“Who says just because we have long hair means we have to play a certain style of music?” asks Jake Dietrich, bass and vocals.
“Well, no one. It’s just supposed to be a funny headline. It’s not even really you talking right now.”
“What the fuck dude? You can’t just pretend you’re me for some joke that’s not even really funny in the first place!”
“Yeah man, that’s pretty fucked up.” chimes in Zach Karpinski. “Wait, what did you say about ‘chiming’ there? I didn’t say anything! This is all you.”
Despite the fact that the three guitarists/vocalists have beautiful long locks, the drummer has short hair. “Well yeah” says Kevin Bohen, lead guitar/background vocals; “drummers can have any hair they want. Haven’t you seen Spinal Tap?”
“That shit would get in my eyes, get caught on the drum sticks, fuck up my playing. I mean, it doesn’t interfere with guitars, but drummers with long hair have a hard time. So fuck that” –Matt Hardin, drums.
The band often makes use of their hair for comic effect. “Yeah, we do the whole headbanging in time thing, kinda like when we all raise our guitars together. You know, it’s that whole Molly Hatchet classic rock bullshit. We think it’s funny. And if you don’t… wait what am I saying, I thought I told you this isn’t even me” Zach interrupts; “No not Zach! It’s just you you asshole! I’m not saying any of this!”
Despite their lack of agreeing to be interviewed by us because we didn’t ask (it’s funnier to us to put words into people’s mouths), Fine Grain is one of the if not THE best band currently terrorizing the Capital District. And definitely one of the best to come out in the past few years. The fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously means, hopefully, they’ll appreciate this article and not just kick my ass for posting this bullshit. Here’s a link to their latest video!
Ipolito, our resident biggest fan of local experimental indie noise project/”gay uncle core” performers Lone Phone Booth (though the rest of us are fans too!) sat down (on the internet) with Grace Annunziato of the group recently to talk about how the pandemic is affecting music, what their writing and recording process is like, and random stuff about, um, corn. Here’s what they came up with.
Ipolito Terentjia (IT): So how are you enjoying the pandemic so far?
Grace Annunziato (GA): ha; i talked a lot before the pandemic about how i wished everything would stop, or at least slow down; i have learned to be more careful what i wish for,there have been some great aspects that have come with it like introspection, focus on my meditation practices, and connecting more deeply with the earth and with my priorities. obviously none of that is worth the toll it has taken! my plans have been shaken up and i forget how to be around people. but i am lucky to have gotten through it relatively unscathed. & it has definitely changed my creative process lots.
IT: Have you been making more music as a result or has it prevented that?
GA: DEFINITELY less music. for months at the beginning it just seemed so silly to write a little song with a pandemic and civil rights movement in full swing. now it’s just harder to get the motivation, but i’ve been finding ways around that. i also love writing about places and experiences which are hard to come by in a pandemic.
IT: I know what you mean. I think a lot of local musicians are feeling that way. Do you live in the capital district?
GA: i do! i live in albany.
IT: How long have you lived here? I think I read something about one of your recordings being at St Rose. Did you go to school there?
GA: i moved here for college in 2016. yeah, i went to saint rose! I graduated May 2020. meaning i finished school virtually. i had planned some long form travel after graduation but wound up sticking around, which has been a blessing in disguise.
IT: Did you study music there?
GA: I studied music industry, so a combination of music tech, business, and performance. i mostly focused on the tech side. i love engineering and production work.
IT: I guess that means you learned a lot about recording. Can you tell us about your recording process and methods?
GA: i usually start with guitar parts, at least i have in the past. once i have the guitar and vocals down i’ll add other instruments. after that is the really fun part, adding samples and field recordings, synths, effects, etc. that part probably takes the most time.
lately though, i’ve been switching it up a little. usually now I’ll start with a sample or field recording and build on that sound; i try to make it the focal point rather than the background. Then I’ll layer guitar, vocals, keys, whatever, on top of that.
i have a little portable stereo recorder i’ve been bringing on hikes. that has been the basis for a lot of music recently. then i just add sounds that feel like they fit the time and place i recorded.
IT: Do you record at home or in a studio?
GA: both! the studio when i was at st rose, now just at home. i’d love to get back in the studio when i have something ready that could use a hi-fi recording.
RE/SOUND needed that clean studio sound! but for more ambient stuff like i’ve been into lately i honestly love the lofi sound of recording at home on my busy street.
IT: Switching to the business side since you said you also studied that, I assume you’ve been self releasing recordings thus far. Have you spoken with or been approached by any local or big record labels? Or do you always see yourself doing things the DIY way and releasing and promoting independently?
GA: i’ve worked with the angels at bee side cassettes and talked with five kill a bit too. i’ve never been approached by a bigger label, but i have been ignored by a few! hahah.
despite having studied it, the business side of things has always made me feel icky. promotion is not my thing. i would rather self release and have only a few people hear it than have a huge release that feels inauthentic.
IT: The ‘who are your major influences’ question is a tired old cliche that signals a lack of imagination on the part of the interviewer. Who are you major influences?
GA: Mirah has affected me since I was a kid. Frankie Cosmos and Girlpool and a lot of straight white emo bands helped me get started. William Basinski and other minimalist composers like Philip Glass, Emily Sprague. The trees that live on my street. And how the light moves around my apartment throughout the day!
