Bryan Bielanski
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Bryan Bielanski

Char, North Carolina, United States

Char, North Carolina, United States
Band Alternative Post-punk

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For well over a decade, Charlotte, N.C., band Angwish played it safe.

The trio rocked around the Southeast as weekend warriors while maintaining their day jobs. For singer-guitarist Bryan Bielanski, that meant working as a restaurant manager and feeling unfulfilled.

Then last year, Bielanski decided it was put-up-or-shut-up time for the band he formed in the mid-’90s while still in high school. He dreamed of bigger things, but not everyone shared his vision. Therefore, the trio became a duo, forcing the guitarist to now play bass notes from his guitar, albeit while still playing guitar. Considering the outfit had one less member, that meant the band’s music had to change into more of a grungy sound.

Also, if he was going to give it his all, he had to cast away his worldly chains. Now unfettered by a day job and no longer renting an apartment, Bielanski is about to find out if he made a series of bad decisions or the first step toward stardom. Angwish makes its Youngstown debut Friday at the Lemon Grove.

“We’re going on our first national tour,” Bielanski said. “Basically, reducing the band to a two-piece is what gave us the ability to tour. It’s opened some doors for the band, but it’s definitely a very big challenge to be your own bass player. In a way, it’s very liberating, but there are limitations that I can’t always pull off certain solos because I’m using like loop stations and all kinds of different effects to get the bass. But it’s playing the bass notes at the same time I’m playing the guitar notes on the same instrument. It’s cool.”

The cool motif, which was inspired by Bielanski’s favorite band, Local H, led to a change of sound for Angwish. Before, the band was more power-pop and pop-punk. Now the duo is a bit heavier, as heard on its recently released album “Rock And Roll Destroyed My Life.” While compared to the likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and White Zombie, the CD features songs such as the sludgy rock “The Sadist” and the Beastie Boys-sounding “Super Power.” Oh, yeah, there’s something else about the new studio effort that makes it stand out.

“So, basically, it’s a 36-minute-long song,” Bielanski said. “The whole album was recorded in one 36-minute take, but it’s divided into tracks and is just us trying to play real rock again.”

Considering Bielanski’s current situation and what’s at stake, the new CD’s album title could end up being his epitaph. Finally, one must assume his parents aren’t thrilled with the idea. They must be worried or at least concerned, right?

“I know mine aren’t or at least they’re pretending they’re not,” Bielanski said. “The whole family seems to be behind us. Even our grandma who is about to turn 90 is excited for us to be out on the road and touring and really trying to make this happen. I think we have what it takes to go all the way — otherwise I wouldn’t try.” - Youngstown, OH Vindicator


How’s this for a rock ’n’ roll fable? Bryan Bielanski formed a rock trio in high school back in the ’90s, was a weekend warrior musician for years while managing a restaurant, said “screw this” and quit, pared his trio down to a grungy duo, recorded Rock and Roll Destroyed My Life, an album of nine songs in one 36-minute continuous take, sold everything and abandoned his apartment, and hit the road. Feel the commitment on Wednesday, May 23, when Bielanski’s band Angwish plays the Frog and Peach; then revel in the way he plays both the guitar notes and bass notes simultaneously on his guitar. Rock on! ? - New Times San Luis Obispo, CA


Charlotte rock trio Angwish celebrates the release of its new album "Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" Saturday, February 25, at The Milestone. The cd release party marks the band's final show with longtime bassist/backing vocalist Rachael Malmberg Harper and its final headlining show before founder Bryan Bielanski and his cousin/new drummer Mike Smith set off on a nomadic national six month tour.

"Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" was recorded live in the studio in one take to help capture the heavier aspect that comes through in the band's live shows. Over the course of its last few albums Angwish has reminded me of everything from the Pixies (thanks to the great vocal interplay) to Cake to NOFX. It never sounded like any one influence in particular, but a mesh of two decades of alternative rock. "Rock n' Roll Destroyed My Life" is its most singular record. From the start it recalls the messy, driving punk of the Sex Pistols and the sludgy, angst-ridden grunge of early Nirvana (Angwish will also appear at The Milestone's March 3 Nirvana tribute show).

