Cherokee Queen Records, 2015. Brian Lisik: http://www.brianlisik.com/
We reviewed Brian Lisik’s last release, The Mess that Money Could Buy, back in 2013 and said nice things in the process. We shall continue that tradition in large part because the Akron native and his band do another fine job on their latest album. We’re not sure about the origin of the title or who Curtis is, but we suspect he’s in trouble. These Akron-based roots rockers provide us with 14 concise tracks with no lack of interesting hooks, vocal harmonies, and top-notch musicianship. And I like the jangly guitars.
The songs were written mostly by Lisik, or co-written with bandmates Steve Norgrove and/or Benjamin Payne, with two tunes by Norgrove finishing up the album. They start off with their first single release, “Jan. 13,” a well-constructed rocker, followed by the even stronger “Never Was” and “Beaten Up Blue.” No “I love you baby” stuff here. This three-song intro gives us vignettes of a somewhat darker nature, the upbeat tunes disguising lyrics that suggest unhappy lives and tough times. Sex is suggested, but it’s hardly joyous. Many of the other songs follow this overall theme, including ballads such as “Marietta” and “Paramours.” Others take on different topics, such as “About Me Back Home,” about a murder, and “Tattered and Broken,” about life in general. “Needles and Pins” is a gorgeous little song, perhaps the best-sung ballad on the album, with poignant lyrics and simple presentation. “Chaos is a Friend of Mine” is a close second, a faster but still acoustic tune, with beautiful guitar lines.
“Normalcy” takes us back to rockers, and I like this one best of them all. The band takes the bridge in high gear and everything sounds right. Sweet harmonies combined with chugging rhythms follow on “St. Patrick’s Day (Alex),” about one of heroes, Alex Chilton. “Needles (Reprise)” is a lovely instrumental. They should do these more often.
Lisik said that “An album is about taking a 40-minute vacation from wherever you are.” Given that criterion, Curtisinterruptedus is a success, a fine mix of songs that will take you into a world that isn’t always pretty but is certainly vivid and memorable, which makes it highly recommended. They’ll be playing the Beachland Ballroom at the end of March and various places around the region in April.
Personnel: Brian Lisik (lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, percussion), Steve Norgrove (lead and backing vocals, electric and upright bass, Ashbory, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organ, percussion, castanets), Benjamin Payne (guitars, drums, percussion, banjo, backing vocals, organy sounds), Raymond Arthur Flanagan (electric guitar and ass (Is this a typo?)), Joe “Motion” Waller (bongos), Craig Lisik (drums), Curtis Henderson (harmonica), Tim Longfellow (piano, organ, accordion), Michael Houff (violin), Matt Reese (cello), Rachel Roberts (vocals), Rotumba, S’Phyllis, & Madge--The Beekeeper Singers.
Tracks: Jan. 13, Never Was, Beaten Up Blue, Marietta, Paramours, The Beekeeper, Born on Needles and Pins, Normalcy, Chaos is a Friend of Mine, St. Patrick’s Day (Alex), About Me Back Home, Tattered and Broken, Needles (reprise), Swagger Sway Fall.