Luke Sweeney
Gig Seeker Pro

Luke Sweeney

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Psychedelic




"EDITOR'S PICK Luke Sweeney at Fernwood"

Found in the happiest creases of psychedelic pop, garage, freak folk and classic rock, Luke Sweeney swirls quite the mellifluous flavor of sounds. And the San Francisco musician's latest single is a shining example of this taste—a creamy track titled "Mother's Day" that feels like rose water on a friendly day of sunshine. Sweeney proudly dedicates this tune to his wife and mothers everywhere: "a thank you for all you do in raising healthy, conscious, beautiful children in this chaotic world." 25% of proceeds from this limited edition cassette are donated to the nonprofit Every Mother Counts. The poet, composer and guitarist offers this same kindhearted energy to the redwoods and attendees of Fernwood: "we're looking forward to bringing some of that vintage Big Sur spirit along with some new songs from a forthcoming album that we're excited to share." [VS] - Monterey County Weekly

"Week in Pop"

Luke Sweeney’s single “Mother’s Day” brings out all the big-time power-pop instrumental & arrangement chops to make a sentimental song for the ages. This is one for everyone that misses their mom, or is lucky enough to spend the Hallmark holiday with the most wonderful women in the world who has given them life. The very chord progression make-up conveys the feeling of honest expression with a feeling that brings youthful remembrances forward to the now in a song designed to celebrate those special somebodies that are truly behind the reasons for the weekend holiday season. “Mother’s Day” manifests itself too as being something of the result of every major power-pop movement where Sweeney is able to articulate an infinite lullaby for his daughter that immortalizes his wife & the beauty of a bond that paves the way with guidelines for the generations to follow. - Impose Magazine

"Luke Sweeney Delivers Modern Spin On Classic Rock At Hotel Vegas Tour Stop"

Some people find their favorite band on the radio, online, or at a festival, but classic rock visionary Luke Sweeney found me. My roommate stumbled across his record Adventure: Us in the lost & found of a club where she ran sound during SXSW 2016. She brought home a number of CDs and records whose original owners were unknown, and we listened to each and every one.

Luke Sweeney’s Adventure: Us ended up being, by far, our favorite. Sweeney’s unique take on classic rock shines with sweet sunny psych-pop, while twisted distortion and wry lyrics lurk in its shadows. He strikes a perfect balance between happy-go-lucky ear candy that begs to be listened to over and over again, creating intricate, insightful songs that demand to be mulled over until they’re understood. Sweeney’s catchy melodies and counterintuitive song structures fold together like origami, fitting just the right way to create three-dimensional, tangible, and at times breathtakingly beautiful experiences that transcend listeners to sunnier worlds.

I’ve listened to Adventure: Us so many times that the record is scratched beyond repair. When I learned that Luke Sweeney would be in town for his fall 2016 tour, I was delighted. As weekend one of the Austin City Limits Festival came to a close, Sweeney and his band loaded in at Hotel Vegas in east-central Austin.

Hotel Vegas gleamed with silver streamers and red-blue lights as people milled about within its dark, dive-y interior—a cross between an old Western saloon and a tattoo parlor in an '80s B-horror film. When Luke Sweeney took the stage, the mood shifted. Those dark corners of the bar buzzed deep with bass as silver glimmers reflected kaleidoscopic guitar riffs, red lights intensified the band’s raw rock, and blue lights emanated in waves of cool, California grooves. Sweeney made dry jokes and mysterious, one-liner introductions during the set, hinting at an upcoming album and sharing a few brand-new songs. He primarily played songs from Adventure: Us, saving its single “Miss Me?” for his finale.

With the current band featuring keyboard, bass, and drums while Sweeney fronts with vocals and guitar, the San Francisco-based group typically play shows around California when they aren’t touring the US. They’re SXSW alumni, familiar with Austin’s vibrant music scene and wild festivals, and will return for SXSW 2017. The band has also played Noise Pop and CMJ, among other festivals, further proving they're a can't-miss.

In a culture of retro remakes and throwbacks, Luke Sweeney is classic rock’s piercingly bright diamond in the rough. His refreshing compositions and forward-thinking lyrics don’t rely on old tropes or underestimate today’s listeners; if anything, they encourage listeners to think for themselves, explore and grow, never stop re-imagining the status quo, and above all, get Adventure: Us.

- Merri Palmer - BandsInTown News

"Show Review: Luke Sweeney @ SXSW 2016"

SXSW was filled with some great bands this year, one of them being Luke Sweeney from San Francisco, who played the inside stage of Cheer Up Charlie’s, a colorful venue that serves fancy cocktails and kombucha on tap. Luke Sweeney and his band were dressed in tropical print emulating their lively energy and spirit of the quirky venue. The band packed the inside space with a large crowd as soon as they started playing as Sweeney began jumping and dancing around stage— creating a great atmosphere to start off the lively night. His catchy tunes were sure to keep the crowd moving, including myself, with everyone’s heads bobbin’ and hips shakin’. Sweeney’s sound is whimsical and amiable with psychedelic pop and rock and roll influences. One of the songs the band played that night included “Spousal Arousal,” which was dedicated to all (two) of the people in the crowd that admitted to being in serious relationships. They ended the set with a track off their most recent album Adventure: Us titled “Miss Me,” a catchy song to groove to.

