Sky Furrows gave me a free record and all I have to do is rant about how much I love it!

Let me start out by saying this is a record made by a band of scene veterans, that only old dogs like myself will truly appreciate and gush over but certainly can be appreciated by anyone that has a deep and abiding love for anti-corporate rock music.

Do you remember when J. Mascis would drive east from Amherst and put together a band with the cream of the capital district crop to back him up; Jason Martin, Troy Pohl, Suzanne Thorpe, Al Kash? Times Boredom remembers.

With Sky Furrows, famous journalist, music critic (intimidating to be criticizing a critic!), poet and performer (collaborating with superstars like Mike Watt, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby) Karen Schoemer has done something similar in Saratoga. At first glance you could say she hired a pre-grouped band of performers based on their all being associated with Burnt Hills, but each of them has an independent voice and has worked on multiple projects throughout the years both during and prior to their involvement with seminal regional superstar collective (that dozens have played for or in one time or another) Burnt Hills. And with this group of talented noise scenesters that includes introverted solo recorders Parashi and Rambutan, members of Century Plants, etc. (the list goes on much longer but stops around there on the press release) unlike J., Sky Furrows has made something lasting, significant, and, if you don’t mind an old dog howling along… fantastic!

Unlike your and my new and old bands, none of the members of Sky Furrows are trying to be the new or the next anything. They’ve been there. They haven’t tried to merge sludge with level plane style screamo to be on Pitchfork’s list of the ’10 greatest new sludgo bands’. They’re a band playing music they love, have always loved, and will always love. Hipsters and societal trends in contemporary music be damned. The sound is clearly retro and eclectic, but the music is true to its independent, outsider cultural force that independent rock and punk decidedly was. And obviously in their case still is; this band is for those of us that comb through old independent record stores shelves and old label catalogues, still seeking that additional great one neither we nor any of our friends have somehow ever heard all these years that are say, the missing link between post-punk and lo-fi… Sky Furrows’ sound is both tied to a very particular point in time yet timeless. It runs the gamut from proto-punk straight through to post noise rock without any skips, jumps, or irregularities that wake you from this timeless indie-rock (what the term meant in the early 90s, not the aughts or later) classic.

And when you hear them you can tell right away they’re all well versed and rehearsed. Their influences voluminous. The experience contained within their roster intimidating. 30 or 40 years of experience from Brooklyn to Saratoga, from SST to SYR, from Mike Watts to Burnt Hills (or their similar comparative collective Sunburned Hand of the Man from the Massachusetts side)…

The music, when taken altogether on the surface oddly enough reminds me most of mid to late 90s Sonic Youth. Hardiman’s solid, interesting bass lines often decorated by easy slides up and down, in and out. Locked in by Donnelly’s skillfull busy drumming and seamless fills of tried and true indie rock rhythms (with plenty of jazz references intentionally willfully or not, often using a brush kit). Guitar chords, lines, rhythms and strum work from the outstanding undeniably well versed Mike Griffin. As for the vocals, I’m immediately reminded of the typical speak singing of famous poets ‘rapping’ over punk rock and no wave in the late seventies and eighties east village. And then, of course, the famous women that took it to the next level, specifically Patti Smith and Kim Gordon (although Lydia Lunch definitely deserves a place in there Karen just doesn’t evoke that kind of raw unsophisticated rage). Just like these NYC poetess legends, Schoemer exhibits both confidence and vulnerability, the knowledge that what she’s writing is important and at times even brilliant… But she always has enough humility to consistently break 4th walls whenever she finds herself getting too serious (a line she’s better at staying below than some of the decidedly pretentious rants Smith and Gordon have gotten into over the years — the trappings of too much fame and worship).

The band’s sound must be described as minimalist. A standard drum kit, bass lines that run the gamut from seventies punk to distorted 90s angst, and a mostly clean indie rock guitar laying down the rhythm and melodies beneath the poet frontwoman that sings neither verse or chorus, but speaks her lines in an unpretentious amelodic relatively unemotional though sometimes too quickly (trying to say scores of lines per song) sings peak. Yeah, it can get pretty beatpoet/beatnik (or hippie if you’re unfamiliar with the nice way to say it). But not in an annoying way, not to me. More like a measured, knowledgeable way that makes use of volumes of precedent, takes the good aspects and foregoes the shit everyone knows and makes fun of. Mostly. Other people will probably view the entire soundscape as pretentious east village shit. No one can help that. If you don’t like what they like, you sure as shit ain’t gonna like Sky Furrows (and I’m guessing they really don’t care. This is a mature group of people that knows exactly what they’re doing and who they appeal to).