Anyone who can combine noise and music, too- Ylayali, spirit of the beehive, the books, etc
IT: That’s a lot of stuff I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to do some background research and put the record buying on Times Boredom’s dime!
GA: sounds like a great plan!!!
IT: What genre, if any, would you say your music could be classified as?
for real, i don’t know how to answer that! somewhere in the alternative umbrella. for now i’ll go with gay uncle core.
IT: A lot of people are saying that indie rock, like rock music in general, has become stale and unexciting. So if you could save Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, or the band Real Estate, who would you let drown first and why?
GA: bye bye, real estate! i’ve covered waxahatchee and courtney barnett is the primordial ooze that my hairstyle was birthed from.
IT: So I’d like to ask you about live performances before I forget. Where have you played in the Capital District? Anywhere you’d like to play? Have you ever toured and/or are you planning to?
GA: i’ve played basements and living rooms all across the capital district! and i have done a small tour in the northeast US. next year i am moving into a van so i will sort of be touring all the time. i’d love to play in the southwest US just because it’s where i’d love to explore.
i would be ecstatic to play in any sweaty basement with my friends in it
IT: So several of the other writers here at Times Boredom wanted me to tell you how much they love your music and especially your latest album ‘RE/SOUND’. It plays around TB HQ pretty much non-stop. What we all most want to know most is, do you plan to stick around the Capital District? Can we hope to hear more from you and see live performances in the near and/or not to distant future?
GA: wow, i really appreciate that! seriously, it means a lot!! and it honestly depends on how COVID goes. i’ve been wanting to travel for a while. I hope to leave albany in the fall as long as everyone who wants a vaccine has one by then. hopefully i’ll be able to play a few shows in albany before that happens! but it seems so uncertain how the transition back into live music will go.
IT: We absolutely look forward to that and hope you’ll keep us in the loop! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude? Maybe another local music artist you’d like to give a shout out to?
number two! my partner alex AKA soo do koo. one of the most inspiring artists i know, & in the midst of releasing a series of video collabs with local legend Derick Noetzel.
thanks for reaching out, and for chatting! much appreciated. can i ask you an interview question before we go?
IT: Sure thing. ask away
GA: what is your favorite vegetable and why???
IT: Hm. A fair question. Although technically corn breaks all the rules, one of things it is is a vegetable. So I’m gonna have to pick corn, since it was such a major achievement of the pre-Colombian American peoples. It’s basically the most scientifically advanced form of nutrition that can grow anywhere under almost any conditions
I fully believe that the import of corn from the Americas allowed all civilizations, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to flourish in a way that allowed them to reflect much more on intellectual pursuits because it feeds so many so efficiently
While it may not be the healthiest kind of food, the technology, knowledge of farming, cultivation, hybridization, and the sheer audacity of taking something that grew only in very specific conditions in the wild yet was modified to make it spread across the entire planet mirrors humankind’s own journey into being the superdominant species on earth, for better or worse.
GA: that was beautiful. never have i thought so deeply into corn’s cultural impact; thank you.
IT: Oh, before I forget, Scott wanted me to specifically ask: “GOATS!!! GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS!! THEY WILL TAKE OVER SOON, JUST LOOK IN THEIR EYES! FEAR THE GOOOAAATTTSSS!!!!”
GA: well said, Scott.
IT: Thanks again and I hope we have an excuse to speak again soon! Please keep making great music! We really love it!
GA: hahah they’re both good points & thank you so much! i really do appreciate all the kindness you all have shown me.
As you all know, we vowed sometime in the past to only report on music and not local news or politics. Did we? I actually don’t remember.
However, the heinous increase in funding for the idiotic Skyway that real news organizations seem to be glossing over pissed us off to the degree that we just had to say something.
Back in October of 2019 and previously we vilified this dumbshit stupid project when it was slated to cost only 3 million for the so-called ‘greenway’ (converting a highway ramp to another pedestrian project to link downtown Albany to the Hudson waterfront, yet another in a series of ‘Smart’ ‘Green’ ‘Insert cliched urban planning term here’ projects to do, well, that exact same thing that haven’t really worked so far because as everyone knows downtown Albany is a ghost town after 5 PM workdays — or at least it was before the pandemic… now it’s just, I don’t know, when was the last time you were there?) and another insane amount for some total pie in the sky type shit that, per our recall, was proposed back in the 70s as ‘multi-modal’ transportation solutions including sending people in some sort of sci-fi bubble from the train station across the river in downtown Rensselaer to somewhere (most likely the gorgeous and convenient to walk to everywhere downtown Greyhound bus center) downtown.
But now the project costs have exploded to 5 times the insanely high amount for a really stupid fucking idea in the first place. And, well, everyone’s just reporting it. We haven’t seen an op-ed or even the usual snarky one liner snuck in to articles by non-Unionized employees afraid of losing their jobs but unable to completely forego their journalistic training and integrity by not saying anything at all.
What strikes us as most unusual as the extra cost, from 3 million to 15 million, is EXACTLY the amount of the hole in the Budget Mayor Sheehan complained about for years. 12 million. W. T. F?