I spoke to Sweeney after the show and I asked him how he describes his own music and he explained that he has to answer that question so many times that he describes it as “romantic comedy,” “adventurous psychedelic, pop, soul music” or “body surf rock” since he lives 10 blocks from the ocean but doesn’t surf in it. He also mentioned how tricky it is to be in Austin, or SXSW, as an unsigned band or a small label like their band. He then discussed how he gets slightly annoyed at the amount of people that come to events like SXSW to go to conferences that teach you how the music industry works. Sweeney believes from his experience touring and the like, there’s a simple formula to understand how the music industry actually works. He went on to explain that creating a self-recorded video on youtube and being stumbled upon by a tastemaker is the same thing as playing your music and being found— it all comes down to being discovered— it just requires right timing and quality music and performance. He said he’s “tired of people pretending that there’s some secret formula to the music industry”…”not saying the conferences are disingenuous at all” because there is a lot you can learn about the industry from conferences like this.

I asked Luke how he felt about playing at SXSW and he said it felt normal since he played the same venue last year. Playing a solo show with no instruments at a huge venue like The Warfield would be a pretty big deal, but this was just like playing at any regular old venue especially since he’s played at Hotel Vegas, another venue in Austin, TX, before playing SXSW last year.

I remember the first time I saw Luke Sweeney at Streetlight Records on Pacific Ave. and there were only a few people in the shop, including me and a few of some of my friends plus the customers that were browsing the record store. Whilst listening to the band, I was so surprised that more people weren’t aware of who Luke Sweeney was— he deserves so much more credit than he gets!!

He’s a really genuine and talented guy that supports college and community radio, what more can you get?? :)

So if you haven’t heard him yet, check out his music here:

& these are a few of my favorite tracks:

Open Those Savage Eyes

Sympathy for the Night

Stone E.A. Way - KZSC Santa Cruz

"Thursday SXSW Picks"

Much like his kindred L.A. spirit Bart Davenport, San Francisco singer/songwriter Luke Sweeney approaches pop with a decidedly askew sense of priorities. He confounds aural expectations and puts the knock on reverence in a manner that summons the peccadilloes of eccentrics like Todd Rundgren and Stephen Malkmus. 2014's riveting Adventure:Us crackles with time-worn allusions to psychedelia, bubblegum, glam, and mellow Seventies balladry.

– Greg Beets - Austin Chronicle

"Doin' It to You"

LUKE SWEENEY has come a long way from the strict parameters of his old approach to recording. As a member of San Francisco trio Vows, Sweeney incorporated wide-ranging influences into his pop-oriented grab bag of songs. And while his stylistic foundation remains suitably ambiguous, Sweeney's willingness to embrace the recording studio has resulted in Adventure: Us, one of the best albums released last year.

"Six or seven years ago I would only record onto analog tape, and not use anything I couldn't cut in one take, and not do any overdubs, and all that stuff," Sweeney says. "I don't think there's a single song on this album that didn't benefit from some kind of studio touch."

Adventure: Us was released by Aerobic International in October 2014, and was recorded with producer Robin MacMillan at Media Blitz East in Brooklyn over the course of about four years. Sweeney originally visited MacMillan with his band Vows, but subsequently sent demos to MacMillan of some ideas for a solo album. At the time, Sweeney had only a vague idea of what the project might become. In the meantime, following the breakup of Vows, Sweeney released a heralded solo album of older songs called Ether Ore—a sly reference to the spirit parasol of Elliott Smith and a shortcut to explaining the vibe of the album's acoustic-based inspiration.

Under MacMillan's hand, Adventure: Us expanded into far-reaching pop, psychedelic, and classic-rock realms with humor and irreverence—both calling cards of Sweeney's songwriting. "Miss Me?" combines Big Star riffs and squirrely melodies, while "Open Those Savage Eyes" takes on a kind of soul-pop that Sweeney says he couldn't have imagined without the help of MacMillan.

"When we first started recording ["Open Those Savage Eyes"], it was barely two minutes long," says Sweeney. "By the time I left, I thought it might be a throwaway. But Robin called me up months later and was revisiting the tracks to start mixing them. He was like, 'I'm hearing something kinda like Sly and the Family Stone; I'm gonna try this treatment on it.' I said, 'Go for it.' It kind of revitalized the song and pumped it back to life. I might have left it for dead if it'd stayed what it was."

Following performances at Noise Pop, CMJ Music Festival, and several West Coast tours, Sweeney and his band—drummer Brett Eastman, bassist Roberto Pagano, and keyboardist (and Sweeney's wife) Rohini Moradi—are working on another record, which Sweeney reports is to be as wide ranging and curiously fluid as Adventure: Us.

"Each song and each album deserves its own character," he says. "On Adventure: Us, we happened to have the ability to make it sound like a full-on studio production, so that's what we did. It's about giving each song as much of its own kind of character and template that you can, and not worrying about the old punk ethos that we kind of might have suffered from, that's like [adopts British accent], 'Plug it! Track it! Release it!'

"Some of it was hard to shed," Sweeney continues. "It was really me not caring about if anyone thinks it's too fancy or not. I personally feel like doing studio magic is just as authentic."

