Patrick Lew Band: History, Part One (Album Review)

Based out of San Francisco, the Bay Area lo-fi songwriter and musician Patrick Lew recently released an overwhelming 47-song compilation – titled History, Part One – of demos, outtakes, instrumental jams and original tracks, covering years of his home recordings spanning from 2001 through 2016.

While we appreciate the fact that this album is a compilation covering 15 years of music, it could have been made much more digestible by leaving out some of the rough demos, especially in the beginning of the compendium.

But, then again, that’s also the wonderful thing about DIY – he didn’t have to, and so he didn’t. So, on that count, kudos on the anti-commercial packaging.

“I recorded most the tracks [on History] in my home studio to put out something that I was most inspired by – which is 1980’s and early 90’s hard rock blended with punk,” Lew told IRC.

Despite the lo-tech, lo-fi quality of many tracks on this compilation, there is still a lot to pick from here; altogether, it’s quite an offering from an ambitious and long-time underground, DIY-to-the-core songwriter, singer and musician.

To the latter point, Lew has some impressive guitar jamming skills as tracks like the riveting “The Free World” and “Surfing With The Alien,” among others, demonstrate.

And while it’s true that of all of the 47 tracks, there are only a handful that may be accessible to the general music-loving population (esp. if mixed and mastered), like the jangly eccentricity of, “Don’t Give Up On Me Girl” or the uniformity of “Two Princes,” not to mention a pretty good full band instrumental cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

In addition to the mentioned cover, there are plenty of kick-ass guitar instrumentals like like the frenetic and fuzzy “Crime of Passion,” or the keyboard and guitar funk-inspired, “Revenge,” and the metal-leaning, “Friend Zoned.” Let’s not forget the extra-bizarre, such as “Crippled” and “Fuck You.”

“I grew admiring 80’s and 90’s rock music but mostly my roots are in punk music,” Lew says, who also tours with the band TheVerse. “My goal was to blend everything I was most inspired by and use it to speak to others.”

There are also strangely appealing tracks like the hissing demo, “Sleep Forever”; surprising cuts like the experimental, electro-driven, “The Lesser Evil”; inspiring tracks like the raw, punk/blues of “#FollowMe”; strangely emotional songs like the vocal-busted, Daniel Johnston-channeling, “Heartbreak Lullaby”; unexpected and uplifting moments on tracks like “Everywhere You Look,” or the 70’s-influenced instrumental, “Kick Back…And Do It For The Gram,” and the more chaotic, per “Don’t Give Me Your Shit.”

Some die-hard, lo-fi, and patient, indie fans will very likely find moments on this extensive compendium they enjoy, and may be drawn fully into the strange world of Lew’s exhaustive collection of home recordings.

Patrick Lew on Bandcamp: patricklewband.bandcamp.com

Kate Stevens