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Monday, December 1, 2008


Alex Mandel does Double Duty 
San Francisco Chronicle 

Praise for "Norman Rockwell's America" (aka "Painting America")
San Jose Mercury News

Mandel's Score in EAST SIDE SUSHI
Hollywood Reporter

Mandel's Songs in PIXAR'S BRAVE

Pixar pro hits with fast track

By Jon Burlingame

It pays to be a part-time songwriter with a full-time job at Pixar. Alex Mandel manages the 3D department at the toon studio's Northern California HQ, but still gets out his guitar from time to time. He jammed at the "Wall-E" wrap party with "Brave" director Mark Andrews (an amateur drummer), for example, and occasionally contributes music to short films by Andrews and others.
But Mandel's big chance came nearly a year and a half ago when Andrews yelled his name across the Pixar atrium. The "Brave" director needed a song for a forest scene between headstrong Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor, and asked if he'd like to take a shot at writing something for the scene, since none of the pre-existing songs they had tried were "working," Mandel recalls.
Mandel wrote "Into the Open Air," and it worked so well that he and Andrews collaborated on a second song, the soaring anthem "Touch the Sky." Both are sung by Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis (her first time singing in English).
Nine years ago, married and with a child on the way, Mandel gave up the band life and got a "real job" at Pixar, deciding to "do the music that I want to do" on the side. Now, with two songs in one of the biggest-grossing films of the year, he says he's just "thrilled that both songs made it into the film."

PRI "The World" - "Scottish Identity and Independence"
"Touch the Sky": that's the standout song that you sang in the Pixar animated drama, "Brave," that plays such a central role to the motivation of the main character, and fills us with a sense of the drama of this story in the aisles. But it's written by a man named Alex Mandel. I don't think he's Scottish?"

Alex Mandel has been at Pixar since 2003. Once they discovered he can write songs, he has been able to put those skills to use on shorts and most recently, on Brave.

Have Pixar found their own Sherman brothers?

Starting at 4:16, this EPK video shows Julie Fowlis singing the Mandel/Andrews song "Touch the Sky", as well as composer Patrick Doyle, Birdy & Mumford and Sons.

Two new songs performed by acclaimed Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis are among the film's musical highlights. "Touch the Sky," with music by Pixar's own Alex Mandel and lyrics by Mandel and director Mark Andrews, accompanies Merida's liberating and exhilarating ride through the forest when she is able to escape the confines of castle life. The song "Into the Open Air," with music and lyrics by Mandel, is heard later in the film during a special moment between mother and daughter.

Musically, gone are Randy Newman's folksy tone and Michael Giacchino's infectious pep, making room for a different signature from Scottish composer Patrick Doyle. When Merida needs some alone time, the soundtrack offers lovely ballads by Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis.

JULIE Fowlis, says Alex Mandel, is a "wonderful, amazing singer" with an "incredibly clear, precise quality to her voice." He may have come slightly late to the Fowlis appreciation party, but his verdict is important nonetheless.
Mandel is the multi-instrumentalist who wrote Into the Open Air and co-wrote Touch the Sky, two stirring songs performed by Fowlis on the soundtrack of the latest Disney/Pixar smash, Brave. 


The film's "Into the Open Air" hit a little closer to home for the 34-year-old mother of two. The song's focus is the sometimes tense relationship between a mother and a daughter, and perhaps that's why Fowlis believes it works as a stand-alone song apart from the film.

Russian Red, o Lourdes Hernández, ha grabado para la película dos cancionesA la luz del sol yVolaré, compuestas originalmente por Alex Mandel e interpretadas en la versión original de la película por la cantante de folk Julie Powlis: Into the open air y Touch the sky.
The film also sounds tremendous, including a couple of songs performed by Julie Fowlis.

Inquirer Lifestyle (Phillipines)
"The songs, bristling with native Scottish instruments and performers such as Julie Fowlis and Birdy, are gorgeous."

Ira Glass 
on Alex Mandel and the Snap Judgment Players:
You listening to Snap Judgment yet?  They’re part of a new wave of public radio shows telling stories on the air, and they do it in a style that’s all their own. Different from us or Radiolab or the Moth.... Snap Judgment puts on a hell of a live show and they have one coming up in DC on November 12th with a great band adding music to the stories in real time (that ep with Dancing While Black gives you a taste). 


"I just love the compositions, I love the subtlety of this music, it's a great trio -- and I think people are going to like it."
"The 11 songs on this album are all acoustic gems, graced with exquisitely subtle instrumentation and Mandel's soft tenor."

Lovely, gentle, introspective — this local folk-rock trio makes marvelously subtle music. Comprised of musicians trained at Juilliard and Oberlin, with one member who works with the SF Symphony and another whose day job is scoring movies for Pixar, the accomplished group of pros showcases its mellow, slightly wistful sound on its self-assured debut album.
The Big Takeover
"The Bay Area is 375 miles from L.A.'s Laurel Canyon, but the 70's singer-songwriter bug must have migrated northwest, where it infected Alex Mandel. The Oberlin-trained Pixar Films scorer's voice sounds like a less nasal Damon Albarn (Blur) or Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer without the British accents....and there's even a Beatles nod....But his trio's acoustic folk pop is purely of that popular, confessional variety that emanated from the mountains behind Sunset Blvd before real estate values skyrocketed.
The Echo Falls succeeds at doing a very hard thing: producing a simple, happy-sounding record that supports repeated listening and has depth. Is this album life-changing and earth-shaking? Nope. Is it worth listening to? Yes indeedy. These are little pop gems made for blasting while driving around, windows down, on the first day of spring.

Listening to "The Echo Falls," the self-titled release from a Bay-Area folk-pop trio, brings to mind eating just-harvested vegetables while still standing in the garden: It's fresh and uncomplicated, and nothing is sauced up or overcooked.
"...the best track of all is “Love Over Time,” which could be the best guitar song Ben Folds never wrote. There’s enough to please many folks on this debut."
Relix Magazine (Dec/Jan 2010)
Consisting of a trio featuring Alex Mandel, a musician who has scored short films for Pixar, The Echo Falls launches his name into the bulging singer-songwriter bag with an invigorating debut. Intimate set pieces circle the complexities of modern life ("Watchtower", "Fire Down Below"), reassuring reflections rooted in optimism ("Every Second Thought", "There is Time Enough"), the depth of thoughts about fatherhood ("Little One") and a confident promise to a friend, a lover, hell, just plain old you and me ("You Still Have It All"). Mandel is accompanied by David Arend on double bass and David Brandt on drums, vibraphone and vocals -- and they do an admirable job of helping Mandel find a way to express his own cinematic mind films.
"For a three-piece, acoustic-only band, these guys were an orchestra of sound! I was astounded and in awe of the crazy shit that came out of frontman Alex Mandel's guitar. With a simple acoustic guitar, Alex's technique and ability to play rhythm and lead at the same time kept me hanging on to every note throughout their entire set."
This San Francisco Bay Area trio's debut CD, much of which was recorded on a laptop, features intelligent, acoustic-tinged indie rock.
Songs like "Hummingbird" and "Road to Parnassus" showcase the true essence of what today's indie folk rock has to offer. 
San Francisco Examiner
"the interplay between Ray Davies-like singer/guitarist Alex Mandel and cellist Semyon Kobialka was mesmerizing, and never less than rocking. Drummer Brian Clahan was also excellent." 
San Francisco Bay Guardian
"There's no better launching pad than Alex Mandel's works of popsmithery"
“a band this good deserves to be huge"