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)

Never a dull moment on Hill Haints’ new release, the ‘Carcinogen’ ep

There is never a dull moment on Hill Haints’ newest seamlessly ecclectic yet entirely original ep ‘Carcinogen’.

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Though it will probably never be labeled noise rock, it’s certainly firmly in the wonderful meta-tradition of the way that classical noise rock challenges you to wonder where the noise ends and rock begins. But fortunately it forgoes unfortunate traditional noise rock facets such as improvisations and unending ten + minute bouts of feedback or other uninteresting lengthy nonsensical ill-fitting passages.  Instead, every part of Carcinogen feels masterfully crafted and timed to perfection. Every instrument is firing on all cylinders at every moment you hear it. As soon as an instrument drops out, you can rest assured it’ll come back at exactly the precise moment it’s meant to in full force and get you going even further! It sounds as though the band has been working and reworking every part of this ep for years. Like I said, never a dull moment!

Honestly, you can’t really label it anything other than Hill Haints. While you can certainly hear the eclectic mix of influences (most strongly those of the Birthday Party and the Cramps), every collaborative piece of the total package on this recording is genuinely and originally the Hill Haints. Okay, for purposes which no current underground music act can escape they do refer to themselves as garage and no wave, but we think both of those labels are insufficient without at least something like ‘sludgebilly’ thrown into the description.

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And this is a recording that sharply highlights the contribution of every bandmember. Drummer Skip Piper begins the tracks with heralding intros that then strike head on into fast driving punk rock beats. Bassist Kat Celentano alternately brings the driving garage lines and/or fuses an extra layer of fuzz noise and/or leads a track; whatever’s appropriate for the composition at hand. Unfortunately, this reviewer is unable to distinguish between which guitarist plays which part, but the interplay of Jonathan Hanson and E.S. Cormac calls to mind the sickening twisted melodic spurts of Rowland S. Howard overlaid with effects laden accents reminscent of, dare I say, the Stone Roses(?!) Hell yeah, they even seamlessly incorporate elements of shoegaze into this melange of propulsive noise!

Cormac’s vocals certainly challenge the notion of traditional pop/rock singing. Words are spoken and garbled and shouted and preached and thrown through a series of effects; alternately resembling Lux Interior, Jim Heath, and even Johnny Cash but always distinctly E.S. Cormac.

If only we had the lyrics I’m sure we’d be able to enjoy it more, but we don’t want to insert our interpretations of words we may be hearing wrong and enjoying the way we already hear them. It’s also unclear from the bandcamp page (https://hillhaints.bandcamp.com/album/carcinogen) how, where, and by whom this recording was done, but it presses all the right buttons at all the right times so you can hear every instrument loud and clear over a background of constant yet subtle noise.

The end most fitting to this review is to alert this garage/no wave/sludgebilly band that we anxiously anticipate hearing their next recording and can only hope it’s longer so we have more to gush over!

Ape not Kill Ape kills

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The first thing you notice when listening to Ape not kill Ape’s new album Bushman is how loud it is. You can turn it up, turn it to your regular listening volume, down as low as the volume goes, but so long as you don’t turn it off, it’s still loud as fuck, and it still fucking rocks.

The vocalist, a bastard son of M. Gira and David Yow, competes with the guitar for bombastic shouting power to dominate the landscape, nay, your entire fucking ear canal and beyond. Passing likenesses to Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard are the best I can muster to describe a piece of the ecclectic and original cacophony that makes your ear drums bleed when you listen to Ape not Kill Ape.

Overbrimming with volume also typically comes off as overbrimming with self confidence, and the lyrical haphazardness furthers the impression. Graveyard dogs, ‘red room believers’, and a clerk named Wilson that cures blindness by jerking off into old ladies eyes are just some of the strange degenerates you’ll meet in the surreal hellscape that once again calls the lyrical prowess of David Yow to mind. Reverb laden gravelly speaking and unexpected spark start stop shouting alternate with a melody here and there while seeming randomly guitar brimming over with distortion, feedback, and delay screech along in the back, on the top, and spill out over the sides.

The bass anchors the project no matter where it goes, often describing the only semblance of melody you’ll get for an entire track. The drums either accompany the bass or blast along with the vocals and effects laden guitar spasms. The whole is an undeniably seamless frenetic energy ebb and flow that catches you off guard and rocks you off your ass until you cry ‘no more!… Alright. Play it again!’

This band kills.