Bethlehem Steel
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Bethlehem Steel

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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Aug
02
Bethlehem Steel @ Big Snow Buffalo Lodge

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Jul
20
Bethlehem Steel @ The Bowery Electric

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Jul
15
Bethlehem Steel @ Spike Hill

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

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So, let's address the technicality right off the bat. Bethlehem Steel's new release Grow Up is actually an EP, not a full album. But with five tracks as strong and diverse as these, it definitely feels like a complete album by the time it concludes.

Bethlehem Steel's front-gal Rebecca Ryskalczyk will sound familiar to followers of the Fredonia-based folk band Paul's Grandfather; where she, along with Katie Preston (of the recently ROCKchester-reviewed Pleistocene) and Karrah Teague would create huge harmonies that soared over steady stomps and strums. Now, with Bethlehem Steel, Ryskalczyk is plugging in and turning it up for a more traditional rock setup. But folk-loving purists fear not, because the songwriting she displays on Grow Up is as stellar as ever.

Grow Up opens with the track, "Guts," which boasts a guitar riff with just enough dirt on it to sound like a determined drive through a Midwestern desert. The drums and bass that follow keep the wheels turning as Ryskalczyk sings, "I've been thinkin' about givin' my mind away." Growing up certainly requires a good deal of intestinal fortitude, so having the opening track of this EP be titled "Guts" seems quite appropriate.

In "Mountain Song," the gears shift to slow and somber. There's an obvious longing as Jon Gernhart's drums beat steady like an anxious heart, but it might be longing for the wrong reasons as Ryskalczyk pleads, "Come over here, baby, I need more salt in my wounds." Fellow Paul's Grandfather 'mate Katie Preston provides additional vocals on this one to make a haunting harmony.

Ryskalczyk is searching for "a place to be lonely" in the fast-paced "Switched to 6." Her guitar is shamelessly distorted here and the song isn't afraid to slam the brakes on at times just to show that it can go from zero to sixty in the tap of a foot. Zephyr Prusinkski's bass is also a major component of "Switched to Six," sounding like a rumbling, powerful engine.

The minor-keyed "To Levin" begins to set the stage for the end of Grow Up. Its lamenting lyrics-- which are sold beautifully by a perfectly executed fragility in Ryskalczyk's vocals-- are accompanied by an overall ghostly grit in the song that begs for a resolution.

In the final track, "Great Circle Mapping," the notion of growing up is especially prominent. Ryskalczyk at one point states, "We are our mothers and our fathers" followed by the suggestion, "I could move back to Buffalo and die there." The thought doesn't sound terribly appealing, which is likely the intent. Following a second, more emphasized "I could move back to Buffalo and die there," the song picks up the pace a bit, which nicely complements the line "We are constantly changing." The track ends with a lengthy instrumental section which subtly becomes increasing layered as it goes on. By the end of the five minutes and fifty-two seconds that is "Great Circle Mapping," it seems as though that final instrumental section somehow summarized Grow Up as a whole. The result is a drive that feels like it reached its destination too soon; but at the same time, it was incredibly fulfilling and rich with experiences. Ya know, kinda like growing up.
- ROCKchester Daily


So, let's address the technicality right off the bat. Bethlehem Steel's new release Grow Up is actually an EP, not a full album. But with five tracks as strong and diverse as these, it definitely feels like a complete album by the time it concludes.

Bethlehem Steel's front-gal Rebecca Ryskalczyk will sound familiar to followers of the Fredonia-based folk band Paul's Grandfather; where she, along with Katie Preston (of the recently ROCKchester-reviewed Pleistocene) and Karrah Teague would create huge harmonies that soared over steady stomps and strums. Now, with Bethlehem Steel, Ryskalczyk is plugging in and turning it up for a more traditional rock setup. But folk-loving purists fear not, because the songwriting she displays on Grow Up is as stellar as ever.

