Nonagon’s ‘They Birds’

First off; super geek level esotericism and ages NC-17(?) and up warning. Nonagon is a band forged in the fires between post hardcore, math rock, and screamo in the fertile delta of the Chicago aughts. Since then they’ve adhered to a fiercely dedicated integrity and obsession with writing fantastic short songs with unexpected time signature changes overwrought in complexity so finely worked out they only release about an ep’s worth of these terrific songs every 4 years. As a result, every single production they’ve released since they began warms. our. bones. To hear music that sounds like the constant noise in your head is a transcendent level of empathy that lets you know, there are others just like you! Granted they may be far better at getting those sounds out of their instruments and conveying those feelings, but we’re at least cousins if not straight up siblings. We walk around with a soundtrack of thought in our heads uncannily matched by the music that comes out of specific nearly impossible to discover magical circles and wonder, how’d it get in there too?! Everytime I hear Nonagon that’s exactly what I think (and also fuck I wish I was that good at it but I know I’m not willing to give it as much time and energy as these incredibly dedicated musicians (a term I do NOT use lightly) obviously must do).

They Birds front cover — now that’s ‘detail oriented’!

Secondly, an important note about Nonagon’s packaging of their releases over the years; stylistically brilliant in the way it… creates a mood (does that sound right to you? Fuck I’m not going to make every word of this article perfect — it’s not like I’M in nonagaon). All of the artwork is produced by bass guitarist and clearly quite accomplished visual artist Robert Gomez. All 3 ep’s and this full album include the signature highly idiosnycratic artwork of Mr. Gomez’s creations. One could write an entire review about the artful presentation of their latest record ‘They Birds’ (wow did it really take me until now to mention the actual title of the record!?) including front and back covers and what appears to be a small hymnal with notes and lyrics all artfully presented alone. All have a late 19th century explorers/biologist’s transcriber vibe that clearly encapsulates a highly abstruse inside joke that only the band themselves understand (for further info read the interview!). Various animals outfitted with rudimentary flying apparatuses (“They Birds”, or the “Magestic Creatures of the Sky”) grace the intricately busy and ingeniously clever cover of the album, aptly foreshadowing what lies on the black circle inside. Point is, if you’re gonna buy this album, definitely buy the record. You won’t be dissapointed. Much as I’d like to write an entire review of the elaborate artwork, you probably want to hear about the music…

This offering differs from Nonagon’s previous releases most markedly in being slightly less harsh and angular. Which, if you’re a fan, you know means it’s still indelibly harsh and angular at many if not most points. However, where previous releases leaned more towards post-hardcore and at times forms resembling what was once called ‘screamo’, the tracks on this album lean more towards more ‘mature’ indie/college and post-rock forms, focussing more on melody than the early ep’s. Passages are often spoken-sung and at times sung, even including parts with harmonies instead of all full volume screams. Which does nothing to dilute the intensity that is Nonagon, but rather increase its dimensions… also the majority of the lines are still shouted at the top of singer/guitarist John Hastie’s lungs.

The album begins with Tuck the long Tail Under, which would definitely be the lead single if they released one. If this were 30 years ago when really good music had an actual chance to make it to late night MTV, Tuck the Long Tail would rival Jawbox’ Savory in its immediate and unique appeal (for those of you under 50, when I and many others saw the video for Jawbox’ Savory on 120 minutes I ran out to buy the album the next day. So what I’m saying is a teenage version of me today would do the same thing in response to hearing Tuck the Long Tail Under, if there were still JUSTICE in the music industry). Similar to all of their works, it’s a beautifully complex piece that really captures opposing harsh and soft dynamics and blurs the lines between them. If you’re a long time punk rock fan this song will definitely make you nostalgic; like a cross between mide period husker du and a midwestern screamo band. Broadly speaking the lyrics describe something that’s been tried and judged wanting. Not that the judges were impartial nor the trial fair; “We misssed the mark. The perspective is slanted”, nor does it stop them in any way “We toe the line to forget what just happened, and tuck the long tail under”. Like a metaphor for Nonagon’s career, unappreciated but inimically brilliant, unceasing, and instead of giving up constantly working harder and getting better.

As much as I’d like to continue a song by song (note by note really) analysis, I’ve been told by my bosses and editors that I really need to stop doing that if I ever want anyone to actually read my reviews. So it’d be fair to summarize Slow Boil as one of their signature unrelentingly complex yet incredibly catchy pieces. I’m guessing the third track, The Family Meal, is going to be a lot of people’s favorite. As touched on previously, Nonagon traffics in a deliciously ecclectic post-hardcore that firmly reminds one of mid nineties post-hardcore DC Dischord groups like Fugazi and Jawbox with fascinating minor key adventures from their regional contemporaries like Minutes. Which sets the perfect tone for this tune about a ‘Family Meal’ at which something, if not everything, is very clearly not right to really fucking disturbingly wrong.

Hack and Salt continue the complex jarring stabbing and sliding motions of intricate guitar and drum work yet contain enough clarity (i.e. not an excess of distortion or redlining in the production) to be melodic and accessible enough to approach June of 44 style post rock (I’m trying very hard not to label them with the largely derided ‘math rock term’, but yeah, that too). Salt in particular has inimitably catchy super complex back and forth series of angular slides.

And whether I consciously or not mentioned June of 44 before getting to the track titled ‘June of ’14’ or whether Nonagon was making an offhand reference to the Chicago math rock supergroup who will ever know? The track certainly bears similairities to a June of 44 song, beginning with a fascinatingly dark and pensive riff on both guitar and bass that spreads out to Shellac/Fugazi like driving rhythms and then proceeds to move quickly and constantly back and forth between the two. It’s also a great example of the unpredictable off kilter drum beats and fills Tony Aimone’s famous for in his approach to odd time signatures and changes.

Jeff(s) is another unpredictable track that begins at a bridge then runs through its many different parts (I lost count at around 6), everyone of which has SO MUCH going on despite there being only 3 members of the band. Boxes is another track which could be a single given how relatively straightforward and catchy the riffs, melodies, and breakdowns are (I hear echoes of, believe it or not, drama club math rock band Faraquet), then ‘Swing Goat’ goes back to the unpredictable type that starts at such a strange angle then transitions seamlessly between complex math rock rhythms and dynamic shouting and slightly sung vocals.

