What Tony (Guitar) wanted, Ted (Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Mandolin, Whistle) made happen—with the help of Tom Carlon (Bass), Katianna Carlon (Vocals), Mike Arturi (Drums), David Falbo (Harmonica, Guitars), and Tobias Wilson (Pedal Steel, Dobro)—and Tony Wanted to Make a Record was born!
Ted Hajnasiewicz is a singer-songwriter who creates and performs under his own unpronounceable name (hi-nah-SHEV-its). He has been in and out of the Minneapolis music scene for over thirty years, and has opened for Soul Asylum, the Lemonheads, and Smashing Pumpkins over the course of his career so far. Upon his comeback in 2018, Ted’s first two singles, “This Town is Not for Me” and “If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow” garnered the attention necessary to land him several local and state-wide shows throughout the year.
The co-creator of Quarantine Dream, a benefit project to raise money for a fellow Minneapolis musician in need, Ted is now releasing his next project, Tony Wanted to Make A Record on June 12, 2020.
Inspired by his producer/engineer friend, Tony Preston, who wanted to record one of his songs, Ted created an eight-song pop rock “feel good, or at least FEEL, concept album.”
In Ted’s own words, he “had some silly pop rock love songs that were written in an attempt to escape the throes of social media and societal unrest and division. Something to just let that go for thirty minutes and just chill.” Combining these tracks with a few additions about the desire for a connection deeper than those found on social media, Ted put forth a new album with Tony’s help.
The first track of the album is “Lethal Dose.” Classic, light pop rock instrumentals back Ted’s vocal metaphors, creating a steady, solid track. The lyrics compare love to addiction, but put a spin on the timeless analogy with carefully-chosen diction that incorporates the title: “Can’t get enough / Too much of this stuff / Give me a lethal dose of love / I never thought I’d be so addicted to you / I always thought I could quit whenever you wanted to / But now I’m desperate just to see your face / I need to hear that you will always feel the same / I need a shot, I need a spike, I need a mainline of you.” With its poppy, catchy choruses, “Lethal Dose” is a great introduction to the album as a whole.
“Darlin’ What About Me” features harmonized vocals between Ted and album contributor Katianna Carlon. Katianna’s smooth vocals emphasize the soulfulness in Ted’s voice over breezy harmonica and piano tones. With the main focus on their vocals, casual listeners may miss the details in the instrumentals that make the track truly special, such as the light strumming of guitar in the background, hints of vintage western flair, and the minute dips and twists as the song progresses. Much less pop-rock than the previous track, “Darlin’ What About Me” gives the album depth in addition to its fun, catchy nature.
“Fly” features twangy guitar tones and natural spaces between notes that give the track a certain sense of rhythm. Katianna’s vocals return, this time clear and bold in the forefront of the song’s beginning. Answered in the next verse by Ted before intertwining to weave a story of an uplifting, positive relationship. Both parties encourage the other to follow their dreams, assuring that they’ll be there for each other as they explore the world individually and together: “Go on and fly, fly away / My heart will be on hold for now / If the air can’t lift you up / if your feet don’t leave the ground / Honey, believe me, it’s not me that holds you down / Go on and spread those wings / Do everything your heart could ever dream / Just believe me / I’ll still be around.”
“Blinded” continues with the classic pop-rock feel that was introduced in the beginning of the album. Introducing the track is shining guitar tones, energetic percussion, and a background bassline that brings out the dynamicism of the track from its first note. The vocals follow the rhythm set by the track’s percussion, Ted’s voice mixing well with the guitar that follows it. While a bit stilted in the first part of the chorus, “Blinded” is another moderately-paced example of Ted’s proficiency in songwriting thanks to its well-blended instrumentals and catchy lyrics.
“F.R.O.G.” showcases Ted’s storytelling abilities from the first verse: “There’s a little girl I know / So afraid of being alone / You can hear the fear in every tear she cries.” The ballad brings Katianna’s sweet vocals back to mix with gentle, plunking instrumentals to create an atmosphere of slow peacefulness for the overall song. Well-placed in the album’s tracklist, “F.R.O.G.” gives listeners another relaxed, well-written song about connection.
The title of “Drive-Thru World” is immediately intriguing. The lyrics serve up a unique metaphor for the fast-paced world of instant gratification that we live in, referencing the insecurities many people feel about the lack of in-person connection it comes along with. Giving a voice to those who crave in-person connection in a world where social distancing makes it even harder to get together, Ted’s mournful vocals imbue his lyrics with emotion: “I’m not so sure I’m made for this drive-thru world / Instant satisfaction gives me no satisfaction / I’d rather get to know you, get to show you who I am.”
“Get Along” has Ted asking himself “What am I doing chasing a young man’s dream?” and leaves him “wondering if this is really me.” The track echoes the frustrations many musicians feel when they get older and have to consider the families they leave at home while pursuing their dreams. Relatable for many others in his position, “Get Along” will impress fellow musicians not only in its messaging, but its musicality thanks to complex, sturdy instrumentals backing Ted’s flitting, dynamic vocals.
“Some Sunday Afternoon” is the final track of Tony Wanted to Make a Record. The song ties the album neatly together with slow, simple guitar strumming and storytelling. Ted explores a speaker’s far-off funeral, asking those who attend to “Please be honest, don’t talk me up too much” because “I never liked attention anyway.” Dark in meaning, “Some Sunday Afternoon” is a moving, meaningful piece, and possibly my favorite track thanks to how well thought out it is. The details like the inclusion of “that spaghetti dish that the church ladies do so well” and “inside [jokes are] fine, don’t need everyone to know” make “Some Sunday Afternoon” a special song that explores the speaker’s “last dying wish” to round off the album.
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