Reviews of Heart Like Mine
~Vintage Guitar Player Magazine, 4/12
"Two singers lead this ultra-tight quartet...what really comes through on these recordings is that this road-tested unit have performance chops to the max."
~ Music Connection Magazine (more)
"On Heart Like Mine the couple not only shares vocal duties but sings in tandem as well as harmonize together with chiming clarity. The songs are full of touching sentiment and are well played by Geib, O'Yeah and Byrnes', but it's the vocals that really put the tunes over the top.... Exceptional tracks aimed for nationwide airplay include the ethereal rocker "Glad," the easy country glide of "Valentine's Day," the epic "Jericho," the two-steppin' hoedown of "What's His Name," the footstompin' thump of "All I Want," the gallop of "Summer Wine," and the Ramones meet Garth Brooks vibe of "Truckin' Song."
~Metronome Magazine (more)
"Exhilarating and emotive, the Fallen Stars’ latest disc “Heart Like Mine” explores the expansive alt-country movement with forceful rock (“Glad,” “All I Want”), infectious mid-tempo material (“Jealous Kind,” “Jericho”) and poignant ballads (“Dam,” “Last Hurrah”).
~ Coachella Weekly (more)
"Ultimately, in their performances, appreciation for classic rock as much as classic country and at times their sense of an America where lights are burning dimly in the midst of cold emptiness, the Fallen Stars at their best here, on songs like "Dam" and "What's His Name," call to mind a bit of a peppier riff on the still underrated Walkabouts, perhaps America's most unfairly obscure roots band. If the Byrnes can bring a little of that majesty to local stages in their particular way -- and they do -- then it's all to the good."
~ The OC Weekly (more)
"The music is authentic, rootsy and beautifully constructed; it's familiar and fresh all at once."
~Huntington Beach Independent (more)
Reviews of Where the Road Bends
“The Fallen Stars are much more than just music to the ears – they are an experience and a feast to the senses. Combining elements of country rock, blues and Americana into their music, their true talent lies in their ability to create an atmosphere of fun for their audience.”
~ L.A. Music Critic (more)"The Fallen Stars play music that hints of America's heartland. John Mellencamp, John Hiatt, and Steve Earle have all made a name for themselves playing this style of Americana and now The Fallen Stars are taking their shot at the brass ring.”
~Metronome Magazine (more)
“Highlights on “Where the Road Bends” include the freewheeling alt-country rocker “St. George’s Bank,” heartland-flavored “One, Two, Three,” the folk rock of “Raining in Hollywood” and traditional country-western gem “Diner Door."
~The Orange County Register (more)
"Where the Road Bends" is a well-crafted album with songs about out-of-the-way places, busted relationships, and escaping (both the law and your hometown). The band deftly follows the musical storytelling tradition of Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, and Gram Parsons."
~Gary Schwind, BrooWaha.com
“The Fallen Stars definitely know how to put on a show. At a performance at The Coach House in June, the band's onstage chemistry flowed into the audience, mesmerizing them. The lyrics are universal yet personal, with Bobbo Byrnes seemingly singing to individuals in the audience. Bassist Tracy Byrnes has an energizing smile and she plays bass with ease.”
~ 944 Magazine (more)
Reviews of Found & Lost
"Holy Crap! This is freakin' good."
~Jam Magazine (more)
"Somewhere between the wide-open stretches of Gram Parson's beloved Mojave Desert and the decaying cityscapes frequented by Bruce Springsteen shine the Fallen Stars."
~The Orange County Register (more)
“Their new CD, Found & Lost, is filled with tales that sound like antecedents from Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty. "Sioux City," about playing blackjack on a riverboat has that ragtag "Born to Run" feel.”
~The Lowell Sun (more)
Coachella Valley Weekly
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes and wife Tracy Byrnes on vocals & bass return to the fold with bandmates Geoff Geib on piano & B3 and Gary O'Yeah on drums with a fine sounding new album of contemporary country rock entitled Heart Like Mine. Formerly from Massachusetts, the couple have called Southern California their home for the last decade, and over the years they've toured most of the country and some of Europe bringing their uptempo brand of Americana to the masses.