By the Holdouts, it feels as though exhaustion is setting in at a complex beginning, but of course an energetic lift follows. The overall effect is, of course, jarring to say the least.
Bells is a perfect closer, “Set aside but still alive” leaving us in a state of exhausted minor key inertia where “no lung can deny the truth in the lie, son” where we “lose on all sides”.

I can’t imagine what has and continues to sustain Nonagon through all these years without anything approaching the international renown and critical lauding they deserve. Perhaps it’s that every note they put together is an intense labor of love, a struggle with the maddeningly complex and unappreciative bitch goddess of music made with so much fervor, vitality, and sincerity it’s criminal that everyone that truly loves music doesn’t know about it. Or that they feel a responsibility to their work as scientists from an elite laboratory where a rich history of thousands of previous and contemporary midwestern rustbelt independent rockworkers ply their signature sounds in deep underground esoteric niches recognizably steeped in fellow precedents in a language known only to those of us that have intensively studied whatever small pieces of it we can get our ears on. And yet we’re a disparate bunch strewn across the western world — my greatest hope in writing this is that I’ll reach a few more of us out there to let them know that Nonagon’s ‘They Birds’ is something so great that if they didn’t know about the group before now, they’re an essential part of the diet of the kind of music that people like us can’t get enough of. Thanks Nonagon for another great record!

-k. Sonin

Nonagon Day!

One of Times Boredom’s founding members and current ongoing executive producers, k. Sonin has been a huge fan of midwestern (centered in Chicago) math/post-hardcore as long as he can remember. One of his favorite groups is Chicago’s Nonagon, who released their first full length album last spring (and it’s taken him until now to finish his damned review!). Which is why per his demand (lest he pull 25% of our funding), we’ve decided to make today, Friday January 28th ‘Nonagon Day’. Similarly to other holidays of this nature like ‘Mr. Cancelled (Scott’s favorite local post-punk band) day’ which falls on the 19th of April every year, we will be celebrating Nonagon day with the publication of both a review of their phenomenal new record and a lengthy very professional/professorial interview with the group conducted by our benefactor mr. sonin. Suffice it to say, we are all big fans of Nonagon and we highly suggest you check them out if you know what’s good for you!

Trigger Cut’s ‘ROGO’

Trigger cut is a really good band that plays their professed genre of ‘noise rock’ really well. And I’m guessing they’re a lot of fun to see live. They’ve got their shit together, they know their base well, the guitar is aptly abrasive and catchy in all the right ways, and the rhythm section of Daniel W. And Matt Dumil is unstoppably professional. And god bless ’em for finding my stupid little blog in nowhere New York all the way from Stuttgart, Germany.

But they’ve got a fatal problem, which is that everything they’re doing has been done before. By many different people in many different bands for about 30 years now. Like I said they know their genre (which they proudly call ‘noise rock’ but could easily also be called post-hardcore, hard edged math, or some other variant), but they clearly know and worship it too well to put their own stamp on it.

Stuttgart, Germany’s noise rock enthusiasts Trigger Cut

That’s not to say they don’t have specific favorite bands they imitate. Specifically, they are undoubtedly huge Steve Albini acolytes. Vocalist and ‘treble guitarist’ ‘Ralph Ralph’ may not have a voice quite as deep and menacing as Albini, but at times it sounds as though he’s directly imitating every vocal idiosyncracy made famous by Albini (at times there’s also some David Yow). I’d say if they had more of an eclectic style that melded more noise rock groups as opposed to worshipping just a few they might stand out a little more from the pack than they do…

I couldn’t find a lyric sheet on the site, but all the words are in English (why do European bands always sing in English? Seriously?). And it certainly does sound like he’s spewing a lot of Albini-esque sarcastic criticism of everything (I think I can make out something about making fun of Munich hipsters which sounds cool). But the first song starts off with the words “you are so beautiful” and I wondered if this was gonna be a cover of Fugazi’s Margin Walker (which would be have been a really interesting take). But with titles like ‘Solid State’, ‘Transmitter’, and ‘Nutcracker’, I gotta wonder if they like Albini WAYYYYYY too much… He literally quotes lines, sometimes in the voice of the great Albini, like ‘in a minute’ in a Steve Albini voice on Oxcart, or repeating ‘Transmitter’ softly 3 times, than screaming it 3 times more. Wtf is a ‘coffin digger’ anyway? The words sound like they have a good command of English, but without actual lyrics I really can’t tell. It’s possible they cut and pasted a bunch of June of 44 and Shellac lyrics together without regard for meaning other than sounding like good typical noise rock one liners…

Ultra Hip back cover

Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with the fact that they’re from Germany imitating what I’d say is a specifically midwestern American genre and I don’t understand what they’re saying. I’ve heard a number of groups that sound like this from England, from Japan, and now I’ve heard this band from Germany that flew all the way to Chicago to be recorded… and they could be the new say, Mcluskey, STTTNNNNGGG! (or however that’s spelled I can’t even find them on Google anymore), some other British band that sounded like Mcluskey I also can’t remember the name of (but enjoyed in a day so long ago that if I ever found it itd be on a ripped cdr from stolen soulseek files), or any other band that never found their own voice that won’t be remembered unless they somehow market themselves hard enough that people that’ve never heard Shellac or the Jesus Lizard hear them and think they’re brilliant and original.

But the truth is, for now anyway, they don’t bring anything new to the table. Especially to people like myself that have been listening to noise rock genre bands for thirty years now and have heard hundreds of bands like them from everywhere. Which is not to say there isn’t plenty of room for originality within the genre or that there aren’t innovative bands around the globe; Ottawa’s Metz is relentlessly driving and at times too abrasive to listen to but similar enough in song style that you get used to the abrasiveness. Atlanta Georgia’s Whores. (combining noise rock with a rich vein of sludge) is beyond intense and has endless rage for every minute they have to be awake. London’s Hey Colossus is incredibly diverse and unpredictable. There are plenty more examples of noise rock groups that are doing innovative new things with the genre. Trigger Cut really just needs to get in touch with what they can do with the by now well trodden 30 year old genre that no one else can, or they’re doomed to remain in the pack of good, hardworking, adherents of the genre that are such huge fans that they’re practically a cover band.

Thanks for the album guys. You’re a great band and I hope you find your voice someday, but on this album it sounds like you’re using someone else’s.

