Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 5: Haley Moley

What can we say about Haley Moley that we haven’t already said? They’re way too professional to be mentioned on our fake site… (way old inside esoteric joke). Remember when that was true?

Old picture of Haley Moley from back when we first met them

We can certainly say that new for this year is they’re finally putting out a full length record. They’ve put out ep’s in the past that we’ve enjoyed some of which we’ve reviewed (or friends of ours have reviewed), and we’ve ‘heard’ good things about the new album as well (that was at least 2 jokes because we’ve heard so many of the songs off the new album played live already). At one point they were so comfortable with us making fun of them that they made fun of our head writer.

In addition to all the inside jokes we have with/about them (FFS, doesn’t TB have enough of those already?! Half the people that read this get 1% of the jokes! And they’re not even funny, they’re just references and winks and nods…), the songs we’ve heard Haley Moley playing live lately rock us just as hard as those they’ve been playing and recording for the 8 or so years we’ve been around (or is that how long they’ve been around? No, I think they’ve been around longer and we haven’t been around quite that long. They’re definitely older than we are. See, yet another joke that only I get. Not funny! Knock it off!)

Upcoming Haley Moley’s new full length record “Everybody Wins”

And despite their many years on the road and in the recording studio they haven’t slowed down one bit. Haley Moley is itself actually a supergroup; I’m not sure if we’re allowed to tell people this JUICY bit of gossip but their name comes from the combination of DJ Jennifer HALEY and Paul’s long running solo project Mount MOLEY… put those together with small groups from other groups including Andrea Kosek, Mike Broomhead, and Pat Thorpe and have all of them play multiple instruments to create an enormous sounding orchestra of sounds where someone’s always filling in whatever the sound requires for the specific song and you’ve got a super collective of a group (in fact, there were rumors that the Haley Moley supercollective was going to swallow or merge with the Superdark Collective in various guises over the years, neither of which actually came to fruition but all of which served to help the stock prices of both collectives skyrocket!). And even with the smaller groups that came together and have continued to exist alongside the Moley (as the hip kids don’t call them), other groups have even split off and formed more new acts on the side in the meantime. This is a group of prolific musicians to say the least. Do they ever rest? Do they ever sleep? Our sources say no.

Which is why it makes sense although it’s still entirely unfortunate that after this record release Haley Moley will be taking a hiatus (indefinite? Let’s not say that. It’ll make people think they’re taking a ‘Fugazi style nap’) Some of the members will be focusing on personal projects (do babies count as projects? we think so!), and others focusing more so on their other projects AND, knowing, them, probably even more additional projects. Architrave, the HONEY collective, Sinkcharmer, all the albums Paul Coleman has mixed and mastered… the list goes on and on and we can’t keep up with it. It really is amazing that they’ve been able to do all that all these years and maintain a top ten local band that puts out records and plays live more than half of the bands around, and of course, has yet to make a song that isn’t top quality or play a show that doesn’t sound great. Congratulations again to Haley Moley! We hope to see you again soon!

Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 6: Sky Furrows

Sky Furrows has the unbearable burden of being in the Times Boredom top ten more than any other band in the Capital District.  But honestly, how could they not be?  Times Boredom is indisputably the arbiter of everything that’s cool (and cool enough to not take itself too seriously) in the Capital Region and has been since 2015.  

And is there any cooler band you can think of than this motley gang of 4 vets of the up (and sometimes down)state New York scenes?  Every single member of Sky Furrows has carved a name for themself individually in a way that, if there were like a twenty year golden watch given out by the lord of the underground cool, they’d all have one.  And NOW they’d all have 3 rings they could kiss (like those asshole Patriot fans — sorry our Editor’s a HUGE Yankees fan and will NOT hear of any story that doesn’t disparage the Bruins at any opportunity we can possibly get…)

And the truth is if ever there was a time for me to say my famously overused ‘Ah hell I done interduced them enough’ Big Lebowski quote it’d be now since Sky Furrows has won just about every award we put out, been reviewed and mocked and praised so many times by Times Boredom there’s nothing left to do but repeat myself… So this time I’m not gonna start going a hundred feet deep with Rambutan and Parashi and links to collaborations with Mike Watt and whatever else…

Instead, I’ll just tell you what they said to me when I asked them some interview questions like ‘how great is it to be in Times Boredom’s top ten YET AGAIN and how surprised are you…’

I’m even getting a lot of use out of this photo. I think I’ve posted it several times. Give someone else a chance to win will you Sky Furrows?!

