Tim Darcy – “Saturday Night”

Tim Darcy, frontman of the less than ordinary post-punk band “Ought,” released his solo debut album spoofing the typical crooning singer/songwriter album with a subtle but chaotic clash of off-kilter guitars and spacey, lo-fi production to a nightmarish effect. “Ought” has experienced a weird branding, being a bit overrated and slightly misunderstood by critics who’ve interpreted them as an avant garde band reminiscent of the ‘60s.

I spoke with the drummer of the band at the 2016 Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta and he expressed opposition to the idea that “Ought” is anything more than an average rock band. It may of just been humility but he even went as far as to say the only thing that separates “Ought” from the bands in their hometown of Montreal is the critics ‘choosing’ them as if it were a lottery.

Something very similar is happening here within the reviews for Darcy’s LP. Critics have overblown this record and have been staging him as though he were a modern-day Jim Morrison. Many of these reviews have idolized the positive qualities of the LP without explaining what they didn’t enjoy.

Darcy is just what he puts out there, a regular guy expressing some of the internal turmoil he’s experienced as an introverted rock star. He’s finding his way through the mundane things of life while just trying to keep his shit together on the inside. That inward focus is what makes this solo project so engaging.

The album starts off much like any “Ought” record would, flashy and energetic with Darcy’s familiar, yelpy vocals leading. The direction of the album changes on the second track, “Joan Pt 1, 2.” The production becomes very uneasy and distorted, almost psychedelic, as the LP progresses. Most of the songs become mid-tempo ballads not standing out from one another.

One track I did enjoy was “Still Waking Up.” Darcy plays around with crooner trope  here, utilizing a slicked-back attitude to entice a lover with clever and intentionally pretentious wordplay. It’s all done ironically,  to add to the chauvinistic delusion.

The title track, “Saturday Night,” is when we’re introduced to a more frenetic and tormented guitar emerging throughout the record, becoming much more obvious during Darcy’s “quiet” moments. The album becomes really dull from this point on, with only the odd texture of the soundscapes to keep the listener alert. Perhaps it symbolizes Darcy’s own Saturday nights as being a time to retreat into his own mind, a very dreary and visceral place.

Darcy’s “Saturday Night” ends with a haunting instrumental piece embracing the chaos with random piano plinks and tortured chords trembling throughout. “Beyond Me” is the soundtrack of a night-terror and surrender to an inescapable madness.

“Saturday Night” is no pop record but if the listener can get past the weirdness of it all and some of dreary parts of this record, the experience can be appreciated. The record is just too slow and Darcy’s vocals are more tame than on “Ought,” which is part of what made them so successful.

I won’t be replaying the album anytime soon but the overall concept is alluring and unusual enough to recommend at least one listen. It’s not a direction Darcy should maintain nor would I like to see this flow off into “Ought,” but I can appreciate an artist’s need to produce something outside the typical venue. I would rate this album as C- to C.

Published in The Stallion on March 21, 2017.

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Photos by Shelby Evans. Can find more awesomeness at her blog. http://acquiringthetaste.blogspot.com/

My System

Here is a look at how I “grade” albums. I don’t always use the rubric and I have changed it a couple of times since I started using it a year and a half ago. It’s definitely not anything scientific or completely universal but it sorta helps me organize my work for readers. 

A. 80 percent or above.

B. 80 to 70 percent.

C. 70 to 60 percent.

D. 60 to 50 percent.

F. 50 percent or below.

What I’m looking for. Score (0 to 10) Examples of Scoring.
Innovation 4 10- Creates entire genre.

8- Creates a new niche or sub-genre.

6- Pushes current genres limits.

4- Pushes their own limits.

2- Little change.

Uniqueness (of either artist or album) 8 10- Never before seen (has influences still).

8- More than three unique qualities including sound, person, story, ect.

6- Two unique qualities.

4- One unique quality.

2- Lowest possible score because everyone is unique. :^)

Songwriting 8
Lyrics 9
Production 8 10- Perfect Balance.

5- Over-produced more than not (or even under produced).

0- Sounds unexplainable in how horrible it is.

Theme 9 10- Powerful theme throughout.

5- Theme exists but kinda sucks.

0- No theme or organization what-so-ever.

Length/Flow 9 10- Songs reinforce each other, the album isn’t hard to listen to, and the transitions are smooth/appropriate.

5- Two of the things listed before.

0- None of these things.

Talent 6
Personal Enjoyment 10 10- Peak enjoyment.

5- Indifferent.

1- Couldn’t hate the album more.

78 percent 71 90 max

 

Rosenstock’s ‘We Cool?’ an emotional vortex

This album was the most fun I’ve ever had listening to sad music. “We Cool?” has an overarching sound of pop rock and upbeat rhythms that are very misleading to the overall dark tone of the lyrics in the album. This odd coupling of blood­-pumping, fast-paced music and wistfully, dismal lyrics creates a weird feeling of excitement and fun, mixed with disheartening angst.

This is Jeff Rosenstock’s newest LP, and he sticks to his sound of punk/indie rock. The album is heavily influenced by Jeff’s musical history with bands like Bomb The Music Industry and Andrew Jackson Jihad, both of which I enjoy for the most part. After his most recent band, Bomb The Music Industry, disbanded in 2014, he went into solo work and made this LP.

“We Cool?” is not for everyone. The pop ­rock sound this album brings to the table isn’t anything new or innovative and may sound stale to some people. Songs like “Novelty Sweater” are  reminiscent of Weezer and can sound cheap and unoriginal at times.

At the same time he brings so many positive elements from pop rock, folk music, and alternative country to the album that I can’t help but like some of what I’m hearing. This wide use of sounds is evident in songs like “Beers Again Alone” and “Nausea.”

Jeff’s vocals throughout the album are very active and grab the emotions of the wounding lyrics. His voice amplifies the layers of epic instrumentation found throughout the album, creating depth to the music that really pulls the listener in. If you like catchy, fast­-paced, pop ­rock sound, you’ll love this album.

The lyrics are very dark. They sound like they’re written by a young person about to take on life but is filled with uncertainty, discouragement, apathy and grief. The lyrics also address death and regrets, making it sound like Jeff is going through a midlife crisis. He talks about death, like in the song “Polar Bear or Africa,” as being a purge of your existence.

I’ve found more songs to love on this album than to hate. An example of this are the two songs, “Polar Bear or Africa” and “Hall of Fame,” which mesh together so well, musically and lyrically, that it’s hard to distinguish them as two different tracks.

Jeff’s unbridled singing makes these lyrics tear at emotions. I find myself wanting to sing along to the hooks in tracks like “Nausea” and “I’m Serious, I’m Sorry.”

There is one song that seems very out of place in the album, however.“All Blissed Out” is drenched in reverb, which really covers up the music and the vocals with a echo­y film. It is also very slow and dreary unlike the rest of the album.

The song does explode towards the end, releasing the music that should’ve been brought out throughout the song in a very epic fashion. Still, for the album’s worst song, it’s not bad in its own right.

I rated “We Cool?” with a B+ in general but based on my own enjoyment I would rate it as an A. The upbeat tone makes the songs fun, catchy, and exciting. The lyrics are wounding and emotional. Unrestricted vocals and added instruments create depth to the overused formula of pop rock. It flows well and keeps to its overall theme of detached loathing.

It’s not perfect, however. It’s pretty much the same sound from his past albums, just done very well this time around. The singing is not pitch­ perfect, but still sounds great. And the theme of the album is a bit negative, which some people do not enjoy hearing. Overall it’s a noteworthy album worth listening to.

This article was published in The Stallion on October 13, 2015.

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