Now’s also a great time, since the recession resulting from the pandemic seems to be not exactly abating but not as atrociously frightening — and we all know that as soon as the smoke clears and cities like Albany fail to get the funds they were counting on to fill the holes from all the issues they’ve had from Biden’s $1.9 trillion corporate pork-a-way fail to materialize. Well done planning board! Well done City Council! Well done Mayor Sheehan!
Is anyone at all in the world other than us disagreeing that this is a great use of a lot of desperately needed funds, handing it over to stupid yuppie friendly developers while the terrible poverty in so many areas of the city of Albany continues unabated…
Not reporting from our fake location somewhere in the hills, this is Times Boredom saying What. The. Fuck. Albany?
Shit I gotta get back to work my boss is coming! If I said anything non-factual let me know cause I gotta go NOW!
I have this ongoing argument with a lot of my friends. Indie rockers, prog nerds, hipsters, contrarians, noise music enthusiasts… for some reason they don’t appreciate current hardcore punk. Sure, the early stuff like Black Flag and Minor Threat was groundbreaking and great they say, but now it’s just people doing the same thing over and over. As if there’s some kind of ‘progression’ in music that’s gonna bring it all to perfection some day. As if they wouldn’t flip their shit for a local band that sounds exactly like Can, or a shitty touring band just because it has some wanker thief of singer songwriter folk cliches like Will Oldham or Bill Callahan.
I get so angry at their hypocrisy and ignorance the only thing that calms me down is blasting music like the 7 inch I just got from Male Patterns loud as my stereo goes for days. Because regardless of whether my friends appreciate it, shit like this to me is some of the most truly honest and authentic music you’ll ever hear, local or otherwise.
That being said, much as I love local hardcore punk, I’m in no sense as versed in it as I should be. I can’t tell you which micro-genre Male Patterns may or may not belong to, whether they’re post crust, pre-grind, powerviolence, etc. I don’t know the difference between a break beat and a whatever else the terminology may be, and don’t give a shit (though as an unpaid but self styled critic perhaps I should).
The most obvious influence a poser like myself immediately hears is early eighties Black Flag (Damaged/Everything Went Black/My War period). Both the sludgey off the cuff riffs of Mike Moak and the angry, raspy vocals of Brendan Halayko unmistakeably invoke that classic period of American hardcore. It’s also clear that Male Patterns has taken cues from dozens (if not hundreds) of local hardcore punk bands both old and new like Police Line and Devoid of Faith. And of course there’s at least some influence from After the Fall, the renowned decades strong local band that guitarist Mike Moak is the frontman, vocalist and guitarist for. There are deep histories mixed in here that whole books could be written about but never will because just a few notes of this split ep convey all the beauty and brutality of an ever evolving yet always true to its roots hardcore punk aesthetic and immediacy.
The first track on side B of this 7 inch (or the first track in general for those of you on bandcamp) is proof positive of what I’m talking about. “Handcuffed to the grid and I’m about to crack, Our lives are micro chipped and there’s no going back… AUTOMATIC!” The world is fucked and so are we. There’s no way out all, you can do is scream into the void. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
All tracks share a common aesthetic (a common theme with punk bands — songs sound the same and fuck you if you don’t like em); full on starts segueing into rhythmic build ups and take downs, chugging riffs and shouted single word or phrase choruses.
Vocalist Brendan Halayko (who I recognize from his days back with local punk legends the Neutron Rats that we were too drunk to remember seeing) has an idiosyncratic, full throated raspy half shout that conveys grit, anger, and despair in full measure. Regardless of whether or not he sets out to sound original or idiosyncratic, his voice has a rugged angry survivor quality that I haven’t heard the likes of anywhere else (but is clearly influenced by hardcore legends like Henry Rollins).
Self Abuse is lyrically quite similar to a Keith Morris Black Flag song. Straightforward, hopeless, depressing, and kranky as the sky is big.
Fear Mongering is a screed against anyone and everyone that makes life into one paranoid fantasy about terrorism. Fact is danger is everywhere, terrorism’s just one more guise; “A thousand ways to the grave/we’ve evolved so quickly/but are so easily afraid”. It’s all too easy to play on people’s fears to get them to stay inside, live like mice and just consume. But if you fall prey to that, it’s like you’re already dead. Instead, Male Patterns tells us to “Live your life!”
When’s all said and done, to me the greatest thing about the kind of classic, ceaseless hardcore music that’s been going on since the late 70s is its self aware disposability and lack of (endless fight against) pretention. The ultimate nihilistic denial of any sort of progression in a musical form that stays true to its roots instead of trying to have individualized gimmicks that shows how special the group you’re listening to is, the ceaseless recycling and repetition that says ‘this is our music and we’re playing it cause we love it. We don’t want your money or your fame, we just want to express ourselves the same way our heroes have for years for ourselves and our friends who all feel similarly.’
And Male Patterns is yet another in this hardcore grind of American punk bands; they stand out from their peers in a way I really appreciate in their complete lack of trying to be ‘he-man’ music or show off how tough they are (a characteristic of more adolescent and foolish ambitious young punk bands), and what each of their individual talents brings to the band as veterans of dozens of other great punk rock groups that wanted nothing more than to write and play great music, and stop as soon as it stops feeling right and starts feeling like work. And in all likelihood, when this inevitably happens to yet another great punk band and sadly we have no more Male Pattern music to review, we’ll probably hear about Brendan, Mike, KC, and Dan’s new bands. And the vicious cycle continues. You either get it and you love it or you don’t and you never will.