Congratulations on being in Times Boredom’s Top 10 local bands! What was your favorite show that you played in 2022?  Who was YOUR favorite local band in 2022? 

Karen Schoemer (for Sky Furrows):
One of our favorite local bands is the Scurves! Love them Scurves!

TB: Do you have any plans for 2023?

KS: We did not release new material in 2022, but we did record a new album in Katonah NY and Easthampton MA and we’re hoping to get it out by the end of the year!

And that’s it. We done tell you all there is to tell. Seriously I really am tired of introducting them. I do this to promote local bands and if all I’m really doing is giving them awards every year and saying how great they are what does that really accomplish? I gotta rethink my choices bro. Seriously.

Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 7: The Abyssmals

Seriously Idk who made this image (and I know I should as the ‘image caption guy’ but this is the history of rock and roll in a grain of sand. So fucking cool!

You would be hard-pressed to find a band with more style, swagger, and attitude than THE ONLY BAND THAT EVER MATTERED. If you were lucky enough to catch an Abyssmals show in 2022 or any of the previous 6 or 7 years they’ve been playing the Capital Region you were simultaneously jived, hipped, and made obsolete as they kidnapped you in their psychedelic time machine. This hypothetical time machine would make a quick stop during the 90s – but no time for Newcombe’s antics – forego the 80s, and straight back to the 60s, where they probably could have given the Stones a tip or two on how to stay cool. 

The Abysmal’s full length “Gospels, Hymns and Other Trash!” released in 2019

While a local favorite these psychedelic ghouls have been expanding their reach internationally AND have had music featured on several TV shows on network TV and streaming platforms. Their debut full-band album, ‘Gospels, Hymns and Other Trash!’ was released in April 2019. They released their most recent single, “Let’s Forget”, in 2020. 

Latest single “Let’s Forget”

Their next show is on Valentine’s Day at No Fun in Troy (presented by ‘Hey Greasy!’) with Vinyl Williams and Hospital Corners. More information on the band can be found on their website.

-Terry Chagrin

Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 8:The Sugar Hold

The Sugar Hold burst onto the scene like a bat out of a volcano with a mug of beer in one hand and (of course) a cheeseburger in the other! The relatively new local band is known for their hard partying ways (https://timesboredom.com/2022/10/01/from-now-on-by-order-of-the-city-of-troy-chamber-of-commerce-the-sugar-hold-will-only-be-allowed-to-play-weddings-dances-quinceaneras-and-other-festive-occasions/), their indie surf rock brand of music, and their funny off the wall songs and lyrics. And although they’ve only been around for a few years, they’ve already made a big name for themselves.

The last 2 singles they’ve released have been the campy Halloween track ‘Werewolf, Baby!’ for the ‘Do the Fright Thing’ Halloween comp and, the song they’re most famous for; “Cheesburger”. Cheeseburger’s a danceable partying track that sounds like it comes from a lost age of innocence when rock and roll was super fun, before it got all serious and John Lenon was like ‘this is ART MAN!’. To exponentially increase the party vibe and show how intensely serious they are about the party and the fun they’re joined by local high harmony trio Hold on Honeys for backing vocals that remind you of the doo wops on Monster Mash. And the song is truly about how great, cheap, convenient and what a delicious snack a cheeseburger is. Get me one too!

In addition to being one of the top ten local bands in the area, The Sugar Hold were the first group on the top ten to respond to our request for an interview.

TB: Congratulations on being in Times Boredom’s Top 10 local bands! Honestly, how much of an honor is this for you?

Mikey Baish (for the Sugar Hold):
What an honor!

TB: Did you release any music in 2022?

Sugar Hold: We released our live special “DOPE” on 4/20. This was a full set recorded LIVE at the Jive Hive Live. We released our song “Cheeseburger” ft. Hold on Honeys from that session as a single. Then in October we wrote and recorded a song for the Super Dark Halloween compilation called “Werewolf, Baby!”