Editorial: In favor of musical genres (and subgenres and micro-niches) despite full awareness of the drawbacks

So my buddy Scott called me up (no not literally, we’re both up with the latest technology of beepers and paging) and told me he’s having trouble getting any articles since his staff keeps getting poached by other local publications that pay in actual money as opposed to ‘scene cred’. I’ve written to him and other local music sites/blogs previously that I write a bunch of random, very specific ‘editorials’ (more like what I’d call ‘musings’) about subjects like indie and post-rock music and definition and all kinds of crazy stuff that I’d be happy to share with him. Now he’s finally taken me up on it. So if you like it, great! let Scott know that you want to see some more! If not, great! Tell Scott that it’s his fault for giving me a podium and he’s an asshole!

I know that most post modern musicians hate the genre labels they’re given, they’re often devised by marketers as a tool to sell records (e.g. grunge), and cool people pretty much uniformly despise them.

It’s also obvious to anyone familiar with the new media landscape that there are a whole host of new options available to us to help find new music that we like with far less research than was needed in the past. The prime example of this is the availability of streaming services. And I know artists REALLY hate these primarily as a result of the fact that they get far less compensation. However, eventually professional musicians (those unlike myself and my peers, none of whom make or expect to ever make any actual money from music) are going to have to accept that there’s just less compensation to be had. Culture is atomized, there’s a much bigger and more available pool, and so everyone kind of has to dive for what little change is now availabe. And for consumers such as myself (and probably you, even if you stand on principle against streaming services like Spotify Apple and Amazon) have to accept how much better these services are for our ability to find new music. Back in my day, you couldn’t even listen to an album OR even snippets before you bought. You just had to buy a record you’d either read something about, was by an artist you already had records you liked by, or you’d just heard of and wanted to find out about. Which meant lots of misfires and crummy records you couldn’t get rid of — check your parents record collection if they still have one. There will most likely be albums that are such duds they’ll tell you they don’t know why they didn’t throw them out!

The streaming platforms, even if you don’t pay the monthly fee, allow you to listen to any artist, any album, any song that’s on their platform. Which is increasingly becoming most albums that were on record labels and in the current era any artist that paid a few bucks to get their songs listed on streaming services. In addition to having the ability to just listen to any music from any artist of any era on a whim, right on the platform there are suggestions, the ‘Recommended If You Like’ (RIYL) apps, and plenty of other ways to find more new music you’ll like.

But in the past, musical genres were indispensable to finding stuff you wanted to listen to. Especially when the only alternative was pretty much randomly buying records that, say, had a band on the cover that didn’t have big hair, or a psychedelic sleeve design, or wasn’t in the cut-out ‘dance’ bin. And I know that a lot of that’s been changed by the new media landscape, but I’m pretty sure genres are still useful for plenty of other reasons.

When I was a kid I learned about grunge, I saw the movie ‘hype’, and I thought genres were lame. But the more I read about them, the more I used them to find new music. And the more I used them, the more I realized what a necessary evil they were. And eventually I came to realize that they weren’t all that evil, and in fact I was being introduced to great underground music I never would’ve found out about otherwise. The most obvious genre label for anyone that grew up in the 70s or 80s was ‘punk’. Back then of course it covered SO much more than it does today. In a lot of ways you could tell whether a record was going to be commercial or glossy or, in general, something you and your friends probably wouldn’t like if it wasn’t labelled ‘punk’.

So when smaller genres began to emerge, I started to pay attention and grab stuff based on genres alone. And I found out what a great tool they actually were…

When I began listening to Sebadoh and loved them, I wanted to hear everything that was even remotely doing the things they were with music. It was punk, but it was some kind of really crazy off the wall poorly produced played wrong on purpose punk. So when I looked up/read about the ‘lo-fi’ label the media had given them, I came upon other ‘lo-fi’ bands like say, Pavement early on. So I had their first 2 albums and worshipped them. If I’d heard them on the other hand by the time they got on MTV I probably would’ve bought Crooked Rain, decided there were some good songs on it but it wasn’t for me, and never have enjoyed the transcendence of Slanted and Enchanted. Another group I got into was called Truman’s water, a band I never would have heard of otherwise, not even today with all the RIYL and free streaming. Though I also should mention the negatives; I bought a Guided by Voices album that I didn’t really care for since they were considered one of the ‘big 3’ of lo-fi back then. Unfortunately, I was too young to get a job at the time, which meant the fact that I spent money on the GBV album I didn’t like meant that I wouldnt have enough for a different new album for months.

Slo-core: When I started listening to a band called Codeine I got interested in what was being called ‘slo-core’ at the time. As a result, I was introduced to the foremost ‘pioneer’ of the genre, Low, a group that I’m still a huge favorite of and own nearly a dozen albums by. I was also introduced to plenty of others, including Cat Power. I probably would’ve heard of them evnetually anyway but perhaps later when their music had gotten crummy at which point I would’ve dismissed them, never having heard the depressive beauty of Dear Sir or What Would the Community Think. I also found out about Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon, etc.) Galaxie 500, the Microphones, Bedhead/The New Year, and Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co).

Perhaps most importantly, I was introduced to a group called Idaho, a slowcore/sadcore/dream pop group. If I hadn’t done research into Slowcore (and then the confusing nearly identical ‘sadcore’, then dream pop which led to shoegaze, etc.), I most likely never would have found out about this west coast regional act. Instead, their albums like Alas (a record I have an early illegal download of and STILL to this day can’t find a legit copy of), Hearts of Palm, Three Sheets to the Wind and Levitate have enriched my musical palette, my conceptions of what’s possible, inspired me (songwriter Jeff Martin famously uses an electrical 4 string tenor guitar to get his signature ethereal sounds which inspired me to begin experimenting with baritone guitars), and in general enriched my life with a series of albums I loved then and haven’t stopped since.

