Boxers Painters & Snappers
Left Of The Dial: Man, talk about catching you at the beginning of the album. We got some pop stuff, subtle and catchy, and then we got some sudden bursts of noise. Wait! Hello?! Is that a bit of the free jazz saxophone? And yes, it's just the first track, complete with woohoos and screaming. And then please, yes, keep my attention with some catchy, rolly, punchy guitar pieces. This is another one of those albums that, every once in a while, comes across your reviewing desk and completely catches you off guard. You give it the first listen with your roommates and you throw it in the okay, but I'll wait until the last minute to listen to it and review it pile. Then you come home a little over the weather after a weird show, throw it in your CD player downstairs and you accidentally start cranking it and rocking out to it instead of writing about it like you are supposed to be doing. Oops, then your review becomes late for your poor editor. Bad thing for the editor, but I guess there's a compliment in there for the band, or the Torch Marauder himself, because he pretty much seems to be the only half-crazed member. Alright, so the Partridge Family has thrown their sweet, innocent mom from their moving van after deciding she never really did fit in; then it's off to the closest, darkest alley where the sketchiest cats hang and the best pills can be bought. David Cassidy spins into a world of laughter and insanity; kicking everyone else out of the van; putting down red shag carpeting, lava lamps and a disco ball; stops shaving and cutting his hair and ordains himself the Torch Marauder. Frying his brain on acid and sedatives, he decides he can still make the music just as poppy and happy, but as crazy as the best of the psychedelic family down the street, The Heads, who still have their mom in the band. He sits down at his little four-track powered by the van's cigarette lighter and starts recording beautiful messes of music in between moments of staring at the melting roof of the van or simply just passing out. Somehow he fits keyboards, organs, guitars, amps, crunchy pedals, drum kits, saxophones, French horns, clapping hands, violins and a few friends into this little Econoline tripped out van. Oh, wonderful craziness, how I've missed you. This is where the Torch Marauder is coming from. I really can't think of anything to compare his music to, which is great; it's very unique. He's got his own little brand of brilliant, moving, train-of-thought music. This guy is having fun and he's got me having fun with him, he really draws you into his music, lightens you up a bit, convinces you to come out and play. -Chaz Martenstein Deep Fry Bonanza: I can only imagine what it must have been like to have been a music reviewer in 1998 and have Neutral Milk Hotel's classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea plopped down in front of me along with a request to write a few dozen words about something that would take a lifetime to understand, much less describe. Most of the time, as a music critic, it's pretty easy to cop the 'I've heard this before' stance and dismiss most everything you hear as the regurgitated pap that it almost certainly is, but every once in a while something hits your ears that just sounds magical, like it's from another world. Boxers, Painters and Snappers is about as otherworldly as they come, but not in a 'ooooh look at us we're so experimental!!!' kind of way at all. Much like Neutral Milk Hotel, the Torch Marauder's music sounds like a reasonable, rational conversation with an alien, someone who sees the world (and, in particular, it's music) very differently than the rest of us. On most of the songs here, it sounds like the Torch Marauder is attempting something like pop, but it doesn't come out like any pop I've ever heard. 'Sympathy for the Television,' for instance, sounds like a ten-year-old touring rock musician who's gotten a hold of his metalhead older brother's bad speed ranting about how he wants to get back home and catch his favorite shows. The song is as much School House Rock as it is punk rock; the track is just so damn exuberant that it's downright exhausting even listening to it. Ditto 'Windmills,' a stream of consciousness narrative about big rock and roll dreams set to the playful sounds of a simple, bright piano riff. The most I can hope to convey to you, the reading audience, with this review is that you should hear this band. Some of you will hate it, some of you will love it, and some of you cynical bastards out there will pick it apart and single out every single note that could have been played differently. However, if you're one of those people who can be swept into an alternate universe by a really good rock record, pick this up. It's a wild ride indeed. -Daniel Encore Magazine: It's always a nice surprise to discover really good bands that you've never heard of, This was the case when I was given the latest album by The Torch Marauder, Boxers, Painters and Snappers, to review. 'Wow, this is actually pretty damn good,' I thought to myself as the first couple of notes of the first track came emanating through my car stereo speakers. It was exactly the kind of music that I was in the mood to hear at that particular moment. The Torch Marauder, from the Chapel Hill/ Durham area, is comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, all under the direction of drummer Dave Bjorkback, who is also the drummer of a band called Razzle. If I understand the situation correctly, Bjorkback writes all of the songs and employs the aid of friends in other bands to play them. Boxers, Painters and Snappers is full of quirky, but catchy pop songs. Bjorkback's songwriting abilities are nothing short of spectacular- Every song on the album is a finely wrought masterpiece of cleverly worded lyrics and excellent musicianship on the parts of all the players. Each individual song is as unique as each member of the large cast of musicians - varying in mood from happy and upbeat to down tempo and brooding. Although Bjorkback writes all of the songs, it is the talented crew of musicians that breathe the life into them. Lyrically, Boxers, Painters and Snappers is absolutely brilliant. Not to degrade the quality of the music in any way, but I feel that it is in the excellence of the lyrics that this album truly shines. These days, it is rare to hear witticism of the caliber found on Boxers, Painters and Snappers. Each song tells a well-crafted story without any of the clichés inherent in much of today's music. One of the highlights of this album is the song, 'Sympathy for the Television.' In it the speaker tells the story of a musician that has been on tour for several weeks, and all that he can think about is getting back home, so that he can watch television. 'My poor T.V /oh my poor TV/Gotta get home/she's just waiting for me/Nobody's, turned her on now for three weeks.' He laments. He then goes on to defend his television against the vicious attacks of those who would put 'Kill your our television' bumper stickers on their cars, and to expound on the virtues of the quality programming on the WB. Whether this is meant to be ironic, I do not know. Another notable track is 'Petty's Right.' If I had to think of a comparison to make as far as this particular track is concerned, I would have to say Pavement - although I never really liked Pavement that much. Still, it's a damn good song, as is 'Windmills.' Consisting of only vocals and piano, it isn't so much the music as the lyrics that caught my interest on this track. They tell the story of a guy in band who doesn't think that his band mates are dedicated enough and gets mad because they have lives outside the band. 'He says he'll never grow up and be like me/now that I'm so old and lame I try to explain my responsibilities But he don't care.' bemoans the speaker. I hear that in addition to being great studio musicians, The Torch Marauder also puts on an interesting, dramatic show, including one where his arch-nemesis The Conquistador may just show up as well. Fear not, the Torch always wins. -Alan Maready.