Right now we are working on our first real record. We are working with David Rockower aka The Duke Western and it’s been a pleasure so far. We hope to have that out on 4/20 (put it in your calendars) this year as a follow up to DOPE.

TB: What was your favorite show that you played in 2022?

Sugar Hold: For our favorite show it’s a tie between the set we did at Brown’s Brewing Malt Room for Bacchanalia (with our gals the Honeys, E-Block, and best bud/official Sugar Boy Rhoseway) and the Wild in the Trees Skate & Music Fest. WITT was cold as hell, but it was cool to see the “high ollie” contest going on during our set.

TB: Who was YOUR favorite local band in 2022?

MB: I (MIkey) am gonna have to ask the guys each of their favorite bands, but I ALWAYS say dblgoer and BIG Maybe. Dan says Brule County Bad Boys (how could I forget them?!), Matt says Battleaxe and Pencildive

TB: What was your favorite show that you played in 2022?

Sugar Hold: As far as gigs go, ideally we’d like to scale down to one per month. It’s just real tough to turn down some really awesome gigs that have been getting thrown our way. So far we have one of the bigger local festivals booked and look forward to being invited back to Bacchanalia and Wild in the Trees.

TB: Do you have any plans for 2023?

MB: We’re excited for 2023. I think it’s going to be a big year for The Sugar Hold!
Thanks for asking! I appreciate it!

Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 9: Madeline Darby

Madeline Darby is one of the few, the proud, the super cool repeat offenders on the Times Boredom top 10 club, having been on our list back in 2020 for her terrific album ‘innovation’ (if you recall, there was something going on that year that caused us to have to rank bands by recordings alone given the difficulties there were with live performances…). And just as in 2020, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Ms. Darby’s incredibly pertinent contributions to the scene, both as a member of the Superdark Collective, Thinner Friends, and plenty of other collaborations with fellow local artists such as the recent single Sacred Gates with Jennifer Maher Coleman of Haley Moley, Architrave and the Honey DJ Collective (which you can listen to and download at https://madelinedarby.bandcamp.com/track/sacred-gates).

Recently released single collaboration between Madeline Darby and Jennifer Maher Coleman

In addition to all of these awesome things, Madeline Darby released a full album in 2022 that was an ENORMOUS critical success. Our friend and sometimes writer/editor for Times Boredom W.A. Wright wrote an aptly glowing review of the record (read it here: https://nippertown.com/2022/05/28/album-review-not-this-universe-the-origins-of-madeline-darby/), and if W.A. Wright says it’s good, well then we get off our couch and run out to buy it! Ok that’s not true, we don’t get off the couch but reading a review like that gets us straight to the bandcamp page where we made a purchase immediately. Isn’t technology wonderful? I mean time was you could go to a local record store and aks if they had local records on commission or something, and chances were you’d find one of your friends or a potential new friend doing the same thing. Then you could hang out with your friends at the record store, just chat and waste time on the weekend, and start coming to a consensus about how terrific not only the local music scene is right now but Madeline Darby specifically, how she’s exceeding our expectations and creating unpredictable ‘innovations’ in music and sound.

Madeline Darby’s latest album released in 2022, “Not this universe: The Origins of Madeline Darby”

(Forgive me for going off on a tangent about the ‘old days’, but it’s related in an obtuse way. Sort of. Keep reading, I’ll put it all together somehow!)

A lot of what we love and appreciate about Madeline Darby is her indefatigably (5$ word!) positive sense of community. What we and we think a lot of other people love about her is her support for everything that’s great about music and noise in the Capital District. And also as a ‘private citizen’ she’s always attending shows, being supportive, and always having plenty of positive things to say about our burgeoning little scene (especially in Troy), which is, as she put it, “HOT HOT HOT”! And not only is she doing short collaborations with other local artists but the album credits themself read like a top 50 list of all the great artists in the Capital REgion; Aunt Lonely, Goldeedust, NXNES, Zero Lee, 100 Psychic Dreams & Triya Love. And of course the Ballston Spa G.O.A.T. is here mixing and mastering like he does on SO many great local albums (in addition to his own) that you wonder when he has time to sleep… And not only does she list her collaborators and the indefatigable (careful now, not really using that word correctly and that’s gonna cost you in the final concluding paragraph) Paul Coleman but she even mentions and gives thanks to all the local places and even publications including ours truly little blog cottage operation!

