Top 40 Songs of 2014

PF Wilson 01.2015  MusicOpinion 

Well, better late than never, right? Actually, it took a while just to compile the top 10. By the way, you can hear PF and Pop Culture Beast contributing photographer Hannah, alternate counting down their top 10 songs on PF’s Tape Recorder Comedy Podcast Episode 181. It should be noted too that some of these tracks were released in 2013, but were still climbing the sales/airplay charts in 2014.  Enjoy!

  1. The Orwells- “Who Needs You?”
  2. Saint Motel- “Just My Type”
  3. Fitz & The Tantrums- “Fool’s Gold”
  4. Chvrches- “We Sink”
  5. LIGHTS- “Running with the Boys”
  6. G.R.L.- “Ugly Heart”
  7. Cults- “No Hope”
  8. Zedd featuring Hayley Williams- “Stay the Night”
  9. Bleachers- “Better”
  10. Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings- “Chasing the Sun”

This album – the 6th by Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings – paints a truly American landscape of road trips, strange characters, dreams, nostalgia, and hope. It captures what it is like to be alive in the here and now, all the while paying tribute to what got you this far.

Songwriter Andy Hawk pens ear-candy melodies, but he adds stunningly sharp, witty, funny, and poignant lyrics to the mix as well, which means the more you listen, the more “wow” moments you have. His voice is somewhere between Robert Earl Keen and Randy Newman, and his songs are just as well-crafted as the ones by those two. You won’t get Bono-esque range, but you’ll get a depth that is lacking in much of today’s music.

Hawk, obviously influenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and even Tom Waits, knows how to write a great 3-minute song, with a catchy chorus, hooks galore, and words that reveal themselves in a series of “ahas”.

The band went to Austin last year and recorded with Merel Bregante, one-time drummer with Loggins & Messina, and the production quality shows. Bregante and his wife, country singer Sarah Pierce, also added some lovely harmonies - along with Nancy Griffith-Cochran - to complement the sound, and Bregante’s production touch serves the songs well.

Opener “Sunshine Waterdance” is as exuberant as the title suggests, and it sets the album’s tone. It’s a toe-tapper from the first chord, with a killer riff to boot - a celebration of summer and life: “Listen to the time passing by / try to swallow rainclouds with your eyes / can’t you feel the sand beneath your sleep / sail into the sun, a singing dream…” The lyrics are playful and insightful.

Next is “Maybe Someday”, a lovely piano-driven ballad with another memorable hook, played on a mando-cello by guest Cody Braun of the band Reckless Kelly. This might be the best song in the collection, although it has competition.

“She Stopped the Rain” is a jangly Byrds/Beatles-influenced love song with a 12-string Rickenbacker in there for good measure. The versatile Braun provides a fiddle as well.

A beer-hall piano opens “Real Gone Girl”, which is written from the point of view of Dean Moriarty, a character in "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. Allusions to the novel abound: “Hey, Old Sal, let’s get to New Orleans / to Old Bull Lee’s, just pass the Benzedrine / I won’t sleep tonight / the nighttime feels so right”. It all leads into a singalong chorus that’ll get into your head quite quickly.

As a diversion, “Awkwardly at Ease”, co-written by Hawk and drummer Pat Holbrook, has a dreamy weirdness to it, both musically and lyrically. Bregante provides all kinds of odd percussion, and the hypnotic chord pattern takes you to dreamland. Bassist Chuck Bordelon shines especially on this song, adding to the song’s quirky nature with a circus-like bassline, although he’s a solid, melodic player throughout.

“Walking Around” embraces summer and youth in its driving rhythmic motion. We’ve all had that magical moment with a group or with a new, albeit doomed, love where the present is all you have, and you drink it down with gusto: “Afraid to sleep because we’d miss what we’d become / hoping for a sign or chance to just be anyone…” Ah, youth.

Perhaps the most-melancholy song on the album, “My Old Hometown” captures the decay and hopelessness of the Rust Belt where “the twisted days are long / the whiskey’s straight and strong.” Hawk grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, and he paints a vivid picture of how it’s eroded. “Spinning gold to straw / snow that never thaws / I feel my life’s a hand-me-down / in my old hometown.” It’s the kind of country song that would be a smash for Toby Keith or Kenny Chesney, although it’s nowhere near the cheese of new country. Paul Bordelon’s acoustic lead guitar is beautiful, and Hawk sings like he’s lived it.

“Chasing the Sun”, released last year as a single, is a companion piece to “Sunshine Waterdance”, a celebration of getting away, with another nice guitar solo by Paul Bordelon, and a terrific piano byAdam Marsland, one-time member of the band Cockeyed Ghost. Rocker “I Never Thought to Ask” – another Hawk/Holbrook composition - has the narrator kicking himself for holding his tongue when he should’ve spoken up. “You asked me up for coffee, I said no / ‘You know I don’t  like coffee, gotta go’ / it took me years to figure out that scene / now I drink my tea with coulda been.” This is another universal theme. Doesn't everyone have a memory of holding back when they should've jumped?

The title track takes us back home after a long New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the 19-year-old protagonist gets an eyeful. hanging with guys named The Rock and The Rubber Man, and crawling back from a party “stinking smoke and gasoline.” One gets the feeling that this is at least partially based on real-life events. Braun again helps out with a raunchy harmonica solo, and Chuck Bordelon adds an electric guitar solo as well. A good ol' raunchy blues song to put a nightcap on the record.

Ten songs, one enjoyable ride. Who knows what’s next for this band, but they’re definitely worth a listen right now.

An album of leaving and staying, of coming and going, of loving and longing, and the wonderful happenstances of life…

NOTE: The band’s CD-release show will be at the Iota Club in Arlington on Tuesday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m.  Kung Fu Gift Shop will open. Everyone gets a free CD with the $10 entry fee.  Album is available on iTunes, Amazon, and most download services, and at CDbaby.

Sorta Kinda Maybe – the fourth album by the Leesburg-based Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings – is a happy-sounding mish-mash of rock, pop, blues, and roots music, but it’s held together with a string of lyrics that evoke the heaviness and desperation of striking out on a new path, and the longing, randomness, and freedom of the road.  The ambitious 12-song album – which includes an 8-song bonus disc – ultimately depicts the pain and beauty of being alive. It’s joyous and sad and everything between – a perfect road album.

The road is a potent myth in America, and much of this album reflects a Kerouac-like yearning for what’s ahead, with the knowledge that what’s left behind will be sorely missed. Hawk’s lyrics are playful and earnest at the same time, and his characters inhabit a world in constant flux where movement is the only certainty. The road isn’t easy, but it offers something that fills a great American need for someplace else. John Steinbeck wrote in his road story “Travels with Charlie”:

I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation – a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something, but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited.

The title track reflects the scattered wonder of life’s many perspectives: “Masquerades / a twisted phrase / the strangest things turn into facts / a story true but not exact.” Truth, indeed, is not always an absolute. It is in the eye of the beholder.  Jesse Black provides soaring harmonies around a track that sounds like vintage R.E.M. with a little psychedelic ‘60s thrown in for good measure, thanks to Pascal Nasta’s groovy drums.

