The Roadside Graves
Gig Seeker Pro

The Roadside Graves

Band Americana Rock


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



"The Roadside Graves"

Vocalist John Gleason and guitarist Jeremy Benson wrote the Roadside Graves' first song, "Song for a Dry State", following a cross-country road trip to Utah. And judging from the New Jersey group's vibrant third album No One Will Know Where You've Been, that's hardly the last time they've drawn inspiration with a little help from Rand McNally. The album showcases the Roadside Graves' affection for the American landscape-- both physical and musical-- and hearkens back to the days when long-distance drivers were at the mercy of whichever classic rock or country station carried the strongest signal, and those lonely instances when a well-timed selection from Creedence, George Jones, or the Band might make your whole evening.

After beginning life as a trio, for the bulk of No One Will Know Where You've Been, the Roadside Graves have settled in as a versatile seven-piece outfit. Thanks largely to the band's Jersey roots and Mike DeBlasio's dramatic contributions on piano and organ, this lineup all but guarantees a few unavoidable E-Street echoes. But their sweet-tempered country-rock is far more slippery than it might first appear, buffered as it is by rich Jayhawks vocal harmonies, Benson's quicksilver guitar leads, and frequent detours that can occasionally conjure images of a roadhouse Bad Seeds. These unexpected instrumental flourishes serve well to illuminate the intimate psychic geography that Gleason ambitiously maps out in his lyrics.

"If California didn't end, you'd still be driving around," Gleason sings to the wayward characters that populate "If California Didn't End", one of several examples in his lyrics where lives and plans are forcibly reconfigured by the facts on the ground. This theme is repeated on the album's best track, the triumphant "West Coast", a bittersweet tribute to family and the heart's resilience. "I've got a heart that won't quit, won't break/ no matter what you do" the Graves sing together, with a passion and vitality that quashes any hint of melodrama, the irresistible chorus framed perfectly by Benson's sun-drizzled, Jerry Garcia guitar.

Elsewhere, the album's shades can take a darker hue, as on the cheerfully macabre "Women in Black", which finds the Roadside Graves taking their name rather literally with a car-crash narrative that nearly skirts into "Teen Angel" territory. And on the folk-like ballad "The Black Hills", Gleason further internalizes the details of the American topography, repeating "She walks the Black Hills for me" with a baleful gravity. These gloomier passages are balanced out by the presence of spirited, sawdust-floor country numbers like the rollicking "Man at Every Port" or "Stranger", whose closing guitar jam should easily gather the My Morning Jacket faithful into the congregation.

"I've drank enough to know that I've drank enough," announces Gleason on the world-weary "Live Slow", the one track that seemingly comes closest to encapsulating the enduring spirit behind No One Will Know Where You've Been. Performed with an uncommonly deft touch and subtle grace, these songs concern themselves primarily with the pause for breath that comes after reaching their original destinations, and the long, careful glance at the atlas that should come before determining what exactly is supposed to happen next.
- Pitchfork Media

"The Best Independent Rock Band in New Jersey"

"...Gleason and the band manage to make every jab of the needle feel just, and every artfully-turned phrase feel almost unbearably moving. If Townes van Zandt were still kicking, he'd love these guys.You’re listening to the best band in New Jersey." -

"West Coast"

“West Coast” is an instantly memorable song, with a driving beat, excellent piano-guitar interplay, and an anthemic chorus. Shacking Up was a distinctively Americana sounding record. “West Coast” takes that template and runs with it, becoming something reminiscent of a rootsier Springsteen/Counting Crows in the process. This song continues the outstanding songwriting from lead singer John Gleason, whose vivid and heartbreaking stories are always excellent, often unforgettable. - Pop Headwound

"No One Will Know Where You've Been"

"...Lyricist/vocalist John Gleason pens some of the prettiest and smartest lyrics this side of Matt Berninger (The National)."

