Raves & Raw Facts from Critics, Club Owners & Insiders

PRESS

Rochester NY City Magazine November 2016

"In a flash of DIY and musical moxy, Chicago-born Courtney Yasmineh is truly an alternative to the alternative with her quirky take on what would be pop if it came out of anyone else. There's antagonism and mirth-o-plenty in her tunes. Hell, I even hear some new wave in there, too." Frank De Blase

PRESS

 "Wow! Emerging artist Courtney Yasmineh releasing new rock album 'Red Letter Day" and stepping up her style and her career."

—Amy Sciarretto
04.13.15

 

 PRESS

Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/10/14

Courtney Yasmineh, pursuing a music career after raising three children, has just released her fifth album.

Like many empty nesters, Courtney Yasmineh is looking to downsize and do some traveling. In her case, however, she has no intention of slowing down.

To the contrary, Yasmineh is putting her Wayzata home on the market, moving into an apartment on New York’s Upper West Side, and booking U.S. and European tour dates with her Twin Cities-based band.

The live dates are in support of Yasmineh’s latest album, “Red Letter Day,” the sassy, sexy yet reflective nine-song collection she released in November.

The record is the fifth the alt-rock/indie pop singer-songwriter has made in the last decade. But “Red Letter Day” is the first album that Yasmineh, a single parent after a divorce, has made since the youngest of her three children went to college.

They’re proud, happy and relieved that their mother’s music is gaining recognition, Yasmineh said. She’s eager, meanwhile, to make a damn-the-torpedoes run at establishing a full-time musical career, albeit a couple of decades or so after she wanted to.

“This is my time, and I’m not going to waste it,” Yasmineh said recently. “This is the year to go on tour. This is the year to put out the best record of my life because I can finally promote it. I’m trying to do it all as fast as possible.”

As evidence of that, Yasmineh and her band made their South by Southwest debut last spring, recorded “Red Letter Day” during a nine-day summer marathon in a SoHo studio in New York and completed a 10-date European club tour in October.

The European outing, Yasmineh’s ninth in the last five years, included stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Her goals for 2015 include going back to Europe for a longer run, perhaps six weeks.

“I made all those records but couldn’t promote them because I couldn’t go away,” Yasmineh said of her earlier work. “Then we would do these tours and they would just be a week or two. But I was home constantly in between times and the recordings were made here in town. I could record while they were at school. And I was home making dinner every night.”

She also was volunteering at school and appearing, briefly, as a guest designer on HGTV and has taught creative writing and songwriting and given guitar and vocal lessons.

A Chicago native, Yasmineh was in her teens when she ran away to escape family difficulties, taking refuge on the Iron Range in her grandfather’s abandoned hunting cabin. She got a scholarship to Macalester College in St. Paul, got married and settled, more or less, into suburban life in Wayzata.

Amping up the rock

Yasmineh has high praise for her friends in Wayzata, and the community itself. “I think now they sort of love it that there’s a rock star in the midst,” Yasmineh said. “I have never seen a community of such high-functioning people. They take great care of their children, of their homes. They’re super-responsible and they’ve never let me down, and I’ve been there for 20 years.”

Yasmineh had written songs and performed, but had no idea how to pursue music professionally. The chance finally came when she got to record a song, inspired by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, that she had written for her community church.

“Once I got into the Minneapolis recording scene, I realized there was so much more I could do,” she said.

That led to her first release, 2004’s “Early Days,” which includes the semi-autobiographical, fanciful “Married to Bob,” as in Dylan, her musical hero. Yasmineh’s songs have ranged from alternative rock to folk to the “fluorescent pop masterpiece” that one critic dubbed her 2009 record “Beautiful Lonely.”

“Red Letter Day” is her “most rock album yet,” Yasmineh said. Recording it in New York was a radical departure. So was the songwriting process, which took place largely in the studio, as band members and additional players responded to ideas she had recorded on her phone and Yasmineh composing lyrics on the fly.

The additional players included musician-producer Charley Drayton, whose credits as a producer and musician include work with Keith Richard, Paul Simon and Fiona Apple. Drayton brought an integrity that Yasmineh said “compelled everyone to work hard, fast and smart.”