Trust us, the love is mutual.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard that Madeline Darby is going on hiatus for awhile. In the meantime, a mysterious new stranger to the local music scene calling herself ‘Jane Woodshed’ has appeared and, if you (like us) just can’t wait for your next Madeline Darby fix, Jane Woodshed has many similarities and will most likely kick a ton of ass as well. Looking forward to hearing all of the many the new ‘innovations’ that Sarah Darby brings to the local music scene. Innovative, supportive, and HOT HOT HOT!

Top 10 local Capital Region of NY bands of 2022, Part 10: Bruiser and Bicycle

One of the more anticipated groups to emerge from the Capital Region in some time, Bruiser and Bicycle’s brand of folk-weirdness will subtly slip into your mental landscape. While initially uninvited, you will begin to fall in love with their unpredictable and exciting songwriting that is layered with colorful instrumentation and arrangement.

The core duo, Bruiser and Bicycle. Which one’s which? We’ll never tell!

While their last release arrived in 2019, they play out fairly often; the editor of Times Boredom wrote me:  “I went to see them last night and those bastards played ON TIME!  I know, I couldn’t believe it either, but the show started at 8 (which in my long punk rock experience means bands don’t play until 10 at the earliest) and they started at 8:15 and were done at 8:45.” Their live shows are as equally enigmatic as their recordings, and allegedly, according to our fearless leader, they are so good-looking, everyone wants to f*ck them, but not after getting mind-f*cked by their delicate, yet sophisticated music.

Bruiser and Bicycle full team!

You can listen to their latest release here: Woods Come Find Me

Cover of Bruiser and Bicycle’s latest release, ‘Woods Come Find Me’

-Drew Wardle

Stay tuned for the rest of the top 10 of 2022, to be published over the course of the next few weeks one at a time! Is your band one of top 10? Nah, you suck. Don’t take it personally, my band is way worse.

-‘Our fearless leader’, Scott Koenig

A plea from Times Boredom for Times Boredom to be better

I gotta admit, I clicked on this. https://nippertown.com/2022/12/24/sounds-o-the-season-sirsys-santa-baby/ Watched it for about 10 seconds before i recognized it was exactly what I thought it would be and had no interest in seeing it. This is why some cool underground publication like Times Boredom needs to step up and publish more content.

And we all know it’s out there just waiting to be found and distributed more widely.

Here’s a great example: Haunted Cat made an entire half hour Christmas special a couple years ago; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYBvbfPwztE (they also made a Halloween special, but it is Christmas and all depending on when you read this — that’s another thing. We all know that people visit Nippertown on a daily basis but Times Boredom’s only visited when a) your band or someone you know is mentioned b) when you find out about it which is typically not the same day so 5f) there’s a .00001% chance anyone will read this on Christmas). The production values may not be as flawless as the Sirsy video, and there may not be any ‘sexy dames’ baby singing ‘Santa Baby’, but come on. This thing is hilarious. There’s genuine humor here, and not just the kind you can milk by mocking an old style mr. rogers type christmas special. And in addition to the funny corny holiday cheer, there’s a number of terrific rock performances by… well I’m not going to ruin it for you because I really think you should watch it yourself (that’s kind of the point here). But there’s no link to this special, on Nippertown, Keep Albany Boring, Times Union, or any other local music and arts sites.

It probably sounds like I’m singling out Nippertown, however, I really appreciate Nippertown and think it’s the best site there is for local Capital District music and arts news, promotions, and just information in general. And in terms of music, they do coverage of all kinds of local music including underground stuff that other local publications in other cities would stay away from in order to get more sponsors or advertisers etc., to make more money. But Nippertown really is more concerned about helping people to enjoy the arts scene around town. So in addition to the Sirsy video they posted today they posted one by Warden and Co. and one by Taini Asili and the Messiahs. Nippertown is great; but because they are what they are they want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Unfortunately that often means groups like Sirsy, Super 400 and the Figgs that have been around for 30 years and have real PR machines get way more coverage than a group that’s just starting out like say, the Sugar Hold. The Sugar Hold is making enormous waves in the underground community, but in terms of local music time they’ve only been around an instant and as such they’re still building not only their fanbase, but their relationships with local media, their productions, multi-media presentations, etc.