- Ryan J. Prado - Portland Mercury

"SXSW 2015: Top 10 Bay Area acts playing festival"

Here are 10 of the most interesting Bay Area acts scheduled to perform at SXSW. Check them out in Austin, if you're fortunate enough to also be going to the festival, or catch them back in the Bay Area...
The San Francisco singer-songwriter has earned high marks for his two solo albums -- 2013's "Ether Ore" and last year's "Adventure:Us." His sound is a distinctly Golden State mix of psych-pop, soft rock and country/folk. - San Jose Mercury News

"Psych Wonder"

A few days before Luke Sweeney flew out to New York to cut his new record, he went into full-blown panic mode.
“As I was going through the songs in my head, I didn’t think there were any quality songs,” Sweeney explains on his way to play a string of shows in Oregon.
He frantically started writing and demoing new songs, hoping he’d stumble onto a good hook of any kind.
Fortunately Sweeney’s Hail Mary and panic were both off base. Once he settled into a Williamsburg, Brooklyn studio, the songs he had originally felt lacked pop appeal started to come to life.
Sweeney recorded Adventure:Us, his first full-length studio album, in 10 days. The 12-track collection is a psych-pop/folk-rock artifact that encompasses the spirit of the perpetually amorphous San Francisco sound. Sweeney’s voice feels reminiscent of fellow SF rocker Christopher Owens, formerly of Girls.
While “Miss Me?” showcases Sweeney’s affinity for vintage AM radio pop, the breezy flowers-in-your-hair folk vibe circling “Doin’ It To You,” gets a lift from playful Caribbean-inspired rhythms.
By the time Sweeney left the studio, any anxiety was replaced by accomplishment.
“I still had ringing in my ears,” he says. “The songs were stuck in my head, and I was enjoying listening to them.”
Now Sweeney’s touring, both solo and with his full band. He plays solo Thursday at Barmel and Friday at The Shadow Box, and will be joined by his full band Saturday at Fernwood. His solo shows are all over the place. He plays tunes that predate Adventure:Us as well as new songs like “Time on Your Own,” which Sweeney describes as “folk-friendly, early Kinks.” - Monterey County Weekly

"SF's 10 Best Albums of 2014"

We love Luke long time (if you're too young for Stanley Kubrick films, you can just write that first sentence off as a typo). His 2014 debut full length release, Adventure: Us is a larger than life eccentric psych pop album. Sweeney has a classic rock and roll singing voice that is perfectly fused with his band's unique and upbeat songs (which are mixed in with a few 60s-esque slow jam ballads on the album). Sweeney's humor is always at the forefront of his work but Adventure: Us is a coherent album that spews quality and charm. - Deli Magazine SF

"Fourteen for 2014: The Best Songs from The Bay"

About the Bands:

Painted Palms – “Hypnotic”
The Family Crest – “The World”
The She’s – “My Secret to Keep”
Cocktails – “Tough Love”
Tycho – “Montana”
K.Flay – “Make Me Fade”
Cathedrals – “OOO AAA”
Luke Sweeney – “Open Those Savage Eyes”
Couches – “Train Of Thought”
Doe Eye – “Stay in the Past”
tUnE-yArDs – “Water Fountain”
Kool A.D. – “The Front (feat. Toro Y Moi and Amaze 88)”
Creative Adult – “Public Transit”
Happy Diving – “Weird Dream” - KQED

"Luke Sweeney takes Adventure:Us to Rickshaw Stop"

Luke Sweeney has built his name around the San Francisco Bay Area as a rock ‘n’ roll sweetheart since his move from VOWS & Montra to his own solo project and coveted release of Ether Ore, his solo debut, in 2013.

Ether Ore, a dreamy, singer-songwriter release that was stripped-down and bare boned, came with critical acclaim and a number of possibilities and expectations for Sweeney. His new album, Adventure:Us, which was produced by Robin MacMillan in 2014, takes Sweeney in a whole new direction, and into a more garage, rock ‘n’ roll, and psychedelic sound. From the pop anthem that is “Doin’ It To You,” to the psychedelic reminiscent “Lap Of The Gods,” Sweeney’s Adventure:Us reinvigorates the power of a live band, and has that feel-good rock ‘n’ roll style that is impossible to dislike. - The Bay Bridged

"December 2014 Reviews: Luke Sweeney - Adventure: Us"

The debut full-length studio release from San Francisco's Luke Sweeney. This young fellow has already made for himself locally in the popular bands Vows and Wet Dreams Dry Magic. With this album he's decided to go solo. Adventure: Us sounded pretty good the first time we heard it. But it wasn't until we pulled up some of Sweeney's videos and read the press release (someone did an amazing job writing this one) that we began to really get into and appreciate this young man's music. This album treads into a variety of genres, all the while having an overall playful and friendly vibe. The press release compared Luke's music to other artists like Television, Pavement, T. Rex, Mac DeMarco, Mikal Cronin, Cass McCombs, and Jimi that should give you a general idea of the territory in which this album treads. But even though we can hear traces of these and more, Sweeney really seems to be following his own muse here. And, in doing so, manages to come up with some mighty entertaining tracks that are credible and real. And our overall impression after a few spins is that this is one of those that will still sound great years from now. We love the guitars...we love the vocals...we love the rhythms...we love the melodies... Hell, to be honest we love everything about this album. Twelve kickass cuts here including "Sub-Radar Moves," "Miss Me?" (the first single from the album...there's a cool video for this one on, "Boombox," and "Lap of the Gods." Wonderfully entertaining stuff, highly recommended. TOP PICK. - BabySue

"Luke Sweeney - Adventure: Us"

"A staple of the SF music scene, singer-songwriter Luke Sweeney stops by Origami tonight in celebration of his newest release, Adventure:Us, out on Aerobic International. Built from his earliest days as a stripped-down solo artist, Adventure:Us builds on the promise of his early bedroom songs towards a lush and full psych-pop sound supported by a cast of SF standbys. Equally exotic and peaceful, Adventure:Us looks poised to push Luke Sweeney further afield in his cozy world of CA-bred psychedelica, and we're glad to be along for the ride!" - Origami Vinyl

"Local Release (San Francisco): Luke Sweeney"

