Aberdeen City
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Aberdeen City

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Just back from a West Coast tour, rockers Aberdeen City are generating true believers through their October debut release, The Freezing Atlantic. They're serious musicians, as their work reflects, but less serious about themselves: When last we saw them play, the [guitarist] swung from overhead pipes without missing a note. Plus, they're re-releasing Atlantic on...vinyl. Love it.

Grossman, Voice Choices, January 18-24, 2006 - Village Voice

"Review: The Freezing Atlantic"

"...The Cure was wrong: Boys do cry, and Aberdeen City’s willingness to let its vulnerability show may distinguish the band from the rest of the barrel-chested, eyeliner-smeared nouveau-emo posse."

-Kimberly Chun - Magnet


Once more, with even more intensity, boys

Aberdeen City doesn’t shy away from grandeur. With their almost orchestral rock sound, the band embraces a sense of drama. Lead singer and bassist Brad Parker calls the band’s music “big, dark and beautiful.” With songs about regret to explorations of alienation, the band’s first full-length CD, “The Freezing Atlantic” is the perfect album to fully indulge all of your angst. If you’re feeling like you haven’t been a particularly good person this year, this could be the pre-New Year’s catharsis you so desperately need.

Despite all that angst, Parker quickly replied “no” when I asked if he would call the band’s sound “emo.” We both laughed over the fact that it’s become a bit of a dirty word — and let’s face it, emo seems awfully hard to define at this point. When it comes down to it, Parker doesn’t really care if people think the band is emo. He called his music, “A wonderful way to express pain,” but went on to say, “Really I just want you to feel good when you finish listening.”

The boys of Aberdeen City came together at Boston College. Drummer Brad McCaffrey, guitarist Ryan Heller and Parker all grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood. They found each other again easily enough — Parker says there weren’t that many rock bands at BC. They went on to add guitarist Chris McLaughlin, and a band was born. Parker took over on bass when the old bassist left the band and “that’s been instrumental in revitalizing the band,” he said. He says now instead of writing in a compartmentalized fashion, where each member concentrates solely on what he does, the band is more collaborative.

Aberdeen City has been playing together for four years, but Parker admits he still hasn’t mastered the art of between-song banter. “I’ve got to work on my one-liners,” he said, going on to explain that when he starts talking to the audience it feels like he’s leaving a long awkward answering machine message. “But you know, it’s cool sometimes, listening to the crickets.”

When they play, though, Parker said, the band is “100 percent focused on playing the song,” which he hopes lends a sense of intensity to all of their performances.

It must be easy to get intense with songs like “God is Going to Get Sick of Me,” in which he sings, “A bible in one hand, he makes his decisions / The lease is up/ Ordered his gun and it’s done and it’s done.” Parker says the song is about misuse of power when it comes to religion. “God would probably be pretty pissed off at the way religion is used,” he said.

Though Parker says “politics definitely play a role” in the band’s songs, he likes that they can have different interpretations that are either romantic or personal as well. You can see that in the song “In Combat,” where he sings, “I lost them all in combat / I sold them out / I disappeared in combat / I sold them out.” While this could be a song about just a personal regret, it’s hard not to look at it in the context of our current political situation and see that it could also be a song about losing national identity.

A one-time classical violinist, Parker says he was a big fan of Led Zeppelin in his younger years because they had a “cinematic, orchestral” sound. And it’s easy to see their influence, if not in sound, than in scope. “Brighton” for example is more than seven minutes long — pretty bold for your first CD. They mix melody-laden songs like “Pretty Pet” with the more dirge-like “Brighton.” But if you’re in the right mood and have a glass of dark liquor, a nice somber tune might have just the right kick. And if it doesn’t, just wait for the next song, because these guys love to change it up.

- Paige Newman, MSNBC.com

back - MSNBC.com

"Review: The Freezing Atlantic"

4 out of 5

Album?: The Freezing Atlantic (Dovecote)

Who?: Boston-based rock outfit who've shared the stage with everyone from British Sea Power to Clem Snide.

Sounds Like?: If you can imagine what it would sound like if the Strokes and Interpol had a love child, well, that shuold give you some idea.

How Is It?: There are approximately 8,434 bands doing this exact same thing in Williamsburg alone - but we're betting Aberdeen City are better than 99 percent of them.
- AP

"Review: The Freezing Atlantic"

The Freezing Atlantic, the debut album from Aberdeen City, has a lot in common with The Bends/OK Computer-era Radiohead, although I merely use that comparison as a stylistic jumping-off point more than anything else. The Boston quartet doesn't so much sound like Radiohead per se as much as it tends to evoke the same things that made the first three Radiohead albums so special. To begin with, Aberdeen City has singer Bradley Parker, who possesses that rare ability to make your hair stand up on the back of your neck with his sweeping, almost crooning vocals. The man is a singing fool. Secondly, the band successfully counters its often experimental tilt with a seemingly endless well of hooky choruses and sophisticated melodies that gives the tracks on The Freezing Atlantic an easily palatable form.