While influences like Sonic Youth and the Minutemen are easy to hear and point out, the roots go so deep that some of what I hear is the similarity of lesser known but also great 80s and 90s indie bands like Seam and Pell Mell. And I’m sure every critic could find a dozen other bands they like that are either obvious influences when you think about it or buried deep within the beautiful mosaic..

The obvious standout track is the first one, and one those of us that have been watching them for awhile now are already familiar with, Alyosha. I’ve read through the lyrics many times now and am still trying to figure out whether the reference is to the famous Alyosha (Karamazov) or not. It seems to be about woman. A number of different women, each of who has their own stream of random thoughts which are all kind of tied together by the fact that being women influences how they think, how they may be excluded in music scenes, etc. No idea what it has to do with Alyosha.

The second track Ensenada is almost like a cover/renewal/sequel to the 3rd track on the first Stooges record ‘We will Fall’ (how’s that for a deep cut?). A rolling baseline rapped over by both a sing song vocalist, constantly changing drum/tom lines and fills and heavily effected guitar. I can practically hear the ‘ho gee ranjha’ or whatever the fuck the Ashetons are saying in the background. The only issue I have with this track (and the album in general) is its placement; I understand that they’re trying to let you know they’re an experimental band that jams and has far out guitar effects and experimental noises (sounds like a mix of reverb pedals, a glass slide, strumming and picking the strings right above the neck or below the bridge) sooner rather than later, but a track this long and low that just hangs for a long time shouldn’t be at this spot in the record… maybe at the end like Sister Ray so you can groove out or shut it off if you don’t feel like listening to all the wanking…

36 ways of looking at a memory has a sound so familiar and yet so hard to place; because it’s that song your band played 20 years ago that never quite came together because you knew it was so great it deserved more than your band could do for it; well Sky Furrows did it and finished it beautifully. There’s no chorus (like the other songs, not even a repeated phrase, just anti-commercial stream of conscious banter), and it’s made unnecessary by the recurring bridge full of affected guitars. Not to mention the guitar chords that define the verse and most of the track that are so despairing and angsty yet enduring you can’t help but picture yourself on a downtown stoop smoking a joint with your friends complaining about highways and trains and crummy diners trying to remember a bunch of references at once struggling against the short term memory affects of the weed…. well that’s how it affects me anyway. And the regional references to the Taconic, Kew Gardens, and Prospect Park only serve to make me think the song could very well be my own thoughts some night…

The Mind Runs a Race and Falls down is pure low key late Sonic Youth (in the beginning I hear Thurston’s ghostly voice about to say ‘these are the words but not the truth’…) / To me it’s about a complicated relationship that’s both great and entirely frustrating — great as long as you’re not asked to define it, but as always Karen feels she has to; “We’re not exactly lovers and not exactly sister and brother”.

By Foreign Cities the band’s in comfortable and by now familiar territory. Like the last few songs have been gaining momentum and this one revved it way up with immediacy and much stronger velvet underground tones, then went straight into triple overtime (which is the best and most unexpected part of any game) … this was the great song everyone would demand an early eighties borderline no wave band of regulars at cbgb’s play whenever they took the stage. A neurotic New York rant about someone longing to travel but getting caught up in a swarm of planning with old maps from a shit low wage jobs and ideas about old hollywood starlets and where did we begin (somewhere in a sontag novel that unconsciously segued into a Saul Bellow passage, a Suzanne Vega rant, something an angry twenty something keeps yelling drunkenly on the street)? ‘I wasn’t fired! I quit!’ Truly a lost classic that no one knew was out there. A perfect energetic closer that leaves you cheering for an encore.

Apology by way of footnotes; this review wasn’t written by a professional writer but rather a real fan. One that’s very grateful that the music they love and have always loved is still being made and innovated upon and somehow, despite all the difficulty involved and research they otherwise would have had to have done to have found this fantastic record in a dusty old record store about to be shutdown, it somehow fell in my lap. This one’s a keeper for sure.

— Ippolit Terentyev

Lucas Garrett paces over Familiar Floors on his new ep, but the unexplained reasoning is so very intriguing!