So what’s the real problem? I suppose this is as close to an ‘editorial’ as we come here at Times Boredom (perhaps I should add that as a category/tag since my lazy ass has written 2 or 3 of these now) so I just want to say that there’s so much great underground music right now in the Capital District I feel like we could really be a mecca for a strong ‘alternative’ (term used correctly even if doesn’t apply musically) collective of recordings, performances, and overall knowledge by a large audience in the area that would really appreciate the music but just doesn’t know about it.

I mean if you were new to town and came from a larger city, and you looked for local music and saw Sirsy, you’d be like ‘I guess punk rock really IS dead, especially in this jerkwater burg. I’m just gonna listen to my old Minor Threat record again. There’s plenty of classics to keep me happy enough’. And you’d ignore every aspect of the local scene because you’d figure there really wasn’t anything of substance to see.

Another unchangeable issue is that as much great music as there is around (and there pretty much ALWAYS is, even in cities as small as ours in the US), it’s all about giving it a platform, getting groups together, dissemination and distribution. In short, a ‘scene’ needs to be created. And of course the ‘scene’ brings to mind all the stupid terrible things it entails like small town big egos, in groups and out groups, enmity amongst microniches, etc etc. (if you’ve ever been in one you know exactly what I mean). But what’s much worse is not having a scene at all. You’ve got a thousand people in their basements and apartments writing and recording music, playing in small groups with just their close personal friends, house shows where the band outnumbers the audience and the cops get called after a couple songs. Self indulgence, legends in their own minds, the complete lack of appreciation that makes would be greats quit before they get started, isolation and atomism and lack of competition. All of which are overcome by a scene that certainly does bring out bad aspects, but also often brings out the best of the music. Interrelationships, genre crossovers, the competition that makes everyone better (my favorite example is the Minutemen being inspired to write and record Double Nickels on the Dime in response to Husker Du’s double album Zen Arcade. Would either of these have happened without a national ‘scene’ based around SST, a network of punk rock clubs and people, and the PR and promotions that occurred — what little there were — were SO important that today someone like me (and hopefully you) know what they are and can appreciate them).

And we have the building blocks for a great scene that could even potentially breakout and have people saying ‘there are fantastic things going on right now in underground rock and punk in Troy and the surrounding areas’. And you know me, I believe the Superdark Collective is responsible for a great deal if not most of this network, collaboration, word of mouth, etc. And now growing on the success of much of what the Superdark Collective generated we have No Fun, a great club in Troy that plays host to so much of the terrific underground music we have around town. It gives the loners in their basements (not making fun; I AM one) something to strive for. A reason to record and distribute. A reason to ask their friends who plays bass guitar and if anyone knows a drummer. These are the organizing factors that create little revolutions, that make music scenes like Seattle, Mineapolis, and Chapel Hill break out so that maybe mainstream listeners don’t know, but folks that are into underground music have their lives vastly improved. Seriously.

If you read this you’ll probably think it’s a useless rambling editorial that won’t solve anything. And you’re right. Because like you I work a full time job and don’t have the time to edit this, make sure it makes sense, or strengthen the points I really want to make about how this publication, Times Boredom, really needs to step up and cover the specific musical niches that are burgeoning around here — the noise scene, the electronic scene, post hardcore, punk, and metal. I’m not criticizing wide reaching sites like Nippertown because I think they’re doing anything wrong, but because I think they’re doing what’s right for them and not just covering what’s already thriving and has its own means of DIY promotion and distribution but EVERYTHING/as much as they can. The reason I began (and talked WAY too much about) with Sirsy is that often means that whatever’s canned and has worked its mainstream appeal factors out, the heavily processed pre-mixed defrosted previously fully cooked spam that doesn’t need the coverage or promotion and is just overpeddling a mediocre product at best is what gets the attention and dissemination it doesn’t need or deserve. We need to fight against the Sirsy’s of the rock world and for the underground punk Haunted Cats, Sugar Holds, Superdark Collectives, 100 Psychic Dreams, No Fun, Architraves and dblgoers and so many more I couldn’t name them all — one person couldn’t even know them all!