Finally and most important for me both personally and professionally (if you know me you’ll laugh at that, if not just know that despite my prolific output and performances over the past 20 years I’ve never made any money whatsoever on my music) I was introduced to the genre ‘math rock’ when I was so enamored with the group Polvo that I wanted to hear everythingthat was in any way similar or that could explain how they formulated their intensely unique songs. For over a decade I followed the genre to the nth degree, from the career of Nick Sakes (the Dazzling Killmen, Colossamite, etc), to the evolving definition of the term from its beginnings as a spinoff of post-rock into a more revitalized rock subgrouping that used dissonance, angularity, jarring time changes and stop/start dynamics to reinvigorate indie rock into a more formal definition of overly stylized music with increasingly unusual time signatures and pretentiously baroque treatment of instruments in manner similar to the progressive rock of the seventies which diverged so far from rock’s roots punk music started as a protest against it…

I got so into ‘mathrock’ and studied it so deeply I could go on and on. A particularly telling example of how the invented genre itself took me in SO many directions is the fact that I eventually got into and obscure midwestern indie rock/math rock band called Bear Claw. Years, later, my band was playing a festival in the Upper Peninsula with a band called MegaMaul, who’s lead singer happened to be Scott Picco, the very same guy who played drums and was the lead singer in the band Bear Claw. When I met him and told him what a fan I was of his new band and Bear Claw, he was elated to hear a guy from Albany had heard of not only his old band but him personally and really liked them. So I made a friend, was very happy to have flattered a fellow musician who I genuinely admired, AND later on I discussed slowcore band Low (who played later in the festival) with drummer Tony Aimone from a fantastic noise rock (another genre I haven’t really gotten into here but got into and found out about the band the guy was from through looking up the genre) called Nonagon. Playing that festival was like being among friends and colleagues I really looked up to, even though I’d never met or talked to any of them personally before and hadn’t even been to the midwest or Chicago before. All because I’d looked up and become familiar with genres like ‘math rock’, ‘noise rock’, and even more specifics like ‘midwestern post/math rock’.

And someday when I meet someone like Jeff Martin (Idaho) and/or Jeff Mueller (Rodan, June of 44, Shipping News, etc.), I’ll let them know that however much they hate the name of the micro genre they were given, it gave me the ability to find and love their music which I otherwise probably never would’ve heard of.

So maybe micro genre/niche labels arent quite as useful as they once were. And yes of course they’re superficial and reductive and can be used for EVIL moneymaking purposes. But if they can help someone that might otherwise not hear you find you and your music or anyone else and any other music they love, it is completely worth all the negatives and then some. I know it certainly was and is for me.

yr pal,

-k.

Jeff Brisbin’s ‘Blame it on Love’…

So I know we said we’d review all submissions, and we do mean it, and we don’t mean to be mean…

But Jeff Brisbin’s Blame it on Love is decidedly NOT our cup of tea. It is well produced (in our opinion over produced), fairly well written pop music for adult contemporary listeners. And so the advertisements on Brisbin’s website say ‘corporate’, ‘private events’, ‘weddings’, etc. None of our writers are into any of those things.

Comfortable with the labels ‘corporate adult contemporary’ — not our bag, baby

While we can certainly appreciate all the time and effort that went into this record, we just can’t enjoy cliched, commercially produced pop music. While there are tracks we liked more than others, like the minor key/relatively somber New Year’s Day or ‘For a Song’ (because of the excellent slide guitar work), most of the songs are just cliched soft Boomer love songs or folksy/blues rock that honestly is just boring to our ears. We Blame it on Love. We just love different things Jeff! Different, things…

Nothing inherently wrong with any of it, it’s just… too inoffensive to entertain us. All the songwriting, themes, and notes hit remind us of 70s and 80s soft rock that bugs you in restaurants when you’re trying to eat and, like chat pleasantly with your in-laws.

Recommended for people that like James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Hornsby. That ain’t any of us.

Always happy to hear original music from the Capital District though. Thanks for your submission Jeff Brisbin and good luck to you!

The ironically titled ‘No Fun’ bar and venue to change Troy, the Capital District, craft brews, art and culture in the world we know it forever!!!! And you can take that from your pal MC Think Noise, cause I know shit about shit!

Y’all don’t know shit about shit! So before the great and wise ancient scenester MC Think Noise here tells you about the greatest bar and venue that ever was or shall be, a little history lesson for you ungrateful ahistorical pretentious hipster twerps!  i was once like you… hey shutup you in the back! You think I can’t hear you?! I know what you’re saying and YOU. DON’T. KNOW. SHIT. So listen up!

A cultural/scene history lesson from ancient cranky pants anti-hipster MC Think Noise before the announcement you’ve all been waiting for… just kidding. Or are we? The only way to know for sure is to keep reading.

Now as a hardcore lefter than left of left Marxist, anti-Capitalist, anti-advertisement and anti-Fun self loathing petty-bourgeouis schpieler, I was flat out opposed to making this announcement. However;

  • I was told the name of the venue was gonna be ‘No Fun’. Course I’m an Iggy acolyte from way back in the day, I myself named the ‘No New York’ no wave comp, and am immune to irony in all its forms yet can appreciate it smarter than any of any of you!
  • They offered me free admission to all
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shows now and in the future!

And the final clincher for this old dog, a free sixer of my favorite, Nine Pin Cider from my current favorite Lark Street haunt Pint Sized. A couple of cans in and I didn’t even care when I remembered all the god damned super dark shows are free! To me and everyone else!

Seriously though. This is the coolest fucking news/surprise/secret I’ve ever been savvy too before any a you pricks! Now hand me another cider, and I’ll tell you about the coming of the ultimate bar/craft beer & cider/show space/diy art venue in downtown Troy; NO FUN!!!!!

My now and forever hero, August Rosa, owner of Pint Sized and the brave force that will bring us NO FUN!!!!

So let me start off by saying a few words about the hero of the new place, Sir August Rosa:

  • If he’d been the master composer and heavy shredding guitarist behind legendary Albany collective rock/emo pop punk band Aficionado, Dayenu.
  • If he’d opened a basement location in Albany to sell local and regional craft beers, ciders, and more, Dayenu.
  • If he’d taken that basement location to the heart of Center Square on Lark Street, filled it with taps and hundreds of delicious choices, made a great space to hang out AND a great venue for great shows, Dayenu.
  • If he’d built upon that success with a second location in Saratoga on Broadway, Dayenu.
  • And if you don’t fuckin know what ‘Dayenu’ means, shit son, what are they teaching you in that dumbshit school you got goin to? That’s from the Bible son! And I didn’t even go to college and highschool too! And look where it got me! Shit I lost my place. Where was I?