‘Better than anything’

The process gives “Red Letter Day” a sense of immediacy that Yasmineh feels distinguishes the new record. “I like it so much better than anything I’ve done,” she said. “This is the record where I feel like ‘this is what I do.’ ”

Rob Genadek, who produced “Red Letter Day” and plays drums in Yasmineh’s band, said the new album features some of her best songs. “A lot of it came from the heart instead of the brain. And the vibe is just so authentic and in-your-face. Courtney totally rose to the occasion,” said Genadek, who also owns the Brewhouse Recording Studio in Minneapolis.

Taking her shot in music now may be harder than it would have been in her 20s, said Yasmineh, who is 53. But she would rather be an emerging artist offering new music than a fading star hitting the comeback trail.

“Then you spend the rest of your life trying to live up to some previous success,” Yasmineh said. “I’m glad I don’t have that, some specter of when I was younger and prettier, when I was hot and popular. I’m not burdened by that, thank God. This is as cool and hot as I’ve ever been.”

Yasmineh may not fit the industry mold, Genadek said, but she wins over those who give her a chance.

“No one would expect it from a woman who has had three kids, to be touring and doing this,” Genadek said. “The whole scenario doesn’t compute. That doesn’t take away from it, that it’s not as good as people perceive it to be or as I perceive it to be. Each record she’s developed and gotten better. She’s gotten better on stage. I don’t see her slowing down.” -TODD NELSON Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

PRESS

Courtney Yasmineh's latest album, Red Letter Day, is actually quite remarkable. I’ve seen her live a couple of times, and I can see both why she has a huge following in Europe and why she’s mostly remained under the radar here in the US (although as of late she's begun to cultivate a growing, dedicated fanbase on these shores). She’s a hell of a singer, a hell of a songwriter — although most definitely NOT a singer/songwriter — and puts on a tremendous live show; all gamine energy and electric stage presence. There’s a kind of pre-punk vibe to her stuff that reminds me not a little bit of Patti Smith by way of Fiona Apple (they share a producer, Charley Drayton), but way less moody than that implies. Whatever her mood is, she rocks pretty goddamn hard. I dig “Misfits and Losers” quite a bit, with a kind of slamming swing and tons of crunchy guitars. And the only reason “Get It” isn’t a huge radio hit is just willful ignorance — it’s catchier than hell and full of great sonics. All her songs have a sense of humor and a kind of optimistic gumption that’s pretty infectious — I dare you not to get sucked in. It’s not indie (or “indie”), this stuff, but it’s pretty rock, and pretty great as well. - JON HUNT, L'ETOILE MAGAZINE

 PRESS

Returning musician Courtney Yasmineh finds herself-and a career chance-in Austin TX during SXSW

Whenever Courtney Yasmineh has lost herself, she’s found herself again in music. She did it as a 17-year-old, running away from a disastrous home life in Chicago and playing the bar circuit in northern Minnesota while living alone in a remote cabin.

Ten years ago, she left her life as a doctor’s wife and suburban mother of three to get back into the music business. And after four albums and a decade working the music scene in Minnesota, Europe and elsewhere, she’s getting a shot at a career-making gig at next month in Austin, Texas just in time for one of the music industry's biggest events, South By Southwest. 

The rebirth of her musical ambition coincided with the birth of social media, which plays a crucial role in the career of any independent musician today. “Social media came along when I came along,” says Yasmineh. “I got to reinvent myself and say, ‘Here I am.’ ” Like so many other independent artists, she uses her website to promote herself; music bloggers have played a key role in helping her get noticed.

Rob Genadek, owner of Brewhouse Recording Studio in Minneapolis and Yasmineh’s drummer, praises her, noting "she has character and charisma — things you can’t acquire. She’s really smart and she writes really great songs. She’s found her essence again.”

The music business has changed in recent years. "Record labels used to maintain a large roster of artists, Genadek says, “now, they have a handful of acts they’re trying to push into superstardom.” Without support from a label and its resources, indie rockers have to manage their own careers, get their own bookings, find their own audience. Yasmineh doesn’t worry.

“If you’re doing something meaningful, people are willing to be supportive,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been happy in my whole life.” -John Reinan Minnpost 2/17/14

PRESS

Red Letter Day – Courtney Yasmineh
Posted on October 7, 2014 by Dave Franklin

 There has always been a genre-hopping nature within Courtney Yasmineh's albums but Red Letter Day seems to be her “what the hell, let’s just do it” moment. As a statement of intent, opening salvo ‘Get It’ is perfect; all Anthony Kiedis styled staccato lyricism over squalling, rabid guitars. This is Courtney with the sass, not to mention the expectation, turned up to maximum.

The eight songs that follow are refined examples of the art of throwing musical curveballs, but without sounding out of line with the overall cohesive feel of the album. I guess the phrase “it’s the singer not the song “ is appropriate here as it is the band's component parts, their familiarity and skills as a working unit, that provide the cohesion and allow the songs to head off into more adventurous musical territory without straying too far from home.

If "Friend of Mine" is a direct pop-rock bridge to her previous album (albeit angular and funky like a lost post-NoWave dance anthem), it is the title track with its "Daytripper"-esque groove in the middle section and touches of '60s soul that might prove to be the bridge to the next record. More than anything, tracks like this one show that Courtney knows how to keep originality and momentum in an industry that expects you to merely give them what they want. Thankfully this album gives them what they didn’t know they wanted, a rare gift indeed.

There is room for beautiful torch songs ("Change Your Mind") and anthemic country rock ("Hang on For the Ride") but it is "Misfits and Losers" that stands out as the real high point of the album for me. If she ever aspired for a chart looking pop-rock crossover (think a more rocking version of Pink, sans the trapeze) then this certainly opens that door.

To sum up – Adventurous, eclectic, forward looking (and thinking), and great songwriting. I’d say that’s all boxes ticked.-- DAVE FRANKLIN, GREEN MAN PRODUCTIONS, ENGLAND

PRESS

"A fluorescent pop masterpiece."

Love can take you on a bumpy ride, with its twists and turns leading to dismay as often as they lead to joy. Courtney Yasmineh knows this all too well, and on her new album, Beautiful Lonely, speaks of it in spades. Searching for love, clinging to love, needing love, dreaming about love, imagining love, falling out of love; its all there, laid bare for the world to see in her inimitable, from-the-gut lyrics and alternatingly coy and seductive vocals. As with her previous releases, the musicianship is excellent and the production superb, but its her songwriting that's really starting to come into its own here. Near-brilliant, Beautiful Lonely is a flickering, fluorescent pop masterpiece.

DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE

 

Yasmineh found her way back to music in 2004, when she released the acoustic folk album Early Days. Since then, she’s worked worked closely with Rob Genadek at the Brewhouse Recording Studio to transition away from her singer-songwriter origins and claim the role as the frontperson of a rock ‘n’ roll band. Wake Me Up When It’s Over is easily her most upbeat, rocking record yet, and her steely voice is buoyed by smoldering guitar riffs, funky electro beats, and a full horn section. -- ANDREA SWENSSON, THE CURRENT, MPR

Well, if you ask me  (and if you are reading this you kind of did) the evolution of the rock chick and all that that implies, seems to have made a unexpected turn into a bit of a cul-de-sac in recent years. When did the brash femininity of the 90’s get dampened down, married off and traded in for mealy-mouthed chic-lit concerns? Frankness, irony and guts got replaced by unfascinating intricacies of past relationships, throwaway college lyricism and dance routines. And Jessie J! With the exception of a few feisty folkies, there seems to be a void that needs filling. Where is the new Patti Smith, the new Natalie Merchant, Debbie Harry, Sheryl Crowe or Alanis Morrisette (early years only of course)?  Someone who is helping to fill that girl with a guitar shaped hole is Courtney Yasmineh. --DAVE FRANKLIN, GREEN MAN PRODUCTIONS, UK

 The Courtney Yasmineh catalog has a great deal going for it — and the way she's continually improving, there's no telling where her sound will grow next, except that it's likely to be pretty damned good ... Courtney Yasmineh is top-shelf talent. — DWIGHT HOBBES, TC DAILY PLANET

"Picked to Click" Courtney Yasmineh/Beautiful Lonely — Contributor Pick — STAR TRIBUNE

