"Uncharted Waters" CD
Dec 21, 2009
For fans of nineties-era indie rock, Eric Gaffney needs no introduction.
Part of Sebadoh's classic line-up from its inception in 1986 until
just after the release of 1993's Bubble and Scrape, he certainly has
an impressive resume, and this latest release is a decade's worth of
closet treasures in the vein of Sentridoh and early Sebadoh. Little
lo-fi nuggets share the stage with more fleshed-out pop songs, and
while it is considerably rough around the edges, there is still a fair
amount to fawn over on Uncharted Waters.
When these tracks are good,
they can be pretty good. Neighbouring "Gone Wrong" and "Shark Attack"
are both exemplary lo-fi tidbits. Over a record like this, however, it
becomes evident how compositionally similar some of these songs are to
one another; even the first two tracks are remarkably alike.
Regardless, it is instrumentals such as "Arcadia," "Gold Trimmed Hat,"
and "Colorform Viewfinder" which steal the show - their quaint
melodies are a joy to experience, making it seem as if wordless
songs may be the optimal vehicle for Gaffney's songwriting talents. On
the other hand, there is quite a bit of throwaway filler on here -
stupid "Punk Rock Monkey," irritating "In Line," and flat "In Line"
are just a few of the toss-ups that cast doubt upon Gaffney's ability
to distinguish his better efforts from his lesser excursions. A large
part of the problem has to do with his unpolished vocals, which are
charming occasionally but can also serve to undermine the melodic
nature of his songs.
Although you might be tempted to snatch several of these songs for
mixtape fodder, it is unlikely that Uncharted Waters will become the
sort of record you toss into the stereo and listen to in full.
Gaffney's unique songwriting approach is part of what made early
Sebadoh so great, and there are moments here that reflect his past
triumphs. However, a full odds n' ends collection such as this, pulled
off in a solo setting, does not do the man justice. While some of its
tracks hit the spot, Uncharted Waters' appeal will be limited to indie
eric gaffney's myspace
Fun Fact: Uncharted
Waters includes covers of The Ramones' "Locket Love,"
"Baker Street," and England Dan & John Ford Coley's "Nights are
[Vitals: 27 tracks, distributed by
released Oct 17, 2008]