On Heart Like Mine the couple not only shares vocal duties but sings in tandem as well as harmonize together with chiming clarity. The songs are full of touching sentiment and are well played by Geib, O'Yeah and Byrnes', but it's the vocals that really put the tunes over the top. Special musical guests Rami Jaffee on B3, Caitlin Cary on violin, Gregg Braught on guitar, Danny Ott on "fancy guitar playing" & lap steel along with backing singers Anna Tutor, Emma Simons-Araya, Heather Stewart & Sue Paine all lend their collective talents to this masterfully produced record. Exceptional tracks aimed for nationwide airplay include the ethereal rocker "Glad," the easy country glide of "Valentine's Day," the epic "Jericho," the two-steppin' hoedown of "What's His Name," the footstompin' thump of "All I Want," the gallop of "Summer Wine," and the Ramones meet Garth Brooks vibe of "Truckin' Song."
The OC Weekly
By Ned Raggett
We apologize for our extended absence here for a bit but when it comes to things like nasty flu-like viruses they tend to do lovely things to the ability to concentrate on music properly. Which would have meant that our appreciation of a song like "Valentine's Day" on this album, even if it was more timely, would have been muddled. Said song, beautifully sung by bassist Tracy Byrnes, is definitely a treat, as is much of Heart Like Mine, the fourth release by these local country-rock stalwarts.
Brynes [sic] and her multi-instrumentalist husband Bobbo, the core of the band, duet at many points, with the occasional solo turns by both adding further variety to the overall sound; that they're a veteran band is something you almost sense by implication at this point. There's everything from an ease and accomplishment in the sequencing -- an hour long, the album often feels like a pitch-perfect setlist -- to the overall performances, where nothing is per se surprising but everything punches the right buttons. Bobbo's solos in particular are often spot-on, a bit of flash without crushing the arrangements.
Ultimately, in their performances, appreciation for classic rock as much as classic country and at times their sense of an America where lights are burning dimly in the midst of cold emptiness, the Fallen Stars at their best here, on songs like "Dam" and "What's His Name," call to mind a bit of a peppier riff on the still underrated Walkabouts, perhaps America's most unfairly obscure roots band. If the Byrnes can bring a little of that majesty to local stages in their particular way -- and they do -- then it's all to the good. Plus, a songtitle like "Tequila & Morphine" is just too perfect -- as is "Part Time Cowboy."
The Huntington Beach Independent
In the Pipeline: Fallen Stars are rising
By Chris Epting
October 12, 2011
Fresh back from seeing Huntington Beach's own Avenged Sevenfold and Brandon Saller play in the area last week, I was more than ready to dedicate a column to more local music news. Yes, this place is called Surf City, but let us not forget that this is also one of the most formidable music breeding grounds in the United States.
This week, we start with a look at the Fallen Stars, winners of multiple OC Music Awards and winners of the SoCal Music Live Awards' Best Electric Band and Best Acoustic Band honors. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Bobbo Byrnes, lead vocalist and bassist Tracy Byrnes, Gary O'Yeah on drums and Geoff Geib on the B3 and piano, the band recently released "Heart Like Mine" — its third studio album (which is available for purchase at iTunes, CD Baby and the band's website, http://www.thefallenstars.com.
As the band describes it, the collection features "Sixteen tracks of Americana rock n' roll in the mold of Bruce Springsteen, the Pretenders, Wilco and Whiskeytown."
And, I would add, the music is authentic, rootsy and beautifully constructed; it's familiar and fresh all at once.
"Heart Like Mine" also includes contributions from a handful of talented musicians, including Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters, the Wallflowers) on Hammond B3, Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown) on violin and Danny Ott (Chris Gaffney, Dave Alvin) on guitar and lap steel.
Recently, they spoke to us about their new album, among other things.
Before releasing "Heart Like Mine," Bobbo said, "[A]nd as we started fine-tuning the album, I knew we were onto something." Can you elaborate on this?
Bobbo: It was sounding better than everything else we had ever done before. We kept writing and playing and ended up with 25 to 30 songs. From there, we cut it down to 18 songs, and finally settled with 16 songs. We liked all of it, and it was really difficult to cut down.
Gary: Compared to the albums in the past, this had a very unique sound.
Geoff: When playing and arranging, we immediately recognized it. We really hit our stride. The energy that was produced during live shows was brought into the rehearsal studio, and it was a step above everything we had done before.