The band, consisting of J. Ryan Heller (guitar), Christopher McLaughlin (guitar), Robert McCaffrey (drums) and Parker (bass/vocals) has an uncanny knack for finding the right moments of sheer orgasmic, melodic release amid a bed of lyrical and musical tension that occasionally sounds so claustrophobic, it's like you're afraid to breathe. Normally I would hesitate to describe a band's songs as "anthemic," but in the case of The Freezing Atlantic, I use that word in the most complimentary light possible. These are songs on a grand scale, crafted yet still retaining a visceral element that keeps the album and the listener alike on edge.

This mixture of ugliness and beauty is perhaps best executed on In Combat, a song that finds singer Parker struggling to come to grips with issues of personal responsibility and failing to come through for people when they really need you. "I lost them all in combat / I sold them out" he sings before adding, "No one visiting is my punishment for backing out". In Combat has an almost epic quality but the ache it describes keeps the song grounded and relatable. Parker's lyrics are all too human, dealing with things we all go through; that includes a lot of things we'd all rather forget. As he describes on Pretty Pet, "Sometimes regret makes a great pet/ you hit the target".

Producer Nic Hard (The Church, The Bravery) adds a subtle production that only steps up when needed, and he's done a great job of balancing the many elements that comprise The Freezing Atlantic. All around, this is an excellent album that offers something for everybody. If The Freezing Atlantic is any indication of things to come, Aberdeen City could well turn out to be every bit as innovative and challenging as Radiohead. A stunning debut.

- Mark Horan, indieworkshops.com

- indieworkshop.com


Twisting fates
Aberdeen City embrace The Freezing Atlantic

It’s no surprise that the members of the atmospheric rock quartet Aberdeen City found one another while attending Boston College in the late ’90s. "It was like ‘Where’s Waldo,’ " jokes drummer Rob McCaffrey over beers at Davis Square’s Sligo Pub. "You find three people not wearing Abercrombie & Fitch."

But it is remarkable that McCaffrey and two of his mates, guitarist Ryan Heller and singer/bassist Brad Parker, were reunited at BC after having grown up together in the same Chicago neighborhood. All three decided to attend the school separately, but McCaffrey had played in bands with Heller in high school and had known Parker. Their reunion was the definition of serendipity. "I remember thinking back in high school that I wanted the music thing to really keep on going, but it was just unreasonable, everyone was just going in different areas," McCaffrey says. "But it was refreshing to get to school and be like, ‘Wow, I have someone I’m really familiar with musically, someone I really respect,’ which is Ryan."

This Friday, Aberdeen City celebrate the release of their full-length debut, The Freezing Atlantic (Dovecote), with a show at T.T. the Bear’s Place. The disc’s songs are steeped in melancholy but also cut through with the sly humor suggested by the song title "God Is Going To Get Sick of Me" and reflected in the "Pretty Pet" line "Sometimes regret makes a great pet." The wise-guy sensibility along with the live-wire guitars and booming drums balances the band’s moodiness with irony and tension. That’s something they achieved during two and a half weeks of concentrated isolation in the dead of winter. They holed up with producer Nic Hard at the Ranch, a former-C&W-hangout-turned-recording-studio in the Catskills.

And the fourth Aberdeen City member? That would be guitarist Chris McLaughlin, a BC freshman and local DJ whom they brought in after Heller hired him to spin at a campus party. Not only did his playing become essential to their burgeoning sound, but so did Boston. The older trio have graduated; the band have signed to the NYC-based label Dovecote, and they’ve played 11 shows in NYC so far this year. Yet, McLaughlin says, "Everything we do is Boston. I think if we ever moved anywhere, we’d still be a Boston band."

Actually, McCaffrey-Heller-Parker-McLaughlin wasn’t the original line-up. When their former bassist, another BC alum, grew tired of band life last year, Parker learned bass, and that’s given them a new sound. "I don’t know how to play the bass," he explains. "I write bass lines like a guitarist, so the bass just turns into another voice. From the absolute center of everything, it changed the sound of the band."

