Roadside Graves – “Gospel Radio” (Stereogum Premiere)

As bands get older, things naturally get more challenging. Members move around the country — sometimes across the globe. They get married. They have kids. This is exactly what happened within Roadside Graves, a New Jersey-based band determined to continue putting out music ever since their founding in 2000. Acne/Ears is the fifth effort from the group, who’ve recently signed to Don Giovanni Records. According to a press release, the album isn’t about other people, or influenced by characters in books, but rather recreates moments that didn’t seem important to the band members at the time but are now. Today, we premiere “Gospel Radio,” which diverts slightly from the band’s usual folk vibes and adds a swath of synths. The song tells a story of frontman John Gleason’s parents’ divorce and their family’s alienation from the local Catholic church and school. More details from Gleason:

I’d like to think that “Gospel Radio” represents a new direction for us musically and lyrically. It’s heavy on the synths and further removed from the folk/country tradition we first grounded ourselves in, and hopefully by the end of the verses it captures our basement ties playing with punk and hardcore bands in NJ. Lyrically, the song and the new record are more honest and autobiographical compared to our earlier catalog of writing about themes and characters. “Gospel Radio” tells a short story about my parents’ divorce and our estranged relationship to the local Catholic church and school. It also captures real moments in my life, like sitting in the pew at church and obsessing over this one massive chandelier out of many that seemed to be hung all wrong. I had strong visions and emotions attached to that damn chandelier. Every Sunday I’d fret and worry about how to save my family when it fell. Or, when not stressing, I’d stare at the stained glass saints and imagine what they discussed and how they spoke to each other. Which one was the asshole. When I was older church simply became a place to stand in the back and try to talk to girls. Now it represents nothing. I don’t go, never will again I think. It was just something you had to do when you were younger.

This new “Gospel Radio” is significantly beefed up from the quiet acoustic version on Bandcamp. Listen below.

Here’s Don Giovanni’s Joe Steinhardt on why he signed the band:

The Roadside Graves are one of those secret NJ treasures and one of those bands you kinda obsess over trying to track down rarities and specific live versions you heard about from your friends. When I first moved to New Brunswick, The Roadside Graves were the band, and the band that seemed to bring everyone together no matter what kind of music you were into. Some of the most fun nights I ever had involved Roadside Graves shows. Back when Zach and I were first kinda daydreaming about the band we wanted to work with the Graves were one of them but didn’t really make sense for us at the time since we were only really doing 7″s. When they asked if we wanted to put out their new record it was a no brainer.

Acne/Ears is out 9/4 on Don Giovanni Records. Pre-order it at iTunes and get “Gospel Radio” instantly.