By Ryan Ritchie
Let’s pretend for a second that radio is still worth listening to. I know that’s far-fetched, but if conglomerates hadn’t taken over the airwaves, I guarantee we’d hear lots of material from this Long Beach band all over the dial. “Beyond” is Haymaker’s second disc and still incorporates Americana influences while gently shifting to a more - straight-ahead pop/rock sound. Tracks two through four (“Beyond the Break,” “Lay of the Land” and “All the Way Down”) are orphaned radio-friendly tunes looking for a home, while “Thanks But No Thanks” is a rollicking duet that picks up the mid-tempo pace for a real barn-burner of a song. Haymaker’s strength lies in its two main songwriters, J.W. and Mike Bay. Right when you think you’ve figured out one, the other kicks in and offers a refreshing approach. I wish more bands used numerous singers because it gives albums a variety that can’t be achieved when dominated by one voice and/or songwriter. It worked for the Beatles and it works for Haymaker.
Haymaker's previous release was ‘Music From Ed's House’, recorded at the band's drummer's home. Illness forced drummer Ed Heavener to leave the band while they were in preparation for this album, the band's second. Heavener's illness and subsequent death provides the thematic backbone for “Beyond The Break.” The band explores life's unplanned avenues, the travails of getting older, loss, and, importantly, finding a resolve to go forward despite all of the obstacles. Buoyed by a California-esque roots-pop sound, Haymaker layered catchy melodies and chiming, jangly guitars on top of the heartbreak. It is unfortunate that anyone has to go through the pain of losing a friend. Haymaker found a way to channel that loss into a compelling musical cycle.
Los Angeles Daily News
By Bob Strauss
These melodious Long Beach roots rockers spice their smarter-than-average working guy laments with judicious country flourishes. There’s passion, sweet roughhouse harmonies, guitar jangling and humor aplenty, with a becoming lack of the pretension that some music in this subgenre assume. You can dance, drink or think all you want to it – or all three- if you’re coordinated enough.
Orange County Register
By Robert Kinsler
Blending alt-country and power pop well isn't easy, but listeners need not worry about how Haymaker mastered that seemingly impossible feat as they enjoy the fantastic songs on the group's sophomore release "Beyond the Break." The power of the album might well be traced to the tragic story that gave birth to the collection. The quartet was just completing rehearsals for the new songs on "Beyond the Break" in the Long Beach home of drummer Ed Heavener when he alerted the rest of the band (singer-guitarists J.W. and Mike Bay, bassist Donnie Caronna) that the rare liver disease he had was getting worse and he didn't feel he could play drums any longer (the disease would eventually claim his life). He encouraged his three friends to continue playing and they recruited Ric Kavin, best known for playing with the Maria McKee Band. "One Promise at a Time" recalls the spirit of Springsteen's '80s anthems, while "All the Way Down" is closer to the loose alt-country of Gram Parsons. The authentic songwriting is enhanced by performances extending beyond the usual bass-drums-guitar approach to include mandolin, piano, fiddle and pedal steel.
By Jason Thomson
Haymaker come direct to you from Long Beach, California. If it were only the '70s, these guys would be huge with their countrified rock. But here it is, 2005 already -- can the decade really be almost half over -- and the big country rawk is coming from the likes of pop leeches like Shania Twain. Yawn. So take a listen to Music from Ed's House and have a toe tapping good time. "Morphine Pump" has a bit of a Byrds twang to it, while "You Don't Know Me" bounces along on a sprightly honky-tonk groove. These guys probably deserve better than the handful of listeners they're going to get, but such is the way of the Machine. So if you enjoy good, down home roots rock with just a little polish, then Haymaker is the group for you. And if not, then just keep your Hollywood Nashville tastes to yourself, thank you very much.
By Eric Sorenson
Music From Ed's House - by Haymaker. This month's top jangle'n'twang alt-country/pop disc. Tunes that glisten with bright guitars include "Morphine Pump" "Tear Me Down" and "Uneasy Street." Think of a more jangle-oriented band than the Bottle Rockets, and top it off with vocals that sound like a cross between Warren Zevon and Evan Dando. This combination of instruments and vocals works quite well. Hope there's more where this came from!
……“Music From Ed’s Place” made me want to buy a pick-up truck just so I could put a mattress in the back and drink soda pop with my best gal. It’s good-timey vibe and 50s rock n’ roll rhythms are infectious to the point of irrational romanticism. Think Wilco doing a Chuck Berry covers album. The tracks are short, sharp, to the point and about as unpretentious as you could possibly hope for.
Ed, owner of the house where Haymaker's music was rehearsed and recorded, knows how to create ambience. The house was the ideal setting for the aptly titled Music From Ed's House, a cozy eleven-track affair. Haymaker reminds me of what early Eagles demos might sound like. Pleasant harmonies, restrained lead lines over acoustic strumming, a solid rhythm section and a sonic mixture somewhere between straight-ahead rock and roll and countrified pop/rock, provide merit for the comparison. Yet, Haymaker doesn't take itself too seriously, and lead guitarist Mike Bay is more Chuck Berry than Bernie Leadon. "Uneasy Street", "Morphine Pump" and "What's That Got to Do With Me" are fine examples of songs without pretension. Haymaker is a band that is not afraid to release a fun record. This disc goes best with a beer or two after work, or a casual gathering of friends sitting around shooting the breeze. Cheers.
The Orange County Register
By Robert Kinsler
Blending pop, roots rock and country music, Haymaker's debut, "Music From Ed's House," is crucial listening for fans of alternative country rock and local music. "Morphine Pump" is a stomping pop nugget, boasting the propulsive feel of the Proclaimers' 1993 hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)." Other songs are much closer to the fusion of country and roots-rock displayed by artists such as the BoDeans, Eagles and John Hiatt, particularly the infectious "Stand My Ground," shimmering "Heather Lee" and driving "What's That Got to Do With Me?" The group, which recorded at drummer Ed Heavener's home, also includes bassist Lenny Grassa, and singer-songwriter-guitarists Mike Bay and J.W. .
The Los Angeles Daily News:
By Bob Strauss
Jangly guitars and jangled nerves mark the debut album from this modest but tight Long Beach band. As the title implies, it was recorded in various rooms of drummer Ed Heavener's home, and that lends the tracks a spontaneous, up-tempo feel. But composers J.W. and Mike Bay also smoothly intermingle honky-tonk and roots and classic rock elements, not to mention sweetly sung insights on romantic anxiety, into the dominant pop sound, making for a homemade album that can stand proudly with the slickest studio work.
From Long Beach, CA, the lively and good-natured quartet called Haymaker set up shop in drummer Ed Heavener's house to record a fantastic debut. Music From Ed's House is a solid, homespun recording that's filled with catchy and jangly roots-pop, balanced by some twangy, countrified rock. With songs split evenly between the two main singing/songwriters, Mike Bay and J.W. , the mood runs from "the fun" to "the even more fun." Out of the gate, the driving and twangy "Heather Lee" is filled with roadhouse romp, carefree indie rock spirit and heartwarming harmonies. Bay adds a Jagger-esque drawl to the ringing retro-pop of "Morphine Pump," while J.W.'s warm, low harmonies round out the song's chorus with an organic richness. They take a fairly simple approach here, but the melodic songs and distinct harmonic blend really rise to the top. Stellar numbers like the chooglin' "Pain In The Ass," with its '60s charm (ala Boyce/Hart/Monkees), and the post punk roots-wave sneer of "What's That Got To Do With Me?" recall groups like the Del Fuegos and The BoDeans.