    Oh yeah,….
    And now, when you think he can give the Capital District no more cool shit, he gives us “too much too soon” and asks too little (that was a Buster Poindexter reference if you didn’t know ya little ignoranimus that dunnit know shit… who’s Buster Poindexeter? SEriously?!!! New York Dolls frontman Buster.. ah forget it) Now where was I?

    A new venue for Pint Sized in downtown Troy at 277 River Street where he’ll be bringing all the great craft brews to Troy where you can drink them in the bar or just pick up a growler or a case to enjoy at home. And a brand new awesome diy/performance and art space at 275 River Street right where it’s needed most, where all of us scene geeks and freaks, hipsters and art snobs, craft beer enthusiasts, and pretentious neck beard types can call our second home, called ‘No Fun’!

    Local booking/promoting/presenting/executive producer of all things experimentally illuminating yet ‘Super dark’, my man Shane Sanchez (the dude with his eyes crossed in)

    Most importantly, he’s partnering up with the likes of the super dudes from the Superdark collective; Shane Sanchez for his excellence in booking and promotions, and John Olander to build the coolest fucking sound system EVER while keeping it low key with a good sized stage and weird crazy art and media to decorate the coolest fucking hangpad EVER to make what we’re all expecting to be the best fucking club in downtown Troy or ANYWHERE EVER!!!!

    My pal Johnnyola. He told me about this Superman guy at the place… ah shit I shouldn’t of said that. I’m smart too not like they say… and I got passed over for my kid brother! Now say a hail Mary for the master of noise tech John Olander who will be building the sound system, stage, and mise en scene from fucking scratch!

    August, who already owns and operates 2 cool as that fucking cider I done already finished cause I’m a no-good old drunk that feels too damned much nostalgia for the old days that were so fucking great that there’s no way the future can possibly compete unless it’s in the heart of downtown Troy and run by 3 of the coolest people around… shit I forgot where I was going with this…

    Anyway, August told me personally that “People have always asked why we haven’t done a project in Troy. I’ve always wanted to bring Pint Sized to downtown and have looked at spaces on and around River Street as early as 2017. There is a lot going on in Troy and I never felt that a Pint Sized on its own would be enough with so many unique and innovative offerings to do in the area. The “No Fun” event space will be what really sets this project apart. I absolutely see a need for dedicated performance space in downtown. We look forward to being a part of Troy’s downtown scene.”

    And you KNOW your ole dog Think Noise couldn’t agree more. As a longtime Troy scenester, I’ve seen plenty of awesome venues come and go. My favorite by far was 51 3rd Street (a venue that most of y’all are too young to have witnessed the awesome powers and influence of), a real cool and weird square hole in the wall pad where RPI professors, students, and scenesters from around the Capital District could go to see great local shit like Denim and Diamonds, Complicated Shirt and Struction as well as national up and coming experimental performing acts like Fat Worm of Error, Dan Deacon, noise music royalty like Emil Beaulieu, and so many other great things I could list off that we’d be here all night… And then of course there was the likes of Artie’s many venues the last one that evenutally became the River Street Pub run by Vince Pellicano where the Super dark boys found their original home base in Troy. And then of course there were the legendary clubs and concert venues like the Hudson Duster, EmPAc, Revolution Hall and so many other cool and not so cool places to see shows that shut down or were the wrong place or size for the hip experimental noise and indie rock art house performances that Troy is famous for or the fantastic outdoor shows at Rare Form that for the past year have given us a way to see so many great superdark shows even in the midst of the Covid pandemic…

    But all that don’t mean shit, now that the setup, location, dedication, and fuckin yeah fucker spirits of everyone that’s gonna be working on the new Pint Sized location and ‘No Fun’ diy performance and art venue promises the beginning of a whole new era, a new paradigm, are you pickin up what Think Noise is puttin down?! If only they’d hire yours truly to be the house MC, they’d have it all!

    And your ole pal and drinking buddy gone dry and back again cannot fucking wait until the doors open and we rush in! To the end of quarantining and watching home performances of all my favorite local bands and performers and the beginning of a brand new era of endless craft brews, original live bands, and a public space where everyones welcome to hang out bear witness and be inspired and share in the nirvana in Troy of music, art, and every great collaborative thing in the Capital District but also those geniuses that do all that AND make it all possible like August Rosa, Shane Sanchez and John Olander.

    Do you remember Valentines? Upstate Artists Guild? Miss Mary’s art space?! These is all gonna just be distant memories that will only serve as footnotes to the story of the greatest venue ever begotten, NO FUN! Theys gonna be a mass exodus from Williamsburg, Green Point, Long Island City and all those other super concentrated hipsterdoms like Cleveland before Lester Bangs ruined it straight to the River Street area in downtown Troy once the Pint Size/No fun club opens up. And we gonna live upstairs and downstairs and next door, camp out on the front porch all lit up with kerosene and molly on planet k inside the in crowd out in the cold listening to the free music blasting over the whole fucking block and blowing us over into the gutters and crawl back to our beds so we can sleep enough to come back and do it all over again…

    Have you ever heard of CBGB’s? The Limelight? Lollapalooza? Woodstock?!!!! All just small steps building up to the coolest venue and greatest performances that ever were or shall be, NO FUN!!

    And now that you know some shit about some shit go forth and spread the word! (and of course if you want me to explain the legend of Brevator and how they made Daughters cry b/c they’d surpassed them in every way and Daughters got back at them by sabotaging their recording so no one’d ever know how fucking great they were I’m always around… hit me up man… I’ll probably be outside No Fun soon as it opens in like November maybe or I’ll just be hanging around there anyway…

    Yrs in rock y siempre, – MC THINK NOISE

    Enormous ongoing rumors of pay for promotion scandal rock the Capital District Music scene and beyond

    The elusive informant known only as ‘Catacomb Deep Vagina’ continues to disturb local
    music performers, fans, and media outlets with their rumors of pay for review scandals across the Capital District and beyond, some of which have now been confirmed. In the case of local underground ‘blog’ site Times Boredom, several former writers/traitors have come forward to confirm the rumors.

    “Yeah I mean “Deep Vagina” or whatever that person is calling themself is off their fuckin rocker, but they’re not wrong about a lot of this shit. I used to work for Times Boredom until I found out what a corrupt mess it is. I mean, did anyone ever ask where their funding came from? Why all of their articles are total lies and yet were completely allowed to be published, challenged by no one? That’s when I quit and came forward.” says former Times Boredom writer Anatoly Petronin who is totally lying about all this because he’s an asshole.

