If there’s such a thing as a punk rock Randy Newman, I think this is it. You’re Among Friends are a self-described bluesy power-pop band from Cleveland, Ohio and their newest EP One Day You’ll Look Back managed to get me out of the old “I had to push my car out of a goddamn snowbank and was an hour late for work” blues.
You’re Among Friends is essentially the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Anthony Doran. Doran’s kept the band going for over eleven years through various lineup changes, though you wouldn’t know that from listening. With bassist Kevin Trask and drummer Frank Mirabelli, the band jives really well.
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. The warbling vocals throughout aren’t the most conventional, but if you’re into artists like Elvis Costello, you’re bound to appreciate the style. The contrast between the happy-go-lucky melody and comparatively dismal lyrics on songs like ”Not My Thing” makes for a pretty interesting listen and brings a bit of thematic diversity to the EP.
The EP’s short run-time is a bit of a double-edged sword. At only four songs, One Day You’ll Look Back doesn’t really have time to get boring. You’re Among Friends never branch too far from their main sound and, were it a little longer, that would be more of a problem for me. That said, maybe a longer track listing would have forced the band to step outside their comfort zone.
Hypotheticals aside, One Day You’ll Look Back is a fun listen and I can’t say I have any complaints about what you’ll hear on this thing. You’re Among Friends are pretty far outside of my usual wheelhouse, but they’ve found themselves a new fan.
– Justin Bruce
Bucketlist Music Reviews
Anthony Doran (vocals/guitars), Kevin Trask (bass) and Frank Mirabelli (drums) are You’re Among Friends. Doran and Trask have a long musical history together going back about eleven years. Apparently, they have a bit of a Spinal Tap type of thing going on because Mirabelli is the band’s sixth drummer. They recently released One Day You’ll Look Back which is a four-song EP which continues and arguably improves from their previous release As We Watch the Years Go....
The band gets going with “I’m Happier Now” which sounds about as cheerful as the title. It’s jazzy, loose and easy to appreciate. The guitars are clean and is supported by a slick drum beat and bubbling bass line. I really enjoyed the opener. It’s a simple song but extremely catchy.
“Back to Work Tomorrow” reminded me of Mac Demarco within the first fifteen seconds. However I felt the vibe and feel changes to almost something more funky when the verse hits. Similar to the opener the song is catchy and infectious.
“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. They end with the melodic and somewhat ’50s inspired “Not My Thing.” The verse in particular has a ’50s feel but goes into a more indie rock-esque feel when the chorus hits.
The one thing I would like to hear from this band at some point is to get away from the lo-fi bedroom recording aesthetics whether by going in a professional studio or doing it themselves. It can work on some genres but for this EP it doesn’t seem to do it justice. For reference Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls might be a good starting point.
This EP was short, fun and an easy but delightful listen. Recommended.
– Matt Jensen
Divide and Conquer
Despite a ragged, DIY-esque production style, One Day You’ll Look Back, the latest EP from Cleveland-based band You’re Among Friends, is driving and full of unexpected twists. It’s chock-full of power-pop disguised as bluesy rock, and the warbling vocals and guitar take on a new life in each track.
One Day You’ll Look Back is nothing if not funky. Although the first track, “I’m Happier Now”, isn’t anything out of the ordinary with its warbling vocals, distorted guitar and warpy melodies come into play on “Back to Work Tomorrow”. The bluesy sound is effortlessly cool, and despite a mellow tempo, there’s a distinct vigor behind every note.
“You Lost Interest First”, however, is full of cheesy pillow-sayings, drily fitting together cliches like puzzle pieces and forming a surprisingly catchy folk song. Sarcastic lyrics like, “Say, if you love something, you’ve gotta set it free” and “But out of sight, out of mind/folks who wander might find themselves lost” should feel tired, but You’re Among Friends adds a new energy to the music, especially with an invigorating guitar solo.
The EP closes on a cynical note; “Not My Thing” blends pessimistic lyrics (“It’s just that smiling is not my thing/Don’t like the sunshine, I like the rain”) with poppy melodies, contrasting the clashing moods. It’s confusing in the best way.
Despite being a band for eleven years–with a rotating cast of characters, of course–You’re Among Friends still maintains the creativity needed to write songs with such an enthralling composition. There’s just enough warping, cynicism, and cool funkiness on the album to shake things up.
– Abby Jeffers
You’re Among Friends is a Cleveland, Ohio-based band who play a laid back style of funky, blues-infused folk rock that just makes you feel good. Following up on their wonderful album As We Watch the Years Go… (which they released in July 2016 and I reviewed last year), they dropped a new EP, One Day You’ll Look Back, at the end of November 2017. It’s a short EP, containing four tracks totaling only ten minutes in length, but it delivers the kind of honest, relatable songs about life and relationships the band does so very well. Making the music are Anthony Doran (lead vocals and guitars), Kevin Trask (bass) and drummer Frank Mirabelli, a recent addition to, and sixth drummer for, the band.
The first track, “I’m Happier Now,” is a pleasant, upbeat tune about the happiness and joy a loved one brings to his life: “I can barely remember what life was like before you arrived. So I know I’m happier now. All I know is that I’m happier now. It’s true.” Anthony’s jangly guitar nicely complements Kevin’s humming bass line, while Frank bangs out the mellow beat on the drums.
The guys get philosophical on the funky “Back to Work Tomorrow,” speaking to the soul-crushing routine of a dead-end job, and advising against letting it define your life. I love the rather cynical lyrics to this song, as I think a lot of us can relate to them:
Work your fingers down to the bone
But in the end what do you have to show for it?
Except a few dollars that you’ve already spent
Because the money rolls out faster than it comes in
Well it’s an uphill battle towards a long decline
If you let your work define your life
If you worry about it you will lose your mind
It’s not like you get paid to think
Time flies, even when you’re not having fun
One day you’ll look back and half your life will be gone
Well that’s all time that you’ll never get back
I hope it was worth it working so hard for the man
“You Lost Interest First” has a country vibe with an infectious bouncy guitar riff and toe-tapping beat. The song’s about a couple who’ve both lost the feelings for each other that initially drew them together. A catchy, uptempo beat belies the somewhat negative sentiments of “Not My Thing.” With a hint of resignation in his voice, Anthony sings:
It’s hard to make me smile
You can try your best but it probably won’t work
It’s not that I’m depressed
I don’t try to be dark, I’m not a jerk
It’s just that smiling is not my thing
Don’t like the sunshine I like the rain
All in all, One Day You’ll Look Back is a nice little EP featuring songs with simple melodies and compelling lyrics that make for a highly pleasurable listen.
– Jeff Archuleta
Eclectic Music Lover
This Cleveland rock band has been described as bluesy power pop, but it sounds to me a little bit like a really loose version of Steely Dan. The jazzy “I’m Happier Now” and funky wah-wah chords on “Back To Work Tomorrow” are worth exploring.
– Aaron Kupferberg
I am happy to announce that my friends are back! You’re Among Friends from Cleveland, Ohio, just came out with a brand new EP called One Day You’ll Look Back. It just came out a few days ago, so it’s fresh off the press and still has that new smell about it! I’ve got three of these new songs that I’m going to share with you. The first one is called “I’m Happier Now,” and I want you to hear how this song swings. This is just a beautiful song. I’m going to follow that with a song called “Not My Thing.” The last song that I am going to play, “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! My hat goes off to them for this great song. Look up You’re Among Friends on Bandcamp to hear this great new music along with all of their past releases!
– Joe Wright
Northern Pirate Radio
Cleveland, Ohio band You’re Among Friends wants their fans – and everyone else for that matter – to feel welcome and comfortable when hearing their music or watching them perform. Comprised of Anthony Doran (lead vocals and guitars), Kevin Trask (bass, keyboards and backing vocals) and Chris Szuch (drums), You’re Among Friends play a laid-back style of funky, blues-infused folk rock that just makes you feel good while being entertained.
You’re Among Friends was born in 2007 when Anthony and Kevin, who’d both played in another band, rechristened it with the new name and began reworking songs from the previous band’s repertoire, all of which had been written by Anthony. When I asked him about how they came up with their band name, he explained:
“Kevin was the one who first suggested ‘You’re Among Friends’ while we were kicking around some ideas for a band name. Around the time we started playing together, Kevin had a roommate who played guitar in a band called ‘Wisconsin.’ At one point, [the state of] Wisconsin was using ‘You’re Among Friends’ as a tourism slogan on their bumper stickers and stuff. So I guess Kevin’s initial idea for our band name was meant to be a subtle nod to his roommate’s band, but I think it was us wanting to be welcoming to listeners and fans that ultimately won me over.”
The band’s had five drummers over the past ten years, and Anthony and Kevin have been through many life changes during that time period as well. Anthony described the bonds that have kept them together as a band:
“Kevin and I have been through a lot together over the years. We’ve watched each other get married, start careers, buy houses, have children, etc. Sadly, we also both had younger brothers who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Over the decade that this band has been around, Kevin and I have gone from being carefree kids in our early twenties to being in our thirties with all sorts of adult concerns, regrets and responsibilities. Oddly enough, we seem more committed than ever to our friendship and making this band work.
Our outlook on playing in this band has changed drastically over the years. We used to take a lot of things very seriously and get all bent out of shape when things didn’t work out exactly the way we planned it. We’ve learned to take it easy and go with the flow, especially when the situation at hand is out of our control. We appreciate all of the opportunities that come our way to be able to share our music with people. We also just thoroughly enjoy playing together. Some groups of guys go bowling or go to ball games together. We go out, drink a few beers and play our songs for people. This isn’t a bad way to hang out with your friends if you can pull it off. Sometimes we even get paid for it!”
Based on the kindness and gratitude Anthony has shown me in our conversations by email, I would definitely like to hang out with him and the band over a few beers.
You’re Among Friends released their debut self-titled album in 2007, a solid effort featuring 11 songs. They followed a year later with a six-track EP In Due Time, then dropped a double-sided single Enjoy Life & Half a Thought in 2010. You can check out these earlier releases on Spotify or Bandcamp. The band took a hiatus in the early 2010s and didn’t play for four years. As Doran explained to Scene Magazine: “There wasn’t a falling out; it just happened. We started to have kids and had a lot going on at that time.”
Once they reconnected in 2015, they began working on a new album As We Watch the Years Go… Seven of the ten songs on the album had previously been written by Anthony and three – “A Way to Get Away,” “Calling Anyone” and “Dreaming of the Past” – were co-written by Anthony and Kevin. As evidenced by its title, the album explores life and the passage of time, and how it’s affected friendships, relationships, and the band itself. Anthony stated that “being able to record those songs for this album in 2016 seemed like we were finally wrapping up unfinished business.” The album’s cover – a photo of a baseball field – is a tribute to their brothers, who both liked the sport, and the album is dedicated to them.
As We Watch the Years Go… was released at the end of July 2016. The band’s previous drummer Adrian Higgins played drums on all the album tracks. Chris Szuch joined the band as the new drummer in July 2016, just in time to play his first show at the band’s CD release party. The band’s music features nimble guitar riffs, anchored by sturdy bass lines and just the right amount of percussion to keep everything moving along smoothly. I hear touches of Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and The Grateful Dead in their sound, and Anthony’s vocals really channel Randy Newman at times.
The album kicks off with “Years Go,” which serves as the title track and really sets the tone for the album. Lively guitar riffs, accompanied by a bluesy bass line and gentle percussion, make for a mellow rock and roll song. The lyrics are upbeat yet nostalgic, addressing the inevitable passage of time that seems to move ever faster as we age: “Remember when we were younger, and the summer seemed to last for years. Now the years are passing, summer moves so fast now. All those days disappear. June turns into July, July turns into August. Soon there is the fall, as pumpkins go to harvest. Then comes the snow, where did the year go? Now I’m an age I never thought I would be. It’s not so bad growing older, because you’re here with me.”
Kevin’s funky bass has a starring role on “Any Day Now,” a song about staying optimistic in the face of life’s adversities, both big and small. Anthony lays down some tasty riffs on this track. Being an irresponsible, immature screw-up is the theme of “Building Bridges to Burn,” while “Dumb Complaints” is an honest admission of a chronic whiner (a song I can identify with, being a whiny-ass complainer myself). Anthony plaintively sings: “I can hear you loud and clear babe, you’re sick of all my complaints./ I complain no matter what’s going on. Reach for the moment, and it’s gone. ‘Cause I wasted it on dumb complaints.”
One of my favorite tracks is the funky “A Way to Get Away,” an ode to the preference for personal freedom rather than romantic entanglements. “Sneak attack, you’re trying to back me against the wall. You got me under siege, but you’ll never get to watch me fall./ I need a way to get away. I’m looking for a way to get away.’ The terrific distorted guitar solo at the end of the song is pure ear candy.
The guys play the blues on “Sour Grapes,” with some nifty Southern blues-rock guitar riffs over Kevin’s buzzing bass line. And the intricate, layered guitar work on “Calling Anyone” is awesome.
Another of my favorite tracks is “Dreaming of the Past,” a melodic ballad that’s a bit of a departure in sound for the guys. The song begins with lovely synth chords that continue throughout the song, overlain by Anthony’s skillful handling of his guitar, proving without a doubt that he’s quite the axeman.
The album closer “Rope” speaks to ridding your life of toxic people who’ve used you and brought you down. “Give them enough rope, maybe they’ll hang themselves. You won’t have to blame yourself anymore. Don’t make another excuse for the way you’ve been used, by all of your so-called friends.” I really like the jangly strummed guitars on this track. But then, I love the guitar and bass on all their songs!
As We Watch the Years Go… is a fun and mellow album that makes you think a little bit about life in all its craziness as you’re enjoying the music.
– Jeff Archuleta
Eclectic Music Lover
Sprinklers watering the grass on a warm summer morning when you first wake up.
– Small Albums
Having already been making music for over a decade, You’re Among Friends is a rock band based in Cleveland, Ohio. Their latest of four releases, an album entitled As We Watch the Years Go…, is a unique blend of blues, power pop and alternative rock and is a great place for new listeners to begin before listening to the band’s earlier works.
Hints of beach rock and traditional rock and roll pepper “Years Go” the album’s opening track. Wistful lyrics are complemented by a host of guitars and percussion instruments, making for a light and bright, yet full, soundscape. The following track “Any Day Now” relies heavily on bass guitar riffs for the song’s rhythmic foundation, which is built upon by percussion, electric guitars and layered vocals.
“Building Bridges to Burn,” a highly melodic and relentlessly emotive song, transitions nicely into “A Way to Get Away,” a laid-back, head-bob-inducing tune that alternates seamlessly between several dynamic structures and rhythmic decisions that make for a truly intriguing listening experience. Next, acoustic guitars take the spotlight in “Dumb Complaints,” a very catchy, swinging ballad that takes cues from blues and folk styles.
The energy of the album peaks in “The Opposite,” a hard-hitting rock song that incorporates harmonic guitar riffs with fast-paced lyrics, steady drums and fast strumming patterns. Although the tempo is slowed down in “Sour Grapes” the energy of the song remains sky-high before becoming slightly more subdued in the more acoustic-based “Calling Anyone,” a tune that gradually crescendos and becomes more and more musically complex as the song progresses.
An electronic synthesizer is featured in the ambient, beautiful “Dreaming of the Past” signaling a slight turn from the band’s characteristic sound. However, this deviation is short-lived, as “Rope,” the final song on the album, returns to the band’s typical instrumentation. Overall, As We Watch the Years Go… 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.
– Andrew Westberry
Divide and Conquer
On an average night, Wilbert’s hosts sublime indie groups like You’re Among Friends… (mentioned in a piece called The Best Places to See Indie Rock in Cleveland)
– Mario McKellop
BAND OF THE WEEK: You’re Among Friends.
MEET THE BAND: Anthony Doran (lead vocals and guitar), Kevin Trask (bass and backing vocals), Chris Szuch (drums).
LETTING THE GOOD TIMES ROLL: Doran was in a band 10 years before forming You’re Among Friends, and Trask joined that band at the very end. Right before the group was to play a show at the Red Parrot in Lorain, the lead singer quit. Doran, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, knew all the lyrics and stepped into that role. The group soldiered on as a trio, eventually rechristening itself as You’re Among Friends. “The band name reflects what we think about playing music together,” says Doran. “We think of it as a way to have a good time. We drink a few beers and then just have fun with it.”
CELEBRATING AN ANNIVERSARY: The group put out a self-titled album in 2007, retooling songs from the previous band that Doran and Trask played in. Though the group will revisit some of the songs for its upcoming 10th anniversary show, Doran says he doesn’t necessarily identify with the tunes. “It’s hard for me to play songs I wrote when I was 17 or 18,” he says. “But that early album and band was a stepping stone.” For the anniversary show, the band also plans to play some new unreleased songs. “We can’t wait to finally have some recordings with Chris Szuch on drums, though,” says Doran. “He’s our fifth drummer, but he also seems to be the best fit that we’ve had musically and personally.” In addition, a keyboardist will make his debut with the guys and join the group for a few songs. “There’s always someone leaving and joining the group,” says Doran, “but that keeps it fun.”
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band took some time off in the early 2010s and didn’t play for four years. “There wasn’t a falling out; it just happened,” says Doran. “We started to have kids and had a lot going on at that time. Before that hiatus started, Kevin’s younger brother passed away and then when my younger brother passed away, we reconnected and bonded over that. [Last year’s As We Watch the Years Go] brings that experience into it.” The disc’s baseball cover art is a tribute to their brothers, who both liked the sport, and the album is dedicated to them. While tragedy informs the content, the songs come off as mid-tempo rock and blues numbers that have an uplifting feel to them. Album opener “Years Go” features a twangy guitar riff and gruff vocals as Doran sings, “We’ll be taking it slow/as we watch the years go.” “I wrote songs that were angrier when I was young,” he explains. “As I get older, I try to draw from the positive side of things.”
– Jeff Niesel
There are a lot of other radio stations, personalities, magazines and critics out there that use really weird words to describe bands. I don’t like to use these big words and blend a whole bunch of adjectives together to explain people’s music. I like to keep it simple. And so, to all you good people out there, You’re Among Friends’ music is simply this: it is happy music. It makes you happy, it keeps you happy. If you’re in a bad mood or feeling down in the dumps or glum, this band’s music is uplifting and takes the clouds away. This is happy music and that’s all there is to it. They are friendly guys. I hope everybody in the Ohio area gets a chance to see these guys! (you can listen to the entire segment by clicking here)
– Joe Wright
Northern Pirate Radio
The prototypical “local band with a lot of heart,” Cleveland’s You’re Among Friends is no stranger to relentless gigging and self promotion around the area. Despite the work ethic, however, the music gives off a much more mellow vibe. Their new record, As We Watch The Years Go…, is 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 — basically, what 311 would sound like if they tried to write Black Keys songs. The unpretentious innocence of songs like “A Way To Get Away” and “Dumb Complaints” 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.
– Eli Shively
Think: if Graham Parker was from Cleveland!
– Michael Miller
Anthony Doran’s tight singer-songwriter material sounds like a brilliant long-lost Elvis Costello recording.
– Daryl Rowland
You’re Among Friends’ new release is available as a free download for a limited time on Bandcamp. The set includes the Elvis Costello-inspired “Enjoy Life.” The band plans to charge for the music soon, so get it for free while you can.
– Jeff Niesel
CLE rock ‘n’ roll that is reminiscent of Graham Parker.
– Michael Miller
You’re Among Friends is a bluesy power-pop trio. Their new self-titled disc is available now.
– D.X. Ferris
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.
– Vickie Verlie
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