The Dreadful Yawns
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The Dreadful Yawns

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The Dreadful Yawns are a band critics would describe as being undecided about what kind of band they are—country-folk-rock, psychedelic, or other? On their third album, they try all of the above, and surprisingly they succeed at everything. “You’ve Been Recorded” (#1) sounds like the Byrds, circa “The Ballad of Easy Rider,” that is, post 12-string Dylan covers and post Gram Parsons-originated country rock. “Changing States” (#2) and “When I Lost My Voice” (#3) continue the folk-rock direction, using almost the same railroad shuffle rhythm, but by the end of the latter tune, they’ve veered more Parsons’ way with steel guitar and multi-part harmonies. For pure Parsons, try “November Nights” (#6), penned by Parsons, and rendered here perfectly with plenty of steel guitar and organ. On “Candles” (#4), they detour into contemporary folk-rock sound, a la Innocence Mission, with a slower beat, multi-part harmonies, slide guitar, and strings. “Due South” (#7) is also in this vein, though with electric piano rather than strings and minimalist lyrics. “We Go Up” (#8) has a psychedelic feel, thanks to echoing electric guitar chords, a lush bed of strings, and finger-picked acoustic guitar. “Being Used to You” (#9) changes direction again with a quirky banjo-led hoe-down with a dobro break, but the album comes full circle with “End of Summer” (#10) describing the boredom of summer accompanied by heavily reverbed steel guitar and a spacey-sounding saw. Given the many directions this album takes and that 4 of the 5 band members quit during the recording process, there’s no telling what the next Dreadful Yawns record will sound like, if there is one. But this one should tide us over very nicely until that time. - KOOP 91.7 Austin, TX


I've always liked Ben Gmetro and the Dreadful Yawns, but having consumed their latest, 10-cut affair Rest on a spectacularly dreary-and-rainy day a couple weeks ago, I've decided they are divine. The group's blend of alt-country and "minimalist psychedelic folk" is as diverse as it is texturally rich. That mellow, melancholy singer-songwriter vibe is a dicey proposition for some -- most musicians get too wrapped up in their influences to deliver something fresh and inviting. No so for our very own Dreadful Yawns, whose latest effort Rest feels like a seductive sedative and begs for repeat doses. Guitarist/vocalist Gmetro and the Yawns transcend those influences, offering silvered threads of the folk pop movement (Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, Ron Sexsmith, Fairport Convention) and a touch of alt-Americana (Wilco, Neil Young), woven into a chiming tonal tapestry. From the words "You've Been Recorded," Rest feels like sleepy dreams and memories escaping into a cool fall evening. With delicate pedal steel runs, violin and flute solos and scrumptous vocal harmonies, Rest has everything in its right place -- absolute torch and twang, acoustic jangle and heartfelt melancholia. Highlights from this masterwork include "Changing States," "November Nights," a trippy "We Go Up" and the oh-so-appropriate anthem for this week, "End of Summer." All are stunning and radiant. Gram Parsons once termed this kind of alt-country "cosmic American music." After hearing the lilting chorale of la la la las in the chorus that closes out "Candles," you'll long for a dark, stormy afternoon to play this. Positively beautiful, and a huge, must-have local release. Catch the Dreadful Yawns with labelmates Mystery of Two at the latter band's CD release party Friday September 14 at Parish Hall Cleveland. It's one of the final shows at Parish Hall, so don't miss out. - Cool Cleveland


The Dreadful Yawns Rest (Exit Stencil) Rest is the second album from this Cleveland-based psychfolk quintet. The songs are simplistic and pretty, reminiscent of the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. Recording took two years, but in no way is it over-produced, unlike much of today's indie-rock. Yawns' founder Ben Gemtro keeps it simple. Rest could be mistaken for classic '60s folk with a more ambient style that borders on spacey. It's perfect for a train ride at an ambiguous life moment, when contemplating ups and downs, loves and losses and you don't get down despite the uncertainty of it all. - Farfield Weekly


Discography

Early (2003) - Undertow Music
The Dreadful Yawns (2005) - Bomp! Records
Rest (2007) - Exit Stencil Recordings
Take Shape (2008) - Exit Stencil Recordings

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Bio

Take Shape marks a critical juncture for Cleveland’s The Dreadful Yawns. After three albums of sublime, blessed-out country tinged folk rock, The Dreadful Yawns have finally submitted to their distorted, Velvets inspired psychedelic fantasies. Their second album on Cleveland-based Exit Stencil Recordings, Take Shape displays a grittier Yawns without abandoning the pop sensibilities that made them a band to watch according to Spin magazine. The album was recorded and mixed by front man Ben Gmetro, drummer Chris Russo, a former Los Angeles studio manager, and Exit Stencil’s Ryan Weitzel over six months in various locations.
While comparisons to the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, and Sonic Youth are not unwarranted Take Shape showcases the environmental influences of living amongst a vibrant arts scene in a Midwestern rust belt town. Simultaneously accessible and challenging these 10 tracks offer a look at how intelligent pop music can come from the unlikeliest of places and people. The myths and rumors surrounding the near break up of the band following 2007’s Rest LP have been silenced by the depth and eclectic background of the Take Shape era personnel. The band now sports 4 multi-instrumentalists including Clayton Heuer on organ and violin, Elizabeth Kelly with her vocals, tambourine, and key skills, Gmetro and Russo trade off drum, guitar, and vocal duties, while Eric Schulte holds down the fort on guitar.
The Dreadful Yawns have shared the stage with such notable acts as Elf Power, Black Mountain, Sonic Boom (Spiritualized), Kevin Devine, Jennifer O’ Connor, and Gringo Star. Their ever expanding and changing live show has garnered them critical success and a rabid cult following amongst fans in the Midwest and East Coast. They will be touring extensively behind Take Shape, beginning with a three week tour of the East Coast and Southeast in May and June. Not a band to rest on their laurels the Dreadful Yawns will begin recording new material during their downtime in Cleveland, Ann Arbor, and Chicago.