Roadside Graves

Roadside Graves remain one of the most criminally underappreciated bands of the last 20 years and I’d be willing to fight anyone who said different. The Jersey band’s sixth album will be out on May 22nd via the fine folks at Don Giovanni Records. Here’s some info on the album.

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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Roadside Graves are here

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The Roadside Graves – Acne/Ears [album review]

by Woody on September 18, 2015

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The Roadside Graves are the most underrated American band going. That is fact, not opinion. The alt-country band from Jersey has been kicking out amazing album after amazing album for over 10 years now. Over that time as hopes for turning music into a full-time gig and the lavish mansions that come it with faded, the band moved on with their lives. People moved, full time jobs happened, kids were had. But the band, although not their primary daily focus, continued to be.

Acne/Ears comes four years after the excellent We Can Take Care Of Ourselves and is released a full year after it was ready to be heard. Trouble finding a label was the main culprit but after spending some time with it, I am amazed that nobody wanted to make it happen. Cue the fine folks at Don Giovanni to cure that wrong.

The first thing you’ll notice is that synths have taken up a place in their sound. Upon the first few listens, I’ll admit that they do sound out of place. But they slowly start to blend in after a few listens. And all of sudden you’re telling people that Gospel Radio is one of the best tunes of 2015. Gospel Radio builds slowly over 5 minutes, plateauing for a minute, before escalating and repeating it before a raucous close.

While We Can Take Care Of Ourselves was inspired by the a bunch of greasers in Oklahoma, courtesy of The Outsiders; Acne/Ears digs into the band’s persona lives. The beauty of The Roadside Graves is that they are close in age to myself. So as the songs build from early adolescence to their midlife, it echoes nicely with my experiences.

If like me, you are a long-time fan of The Graves, dig in and enjoy. If this is your first run in with them, congrats on discovering one of America’s hidden musical gems.

HearYa 2009 session

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Roadside Graves are here

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Roadside Graves announce Acne/Ears 9/4

by Woody on August 7, 2015

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Its been over four years since Roadside Graves released the amazing We Can Take Care of Ourselves, an album inspired by The Outsiders.

Gospel Radio is the lead track off of Acne/Ears. Don Giovanni will be releasing the album on 9/4/15. Here’s some info from lead singer Jon Gleason.

I’d like to think that “Gospel Radio” represents a new direction for us musically and lyrically. It’s heavy on the synths and further removed from the folk/country tradition we first grounded ourselves in, and hopefully by the end of the verses it captures our basement ties playing with punk and hardcore bands in NJ. Lyrically, the song and the new record are more honest and autobiographical compared to our earlier catalog of writing about themes and characters. “Gospel Radio” tells a short story about my parents’ divorce and our estranged relationship to the local Catholic church and school. It also captures real moments in my life, like sitting in the pew at church and obsessing over this one massive chandelier out of many that seemed to be hung all wrong. I had strong visions and emotions attached to that damn chandelier. Every Sunday I’d fret and worry about how to save my family when it fell. Or, when not stressing, I’d stare at the stained glass saints and imagine what they discussed and how they spoke to each other. Which one was the asshole. When I was older church simply became a place to stand in the back and try to talk to girls. Now it represents nothing. I don’t go, never will again I think. It was just something you had to do when you were younger.

Hearya Session with Roadside Graves is here.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Roadside Graves are here

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I can’t remember whether I read S.E. Hinton’s book first or saw Francis Coppola’s adaptation of The Outsiders in the theater. While many people would put down The Catcher & The Rye as the formative book of their adolescence, for me it was always The Outsiders. It wasn’t as if I could identify with Ponyboy or the other characters much. I grew up in a middle-class town with both my parents. Maybe it was Pony’s realization that, despite many differences, the Socs were also far from perfect. And it was hard not to respect Darry and his tough love, born from the recognition and appreciation that Pony was different and special. He wanted a better life for him; one that he couldn’t have.

When I heard that the Roadside Graves were doing a concept album based on a book that meant a great deal to me growing up, well, let’s just say I was excited. I don’t think I could have picked a better band to take on such a task. They didn’t set out to retell this familiar story – that would come off as cheap and unambitious. Instead, their perspective is more subtle and dives deep in character exploration. As Gleason said, ” We tried to emphasize the sensitive, frightened sides of the characters, instead of showcasing their thick skin and greaser toughness.”

The album starts with “Outside,” which speaks to the mentality of the greasers. The songs dredge up the “us against the world” mentality that so many of the characters felt throughout the book. “Double Feature” is inspired by the time when Ponyboy meets Cherry – an encounter which eventually leads to the death of Bob Sheldon, and act of violence that turns the book on end. The chorus of “I don’t want to fight but I will,” alludes to the confusion that both sides felt upon the almost compulsory need to fight.The staggering “Teenagers Are Tired” is an acoustic ballad that makes you feel every bit of fear and ounce of exhaustion that Ponyboy and Johnny must have felt while hiding out in the next town over. The heartbreaking “Love Me More” speaks to so many of the characters who had issues with or were abandoned by their parents.

The album stands on its own, even for those unfamiliar with The Outsiders. But if you’re a fan, it’s going to hit home. The talent and ability exhibited by Roadside Graves in breathing new life into something sacred to me is something special. While I wind up seeing the movie once a year on cable, I haven’t read the book in 20 years. After spending quality time with We Can Take Care Of Ourselves and digging into every last lyric, I found it necessary to download The Outsiders to my Kindle and explore it again with a new perspective.

Roadside Graves – Double Feature

Roadside Graves – Love Me More

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Roadside Graves announce album inspired by The Outsiders [new mp3]

May 27, 2011

Roadside Graves are set to release We Can Take Care Of Ourselves, inspired by S.E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders, on July 19th. The Graves’ principle singer/songwriter John Gleason and his wife are both teachers that were amazed with how students with no interest in reading were transformed by this book. I was one of […]

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