Tag Archives: Tiny Engines

Album Review: Restorations – LP5000

I might as well disclose that Philadelphia’s Restorations are easily one of my favorite bands out there.  So if this review sounds biased, well…it is.

Keeping along the lines of a pre-famed Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers, I have always been attracted to what Restorations produce album after album.  I owe it all to the band’s former and current label Tiny Engines actually, as they were the ones to introduce me to them many years back by just tossing me an EP my way to review.  The rest is history for me as a fan.

LP5000 is the band’s 4th release and to be perfectly honest, this might be their best one yet.  It’s a quick one which sucks because you know, I wanted more, but it’s full of some memorable tracks with equal impacting lyrics and music.

“St.” started off the album with a powerful jam with Jon Loudon and his all too welcoming raspy vocals.  This was kind of a triumphant introduction with haste and honesty thrown hard.  This song’s best moments where when the band came together with force.  It was a perfect indication that this album was going to rule.

“Nonbeliever” followed with more of a political approach about personal current affairs and life in general.  With lines like, “if you burn all the fires, they’re going to make you the king” and the all too close to home “got a partner for starters and a kid on the way/can’t be doing this dumb shit no more.”  The song manages to hit the head on so many points as it progressed onward.

“Remains” was a rocker touching on past memories that probably would have best been buried rather than unearthed due to such disdainful change.  The track carried a great 90s alt-rock feel to it even if it make me want to hang my head low.

Loudon repeating ” no I don’t want to hear that name again” on “Melt” just added to an emo track of sorts clearly about someone once held in a higher regard.  This track was beautiful and dreary at the same time with electronic sounding beats layered behind simple guitar picking.

“The Red Door” was incredibly athematic and contained a guitar solo that easily could suck in some well-deserved attention.  Add to the catchy drumming and bass-line, and you have yourself a quality track that really showcased the talent this band carries.

“Eye” was more Postal Service sounding at first with the electronic noise but was not at all discouraging.  This song was not like the others and was well-received by this listener.  I loved the more experimental approach and word has it that there is a locked grove that permits this song to loop infinitely.  I can not wait for my copy to get here so I can see if there is truth to that.

I have listened to LP5000 over and over (easily 20+ times now) since it’s release and have not gotten tired of it once.  I will tell you it is a lot different from their earlier stuff and is just the cause of maturity and experimentation.  Personally, I adore this new sound.

Of course LP5000 is hitting my best of list for 2018.  Albums like this are the ones I hold onto for the rest of my life and sporadically will spin when I just can’t seem to find anything else to listen to.

I lucked out and caught them on tour a few weeks back when they played the Grog Shop in Cleveland with my pals Signals Midwest and let me tell you, they are even better live.

Anyways, I feel like I do that whole “do yourself a favor and check this band/album out” shtick of a closing sentence, but I am dead serious this time: This band is far more talented than I feel they are credited for and I’m fairly sure you will agree with me upon listening.

Album Review: Signals Midwest – Light On The Lake

Signals Midwest - Light On the LakeI know I have said in the past that I usually  do not review any of my friend’s album releases, but I seriously think it’s time to change that.

Within the last year alone, a whole slew of my friends have been dropping excellent releases left and right.  Many of those said releases were immediately thrown into my regular rotation and also made it to my “Best Of 2013” list without me even thinking twice.

One of these bands I speak of is Cleveland’s heartthrobs (and beer snobs), Signals Midwest.  I learned of them through friends who had shared stages and basements with them and soon became not only a fan, but also a friend.  All four members are some of the coolest, kindest people I know.

They have a musical style that ranges from punk rock to indie rock while also carrying a progressive technical grace that is just so appealing.  Featuring Max Stern on guitar / vocals, Jeff “JR” Russell on guitar, Loren Shumaker on bass, and Steve Gibson on drums, the band has been doing their thing since late 2008.

