The Wayside Shakeup


 I wanted to pack a bowl, crack a cold one, and take a day trip to the Jersey Shore when I turned on the self titled debut album, The Wayside Shakeup!  Originally formed in 2003 by acoustic duo Chris D'antonio and Rob Valansky in Haddon Township, NJ, a suburb of Philly.  After taking some time to explore personal creative endeavors  the pair got back together in 2007, filling out the roster with John McLeod on bass, Mike Leger on drums and Eric Raible on keys. 

            Skipping the urge to drink and smoke and quit my day job, I continued to get ready for work, all the while surfing on a positively bi-polar, trans genre, feel good, melodic wave, reminiscent of the shore I wanted to race to.  Inspired by doo-wop to funk to classic rock, this group delivers everything from "shameless pop to wobbly blues".  Being influenced by an orgy of amazing artist ranging from Marvin Gaye to Led Zepplin to Dr. Dog that help fuel The Wayside Shakeup's sound.  Vocally being compared to such epic greats as Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead with melodies familiar to Wilco and even the Beatles (wow).  The members ultimately wanted to make music that they themselves wanted to listen to.  Luckily, they aren't the only ones listening.


            This relatively short, all american back road burn ride takes us on an eclectic trip to 9 destinations.  Each with their own independent yet somehow cohesive vibe.....for the most part.  I wanted to drive right by one or two of the songs as I normally do when i listen to most albums.  Thats actually a positive thing.  It's not realistic to please everyone including myself or hit a home run every time.  It shows vulnerability, increases drive and creates an opportunity for professional growth.  Overall I recommend listening to the album and forming your own opinion but I loved the summertime feel and the variety of genres explored.


            With gritty unpolished vocals, solid guitar, undeniable keyboard and competing drum beat my head instantly starts to bob and feet start to tap.  Recorded over 2 years on limited time and budget "The Wayside Shakeup" crashes onto the scene just in time for spring, starting off this 9 track album with their coming out party "Nothing But A Good Time".  With a solid bridge and catchy chorus, track #1 sets the groove out, belt out, chill out vibe.  I immediately started to sing along and attempt to hone in on a familiar yet fresh sound bouncing in between my ears. "So Fast" is the polar opposite of its deceptive title and honestly my favorite track on the album.  Now I'm truly lost in a melodic Pink Floyd acid trip.  The Wayside shakeup can deliver versatility, strong instrumentals, a fresh vocal, and the ability to write songs that tell a story that you want to read.  This track could easy be the soundtrack to anyone's life. Halfway through the album we come storming into a destination entitled "My Old Lady Got No Heart".  A simple and smoky, magical place where the universe aligned one fateful night during their first gig ever at Milkboy in Ardmore, PA.  Rehearsing only once as a group before this, and feeling like this track was the weakest, they made the call to try the song during a chance sound check and quote, "promptly killed it".  "Something magic happened".  The band was formed and the rest is history.  After listening to this track, I want to visit my local speak easy (if they existed today) or modern day hole in the wall, order a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and listen to some original rock and roll happening in my own back yard. Another stand out track is "Barkley"!  I have a feeling this song was written about a intoxicated homeless man.  Similar to the ones that can be found in most people's hometown cities.  It's goofy and fun and I can picture exactly who Barkley is.  Literally laughing out loud as the band seemingly stalks and torments this poor transient.  With soft vocals and pleasing harmonies, I'm officially a fan.

            I know good music when I hear it!  This is a modern all american rock band rooted in multitude of musical places.  Capturing so many styles and genres, a true mixture and "shakeup" on the norm, "The Wayside Shakeup" is what happens when creative and talented artist get together and stay true to their pasts and the music that inspires them.  With their own unique sound and cult following forming, I predict they will only continue to get bigger and better.