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Roadside Graves - Acne / Ears (2015)
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Roadside Graves - Acne / Ears (2015)

24-10-2015, 17:03
Music | Folk | Country | Alternative | Indie

Roadside Graves - Acne / Ears (2015)

Artist: Roadside Graves
Title Of Album: Acne / Ears
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Don Giovanni Records
Genre: Indie, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana
Quality: 320 Kbps
Total Time: 58:08 min
Total Size: 135 MB
WebSite: amazon


01. Acne / Ears
02. Clouds
03. Endangered
04. The Whole Night
05. Body
06. Donna (Reno)
07. Contact High Alumni
08. I Thought We’d Last
09. City
10. Saturday Night
11. Gospel Radio
12. Surfin’

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 the title track of Acne/Ears, they're ready to tell their own. 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.
As Gleason inventories his musical, physical, and spiritual failings throughout Acne/Ears, he becomes an avatar for an easily identifiable nowhere man—the guy who trudges through high school without much distinction or even the dignity afforded by being a true weirdo, starts a band, gets a job, and never gets quite far enough away from his origins to forget his past life as a pockmarked loner. On the album centerpiece "Donna (Reno)", Gleason thinks back on every book he's read and forgot, every show he was too drunk to remember, and shrinks from the laughter of construction workers and a middle finger from a bus full of schoolchildren. His only wish is to be cremated and baked into the highway, "so you can say I helped build something." But otherwise, Gleason tries to turn his liabilities into assets on Acne/Ears—misery as an opportunity for character building, introspection as a bullshit detector.
At its best, Acne/Ears unassumingly places itself within reach of New Jersey's A-list of confessional indie rockers. But it lacks a true sense of stakes—Gleason's take on romance occasionally bears the startling bite of the Wrens on The Meadowlands, but otherwise his insights pass after a brief sting, like those kids on the school bus. Nor do Roadside Graves have the youthful brass or ambition to impose its will on naysayers like Titus Andronicus or Cymbals Eat Guitars. The lack of urgency can sometimes show just in the inescapable fact that this took four years to make. There are questionable binaries in "Surfin'" that feel at least that many years behind the cultural conversation, and the rousing coda of "Acne/Ears" is sunk by archaic gendering of what true rock'n'roll means—"Somebody please wake up those girls in the back on their phones/ Ears are meant to be destroyed by boys in basements making noise."
Though they're now signed to the esteemed Don Giovanni label, Gleason works as a second-grade teacher and the rest of the band is spread out across the country; "no big tours planned now but hopefully one day!" reads a post on their Facebook page. Gleason spends a stray thought in "Donna (Reno)" dreaming of getting married, moving in with his cousins back in Jersey, and quitting Roadside Graves. It's unclear whether he sees any of that as progress or resignation, but for the time being, he finds a way to live in the moment by expressing disarming sincerity on the title track—"I'm just happy you're listening."

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