Album artwork by Jon Bindley and Dylan Rooke
Band photo by Jamie Wright
After many live shows, a few singles, and much anticipation, the debut full-length album from Bindley Hardware Company is finally here. It’s currently available on Spotify and SoundCloud, and the official release show is happening this Friday night, November 17th, at Allegheny Elks Lodge #339.
A celebration is certainly warranted. Ever Satisfactory proves to be not only a title for this collection of nine songs, but 100% accurate advertising. Describing themselves as a “Rust-Belt Americana band,” BHC draws from folk, rock, and country influences, and plays around with the exact proportions of each on every song. There’s a charming easiness in listening to Ever Satisfactory. Its down-home folk rock instrumentals (with intermittent country twang) and the slight, appealing drawl of Bindley’s voice have a lot to do with this. As do the lyrics, with their classic storytelling bent.
Still, it takes talent and experience to execute something so comfortable in a way that’s still engaging and fresh. The band’s overall sense of song structure and their frequent use of repetition strongly draw from the standard folk style. But they also know just when to lean into a harder guitar riff to amp up the power; pause, extend a phrase, or dip melodically to provide tension and emotional depth; or bring in a new vocal line or instrument to add dimension. The shrewd, smoothly-integrated use of touches like these helps bring the record to the next level.
Ever Satisfactory is smart, but its heart is just as crucial to its success. There’s a warmth and authenticity in Bindley’s voice that compels you to trust him. Between his conversational pronunciations (“messin’” instead of “messing;” “don’tcha” instead of “don’t you;” “outta” instead of “out of,” for example), his aforementioned drawl, and the sharp, brutally honest observations he articulates (like an entire song about settling romantically because “all the good ones are taken”), he comes off as a close friend with quite a bit of wisdom to share. It takes a solid songwriter to achieve this level of insight and intimacy. Here, Bindley proves that he’s one of Pittsburgh’s best.
(Not to say that he doesn’t play well with others. In fact, he brings two other local musicians on board for the album’s concluding tracks. Angela Mignanelli, also known as Angela Autumn, joins him in a classic country duet, “Easy Game,” while Buffalo Rose’s Shane McLaughlin is featured on the final song, “Seven & a Quarter.” But more on that in a bit.)
Along with Bindley on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, the band is comprised of Christopher Putt on lead guitar/backing vocals, Ryan Kantner on bass/backing vocals, Brian Ganch on drums, Waylon Richmond on violin, and Greg Marchetti on keys and accordion. Their experience playing as a unit shines through in both the cohesiveness and energy of their instrumental blend. The guitars are warm, the vocal harmonies are strong, and the other elements get moments in the spotlight too. Ganch’s percussion is prominent (and cowbell-heavy) in the fun, slightly Skynyrd-esque second song, “Down the Run,” while guest instrumentalist Abby Adams’ violin is the gorgeous, undeniable star of the relatively sparse “Queen of the Upper Middle Class.” The occasional inclusion of unconventional elements, such as accordion and even a musical saw, keeps things even more interesting. And their sense of flow is natural, both within numbers and between them. BHC proves adept at fast tracks (like the rollicking “All Right, All Ready!,” which I reviewed in more depth here), slow jams, and songs that fall somewhere in the middle.
The lyrical subject matter shows similar range. That universal muse, heartache, is touched upon—most blatantly in the opening track, the otherwise mellow-sounding “Honey, Baby:” “Since you left me I’ve been downright reckless/Since you robbed me of my peace of mind/You know you really left me high and lonesome/’cause you’re a gypsy and a Gemini.” But that’s just one facet of many emotions and messages Bindley explores, which he does with a refreshing and often hard-hitting honesty. The foolishness of trying to interfere with things that are out of your depth (“Down the Run” and “Left Well Alone”); the effects of both economic privilege and economic struggle (“Queen,” and the minimum-wage-referencing “Seven & a Quarter”); and the peculiar combination of recklessness and anxiety that accompanies growing up in these troubled times (“Jaywalking,” particularly with its recurring line, “Go ahead and hit me/I don’t wanna see it comin’.”)
If I quoted all of the standout lyrics here, I’d have a novella on my hands. But I can’t not mention a few gems. “The Good Ones” is chock full of them, such as: “I’m no angel, you’re no saint/but virtue is overrated.” “Queen of the Upper Middle Class” is too: “She ain’t got no street smarts, but she’s got a charge card/and not one honest friend in this world.” The increasing struggle of the working class is articulated well in “Seven & a Quarter:” “And maybe someday soon/I won’t feel like such a disgrace,” and “So I’m tryin’ not to live beyond my means/I got a few more blessin’s than I got needs/I don’t want for nothin’ but some room to breathe.”
As for those duets, they’re a fun shake-up to the usual BHC sound. Mignanelli takes a more prominent role in “Easy Game,” a feisty, flirtatious back-and-forth between a smooth talker and a woman who’s heard it all before. Its conversational structure and pleasantly low-key instrumentals put focus on the vocals and the words, for a decidedly old-school vibe. Fans of Dolly Parton (and the like) will appreciate the strong country tone in Mignanelli’s voice, though it’s paired with a noticeable modern indie affectation. McLaughlin sticks more to harmonies than solo lines in “Seven & a Quarter,” and his higher voice suits Bindley’s lower one quite nicely.
As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, the release of Ever Satisfactory seems well-timed. If this album were food, it would be a hearty bowl of homemade soup: nuanced, but satisfying on a fundamental level. If this album was a building, it would be an inviting, well-constructed log cabin, with lit windows and smoke rising from its chimney after a long, cold day. It would feel like home.
The release show for Ever Satisfactory will take place at Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 on Friday, November 17th, and physical copies of the album can be purchased there. Special guests Molly Alphabet and Dylan Rooke will be opening things up. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at the door or by clicking here. Doors open at 7 PM, and the show is 21+. Check out the event page here, and follow along with Bindley Hardware Company here.