    But it’s not just Times Boredom that’s in trouble, according to alleged informant Deep Vagina. Allegations that ‘this thing goes higher than you would believe, all they way up to the top of the scene and everything in between’ have been published in various muckraking news outlets.

    The Albany Gazette has uncovered troves of evidence to back up the massive claims coming from the Deep Vagina. Fake identities, social media profiles, even completely made up local publications have been used by local bands that paid for promotion and to pad their ‘press kits’ for over five years now. Bands have allegedly paid for positive album reviews, show reviews, even phony stories about themselves and their vocal, instrumental, and sexual prowess in multiple publications across Albany, Troy, Saratoga, etc.

    “This really ugly shady guy with one leg and an eye patch approached me after one of our shows, saying if I paid him he’d make it look like hundreds of people came to the show. Then he’d give us fake great album reviews, all kinds of fake likes on Facebook, for only fifty bucks. This was a long time ago, I hear he’s paying a lot more now.” says Matt H. (‘matth’) of Che Guevara T-Shirt (and dblgoer abd NFI Records, though neither of these groups have been implicated), one of the bands that has allegedly paid bribes for positive promotions.

    Shown here is MattH after his mysterious death in 2018. He came forward to admit that his group Che Guevara T-Shirt had accepted bribes in the so called ‘pay to play in the catacomb deep vagina’ scandal, only to be found dead of natural causes 26 years later.

    “And that’s when you told him to ‘go to hell?”

    “Fuck no! That would’ve been balls dumb. Have you ever been at one of our shows? Of course not! No one has! But this guy got us like 10,000 likes on Facebook, and we were fielding offers from all over the place. Of course we gave him twenty bucks for that!” exclaims Che Guevara T-Shirt drummer Johnny O.

    “I thought you said it was fifty?”

    “Yeah, but you know, Keith ‘Kasrael’d’ him down.” adds k. Sonin.

    Man. That’s fucked up. Even for us.

    (As always, if you are offended by anything you read here, please go fuck yourself in your own home with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Thanks so much!)

    Many others are coming forward rather than be exposed first by the Albany Gazette. Architrave Stripmining, BattleaXXX and Shovels, Thinner Friends in the Superdark, Haunted Cat Industrial Espionage, Fine Grain long haired metal guy Beauty products, the list goes on and on, all the way up to local media organizations like Superdark Boogey Productions (a subsidiary of the Superdark Franchising Corporation), Nippertown Candy and T-shirts inc., The Spot 518 Book Club and elephant Menagerie, and so on. No real groups or publications have been indicted yet.

    While many of the groups mentioned above have admitted having worked with the shady individual, they claim to have had no foreknowledge that the alleged one legged one eyed blue pants wearing person (no one knows his real name, some say it’s Dave.) was involved in ‘pay for vagina play’. They say the mysterious individual volunteered to write a few articles for their publications but they were unaware of any payments whatsoever.

    “He used fake names, fake profiles, whatever it took to throw people off the trail. I heard he had thousands of fake facebook profiles, and he charged for likes and follows. He could make or break any Albany band, and he did. I told my bosses not to trust him, and eventually they found out I was right. I am the greatest muckraking reporter that has ever lived, and I deserve all the credit for exposing all of this. And fuck you, Times Boredom; you never paid me for those articles I wrote for you!” screamed local liar/journalist Wendell Wright after he insisted we interview him (he’s also an asshole).

    The truth of these allegations and the denials by most of the groups and organizations involved will probably come forward in the next few months or years from now. In the meantime, if this fake reporter might editorialize, shouldn’t someone have been asking why local publications were consistently, often even hyperbolically (not a word) giving out phenomenal reviews to any musical group in the area they wrote about? Isn’t it obvious that, with all the ‘fake names’ and ‘fake profiles’, this is not simply a one person operation, but that the Germans are most likely involved? And your mom? Your mom’s definitely in on this. Ask her. I told her it was ok to tell you. But seriously, none of this stuff is actually illegal, so who gives a shit? I say if a foreign operative wants to come to our town, promote a bunch of local music and make a boatload of money doing it, please give me their phone number so I can either learn how or blackmail them.

    BattleaXXX gave me feminist NIGHTMARES!!!

    I fell asleep listening to the rocking sounds of BattleaXXX’s new release ‘Adequate’, enjoying everything about it. I thought to myself, this is so fucking cool. I’ma listen to it tomorrow.

    Never again.

    I soon awoke dripping with sweat, afraid of women everywhere. Taking back what is theirs. Seizing the monopoly on violence for themselves. Rounding up all the men and then sending them out to the desert to kill each other while they rule like Gazorpians!

    BattleaXXX; Queen Killers!

    I dreamt I had been dating one of the members of battleaXXX but, like the man jerk that I am, I dumped her for some stupid reason. She told me she was gonna kick my ass.

    Haha! I ain’t scared of no woman! Bring it on.

    Until, of course…

    Martha Moscowitz, Brooke Degener and Megan Prokorym all showed up at my house, armed to the teeth! I threw a punch out of fear and before I knew it I was dismembered! Guitar shredding my face! Bass pounding my skull! Drums crushing my legs! Screaming in a bloody mess about how I wish I’d never messed with BattleaXXX! I wish I’d never done wrong to women! It was all my fault! I deserve this!

    Now when I look at the innocent cover of their latest record, I drop it in fear and run for the hills!

    They’re coming for us! All the young dudes, run for your lives!

    10 best local recordings of 2020!

    Ok so we’re a little late this year. We’ve had a lot on our mind since, in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot’s been going on in the world besides local music. And while local music is always important and will always be OUR lifeblood, when the world shuts down and refuses to allow live music performances to take place… we get a bit depressed and unmotivated :(.