“Strawberry Smile”, the first single from the album, changes the narrator’s life with a chance meeting in the California desert: “She rolled her window down with elegant fingers / let out a laugh like bubble gum / she asked directions, I set the course / then I forgot where I came from…” He sees his chance and figures, why not? Fate gets a nudge from his opportunistic ideas: “She said, ‘ I thought I’d take a drive out to the Salton Sea / I don’t fit in here in Palm Springs’ / I claimed coincidence, ‘I’m headed there myself / I heard it looks like bathtub ring’…”

Our hero essentially altered the course of his life with one “what the hell” moment. The fact that the Salton Sea is a dying, stinking, man-made, ex-resort probably piqued his interest as much as our strawberry-smiled girl did. Told to a two-chord toe-tapping rhythm, this story puts you in the car to witness an instant connection and a tale that’ll last a lifetime, even if this is their only day together. There’s an interesting outro as well, that shifts into a gear reminiscent of the end of The Beatles’ “Hello, Goodbye”.

Birds and butterflies reinforce the floaty road show, as they appear more than once in the thread of the songs. “Blackbird on a lonely wire was waiting, but my mind was gone,” Hawk writes on “Letting Go”, a tune co-written with bassist Chuck Bordelon. The leaving is difficult but necessary, although he asks, “ever get the feeling you’re driving away / from all you know? / the rear-view tears at you / the pull of the undertow / and the people recede into the too huge world in calico / and you know it’s time for letting go…” The Sunday-morning leaving is the hardest - you know you’re on your way, but you linger in the awkward space between staying and going.

“Letting Go” has beautiful harmonies and piano, courtesy of California musician Adam Marsland – ex of Cockeyed Ghost – who captured the song’s melancholy perfectly. Bordelon adds a surprisingly bubbly bass line to the ballad, which suggests that although it’s sad to be going, it’s also exciting to be on your way.

Later, the dreamy song “Thoughts While Driving Home” talks of “butterflies and gravestones,” and album closer, the quirky “Painted Sky” asks a girl to “give me a sign, a butterfly / oh my / drifting through my painted sky.” More randomness and the beauty of going where the wind (or the girl) takes you. Marsland’s piano work on “Painted Sky” is spot-on, capturing the vaudevillian, circus-like atmosphere of a down-on-his-luck man at a horse track who lets a free-spirited woman – again – change the course of his life by closing her eyes and placing a finger on the next race’s ultimate winner. He wins by letting go of his black-and-white worldview. It’s a terrific track to end the album, as it brings the Sorta Kinda Maybe theme back into the loop on the way out of the old town and on the way into a new one.

There’s humor in all this dice-rolling, too. “Next Best Man” is a break-up story told with a smirk. “She pulled outside the house / in a brand-new moving van / driven by some caveman / she said, ‘baby, meet my next best man / I’ll take the bank accounts / you keep the ’88 sedan / I’ll be out in Spokane / so, bye, bye, baby, you’re the next best man.’” Well, by the time the song ends, he’s already chatting up someone else: “I might not be name-brand / I might be Peter Pan / might be second-hand / but you might like the next best man…” This bluesy tune features funky percussion tracks, including someone banging on an empty gas tank that emits a caveman-like grunting sound, and a smoking lead guitar solo by Paul Bordelon that seems inspired by the Georgia Satellites. Bordelon also adds a terrifically weird intro to the song that sounds like a UFO landing. And why not, since this album darts all over the country like a bunch of aliens eavesdropping into the lives of everyday Americans.

Next is Paul Bordelon and Hawk’s collaboration on “Rum Talking”, a boozy bit of funk that pokes fun at “weekend hippies” who seem to have littered trash cans all over the world with failed novels and tie-dye dreams, only to punch back in the next work week in their “clip-on Monday tie / a novel in a trash bin / crumbled up with sighs…”

Lisa Fiorilli’s beautifully rendered sax accompaniment spices “Written on the Road” with a perfect splash of longing. Another song about heading out of town, the narrator says, “I breathe the beaten air, and leave for anywhere but here…” The ballad lets us reflect for a moment before we take off on another wild ride…

“Stories That We Tell” follows our guy waking up “drunk and early / in the Chalk-Outline Motel,” not sure exactly who his companion is or where they ended up. He apparently told some whoppers along the way, too: “I asked her, ‘Am I still in New York City?’ / she asked me when I joined the NFL / I said I had a game that day in Cleveland / oh, the stories that we tell…” This chunky, guitar-driven piece of rock-n-roll has a seedy feel and complements the lyrics nicely.

Our drunken lad also told his girl that he was once in The Beatles, and she doesn’t call him on it: “She said I looked too young to be a Beatle / I thanked her for the compliment / I told her Rubber Soul was mostly my songs / she never asked for any evidence.” That line ends with a clever, “beep, beep, n, beep, beep,” a reference to “Drive My Car”, which opens Rubber Soul.

“Never out of Place” follows and captures the exhilaration and earnestness of being young. Based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this song was written in 2001 when Hawk spent a month alone in Nashville, playing when he could and writing for his sanity. It’s a slice of ‘70s rock at its best, with wonderful backing vocals from Nancy Griffith-Cochran, whose singing blends well with Hawk’s gravel-road voice. She – along with Black – gives the album an extra bit of intricacy that strengthens the entire collection. Chuck Bordelon’s lovely bass line solo helps us wave the couple into the future.

Chuck wrote a catchy, frantic tune with an ‘80s feel and Hawk penned words that turned it into “Midnight Run”, which picks up where its predecessor left us and encapsulates the classic youthful, summertime love affair – a vacation spark that explodes in intensity partly over the time constraints real life puts on most getaways. “I saw you in the neon night / shining brightly / it was June and 17 / who could fight it?” This song is every stolen kiss under the boardwalk or on top of the Ferris wheel – intense, memorable, and over way too quickly.

Song number 11 of the 12 is the one that actually seems to sum up the entire package. Musically, “Everywhere & Everything” sounds like it came from the Johnny Cash songbook – although, I’d suggest also checking out the Ramones-inspired version of the same song on the bonus disc, which proves a great song sounds good in more than one genre – and its words again speak of life’s strange twists and of wanting to experience all of it. “You ask me where I want to go / you ask me what I want to know / you ask me what I want to sing / everywhere and everything…”

The bonus disc is full of songs that might well have fit on the CD proper, but for one reason or another, they end up here, which makes it a nice 8-song disc of its own. Highlights include the bluesy “From the Word Go”; another driven by Marsland’s piano, called “Afterthoughts”; the Dylanesque “The Speakeasy (in Revere)”, a ballad about a real bar in Revere, Mass., that depicts the devastation of spinning your wheels; and “Watercolor in the Rain”, a great tune that builds from Chris Stoudt’s naked piano to a full-blown band rock out. There’s also a wisp of old Train Wreck Ending Steve DeVries, who left the band in 2011 with a move to Texas. DeVries was a versatile performer, and “Lovely Light” – left off last year’s Another Storyline - showcases his diversity, as he plays mandolin, banjo, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and adds backing vocals for good measure. A good note to leave on at any rate.

