Mr. Cancelled has finally released their long awaited nearly 30 minute long ep and we can’t stop listening to it. This lo-fi, indie rock, post punk masterpiece has melodies that are meticulously crafted and divinely inspired that soar above the mundane indie landfill surrounding them at every corner of mediocre indie rock… yet the band is as humble as the lo-fi packaging of a paper sleeve and a couple of printed decals on a CD-R reveals…
(cover art by Shane Sanchez)
Made up of local legendary scenesters (all involved with the Collective in major or minor ways) the band has many more claims to royalty than just being one of the best local rock bands around. A pop punk trio in the traditional sense, with Chris Brown on the bass cranked high setting the entire atmosphere for the songs, drummer Jon Cantiello (also of national superstars hailing from Glens Falls Candy Ambulance) a phenomenal driving force with kung fu precision and timing, and a bunch of swearing distorted noise coming out of Ziroli’s guitar as he seamlessly goes back and forth between rhythm, lead, solo, and just plain noisewash. Not to mention the production work by local legend Paul Coleman of Haley Moley and Sinkcharmer which is crunchy, clear, and sharp at all points it needs to be to highlight every particular aspect of the band as it shines.
The major highlights of the album are the vocals and melodies, both mostly the province of self confessed ‘old post-punk guy’ Gary Ziroli’. And indeed the band moves from pop punk to ‘Old Guy Post Punk’ seamlessly (like their fellow local bands and scenesters that are ominpresent here at Times Boredom because we’re in half of them like Dryer, Che Guevara T-Shirt, and Hill Haints), still making excellent original rock music in a traditional indie rock vein even though its major progenitor may be getting elderly and losing hair, which just makes it all the sweeter, more worldly, and more accepting that it’ll never be appreciated by as many people at the level it really deserves to be. You could certainly say ‘Old Guy Post Punk’ is more of an attitude than a sound, but, you know, you’d be wrong. It’s both. And I’ve already discussed it enough for you to get bored with it most likely (if not write to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll write a whole article about it!).
Every song is a three (or almost three) minute masterpiece of verse, bridge, and chorus (or some variant thereof) proving once again that the art of punk rock songwriting will never die and is taken very seriously by them that hold fast to it. It’s clear that every catchy melody and riff came to lead singer Ziroli in the middle of the night when the Spirit moved him to create something that sounded entirely original yet incredibly familiar in a comforting way to anyone that’s a fan of punk or post-punk.
And the final real star here is the goddamned humility! Whoever’s writing the melodies is a true blue, hardworking artist that only cares about the results, and not whether any audience hears it, appreciates it, or even gives a shit. These songs are works of art for the art of songwriting, perfectly fine tuned and crafted down to every syllable sung, every bass melody underneath, every… snare… hit (inside joke).
‘Nowhere Again’ begins the record with a Sebadoh like melody that tells you exactly where this record is telling you it’s going to go, hahahah (fake laugh) ‘I’m going nowhere again’, and then it takes off and shoots to one of the catchiest melodies you’ll ever hear. Oh yeah, it’s going nowhere alright!
‘Failure Street’ similarly brings you in with a catchy bassline and a subtle melody that gives way to an exploding chorus of high melody vocals about failing, while doing exactly the opposite.
‘Half Dead or Worse’ (ostensibly inspired by Glens Falls legendary folk songwriter/performer William Hale) is classic three-four cord pop punk with pop melodies that go back to super catchy nascent fifties rock songs and don’t let up until the 2 minutes end and you just want to hear it again.
But before you rewind, you’re on to ‘You Can Go’; another undeniably will get stuck in your head melody that owes as much to Sebadoh as it does to the Kinks (though Gary may very well deny he listens to either one).
‘Jesus Disturbed’, the standout track of the album will definitely get stuck in your head. A perfectly crafted pop song full of hooks reminiscent of the dirgy but poppy Nirvana hits.
‘Every Town has its Dolls’ a song that sounds like a Mudhoney track sardonically inciting you to commit suicide because you’re gonna die anyway so you might as well choose the way you die. And it ends in the most perfectly humble way, with a fuckup left in where Gary shouts ‘FUCK! God damn it!’ as though he played the wrong cord or lost his voice.
Finally, ‘Show You’ (continuing with our grunge rock comparison theme, warranted or just for laughs), is like a Soundgarden song gone wrong that you can’t stop laughing at as you try to sing. Classic mock in the vein of every indie rock band that wants you to know that they don’t take any of it very seriously, especially not the gods of rock nor themselves.
Just wondrous fun from a band that wants you to think they don’t take themselves very seriously; but while they’re heavy (and funny) on the self-deprecation, it’s clear that every note on this album is exactly where they want it to be and worked out that it should go. All the melodies are memorable and catchy, but just enough, without any showboating at all, that you can call it… Mr. Cancelled.