You’re Among Friends is a rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. Tagged as “casual rock” by Powerpopaholic, their music has been described as having “rollicking blues at its core with a sugary coating of power pop, doused in more than just a little bit of ’90s alt-rock nostalgia” by Cleveland Scene. Indientry said that their “bluesy sound is effortlessly cool.” Although singer/guitarist Anthony Doran and bassist Kevin Trask have been the constant core of each incarnation of the band, Mike Janowitz immediately became an essential member as soon as he joined on drums.
Anthony and Kevin formed You’re Among Friends with drummer Chris Tarka in January 2007. This original lineup hit the ground running by playing a bunch of shows at venues like the Red Parrot, the Grog Shop, the Hi-Fi, the Phantasy, the Symposium, Club 87, the Orange Street, and Club Khameleon.
You’re Among Friends released their self-titled debut album on July 3, 2007. Cleveland Scene categorized the music as “bluesy power pop.” “From Now On” earned some local radio airplay on Inner Sanctum and Resident Rock. Anthony, Kevin and Chris played shows throughout the summer to promote the album, including a soft launch at Verlie’s and a release party at the Grog Shop. Verlie’s described the band as “a pop trio — very ‘60s like, though the singer sounds like Elvis Costello. I could hear the Beatles, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Faces, and Tom Petty, but still in their own style. A band to watch.”
The group started working on their second batch of recordings in early 2008. Chris drummed on most of the new tracks before leaving the band that spring, but Sarah Luffred took over in time to play on a song. In Due Time was released on August 1, 2008. Powerpopaholic called the band’s music “casual rock” for the first time in a short blurb encouraging readers to check out the EP. “Until the Next Girl Comes Along” has been played on Franklee Speaking and Indie Pop Takeout.
Anthony, Kevin and Sarah played shows at Club Khameleon, the Robin Hood Inn, the Symposium, the Outpost, and the Phantasy. In July 2009, Sarah was replaced by drummer Tony Randall. This new lineup played shows at Roc Bar, Wilbert’s, and the Cove by the end of that summer. Wilbert’s described the band’s music as “CLE rock ’n’ roll that is reminiscent of Graham Parker.”
In May 2010, Anthony and Kevin briefly reunited with Chris Tarka to record a couple of new songs. Ben Gilbert played sax on a track. “Enjoy Life” and “Half a Thought” were released as a single on June 11, 2010. Cleveland Scene pointed out that “Enjoy Life” seemed to be “Elvis Costello-inspired.” Anthony, Kevin, Chris, and Ben played a show together at the Symposium on New Year’s Day of 2011.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2011, Anthony and Kevin played some acoustic shows with keyboardist Bryan Garvin at Red’s, Wilbert’s, Bela Dubby, Bobby O’s, and the Rathskeller at Kent State University. From the end of 2011 through the middle of 2015, Anthony played about fifty solo shows. The Civic Commons said that “Anthony Doran’s tight singer-songwriter material sounds like a brilliant long-lost Elvis Costello recording.”
Anthony and Kevin were joined by drummer Adrian Higgins in the late summer of 2015. Over the next few months, the band sprinkled some new songs into their set lists when they played at venues like the Happy Dog, the Euclid Tavern, Wilbert’s, and the Grog Shop. Anthony, Kevin and Adrian recorded ten new songs throughout the first half of 2016. Early on in the mixing process that June, it was announced that the band was parting ways with Adrian. Drummer Chris Szuch joined the band in time to play at the release party at the Euclid Tavern.
As We Watch the Years Go… was released on July 31, 2016. Cleveland Scene claimed that these songs “reveal a simple truth about You’re Among Friends: they just enjoy playing music, and want nothing more than for you to sit back and relax.” Eclectic Music Lover called this “a fun and mellow album that makes you think a little bit about life in all its craziness as you’re enjoying the music,” and he went on to say that he hears “touches of Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and The Grateful Dead in their sound, and Anthony’s vocals really channel Randy Newman at times.” Small Albums said that the album reminded them of “sprinklers watering the grass on a warm summer morning when you first wake up.” Divide and Conquer said that the album “exemplifies the mastery that You’re Among Friends has accumulated and hones in their many years in the business of creating entertaining and meaningful music.” D&C also pointed out that the album “is a unique blend of blues, power pop and alternative rock” and that “hints of beach rock and traditional rock ’n’ roll pepper ‘Years Go,’ the album’s opening track.” Northern Pirate Radio gave “Building Bridges to Burn” and “The Opposite” some regular airplay. The Beard and the Brew, Black Squirrel Radio, Odyssey Radio, and the Music Authority also played tracks from the album.
In January 2017, Cleveland Scene featured You’re Among Friends as their ‘Band of the Week’ as the group celebrated their tenth anniversary by playing at Wilbert’s. A couple of weeks later, CBS Cleveland mentioned the band in their ‘The Best Places to See Indie Rock in Cleveland’ piece by saying “on an average night, Wilbert’s hosts sublime indie groups like You’re Among Friends.” After a few more shows that spring at the Beachland Tavern, the Happy Dog, and the Grog Shop, the band was headed for yet another lineup change. Anthony and Kevin played shows as an acoustic duo at the Winchester and Now That’s Class that June to try to keep the momentum going.
