Literati
Praise for The Great Make Believer
“Given its spiraling emotions, The Great Make Believer makes for an enticing listen, and, its title disclaimer aside, suggests that Robley is indeed the very real deal.” - No Depression
"At the top of his game with his new work." - KCRW
"Beatlesy goodness featuring deft wordplay delivered through McCartneyish melodies with a Lennonesque rasp. What a welcome return.” – Willamette Week
“This is one of those albums that will undoubtedly hold up well over time.” – babysue
"A sound that’s defined by easy, expert playing, confident arrangements, and a performance that’s almost overwhelmingly natural. If the intention was to rep the rich brocaded fabric of the singer-songwriter genre as it’s evolved over the decades in this country, well then, job well done. This is what they mean when they say ‘Good stuff.’" - Stereo Embers
Praise for Movie Theatre Haiku
This gothic, orchestral indie-pop is sure to leave heads spinning with its unique and haunting sound.
-NPR’s Second Stage
4.5 out of 5 stars! Chris Robley represents a high ideal in rock â€“ an artist who reaches for the new and uncertain while retaining a firm foothold in the familiar and the oh-so-cliched accessible. Movie Theatre Haiku is Robley's firmest landing yet, feeling less like the sum of his influences, and most like his own confident voice.
– Michael Fortes. bullz-eye.com
A riveting listen, and another victory in the battle against banal pop music.
-Scott D. Lewis, The Oregonian
After being impressed with Chris Robley’s 2005 debut, This Is The, and by his work with sometime band the Sort-Ofs and other projects, I took last year’s terrific baroque-pop album, The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love, to be something close to the full flowering of his songwriting and production gifts. This paper duly dubbed it one of 2007’s finest local discs. With Movie Theatre Haiku, his first release sharing billing with his support band the Fear of Heights, Robley’s only gotten better: more confident both vocally and in the realization of his seemingly endless stream of musical and production ideas… “These songs have serious legs,” I wrote in praise of his previous disc. This album’s tunes have teeth.
-Jeff Rosenberg, Willamette Week
This is an album for the ages.
-John Winn. Racket Magazine
That straight-laced dude from Portland with the Harry Nilsson fixation strikes again, this time crediting his road band and turning in an even more confident record than last year's The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love. If the 1966 Beatles were a young band today, they'd likely be playing songs like Robley's "User-Friendly Guide to Change."
Movie Theatre Haiku is masterfully built upon screen stories both wide and small that are begging to be told.
-Ezra Ace Caraeff, Portland Mercury
Much of what makes Movie Theatre Haiku special is Robley's penchant for turning the superfluous into the essential.
– Dave Alvarez. Crawdaddy.com
This era of over-stimulation seems to require music that corresponds to the hyperactive zeitgeist. Chris Robley provides it on Movie Theatre Haiku. The impressive album veers wildly between styles and moods. Morphine, DeVotchKa, Harry Nilsson, The Get Up Kids, Nick Drake and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra are among the dizzying array of artists Robley evokes.
-there stands the glass.com
The album somehow juggles between stylistic diversity and cohesion to find a perfect meeting point. I wrote it 17 months ago and I will write it again: Listen to Chris Robley!
This is smart chamber folk/rock with electronic flourishes, along the lines of Rufus Wainwright and Elvis Costello. A great mix of thought provoking lyrics, gorgeous production, and highly re-listenable crafty pop songs.
-sloop’s ice deck.com
Robley's lyrics are as real, as strange, as good as his music. Iâ€™m reminded a bit of TV on the Radio. Not that these two groups sound the same, because they donâ€™t, but I leave their sanctuaries of music amazed at their ability to meld together such vast musical differences and doing so in a way that is inexplicably marvelous. I'm not sure what genre Robley falls under, so I will simply place him in the category of "Music I Like."
– Nathan Slatter. Dryvetyme Onlyne
Praise for the drunken dance of modern man in love
(Robley) has a challenge to pull off live the densely figured arrangements that grace his current poetic, evocative album, “The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love.” Trust this multi-instrumentalist to come through.
(Drunken Dance) is without a doubt one of the strongest independent releases that has come into my hands this year.