Partially funded by fan sponsorships, this album is professionally done but loses none of the band’s live energy. Mixed partly by Hawk at his home studio, the album also features mixing from Pat Schneider of Stairway East Recording Studio in Manassas. He has a nice feel for the band’s style. The album was mastered by the legendary Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio in Austin, and that’s the icing on the cake.

This is the best album I’ve heard in quite a few years. How are these guys not famous?!?! Regardless, you should get this one and appreciate the terrific songwriting and performances. Say what you will, but this band has the songs. That’s one thing in this whole package that doesn’t live in the gray areas; it’s a fact.

-         Jason Miller 

Andy Hawk has a way with words. The Loudoun-based singer is known for his versatile vocals and talented band, but for fans and fellow musicians, it’s Hawk’s songwriting that sets him apart.

The former journalist and teacher-turned-high-school-librarian has a thriving local fan base and a busy performance schedule. And with a much-anticipated new record of original material slated for release this year, he and his band of Loudoun and Fairfax musicians may be on the verge of something bigger in 2015.

Hawk and his band, the Train Wreck Endings, play Purcellville’s Franklin Park Arts Center Jan. 24.

Hawk, who lives in Hamilton with his family, grew up in Pittsburgh and got a journalism degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After a post-college stint working retail in Boston, he was hired as a sportswriter for the Columbus Dispatch. While working as a journalist, he started to feel a pull toward the education field and began taking classes at Ohio State to earn a teaching degree. He moved to the Baltimore area and covered sports for the Baltimore Sun before officially making the switch to a career as a teacher in 1995.

Hawk moved to Loudoun in 1997 and taught journalism and English at Loudoun County High School for 15 years. While teaching, he earned a master’s degree in Library Science and became the librarian at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling in 2012.

Hawk, now 49, had been playing guitar and singing for decades, but was in his late 30s before he decided to make a full-on commitment to performing and recording. In the early 2000s, he set up a regular acoustic gig at the now-defunct Market Street Coffee in Leesburg. Through those shows, he met Chuck Bordelon, now the bassist for the band, who brought his brother Paul, who plays electric guitar, and drummer Pascal Nasta into the group. Hawk’s wife Marnie, a teacher at Blue Ridge Middle School, introduced him to her music-loving assistant principal Nancy Griffith-Cochran, now the band’s backing vocalist, and the full band was rolling.

In the early days, as band members experimented with covers and getting to know each other’s musical styles, they often found themselves finishing a piece at different places.

“We joked that it was a train wreck ending—like most of my relationships were—so we said let’s just call ourselves that and it kind of stuck,” Hawk said.

The Train Wreck Endings released their first album, “Tin Can Town,” in 2009 and have since released four more records. They’ve also focused on playing out as much as possible. The band has a standing First Friday gig at King’s Tavern in Leesburg and regularly plays other venues in and around Loudoun. This group of “seasoned” musicians came together relatively late in life, but the collaboration is a joyful and energetic one.

“We’re all older, obviously, but we all love it,” Hawk said.

Hawk’s thoughtful, sometimes humorous, songs often have a philosophical or even literary bent (one critic compared his work to the road novels of Kerouac and Steinbeck). The group’s musical style defies categorization, though Hawk often uses the umbrella term Americana to describe the band. His vocals, intelligent songwriting and the group’s alt-country flair have drawn comparisons to iconic indie singer/songwriter Steve Earle, with plenty of blues, rock and other elements thrown in. The Bordelon brothers are south Louisiana natives and there’s often a New Orleans twist in the group’s repertoire. Hawk is the lyricist and main songwriter, but has collaborated with the Bordelons on the music for a number of the band’s songs.

The band has built a solid local following through regular gigs. And in a band full of educators, Hawk has a strong fan base among students, former students and colleagues at both his former and current Loudoun high schools. The Franklin Park show is a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Middle School PTO, which will receive half of the band’s proceeds.

“They’re really supportive of it. I think they know that’s really what drives me,” he said. “It’s a great connection for some students, too, to know that teachers don’t necessarily go on the shelf on the weekends.”

Hawk has developed a number of long-term music-based bonds with former students. Local multi-instrumentalist Chris Stoudt was a journalism student of Hawk’s and now regularly sits in with the Train Wreck Endings for live gigs and recordings. Hawk was voted faculty speaker at the LCHS class of 2004’s graduation ceremony, and instead of a speech, wrote and performed a song for graduates. The Train Wreck Endings played at that class’s 10th reunion last year, and Hawk is now finding himself invited to—and sometimes performing at—former students’ weddings.

The band’s 2014 album “Shhh!!!” was recorded at the PFHS library in a single evening following a teacher workday. “Shhh!!!” was recently picked up by Pandora, a major break for the band.

The band took another big step last year when members traveled to Austin, TX, to record with well-known producer Merel Bregante, who played drums for Loggins and Messina and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Hawk and Bregante connected a few years ago through a mutual friend and struck up an online friendship, with Bregante mixing tracks and giving advice on some of the band’s previous records. The band traveled to Austin last summer to record its latest album. Bregante is producing, recording, engineering and playing some percussion on the as-of-yet untitled album, slated for release this summer. Both Bregante and his wife Sarah Piece have also contributed backing vocals to the record.

“I root for them because I believe in Andy,” Bregante said. “He’s a wordsmith, he’s a writer. His songs are well crafted, which I really appreciate. There’s humor in most all of them and couched within the humor there’s a whole bunch of intellect, and I love that….There are so many intangibles, so many things that are absolutely unquantifiable that play into success [but] I think they’ve got a damn good chance of becoming more than a local band.”

While Hawk and his bandmates welcome success on a wider scale, and would jump at the right recording deal, they’re also happy with what they’ve achieved. And fame is not necessarily something they’ve sought out.

“When I’m out in Austin and other places and you hear these bands with phenomenal players and good songs, the one thing I feel like we do have that helps us, I think we have the songs,” Hawk said. “Whether or not it goes beyond this level is almost out of our hands. We’re happy with our product and we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.” 

Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings – Another Storyline – a Winner!

Group’s 7th Album Provides Perfect Soundtrack for a Fall Afternoon

Much like the leaves turning every October, it seems that recently we can count on a yearly new release from Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings, and we can also count on the quality of the batch of songs they deliver.

The latest offering – Another Storyline – is chock-full of styles and vibes that branch out from the band’s Americana roots without losing the collective essence of the project. It’s not as raucous an album as last year’s Another Roadside Attraction, but that’s quite all right, since Hawk’s songwriting seems to take a chunk of new territory each time out.

This is an album to accompany you on a walk through the neighborhood on a sun-drenched, crisp fall afternoon as you chat up the locals and soak in the everyday beauty of an eccentric hometown block.

“Baltimore” opens the jaunt with a driving pop drumbeat from Chris Huff and some brilliant 12-string acoustic guitar work from Steve DeVries. “I like to hear you walking on those city streets / makes me feel less alone” could be the album’s mantra: the bonds and comfort of community and familiarity.

From there, we move into the straight blues of “Been Down So Long” (featuring nice lead guitar work from young Chris Stoudt), and then right into the title track, which introduces us to characters like Miss Maxine, Brother Muir, and Jimmy Carr in a wistful stroll down the block.

Bassist Chuck Bordelon pulls double duty here, adding a guitar solo reminiscent of Rubber Soul-era Beatles. DeVries’ squeeze box accentuates the fragility of the track: “Leaves will fall and faces fade / and days, they run and run away…”

“Allegheny River” comes next, and its sadness turns to hopefulness. Written with Ben Keay and based on Keay’s second novel, Dire Requisite, it’s set to accompany the digital copy of the book when it’s released next year. Shane Borders’ slide acoustic guitar and haunting Roger Waters-esque backing vocals make the track come alive.

An Americana cover of “Temptation” follows. It’s a 1982 song by new wave band New Order (Hawk remembered Pittsburgh’s The Affordable Floors doing a rocked-out version of this in the late-‘80s and added it to his live shows – it fit so well that they decided to record it for the album).

The dirty minor-key blues of “Mason-Dixon Line” give way to the beautiful “Prettier Song”, highlighted by the exquisite piano by Austin session pro Riley Osbourne. Hawk’s voice is hushed and raspy and makes you believe what he’s singing: “If I had a prettier song / then maybe I could be with you…”

The kick-drum driven “Sunshine Street” gets us stomping and clapping, and pulls us out of the doldrums, and the little guitar/banjo ditty “Kick a Stone & Join the Dance” has us almost skipping down the same street.

Hawk memorializes a friend whose overdose rocked him last winter with the eerie “Icicle in the Sun”, which utilizes the accordion to perfect effect again.

Not wanting to end on a downer, the band goes out with the 6/8-time “Random Thoughts”, featuring Hawk’s recorded ukulele debut and another fine solo by Bordelon, and the bluesy “Lost My Radio” – co-written with DeVries – a matter-of-fact telling of a lost radio that appears to have been thrown out the window by the narrator’s (ex?)girlfriend. This final track sounds like a 1930s Mississippi blues hootenanny on someone’s back porch, record-scratch sounds included.

Add a top-notch mixing and production job by former Loggins & Messina drummer Merel Bregante, and the mastering of the legendary Jerry Tubb, who’s worked with all the heavyweights, it seems, and you have an organic-sounding set of songs that stands up among the finest in Hawk’s extensive catalog.

Simply put, this is a terrific album by a veteran songwriter and band that deserves a much wider audience than they have. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon, and at cdbaby.com, among others.

November 25th, 2011. Album Reviews.

   The familiar and likable sound of Andy Hawk and his Train Wreck Endings makes a welcome return in the form of this, the band’s third studio album. Managing to combine rockabilly, folk and blues in equal measure, all the ingredients that made their previous releases such a success are all here in abundance.

   Hawk’s ever-so slightly flawed vocals are more than complemented by a band that sounds like it could have been plucked straight from Bourbon Street. The driving and thoughtful "Baltimore" opens proceedings before the heavy blues sound of " Been Down So Long" provides a chipper interlude, despite the dark theme.

   "Another Storyline" has a summary feel to it with its toe-tapping chords and pleasant harmonies thanks to the backing vocals of Emma Rowley and the marching beat of "Sunshine Street" reaches a crescendo of guitar and mandolin as the song lives up to its positively named title.

   Like most of Hawk’s work to date, It’s not all stomping anthems and sing-along lyrics. "Icicle in the Sun" mourns the passing of a good friend and is a fitting tribute.
   With many bands that put themselves in the folk-rock and blues category the music can become samey and repetitive. This release, like the previous two, does a great job of stepping aside from the rest and illustrates what can be achieved thanks to some great songwriting and top-class musicianship.

“It’s Americana-ish!” is how Andy Hawk describes his latest studio effort with the Train Wreck Endings, and if you’ve heard any of their previous work you’d find it hard to put them into one specific category or genre too.  This, my friends, is a talented group of musicians that effortlessly blends folk, blues and rock into their own special brand of truly American music.

In addition to a new set of original tunes, the soon to be released disc entitled Another Storyline also includes a rocking cover of New Order‘s “Temptation” that features a mandolin as a stand in for the synths….very nice. “Sunshine Street,” my favourite original track, starts with a punchy little bass line paired with the perfect drum cadence…add in some excellent vocal harmonies and, of course, more mandolin and you’ve got a cool little ditty.

Froglix greatly appreciates Andy and company for allowing us a “sneak peek” at Another Storyline and would be remiss if we didn’t do a little pimpin’on their behalf by promoting their upcoming CD release party.

  • When: Friday, November 11 @ 8pm
  • Where: Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, VA.

Be sure to check out www.andyhawk.com for details, tickets, etc.

Andy Hawk and the Train Wreck Endings - Another Roadside Attraction (BMI 2010)

The spirit of the road

Six albums down the line and you get the feeling that Andy Hawk felt he needed a different angle on the straight down the line Americana that he does so well but was starting to stifle his creative juices. The result skips gently around a variety of styles while staying true to its roots. This is no small achievement and is achieved largely due to its subject matter - the great American road trip. To call this a concept album would be wide of the mark, what he does is take the listener on a captivating ride around the land of hope and glory.

As the opener and title track kicks in Hawk's world-weary, seen-it-all voice hints at Ray Wylie Hubbard and Ramblin' Jack Elliot before levelling out to a mere two pack habit drawl. Some of his insights into life on the road are startling, backed up by the multi talented Steve DeVries on tracks like "New Orleans" and "Lipstick & Dynamite". Even the melodies and choice of instruments seem to emphasise every sentiment, such as the way the soaring slide guitar on "You Could Be My Lois Lane" echoes the man of steel.

An all-American quality seeps through Hawk's production from the deep, gutsy acoustic and lead guitars that scream southern fried rawk-n-roll to the sax and mandolins that offer a more well-travelled vibe, the honky-tonk piano of "Wheel Like The Wind" and the Latin beats and flamenco arrangements as we are invited to Cuba on "Welcome To Havana, Mr Hemingway".

Towards the end when Hawk arrives back in "My Old Hometown" in sombre mood and mourns, "The saddest smile I ever saw, It cracks your wanderlust to pocketfuls of dust", he has a brief identity crisis, before the irresistible "Blue Rendezvous" gets feet tapping mountain-style with DeVries' dobro taking centre stage.

This album is a road trip taken on a roller-coaster, and every twist and turn is a thrill. The listener is invited to embark and arrive wherever they choose and on their own terms, but is left in no doubt that Another Roadside Attraction is all about the journey.


Date review added:  Saturday, July 17, 2010
Reviewer:  Tim Merricks
Reviewers Rating: 8 out of 10

I’ve listened to all of Andy Hawk’s albums including his latest release entitled Another Roadside Attraction, which, if you’re counting is his 6th studio effort overall and his 2nd with the Train Wreck Endings.  All that music and I still can’t quite pin a genre on him.  Above I mention (3) possibilities but even they don’t quite capture the essence that is Andy Hawk.  Is “honest” a genre?  Because if it is, that’s the word I choose as it best describes not only this latest release but the entire Hawk discography.

All songs tell stories and while some artists can rely solely on their music to tell their tale, others need to marry lyrics with melodies in order to effectively convey their message.  Andy Hawk uses both…but he doesn’t have to…and that, my friends, is what separates good song-writing from great song-writing.

“My, My” blends contemporary rock with an upbeat alt-country feel and does so with a delivery that is fluid not forced while “Lipstick & Dynamite” has more of a Texas-blues/honky-tonk flava that makes for a very interesting contrast.  The piano accompaniment that starts off and carries through “Wheel Like the Wind” would bring a tear to Jerry Lee Lewis’ eye.  In fact I’m pretty sure that Steve Devries was channeling the Killer when he recorded that one!  As I listen to the righteous 60′s guitar riff paired with the steady rhythmic timbre of the drums in “Ghosts of Summer Sun” I can’t help but get the feeling that I should be chilling out on a beach somewhere right around sunset.  This is my point.  When you pop in this disc, each track will elicit a unique feeling/response that can only come from honest music performed by a gifted story-teller.

Andy Hawk and Train Wreck Endings deliver another winner with Another Roadside Attraction.

- Drago

Following the barroom tales of Tin Can Town, Virginia’s Andy Hawk & the Train Wreck Endings hit the road for their new release, embarking on something of a road trip for the senses. Another Roadside Attraction is described by Hawk as “a 12-song collection that feels like a car trip around the USA with stops along the way at some of the country's quirkiest freak shows.”

 Hawk doesn’t describe his vehicle of choice but just listening to the music it would have to be a slightly aging Chevy with a throaty exhaust and more than the odd story to tell. As with his previous work, Hawk’s songs reflect the highs and lows of everyday life and this offering is no different with the mood rising up then dipping down before going up again, like a well-worn axel on a road riddled with pot holes.

The record gets off to a flying start with the energetic sound of the album’s title track “Another Road Side Attraction”, with references to strippers on Highway 51, coolers, and meeting Elvis the monkey. Songs such as “My My” and “New Orleans” allow the journey to mosey gently round corners whilst the passengers recharge their batteries before the pedal hits the metal once more with “Lipstick and Dynamite”. Despite the quirkiness of the songs there is meaning behind each of them all sung with a superb razor blade like voice and the jazz, blues, folk sound only benefiting and being enhanced by the use of saxophone, electric guitar, piano and keyboards. If you are planning a road trip anytime soon this album should be on the list of essentials, along with the cooler and just ahead of the strippers.

Reviews
Andy Hawk And The Train Wreck Endings – Another Roadside Attraction (Independent)
I disliked the opening title track after the first ten seconds, with it’s overtly Duke Robillard jazz feel, but decided to plough on to see if the rest of the album would turn my head with one or two juicy tunes. In this reviewing game you just never know, and only ever say die at the very last fence when it starts to look like Beechers Brook.

And whadda ya know? The rest of the tracks are not only dissimilar to the opening cut, they are as diverse a group of tunes that has ever inhabited a twelve-track album. A paean to Lois Lane - “You Could Be My Lois Lane” - is a weird mix of Americana and Wreckless Eric, no less; the following “My My”, if played with a more straight pop feel, could well be a great lost Monkees tune; a direct country rock take comes next – “New Orleans” - and so it goes, each track a revelation. Well, almost… the honky-tonk “Lipstick And Dynamite” doesn’t hit the spot, and the attempt at emulating Jerry Lee Lewis on “Wheel Like The Wind” doesn’t make it for me, either.

What is pretty startling is the breadth of writing here. Trying to compare “Welcome To Havana, Mr. Hemingway” and “My Old Hometown” you have to think Calexico for the former, Steve Wynn for the latter. Not that diverse, I suppose (I could have suggested Metallica and Moby), but two totally beautiful songs with quite different treatment, and these are the album highlights for me.

And guess what? That first track actually gets better when you allow it another chance, although it might have been a good idea to place it somewhere else on the album, rather than have it as the opening track. “It’s What You Take Away”, or the aforementioned “My My” would have been perfect in that first slot.

Despite not having the strongest voice on the planet, and occasionally doing it off-key in an endearing manner, I think someone, somewhere, should get Andy Hawk ‘National Treasure’ status before he disappears off the musical map.
www.andyhawk.com
Kev A.

In anticipation of Andy Hawk’s newest release next month, revisiting last year’s Tin Can Town seems appropriate. Here, Andy Hawk and the Train Wreck Endings revive their euphonious Americana with ease and purpose, both characteristics often taken for granted in popular music today. With the classic no-nonsense approach sometimes referred to as, “Don’t bore us – get to the chorus,” Hawk and his boys always keep you at arm's length, stapling themselves to your attention span with a collection of songs that average around three minutes in length. Commonly compared to Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, Hawk’s songs come catchy and melodious in classic songwriter style. There’s no flash or glamour to this record, just carefree Americana. In fact, the music is much like the man himself. Ask anyone who knows Andy and they’ll tell you he’s an easy-going, come as you are type fellow, and his tunes follow suit. Tracks like the jaunty “Think Too Much,” “Tin Can Town,” and “Real Gone Girl” provide easy rhythms to illustrate uneasy times. Hawk is clearly attracted to themes of longing, lost hope, and alcohol-induced therapy with this record. Many of his songs could easily become Raymond Carver stories. “Break Free,” a ditty of lost love, slows the tempo with a melody reminiscent of one of those popular Eric Clapton ballads (think “Wonderful Tonight”). And speaking of white guys that play the blues, “Pitchy & Time-erratic Blues” shows that Andy and the Train Wreck Endings can pull their weight in that department as well. A highlight of the album, this flavorful track not only showcases the bold craftsmanship of Gary Rudinsky on lead guitar and Chuck Bordelon on bass, but it’s finely balanced with a humorous tale that’s worth a good listen. Other entertaining tales include “Tombstone,” a western ragtime inspired tune that begins, “Here lies Jimmy Parker, hanged by mistake in 1882.” Oh, that Mr. Parker, he had it coming! And of course, “The Last Two in the Bar,” another well-received account of last call love. Steve DeVries is another Train Wrecker worth mentioning. The handyman of the group, DeVries picks up the slack wherever needed with his expertise on a variety of instruments including mandolin, banjo, and harmonica. Rudinsky’s romantic guitar work in harmony with DeVries’ banjo riff on “Music From Another Room” makes for a subtle serenity that adds another dimension to the album. What makes a songwriter popular these days? Not usually his lyrics as much as his band. Tin Can Town becomes a marriage between the two; one consistently supplementing the other without ever feeling contrived or irrelevant. One of the greatest thrills of Bob Dylan’s live performance is that he always has an amazing band behind him. Well, like Dylan’s band, the Train Wreck Endings accentuate Hawk’s lyrics and allow him to shine. Check out Tin Can Town, available on Itunes and CDBaby, and keep your eyes open for his upcoming release.
ANDY HAWK & THE TRAIN WRECK ENDINGS, "TIN CAN TOWN" – Hawk accurately describes his sound as mid-'60s Bob Dylan singing with the Old '97s. "Tin Can Town" serves up 13 whiskey-soaked slices of folk/blues Americana that recall a night spent with friends at a favorite watering hole. Some of the tunes lend themselves to spontaneous sing-alongs, others will have your toes tapping, and some will cause both. This is Hamilton, Virginia-based Andy Hawk’s fifth album since 2004, and his second with his band, The Train Wreck Endings. Hawk might look like the high school English teacher he is by day, but judging by the quality of his singing and songwriting, music is much more than a part-time hobby. The Train Wreck Endings - Chuck Bordelon (bass), Steve DeVries (mandolin, banjo, harmonica, backing vocals) Branden Hickman (drums) and Gary Rudinsky (lead guitar, backing vocals) provide strong support throughout. The album kicks off with “Think Too Much,” a bright, catchy tune driven by DeVries’ mandolin playing. Hawk pairs introspective lyrics about a lost relationship to a bouncy melody: “It's 3 a.m. and I can't help but wonder what went wrong/ Though I fill my glass, it looks half-empty to me/ I'm misty eyed and true and tried, alone with all I fear/ I can't go back or forward while I'm here” The title track is one of the album’s most “Dylan-esque” tracks, with Hawk relating a tale of small town life in a rough-around-the-edges vocal. “Maybe Someday” is a contagious piece of pop perfection, with a hint of Rubber Soul Beatles added for good measure, while the equally catchy “Real Gone Girl” amps up the country flavor. Hawk again acknowledges his Beatles/Dylan influences on mid-tempo acoustic tracks like “Music From Another Room,” “I Never Thought To Ask,” and “Ferris Wheel” – the latter featuring a tasty guitar solo from Rudinsky. The album comes full circle thematically and returns to the bar for the closing track, the lighthearted “The Last Two In The Bar.” There a few minor missteps on Tin Can Town – weak lyrics spoil “Good Night,” and “Pitchy & Time-Erratic Blues,” and the latter tune seems out-of-place stylistically on the album. But overall, Tin Can Town is a remarkably strong independent effort that compares favorably to major label releases in the genre. You can purchase a copy, as well as Andy Hawk’s other albums through iTunes, or at CD Baby. For complete up-to-date information, visit Hawk’s website: www.andyhawk.com
ANDY HAWK TRIES OUT THE BAND ON NEW RELEASE When Virginia’s Andy Hawk released his fourth solo album (Here It Is) last year, he’d begun a shift from pure pop to a Dylanesque Americana sound. With his new album, called Tin Can Town – and the first with his band The Train Wreck Endings – Hawk and Co. find themselves fully transitioned and better for it. Imagine mid-‘60s Bob Dylan fronting the Old 97s and you get the idea. Hawk’s songwriting has never been stronger as he takes us on a journey through neighborhood bars and late-night diners and we come out the other side intact and glad for the trip. The album opens with “Think Too Much”, a mandolin-driven piece of barstool philosophy where the protagonist is “misty eyed and true and tried, alone with all I fear / I can’t go back or forward while I’m here.” This uptempo track belies its serious content, like someone hiding their pain behind a joke. This leads right into the title track, one that speaks to anyone who’s felt stuck in a hometown rut (most of us?), and the striking “Break Free” a yearning ballad driven by guest guitarist Anthony Schneck’s acoustic slide guitar that would have made George Harrison proud. The rest of the CD features some straight blues right out of Blonde on Blonde-era Dylan (“Pitchy & Time-Erratic Blues), a Sun Studio and Jack Kerouac homage called “Real Gone Girl” that sounds like a road trip in progress, a ghost-town saloon of a song called “Tombstone” that’ll make you swear you just saw a tumbleweed, and a quick return to Hawk’s old pop roots with “I Never Thought to Ask”. He also digs into his back catalog to update a few older gems, using the strengths of the band to give the songs fresh legs (“Ferris Wheel”, “Maybe Someday”, and “Symphony of 2 a.m.). Closing the album is the loosey goosy “The Last Two in the Bar”. It sounds like it was recorded at last call – and it brings the project full circle, from the first mandolin strums of “Think Too Much” to the boozy rationalization of “Maybe it’s not perfect love, but for now it might just be enough…’cause we’re the last two in the bar.” Tin Can Town brings all these elements together into a tight romp of a record. Hawk has assembled quite a band, and the individual talents of its members bring many positives to Hawk’s sharp lyrics and accessible melodies. Chuck Bordelon provides inventive bass, and Branden Hickman is solid on drums. On lead guitar, Hawk picked up Gary Rudinsky, an old-time rocker who was an original member of the long-ago Ohio band The Human Beinz, who scored a minor hit in the 1968 with “Nobody But Me”. Steve DeVries, a multi-instrumentalist, filled the CD with mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and piano. Guests included Schneck on guitar, Shawn Heming of Black Friday on backing vocals and mandolin, and Kurt Deemer and Steve Rose of Vulgaria on guitar and drums, respectively. Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings play all over the Baltimore/Washington area, and they now have a CD to plug that should gain them many more fans in the coming months. This album and Hawk’s four others – Moth Crazy (2004), Something Farther Away… (2005), Chasing the Sun (2007), and Here It Is (2008) are available on iTunes and most music download services, at www.cdbaby.com, and on his website at www.andyhawk.com.

Tin Can Town: Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings

This is the latest release from Andy Hawk and his relatively new band The Train Wreck Endings and on this evidence, Tin Can Town goes a long way to putting rhythm and blues back into R&B. Full of barroom ballads from start to finish, Hawk and his band, consisting of Chuck Bordelon on bass, Gary Rudinsky on lead guitar, Branden Hickman on drums and Steve DeVries on just about everything else, produce a classic American, toe-tapping country sound.

From the outset with “Think Too Much”, Hawk’s catchy and sometimes Springsteen-like lyrics and powerful guitar combine superbly with DeVries’ strumming on the mandolin.

The album progresses like a rock opera set amongst beer drinkers with a backdrop of late-night eateries, no better illustrated than by the terrific “Real Gone Girl”, which features a tasty lead guitar by guest Allen Kave.

There is a real sense of bittersweet to Hawk’s lyrics, with tales of lost love and ruined relationships set to a thundering up-tempo soundtrack provided by his latest collaborators.

The album’s title track talks of a familiar feeling of hometown frustration accompanied brilliantly by Anthony Schneck on lead guitar, whereas "The Last Two in the Bar" is the perfect curtain down for this album, a love song for anyone who has ever worn beer goggles at the end of a long night in the pub.

If you like music that tells a tale or simply enjoy some good ole blues, Tin Can Town is for you, a bottle of bourbon whilst listening is optional.

Posted by Hubbub UK at 12:26

By JoeG on February 10, 2010 10:24 PM | No Comments I got a CD sent to me about a month ago. I opened it and gave it a quick listen while behind the wheel and then popped it out once my destination was reached. there it sat in the car for a while, but a couple days ago while listening to a local radio station I actually heard one of the tracks from that same CD. I turned quick and saw the disc just sitting there in the back seat with the rest of the CDs I usually travel with and decided to slip it back in, and this time it clicked. It's very good, l'il did I know that when I first heard it a few weeks back the tracks were sinking in.... The CD is called "Tin Can Town" by a Virginia-based act called Andy Hawk and The Train Wreck Endings. The title track - "Tin Can Town" - as well as a few others on the CD sound like Bob Dylan classics as opposed to 2009 originals, but they are definitely catchy with a full, upbeat sound. It's folk music with layered harps, mandolins. and those honest and miserable lyrics that make Dylan such a great storyteller. And it also makes Andy Hawk and The Train Wreck Endings something that is certainly worth listening to. The CD is available at CD Baby, and you can also preview some of the tracks on his website. enjoy
Review: Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings – Tin Can Town 2009, Andy Hawk What would be the appropriate name for Americana Garage music? A melodically superior but definitely Lo-Fi mix of Rock, Country and Blues is the far of the day on Tin Can Town, the debut release from Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings. Hawk is an enigmatic front man with a voice halfway between Jim Cuddy and Bruce Springsteen and an easy-going nonchalance that’s full of soul. Andy Hawk seems entirely in his element on the blues tunes Tombstone and Pitchy & Time-Erratic Blues, but its country/rock hybrids where he shines brightest. Symphony Of 2am is a classic tune, and Think Too Much and Tin Can Town are required listening. Break Free is a beautiful, mournful country tune, balanced off by the hopeful, mid-tempo Maybe Someday. Real Gone Girl is my personal favorite, with banjo and electric guitar framing Hawk’s voice perfectly. Other highlights include Music From Another Room, I Never Thought To Ask and The Last Two In The Bar. Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings have a knack for surfing clichés without falling into them. Classic country sounds mix with rock and blues styles to create music like so much that’s come before yet distinct enough to be memorable and enjoyable. Tin Can Town is a refreshing return to the roots of the Americana genre. Not overly refined or produced, Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings let their rough edges charm you into listening again. Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
ANDY HAWK & THE TRAIN WRECK ENDINGS - "TIN CAN TOWN" Contemplative bluegrass/country/blues offering from Andy Hawk and the Train Wreck Endings. Songs of love, drinking and life, complete with agonized vocals. Hawk has a number of solo albums under his belt, but with "Tin Can Town," he brings along a tight crew. Give opener "Think Too Much" and "Pitchy & Time – Erratic Blues" a listen and decide for yourself.
New Music Spotlight March 2009 Edition -Andy Hawk Andy Hawk recently completed an online interview with our Webzine. The talented artist who is heavily influenced by such great iconic music legends as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon to name a few will win you over with his good time good feeling music. Check out this this fantastic spotlight that our Webzine completed with Andy as he gives us the 411 about his music. Isaac: Hi Andrew, Welcome to your interview with Junior's Cave. Now that 2008 has officially ended, what are your reflections of the year 2008 for you as a solo artist? Andy: One thing that was great was pulling together the band for this CD. Some of these guys helped on my fourth release last year, and it was so easy and so fun right away that we decided to form a band. We've garnered some good reviews and have generated some great excitement at our shows. It's been a blast. Isaac: Elaborate a little about whom were your biggest influences in the music industry and why? Andy: All my "influences" questions begin with the Beatles. I think they retired the trophy of the best ever. They've always hit me right between the ears. I also love Tom Waits, Paul Westerberg, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, U2 and also guys like Josh Ritter, Matthew Ryan, Josh Joplin, Rhett Miller, Phil Lee, Colin Hay (his solo acoustic stuff is unreal!), and even Billy Joel. Most are songwriters who all the rest of us try to catch. Isaac: Let?s talk about what you feel Andy Hawk will bring to the music industry? Andy: I don't know how to answer that one because it could be nothing and it could be something I've never dreamed of. I guess that although I'm my own harshest critic, I feel like I can write a decent song. For every five bad ones I maybe get lucky and write one good one. Maybe I'll be the oldest breakthrough artist of all time! I'd really be happy to have someone else record something of mine. That would be a great rush. Isaac: If you had an opportunity to work with one artist or group, who would it be and why? Andy: I'm just happy to work with anyone who's into their music and likes to bounce around ideas. As for working with someone established, I don't know because I'd probably be intimidated and more interested in picking their brains about their writing process. Isaac: How would you describe your music to others? Andy: It's mid-'60s Bob Dylan singing the Old 97s. Right now I've taken a deliberate swing toward Americana and blues. I'm utilizing the strengths of the guys in the band. Before, I was probably more pop/rock/folk, but I like the direction the band has me taking. Isaac: What type of feedback have you received from your previous releases? Andy: Pretty decent, really. They're all very different, which I like. The first one was recorded in a real studio with real musicians helping out, then the second and third were homebrews that had a few people helping. The sound on those is rough for me to hear now, but it was all part of learning how to record, engineer, and mix. The last two have been really well-received in the local press and by strangers, which is always the barometer. It would be an easy job if my mom could be the critic of record (ha,ha). I'm really proud of this CD, though. It captures the best of the band's talents, and they've helped sharpen my songwriting and production skills as well. Isaac: What can fans expect from your latest CD, you are working on currently? What is the inspiration behind the CD? Andy: The next CD might be similar to this one instrumentally, but I actually have a couple of different genres to mix into it, and a couple more ballads maybe. I'm also writing with different people more frequently, so their influence will keep things fresh. I used to write alone, but I've taken a shine to the input of others. Some interesting songs have come of it. Isaac: Where can fans locate you at online? Andy: My website is www.andyhawk.com, and all my solo CDs, and this one with Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings, are available on iTunes, most music download services, and at www.cdbaby.com. Isaac: What can fans expect from Andy Hawk in 2009? More songs and more live shows! I think we'll record an EP to get it out by late summer so we can keep our momentum going strong. Isaac: Time for some shout outs to your family, friends, and fans? I'll say a special hello to my students (I'm a high school teacher by day) who have helped with recording, artwork, and with their talents over the years: Kevin Knight and Sean Cunningham, two great songwriters already; Anthony Schneck, whose guitar work on the last two CDs has been phenomenal; Anna Badyoczek for the beautiful cover painting for "Tin Can Town"; Hannah Pettit, Krystal Cochrane (co-wrote a song on my first CD); Mel Kobran and Graham Ohmer for their photography. And to Joe Weeks, who directed two full-length videos for me that look very professional. Isaac: Final words from Andy Hawk? Andy: I hope you like my songs, and thanks for all your help.
Andy Hawk’s "Here It Is" is Homegrown Enjoyment With the proliferation of home recording computer programs, recorded artistic expression is no longer limited to musicians who can afford pricey studio time. Singer/songwriter Andy Hawk is an artist whose home recordings have enabled him to document his fourth CD of homegrown musical creativity. Hawk, a former writer, turned teacher, turned part-time musician, now perfects his musical craft in Hamilton, Virginia, after squatting in towns like Frederick, Federal Hill, Columbus, Ohio, and originally Kittanning, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). Hawk’s latest CD, "Here It Is", features Hawk with a variety of musical guests. Hawk’s vocal style is raw and expressive and reflects hints of the Replacements with a heavy presence of the Beatles. His songwriting mixes simple melody with well-crafted lyrical expression. His lyrics are simplistic in that no dictionary or classical literary training is required to enjoy them, but the message is multi-layered and worth the effort in peeling them down. "Here It Is" presents stripped-down instrumentation with acoustic guitar being the primary instrument. On a few tracks Hawk is joined by a full accompaniment of musicians that compliments his vocals well. Tracks such as “Tomorrow Is Today”, “Sorrow Floats”, and “The Water Song” illustrate Hawk’s ability to mesh with a full band and reveals an avenue he might want to explore further. The blues track “Visit From Love” is a toe-tapping hoot that has a Dylan-esque, "Highway 61" feel that rocks like nothing else on the CD. "Here It Is" is a creative musical pleasure that we don’t have to wait to be discovered by a big label for us to enjoy. If Andy Hawk’s Hamilton, Virginia, studio keeps cranking out the music, I’ll keep listening. Andy Hawk can be seen live in and around the Leesburg, Virginia, area. "Here It Is", along with Hawk’s previously released CDs "Moth Crazy", "Something farther away...", and "Chasing the Sun") can be found on iTunes, and at cdbaby.com.
Andy Hawk - Here It Is 2008, Andy Hawk Andy Hawk is very hard to classify. There are definite elements of Van Morrison, Joe Cocker and Blue Rodeo in there, all rolled up into a sweeping Americana sound. Here It Is is a very mature and thoughtful collection of songs that make great listening for the coming quiet summer evenings. The title track is one of the true highlights here, sounding like something right out of Blue Rodeo's catalog. Awkwardly At Easy is a lilting little rocker that will get your feet moving. I also enjoyed Visit From Love, Sunshine Water Dance and The Hours and The Days. All in all, Here It Is is a very solid effort. The musicianship here is top-notch, and the songwriting is informed by thoughtful lyrics and catchy melodies. Depending on your mood and likes, Here It Is may be just a bit on the mellow side for some, but I thought the overall effect was outstanding Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5) Posted by Wildy at 10:41 PM
Review: Andy Hawk - "Here It Is" For those who are of a certain age, Andy Hawk's music might be compared to a gravelly voiced James Taylor, a pensive Arlo Guthrie. What is difficult to imagine until one has listened to Hawk's music is the mellow, complex sounds and thoughts that are uniquely Andy Hawk of Hamilton. The song titles on "Here It Is" are a dead giveaway that Hawk is charting familiar territory but taking a fresh new path. "Sunshine Waterdance," "Awkwardly at Ease," and "A Moment in a Bar in Nashville (Linsday's Eyes)" evoke both the universal and the surreal. The music does not disappoint. Those performing on this CD are Hawk on vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, bass, percussion, harmonica, mandolin and water sounds; Marnie Hawk, backing vocals, piano; Gary Rudinsky on electric guitar; Anthony Schneck, electric guitar; Patrick Holbrook, electric guitar, bass, drums; Chuck Bordelon, bass; Sean Cunningham, piano; Kelly Gaitten, backing vocals; Jake Robey, acoustic guitar, vocals, Andy Belt, backing vocals, acoustic guitars, keyboards; and Jon Russo, classical guitar. Hawk predicted that he would be 80 years old, strumming away in the rocker. "Writing is something I've done for almost 30 years," he said. "It started as the dark and desperate poetry of a 16-year-old -- I couldn't play a note until my early 20s -- and ultimately led to songwriting. It started off as an almost therapy-like activity. I needed to do it. As I've aged, I've been able to write more for the sake of the song. 'Sunshine Waterdance' is a good example of that." Hawk indicated he, like the members of The Woodshedders, does not let ego get in the way of the music. When he began putting this CD -- his fourth ?together, he decided to bring in people he believed could play much better than he could. "I played what I had to, but I knew certain songs needed something I couldn't provide," he explained. Hawk is not, however, immune to praise, he just prefers it subtle and sincere. "I am always blown away -- and surprised for some reason -- when someone mentions liking a certain song," he said. "It's hard for me, because I'm so close to it, to see how my stuff and 'real' stuff are the same. It always means a lot when I'm playing out if someone requests an original." His ultimate goal, surprisingly, is to write songs for other people to sing. "I think my voice is passable for rock and roll, but it's not great," he said. "I'd love to hear someone with a great voice sing my stuff." The next CD, Hawk said, will definitely have blue overtones. "I like that old '50s-sounding stuff like Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry. Great feel to it. Of course, I still feel that the Beatles cannot be touched. They, by far, are my biggest influences."
Trunkful of Dreams By Bruce Dries When summer signals a break from teaching high school English and journalism, Andy Hawk throws his guitar in the car trunk and travels around the country to hit open mic nights, singing and playing his own music. Last year, those little trips took on a more focused tack. “A friend and I talked last year about how millions of people have dreams when they’re young, but at some point just tuck them away and label them childish,” Hawk said. “It made us think, ‘Why do people quit?’ Why can’t you keep some of that alive, even if you’re never going to be famous or make money from it?” He always wanted to record his songs and have his own tour, but since record companies and promoters weren’t pounding on his door with corporate-sponsored deals, Hawk realized that the power to realize his dreams was in his hands. “I thought, why not use my time off to go on tour and use some of my earnings to record a CD?” With the addition of a third friend who always wanted to be a standup comedian, Hawk and his pals took off from their home base of Frederick, Md., in late June and began traveling and performing around the country. The trip is being filmed, as are their interactions with people they meet. Tentatively titled "Hawk Across America", it will be about regular people who don’t want to give up their dreams. “We’ll be interviewing various people along the way and asking them what they’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “If someone wanted to act, then we’ll film them doing a scene from a play or movie with us, or if they wanted to play music, then we’ll have them get on stage and play. I think it’s appealing because there are so many people who talk about their half-finished novel or how they used to play in a band.” A website will soon be up and running to document the group’s travels, along with information about Hawk’s first CD, Moth Crazy (available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/andyhawk). For his “regular” job, Hawk teaches English and Journalism at Loudoun County (Va.) High School, where he’s been since 1997. The Kittanning native worked as a sports writer for the Columbus Dispatch for four years before moving on to teaching, which includes running the school’s newspaper and literary/arts magazine. Elected by the high school seniors as faculty graduation speaker in June, 2004, Hawk wrote and sang a song to them instead of giving the traditional “chase your dreams” speech. “It’s not a bad gig, although I miss the newspaper stuff on occasion—especially when I have to wake up early in the morning,” he said. Hawk’s summertime travels bring him back to the Pittsburgh area on occasion, such as last May when he opened for a friend’s band. “The school kids are my biggest fan base right now, which is great,” said Hawk. “Last year’s seniors voted me the faculty graduation speaker, and I wrote and sang a song to them instead of giving the classic 'chase your dreams' speech. It went really well. “The whole process of preparing for this documentary has been fun and rewarding for me. We want to show others that there’s no age limit on living your dreams,” he said. “It’s a story about not being afraid to keep doing what you love. It doesn’t matter if nothing ever sells, what matters is ‘I did it, and it’s been terrific.’”
***** (out of 5) - "MOTH CRAZY":EXCELLENT SONGS AND SMART PRODUCTION author: J. D. Weeks Although sometimes the lead guitar overwhelms slightly, these quiet pop tunes are smartly written and extremely catchy. Andy Hawk's voice is frail and expressive, without devolving into whiny confessionals. This CD is one that expertly melds introspective lyrics with appealing poppy hooks, and deserves a much wider audience than it currently has.

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