Lucas Garret; a badass so fearless he asked Times Boredom to be honest with him! We’re obligated to oblige.

So we’ve been chatting with Lucas Garrett back and forth on Facebook and we can say, without qualification, he’s a real cool guy. Mostly because not only did he reach out to us here at Times Boredom, but he did so to tell us how much he enjoys our shitty little anti-commercial blog. And furthermore, he likes it so much he wanted to be featured in an article!

To be clear, ANYONE that thinks our diamond in the shit publication is good or funny or even ironically enjoyable is fucking cool in our book. Someone that wants to be featured, well that’s just smart (but risky) marketing, given how much fame and fortune it unfailingly grants bands we write articles soon thereafter (even if we do sometimes cross the line and make too much fun of them). Problem on our end is, lazy stoners that we are, we never came up with an idea for an article; it might have helped to have seen Mr. Garrett and/or his band live, but you know, the pandemic’s kinda put a dampener on that. And everything else about live music.

Anyway, this cooler than fucking cool guy says ‘I forgive you lazy dickheads for not making a mockumentary style article that you just ripped off from hardtimes.net and changed the names to to sound like it’s about me, but seriously, can you at least just review my upcoming ep?’

Which makes him a cool, really brave musician; if you’re unfamiliar with our reviews, we put a HUGE FUCKING WARNING on our submission page. We are brutally honest. And often times this can be inappropriate, as we’re very hung up on the type, style, and commercial considerations of a group or artist. Perhaps even more so than whether they make good music or not. So, say, if someone makes excellent Elton John influenced music, we’re gonna hate it and not pull any punches. Not because we have anything musically or even personally against Elton John, but his songs are bitter to our ears, and then they make themselves comfortable and stick around anyway especially when you don’t want them to. Not to mention the non-diy non-independent nature of his commercial music, which to our stable of far leftist ‘tankies’ is offensive before we even hear a note. And we’re not fair or even-handed enough to leave our prejudices against certain artists and styles at the door when reviewing newer stuff, instead writing as though the influenced artist is somehow themselves guilty of the sins of their influencers…

Point is we’re dickheads. And when it comes to reviews, we play dirty and sometimes even nasty. And our pal Lucas, (I know we haven’t known you for that long, but before you read this review you’d say we’re pals, right buddy?), well aware of our shitty, unnecessarily mean reputation, asks us to review his pop/rock ep that, if his old stuff is any indication, is gonna lean on some commercial indie pop rock (let’s assume none of it’s corporate for the sake of our enjoyment) for at least a significant portion thereof (also knowing full well that we worship only unlistenable noise and brutal funeral doom). On the other hand as we’ve heard and see with the cover artwork, his work may becounterbalanced by a healthy dose of cow punk, maybe some Minutemen style post-hardcore funk punk? Still, we’re afraid we’re gonna say something mean (given our style of radical truth telling) and then we won’t be buddies no more. But we did promise we’d review anything we got. Even if it does hurt our friends’ feelings and our chance of being buddies in the future. So, here we go, and god help us all…

(Please keep in mind that the above pre-ramble is meant to not only cover our asses in the likely event someone gets rightfully pissed and throws the grenade back at us, but also to stop any of our ‘fairweather fans’ out there just looking for a short, cute, funny article to continue reading this one. Are you still reading? Ok. You’ve been adequately warned and then some.)

We usually start our mean reviews by at least noting that the artist and their crew are talented individuals. And in the case of Lucas Garrett (who does the lions’ share of leading on lead vocals and guitar, synths, MIDI programming, etc), bass player Kevin Kossach, and Emmet Rozelle on drums, there’s no doubt whatsoever that this is the case (past bands that backed up Mr. Garrett are a veritable who’s who of talented up and coming Glens Falls musicians). And though much of the percussive and bass work is entirely excellent (as can be heard when either or both are briefly highlighted at times over other instruments as all too short instrumental interludes give way back to melody or during one of many percussive fills that don’t miss a beat) the talent here is clearly meant and does a near perfect job of highlighting the songwriting and performing talents of Lucas Garrett. To make a long review short(er), the band’s tight as a drum. So in sync and overtly professional we wonder why all of these talented musicians (including Garrett himself of course) aren’t making mad bank doing studio work for labels with lots of money (hopefully they are when they’re not doing this). But here, they’re doing an excellent enough job to make you almost forget (unlike most of the other more amateur records we review) that you’re listening to an unsigned non major label release that’s clean cut in all the right places.

In addition to the sound being nothing short of disturbingly professional and unobtrusive, the overall effect is almost entirely unique. You can perhaps guess at influences here and there, but they’re almost impossible to pinpoint. No one’s trying to sound like this band or show off how well they know the depth of some obscure Beach Boys record, but rather, the effortlesness comes straight from what sounds like a long course of study and craft honing over the course of entire careers. So I’m not going to go into the influences or what they’re trying to sound like because, honestly, I don’t hear anyone else’s voice on this record. Other than perhaps a broadly generic though interesting sort of laid back roots rock with just the right amount of funk and latin rhythms to let you know they’re taking all influences equally to make the sound precisely what they want it to be.

By far the most unique part of the Lucas Garrett experience is his vocal stylings. And just like other great songwriters whose unique voices have been relentlessly criticized but appreciated by real fans (Dylan, Will Oldham, Neil Young, etc), Garrett’s is a style that’s entirely idiosyncratic and fits within the unique and original melange of sound. Just like say (and no I’m not heralding influences here I explained that earlier) Leon Redbone or Leo Kottke, the music, the instrumentals, and the songs are inseparable from the interesting and entirely unique vocals of the songwriter. Garrett sings in a clipped, meanderingly tranquil baritone that never reaches far beyond a short range or ‘reaches’ in any way, for high notes, melody, or any other unnecessary accoutrement that will take away from the highly individual style and nothing more, nothing less than exactly what the songs require. It comes off as entirely unpretentious, comfortingly familiar, and yet completely unaffected or gimmicky. It’s breathtakingly honest yet repressed in a way that’s at times calming and at times heartbreaking, like someone trapped by trying to focus on the positive and not get emotional when everything around them may be hurtful, enraging, or just plain losing its shit. Track one proclaims: “The wires are humming/My mind is burning/The world is burning/What the hell can we do?”.

Unlike the familiar, ecclectically professional and straightforward music, the lyrics for the songs are rather opaque and quixotic. I gotta admit I’ve looked over them many a time while listening to the ep, and I can’t say for certain I’ve figured out what any of the songs are meant to say or convey, whether they’re about a person, contain a narrative, etc. But much like, say, early R.E.M. (not citing influences just comparing to other great works!), the mysterious and subjective nature of the nearly impenetrable lyrical meaning leaves the listener completely in control of how they wish to interpret the songs and make them their own.

We have no idea if this is the band that performs on the current ep, but it looks like, just like the musicians and the music on the record, they seriously have their shit together!

The mysterious complexity of this record can be contrasted with the lack of experimententation with song structures, instrumentation, and song lengths. Each intricate piece of each fully formed track sounds like something you’ve heard before, sometimes in a good way but too often defined entirely by droll wit. It’s as though what’s so great about this record is what it’s hiding, but in many respects it’s hiding it too well. The songs are at times even too academic. Studied and well thought out is good, but when it’s accompanied by what sounds like a fear to explore outside of structured modalities and expected changes in tempo, chord sequences, and fretwork, it often comes together as too safe. We’d like it very much if Lucas Garrett took his songs further, as he does infrequently and never for very long when it appears the band is almost jamming, the bass lines holding a steady but creeping change, the percussion going just a little wild… but always, unfortunately, staying within well defined parameters.

This ep, like most of Lucas Garrett’s work that came before it, is enjoyable and even at times remarkable primarily in two respects; first and most obviously, in the breadth and scope of its own self-awareness. Garrett and the players are obviously well studied, well rehearsed, and very experienced in both their craft, their approaches, and the lines that always seem to converge on a central, comforting and familiar theme of rhythmic independent pop/rock. Second, the uniqueness of the vocals and the ‘roads not taken’ in the songwriting bear witness to an unmistakeable atmosphere of repression. Like a latter day Karen Carpenter, the very self-assured and solid songs, songwriting, and never too far boundaries to which they’re pushed thinly veil an underlying sense that, even though he’s trying to convey (to us? to himself? to the world at large? someone he’s trying to impress?) a sense of remorseless dignity and a professional ability to handle EVERYTHING, it’s clear that there are stronger emotional and musical elements that are hiding underneath.