The band’s sophomore release of Latitudes & Longitudes was easily one of my favorite releases in 2012.  It was no surprise that I turned into even an bigger fan once I heard Light On The Lake.  Yeah, it may have dropped a few months back, but after listening to it again today, I realized I needed to write a little something-something about it.

Released through the ever cool folk at Tiny EnginesLight On The Lake is an impressive release from start to finish.  It’s an album not only composed of great tunes but also layered with a very narrative story containing a journey of self-realization, injury, and coming to terms.  The more I read into the story throughout this album, the more I am loving it.

“308” started off the album with Stern and crew singing a somber yet catchy into.   With Stern singing, “give me time ’cause I’m trying to process this”, clearly emotions were beginning to rise.  I really dug how the opening track snuck its way into “In The Pauses”.  I enjoyed this track tremendously with continual up and down arrangements throughout.

“A Room Once Called Yours” picked things up, but the song continued down a gloomy route.  The guitar playing and brutal drumming really is what grabbed my attention throughout.  I loved when Stern sang: “So why do we decide to leave when what we really wanna do is stay? And when all we want to do is sleep, we force ourselves awake.”

“St. Vincent Charity” sat on me heavier than the others with technical guitar playing added to an array of group harmonies throughout.  What a killer track to listen to.  Listening to the song build up and climax was beyond satisfying.  The lyrics though is what made this song so poignant.  Easily this was one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Having been far away from home before leaving loved ones behind, “The Desert To Denver” really stuck to me.  I felt that I really related to the lyrics: “Save me from sinking in this city. Be the light that guides me home.”  After all, it was the love in my current relationship as well as from my friends and family that kept me stable until I was able to travel back east.

Signals Midwest - Photo by Andee Wells
Signals Midwest – Photo Credit: Andee Wells

I loved Loren’s distorted bass-smashing on “Lowercase”.  It really reached back to the 90s alt-rock that I have always adored.

“San Anselmo” opened reminding me of an Avett Brother’s song – no joke.  Remember the part in “Pretty Girl From Chili”right after Gabriella’s voicemail?Ok, I am sure I lost some of you just now.  Anyways…the song opened up pretty awesomely and just continued to amaze throughout.  I loved this west-coast-love-affair-with-a-rust-belt-local track so much.

Closing the album was “A Glowing Light, An Impending Dawn”, a track that was like a tribute and a procession.  The song put the album to rest as well as the story that was being told throughout.  It started softly and built up almost to a celebration status, only to thin out.

I’m pleased to have gotten to know these swell guys over the last few years and plan on keeping them pals for life.  From seeing them live on stage to hanging out with them for a night when I was out in the middle of nowhere, these dudes are top notch.

Cleveland is full of amazing bands and honestly, this is the best the music scene has been for as long as I can remember.   Take that how you want it, but if you are not caught up with the area talent, then maybe you need to turn your attention to some of these hard working acts in the area.  Start with Signals Midwest and branch out accordingly.  You will not be disappointed.

Signals Midwest are playing Brite Winter Fest this weekend before taking a well-deserved break.  You can follow their shenanigans on their Tumblr page or on good ol’ Facebook.

To snag your very own copy of Light On The Lake, head on over to the Tiny Engines website and give them all of your money.


Signals Midwest Announce Light On The Lake

Signals Midwest - Light on the LakeCleveland heartthrobs and beer snobs Signals Midwest recently announced they were dropping an all new album titled Light On The Lake in October.

This is the band’s second release on Tiny Engines and will be up for pre-order very soon.

I was blown away by their 2011 release Latitudes & Longitudes, and will admit that I can not wait to hear what they have to offer this round.

As if releasing the album is not enough, the band will be playing Pre-Fest and Fest at the end of October.

Signals Midwest

Check out this trailer made by Ben Hendricks of Annabel:



Album Review: Restorations – Restorations

It just occurred to me this evening that I have not once talked about a band that I adore.  This is one of those bands I feel everyone should have heard about by now, and for all I know, you have.  I was introduced to them a few years back and pretty much have adored them since.  The band I speak so highly of (I know the anticipation is killing you) is none other than Philadelphia’s post-punk indie rock outfit Restorations.  Seriously, how in the hell did I NOT review these guys before?

