WCPO Lounge Acts: Banners bring dreamy sound to town

Band performs at Madison Live Wednesday
Banners bring dreamy sound to town
Banners bring dreamy sound to town
Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 17:21:22-05

Listen to the Banners WCPO Lounge Acts session in the player above.

CINCINNATI -- There are one-man bands that are known for making a holy ruckus all on their own. And then there's Banners' Michael Joseph Nelson. Instead of trying to cram as much sound and fury into a track as possible with just his own musical know-how, the Liverpool, England-native singer/songwriter opts for the opposite: dreamy, airy arrangements anchored around his haunting falsetto and lyrics that aims to soothe the soul.

After releasing a self-titled debut EP last January, Nelson made a splash on these shores shortly after with a buzzed-about performance of his breakthrough single, "Shine a Light," on Jimmy Kimmel Live. With a signature sound that mixes electronic, pop and alt rock, Nelson cut his teeth singing in churches across Europe before signing with Island Records in 2015 and releasing his debut single, "Ghosts," under the stage name Raines.

By August of 2015 he had a change of heart and rebranded himself Banners, relaunching with prominent placement of "Light" on the Fifa 16 video game. 

He's described "Light" as a song about "feeling lost at sea and desperately searching for a beacon of light," which perfectly captures the song's Coldplay-like mix of spare piano, dreamy, searching lyrics and surging uplift. Banners is music for rainy days, early morning runs or late night walks through gaslit streets, music that gets in your head and touches you in a way that's hard to put a finger on. 

That's just one reason we were excited to have Nelson drop by WCPO's Digital Lounge to play us a few songs, describe his journey from church choir singing to rock festivals and preview his show at Covington's Madison Live (Feb. 15, 7 p.m, with Tor Miller).