Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Her Next Friend: Press


It is the official policy of Her Next Friend and Antipoison Records to include ALL published reviews of our work in this section. The reviews have not been edited. Links to the source are through the author's name at the bottom of each piece. The good, the bad and the indifferent are all shown below. Reviews are grouped by release and are loosely ordered from most favorable to least favorable. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do. We add reviews as we find them.

Disaster Casual

Her Next Friend has a simple, fun, catchy style that is rare in today’s hard-hitting or morose music scene. A little like the stripped-down sound of the Modern Lovers, but with an '80s college-rock sound akin to They Might Be Giants or slower Violent Femmes, they unleash some quirky music on their new release "Disaster Casual" but leave just enough of an aftertaste behind to create a craving that can only be satiated with more music by this extraordinary trio.

With some of the classic-rock guitar wanking common on FM radio, but employing a more experimental edge, and topped off with John Burton’s peculiar vocals, the three piece from Virginia serve eight interesting songs on "Disaster Casual." Where “House with No Door” is a little like Cake with the monotone simplicity it offers, the pleasant soft guitar on “A Shadow Beside Her” is reminiscent of R.E.M. But more than these comparisons, the band generates a fresh, wildly clever sound of lo-fi rock with just enough reverb and edge to give this record a feeling of intensity beneath the surface.

Well-crafted and ripe with skilled musicianship, Her Next Friend are easy to listen to yet offer deeper, more complex song structure and real-life lyrics for the more enterprising fans. Similar to Jonathon Richman and Transformer-era Lou Reed, the Virginia threesome release superb, mellow music and wonderfully written lyrics that are perfect tunes for getting stuck in a person’s head during those long hours slaving away at work.
Dino Lull - Metro Spirit (Nov 17, 2008)
Her Next Friend "Disaster Casual" (Antipoison)

Because this is strangely singular I'm not sure what reference points to use (Kinks? garage pop? Ian Drury?) but I will say that John Burton's oddball vocals and the sweet twang of the guitars in these spare pop nuggets make me wish they were my next friend.
Wayman Timbsdayle - Roctober Magazine (Mar 4, 2009)
Her Next Friend : Disaster Casual (

What's wrong with me? Maybe it's that spring weather I mentioned at the top ...

When I mark a pile of school books, usually the ones at the bottom that I look at once I've already been sat there for hours, get a raw deal – less time, less sympathy, less effort. And so it often is with review writing. But not today despite the hours I've been tethered to the CD player.

For here's Her Next Friend, all poppy and and rocky and fun,with muscular beats, unmistakable big guitar sounds and songs that sound instantly familiar – in fact a lot of these tracks sound a lot like lost classics, something an American Teenage fan club fronted Lou Reed would have come up with. The reviewer who called them “jangly-guitared alterna-garage rock” seems to have hit the nail on the head, not quite there on a level with Super Deluxe but headed in the right direction.

So as I approach the end of my massive reviewing task, a theme seems to emerge, and that is that cutting edge guitar music seems to be mostly about recycling different past greats – but what does it take to be a 'new great'?

I'd suggest that to to add a little bit of the unexpected, to introduce unlikely bed fellow, to add an explosive spark of inspiration.
Which is surely the next step for this band.