As the mail room attendant here at Times Boredom HQ I get an unusual behind the scenes peek of our operations. Still I was dumbfounded when last monday Scott Koenig, our editor in chief, pulled me aside and said “Gram old boy old pal, you seem to be caught up on your sorting for the day. Maybe you could help me out by doing one of these reviews I’ve got pilling up!”
Not to be one to miss a golden opportunity I started eyeing the folder labeled “Maggot Brain” as I’ve been excited to hear their new stuff. “Not so fast there Grammy boy” Scott knowingly interjected, “I have an album that’s perfect for you, I’ve got to see if your reviews are worth even committing to print before you waste time trying to review a great local metal band.” He handed me a folder labeled “Asa Morris” and I thought to myself, who the hell is that? Hopefully he riffs hard.
Here I am on the following Wednesday figuring that I should probably get this over with before the holiday. Opening the folder up I’m greeted by a fresh pressed CD-R with Loud & Sad scribbled on it in sharpie, an oddly formatted packet of lyrics, and a note from Scott telling me to check my email for the photos and cursing me out for not changing the toner in the color copier again. I pop the cd into my vintage Aiwa XR-X7 CX-LX7U.
The album starts off with an instrumental track named ‘Theme for a British Television Series’ which is a pretty apt name as it starts with a riff reminiscent of something Nick Drake would have come up with (if he hadn’t taken that forever nap after feasting on his happy pills). It drips of the same sort of melancholy but is simpler and as it repeats a full band arrangement joins in for a short jaunt before the track ends at about 41 seconds fading out one note for about 60 more seconds — at least I think. I don’t know for sure as I skipped to the next track.
While the next track, ‘Away We Go’, started playing I opened up my email and poured myself a pint of Rebel Yell bourbon. The tune can only really be described as lo-fi pop. I’m almost glad the lyrics were included in the folder as the vocals were buried in the busy and noisy mix. I say almost because the last thing this world needs right now is another song about driving across the country for a girl.
As the next track starts the cover image finishes loading (on my 56 kb/s internet connection). I think it’s a purple cat. It might not be a cat but it looks more like a cat with every sip of bourbon. Unlike the track I very much like cats. The track reminds me of my recurring nightmares of being forced to listen to shitty rock tunes on the school bus early in the morning. With its creepy toy piano/ palm muted guitar chord progression, the track repeats until a false climax around the one minute mark where Asa kicks on a distortion pedal and strums the same power chord 69 times (hehehe) before the piano loop begins again and the guitar goes back to being annoying. The whole thing loops around again this time with some extra strumming when the power chord gets loud again and the song ends with the chord progression with the distortion pedal left on.
The next track is another hissy instrumental with a name I like, Paper Bag on Fire, which makes me think that the paper bag is filled with what this album is made out of. At this point as I’m pouring another pint of critic juice the photo of Asa pops up right underneath my mouse cursor and it looks like there is a little hand on his nipple. I included a photo of the photo, look at it, it’s so funny.
Finally we have come to the end of the album, and to its title track ‘Loud & Sad’. I actually kinda like this song though it may be the booze talking or maybe i’m just used to hearing songs mixed like this or even quite possibly it’s the lyrics that make me think he didn’t get the girl after all. Who doesn’t like seeing the hero fall on his face? Either way Asa, whoever the fuck you are, if you do ever read this if you got the girl it’s not because of this record. It’s despite it ,and that’s real love. If you didn’t it would give you a chance to make a better album for the right woman. One with maybe a clearer mix that even the shittiest of speakers can reproduce clearly and less of that one pitch shifting delay used all over that makes this album sound like 2013 all over again. Remember next time you can’t polish a turd, it’s too soft, you have to shellac it. To most of the others who will read this it may sound a bit harsh but at least this chap has put out an album, his fourth this year. You most likely haven’t and that makes you a bigger turn than what you could fit in the bag.
Times Boredom (TB:): Tell us a little bit about your former band Iudica and your new band Terrallite. What are the biggest differences you see between them?
Brian Michael: Well, iüdica was a grunge project that started with our old bassist Chris Walker and some members of Terrallite including myself and our drummer Nate Fidd
TB: So that was intentionally meant to be like grunge genre stuff?
Brian Michael: That was six years ago. And yes at the onset I would say we set out to be a grunge band. It was what we all knew.
TB: That’s actually good that you brought that up b/c as stupid old men scenesters we have no idea how old anyone else is; how old were you when iudica started?
Brian Michael: I was 27 when we began, I had just moved to the Glens falls/Lake George area after spending many years in the Albany area. Almost a year ago we decided to shake it up. Our bassist wanted to try a different musical endeavor, and couldn’t commit as much. We had sort of stagnated in his defense.
TB: I know that Iudica’s labelled a Lake George Band on Bandcamp; what city is your new Band Terrallite centered around?
Brian Michael: It’s hard to tell. We still do practice in lake George, but if I had to choose I would say Glens falls. We frequently perform in Saratoga, and Albany as well.