Luke Sweeney - Adventure: Us
Having been bouncing around the SF scene for some time now the debut of Sweeney's inaugural solo effort provides twelve tracks of psych drenched Bay Area rock. Combined with equal doses of garage pop and surf listeners can bring to mind contemporaries through the past few decades. Jump back to the '70s and reminisce with the voice of T. Rex's Marc Bolan, compare the heart of a string lyricism of Christopher Owens, or the shared instrumental spotlight between guitar and keys of fellow up and comers The Tambo Rays. The majority of the record is ripe with summer imagery and makes a great companion for wandering any coastal city or just about anywhere that can bring you into a dangerously high level of relaxation. Songs you'll be singing in your head after first listen include "Miss Me?", "Boombox", and "Doin' It to You". Sweeney has been traveling up and down California recently and can next be found home in the bay at The Chapel on November 1st with the opening night of a residency from The Stone Foxes. - Deli Radio

"Discovery Artist - Luke Sweeney"

Don't try to categorize Luke Sweeney of San Francisco, California, because your efforts will be fruitless. Yes, technically he is the leader of a band named after him but deeming him a "singer-songwriter" seems so reductionist. The same with calling his music "bedroom pop" or any variation of "indie" because although the sounds are subtle and sweet, they tend to change from song to song on his most recent album, Adventure: Us.

Though right now may best exemplify Sweeney's mercurial nature as he is between releases. It's been over a year and a half since he released Ether Ore but he's much closer to the release date for Adventure: Us which will be dropping Oct 14 of this year. For the time being, Sweeney professes to stand closer artistically with the latter, which he promises to be more of a "romantic" album.

Just listen to the two singles "Miss Me?" and "Doin' It to You" then watch their respective hilarious videos and you'll pick up on Sweeney's soft side. BTR was able to catch up with Luke Sweeney one morning when he woke up early to feed his pet pig. Oh, and did we mention that yet? He has a pet pig.

Luke Sweeney's take on "the weird" may be considered normal in San Francisco but would likely be dismissed as "freaky" just about anywhere else. For instance, what's interesting about how Sweeney describes caring for a pet is that it sounds like he's speaking about a dog in that the pig "wakes up about 7:30 every morning, gets up off the couch, and starts barking at me that he's ready to eat his breakfast."

Not to mention that he takes his pig for a walk, but what makes the whole experience uniquely "Luke Sweeney" is that he answers my genuinely befuddled query over this matter with a plaintive, "Oh, yeah." Every question about this pet is answered in a completely matter-of-fact way, including its name, Atticus. It all seems to be par for the course with Luke Sweeney; he's got a pig and that pig needs walkin'.

One way that Luke Sweeney has managed to remain balanced within his own psyche is that his band hasn't really played much outside of California yet. They've grown accustomed to being "in their own habitat" in that they seem normal amongst their own, but the rest of the country has yet to judge. However, starting today, they'll be on a two-week tour going through some decidedly "non-freaky" places such as Norman, Oklahoma, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Breaking out into non-coastal America should put their live show to the test.

Speaking of "breaking out" though, the band is known to have audiences break into a "love train on the dance floor" while the musicians were "playing probably the slowest, least danceable songs" in Sweeny's "entire lifetime catalogue." So really, what motivates them is anyone's guess. To be fair, that show took place in Big Sur, California, so the whole incident might adhere to the "normal in California" theory--but sometimes love trains happen wherever you go.

"We haven't really gotten to witness too much of what we take for granted as just our character--offending people or weirding them out or just being strange anywhere else. There's no sense in toning it down. I've been playing and touring in bands for a long time and I think once you're up performing, people get excited and if it's weird and strange and makes them feel uncomfortable, I think that's a good thing," says Sweeney.

Dealing with discomfort is pretty much how Sweeney got his start in music, so it's no surprise really that he embraces making other people feel that discomfort. When he was 13 he was in a bicycle accident, in which he broke his jaw after flying headfirst into the pavement. He had his jaw wired shut for six weeks.

A couple of days later, he recalls, "my dad brought me an acoustic guitar... I didn't have much to do over that span of six weeks."

Somehow the most painful detail of this incident was that he ate his "Thanksgiving dinner through a straw." With all of that time, Sweeney was able to competently "pick up" the instrument and really learn. In a strange way, he's thankful for the injury and the time it allotted him to learn the instrument he plays now.

"It's one of those strange experiences that nobody would ask for but it ended up giving me this motivation to do something different. I feel like it came really easy to me for some reason; not to say that I didn't work really hard at it at the same time, too. It was something that I enjoyed a lot and my learning approach--everybody's is different--in the beginning I started reading tabs and stuff like that but I never really read music music. Then I just learned everything kind of picking it up by ear," says Sweeney.

Luke Sweeney's 2013 effort Ether Ore is comprised of a "back catalogue" of songs that Sweeney had before starting this project, none of the songs coming from "necessarily one genre." When compared to what he is about to release, Adventure: Us, he says that the tracks on Ether Ore are from a "different sound, tone, and maybe genre." A few of the older songs on the album were played and recorded in an alternate tuning on an acoustic guitar, with Sweeney playing all instruments but the "percussion tracks."

According to their creator, the difference in mood between the two is that "Ether Ore is kind of like dreamy treatises on a love that might or might not be there, Adventure: Us grabs you by the hand and is basically songs to stir you up."

On the whole, Adventure: Us is more romantic and sexual, with the singles "Miss Me?" and "Doin' It to You" largely contributing to that feel. Though these two have a summer fling appeal to them, the rest of the album "spans the whole spectrum of emotions and tones that one might experience when engaging a relationship."

