Band of the Week: Brian Lisik & the Unfortunates

Concert Preview

Meet the Band: Brian Lisik (vocals and guitar), Steve Norgrove (bass, mandolin, vocals), Ray Flanagan (guitar), Craig Lisik (drums), Tim Longfellow (piano)

Roots: Curtisinterruptedus, the band's new album, follows 2012's The Mess that Money Could Buy. This time around, Lisik says, a lot of things fell into place precisely as he had hoped. It's a return to Lisik's power-pop influences. The album starts with single "Jan. 13," which vaults from a spirited intro melody into an organ-infused verse. There are a lot of interesting sounds — lead guitar riffs, backing vocals, percussion snaps — that shape the overall atmosphere of a very Rust Belt rock 'n' roll album. "This one sounds more like what I heard a record sounding like from the get-go. We stayed really focused," Lisik says.

Serendipity: "On one hand, it was very structured," Lisik says. "But I had fun just having these really great musicians around and going, 'Have at it!'" "Born on Needles and Pins" was mostly done — all set up with guitars and everything. He asked Longfellow to come up with a piano line for the song and stepped out of the room. As he listened in from upstairs, Lisik realized that Longfellow's simple keys work was perfect for the song. "Strip everything off of it; I want vocals and piano," Lisik said when he got back to the studio. They added a strings arrangement from Michael Houff, and the song ended up as one of Lisik's favorites on this album.

Old School: "It accidentally sounds like the neighborhood I grew up in," Lisik says. "There's always that house at the end of the road where this guy's got a brother who's growing pot upstairs. That place. And there's always music coming out of there. To me, it reminds me of a record that some kid might pick up and go, 'Oh, what's this?'" The vibe is spot-on throughout the album, as the band weaves through uptempo rockers ("Beaten Up Blue," "Jan. 13") and more reflective pieces ("Born on Needles and Pins," and "Paramours," the latter featuring Rachel Roberts on vocals). "I think we keep getting better and better at what we're attempting," Lisik says.

Why You Should Hear Them: Blue-collar rock 'n' roll is more and more a thing of the sepia-toned past, a relic to be celebrated in exhibits at the Rock Hall or something. Lisik and the band bring those aesthetics back to the forefront of their lyrics and music. With Curtisinterruptedus, Lisik takes a trip into the heart of urban Northeast Ohio — rusted door hinges and all.

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates will perform an album release show at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 24, at Jilly's Music Room, 111 North Main St. in Akron.

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About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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