Although Nirvana had a huge impact on popular music in the `90s and helped usher in the mainstreaming of punk, aside from the bands that immediately came after it, I don't hear its influence that often. Angwish has long paid subtle tribute to the grungefathers, but this new album recalls "Bleach" era Nirvana and early singles like "Sliver" (which appeared on its "Incesticide" b-sides and rarities disc).There are shades of grungy stoner rock amid the thick riffs, which are the heaviest thing I remember hearing Angwish do. But even at its heaviest there are hooks and melodies anchoring the songs.

Malmberg's counterpoint was always one of my favorite parts of Angwish's songs because her quiet, understated vocals reminded me of Kim Deal. She didn't do as much of that this time because she knew she'd be leaving the band to focus on her photography business (www.chickswithcameras), but her mark is there on "Medicated Mommy." That track, which finds Bielanski talk-singing like a punk bluesman during the verses, combines a playful Weezer-like intro with Nirvanaesque dynamics, fuzzy bass, and a group chorus. The political "Super Power" is another fun standout with isolated drums and vocals alternating with an exploding guitar hook.
- Charlotte Observer


THE DEAL: Charlotte duo Angwish releases its fifth full-length album — a b-sides and rarities collection.

THE GOOD: Celebrating 15 years isn't a milestone that many bands get to see, let alone a local duo that has been scrapping it together themselves. The album includes tracks from their days as a power trio up through last year. It starts with the acoustic "I Wanna Be Your Monkey" from 2010, before going to the Beach Boys-esque lead-in of "Neighbor" from 2001. The album goes back to songs from 1997 showing a more Nirvana-esque side of the distortion-laden band's past. The variety of tracks shows diversity in the band's songwriting as much as a diversity in styles.

THE BAD: There are two ways to look at an album like this — one is to expect that you're not getting the best stuff they've written — that's on the previous albums. The second is to look at it as a snapshot of how far the band has come, to hear what they didn't like and wanted to finally let their fans hear.

THE VERDICT: It's an album for fans and not the most polished introduction to their music, but it does give fans a look at "what else" the band has recorded over the years. Angwish is commemorating its anniversary with a CD release party at Smokey Joe's Cafe.
- Creative Loafing Charlotte


The Deal: Charlotte's Angwish - the duo Bryan Bielanski and Rachael Malmberg - release fourth full length album "Into the Void" April 30, 2010. Album is produced by Rob Tavaglione at Catalyst Recording.
The Good: Formerly a trio, the band is now moving forward as a duo, savoring their indie-pop and rock sensibilities. While the songwriting-lyrically and musically-has matured, the band has also continued its harmonic approach to the vocals. Harmonies spark some depth to the sound and vocals are layered to provide a good male/female sonic dichotomy throughout the 13 tracks. The music style shows the broad range of influences-"Beautiful Place" and "Hello Katie" border on something grunge-esque, "Cat Song" and "Not Interested" lean punk, "Clone You" is dark and almost metal while the indie-pop of the title track ends in a frenzy of feedback.
The Bad: No complaints. I don't think the band's going for prim, proper or polished here. It's got the raw edge you'd expect to see at a live show.
The Verdict: I'm not quite sure-with the variety of styles evident here- that the band has yet found themselves on the musical landscape, but the sometimes the journey you take getting there is the most fun. - Creative Loafing Charlotte


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Since the late nineties Bryan Bielanski has been the frontman of the Charlotte, NC rock duo Angwish and has been rocking the world with his unique brand of hard hitting alternative rock. Now Bryan is stepping out with an equally energetic punk tinged solo folk rock 2014 World Tour. The power in Bryan's vocals and lyrics convey a sense of urgency and sincerity in the songs and often have reduced audience members to tears and speechless awe with the sheer emotional delivery of the lyrics.

Bryan Bielanski has accomplished some remarkable achievements with Angwish. In addition to countless east coast tours since 1998, Angwish toured Europe in 2008 and 2010 and in 2012 went on an epic 6 month North American tour playing over 100 shows as nomadic rockers!! They also have been sponsored by Sam Ash music stores and had songs featured in European Red Bull advertisements and sporting events! In 2011 Bryan won the "Most Promising Artist" award and was nominated for best songwriter in the Charlotte Music Awards.