Andrew Weiss and Friends “Beverly Hills, Thanksgiving Day”

Independent, 2023

Deep thoughts with deft turns of phrase all to a warm West Coast sound.

Amid the gloom under relentlessly grey skies as the year draws to a close a glimmer of sunshine appears from Long Island in the form of Andrew Weiss and Friends. Their ‘Beverly Hills, Thanksgiving Day’ glows with warmth, intimacy, upbeat jangling guitars and a soothing voice with lyrics that tell stories, some with a sharp twist. A blend of 1970s west coast country rock, power pop and no prizes for guessing a major influence, Tom Petty.

Weiss put his self-taught musical talent to work while at NYU where he wrote scores for films and various bands. His own group High Fascination majored in power pop but on its demise and reflecting a change of direction and musical collaborators americana, folky and almost psychedelic vibes began to emerge. Though power pop was not dead this more reflective style underpinned his new project, Andrew Weiss and Friends. From his home studio in Long Island he records drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals.

Opener ‘Hello Loneliness’ combines strands of those High Fascination days with Travelling Wilburys all to a firm riff and very Petty-esqe vocals. If full of sadness Weiss can still find a humorous side to what seems a very sad situation. While moving on with, “Hello loneliness, goodbye heartbreak” he observes wryly, “Cause karma is waiting on the other end, at least now I know that I’ll never be alone”.

Superficially ‘Fear of Dying in Las Vegas’ jogs along to a brisk, light beat with many amusing illustrations giving the impression Weiss does not really care about much. But underneath he does as this verse demonstrates so pointedly, “I know what it’s like to lose, don’t you know I’m a Met fan?/ I also know how it feels to win when no one expects you to But now I’m in the seventh inning stretch of my life/ Trying to choose between a walk, or let the game stay tied”. Saddest song on the record is ‘Middle Child Syndrome’, a lament amid layers of instrumentation of being the one in the middle. The echoing arrangements give the whole song an out of body feeling. The one in the middle might as well not be there.

There is nothing funny about what smoking can do to you but how many smokers, or perhaps more so, those who have given up don’t look back to the sheer pleasure of ‘Cigarette Cellophane’? Weiss takes that as a metaphor for something much deeper when he admits,”Oh, I don’t know when to quit”.

Weiss is at his most perceptive when musing on change. Turning to a blistering blues rock tempo he gets stuck into the idea of AI writing a song. Around a guitar solo that could never have come from a computer he spits out, “Now, how do we know this song is not a lie?/ I can hear those changes going 6, 4, 1, 5/ But maybe your machine is wrong, I’m not spending my Saturday night at the bar /Singing along, if a computer wrote the f…ing song”.

‘Keeping Love Alive’ is full of jangling guitars, harmonies that only two words suffice, Laurel Canyon. There is much to admire in Andrew Weiss and Friends. Possibly harsh, but if sonically they cleave a bit too close to the Wilburys his lyrics and imagery are totally original. Weiss is an empathiser and all together this is an uplifting record that merits repeat.

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About Lyndon Bolton 137 Articles
Writing about americana, country, blues, folk and all stops in between
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