The video for "Miss Me?" depicts outright infatuated hijinks where his character meets a striking woman at a beach bonfire and, to make sure he impresses her, he auditions for a number of Bay Area bands. In the end, things don't quite pan out for him.

"I think it's funny, the whole scene of trying to fit in to a band, trying to get in where you can. When I first moved to the city from Berkeley, I recall auditioning for one band and how awkward and weird that was. I just wanted to capture some of that awkwardness," says Sweeney.

When asked which band he thinks he could make it into for real, his response was Warm Soda.

"I think I could cut it in most of those bands, not on the instruments necessarily that I brought to those auditions."

Maybe Luke Sweeney is better off playing his own instruments though, auditioning for no one but himself. And that's a compliment.

- Jordan Reisman - Breakthru Radio

"Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events"

Luke Sweeney’s single “Doin’ It to You,” recently released with a music video, is a promising fist taste of the San Francisco songwriter’s forthcoming solo debut, Adventure: Us. Twinkling bells make a bittersweet guitar chord progression positively radiant, and Sweeney’s smooth singing builds to a beautiful chorus that demands repeat listening. Whether during an ascending refrain or buoyant verse, Sweeney’s silken vocals pitch to please. Sweeney, who will perform at Brick & Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco) this weekend, previously fronted local rock acts Vows and Wet Dreams Dry Magic, but Adventure: Us marks the first album under his own name. The painstaking production and carefully refined songwriting present on “Doin’ It to You” alone make the album one of the most anticipated local releases of the season.
— Sam Lefebvre - East Bay Express

"Music Video Premiere: Luke Sweeney - Miss Me?"

San Francisco based garage pop musician, Luke Sweeney has released a brand new music video for his single, Miss Me? The video is a very funny tongue and cheek, vignette style short film featuring some of the Bay Area’s best and brightest bands in the local music scene.

Appearances from Social Studies, Warm Soda, Vandella, The Aerosols, Midtown Social, and members of Two Gallants and Trainwreck Riders shows that Sweeney is not only a talented musician in his own right, but has a great connection with music community that surrounds him.

Miss Me?’s satirical look at the challenges of auditioning for rock bands will surely make you break out into laughter. Sweeney’s fictitious accounts of rejection and social turmoil are almost as accurate as they are hilarious. He also did a great job in adopting the talent of videographer, Emily Sevin and editor Neal Jonas as his vision (Sweeney wrote and directed the video) is brought to life, while exhibiting seamless transitions and high definition quality.

Congrats to the band for making a super adorable and bright video!

You can catch Luke and his band (which includes members of Girls, Stone Foxes and Plum) live on May 30th at Starry Plough in Berkeley, CA. -je - SF Deli Magazine

"Luke Sweeney offers new music video for “Miss Me?”"

Luke Sweeney, Bay Area garage pop sweetheart, is at it again. This time, with his new video for “Miss Me?” which is set for release on his upcoming full length Adventure:Us in August. The video was written & directed by Sweeney, filmed by Emily Sevin, and edited by Neal Jonas.

The fun and quirky video begins as a story of Sweeney trying to impress a girl he met one night on the beach, and then follows his pursuit to try out for bands in order to get her attention. Of course, it wouldn’t be the tell-tale love story without it taking a couple of hilarious twists and turns (Sweeney brings out a ukulele for one audition), and it wouldn’t be some of Sweeney’s characteristic work if it wasn’t paired along with great music. The song is entertaining, with just enough twang. It’s pure rock n’ roll with a catchy garage pop twist.

Also, for you Bay Area music lovers out there, check out the cameos by Bay Area bands like Social Studies, Warm Soda, Vandella, and tons of others! - The Bay Bridged

"The Selector June 11-17, 2014"

"Miss Me?" Luke Sweeney asks in the lead track from his forthcoming album Adventure:Us, and in response I'd probably deny, avoid eye contact, but then demurely say, "Um...maybe a li'l bit." Truth be told I've been quite won over by the album, maybe because of the apparent shared affectation for Mark Bolan's swinging shuffle, George Harrison's weepsy guitar, Jeff Tweedy's pop twang, and a little bit of Question Mark and the Mysterians mysterious...something or other. Now Sweeney is returning to SF from a California tour with a homecoming show at Monarch (of all places.) Luke, please don't leave us like that again. (Ryan Prendiville) - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Noise Pop Day 2: The Fresh & the Only's Brief Review and Photos"

Four different bands took the stage on Wednesday night and if you wanted a long night of rock this was definitely the show where you'll get your best bang for your buck. The Fresh & The Only's waited until about 11:30 to go on stage and by that time only the committed were left. The crowd danced harder than anyone I've seen in recent San Francisco live music history. Everyone was alive and the band was feeling it. The band even had a brief interaction with the crowd prior to the show talking about the "circle of trust" that they were hoping to create with the crowd. - Huffington Post

"The Fresh & Onlys lead SF surf rock showcase at Brick & Mortar for Noise Pop Fest"

NoisePop Fest has begun. All over San Francisco, people scatter from venue to venue to hear sets from bands big and small. On Wednesday, February 26th, Brick and Mortar Music Hall hosted a nice array of authentically San Franciscan surf rock. With the four bands on the line up, Luke Sweeney, Sandy’s, Cool Ghouls and the headliners, The Fresh and the Onlys, the crowd stumbled in from the rain and warmed up to the retro feel of the evening.
Luke Sweeney started off the night with a nice mix of catchy pop-meets-70’s garage. With a full band and fun stage presence, they set the tone for a good time. - Showbams

"Noise Pop 2014: The Fresh & Onlys take on Brick and Mortar"

As the storm gripped the city, San Francisco’s Brick and Mortar served as a kind of musical haven to escape the pounding rain outside. For Noise Pop’s second evening of the week, the lineup featured a strong array of indie folk and psych rock; performances would include Luke Sweeney, Sandy’s, Cool Ghouls, and the Fresh & Onlys.