And this second great strength and intrigue is also what can be so heart breaking about Garrett’s work in general. It’s as though he’s so professional and concerned with writing a perfect yet interesting pop song according to a constrictive (yet entirely useful — great careers in music have been made on much less with much less ability) set of assumptions and givens, that he doesn’t realize that the castle’s made of sand. The songs and the instruments could be much more free. As they are, they’re charmingly well written, catchy, and somewhat unique… but as they could be, as evidenced by the periods on the ep at which the songs begin to lose their bearings, but then are just as quickly brought back into the fold of a fairly straight line with well worn yet enjoyable conventions, could be as expansive as Lucas Garrett would let himself be.

Overall, a really good ep in a series/career of good to quite impressively good songs, recordings, and performances. But much like so much contemporary music that gets stuck in a certain way of being to set itself into an enjoyable or marketable niche, if it were to drop some of the rocks, it could be great.

Well done friend. I hope we can still be buddies.

EEP – inefficient recyclers of a well recycled genre

Ok so I guess the only mystery bigger than why a band from Texas would relentlessly pursue a more pop-oriented less experimental shoegaze in 2020 is why the fuck would a shoegaze band from Texas send their demo to an online publication that’s more than 50 feet underground in upstate New York?!

Theory #1; they think that ‘New York’ is ‘NEW YORK!’ i.e. Manhattan/Brooklyn. It’s not. We know nothing about the shoegaze scene in Manhattan or Green Point or wherever it’s centered in the City other than a Place to Bury Strangers had an interesting take on it around 10 years ago (which more importantly was good news because when we reviewed albums for another publication 10 years ago we got a free copy of a pink vinyl by the previous band some of their members were in called Skywave that made me $25 at my local record store).

Theory #2; they’re getting ‘New York’ confused with international American Heime Ville/Hollywood and think I can get someone’s ‘attention’ for them. In which case, you get points for trying since my Uncle was in a band with Harvey Weinstein, however, I highly doubt anyone wants to be ‘discovered’ by him or anyone like him right now if ever again. Also, if this is true (which I’m sure it’s not I’m just trying to be slightly offensively funny), bad EEP! Assuming that semites ‘know people’ in the show business is sort of anti-semitic. Shame on you.

EEP – they look like a bunch of everyday cool kids but WHAT ARE THEY GAZING AT? IT AIN’T THEIR SHOES!

Seriously though the serious mystery here; why would a self labelled shoegaze band from El Paso Texas be sending their demo out for review in 2020? I could understand if shoegaze was one of their influences (since recycling it does seem to be proving to be a shortcut to hipsterdom far longer than any other early nineties genre including any of the many that the (now) super beyond superhip Melvins invented) or if they were taking shoegaze to the next, or at least a new, level. Perhaps recycling some of the proto-shoegazers like Spacemen 3, Loop, or Jesus and Mary Chain to create a new interesting really genre bending electronic noise/noisecore/noise rock element which actually would explain why they sent it here too — we actually do get press releases from Whores. ever since we wrote a fake local music news story involving them so perhaps if you google some weird combination of ‘underground noise rock review blog’ Times Boredom comes up.

I guess the point is that I feel like I can write a bunch of bullshit to try to either make you laugh or roll your eyes because honestly there’s nothing worth writing about this band. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them. Their songs would be pretty decent throwaway tracks on, say, Souvlaki or Glider. But they are just purely recycling every shoegaze trope, and worse yet they’re doing it in a disturbingly clean and almost anti-experimental way. There are no really strange production techniques, surprising druggy interludes that either disturb or pull you in or spit you back out, or long indeterminably noise passages… Their bandcamp name isn’t EEP.bandcamp.com, it’s ‘eepshoegaze.bandcamp.com’. And as much as their short description advertises their ‘eclectic’ shoegaze, the only real diversity of influences here is that they range from Ride to Chapterhouse. Unlike most groups that take Jesus and Mary Chain or MBV/Kevin Shields as a starting point and experiment from there, EEP seems to start from there, remove as much of the innovation and bizarre aspects that make it most interesting, summarize and homogenize the genre split it into easily digestable 4 minute chunks and, well, even then make pretty boring stuff.