"It [our sound] is not really a choice," McLaughlin adds. "It’s a product of who the four of us are." They point to the way McCaffrey’s hard-hitting rock style complements Parker’s bass lines and their emotional lyrics. There’s also the interplay between two very different guitarists. Heller prefers intricate, Edge-y figures; McLaughlin’s grungier approach has at times led him to grind his guitar on the ceiling upstairs at the Middle East in order to achieve maximum feedback. It’s a combination that distinguishes Aberdeen City from so many new bands who’re working with the same influences these days, from the Killers to Interpol.

"Whether one’s heard the song before or not, or heard the style before or not, you can pick out a good song," Parker says. "Focus on that and don’t worry about where it ends up getting classified. And it’s not incidental that it gets classified with a lot of these other things. But it’s also not shameful. It’s not derivative. Because we’re proud of it. It means a lot to us, and that’s what makes a song good in the end — it’s that the people who created it sat together, thought together, and created something that they’re all proud of."

- Sarah Tomlinson, Boston Phoenix

- Boston Phoenix


"The Freezing Atlantic" LP (Dovecote Records, Oct. 2005)
"We Learned By Watching" EP (self-released 2003)

"The Freezing Atlantic" peaked at #17 on the CMJ 200 in late '05. Track "God Is Going To Get Sick of Me" in heavy rotation on Sirius Alt. Nation and Left of Center. Added to XM Radio Ethel. Spins on KROQ, WFNX, WBCN, and in rotation on WLIR.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In 2001, the four members of Aberdeen City met while smoking outside of a lecture series about unfulfilled childhood potential entitled “Young Hopes, Dead Dreams”. They quickly learned how much they had in common. Each was lauded as a "boy genius" in his youth. But, due to four parallel twists of fate, no member was able to achieve any real degree of individual success. The music of Aberdeen City is their attempt to make sense of a world that gives no second chances.

Christopher McLaughlin (guitar, vocals) was predicted to be "the world's next great physicst". At the age of 9, he succeeded in creating, for the briefest of moments, a new element by bombarding volatile helium atoms with ionized photons in his parents' bathtub. But this marvelous event was shrouded in tragedy as Christopher's beloved golden retriever, mistaking the experiment for his weekly bath", leapt into the tub and combusted. Despite the pleas of scientists and scholars, the inconsolable Christopher gave up science completely. He took up sonic experimentation, saying, "at least nobody can get killed".

From a very young age, J. Ryan Heller (guitar) was groomed to takeover his family’s snack food empire. He showed his family great promise when he developed a ketchup-flavored potato chip for his fourth grade science fair. On the eve of the fair, however, family rival Andrew McCormack sabotaged the test batch with lemon-pepper. This resulted in a repulsive taste test and a lowly participation ribbon for the much-anticipated “Ket-Chip”. Never fully able to recover from the embarrassment this caused, Ryan found himself unfit for the cutthroat business world and took up the guitar.

Always a popular boy, Rob McCaffrey (drums) was convinced by his friends to help their lackluster middle school production of "The Pirates of Penzance" by playing the role of Frederic. Despite having no formal training, Rob stole the show and was bombarded with offers from local talent agents. Sadly, he was unable to disconnect himself from the role that had brought him local fame. He was expelled from school when found roaming the schoolyard with a sword. Still drawn to the stage, Robert became a drummer, keeping a short distance from the spotlight he craves. He occasionally still wears his pantaloons.

And finally there is Bradley Parker (lead vocals, bass). At one time thought by a select few to be the world's next great spiritualist, Brad became fixated upon the meaning of life at a very young age. In the junior high, he built a sensory deprivation chamber in his parents' attic. After spending a week inside, Bradley emerged filled with incredible insights. Unfortunately, because his thoughts were no longer conceptual, he was unable to effectively communicate his new ideas on self to anyone. Filled with frustration, Brad retreated into youth hockey.

Soon after their initial encounter, the band rented a small house with a basement in Boston’s Russian neighborhood. Creativity ran high as they explored their newfound focus on the group; a pleasant change from the lofty expectations on the individual that characterized their childhoods. The band’s songwriting was informed by their propensity for experimenting as well as their love of pop music. They found that swirling guitars, driving beats and moody vocals could be quite memorable if used in just the right combination. Comparisons were made from U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen to Sonic Youth and Radiohead. Bradley’s vocals took cues equally from crooners like Scott Walker and Neil Hannon and rock legends like David Bowie and Bono.

In 2003, Aberdeen City independently released their self-produced "We Learned By Watching" [EP]. Reviews were favorable. The band's debut LP, "The Freezing Atlantic", was recorded at the beginning of 2005 in a converted ranch house in the Catskills. The album was released in the fall of 2005 on Dovecote Records.