"Intelligent and full of soul"

The Roadside Graves are American. Their music is American. Consider this and then consider investigating their music. Because there is no artifice to their music. It has no bells and whistles. It makes you feel good. It is intelligent and full of soul. On my recent trip to the US I picked up their latest release "No One Will Know Where You've Been" and it grows on me with every listen. Their latest album is their third (the first two are hard to find) and their first on Kill Buffalo. The band have now grown to seven and you can feel it in the music. Lashings of guitars, drums, piano, bass, flute and other percussive instruments are great for the ears. Then there are the vocals, centering around the husky, growling voice of John Gleason. He intones beauty in every note as he sings about the broad expanses of his native land. For his songs are tales about the road travelled, people met and loved and are steeped in that American tradition of songwriting first heard with Roger Miller, Townes Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen. The Springsteen comparison is perhaps apt because the band hails from New Jersey also. If you plunge into The Roadside Graves you will slowly fall love in love with their gentle melodies, their country subtleties and warm and generous spirit. In this throw away world this is music to slowly appreciate and let age like a good wine. -

"The best record this year"

The singer’s wonderfully weary voice perfectly complements the trademark Bloodshot guitar picking of the rest of the band. This is probably the best record I’ve heard this year. -

"What Happened to Him Could Happen to Anyone"

Forming a band to tell tales marked by barroom revelation, intense relational dynamics, and religious imagery was likely the furthest thought from John Gleason and Jeremy Benson’s minds when they started a cross country journey looking for elusive clarity. An auspicious stop in a small Utah town provided the inspiration that caused the duo to return to their native New Jersey and combine with fellow musicians to form the Roadside Graves. Composed of home recordings, previously released material, and tracks that preview their second full-length scheduled for release this spring, this seven-song EP aptly conveys the band’s synthesis of shuffling guitars, robust harmonies, and instrumental flourishes that nod to artists like Dylan, Springsteen, and the Band, while retaining a free and fresh spirit. Tracks like “West Coast” and “Song for a Dry State” (which relates that fateful Utah experience) simultaneously possess melodic shine and raucous energy, suggesting the band would be equally at home on the stage of a trendy big city venue or the sawdust covered floors of a local tavern. With the potential momentum created by the special creative spark displayed here, the Roadside Graves should attract much interest in their upcoming release. -

"as good as anything Ryan Adams ever gave us"

Remember when David Byrne went country? He did a cover of “Don’t Fence Me In” and had some twangy originals, too, back in the ‘90s. Geek country. That was the first thing I thought of when I heard, “Mosquitos (Let The Fireworks Explode),” from The Roadside Graves new EP, What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone . But then I heard more, like “Hell” and the EP’s standout track, “Jesus Is A Friend Of The Family,” and I noticed that the songs are far from gimmicky. They’re deceptively simple, hiding mature themes and touching lyrics under a veneer of catchy alt-country. I daresay this stuff is as good as anything Ryan Adams ever gave us. Much thanks and props to Kill Buffalo records, Brooklyn’s (nay, the real Berkeley Place’s) best country label, for this fabulous submission. Love it. Highest recommendation.

"perfectly illustrated stories, captured in song"

I’d never given much thought about Jesus Christ’s ability to whip up a good batch of pancakes until I listened to “Jesus Is A Friend Of The Family.” It’s been months since I first received The Roadside Graves latest EP, What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone - a selection of seven tracks from their previous work, and saying that this is satisfying would certainly be an understatement.

Obviously, we’re big fans of the alt-country variety here at MoB and The Roadside Graves place themselves gently within that category with perfectly illustrated stories, captured in song, that will make you laugh, cry, and want to drink one more than you probably should.
- Muzzle of Bees


My Son's Home - Autumn Tone Records - June 2009
No One Will Know Where You've Been - Kill Buffalo Records 2007 - LP
What Happened to Him Could Happen to Anyone - 2007 - EP
If Shacking Up Is All You Want to do - 2003 LP
Where The Walker Runs Down - 2001 EP



The Roadside Graves were born and bred in Metuchen, NJ. There is an intimate camaraderie among the six friends who make up the band- they sing and play as though they’re sitting in kitchens and basements. The music is festive; it eulogizes, commemorates, and glorifies. The sound is organic, driving, full, and quirky.

The Roadside Graves are the essence of American country-rock. The band is the brainchild of vocalist John Gleason, guitarist Jeremy Benson and thousands of miles of American highway. They are a throwback to tight, well-crafted music of The Band, Springsteen, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The six members provide lush instrumentation and melodic harmonies while Gleason laments and philosophizes about expansiveness of America and its inhabitants.