Press for Live Drums:
"The overall feeling of the record is technical but chilled out. Even on the more bombastic tracks (generally the ones with rappers), there is a smoky, devil may care tenor that makes this a great headphones record."
"It lives up to it’s title- obviously as it’s basis is O’Brien’s drumming, but also because the drums, samples and vocal performances are infused with a crackling electricity, it’s a live wire of a record...with toms bending like bass chords, cymbal crashes tuning into a digital wash and an exploratory feel that seems to be pushing how far these percussive melodies can go, Live Drums is late-night freeway music that gets stuck in your head"
"You may be familiar with Graham's work in No Bird Sing, Abzorbr or any number of other bands he's played in or done production for but Live Drums is some next level business"
"His debut solo album mixes dark, brooding production with crackling live drums, and the result is incredibly engaging. Think a less-busy El-P meets Thom Yorke's solo material."
"Minnesota drum genius Graham O’Brien drops my favorite kind of beats - fat, distorted awesome. "
(The Electric Tapes)
"The sampling, drumming, and guest appearances by other Minneapolis greats...offer a solid mix of instrumental, experimental hip-hop I’ve never heard before. In fact, I’d have to echo what City Pages’ said back in September 2009 review of NBS’ debut effort by calling their and Graham’s albums 'groundbreaking'.
The sounds and rhythms he produces on this work of creative genius are excellent. The album... does a great job of floating back and forth with rap, hip-hop, and just a smidgen of indie rock beats and well-placed instrumental interludes."
"Expertly crafted and engineered, the combination of textures and sounds on this track blew me away the first time I heard it. The transitions are to die for. You can hear the hours and hours of work spent on finely tuned sounds, the beautifully creative arrangement, the mix, the detail. Headphones are highly recommended. "
[in reference to "CFC's", featured on issue 01]
The latest creative production from Twin Cities drummer and producer Graham O'Brien, Live Drums is an instrumental alt hip hop album. The distinguishing element on this album is that each track is driven by O'Brien's live-performed and uniquely processed drums, giving it a dynamic and improvisational feel. Along with the instrumentals, Live Drums also includes his work with a few of his favorite vocalists such as Kristoff Krane, Adam Svec, Alicia Wiley, Eric Blair and DVS.
O'Brien has recorded with, performed and or produced a large body of work in collaboration with many well-known Twin Cities hip-hop artists including Eyedea, DJ Anatomy, Crescent Moon (Kill the Vultures), Kristoff Krane, Junkyard Empire, Carnage and No Bird Sing.
Compositionally, Live Drums is informed by the likes of DJ Shadow, EL-P, Postishead and Massive Attack. As a drummer Graham draws inspiration from Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta), Billy Martin (Medeski Martin and Wood), and TwinCities locals Jt Bates (Fat Kids Wednesdays) and Peter Leggett (Heiruspecs, Big Trouble).
Album art by James Penfield
"With “Live Drums” Graham O”Brien has created a document that musicians and serious listeners of art will need to experience...With every listen, a new scope, intent, interpretation and capacity for experience unfolds as these sound & landscapes continue to change as you change in them."
- Peter Leggett (drummer w/Heiruspecs, Mason Jennings)
"Incredibly creative record. unreal textures. a basquiat painting on drums."
- Bill Mike (guitarist of the Bill Mike Band, Unknown Prophets)