Grow Up opens with the track, "Guts," which boasts a guitar riff with just enough dirt on it to sound like a determined drive through a Midwestern desert. The drums and bass that follow keep the wheels turning as Ryskalczyk sings, "I've been thinkin' about givin' my mind away." Growing up certainly requires a good deal of intestinal fortitude, so having the opening track of this EP be titled "Guts" seems quite appropriate.

In "Mountain Song," the gears shift to slow and somber. There's an obvious longing as Jon Gernhart's drums beat steady like an anxious heart, but it might be longing for the wrong reasons as Ryskalczyk pleads, "Come over here, baby, I need more salt in my wounds." Fellow Paul's Grandfather 'mate Katie Preston provides additional vocals on this one to make a haunting harmony.

Ryskalczyk is searching for "a place to be lonely" in the fast-paced "Switched to 6." Her guitar is shamelessly distorted here and the song isn't afraid to slam the brakes on at times just to show that it can go from zero to sixty in the tap of a foot. Zephyr Prusinkski's bass is also a major component of "Switched to Six," sounding like a rumbling, powerful engine.

The minor-keyed "To Levin" begins to set the stage for the end of Grow Up. Its lamenting lyrics-- which are sold beautifully by a perfectly executed fragility in Ryskalczyk's vocals-- are accompanied by an overall ghostly grit in the song that begs for a resolution.

In the final track, "Great Circle Mapping," the notion of growing up is especially prominent. Ryskalczyk at one point states, "We are our mothers and our fathers" followed by the suggestion, "I could move back to Buffalo and die there." The thought doesn't sound terribly appealing, which is likely the intent. Following a second, more emphasized "I could move back to Buffalo and die there," the song picks up the pace a bit, which nicely complements the line "We are constantly changing." The track ends with a lengthy instrumental section which subtly becomes increasing layered as it goes on. By the end of the five minutes and fifty-two seconds that is "Great Circle Mapping," it seems as though that final instrumental section somehow summarized Grow Up as a whole. The result is a drive that feels like it reached its destination too soon; but at the same time, it was incredibly fulfilling and rich with experiences. Ya know, kinda like growing up.
- ROCKchester Daily


As far as new music goes, I tend to be like a child with a new toy. Listening, listening, and listening some more until I get completely tired of it, and move on to the next new toy. Bethlehem Steel’s EP, Grow Up, was a surprising change of pace from my usual habits with music, as I cannot stop listening to this perfect specimen of Brooklyn Rock.

Originally natives of Upstate New York, band members Jon Gernhart, Zephyr Prusinski, and frontwoman, Rebecca Ryskalczyk, met up in Brooklyn to begin works on their debut EP.

Kicking off the five-track EP is “Guts,” a really raw piece that exemplifies Grow Up’s unique sound quality throughout the EP. Ryskalczyk starts the track by playing this folk-esque guitar riff, which honestly had me a little apprehensive about the rest of the song being a little unanimated. Then, my doubts were quickly gone once I heard the upbeat drums and Ryskalczyk’s melodic vocals come in. After my second time listening to the song, I was already singing along to the lyrics in the bridge, “I can, I can, I can do better.”

I’m not sure if this will make very much sense, but play with me a little. If I close my eyes and listen to the songs, I feel like they are playing in my living room. There is so much detail captured in the recording of this EP, that my ears are all the more intrigued by the music playing. If you listen closely to “Guts,” you can hear laughing in the background at small sections of the song. The harmony in “Mountain Song” is so perfectly complementing of the vocals, not only in quality, but the kind of drawl given from the harmonizer gives the song a haunting consistency.

Hands down, my favorite song off this EP is “Great Circle Mapping.” The dynamics of the whole song are constantly changing and I love how easily each part meshes in with the other. It is a little long – the longest and last track actually – however, it perfectly ties together all the best aspects of the EP. From the clean guitar riffs to the theme of suffocation in the city, I am infatuated with the piece.

Ryskalczyk’s voice sounds a bit like She and Him’s Zooey Deschanel, mixed with the roughness of Edie Brickell. Not much of a range is displayed through the tracks, but it isn’t at all necessary when you hear how she belts in tracks like “Switched to 6.”

Without a doubt, Rebecca Ryskalczyk is a force to be reckoned with, and I only expect good things to come from Bethlehem Steel.

Be sure to check out all the songs on the EP here: http://bethlehemsteel.bandcamp.com/album/grow-up

If you like it as much as I do, remember, sharing is caring. - Mind Equals Blown


As far as new music goes, I tend to be like a child with a new toy. Listening, listening, and listening some more until I get completely tired of it, and move on to the next new toy. Bethlehem Steel’s EP, Grow Up, was a surprising change of pace from my usual habits with music, as I cannot stop listening to this perfect specimen of Brooklyn Rock.

Originally natives of Upstate New York, band members Jon Gernhart, Zephyr Prusinski, and frontwoman, Rebecca Ryskalczyk, met up in Brooklyn to begin works on their debut EP.

Kicking off the five-track EP is “Guts,” a really raw piece that exemplifies Grow Up’s unique sound quality throughout the EP. Ryskalczyk starts the track by playing this folk-esque guitar riff, which honestly had me a little apprehensive about the rest of the song being a little unanimated. Then, my doubts were quickly gone once I heard the upbeat drums and Ryskalczyk’s melodic vocals come in. After my second time listening to the song, I was already singing along to the lyrics in the bridge, “I can, I can, I can do better.”

I’m not sure if this will make very much sense, but play with me a little. If I close my eyes and listen to the songs, I feel like they are playing in my living room. There is so much detail captured in the recording of this EP, that my ears are all the more intrigued by the music playing. If you listen closely to “Guts,” you can hear laughing in the background at small sections of the song. The harmony in “Mountain Song” is so perfectly complementing of the vocals, not only in quality, but the kind of drawl given from the harmonizer gives the song a haunting consistency.

Hands down, my favorite song off this EP is “Great Circle Mapping.” The dynamics of the whole song are constantly changing and I love how easily each part meshes in with the other. It is a little long – the longest and last track actually – however, it perfectly ties together all the best aspects of the EP. From the clean guitar riffs to the theme of suffocation in the city, I am infatuated with the piece.

Ryskalczyk’s voice sounds a bit like She and Him’s Zooey Deschanel, mixed with the roughness of Edie Brickell. Not much of a range is displayed through the tracks, but it isn’t at all necessary when you hear how she belts in tracks like “Switched to 6.”

Without a doubt, Rebecca Ryskalczyk is a force to be reckoned with, and I only expect good things to come from Bethlehem Steel.

Be sure to check out all the songs on the EP here: http://bethlehemsteel.bandcamp.com/album/grow-up

If you like it as much as I do, remember, sharing is caring. - Mind Equals Blown


Buffalo is a beautiful place... Okay, well, I guess if I'm being honest with myself, I'm not the most qualified person to make that claim. As a recent transplant to the city, I'm still enjoying the process of discovering the unique opportunities that make Buffalo worth inhabiting. But even then, I hail from the Southtowns, and let's be honest, they really aren't that far away... It's just the fact that I've always been familiar with the city, I just hadn't ever taken the plunge into living inside of it.

Despite my newly discovered reverence for my place of residence, I recognize that not everyone can stay in Buffalo forever... One of these people is Rebecca Ryskalczyk. Buffalo born and Fredonia schooled, Ryskalczyk became a staple of the local singer-songwriter crowd. She cut her teeth alongside other Buffalonians like the very talented Sonny Baker, with whom she toured the US (as well as drummer Cameron Rogers in the Buffalo-based duo A Hotel Nourishing). She now resides in Brooklyn, NY, but has continued her musical career there with a new project, Bethlehem Steel, which highlights Ryskalczyk's born-and-bred Buffalo roots. Despite Ryskalczyk's exodus to NYC, Bethlehem Steel is chock full of Buffalo influences. From their moniker (named after a mostly abandoned steel mill in Lackawanna) to, what in my opinion is a very 'Harvestsum' approach to songwriting, their recently released five song EP, called Grow Up has Buffalo written all over it.

