Real Love is a bold and auspicious title for an album (specifically, the 6th one from Bellmore, NY band Beat Radio, and their first with TRR). It’s about the feeling you get when you hear it. It’s what it will evoke in the listener. It’s what the songs and the stories within are about.
Before we get much further, let’s set the record straight.
Brian Sendrowitz is a fucking genius songwriter.
Of course I’d say that, right? I’m contractually obligated to dabble in hyperbole with our artists and releases to try to get you – the reader/potential listener – to exchange your hard-earned money in exchange for some sort of musical product. Well, let’s clear that right up – there’s no contract (I’m looking at you, big indies and major labels with an interest in Beat Radio – please take him, he’s yours, but you better take good care of him if you do) – and making money is clearly not a priority around here. But that allows us a sort of freedom to put our passion and talent (whatever that may be) behind music we love and believe in, and know that you (“you” being people with ears and hearts that work somewhat in tandem) will too.
So, back to the record. Fans of Beat Radio will immediately recognize it as a masterclass in the world Sendrowitz has created over the past two decades of songwriting, with lyrical and musical references to past songs and albums – along with, of course, cleverly planted musical nods to the artists he’s so enthusiastically praised over the years. His sonic knowledge runs deep, and breeds an ability to speak a vulnerable poetic language that only the greats can touch. If most of Beat Radio’s back catalog relied on a sort of hazy nostalgia that implied feelings more than explored them, we are now being grabbed by the collar and dragged wholeheartedly into the NOW, as terrifying as it may be (spoiler: it gets better).
Again, I know this sounds like BS. I wouldn’t believe it if I was reading it and had no idea who this band was either, but just humor me here.
Give Real Love a listen. The indie rock riffs, folk chord progressions, deep grooves and tasteful rhythms, and orchestration are impeccable throughout (huge props to Phillip Jimenez for his major contributions here). The sound is both intimate and epic, perfect for the coffee shop, the diy basement, the rock club, and the stadium alike. The lyrics are an obvious focal point, with standout lines in each song dragging you closer and closer with their weary urgency and raw honesty.
Needed to walk away
To save myself
And sleep to dream of better days
I’ve been conjuring protection spells
To keep the ghosts away
To state the obvious (and semi-quote the press materials), this is an album about fatherhood, about family, about relationship, about love, about fear, about grief, and about forgiving yourself.
Then the sky was falling from above
And I could see I hurt the ones I love…
I’m so tired, I don’t wanna fight
I just wanna feel like we’re alright
Holy shit, right?
This is no joke. These songs are bleeding right onto the page (or tape, or digital files, or whatever). But I wouldn’t feel bad. This is a victory in many senses. Thanks to therapy, thanks to music, thanks to determination, thanks to love.
maybe there’s still time
build a new dream together
we’ve got a real love
sometimes it ain’t enough
It’s gotta be hard building a public project around your own biography, especially when you grow up, change, make mistakes, and have to learn from it, which is what’s happened here. But again – we’re coming out the other side, and as listeners, really benefiting from “walking through the fire”
I’m weightless if just for a moment
I sing just to know I’m alive
You’ve gotta walk through the fire that’s what it takes for a love to survive
I needed to learn how to surrender
To reckon with the damage I’ve done
I had to learn not to hide from the world
I had to learn not to run
To state the obvious, Brian is – at this point – a close friend of mine. I was a casual fan back when Beat Radio was a bit of a “blog buzz band” and kept listening, kept booking him to play on events, and eventually wound up moving out to Long Island myself to start a family, so my friend with 5 kids who’d been singing about the delicate balance of music and family life – all in the context of living on Long Island – naturally evolved to be a bit of a mentor, a conspirator, a resource, and of course an inspiration. It’s an honor to get to work together on this and we are so so so excited to finally share this record with the world, as hard as it may be.
And I know I fucked it up
Feel like there’s no way back
Maybe it’s ok?
I was walking on a wire and everything fell apart
But I’m finding a new way
The repetition of “maybe it’s ok?” does this magical thing in “Family Name,” going from a fearful question and uncertainty to a sort of hope – the video, a true family affair as it stars one of Brian’s sons and was directed by another, dives even deeper, as painful family trauma is replaced by building new bonds and connection, a real love.
We have to pause here and acknowledge that “Harder To Pretend” – a track which I had the distinct honor of contributing some guitar to – is such a fun and catchy sounding song (which I’m pretty sure is just about how the impending apocalypse is getting more and more impossible to ignore) that it absolutely needs to get put on the soundtrack to some teen drama or something. Somebody make that happen, please.
We had a way that worked before
It doesn’t work for us anymore
If I can lay these weapons down
Then I could be your solid ground
“Solid Ground” doesn’t pull any (self-directed) punches. This is a heartbreaking and beautiful song about self-realization, partnership, and love. It’s so beautiful that I can barely listen to it.
When I first heard an early version of “Lowlands” I wasn’t sure what it was going to turn into. I didn’t get it. I knew it was pretty and a bit fragile, but the final form is triumphant and resilient, its tender lyrics paired with some of the most compelling vocal dynamics on the album.
Wandering through the lowlands in my mind
I don’t know if I’ll be back this time
Closing tracks are so important. It’s where you’re leaving the listener – wether the story wraps up neatly or more questions are raised for the next chapter, it’s important to know where you’re going. Here, “We Rise From Fire” feels like a summary of the album, retracing the personal shifts and growth along the way and making a promise, the phoenix rising from the ashes to find that real love, all over a memorable riff that’ll be stuck in your head.
I lost my way
I tried so hard to not become the thing I hate
but it’s not too late
for me to show you
that I can see you
I actually didn’t start writing this with any intention of going track-by-track but then I kinda fell into it. It would make sense to go back and attribute each quote and make sure I had one from each song, but screw it, just listen to the record. Buy it if you’d like to but I don’t really care as long as you hear it. This is a special one.
Thanks to Brian, his family, and everybody involved in this record.
If you’re local and so inclined, we’re proud to present the release party for this record at Mr. Beery’s in Bethpage, NY on Friday, November 4. Co-presented with our friends 19th & 7th and featuring support sets from Tim Lannen (the Diggs) and Tom Moran. See you there.