TB: So you’re an Albany native currently in exile/ I mean living in Lake George…
Brian Michael: I exiled myself man. After a failed business endeavor, I needed to refocus my life. I walked away from a lot of friends, a lot of drugs, and a lot of old habits when I moved.
TB: So how do you see Terrallite in relation to Iudica? A progression from that sound or a whole new thing entirely?
Brian Michael: I view it as a total progression from the sound, and new thing entirely. We took on Thom Grover, who is a song writer. So now me and him write and have two totally different styles. (On the new recordings) I wrote shimmy and medicated. He wrote rusted spoon.
We also aren’t doing grunge anymore. I’m not really sure how to peg the sound but I feel it is definitely alternative rock or from that vein, but it has this kind of darker pop element as well. And we added our new Bassist, Christian Colón. Thom is mostly noise guitar, but on what he writes he does rhythm.
TB: Yeah I’ve hear your new stuff and I think it’s very different; much more mature if that makes sense
Brian Michael: We started working with a producer who’s really honed in our new sound. His name is Tom Case. A legend in my opinion.
TB: I hear much more danceable stuff, new wave influences, and in general it’s still alternative but yeah less grungey. How much of that difference do you think is due to production, which does sound much cleaner and more professional?
Brian Michael: We write most of the material as a band should – in a garage or basement for example – but in the studio is really when we start to flesh out the details and cut out the nonsense to make them more coherent sound wise. I think the difference really is knowing to think about our music in a way where we perceive it from the listeners standpoint.
TB: I know we’ve all been on hold from local live music in a while, but have you noticed more people dancing and/or making more motion with your new stuff? I know I’m tapping my toes over here…
Brian Michael: When we started, we only had old people at the bar sitting staring at us kind of confused. I used to be really into house music – it became more important for us to write for the listener. Once we started Terrallite we walked away from most iüdica material and pushed for this style of influence and vibe.
TB: Interesting. I feel like it’s really hard to write straightforward rock/pop music these days so most people rely on pedals or volume or some other gimmick. However, you guys manage to play a really straightforward sound and keep it interesting based on great songwriting. How hard would you say you work on the actual melodies? And how do you manage to keep it so interesting?
Brian Michael: So I don’t work on melodies while writing. I also don’t work on lyrics either — which is how we used to do it. Lyrics, then melody, then riffs, then drums. Now it’s a music first approach. I have about 150+ 10 to 30 second recordings of catchy things I get in my head. Then I’ll transpose it to guitar and as a Band we pickup from there. Once the song is made I start working on lyrics and melodies and only do it off the cuff. Whatever comes natural.
So I guess all I’m trying to say is it’s a totally different process from how we used to write and I think that he has produced a much more free formed way of approaching music that satisfies us.
I use 3 pedals by the way. Overdrive, reverb, and a boost. You can get a lot of tone out of a guitar by bending it or picking in different ways. I am eyeballing a Leslie rotary speaker though, I have some really cool tunes that just neeeeed it
TB: Before the pandemic you were clearly a band that played out a lot at various places. With all of the clubs closed during the pandemic and likely many closing down for good, where do you think you’ll be playing when/if things return to post-normal? Do you see yourselves branching out, trying to play larger clubs?
Brian Michael: Well, venues close but connections aren’t so easy to lose. We try to talk to our friends in the business and keep them all on the up and up with what we’ve got going on. We also have been playing any booking we can. I’ve never played so many outdoor shows in my life. We have a booking at paulys hotel December 18. It’s weird because we aren’t allowed to promote it or anything.
Our goal is, yes, to play larger clubs (other than our favorite dives). During covid we will play what we can though. Our last show prior to covid was Skyloft. We had nanola and Dino bbq get cancelled. Rough start to 2020.
TB: Somewhat along those lines, clearly the influence of social media and its increased usage for bands during the pandemic is changing the way you interact with your audience. how do you feel about the ways that social media has changed and is continuing to change what it means to be a music group interacting with its audience?
Brian Michael: From what I can tell it’s forced us to take on more work. We used to just post and share but now people want CONTENT. And it’s not cheap to make good content as a band. So we are exploring ways to put out quality live recordings or sessions, investing heavily in merch for online sales etc etc.
People also expect more music quickly. We can’t release an ep or album and disappear for a year or two. We want to be ready to follow up each release with another release.
The digital age is way more demanding, so we hope once shows get going we’ll be able to offset the finances needed to get a well rounded presence online and in person.
TB: I’ve heard that a lot. Digital media’s putting pressure on public groups to be present far more often; sending messages out in addition to just playing out or touring. But it also has the benefit of letting people know about that increasingly important part of being a band which is ‘merch’. How do you feel about the increased use of merch to promote the band, provide income, and generally represent yourselves as opposed to just music? I see on your fb page you’ve been working with local artists on that too and think that’s really cool.
Brian Michael: Yeah, we always want to work with new and local artists. They have ideas we couldn’t ever dream of. I’m just a guitarist, we’re just a band. We need artists to add color to that story.
I have a background in music management, and to be honest my mindset has always been that an artist makes about 70% of income on merch, the rest on shows. If you’ve been paid by local venues you know it’s not enough. So for me I see merch as the devil we need
I’ve always loved production, and used to put on shows and festivals. I work festivals a lot still, but would say the management you have to learn along the way if you’re in the industry.