The first song on Grow Up is the fantastic "Guts," a great representation of what to expect throughout this EP. A gentle, lo-fi guitar riff is met with rim clicks and Ryskalczyk's "hushed-but-soulful-with-a-hint-of-sadness" vocal delivery. This subdued approach eventually crescendos into something full and driving. There's a little bit of Local Natives here, and even a little bit of Band of Horses. Maybe, if you concentrate enough, you can even hear some Cloud Nothings. But what really stands out to me is the quasi-folk, lo-fi, indie-pop that Bethlehem Steel (and for that matter, so many other Buffalo artists) do so well. My closest comparison might even be to the intriguing freak-folk of Sonny Baker, albeit a slightly more subdued, female-fronted version.

The quiet crush of "Mountain Song" is one of the saddest moments on Grow Up, but it also happens to be one of my favorites. Ryskalczyk's harmonies sit beautifully over her simple, somber guitar lines. The power behind Grow Up comes from moments when Ryskalczyk sings, "If you wanted mountains, then I'd build you mountains... But I am loved and loved you only." Part of me thinks Ryskalczyk is hiding an insanely powerful voice behind her hushed delivery and the other half of me thinks she purposely chose to keep her cool in favor of a more subtle ebb and flow. For this particular record, I think she made the right choice - "Mountain Song" is shiver-inducing regardless.

"Switched to 6" is probably the most intense moment on Grow Up, trading somber chords for a wall of quickly strummed guitar. As I listened to Grow Up, I kept waiting for Ryskalczyk to let loose. But even here on the most upbeat moments, she keeps herself, her instrument, and her vocals respectably withdrawn. Even at her most powerful moments (see 2:55 onward), she reaches the apex of her vocals with a chorus of simple "whoa-ohs." I personally think that's the true appeal of Grow Up. When I was younger (and maybe even still now), and when it came to my music or my emotions, I felt like I had to raise my voice to make a point. Ryskalczyk rejects that sentiment. And I have all the more respect for Bethlehem Steel because of it.

"To Levin" is when I finally experienced the "let loose" moment I had been waiting for throughout Grow Up. "Levin" is one of the most revealing and personal moments on this EP - following in the footsteps of "Mountain Song" before it. From what I can gather, "To Levin" is a letter to someone she is leaving behind in Buffalo. It inspired one of Ryskalczyk's most shining moments on Grow Up. At 2:45 in, the vocals are sung so well that you don't even need the lyrics to know how Ryskalczyk's feels - her delivery says it all.

"Great Circle Mapping" is the last song on Grow Up and wraps the ideas and instrumentation up perfectly. A long, bell-infused ending repeats over and over, relying heavily on the sparkling riff from Ryskalczyk. I guess Buffalo can't really claim Ryskalczyk as one of its many talented artists anymore, but from what I can gather, I think she is fairly proud of her heritage. As long as ex-Buffalonians are releasing albums like Grow Up, we can be proud of what they have moved on to do. - buffaBLOG


Buffalo is a beautiful place... Okay, well, I guess if I'm being honest with myself, I'm not the most qualified person to make that claim. As a recent transplant to the city, I'm still enjoying the process of discovering the unique opportunities that make Buffalo worth inhabiting. But even then, I hail from the Southtowns, and let's be honest, they really aren't that far away... It's just the fact that I've always been familiar with the city, I just hadn't ever taken the plunge into living inside of it.