The first to take the stage was the Bay Area’s Luke Sweeney, whose 2013 Ether/Or is best known for its inspiration to Sweeney’s musical spirit animal: Elliot Smith. However, despite these past comparisons between Sweeney and Smith, the evening’s performance from Sweeney & Co. entered territories that felt more fleshed out and put together than any kind of bedroom folk. With a full band to back up Sweeney, the group weaved in and out of songs that were solid, to say the very least. - The Bay Bridged

"Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week"

Luke Sweeney recently released his solo debut, Ether Ore, the album name a reference to the singer-guitarist's spirit animal, Elliot Smith. It's a sweet, fresh start for Sweeney as an indie solo artist (“recorded on 1/2" tape in a living room...over the span of a few days in April 2012”), but you likely know his previous work in VOWS and his excellent current band, lo-fi pop dreamers Wet Dreams Dry Magic, headlining tonight as part of the Mission Creek Oakland Music and Arts Festival. - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Local Licks This week, we review Everyone Is Dirty, Luke Sweeney, and The Bang Girl Group Revue."

Luke Sweeney, Ether Ore

Judging by his album's title (a clear nod to Elliott Smith's Either/Or) and its description ("recorded on 1/2' tape in a living room"), Luke Sweeney seems like just another bedroom folk project. But his music is more than one lonely guy recording sad songs in his room. On "Old World Rebellion" and "Lover's Tale," Sweeney creates magic with lyrics that are deeply personal and music that's so powerful it sounds like it's being performed by a full band. (self-released). - East Bay Express

"Review: Luke Sweeney, 'Ether Ore'"

The title of Luke Sweeney's first solo release is a play on Elliott Smith's seminal indie-folk album, "Either/Or." There are plenty of other similarities, too: The Bay Area singer-songwriter, left alone after the other members of his band VOWS relocated to Los Angeles, also recorded his album at home, played nearly every instrument and, taping on reel-to-reel, gave the music a distinctly handcrafted feel. Songs such as "Stuck to the Vine" and "Stone E. A. Way," meanwhile, balance delicate finger picking in odd tunings and the hushed sadness of unrequited love with melodies that feel like opiates for the soul, making this far more than a mere tribute piece.
- Aidin Vaziri - San Francisco Chronicle

"Q&A: Luke Sweeney (of VOWS) releases solo album"

With his two fellow VOWS members now living in L.A., Luke Sweeney was forced to take matters into his own hands, and I mean that pretty literally – Sweeney recorded a solo album, the just-released Ether Ore, playing almost all of the instruments himself.
Sweeney put together a band called Wet Dreams Dry Magic and played a string of shows throughout the fall, including a November residency at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. But don’t worry if you missed those shows, because you can catch them on January 17th at The Uptown in Oakland, or you can watch Sweeney all by himself tonight at San Francisco’s Verdi Club, playing with a ridiculous number of other Bay Area luminaries as part of The Outta Sight Holiday Spectacular.
I caught up with Sweeney and asked the tough questions about his new solo album. Well, okay, I just asked him some questions. That maybe weren’t all that tough. But his answers are still pretty illuminating.
BB: This is your first album, right?
LS: “This is my first solo album. Though most of the songs are pretty old, the time was ripe for me to record them with the second of three Vows migrating to L.A.”
BB: Is there a theme or concept to the album at all?
LS: "There are a couple of songs on it that ended up sounding like “singles”…but for the most part the piece is a conceptual whole."
BB: Where was it recorded?
LS: "Everything was recorded in the living room of a house at the base of the feral industrial hills of Hayward, California. I say feral because there’s literally feral cats living all around this neighborhood. The house belongs to the grandparents of my dear friend Lucas Boilon (of Faultline Studios and Golden Gate Studios), who engineered and produced the album."
BB: Did it come out how you’d expected/hoped? Any surprises during the recording process?
LS: "We recorded on two recycled reels of 1/2-inch tape on this Otari mx5050 8-track reel-to-reel machine that engineer Kyle McGraw (also of Faultline Studios) lent for the purposes of this project and lugged over the Bay with me. The tunes were mixed directly onto computer from there (i.e. nothing’s been tweaked on ProTools). As you know, recording on tape means there’s a lot less double-takes, which by nature leads to a pretty off-the-cuff, imperfect feel. It’s a process where you have to either have a lot of tape and time, or you have to have a very clear vision of the songs and an inspired commitment to the sounds you want.
We recorded everything over the span of a few days in April 2012, so I think we pulled it off rather nicely. I play everything on this record except most drum tracks, which Brett Eastman contributed.
Surprises during the process: It was fun hearing ghosts of the old picking recordings on the tape reels when we finished a take…also, my pig ate some kind of pot butter cheese loaf that he discovered in the back yard and subsequently went into a Wonka daze that lasted almost 24 hours."
BB: Is the title Ether Ore in any way a reference to Elliot Smith’s album Either/Or?
LS: "The album’s title – Ether Ore – is indeed an impressionistic pun that’s embedded in one of my songs (“Pleasures of Earth”), which symbolizes the human need to search for the satiation of love against a contrast of pettiness, cruelty, war, jealousy, loneliness, and fear. Initially it was conceived without reference to Elliot Smith’s album Either/Or, but I later realized that for some it might serve as a sort of nod to him, which is an appropriate coincidence since almost all these songs were written years ago in a period of isolation…and I do love a good pun."
BB: Next live show? Tour plans?
LS: "Wet Dreams Dry Magic just finished a three-month fall residency at Brick and Mortar Music Hall, in addition to shows at Great American, Make-Out Room and The Knockout…so we’re taking a slight breather while my second album is being mixed in New York (by Robin MacMillan of Shalants and Persephone’s Bees), and I record solo album number three with Rob Easson in the hills of Mill Valley. We are plotting a small West Coast tour in early spring, and we’re working on a very special full-band four-song 7? novella. I’m scouting labels for proper releases of these works before we plot any big tours."