In the summer of 2017, Frank Mirabelli became the next drummer to come through the group. Anthony, Kevin and Frank recorded four new songs together in July, and they played a show at the Beachland Tavern in August.
One Day You’ll Look Back was released on November 28, 2017. Indientry said that the EP is “chock-full of power pop disguised as bluesy rock,” adding that it “is nothing if not funky.” Eclectic Music Lover called it “a nice little EP featuring songs with simple melodies and compelling lyrics that make for a highly pleasurable listen” and said that it “delivers the kind of honest, relatable songs about life and relationships the band does so very well.” Powerpopaholic mentioned that the band sounds “a little bit like a really loose version of Steely Dan” and that “the jazzy ‘I’m Happier Now’ and funky wah-wah chords on ‘Back To Work Tomorrow’ are worth exploring.” According to Divide and Conquer, “this EP was short, fun and an easy but delightful listen. Recommended.” D&C went on to say that “‘You Lost Interest First’ is the arguable highlight. The song felt somewhere between The Shins and Johnny Cash. There’s a pretty wicked guitar solo around the one-minute mark that hits all the right notes.” Bucketlist Music Reviews kicked off their review of the EP with the line “if there’s such a thing as a punk rock Randy Newman, I think this is it,” and they went on to say that “One Day You’ll Look Back certainly lives up to the power pop name; this thing is seriously catchy. I can’t count the number of times the chorus of ‘I’m Happier Now’ has gone through my head today.” Franklee Speaking on 93.3 CFMU has played “I’m Happier Now” and “You Lost Interest First.” While playing most of the EP on his show, Joe Wright from Northern Pirate Radio remarked that “‘Back to Work Tomorrow’ is probably my favorite off of the new EP because I love the way the guitar sounds. It sounds very psychedelic ’60s, bellbottom-y, kind of hippie style – like there should be lava lamps all around me and whatnot!” The 1001 Records for Music Lovers blog included One Day You’ll Look Back on their ‘Best Records of December 2017’ and ‘Best Records of 2017’ lists, and they featured “I’m Happier Now” as part of their ‘Song of the Day’ series. Best Song Day featured “I’m Happier Now” on their blog. Review Rhino called it a “catchy tune with a NYC ’60s pop soul feel that will make you move,” to which Chip Whitson commented that he heard “a touch of the Lovin’ Spoonful” in that song. Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative said that “I’m Happier Now” was the band’s “poppiest work yet.”
At the beginning of January 2020, Mike Janowitz became the band’s new drummer. Anthony, Kevin and Mike started working on a new album during their first afternoon together. All three members felt that the music flowed very naturally and organically during their weekly sessions. The stay-at-home orders issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that spring didn’t interrupt the recording process too much since Anthony needed time to overdub his guitars and vocals anyway. When Anthony finished his tracks, he sent all of the files to Kevin for mixing.
Start Making Sense was released on May 8, 2020. In a review posted on the release date, Cleveland Scene said “the album begins with the punchy ‘Trying to Take It All In,’ a track that draws from the Grateful Dead’s poppier side (think ‘Touch of Grey’). Another highlight, the quirky ‘Once the Toothpaste Is Out of Its Tube,’ features lurching guitars and off-kilter tempo changes. ‘Hills You’re Willing to Die On,’ a song that begins with a thick bass riff, offers a change of pace as it has a jazzy feel, albeit with sneering vocals.” Eclectic Music Lover said “with Start Making Sense, You’re Among Friends have delivered yet another thoughtful and pleasing album for us to enjoy. As their name implies, it’s like the return of an old friend with whom we’re able to pick right back up from where we left off. And that, my friends, is a mighty good thing indeed. That comforting low-key vibe, combined with their thoughtful, down-to-earth lyrics about this crazy thing we call life, has a way of making me feel that everything’s gonna be alright. And boy, we can all use more of that right now!” Marc Schuster commented on EML’s review: “Good vibe! Reminds me of the Edgar Winter Group.” CoolCleveland said that Start Making Sense is “a nine-track disc of relaxed folky pop tunes with an early ’70s vibe and even a faint hint of country/Southern rock,” going on to say that “the colloquial titles, such as ‘Once the Toothpaste Is Out of Its Tube,’ ‘Why Do I Dwell On Things?’ and ‘String a Few Nice Words Together,’ capture the unforced vibe of tunes that feel like they emerged, appropriately, from late-night conversations among friends.” Poprock Record said “I love the jazzy swing on ‘Waiting for Life to Start Making Sense,’ definitely a bit of early Elvis Costello-vibing here, and the groove anchoring ‘Once the Toothpaste Is Out of its Tube.’ I also hear a bit of chooglin’ CCR on a few tracks.” Powerpopaholic said that the album “plays out like a fun jam in someone’s basement studio. Love the funk melody on ‘Once the Toothpaste is Out of Its Tube.’ More terrific casual rock like ‘Just Keep Being Nice’ makes this a great album to chill with.” Jr Moz Collective tweeted that “Once the Toothpaste Is Out of Its Tube” has “Alex Chilton solo years chords,” and then added: “This is a hot jam. Wait on the organ. Great voice. All around, I’m a convert.” Kelly Kintner tweeted that “Why Do I Dwell On Things?” reminded him of “Blind Melon’s second album mixed with some Grateful Dead,” to which another listener responded that he detected “a bit of a funky Little Feat groove.” Pluto Radio said that the same song has a “strange, yet cool groove.” “On Again, Off Again” has been included on the ‘More Than Corn,’ ‘Swingbilly and More,’ and ‘Illegales Gedankengut’ playlists on Spotify. The Music Files (UK) called You’re Among Friends “the ultimate feel-good band that will automatically leave you in high spirits after the first listen,” going on to say that “Once the Toothpaste Is Out of Its Tube” has a “sweet blend of soulful melodies carried on throughout. With the catchy drum beat, infectious bass line and upbeat guitar hooks, listeners will be hooked from the get-go. We recommend you listen to this track after a long day – within minutes you’ll be up dancing your worries away!”