Yes, I am a wee bit late on this one, but you know what?  Screw it.  So what if their self-titled debut album dropped in 2011 on Tiny Engines and was repressed on vinyl last summer because so many vinyl junkies ate it up?  I feel the need to share this amazing group in hopes that they score one more fan per my recommendation and I am pretty certain that will be happening.

The moment “Nonlocality” started with the laid back intro, I just knew I was in for something good.  The gritty, raw opener brought a certain country folk feel to my ears and then everything changed for the better when the singing started and the hypnotizing guitar solo floated in the background.  With just one song in, I was sitting there pointing to it as my favorite.  “West River” followed carrying that same intensity that impressed me from the get go.  The songs really reminded me what would happen if Goo Goo Dolls and Hot Water Music collaborated, yeah I know, weird.

“Canadian Club” had an Against Me! feel to it at the start but soon mellowed into a great jam.  I really loved vocalist Jon Loudon’s raspy singing style on this song but have the feeling that this track was intended to be heard live by all.  “Sideways House” leaned more towards a 90s alt-rock that was welcomed to my ears.  “Broken Vacuum”, I feel, showcased the band as musicians well.  Hearing the distorted bass at the beginning  joined with the drums and guitars just moments later sounded so good.  So many songs these days are written so quickly that you sometimes miss hearing a well put together track.  The same goes for the closing track “When You’re Older”.  It was not just an end song, it was a crowning achievement by the band and any listener will be able to hear that.

Restorations combines the right bunch of genres of music including rock, country, and punk making for one hell of a listen.  You say like Elliot Brood?  Listen to Restorations.  Lucero?  Listen to Restorations.  Gaslight Anthem?  Yeah, listen to them, I seriously doubt you will regret it and if you do, sorry.  I am surprised this album is not bigger than it already is and I can not wait to hear what they come out with next.  I am predicting something amazing.

7-Inch Review: State Lines – Self-Titled EP

I am one of those guys out there who has no problem admitting that they like the band Brand New.  Yeah, I can be a little sensitive when I need to be and sometimes pop-punky emo rock is all I need to soothe my nerves.  I am beyond the point in life where if you question me about this confession that I will challenge you to a duel with fists and a spiked club, but you get my drift.  Point is, I like all sorts of music and it was no surprise to me when I first heard State Lines and immediate dug them.  They sound relatively close to a younger Brand New and I am sure they are completely aware of that.

Earlier this year, State Lines, with help of Tiny Engines, released a 4 song self-titled 7-inch EP.  The result is a quick listen, but those four songs beg to be played over and over again.  They may have formed in 2010 and were probably born right around the time I was kicking ass in high school, but they do not sound very novice at all.

Speaking of high school…that guy on the cover of this 7-inch reminds me of Rotor Man.  Unless you grew up in Cleveland and went to Geauga Lake in the 90s, chances are you have no idea who I am talking about.


“5’s On The Elephant” started things off and was hands down the best track of the four.  This song that reminded me of the all the bands I started branching out to once I became a late fan of poppy punk  thanks to a girl who used to work with me at a record store back in the day.  It was almost a blend of Brand New and Taking Back Sunday and I completely was sucked into it.  Pounding drums matched up with catchy guitar playing just carried along a fun vibe throughout.  “Plenty Of Time” followed, but was not nearly as powerful as the opener.  Still, it was a good track that sped up halfway though.  B-side “Win Free” was another solid track to listen to.  I loved hearing the raspy voice of Dimitri met with Werring’s harmonic singing throughout the track.

Here’s hoping that this EP is just a sample of what they have in store for their next release which should be coming up shortly.  So what if they sound like Brand New? They sound amazing and I think that hey are well aware of that and plan on acting upon it.  Here’s hoping that their follow up LP drops very soon. I am stoked about this young act and can’t wait to see where their talent takes them next.

Check it out for yourself and see what I am taking about: