(www.kylesowash.com) The Kyle Sowashes – Yeah Buddy!
(www.wewantaction.com) We Want Action
A seething garage rock diary of underground music in Columbus, Ohio.
Beginning an album with a song about Andre the Giant can be considered brave, ridiculous or insightful. It’d be insightful only if you’re willing to peel back the initial layer of metaphor. On “Only Time Will Tell,” Kyle Sowash-the namesake of The Kyle Sowashes-sings, seemingly, about an 80’s throwaway reference. It’s actually a veiled reference to the lime-lit wrestling ring of small-time bars and cut-down set-lists that defines independent music. In fact, you can’t listen to The Kyle Sowashes’ second full-length Yeah Buddy! without being uprooted and transported to Columbus, Ohio’s underground. That’s because this group of musicians has coalesced around Sowash’s intense drive to make music happen in his town.
The tracks on Yeah Buddy! chronicle the hopes and failures, frustrations and elations of Sowash: a veritable one-man music scene. Flush with the cranky fuzz of overdriven guitars, held in place by straightforward rock drumming and haunted by references to an era Sowash may just keep alive by its fervor, Yeah Buddy! reminds me of albums whispered about by the outcasts in eighth grade. Yeah Buddy! reaches back to an era that Weezer codified and radio-fied by staying true to garage-rock tones. Lyrically, Sowash draws an ink-outline of underground Columbus.
“Free Ride” is my favorite track on Yeah Buddy! An infectious, bristling guitar lick socks you in the jaw in the first round. A booming floor tom hails the second guitar’s seething counter-melody, followed by Sowash’s critique of narcissistic, would-be-rock-stars he’s hosted over the years. In the second verse, Sowash asks, “Every time you pick up your guitar / do you dream of playing stadiums and not some stupid bar?” interrogating every star-searching musician that’s crashed his bedroom floor. Sowash writes from experience; you feel his personal investment in the message of “Free Ride” when his voice breaks on the last chorus: “I could get so famous and not have to get so jaded in the process!” The Kyle Sowashes turned out an underground gem in “Free Ride,” somehow channeling Sowash’s pent-up frustrations into a compact, meaningful anthem.
If at this point you’re get the feeling that Yeah Buddy! is a waste-bin of emo-anthems, then you’re dead wrong. Yeah Buddy! is confessional; it places Columbus, Ohio within the context of a thriving underground music realm via one man’s experiences. Songs like “Oh! The Shame!”-a Murphy’s law chronicle of a failed show that plummets into self-loathing before grasping after introspection-may seem like sob-stories, but Sowash isn’t cutting and laying down eye-liner, he’s putting to music what any self-conscious independent musician must wonder at some point: hey… am I getting anywhere? It takes guts and insight to ask this, plus pop-sensibility to weave a song around it. Sowash hits this question dead on without devolving into a pity-party. He echoes the sentiment in “Cutout Bin”-a post-show reverie refined by the moment where Sowash reflects, “it’s too hard not to see ourselves slipping into obscurity / but, maybe this is the song that will rock the top of the charts!” Here, Sowash mingles his doubt with hope, and that’s what keeps the underground alive: questions, introspection, and never-ending hope.
Having rocked the trenches for years, Sowash has sufficient credibility to make these songs on Yeah Buddy! real. His band cranks out a sound that screams dive-bars on overdrive. Yeah Buddy! simply works on all the right levels.
-Timothy C. Avery