Despite my newly discovered reverence for my place of residence, I recognize that not everyone can stay in Buffalo forever... One of these people is Rebecca Ryskalczyk. Buffalo born and Fredonia schooled, Ryskalczyk became a staple of the local singer-songwriter crowd. She cut her teeth alongside other Buffalonians like the very talented Sonny Baker, with whom she toured the US (as well as drummer Cameron Rogers in the Buffalo-based duo A Hotel Nourishing). She now resides in Brooklyn, NY, but has continued her musical career there with a new project, Bethlehem Steel, which highlights Ryskalczyk's born-and-bred Buffalo roots. Despite Ryskalczyk's exodus to NYC, Bethlehem Steel is chock full of Buffalo influences. From their moniker (named after a mostly abandoned steel mill in Lackawanna) to, what in my opinion is a very 'Harvestsum' approach to songwriting, their recently released five song EP, called Grow Up has Buffalo written all over it.

The first song on Grow Up is the fantastic "Guts," a great representation of what to expect throughout this EP. A gentle, lo-fi guitar riff is met with rim clicks and Ryskalczyk's "hushed-but-soulful-with-a-hint-of-sadness" vocal delivery. This subdued approach eventually crescendos into something full and driving. There's a little bit of Local Natives here, and even a little bit of Band of Horses. Maybe, if you concentrate enough, you can even hear some Cloud Nothings. But what really stands out to me is the quasi-folk, lo-fi, indie-pop that Bethlehem Steel (and for that matter, so many other Buffalo artists) do so well. My closest comparison might even be to the intriguing freak-folk of Sonny Baker, albeit a slightly more subdued, female-fronted version.

The quiet crush of "Mountain Song" is one of the saddest moments on Grow Up, but it also happens to be one of my favorites. Ryskalczyk's harmonies sit beautifully over her simple, somber guitar lines. The power behind Grow Up comes from moments when Ryskalczyk sings, "If you wanted mountains, then I'd build you mountains... But I am loved and loved you only." Part of me thinks Ryskalczyk is hiding an insanely powerful voice behind her hushed delivery and the other half of me thinks she purposely chose to keep her cool in favor of a more subtle ebb and flow. For this particular record, I think she made the right choice - "Mountain Song" is shiver-inducing regardless.

"Switched to 6" is probably the most intense moment on Grow Up, trading somber chords for a wall of quickly strummed guitar. As I listened to Grow Up, I kept waiting for Ryskalczyk to let loose. But even here on the most upbeat moments, she keeps herself, her instrument, and her vocals respectably withdrawn. Even at her most powerful moments (see 2:55 onward), she reaches the apex of her vocals with a chorus of simple "whoa-ohs." I personally think that's the true appeal of Grow Up. When I was younger (and maybe even still now), and when it came to my music or my emotions, I felt like I had to raise my voice to make a point. Ryskalczyk rejects that sentiment. And I have all the more respect for Bethlehem Steel because of it.

"To Levin" is when I finally experienced the "let loose" moment I had been waiting for throughout Grow Up. "Levin" is one of the most revealing and personal moments on this EP - following in the footsteps of "Mountain Song" before it. From what I can gather, "To Levin" is a letter to someone she is leaving behind in Buffalo. It inspired one of Ryskalczyk's most shining moments on Grow Up. At 2:45 in, the vocals are sung so well that you don't even need the lyrics to know how Ryskalczyk's feels - her delivery says it all.

"Great Circle Mapping" is the last song on Grow Up and wraps the ideas and instrumentation up perfectly. A long, bell-infused ending repeats over and over, relying heavily on the sparkling riff from Ryskalczyk. I guess Buffalo can't really claim Ryskalczyk as one of its many talented artists anymore, but from what I can gather, I think she is fairly proud of her heritage. As long as ex-Buffalonians are releasing albums like Grow Up, we can be proud of what they have moved on to do. - buffaBLOG


Discography

Grow Up (2013)

Photos

Bio

Bethlehem Steel is a Buffalo bred, Brooklyn based band. Members Jon Gernhart, Rebecca Ryskalczyk and Zephyr Prusinski met during college as peers in different bands and formed Bethlehem Steel in 2012. Their first EP Grow Up was released independently in the summer of 2013 digitally. A 7" will be available late September 2013. They plan to tour the East Coast and Midwest once its available. Their influences for the album include The Breeders, Bower Birds, Hop Along and Angel Olsen.