Solo: This is Rock-and-Roll

By: Colin Aldridge

Earlier this year, Kyle Siegrist put his debut album, Solo, on Bandcamp for free. It starts with wandering piano and rhythmic drumming. Above the music, Siegrist aimlessly chants “Data/ Facts/ Misunderstanding/ Facts/ Data/ Misunderstood.”

 Album artwork for Kyle Seigrist's  Solo  album.

Album artwork for Kyle Seigrist's Solo album.

From the strange chaos brews form, shaping an album of tightly constructed songs that blends punk rock, surf and standard pop.

It sounds as if Jan & Dean joined the Clash, or if Brian Wilson partnered with Frank Zappa. It is a wild ride of pure energy, immediacy, unashamed and unapologetic rock-and-roll. It is an ode to joy and an homage to good times.

Siegrist, who is the owner of Lost Weekend Records in Clintonville, has an encyclopedic knowledge of music. If you have been to Lost Weekend, you have probably talked to him about one band or another, and he has probably given insight into whatever music you ended up buying, no matter what genre or age.

His album is exactly the kind of record you would want your local record store owner to create—it is weird, but unpretentious. Obscure, but accessible. Loud, but welcoming. 

The songwriting is deliciously straightforward. In “Explanation,” he sings, “I give you everything I have/ Gave you love and now you’ve gone and made me sad.” In a time where too many rock lyrics strive for depth with somber inquiries about one’s self or the workings of the universe (often with trite results), a lyric like this is beyond refreshing—it quenches a thirst for the standard doo-wop of the ‘50s and the love songs of the ‘60s, the likes of which are all too rare these days.

Siegrist never takes himself too seriously, though, and as a result, rock-and-roll becomes fun again.

The instrumentation is solid, made mostly of heavy, thumping drums, melodic bass lines and screeching guitars. There are two instrumentals which make the most of studio exploration. One of them, “Where’s Chelsea,” features a multitude of sounds and instruments playing atop each other until they eventually come together into coherency. It is the album’s philosophy in one song: blending a variety of sounds together into one. 

Other songs, like “Audrey Hepburn” and “Burnt Popcorn,” recall the passion of the Ramones and the urgency of the single Jim Carrol Band album. “Graveyard Blues” is a fantastic blues number packed with great guitar solos, and the cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” is in the same punked-up vein as Joey Ramone’s “What a Wonderful World,” The Lemonheads’ “Mrs. Robinson” and Social Distortion’s “Ring of Fire.”

Still, the album isn’t just a series of references to past musicians. It simply comes from the same grain. Siegrist seems to be alluding to a type of music that is made for the sake of being made; music made for dancing and turning up way too loud.

Which makes sense: Siegrist has been involved in the Columbus music scene for a long time, and he has been doing his part to promote local music since his store opened in 2003.

This is his first solo record, and it is clearly the work of a man full of knowledge and experience, with no other intent than to make great music with his friends and to have a good time.

And that is exactly what makes it work.

Young bands take note: this is great rock-and-roll. It seems simple, but it is not. Kyle Siegrist’s Solo is a study of composition and form (even when it does not appear to have either). Like all great rock-and-roll, it is made for the disenchanted youth, the freaks, the weirdos, the greasers, “the goonies and the loonies,” as he sings on the powerful final track, “End Credits.” It is his gift to you.