TB: I hear that. Rock’s not something you study, it’s something you gotta learn on the STREET!
Who would you say are Terrallite’s major influences?
Brian Michael: I would say our influences are very broad; Asking just me I would say The Killers, The Cure, Brand New, and Nirvana in no particular order. Nate, our drummer is really into Ginger Baker, Danny Carey (from Tool), and Keith Moon. Thom (guitarist and vocalist) is into Pink Floyd and Nirvana – though there’s a little bit of Deftones and Used influence with the heavier songs he writes. Our bassist Christian is a metal head haha; he’s into Periphery, Karnivool, Death and Obscura.
TB: So I know this is tricky given how much things keep changing, but do you have a timeline for when you expect to officially release some Terrallite music?
Brian Michael: Well we were going to have the material fully mastered and released as an EP heading into spring /early summer. Since that’s changed we are actually in the process of scouting studios and think a summer 2021 (think June) because we are going to possibly release a full album instead. It’s important to us to be able to perform live and release the music, so we have to wait a little longer.
TB: I am definitely looking forward to it. Any bizarre political statements you wanna make before we conclude so we can edit them out?
Brian Michael: No, I will just say that like our music our band also has politics that cover a broad spectrum. We all have utmost respect for each other, and recognize that it’s the things that we share in common – like stupid moments on stage – that are the most important.
TB: Sounds like you guys really get along which is definitely good to hear since I hope you’re around a long time. I’d say most local bands don’t really know what they want or what they’re in for so they end up breaking up too soon.
Brian Michael: We broke up to reform, and be serious about music, about business, and mostly about fun.
TB: Deadly. Serious. About. FUN.
Brian Michael: Ha ha. Terrallite is a band I’m proud to be in, and I don’t think I would want to perform with any other mates
TB: Do you have a live or streaming date coming up that you’d like to promote?
Brian Michael: We will be streaming live on December 18th and will make sure to post about the time that is to occur.
On their latest album Illumine, Maggot Brain has delivered their long awaited follow up to their phenomenal full length debut Stop and Breathe. This album clearly sees the band moving away from pure sludge metal and post-hardcore, experimenting with the stoner of Sleep, the prog of Isis, and the great early work of popular sludge band (now who knows what to call em) Mastodon. However, all the old fervor and brutality of their former albums and singles are still heavy in the mix. Maggot Brain is clearly growing and developing, experimenting with the dozens of metal genres that have evolved over its fifty year history (even NWOBHM believe it or not).
One thing that hasn’t changed is the uncompromising vocals, especially of lead singer Mike Hait. Despite the increased use of melody, riffs, effects, and lulling passages from the rest of the band, all vocals from all contributing members are still painfully screamed without mercy, vanity, or anything approaching the more commercial side of sludge and stoner metal you might hear on the radio. This may be after all what sets Maggot Brain completely apart from their peers, the unyielding in your face post-hardcore throat straining vocals that remind one of Steve Von Till of Neurosis, but only when he fuckin screams. Also it probably should be mentioned these guys are clearly influenced by forty years of local hardcore and metal scenes, spanning hundreds of bands that most of us have never heard of (though we’d be happy to trade 7 inches of the ones we have). And as usual, the beautifully sorrowful doom/noise passages that show how little they care for ‘staying in their lanes’ and differentiate them from so many other metal bands that refuse to grow or change.
This album was clearly layered by the band, moving from relatively laid back (though portentous of doom of course) to full driving madness and back again several times through the course of the record. As soon as you’re lifted up and driven on, they unexpectedly bring you back down to the ‘pit of despair’ in split seconds. And then back up just as quickly.
The record begins with a harsh though low noisey passage (somewhat similar to their previous album which began with a short buddhist throat chant), which segues into a wailing stoner riff with a beautiful echo delay that keeps the noise in the mix. Death metal/metalcore vocals, bass and drums join the mix for what’s clearly a far more laid back song then Maggot Brain’s produced before. Spiraling is a triumph of noise and stoner metal that could be a radio hit if not for all its spikey edges. It ends with a sludgey, almost grunge riff.
Sharp Teeth builds the momentum with drummer Jared Krak double kicking, Sean Fortune’s grinding bass lines and Ryan Slowey’s palm muted riffs; the typical fare I’ve come to expect from Maggot Brain. It builds to a galloping wail, all the while post-hardcore/grind vocals from both lead and backing vocals of Hait, Slowey and Fortune. Then ends on a doom note, shouting vocals fading out into noise. Lyrics are brutally unsentimental and, like much death metal, make frequent reference to body parts and the scar tissue that forms over emotional suffering.
As the Crow flies is straight sludge/post-grind at full driving clicks. Aptly so given the lyrical content references the envisioned Christian resurrection, rejecting any notions of heavenly fare offered, instead riding into the sun “to burn in the flames forever”. Halfway through the song slows to the progressive sludge and nihilistic sound of turn of the century Neurosis.
The Beast again gallops. The lyrics are the stereotypically ominous, almost prophesizing. Recognizable as being influenced by Neurosis, but also possibly Black Flag (Neurosis began after all as a fairly straight hardcore band). By now the tone and speeds of the record are clear. If you love it by now, you’re gonna love the rest. If you don’t, well fuck you then.