So in a way this is a plea; join me in my quest to make the Capital District underground music scene as big and great as it can be. Especially now when we have so many of the building blocks in place. If you want to volunteer to write for Times Boredom, be it an opinion piece about the local band you love, a review of a great local album you just heard, or a sarcastic article making fun of you own band send us an e-mail today, we’re not picky! And as silly as we are and sometimes unintentionally/INTENTIONALLY mean, if we hurt anyone’s feelings we take it down. We just want to have fun and bring all the amateurs together to create something much better than it otherwise would be, so you don’t need any special training or experience to be one of us. Just a desire to join with us to promote and let everyone know about all the great music that’s going on out there.

Because otherwise it’s just me. And I’m already way too old for this shit, and only gettin fatter and lazier.

-Scott Koenig (aka DJ THINK NOISE)

Old Town Crier knows that to be political is to be human

It is hard to write a genuine modern political song that isn’t misunderstood or written off as juvenile.

There are specific styles of music whose history is fundamentally tied to pure political expression (punk and folk) – hearing anything that isn’t political in those genres runs the same risk of being misunderstood or not taken seriously. I think this is a reason why the Ramones were so important (getting way off-track).

There is something very honest about Old Town Crier’s latest release (July 1), You, and the way he approaches the political subject matter of his lyrics. He reminds us that to be political is to be human and vice versa. 

There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the music and the lyrics that not only creates an unexpected message but an accessible one.

The opening title track, ‘You’, takes us down a nostalgic route through the annals of British music as influenced by American 60’s Motown music. The connotation of this style harkens back to days of lazy, rainy Sunday afternoons, writing love letters and daydreaming, listening to the Turtles or The Kinks, all the while feeling like the future is wide open. 

Editors note: The cover of the latest album that for some reason is in the style of an old school British punk band, perhaps to fool the non-believers

But the lyrics don’t speak of those idyllic landscapes of post-war Britain, where the dream of America remains untarnished. Quite the opposite is true. By listening to the album “You,” we are dealt with a conflicting message of warm emotion vs. cold politics, progressivism vs. musical modernism – optimism vs. pessimism. 

The dream of America is very much tarnished. Lough’s tone of voice is not angry, condescending or paranoid, however, it is compassionate. This compassion is felt in the music, which is what makes his political stance more “accessible.” 

Old Town Crier is also about taking direct political action: all proceeds of the album ($2,700) went to three Progressives who ran in the US midterm elections – Christine Olivo (FL-26), Angelica Duenas (CA-29), and Derek Marshall (CA-23).

Editor’s 2nd note: believe it or not this is not actually a picture of the band Old Town Crier. It’s what comes up when you google “Old Town Crier You Massachusetts”. Goddamn but people were miserable before the invention of colored photographs. Anyway as editor I’m not allowed/supposed to put in any of my own content, and if Scott finds out he will definitely fire me, but I’ve gotta entertain myself somehow right? Editing is not the most fun work you can do without getting paid for it. Take this Scott!

The second track, “Thin Blue Line,” with all of its new-wave synth flare of Springsteen-meets-Costello is bold in its imagery, but Lough doesn’t seek to insult the listener’s intelligence by casting blame on one side or another. 

Instead, he paints a very realistic picture that the “thin blue line” separates us from one another, causing more fear through division. “There’s a thin blue line, between hate and fear/the thin blue line’s never been so clear.” 

Track three, “Coal River Mountain,” takes us back to Old Town Crier’s first release, with their origins of bluegrass coming back but to a backdrop of their vintage dirty guitar-blues rock outfit.

Editor’s last note since I’m definitely getting fired after this: I’m pretty sure this is a picture of the Old Town Crier band but it’s not official or anything so don’t quote me.

“Radio On” is the weakest song on the album, but probably still contains enough anthemic energy to at least get the crowd to sway back and forth a few times.

In my review of Old Town Crier’s first release, I’m Longing for you Honey in Middleboro, Mass, I had speculated that Old Town Crier was merely a “side project” for singer-songwriter Jim Lough. With his latest release, Lough’s songwriting has evolved and has revealed that he is a musician with a vision. 