Of course I could have been much nicer about this all and started from the assuming point that the group makes the music they do because they simply have a deep love and endless respect for the shoegaze genre and don’t think anything should be done to change that perfect sound regardless of what critics or fans think… but then I’d still have to ask why they didn’t just start a cover band or make their music, put it up on bandcamp like everyone else and NOT take the pretentious step of thinking their band is so good or interesting that they’d carpet bomb online review sites so much so that they’d hit a tiny bomb shelter in upstate New York.

If you want our advice (and we recognize that no one does nor should as really deep underground critics obviously can’t do to say the least), we suggest you branch out quite a bit… maybe become the actually eclectic shoegaze band you say you are. Or better yet take an aspect of shoegaze that really defined and was great about the genre, like the electronics and production experimentation or signal to noise ratio and how long you can hold it before it becomes anti-commercial… etc.

Thanks for your submission. Good luck to you.

Apostrophe beats creates an undeniably intriguing mood you’ve never felt before, but, you know, you have…

This record took us entirely out of our safe and hate zones, for which we are exceedingly greatful.

We don’t know glitch hop or lo fi beats idm electronic subgenres et al, so unfortunately we’re not really educated enough to adequately and accurately rate and put this record in any context whatsoever that we’d be satisfied with.

However, what we do know is what we hear, we like. We respect. We are intrigued by.

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(above; an uninformative picture of the artist that raises as many questions that you know no answers will be given to as the befuddling nature of the music itself)

Apostrophe Beats is the brain child of omnipresent Albany scenester Dan Paoletti.  A mover and a shaker behind countless shows, projects, and collaborations, Dan’s a guy you probably know if you’re involved and you’re cool.  We don’t.

(That was a joke but also completely true.)

The album in question contains 21 tracks that typically run for around 2 and a half minutes, but there are plenty of sub minute and one nearly 5 minute tracks just to keep you on your toes.  It’s like it’s a feeling.  Not a song, not separate tracks; an entire lasting mood.  Ostensibly about life for Mr. Paoletti in Upstate New York, we can certainly relate here.  There’s something about everything here that includes everything you might think of; from Lark Street where if you close your eyes you can almost pretend you’re in the East Village, to North Troy where danger lurks around but when you’re there on a sunny day, you’re a bit high, it feels like an experience you just really want to have somehow. Well, those and to the sprawling suburbs of Levittown like communities that may be conservative, gun loving, pickup truck driving classic rock enthusiasts — they’re kind of unrepresented on this trek of Upstate New York. How unfortunate.

The genre is unknown to us but we did a bit of research.  For starters, we think the idea of dance music that you can’t dance to is fucking brilliant. And the constant tempo switches, the confusing slurry vocals that sometimes figure in, and the chill out organs and horn parts (?) that constantly pop in and out make you feel like you’re on even more drugs than the instrumentals do to start with. There’s no guidemap here, no straight raving, no glow sticks, no 4/4 or headbanging. Just pure experimental electronic music like nothing we’ve heard.

Some somewhat similar stuff I’ve familiar with includes ambient house, trip hop (more Tricky than Portishead), and early 90s hip hop like Tribe Called Quest and De la Soul might figure in to the paradigm within which we hear this. But we don’t get the theory from any reference points of the paradigm. We are without an oar here to paddle through the overall melange of sounds that comes out.  Some influences definitely show up.  You can feel the 90s hip hop, some slow jams, some ‘chill out’ music for lack of a better term (and that is a terrible term).  But the sounds, the format, are all unexpected and feel almost unmoored.

In contrast to true ‘chill-out’ records we’ve played like say the good Orb stuff (yes there was good Orb stuff), when we hear pretty much any of the tracks on Upstate Daydream we feel both mellow and on top of a mountain of repressed anxiety.  And this feels like an adequate reference point, given the spiked conversations on some of the tracks like ‘The Pomegranate (Breather)’ that are characterized by droll english accents.  But the feeling isn’t one of intentional enjoyment or calmness.  There’s always that feeling in the background that we’ve smoked too much pot or done too many other drugs that we don’t know the names of.  We’re good for now, but…

And that’s just one of the brilliant parts of this album that set it apart from anything else we’ve heard. It sets such an uncompromising, unusual mood that once you’re in you can’t get out of until you stop listening (and even sometime after that).  It also feels like a solo project that was born of collaboration and ideas from just about everywhere; the list of personnel in the liner notes is a road map to dozens of other musicians and groups from the area.  The only one we recognize is the brilliantly talented yet woefully underknown Grace Annunziato (who often makes music under the alias of Lone Phone Booth), another project we’ve enjoyed so much we wrote about unsolicited recently