Her Next Friend is an unusual name for a band and adds to the mystery of what they are all about. I was surprised that these three band members, John, John and Alex produce very well performed rock music in Disaster Casual. Though that would-be to general to explain as they chop there music up and start-off with a punk rock and vocals with attitude number called Don’t Answer the Phone. Then turn around for House with No Door a slow-paced song, that
bursts with guitars to up-tempo this song from time to time. Girls at the Zoo shows the band in more of a sustal mood with acoustic and piano in sychnisation. Perfect lead guitar playing in Don’t Get Real on Me, Man with the backdrop of a heavy bass guitar underpinning the heavy groove and dispels the energy with a mellow piano piece until the end. One to Avoid has a nice loose feel with the accompanied harpsichord and odd backing vocals in the mix. Overall a groovy, melodic journey with this group.
Her Next Friend is a Virginia trio that plays a somewhat dark early 80's style indie garage rock. Their 2008 release "Casual Disaster" is a hook-laden CD crammed with catchy riffs, some simple but tasty lead guitar breaks, and lyrics that fit the songs.
The songs are slower paced. You might hear punk-toned power chords, jangly guitar fills reminiscent early R.E.M., basic pentatonic leads, and occasional keyboard undertones. Digging deeper, there is a real southern blues-rock touch in every song. The songs are well crafted with every part of the production having a purpose. Although the music is not complex in the least, the construction of the songs puts it above the basic DIY ethic. The songs are not an excuse to have a guitar solo, nor are they merely background sounds for vocals. They were not slapped together…they were organized and planned. Yet, the playing keeps the tunes loose and grooving. Simple songs played very well.
The aspect of the songs that provide the glue is the voice of John Burton. He would not be considered a singer with great range, but his vocal delivery and tone are very similar to a droning Hugh Cornell from The Stranglers. It gives the songs a slight attitude that doesn't overpower, instead adding a slight angst to the pieces. The songs are like the neighbor who for some reason makes you feel slightly uncomfortable but you don't know why.
Casual Disaster is serious music that you shouldn't take too seriously. It's a fun listen, and sometimes that is all music needs to be.
With a deep voice and a real American twang to their music, Her Next Friend don't need to do much more to get me to write about them. However it was their cover of Seven Nation Army that I posted in last month's playlist that really got my attention. The stripped down guitar and lead singer John Whitfield Burton's excellent voice really make it something special. Having listened to them it's unsurprising that they list Hold Steady and Lou Reed as bands they sound like.

Disaster Casual is their latest release and my favourite track off the 8 track album has to be Girls At The Zoo, it's like adding summer to The National, maybe a bit Dandy Warhol like without any single song coming to mind.

Enough of me telling you what their music is like, why not visit their web site where you can stream all their songs. If you like what you hear tell me what nationality you would need to be to use the "Next Friend" law they are named after. Send it along with your details and the first person drawn out of the hat gets their back catalogue. Don't worry there's a clue on their web site. The winner will be announced on 23rd May.
CD Review:  Disaster Casual, Her Next Friend
By Amanda Gertner

Looking for something new to make your floors pulsate at your next party? Check out Virginia rock band Her Next Friend s latest album,  Disaster Casual. It was published in 2008 with songs written by John Burton, who also contributes vocals and guitar. The other members of the band are Alex Kuldell on drums and John Rapoza, who adds bass and vocals.

The album has a good mix of hard rock with an especially good instrumental quality varying from drums to electric guitar. The almost angry sound has an infectious beat throughout each song. The vocals can seem a bit flat, but it does tend to grow on the listener. Even people who may not be the biggest rock fans will feel compelled to tap their fingers along with the beat of the songs.

Her Next Friend creates a sound that's an interesting mix between indie, hard rock and classic rock. It has the feel of a hard rocking band, the experimental edge of the indie scene and the feel of a slightly psychedelic classic rock band all in one.

Some of the best tracks on this album are  Don't Answer the Phone,  A Shadow Beside Her,  Girls At The Zoo and  Based On Reality. These songs stand out because of their strong beats and the fact that you can actually understand what the singer is singing. Out of all of the songs,  Girls at the Zoo is probably the most up beat of the collection. One of the only flaws of the album is that, if one does't listen carefully, some of the songs can blend together and sound the same.

Overall, this is a highly recommendable album, even to people who rarely listen to this type of music. For more information on the band, you can visit their website at
Indie Rockers Her Next Friend hail from Virginia and their debut album Disaster Casual is an adventurous blend of indie, garage and classic rock sounds with shades of REM, The White Stripes and The Hold Steady. A three piece they consist of John Burton on guitar and vocals, Alex Kulldell on drums and bassist John Rapoza with the occasional keyboard embellishments. For the most part the eight songs here possess a lo-fi vibe with a decidedly mellow feel. Burton's lyrics are acutely observational, notably on titles such as 'House With No Door', 'Girls At The Zoo' and 'One To Avoid' and his wry narratives are driven along by a stripped down guitar sound with a predominantly mid-tempo beat.

Not an album that will appeal to all but certainly contains some fresh, incisive and intelligently crafted songwriting. Check out a couple of the tracks on their MySpace where you will also find a cover of 'Seven Nation Army'.
Va’s Her Next Friend has put out a decidedly “un run of the mill” cd in “Disaster Casual”. The 2008 release features a motley mix of melodies penned by John Burton who is also lead man on vox. Finding a similarity to another act for a point of reference is more than difficult but also says something about the uniqueness of Her Next Friend.

The music is quirky, the vocals are peculiar (one is never sure if they are off course or just distinctive) and the result is a collection of tunes that are catchy in their jangly rock pop way and the musicianship is indeed well crafted and without any holes to be poked through.

The conundrum of “Disaster Casual” is the mix of the music and Burton’s vocal style. It works on some levels and on others it seems incongruous and clumsy. Well written lyrics and well executed music save the cd and keep you listening.

Her Next Friend are certainly radar worthy and require more than just a surface surf. Dig in, unusual may be the next big thing.
Best known for their bleak, folk-infused cover of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," Virginia's Her Next Friend are back with an eight-song CD that's a little uneven in focus but makes up for it with sheer variety alone. Incorporating a little of everything from folk and Americana to psychedelic and pop, this release starts off with "Don't Answer the Phone," a fairly straightforward classic rock song that stands out mainly due to lead singer John Burton's deadpan vocals. A baritone that sounds a bit like a young Nick Cave, Burton has a laid back delivery that makes up for occasional missed keys with a sense of disaffected cool that works particularly well on "One to Avoid," which mixes a stony mellowness with tripped out electric harpsichord that recalls The Doors, who also influence the bouncing organs of wonderfully bleak garage rock tune "A Shadow Beside Her." This album does have occasional stony tendencies, most notably on "Goodbye to All That," which brings in a hint of psychedelic pop a la The Moody Blues, and "Girls at the Zoo," a sunny southern rock number with jaunty guitar and piano hooks, but it's only "Don't Get Real on Me, Man" that goes deep enough into hippie territory to be distracting. Her Next Friend are hardly groundbreaking, but they're a competent rock band that combine an ear for catchy hooks with stripped down, garage-inspired production values that keep things appealingly raw.
American band with a typival British sorta Post-Rocksound, which sounds a bit depressing at times, but for fans of bands like THE THE, THE SMITHS, etc. definitely worth checking out. 8 short songs can be found on their CD and most of them are very slow. The uptempo rockers like “Don’t answer the phone” and “Goodbyet to all that” are clearly the best songs here. The band sounds in those songs a bit retro 1960s a la THE KINKS. For more info on them go to:

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)
We have not heard from these folks lately, but it was worth the wait. John Burton writes the songs, sings, and plays guitar, joined by bassist John Rapoza and drummer Alex Kuldell (as well as guest keyboard player Ariel Francis on half of the eight tracks, which were laid down at Actiondale Recording Studio in Annandale, Virginia under the TLC of Mike Harvey).
On the flipside, Her Next Friend is some decent straight up indie rock with some nice guitar work - sort of reminds me of The Hold Steady.
Merz - Mars Needs Guitars (Apr 27, 2009)
10. “Disaster Casual,” Her Next Friend: Weird indie rock. Really grows on you.

(Excerpted from Dino Lull's top ten releases of 2008)
Dino Lull - Metro Spirit (Dec 31, 2008)
One thing that can be said of Her Next Friend is that they’ve certainly got ideas. Their rather poetic lyrics get a lot of room to spread on out this album: they’re delivered in an almost total deadpan over the lo-fi sound of somebody wailing on a guitar. Certain words, and the images they conjure, stand out with stark clarity. “Smoking rocks of jade?” and “Stretched out on the bottomless floor in search of a house with no doors?” They say this, and it works.
Sometimes this album seems more interesting than fun, though. None of the melodies stand out and none of the beats are strong enough to hold the compositions together. Some of the scratchy electric guitar, particularly in “Girls at the Zoo” is nice, but most of the other stuff just doesn’t leave much of an impression once the song ends. In fact, sometimes they seem to be trying so hard it’s almost funny, as in “Goodbye to All That” which has guitar work that sounds like it belongs in the 80’s with very big hair.
“Don’t Get Real on Me Man” offers some of the most engaging lyrical play in the album, but it also seems to admit that the music is not capable of sustaining the song on it’s own. They’re clearly trying, but what’s left when you remove the vocals is pretty monotonous overall. However, the end and fade out deserve special mention: the twinkling jazzy feel here works very well, and ultimately, “Don’t Get Real on me Man” is probably the song that plays to the band’s strengths the best.
It’s those same strengths that make this album engaging, and while the band could benefit from a little sharpening of their ideas, this is still an easy album to recommend.
Rating: 3/5
Reviewed 2009-01-18
Guitar/Bass/Drums from Virginia that makes me want to drink beer from a local microbrewery...think The Hold Steady/Lifter Puller (but less narrative-y), The White Stripes, Guided by Voices. Vocals along the lines of Craig Finn, but more tuneful and (sometimes almost overly) enunciated, low register. Sorta fuzzy, sometimes slightly bluesy, generally mid-tempo, mid-length. FCC Clean.

*1. Silly drum intro, but then rocks with thick fuzzy guitar
2. More bluesy, alternates between guitar only and full band. The White Stripes with a bassist...and a drummer?
*3. Sorta like #2 two until some nice Zombies-ish piano organ kicks in.
*4. More good drum/piano interaction (acoustic-y this time). I like the guitar on this one.
5. A little more down n dirty. Less interesting.
6. Also less interesting.
7. Light & bouncy, more exposed bass, constant tremolo on one guitar
8. Low manly man vocals, harpsichord
Edwin - KZSU (Jan 18, 2009)
Fuzzy grungy power-pop trio of a guitar, bass & drums nature.
There are a lot of things I can appreciate about different kinds of music and groups that I am hearing for the first time. One of these things being whether or not they immediately remind me of anything else.

Needless to say, originality is very high on my list of must-haves in a new listen.

Her Next Friend’s album “Disaster Casual” is an excellent example of this. Immediately upon hearing the group, I began wracking my brain for other groups, music or otherwise that it reminded me of. For the first three songs of the album, I felt like I was just one step away from knowing what it was that it reminded me of, but to my surprise, by the fourth song I had determined that it didn’t really remind me of any one thing.

While there seem to be some jam-band-like touches in there at points, there is a definite light-rock edge and a very light touch of extremely pop-influenced metal in some moments. What sets “Disaster Casual” apart from some of the main music going on today for me was the fact that they maintained the classic rock tendency to have real guitar solos in the music.

And here I thought everything related to classic rock was completely dead.

One thing that seemed out of place on the record were the vocals on the tracks. While the instruments were fairly free-flowing and natural sounding, and the lyrics were neither here nor there, the voice itself seemed to be forced out of the singer rather than a normal thing that he does. While it sounds slightly picky of me, it really was difficult to get over the degree of discomfort I was feeling from listening to the singer’s voice.

The album on the whole was cohesive to the point where you wouldn’t really notice going from one song to the next, and while this can be annoying sometimes, for this genre and this sound, I thought it worked well.

The song “Girls at the Zoo,” was one I happened to enjoy, and while I wouldn’t go all the way to calling it catchy, it did stand out to me.

On that note, none of the music was especially catchy, but given the genre and the sound they were going for, it seems appropriate.

“Don’t Answer the Phone” was one song I honestly didn’t care for, and as the first song on the album, it really didn’t set a good start for the rest.

I would say that was the only thing I really had a huge problem with on the CD, and the fact that it came right at the beginning and then was over seemed to make things a little bit better.

Like ripping off a Band-Aid, it kind of hurts at first, but eventually you’re really glad you did it. While the music wasn’t my favorite, I can’t fault Her Next Friend. Classic rock on the whole has never especially been my top pick, with a few exceptions (Queen, anyone?), and the execution of the genre and integration of other elements to the music was well done.
Fairly uninteresting indie rock stuff with what sounds like an uninterested singer.
Arlington, VA group does college group [sic] that sounds like it is influenced by ACDC and the 90's. Fratty background music.
Clara - WLUR (Jan 31, 2009)
New rock band fails at making mark
Her Next Friend lacks in style, depth and creative lyrics
By Matt Biddle Staff Writer

For a small local band, the challenge is standing out among the sea of Fall Out Boys and Panic at the Discos that litter today’s music scene. Luckily, Her Next Friend, a Virginia-based trio, doesn’t have trouble with this. The smoky baritone voice of lead singer John Burton, combined with an edgy rock beat, differentiates the group from other similar acts. With some songs on its third record, “Disaster Casual,” however, the band is notable for all the wrong reasons - forgettable and incomparable lyrics.
When the first track, “Don’t Answer the Phone,” starts, listeners will expect Burton’s vocals to sound similar to Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects or Chris Arriba from Dashboard Confessional because of the melodramatic undertone. In reality, however, his husky, deep voice is more in the vein of Daniela Federica from the Irish band Scythian.
Each of the album’s eight tracks is hit-or-miss in terms of quality. “House with No Door” is wonderful for it musical simplicity and interesting lyrics. During the song, Burton muses about a woman “stretched out on a bottomless floor / in search of a house with no door.” Another strong track is “Shadow Beside Her,” a song about a woman who has lost her way with “no one to guide her.”
On most of its tracks, the band does well with instrumental breaks. Each is enjoyable and doesn’t drag on for any longer than it should. The guitar-heavy break on “Don’t Get Real On Me, Man” is especially
enjoyable for its interesting riffs.
While some tracks are strong, others are considerably lacking, however, creating an album that’s inconsistent, at best. On “Girls at the Zoo,” for instance, Burton seems like he’s straining to reach the higher notes during the chorus.
Some lyrics also leave much to be desired. On “Goodbye to All That,” Burton attempts to explain his own personal growth: “I’ve made great strides / Oh yes, it’s true.” He never fully succeeds, however, and the sentiment falls flat. On the album’s final track, “One to Avoid,” Burton lets loose on a former love, but the lyrics never precisely convey his feelings of rejection. “Ego destroyed / she was one to avoid,” he sings.
The album is not the worst album put together — in fact, it seems better each additional time it’s played — but it doesn’t bring anything new to the scene. With Burton’s gruff vocals and strong instrumental work, the album could have been a rousing success, but it becomes bogged down with several poor tracks and lyrical difficulties.
Matt Biddle - The Ithacan (Feb 26, 2009)
This release is a bit like the strange guy you meet in a bar: Somewhat obnoxious and repellent as he breathes his strange stories and ideas into your ear. At the same time, you find this person to be intriguing with some interesting points of view.

John Burton, guitar/vocals/writer/producer, has an odd way of delivering his music. It’s a bit like Neil Young’s approach: a little flat. For the most part, his voice is buried in the mix with all the instruments, so it doesn’t stand out very much.
The musical style varies from heavy rock to melodic pop-ish tunes. I suppose you can call it “experimental” if you define that term as “we don’t know what it is either, but we’re hoping you’ll like it”.
The producers seem to have paid more attention to musical expression than to voice reproduction: there are some excellent musical riffs and wonderful musicianship. Too bad about the vocals.
Summary: I want to like this release because I enjoy the offbeat and unusual. But it leaves me indifferent.
Having previously been impressed by Her Next Friend’s surprisingly unique rendition of The White Stripes classic ‘Seven Nation Army’, I had high expectations for their latest offering ‘Disaster Casual’, I was, however, left somewhat underwhelmed. Aiming for a Southern Rock sound, the album is laden with powerful solo guitar riffs and drum heavy beats which end up dominating many of the eight songs on the album, which is perhaps a good thing considering the rigid vocals of singer John Burton which appear throughout.
Opening track ‘Don’t Answer The Phone’ begins with a punk feel reminiscent of The Offspring which soon deteriorates as the vocals begin and the attitude dies out. Heavy guitar and the welcome addition of keyboard provide optimism to ‘Don’t Get Real On Me, Man’ which again, sadly fades away with the lifeless vocals of Burton. His sombre lulls are perhaps at their best on ‘House With No Door’ where the slow beat compliments the vocal style and the closing guitar riff is left to shine without overpowering the whole song. ‘Girls At The Zoe’ is the most chirpy of the album and the one most likely to stick in your head thanks to the enthusiastic, summery blend of keyboard and guitar arrangements, benefited by the reduced level of vocal interference.
Overall this album is not a total disaster, the omnipresent polished rock riffs go someway in compensating for the dullness of the vocals, however, as the closing track poignantly reminds us, this is perhaps ‘One To Avoid’.
There are a lot of unknown bands out there that, for better or for worse, never have and probably will never achieve popularity in spite of their musical greatness. However, as enjoyable as it is to dislodge one of these hidden gems from the rough, for every one of them there are a hundred bands that are unknown simply because they haven’t done anything noteworthy, haven’t demanded your attention. Her Next Friend is a little band from Virginia that caught some buzz with their goth-bluegrass cover of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, but their music ultimately does not shine like a gem worth saving. Disaster Casual, their latest album, simply confirms this further.
The one element of Her Next Friend that you’d probably notice above all else is singer John Burton’s unique voice. Burton possesses sort of a showtunes croon, with exaggerated emphases and stretched out words, that provides a nice contrast to the guitar rock. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the only unique things about this band.
Most every song on Disaster Casual has a sly little nucleus at its center, but they’re filled out and dressed with some really toothless, cottonmouthed alt-rock. Whether it’s muted synths, running basslines or unthreatening feedback, everything’s so scaled down that it seems the band has actually achieved a deliberately underwhelming final product. It’s just so perfectly calculated in its “meh”-ness. When an album’s opening riff immediately reminds you of The Offspring, you already know the ship is leaking water fast.
I hope that Her Next Friend’s songwriting quality is not the issue (maybe hearing the songs in a stripped-down acoustic setting would determine that) and it’s just that the band doesn’t possess much instrumental prowess, but Disaster Casual is completely texture-less. House With No Door and A Shadow Beside Her get your feet moving, but there are no sonic layers to digest. The album almost sounds MIDI’d, and there’s no adventure in the throwaway guitar work. I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I’m actually thrilled to hear the surprising yet fairly standard organ solo that closes out Don’t Get Real on Me, Man.
Fittingly, Disaster Casual is also a very short album at eight tracks, only two of which are over four minutes. The whole thing evokes the feeling of a bunch of friends goofing off with some hand-me-down instruments and an old recording device with nothing better to do on a Friday night. All that’s fine, but I’ve seen plenty a bar band come and go that have had more hunger than Disaster Casual suggests this band has. There’s an impenetrable force field of indifference around these songs that refuses to let you in.
I hate to bash a little-known band with a lot of ground to cover, but I’m also not going to give empty praise just because they are obscure (that’s how the Nickelbacks of the world come to pass). And as much as I want to be the good guy and help these gentlemen fight the good fight, I just don’t see much muscle here to keep Her Next Friend propped up, let alone swinging and kicking. The fact that the band’s biggest hit was a song they didn’t write says a lot about their accomplishments, and Disaster Casual unfortunately does not suggest that any more surprises are on the horizon.
Andy Pareti - No Ripcord (Aug 3, 2009)
Next Page >>