Courtney Yasmineh sounds most beautiful when she surrounds herself with darkness ... In a shadowy context, Courtney can shine. — TWIN CITY SCENE (reviewing Beautiful Lonely)

Courtney Yasmineh is a recording artist and songwriter who's sultry voice is distinctly recognizable for its emotion and intelligence. She is part troubadour, part seductress who attributes her songwriting style to Bob Dylan and her personal style to iconic rock chick bands like Blondie. — DEMO ONLINE PROFILE

Not everyone is going to like this album [BEAUTIFUL LONELY] but those who do will love it ... Courtney made a lot of new fans in Swindon after her polished performance at The Beehive. — MERCY DASH, MERCY FAITH MUSIC BLOG UK

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The title track Beautiful Lonely deserves to be a hit single with its soft and gentle blues vocals and glorious melody that haunts you and sticks in the mind ... It is an emotional album that pulls you up to the stars and then crashes you down to tears in a matter of seconds. A thoughtful album of depth and purity. — FLICKY HARRISON, SWINDON ADVERTISER, LONDON

TOP 10 OF THE WEEK: Here's this week's version of our hit parade, stuff that's too cool for the Billboard charts and the corporations who rule them. We try to mix it up, offer a little something for everyone: sad songs, funny songs, upbeat songs, quieter stuff, you name it: — "DAYDRUNK" — LUCID CULTURE MUSIC and ART BLOG, NYC

 

PRESS

Bearing all the desired sweetness and devilish, indomitable performing power a music fan could ask for, ultra alt-rocker Courtney Yasmineh provides a service that most humans, regardless of gender, can only vaguely dream of producing. Backed with a first-class rhythm section and a fairly-mythical upbringing, Courtney has made some serious headway in bringing the notoriously collective term “alternative rock” back into everyone’s face with a serious vengeance. Yasmineh’s sound combines aspects of Hole’s crunchy disparity, No Doubt’s tongue-in-cheekiness, the choppy punk of The Clash, and the sarcastic wit of Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette, amongst many others. Although she may remind us of some of our throw-back righteous pleasures, her transitions between soaring, haunting melodies and abrasively rapped verses, dauntingly anxious guitar riffs, and hell-raisin’ jungle drums, Courtney Yasmineh has proven that she is easily capable of weaving her own solitary concoction of sound.

-Live in Studio 5 KFAIRadio Blog Seth Hynes-Marquette

 

Select Club Owners — And Bizzers — In Europe & The U.S.

If Liz Phair actually ever grew a pair of balls, she could only hope to be as good as Courtney Yasmineh. Clever lyrics, stylish arrangements, a great fucking band and the whole "who gives a shit" bravado that is tragically missing from so many of today's female artists and girl groups. — MARK ODSON, OWNER, JET LOUNGE, AMSTERDAM

Over 30 years at First Avenue I always said some of the BEST concerts were viewed by the fewest people. TONIGHT — in downtown St. Paul — same thing — 1:15AM — twenty people and THE COURTNEY YASMINEH BAND are doing an incredible performance previewing new material and just showing off ... Incredible show! This market doesn't realize the music gems that lie beneath the superficial surface of the trendies and false media "insights" — STEVE McCLELLAN, FORMER MANAGER, FIRST AVENUE

I still remember clearly when The Courtney Yasmineh Band hit the stage that night in Winston Music Club in Amsterdam: they were totally rocking. Surprisingly I also remember how we hit the city after the show: They were totally rocking. They exhibited the upmost professionalism, a string of truly impressive pop rock songs, and displayed a great love for music with their great looks and their 'we know what you want, you just don't know it yet' attitude across. Since then, she has stunned me every time I see her play. — MAARTEN TAP, LABEL MANAGER, 31 DAYS RECORDS, AMSTERDAM

I am a member and a frequent guest in this wonderful jazz club, The Music Village, and I love the place. But I have truly never ever felt the magic I experienced by your personal, strong and honest lyrics. The audience was seduced by your charm, charisma and sex appeal and infatuated by your wonderful personality and natural stage presence! I tried to find a similar artist to describe your kind of music, but no one can be compared with you! — PIA BILTING BEARFIELD, MUSIC INSIDER, BRUSSELS

 

One Sheet for Red Letter Day for Industry Use: