DATE BREAKDOWN: Timothy Ryan – “Dog Days”

File Under: Country, Singer/Songwriter

The pleasant contrast to my Ferrall On The Bench induced nausea (see previous post for that breakdown) was Timothy Ryan’s Dog Days EP. The week long date went smoothly for my ears from start to finish and there isn’t much misery to account for, so let’s get right down to it. Blatant forshadowing. Boom.

I go into each of these releases blind, but I still need some sort of selection process. That process is cover art. So basically the opposite of being literally blind, but music-wise it still leaves me uninformed. I can gather a few preconceived notions, but that’s all assumption and often far from reality. When I picked Dog Days, I sensed Seattle hipster music given the coffee shop/denim jacket pictured. What I got, however, was country that actually doesn’t suck all that much.

The EP starts out with “Same Ol’ Blues,” an upbeat track about a breakup with what I’d classify as an upbeat outlook on life by the end of the song. I’m not a fan of the title for that reason; it doesn’t feel like the blues. Breakups are sad, sure, but he’s not really selling the sadness if that’s his intention. It’s a bouncy track full of background “oohs” and “ahhs” and at 2:01 it makes for a rather quick listen. Not very bluesy. I don’t feel blue after listening at least.

Continuing the trend of broken relationships, “Love Ain’t Enough,” brings in the harmonica for added feels. It’s a catchy number I’ve found myself singing lines from throughout the week, even though the lyrics are by far the weakest contribution. Clichés abound in this one with lines like “we were a fire burning bright,” or “I never meant for you to feel like it’s always raining.” But that’s not as bad as the questionable “I never meant to bring you down when you felt up.” Not necessarily a cliché, but I can think of at least two ways that line is, well, a wrong choice of words. Regardless, the song has more of a soul to it, and feels more organic than “Blues”. 

Night Drives” is my favorite of the three and a nice closer to the EP. Sticking with the theme of failed romantics, it is a stripped down, mostly bare bones song about driving past his past at night. It’s both the most country and the most honest song of the EP. Ryan’s voice plays in a lower register that allows the sincerity to flow without seeming like he’s trying very hard. The other two fell a bit into that trap and I wish he could be as grounded in them as he is here. I found myself playing the EP more than I expected, just to return to “Night Drives.” My only problem is the opening line, where I’m sure he means to sing “I drove by my old house today,” but it comes out as “I drove my own house today.” I’ve played that opening 20 seconds an extensive number of times and it continually sounds muddled. Nothing worth lowering my score, but worth pointing out nonetheless.

All in all, Ryan proves himself as a talented singer/songwriter, but instead of simply prevailing as versatile he also shines a light on what work he has yet to accomplish. That work is finding his real sound. These tracks, while all enjoyable, showcase what feels like a different musician. In other words: good songs don’t necessarily equate to a good album. There’s just a slight disconnect in his voice. Country might not be my jam, but he’s not singing about trucks or attempting contemporary country-rock. He’s harking back to an era defined by Johnny Cash, and if he can put his own distinct twist on it I’m all for that. He’s got the production, he’s got the talent, he just needs to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Going on a blind date with Dog Days:

4/5 stars.


BONUS BREAKDOWN: Ferrall On The Bench

I’ll just get right to it. I don’t know how Ferrall could have his voice without eating five packs of cigarettes a day and smoking an additional six since he left the womb. Maybe he smokes a pack out of his nose each day too. It’s really impressive. Really impressive. And really unbearably awful. I’m sure you have some questions, so I’ll ask them.

What is Ferrall On The Bench?

Ferrall On The Bench is a “call-in and talk about sports” program on CBS Sports Radio. Picture a bloated manatee that sounds like the octopus from Diddy Kong Racing without the bubble noises. In fact, just picture the octopus.   Does he actually look like that? No, of course not. Somehow he looks like a relatively normal guy. The voice doesn’t match. 

Do People Actually Call In?

Unbelievably, yes.

Surely To Mock His Voice

Astonishingly, no. Not even once in any of the clips I’ve listened to. They call, in fact, to talk about sports with a man many of them consider “a god”. Direct quote. Yes, this guy has an audience. And crazy fans.

Does He Do Anything God-Like?

Fuck no. He doesn’t even let his callers get a word in edge-wise. He insults their intelligence and they call back in, excited for more. In fact, his constant judging of other people makes him (at least sound like) a complete douche. It’s incredibly ironic how he went at lengths trash talking some sports player athlete guy (can’t remember who…sorry, I didn’t write it down and I don’t know anything about sports) for thinking he’s so much better than other people. Because all Ferrall does is shit talk people. 

So He Doesn’t Always Talk About Sports?

No, maybe half of the time. He takes long tangents about his mother in law, O’Reilly Auto-Parts (where he records apparently), and one time about harassing his wife in a supermarket. What a swell guy. But it makes it easier for me to judge him, because if it was all sports I’d be left with nothing to talk about but that nightmare of a voice. Let’s wrap this up.

Glad the Week Is Over?

My ears are over the moon. I’m listening while I type this up, and FUUUUCK. This is a music blog. I’m over this guy.

Going on a blind date with Ferrall On The Bench:

1/5 stars. BLIND DATE FROM HELL.



Week #4: Timothy Ryan – “Dog Days”/ BONUS: Ferrall On The Bench

Week 4 brings an EP by Timothy Ryan entitled “Dog Days”

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You can stream it for free off of Bandcamp  HERE

BONUS CONTENT: Additionally, I was asked to submit myself to a full week of listening to Ferrall on The Bench, which I started doing yesterday. The idea was to see what Ferrall’s voice does to my sanity. Also it is Sports Radio. I don’t know sports. Let’s see how this goes. I had never heard of Ferrall before Sunday, so this too is blind. See what I’m putting up with HERE.

Both Date Breakdowns MONDAY

 

 

DATE BREAKDOWN: Louise Louise Trio – “Canine Cancer”

File Under: Jazz, Improv, Classical, Metal/Screamo

At the top of my encounter with the Louise Louise Trio, although having few expectations, my ears in fact did expect to meet one or two women by the name of Louise. They instead met a non-musical, barking dog named LouLou. Hooray!

Along with LouLou, my ears were introduced to several classical instruments. Played by a “trio,” right? Nope. Checked the bandcamp page… four dudes. Four. Dudes. What a band name fellas! 

The date started off with some pretty repetitive licks/riffs/measures, with decent execution. I liked it. I was on board. Then the saxophone came in, and let me tell you, the instinct to rip the ear buds out of my ears was strong. That fucking saxophone just got my goat. If I could only change one thing about Canine Cancer, it would be removing every second of that sax. Irritating. Irritating AF. Moving on.

The music itself would be classified as jazz improv for the most part, and as such, it’s pretty hit or miss. You get a lot of talking, a lot of reptition, and a lot of barking. That short first track named after the dog is majorly skippable. Skip it. Don’t look back. Sorry LouLou. 

“Je nes pas Living/ My Life is Going to End” takes a full minute to warm up (talking, confusion, Meisner level repetition, too much saxophone) but then gets relatively enjoyable. There are some soothing sections, some bouncier material, and then more of my friend the saxophone. But if you can tune out the saxophone, it’s a good ol’ fun time. The percussion is cool, the guitars are real swell in the middle of the track, and it’s some chill shit. Then around the 9-minute mark a guy says stuff like “it will all end there in a pool of blood / my life is going to end,” and I got pretty creeped out.

“Pink Bandana” begins exactly how the previous track ended, with the band talking about “fuckery” and general messing around. There’s a brief introduction to the devilish muttering/screaming that’s to show up later on and then the track gets off its feet. From then up until the 6-minute mark is one of my favorite parts of the whole album. Total standout. (Disclaimer: unnerving chaos and screaming at the 7-minute mark, turns flat out annoying soon after.)

“Canine Cancer” starts off badly, per usual at this point, but gains ground shortly after. More repetition, a lot of which feels reminiscent of previous track’s repetition, is what I’ve come to think of as the definition of canine cancer. It’s what’s holding this album together, but more noticably what’s tearing it apart. The notion that there’s room to grow from such confines only works when the confines are left behind. More screaming mid-track, more annoying chaos at the tail end. Canine Cancer.

“Justin Joins Louise” has its moments, with the sung line “E minor is the scale” bringing me a brief moment of superb joy. More of that would be welcome. The song is easy to listen to for about 5 minutes, and I like those 5 minutes considerably. But then, ya know, chaos. That shift is what began to define the whole date. I’d be lured into a false sense of joy only to have it rudely shattered time and again. There’s no need to talk about the last track. It’s the same story. Combing jazz and Screamo-esque metal doesn’t really work most of the time, go figure. 

Note: They do mention the whole “trio” issue in the final track. They’re in on the joke. 

Highlights include the earlier (post-warm up) portions of  “Pink Bandana”  and “Justin Joins Louise”

Going on a blind date with Canine Cancer:

1.75/5 stars

DATE BREAKDOWN: Load – “Drunken Warrior Chief”

File Under: Hardcore Punk, Garage, Noise

When LOAD showed up for the blind date, my ears weren’t ready. I’m not sure it’s possible to be ready for such a thing. Loud, aggressive, and all up in it is a bold way to start a courting. But that’s Load.

My ears immediately told my brain “This is awful. Why are we doing this?” Which is interesting, considering punk rock is my ears’ bread and butter. I listen to that shit day in and day out. Punk has been pumped into my veins for almost 15 years. I started this blog, afraid that those who knew me would see it as a way for me to push my punk agenda, when really it’s an attempt to expand my horizons. And here, week 2, a punk album just happens to be my date and it’s awful. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. (Mixed emotions).

But enough of that. And sorry for all the fucks. Let’s get into why I disliked Load right off the bat: Terrible sound quality. I’ve heard this kind of thing before, many times, and I do enjoy some heavy shit. But mixing is super important, and as far as I could tell the room they recorded in (a garage?) was not only the recording space but also the producer and the mixer. For an album released in 2016, this month in fact, this production is very hard to swallow. And that’s where it gets interesting.

I did some research and these are actually recordings from the ’90s. A little more forgivable in that sense. Further research revealed that these tracks were pulled off of various EPs and 7″ records and compiled onto one album. Which is why when I listened with headphones later in the week, I constantly had to adjust the volume. The sequencing is pure shit and unless they lost the original masters and couldn’t remaster, I don’t see why they wouldn’t bring the tracks to similar volume levels. 

But enough shit talk, because I’m about to get to the part where I hate myself. After 3-4 days I really didn’t mind this. Maybe I have too high of a tolerance, but there is some good stuff on here. Honestly, it sounds like Guttermouth, The Germs and Paint It Black in a blender. A weird combination, but kind of cool at the same time. The vocalist is super solid and everything feels raw, bold, and dynamic. If they actually recorded this today with better standards they’d be getting success parallel to PEARS.

Lyrically I missed a lot. I’m a sucker for lyric sheets and none were included on the bandcamp page (or anywhere else online for that matter). Lyrics that I did catch were on the darker side, even disturbingly so as on “Pa’s Moonshine,” a stand-out track about domestic abuse that ends the album.

All in all, here ready to start another blind date, I can safely say I’ll listen to Drunken Warrior Chief again. Just not with headphones.

Highlights on the album are: “Drunken Warrior Chief” and “Lumberjack Death Luge”

Going on a blind date with Drunken Warrior Chief:

3.25/5 stars