Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eric Gaffney

Uncharted Waters
Old Gold

Uncharted Waters is Eric Gaffney’s second solo offering and a nice companion piece to the recent deluxe reissue of Sebadoh III. The 27 songs that make up the disc evoke the warped pop sensibilities that countered Lou Barlow’s emotional frailty during Sebadoh’s middle period circa Smash You’re Head on the Punk Rock and Bubble and Scrape. Framing Gaffney’s lo-fi MO next to Barlow’s considerably more polished songwriting and production on his Emoh debut is a revealing study in the genetic make-up of indie rock’s founding fathers. Songs like “Leave Me Alone” and “Shark Attack” are relentlessly homemade while “Too Bad Luck” hones a rock and roll jeer. Gaffney’s untamed voice and out-of-tune jangle are tailor-made for basement recording. Not to overstate the obvious, but if songs like “In Line” or “Singing Iceberg” were captured by any more evolved means of recording they would be nowhere nearly as infectious. These songs were recorded over a ten year period, and intuitively shift back and forth like a time-lapse take on a decade of Gaffney’s swaying tastes and trends in songwriting. He stays where he’s comfortable and as a result Uncharted Waters is a last stronghold for the indie rock ‘90s, when crappy fidelity anchored a thriving scene. Clocking in at 70 minutes, The ablun can be a bit of an endurance test, but every scrap of sound, every noise and every note is an essential part of what Gaffney does. The recording feels a little out of time and a little out of place, but it in this context Gaffney sounds better than ever.
--Chad Radford