The music of The Lawsuits is akin to stained glass, richly defined by its ability to experiment with a striking blend of color and shade. Since 2007, the Philadelphia based band’s prolific output has produced an eclectic mix of songs that have managed to be as tuneful as they are intriguing. Throughout their career, the group has produced a catalogue of music that contains a startling amount of depth and nuance. Released this passed September 23rd, Tumbled is an EP that excels in showing off this same range and dexterity. Their first release since 2013’s full-length album, Cool Cool Cool, the four-song collection has found them experimenting once again, effortlessly adding layers of complexity to unconventional arrangements. By exercising this urge to color outside the lines, the group has propelled themselves to new heights, creating music that is as daring as it is irresistible.
“The four songs were what we thought to be the best of the collection that we had when we decided to start the cycle. Based on where we’re at now with new songs, I believe Tumbled serves as a preview for what the future full length will look like.”
– Songwriter Brian Dale Allen Strouse
Guitarist Joe Bisirri was the first to walk onstage this passed Friday night (09-26-14) at Johnny Brenda’s, lighting up the pitch-black room by turning on a handful of meticulously placed table lamps. Quickly followed by drummer Josh Friedman, bassist Brendan Cunningham, singer/guitarist Brian Dale Allen Strouse and vocalist Vanessa Winters, the bands appearance at the Philadelphia venue commemorated the official release of their brand new EP, Tumbled. Opening sets from Tutlie and DRGN King meant that the Lawsuits did not appear onstage until after 11PM, causing anticipation for the headliners to reach a fever pitch in the moments leading up to their performance. As their figures cut through the fog that emitted from a nearby machine, attendees cheered as they each found their place on the small stage. Patient since the doors to the venue opened three hours before, the audience finally had their chance to go crazy, later singing along at a volume that would almost match the sounds coming out of the group’s amplifiers.
Opening with the Tumbled track “Gimme Gimme,” the Lawsuits played an array of diverse songs that highlighted their continuing development as a band. Throughout the night, their exceptional performance created it’s own rhythm and measure, augmented by a carefully chosen set list that leant balance to the show. That same balance was never more apparent than it was during their second song of the night, “Long Drive Home.” Featuring Vanessa Winters on lead vocal, the song is built on a melody that creates a sweeping, cinematic atmosphere. Each verse has an eerie, dangerous feel that builds until finally giving way to a completely unexpected chorus. And just like that song, the Lawsuits live show will pull you in a million different directions, taking you into another realm punctuated by the promise of endless possibilities and creativity.
Later in the night, the sturdy guitar and gorgeous harmonies of “Anybody’s Girl,” accented the group’s gift for infusing their compositions and performances with a high voltage kick. Yet when the time came to play Tumbled’s opening song, “(Darla Nye) Never Love Someone,” the audience fell silent, taking in every verse with all of the seriousness and attention that such a song deserves. It’s a beautiful composition, tied together by the uniquely shaded vocal blend that Strouse and Winters produce. Immediately following the performance was the Cool Cool Cool album track, “Onion.” Featuring a spirited vocal from Strouse and lush harmonies and guitar, it’s a composition that places the Lawsuits directly on the crosswalk at Abbey Road. It’s a near perfect song, evoking a spirit and pulse that is as close to a Beatles outtake as anything any band has ever recorded.
From the stage and from the bar, The Lawsuits graciously thanked the audience for attending their sold-out record release show, sticking around to personally sell merchandise and chat with the crowd. And by inviting the city to help them celebrate the release of Tumbled, the band has practically provided the public with a hand-held coming attraction for what will be the next phase of their recording career.
Article by: Caitlin Phillips
If you liked this article you may want to check out this Brian Strouse interview.