The Dreadful Yawns
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The Dreadful Yawns

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The best kept secret in music

Press


The obvious peril of naming your band The Dreadful Yawns is that, if you fail to engage your listeners with interesting music, every half-assed critic in the world is going to dismiss your record with a labored pun involving your band name. And on an album as meditative and folky as Early, the probability of the pun showing up is pretty high. However, against those odds, Early is one of the best folk albums -- nay, one of the best albums, period -- of the year, a positively astonishing set of thoughtful tunes about leaving, being left, and coming back together again.
The album's profoundly gorgeous standout, "Was I Just Struck by Lightning?", is a stroke of genius, signaling the more psych-folk oriented focus of the album's stunning second half. Channeling Cyann and Ben's spacy mood, it patiently builds from a piano lead-off to a profoundly cathartic climax: it winds about, turning on minor key shifts, until a synthetic echo tumbles through the mix, pushing it into a lush, soul-washing rush. The song ends tastefully, with a single, subtly evolving piano finale that waves goodbye amid a closing set of transcendental fifths, the sheer impact of its beauty requiring a full seven seconds of pure silence at its end. "Cycle" picks up the psych-pop vein later on, to similar success, recalling Pink Floyd in its snaking guitar line as its sublime piano chords push the song forward into a supremely delicate solo. A hidden thirteenth track closes the album on a soul-shaking set of melodies and organ-led progressions, rivaling even "Was I Just Struck by Lightning" in its beauty.

"I'll Be Born Soon" builds from a pair of swooning alternating melodies to an understated climax, assisted by a serene, Clientele-like reverbed guitar. "The Waves" trots from a flute-led intro into a guitar-led melody, surrounded by strikingly delicate melodies, culminating in the melancholy chorus, "Hey / Get a load of the waves / Crashing in and taking you away / I'm / Standing in the rain / Waiting for them to bring you home again."

Early's understated progression through truly spine-tingling songs is its greatest strength -- proof of the impressive degree of thought invested in its arrangements and sequencing. Of all the folk albums released this year, it may be the most immediately intimate and carefully crafted. In other words, you can put the labored puns out of your mind; The Dreadful Yawns are almost unbearably exciting. - Splendid Magazine


Often, mellow singer-songwriting pop bands go for a style that is regularly executed but rarely cutting it in terms of quality. As their press notes say, the Dreadful Yawns are a band from Cleveland who try to not mimic but be inspired by fathers of the folk pop movement such as the late great Nick Drake. The band's debut album might fall in line with bands like Knife in the Water in terms of overall tone, mood, and tempo. This is shown quite well on the light and dreamy pop ditty entitled "When We Were Young". Guitarist and vocalist Ben Gmetro is joined on this track by a female vocalist, possibly either Cassandra Coin or Jessica Laflame. Regardless of who is singing, this track just soars without much effort on anyone's part. It's one that you'll find yourself replaying before you hit the bridge, let alone the final few fading seconds. It might actually be two songs in one as it slides into a different arrangement. With a gentle touch that recalls Ron Sexsmith at his airiest, or perhaps Elliott Smith, the band nails this seven-minute track, plain and so beautifully simple. - Pop Matters


Ed-in-Chief and pal Scott Reid and I have more than a couple differences in musical taste---most obvious among them is his love for folk and Brian Wilson pop, while my cup of tea tends to sharp, guitar rock: think Fugazi, Interpol, Spoon, Sonic Youth, etc. Which is not to say that Mr. Reid doesn’t like the band’s I’ve listed, or that I don’t have a soft spot for some of his favorite artists---but I can safely say our year end lists will look a great deal different (which is great, because difference in musical opinion only increases your chances to expand your horizons, etc. etc. etc.)

However, every once in a while I’ll make the overture to a genre for which I don’t hold a particular fondness. And folk tends to be one of those. But a particular guitar figure or melody suddenly strikes me, a variation on tried-and-true singer-songwriter ethos causes me to start. And this, friends, is how I found out I loved The Dreadful Yawns. - Coke Machine Glow


Early is the debut album from Cleveland indie troupe The Dreadful Yawns, and the title seems to characterize its shifting,
awakening vibe. Within these twinkling, icy melodies are touches of gently quaking Neil Young vocals and glimmers of
shoegazing psychedelia. Singer-guitarist-songwriter Ben Gmetro creates crisp tunes tinged with folk rock warmth and classic pop glee, spurred on by lovely sweeps of piano, guitar, and harmonica. A warm introduction to this band, the
effort is a wondrous collection of twanging waltzes and psych-pop washes.
- Miles of Music


The Dreadful Yawns give us soft, clever, and cheerful tunes that bring sweet 60's vibe to the picture. Who would think that Cleveland, OH would spring such dreamy psychedelic music? They must have some good shrooms growing out there. Fans of Mojave 3, Byrds, Nick Drake, and Decemberists will enjoy soaking in a warm bath to The Yawns. Just don't get too relaxed; you can drown, ya know.
- Crashin In