Songs from Start Making Sense have received airplay on over two dozen radio shows and podcasts. “Why Do I Dwell On Things?” has been featured on the Radio Indie Alliance weekly Top 40 list. “Why Do I Dwell On Things?,” “On Again, Off Again,” and “Trying to Take It All In” have all been featured on the Radio TFSC daily Top 24 list. Banks Radio Australia included “Once the Toothpaste Is Out of Its Tube” on their daily Top 10 Tracks list.
Anthony, Kevin and Mike were very excited to get back together to record ten new songs during the last few months of 2021. The sessions were very relaxed and each member contributed plenty of ideas at various stages of the creative process.
Good Enough Sometimes was released on January 10, 2022. Eclectic Music Lover was the first to review the album, stating that “with Good Enough Sometimes, You’re Among Friends serves up 30 minutes of pleasing songs – with a few edgier ones thrown in for variety – we’ve come to expect and enjoy from them. One of the many things I like about their songs is that the titles let us know exactly what they’re about, as well as the conversational flow of their down-to-earth lyrics that make us feel like we’re speaking with a friend.” After including “Don’t Borrow Trouble” on his weekly Sunday Six list, Christian’s Music Musings commented that “You’re Among Friends are right up my alley! There’s definitely a bit of early Steely Dan in their music, as well as Grateful Dead. Their warm and laid back sound definitely struck a chord with me, and I look forward to hearing more music from this band.” Electric Tapestry tweeted “Sounds seventies. Summery. Nice production.” According to Powerpopaholic, “Cleveland, Ohio’s You’re Among Friends take a very laid back approach on this new release. ‘Here in the Middle of the Pack’ is like a stoner Spin Doctors tune and the melodic funk of ‘You Know What You Want’ will appeal to NRBQ fans.” Cleveland Scene told readers that “the opening track, ‘Don’t Borrow Trouble,’ features a bit of a twang, giving it a Wilco feel” and that “songs like ‘You Know What You Want’ are kinda jammy and reflect the band’s love for the Grateful Dead.” Indie Pop Takeout played “Don’t Borrow Trouble” during a short set that they described as “college rock-ish tracks.” The Skydiving Penguins tweeted “absolutely loved your swampy/funky vibe” after “You Know What You Want” was played on the Sweet Spot. Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More said that “You Know What You Want” is a “funky affair,” while Lone Frequencies called it “delicious funk.” Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative called “Accompanied” a “funky slice of indie.”
Over forty radio shows and podcasts have played songs from Good Enough Sometimes.“Don’t Borrow Trouble” has been featured on Radio Indie Alliance weekly Top 10 lists for both the Music Authority and Garagerocktopia. The Warp Factor has included “Don’t Borrow Trouble” on their New Music Monday Top 10 list. Banks Radio has included “You Know What You Want” on their Daily Top 10 Tracks list and on their Radio Indie Alliance weekly Top 10 list. “Here in the Middle of the Pack” has been included on the Daily Top 10 list for Sweet Sunday Sounds and on the Daily Top 24 list for Radio TFSC. Sweet Sunday Sounds has included “Accompanied” on their Daily Top 10 list. Radio TFSC included “You Know What You Want,” “Here in the Middle of the Pack,” “Plan Cancellation Chicken,” “Okay Is Good Enough Sometimes,” and “Toxic Positivity” on their Daily Top 24 list. Hank’s Alternative Radio included “Toxic Positivity” on their Radio Indie Alliance weekly Top 10 list. The Sweet Spot called “Toxic Positivity” a “top tune from ’22.”
After a long break from live shows, You’re Among Friends played three in 2022: CODA in April, Mahall’s in June, and the Beachland Tavern in October.