Posts Tagged ‘Roadside Graves’

In advance of the release of “That’s Why We’re Running Away”, the new album from the Roadside Graves, their first new music for five years, we recently shared the excellent album opener “Sit So Close”. 

Roadside Graves have carved out a small and strange piece of musical territory over the course of their nearly twenty years together. Their sound emerges as much from their longstanding friendships and personality quirks as it does from their eclectic musical influences. That’s Why We’re Running Away was engineered and mixed in Brooklyn, NY by Robert Lombardo and mastered at Strange Weather by Daniel Schlett. On this new record, the group has created a cycle of songs about acceptance – the struggle to accept defeat and loss, and whether to give up peacefully. It’s about finding comfort in seeing the reality of a situation and reckoning honestly with your own part in it. If the question is acceptance, one answer then is to run away – not alone, but together. This a record about living in the tiny space between “I want to leave” and “I want to believe.”

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Released May 22nd, 2020

All Songs written by Roadside Graves.
Colin Ryan: drums, percussion, vibraphone
Dave Jones: bass
Jeremy Benson: guitars, violin, harmonium, keys
John Gleason: vocals
John Piatkowski: electric piano, organ, synths
Guest vocals by Renee Maskin and Dana Sellers

Last Friday, the record was officially released and so that seems more than enough reason to share two more tracks from the record, which on first few listens, is just another very fine example of their reflective and compelling Americana.

So check out the gentle There Was A Way, and the mournful piano lament Dead Kids from the record, which you can order from Bandcamp here.

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Over the span of their first five albums, the Roadside Graves were quintessential, New Jersey roots-rock storytellers, with songs full of empathetic third-person narratives. On their fifth album, and first for the esteemed Don Giovanni label, they are ready to tell their own. At its best, Acne/Ears unassumingly places itself within reach of New Jersey’s A-list of confessional indie rockers.

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It’s as unflattering as you’d expect from a song called “Acne/Ears”, two facial features that seem to exist for the sole purpose of causing adolescent embarrassment. “Some boys are filled with piss and vinegar/ Some boys are filled with just pus and blood,” John Gleason sings, recalling the days when his breakouts were so profuse, he didn’t even bother going to school. It’s similar to Strand of Oaks’ breakthrough single “Goshen ’97”, in which a sullen teen finds relief by singing terribly in the mirror even when he could hardly bear to look at himself.

John Gleason’s creaking vocals about a lonesome kid holed up in his bedroom. There is a larger scope here, as if that kid finds a suburbia full of other holed-up kids, but it’s when they get together, when they are just “boys in basements making noise” that the song erupts into rollicking, full-band joy. We see much of the louder joy and frustration of this record rise out of solitary quiet. On string-laden “Endangered”, Gleason calls for help because he’s in danger “just like the fish in the sea.” On Acne/Ears, trouble isn’t really a change in the program but more like the same come down. Sometimes, on the heartbreaking loss of “The Whole Night”, it’s too much to bear. Other times, on “Gospel Radio” for instance, it’s the music that makes it all bearable, that can turn pain and closed bedroom doors into wide open spaces of sound, into release. Like the suburbs these songs sound born from, Acne/Ears sprawls outward, in a few small moments almost too far, but in the end the record keeps its shape while offering surprising turns throughout. For Roadside Graves, it’s not about escaping the pain, it’s about making something bigger than it.

From the Roadside Graves  new record “Acne/Ears” on Don Giovanni Records. 

With a particular fondness for this band Roadside Graves,whose brilliant 2009 album “My Son’s Home” was an early immediate favourite album and a staple on the turntable from which “Far And Wide” was high among top tracks of that particular year. So it’s a real pleasure to discover that, after way too long, they are back with a new record, the strangely named ACNE/EARS which is out later this year and from it, a transformed, much more muscular version of the song “Gospel Radio”.