    Luckily, the lack of live performances allowed many local groups to focus on recording and releasing new material! In this spirit, instead of doing our usual ‘worst local band of’, we decided to do a ‘worst local recording of 2020’! And there were so many to choose from… a list of all the great local recordings that made the list but not the top ten is available at the bottom! We recommend listening to not only the top 10 but every single one listed!!! There is so much great local music that’s released every year that we all miss just because we don’t hear about it, and we’re just trying to do our part to remedy that! Thanks for reading! Here’s the top 10:

    10. Madeline Darby – Innovation

    1

    Madeline Darby has been an integral part of the local scene and especially the Superdark collective for years now. As a member of Dominated Swine and Thinner Friends in addition to her solo releases, her contribution to the electronic noise music in the capital district local scene is enormous to say the least. And on her most recent release, Innovation, her mastery of the independent experimental electronic and darkwave genres are on full display. A very personal album full of vocals, despite the frequent use of monotone/rap, it’s evocative of the very individual intellectual and psychological struggles that Madeline Darby and the rest of us face on a daily basis. With Shane Michael/100 Psychic Dreams contributing mixing and Paul Coleman mastering, Madeline’s collaborative spirit and choice of the best of the best in the local scene’s recording industry is beyond reproach. But the wealth of knowledge of electronic recordings and forays into the tiniest corners of the extensive wealth of electronic genres is fully displayed by all the intriguing tracks contained in this twenty minute ep — you have to hear it to appreciate just how much space it covers!

    9. Scum Couch – Righteous Climb

    We at Times Boredom have been huge fans of Scum Couch for awhile now (even editorially suggesting they be the best of last year). But we may be biased, since the kind of avant-garde experimental rocking noise music Mark O’Brien deals in is pretty much our favorite post subgenre. And this short collection of loud wailing noise rock is just magnifique! Calling to mind the noisey experimentation of a thousand barely heard touring artists (we think of our old but sadly defunct friends Ape Not Kill Ape), but also relating to post and noise rock heroes like Silver Daggers, Oxbow, and Health, this ep is a gateway drug to all things further left field than most likely anything you’ll ever hear on the radio (other than perhaps the Superdark Radio Show!). And it melds so many genres and advances in the genre’s influences so seamlessly it sounds as though O’Brien isn’t just pioneering but invented them all! Well done, as always!

    8. Keith Sonin & John Olander – Invalid Labor

    This is what happens when you don’t respond to the surveys people!

    So if that last entry was a little too noisey or far left of the dial for you, there’s no way you’re going to be able to stomach to this release from two members of Albany’s long running noise rock collective Che Guevara T-Shirt. Apparently both have been digging into far more noise over signal and random chance experimental recordings, though the sides of the coin that are on display here from the two sound artists are certainly very distinct from each other.

    Olander’s side of the record is 5 songs of nothing but straight kazoo solos.

    Sonin, on the other hand, appears to be utilizing feedback from various contact mics on acoustic instruments in the foreground and layers of amplifiers mic’d and feeding back into each other as background. Both lack obvious rhythm (though both are clearly rhythmic in their own unusually defined ways), traditional instrumentation, or vocals of any kind. Mixing and mastering by omnipresent behind the scenes star Paul Coleman and (on the Olander tracks) Carl Blackwood of local band Bendt lend these recordings balance and presence, but take away nothing of the intentional grit. Dark, foreboding seemingly random soundscapes lie in wait on this record to entertain, creep you out, and intriguingly describe a period in the lives of their creators.

    7. Thinner Friends

    The Superdark collective supergroup Thinner Friends is made up of Madeline Darby (Madeline Darby), Gary Ziroli (Mr. Cancelled), and Shane Sanchez (100 Psychic Dreams, Blood Blood Blood, Eternal Crimes, etc.). Dealing in energetic electronic postpunk, the group gained immediate attention and local love upon forming and playing their first show. Since then they’ve created a cadre of songs for this debut ep of fun, danceable tunes melding too many hip genres to list. If you’re familiar with other groups these three allstars have been involved in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear their separate talents merged into one group that so naturally complements and completes both songs and instrumentation it sounds like they’ve always been together. Three to the third power of great tastes that taste great together!

    6. Various Artists – 518 Covid19 Quarantine Comp

    A lot of different independent original music elements were brought together for this compilation, from groups associated with the Superdark collective in Saratoga and Troy, to Glens Falls No More Death Stars, eastern Massachusetts stars Leap the Dips, Albany allstars Gay Tastee Ex Machina, all the way down to groups that started in Albany and made their way to NYC and Ohio Never out of the Woods! There have been plenty of similar compilations over the years (like say from NYC to Albany, the screed comps, countless punk rock split 7 inches), but this one was formed out of the need for community resulting from the atomization and forced solitude of the pandemic. Compiler Keith Sonin (of local goatherders Che Guevara T-Shirt) worked with superpower duo the Colemans to solicit, bring together, and sequence songs made from the horror and loneliness brought on by the pandemic starting in Albany and spreading as far and wide as needed to convey the pluralistic reactions to the stay at home orders. ‘Intimidating’ near straight noise experimenters like Derpetuity, Arbitrary Labor, and dblgoer stand side by side with the somber yacht rock of the K.O.N.N. and Sava_D and the the lo-fi downbeat Stooges like tracks of Rey Cormac. Most of the artists are either locally famous or the pen names of locally famous group members and one off collaborators. But it’s all motivated by the same spirit of trying to make original independent songs to get ourselves and our friends through this time, and have something to remember it by.

    5. Lone Phone Booth – RE/SOUND

    We’ve been raving about Lone Phone Booth since we first saw them in a dank basement, and haven’t stopped screaming about how great their sophomore effort RE/Sound is since we first heard it (read more at here)! Such a tour de force of not only experimental found sound collages but classic indie rock melodies and guitar lines; we genuinely fear that Lone Phone Booth will relocate some day and leave our love behind. Because clearly they have the talent and the ability; even the recording of every last noise put into this record is crisp and clear when appropriate, fuzzy and lethargic when that’s called for. Clearly we’re not alone, as more and more fans are picking up on how terrific the efforts of Grace Annunziato keep getting better and better. We like to think that we here at Times Boredom enlightened at least a few cool kids to the great sounds of LPB; if we achieved even that, it has not all been in vain!

