One Man Misery Parade
Ted McCloskey is slowly coming to terms with being out of love. His debut solo album, ONE MAN MISERY PARADE, is a cathartic expose of every exposed nerve that McCloskey has felt during the past year and a universal document of pain and confusion. 'It took about a year from heartache to consumer product,' McCloskey chuckles. 'It was all recorded here in my living room between the lonely hours of 2 A.M and 8 A.M, one instrument at a time. Once the process started, it consumed me.' From such a dour mindset was borne a sparkling, upbeat sounding album, that belies it's' downbeat subject matter. ONE MAN MISERY PARADE combines raucous, impassioned guitar-based music (think a mutant step-child of Keith Richards and Johnny Marr) and the lyrical and melodic gift of Paul Westerberg. Lines like; 'Give me a lie that I can swallow,' from Everybody's Sorry, and 'I'm too proud to walk back home and too foolish to take a knee', from The Siamese Sisters, illustrate McCloskey's songwriting style. Everything seems to be double-edged turning inward and outward at the same time. That, it would seem, was no accident. 'After my long relationship ended, I started writing these relationship songs: 28 of them in all. It was a very confusing time in my life. I weeded through them and when I got 12 tracks that I was happy with, I realized that it all worked together in some way. The theme of a relationship exploding was there from the beginning because that's what was going on in my life at the time. Actually when I listen to the songs that didn't make the album, they also fit.' At first, McCloskey was unsure if the album was fit for public consumption. 'I didn't plan on releasing it, even after I knew it was finished. I didn't know if I wanted to put it out because it was mostly a therapeutic process for me. I needed to prove to myself that I could finish something and it was done for purely selfish reasons. I needed some sense of accomplishment after the hell that I'd been through, and I needed to kill some time. I had a lot to kill!' McCloskey has a lot of tools at his disposal. Scattered about the living room are numerous guitars (all referred to as 'she' or 'her'), a piano, steel guitar, bass, a newly acquired banjo, and a computer with dozens of discarded riffs and lyrics, and several leftover and current Yuengling Lager's. CD's are scattered everywhere, including the obligatory Stones, Replacements, Dylan, and Beatles titles. 'Obviously those are the benchmark artists for me. I am also very influenced guitar-wise by Johnny Marr. He wrote those cool, layered, guitar melodies that countered the downcast lyrics of The Smiths.' Clearly McCloskey, who is in his early thirties, has had the ability to assimilate most everything of quality in rock music into his own thing. He is presently enjoying the Rhino box set LOUD, FAST & OUT OF CONTROL, a collection of some of the most seminal early rock n' roll ever assembled. 'That stuff will stay in my car for the next 6 months,' he says. The album begins with BEAUTIFULLY DEAD, a Stones/Mats' rocker that features the line; 'you took a seven day vacation to lay in bed', which, as it turns out, was practically what McCloskey did before deciding to make this album. 'My friends were all worried about me because I wouldn't leave my room. I just stayed in bed lying awake, beating the shit out of myself.' The song is about a girl, but also about myself, in some ways. A PASSING MOMENT OF THOUGHT follows and it is a musical gem featuring a great vocal and jaunty melody. The song which chronicles a life-changing decision and it's' ramifications, is heartbreaking and filled with remorse about broken dreams and future possibilities. 'How could you have lost the one key to my heart, in a passing moment of thought?' THE SIAMESE SISTERS begins with a strummed acoustic, reminiscent of George Harrison's MY SWEET LORD and tells the story of a man on edge because he's in love with a person with a split personality: 'Following my heart may be the worst thing I can do when I'm never really sure exactly whom I'm speaking to,' McCloskey sings. 'She's everything I never wanted.' TUESDAYS follows and is another melancholy song about McCloskey's least favorite day. 'Nearly every bad thing that has ever happened in my life has happened on Tuesdays; breakups, deaths in the family, friends dying, 9/11, you name it.' McCloskey says. 'Most people hate Mondays, well I hate Tuesdays.' LET-ME-GO-OR-LET-ME-IN is built on a Robert Johnson blues riff, with a jazzy, sampled drum track. After a cool mid-song piano breakdown, McCloskey let's out his inner Mick Taylor, another huge influence, with a blistering slide guitar solo.This song really personifies the sense of disconnection at the beginning of the end of a relationship, and is proof positive that McCloskey really studied his late 60's, and early 70's Stones records. CUSTODY OF THE TRUTH was the first song written for ONE MAN MISERY PARADE. As such, It is a scathing, confused diatribe, which rails against emotional indifference on top of a great 1975ish Keith Richards riff. 'I know right now that I'm left for dead with a million and one things left unsaid, a million and one things I can't prove when I don't have custody of the truth.' McCloskey's angry vocal is barely contained throughout CUSTODY... reaching a frenzied peak during this last verse. The angst continues unabated on the next two songs, EVERYBODY'S SORRY and MISDIRECTED KARMA which both feature some rapid-fire wordplay and memorable melodies. EVERYBODY'S SORRY is a study in paranoia and infidelity, features the enduring couplet; 'I drive past my murder scene, I know his name, I know his street, I thought ignorance was bliss, but it was just a landmine.' MISDIRECTED KARMA, is a Dylanesque speed rap that McCloskey doesn't even claim to understand. 'It was definitely based on a feeling of anxiety, but I don't really even know what misdirected karma is.' It doesn't matter because the song gets across on the strength of it's connected imagery. As the album nears it's conclusion, angst and anxiety are replaced by remorse, sadness, and resignation.. STANDING ON SHOULDERS, 'for a better view', is a mostly resigned state-of-McCloskey, which is best exemplified by 'I made the right decision, but what if I'm wrong,' which is apropos of the depressed mind-set that accompanied the broken relationship. EVEN IF... and THIRD STATE OF MIND are both lovely ballads. Both are mid-tempo meditations about loss. On EVEN IF...McCloskey sings; 'No one can interpret a connection amputated, words are running wild, but get lost in the translation.' THIRD STATE OF MIND has a wonderful quiet feeling reminiscent of REVOLVER era Beatles and is filled with longing for the human connection that once came so easily and now no longer exists. ONE LAST TIME AGAIN closes the album on a stripped-down note reminiscent of The Replacements', TREATMENT BOUND in it's' lo-fi, white-boy, blues. The song is about redemption and it is earned. McCloskey sings: 'Love me one last time again,' as the album ends with the scratchy sound of a vinyl record skipping away, waiting for the next one to drop down. ONE MAN MISERY PARADE is a great achievement for Ted McCloskey, a local musical icon, who has played with almost every local musician who ever needed a guitar lick, melody, or a place to hang out in the wee hours of the morning. He plays nearly every night solo or with his band, Maxwell Strait, a collection of musical cronies who love the 'little college town in the mountains vibe,' and the sense of musical community. He supplements his income by teaching guitar. 'I mainly get the punk-rock, skateboard kids' McCloskey says. I teach them Chuck Berry licks, but they want to play like Hendrix and Jimmy Page. It's very strange.' ONE MAN MISERY PARADE has been a hot item at local record stores considering the DIY nature of the project. It has done so well, that McCloskey is already planning and recording his next album. He jokes about the direction, 'I'd like to do a country thing, or maybe a rockabilly thing, or maybe just a balls-out Stones/Replacements burner with nothing but fast, drunk, vitriolic songs. Some of the newer songs, like the HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED style scorcher, BLACK COFFEE BLUES and the beautiful WISH YOU WERE THERE, make it is clear that McCloskey's best songs are still to come. Ted McCloskey will be taking his ONE MAN MISERY PARADE on the road in the upcoming months. He is definitely not to be missed. It is certainly proof positive that you don't need huge Marshall stacks to rock a room. All you need is good songs and a little bit of misery.