Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends
Gig Seeker Pro

Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends

| SELF

| SELF
Band Americana Alternative

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"Smother.net - Album Review (A Six-Song Demonstration)"

Wow folks, this is it. Steve Hefter’s last project that I heard was Challenge Club, a Baltimore-based indie pop adventure. But amazingly enough this is about fifty billion light-years better. That’s saying something considering I fell in love with that last album. This one however finds me abhorring the last and final notes because something this great should never end. I find myself holding on to each and every lasting piano note, as if the great tragedies of indie pop and artistic alt. country would never be the same. A tantalizing demonstration of what can be accomplished with desire and ability, Steve’s latest album is perhaps my favorite independent release this year hands down. If you don’t pick it up, you’re either deployed in Iraq, deaf, or just plain fucking broke. If it’s the latter let me know, I’ll buy it for you. - J-Sin


"The Frederick News-Post - Show Review"

Steve Hefter and company, meanwhile, may have provided the true surprise of the evening, in part due to an artistic arrangement which turned out to be surprisingly cohesive. Hefter's smoky vocal style and somewhat sulky stage demeanor provided a surprising contrast to his more playful lyrics, even during the moments it all got drowned out by excessive chit-chat. In similar fashion, Mike Wards' sunny synthesized keyboards provided an altogether different feel than the adjacent stand-up bass: during louder, punkier moments, Doug Keen might be found delicately dragging his bow across the strings. But it was Hefter, strumming an electric acoustic guitar, puffing a cross harp, who signified the band's alliance with folk. - Dickson Mercer


"IndependentClauses.com - Album Review (A Six-Song Demonstration)"

When I first began writing reviews for Independent Clauses, someone (who isn’t affiliated with the site) mentioned to me that the albums I would be reviewing wouldn’t be very good. I have to admit that there have been a few bands that I personally did not like, but I can now shove a copy of A Six Song Demonstration in their face and laugh and laugh and laugh until I pee my pants. Steve Hefter and Friends’ debut attempt at a self-produced and self-engineered album, which is a whopping seventeen and a half minutes, is pure gold. This has got to be one of the best self-released albums of the year.

Hefter and his friends begin their demonstration with a perfect Rogue Wave sounding hum in “Ludicrous Bubblegum Flavors.” Although this track is very telling of Hefter and Friends’ musical style, it is one of the weaker tracks and becomes a little repetitive after a few times. This, however, is something that you will not encounter again. Hefter, French, Keen, and Ward all do a wonderful job on vocals that contribute to the character of the album without detracting from the music. “Diamond Ring” is undoubtedly the most beautifully written track on the album. It’s as if Hefter is ready to propose. Well Mr. Hefter, my ears say “I do” and take your amazing lyrics as their life partner. One of the best aspects of Hefter’s demonstration is the ability to put melancholy, and sometimes amusing, lyrics down with a gorgeous piano or violin (or both) melody.

In “Forget It,” Hefter sings of a relationship recently ended, saying that “my drinks will be mixed by spoons that have fixed broken down hearts in a pinch,” and then confidently ends by saying “as long as you know you are going to hell…ma’belle.” The following track is much more amusing. “Crippled,” my favorite track and the catchiest by far, features a screeching harmonica. I give kudos to the friend of Hefter’s who played that line. Unfortunately, “harmonica” is not included under anyone’s name in the booklet. “Crippled” and the following track, “Dry,” vaguely reminded me of Oh No! Oh My!, but only in subject matter. Musically, they are worlds apart. The final track on the demonstration, “Invisible,” is similar to something from Andrew Bird. Too bad it isn’t longer. Overall, the demonstration does an amazing job of changing up the instrumentation and musical style, proving that Hefter is going to be able to pull a lot more out of his hat on future releases.

I wish this effort had been longer. Somehow the seventeen and a half minutes just don’t do it for me. I will just have to bite my fingernails and listen to something that I don’t appreciate as much to bide the time until Hefter and Friends do a full-length. It is definitely one of my favorite albums this year and if you pass it up you are making a huge mistake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. - Mark Pranger


"Sen Baltimore - Album Review (Twist And Hold Til Morning)"

On the full-length follow-up to the A Six Song Demonstration EP, Baltimore's Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends really come through. Twist and Hold Til Morning is definitely not gym music (not that I have seen the inside of a gym in a couple years. I can only imagine the technological breakthroughs that have taken place!), but more of an album to listen to when you need a pick me up when something's got you down. Twist isn't a somber album, though it has its somber moments; rather, it is a low-key, somewhat soothing album with surprisingly festive and bonding tunes like "Apocalypse". If only all bad news could be delivered this way.

The subject matter of Twist is often inconsequential, such as on "Pants". But with harmonies like these, you just have to care about Hefter's heroes. The melodies on the album are, at times, enough to put Rivers Cuomo on alert. Same goes for the wry humor of the album. On "Why A Lawyer", Hefter sings about his mom's new boyfriend (a lawyer), starting by querying his mother's taste in men before expressing a genuine concern for her well-being. It's good to hear a guy sing about dear old mom without sounding insincere.

The album is broad-based in its instrumentation and features a full-blown choir on "Bullshit". Definitely no b.s. here, just good music by genuine folks.

Be sure to download the MP3 for "Why A Lawyer" and hear for yourself the clever lyrics and fun songs that Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends have committed to Twist and Hold Til Morning. You'll be a friend for life. - Sen Baltimore Staff Writer


"The Chickenfish Speaks - Album Review (Twist And Hold Til Morning)"

Last year we got acquainted with Steve Hefter and his friends, while was more than worth the time. On this new release they have really become a band and have moved forward both in songwriting and in playing ability. The music stands on it's own and really no longer needs comparisons, since none really seem to fit. They have the same whimsical nature, which works great for most songs like on "Why a Lawyer" where Steve talks about his mom dating someone new "But why a lawyer, oh dear god why a lawyer. Couldn't he have been an engineer?" The music is fun too with bits of keyboards at just the right points. Most of the songs are fairly laid back, but full of passion and life. I'm very happy to see the progression and growth on this release as they were one of my favorite bands last year. - Grog Mutant


"Music Monthly - Album Review (A Six-Song Demonstration)"

There's a simple honesty in the music of "Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends." The CD doesn't divulge who writes the songs but, in a snapshot, I get a Jerry-Jeff-Walker-after-a-few-beers-but-with-a-younger-more-naive-perspective and Willie Nelson's nylon string guitar strumming sort of vibe. The slightly off-kilter Ray Davies melody lines work really well with the lyrics and Hefter's vocals make them sound both innocent and fresh.

Hefter is joined by George French on electric guitar and vocals, Doug Keen on acoustic bass and vocals, Pat Hughes on drums and percussion, Greta Thomas on violin, Mike Ward on piano, synth, and vocals, and Chris Freeland who adds tambourine to one cut.

The simple but effective cover was designed by Hefter and Isaac Morrison. I'm not sure what the picture of picketers from (maybe) the 1930's or 40's has to do with the music but picketing is a form of demonstration and the CD is entitled "A Six Song Demonstration."

Hefter mixed the project, French engineered it, and it was mastered by Billy Gordon. Production values are adequate and somewhat under-produced. That's OK. "Ludicrous Bubblegum Flavors" is the most pop sounding piece of the collection. "Diamond Ring" has that upfront and open-tuned acoustic guitar until the synths kick in the second verse. Funky drums enter a bit later and song continues to build. Hefter and French keep the parts moving in and out to keep the song from getting bogged down.

"Forget It" gets a similar treatment, bare at the front, building and swapping parts. Greta Thomas does some nice violin parts throughout. I'd normally not like the living room ambience of the violin, but it gives the song a sort of "house concert" feel. The bird chirp on the end is endearing.

Crippled continues the house concert feel with harmonica, tambourine, and handclaps. By the time "Dry" comes on I realize that Hefter is a talk-singer, but working well within those limitations. Thomas pushes the dissonance envelope on this tune, but just enough to pull your head around, just in case your attention has wandered.

"Invisible" shows that whoever writes the lyrics has been playing with pushing rhyme schemes over measures- a sure sign of a singer/ songwriter experimenting with his or her craft. As short as it is, as off mic and slack-jawed as the vocals are, the loose arrangement seem to fit the mood.

The big difficulty facing songwriters today is finding new ways to tell old stories. The honesty and simplicity of their lyrics gets them past that barrier. Their musical construct sometimes creaks like an ailing garden gate, but it still swings. Nice job. Eclectic, but nice. In a world of slick, over-processed music, I find this CD quite refreshing. - Ty Ford


"Baltimore Sun - Band Profile"

The group formed after the members of Hefter's previous project, Challenge Club, went their separate ways. Hefter and Co. released a six-song demo earlier this year, which Hefter mixed himself. It was an extremely stressful process, Hefter said. He and his band mates will head to Kentucky early next year to record a full-length album. "The fact that I don't know what I'm doing is frustrating for everyone," Hefter said. "You can't be an objective critic of your own stuff. You have to listen to it 200, 300 times to figure out what makes it just right."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Update

The Baltimore Sun featured Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends in their Nov 30 2006 issue. Since then four additional papers have carried the piece.

Chicago Tribune – Chicago, IL
Orlando Sentinel – Orlando, FL
Sun Sentinel - Miami, FL
Daily Press - Newport News, VA - Sam Sessa


"Baltimore Sun - Album Review (A Six-Song Demonstration)"

Steve Hefter, front man for (you guessed it) Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends, obsesses over the recording process.

When he was mixing A Six-Song Demonstration about a year ago, he told me he was listening to the tracks hundreds of times each. He wanted to get them just right.

Hefter's hard work paid off with the batch of tunes on his new album, Twist and Hold Til' Morning.

The songs are sparsely produced, and center on Hefter and his acoustic guitar.

Hefter's wry lyrics will make you crack a smile: "Don't be my honey when the bees begin to swarm" or "my mind screams no but my body says yes." Should be out soon. - Sam Sessa


"On Tap Magazine - Album Review (Twist And Hold Til Morning)"

With an ear for focused, folk-inspired indie-rock, Steve Hefter and Friends of Friends have created a delightful album with “Twist and Hold ‘til Morning.” This is just the bare bones of folk and indie music, no elegiac musicianship or slick production, only lonely notes and wry lyrics and it’s all for the best. The simplicity is refreshingly honest. It’s nice to hear an album that relies solely on the strength of its songwriting and in that respect, “Twist and Hold…” succeeds over and over again. - Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson


Discography

A Six Song Demonstration (2006) - EP
Twist and Hold Til Morning (2007) - LP

Photos

Bio

Hefter has been writing and performing original music in the Baltimore-Washington area for ten years, both by his lonesome and with his friends, having released three well-received albums that have sold over a thousand copies and garnered regular AAA airplay. Hefter and friends continue to win fans and audiences alike with a unique combination of compelling lyrics, memorable and pop-sensible melodies, and lush and experimental arrangements.