As soon as opening track ‘Billy Morris’ takes off you know exactly what you’re in for; quirky indie pop that makes you nostalgic for those late 90s/early 2000s obscure power pop and lo-fi label albums you were obsessed with but no one else seemed to be… And as expectedly unexpected in the lo-fi pop genre, Sing More Songs About Failed Utopias goes on a non-linear journey from that k records naive international pop sound straight through to the more recent experimental college pop like Alex G. Brilliant yet entirely unassuming lo-fi pop gems sparkle so brightly you almost cry when the harmonies are off key or there’s so many over the top saccharine sweet instruments added you know this will never be on the radio or most likely, anywhere other than a sad sad site like Times Boredom.
The ‘House of Tomorrow’ band is made up of some of the usual suspects of local musicians and scenesters; Kim Tateo (from Machine Revival), Brady Potts, Connor Amrbruster (an accomplished up and coming solo performer in their own right), Dan Prockup, and our good Superdark buddy (and good sport) Christopher Brown. It’s not clear who plays what, but knowing something about these kids most of them are pretty good at just about anything they pick up. And if there’s something else familiar about these kids that you just can’t put your finger on, you may have seen them (esp lead Nathan Meltz) in previous groups ‘The Machine that Wouldn’t Die’ and ‘Machine Revival’, or other similarly named quirky pop projects that have been playing around the Capital District for a number of years now.
The House of Tomorrow (in clever playing card form)
But let’s get less clever and do a more descriptive dive into the weeds if we must… must we? We must
Track 2 ‘Zion’ is to put it bluntly a brilliantly crafted pop gem. Like better than Sufjan Stevens. We hope it’s been submitted to college radio stations (if not take note here guys; this could be bigger than Alex G. Seriously). Though also to be blunt members of the Church of Latter Day Saints may very well not appreciate its rather flippantly wry portrayal of its… free loving founder….
And the standout track by far is #3, Themyscira. That off kilter (possibly off key; I can’t tell because I don’t have perfect pitch but I do have perfect OCD for an unbearably catchy hook) harmony on ‘reTURN to us’ could quite literally make Mr. Meltz a number one artist based on that note alone. And it stays with you after the album is over, and it will make you want to listen to the whole ep again. And then it will haunt you until you listen to it so much that you don’t know why it calls you in the middle of the night but you MUST listen to that cute little line about how Diana should ‘reTURN to us and leave the world of dicks behind’… you get the point. It’s fuckin catchy.
And if that weren’t enough, there’s the the surprise ‘Planet of the Apes-Man’ where I hope (I hope I hope) they’re exhibiting the influence of listening to way too much of the lates sixties/early seventies Kinks concept albums… it really does have that (forgive me if I’m repeating myself) naive underground pop music base that comes from groups like the Kinks that completely moved on from what made them famous yet delighted a loyal and changing fan base, in a way that I’d really like to think of Nathan Meltz and um, House of.. hm sounds like either they are a cult like the Polyphonic Spree or they’re making fun of a cult group like them — again let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s mockery. But all in good fun!
But… it’s not all clever indie transcendence… Not all of the melodies are as fantastically catchy as Themyscira. And perhaps it should be pointed out that if you like your lo-fi indie a little more punky or hard edged this isn’t a record for you, the only edges are the interesting twists taken with pop hooks and ‘fa fa fa fa’s’. But it’s definitely worth a listen, and it portends potentially great things in the future provided mssrs Meltz and co. keep it up and fight the good indie pop fight… we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more and love what has developed from the early days of the Machine that Wouldn’t Die to this terrific new incarnation of Nathan Meltz and the House of Tomorrow!
Somewhere in the oughts indie rock/pop lost its way. It became a shadow of whatever was on the radio in terms of production, and more and more like 70s soft rock in overall sound and mood.
The tragedy is not only the early but the late 90s offered so many avenues indie could have taken. Lo-fi to slowcore, math rock to the quirky off kilter rhythms and melodies introduced by the likes of Rob Crowe in San Diego. And we’re just talking about the softer end of rock and the more melodic edges of pop here.
But the publications of the day heralded the coming of the old age. The new Eagles and folky singer songwriters… the shit.
Fortunately for those of us that follow underground music, there’s plenty of great stuff that went the other way, the good way. At their core that’s exactly what Milwaukee’s Brief Candles (https://briefcandlesus.bandcamp.com/) represents. Lo-fi aesthetics, jarring rhythms, catchy crooning and just the right amount of guitar effects. Somewhere between groups like Verses and Heavy Vegetable that we all kinda forgot about; and of course the influence of that never gets tired of recycling shoegaze from Manchester.
