It’s been six long years since Restorations put out an album and they’re ready to do it again. The self-titled Restorations will be self-released on March 22nd. Like their four previous full-length albums, Restorations is a mirror held up to the band’s life. But more than this, it’s a reinvention of Restorations. Even as it treads familiar ground—Restorations is and always will be a loud guitar band—Restorations crackles and vibrates with urgency and momentum. It feels like a machine whose pieces have all tightened into place, finally churning at full, furious speed. It’s the sound of five friends recommitting themselves to their band, to each other, and to the things that have always made sense: guitars, keys, bass, drums, and vocals crashing against one another in thunderous, beautiful release.
Jon Loudon (vocals/guitars), Dave Klyman (guitars/vocals), Dan Zimmerman (bass/vocals), Bean Friend (keys/guitars), and Jeff Meyers (drums/percussion) began work on Restorations four years ago. With the band spread between Philly, Asheville, and Buffalo, they scheduled time for long-form practice sessions at Philadelphia’s Retro City Studios and Gradwell House Recording in New Jersey. The sessions were intentional. With only so much time together, the band began writing in a more purposeful and concentrated way, and the time off between each provided the time to work and rework the arrangements.
There were no deadlines or tours or contractual obligations to fulfill. When they were ready to hit record at Retro City—Klyman engineering—the focus was exclusively on creating sounds that felt exciting and fun for them alone. It was designed from the start to sound exactly like what it is: five longtime friends in a room together, reconnecting on a near molecular level about what it means to make unbridled, life-affirming noise. It’s unsurprising to listen to the album and find what came of this approach: monumental choruses, flurries of distorted guitars and soaring leads, keyboard interludes, the feel of a band striking gold in a frigid garage somewhere and grinning at one another. It’s a big, dumb rock album. (The title of midway track “Big, Dumb” might just be a wink.)
But Restorations feels considered and careful even in its gleeful abandon. It counts nine tracks of loud, jubilant guitar music that feel immediate and intimate, just like the sessions that produced them. Lead single “Cured” is the first taste, booting up with a squeal of feedback and hulking, aggressive chords before Zimmerman’s grease-slicked bass and Meyers’ drums take the reins. Then Loudon’s voice rips through the room: “God only answers to say ‘no,’” he roars, his raw belt as clear and powerful as it’s ever been. Effected guitar leads combust, fall apart, and steam back into view throughout; all the while, that enormous bass and those relentless drums pound forward. It’s vintage Restorations, calling up a feeling you can find across their work.
There are flickers of chaos at the edges of most Restorations songs. Part of that comes from Loudon’s trademark man-on-the-brink tenor and his razor-sharp lyricism; other times, like on the major-key madhouse “This Guy Does Not Remember You,” it’s a team effort. But there are moments of spareness and reflection, too. The aforementioned “Big, Dumb” opens with rippling, sunny keys from Friend, even as glitches and modulations lurk in the background; “800,” too, leans on Friend’s organ for richness and control. The outro of closer “Charm” shakes down the heavens under a choir of interspersed vocals.
This album wasn’t easy to make. The members of Restorations are getting older, and their lives are changing. They’re crossing the threshold of 40 as the band nears 16 years together, and creating this LP humbled them. It’s probably because of that fact, and not in spite of it, that they’ve produced their most thrilling and vital album to date. Restorations demonstrates the fullness that time, care, and camaraderie can bring to a creative endeavor. Put more plainly: making music with your best friends is still good, and always will be.
Geography is important, so here’s a rundown: Signals Midwest is an indie-rock-tinged punk band from Cleveland, Ohio. Members currently reside in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. Since forming in 2008, they have released five full-length albums and a slew of split 7″s and EPs. Their latest full-length album “DENT” was recorded in Baltimore, MD at Magpie Cage Recording Studio by venerated producer J. Robbins (Against Me!, The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil) and released on Los Angeles’ Lauren Records in April of 2022.
“Siggies”, as one particularly eloquent fan dubbed the group somewhere along the line, has extensively toured North America, Europe, the UK, and Australia. In 2023, they supported legendary emo band Braid on their 25th anniversary “Frame and Canvas” U.S. tour and, depending on when you read this, they are either about to go or just went to Japan for the first time.
If you can remember to take a breath to appreciate it, playing in a rock band can be a beautiful, peculiar lens through which to view the world. As they approach nearly two full decades of existence, Signals Midwest is just grateful to still be around and doing the damn thing.
New Jersey. Feat. Jason Shevchuk of Kid Dynamite & Benny Horowitz of The Gaslight Anthem.