The band and the music both seem to have a very genuine feel. Is creating songs that provide a connection a crucial part of the Fallen Stars' music?
Bobbo: Absolutely. There's no way to fake stuff. We actually just did a cover of "Last Friday Night," and that's a very modern song, but when you listen to what the song is saying, it has an incredible feel. A lot of songs are like that when you pay attention to what is being said.
Has living in Southern California/Huntington Beach shaped the band's music in any way?
Gary: Everyone is California wants the same thing, so it either motivates you to do better or motivates you to quit.
Is there an audience that is significantly attracted to your music?
Tracy: People who like classic rock usually like our music, because we're like new classic rock. Or people who enjoy folk rock like us. We travel a lot cross-country, and it's great road trip music for the highway. It's very American-inspired. Also, a lot of musicians seem to enjoy our music, like singer-songwriters who know their stuff, and that's something I think we should be proud of.
The band is an eclectic group. How do you think this has molded the songs and genre of music in representing the Fallen Stars?
Bobbo: It definitely shapes the songs. I will write a song, and someone will come up with an idea that will take it in a different direction than what I was thinking. All by yourself, you're just one brain, but together with multiple brains, it's much richer.
What are your future plans for the band?
Tracy: We would love to broaden the base outside of the Southern California area so others can be exposed to our music.
L.A. Music Critic
By Bob Leggett
March 27, 2010
The Fallen Stars are much more than just music to the ears – they are an experience and a feast to the senses. Combining elements of country rock, blues and Americana into their music, their true talent lies in their ability to create an atmosphere of fun for their audience. Led by the raw sounds of Bobbo Byrnes on guitar, lead and backing vocals and his wife Tracy on bass, lead and backing vocals, The Fallen Stars took the stage by storm and the audience captive. Coupled with support from drummer Gary O’Yeah, guitarist Gregg Braught and keyboardist Geoff Geid, The Fallen Stars demonstrated why they are considered by The Orange County Register to be one of the rising stars in Americana music today. Whether lamenting over their welfare Cadillac, the loss of jobs in smalltown America or improvising a cover tune, The Fallen Stars bring energy to the stage and propel that energy out into the crowd. The crowd in turn hurls it right back at them, and the cycle continues until the end of the set, leaving both the band and the audience spent.
Bobbo is an Energizer bunny of sorts, running all over the stage, interacting with both the audience and his bandmates. Tracy’s steady bass and Gregg’s lead guitar set the pace – and believe me the pace never stops!
The Fallen Stars are a treat that should be devoured more than savored, and always leave you wanting more. Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in their show – you will not regret a single moment spent with them and their music.
For more info on The Fallen Stars, you can check out the band’s official website at www.thefallenstars.com.
The Huntington Beach Independent
Two local bands win big at awards
By Paul Anderson
April 09, 2009
Huntington Beach was well represented among the winners in the annual Orange County Music Awards this week, but the story belonged to local bands Venus Infers, who picked up three Orange County Music Awards, and the Fallen Stars, who scored one there and then also later won Best Live Electric Band and Best Live Acoustic Band in the SoCal Music Live competition.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to get recognized for doing what you love,” Fallen Stars singer/guitarist Bobbo Byrnes said. “We are so grateful and honored.” He added the pressure is on the band to put on a good show every night now that they’ve won awards for their live performances.
Huntington Beach’s TSOL won the Best Punk award at Saturday’s Orange County Music Awards and the Fallen Stars scored top prize for Best Country/Americana.
Venus Infers won for Best Alternative, Best Indie and the Album of the Year with “The Truth About Venus Infers.”
Saturday’s awards ceremony was at the Grove of Anaheim.
The Orange County Register
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
March 5, 2009
Bobbo Byrnes was thrilled when he got the call last week that his band, the Fallen Stars was nominated for three Orange County Music Awards. OK, so it's not the Grammys, but the alternative country quintet from Huntington Beach is honored to be nominated nonetheless.
The group is up for the best album award for its 2008 release "Where the Road Bends," best song for "St. George's Bank," and best country/Americana group at the 2009 OCMAs at the Grove of Anaheim on April 4. It's quite an accomplishment, as a group is the only one within its genre that was able to beat out a slew of rock and indie bands to be nominated in the top two award categories.
