Sixty Cycle Hum
Great rock and roll has always been accidental. It's the essence of the art form. Ted McCloskey has been a staple within the Central Pennsylvania music scene for years. He has toured up and down the east coast and has written, recorded, and performed in various musical outfits and situations. In the fall of 2002, McCloskey began writing and recording songs for nobody but himself. A failed relationship and plenty of dead time accidentally culminated in the release of his first solo album, one man misery parade in early 2003. The record was never intended to be released but after playing it for friends, they compelled him to do otherwise. That's when the fun started... The record garnered great reviews in the local press and received more than a few spins on both the local college radio (Penn State's WPSU) and the local modern rock station (State College's REV 101.1). It sold well both locally and on the internet music store, CDbaby.com. McCloskey was quickly offered a solo slot at Zenos, one of the preeminent State College music clubs. As those solo shows quickly gained local acclaim, he gathered various musicians to complete a very unconventional live show. Working with everything from straight ahead guitars to banjos, sitars, drum loops, and didgeridoos; the wide array of sounds took McCloskey's gems into unexplored areas. In November 2003, McCloskey and his misery parade headed to New York City for a series of very successful dates at the trendy lower east-side club, Pianos. Those shows also opened the door to the legendary CBGB's. He has done solo opening slots for critic's poster boy, Ryan Adams, and Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer and is currently working on a national soundtrack for PBS. Sixty Cycle Hum, released in May of 2004, upped the ante both sonically and experimentally. Over 25 songs were recorded in marathon all night sessions. With much reluctance, the 25 were eventually narrowed down to a dozen. The music is daring to say the least. One second it's slide guitars in electronica; the next it's a banjo in a wash of mellotrons; all within the confines of three and a half minutes of pure pop bliss. McCloskey says of the new recording, 'If you expect the unexpected then hopefully you'll land on your feet. If you don't, just say you didn't do it on purpose.' On the other hand, you could always say it was just an accident. The following is an April 30th, 2004 Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) review of Ted McCloskey's Sixty Cycle Hum After putting together a fine rock album ('One Man Misery Parade'), Ted McCloskey, singer-songwriter and master of the raunchy guitar lick, shows no fear of the sophomore curse as he throws himself into his follow-up CD, 'Sixty Cycle Hum.' The album is a dizzying sampling of diverse and experimental tunes that range from funky folk to edgy blues -- all tied together by the artist's talented musicianship and unrelenting exploration. I'm not sure if there is such a genre as 'acid-folk': If there is, then McCloskey's 'Everything I Want You to Be' and 'Holding the Sun in My Hand' -- where traditional-sounding mandolins and violins melt with electronic wizardry and Sergeant-Peppery melodies -- are superb examples of this form. If not, alert the Grammys; McCloskey's invented a new category. McCloskey has created a unique sonic atmosphere on 'Sixty Cycle Hum.' It reminds me, at times, of the atmosphere of an insane asylum lobby -- a place where the rational and the reality-challenged gather for a little meet and greet. McCloskey splatters cheery melodies with sound effects and weird vocal tricks, then lyrically contemplates religion, death, and coffee -- and even the coffee is dark on this album. 'Looking Good in the Coffin' has a punchy Keith Richards-esque guitar feel with tongue-in-cheek falsettos and unexpected timing changes. McCloskey slings on his acoustic guitar for the outlaw blues of 'Black Coffee Blues,' a haunting, wild west ode where we find the narrator 'drownin' like a fly in your black coffee blues.' He makes sure he surrounds himself with backup musicians who are not only great artists themselves, but seem to be in that 'Sixty Cycle' sync with what he is trying to accomplish on the CD. Molly Countermine provides back-up vocals that sweetly accent McCloskey's gritty, rock and roll voice. Daryl Branford keeps the rhythm steady on a few songs on the album, including 'Strange, Strange Girls.' With this type of help, McCloskey can take the bold steps he needed to make 'Sixty Cycle Hum' his sophomore, not sophomoric, album. ------ By Matt Swayne, for the CDT.