Local Singer-Songwriter Brian Lisik Unplugs for New Album

by

comment
COURTESY OF MICHAEL J. MEDIA GROUP
  • Courtesy of Michael J. Media Group
Local singer-songwriter Brian Lisik, a guy known for his “guitar-driven power pop and pensive neo-folk,” returns this week with a (mostly) acoustic album, Gudbye Stoopid Whirled. He'll play a virtual release party at 8 p.m. on Thursday. 

Recorded at songwriting partner Steve Norgrove’s Bass Mint Studio and mixed by producer Don Dixon (REM, Counting Crows, Smithereens, Gin Blossoms, Kim Carnes, Mathew Sweet), the album features unique acoustic instruments such as “lap drums,” “mouth trumpet” “heavy metal banjo,” “F# minor guitar (to fix Brian’s screw up).”



“Steve [Norgrove] and I trusted our co-producer to know enough to stay out of the way of the songs,” says Lisik in a press release about the album. “But we were still starry-eyed kids in his presence. I’ve known Don [Dixon] for probably 20 years, but had never mustered the guts to ask him to work on a record. I feared he would laugh at us when he heard the recordings.”

“On his new record, Brian has captured the essence of a classic rock album while maintaining all the ragged glory of a home recording,” adds Dixon. “His voice may seem like the main attraction at first, but the songs will get inside your head and stay there.”



In spite of its sparse arrangements, Whirled features rich musical textures in songs such as the dense modern rock number "(Erebus Goes) Overbored."

The songs take on some heavy topics too as Lisik addresses issues of female empowerment (“Looking for You”), infidelity and sex-as-self-medication (“(Erebus Goes) Overbored” and “Midship”), addiction and suicide (“Death of a Broken Heart”), self-aggrandizement and fleeting celebrity in the social media age (“Junior High School”) and the "circuslike atmosphere of the media in modern American politics" (“Dont-Ray-Me”).

Last year, Lisik disbanded his longtime backing group, the Unfortunates, and says he "kind of hid out" for a period.

“The threat of creeping irrelevancy haunted me,” he says. “But these songs started to inform me that, in the end, we’re all pretty irrelevant — which I thought that was a very relevant realization.”

The lyrics and "darkly stark instrumentation" also take on a much more immediate and sinister quality given the state of the world.

“The album was titled months before the pandemic; it was not intended at all to be prophetic,” Lisik says. “Though [Don] Dixon did jokingly call me a 'seer.'”

Gudbye Stoopid Whirled follows 2017’s We’re Sorry…, an album that hit the national Americana Music Association and FMQB charts on the strength of the singles “Feudal Nights” and “Colorado Avenue.”

Over the course of his career, Lisik has shared bills with artists including Tim Easton, Waylon Payne, Wade Bowen, Ass Ponys, Jesse Malin, Chris Knight, Tommy Womack, Nicole Atkins, Patrick Sweany, Two Cow Garage, the Chamber Strings, Eddie Money and Roger McGuinn.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.