Incredibly original, entirely discordant and wonderfully experimental, Upstate Daydream defies expectations you didn’t even know you had and puts you in a mood you’ve never been in but know all too well. Somehow. There may be mountains of music like this somewhere out there for all we know, millions of dj’s at home spinning similar lo-fi beats interspersed with an enormous variety of always unexpected electronic instruments and samples, but we’ve certainly never heard anything like it (ok we should probably stop repeating ourselves now.. now… repeating. ourselves. NOW!). At one point you’re relaxing and sinking into the easy chair, suddenly you find you’ve gone too far and you’re underwater and not breathing so well, then just as suddenly you’re looking at the defribillators that just brought you screaming back to life and reality. But it’s ok, you’re still pretty doped up from the trauma and the morhpine. And so you start sinking again…

We’ve never heard anything quite like this (I thought you were gonna stop repeating that!!! STOP IT!!!). But we imagine and hope very much that we will again. There is an intriguing, in depth, entirely original and unexpected underground in the Capital District, and this is definitely a part of it. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Alex Hitrick should defend himself against the seventies

Alex Hitrick is an incredibly talented, hardworking, polished songwriter and musician.

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That being said, the music he makes really isn’t my bag.

Didn’t we all agree at some point that the excesses of 70s pop music, at least those lacking a tongue in cheek campy irony, were a regrettable mistake? It’s apparent that Mr. Hitrick firmly believes the opposite.

The songs on his debut album ‘Apple Trees’ conjure the influence of early Elton John and Wings (as opposed to later Beatles which is far more excusable). Some songs sound like that demo you had on your first casio… it’s actually a Billy Joel song played with every synth instrument imaginable. And everytime you hear it you feel like you’re at a phony schmoozing cocktail party and you just know the host wants you personally to have fun reallllly bad. But you want to leave. Really bad.

We’re not sure what he’s going for other than to write really good, catchy, pop songs that keep changing in the middle and are a little bit funny, a little bit campy, and happy in that way that depressed pop stars from the seventies became soft rock in the 80s.  I didn’t laugh.  I felt depressed.

To resummarize and conclude, Alex Hitrick has so much promise. It almost sounds like he could write pretty good music in any genre he chose. It’s just that the one that he chose, eclectic ultra-seventies ultra-polished silly power pop, has no relevance in today’s world and no appreciation by the likes of underground publications like ours. To be fair, he does warn you on his site of his ultra slick seventies pop influences.

Oh yeah that reminds me, he also really reminds me of Ben Folds. But Ben Folds was funny in a slapstick kinda ‘the music I make is silly but fuck you I’m a big rockstar!’ sardonic kinda way.  Mr. Hitrick is reaching very far for the humor.

Perhaps most telling, he doesn’t acknowledge any more contemporary influences whatsoever… maybe that’s a suggestion that he should, you know, listen to music that wasn’t made in the cheesy seventies.

If he wants our advice (which we know no one does); if you want to be a popstar, focus on more contemporary music. You don’t have to go hard rock or metal or drone for us to like you, but more John than Paul for us to appreciate you, and more Katy Perry than Chicago/Peter Cetera if you want to have a succesful career/make money.

Thanks for your submission and good luck.

A new strategy for a new world!

So a number of us at Times Boredom have been lamenting the current state of album review sites; specifically, pretty much all of them seem to only review albums that they like and therefore give nothing but positive reviews (we admit to having been guilty ourselves of such strategy thus far in our existnece). While this is probably a good commercial and goodfeeling/popularity strategy, we have the benefit of being non-commercial and therefore can piss off whoever we like (within reason).

So if you genuinely want an honest review of your record (preferably one from that of the Capital Region or its surrounding areas), feel free to send them to us. Bandcamp is preferred. And honestly, if we hear one song and don’t like it, we’re probably just gonna say that.

We’re specifically interested (no we’re not calling you out but what can it hurt honestly) in up and coming releases by local labels such as Five Kill and Super Dark. So, yeah, if you’re reading this, put em up!

timesboredom@gmail.com

It’s time to stop mocking only the ones we love.

Maybe.