    4. Haunted Cat – Third Degree Moonburns

    Albany underground legend Drew Benton (Complicated Shirt, TOUGH, Sesame Plexer) just seems to be getting better with every new group he puts together, every new album he makes. The undeniably epic ‘3rd Degree Moonburns’ proves that not only does Benton still have the chops to blow us away with his talent, but that his songwriting skills are not only still great but further developing with every new year. Influences like Magazine, Television, and Richard Hell still figure prominently in the sound, along with the glam of Bowie and Mick Ronson and T. Rex. The sharp, caustic wit that’s been evident throughout his career is here tempered with the wisdom of being able to view it from outside; the noisey punk screeches matured into a melange of sounds that come from everywhere; guitars, drums and bass, but now also horns, piano, and all kinds of Pet Sounds type instruments one would be hard pressed to identify individually. There are even ballads so beautiful and sombre they rival those of Tom Waits (we can’t wait until Rod Stewart covers a Haunted Cat song!). The history of popular music is being examined here, from Walls of Sound to glam-sludge and everywhere in between. Steeped in music theory and a talent for pop songwriting that is unrivaled in the local scene, Haunted Cat reaches (forgive us for the cliched terminology but it really does apply here) EPIC heights with this record. A FUCKING CLASSIC.

    3. Steve Hammond – Small Songs

    Those that know Steve Hammond know that he’s no stranger to unusually high productivity, but on his 2020 release he breaks pretty much every record we can think of. An album with over ninety minutes of music that keeps it interesting with the ‘small song’ format, no song is longer than 3 minutes, most are under two, and the ‘smallest’ comes in at 19 seconds! In addition to having 53 songs (fifty-fucking-three!!), the number of genres included in this small masterpiece exceeds even the number of songs. From the shoegaze of ‘Escaping Hell’, the post-hardcore of ‘cat skin suit’ and ‘dog rape whistle’, to genres times boredom doesn’t usually hear like southwestern instrumentals (guitararra), bossa nova (georgie bean), and even good old fashioned soul with ‘Wasting Away’. And we thought k. Sonin who was eclipsed by Asa Morris were productive! With about 40 albums featuring Steve’s love of all music willing to go anywhere style available on bandcamp alone, Hammond is a genre-bending songaholic never stopping always entertaining steel driving music man!

    2. Sky Furrows

    If you’ve read anything about Sky Furrows on Times Boredom before, you know we never run out of good things to say about them. We’ve been gushing about how terrific they are since they first time we saw them and were entranced by their early SST spoken word post-hardcore sound (we’re all big SST fans from back in the day, and although they combine influences from plenty of other hip underground genres that’s the one we love and celebrate most). And finally, we got to hear their recorded output in 2020 with their self titled new record. Best of all, we got a copy of the vinyl (read Ipolit’s review here)! The timing couldn’t have been better since we’ve been missing their fantastic live shows with all the famous and talented long and short term scenesters on and off stage, so the fact that their record came out mollified us no end being able to listen to it over and over again when we were missing them. Truly the Capital District has been blessed with the unique spoken word poetry of Karen Schoemer (herself an actual music journalist unlike any of us amateurs whatwhithin our nonsensin grammar and rocknroll vocab), the combination of Burnt Hills legends Eric Hardiman, Mike Griffin, and Phil Donnelly (all of whom are in plenty of other fascinatingly creative psychedelic tinged groups like Century Plants, Rambutan, Parashi, etc.), all coming together to give some of their best to truly one of the best albums to come out of the Capital District ever!

    1. Architrave – This Perfect Day

    It’s no secret that there’s mutual love between local scene arms the Super Dark Collective, Times Boredom, and super talented power couple Jennifer and Paul Maher-Coleman (read TB’s interview here) and the many musical projects they spearhead and contribute to, but Architrave’s pandemic release proved once more why this specific group of theirs is as popular and worshipped as they are. Almost timeless in its influences and sounds, the record could be from the late seventies, the synth drenched mid eighties, or the Brooklyn hipster synth-pop renaissance of the early turn of the century. But unlike any nostalgic rehash, Architrave’s songs are purely original compositions based on a love of all their influences and an undeniably innovative resulting output. And of course this ain’t no synth-pop record; there’s a dark mystique and spirituality to this and all Maher-Coleman penned tunes that reveal a depth that, while undeniably catchy, comes from a well of human spirit that’s lived, loved, suffered, and come to terms with the meaningless complexity of life’s many unexpected twists and turns in a way that comes out as nothing short of great wisdom. And that’s not something you usually (if ever) hear in recorded rock, pop, and electronic music. Dark or cold wave would be an insulting term to apply to the brilliant tunes of ‘This Perfect Day’, given how superficial and naive so much of those genres turn out to be. This album represents a definitive maturity of sound crafted by a lifetime of electronic know-how and mastery of evocative melody to convey the personalities of its wise creators. This Perfect Day is not only a perfect record for the pandemic, but we keep spinning it well into the post-pandemic period, appreciating more of its complexity, integrity, and unerring honesty with every new listen. Everything that Jen and Paul Coleman are involved in is made better by their presence, but when their greatness is distilled to its essence in Architrave, something amazing and timeless has been released into a world made much better as a result of the beautiful and new colors it adds.

    Honorable mentions (maybe in a particular order, maybe just randomly…): Dominated Swine – Songs of the Dominated Swine, Fine Grain – Cold Dead Eyes, Mount Mole – Flee Marker, Maggot Brain – Illumine, Ferriday – Everywhere you go, 100 Psychic dreams – variously releases, Apostrophe Beats – various releases, Brent Gorton – Quiet Time, Coupons – Up and Up, Aldebaran – Blue Lands, Bridge of Flowers – BIll + Ed, Laveda – What happens after?, Burnt Hills – Slip through time, Eraserheadz – Tales Not to Sleep, Various – Timmy Wiggins Come Home Soon Volume 1, Various – 2 dead hummingbirds presents, Machine REvival – Pulse Decay Time, Matthe D. Gantt – Diagnostics, Joe Taurone – Just Joe Vol. 1, The King of Nothing Nowhere – Her words my mouth, Rhakim Ali – Less is More, John Powhida International Airport – Single Feeling Randy, Pete Donnelly – Woke Bastard, Swamp Baby – Water Gods, Mike Hotter – Room to Land, Gay Tastee Ex Machina – Shook, Normanskillers – s/t

    Don’t like our pics? Get involved in the survey for next year! E-mail timesboredom@gmail.com to let us know about your interest! Or better yet, send us an editorial all about your favorite band and why they should’ve won. If it’s grammatically correct, poignant, or funny enough we’ll publish it!