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Generating a sound and feel at once stoned, cocky, and aggressive, Beechwood are a band that literally came from the New York streets. To take the members at their word, they were effectively homeless when they dropped their first nationally distributed album, and flirted with lives outside the law while struggling to get the band off the ground. Beechwood first made a name for themselves playing clubs and D.I.Y. spaces in New York, honing their brand of murky but muscular, streetwise rock & roll that embraces the sneering freedom of punk rock while adding potent elements of glam, psychedelia, and noise rock, creating a mind-expanding sonic gumbo. Beechwood dropped their no-frills debut album, Trash Glamour, in 2014, but it was with 2018's Songs from the Land of Nod that they began attracting a significant audience outside New York City, and 2022's Sleep Without Dreaming saw them gaining greater focus and strength with an overhauled lineup. Beechwood were formed by guitarist and vocalist Gordon Lawrence and drummer and vocalist Isa Tineo. The two first met when they were 16 years old, bonding over their shared love of skateboarding. Lawrence got his first guitar when he was 11, and after learning a few chords found he could play along with Ramones records. As for Tineo, his father was a drummer, so he grew up around percussion gear, and discovered as a teen that playing drums was a good way to deal with aggression. Lawrence and Tineo decided to pool their ideas about rock & roll, and with the addition of bassist Sid Simons, they had a band, and they adopted the name Beechwood from the street were Lawrence lived as a kid. Beechwood made their debut playing a St. Patrick's Day show opening for Murphy's Law, and while they didn't have much in common with the headliners, they went over well and were on their way. In 2014, Beechwood released an independent album, Trash Glamour, and their live work helped them earn a reputation in New York City. Beechwood also became a cause célèbre in their hometown when an outdoor show staged by the group in June 2017 was broken up by police in an incident that was covered extensively by the New York press. Videos of the performance indicated the band had not acted improperly. In 2017, Beechwood struck a deal with the long-running indie label Alive Naturalsound, and in January 2018 they brought out the group's second album, Songs from the Land of Nod. Just five months later, the trio was back with a tougher and more energetic third album, Inside the Flesh Hotel. Early the next year, Alive reissued the band's hard-to-find 2014 debut, which had primarily been available as a cassette. The band went through personnel shakeups, as Isa Tineo dropped out of the group. After his departure, Sid Simons moved from bass to guitar, and they recruited a new rhythm section, bassist Jensen Gore and drummer Russell Yusuf. This edition of Beechwood recorded 2022's Sleep Without Dreaming, an especially strong and well-focused effort.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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