You was mixed and mastered by Dave Westner, while Howie Klein was the executive producer. You can find Old Town Crier’s latest release here: https://oldtowncrier.bandcamp.com/album/you

-Drew Wardle

Dot Dash – “Madman in the Rain” 

The grandiose (and somewhat tacky) album title, “Madman in the Rain,” has created a mild but persistent saccharine taste in my mouth. 

It is a kind of middle-of-the-road sensation that cannot move past its own identity crisis – because the music on said album lacks any conviction and does not take risks. 

Released on the Canadian indie label, The Beautiful Music, Madman in the Rain is Dot Dash’s seventh album. The band are based in Washington D.C, and the members are Terry Banks on vocals and guitar, Hunter Bennett on bass and Danny Ingram on drums.  

The album was recorded at New York City’s Renegade Studios and produced by Grammy-winning Geoff Sanoff. 

The musicianship is impressive and the band is extremely tight, but the songs are an underwhelming pastiche of various bands that have come before and who have done it better.

According to a Washington Post review, Dot Dash are a “…a retro cocktail that recalls the yearning indie-pop of Sarah Records; the ’80s neo-Byrds jangle of R.E.M., Orange Juice and other seminal college radio artists, and tight, throbbing basslines and slashing guitars that evoke the Jam and the Clash…”

I would be hard-pressed to compare this album to anything that the Clash or The Jam have ever done. There are some 60s jangly guitars, appropriately equipped with the wistful and aloof attitude of Zombies-psychedelia, while dressed to the nines in British-rainy-nostalgia.

But the Clash and The Jam? These are different animals altogether. Nowhere on Madman in the Rain do I hear the furtive anger of the Jam or the cryptic-Marxist wordplay of Joe Strummer. 

You’ve got the mind of a criminal 

And the conscience of a saint

You know I can’t predict the weather

But I think it looks like rain – Animal Stone

While I think a minimalist approach can work with lyrics – sometimes beautifully – this stanza lacks a depth/layer that doesn’t exactly unfold and tell us more. What image is this supposed to paint? On the surface, yeah, it sounds poetic, but it is also disjointed in its abrupt turn halfway through.

The title track does well to slightly antagonize the sleepy  songwriting sensibilities locked away behind heavy walls of British history – a style (perfected by The Kinks) was quaint in ways but usually heavy juxtaposed by social and political conscious writing; bands who sprung out of the deep shadow of Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher’s unapologetic and racist economics. 

“Madman in the Rain” as a song title does paint a curious picture of the underdog or the victim of an increasingly unforgiving hyper-active capitalist society, where all emotion has been eradicated, and the creative thinker is left wondering (in the rain) what the hell happened to their purpose. 

I’m not going to assume I know what they intended with this and with their other songs, but it would have been striking to see more connections drawn between this character and his/her/their outside world and to the other tracks on the album. 

Instead, we get an emphatic indifference that can only be matched by the mundane landscape rock n’ roll listeners are trying to escape in the first place. “The weather’s getting wild/the streets are a mess/the light’s gone out of the sky/storm’s coming, I guess.” 

I suppose what I’m saying is, as a fan of great songwriting, I want specifics in writing – I want the writer to convince the listener that only they can say what they are saying.

“Airwaves” has got a great Peter Hook-style bassline towards the end; “Saints/Pharaohs” sounds too much like The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,”; “Dead Gone” has got an early-2000’s indie vibe thing, showcasing Dot Dash’s ability to arrange a well-crafted song, but the chorus didn’t take me to its potential peak.

Favorite song for me is “Wokeupdreaming” hands-down. The lyrics sound more personal, more original and written with more honesty.

I’m not afraid of dying,

But I’m afraid of being dead

I throw the curtains back in the morning

And at night I stay in bed.

Their style of lyric writing worked really well this particular track, which called for this exact kind of slight nursery-rhyme simplicity.

I would be curious to know how much control their indie label has on the band, if any, and if the band are attempting to write for a very specific audience. Unfortunately, they have failed to convince me that this was an album they wanted to make.

-Drew Wardle