Illumine is the track that stands out on the record. Seguing noise/doom passages reminiscent of Isis lead up to proggy metal style jamming. The vocals join, way low in the mix. Lyrics are impenetrable and clearly very personal. This is clear doom to show the band’s not finished experimenting with any genre they like.
By Paradise Hill, the influence of both Neurosis and early Mastodon comes barreling in, rushing without mercy nor sentimentality. This song is almost catchy in its soaring chord progression, preceded and ante by the driving sludge Maggot Brain’s known for.
And then another left turn into The Sea which is practically Slayer/NWOBHM style hyper blues/metal, followed by those soaring noise metal passages I personally love.
The album ends with Eidolon, the track where Isis’ influence is most clearly heard. The whole song is like an ode to that sickly sweet prog/doom, battered of course by the vicious vocals.
Overall, this record is certainly not as stark or immediately ear catching as their 2012 effort. It’s a record that grows on you and digs its bloody claws into your mind slowly, churning with the ages of a thousand thousand metal and hardcore bands that add their influences into the mix. Maggot Brain is clearly transitioning and experimenting. I can’t wait to hear where they go next.
The strongest influence I heard when I first listened to Lone Phone Booth was an unmistakable similarity to the vocals of Chan Marshall/Cat Power. However, since Grace Annunziato (the mastermind/main songwriter behind Lone Phone Booth) is at least 20 years younger than I am, it’s difficult to determine a concrete set of influences given my own time limited knowledge base. Even if the influences I hear and am familiar with are present, it’s possible that these have come to Annunziato removed through other, newer artists.
In any case the beautifully sorrow and highly expressive vocals are at least Marshallesque, though they also at times sound Van Ettenesque (Sharon), Timonate (Mary, of Helium fame), or Jane O’Neilly (TJO from so many great bands… I’ll stop now). Especially since the music, while poetically sorrowful and at times as hopeless as Cat Power, herald a wide range of influences and personal innovations. Especially on tracks like 222; a hi-fi version of a beautiful yet endlessly unhappy version of an early lo-fi Cat Power track yet replete with strings and all kinds of warm sounds from signature found sounds (which are almost always present on all the songs on the album) and noise collages.
Another influence I hear loud and distorted (which to be fair I hear everywhere in good independent rock like music that may well have come from their influence on grunge, Radiohead, and every other good thing that’s come out since them) is Sonic Youth. This record is rife with intentional delays, missteps, and a wall of noise at least made partially by naturally distorted guitars. But also, a striving for good yet unusual pop vocal and guitar line melodies to accompany the less traditional, more experimental (and thus to me at least far more interesting) music. A Month in Autumn, for example, could be a lost track from Sister. It even has a noise buildup and breakdown at the end. But I also hear echos of of Sonic Youth acolytes such as Polvo and Blonde Redhead. And who knows what the kids are actually listening to these days that sounds like the shit I know? Yeah, I’m old. So old I should stop rambling metastically about influences which I’m most likely getting all wrong already, right?…
Yeah. So, not only is Lone Phone Booth impressive for a local group, but as I already knew from their debut album ‘Music For the Faint of Heart’, has the potential to be a national (albeit underground as all good music is in this century) phenomenon in the independent rock community. But this usually requires ceaseless touring, label support, and an enormous word of mouth, or better yet word of mass media like Pitchfork or Stereogum. For now Lone Phone Booth only has word of mouth. But the words are getting louder and more encouraging with every new piece of music released. Music for the Faint of Heart was one hell of a debut album, but alot of that greatness was in the potential that was clearly available to this undeniably talented and unique singer songwriter. RE/SOUND has completely, magnificently delivered on that potential promise.
Whereas the previous record relied on fairly typical ambient sounds like low pitched conversations for background noise and muttered singing that reminded me (probably not many others by this point given how OLD all my references are) of the second Velvet Underground record (valuing ambience above all else), this record uses far more unusual noises for its found sounds. And also like the self-titled ‘Velvet Underground’ RE/SOUND is full of wonderfully catchy and pretty pop melodies. The use of ambient sounds not usually found in typical music is on full display on “Greyhound”, made up in large part by old touch tone and early modem sounds. But, of course, these noises are blended in with synths and processed to give them a background fuzz that blends them seamlessly into the song in a way that probably makes every other songwriter ask themself; why don’t we do that?!
In terms of pop melodies, every other track that doesn’t include experimental noise passages or starts and stops delivers not only catchy tunes but well played guitar lines, such as Dimmer and Creation Myth. Iridescent similarly has beautifully worked out melodies alongside found sounds like clinking silverware(?) which reminds me of the tender sullenness of a Tara Jane O’Neill song. A mesmerizing passageway into a sombre picture of an everyday humdrum living space where “each floor board creaks and snores”. And when you try to influence or change things, big or small, “some plants die, and some plants grow. how much of it can u control?” Not a lot. But the way Grace describes it is highly controlled, and conveys exactly the message the lyrics paint with the unusual but highly skilled guitar playing and drop outs for unusual sound collages.
There are also a couple of unexpected tracks that border on circus music, and when listening to the lyrics you see how well it fits. For example, Creation Myth (ostensibly based on a bizzarre Larry Bird obsessed Svalina poem) asks;
“when you sink to the bottom of the stew, who are you? reality can be a downer too, one strange view.”
The even more evil carnival feel of the depressingly (ironically) peppy Hot Wax begins with a lyric that reminds me of the Bedhead song ‘Unfinished’, both of which start with dipping your fingers in hot wax. But it ends with the devastating realization that; “Even when you dissolve, you still have to work your job” — a cryptic statement like that somehow makes perfect sense, in this silly unplanned circus of a protestant work ethic society of ours where your life is defined by whether you work or not and the only thing you have to do to ostensibly prove your worth is going in to work every day. And Annunziato’s wise enough to know “there will be pain, it will go away…”, like it’s all just some stupid joke that still unreasonably guides our silly, pointless little lives and deaths.
Overall, this second (we think; if not, tell us where we can get the others!!!) record delivers on the promise of “Music for the Fain of Heart” to fulfillment and then some. Lone Phone Booth and its ‘lead visionary’ (we’re not actually sure how many of the instruments are played by Annunziato given the litany of at least a dozen other people that are ‘featured’) have here clearly taken their songs to the next level. Proving to be adept at both ambient noise, aptly scored backgrounds played by ‘classical’ instruments, AND innovative sounds from everyday objects that seamlessly careen into a sleepy, pensive, and sombre in the best way record.
Per our understanding, Annunziato and the other members of Lone Phone Booth recently attended the College of St Rose (which has a surprisingly excellent musical program and studio). It’s unclear if they will remain here in the Capital District or move on to greener or more urban pastures in the near and/or far future. Wherever they venture, we’ll certainly be following them. Though we hope upon hope that they’ll stay in the area and perform live for a long time to come. It adds so much beautiful noise that we here at Times Boredom and in the Capital District independent DIY scene can NEVER get enough of. Thanks so much for sharing your voice and your vision with us. It hasn’t and won’t go unnoticed, and we’ll sing its praises to anyone willing to listen.
Do yourself a favor and give Lone Phone Booth’s new record a listen here, or on Spotify or other streaming services. We do however, highly recommend the Bandcamp link, where if you make a purchase all proceeds go to the presciently relevant and vitally important GWORLS rent and gender affirming surgery fund, which provides badly needed help and community services for transgender black people.
Times Boredom has been rightfully criticized for the past few months over the format of its reviews. The consensus is that all reviews contain far too much exposition (often taking 3 or 4 paragraphs to even begin to review the record) as well as adding far too many personal anecdotes and inside jokes that no one seems to understand.
Therefore, as Editor In Chief, from now on I will be writing a foreword to every album review that contains both extraneous exposition and way more personal anecdotes and inside jokes. In addition, I may just ramble on about nothing in particular, so long as it has to do with music that is somehow related to the review in no other respect than that it is considered music.
We don’t give a damn about our reputation. We work very hard to provide everything here to our readers completely free, and therefore believe we’re entitled to a little leeway in terms of how we do things here. We dance about architecture, and the artist (by which we mean the writer) is ALWAYS present and makes their presence KNOWN. Our apologies if this bores you; if you’ve read any of our other articles no doubt you’re aware that we are pretentious, artsy, old, and cantankerous. DJ THINK NOISE is not just a character to us. He embodies the spirit of our 5 year blog thingy. Also he’s my dad. Or my grandpa? My lineage is highly suspect ever since that situation in the steppes of Poland and Germany between the Himalayas and the Andes.
That being said, I’m kidding. I won’t write pre-ambles to any review, however, I will encourage all of our writers to do so. Beware those of you that criticize the criticizers; we’re just the kind of ne’er do wells that will take that criticism as an invitation to make our prose even more unrecognizable and idiosyncratic, whether we lose readers or gain them (it’s all the same to our many advertisers that pay us gobs of money just to spiel our post-mersh bullshit all over the walls).
If we were to defend ourselves, we’d begin by noting that very few, if any, of us are professional writers or ever have been. Our Chief Editor failed remedial english twice as a result of only reading byzantinely worded academic books from the 19th century and refusing the F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway they were assigned. So writing, forthwith and the latter forgiving the alder, about Freud’s ignorance of the work of Piaget was judged to be autism in need of training if ever the student was able to communicate adequately through composition. I’m certain most of our other writers faced similar resistance to their non-conformist styles of putting words together to convey the inexpressible things they felt instead of words they were supposed to write as practice and demonstration of the ability to conform. (how pretentious).
Thanks again for reading. We welcome all comments and submissions. Just remember, if we don’t like your album, we may get so hung up on an aside about an artist that influenced you we may not say anything negative at all and have been working on this so long that we just click ‘publish’ bc we’re tired of working so hard without remuneration.
Send all recordings to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put them on our shitlist of stuff to get to but fuck up and piss off the people we’re seeking to flatter. Stay tuned for a bunch more reviews, including the new record from Maggot Brain, Lone Phone Booth, and Asa Morris!
yr pal, Scott Koenig, Editor In Chief, Times Boredom media and merchandising (buy our new wind up DJ THINK NOISE — says “you don’t know shit about shit!” over and over until its battery runs out!)