Though they're no stranger to awards (Fallen Stars won best live acoustic band at last year's OCMAs) the moderate success isn't going to their heads.
"We've been nominated a handful of times in the past, we've won before, now we're up for three awards and I have absolutely no complaints," Byrnes says.
In 2000, Byrnes, along with his wife Tracy, moved to Orange County from Boston. With the desire for a change of scenery following the tragic and sudden deaths of two loved ones, the Byrnes' decided to hop in the car and head as far west as they could, eventually landing in Huntington Beach.
The duo had always been involved in music. Once settled in their new home, the Byrnes' decided to regroup, start up a band and find quality musicians to play with. The name, the Fallen Stars, came from a song Bobbo wrote called "Find Some Light," in which he sings "I'm just a fallen star that never shown, did you never see the flames that I had thrown."
With Bobbo taking over guitar and vocal duties and Tracy on bass, the line-up was completed with the additions of lead guitarist Gregg Braught, drummer Brian Matteson and keyboardist and mandolin player Geoff Geib.
Music is a true labor of love for this band. Since there's no high-dollar record contract, the group has contributed a lot of their own funds into the project, but they remain hopeful that one day it will all pay off.
"We've had some benevolent people who have donated money and friends and family who have contributed, but we've all had to dip into our own savings as well," Byrnes says.
The Fallen Stars have been hard at work for the last year. They released their fifth album, "Where the Road Bends" in May and embarked on their LA La Tour in October that had the band playing various cities from Los Angeles to Louisiana.
"The final show on that tour was in Costa Mesa at the Orange County Democrats election night party," Byrnes says. "I heard a rumor that we were on CNN that night briefly but I didn't ever see it."
Currently working on a sixth album, which is scheduled to be out in a couple of months, Byrnes says the tracks are sticking to the storytelling style the group is known for, but the content is definitely more positive than it has been in the past. Songs on "Found and Lost," the bands 2004 release, came from watching everyone they knew who had gotten married, suddenly getting divorced.
"It was kind of a breaking up album and after we finished that we didn't want to write anymore songs about that," he says. "On 'Where the Road Bends' and with the new stuff, we just tried to focus more on looking forward instead of looking back."
Though the band sticks with what it does best when it comes to genre, Byrnes says that each member has an extremely eclectic taste in music.
"We are all into so many different things," he says. "Our drummer Brian loves music from easy listening to Swedish death metal. You listen to him play and you wonder, 'How does that work?' We'll ask him what influenced certain parts of music and he'll throw out some bizarre band name that we've never heard of but it all sounds good."
So what does the band think really makes them stand out in the scene?
"It sounds so cliché, but people often tell us that we don't sound like the other bands in the area. There's a familiar aspect to our music, but we don't sound like whatever the flavor of the month is. We don't play metal. We just tell stories with our songs. It's an old style of music, but done with our own twist."
By Doug Sloan
"The Fallen Stars play music that hints of America's heartland. John Mellencamp, John Hiatt, and Steve Earle have all made a name for themselves playing this style of Americana and now The Fallen Stars are taking their shot at the brass ring. Singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes is the heart and soul behind The Fallen Stars and leads his troupe with heartfelt vocals and jangling guitars. Geoff Geib on mandolin and B3 organ, Gregg Braught on guitar and vocals, John Vowell on drums and Tracy Byrnes on vocals and bass round out the group, giving the Stars a lush, full sound. Radio-friendly songs include "St. George's Bank," the countrified "Diner Door" (featuring the lead vocals of Tracy Byrnes) the lazy swagger of "Millsboro", the dusty twang of "Outlaws & Angels" and the raunchy grit of "Eveline."
The Orange County Register
Orange Pop: Fallen Stars are on the Rise
By Robert Kinsler
May 7, 2008
For fans of the Fallen Stars, good things truly come to those who wait.
The Fallen Stars are celebrating the release of their latest studio collection, the 13-song "Where the Road Bends," and the bonus sevensong concert recording, "Vayo Con Queso," with two shows this weekend. The Fallen Stars perform at the Marlin Bar in Huntington Beach on Saturday and then play at the Grand Ole Echo in Los Angeles
"We started recording the tracks in November of '06," said lead guitarist Gregg Braught. The Huntington Beach-based group also features singerguitarist Bobbo Byrnes, singer-bassist Tracy Byrnes, drummer John Vowell and keyboardist-mandolin player Geoff Geib.
There were a number of reasons it took 18 months to complete "Where the Road Bends," including a process of recording with Rami Jaffee at Chicasa Studios in Malibu, and then more recently, with Shawn Lindell at Lindell Productions in Westminster.
"Without deadlines, nothing would ever get done," admitted singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes. "Thirty-five songs were tracked in the studio; a couple of them were recorded a couple of times."
Tracy Byrnes noted the band had a good reason for doing a sonic double-take: "One of the reasons why we rerecorded at the end was we were a better band."
Highlights on "Where the Road Bends" include the freewheeling alt-country rocker "St. George's Bank," heartland-flavored "One, Two, Three," the folk rock of "Raining in Hollywood" and traditional country-western gem "Diner Door."
"We recorded more songs than what landed on the CD," Vowell explained. "We're not in a hurry to be rushed into something."
The aforementioned "One, Two, Three" was among the songs written only a few weeks before the CD was sent into production.
"The last five (songs) we cut were kind of tough," Bobbo Byrnes said of favorite tracks left off "Where the Road Bends."
Added Geib: "But they are still a big part of our live set list." Geib was recruited to join the band last year.
"In July or August '07, Geoff came in and almost immediately was in the recording studio doing something," Vowell recalled.
Another winning element in the Fallen Stars' sound is the effective way that husband-and-wife team of Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes handle lead vocal duties, as well as the adventurous way they blend those voices beautifully together on songs such as "House of Cards" and "APB."
"Combined vocals are really what we're going for," said Tracy Byrnes, adding that Braught also provides vocal harmonies on many of the new songs. "I have so much fun singing with them," Braught said. "That adds a big element to our sound."
Another successful component of the Fallen Stars' live shows is the masterful presentation of select covers. "We only play covers from people we like," Vowell said. Members noted that songs by the Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Gram Parsons and the Rolling Stones have made that grade.
"Vayo Con Queso" is a live recording of the Fallen Stars captured when the band played at the Coach House on Feb. 21 of this year. Tracks on that set include "Sioux City," "Outlaws & Angels" and "Vegas."
Anyone who purchases "Where the Road Bends" at the band's shows this weekend will get a free copy of "Vayo Con Queso."
Whether recording in the studio or performing live, the Fallen Stars are truly on the rise, as evidenced by the group taking top honors as best live acoustic band at the 2008 Orange County Music Awards held in March.
"It's all about what's best for the song," Tracy Byrnes said.
The Huntington Beach Independent
By Jessie Brunner
Local band The Fallen Stars has found the right mix to impress judges at the Orange County Music Awards as well as audiences.
The Fallen Stars singer-bassist Tracy Byrnes had some trouble suppressing her desire to "rock out" during the Best Live Acoustic Band finals for last year's Orange County Music Awards.
Though the members of the Huntington Beach-based Americana rock band think of themselves more as energetic rock 'n' rollers, their folksy/country/rock sound fares well when unplugged, as they recently earned the Best Live Acoustic Band nomination for the second time, while just missing the cut for Best Live Band.
"I'm not going to say we sabotaged ourselves last year, but we didn't do the best performance for an acoustic setting that we could have," said lead singer and guitarist Bobbo Byrnes. "This year, I think we found a good way to rock and play acoustic."
As described by Tracy Byrnes, who enjoys being the sole woman in the band, their "organic" music sounds like "what you might imagine a cross-country road trip would sound like," with each song telling a distinct story.
In addition to the standard guitar, bass and drum lineup, the band relies on an assortment of instruments — such as a 12-string Rickenbacker, an accordion and a lap steel — to produce original and honest music, and their influences include Bruce Springsteen, The Clash and Bob Dylan.
The band's variety and originality is precisely what impressed Orange County Music Award judges, as well as the clear unity among band members, said the local award show's founder and co-producer Martin Brown.
"Over the last two or three years, The Fallen Stars has improved more than any other band that I've watched," he added.
The band got its start in Billerica, Mass., about 10 years ago, just after Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes wed. After leaving The Gypsy Mechanics, the former was looking for a bassist to accompany his solo work, and the latter was readily available and eager to learn a new instrument.
Although they moved to California in 2000, it wasn't until last year that the pair — who are careful to be strictly band mates when on stage — cemented their group with longtime Huntington Beach resident John Vowell on the drums and Gregg Braught as the lead guitarist, both of whom they met at the Bomb Shelter Recording Studios in Westminster.
Braught, who played for years with cover bands throughout the county, was ecstatic when he was invited to join The Fallen Stars after practicing with them a few times.
"After all these years, it really feels like I've got the right people, and all the factors are there," he said. "It's really cool because we are all into this equally, and we just want get out there, write some songs and have a great time doing it."
Though many of the songs on their last album, 2004's "Found & Lost," concentrated on the misery of lost love, the band promises some new, upbeat tunes for the album they plan to release later this year.
With the working title "Goldenwest" — referring to the local street, both for its proximity to their recording studio and as a path to the ocean — their new disc will feature Louisiana-based saxophonist Duston Erwin and The Wallflowers' keyboardist Rami Jaffee.
Find out if The Fallen Stars are named this year's Best Live Acoustic Band at the Orange County Music Awards at 8 p.m. March 31 at the Grove of Anaheim. Tickets are $22.50 For more information, visit www.orange countymusicawards.com.
By Karen Curley
The Fallen Stars definitely know how to put on a show. At a performance at The Coach House in June, the band's onstage chemistry flowed into the audience, mesmerizing them.
The lyrics are universal yet personal, with Bobbo Byrnes seemingly singing to individuals in the audience. Bassist Tracy Byrnes has an energizing smile and she plays bass with ease. The rest of the band, guitarist Gregg Braught and drummer John Vowell, play like they are having the time of their lives.
The Fallen Stars sound like Uncle Tupelo, the founders of alt country rock. "Our sound is a mixture of roots rock, alt country and early '70's rock," Bobbo says, not allowing his music to be classified in one genre.
"We definitely bow to the alter of Joe Strummer, and Keith Richards is our guitar god." says Vowell. Other influences include Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles. "I've been told I sound like Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders, "Tracy says. "I consider that a compliment, because they are one of our influences."
The current lineup has only been together for a year, but this Huntington Beach-based band has been around for seven years and are signed to Kiss My Squirrel Records.
The Fallen Stars have an album coming out in the next few months. "It's more forward thinking," Bobbo says. "It's about hopefulness. It makes you feel there is something just around the corner. The inspiration for our new album came from life, people telling us stories and friends and family."
The Orange County Register
Orange Pop: Fallen Stars are on the rise
By Robert Kinsler
November 24, 2006
Somewhere between the wide-open stretches of Gram Parson's beloved Mojave Desert and the decaying cityscapes frequented by Bruce Springsteen shine the Fallen Stars.
Playing music that is at once as inviting as the Pretenders and as arresting as My Morning Jacket, the Fallen Stars impressed mightily in an hour-long set at the Marlin Bar in Huntington Beach last weekend. Anyone who missed the band's set need not worry. The hard-working Huntington Beach quartet will perform at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and be back at the Marlin Bar on Dec. 15.
"We're kings of the dive bar," said singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes, whose first name is pronounced Bob-O. The Fallen Stars also feature his wife, Tracy Byrnes (bass, vocals); John Vowell (drums); and Gregg Braught (guitar).
While the Fallen Stars are apt to perform at just about any neighborhood tavern, club or pub, the group's music is not to be dismissed. In fact, Bobbo and Byrnes write deeply affecting material and it is delivered with an authenticity that is exhilarating. Even on disc, the Fallen Stars' blend of roots rock, country, folk and pop is delivered with the wallop of the Clash, notably on the outfit's most recent CD, 2004's astounding "Found & Lost."
Bobbo Byrnes started the band with Tracy Byrnes in 1997. The group then was based in Billerica, Mass.
"We had a rough couple of years. Her (Tracy's) brother Jesse died and our lead guitarist (Jeff Turner, who was best man at the Byrnes' wedding) died," said Bobbo, noting the group's second CD, 2000's "Stan's Garage," features songs focusing on those two lost lives.
The couple decided to leave their home in New England and get as far away as they could without leaving dry land. In 2000, they set down new roots in Huntington Beach.
Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes were welcomed into the Orange County music scene and have worked with a number of talented players. But the current lineup is a strong one and it shows in the Fallen Stars' performances.
"We find ourselves between two genres. In country (venues), we sound rock. In rock crowds, we sound country," Bobbo Byrnes noted. "We're making our own map."
Tracy Byrnes' strengths as a bassist and singer harmonize perfectly in the group.
"We met in 1992, married in '97 and he started to teach me bass in '97. I previously had tried guitar and dropped it. I love bass – plus he needed a bass player," she explained. As for Vowell and Braught, each made decidedly different entrances. "I invited Greg to practice and he kept coming back," Bobbo said of Braught.
Vowell had played on the same bill with the Fallen Stars while in other bands and when onetime drummer Chuck Rogers moved back to Georgia, Vowell called Bobbo Byrnes early one morning and told him he was going to be playing drums for the Fallen Stars. "Bobbo was in a bind. He had shows booked. It wasn't a hard decision for me to make."
The good news for area fans is that the Fallen Stars' first two discs, 1999's "My Affect is Appropriate" and the aforementioned 2000 release "Stan's Garage," will be reissued on the group's own Kiss My Squirrel label. And local audiences can also look forward to the band completing a new collection of material with the current lineup.
"The only thing we have is the realness of what we do," Bobbo said.
The Lowell Sun
California Dreamers are Back to Play on Home Turf
By Kathleen Deely
September 9, 2004
When Bobbo Brynes (sic) and his wife, Tracy, traded Billerica for Los Angeles four years ago, they didn't go to surf. They went to feel normal.
"We needed to get the hell out of Dodge," said Bobbo, 32, frontman for the rock group The Fallen Stars.
"We needed a change of scenery. I once heard someone say 'rock bands don't move to L.A. to be stars; they do it to feel normal,' and I think that's true," he said on the phone from his home in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Together for five years, the versatile group - which features Billerica Memorial High School grads Bobbo, class of '89, and Tracy, class of '92, on lead vocals - found camaraderie on the West Coast they couldn't on the East.
"We've fallen into a group of musicians. There's a great scene going on here," said Bobbo.
A hotbed of rock 'n' roll, L.A. is ground zero for musicians. "There are almost as many bands as there are stores," said Bobbo.
Living in California has helped the band, which includes Chuck Rogers on drums and J. Williams on piano, define its sound. Exposure to seminal groups like Neil Young's Crazy Horse, which Bobbo has toured with, has helped Californicate their sound.
"With so many great musicians out here, every time I go out and see a band it makes me want to come home and write more," he said. His current fixation is The Jukebox Junkies.
By turns ambient and straight-ahead rock, The Fallen Stars will bend all genres when they take the stage at Evos Arts in Lowell tonight.
"We have more extremes in our songs. There are some that rock hard, some that are acoustic, some that cover the whole range in between," said Bobbo.
Their new CD, Found & Lost, is filled with tales that sound like antecedents from Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty. "Sioux City," about playing blackjack on a riverboat has that ragtag "Born to Run" feel.
The last time The Fallen Stars played a show in Lowell, it was at Smithwick's, which is now Evos. "It's a homecoming of sorts," said Bobbo. "We are really, really excited."
It all sounds hunky-dory, but there are times when surf city makes him lonesome for home.
"Oh, yeah. Billerica is a place not like anywhere else. I grew up by the lake. Tracy grew up on the side of Pinehurst. I miss the old band subs and the ckicken cutlet subs at Augusta Market." He also misses Fluffernutters, which apparently you can't buy or make in L.A.
The Fallen Stars play Evos, 98 Middle St., Lowell, tonight at 10:30. Donations will be accepted at the door. Thye also play T.T. the Bears in Cambridge on Monday and live on WUML, the UMass Lowell station, Monday.
West Coast Performer
By Amanda Wells
On Found and Lost, southern California roots rockers the Fallen Stars make it very clear they write songs about folk like us. Folks in love. Folks in pain. They take a lot of stock in honest, heartfelt storytelling. Overall, their admiration for the narrative form, rife with omnipresent themes of travel and escape works well. They weave thirteen cohesive vignettes of love gained and ever so ruefully lost, encased within the aptly titled "Found" and "Lost". The sound cleverly mirrors the story being told, commencing powerful ("Break The Skin"), ending disillusioned and regretful ("San Diego"). Guitars, harmonica, accordion, percussion, lap steel and piano are just a few of the tools employed to evoke the sad tale. "Found" and "Lost" permeate with atmospheric, whispering vocals and wonderfully layered, meandering, jangly guitar.
Given that 'found' and 'lost' is the album's namesake, prelude and eventuality, it's expected the interior songs would reflect even a fraction of this dreaminess. Just the opposite is true, which is fairly disappointing because these two songs are so effective in capturing what the Fallen Stars are indeed capable of. Bobbo Byrnes' infuses intense emotion into his gruff vocals, but they can be slightly off-key ("Coming Home" and "April Fool"). However, when coupled with bassist (and wife) Tracy Byrnes' soothing harmonies, this roughness is a strength coursing through much of the album. Lyrically, the album is riddled with too many clichés. With writing such as "Please remember me, please / remember me fondly / It's a lot to ask but maybe someday / You'll look back at the times we had / And see a man who just lost his way" ("San Diego"), it overdoses on sentimentality. Perhaps this is the by-product of penning songs that are indirectly personal. Hopefully, further development for the Fallen Stars will retain what has worked: an honest narrative and the spacey, rootsy melodies and beautifully droning, vocal echo we just barely caught a glimpse of.
By William A. Huffman ~ 10 out of 11
Holy Crap! This is freakin' good. Bobbo Byrnes, locally known for The Gypsy Mechanics before he and his wife Tracy moved to Cali, has now moved musically as well.
With the opening short "Found," the Fallen Stars debut CD begins a trek through many states- United and emotional - which all revolve around the finding and losing of many things; many of which may be determined only by the listener.
The entire album is crisp. It pops from the earphones/speakers quickly and easily. Whether it's an all-out straight-forward rocker like "We Are Only Young" or a softer ballad like "Ellie," each instrument is perfectly placed in production as well as perfectly played.
"In Reach" has a wonderful piano/guitar harmony while Bobbo laments of the innocence of going to the beach of younger days. And how the strip was "lit up like a Christmas tree on the fourth of July." "Sioux City," one of many that refer to a specific geographic location, has a subtle hook, plenty of guitar plushness, and Tracy's bass and harmonies in full swing. This tune,and some of the others, remind me of latter Lemonheads when Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield began performing together.
I think I prefer the songs that Bobbo leads vocally, but that's not to say Tracy isn't good. She is wonderful, but the texture Bobbo brings has a little more resonance and when Tracy harmonizes with him, it's magical.
By Doug Sloan
…Featuring thirteen songs that highlight both Bobbo's and Tracy's vocal work, the album deals up a potpourri of pop, rock and jangling acoustic offerings. Combining elements of The Rolling Stones and Counting Crows, The Fallen Stars inject their trump card of Tracy Byrnes' vocals into the mix making for a completely original project. Coupled to tight performances by the band and soaring original arrangements.
VERY loosely translated from the Dutch website ronsaltcountry.com ~ 3 stars out of 4
OK to be honest with you I have a weakness for falling stars. The stories on Elvis in his after glory days, the going down of soccer player George Best, and poet Herman Brood, are stories for me. A group with the name The Fallen Stars is first in line for me....
Lost and Found is the name of the cd from this couple from southern California, Bobbo (most of the vocals, guitar, harmonica and accordion) and Tracy Byrnes (vocals and bass guitar). Be careful the title is Found and Lost, not Lost and Found, which would be more appropriate, except this cd is thematic and tells the story of finding love and the going down of it. The theme is not concerning their own lives, but more on people they know.
Musically we must place The Fallen Stars in the corner with a band known as The Wild Colonials, in the period just before 2000 in the LA scene. Just as with the Colonials, the vocals of the Fallen Stars are blended between both Bobbo and Tracy, though it should be told that Tracy's voice can't touch the vocals of Angela McClusky of the Colonials. Bobbo's warm voice does work fine in the up-tempo rock songs, which can be found in the beginning of the cd, as well as on the ballads at the end of the cd. The cd is in good balance, powerful in the beginning and fading away at the end. Which is perfect for the story of this cd, lost love....