There’s some Brooklyn hipster sounds in there, but out of a genuine love for the music that Brooklyn seems to be getting so wrong these days. It’s all grounded in more of a we love guitar music and everywhere it can go; whether it’s simply a really high strung bass line that makes an entire song or Television like interplay of guitars. And, of course, if they’re named after the Zombies song I think they are, they’ve definitely got their references in order.
See Brief Candles tonight at No Fun with Brooklyn’s (yech! jk — or are we?!) Dead Leaf Echo, and Brent Gorton’s Better Pills (https://betterpills.bandcamp.com/album/blood-chant) — if you don’t know who Brent Gorton is, get your ass down to No Fun and find out because he’s a brilliant indie pop legend here in the Capital District and arguably THE best songwriter.
Super fun surf indie rock band The Sugar Hold (was forced to) made a deal with the Troy Chamber of Commerce following last night’s unbelievably exciting and entertaining (without so much as a hint of irony) set at Brown’s Brewing Company for the Bacchanalia fest.
“Basically we were told that we were making the, um, surrounding not quite as fun and less hardy partying local Troy arts, music and entertainment scene a bit um, paler by comparison?” explained lead singer/guitar player Mikey Baish. “We certainly didn’t start with the intention of being the most fun, entertaining, unstoppable good time had by everyone at all of our shows but we sort of can’t help it… we just make fun music that we love, we love what we’re doing and everyone can tell and they in turn love it so much they have such a good time and… it’s not our fault. We’d try to tone it down but honeslty, who would want to have LESS of a super rockin time?”
“We just can’t help it that we’re having so much damned fun up there these days unlike other groups and scenes from the past that we don’t really fit in with anymore.” chimes in drummer with variable yet always entertaining head and facial hair shining local personality John Olander (srsly dooders in like 20 bands, has 12 jobs and can be found anywhere a party with music is going on yet is ALWAYS partying and smiling). “I mean I used to play in a band called Che Guevara T-Shirt that, let’s face it, was just plain wrist-slitting metal. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it or any of the other groups around that still do that kind of stuff, but we are kind of heralding in a new era with groups like the Hold on Honeys, and earlier but still partying Haley Moley, Architrave, Haunted Cat — just too many to name (shouts Olander as he shoves a grinder into his mouth no doubt the first chance he’s had to eat in days) that are just plain unironically entertaining and joyous!”
“It kind of started when Haley Moley, Architrave and other bands led and or inspired by Paul and Jen Coleman’s indomitably positive, optimistic spirits changed the game by instead of making the kind of depressingly heavy industrial music of say Che Guevara T-Shirt or k. Sonin that made people leave, they played fun danceable but still in depth underground pop music that inspired all of us to stop being so ‘cool’ and pretending we were having such a crummy time and admit that we were having lots of fun and wanted the audience to have lots of fun too!”
“I think we just started experimenting with the idea that local independent music can just be a really great time” says bass player Matt Malone who was also in superdepressing suicide inspiring group Che Guevara T-Shirt at one point; “and then I guess we went too far. Because there are so many so much great but dark in depth groups that are around, the Troy Business Council has informed us there have been several formal complaints about how hard it is to get crowds in now that people can, instead, go to see the Sugar Hold and others that shimmer and shine and are unashamedly loved to party and have a good time! We didn’t realize it was such a novel concept, but it turns out that since the late seventies groups that earnestly and unashamedly have a great time haven’t really been featured in local scenes. And of course back in the early 90s with the advent of grunge it was literally made illegal to rock and party as hard and have as much of a good time as we’re doing now.”
Lead guitarist Dan Clark unfortunately did not comment because I’ve never met him IRL and I wouldn’t even deign to do any kind of impression whatsoever, however, everytime I’ve seen him play he does look like he’s having a great time and rocking out just like the rest of the band.
There’s still great fear however that even moving the Sugar Hold over exclusively to the party zone won’t stop what they’ve started. It turns out the germ of the idea that making great fun music with a bunch of your friends to entertain your other friends has taken deep roots in Troy and beyond.
The Sugar Hold was just one of the thousands of groups of terrific local musicians that played this weekend’s Troy Bacchanalia and changed the face and expectations of what an upstate end of summer festival could really do to reinvigorate, enliven, and even reinvent the core of what an upstate city is all about and the great things that come out of it!
This will be part 1 in our 67 part series on the Bacchanalia fest in Troy the Year of Our Lord 2022 and its lasting effects on the ecology, wildlife, and business climate of the city that Uncle Sam built dancing on his two left feet and the Capital District 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.