Pretend is six cuts of ambient Americana: spacey indie pop in one extreme, lullabies at the other, and snail crawl psychedelia everywhere in between. “End of Summer” kicks off the affair, moving along on the power of delicate fingerpicking, as shoegazing frontman Ben Gmetro delivers a vivid narrative. The rest of the disc is just as enveloping, with softly textured guitars wrapping around gently twinkling xylophones, subliminal strings, and lyrics echoing so slowly that entire lines dissipate before they conclude.
- Scene


Try and ignore, if you can, the off-putting band-name – a “joke” which I assume is based on what in certain parts of America today passes for irony – and give this quartet’s second album a listen, because it’s one that repays repeated listenings, and moreover an album gets better and better as the album unfolds.

The Yawns aren’t doing anything startlingly original; theirs is a sound that’s been well-defined and well-loved for nigh-on 40 years now, and one which has been faithfully reinvented on a regular basis ever since. Take three parts Buffalo Springfield and a dash of the Byrds, distil some of the same ideas that Fairport Convention toyed with in their early years, and take a leaf out of the Long Ryders and latterly Uncle Tupelo’s book: jangling 12-strings, countrified Telecasters, harmonies, harmonicas, melodic bass and tub-thumping drums.

The Dreadful Yawns also though write singularly fine, memorable songs, wisely opening with one of the best: ‘You Sold the Farm’, which even has the quavering Neil Young plaintiveness off pat in the vocals department – ‘Part of Your Past’ later on in the collection is even more of a faithful homage. For a while after that the collection hovers between sounding like the Byrds circa ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ and any Buffalo Springfield album you’d care to mention (neither of which is necessarily a bad thing; ‘Back in the Ground’ would be a classic song wherever it hailed from), and then on what I suppose would normally be the second side of the album, track 8 onwards, the experimentation begins to kick in: ‘Get Straight’ comes across like a variation on ‘Thoughts & Words’ (from the Byrds’ own ‘Revolver’, ‘Younger Than Yesterday’); ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ sounds like it might’ve found a place it could call home on Crosby’s ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’ – and what’s for me the absolute pinnacle of the album, ‘The People and The Sky’, goes places in it’s eighteen sprawling minutes of psychedelic, effects-laden mayhem that few American country-rock outfits since the Grateful Dead have dared to go. I suggest you follow them; this band has “class” stamped all the way through it… (Phil McMullen) - Terrascope


The Dreadful Yawns
CD Review by Mike D'Ariano
10/2005

The first time I listened to this album, I was stranded on a boat which we suspected was out of gas, somewhere on the Hudson River about a mile from the mainland. It was sometime around midnight, and we were anticipating a long wait for someone from Sea Tow to ride out and give us some fuel. I had the Dreadful Yawns CD in my bag because it had shown up in my mailbox that afternoon. I knew nothing about it, but figured what the hell, and threw it on. I learned quickly, that the new Dreadful Yawns CD is a tremendously good listen when stranded at sea.

They sound like a lot of other bands from time to time – Wilco, Phish, or Coldplay – but the overwhelming "hey this sounds like" theme of the record is the Grateful Dead, and not the "wow I took 19 hits of acid and this awful noodly crap that Jerry and the boys are cranking out sounds great to me because I can see the notes forming in the air in a kind of cinemascopic rainbow" Dead – the good dead – like American Beauty and Workingman's Dead. You know, when they were kinda country.

It's light and airy, filled with cleaver lyrics, steel guitar and harmonica along with hooky choruses and general all purpose greatness. And there is a seventeen-minute jam near the end. Man, I really like this album, and as I'm writing this I am on dry land, so I guess it's a great listen wherever you may be.

Greatness: "Back In The Ground," "Waking Up To You," "The People And The Sky," "Darkness Is Gone," "Get Yourself Back Home." - www.areuonsomething.com


Mix indie rock, shoegazer rock, Britpop, and classic rock and what do you get? In The Dreadful Yawns case: music that is known as Americana, though I prefer to use Gram Parsons' term for it - "cosmic American music". How do you go from the mixture above and up playing alternative country? Singer/guitarist/songwriter Ben Gmetro started listening to lots of Byrds albums along with a helping of British folk rock players like The Fairport Convention and Nick Drake. The Cleveland based band released an album titled Early in 2003. Their second album has been released by Bomp and is self-titled.

Sweet steel guitar from guest player Al Moss ushers in the first track, "You Sold The Farm", and you immediately know this is not an album you can just put on as background music. It requires involvement in one's listening as the nuances have nuances that don't raise much above a whisper on many of the songs imparting a mystical feel to the proceedings that's rather elegiac. The Dreadful Yawns can get your feet tapping at times, like on the choogling "Get Yourself Back Home" and the power pop of "Better Things To Do", but most of the songs are quiet, yet deceptively laid back. There's a good amount of tension even on a cut like "Part Of Your Past" where the band sounds like they could barely move their hands to play their instruments. It's a tribute to them that something so spare could have so many undercurrents.