Mike G. December 19th 2012 - The Bay Bridged

"Premiere - Luke Sweeney, "Special Stoner""

Luke Sweeney has a been a staple of the San Francisco scene for a decade now. Over the course of the past five years the artist has been working on following up Adventure: US at Brooklyn's Faraway Sounds working with Robin MacMillan until life took an unexpected turn. One year back in April, 2018 Sweeney found his daughter Rishi motionless and without breath in the middle of night, a moment where the abstract nature of existentialism crashes down in a reality of loud echoing silence. This life changing event was the catalyst that further bridged the new album Peace Meal as a medium that connects Luke in the material world to the supernatural dimensions of the unknown. Sweeney’s sound is bathed in the glow of a personal rebirth, delivering a variety of styles that reach upward toward new heights of healing, reasoning that grasp those overarching questions of why while learning to accept the obfuscation of cloud formations that block our view of the sky’s limitless bounds.

And that is where the grand debut of Luke Sweeney’s “Special Stoner” arrives into the picture with a power pop punch to gain the envy of Alex Chilton, Eric Carmen, Emitt Rhodes and everyone in-between and thereafter. It is a sound that sails off the high of those sublime epiphanies found at towering altitudes from panoramic ledges, to rooftop escapades that offer a new life affirming view that shows the eye and mind of the beholder newfound reasons and realizations of life, purpose and love from the great beyond. The conflicts and quandaries of the material realm are depicted for what they are as the arrangement accelerates toward something greater and more grand that takes flight with a sense of ineffable illumination. “Special Stoner” casts the conflicts and squabbles of the material realm into the void as Luke orchestrates an ornate production that pushes toward a greater sense of living, being, that seeks a peace of mind that surpasses the muddles and headaches that encompass our daily existence. - Week In Pop

"Review - Luke Sweeney 'Peace Meal'"

The latest release from singer/songwriter and musician Luke Sweeney, Peace Meal, is a follow up to his 2014 album Adventure: Us and traveled a long road to its release. Sweeney began working on the album in 2015 and finished the initial recording later that same year, but Sweeney’s infant daughter died following the studio sessions and it is only now that the album is seeing its much deserved light of day. The ten songs included on Peace Meal traverse a variety of musical moods, but possess a singular energy in any form they take. This is not a virtuoso album – do not expect masturbatory displays of instrumental skill weighing down the songs rather than serving them. It is the work of a talented musician, without question, but Sweeney’s focus is placed on the songs and melodic virtues that distinguish Peace Meal from so much of the fare glutting music outlets throughout the world. It is a release of deep feeling and thoughtfulness that affirms life and the inspiring value of musical art.

The two songs opening the album, “Already Yours” and “East Coast Vertigho St” are both standouts thanks to their uptempo energy, melodies, superb vocals, and five star lyrics. Sweeney isn’t the kind of songwriting who overburdens his work with needless wordiness but, instead, uses language with the same suggestive precision and layering of meaning personifying his musical arrangements. The first of the two songs and opener “Already Yours” has an airy mix allowing the individual instrumental parts to breathe rather than overwhelm one another, but “East Coast Vertigho St” takes a different, albeit recognizably similar, approach with added emphasis on the drumming and more dynamic musical arrangement.

The album’s pop oriented inclinations blend well with a rockier edge on the album’s fourth track “Special Stoner” and it continues exploring the same dynamic territory we heard with “East Coast Vertigho St”. Sweeney is not a musician or performer who keeps his foot pushing down on the gas pedal throughout the song and his talent for alternating light and shadow, for lack of better term, makes “Special Stoner” stand out more than it might in the hands of a lesser talent. The track, likewise, affords him the opportunity to showcase his vocal skills in a way the preceding three tracks did not.

“Ruby Rain” is much more restrained and has minimal musical accompaniment when it begins. Sweeney builds the song over time into a mini pop symphony of a sort with numerous peaks certain to grab listeners on an emotional level. His capacity for holding a listener’s attention so completely that the surrounding world falls away is a rare gift and is in full effect with this performance. Electric guitar is more prominent throughout “Sippin’ Lemonade” than it is on many of the album’s other songs and lays down a straight forward and catchy melody that complements the vocal melody. The light uptempo pace of the song makes it all the more enjoyable.