“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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Ipolito, our resident biggest fan of local experimental indie noise project/”gay uncle core” performers Lone Phone Booth (though the rest of us are fans too!) sat down (on the internet) with Grace Annunziato of the group recently to talk about how the pandemic is affecting music, what their writing and recording process is like, and random stuff about, um, corn. Here’s what they came up with.
Ipolito Terentjia (IT): So how are you enjoying the pandemic so far?
Grace Annunziato (GA): ha; i talked a lot before the pandemic about how i wished everything would stop, or at least slow down; i have learned to be more careful what i wish for,there have been some great aspects that have come with it like introspection, focus on my meditation practices, and connecting more deeply with the earth and with my priorities. obviously none of that is worth the toll it has taken! my plans have been shaken up and i forget how to be around people. but i am lucky to have gotten through it relatively unscathed. & it has definitely changed my creative process lots.
IT: Have you been making more music as a result or has it prevented that?
GA: DEFINITELY less music. for months at the beginning it just seemed so silly to write a little song with a pandemic and civil rights movement in full swing. now it’s just harder to get the motivation, but i’ve been finding ways around that. i also love writing about places and experiences which are hard to come by in a pandemic.
IT: I know what you mean. I think a lot of local musicians are feeling that way. Do you live in the capital district?
GA: i do! i live in albany.
IT: How long have you lived here? I think I read something about one of your recordings being at St Rose. Did you go to school there?
GA: i moved here for college in 2016. yeah, i went to saint rose! I graduated May 2020. meaning i finished school virtually. i had planned some long form travel after graduation but wound up sticking around, which has been a blessing in disguise.
IT: Did you study music there?
GA: I studied music industry, so a combination of music tech, business, and performance. i mostly focused on the tech side. i love engineering and production work.
IT: I guess that means you learned a lot about recording. Can you tell us about your recording process and methods?
GA: i usually start with guitar parts, at least i have in the past. once i have the guitar and vocals down i’ll add other instruments. after that is the really fun part, adding samples and field recordings, synths, effects, etc. that part probably takes the most time.
lately though, i’ve been switching it up a little. usually now I’ll start with a sample or field recording and build on that sound; i try to make it the focal point rather than the background. Then I’ll layer guitar, vocals, keys, whatever, on top of that.
i have a little portable stereo recorder i’ve been bringing on hikes. that has been the basis for a lot of music recently. then i just add sounds that feel like they fit the time and place i recorded.
IT: Do you record at home or in a studio?
GA: both! the studio when i was at st rose, now just at home. i’d love to get back in the studio when i have something ready that could use a hi-fi recording.
RE/SOUND needed that clean studio sound! but for more ambient stuff like i’ve been into lately i honestly love the lofi sound of recording at home on my busy street.
IT: Switching to the business side since you said you also studied that, I assume you’ve been self releasing recordings thus far. Have you spoken with or been approached by any local or big record labels? Or do you always see yourself doing things the DIY way and releasing and promoting independently?
GA: i’ve worked with the angels at bee side cassettes and talked with five kill a bit too. i’ve never been approached by a bigger label, but i have been ignored by a few! hahah.
despite having studied it, the business side of things has always made me feel icky. promotion is not my thing. i would rather self release and have only a few people hear it than have a huge release that feels inauthentic.
IT: The ‘who are your major influences’ question is a tired old cliche that signals a lack of imagination on the part of the interviewer. Who are you major influences?
GA: Mirah has affected me since I was a kid. Frankie Cosmos and Girlpool and a lot of straight white emo bands helped me get started. William Basinski and other minimalist composers like Philip Glass, Emily Sprague. The trees that live on my street. And how the light moves around my apartment throughout the day!
Anyone who can combine noise and music, too- Ylayali, spirit of the beehive, the books, etc
IT: That’s a lot of stuff I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to do some background research and put the record buying on Times Boredom’s dime!
GA: sounds like a great plan!!!
IT: What genre, if any, would you say your music could be classified as?
for real, i don’t know how to answer that! somewhere in the alternative umbrella. for now i’ll go with gay uncle core.
IT: A lot of people are saying that indie rock, like rock music in general, has become stale and unexciting. So if you could save Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, or the band Real Estate, who would you let drown first and why?
GA: bye bye, real estate! i’ve covered waxahatchee and courtney barnett is the primordial ooze that my hairstyle was birthed from.
