Avoid One Thing - Right Here Where You Left Me CD
Some say what’s done is done—there’s no sense in reliving the past. These people obviously aren’t songwriters. On Right Here Where You Left Me, the first album in 15 years by Avoid One Thing, bandleader Joe Gittleman ruminates on drunken adventures, doomed relationships, mental health struggles, and periods of loneliness and self-doubt. He tells these tales through punky rock ‘n’ roll tunes reminiscent of Jawbreaker, Social Distortion, and most of all The Replacements. “I probably could have called this record ‘Here Comes Another Regular,’” Gittleman jokes.
All the looking back is ultimately in service of moving forward. Gittleman began writing these songs circa 2004, when The Mighty Mighty Bosstones—the band he’d played bass in since he was a teenager—was on hiatus. He was uncertain of his future, musical and otherwise, so he started thinking about the good ol’ days before he quit drinking in the mid-’90s. “If you unplugged the clock at the bar, could we stay forever?” he sings on “Enemy,” one of several anthemic odes to young recklessness. The mood is bleaker on “A Million Maids & Janitors” and “Fresh Pond Parkway,” cold-coffee rockers about heartbreak and regret.
The turning point comes with “Shutting Down the Radar,” where Gittleman vows to bury all his dark impulses and “pray for luck when the going’s tough.” The song includes a tribute to Jake Gregg, one of Gittleman’s students at Northern Vermont University, where he’s taught music classes since 2009. Gregg was a gifted musician and songwriter whose death from cancer in 2015 at the age of 22 was a reminder that life is too short to waste on negativity.
Gittleman made Right Here Where You Left Me with a lot of help from his friends. Avoid One Thing features drummer John Lynch and Boston rockabilly guitar heroine Amy Griffin, who colors these songs with bittersweet, lyrical leads. “I was listening to Joe’s demos like crazy, playing the tracks on my computer and recording my own guitar over them into dozens of voice memos I could then listen to out of context, so I could choose my favorite ideas by letting them sneak up on me,” Griffin says.
Guest rhythm guitarists include Tim Brennan of The Dropkick Murphys, original Avoid One Thing guitarist Paul Delano, famed producer Ted Hutt, and Dave Minehan of legendary Boston rockers The Neighborhoods. The album was recorded in just four days by producer Paul Kolderie (Pixies, Radiohead), who drove up to Gittleman’s house in Vermont with a car full of gear for one session.
“It’s a Boston record,” says Kolderie. “There’s a story in there about a life once lived in bars that don’t close and crappy apartments with broken windows. Tantalizing hints float around about love gone wrong and bad choices, but there’s also some hope and a bit of optimism by the end. Or is there? Listen to the guitars and you’ll know.”
Gittleman wouldn’t argue with Kolderie’s assessment. “Right Here Where You Left Me has been in the works for a long time, but I was never sure it would come out,” says Gittleman. “In the end, this project came together when I needed it most.”
1 Right Here Where You Left Me
2 Crashing Kites
3 Disassembly Line
4 All The Same To Me
6 Fresh Pond Parkway
7 Solitary Man
8 A Million Maids & Janitors
9 Shutting Down The Radar
10 Better Left Alone
11 Where We End Our Days