-Shawn Kyle. Reax Music
‘The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love’ is an unusual, evocative album, both musically varied and tuneful.
-All Music Guide.
As subtly composed as fine wine. You know how well-written a song is when you’re not sure why it works; only that you could never write one like it if you tried… It’s clear that Robley’s a major talent, a force to be reckoned with.
-The Indie Literati
Each song is a fully formed vignette that could stand alongside any “Sgt. Pepper” or Queen cut… Looks like these future rock stars paid attention in lit class in college and grew up to be hyper-literate songwriters and pastiche-pretty producers. We’ll watch with great interest where the Selzers, Robleys, Wards and Decemberists take us next.
-Don Campbell. The Oregonian
Robley’s knack for inspired pop arrangements is astounding, recalling Neutral Milk Hotel, the Beatles and especially Elliott Smith.
-John Chandler. Portland Monthly.
While a comparison to Elliott Smith is easy to make, Robley shares the same potential as early Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum.
-San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Robley’s layered arrangements yield long-term rewards, as do his haunting turns of melodic and lyrical phrase. Catchy enough for teen-TV soundtracks and clever enough for critical acclaim.
-Jeff Rosenberg. Willamette Week.
Melodic without being precious or over-the-top, sonically eclectic without being disjointed, Drunken Dance plays like a series of intelligent novellas-as-pop-songs. Its pleasures and intrigues are many, and very refreshing.
His poetic sensibility gives his music a depth and wisdom many young songwriters lack.
-San Francisco Examiner
Chris Robley is one of those mad scientists of pop-rock, whose baroque experiments include everything but the kitchen synth.
Despite themes that include nightmares, night sweats, prostitution, bombed out churches and man’s disrespect for nature, the music buoys the spirit.
-The Record Searchlight
Drunken Dance of Modern Man In Love is a bountiful improvement from a debut that was already impressive in its own right. Pick this one up. ASAP.
The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love is nothing short of outstanding in that it mixes and molds so many genres, yet still keeps a cohesive feel. Robley is a fine example of how breaking the boundaries is not only good for music, but essential.
-Tim Wardyn. Ink19
Robley’s second coming is even better than the first…. effortlessly literate.
-Serena Markstrom. Eugene Register-Guard
Poetic narratives of death’s shadowy life-affirming presence rise up to greet you.
Praise for this is the
“this Is the” deserves a place among your Elliot Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, John Lennon, and — yes, even your Guns ‘N Roses albums.
“this is the” is what John Lennon would be doing today if he wasn’t killed a quarter century ago.
-music liberation project
Making creative use of colors from Beatles pop to emo rock to lo-fi indie ache, “This Is The” is definitely unusually abundant in imagination and vision.
-Tamara Turner. CD Baby Editor (before I worked there… I promise)
Understated but assured pop abounds on this singer-songwriter’s first solo album. High praise in my book but fully warranted. He shows no lack of ambition in his arrangements. Full but never fussy, tasty but biting, familiar but fresh. Ace all around.
The album could have ended up being mere studio trickery, but Robley’s songs are so strong he could deliver them given just an unamplified acoustic guitar. Robley’s singing, at his most urgent, recalls Lennon’s desperate-yet-melodic rasp, but it’s evident he’s not posturing to achieve the sound, just slipping comfortably into it like a pair of vintage Beatle boots that happen to perfectly fit his feet.
-Willamette Week (jeff rosenberg)
this is the is impressive, proving that Robley has found his voice, working in the great dissonant pop tradition discovered and delivered by the likes of John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Elliott Smith. Live, with his orchestra, though, Robley’s songs bloom.
-Willamette Week (Mark Baumgarten)
Chris Robley is a unique musical talent. Hell, I’ll say it: He’s a genius. True to form, his set last night was full of lush instrumentation, beautiful arrangements, and simply the best pop hooks. Check out Chris next time he plays or go out and buy “This is the…” You can thank me later.
-Casey at X58Radio.com
Though his acid wit and precarious song writing is compared with John Lennon, Robley is no Lennon pastiche… His songs are seldom depressing, though sometimes dark, and constructed with an intimate honesty.
-S.A. Life. Australia. Chris Clark