Music is a tie that binds us. In these trying modern times, real, honest music and art can draw people of vast backgrounds and cultures together for understanding and empathy. Long Island’s Andrew Weiss and Friends have made a name for themselves since their debut LP arrived in 2018 with their unique blend of Laurel Canyon folk rock and the sonic flourishes of late-70s power pop. Singer-songwriter Andrew Weiss clings to and cherishes moments of intimacy, difficult conversations, and emotional currency through his songwriting. A classic glow silhouettes Weiss’s storytelling, fusing a smart, throwback warmth and charm right into the work. With a handful of releases already under their belts (most recently 2021’s Highly Fascinated), Weiss and his collaborators return in 2022 with an ambitious double album, Sunglass & Ash.
The album opens with “What’ve We Learned To Live With?”, a rollicking anthem evoking the shared feelings of our present zeitgeist, and something we’ve all likely wanted to stand in the streets and shout in recent months, if not years. The semi-autobiographical standout “Tommy’s Teardrops” leans even more heavily into power pop territory, with Weiss noting that it was influenced by a binge of Elvis Costello, Fountains of Wayne, and 80s McCartney.
Speaking of McCartney, it’s no secret that Weiss is a massive Beatles fan, and he wears their influences proudly on this sleeve. From the layered, dare-we-say “gently weeping” guitar work on “I Don’t Write The Headlines” to the mournful, piano-driven ballad “The Details of the Events Surrounding December 9th” — half character sketch, half gun violence protest song written as a reaction to the day *after* John Lennon was murdered — Weiss’s production choices and knack for crafting hooks nods favorably to the Fab Four while still remaining fresh and modern. “Hollywood is Real (Forever)” further shows off Weiss’s chops for character-driven stories, with an attention to detail on par with celebrated works from the likes of Dawes or Tom Petty.
Originally intended to be a “standard” 12-song LP, Sunglass & Ash was born from Weiss tapping into a creative wellspring in April 2020, lifting himself out of a depressed rut while quarantining during the height of the pandemic in New York. He began writing every day, and he continued this practice faithfully through the rest of the year.
“I ended up with 95 finished songs by the end of 2020, and it was just a matter of picking which ones to record,” he recalls. “I initially thought, maybe I’ll record the best 12, as most people do. But then I was like…why not the best 24? These are all valid, they all mean something, and they all connect in a narrative way.”
As to that narrative, Weiss points to these songs as coming from a deeply personal place, almost acting as diary entries for his lived experiences of 2020. “For me, this record is a time capsule,” he says, acknowledging the inspiration for these songs. “But at the same time, there are universal themes here that anyone can take with them.”
The title Sunglass & Ash comes from a poem Weiss wrote during his senior year of college, while pursuing a degree in Music Theory and Composition at NYU. “The poem describes a short period of time where things were not needed to be worried about, or so it seemed. Post-Cuban Missile Crisis, pre-Kennedy assassination. Art was coming to the forefront of society, people began having conversations that displayed their desire to better themselves, open their minds, and learn. But that time was fleeting, and soon enough, times shifted, and that idea of looking at life through ‘sunglasses’ turned to ‘ash.’” The album’s cover photo was shot on 35mm film as an ode to this era, and showcases some of the items — vintage guitars, amps, a tape machine, and his treasured typewriter — Weiss used to create these songs during quarantine.
Self-taught on the many instruments he knows how to play, Weiss’s journey sprouted from early exposure to The Beatles, which recently came full circle after a spontaneous run-in and 20 minute conversation with Paul McCartney. He began picking guitar and writing songs at only seven years old, and he would later play in various bands throughout his youth. In 2009, he formed a solo endeavor called High Fascination and wrote, recorded and mixed three pop/rock-leaning albums alone in his bedroom.
During his studies at NYU, Weiss wrote music for films and various ensembles. His High Fascination work also continued there, and he eventually discovered a group of musicians to join him. Four more albums were released during Weiss’s time in college, before the musical style soon shifted to a more Americana-driven approach, or “power pop-icana” as Weiss likes to call it. High Fascination ultimately folded to make way for a new project, as a brand new circle of friends and musicians emerged — Andrew Weiss and Friends was born.
The band has stayed busy since The Honeymoon Suite was released in 2018 with two more LPs, an EP, and a handful of standalone singles. They’ve made a “home court” for themselves with multiple sold out shows at famed Long Island venue My Father’s Place, and have performed alongside Counting Crows and Rob Thomas at The Outlaw Roadshow Festival, and most recently at the 2021 Mondo Festival.
The band’s moniker honors music’s essential pairing with camaraderie (something we could all use more of in 2022). Weiss’s astute observations on love, life, and happiness — and how those things may have shifted in recent years — are vital reminders that music is, at the end of the day, a healing agent for us all. Sunglass & Ash is a triumphant statement, noting that while the best of times may be fleeting, it’s okay to throw on some shades and enjoy the ride, so long as you acknowledge the realities of what lies beyond the lens.
“Pop-focused…heavy on string arrangements and charming piano accents which really match the secondary theme of romanticism.” – American Songwriter
“Clings to and cherishes moments of intimacy, difficult conversations, and emotional currency.” — The Big Takeover
“Sly and soulful folk…an early 70’s Neil Young meets Fleet Foxes take on indie-folk.” – Glide Magazine
“A fresh take on the sound of early 1970s Laurel Canyon folk rock, blended with the sound of late 70s power pop.” – AmericanaUK
Publicist: Frank Keith