On the Record | Reviewing ‘Curtisinterruptedus’ by Brian Lisik & the Unfortunates

New Music Review by Jenny Conn

The Verdict: Fans of Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates’ melodic pop rock sound won’t be disappointed with the thinking-person’s lyrics, rich instrumentation and layered vocals on the band’s fourth release “Curtisinterruptedus.”

Jilly’s Music Room hosts a “Curtisinterruptedus” release party April 24, with Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates (bassist Steve Norgrove, guitarist Ray Flanagan and drummer Craig Lisik) taking the stage at 8 p.m. and special guest Kevin Junior of The Chamber Strings opening the show. Scheduled for release April 28 on Cherokee Queen Records, the new CD is the follow-up to the band’s 2012 “The Mess That Money Could Buy.”

Packed with 14 individually-inspired tunes, “Curtisinterruptedus” offers the memorable melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. The record’s danceable opener “Jan. 13” is charged with Lisik’s distinctive sound and has the frontman’s raspy vocal harkening to power-pop group Artful Dodger’s Billy Paliselli.

“Normalcy,” laced with Curtis Henderson’s soaring harp chops, is a catching, high-energy rocker, while the upbeat “Paramours” is a sweet duet featuring Akron’s jazzy pop-rocker Rachael Roberts and Lisik.

But the tongue-in-cheek title “Curtisinterruptedus” belies the record’s introspective and often dark themes. Ever the storyteller, Lisik looks into the mind of wrongfully convicted Clarence Elkins on “About Me Back Home.” Elkins served time for the 1999 rape and murder in Barberton of his mother-in-law. In the mournful “St. Patrick’s Day” Lisik pays homage to the untimely death of Big Star vocalist Alex Chilton.

At times, “Curtisinterruptedus” moves between dark and touching as Lisik’s and Norgrove’s lyrics artfully probe life’s meaner experiences and observe the foibles in human nature. In “Born on Needles & Pins” Lisik’s emotionally charged vocal melds with Tim Longfellow’s (Todd Rundgren, Alex Bevan) beautiful piano and cellist Matt Reese (The Flying Carpet People) expert instrumentation. “Needles” is revisited later in a haunting instrumental balm slipped between “Tattered & Broken,” which trades off Lisik’s and Norgrove’s gritty vocals in blues-drenched verses, and acoustic heartbreaker “Swagger Sway Fall.”

From in-your-face rock licks to stirring melodies, “Curtisinterrupted Us” plants this band on firm ground for pure musicality and emotional honesty. To sample a track from “Curtisinterruptedus,” visit soundcloud.com/michael-j-media/brian-lisik-january-13th.

Buy the CD at Jilly’s during the April 24 release party and later at Square Records. It’s also available online at Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and BrianLisik.com. “Curtisinterruptedus” is co-produced by Benjamin Payne who also contributes drums, guitars, percussion, banjo and backing vocals.