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CHUCK - My Band Is a Computer


My Band Is a Computer

Audio Antihero/Old Money Records

Released: 9th September 2016 | 13 track indie pop album

After a few years and some records people have liked (Frog / Nosferatu D2 / Cloud / Benjamin Shaw), UK label Audio Antihero is giving something a try with Old Money Records - a reissue and compilation sublabel, opening newer ears to older things. Opening this line is My Band is a Computer, by multi-instrumentalist songwriter and filmmaker Charles Griffin Gibson, aka CHUCK - a young man from Massachusetts now residing in New York City.

This is a thirteen-track compilation, remastered and reworked as both an introduction and a retrospective. It was designed to play as a debut LP rather than a sampler or a greatest hits, so if I fucked that up, please let me know and I'll try and do better if we do another.

CHUCK has self-released a heap of records, ranging from weird-kid lo-fi to broken electronica and grinning indie-pop. His solitary label release was 2013's gorgeous Let's Make Out, the final release from Brooklyn's Monkfish Records, produced by Frog's own Daniel Bateman (with drums/bass from Frog's Tom White). CHUCK is one of my favourite uncelebrated songwriters. His polarizing voice, stunning instrumentation and playfully doomed lyrics offer something touching and unique in the NYC DIY scene: a mix of the hopelessly optimistic and the just plain hopeless.

Opening with the defiant Pop of Happy New Years Babe, CHUCK eases us into his curious world with big synth, stunning harmonies (courtesy of Marissa Fassano & Trisha Ivy) and a goofy drum machine before drifting into the glittering Oceans. Here he offers nostalgic wisdom alongside a vision of his own future regrets: You're in Norway and I'm in my body, I use my phone to tell you that I'm sorry / It's just my job makes me feel so stupid, I wanna swap somebody else into it...;Pretty young girls / oceans of sound / it's so annoying when you're not around.

His predictions come true as these sentiments repeat in the dreamy Mary Anne. He mutters: Roll the dice, you don't get to be twenty twice...I wanna be in a band, dating my ex-girlfriend...I got a job that I hate, every day from ten to eight.

A song like Bushwick Girl, however, is a somewhat celebratory but mostly parodic fantasy, wherein CHUCK pines for a perfectly flawed Brooklyn life, young forever on his parent's healthcare, reading think pieces and vegan recipes. It is neither a joke or a dream; beneath the sarcasm, a slice of fragile optimism shines through.

Elsewhere, there's the pounding piano of Go Into Town and lo-fi acoustic moments like The Internet. The latter takes us through the circle of life via a web browser: Porn on call, Pink Floyd's The Wall...selling your dad's wedding ring, bus tickets home to Barton Springs. CHUCK has a knack for finding the sadness in everything.

Like the never-ending conflict city life offers, there's a battle here between the crushing finality of songs like Death and the quiet contentment of Wipe Out. The pervading feeling is that comfort and the end are never too far apart.

The album culminates with Let's Make Out, a somber closer that proposes: In the darkness on your couch, with nothing left to talk about...let's make out, let's order take out. CHUCK offers no advice here beyond that which might see you through another long night, now that your best years are all but gone.

This collection is an outsider's guide to NYC. It tells the stories of long commutes, high rent, terrible jobs and smothered relationships, but it also clings to unforgettable days off in the city, late nights on the L, trips upstate and that one near-perfect romance. CHUCK is a fish out of water, but he's one who has made his home all the same. He talks about New York like he's sick to death of it, while still holding on to the big apple fantasies that visitors to the city often harbor.

CHUCK is a pretty unknown artist even in his local scene, but he has handful of people across the globe finding beauty in what he does. There's lots here to discover, and I hope that whoever this collection reaches finds something special in his work. - Audio Antihero Records

"Straddling the line between bedroom pop and high fidelity indie rock.…Both gorgeous and joyously rough-around-the-edges."
"Encapsulates the feel of travel to amusement parks, train rides, boardwalk bound feelings, the feel of sand between your toes, seasonal loves, and books read to chase away any inkling of boredom."
Impose Magazine
"It’s the kind of Daniel Johnston vibe if Daniel Johnston was brought up with The Strokes and Notorious BIG. Get it? By that we mean it has the integrity, the loneliness, the sad, happy, and melancholic, even the nostalgic and romantic - 8/10."
Third Outing
"Goofy simplicity…its nostalgia shows most in the balance between a sunny melody and little pokes that could only come from an observer with a bit of distance…”"
Bedford & Bowery
"At first glance it's a bunch of fuzzy hipstery pop with some guy with a nasal voice but Chuck's gift for observing the small, unobtrusive details of daily life make these songs interesting and relatable. The jangle-pop background is just icing on the cake -it turns everyday life into a dance party."
Adobe & Teardrops
"It's exactly the sort of shambolic nonsense that makes me heart skip a beat!"
Derek Robertson, Drowned in Sound
"Review & Retrospective Feature Confirmed"
The Album Wall