About Strange Faces:

Strange Faces formed in January 2008 in Raleigh, NC when founding member Ryan Barnum (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards) was joined Art Pierce (drums) and Mark Connor (bass, vocals), two of his former band mates from New York. Since then the trio has been quickly gaining recognition and notoriety for their accessible, yet inventive, music and highly energetic shows. 

The band shares a love for vintage instruments and classic recordings, and strives to keep their sound organic and true to their beliefs. Their self-titled, debut album was recorded at Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC by Los Angeles producer Eric Sarafin (Ben Harper). The entire album was recorded to 2” analog tape without the use of computers and digital editing in order to capture the authentic performance.

The name, Strange Faces, reflects the band’s belief that when the world is viewed through a new perspective, good things are found in unexpected places. This attitude has resonated with their ever-growing fan base who send the band pictures of faces they find in everyday inanimate objects. Once you know where to look, you’ll see strange faces all around you. And once you hear Strange Faces, you’ll know what you’ve been missing. 


Metroland Magazine review of ‘Strange Faces’ by John Brodeur

Strange Faces, though not technically a local act (the band’s three members all live in North Carolina), have deep roots in the Capital Region rock scene: Ryan Barnum, Art Pierce, and Mark Connor were three-fifths of well-loved local outfit the Wait for many years. This new band finds Barnum moving out of the sideman role he played in his former band, and his debut as a singer-songwriter is damn near a revelation. Dude can sing his ass off, it turns out, and the trio play together like they’ve been doing so for years and years (because they have). Emotional, keyboard-driven tracks like “Stare at the Sun” and “Aren’t You Proud” might have felt right at home on a Wait disc, but this is without question a guitar record. That point is driven home by “Back of Your Mind” and “Panic,” which mine the same straight-ahead hard-rock vibe that made superstars of the Foo Fighters (with whom the track “Learn to Fly” shares only its title). Produced and mixed by industry vet Eric Sarafin, Strange Faces is a national-level rock record.

Reprinted with permission.  Review appeared in Metroland’s 2008 Music Guide.


Review in Raleigh Downtowner

With a name like Strange Faces, we started to wonder how weird these guys really are. After listening, we have to admit that we didn’t find them all that strange. In fact. we think they’re pretty awesome. 

This Raleigh-based trio came together just last year when Ryan Barnum (lead vocals/guitar/keyboards) saw possibility in his former bandmates and closest friends Art Pierce (drums) and Mark Connor (bass/vocals) after the two made the move from New York to Raleigh. It turns out the band’s name isn’t a testament to the guys’ strange facial structures, but rather the ability to find inspiration in the most common and unlikely of places. To assist in the creative process, the group sought the assistance of its fans, asking them to take pictures of faces they find in inanimate objects and pass them along.  

Their self-titled debut album was recorded with L.A. producer Eric Sarafin, who has worked with the likes of Ben Harper. The album was recorded without the use of computers and digital editing, as to “focus on getting the best performance out of the band, and capturing the moments as they happened.” 

Reprinted with permission.  Review appeared in the February 2009 issue.


Independent Weekly review of ‘Strange Faces’ by Spencer Giffith


Relocating from Albany, N.Y., a year ago after the breakup of pop-rock quintet The Wait, longtime bandmates Ryan Barnum, Mark Connor and Art Pierce coalesced in Raleigh as trio Strange Faces and immediately began work on a full-length. Though the three had access to the right tools to repeat The Wait’s modest radio success—Eric Sarafin, who’s worked with Ben Harper and Pharcyde, helmed the recording, the bulk of which was done at highly regarded Asheville studio Echo Mountain—the 10 tracks on its debut are, as the well-titled opener suggests, rather “Ordinary.” The rebellious nature of lyrics about breaking from the patterns of routine life are undercut by rote guitar work typical of modern rock fare, a mildly interesting salsa-flavored bridge notwithstanding. 

As on “Ordinary,” most of the conflict of Barnum’s songwriting is extrinsic, often focused on Man vs. Society, Barnum’s resentment directed at plenty of vague pronouns. It’s more forgivable when Barnum has something a little more remarkable to sing about, as on a tune written from the eyes of a trophy deer, “Aren’t You Proud?”

Still, while the big-box rock such as Downtown Live does exist in the Triangle, pasteurized music doesn’t exactly thrive here on the small scale. It wouldn’t be altogether surprising for the Triangle scene to draw Strange Faces out of its comfort zone and into more adventurous territory in its future work. After all, Strange Faces seems competent enough to withstand those pressures.

Reprinted with permission.  Review appeared in the Nov. 6 2008 issue.