Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto make their home in San Francisco Bay Area and spent most of the last decade performing and recording as Mars, Arizona, winning fans with their original brand of cosmic Americana. Like many other American towns, Mars, Arizona recently disappeared, forced to move on after four well received albums. “Like the vanishing American family farm, it became too expensive to run the family business,” Knowles says. “The town was auctioned off and we became New American Farmers. We hope to survive by embracing more healthy and sustainable approaches to music production and delivery.”
On Brand New Day (a full length album that was released on April 9, 2013), Knowles and Storto continue to showcase their evolution as songwriters intent on celebrating the essence of the American experience with all its contradictions and complexities. Former Byrds drummer and banjo player Gene Parsons guests on the opening number "Everywhere", which has received a good amount of airplay on Americana stations in the U.S. and Europe. They recently opened shows in the Bay Area for Holly Williams and Iris Dement.
The duo is currently working on another full length album to be released this Summer (2014) called "Farmacology". One of the album tracks, "Aiming for The Daylight", was blessed with the guitar tone of Chuck Prophet, and the album will also contain a cover tune made famous by The Monkees, "Door Into Summer", (written by Monkees producer Chip Douglas and songwriter/friend Bill Martin). Another original tune called "Down At The Pharmacy" takes a stab at the pharmaceutical industry, while hinting that a more natural medicine just might be a better solution for most folks.
There’s a pleasant sort of disorientation that comes with listening to New American Farmers’ Brand New Day. There are a number of times throughout the album’s 11 tracks when your head’s going to snap around and your brain’s going to tell you that you know that song – even though it’s the first time you’ve ever heard it.
Right off the bat, “Everywhere” frigs with you in the nicest of ways: the grinning banjo bounce and the easy glide of the harmony vocals are as vintage Byrds as The Byrds could be – not an imitation, you understand, but that vibe … Of course, some of that can’t help but happen: that’s the legendary Gene Parsons playing that banjo, boys and girls – a Byrdman himself from ‘68 to ’72. But those harmonies? Those are straight from the throats and hearts of New American Farmers’ core duo, Paul Michael Knowles and Nicole Storto. Vocal weaves like this are a gift to hear; Storto and Knowles dole ‘em out left and right all through Brand New Day.
Other brain-benders include the title track, which combines George Harrison-style slide guitar with lyrics that could have come out of John Hiatt’s little spiral notebook. (That would be David Walker on the sweet slide, by the way.) “Hypocrite” sets its hooks in you early à la All Shook Down -era Replacements with smart smart-ass lyrics and rocking swagger. Was “Open Arms” originally on T Rex’s Electric Warrior – wild-ass guitar squall and all? Nope: it’s a Great American Farmers original. “Good And Sober” takes a shimmering chicka-boom Johnny Cash rhythm and a big helping of them aforementioned harmonies and makes getting straightened out seem like a decent option.
And then there’s “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”, which is a cover – of a Jeff Lynne tune, whose Electric Light Orchestra made a living in the 70s and 80s pondering the possibilities of what might have come of the Beatles and Phil Spector getting really weird together. Here, however, the Farmers keep it simple and tasty. In the end, it matters not if you’re too young to understand any of the references above. Knowles and Storto are simply excellent song crafters. It’s apparent that Knowles and Storto can crank out just about any sort of tune that they have a mind to. And luckily for us they’ve captured a bunch of them on Brand New Day.
Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto don't need help--these insightful folkie rockers hold a mirror to Americana as well as anyone-but Tom Waits trumpeter Ara Anderson and the Real Vocal String Quartet drop by anyway, making this rich and unique disc that much stronger."-M Music Magazine
"...Unlike so much modern music that is canned and homogenized, the songs on New Day are fresh, sincere, reflective, and real. On the band's web site, Knowles says "We don t have all the answers, or maybe even any, but we have to ask the questions." If that's not the right attitude, we don't know what is. Nice open arrangements, wonderfully warm vocals, smart melodies, and perceptive lyrics...it all adds up to one cool damn listening experience. Our favorite tracks include "Everywhere," "Sad Hotel," "Open Arms" (love the cool psychedelic electric guitar lead in this one), "Hypocrite," and "How Do We Do It?" Top pick.- Baby Sue
"Exquisite Americana that not only makes intimate indie music out of 60s country rock concepts (they even have a Byrd in hand, Gene Parsons), they also deconstruct an ELO song, proving that pure hearted roots music can even turn excess inside out. Old McDonald had a hit!" - Rocktober Magazine