Acoustic guitar plays an important role during the song “Therapy”. It is, in my opinion, one of the album’s finest moments and its quietest without a doubt. There is some additional musical color, but the song is centered on his voice, the guitar work, and lyrical content – there is no shift in a different direction arriving a minute into the track or later. It is an excellent track to come so late in the album and illustrates how his varied songwriting talents make Peace Meal such a rewarding release for listeners. Anyone who responds to sincere songwriting brimming over with deep humanity will love this collection.

by Bethany Page - Vents Magazine

"Review - Luke Sweeney 'Peace Meal'"

You can trace the genesis of Luke Sweeney’s Peace Meal to a San Francisco apartment in 2014. A veteran songwriter and musician, Sweeney’s avowed ambition is to write and record the album before he began second guessing and questioning any deeper meanings behind the work. He begins recording the release in October of that year at Brooklyn’s Faraway Sounds with friend and frequent collaborator Robin MacMillan. They finish the album by the end of 2015 and Sweeney turns the album over to MacMillan. It assumes various incarnations over the next three years and the final mixes are wrapping up in April 2018 when life decides to intervene. Sweeney wakes up and discovers his infant daughter is not breathing.

Sweeney originally intends Peace Meal to be little more than an impassioned successor to his 2014 release Adventure: Us, but it takes on new meaning with this heartbreaking twist of fate. He now sees this release as a dialogue with a realm beyond the corporeal and himself as a conduit translating messages from another realm. Despite the pop leanings defining much of the music, listeners will likely agree. The slight hint of a shuffle you hear in the album’s kick off “Already Yours” carries you along without ever pushing too hard on listeners. Sweeney’s songwriting never clutters the song with unnecessary instrumentation and the mix achieves excellent separation between the disparate parts. It has an acoustic tinge and Sweeney’s vocal has a pleasing satisfying edge drawing you in.

The second track “East Coast Vertigho St” hits harder than the first song and begins with an extended instrumental introduction before Sweeney’s vocal enters the song. There are discreet drum fills dropping in throughout the track and Sweeney’s vocal phrasing imbues the performance with additional rhythmic prowess. There are synthesizers and effects laden electric guitar underpinning the arrangement and the instrumental breaks rank high among the song’s highlights. “Moondreamer (I Could Pass for Nobody)” shifts gears for the album from the uptempo pacing of the opening duo into a more relaxing musical mood. The production place Sweeney’s voice at the forefront of the mix, but it never obscures the evocative instrumental accompaniment underlying the track. It rates as one of Sweeney’s best vocals on the release.

“A Wave” has a more assertive sound than the aforementioned track, but begins with the same pensive thoughtfulness pervading “Moondreamer”. The tempo soon picks up and the vocal arrangement stands out as the album’s most realized vocal yet complete with double tracking and beguiling melodic strengths. “Great Wide Ocean” is, arguably, one of the album’s best songs and has an unusual yet inviting sound thanks to the way Sweeney marries keyboard playing with acoustic guitar. It features one of the album’s best lyrics as well. Sweeney has proven before his capability for composing performed poetry and that gift reaches its height on Peace Meal with these words.

The finale “Argentine Mornings” starts with plaintive guitar notes Sweeney adorns with unobtrusive reverb. The song has a light jangle once it begins in earnest and the languid pace makes for a relaxing conclusion to this release. It is easy to hear why this album has a healing quality for Sweeney; Peace Meal digs deep and balances a strong introspective slant with melodies reaching out for listeners and inviting them into its musical world. It deserves consideration as his finest work yet.

John McCall - Too Much Love Magazine


May 3, 2019: 'Peace Meal' (LP) - Royal Oakie

May 12, 2017: 'Mother's Day' (single b/w 'Sippin' Lemonade') - Royal Oakie

March 10, 2016: 'Red Hot Demands' (single b/w 'Out Her Limb) - Aerobic International

October 14, 2014: 'Adventure:Us(LP) - Aerobic International

January 13, 2013: 'Ether Ore' (LP) - self-released

April 1, 2012: 'Wet Dreams Dry Magic' (EP) - self-released



Dubbed “classic rock’s piercingly bright diamond in the rough” (BandsInTown News), and a “pillar of San Francisco's garage-psych community” (TheBayBridged), the 2019 arrival of 'Peace Meal' feels like something of a rebirth for Luke Sweeney and his decade-long catalog of musical output.  He began writing Peace Meal in a San Francisco apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean during 2014.  The goal was to make a record quickly, before questions on the meaning of it all could reach him.  The initial recording took place in October 2014 with longtime friend and collaborator Robin MacMillan at Faraway Sound in Brooklyn, and by the end of 2015 the tracks were left mostly in the producer’s hands as the album traversed several incarnations during the following years.  Then, on a fateful night in April 2018, just as the final mixes for the album were being completed, an astrological grip intercepted Sweeney’s life when he awoke to find his infant daughter no longer breathing and the toughest of life’s questions falling all around him.

Originally intended as a heartfelt follow-up to 2014’s Adventure:Us, Peace Meal still serves that purpose, but the songs took on even greater significance in the wake of Sweeney’s personal tragedy.  In reflecting on the songs, Sweeney now considers the album a communion with the spiritual realm - an imperfect but sincere offering to a higher source, an appeal to our better nature.  Perhaps the songs were the fruit of a communicative collaboration between this plane of existence and another; Sweeney says the lyrics to ‘Great Wide Ocean’, written on the studio floor long before his daughter Rishi was conceived, came to him as if sent from another realm.

Stripped of all pretense and expectation, the toughest of life’s questions are brought to the table. Meanwhile, breezy melodies and buoyant beats soundtrack what is musically Sweeney’s most pop-oriented album to date, serving as the perfect complement to his thoughtful and compassionate lyrics.

'It is easy to hear why this album has a healing quality for Sweeney; Peace Meal digs deep and balances a strong introspective slant with melodies reaching out for listeners and inviting them into its musical world. It deserves consideration as his finest work yet' (Too Much Love Magazine).

Erin Meyheart - June 2019

Band Members