There's a nice and happy song about being dead, "Back In The Ground", but everything's all right since "the children live on". "The People And The Sky" will give you a good dose of country psychedelia without any corrupting whimsy. "Drinking Song" features one of the weirder lyrics I've heard in the last week or so:


I'm not the same person you were used to
Feels like I'm wearing a Halloween costume
Trying not to scare little kids
Me and my T-Rex wig
It's getting hard to look in the mirror

Finally, "Lullaby" makes most dirges sound like speed metal compared to it. It's like Sufjan Stevens, but without the banjo or silliness.

Ben Gmetro, Dave Molnar, Mike Allan, and Charlie Druesedow have certainly made an interesting record. The Dreadful Yawns is the kind of album that comes in and sits a spell. Soon time is suspended, the album is finished and you're wondering where the hour went so fast. Influences...sure there's a big helping of Gram Parsons, Byrds, and Grateful Dead in the mix. I'd say those are some mighty fine folk to draw inspiration from, wouldn't you?
- Blogcritics.org


Rating
4 Stars

The second album by Cleveland's Dreadful Yawns dials back on the woozy space folk of their debut in favor of a lightly psychedelicized country-pop sound along the lines of Beachwood Sparks or some of Joe Pernice's projects. Songs like "Get Yourself Back Home" and the jaunty "Darkness Is Gone" trade on shuffle beats, twangy acoustic and electric guitars (including some fine pedal steel on the latter), and sleepily mumbled vocals. Tempos, which before had mostly been at a narcotized crawl, are much more varied this time out; combined with the new "everybody sings" band policy, the more eclectic results are strongly reminiscent of both the Buffalo Springfield and, more recently, Teenage Fanclub, bands where the friction of multiple singer/songwriters created enjoyably diverse albums that nonetheless hang together as the work of a single, unified group. Best song: the delicate "It's a Charmed Life," with its whispered lead vocal, hypnotic bass figure, and crisp, ringing psych-folk guitar leads. - Stewart Mason


Discography

Pretend E.P. (Van Gogh Round/Davenport)
Early L.P. (Undertow Records)
Dreadful Yawns (Bomp! Records)
Rest (Exit Stencil Recordings)
Take Shape (Exit Stencil Recordings

Photos

Bio

From its first lustrous, tinkling notes to its final moments of subdued majesty, Early, the first official full-length by The Dreadful Yawns, makes an ideal soundtrack to the winters that envelop the Yawns' hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Here, the comfortable chill of September is soon replaced by the ache-inducing bite of winds that rage past December, well into March. To the north, Lake Erie lies entombed in glacial ice; to the south beyond the city, Ohio forests stoop under heavy frost. The only things that still thrive during this time are the factories and the freeways, droning their chants to industry as they have for decades upon decades. But not all is lost; just as Cleveland slowly thaws back into the spring and summer, so is Early's slumberous psychedelia lightened by vibrant touches of folk-rock and classic pop. Early is a miniature ode to transformation and triumph, a fitting parallel to a small group of friends who've weathered many of their own changes in producing this fine piece of work.

In 1998, singer/guitarist/songwriter Ben Gmetro and his like-minded friends had a notion to soak up ramshackle indie rock, shoegazery brit-pop, and classic rock. Living in the suburbs of Cleveland, it's impossible not to have heard Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beatles, the Stones and countless others pouring out of the radio night and day. Like so many other kids, the soon-to-be Yawns also paid heed to the dwindling "alternative music" phenomenon of the late 90's. But their love for radio standards led to further listening. Soon Ben and company passed on the tastes of the day and turned themselves on to the Byrds, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake and many others. The upshot of this was that Ben's notion started to take form: he conceived the Dreadful Yawns as a reflection of his own taste. The downside was that Cleveland wasn't quite ready for his brand of pop; the club scene was still filled with remnants of post-hardcore bands and the then-thriving underground DIY punk scene. Heaviness and dissonance were the words on the street.

In the ensuing years, Cleveland's musical geography changed. Perhaps seeking respite from the aggressive and confrontational sounds of years past, listeners began to take notice of the Dreadful Yawns. The Yawns, for their part, also experienced changes of their own. Ben, guitarist/singer Dave Molnar, and drummer Charlie Druesedow saw two singers, a bass player, two pianists and a percussionist come and go from their delicate line-up. In early 2002, in the midst of this rotation, the Yawns finished the tracks that comprise their debut album, Early. Bass player Mike Allan was added in late summer, further expanding the band's rich acoustic sound. With this solid lineup finally in place, the Yawns have gigged more frequently, put together an EP called Pretend, and the Undertow Records release Early. Since the release of Early in November 2002 the Yawns have added Expecting Rain singer/guitarist Nick Tolar and are currently finishing up the second full length, due to be released on the legendary Bomp! Record label in Spring of 2005.

- Ed Sotelo