John Tiberio - Blue, Grey, White, and Brown

I was alerted to the existence of John Tiberio from an acquaintance of mine who runs her own internet radio station – she sent me his picture, a link to his website, and a photo of the CD he had mailed to her. (A rewritable disc with his name written in sharpie, it had been mailed sans jewel case, wrapped in messy bundle of office paper and masking tape.)

Suffice to say, I was not expecting much. Yet, upon first listen, I found myself flabbergasted… was I listening to early Elliott Smith? Was this the pre-Beverly Hills Weezer of yore that actually wrote interesting music? Were all of these instruments really played by just one guy? I immediately contacted John and was thrilled to receive my own masking tape and paper concoction a few weeks later.

Tiberio completed his first LP, Blue, Grey, White, and Brown, back in June and quickly followed up the release with four additional original tracks called International Health, an EP John dedicated to Elliott Smith. Says Tiberio, “A friend introduced me to the music of Elliott Smith on a long road trip…. I was amazed at how quickly the songs stood out, grabbed my interest, and played over I my head like I’ve always known them.”

At only 22, the young songwriter had found a muse to bring together the sunny strains of upbeat 60’s pop and edgy singer-songwriter folk that had inspired him from a young age.

Tiberio set out to express his appreciation to Smith through an EP that showcases bursts of Smith-like delicacy and tenderness, as well as his own simple yet appealing songwriting.

“Someday,” the quintessential Smith song, provides a light outline for the artist’s final days, yet is sung with such a sparkling tone, that it takes a moment to recognize the sadness simmering below the track’s surface.

She doesn’t even know that it’s wrong for him to say

It’ll be better off that way

Today I’ve been awake too long

Then suddenly I’m gone

Tiberio uses a similar approach on the pillow soft, “Heartstrings.” Though not written specifically about Smith, it again captures the shy, earnest musings that Smith was famous for. "Don’t sing so loud, a whisper will do." That simple lyric encompasses Tiberio’s appeal as well as his mantra in song-writing: why scream when a gentle word can say so much?

Tiberio’s full length album, Blue, Grey, White, and Brown, rocks a bit more than his EP, and also showcases his talent for multi-instrumentalism. Tiberio bounces from guitar to bass to drums, sounding a bit like a youthful Weezer, perhaps in between the blue album and Pinkerton. Standouts on the album include “Suzy Jones,” a song Rivers Cuomo is kicking himself for failing to write, “How it Ends,” a mid-tempo power chord ballad, and “Small Town Criminals,” a poppy track that could very well have been conceived by the love child of The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie.

You’ll definitely be hearing more from John in the future. Album samples can be downloaded from John’s website, and both the LP and the EP can be ordered via digital download. Or if you prefer, you can order your own sharpie-inscribed CD-R from the man himself.

--Courtney Wachs

John Tiberio Website


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