(Interesting strategy. Let’s see if it plays out)

Mr. Cancelled’s “Every Town has its Dolls is” the most excellently humble post-punk ever with a post-rock star attitude

 

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…

a2968322946_16(cover art by Shane Sanchez)

Made up of local legendary scenesters (all involved with the 0009935449_10Collective 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 timesboredom@gmail.com 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.

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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.

 

Spookfish live Superdark Review

Spookfish performed as part of the Super Dark Monday show at Desperate Annie’s in Saratoga Springs on February 11.

It was described in the flyer simply as “electronics from NYC.” I didnt know if I should expect ambient space noise, techno-pop, or something in between.

Surprisingly, he alternated between live-mixing using a 4-track recorder and a keyboard, and playing an acoustic guitar.

The electronic movements created an amorphous space, enveloping the crowd. Switching back to guitar re-shaped and punctuated the hollowed space with clear, assymetrical themes.
Rather than layering these different sounds, he allowed each to speak for itself; the effect was a hypnotic call-and-response of stability and loss.

I let each form draw me further out until I was no longer standing in the middle of a pub. I was alone in an abandoned farmhouse, turning slowly in a musicbox dusty with lifetimes of hauntings. It was warm and peaceful in that little musicbox; not a bad place to spend a Monday evening.

–budderandjilly

Haley Moley finds their voice on new ep, and it’s dark and haunting

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Haley Moley describes themselves as a ‘concentration of electronic, funk, and disco dj’s with rock experience steeped in atmospheric, dirty guitars’. What I hear from that is they do techno, funk, disco, dance music… and I need hear no more. I listen to mostly noise, doom, sludge, math; generally angsty miserable sounds that you absolutely CANNOT dance to.  I’m gonna hate this.

But I don’t. Not at all.

Perhaps if you like a group, you hear what you want to. And though I hear synth pop, it’s layered in with deep, introverted, minor keys that speak to me of a group that may claim or aim to be danceable pop but has been haunted into showing their true darkwave colors and demons. Indeed their first ep ‘Object Permanence’ was far more in the vein of the description mentioned above.  But in this new ep, I hear early New Order with dark alto vocals that are a cross between Patti Smith and Chrissy Hynde at the helm. And though much is owed to eighties synth pop frameworks and hooks, it’s covered over with layers of dark fuzzy bass lines and gothic guitars, until it sounds like its struggling with itself, its melange of sounds, its underlying dark emotions and lyrical themes… Sounds good to me.

And since all we pretentious writers interpret the songs we hear and write as though we’ve uncoded the peremptorily correct interpretations, I’ll be no exception here (since Haley Moley had the bad sense to include the lyrics on their cd thereby inviting me to delve into their meanings);

Apple of my Eye presents the proud time when someone you love and have helped form begins to rebel against you. Painful as it is, it’s what must be done in this world if an individual is to break free of their formative influences and become their own person.  And “it’s a beautiful day” when it happens.

Formidable Man is a superhero song for all us regular, flawed guys. You don’t have to be a body builder, a CEO or a die hard green peace activist to be formidable, to be everything to the woman that loves you. She loves you for your weaknesses and your strengths; even though you may be shy and wrestle with personal demons all day long, you face it all and do what needs to be done.  She loves the humility you exhibit on top of all the massive inner strength you possess.

Souvenirs (my favorite track) sets a despondent tone on a pensive tune about the inevitable and disturbing passage of time.  Shy backing instrumentation is punctured by forte piano chords that sound like they’re interfering with the mood of someone trying to come to terms with things by raising constant objections.  Best of all containing the brilliant one liner ‘Souvenirs… collapse the years’, about how tiny nostalgic items can remind you that no matter how much time has passed nor how long it seemed, it’s all just a moment we’re reminded of in small keepsakes that elicit all the feelings we went through at specific times in our lives.

I will admit that the title track Cloven is lyrically impenetrable.  And like the music, beautiful, dark, and abstract.

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Haley Moley may bill themselves as a collection of dj’s with tunes inspired by their dance music roots and experience, but when they get together they create something so much deeper, darker, and more interesting. And while they, like so many other great groups, are virtual small fish in their hometown of Troy, if they got the exposure to the much larger audience they deserve, they’d strike an enormous cord, again and again.

(did you see how I did that clever thing, inserting the title of the album into the concluding note? Yeah, I’m totally proud of that. Perhaps some day a real publication will reprint one of my reviews)