IT: So I’d like to ask you about live performances before I forget. Where have you played in the Capital District? Anywhere you’d like to play? Have you ever toured and/or are you planning to?
GA: i’ve played basements and living rooms all across the capital district! and i have done a small tour in the northeast US. next year i am moving into a van so i will sort of be touring all the time. i’d love to play in the southwest US just because it’s where i’d love to explore.
i would be ecstatic to play in any sweaty basement with my friends in it
IT: So several of the other writers here at Times Boredom wanted me to tell you how much they love your music and especially your latest album ‘RE/SOUND’. It plays around TB HQ pretty much non-stop. What we all most want to know most is, do you plan to stick around the Capital District? Can we hope to hear more from you and see live performances in the near and/or not to distant future?
GA: wow, i really appreciate that! seriously, it means a lot!! and it honestly depends on how COVID goes. i’ve been wanting to travel for a while. I hope to leave albany in the fall as long as everyone who wants a vaccine has one by then. hopefully i’ll be able to play a few shows in albany before that happens! but it seems so uncertain how the transition back into live music will go.
IT: We absolutely look forward to that and hope you’ll keep us in the loop! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude? Maybe another local music artist you’d like to give a shout out to?
number two! my partner alex AKA soo do koo. one of the most inspiring artists i know, & in the midst of releasing a series of video collabs with local legend Derick Noetzel.
thanks for reaching out, and for chatting! much appreciated. can i ask you an interview question before we go?
IT: Sure thing. ask away
GA: what is your favorite vegetable and why???
IT: Hm. A fair question. Although technically corn breaks all the rules, one of things it is is a vegetable. So I’m gonna have to pick corn, since it was such a major achievement of the pre-Colombian American peoples. It’s basically the most scientifically advanced form of nutrition that can grow anywhere under almost any conditions
I fully believe that the import of corn from the Americas allowed all civilizations, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to flourish in a way that allowed them to reflect much more on intellectual pursuits because it feeds so many so efficiently
While it may not be the healthiest kind of food, the technology, knowledge of farming, cultivation, hybridization, and the sheer audacity of taking something that grew only in very specific conditions in the wild yet was modified to make it spread across the entire planet mirrors humankind’s own journey into being the superdominant species on earth, for better or worse.
GA: that was beautiful. never have i thought so deeply into corn’s cultural impact; thank you.
IT: Oh, before I forget, Scott wanted me to specifically ask: “GOATS!!! GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS!! THEY WILL TAKE OVER SOON, JUST LOOK IN THEIR EYES! FEAR THE GOOOAAATTTSSS!!!!”
GA: well said, Scott.
IT: Thanks again and I hope we have an excuse to speak again soon! Please keep making great music! We really love it!
GA: hahah they’re both good points & thank you so much! i really do appreciate all the kindness you all have shown me.
The strongest influence I heard when I first listened to Lone Phone Booth was an unmistakable similarity to the vocals of Chan Marshall/Cat Power. However, since Grace Annunziato (the mastermind/main songwriter behind Lone Phone Booth) is at least 20 years younger than I am, it’s difficult to determine a concrete set of influences given my own time limited knowledge base. Even if the influences I hear and am familiar with are present, it’s possible that these have come to Annunziato removed through other, newer artists.
In any case the beautifully sorrow and highly expressive vocals are at least Marshallesque, though they also at times sound Van Ettenesque (Sharon), Timonate (Mary, of Helium fame), or Jane O’Neilly (TJO from so many great bands… I’ll stop now). Especially since the music, while poetically sorrowful and at times as hopeless as Cat Power, herald a wide range of influences and personal innovations. Especially on tracks like 222; a hi-fi version of a beautiful yet endlessly unhappy version of an early lo-fi Cat Power track yet replete with strings and all kinds of warm sounds from signature found sounds (which are almost always present on all the songs on the album) and noise collages.
Another influence I hear loud and distorted (which to be fair I hear everywhere in good independent rock like music that may well have come from their influence on grunge, Radiohead, and every other good thing that’s come out since them) is Sonic Youth. This record is rife with intentional delays, missteps, and a wall of noise at least made partially by naturally distorted guitars. But also, a striving for good yet unusual pop vocal and guitar line melodies to accompany the less traditional, more experimental (and thus to me at least far more interesting) music. A Month in Autumn, for example, could be a lost track from Sister. It even has a noise buildup and breakdown at the end. But I also hear echos of of Sonic Youth acolytes such as Polvo and Blonde Redhead. And who knows what the kids are actually listening to these days that sounds like the shit I know? Yeah, I’m old. So old I should stop rambling metastically about influences which I’m most likely getting all wrong already, right?…
Yeah. So, not only is Lone Phone Booth impressive for a local group, but as I already knew from their debut album ‘Music For the Faint of Heart’, has the potential to be a national (albeit underground as all good music is in this century) phenomenon in the independent rock community. But this usually requires ceaseless touring, label support, and an enormous word of mouth, or better yet word of mass media like Pitchfork or Stereogum. For now Lone Phone Booth only has word of mouth. But the words are getting louder and more encouraging with every new piece of music released. Music for the Faint of Heart was one hell of a debut album, but alot of that greatness was in the potential that was clearly available to this undeniably talented and unique singer songwriter. RE/SOUND has completely, magnificently delivered on that potential promise.
Whereas the previous record relied on fairly typical ambient sounds like low pitched conversations for background noise and muttered singing that reminded me (probably not many others by this point given how OLD all my references are) of the second Velvet Underground record (valuing ambience above all else), this record uses far more unusual noises for its found sounds. And also like the self-titled ‘Velvet Underground’ RE/SOUND is full of wonderfully catchy and pretty pop melodies. The use of ambient sounds not usually found in typical music is on full display on “Greyhound”, made up in large part by old touch tone and early modem sounds. But, of course, these noises are blended in with synths and processed to give them a background fuzz that blends them seamlessly into the song in a way that probably makes every other songwriter ask themself; why don’t we do that?!
In terms of pop melodies, every other track that doesn’t include experimental noise passages or starts and stops delivers not only catchy tunes but well played guitar lines, such as Dimmer and Creation Myth. Iridescent similarly has beautifully worked out melodies alongside found sounds like clinking silverware(?) which reminds me of the tender sullenness of a Tara Jane O’Neill song. A mesmerizing passageway into a sombre picture of an everyday humdrum living space where “each floor board creaks and snores”. And when you try to influence or change things, big or small, “some plants die, and some plants grow. how much of it can u control?” Not a lot. But the way Grace describes it is highly controlled, and conveys exactly the message the lyrics paint with the unusual but highly skilled guitar playing and drop outs for unusual sound collages.
There are also a couple of unexpected tracks that border on circus music, and when listening to the lyrics you see how well it fits. For example, Creation Myth (ostensibly based on a bizzarre Larry Bird obsessed Svalina poem) asks;
“when you sink to the bottom of the stew, who are you? reality can be a downer too, one strange view.”
The even more evil carnival feel of the depressingly (ironically) peppy Hot Wax begins with a lyric that reminds me of the Bedhead song ‘Unfinished’, both of which start with dipping your fingers in hot wax. But it ends with the devastating realization that; “Even when you dissolve, you still have to work your job” — a cryptic statement like that somehow makes perfect sense, in this silly unplanned circus of a protestant work ethic society of ours where your life is defined by whether you work or not and the only thing you have to do to ostensibly prove your worth is going in to work every day. And Annunziato’s wise enough to know “there will be pain, it will go away…”, like it’s all just some stupid joke that still unreasonably guides our silly, pointless little lives and deaths.
Overall, this second (we think; if not, tell us where we can get the others!!!) record delivers on the promise of “Music for the Fain of Heart” to fulfillment and then some. Lone Phone Booth and its ‘lead visionary’ (we’re not actually sure how many of the instruments are played by Annunziato given the litany of at least a dozen other people that are ‘featured’) have here clearly taken their songs to the next level. Proving to be adept at both ambient noise, aptly scored backgrounds played by ‘classical’ instruments, AND innovative sounds from everyday objects that seamlessly careen into a sleepy, pensive, and sombre in the best way record.
Per our understanding, Annunziato and the other members of Lone Phone Booth recently attended the College of St Rose (which has a surprisingly excellent musical program and studio). It’s unclear if they will remain here in the Capital District or move on to greener or more urban pastures in the near and/or far future. Wherever they venture, we’ll certainly be following them. Though we hope upon hope that they’ll stay in the area and perform live for a long time to come. It adds so much beautiful noise that we here at Times Boredom and in the Capital District independent DIY scene can NEVER get enough of. Thanks so much for sharing your voice and your vision with us. It hasn’t and won’t go unnoticed, and we’ll sing its praises to anyone willing to listen.
Do yourself a favor and give Lone Phone Booth’s new record a listen here, or on Spotify or other streaming services. We do however, highly recommend the Bandcamp link, where if you make a purchase all proceeds go to the presciently relevant and vitally important GWORLS rent and gender affirming surgery fund, which provides badly needed help and community services for transgender black people.