Examiner 6/10/2010


Decoy - A band that's getting noticed

All right, I admit it. I'm prejudiced, unashamedly so I'm afraid. I go out to hear good music, and when I do, I gravitate toward musicians and singers who connect with their music, regardless of the genre, so well that I can feel the dues that were paid before that particular night.

Decoy, a local band of the rising star quality, has positioned itself as one of those 'talents deserving wider recognition.' The quintet, whose recently released CD entitled "Nothing to Lose," has garnered well deserved praise from their hearty legion of followers and new fans alike.

Their live performances such as the one witnessed recently on a Thursday night at Johnny's Hall of Fame Sports Bar, burn with an energy that cuts to the chase, delivering potent vocal harmonies, with a gut checking, rhythm-infused instrumental style that is the real thing, paradoxically, not a decoy.

Prior to that evening, the group consisting of the founding power trio of guitarists Chris Ranallo, Micah Wagner and keyboardist Brian Herrin entertained an intimate crowd at People's Court. For those who have come to expect the best when it comes to the groups honest interpretations of their original work, they do not disappoint. They continually make good on the promise that music is best served in equal parts: soul, swagger and surprise.

When the band settles in to one of their trademark numbers, it's as if the hand has found a well-worn leather glove, the fit is unmistakable. The vocals blend with the surety of sound that lets you know that they know what they're talking about. Brian and Chris trade lead vocals and their attention to dynamic details tells the story that it's not about the ego here, each supports the other with taste and artistry.

Add to this mix, the guitar work of Micah, an incredibly sensitive and talented virtuoso, who employs a seemingly non-stop array of well punctuated notes, each presented with a distinct purpose, nothing out of place or time. That's when it hits you: these guys are having a blast up there on that stage. Micah’s vocals make the trio very formidable group, a true triple threat. Chris and Brian both double on keys or guitar, and contribute original material to the band’s expanding library of material.

It’s always nice to be surprised, when a guest artist is welcomed to the stage. Whether an aspiring singer with the awesome pipes, or the sax guy who brings the funk, even the rapper with the steady flow, they’re assured of one thing: that this Decoy is the real thing! And yes, I’m still prejudiced.

Cityview 5/12/2010


By Michael Swanger scenescribe@mchsi.com

Decoy has nothing to lose playing original music
With a name like Decoy, you might expect a pop band to engage in trickery or deception to create and market their music. But there is nothing fraudulent about this Des Moines quintet or their debut album, “Nothing to Lose,” when you consider what is at the root of their open sound: original singer-songwriter tunes with a funky beat and bluesy, rock guitar.

“It makes it interesting when you blend all those elements together,” said Decoy’s singer-acoustic guitarist Chris Ranallo. “I don’t want to compare us to anybody, but if you like Gavin DeGraw or Palo Nutini, you might like us.”

What’s more, if you like stories about how musicians form a band, you might like Decoy’s back-story, which goes something like this:

Two years ago, on a Tuesday, Ranallo hears guitarist Micah Wagner and singer-keyboardist Brian Herrin play their acoustic music at the former dance club Drink, of all places. He asks if he can sit in. The three proceed to jam for a few songs. The crowd thinks it’s rehearsed. But it’s kismet.

About a year later, after writing new material, the trio enters The Sonic Factory Recording Studio in search of a rhythm section and recording some demos and finds bassist William Fix Brown II and drummer Jon Rosmann. Decoy is born, and months later the group records “Nothing to Lose” at Sound Farm Studio in Jamaica (Iowa) with producer Matt Sepanic.

“I thought Micah and Brian were great, and, musically, we gelled immediately,” said Ranallo. “People told us how big our sound was as a trio, but we didn’t have that backbeat without the bass and drums. Once we got Jon and Fix, the band’s music totally changed.”

“Nothing to Lose” is what the title suggests: a group of musicians with a singular purpose of playing their own music their own way. The independent album includes nine original tunes that range from driving R&B (“Travelin’”), to rock (“All This Time”), to ballads (“Wait,” “Light In Her Eyes”) all within the realm of “pop music.”

“The songs are pop, but they have a funky soul,” Ranallo said.

Most important, the singer said, they are original. As a full-time musician, who also performs solo shows to fulfill a demanding schedule of 150 to 200 gigs a year, Ranallo has played a mix of covers and original tunes throughout his career. Some gigs require more covers than others, and, consequently, he feels he has been unfairly labeled.

“We’ve been unable to get into certain festivals because they think we’re a cover band because they’ve seen me play covers,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.”

To help promote the album, Decoy is looking to increase its number of live performances in 2010. Ranallo said the band hopes to break into new Midwest markets such as Omaha, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago.

“We want to build a strong following and keep it growing,” he said. “We would like to play at least one meaningful show of original songs per week.”

To help build its fan base, Ranallo said Decoy is in the process of recording a few new songs that it plans to release on its Web site, www.decoyband.net. The group is also considering adding blogs by its members to enhance its online offerings and to allow fans to better interact with them.

“We want the fans to have a voice, too,” Ranallo said.

In the meantime, as the group promotes its new album, Ranallo wants fans to simply enjoy Decoy’s music and to attend their shows.

“I want people to really relate and listen to the songs and recognize the fact that we’re a Des Moines band playing our own music, and we’re proud of that,” he said. CV

Caption; Decoy plays Friday, March 12 at 9 p.m. at Mickey’s Irish Pub, 1800 N.W. 86th St., Clive.

Oceanwide Studios 12/24/2010


A CD release in Des Moines, IA
Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 10:07AM

So while Andy was being an honest, respectable and engaged father, I was out playing music in a bar for the first CD release of a local band Decoy. Decoy is made up of some great local musicians including a friend of mine from childhood Chris Ranallo. In fact there are about 3 or 4 of us from the old block that have gone on to have some sort of career in music!

The show was great fun. The band started at about 8:30 with an acoustic set followed by me playing solo. After that the band took the stage fully electrified. This is the first time I have seen Decoy as a 5 piece full fledged band. They have been honing there sound now for about 15 months working on arrangements for their disc. I was very impressed. Unlike a lot of local bands Decoy was well rehearsed and very tight. Tasteful guitar and very tight vocals. A very enjoyable evening.

Even more I had a great time snapping some photos. I don't find many reasons to use my very expensive 70-200mm lens. This was a great excuse. I was having a blast running around shooting this band. They have great energy and are obviously having fun on stage. Hopefully a music video is up next for these guys!

Here are a few pics from the night: