Jeffrey Lewis was raised in New York City and is a maker of comic books, tragi-comic folk narratives, and lysergic garage rock. With brother Jack on bass and David Beauchamp on drums, the Jeffrey Lewis Band mixes 60s acoustic psychedelia like Pearls Before Swine with the experimental art-punk of the Fall and the urban lyricism of Lou Reed, sounding a bit like if Woody Guthrie fronted Sonic Youth. Live shows also incorporate "low budget videos", Jeff’s large illustrations displayed to accompany certain songs. In 2001 Jeffrey Lewis signed to Rough Trade Records and has since released four albums.
The Jeffrey Lewis Band has toured the US, UK and Europe, sharing bills with Steven Malkmus & the Jicks, Devendra Banhart, Black Dice, Thurston Moore, the Fall, Beth Orton, Frank Black, the Fiery Furnaces, Daniel Johnston, Scout Niblett, the Mountain Goats, the Moldy Peaches, Cornershop, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Wooden Wand, the Cribs, the Danielson Famile and others.
The album Jeffrey Lewis: 12 Crass Songs was released worldwide on Rough Trade in 2007. The album is a collection of songs by the legendary anarchist punk band Crass, reworked by Jeffrey into glorious folk, rock, psychedelic, orchestral and electronica productions which dazzle the ear while losing none of the political power of the originals. For the recording of 12 Crass Songs Lewis was joined by Helen Schreiner on back up vocals.
With major plaudits from Rolling Stone, Spin, the New York Times and elsewhere 12 Crass Songs follows in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Jeffrey & Jack Lewis: City & Eastern Songs, which was produced by Kramer (Galaxie 500, Butthole Surfers, Low, Daniel Johnston, etc) and was selected as one of 2006's best albums in Time Out NY, the Boston Globe, CMJ Monthly and elsewhere. Jeffrey's most recent comic book series Fuff is currently up to issue six.
Press Quotes for "Jeffrey Lewis: 12 Crass Songs"
"Jeffrey Lewis’ talents appear without end… (on 12 Crass Songs he) magically makes the anarcho-rockers’ anti-establishment savagery his own, by wrapping their barbed sentiments in his trademark mottled tea-towel warmth” - NME
"12 Crass Songs succeeds utterly... eerily beautiful and strangely affecting" - Plan B Magazine
"He’s taken hold of any number of my old stormy favorites and breathed fresh life and fire into them. . . Man, I’m in awe of Jeffrey right now. Who’d have thought he could have done that?" - Everett True/ Village Voice
"Quite brilliant" - (4 of 5 stars) MOJO
“What could be sacrilege is actually a small epiphany: the gorgeous instrumentation…proves a deft counterpoint to the lyrical rage. The Man probably said it would never work but The Man was wrong” - (4 of 5 stars) UNCUT
4 of 5 stars – The Sun
9 of 10 stars – Vice
“It's no mean feat to transform such abrasive harangues into lush, tuneful folk… without defusing their righteous anger… but Crass's intelligent and indignant screeds could not hope for a more sympathetic translator.” (4 of 5 stars) - THE GUARDIAN“His sung and songwritten folk stunts function on more than one level: as neurotic story-telling, hearfelt rap, and footstomping song craftsmanship… his latest album seems to be Mr. Lewis at his most accessible.” (8 stars) LOWDOWN Magazine
“Remarkable” – (“Five Best” pick) Daily Standard
“Lewis has a gift for making classics out of classics, and throughout this smart, inspired album, there’s rarely a wrong note hit.” – Stylus
“It shows that [Lewis] can turn his hand to almost anything, and if anyone wanted to know how to re-adapt someone else's work in order to make it entirely your own, they should listen to this record… Connoisseurs may be aghast, but it's testament to Lewis' talents that, amid punk's sweat and turmoil, he finds so much bruised beauty.” – (9 of 10 stars) – INFOSHOP
“Does it really work, does it really achieve its purpose? Am I enjoying this as a Jeffrey Lewis record? Well, sure I am. His style is stamped all over it. But has the message sat well, has my mind been opened, if only a little? Will I get myself some Crass records? Of course I f**king will.” (4 of 5 stars) – Rock Feedback
“What I saw of [Lewis] live ranked alongside the highlights of the [End of the Road Festival] weekend, and on record the same combination of dry wit and incredible musicianship is evident - even when turning his hand to songs originally recorded by seminal 1980s anarcho-punk band Crass. Lewis makes them his own, and rarely has a covers album been pulled off with such aplomb.” – Thurrock Gazette
Press quotes for "Jeffrey & Jack Lewis: City & Eastern Songs"
“A masterful collection of neurotic, ramshackle folk spiked with bursts of punk.” -Time Out New York (2006 Best-Of List)
“Most infectious Pop Song 2006 – Jeffrey & Jack Lewis’ ‘Posters’”-Mike Lupica, WFMU
“All my favorite songwriters are American – Jad Fair, Jonathan Richman and Jeffrey Lewis.” -Eddie Argos/Art Brut
“The best lyricist working in the US today.” -Jarvis Cocker/Pulp
“A more polished effort from the Big Apple’s best-kept secret. NYC’s never exactly lacked eccentric singer-songwriters, but all, from Lou Reed up to Adam Green, would struggle to out-boho Jeffrey Lewis… The likes of “Time Machine” exhibit Velvets-style fuzz, while the speedfreak ramblings of “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror” show just what makes this comic-book obsessive so unique… Stick with it young fellow – we’re with you all the way.”
“Rough Trade arguably boasts the most exciting roster of artists [and] fabulously eccentric American indie mavericks… You can add to that list New Yorker Jeffrey Lewis.” The Sun (4/5)
City & Eastern Songs, # 8 on Billboard Critics’ Pick Top Ten Albums of 2005
-Paul Pomfret, Billboard Global Charts Manager
“Jeffrey Lewis is a god, there’s no denying it.”
Drowned in Sound
“Unhinged songsmithery boasting wry and hallucinatory lyrics… absorbing, hugely entertaining stuff.” - Q
“No one splits the music community quite like Jeffrey Lewis… Lewis has gradually established himself as the one true jewel in NYC’s underground crown, his quirky streams of consciousness and acid-fuzzed folk wooing the most blasé and self-conscious of world audiences in an instant… On the evidence of this hugely impressive record it could not be more deserved.” The Downloader
“…Remarkable offbeat talent… it’s only a matter of time before Lewis becomes an indie hero.” The Independent
“I can’t stop listening to the album. Everyone should be made to hear it at least once” Brig (5/5)
“For stressed-out, maudlin and anxious twenty-somethings there are few better spokespeople than [Jeffrey Lewis]… chunky punk and skittery electronics border lush backdrops of slide guitar and banjo. It’s what his intelligent and witty songs have long deserved.” TimeOut London (4/6)
“Belle & Sebastian would strangle their worship group leader to be able to come up with something this good.” Play Louder (4/5)
“Compared to the flash of the Strokes, Lower East Side boy Jeff is a thrift shop minstrel from the more interesting side of town. An excellent urban addition to the new American folk of Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart.” Daily Mirror (4/5)
“Critics fling epithets such as ‘the new Dylan’ around too lightly these days. It devalues the praise that New York anti-folk troubadour Jeffrey Lewis is steadily accruing. [He] is a cartoonist, raconteur and scathing wit… Recorded by lo-fi legend Kramer, the band setting proves Lewis’s versatility.” The Observer
“All the clean lines and drawn-from-life detail of an old master.” The Guardian (Critics’ Choice pick) (4/5)
“Weird-folk finery…Vividly surreal, poignant and droll.” Uncut (4/5)
“[Rough Trade] has presented us with the rare pleasure of a record that excels in being both a challenging and a satisfyingly comfortable listen.”
High Voltage (4/5)
“An occasionally incredible listen… line after line that has you gasping. Another flawed gem.” What’s On (4/5)
“Jeffrey Lewis provides a lucid intelligence to his songs that is sadly lacking from many songwriters today. […] Sublime.” Cemetary Gates (4/5)
“Near Perfection.” Tasty
“Jeffrey Lewis is complete genius, and City & Eastern Songs proves that without a doubt.” Beat Magazine
“Anyone who has been lucky enough to come across anti-folk exponent Jeffrey Lewis will know his ability to [create] with just the right quantity of wit, lyricism and self-deprecation… [This album] will doubtlessly bring [Lewis] closer to the slippery edge of public recognition than he’s ever been before.” Oxford Student (4/5)
“This is an exercise in frantic self-depreciation intertwined with melancholic but dissonant country with the odd rock song thrown in for good measure. In other words: it's fantastic. It's good to finally see Rough Trade, back on track.” Subba-Cultcha
NME (live review)
Press for the previous releases:
"Jeffrey Lewis: 'The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane' - Best Indie
Album of 2002; like his drawings, his music is witty, animated and true."
New York Daily News
"Bizarre but brilliant… slugging it out to be New Rock capital of
the universe, Jeffrey Lewis could well be [New York's] ace in the hole."
"Go and witness the genius of Jeffrey Lewis yourself."
The Stereo Effect
"Modestly brilliant." [Critic's Choice]
The Village Voice
"He claws through the bullshit and pretense ingrained in society. [Jeffrey Lewis' work] …should be cherished."
"[One] of the city's most adventurous lyricists… the world he conjures in song and sketch can seem limitless."
TimeOut New York
"Intimate beautiful songs, mixed with harder garagey stuff which is just as beautiful."
"Jeffrey Lewis isn't simply a singer, but a creative comic mastermind… brilliant… a staggering work of… genius." [9 out of 10 stars]
Addicted to Sound